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My Pearl Gouramis are terrified of me

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I have quite fresh pearls and recently, if I sit down in front of the tank when the lights are out, they will freak out and start this behavior too. When lights are on and I do the same they are calm. I expect they can see me with lights off but not with lights on. Maybe you need to increase the light to make the reflection of glass inside preventing them seeing outside? Just musing
 
Funny thing is it doesn't matter. Last night my wife and I were bringing groceries inside from the garage. That would be coming from the hall to the left in the pictures. We had all of the lights on around/near the tank. Gouramis were losing their minds. One of them completely disappeared. I had to look around the tank with a flashlight to make sure she didn't jump out. She was alive and well this morning so she must have buried herself in the plants. The other day one of them knocked one of the glass catfish stupid during one of her freak outs. Thankfully the catfish survived with no obvious injuries. I honestly don't know what to do at this point.
 
I wonder if introducing a new male would help calm things down? I don't know an awful lot about gouramis but I'd they were fine until the first male dies then it may be worth trying with another?
 
My fish all freak out at the slightest movement outside the tank when the lights are off. I thought this was normal as I've experienced this for nearly 50 years! I always assumed it was due to the reflection thing - it makes changing light tubes a challenge!
I had another weird experience last week relating to fish behaviour. My plants became VERY overgrown and during this time the fish would only eat Tetra Crisps. This was always their favourite but they literally ignored everything else, even though they were clearly hungry and excited for food. I'd add a couple of Crisps to encourage them and they'd snap those up but still ignore everything else. As soon as I cut the plants right back they returned to normal. I didn't think to measure at the time but perhaps the massive overgrowth caused pH swings that effected their behaviour.
 
I wonder if introducing a new male would help calm things down? I don't know an awful lot about gouramis but I'd they were fine until the first male dies then it may be worth trying with another?
This has definitely been on my mind since losing the male. Unfortunately none of my lfs's, and theres quite a few, had any pearls in stock the past few months. I'm wondering if there is some bullying between the females that im not seeing and maybe it's just one that's stressed, freaking out, hence causing the others to do so as well. Perhaps the one that disappeared the other night is receiving the brunt of it. Maybe pulling all of those plants out removed the cover they used to get away from each other?
 
This has definitely been on my mind since losing the male. Unfortunately none of my lfs's, and theres quite a few, had any pearls in stock the past few months. I'm wondering if there is some bullying between the females that im not seeing and maybe it's just one that's stressed, freaking out, hence causing the others to do so as well. Perhaps the one that disappeared the other night is receiving the brunt of it. Maybe pulling all of those plants out removed the cover they used to get away from each other?
A distinct possibility.
 
Hey all! So, Lets just say things have not improved. I noticed one of the glass cats, which I assume was the one that got hit by the gouramis, acting odd last few days. I found him dead this morning. I guess it may have sustained internal injuries as they are so delicate. On top of that, last night, tank and room lights out, no one near the tank, the gouramis started bugging out. Bad. I'm at a loss here. Unfortunately I haven't had the time to do anything substantial with the tank other than letting the floating plants grow in and adding fertilizers to increase plant growth, hoping to make them denser. I'm currently doing a water change and everyone seems fine. I don't get it...
 
Sorry to hear you're still having a hard time!

I'm not at a gourami expert. But logically, along with trusting @Slaphppy7 's opinion and the fact you've maintained this tank beautifully, and the issue only began when you lost the male, I'm inclined to agree that it's likely territorial/bossiness from one or more females causing the issues, that the male used to keep in line.

If you're having problems sourcing a male through the stores, I'd personally be looking for a male from other hobbyists. @TwoTankAmin I know you're in NY, any suggestions for minding a male pearl gourami without buying from a dodgy online wholesaler?

Certainly where I am, there are a lot of fish rehoming groups on Facebook, specific to certain areas, but they're becoming harder to find as FB is stamping down on any trade of live animals on their platform. Mainly because of people buying and selling stolen or backyard bred dogs and cats, but it's affected any live animal trade, naturally.

