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FAQs about Brackish Puffer Disease/Health 1

Related Articles: Freshwater/Brackish PuffersAlone But Not Lonely: The Importance of  Keeping Puffers Individually by Damien Wagaman, Green Spotted Puffers (GSP's), The Arrowhead Puffer, Tetraodon suvattii, miraculously malicious, True Puffers, Puffers in General, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, Puffy & Mr. Nasty(Big) Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo Small Puffer Dentistry By Jeni Tyrell (aka Pufferpunk), Puffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: BR Puffer Disease 2, BR Puffer Disease 3, GSP Disease, Figure-Eight Puffer Disease, & BR Puffers 1, BR Puffers 2, BR Puffers 3, BR Puffer Identification, BR Puffer Behavior, BR Puffer Selection, BR Puffer Compatibility, BR Puffer Systems, BR Puffer Feeding, BR Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Disease 2, BR Puffer Reproduction, Freshwater Puffers 1, FW Puffers 2, FW Puffers 3, FW Puffer Identification, FW Puffer Behavior, FW Puffer Selection, FW Puffer Compatibility, FW Puffer Systems, FW Puffer Feeding, FW Puffer Disease, FW Puffer Reproduction, Brackish Water Fishes in General, Puffers in General, True Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Green Spotted Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes,  


Puffer with Cloudy Eye  9/26/05 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> We have a small freshwater puffer fish who has developed a milky white growth on his eyes (a little like a blister), making them appear "popped out". He's not behaving erratically or out of the normal. We have had him for over a month now, so I don't know weather or not it's to do with the stress of moving. We've looked through booklets describing fish disease but this doesn't really seem to fit in with any of them. <It sounds like cloudy eye to me.  I have had good success using Melafix for that.  It would help to know what kind of puffer you have though.  Many brackish puffers are kept in improper conditions by being sold as freshwater puffer.  This can lower it's immune system & causes diseases like your puffer have.  Check out www.pufferlist.com & www.thepufferforum.org> Can you help us? We're not sure whether to be worried or not! <Make sure the water is pristine (50% weekly water changes).  Be sure the puffer is in the proper conditions (FW or BW).  Check that the parameters are good--ammonia & nitrItes 0, nitrAtes <20.  Good luck with your friend! ~PP> Thanks (in advance!)

Picked a Peck of Pimpled Puffers (marine, but applicable to Brackish, FW puffers as well) Mr. Fenner, <Geri...Anthony Calfo here answering Bob's mail while he is away studying to become a Tibetan Sherpa> I have 3 small green spotted puffers in a 30 gal brackish tank.  <adorable fish... you are keeping them brackish, right? what's your salinity?> They are all eating well and are very lively. I have had them about two weeks and two of them have developed small bumps (no discoloration-just raised areas) under their skin. The bumps were first noticed on their bellies and now one fish has a couple on his side. I need help in determining what these bumps are and if I need to treat them. Please reply-Thanks for the advice. <tough to diagnose from a general description of the symptom, but here goes: if the bumps/dots are symmetrical and identical in size... and not larger than a common grain of salt (as opposed to an uncommon 5lb grain...in which case you can forget the quarantine tank and just find a small deer to lick it off, hehehe) you may very well be dealing with an external parasite. Not at all uncommon with this species and not as obvious to you compared to pictures of large-scaled fishes in books. You must be very careful using medication with these fish and follow manufacturer's recommendations for scaleless fishes (or halve the dose for twice the time). Otherwise, large or asymmetrical bumps will rule out most if not all common parasites and you'll look for other pathogenic symptoms. I would highly recommend Dieter Untergasser's Handbook of Fish Diseases. A great and easy to understand book with pictures and fool-proof flow charts. We need to narrow the puffers condition down before we medicate. In the meantime... look for medicated fish food at the LFS and maintain consistent water quality. I'm (educated) guessing that your fish have common white spot and will need a parasite medication. Keep us posted, Anthony>

