Paradise Fish: Care, Diet, Tank Size, Tank Mates and More

Male and Female Paradise Gourami

A catchy name is not the only cool thing about the Paradise fish because the name was actually driven by their mesmerizing beauty. 

They are highly colorful and one of the most unique looking fish in the hobby. They stand out from other fish nor matter which tank they are in.

With a maximum size of less than 3 inches, they are convenient to keep size-wise. More importantly, they are rather hardy and their care is quite straightforward making them suitable even for beginners.

Having said that, understand their aggression can make keeping them really challenging. Especially, if you don’t fully understand their behavior and what triggers the aggression. That’s where this guide comes in.

In it, you will have everything you need to know to successfully keep the Paradise Fish from tank size, temperament, water parameters, tank mates and much more. 

It will also help you figure out whether this fish is right for you.

Let’s dive in!

The Paradise Fish (Macropodus opercularis) is a very popular freshwater fish and a type of gourami. Other names they are known for include blue paradise gourami, paradise gourami and blue paradise fish. 

For long, many hobbyists have kept these fish because of fascinating beauty. It’s stated that they were one of the earliest ornamental fish in the hobby, even older than the popular goldfish.

Sadly, they do not take after most Gouramis in terms of temperament.

They are considerably aggressive and that’s the only aspect you can fault them for.

Because of their aggression, many hobbyists keep other Gouramis instead. This is what led to a decline in their popularity in recent years.

With their long flowing fins and eye-catching body coloration no other gourami can really replace the paradise fish, beauty-wise.

This is why they are still kept by many hobbyists all over the world.

Fashioning a tank that closely resembles their tropical habitat helps greatly in suppressing their aggression. This makes understanding their habitats and origin very essential.

Native to Asia, the Paradise Gourami are found in most freshwater bodies located in Taiwan, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Japan, Northern Laos, Cambodia and near Korea. Most of these areas contain slow-moving shallow waters enriched with abundant vegetation and sandy substrate beneath.

Fallen debris from the surrounding vegetation and pieces of rocks are also found at the substrate level. All these elements make the environment very interesting to these fish.

Paradise Fish generally prefer living in areas with abundant vegetation because apart from the shelter, it also provides more food.

While there are variations in water condition across the habitats these fish are found, they do pretty well in all the areas regardless.

Aside from their native habitat, they have also been introduced in United States and Madagascar successfully.

It’s evident that Paradise Fish are incredibly hardy considering how they were able to survive in different location with a varying range of conditions.

Paradise fish Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 3.0 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive
  • Temperature: 60°F to 86°F
  • PH: 5.8 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 5-30dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Ideal tank mates: Firemouth Cichlid, Giant Danio, Bala Shark, Bristlenose Pleco, Synodotis Catfish, et Cetra.

Appearance

Paradise fish beauty certainly matches their cool name. They are considered one of the most colorful freshwaters around by many hobbyists.

Their torpedo-shaped body is covered in colorful patterns which can vary from specimen to specimen. 

Unlike other Gouramis, they have long flowing fins which trials them as they swim around. 

Most specimens have a series of striking red and blue stripes running across their body. The fins, however, are usually mono-coloured. 

Their dorsal and anal fins are angled backwards giving a flowing look. They have small ventral fins with two protruding pieces on either side. 

Probably their most prominent feature is the forked caudal fins which taper from the middle to the back-this gives it that flowing look too. 

These fins make it not a good idea to house them with any known fin nipping fish. 

During the breeding period, their color becomes more striking. 

It’s easy to sex Paradise fish. The differences go like this;

  • Males are way more colorful than females. 
  • Males are bigger than females.
  • Males have longer dorsal and anal fins
  • Females grow a bit larger when storing eggs.
Paradise Fish Appearance

Size

Paradise fish are one of the smallest gourami, way smaller than the popular Dwarf Gourami. 

More often than not, paradise fish will grow to a maximum size of about 2.2 inches. It’s only in rare cases that they grow to a maximum size of 2.6 inches.

