Breeding the Pearl Gourami - Trichogaster leeri
The Pearl Gourami (Trichogaster leeri)is comparatively easy to care for and is a good choice if you have never tried breeding egg-laying fish before.
Mature and healthy males will sport an elongated and pointy dorsal fin, and both the dorsal and the anal fin will have filamentous edging. The dorsal fin of the female is shorter and more rounded and she does not have any filamentous edging in any fin. During the breeding period, the male will be orange from his mouth to the anal fin, while the female will keep her normal coloration.
If you want to breed Pearl Gourami, you should set up a separate breeding aquarium because adult fish can eat eggs and fry. A 10 gallon aquarium is big enough for a single Pearl Gourami couple. It is important to include a lot of hiding spots, because the male will chase the female and can stress here severely or even kill her if she has nowhere to seek shelter.
The male Pearl Gourami will build a delicate bubble nest prior to spawning and vigorous water movements must therefore be avoided since they can destroy the bubble nest. In the wild, the male Pearl Gourami will normally use plants to anchor the nest. In the aquarium, you need to provide him with plants or some other construction suitable for anchoring the nest. A small plastic lid floating on the surface will actually work great, since the male will appreciate the shelter and build his nest underneath.
When introducing the couple to their breeding aquarium, start with the female. Give her and hour or so to get accustomed to her new home before you let the male enter. This method can make the male a bit less aggressive, since he will not have any time to claim the aquarium as his territory.
Pearl Gouramis are adaptable and not very fuzzy when it comes to water conditions, but trying to mimic the conditions of their natural habitat is naturally always recommended. You should also avoid subjecting them to dramatic changes when you move them to the breeding aquarium.
While conditioning your couple, gradually increase the water temperature up to 80 degrees F to induce spawning and increase the survival rate of the fry.
When the couple has been placed in the breeding aquarium, it is time to get them into breeding shape by offering them a lot of meaty foods. Combining a high quality flake food with frozen or live food is ideal.
Breeding Pearl Gourami
As mentioned above, the male Pearl Gourami will develop an orange color as the breeding period commences and start building a bubble nest. They female will retain her normal color, but her body shape will change as she becomes filled with eggs. When you notice these changes, the best course of action is to turn of the filter completely to avoid disturbing the delicate bubble nest.
When the male is finished with his nest building, he will try to attract the female to the nest. He will position her under the nest and embrace her, thus squeezing out the eggs from her body. The eggs will be promptly fertilized and sink to the bottom. The male will swim down, locate the eggs and place them inside the bubble nest. He will then embrace the female again and the whole thing will repeat from the start. The female can release eggs up to seven times before the couple is ready, depending on her size and age. Old, big females produce the greatest amount of eggs. If this is the first time for your female, she will probably only release eggs three times or even less.
When the female Pearl Gourami has no more eggs to release, the male will chase her away to prevent her from eating the eggs inside the bubble nest. At this point, it is recommended to remove her from the aquarium. Since you cannot be around to watch your fish around the clock, there must be a lot of hiding spots for the female to stay in until you notice the eggs and remove her from the aquarium.
During the following days, there is no need to feed the male because he won’t eat, he will be busy creating new bubbles for the nest and picking up any young ones that falls out. Within a few days, the Pearl Gourami eggs will hatch and soon after the fry will be free swimming. When they start escaping from the nest as soon as the male puts them back, it is time to remove the male from the aquarium.
Do not feed the fry until they have consumed their yolk sacs (this can take up to a week). You can for instance give them microworms and powdered fry food for egg-layers. After a while, they will be big enough to eat newly hatched brine shrimp.
It is very important to keep the water quality up in the aquarium. Small and frequent water changes are necessary and the new water should be of the same temperature as the old water. The breeding aquarium must have a lid or some other type of cover to protect the fry from draft. The air above the water should always have the same temperature as the water; otherwise your Pearl Gourami fry can catch pneumonia. When the fry s about 3 weeks old you can start using mechanical filtration again.
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