Puffer Problem     Hi my name is Ryan Holix I recently setup a 55 gallon brackish tank, after going through your site with a fine tooth comb and figured I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. I keep water params perfect 0 nitrate 0 ammonia 0 nitrite ph is at 8.0 and my salinity is 1.009 as I have juvenile puffers in the tank with a scat, everyone seems to be doing great as far as swimming around and eating is concerned I just noticed a spot on one of the puffers bellies it almost looks like a spot on their back perfect circle almost only it isn't filled in so it just looks like the outline its hardly noticeable very light but I'm concerned that they may have a parasite. At the time I noticed the spot I checked water params and everything was just as I stated except the nitrate went up just a bit nothing to be concerned with so I did a big water change anyways to bring nitrates back down to 0 maybe too big however the spot was present before this well now a different puffer has a cloudy eye and is a bit more picky about eating the guy with the spot outline is thriving he seems healthier than any of the others even ripping food from their mouths I have put a lot of time and money into this and I just want to be able to keep my 2 little GSP's and 1 scat alive I don't want any more or less but I'm at my wits end as no pet store can give me a straight answer they told me to dump parasite chemicals in the tank but I don't want to do that until I'm certain its a parasite I have had these guys now for 4 months in perfect conditions living well and now all of a sudden this happens and I'm ripping my hair out please help me. Your friend, Ryan Holix <The spot you are describing sounds like a scar from another puffer's bite and I would not worry about it. I would go ahead and treat the tank with Maracide to get rid of the eye cloud.  Good Luck!  LinearChaos.> Puffer Problems 2/29/04 <Hi Jeff, it's Pufferpunk here again> Hello again. I am still having a problem with our figure 8 puffer. He goes in these spurts of acting normal or turning really black on the bottom and faded on the top and sitting on the bottom of the tank. Our other puffers are fine and eat well and all, but I'm not sure if he is even eating. <If you don't see him eating, he probably isn't.> I did a good size water change the other day, and the tank is still a little cloudy from it. Could this have something to do with it? <What's considered a good size?  I do 50% weekly water changes on all my tanks.  If this is done on a regular basis it's fine, but if your fish are not used to big water changes, then you are changing the water parameters too quickly & could stress out or shock your fish.  The fact that your tank is cloudy makes me concerned that your tank still isn't cycled.  Test the water again.  What is the SG of the water?> Id appreciate any info. Thanks for all your help! JJ <Hope this helps--PP>

Green Spotted Puffer 2/22/04 <Hi tim, Pufferpunk here.> I was having a problem with my puffer. I had him in my tank and he was being attacked by one of my catfish, so I moved him to my mothers tank. Apparently the short migration down the hallway affected him. <Possibly different water conditions/parameters?  Is her tank brackish water?  Mostly sold as freshwater fish, they are really a brackish water species. Born in FW, they migrate through the estuaries (streams) between FW lakes and the ocean, to live out their adult lives in saltwater.  Although you may hear these fish do fine in FW, they will grow larger, have brighter coloration, suffer less disease and live longer in higher salinities.> After a day of being in that tank he started sitting on the bottom on his side. I found your site by accident while looking for diseases that puffers can get. After looking at some of the posts, I tried to get the air bubble out of his stomach by holding him head up and making him fight his way out of my hand. This helped him greatly. <It is not good for your puffer to inflate itself.  Never take your puffer out of the water!  It can puff with air and may never recover.  I have had some success in burping a puffer, by holding it vertically, head up, under water and gently shaking it by its tail until the air is released.  A puffer with air inside cannot right itself and will die.  If you ever need to catch your puffer (even when getting it from your LFS), scoop it up with a container.> I also started feeding him crushed snails by hand because he wasn't eating. <One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet.  All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish.  Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild.  Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye).  Snails are an essential food to a puffers diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails.  As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat.  Larger GSPs will eat cut-up pieces of scallops, shrimp, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish.  Mine love to chase live crayfish, fiddler crabs and gut-loaded ghost shrimp.  I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies.  I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed.  Smaller puffers (under 2) need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week.  Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded.  Medium sized puffers (2-4) should be fed every other day.  Larger puffers (4-6) should be fed every 3-4 days.  You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food!  Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness.> If I hadn't found your site I believe that my puffer would have died seeing as I didn't know what to do for him. I greatly appreciate this. Thanks a lot, Tim <Good luck with giving your puffer everything he needs to live a long, healthy life.  They can live 10+ years with the right care.  ~PP>

