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Breeding Paradise Fish

Male  Paradise fish (Macropodus opercularis). Copyright André Karwath, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.
Male Paradise fish (Macropodus opercularis). Copyright André Karwath, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. | Source

The Paradise fish, Macropodus opercularis, also known as the Blue Paradise Gourami, is among the easier tropical fish to keep and breed. Native to East Asia (China, Taiwan and Vietnam), Paradise Fish were first imported to Europe in the early 1800s. Since they could be kept in small, unheated containers and bred readily, they quickly became popular. Although their popularity has waned, they remain attractive fish that are easy to keep and easy to breed.

Paradise fish are classified as 'semi-aggressive' tropical fish. They can be kept in a community tank, but the tank must be large (so that bullied fish have somewhere to escape) and should have a lot of plants, rocks or driftwood to break up the line of sight. Avoid small tank-mates (they are likely to be harassed or hunted), fin-nippers (like tiger barbs) that might go after the long trailing fins of the Paradise fish, and fish with a similar body shape and behaviour (like other gouramis or bettas) as these are likely to be perceived as potential enemies or rivals.

Like their cousins, the Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens), Paradise fish are air-breathers. In their natural environment they inhabit small pools which are frequently oxygen-deficient.

Males and females can be kept together. Most people advise against keeping more than one male in a tank, but I have successfully kept adult siblings together. They seemed to work out a pecking order as they matured and things were stable until I removed the six largest males. Doing so destablised the hierarchy, and there was some aggression among the siblings until they worked out a new hierarchy.

Breeding

Paradise fish are bubble nest builders. A male will build a bubble nest on the surface of the water, usually interspersed with floating vegetation or under a leaf on the surface. Breeding can be triggered by raising the temperature, although I have found that they will breed in winter with no apparent change in environmental conditions. When the female is ready to mate she will approach the male and turn on her side. The male wraps his body around hers, and she releases eggs at the same time that he releases sperm. The eggs are lighter than water and float up into the nest. The parents then separate and the male will chase the female away from the nest and often add a few more bubbles.

Male Paradise fish guarding its bubble nest. Copyright I. Ramjohn
Male Paradise fish guarding its bubble nest. Copyright I. Ramjohn
Bubble nest on the underside of a leaf. Copyright I. Ramjohn
Bubble nest on the underside of a leaf. Copyright I. Ramjohn

Mating takes place repeatedly over the course of a few hours, usually at night. Between 500 and 1000 eggs are commonly produced. Once they are done mating, the male chases the female away from the nest; at this stage it is best to remove her. When my fish bred in a community tank, I the male kept the female away from the nest but she patrolled and outer "perimeter" and kept other fish at a distance from the male.

The eggs will hatch in about 24 hours and the fry remain in the bubble nest until they absorb their yolk sacs. Once they start to swim away from the nest, the male can be removed - if he remains with the fry, he won't eat. Once he starts eating, he is likely to eat the fry. So for the best health of the male and the fry, it's a good idea to remove him.

Free-swimming fry should be fed with commercial fry foods or infusoria. After about a week they can be fed on newly hatched brine shrimp. As they get bigger they can be switched to more conventional fish food. Although they have a reputation for being aggressive, siblings raised together will tolerate one-another quite well. The biggest challenge is figuring out what to do with the babies you have raised - it's easy to raise 50-100 offspring from a single spawning.

Newly hatched fry on bubble nest.
Newly hatched fry on bubble nest. | Source
Two week old fry.
Two week old fry. | Source

For a novice fish keeper who wants to experience what it's like to breed something more challenging than guppies, Paradise fish are an excellent place to start. One advantage over Siamese fighting fish is that the males are less aggressive to the females (or the females are better able to hold their own against overly aggressive males). Male Siamese fighters will harass a female (sometimes to death) if she is not ready to spawn. I have never observed a similar phenomenon with Paradise fish.

There is one things to bear in mind before you try breeding Paradise fish - once a pair has successfully spawned, it can sometimes be a challenge to get them to stop.

