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Trichogaster leerii, Bleeker, 1852
Pearl gourami


Origin:Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia; Borneo,Sumatra.

Etymology: Named in honor of Thijs van Leer.

Synonyms:Trichopus Leerii, Bleeker, 1852, Osphromenus Trichopterus, Trichopus Leeri, Trichogaster Leeri

First European import: (East) Germany, 1933, by Härtel.

Description:See pictures. The males in the pictures don't show the full color of breeding.

Care:The natural habitat of T. leeri is in small flowing rivers with lots of plants, and in lakes. These lakes can sometimes be completely covered with plants. They can be found between floating plants, and definitely prefer the higher regions in the tank. To get them to fully show their colors they can be kept at lower waterlevels(30 cm) or in densely planted tanks. It is important to keep the air temperature approximately equal or higher than the watertemperature. Leeri's are very sensitive to cold air, so cover the tank well. Other than that, the fish are quite hardy, and do well in virtually every surrounding..
If more than one pair is kept in a smaller tank sometimes the males may display some territorial behavior. I kept two males together in a 80 cm tank for more than 5 years without any fighting, which contradicts Baensch & Riehl (1995). They state fighting behavior does occur between males. Overall they are very peaceful fish that will display a sort of grace in an aquarium. They shouldn't be kept with aggressive fish, or fish larger than themselves, since then they will loose their color and become shy.

Temperature:24-28 degrees.

Feeding:Will eat all known food. They tend to be slow, since they inspect the food before it is eaten.
Make sure they do get some food if they are kept in a community tank. In older books it is often advised to feed lots of live food, which may still be required by wildcaught fish.
Trichogaster leerii

Size:10-12 cm

pH: 6.0-8.0

Breeding: Trichogaster leeri are able to breed at 2 years of age. A rise in temperature combined with a lowering in the waterlevel will usually induce spawning. Prior to this they should be fed well with live food, especially mosquito and other insect larvae. They don't seem to care much about watervalues, provided the water is clean. They will breed in the sections of the tank where current isn't present, and will build a high and large foamnest between or under floating plants. The male will display beneath the nest for the female. After an embrace both parents collect the eggs, and place them in the nest. After a while the pair tires and the male chases the female away. In a large enough tank the female can remain in the tank, but in smaller tanks it's better to remove her. The male will care for the nest and eggs until the fry are free swimming(5-7 days after spawning). The male should then be removed as well. The fry can be fed on ground flakefood, combined with artemia nauplii.

Sexual dimorphism:Male has a larger and more intense reddish throat, especially when in breeding condition. Dorsal fin of the male is longer(Extends beyond the caudal base), and the fin rays of the anal fin are elongated in fully grown fish.

Prices:Netherlands: Male 7 Euro, Female 7 Euro for full grown fish. Juveniles can be found for around 1 Euro, depending on size.

Additional: An ugly breeding form exists, and is know as Trichogaster leerii gold. Since it's really ugly compared to the natural beauty, it will probably disappear again.

Baensch and Riehl (1982) do not report this fish in Thailand. Many Trichogaster species are considered food in Asian countries, where they can be bought at markets, so they may have been introduced in Thailand. Many years earlier Sachs describes this fish only coming from Malakka(Malaysia).

This fish has been reported to live up to 9 years.

Picture references: All pictures:: E. Naus

References:Baensch, H. A., Riehl, R.(1982): Aquarien Atlas I. Mergus Verlag, Melle, Germany.(click on the link to buy this book)Schäfer, F.(1997): Aqualog - All Labyrinths, Verlag A. C. S. Gmbh., Mörfelden - Walldorf, Germany.

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