Paradise Fish 101: Size, Tank Size, Temperature, Care & More

You all want something eye-catching in our home aquarium. They have to be gorgeous, interesting, and at the same time easy to care for. We want it all, and why not?

Thankfully, Paradise fishes are all of the above and more. They’re intelligent, and bursting with personality (just don’t get them mad). Trust us-these Gouramis aren’t idle beauties, they’ll be keeping you interested every day you have them.

The table below gives a quick overview of the Paradise fish profile:

Profile AttributeValue
Care DifficultyEasy
Lifespan6-9 years
DietOmnivorous
Color(s)Color changes depending on stimuli
TemperamentSemi-aggressive
Maximum Size2.6 inches
Minimum Tank Size20-30 gallons (for one Paradise fish)
Tank SetupFreshwater/Densely-planted
FamilyOsphronemidae
CompatibilitySelective

Below is our Paradise Fish care guide, keep reading to find out more about its Appearance, Tank Mates, Diet and more.

Overview

Paradise fish (Macropodus opercularis), sometimes called Paradise Gourami or Blue Paradise Gourami, is a colorful freshwater fish originally from Southeast Asia. They were first found along the rivers of China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Japan where they enjoyed life in the wild. Soon, these beautiful fishes were brought to Europe, where they were the first fishes kept in tanks; thereby starting a worldwide fascination with aquarium keeping! 

Paradise fishes belong to the freshwater family Osphronemidae, along with other popular Gouramis like the Honey and Sparkling Gourami. These guys are immensely intelligent, hardy, and have heaps of attitude (mild aggression). They are also undeniably beautiful, with stripes that change colors depending on the light. Add to the fact that they are sold at very reasonable prices, and you’ve got yourself one of the most popular aquarium fishes alive.

Appearance

Hands down, Paradise fishes are by far one of the most attractive freshwater fish you will ever see in your life. Wild Paradise Gouramis have a very similar body type to other gouramis; cigarette or torpedo-like with a sharp head. They are also typically slim, with an almost rectangular-looking body. Their bodies are not truly rectangular however. The effect is partly caused by their expanse of long, flowy fins. These fins almost look like clothes, which undeniably lends even more regality to them as they swim around. 

But what truly makes them so striking are the unique colors and patterns on their bodies. Paradise fishes are typically striped, and in nature, these bands are an alternating royal blue and red-orange. Their design doesn’t stop there either; Paradise fish also possess metallic blue dots all over their fins and bodies. 

These shades can vary in different lighting conditions. Sometimes they could be a deep blue, while other times they could be a vivid green. Many breeders specifically work to alter and improve upon these already beautiful colors, creating more variants of Paradise fish. Examples of these genetically-engineered varieties are the Albino and Concolor Paradise fish.

Once they reach sexual maturity, you can more easily sex your Paradise fishes. Males and females are mainly distinguished from each other by their colors and fins. Males are typically brighter-colored, and have bigger and longer fins than the fairer sex. Their flowy fins end at a more precise and sharp point as well. You could even say that they are the real attention-grabbers.

Average Size

Technically Gouramis, Paradise fishes don’t really grow to humongous sizes. Even in terms of their Gourami relatives, Paradise fish are on the smaller side of the family. The average length for Paradise Gouramis is only around  2.2 inches, while the maximum recorded size only goes to about 2.6 inches. This can be an added benefit, as it means you won’t need to house them in a large tank.                                                                                                                 

Lifespan

Paradise fish have aggressive natures. Predictably, frequent bouts with other fishes can cause their lives to become miserably short. All is not lost however, because you as its owner can do a lot for your Paradise fish. With proper care and some love, these small fishes can live happily for 6 to 9 years.

Paradise Fish Care

Because of their intimidating looks and semi-aggressive reputation, many budding fishkeepers believe Paradise fish are hard to raise. Because of their reputation, Paradise fishes’ popularity has slowly waned over the past years among hobbyists. They are often now replaced by more peaceful fishes of the Gourami family.

You shouldn’t be deterred however; as long as you follow a few guidelines regarding their temperaments, there’s almost nothing to worry about. In fact, you’ll soon realize that Paradise Gouramis are not just stunning, they can also be a real breeze to keep.