GSP w/White Spot  2/11/04 I just got some green spotted puffers and I noticed a white spot on its back. It looks like its dry skin. You can really see it under the light. I don't think its ick. Salt was added to the tank before the puffers were put in. What should I do? <Sounds like a scrape from something.  Mine gets them all the time, since they spook easily.  Just keep an eye on it.  I'm more concerned about how much you really know about the care of this fish.  What do you mean, you added salt?  Was it in brackish water in the LFS?  How much salt did you add?  Was it marine salt?  Is your tank cycled?  What are you feeding it?   I have 2 6" adult GSPs in saltwater.  Did you know that's what they will prefer as an adult?>   Thanks <Let me know if you need more info on the care & feeding of your puffers.  ~PP>

Inflated Puffer 2/08/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk to the rescue!> I recently purchased a spiny puffer, and when they put him into the bag to take home he injected some air. <Yes, puffers cannot be caught with a net.  They must be caught with a bucket for that exact reason.  Never mind, trying to get those spines out of a net!> How do I burp him? I've tried holding him mouth up in the water and massaging his back, but he just inflates. The air is trapped back by his tail. Please Help! <Puffing is a defense mechanism brought on by fear and stress.  It is not good for your puffer to inflate itself.  Never take your puffer out of the water!  It can puff with air and may never recover.  I have had some success in burping a puffer, by holding it vertically, head up, completely under water and gently shaking it by its tail until the air is released. You can also try stroking it's belly, trying to bring the trapped air towards it's mouth.  It's ok if it puffs again under water, because the water will replace the air & can be more easily released by the fish.  A puffer with air inside cannot right itself and will die.>   thank you. <Good luck ~PP>

Green Spotted Puffer (T nigroviridis) has Grey Belly  2/09/04 Hi there; <Hi, Pufferpunk here> We just got our first puffer less than a week ago.  He has a grey underbelly with black by the bottom of his tail.  He has a little bit of grey around his mouth.   <A GSP's belly will turn grey if under stress.  You have an extremely aggressive, brackish water puffer that prefers saltwater as an adult.  I believe the only reason it hasn't gone after your other fish (especially, the long-finned angelfish) is because it is not feeling well.>     His water seems fine.  He keeps his tail close to his body like a dog putting it's tail between it's legs, and just goes up-down-up-down depressingly against the glass.   <Again, signs of stress.> He won't eat flakes, bloodworms, etc, until we put some feeder guppies in and he has since eaten two.   <Puffers need hard-shelled crustaceans to keep their teeth trimmed.> He doesn't interact with the balloon mollies or angels, which seem to leave him alone. He has a few hiding places too. Is the black stuff fungus? <No.  I do suggest setting up a BW, species only tank for your puffer.  Please cycle the tank before adding your puffer.  You can instant cycle the tank w/Bio-Spira.  Here's a good site on puffer keeping: http://www.pufferfish.co.uk/aquaria/species/pufferfish/index.htm.  Please do what's best for these fish.  They can live 10+ years with the proper care & feeding ~PP>

Puffer With Nematode Worm  2/07/04 <Pufferpunk here> I have a Figure 8 puffer that I acclimated to my saltwater tank. <I'm curious, why did you acclimate a low-end brackish water fish to SW?  I've heard it done, but they are best kept in a SG of 1.005-10.> He's been in the tank for aprox. 3 months, and was one of the first fish I put into the tank.  The second day after he was placed in the tank I noticed a raised ring shaped growth near his tail under the skin. I decided not to bother it because I did not want to hurt the fish.  He has an excellent appetite , but I believe the growth is getting even larger.  Do you have any suggestions, I thought about lancing the area?  It almost looks like a worm balled up into a circle just under the skin.  Thank You in advance for this site , and I hope you can answer my question. <I'm afraid to say, your beloved puffer probably has a nematode worm.  It can be contagious to your other fish & I highly suggest quarantine.  You can check through this site: http://nematode.unl.edu/.  Lancing may be an option, but infection will be difficult to prevent.  Killing the worm w/anti-parasitic meds, will leave the dead worm to infect the fish.  The diagnosis is not good when these worms are involved.  I have heard of them fairly often in these wild-caught fish, especially in the T biocellatus for some reason. ~PP>

