Paradise Gourami Fish – A Complete Guide (Care, Diet, Facts)

The Paradise fish, also known as the Blue Paradise Gourami. They are credited with being some of the most glamourous fish in the freshwater aquarium hobby, and for good reason. Their bright scales and equally vibrant personalities capture the interest of many.

The paradise fish, Macropodus opercularis, is a species of gourami. They are found in many parts of East Asia. They were among the first ornamental fish available to western aquarium keepers.

As with any breed of fish, special attention should be given to any individual needs they might have. Being one of the most aggressive members of its family, the paradise fish may give some buyers pause.

However, with the right handling and measures taken, little in the way of complications should arise. Despite their blusterous behavior, caring for paradise fish is generally an undemanding job. These fish can make wonderful pets for people who don’t have the time or physical space to look after a higher maintenance animal.

Paradise fish are popular among beginner aquarists because they’re so hardy. They can survive in tough environments, including shallow water, dirty water, and low oxygen. They aren’t picky about what they eat, and they don’t often contract diseases.

They can live 8-10 years when raised in a good environment. Healthy specimens of paradise fish usually cost around five dollars, and so are very affordable.


Typical Behavior

It should be noted that unlike most gourami, the paradise fish is known for its aggressive nature. Behavior does vary between individuals, and males are the most likely to be combative.

Despite their aggression, paradise fish can be sociable. They have no problem with a host of neighbors in a community tank. Any solitary inclinations are more likely to appear when in the presence of comparatively larger fish.

However, this species of paradise fish is quite territorial. A prospective buyer may want to consider purchasing a pair, one female and one male. In all cases males should be kept separate from each other.

Paradise fish can show some intriguing social behaviors when in groups or pairs. They may charge those of their own species if they feel threatened or irritated. When two males interact, they will flare at each other by extending their fins, darkening their colors, and circling each other.

They will sometimes engage in a jaw locking contest if the flaring match doesn’t settle things. The defeated male will then flee. This is why a large tank is required for multiple males. Generally it’s better to keep multiple males in separate tanks altogether.

Paradise Fish Appearance

The males are larger and more colorful, while the females are typically smaller and duller. The paradise fish has a stout body and pointed fins. Unlike other gouramis, it also has a unique labyrinth structure which enables it to survive in water with low oxygen.

They are quite colorful, and have iridescent red and blue stripes that run over their body. The caudal fin is usually orange. The body coloring is brownish to greenish-brown.

The dorsal and anal fins are blue, with red streaks, and the tail fins are red. Their coloring will intensify during the mating season, as well as when the water temperature rises. There is also the albino paradise fish with pale coloration. While it is less aggressive, it is also more prone to diseases.

You can tell males from females by the shapes of their fins. The males have larger fins than females, and their fins are more pointed. Paradise fish can reach a standard length of around 6.7 cm.

Paradise Fish Tankmates

It can be difficult to find tankmates for paradise fish. They are very dominating in their behavior, and will attack if they feel threatened. Lone males are unlikely to get along with other fish. Males, when spawning, will sometimes evict all tankmates from his half of the tank.

Male paradise fish do best when given their own space. They are also thought to be more active when alone than when they are in a group. The best option may be to keep paradise fish in a species tank. Due to their predatory nature, juvenile fish are not good tank mates for paradise fish.

Paradise fish are skilled hunters, and will take advantage of those smaller than them. Females have been known to try and eat zebra danios of the same length. It is best to opt for large fish with peaceful temperaments. Avoid slow swimming fish. Fish that sport long flowing fins aren’t good tankmates either, such as angelfish.

Some of the less aggressive species of cichlids can make for good tankmates for Paradise Fish, as they are quite hardy. Armored catfish and large tetras are also options to consider. You shouldn’t put betta and paradise fish together. The resemblance can lead to attacks and dominance plays.

Paradise Fish Diet

Paradise fish are omnivorous and generally prefer protein. In the wild, they feed on fish juveniles, aquatic insects, and small aquatic animals such as planktonic invertebrates.

Foods such as bloodworm, tubefix, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae are ideal for Paradise fish. They can tend to overindulging, so it’s best to feed them twice a day with small portions. Breaking up their feeds is easier on their digestive systems.

While they can eat both animal and plant matter, owners should opt for high protein diets. If you feed them vegetation, make sure it’s in addition to meat.  Algae wafers and green vegetables are great.


Buying flake and pellet foods is a cheap way to ensure that they have a balanced diet. You can also make your own fish food. Just make sure to reference an accredited tutorial online before doing so.

Paradise Fish Environment and Tank Conditions

Paradise fish are very enduring and adapt well to various environmental conditions. It is for this reason that they are so popular among beginning aquarists.

