Last Updated: 2/28/14
Description and Varieties
Setup and Water Preferences
My Paradise Fish
Links and Pictures
Common name: Paradise Fish, Paradise Gourami
Scientific/Latin name: Macropodus opercularis
Maximum length: 2 to 4 inches
Colors: Red, blue, white, black, and more
Temperature preference: 60 to 70 degrees F, can survive 50 to 90 degrees F
pH preference: 7
Hardness preference: Moderate
Salinity preference: Low to 1 Tablespoon per 10 to 30 gallons
Compatibility: Varies; two males probably will not get along; may harass other fish
Life span: Unknown, maybe 3 to 8 years
Ease of keeping: Easy
Ease of breeding: Moderate
Description and Varieties
Macropodus opercularis is the paradise fish. It is a gorgeous melange of reds, blues, blacks, and whites. It is a labyrinth fish, thus, it can survive in waters with low oxygen content by gulping air. They can grow to about 4 inches and live at least a few years. There are also black and albino paradise fish that can interbreed as well as new varieties being "created" all the time.
Setup and Water Preferences
Unlike the commonly sold betta splendens or Siamese fighting fish, paradise fish can withstand water down into the 50's degrees F. They prefer the low 70's degrees F and can withstand hotter temperatures for short periods of time. Because of this, they are better suited to unheated, unaerated tanks than bettas. They do grow larger so should have at least 2 to 5 gallons a piece to themselves. The ability of paradise fish to get along with other fish varies. Unless the tank is large or there are a lot of hiding places, two or more paradise fish will probably not get along for too long. Two males especially will fight, though usually not as viciously as two male bettas. Female paradise fish can also fight with each other and males. Some say that their paradise fish do or do not get along with various other fish. Mine was rather laid back. He lived with a pair of rosy barbs and a plecostomus. My paradise fish never even lunged at these fish. He just hung out at the surface most of the time. They prefer moderate hardness and a neutral pH. Paradise fish eat most anything but mine preferred flakes to live food. He did not seem to want to bother to have to chase down his food. They supposedly like to eat pesky planaria.
Another note of importance: These fish jump, boy do they jump, so cover the tank leaving no holes they can jump through! The first one I bought, I put in a bowl for just a few moments before I was going to put him in the tank, turned around, and he was gone. It was two months before I finally found his body under the washing machine.
Paradise fish are said to make great tropical fish to use in ponds in summer but I have not tried it yet.
Males have longer fins and more bright colors than females. Without another fish for comparison, sexing is nearly impossible in my experience.
I had two paradise for a short time (they died prematurely) so I was not even sure of their sexes. As my paradise fish had never bred, this is just what I have read (but on 6/30/03 and later 5/10/05, my new pair did spawn so I know more now!). To initiate spawning, raise the temperature and reduce the water level. This simulates the dry season. The male builds a bubble nest as most labyrinth fish. When ready, the female and he spawn. He chases her off, tends the nest, and acts rather aggressively. Hundreds of fry (up to 500) are born in a few days. They need infusuria first due to their tiny size before graduating to baby brine shrimp.
One aquarist reports her paradise gouramis spawned after moving two females and one male into a 10 gallon tank with no surface agitation. When moved back to their main tank and back into the 10 gallon with no water movement, they spawned again.
My paradise fish did spawn. See below for details.
More information on fry care and feeding can be found at my breeding and fry care page.
On 4/4/07, Kao asked some questions about paradise fish breeding. Here are his questions and my attempts at answers.
