Thanks for stopping by! This complete, comprehensive guide on paradise fish care will teach you about their tank parameters, health, diet, behavior, tank pairings, and more!
The Paradise fish (Macropodus opercularis) is a type of gourami; hence it is more commonly referred to as Paradise Gourami. Paradise gouramis are an Asian species, with wild populations found predominantly in Eastern Asia from Korea and Taiwan, across to India and Pakistan. They can be found in all bodies of freshwater.
Unfortunately, they have a reputation for being aggressive, so their popularity has dropped in the last few years in favor of more peaceful gouramis.
They are a type of Labyrinth fish, which means they develop a lung-like organ that allows that to take oxygen from the surface of the water. It is important to note that they are not born with this organ, so you need to ensure sufficient oxygenation of your tank water.
Although they are not as popular within the fish keeping hobby, they are still relatively easy to obtain, with an average price of $5 per fish.
Paradise Fish Lifespan
Given the right water parameters and a well-balanced diet, a healthy Paradise gourami can live between 8 and 10 years, perhaps a little longer.
The Paradise gourami used to be in extremely high demand thanks in no small part to their bright coloration. The males are much more vibrant in order to attract females, sporting dazzling red and blue stripes. Some varieties have orange or even yellow stripes with a much paler body color.
They also sport some wonderfully elegant fins, that flow as they swim. Their tail generally takes the shape of a fan, with their dorsal and caudal fins stretching the length of their body.
Generally, males are bigger and brighter. Females tend to have duller coloring and will be shorter, but will become quite plump and rounded when carrying eggs. The average adult size of a Paradise gourami is 2.5 inches.
Paradise Fish Aquarium Care
Due to their territorial nature, the best fish tank is 30 gallons or less. This should house only one fish or a breeding pair. The minimum acceptable tank size is 20 gallons, but this should only be for a single Paradise gourami. If you plan to have more than one pair, your tank will need to be at least 6 feet in length to ensure enough room for several territories to be established, plus free space between each one. If the territory of 2 pairs overlap, there will be a lot of aggressive behavior and this can be fatal.
Your aquarium will also need to have a lid or covering of some kind as Paradise gourami are excellent jumpers. It is quite common for fish keepers to find a Paradise fish has jumped out of the tank where there is no covering. If you do not have a tank lid, try adding some floating plants that will prevent some jumping activity.
Paradise fish are top level swimmers, so you won’t see them spending much time at the bottom of the tank, however, keeping to natural substrates is always best. To replicate their natural environment, you should stick to soft substrates like sand or fine gravel.
Plants and Decorations
Paradise gourami come from waterways with dense vegetations, so you are going to want a heavily planted tank, either real or fake. Live plants are better as the fish can graze on algae that will form on the leaves. Try to include a mixture of broad leaf plants and taller stem plants to give them plenty of hiding spots. It is a good idea to have a few areas with heavy planting, combined with a few areas of open water to allow for swim space.
Other decorations that will help include small stones or pebbles and clay pots or caves to act as hides. Paradise gourami may not use them, but they will be useful for any tankmates you have to avoid any territorial behavior.
Paradise gourami are a hardy little fish and can tolerate a wider temperature range than other gourami species. The temperature for Paradise fish should be kept between 68°F and 82°F (20-28°C). If you maintain a warm room temperature, you may not need a heater, but it is always a good idea to have a thermometer in your tank. Keeping the temperature stable will only benefit the health of your fish. You should also take into consideration the temperature requirements of any other fish in the tank.
Since Paradise gourami spend most of their time near the surface, they generally do not need any specific lighting, as they will get a lot of natural light. Usually, the bulb that comes housed in the lid is sufficient or you could purchase a small LED light to hang over the tank.
For lighting, your choice should be based more on other fish in the tank and the lighting requirements of any plants you have.
As with any tank, regular maintenance is key to have healthy and happy fish. You will need a good filter to remove any toxins from the water. Keep in mind that the filter will also affect water flow and Paradise fish prefer calmer, slow moving water. If you have a larger tank and require a bigger filter, try adjusting the direction of flow so that there is an area of the tank with a gentler current.
Regular water changes are also important. Once a week, a water change of 20-30% should be done, remembering to add dechlorinator if you are using tap water. This will remove any chlorine or other chemicals in the water that can be harmful to the fish.
More on Paradise Fish Care
Paradise Fish Health
Common Health Issues: Paradise gourami do not have any species-specific diseases, but they are prone to developing common freshwater issues such as Ich, which is a fungal infection. Keeping them on a good quality diet will keep their immune system strong and help to prevent any infections developing.
As with any fish, over-feeding can be a problem, with bloat and swim bladder issues particularly common. If you suspect a swim bladder issues, do not put any food into the tank for 24 hours. If caught early, a day without food will generally fix the problem without any need for expensive medications.
Healthy Signs: you can spot a healthy Paradise gourami by the brightness of their coloring. It is easier to tell with males as they tend to be brighter than the females, but a sick fish will quickly lose color and will stand out from the other fish in the tank.
Paradise Fish Food & Diet
Paradise gourami are omnivores, which means they will eat both vegetation and live foods. A healthy and balanced diet should start with a good quality flake or pellet. You can add to their diet by including a protein source such as brine shrimp or bloodworms.
Feeding should ideally be done twice per day with smaller portions. This makes it easier for you to calculate how much they can eat in 2 or 3 minutes without any food being left over. Putting one large portion into the tank, increases the chances of food being missed and sinking to the bottom. As leftover food decomposes, it alters the water parameters and can cause all kinds of issues for your fish.
Behavior & Temperament
Paradise gourami are naturally territorial and will become aggressive if you have a breeding pair. If you have multiple pairs in the same tank you will definitely see aggression. To avoid this, you will need a long rectangular tank of at least 6 feet to give each pair the space to establish their own territory.
They are an active and fairly confident fish, so they are great fun to watch. As they can take oxygen from the surface of the water, you will often see them swimming up to the surface.
Paradise Fish Tank Mates
Although they do have a tendency to be aggressive, there are a few species that make suitable tankmates. Any fish larger than them and with a more peaceful nature should be ok, but you may still see some territorial behavior.
Avoid species smaller than the gourami or species of fish that have long fins. This includes Angelfish, other gourami and betta fish. Paradise gourami are best kept as a single fish or as a pair.
Paradise Fish FAQ
- Can paradise fish live alone?
Yes, not only can they live alone, it is advised to keep them alone or as a pair (1 male, 1 female).
- Do Paradise fish need a filter?
They can tolerate more than other species, but you should still have a filter on your tank to maintain good quality water.
- Do Paradise fish need heater?
If the ambient room temperature keeps the tank around or above 20°C/68°F then you don’t need a heater, but you should have a thermometer.
- How can you tell if a paradise fish is male or female?
Males tend to be brighter and slightly larger than females. A female will only appear larger when she is carrying eggs.
Under the right conditions, Paradise gourami can be a great addition to your aquarium, but they are not recommended for beginner fish keepers. Their aggressive nature means you will need to understand fish behavior and have a clear plan of other tankmates and the size/layout of your aquarium.