Keeping Trimmed Puffer Teeth  1/24/04 Hi PufferPunk <Hi, it's Pufferpunk again> Another question - would trying something like cuttlefish bone like the type used for budgies be safe to do? <Being that they are from cuttlefish, a natural food for puffers, they may or may not chew on it.  You could try soaking it in clam juice.> I cannot get shrimps around here and the smallest mussel is 1.5 inches long so far too big for them they would eat themselves to death. <I doubt it, my puffers stop eating when they are full.  They're stomach's really expand quite a lot--that's how they can puff.  Mine eat a huge meal & get a couple of days off to digest.  That's the way they eat in nature--binge & purge.>  I feed my fish frozen red mosquito larvae, Mysis and krill Pacifica but the krill this time is very small - is this the krill you mean? <Yes>  dare not try trimming their teeth as they hate being caught and I am scared the stress will kill them.   <So will starvation from long teeth.> Do you by any chance have a picture of what the teeth should look like normally and what is overgrown? <Yes scroll down this thread: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=photo&action=display&num=1074935322> They are in brackish water which varies each time I do a water change <Do you use a hydrometer?  What is the SG?> which is approx every three weeks <I change 50% weekly> and I always wear rubber gloves whenever I put my hands in their tank so as not to contaminate the water with any residue of perfume or soaps etc and the same for cutting up their food. <Good job!>  I also vacuum up their poo twice a week (their is never any left over food!!) <Very good!> so I think that is why I have managed to get these two to live so long as the couple I had before died after a few weeks with brown tummies and curling up a lot of the time. Thanks again Wendy <You're doing the right stuff, but once a puffer's teeth are too long, the only thing you can do is hand-trim them.  Sorry--PP>

Sick Jade Puffer  1/18/04 <PP here again> Pufferpunk - Thanks so much for your response... Unfortunately - I don't think my puffer is doing very well.  I put her in her own tank (it is a small one) I added about a 1/4 of tank water then added fresh water with about 1/2 to 1 tsp of the salt I got at the store I bought the puffer.   <Aquarium salt, or marine salt?  You really need to ID this puffer for me to be able to help you better.> The puffer looks okay off and on (looks best when I add the salt but I'm afraid to o.d. on the salt - is that possible?).   <You can add as much as 1tbsp/gal of marine salt (to start), if it is a brackish water fish.  It will need to go much higher in salt content eventually, if it is the puffer I think it might be.  SW as an adult.> She swims around dazed and delirious and she goes from bright to dark and seems to be gasping with her mouth wide open (but she is swimming better then the other day when she was bumping into everything). <Gasping can be a sign of ammonia poisoning.  Check the water parameters.  If you don't have a test kit (get one), you need to take the water into your LFS to be tested--now!  Add an airstone for more O2 exchange & easier breathing.  Is there a filter on there?  Even a sponge filter will help.  Add gravel from the other tank.  I would have filled at least half of the tank water with the old tank water so as not to shock the fish with different conditions.  Add Melafix to the water. It's a tree tea oil solution that will make the fish feel better & help with it's skin.  Do 50% water changes to keep the water fresh.  If the ammonia or nitrites are above 0, do them daily."   oh yeah I don't know if it is skin that is peeling off or what but on her stomach what I see looks kind of like fuzzy lint - it is white in color (not yellow like I read about velvet).  Is there something else I should be doing?? <Start w/the salt, Melafix & water changes & see if that helps.>     THANKS  De <I hope he's better soon--PP>

