Paradise Fish

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Macropodus opercularis - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Paradise Fish

Classic aquarium fish and member of the Gourami family. Aaron Norman


This hardy airbreathing species was the second exotic fish ever imported to Europe for early aquarists, reportedly to France in 1869 and Germany in 1876. Only the Goldfish came earlier.

Although not as popular as it once was, the Paradise Fish can put on a spectacular show when sporting its breeding colors. It builds a bubblenest and guards the young.

Males can be brilliant, and will fight each other. GNU Image by André Karwath aka Aka .

It is regarded as almost bulletproof, surviving in stagnant water conditions in the wild and being tolerant of all sorts of water and temperatures in the aquarium. Its rugged nature makes it ideal for beginning aquarists or a schoolroom tank, but it is far from perfect as a community fish.

Of the gouramis, it is among the most feisty and may harass its own kind and smaller fishes. Males have a reputation for shredding the fins of tankmates with long, flowing finnage.

Keep singly or one male with one or more females. (Having several females will help spread his aggressive mating advances.)

Family: Osphronemidae

Other common name(s):

Native range:

Habitat: Does best in a planted aquarium with driftwood and hiding places, along with some floating plants.

Maximum length: 6.7 cm (3 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 38 L (10 gal)

Water: Freshwater 16 °C (61 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: All levels.


Omnivore, but in the wild feeds primarily on insects, insect larvae, worms, crustaceans, and small fishes. Offer a variety of foods, mostly high-protein.

Aquarium Compatibility

Keep males singly or they will fight, often to the death, with lip-locking and fierce battles. A single male can be kept with one or more females. Will harass small, placid fishes, but can be kept with fast-moving larger danios such as the Giant Danio, catfishes, and self-assured cichlids.


Male builds a floating bubblenest and if successful in attracting a willing, egg-laden female, will embrace her under the nest and spit the fertilized eggs into the mass of saliva-coated bubbles.

Remove female after spawning or the male may kill her.

After hatching the fry can be raised on infusoria and newly hatched brine shrimp.


An albino form of Paradise Fish is aquacultured and often available.

Reference: A PocketExpert Guide to Freshwater Fishes
Image credit: AN
Text credit: JL