Paradise Fish 101: Care, Tank Size, & Tank Mate

Paradise fish (aka paradise gourami) are a beautiful freshwater fish that many aquarists are interested in.

Their unique colorful look makes them one of our favorites when it comes to aesthetics. You’ll find yourself staring at them for quite a while if you get some for yourself.

With that being said, there are some things you’ll need to consider when it comes to owning a paradise fish. While these fish are hardy and fairly easy to keep healthy, their aggression adds an element of difficulty to the equation.

In this guide, we’ll cover the essentials of paradise fish care and what you can expect if you purchase one for your tank. You’ll learn everything you need including tank size, diet, and compatible tank mates!

Species Summary

The paradise fish (scientific name: Macropodus opercularis) is a type of gourami that’s native to various parts of East Asia. They are primarily concentrated near Korea, the coast of China, and Vietnam.

They prefer shallow waters with a lot of plants and vegetation, which is something common to many species of gourami (such as the dwarf gourami). Although this is where they’re most comfortable, paradise fish have no trouble surviving in a wide range of other water conditions.

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Due to their beauty, paradise gouramis have been a popular tropical fish for quite a long time. In fact, they were one of the very first ornamental fish out there!

Unlike a lot of other gouramis, paradise fish are quite aggressive and feisty. They’ve been known to fight one another very regularly and tend to be more combative toward their own species than others. Having a great deal of respect for them in this regard is essential if you want to ensure that they live long and happy lives.


The average paradise fish lifespan is around 8 or 9 years. This assumes you’re providing them with good care and keeping them in a stress-free environment where they don’t feel the need to fight.

There have been some reported instances where paradise gouramis have lived to be over ten years old. However, these are very uncommon instances that you shouldn’t expect (even with the best possible care).


The appearance of paradise fish is really what it’s all about. When you see one swimming around it’s rather captivating!

Their bodies are just as interesting as their colorful patterns. They have long fins that flow while they swim and make their motions seen very elegant.

Paradise fish from the side

Their dorsal and anal fins roughly mimic each other and angle back past the caudal peduncle. At the very edge of these fins you’ll usually find a very thin strip of white that stands out no matter what color the fish is.

They have tiny little ventral fins with thin pieces that extend out from them and dangle as they swim. Their caudal fin is usually forked with a large surface area in the center that tapers back to the outer edges.

Paradise fish have the classic “gourami” body type that features a pointed head with a torpedo-like body that’s thin on the side.


As for the colors, there are a couple of different variations you can get with these fish. The most common color variant is a primarily blue and reddish-orange that fades near the top of their head (which is usually spotted).

There are alternative orange and blue stripes that run vertically down their sides but stop at their find. Their dorsal and anal fins are usually mostly blue with some lighter stripes thrown in, while their caudal fin is often orange with white edges.

There is a blue paradise fish that you can get that differs from the blue and orange color combo. They’re primarily blue with very faint orange instead of having two bright colors matching. The tails of blue paradise fish are more orange than the rest of them, but the color is quite faint and muted as well.


The average paradise fish size is roughly 2.5 inches in length. These fish are on the smaller side when it comes to gouramis.

This size means you’ll have the flexibility to keep them in slightly smaller than average tanks (although nano tanks are out of the question).

Paradise Fish Care

Paradise fish care is rather interesting in the sense that some of it is easy, and some of it can be tricky. This equates to a “medium difficulty” experience that anyone can handle, you just have to know the main areas you need to focus on.

For the most part, providing good care for your paradise fish is all about managing their aggression and keeping them in a stress-free environment. This will have a massive impact on their overall health, wellbeing, and happiness.

Tank Size

The minimum paradise fish tank size should be around 20 gallons for one fish. This will give them enough space to feel comfortable and also allow you to include the necessary additions and decorations (more on that later).

If you want to keep a few of them together you’ll need to add at least ten gallons for starters. Due to their potential for aggression toward their own species, more room is always better. Additional space will give these fish more places to call their own without the risk of them getting territorial.

Water Parameters

Paradise gourami are hardy and can handle a generous range of water parameters. This is one of the parts of paradise fish care that we would consider “easy” and something that anyone can handle no matter what their experience level is.

  • Water temperature: 68°F to 82°F (they’re reasonable options for cold tanks)
  • pH levels: 5.8 to 8
  • Water hardness: 5-30 dGH

Author Note: With that being said you’ll still want to stay in tune with the levels in your tank and perform regular water tests to be sure everything is running smoothly. Sudden shifts outside of the ideal range can still cause health problems in your paradise gourami. Stability is key.

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to setting up their habitat you’ll want to reference their natural environment as much as possible. Paradise fish come from shallow freshwater that has a lot of vegetation, so plants are going to be a great place to start.

Any of the classic plants like hornwort, java moss, and even dwarf hairgrass can all work with these fish. They’ll interact with these plants and use them for shelter and comfort.

This goes a long way in making sure they’re free of stress and feel safe. Frequent periods of stress can be bad for the health of a fish, so adding some plants is not optional.

You’ll want to go with a soft substrate as well. While paradise fish don’t spend much time at the bottom of the tank, it’s yet another way to help replicate their environment in the wild.

Additional hiding spots are not necessary items to include for these fish, but you might end up adding some for any tank mates they might have.

Common Possible Diseases

When it comes to paradise fish care there aren’t any species-specific diseases you need to be aware of. Instead, you’ll want to do whatever you can to protect them from common fish diseases like ich and infection.