Problem with Jade Puffer  1/14/04 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I tried to send an email earlier and was unable to confirm if it went - so I apologize if this is the 2nd. <I don't think we got it, at least I didn't see it.> I have a new tank (2weeks) with 1 jade puffer, 2 rosy barbs, 1 sucker fish.   <Jade puffer?  Common names are difficult to ID with puffers.  Is it a Ceylon puffer (T fluvialitis)?  See: http://www.pufferfish.co.uk/aquaria/species/pufferfish/types/ceylon.htm> I noticed the other day that the puffer and 1 rosy barb had white spots on their fins and treated with rid ich for 3 days (removed carbon from filter as advised).  today is the 4th day and fins look clear but noticed that puffer looks bad - stomach is dark and swimming like he is blind.  bumping into the sucker fish and decorations in tank as well as swimming up to top of tank and slamming into the rocks on bottom when coming down - I swear it is like he is blind....  Could this be a water imbalance??  Can these symptoms be reversed or do you think he is really going to stay like this??   <Puffers are scaleless fish & have no gill covers, hence are very sensitive to meds.  Actually, I never use meds for ich.  Just large water changes, raise the temp to 87 & add salt (1tbsp/5gal).  Get those meds out by adding carbon & doing a large (50-80%) water change.  Also, if you do have a Ceylon puffer, it is a brackish water fish that will prefer saltwater as an adult.  Mine is in SW now.   It will also grow to 7-8".  It needs to eat crustaceans as a staple diet, to keep it's teeth trimmed.>   Also, water is at 78 degrees.  Please respond soon - I want to save my puffer...  Thanks, De <Good luck with your puffer--Pufferpunk>

Extremely odd green spotted pufferfish disease <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hello, I have had my green spotted pufferfish for about a week and a half in a 29 gal. freshwater tank with a small lima shovelnose.  I had put 2 other puffers of the same kind in with it, but they died a day after I put them in.  These act sick when I bought them but that's beside the main question i have.  Yesterday morning I noticed small white specks on my puffer.  I researched it and found it looked like ich.  I wanted to let it go for a while and several hours later, to my horror, the white dots had grown at least 2 times as large over it's body.  Day 2 into this they have lumped up and it looks like it is shedding skin, although the small white dots can still be seen in some spots. (this is all over the puffer's body).  Around most of the fins there are larger buildups of this whitish material that trail along side the fish and are attached.  It doesn't scratch itself, it acts lethargic.  I've gone to 3 different pet stores and they all have different ideas but are basically as confused as I am.  I have begun treating the whole tank to a slight dose of Maracyn and a little sea salt.  I had begun treating with Nox-Ich on the first day but then decided to treat a wider spectrum of diseases that it could be.  It seems to be getting steadily worse.  Do you know what my poor puffer has and how I can better treat it?  The quicker the response the better. <I hate to say this, but when the skin of a fish starts to fall off, it isn't good.  It sounds like a really bad case of ich.  The 1st thing I recommend is to get the fish in brackish water as soon as possible.  These puffers are high-end BW fish that prefer SW as adults.  This means getting a new home for your shovelnose (the puffer would have picked on it anyway).  Get marine salt & a hydrometer & start raising the SG (specific gravity) .002/week until you go to 1.008 (for now).  Eventually you'll want to raise it higher, as the fish gets older.  (Even if you can't save this puffer, you'll know how to care for one in the future.)  Raise the temp to 87 degrees & do large daily water changes, cleaning the gravel as you go.  Add Melafix (all natural tea-tree oil tonic) to help heal the skin.  I'm not a large believer in meds & don't know a lot about them, as puffers are scaleless fish & meds can cause more problems for them.  Pristine water conditions & quarantine are the best hope for disease control.  How long has the tank been set up?  What are the water parameters (ammonia, nitrites, pH, etc)?> Thank you, Dan <I hope you can save your puffer--Pufferpunk>

- Puffer with Injured Eye - Hi folks, Pufferpunk here.  I have a problem on my puffer site (The Puffer Forum) w/a puffer's eye.  I know I'm supposed to know the answers to puffer questions, but I have never seen anything like this.  Can someone help? See: Bloody Eye Thanks, Jeni/Pufferpunk <Sounds to me like the puffer got stuck to a power head... not really a lot of options for treatment. Can try Epsom salts to help reduce the swelling [one tsp/5 gal], otherwise needs to heal up on its own. Cheers, J -- >