Tank Size

As we’ve already determined their relatively small stature, it only follows that you won’t need very big tanks for Paradise Gouramis. For one active Paradise fish, a 20-30 gallon tank would be enough. They love swimming to and fro, so you should probably choose tanks that are on the long side. Many advise that for every additional Paradise, you should add around 5 gallons. This rule has exceptions however, especially when keeping male Paradise fish.

Water Parameters

Paradise fish are not entirely cold water or tropical water fish. They’re top-mid level swimmers known to tolerate a wide range of conditions and still thrive. They’re obligate breathers (labyrinth fish) as well, capable of breathing atmospheric air. Even a beginner won’t have much trouble with their water requirements. What’s more important is to perform 25% weekly or water changes, as well as regular monitoring.

  • Temperature: 61°F-74°F 
  • pH level: 6.0-8.0 
  • Water hardness: 5-19 dKH

Typical Diseases

The good thing about Paradise fish is that they have generally tough constitutions. They are fighters, and that goes for both other fish and illness. However, like all the animals on this planet, this hardiness has a limit. When you persistently neglect their tanks and water conditions, the Paradise fish will succumb to illness.                                                                                             

  • Lymphocystis-caused by a virus, this disease mostly affects freshwater and marine fishes. Symptoms of Lymphocystis are lesions or raspberry-like tumors growing all over the fish body. In advanced stages, this may cause skin decay and lesions. 
  • Costia-While the Paradise fish can withstand slightly cool water, if this temperature is too low, Costia can manifest. Costia is similar to Ich, except that it is hardly detectable at first. White spots may form on the body in later stages, which is unbearably itchy for your fish.
  • Bloat- Bloat is a distension of the fish abdomen, usually caused by gas buildup or bacterial infection. 
  • Fin/Tail rot-caused by gram-negative bacteria, this mainly occurs when you have poor water conditions in your tank. The beautiful fins of Paradise fish slowly get smaller as the bacteria eats them up. 

Unfortunately for Lymphocystis, there is no cure. For the others, antibiotics or other medication may do the trick (this also depends on the severity and stage of the disease upon treatment). There is only one thing common among the above mentioned ailments and that is the fact that they are preventable. Still, the most effective ways to keep your fishy friends healthy are to keep their environments clean, their water conditions optimal, and their diets balanced and nutritious. 

Tank Setup

A Golden Rule (with exceptions) when setting up a tank is to try and pattern after the natural habitat of your aquarium fish. Because they can thrive in a range of conditions, you can have a bit of leeway setting up your tank. This will help make it a thoroughly enjoyable process.

Paradise fishes originate from waters with a lot of vegetation. You can emulate this by placing a variety of plants in your tank. Java moss, Water Wisteria, Duckweed, and Guppy grass are fabulous choices that will make your Paradise fish happy. These creatures love a decorated tank, so add some branches (driftwood, bogwood), some roots, and caves and crevices to complete their home.

The choice of substrate doesn’t really matter very much for these guys. In fact, some owners even neglect this part of aquascaping. But if you really want the full experience, you can opt for a sandy substrate with some river stones. 

Another option for Paradise fish aquascaping is a Blackwater tank. There is a growing belief among hobbyists that Blackwater helps calm down the aggressive nature of Paradise fishes. A Blackwater tank is just what its name implies; a dark-watered tank full of tannins from leaf litter and  debris. However, the belief that male Paradise fish become calmer may just be because they cannot see other male fish in a Blackwater tank. Therefore, there are less fights. If this is so, then you can settle for just a dim-lit tank to induce this effect. 

Tip: Setting up plenty of hiding spots can be a lifesaver. Male Paradise Gouramis can be a tad scary and keep harassing your girls. Because of this, females want to hide from them (naturally!). Help your girls out by giving them ample hiding places to get away from these belligerent males.

Food & Diet

Thankfully, these fish are omnivorous and will eat most anything on the table (or tank). Paradise fishes will eat anything to drop on them, from pellets to small aquatic fish (feeders). As we all live in a fast-paced world, the most convenient food to give is either flakes or pellets. Your Paradise Gourami will scarf it down, but deep inside they will keep craving meaty food. Strike a balance by feeding them flakes/pellets with some live or frozen high-protein morsels. 