Their maximum growth can be impacted by the standard of care given to them and genetics. 

Lifespan

The average lifespan of Paradise Fish is between 8 to 9 years. That’s provided they are kept in ideal conditions and given proper care. 

Proper care for them mainly entails keeping them in spacious tanks with ideal water conditions and feeding them a high-quality varied diet.

As long as you stick to the recommended guidelines your Paradise Gourami will have a shot at making it to that 8 or 9 years. 

Some owners were able to theirs around for more than 10 years. 

Temperament and General Behavior

Sadly, unlike most Gouramis, the paradise fish are quite aggressive. That said, their aggression is mostly towards their kind. 

It’s just that sometimes when fighting each other, they occationally turn their anger on the other species in the area (unless the other fish is bigger). 

Males are particularly more aggressive and will viciously compete for females. 

In some instances, the fight results to injury, health problems and even death. 

For this reason, it’s highly recommended you keep them separately.

Territory is another thing these fish sometimes fight over and act by chasing intruders away. 

You should expect their aggression to be at its peak during the breeding and mating period.

When dealing with Paradise Fish as an owner, you always want to make sure you monitor them as closely as possible. 

The next best thing you can also do is set up the tank in a way that will help douse the fighting occurrences. 

That means providing more cover in the tank so that they will not constantly run into each other. If each fish has ample space to carve out its territory the fighting will significantly reduce. 

One other thing that will help is when keeping multiple Paradise Gourami be sure to introduce them all at once. 

Otherwise, the existing fish will continuously harass the new-comers. 

Granted you follow this you can keep more than one fish in the tank possibly without any issue. 

Paradise fish for the most part are social and active species.

Having what’s called a labyrinth organ has much to do with their swimming pattern. 

This organ function similar to a lung as it allows them to breath air directly from the surface. 

Because of this, they swim around the middle of the tank so that easy can quickly get to the surface whenever they want. 

A colorful Freshwater Paradise Fish

Tank Size

The recommended minimum tank for keeping a single Paradise Fish is 20-gallons. 

Some aquarists recommend 10 gallons, but remember that these fish are considerably active and their aggression increases when they feel cramped. 

Allocate additional 5 gallons on top of that 20-gallons per each added fish. That means, if you want to have a group of 4 Paradise Gouramis you need at least a 35-gallons tank. 

Speaking of groups, avoid having more than one male per group. 

I understand it can be a little tempting to have more males in the tank giving that they far more colorful, but I think a more harmonious tank is what you need. 

It’s worth pointing out that contrary to many species, Paradise fish will live happily even on their own. 

So rest your mind if you think you are stressing them out by not keeping them in groups.

Tank Requirements

Equipping the tank is almost as important as providing the ideal water parameters. 

It’s at this stage that you should closely model their habitat condition so that they adapt easier and feel more at home.

First of all, be sure to arm their tank with a tight-fitting lid to prevent them from jumping out. 

Because they spend a good part of their time near the surface, these fish are avid jumpers and could end up on your floor if the tank isn’t secured.

Not only does a secure lid help in this regard it also helps in creating humid air. 

Any fish that posses the labyrinth organ need to have access to a humid air at the top of the tank, not a dry one. Dry air can potentially damage this delicate organ since they live in water.

Now down to the elements that will help us fashion the ideal tank.

Substrate

Although they don’t spend much of their time at the bottom of the tank, sand is still the best substrate to use considering its similar to what they are used to in the wild.

Plants

Not only will a planted tank resemble the Paradise Gouramis vegetation enriched habitat, it will also help create lots of hiding areas for the fish. What’s more, if you have more than one fish in the tank, plants will help reduce the occurrence of fighting. 

Not to mention that the fish beauty becomes even more pronounced when surrounded by plants. 

If you are someone that doesn’t care for a planted tank, I do not recommend these fish for you. 