My Paradise Fish
Years ago, I had a few paradise fish but they are long gone. I finally got some more on 6/13/03 when I bought a pair. I got a male and a female. I took a photo. They went into my 20 gallon mosaic pond for the summer. Read that section for information on what I did for their arrival and more on that pond. I named them Tic and Tac. When fall arrived, they came inside. I was not sure exactly yet where I would put them though (they went into a 5 gallon tank, a bit too small!). They were hiding under the fake mosaic in the pond but I sometimes caught them out in the open (and they dashed back under). Since there is a fountain, I did not expect them to spawn (they did!) in this pond but maybe later when I bring them in for the winter or even next year depending on whether they survive and where I put them. I could only see them from above in the pond, and they really reminded me of my old betta in the way they moved and reacted. They stayed on the bottom of the pond almost all the time.
On 6/30/03, I awoke to find the male had built a bubble nest! I added some duckweed to give them more cover and moved the fake plants to block the water movement near the bubble nest. The female came out of hiding and seemed egg-laden. He alternated cozying up to her and running her off. That evening, I saw what appeared to be spawning but by the next morning, both had retreated under the mosaic again, and the bubble nest was almost all gone. Perhaps they will try again! I guess paradise fish will spawn with some water movement and no live plants! So much for what I had read! Only time would tell if eggs are laid, if they could hatch, if the fry could survive in this setup, etc. On 7/5/03, the male made another bubble nest but it fell apart by the end of the day. He would hover under it. I think the water was just moving too much. I kept it on though to keep the water from stagnating and those two fish healthy. As of 7/11/03, there have been no more attempts, and the paradise fish have again retreated under the mosaic. I do not really need any more fish but if they come, I love them! Come back for updates!
On 7/19/03, I could have sworn I saw a paradise fish fry in the pond but never saw it or another one again (right away anyway)! The male continued his bubble nesting among the duckweed and fake floating plant. When I cleaned the pond on 7/26/03, I found the baby fish again! I held it in my water-filled hand so I did not imagine it! He is already probably a few weeks old. I hope he makes it as I can deal with one more fish! No other fry were seen. I again held the baby on 8/9/03. The baby had blue and red stripes so there is not doubt it is a paradise fish!
In August of 2003, a family of raccoons decided removing the fake plant and items from the mosaic pond and chewing on them was fun. Because the three paradise fish hid under the mosaic, they were safe. So, it turned out to be a good thing for them!
On 9/20/03, I moved the three paradise fish into a 5 gallon tank I had set up the week before. I had intended to put them in my 20 gallon indoor tub pond over winter but my mother had taken over the area where the plants and tub pond go and would not let me get there at least for a few more weeks. When I do set up the basement tub pond, I plan to put some goldfish fry in there for the winter instead of the paradise fish. The baby paradise fish is about 3-months-old and appears to be female and less colorful but may change as he/she gets larger. The baby is pretty big though! The male has been pestering the female quite a bit and chasing her into the corner. I have not noticed him make a good bubble nest in the new tank but there are stray bubbles all over. When the lights go out, the fish darken up quite a bit and lighten up during the day. They can really change color! If the male pesters the female too much, I will have to set up yet another tank for him! The female and baby get along. The male ignores the baby sometimes but has chased her a few times. I have lots of fake floating and anchored plants among which the female and baby try to hide from the male.
On 11/6/04, I noticed one of the paradise fish, the "baby" I think who is full grown has an injury behind her right gill. At first I thought it was physical from the others biting her but now, from the looks of it, I am worried it is a tuberculosis tumor. My health pages tell more about this horrid problem to which all of my fish have been exposed. I am hoping this is not the cause. I treated the tank with MelaFix for a week to aid healing and hope the fish will be fine.
