Pearl gouramis lip locking

Sordfish

I bought 3 juvenile pearl gourami about two months ago. They were too young to be sexed at the time. As of today two of them seems to have matured enough that they are sparring. In fact they are constantly facing each other and occasionally lip locking. It doesn’t seem horribly violent but I know this is a fight in the fish world.

Is this simply the two of them fighting for dominance and will go away after they sort it out? Or is this something I should be worried about? The third one is quite a bit smaller than the other two and is typically hiding. Interestingly if they feel threatened- such as when my cat tries to swat at the tank - the three still huddle together.

Any of you with experience keeping pearl gouramis: I’d appreciate your thoughts. Top is a closeup of them lip lock challenging. The bottom one is a whole tank shot. The tanks is 3ft, 65gallons.


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DoubleDutch

Could you take a closer pic of the three fish?
 

Sordfish

Could you take a closer pic of the three fish?
I'll try. The problem is when I get too close to the tank, they get spooked and warfare ends for a while.

May I ask what you are looking to see so that I can try and capture it better?
 

DoubleDutch

Their sex. From this angle they look to be both female and anxious to know what thsle third one is.
 

Sordfish

Thanks. That should be doable. They are still only about 3 inches in size. The third one is significantly smaller and typically hides.
 

Motherlovebetta

Mine did this for awhile they would almost peck at one another too, both female. I bought 3 more and it stopped completely.
 

Sordfish

Their sex. From this angle they look to be both female and anxious to know what thsle third one is.
Here they are. The first one is the little one. The next two are the ones that are sparring.

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jinjerJOSH22

Here they are. The first one is the little one. The next two are the ones that are sparring.

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The last 2 look like young males to me. Looks like they are developing tassels on the analfin and their dorsal fins look like they are growing larger than female, more of a rough shape also.

The first looks like it's got some fin damage around the analfin, could be that all 3 are males and the larger 2 are giving him a hard time.
 

DoubleDutch

The last 2 look like young males to me. Looks like they are developing tassels on the analfin and their dorsal fins look like they are growing larger than female, more of a rough shape also.

The first looks like it's got some fin damage around the analfin, could be that all 3 are males and the larger 2 are giving him a hard time.
Isn't it strange they're fighting this young Josh?

Think the smaller one better can be rehomed. Otherwise it won't have a live.
 

ProudPapa

They're social fish, so it's very possible that adding more will help the situation, if there's room in the tank.
 

jinjerJOSH22

Isn't it strange they're fighting this young Josh?

Think the smaller one better can be rehomed. Otherwise it won't have a live.
Not really, this should the period they start to sexually mature.
 

Sordfish

The last 2 look like young males to me. Looks like they are developing tassels on the analfin and their dorsal fins look like they are growing larger than female, more of a rough shape also.

The first looks like it's got some fin damage around the analfin, could be that all 3 are males and the larger 2 are giving him a hard time.
Thanks. I see why you mean re the little one's analfins. The larger ones do go after him if he approaches them. However, he is spending most of his time in the back behind the return lines where he/she is left alone.
Isn't it strange they're fighting this young Josh?

Think the smaller one better can be rehomed. Otherwise it won't have a live.
I am wondering re the same things. It really surprised me that they started sparring so early. I am not sure what, if anything I can do to reduce the sparring.

Since Friday, the larger ones go at each other half of the day. The other half, they cruise around by themselves. They are quickly establishing themselves as the kings of the tank. They occasionally chase after the Rasboras and even the smaller Cories (though I have never seen them do anything more than a short chase, after which they loose interest and move on).

Would adding more, instead of removing any, be a cure, similar to what Motherlovebetta suggested? Or are my options rehoming the little one and waiting on the two larger ones to see if they settle down?
They're social fish, so it's very possible that adding more will help the situation, if there's room in the tank.
Thanks. This is a 3' by 20" by 20" (about 60G water volume ) tank with a 15G sump. The way it is in the pictures is the way it is staying in terms of plantings/hardscape. Do you think there is room to add more? If so, how many?

In addition to the Pearl gouramis, there are 15 Harlequin Rasboras, 10 Cories, 1 bristle nose pleco and various invertebrates as a cleanup crew.
 

Motherlovebetta

In addition to the Pearl gouramis, there are 15 Harlequin Rasboras, 10 Cories, 1 bristle nose pleco and various invertebrates as a cleanup crew.
I would agree it looks like you have males. You have almost exactly the same stocking I have in my 75g. I have 5 pearls and I’m considering getting a few more. I think you would definitely be fine adding more. I would try and get a bunch of females maybe 4? That little one may still need rehoming it looks pretty stressed. Your tank is really nice, is that dwarf water lettuce? If so that should help them break up their lines of sight when it fills in more too.
 