You have lots of choices in terms of the plants but I recommend any of Java Moss, Water Wisteria or Hornwort. That’s because they are durable, easy to keep and highly compatible. Plus, you can use any of them as floating plants.

It’s highly important to leave enough space at the top so that the fish can come up for air whenever they need.

Male Paradise Fish

Tank Decoration

Elements such as pieces of rocks, driftwoods and caves will also create additional hiding spots and give the tank a more natural feel.

Filtration

Even though paradise fish can live in areas with strong currents they generally prefer slow-moving or still waters. 

Similar to other Gouramis, they are bubble nest builders and strong current tend to impede that nest-building effort. 

When you consider this, a canister or a hang-on-back filter may not be the best option unless you a keeping a rather large tank.

The current these filters will produce will most likely be too strong for the fish even at the lowest level. 

I also do not recommend using air pumps for their tank for the same reason. 

Lighting

A moderate level of lighting will make them feel more at home.

Water Parameters

Fortunately, this aspect of keeping Paradise fish isn’t as precarious as the aggression part. That’s because they are very hardy and survive a varying range of water parameters. This is evident from how they can thrive in different parts of the world. 

But, this shouldn’t make you take their water care for granted as there are still ideal ranges you should provide and maintain to the best of your ability. 

Too many fluctuations outside these ranges will increase the odds of your fish getting sick. 

So, make sure to test the water regularly with qualitative test kits and make any required adjustments quickly.

Keep your paradise fish water parameters within the following ranges.

  • Water Temperature: 70°F to 82°F
  • Water Hardness: 5 to 30 dGH
  • pH: 6 to 8

The importance of maintaining a clean tank and keeping the nitrate level close to zero cannot be overstated. 

Therefore, replace 25% of the water in the tank every week or at worst every other week. 

Food and Diet

Paradise fish eat a varying range of food from both plant and animal sources, which mean they are omnivores. In the wild, they mostly consume tiny fish, water fleas, plant matter, insect larvae and the like. 

In captivity, you will have no headache finding them what to eat as they are non fussy eaters. 

They readily accept different foods whether live frozen, flakes, pellets and even vegetables. 

Having said that, realize that you have to make their diet as varied as possible. They won’t enjoy 2 sets of food day in day out. Make their diet high quality and interesting for them. 

High-quality flake and pellet foods can be their base diet since it’s readily available, affordable and contains a balanced diet . 

Then from time, you can feed them protein enriched diet like white worm, blood worms, brine shrimp. 

These fish cannot do without protein because not only does it helps build their body they are also used to it in wild. It will also help greatly if you occasionally throw them some live food. 

You can expect them to occasionally snack a bit on your plants. The good news is they will hardly eat so much that they end up damaging the plant. Especially if you are using very resilient hardy plants like the ones I recommended before. 

Besides, if you are mixing their diet with some green veggies and algae wafers every now and then, their plant craving will subside. 

One last important thing is the feeding frequency. Feed your paradise fish twice a day as much as they can eat in a couple of minutes each time. Otherwise, they will consume an unhealthy amount if you allow them, much like bettas. 

Tank Mates

High aggressive and territorial personality has made the Paradise Fish tank mate options quite limited. 

To explain this, let’s consider the key factors when selecting a tank mate for any aquarium fish, which are size and aggression. 

Starting with size, these fish do not get along with species of smaller size or within their size range. Smaller species like freshwater nano fish could get eaten or at best get injured. 

Fish of similar size like Guppies, Mollies, swordtails will also continuously get harassed. In fact, any fish that looks similar to the Paradise Gourami will potentially be seen as rival by them. That’s why its best to avoid species like Rainbowfish, Bettas, and other Gouramis. 

Concerning temperament, these fish will not play nice with most fish. They are highly territorial and if you put them with other territorial fish they both will compete for dominance. 

As a result, they will consistently fight and can injure themselves in the process. And if the paradise fish cannot win, they will resort to hiding and live in stress. So keeping them with other aggressive species that can depend themselves like the Convict Cichlid or Oscar to mention a few, is out of the question. 