Comments 28 comments

maggie33 8 years ago

Hi, I just had my paradise fish breed again for the third time. The first time I have 8 or 10 left. The second time I lost the whole batch. This time they hatched in a 10 gallon tank (breeding tank) Friday night. Now I have a bunch of wriggling black little fish. I took the female out finally after trying to catch her for hours, she sure gets away and hides good! I had to take out the plants on her side all the while trying not to disturb the nest, but finally got her. I just took out the male today as I have several black swimming fish. I am wondering if I should have left him in longer? I read your article and enjoyed it thoroughly. It is funny that the fry turn from black to almost opaque almost overnight. Thanks for letting me post.

Maggie3


I Ramjohn profile image

I Ramjohn 8 years ago Author

I think it's fine to take out the male once the fry are free-swimming. It can be fun to watch him try to keep an adventurous brood of fry in line, but it puts him under a lot of stress (since he won't eat as long as he has babies to guard), serves no real purpose (since there are no other fish for him to defend the fry from) and poses a constant danger that he will choose to start eating his own children.


shawn 7 years ago

i read this web.

i have a lot og breeding fish but not these.

i am going to get some thx for the advise.


Sahir 7 years ago

bettas r easy


Peggy95 7 years ago

Hi I read your page and i think its really good and I got a lot og info from it.

My paradise fish builds a little bubble nest and then over night it disappers. I think the catfish might be destroying it. I only have 1 catfish and 1 male paradise with 2 felmales in the tank and if you think its not my catfish- What could it be?


Joe 7 years ago

Hi

I accidentaly triggerd my paradise fish to make a bubble nest... by putting my female in a sepperate tank right beside the male... only problem is... i cleaned the males tank out because i didn't know! (was sold the fish and the fish guy told me lies... and that they wouldn't breed) So whilst his new tank settles for 24hrs and she is still broody i am keeping them together (side by side in two separate tanks) then transferring him to the new one... and her into it the next afternoon. Ive transferred some of the floating plants from both tanks into the new main one... so with any luck... might still get babies?

HELP!!!???? did i just accidentally ruin the chance of them reproducing?


alex1133 7 years ago

hey i have paradise gouramis and they mated. i was wondering how often do they mate


alex1133 7 years ago

does the male make the bubble nest when he is ready to mate or after he mated


kyila 7 years ago

so cool but how do they have them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I Ramjohn profile image

I Ramjohn 7 years ago Author

If the nest is breaking up overnight, it might be water or air currents. If you're running a filter, the water current will break up the nest once the male stops maintaining it. Since they aren't active at night, even a fairly weak current can do a lot of damage. On the other hand, a dense mat of plants will do a lot to reinforce the nest.

If you see the male and female embrance, you probably have eggs. Don't worry too much if you destroy a nest with eggs - they'll keep trying. You can usually tell if there are eggs or fry based on the male's behaviour - if he's chasing the female away, there are eggs in the nest.

Once they have laid eggs, the male will maintain the nest, but may do so rather half-heartedly. After the eggs hatch, the male will continue to blow bubbles and try to keep the fry together. If you don't feed them, they'll disappear in a couple days. I've had a few babies survive and grow to maturity in a community tank, but the odds of survival are low.


mulla 7 years ago

I have bred paradise fish a few times now and everytime they hatch and then start dying... i have separated the male from them and there are no other fish in the tank....they last a couple of days and then die off. I have been feeding them... do you have any ideas as to why they are dying???


Zu 7 years ago

I have a male paradise fish, Hes on his own right now as the female I was sold was actually a male and had to be rehomed! Hes been on his own in a tank with cloud minnows but has started building a nest over night? Is this normal? What is he doing?!


mulla 7 years ago

i now have 2 babys left out of a heap of them just like last time what am i doin wrong


mickcerta 7 years ago

I have a pair of Albino Paradise Fish. Can I keep a pair of Albinos and another, more colourful female in the same tank together and will the Albine male mate with both females? What will the fry look like? Any info would be gratefully appreciated!