The best way to prevent these is to simply keep the water quality in tip-top shape. Dirty water drastically increases the likelihood that your fish will get sick, so committing yourself to maintain great water quality should be a major priority.

Ultimately it’s cheaper and less time-consuming to keep their water in good shape than to try and treat illnesses after they strike. Plus, it means less suffering for your fish (which should always be your number one goal).

Food & Diet

In the wild paradise fish will eat a wide variety of foods depending on where they live. They’re omnivores which means they aren’t picky!

In a tank, you’ll want to maintain balance to their diet by giving them a mix of different foods. Flakes and pellet food make for a great base of reliable nutrition that is affordable and simple to feed them.

However, it’s important not to forget about the value of protein in their diet. In the wild they’ll get a lot of protein from different kinds of insects, so incorporating that into their feeding schedule is a must.

Bloodworms, brine shrimp, larvae, and white worms are all great choices. Try to feed them live food when possible to maximize the nutritional density of their foods and provide them with enrichment. 

You can feed your paradise shrimp once or twice a day depending on your schedule. We recommend twice if possible because that will reduce stress (it’s fun for them to eat) and be better on their digestive system.

Behavior & Temperament

There’s a lot to like about the general behavior of paradise fish. They’re fun fish to own and they always seem to be up to something! It makes watching them a blast.

Paradise fish swimming
A blue paradise fish swimming near the surface

They spend most of their time in the upper half of the tank. This is primarily due to the fact that they have a labyrinth organ which means they need to get their air from the surface (it functions kind of like a lung).

Because of this, you’ll often see them swimming up and down from the surface as their general pattern of movement.

In terms of their temperament, paradise fish are an interesting bunch. Overall they are definitely quite aggressive, but it’s kind of situational.

There are a handful of compatible tank mates that you can pair with paradise fish. The most important thing is for the other fish to be larger than them, and not aggressive (more details in the section below). This doesn’t hold true 100% of the time but more often than not everything will be fine.

However, they can also be rather grumpy when it comes to each other as well. In short, these fish are very feisty and prone to aggression no matter who they’re dealing with.

This isn’t just grumpy nips and displays of territorial behavior, paradise fish have the capacity to go after each other to the point of serious injury or death.

This behavior is one of the most important things you’ll need to be aware of when it comes to paradise fish care. Monitoring aggression and putting them in places that minimize the likelihood that they’ll fight should be priority number one as an owner.

We don’t say that to scare you, and multiple fish of the same species can definitely be kept together without incident. It’s just essential to know that this is a possibility if the stars align (in a bad way).

Author Note: Breeding and mating will significantly increase the potential for aggression with these fish. For the most part, you’ll want to keep an eye on the males but tensions will rise among all of the fish.

Paradise Fish Tank Mates

The perfect paradise fish tank mates are fish that are larger than them, but not aggressive. This is because they’re too big for the little paradise fish to cause them any harm and they won’t start fights either.

Fish that are their size or smaller are not compatible tank mates. Your paradise fish will likely pick on, injure, and potentially kill them.

Any aggressive fish are tank mates to avoid as well. Two dominant aggressive temperaments in the same tank will always lead to conflict and fights at some point, which is obviously a major issue.

Some paradise fish tank mates that aquarists have had success with are:

While a lot of owners tend to keep these fish alone due to this potential for aggression, if you have your heart set on a community tank it’s definitely possible. Simply stick to the guidelines that we’ve listed in this section and you should be fine.

Author Note: Always make sure to monitor your fish closely when introducing them to each other. The first week or two will be very telling when it comes to confirming compatibility.

Considerations For A Species Tank

If you’re going to keep a few paradise fish together in the same tank it will be very important to determine the gender before attempting this. This is because males are far more likely to fight than females, so having multiple males in the same tank is usually a recipe for disaster.

A side profile of the paradise gourami

With that being said, paradise fish are totally fine being kept along as well. If you’re primarily concerned about minimizing any chance of aggression or fights, this is your best bet. 


Breeding paradise fish is fairly straightforward and something that pretty much anyone can do. You’ll need a breeding tank around 20 gallons large with a much lower water level than normal. Slightly over half a foot of water is the way to go.

The male paradise fish will build a bubble nest beneath some leafy plants before trying to get the female interested. Once they’ve successfully mated you’ll need to move the female to another tank for her safety.

Male paradise gourami take the process of defending their nest VERY seriously, and will even attack the female if she gets too close!

Once the eggs have hatched you’ll need to remove the male from the tank as well. This will prevent him from potentially eating the fry, even after defending them so aggressively as eggs (fish do weird things sometimes).

The Wrap Up

Paradise fish care is an interesting process. A lot of the aspects of keeping these fish happy and healthy are actually pretty easy. They’re hardy and relatively low-maintenance when it comes to water and tank conditions.

But their aggression is a whole other story.

This is what most of your time and planning will be devoted to if you decide to own one of these fish. Paradise gouramis are quite feisty and have no fear when it comes to initiating conflict with other fish.

Despite all that, we think they’re still a great freshwater fish to buy. They’re fun to watch and look absolutely stunning!

If you’re on the fence or are concerned about potential issues with aggression, we recommend that you consider a single-fish tank. That will give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy their natural beauty.

If you have any miscellaneous questions about these fish or have stories/experiences to share, get in touch with us! Any additional information that can help make this guide better is always welcome.

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