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Paradise gouramis were one of the first ornamental fish available to western aquarium keepers, having been imported to Europe as early as the 19th century. These small fish (adults are typically about 10 cm (4")) are ideal lone inhabitants of aquariums. The paradise fish is one of the more aggressive members of its family, by being more aggressive than the blue gourami. Yet they are far less aggressive than the rarely kept combtail.
Paradise fish are fairly combative, harassing and attacking each other as well as potentially killing small fish. In the wild, they are predators, eating insects, invertebrates and fish fry. The popularity of this species has waned in recent decades as much more colorful (and often less pugnacious) species of gouramis have become widely available to hobbyists. This species is one of the few fish that can change its color (lighter or darker) in response to stimuli.
Habitat and diet
Paradise fish are tolerant of virtually any water conditions, surviving in cool and warm waters alike. They can be kept in outdoor ponds, or even the simplest of unheated aquariums. They will accept virtually any food, but should be given a reasonably high-protein diet (as opposed to vegetable-based foods of the sort sold for goldfish.) They also like eating mosquito larvae, black worms, brine shrimp and small flies.
In Taiwan the native populations of paradise fish have been reduced to low levels by pollution in the rivers, and now it is listed in Taiwan as a threatened species. The yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) is breeding in the absence of one of its main predators, and dengue fever is threatening the human population.
In home aquaria
Male paradise fish should be kept apart, since they will fight aggressively by locking jaws. A male can be kept with females; females may also be kept together in groups. A tank that includes paradise fish should be at least 20 gallons in size for a single male or 20-30 gallons for a community tank. The tank should be well planted and covered; bogwood and rockwork may be included.
Paradise fish are often aggressive thus tankmates must be chosen with care. Suitable tankmates include giant danios, large tetras, most smaller catfishes and even some of the less aggressive cichlids, such as firemouth cichlids.They can hold their own against most South American cichlid species of a similar size, that aren't overly aggressive. Slow-moving or long-finned fish such as fancy goldfish and freshwater angelfish are likely to be attacked, bettas and gouramis may also be victimized due to their resemblance to paradise fish. Male paradise fish may also attempt to court female bettas and gouramis.
Small fish less than 3 cm are likely to be consumed. Males are particularly aggressive and should not be kept with slow fish or fish with long, flowing finnage which is commonly shredded by the territorial paradise. In a community tank, male paradise fish fight other paradises, as well as any other fish for dominance. Paradise fish will often fight with other fish for dominance, particularly other aggressive, robust fish, such as cichlids, gouramis, and even flying foxes. They therefore should not be housed with any other fish which may attempt to challenge them, because this leads to fighting. If kept with significantly larger but non-aggressive fish, such as geophagus cichlids, large synodntis catfishes, or larger gouramis, they are usually submissive and do not act nearly as aggressively as when they are the dominant species in the aquarium. However, if the larger fish are also aggressive, they will not even attempt to fight and will take to hiding behind filters, plants, or in decor, and will succumb to stress.
As is typical of most bettas and gouramis, spawning involves a male building a bubble nest (a floating mat of saliva-coated air bubbles, often incorporating plant matter) and attracting a female to it. If the female accepts the male's advances, the fish will 'embrace' in open water, releasing both eggs and sperm into the water. The male gathers the fertilized eggs after each embrace, spitting them up into the bubble nest. After spawning, the male has no further use for the female and may violently attack her (and any other fish that approaches the nest.) Once the fry hatch and have begun to swim freely, the male is best removed and the fry raised on infusoria or newly hatched brine shrimp.
There is an albino form of Macropodus opercularis available. Many aquarist authorities consider this form to be less aggressive than the wild type, but also less hardy, having more trouble with low temperatures.
- "Macropodus opercularis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 30 January 2006.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Macropodus opercularis" in FishBase. 10 2005 version.
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