Sordfish

I would agree it looks like you have males. You have almost exactly the same stocking I have in my 75g. I have 5 pearls and I’m considering getting a few more. I think you would definitely be fine adding more. I would try and get a bunch of females maybe 4? That little one may still need rehoming it looks pretty stressed. Your tank is really nice, is that dwarf water lettuce? If so that should help them break up their lines of sight when it fills in more too.
Thanks. I'll try and get to my LFS sometime this week. Hopefully they'll have mid size ones. I am afraid adding juveniles will give the large ones more targets to bully.

Good eye with the dwarf water lettuce - I would never have been able to tell it apart from other floaters based on these shots. And, yes the goal is to give some surface line of sight break, as well as provide some shield from the light.
 

Motherlovebetta

Thanks. I'll try and get to my LFS sometime this week. Hopefully they'll have mid size ones. I am afraid adding juveniles will give the large ones more targets to bully.
I could be wrong, but it may spread the aggression out until they sort out their hierarchy. Look at ProudPapa post about his Pearl Gourami tank if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s amazing.
School of Pearl Gouramis? | Aquarium Stocking Forum | 479129
Don’t be too impressed haha, I have dwarf water lettuce in all of my tanks growing like crazy.
 

ProudPapa

. . . Thanks. This is a 3' by 20" by 20" (about 60G water volume ) tank with a 15G sump. The way it is in the pictures is the way it is staying in terms of plantings/hardscape. Do you think there is room to add more? If so, how many?

I assume you've seen the post above from Motherlovebetta , so you can probably guess my answer.
 

Sordfish

I could be wrong, but it may spread the aggression out until they sort out their hierarchy. Look at ProudPapa post about his Pearl Gourami tank if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s amazing.
School of Pearl Gouramis? | Aquarium Stocking Forum | 479129
Don’t be too impressed haha, I have dwarf water lettuce in all of my tanks growing like crazy.
Thanks. I had read @ProudPapa’s thread and it is the reason I got courageous enough to try 3. But I guess I did not think big enough :).
I assume you've seen the post above from Motherlovebetta , so you can probably guess my answer.
Yes I can :).
 

DoubleDutch

I could be wrong, but it may spread the aggression out until they sort out their hierarchy. Look at ProudPapa post about his Pearl Gourami tank if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s amazing.
School of Pearl Gouramis? | Aquarium Stocking Forum | 479129
Don’t be too impressed haha, I have dwarf water lettuce in all of my tanks growing like crazy.
But how big is your tank ?
 

DoubleDutch

aahhhh ok then there is space
 

Sordfish

aahhhh ok then there is space
Mine is a 65G tank but hopefully should be fine. I'll find out tomorrow - my lfs has “large” ones for $10 each. Double the price of juveniles but worth it if it will dissipate the sparring.
 

ProudPapa

Mine is a 65G tank but hopefully should be fine. I'll find out tomorrow - my lfs has “large” ones for $10 each. Double the price of juveniles but worth it if it will dissipate the sparring.
That's a good price. Large ones are $12.00 here.
 

Sordfish

I could be wrong, but it may spread the aggression out until they sort out their hierarchy. Look at ProudPapa post about his Pearl Gourami tank if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s amazing.
School of Pearl Gouramis? | Aquarium Stocking Forum | 479129
Don’t be too impressed haha, I have dwarf water lettuce in all of my tanks growing like crazy.

I added 4 females. By the way, my existing two look just like the new ones - the males at the store had a much longer dorsal fins and had bright orange throats.

So far they are all hanging out at the front of the tank. There is occasional chasing or charging for a second but that’s it. Even the little one has ventured out some. Though retreated after being charged at. I may take him back to the LFS next week if he stays in his corner and get a larger male in his place.

Thanks for all the advice and I’ll keep you all posted as to how things go.

The fish at the very center is the little one.


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That's a good price. Large ones are $12.00 here.
I agree. That is 10$Canadian. $7US. Our prices tend to be a bit better here in Toronto due to competition. I am not sure whether your area has similar pricing to Austin, but I had found prices there to be exceptionally high. Before the pandemic, I used to travel to Austin, Boston and San Diego for work, and LFS prices in Austin were much higher than either of the other two cities.

And yes, I am a fish nerd - I visit local LFS in different cities for fun :).
 

Motherlovebetta

Sounds like a good plan! I just picked up 3 more myself yesterday 3/$15 US. I hope everything works out and your little guy comes around.
 

Sordfish

Sounds like a good plan! I just picked up 3 more myself yesterday 3/$15 US. I hope everything works out and your little guy comes around.
That is an exceptionally good price. Do you have a journal on your tank? Would love to see it.
 

Motherlovebetta

That is an exceptionally good price. Do you have a journal on your tank? Would love to see it
Unfortunately no I don’t. Too much evidence for my husband haha. The LFS has pretty fair prices, there’s a PetSmart and Petco within a mile of them so they freshwater stuff is reasonable. My tank is dark that wood has been leaching tannins for months. You can see a few of my Pearls (the rest are hiding in the lettuce), some of my harlequins, have albino and trilineatus cories, zebra loaches, leopard frog plecos and a bunch of spazz amanos.