Swollen green spotted puffer Hi WWM Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have had Green spotted puffers for years now in my brackish tank. One fish has always been the aggressor, he eats the most is most aggressive. His name is Fatty Lumpkins. Lately, my aggressive fatty fish has become permanently swollen. He won't eat, he cannot shut his mouth and he hovers at the top of the tank. He cannot possibly get any larger. Usually he hoards the food and hides in his log. Now he just floats around like a balloon in the air. Hanging around the bubbler. His little fins are fine, he seems to breathe heavily. His eyes are fine. <Please answer some questions, so I can help: How long have you had the puffer?  What are the water parameters?  Ammonia, nitrite, specific gravity?  How often & how much water do you change?  What are you feeding your puffer? How big is the tank?> I recently added some live plants: Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) Anubias barteri v. "Coffeefolia" (Reg) Moneywort (Bacopa monnieri) Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) Floating Heart (Nymphoides peltata) Becketti (Cryptocoryne becketti) Parrot's Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) <I'm assuming with all those plants, you don't have any salt in there, since those plants wouldn't survive in BW.  GSPs are BW fish that eventually will need high-end BW-SW as adults.   Otherwise everything has been the same.> My other puffers are fine. I am worried about fatty Lumpkins. Is there any treatment for him? <The only other thing I'm thinking of, is a rare problem I've heard about w/their thyroid, that causes lock-jaw.  It is suggested to put the puffer in a 5-10 gallon tank alone for a week, and putting two small drops of iodine in there. He said it would shrink the thyroid, but if the thyroid is not the problem, it won't hurt him.  I'm not really sure this is the problem though.  The symptoms you describe are of ammonia-related stress.  Test your water & get back to me.> Thank-you, Jesse Frcka <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Re: Swollen green spotted puffer Hi Pufferpunk, <Hi again!> thanks for all the info. We have had puffers for about 4 years. But due to a few emergency rescues from Petco we have had one for about 3 years and another for 2 years. The ph is 8.0 The ammonia tests out at.25ppm. We bought some Kent ammonia Detox solution but have not used it yet. <Not familiar w/that.> The tank has no nitrites at all. The sg is .004 we usually have it  bit higher though .006. <GSPs need a much higher SG, even preferring SW as adults.  I would start out a small one (<2") at 1.008, moving it up as they get older.  My 6" adults are in full SW (1.022).  This may help your fish to feel better.  You MUST use marine salt.> One other thing that I have a concern about is that last time we bought salt we bought aquarium salt and didn¹t really realize there was a difference. The tank is 40 or 50 gallons neither of us can remember exactly. <Tank calculator: http://www.aquaserve.com/WetNet/Misc/Calculator.asp> The water is changed every 2 weeks. Usually 15-20percent of the water. <Probably a big part of your problem.  You have your tank overstocked & under cleaned.  Hence the ammonia rating, which needs to be 0 at all times for healthy puffers.  I change 50% of my water every 7-10 days, while cleaning the gravel.  Sm. GSPs need at least 10g/fish, larger puffers need at least 20g/fish.  Puffers are messy eaters & large waste producers.  Their growth will be stunted in too low SG or too small a tank.> The tank has an under gravel filter with a bubble stone in one of the vertical tubes and a recently purchased power head in the other. The power head is set to give off a bit of a current. Which is the reason we bought it. We also have a small bubble stone in the corner to help aeration. <Personally, I hate UGFs & in my opinion are useless w/puffers.  There is no way to remove the uneaten foods puffers spit all over the tank, or the pieces of large fecal matter puffers produce.  UGFs are like sweeping the dirt under the rug.  I use a HOB filter (I like Aquaclear) to remove wastes (cleaned every water change) & a canister filter (I like Eheim) for biological filtration (cleaned when starting to clog).> We feed the puffers the blister packed frozen bloodworms. For the four of them we were feeding them two little bubbles of the worms in the morning. We were concerned this was too much and have cut it down to one lately. <Puffers are crustacean eaters & must eat hard-shelled foods to keep their beaks trimmed. Mine eat krill, plankton, shell-on shrimp, crab legs, scallops, squid, clams, oysters, mussels, crayfish, crickets, earthworms & fiddler crabs. I buy most of this at the fish dept of my grocery store, freeze & thaw in warm water when needed.> We have also removed the plants that we had mentioned, and put back the plastic ones. The plants were in there for only 3 days and they weren't looking good. Please give us any advice that you can. Our fatty fish is now laying low in the bottom of the tank and is still not eating. We fear the worst. <Start out w/larger water changes, raise the SG (.002/weekly water change), get better filtration & a larger tank.> We appreciate your help and are very glad to have come across the website, it is very informative and full of great info that is hard to come by.