Paradise fish can also clean and protect the tank in some cases. In a few days a paradise fish can clean a tank of hydra and planarian. They usually need to be quite hungry to do this. It is still not advisable to leave your paradise fish in this kind of environment.

When designing the ideal home for them there are some things to keep in mind that might help ensure their contentment. One way to keep their stress levels low is to recreate the tropical waters of their natural habitat.

Because they will primarily swim in the upper levels of the tank, don’t stress over the perfect substrate. Though if you’re looking for something that reflects their natural habitat, go for a sandy substrate.

You can use rocks or make shelters to simulate caves for them. If you have two fish in one tank, make sure that they each get their own cave. Otherwise their territorial nature can lead to fights over who has rights to the cave.

Have some planted areas in the tank so they have places they can hideaway in. Try for Hornwort as a more durable option. Duckweed and java fern are also good floating plants. You want to keep their environment densely vegetated to help replicate their habitat in the wild.

Paradise fish may be tough, but they’re still susceptible to disease. Keeping your tank clean is important when dealing with all breeds of fish. Poor water quality and excessive algae can lead to fish disease. Keep the nitrate levels low by changing the water every couple of weeks.

You can use a heater to maintain the temperature at around 70-82°F. The water can be slightly acidic or slightly basic. A PH range 6.0-8.0 should be fine for them. Paradise fish are adaptable and don’t need much in the way of special equipment. All an owner really needs is a filter and a heater.

You will want a low-powered filter since paradise fish don’t like strong currents. Make sure to also have a tank cover. Paradise fish can be eager to jump. Try to position the tank in an area with moderate lighting.

Like with bettas, paradise fish are a species of labyrinth fish and can breathe surface air. So it is important to ensure that their aquarium has sufficient surface area for them to breathe.

What Size Aquarium do Paradise Fish Need?

Paradise fish need a 30 gallon tank minimum. Each paradise fish will need 5 gallons after the first 30 gallons. If you own 3 paradise fish in the same tank, you’ll need a 45 gallon tank.

Caring for Paradise Fish

As hardy as paradise fish are, they still get diseases. One of the most common ones is lymphocystis disease. When this happens, pin-prick growths will begin on the fins. This is usually caused by stress, and can be avoided by keeping them in a stress free environment.

There are bacterial diseases like fin rot and dropsy, often caused by poor water quality or the tank not being cleaned often enough. The best way to avoid this is to keep the tank clean and the water quality optimal.

Early symptoms of fin rot include the appearance of patches on the fish’s fins and loss of coloration. If this disease is not treated, the fins can begin to fray. Early detection and treatment is key to the fish surviving. You can treat bacterial diseases with antibiotics such as tetracycline, amoxicillin, or ciprofloxacin. You may need to quarantine the infected fish.

Feeding them too much or giving them low quality foods can lead to constipation. Some signs of constipation will include lethargy, stringy feces, difficulty swimming, and a decrease in appetite. Spacing out their meals and ensuring the quality of the feed will help to prevent this.

Breeding Paradise Fish

When preparing your fish for spawning, make sure to put them on a protein enriched diet for at least 3 days beforehand. Keep the females away from the males until they’re ready for egg-laying. The males will sometimes resort to aggressive behavior if the female isn’t prepared.

Raising the water temperature and dimming the lights is a way to move things along if you’re having trouble getting them to spawn. While they are most likely to spawn at night, it’s possible they will during the day if it’s dark enough. Paradise fish build bubble nests. The male will build a bubble nest on the surface of the water, often under a leaf. When the female is ready to mate, she will approach the male, then turn on her side.

The male will then wrap his body around hers. As she releases eggs they will float up into the nest. Where they will often take about 24 hours to hatch. Mating takes place repeatedly over the course of several hours. Usually producing 500 to 1000 eggs.

After spawning, remove the female from the tank. Due to his protective nature, the male will attack the female if he thinks she is threatening the nest. Once the eggs have hatched, the male should be removed from the vicinity. Alternatively you can move the eggs to a 10 gallon tank.

Once the fry have hatched, they should be fed with store-bought fry foods or infusoria. After a week they can be fed small brine shrimp. As they get bigger, you can switch them to regular fish food. There can be as many as 50-100 offspring from a single spawning. Be sure to have a plan in place for what you’ll do with them!

You may need to keep the male and female separate for a while afterwards. Once the male and female have spawned once, it can be challenging to get them to stop.


Paradise fish can be a wonderful addition to your aquarium. Or if you’re a novice, they may be a relatively stress-free way to begin your hobby as an aquarist. By observing their behavior and following the tips above, you should have little in the way of complications.

There are many benefits to owning paradise fish. Their social games can be a source of great entertainment for those watching. When in a healthy environment, paradise fish will flourish. Aweing their owners with their vivid colors and striking designs.

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