But an ap called BAND may be useful, if it's available there, and I think it is. Can join fish hobbyist groups in your area, and try to source a male that way if you advertise that you're looking for a male. I can imagine anyone looking to rehome a fish would be delighted to home it with you in that beautiful set up!

I have a very skittish blue spot gourami female. But I got her from a neglected tank of fish I saw being advertised on Gumtree. The owners were moving and wanted to sell the tank and fish, I messaged and offered to adopt the fish, so they'd have an easier time selling an empty tank, and I'd provide a good home for their fish, or at least QT and get any I couldn't keep back to good health, and find good homes for those. They happily agreed, and gave me their single otocinclus, three spotted corydoras of unknown species (there are a lot of very similar looking corydoras!) the very pale and stressed female blue gourami, and a stunning, but adult, 6 inch rainbow shark.

I'd set up a 22g as a QT tank, but as soon as I added the fish, including the rock cave that they said the rainbow shark used and loved the most, the shark began to chase and harrass the blue gourami relentlessly, and she was terrified, nipped, and I got her out of there ASAP. I broke QT for her and added her to one of my large peaceful tanks, and while she coloured up and wasn't being harassed by a territorial rainbow shark anymore, she remained incredibly shy and skittish. I don't know how long she was stuck in a tank with that rainbow shark, but she's still shy, usually holds back during feedings until I've moved away, and dives for cover the moment anyone enters the room her tank is in, even more than a year later, and only living with peaceful fish.


Oh, after a month of quarantine and a lot of searching, I found the perfect home for the rainbow (beautiful as he was, I didn't have a tank that would work for that sort of fish, so couldn't keep him) the oto happily joined my gang of otos, and the cories were added to my group of 20 cories, and the blue gourami lives with them too.

I just provided a lot of hiding places for her, so she knows where she can dive behind and escape too quickly. maybe add some more hardscape, even if as a temporary measure? My girl often hides behind a bit chunk of driftwood I have in there, or dives into the thicker area of plants. If I slowly and gradually work my way towards the tank, and sit in the chair next to it without making sudden jerky movements for a while, she relaxes and comes out again. I'd put her skittishness down to her fear that she may be attacked by a rainbow shark at any moment - but perhaps it's more than that? I'll be thinking on it, anyway!
 
Thank you for your advice 😁. I actually went to a lfs yesterday with the hopes of finding a male but the store was having some kind of event, so it was a madhouse. I'm going to try again this week. If adding a male helps this, that would be amazing
If not, I may be rehoming 4 pearl gouramis.
 
Please update us, either way? I'd love to know if adding a male resolves this issue.

This is one reason I haven't gone for getting gourami, except the one I acquired as a rescue. Because they can be tricky in groups, and I don't yet have the experience or knowledge to know how to manage a group.

Plus I tend to keep tiny nano fish as a preference, that's all. Might try a group of honey gourami sometime, if I can find real honeys!
 
I love that you rescue fish. I've done that myself. I was doing work in a motel in the city. I went into the maintenance area and there sitting on a work bench was a 1/2 gallon cherry jar with a male betta and not 1, BUT 2 juvenile Australian rainbow fish in it. I begged the guy to let me take them home and give them better lives. It took some persuading but he finally gave in. The betta unfortunately didn't last long but the 2 rainbows, which were male and female, grew to be big, beautiful adults in my 65 at the time. They eventually moved to a friend's 120 where they lived out their lives in a proper home.
 
I love that you rescue fish.

I've only done it a couple of times, usually just seeing really neglected tanks for sale on Gumtree while I'm browsing, and then feeling moved to offer a home. In this case they were trying to sell the tank fast since they were moving, they weren't sure what all the fish were, the photos showed a dark and filthy tank, and some cories, I spotted the single oto, and that was it. Otos and cories are some of my favourite fish, I already had a gang of otos and I know they're much happier in numbers, so I said I didn't need or want the tank, but could take in the fish, and then they'd either have an easier time selling the tank empty (since most people want to choose their own fish!) or could move and store it more easily anyway. They almost bit my hand off at the chance, so I set up a quarantine.

