Many a-fish found it’s way across the great blue ocean in the keep of sailors who knew there was money to be had for such exotic things. The Paradise Gourami is no exception. So the ship set sail in the year 1869 with a store of live little fishes blazing in color and certain to be a hit. What was not understood by that sailor on that ship is that his live cargo would change the world!
Pronounced Mak’ro-po”dus oh-per’ku-lay”riss
Common Name (Paradise gourami)
By: Lovel Tippit
The Paradise gourami is the foundation that the aquarium hobby was built on. This is indeed the first warm water aquarium fish introduced to Europe and later America. In The Year 1868 the Paradise gourami was shown to French Consul Simon who was stationed in Ning-Po China. One hundred fish were entrusted to an officer named Gerault. The fish set sail on the Man-o-War Imperatrice. Of the one hundred specimens packed for the voyage, only 22 arrived alive. In 1869 a fish breeder by the name of Pierre Carbonnier obtained twelve male and five female fish. Later in the same year he reported that they had been bred. From his fish house they started to spread through Europe. In 1876 the fish found it’s way to St. Louis America by Adolphus Busch. That’s right, Adolphus Busch maker of Busch beer.
This brilliant aquatic delegate of China dazed early observer’s with it’s beauty, but it was not looks alone that established it’s place in the aquarium. Like many of the fishes that came from China the Paradise gourami tolerated cold! “Here in America we have known them to be retrieved, nearly dead, from ice-coated ponds, then gently heated and brought to full life.”…Innes 1946. Also the fish is easy to breed. These two redeeming qualities insured it’s place, and fueled further interest in aquarium keeping.
Although the aquarium came before this, the Paradise gourami had a huge hand in bringing fish keeping indoors. This is not to say that Goldfish were not kept in aquariums of the day, because they were. However, the Paradise gourami could be maintained all year in it’s glass home, unlike Goldfish that generally spent summer months in the garden pond. Anything as small as a glass jar could house them. The fishes tolerance of such confined space was due to the fact that Paradise gourami’s pull air from the surface. Oxygen enriches the blood stream by way of a lung-like organ called the labyrinth.
In disposition the Paradise gourami is the “Devil with a blue dress on.” Though strikingly beautiful this pugnacious fish can give lessons to some of the meanest cichlids in the art of “being nasty!” However by themselves in a small clear glass device they are quite another thing. Their hot-temper became interpreted as personality, and it was that disposition that drove interest in aquarium keeping. For many decades this was the exotic fish, anything else was a goldfish or a capture from the local pond.
In regards to diet Mark Samuel in his 1889 book “The Amatuer Aquarist” suggested that raw beef, worms, pond bugs, and fish food of the day will suffice. Fish food of the time was a rice based stick, and remember this was before there was a market to provide such things. The long and short of is that they ate slivers of meat which caused them no harm, as they eat meat-based food in their natural state.