rick 7 years ago

I recently hatched paradise fish and so far they seem to be doing well. They are about a week old. I shut off the filter and leave the light on constantly to evcourage algae growth because I read some where that they will eat micro algae so far it seems to be working I still have probably 50 or more. I have also tried feeding them frozen baby brine shrimp but I'm not sure if they are eating it, it is too hard to tell yet.


vicki 7 years ago

We are having a hot spell and my male paradise is building a nest. They live in a large rose bowel on the veranda. Last year i got 5 fish to maturity so this year i thought i would take the older ones out. I couldn't tell if their were eggs in the bubbles so i took all the fish bar the male out. I kept trying to feed the male and he kept feeding so i thought i had taken them out to early. I then put the female back in thinking they hadn't bred and tonight with a torch i looked into the water and saw one little fry. Question- Do you know if all the fry hatch at the same time and i can also see these little white lines wriggling around, only tiny, about 2ml long. What are these and are they fry too.


sam 6 years ago

i have 2 paradise fish and one is making nests that keep coming and going, but they look like 2 males

is this normal? it is possible that they are a male and female but i don't think so??


ashley 6 years ago

to breed paradise fish all i do is turn the filter off and they breed everytime without a doubt! ive lost count how much iv bred them


dan 5 years ago

if i have plants in my tank do i need to shout off the filter i have flotting plants


Sian 5 years ago

Hi there, i have 2 paradise fish one male one female, had them for about 6 months or so now, they weren't overly young when i got them and are nice size now. they are in a tank with some danios and plecos none of which bother them at all. But they don't seem to breed? any ideas why or what i can do to help them? Please reply


Emz 5 years ago

Hi, I have 2 paradise fish in a 248L tank with a lot of different fish.. They arent the smallest fish and deffantly not the biggest fish in the tank.

I have african and american fish in the same tank. Its a very aggressive tank but all the fish are great and not bothering each other.

I was told that none of my fish will breed because its such a confused tank however i have 3 electic yellow fish they have bred no worries.

I was looking at my paradise fish and it looks like they were going to mate, they are turning around each other spreading their fins and shaking, I know the yellow fish do this so i was thinking its the same, but i read your info and theres nothing on them doing that but he is always chaseing her away, from what i don't know but there isn't really a place for the nest there is one leaf close to the surface but no bubbles..

Our filter is very big and very strong so i don't see it working.

So i was thinking i have 2 other tanks one has little barbs, tetras and little babies and the other has a electic yellow with unhatched babies and a strong filter.

I was wondering if its a good idea to when my babies get a little bigger i should put both paradise fish in that tank and hope they breed but they are a little bigger than the fish in that tank so would they kill my little fish? or should i when my elecric yellow has her babies put them in to that tank and turn off the filter?

It would be great if you can help me. Id love to breed these fish.

Thanks for your time.


sid16 4 years ago

hi i just got a paridise fish and i think its a female because of its color and belly but it seems kinda agresive ( especially when my brother walks by ) is this normal for a female to be agreesive or is it a male


sid16 4 years ago

i would also like to breed if it is a female so what size tank should i breed it in and how would i go about getting them all homes


AKINOLA AWOYINKA 4 years ago

I RAISE GOOD NUMBER OF PARADISE FISH, I NEED MARKET FOR IT. MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS akinawo2000@yahoo.com. tel. +234 80 77377017. LAGOS, NIGERIA


paul 3 years ago

i want to know how small the babies be


Kelsey 3 years ago

Hi so I have 1 paradise fish and she had about 6 frys and so far she hasn't eaten them and it only been a week and I don't know if I should separate them or not it doesn't seem like she is going to eat them but I'm worried she's also been acting weird whenever she sees them she freaks out and has been hurting herself! I NEED HELP PLEASE!!!!


mitch 23 months ago

just got a paradise fish and im planing to breed in a community tank should or shouldn't i


I Ramjohn profile image

I Ramjohn 23 months ago Author

It depends on how big the tank is, and who they're sharing it with. It's always better to give them their own space to spawn - it means less conflict with other fish, and a better chance of the fry surviving.

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