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Paradise Fish Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

paradise fish care sheet

This care sheet covers a variety of paradise fish species, including:

  • Blue paradise fish



Macropodus opercularis

The brightly colored paradise fish is a member of the Osphronemidae family native to Southeast Asia. They are a type of gourami and also known as the paradise gourami.


Typical appearance and behavior

  • Paradise fish have a labyrinth organ that allows them to breathe oxygen from the water's surface like a betta
  • Paradise fish have a unique sensory antenna extending from the pelvic fin that they use to feel around their environment and communicate
  • Males are larger and more colorful than the females; they also have longer dorsal and anal fins
  • Paradise fish are bubble nesters



Care Difficulty Beginner
Average Life Span Up to 8+ years with proper care
Average Adult Size Up to 4 inches long
Diet Omnivore
Minimum Habitat Size 10+ gallons, depending on species
Water Temperature 72-82°F



Habitat size

Keep paradise fish in an appropriate size aquarium. A minimum of 10 gallons, for an adult paradise fish, is recommended.  


Building your habitat

Water health

  • Provide proper filtration to ensure optimal water quality to help maintain health. Slow to moderate water circulation should be provided to mimic water currents found in the paradise fish’s natural habitat. Stable water quality (pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) and water temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing
  • An aquatic heater should be used to stabilize water temperature, ensuring it does not fluctuate more than 2 degrees in either direction in a 24-hour period
  • Many paradise fish will benefit from the addition of freshwater salt to the aquarium; the specific gravity should be kept at 1.004. Always research your species-specific needs before adding freshwater aquarium salt. Do not allow specific gravity to fluctuate more than 0.001 in either direction in a 24-hour period

Décor - Provide plants, rocks and decor for hiding places, caves and plenty of room for swimming



A well-balanced paradise fish diet consists of:

  • Food may be pellets, flakes, freeze-dried or frozen
  • Avoid exclusive food which is not nutritionally complete

Things to remember when feeding your paradise fish:

  • Depending on species and size, feed small amounts 1-2 times daily, no more than fish will eat in 1-2 minutes
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding


Paradise fish care

Maintaining great water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration is important to help keep your gouramis healthy

  • Daily: Check filter, water temperature and other equipment
  • Weekly: Test water quality at least once a week
  • Weekly to monthly: Change 10–25% of the total volume of water every 2–4 weeks, or as needed; change filter media monthly

Avoid overcrowded conditions, which are a major cause of stress and disease


Where to buy paradise fish

Paradise fish are available for purchase at your local Petco Pet Care Center; availability varies by location. Please call ahead to check availability.




Tank mates

Only a male and female can be housed together; two males will fight

  • Danios
  • Sharks
  • Catfish
  • Large tetras
  • Mollies
  • Swordtails
  • Gouramis that vary in appearance
  • Barbs



Signs of a healthy fish

  • Clear eyes
  • Healthy appetite
  • Bright, even coloring
  • Fins completely intact and undamaged
  • Regular breathing
  • Good coloration
  • Free of parasites or disease


Red flags (If you notice any of these signs, contact your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian)

  • Loss of color
  • Spots or fungus on body or mouth
  • Erratic swimming
  • Labored breathing
  • Frayed fins
  • Elevated scales
  • Weight loss
  • Bloating
  • Cloudy eyes or pop-eye
  • Loss of appetite


Common health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueFin rot Symptoms or CausesFrayed or disintegrating fins; the base of the fins usually reddens. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueIch Symptoms or CausesWhite spots appear on fins and body; fish rubs against hard objects or swims awkwardly. Suggested ActionQuarantine fish immediately; add freshwater aquarium salt and use a commercial ich remedy; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueFungus Symptoms or CausesWhite cottony growth and/or discoloration of the eyes. Suggested ActionQuarantine fish; use a commercial antifungal remedy as directed; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment
Health IssueBacterial infections Symptoms or CausesCloudy eyes, open sores and/or reddening of the skin. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; add freshwater aquarium salt; use a commercial antibacterial remedy as directed; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment
Health IssueCottonmouth or columnaris Symptoms or CausesCottony white growths along the body and/or gills, frayed fins and gills turn brown and necrotic in late stages; caused by bacterial infection. Suggested ActionQuarantine fish; improve water quality; lower aquarium temperature to 72°F to deter bacteria from growing; medicate as directed; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.



  • What do paradise fish eat? Paradise fish are omnivores and can be offered a variety of foods, including pellets, flakes, freeze-dried and frozen diets. Always provide a varied diet.
  • Can paradise fish live with guppies? Paradise fish are a semi-aggressive species and may attack small, docile species.
  • Can paradise fish live in a bowl? Paradise fish reach an adult size of 4” and require warm, stable water temperatures and should be housed in a properly set up aquarium.
  • Where to buy paradise fish? Paradise fish are available for purchase at your local Petco store. Availability varies by location; please call ahead to check availability.
  • Can paradise fish live with bettas? Paradise fish can be territorial and will fight with fish that look similar to themselves. It is best to avoid putting a paradise fish and betta together in the same aquarium.
  • How big do paradise fish get? Male paradise fish can reach an adult size of 4”.
  • How long do paradise fish live? Paradise fish can live up to 8+ years if properly cared for.


Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center store employee about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as atypical mycobacterium and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life and/or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of diseases.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing and/or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at for more information about aquatic life and disease.


The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.