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Sordfish

Unfortunately no I don’t. Too much evidence for my husband haha. The LFS has pretty fair prices, there’s a PetSmart and Petco within a mile of them so they freshwater stuff is reasonable. My tank is dark that wood has been leaching tannins for months. You can see a few of my Pearls (the rest are hiding in the lettuce), some of my harlequins, have albino and trilineatus cories, zebra loaches, leopard frog plecos and a bunch of spazz amanos.


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Very nice tank. I love the upside down jungle the lettuce roots form. I also like the darker water - that’s what I had when my apistos were breeding.
 

Sordfish

I wanted update this thread, mainly for others' benefit - far too many times people ask for advice but don't come back to let people know how well the advice worked in the long term.

In this case the advice from ProudPapa and Motherlovebetta worked like a charm. Adding 4 more to bring the total to 7 did the trick. The aggression immediately went down, but some chasing remained for another 2 weeks. Even then, they would be easily distracted as to whom to chase. Now, almost a month later, there is no aggression to speak of, except for a rare random chase. They tend to hang out at the front of the tank where they are fed. They are very personable and rush to the front glass as soon as they see one of the family members.

Also, the little one that was hiding in a corner had gotten into a very poor state. She had lost all of her analfin and 2/3 of her tail. I tried to give her away, but no one wanted her. I fully expected she would not make it. My wife was totally distraught when she caught a glimpse of her. I am happy to say that her fins have fully grown back and she is part of the school now. She swims everywhere with the big girls (and one big boy). PS: If any of you know why she is so small (half the size of the rest), I'd love to learn.

Thanks for everyone's advice - I would have never tried to add more if it wasn't for your inputs. ProudPapa you are clearly onto a solution here as to how to keep multiple pearls in a tank. They seem to behave like barbs and more aggressive tetras. Two or three are trouble. A school of 7 means peace.

Here is a recent picture of the tank - the little one is in the upper middle:


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jinjerJOSH22

I wanted update this thread, mainly for others' benefit - far too many times people ask for advice but don't come back to let people know how well the advice worked in the long term.
Agreed, and I love that you have updated us, thanks :D
In this case the advice from @ProudPapa and @Motherlovebetta worked like a charm. Adding 4 more to bring the total to 7 did the trick. The aggression immediately went down, but some chasing remained for another 2 weeks. Even then, they would be easily distracted as to whom to chase. Now, almost a month later, there is no aggression to speak of, except for a rare random chase. They tend to hang out at the front of the tank where they are fed. They are very personable and rush to the front glass as soon as they see one of the family members.
I think this is something very important for anyone who wants to keep Gourami. They are social fish and need numbers to be able to express this kind of behaviour.
They seem to behave like barbs and more aggressive tetras. Two or three are trouble. A school of 7 means peace.
Exactly! Personally I see little difference between how Barbs and Gourami socialize.
Also, the little one that was hiding in a corner had gotten into a very poor state. She had lost all of her analfin and 2/3 of her tail. I tried to give her away, but no one wanted her. I fully expected she would not make it. My wife was totally distraught when she caught a glimpse of her. I am happy to say that her fins have fully grown back and she is part of the school now. She swims everywhere with the big girls (and one big boy). PS: If any of you know why she is so small (half the size of the rest), I'd love to learn.
Happy this is also a success story. As for the size difference it could be genetic, not or Pearls are built the same.

Beautiful setup and I wish you luck in the future.
 

Sordfish

Agreed, and I love that you have updated us, thanks :D

I think this is something very important for anyone who wants to keep Gourami. They are social fish and need numbers to be able to express this kind of behaviour.

Exactly! Personally I see little difference between how Barbs and Gourami socialize.

Happy this is also a success story. As for the size difference it could be genetic, not or Pearls are built the same.

Beautiful setup and I wish you luck in the future.
Thanks so much!
 

ProudPapa

Agreed, and I love that you have updated us, thanks :D

I think this is something very important for anyone who wants to keep Gourami. They are social fish and need numbers to be able to express this kind of behaviour.

Exactly! Personally I see little difference between how Barbs and Gourami socialize.

Happy this is also a success story. As for the size difference it could be genetic, not or Pearls are built the same.

Beautiful setup and I wish you luck in the future.

What he said. I'm very glad it's working out.
 

Motherlovebetta

So glad that your littlest girl pulled through! Thanks for updating! So happy I saw this thread, actually inspired me to get a few more myself (8-7F/1M) and they get along so well and so crazy how the group dynamics changed adding the male even though he’s the baby of the group. They are great fish. Your tank is beautiful and your fish look happy.
 

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