I recently bought a female Pearl and she's very shy. She hides most of the day and only comes to eat and comes out a little bit at night. I'm going to buy her a male to have her paired. Keep them in pairs and they will display to each other.
I'm truly happy that I found this page. I've been watching my father-in-law's tank for a few weeks now. In this 250 liter tank, he has 1 Pearl Gourami, and about 20 other fish (including 2 Moonlight Gouramies). The Pearl Gourami is by far the strangest fish. It nearly always hides in a very dark cave at the bottom, or behind the plastic plants. I occasionally see it eat food that gets trapped at the filter intake, but it eats so little that I've been constantly checking to see if it is still alive. I've never seen it fight for food. It just goes the other way if a tankmate comes near it. Every day that I've fed the fish over the last month, I've expected to find it dead. I guess it's just a very shy fish.
I have a male Pearl Gourami in a 120 liter with Harlequin Rasboras, some Platies, Oto cats and Kuhli Loaches. He has NEVER been shy - mine is very friendly and fearless. He gets along great with the other fish, MUCH better than other Gouramis I've kept, although he will chase the Platies at feeding time. Beautiful, interesting fish...nicest Gourami I have met.
I have 2 Pearls in my 200 L. I have had no trouble with shyness, their tankmates are Danios, Tetras,Kuhli Loaches and Angels. The Pearls have no trouble with any of these fish although I did have a Molly that would pick on them, but he has long since died.
I highly recommend T. leerii as a 'pet' fish. They do tend to be spooked by fast moving fish (like many of the barbs and tetras), but given the right tankmates and a quiet environment (no slamming doors!) they become the regal kings and queens of the tank, moving about with grace and ease. The males I've kept tend to be more aggressive than the females, and might do better with other more aggressive fish. I have noticed each has his or her own unique personality, so the generalizations about this species don't always hold true. Also, they prefer slow moving water with lots of tall plants, as their natural habitat is the ponds and swamps of S.E. Asia - make sure the current in your tank is not too strong and they will be much more comfortable. My all-time favorites were two females that I kept for many years with a variety of other fish. Over a short period of hand feeding, they became very tame, and eventually began to show affection for their feeder! Whenever I came near the tank, they would come up to the surface for a 'petting' - I found they liked to have their sides gently stroked and would roll over to make the petting easier! They would explore my finger tips with their elongated pectoral fins, which act like little arms or feelers - I found they would even 'hold' on to my finger, and really seemed to enjoy the contact. Keep them with other gentle fish, and it's unlikely you'll have problems.
Contrary to what is said above my pair of pearls are very confident and fight for food, especially bloodworms. The other fishes are ruby barbs, a plec, angel fish and whiteclouds.