These are the reasons why many hobbyists choose not to keep them in community tanks. 

Regardless, there are still a few great options that many hobbyists have successfully tried out.

The simple rule is; only house the Paradise Fish with peaceful species big enough to depend themselves. That way, they won’t start the fight and are too big to get harmed or harassed.

All things considered, these are some of the most ideal Paradise fish tank mates:

Breeding

Paradise gourami are rather easy and straightforward to breed. You can also increase their chances of breeding by providing them with the ideal condition.

Nothing complicated, just what we discussed under tank requirements and water parameters sections. Feeding them live food at this stage also helps. 

Much like any other gourami, they too are bubble nest builders. Female paradise fish are drawn by well build nest because its safe for them to lay eggs. 

Therefore, a male will try to achieve that by building the nest usually under some leafy plants and coat them with his saliva to make them stronger. 

If he succeeded in enticing the female, she will swim close to him and he will wrap himself around her a couple of times. Amidst this, the female will lay her eggs in the nest. 

Once the mating is over and the eggs are safe, you should move the male to another tank. That’s because he will aggressively attack any fish that come close to the nest, including the female.

Plus, they tend to have a habit of eating the egg after it hatches. It may be best to raise the fry in a separate tank. You don’t have to use 20 gallons, a 10-gallons tank will suffice. 

The egg will hatch in 2 to 3 days. 

Male and Female Paradise Gourami

Common Diseases

For the most part, these fish are incredibly hardy. That said, they are still susceptible to many diseases just like any other freshwater fish. 

Some of the common diseases you have to watch out for include lymphocystis diseases, ich and fin rot. 

The Lymphocystis disease is caused by a set of virus which causes lesion, warts like growth or white spots to develop on the fish fins. This disease is often mistaken for ich and if not treated quickly, the affected fish can lose its ability to swim. High stress is the usual cause of this disease.

Both ich and fin rot are mainly caused by poor water quality.

Thankfully, you can significantly lower the chances of your fish getting sick by maintaining a clean tank, maintaining ideal water parameters and feeding them a healthy diet. 

By the way, constipation is another common problem these fish can run into if they are being overfed or receiving a low-quality diet. 

Make sure to stick to the feeding guidelines we discussed before as constipation can pose them great discomforts like loss of appetite, lethargy and even difficulty in swimming 

I always recommend developing a habit of occasionally observing your fish activity not just during feeding time. 

The importance of this is that you will become familiar with the pattern of their activity. This will help you easily spot a problem. Remember; diseases are easier to treat at an early stage. 

Closing

Most hobbyists stay clear of the Paradise fish because they consider keeping them quite challenging. But for me, I disagree with this generalization for one major reason.

If you take the aggression and territorial behavior out of the equation these fish are considerably easy to keep.  And what’s the one thing we can do to make that aggression no longer that big of an issue – keep them singly. 

I know you may think that this is limiting but in my opinion, the paradise fish unrivalled beauty makes it all worth it. The next best thing you can do is keep one male and one female in the tank.

Anyway, if you really want to put them in community tank make sure it only contains large peaceful species.

I hope you have understood keeping these Gouramis mainly entails proving at least a 20-gallons tank (that’s if you have just 1).

Next, you need to set up the tank to match the ideal parameters and keep it that way. Then equip the tank with the recommended plant and decors so that it resembles their native habitat. This is even more important when you have more than one fish in the tank.

When it comes to feeding make their diet as varied as possible and don’t forget the importance of protein to them. 

They will appreciate if you throw them some live food once in a while. It’s worth stressing that you avoid overfeeding them.

Commit to performing the scheduled water replacement to make sure your tank is always clean.

This essentially sums of the Paradise Fish care.

Hopefully, you have gotten all the info you needed regarding this species. If you are deciding whether to keep them or not I hope this guide help you make the right decision.

Please feel free to rich out if you have any question we haven’t covered or if you have any info you think will help improve this guide. We’ll be more than happy if you do.

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