On 5/10/05, when I came home, I noticed some bubbles in their tank. Looking closer, there were eggs. I scooped them out into a cup. By the next day, the ones I had not taken out were gone (eaten). My "baby" is a full grown male but I think it was the original pair, his parents, that laid these eggs. The eggs were the smallest fish eggs that I have seen. Many were opaque. The eggs were itty bitty, stuck to everything they touched (sides of the cup, etc.), and floated. On 5/12/05, the eggs started to hatch. That was FAST! The fry are in a comma configuration with a clear yolk on their bellies so they cannot swim. They are the smallest fry I have ever seen and look nothing like fry really (more like tiny insect larvae). Of the 30 or so eggs that I got, so far only half a dozen or so have hatched. I had planned to raise them in a tub pond but since I could only find four that hatched, I put them into a net breeder in my 20 gallon aquarium instead on 5/14/05. Now, we will see if I can keep them alive (feeding and cleaning are the problems). They still cannot really swim since their egg/yolk hinders them. All the others eggs just rotted. On 5/21/05, when I went to clean the net breeder, I found just two fry left. They are in pretty good shape and have grown a little bit. It is funny as I watch them swim, they have the same swimming behavior as their parents! As of 5/28/05, only one fry is left. This baby has become good at vanishing for a day or two at a time so that I thought he/she was dead but then reappeared. By 6/17/05, the baby is getting big and healthy! I first noticed paradise fish stripes on him on 6/14/05 at only a month old. Once big enough, I will probably release the baby into the 20 gallon tank, hoping he/she behaves him/herself. The 5 gallon tank is already too crowded with 2 male and 1 female adult paradise fish squabbling.
I let the baby out of the net and into the 20 gallon tank on 7/2/05. I think that is the shortest period of time it has taken for any fry I have had to be large enough for release! The little guy went exploring and tried to dash with the glowlight danios who are twice as big.
Update 10/1/05: The baby is almost as big as the parents and seems to be male (so it is a good thing he is not with his father, mother, and sister in a 5 gallon). He is very active and bothers the other animals less and less as he gets used to his life. He is full of personality! I accidently got him in a photo below.
When checking the bathtub for fry on 2/4/06, I found one. It could be a paradise fish or perhaps a glowlight danio but looks more like the former. I put the baby into my 20 gallon basement pond which has no fish right now. It is only about 67 degrees F in there, and the baby could get sucked into the filter. But, at least it has a chance since I did not want to set up a system just for one baby with my poor luck. I tore that pond down a few months later. There was no fish of course.
On 6/12/06, one of the two female paradise fish was found dead in the 5 gallon tank. I am assuming it was the older female but there is no way for me to tell them apart. The male may have beat her up. She was weak for the few days before she died. Two paradise fish remain in the 5 gallon tank. The "baby" in the 20 gallon tank is now totally full grown, and he rules the tank. He is doing better than the rest of his family.
The two paradise fish in the 5 gallon have been aging and deteriorating. One has popeye. One has strange white spots on her fins (not really like ick). I decided to do a week's treatment for ick as well as antibiotics starting on 9/30/06 to see if it helps.
As of 3/25/07, the younger paradise fish in the 20 gallon tank has not been seen in weeks. He has always been an active feeder and shows off. There are a lot of plants in the way but I fear the little guy may have died. I never found a body in or out of the tank. The other two paradise fish in the 5 gallon tank have actually gotten a little bit better and are hanging in.
I have two paradise fish left. The "baby" in the 20 gallon vanished so I assume he died at some point, and the body was eaten/decomposed someplace that I missed it. I looked all around the tank in case he jumped and found nothing. A few months ago, I did find a dessicated African dwarf frog though behind the tank next to that one (when I renovated my 50 gallon tank).
The two remaining paradise fish in the 5 gallon have gone through some strange phases. For a while, one was really bullying the other. Then, they both seemed to get really sick. I treated the tank for all sorts of things. Then, they seemed to recover. Then, they were buddies. Now, yesterday (6/9/07), I discovered one was blown up like a balloon. I think she caught fish tuberculosis-type dropsy. I put in antibiotics but I may finally lose the last few paradise fish. I will then put up the 5 gallon tank but it will only save me 10 minutes a week. I have had the paradise fish for four years now and yet is seems like forever. I had three paradise fish in there - mother, father, and daughter (I think). I am not sure which one died last year. My original male and female never looked that much different (as far as fin length or color) except sometimes when she would get fat with eggs and/or lose her color. If I had to guess, I would say it was the father who died. There has been no sign of interest in breeding from the remaining two fish but that could be due to age, aggression, and illness and not necessarily that they are both female.
