Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Macropodus opercularis

Paradise fish

Paradise fish, Macropodus opercularisParadise fish, Macropodus opercularis
Photos by Andy Rapson


Macropodus: Greek, makros = great + Greek, pous, podos = foot.

General Notes:

Paradise fish are difficult to house with other fish. They are normally very aggressive, they will eat smaller fish and they may be bullied by faster and more agile fin nippers. Any potential tank mates would need to be very carefully selected. Paradise fish have a particular dislike of their own kind except when actually breeding. On the other hand they would make a great display when kept alone in a smaller aquarium, they are very adaptable and hardy and in most homes they can be kept with out a heater although using one is highly recommended to prevent large swing in water temperature. They do best in a planted aquarium with lots of decor and floating plants with relatively still water.


Wild paradise fish feed on small aquatic animals including small fish. There diet should reflect this and they should be offered live and frozen food as a regular part of their diet and not just fed on flake food all the time. They are unlikely to cause a problem when it comes to feeding them as they are bold and competitive feeders when healthy.


Male paradise fish are more brightly coloured than the females and they have longer fin extensions when adult.


Paradise fish are relatively easy to breed, they are bubble nest builder and when a pair are both ready to spawn the aggression level drops for a short time. The eggs are laid beneath the nest and are picked up by the male and placed in the nest, this will be repeated several times. After spawning the male alone will tend the brood and the female will be regarded as an intruder and chased away. She will need to be removed for her own safety. Once the fry are free swimming they will need to take a gulp of air from the surface, in order to minimise losses the surface air should be kept warm and humid by placing a cover over the tank. The small fry can be fed on hard boiled egg yolk, infusoria or easiest of all a commercially prepared liquid fry food and then moved on to micro worms and newly hatched brine shrimps when they have grown enough to accept them.

Wild status

The ICUN Red list of Threatened Species lists the Paradise fish as 'least concern' the species is very widespread and adaptable but it is known that wild populations of this species are falling. The main threats are thought to be habitat destruction and water pollution through pesticide use on agriculture land.

Information at a glance

pH: 6 - 8
dGH: 5 - 19
Temperature: 16 - 26°C (60 - 78°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 6.7cm (2.75in)
Min tank size: 60 litres
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Keep alone
Swimming level: All levels

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Paradise fish, Macropodus opercularis

Origin: Asia: China, from Yangtze basin to the south, on Hainan Island, in Taiwan, north Viet Nam; introduced to the tropical and subtropical world

Habitat: Lowland habitats from backwaters of large rivers to small streams and irrigation channels on farmland. Can colonize stagnant water bodies with very low oxygen content. Found in streams, paddy fields and ditches


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Osphronemidae
Genus: Macropodus
Species: M. opercularis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name:
Paradise fish

Synonyms: Labrus opercularis, Chaetodon chinensis, Macropodus chinensis, Macropodus viridiauratus, Macropodus venustus, Macropodus ctenopsoides, Macropodus filamentosus