Paradise Fish suitable food includes:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Black worms
  • White worms
  • Grindal worms
  • Bloodworms
  • Daphnia

Feed your Paradise beauties around one to two times a day. Preferably twice, so that you won’t tax their digestive system and cause constipation or bloat. 

Mating & Breeding Behavior

Now for even more Paradise fishes! You will be glad to know that these gorgeous fishes are very prolific. It doesn’t take an expert hobbyist or fishkeeper to breed these guys. Sometimes, they are even ready to breed the moment you get them. 

Once you’ve sexed your Paradise fishes and chosen mom and dad.You’ll need a breeding tank of around 30 gallons. The males of this species are Bubble-nesters, like many of their relatives. Males build bubble nests on the surface of the water with their saliva and air bubbles. His main goal is to get the female to release her eggs, so that he can  fertilize and keep them in his salivary creations (bubble nests). 

When the female finally spawns, the male fertilizes these eggs and carries them in his mouth toward the nests. At this point, it’s probably best if you remove the mommy Paradise fish from the breeding tank. The Dad will then take over parental duties. This excited dad usually watches and guards these eggs with his life (aww) until they hatch. 

Once hatched, you should also remove dad from the breeding tank, so there’s no chance that he eats his offspring. Yeah- after all that he can still have the urge to eat his yummy fry kids.

Paradise Fish Tank Mates 

Here is where Paradise fish care gets a little tricky. If you have a community tank in mind, take extra care in choosing these guys’ tank mates. Male Paradise fish have very volatile temperaments, and a wrong neighbor can result in flesh-biting or even death (Oh no!). Small fish will most definitely be eaten, even if they’re not meant as feeder fish. When considering potential candidates, look towards large but peaceful fishes. Choose fishes that do well in the same temperature, water flow, and are perhaps fast-swimmers. This is primarily so that their mates can make a quick escape whenever your Paradise fish has a tantrum. 

Avoid fishes that look similar to Paradise males at all costs. This can trigger a bloody underwater battle you wouldn’t want to witness.  

Tank Mates suitable with Paradise fish:

  • Giant Danios
  • Large Tetras
  • Bristlenose Plecos
  • White Clouds
  • Medium-sized catfishes
  • Cherry Barbs
  • Firemouth Cichlids
Tip: Fighting Paradise fishes can get pretty grisly. They will be worse than bettas and chomp the flesh right out of each other. Sorry for the graphic description. They’re indiscriminate too, and will fight both males and females, their own species or other species. To avoid this, you may choose to only house female Paradise fishes because they are not aggressive.

Paradise Fish Temperament & Behavior

Needless to say, these small beauties can be pretty aggressive. However this temperament is mostly just attributed to the males of the species. In this case, their temperament is almost similar to bettas. 

In the wild, Paradise fishes are natural predators and will eat all kinds of stuff like invertebrates, insects, and small fish. They are also territorial, which kind of comes with their belligerent attitude. Interestingly, Paradise fish colors change in response to stimuli. Their beautiful patterns change when they’re ready to fight, and dark blue lateral lines suddenly appear. Their fins fan out as well, signaling their desire to battle it out. These battles are usually among themselves, because Paradise fish are more hostile to each other than to other fish species. 

Paradise fish were actually very popular once upon a time, being that these fish also started the aquarist hobby. But because people had trouble with their aggressive natures, this popularity has waned over recent years. This is a sad fact, and mostly undeserved. Paradise fishes are not merely aggressive as their reputation suggests, but also active and entertaining. Many proud owners find themselves immensely amused by their antics, such as jumping around, sleeping in a corner, or reaching towards people from the glass. These same antics can land your little Paradise Gourami on your living room floor though, so keep your tanks covered!

To End

The beautiful Paradise fishes can be a treasure in any fishkeeper’s tank. They’re stunning, active, and have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves. They’re also easy to take care of and will hardly need much upkeep at all. 

The only real difficulty with Paradise fishes are their combative natures. You’ll have to plan their tank mates, tank setups and decorations around this behavior. 

But if you really want one of these spunky gouramis, you could design a single-fish, or an all-female tank. That way, you could enjoy your Paradise fish, and avoid any underwater battles.

Note: Please consider the environment before printing this Paradise Fish care sheet.

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