It took that whole month of QT to find him a suitable home though. Some people want a free fish whether it'll work with their current stocking or not, so had to turn a couple down, was thinking I might have to give him to the LFS I trust, who were willing to take him, when I found a really good home for him. Tank was perfect for him to have the bottom level to himself, lots of room and caves to explore. Heck, she said he was about two years old, was a beautiful fish in his prime, and part of me really wanted to keep him! But setting up a tank that would work for him with fish that would be okay with him was above my experience level, and not really practical. But the oto, gourami and cories are still doing well with me :)

It's sometimes a mistake too. That couple, when they dropped off their fish and checked out my tanks also tried to convince me to take their three fancy goldfish that they had in a 60L cube, but I declined to take in those! Hopefully someone else who keeps fancies did.

I also agreed to take in the stock from another tank, obviously a kids tank they'd gotten bored of, and in the photos were some male guppies, some beautiful marble mollies I wanted, and I keep black/silver dappled/dalmation mollies anyway. He swore there were only 8 male guppies, plus the two adult mollies, and a load of molly small fry. Once I got them in my QT tank, found one poor lone female guppy with a gang of ten males, so got her out of there! haha. But I'd only recently been able to finally home the last of my female livebearers, because I was tired of being over-run with guppy fry, and she then of course popped out batch after batch.

There are some pretty Endler/guppy hybrids in there, but meant I unintentionally wound up with breeding guppies again, and that's a hassle! Oh well. Worth it. And I have enough of a network now with local hobbyists that I can keep a few males I like the most, and rehome the rest. :)
I've done that myself. I was doing work in a motel in the city. I went into the maintenance area and there sitting on a work bench was a 1/2 gallon cherry jar with a male betta and not 1, BUT 2 juvenile Australian rainbow fish in it.

Oh my goodness, that's awful! Urgh, fish as decor makes me so angry. It's amazing they were still alive, honestly!
I begged the guy to let me take them home and give them better lives. It took some persuading but he finally gave in. The betta unfortunately didn't last long but the 2 rainbows, which were male and female, grew to be big, beautiful adults in my 65 at the time. They eventually moved to a friend's 120 where they lived out their lives in a proper home.

I'm glad you managed to talk him into it! Yes, sadly you won't be able to save all of 'em, but you certainly gave the betta the only chance he had, and saved those two rainbows. That counts for something!
 
I had to read the whole thread to get to here. I have a few thoughts. The tank is lovely, but there are enough enough plants to create true hiding places. This means places they are hard to see by other fish or those giant shadows they see sometimes. The tank is big enough for them though.

My experience with gouramis was in my very first tank where i has a pair of dwarf gourami (Trichogaster lalius). I was a beginner then and he built a bubble nest. They spawned. Then he had no use for her and that resulted in her death by headfirst smashing into the glass chased by him. I never saw fry.

Male gouramis are horny beggars. They have a two track mind- eating and spawning. They can hound a gal to death one way or the other. So adequate cover means a gal can hide and the guy cannot spot her. That is difficult in your current set-up. But having 3 fms and one male may keep them occupied enough to be less inclined to worry about the big shadows.

Next, hatchet fish can be pretty active and gouramis can be a bit skittish. So one may be inadvertently making the other nervous. I have never kept hatchets so the main thing I know about them is one needs a tight fitting lid on the tank or you may end up with a crispy critter on the floor. However, maybe adding a male gourami will make the gals pay less attention to the activity of the hatchets if it is currently upsetting them.

If nothing else this situation is an example of what can happen when in our community tanks we put fish which would never meet in nature. We often cannot be sure how they might get along or not. It is not impossible to have a United Nations tank. It just takes some trial and error and/or sage advice when we can find it.
 

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