Just as I anticipated, antibiotics (Maracyn I and II which are erythromycin and minocycline respectively) did not help the paradise fish. The hugely enlarged paradise fish died on 6/19/07. I have one left in the 5 gallon tank. If I had to guess, I would say it is the female born in the mosaic pond in 2003. I took photos of the huge paradise fish which are below. He/she was 3.5" long.
My last paradise hung at the surface of the five gallon tank for many long months. She finally died on 4/5/08. She was my last paradise fish.
Links and Pictures
Photos of My Paradise Fish:
Photos are listed from newest to oldest in groups by year.
Last paradise fish deceased on 4/5/08. I took a photo of her after I found her; she was my last paradise fish.
Dead paradise fish on 6/19/07. This
poor paradise fish was severely bloated. This is a bottom view. The fish got fat slowly over a
few weeks. I think it was more than just dropys, perhaps fish tuberculosis again.
Dead paradise fish on 6/19/07. This is a left side view. You can see how the blood vessels have burst due to the huge size of the fish.
5 gallon tank on 4/29/07. The two paradise fish are in the photo which I can see on my home computer but it is too dark to see them on my work computer so you may not see them.
Paradise fish in the 5 gallon tank on 2/4/06. The female is at the bottom, and the male is in the back. Their adult son is not in the photo.
Head of young male paradise fish in my 20 gallon
tank on 10/5/05. You can see the head of the young male paradise fish on the left and also the
male bristlenose pleco in the front right and the false Siamese algae eater in the back.
5 gallon tank on 6/19/05 with two of the three paradise visible at the opening.
Paradise fish in the 5 gallon tank on 10/9/04. I am not sure which fish this is but it is a pretty nice photo.
Baby paradise fish in the 5 gallon tank on 10/18/03. Her colors are
very muted compared to her parents. She is getting big at about an inch long!
5 gallon tank from the side with the male, female, and baby marked on 9/22/03.
Mom paradise fish in 5 gallon tank on 9/22/03.
Dad paradise fish in 5 gallon tank on 9/22/03.
Baby paradise fish in 5 gallon tank on 9/22/03, about 3 months old.
Pair of paradise fish - my male paradise fish (top) and female (bottom; that's not a reflection) paradise fish on 6/13/03 before putting them in the tub pond for summer.
Photos of Valerie's Paradise Fish:
Valerie sent me some photos of her paradise fish in August, 2005 to post on my forum. I am also
putting in links here to them. Her fish are/were a different color variant. There are philodendron
roots hanging into the tank. The fish seem to like that.
Female paradise fish
Male paradise fish
Paradise fish tank
Paradise fish tank with two new females
Pair of paradise fish with bubble nest - male on the left; you can see the nest above the female
Valerie sent some new photos on 2/3/06. Adam was a new male to replace the above male, Pari,
who had unfortunately died.
Adam (top) and Eve (bottom)
On 2/16/06, Valerie sent this not-so-great photo of an older baby paradise fish.
Baby paradise fish
If you are interested in reading the stories of about three people (including Valerie) who are actively breeding their paradise fish as of 2/9/06, check out my forum under fish.
Photos of Other People's Paradise Fish:
Andrew sent these photos of his paradise fish and their bubble nest on 5/20/06. They had
Paradise fish and nest
Paradise fish and nest
Paradise fish and nest
Paradise fish and nest
Paradise Fish - information on paradise fish and a photo of most likely a male. This site may no longer work. Please let me know if you know to where it has gone or know of other paradise fish web sites.
Paradise Fish - information on paradise fish
Paradise Fish Thread in my Forum - many people discuss their paradise fish, breeding, raising fry, etc. in this topic in my forum from 2005.
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