Brackish puffer loss, monos Ananda, <This is Pufferpunk, I'll be answering your puffer questions.>        This is  Chris again, I have sent you e-mails before asking questions about my Fahaka puffer. Well, after about two and a half years and a very rough final few months, my puffer finally gave in and died a few weeks ago.   <So sorry about your Fahaka!> I am sure you can relate to how it feels. I have been trying to put my mind at ease lately, just wondering if there was something I could do. The person at the pet store <Yeah, you can stop listening to those folks!> said that two and a half years is a pretty long time to live and he also could not believe that such an aggressive fish could live for so long with the other fish I have. Is 2 1/2 years a long time? <They can live up to around 20 years & grow over 16"> Have you ever heard of a fish such as the puffer eating for a few weeks and then not eating for a few weeks and then eating again? <Could have had internal parasites.  Most wild-caught fish come in w/them, including my Fahaka (now over 12").  Fish can live a long time w/them & just loose the battle.  Discomed is what I use to treat all my new puffers.  Please research these precious fish next time.  Any fish you're not familiar w/needs some research before buying!> I still to this day cannot figure out what was wrong with the puffer towards the end. <You need to be aware that these fish need around 125g tank as an adult.  They also need a wide variety of foods>        Now what I have left is a Labidochromis a mono and a pleco, not very exciting. The Labidochromis I have had for almost the same amount of time that I have had the puffer. The mono I am worried about because I have read and you also told me that as the approach maturity, Mono's need the water to be saltier than when they were younger. I read in one book, and I cant see how this is true, that mature Mono's need 1-2 tbls. spoons of salt added to ever 1.3 gallons of water, to me that seems like way too much salt. I don't know if it because of the lack of salt in the tank, but the mono has a dark gray tint to its scales where it should normally be silver. Right now, when I do a water change, I will put about 1 1/2 tbls. spoons of salt to every 5 gallons. Do you think that is too much, too little or just right. <The mono should be in a SG (specific gravity of around 1.008 by now.  It takes a cup of salt/5gal to raise the SG .005.  You need a hydrometer to measure this.>  I have to worry about putting to much salt in because of the pleco. I think I need a little advice in this area. <Plecos don't like salt!  Either set up a separate BW tank or find a new home for your FW or BW fish.  You cannot keep them together!> I was going to get a larger tank, right now I have a 20 gal. After my favorite fish died, I just don't have it in me right now to replace the puffer and ad more fish to the existing tank nor do I feel like starting over with a larger one, which I know eventually would like to do. What advice can you give me about moving on..? <Decide if you want a FW or BW tank & do research on all the fish you are thinking of getting.  Compatibility, water preferences, aggression (Fahaka's will eventually kill any tankmates, except maybe a pleco, depending on the Fahaka), adult size.>        I would greatly appreciate it if you could write me back so I can get back on track and have a better direction on what I want to do and what I need to do to make the lives of my remaining fish a good one. Thank you for your time,        Chris <Good luck with your fish--Pufferpunk>

Brackish puffer loss, monos, Ananda's responses (12/01/03) Ananda, <Hi!> This is Chris again, I have sent you e-mails before asking questions about my Fahaka puffer. Well, after about two and a half years and a very rough final few months, my puffer finally gave in and died a few weeks ago. <Sorry to hear that.> I am sure you can relate to how it feels. <Yup.> I have been trying to put my mind at ease lately, just wondering if there was something I could do. The person at the pet store said that two and a half years is a pretty long time to live and he also could not believe that such an aggressive fish could live for so long with the other fish I have. Is 2 1/2 years a long time? Have you ever heard of a fish such as the puffer eating for a few weeks and then not eating for a few weeks and then eating again? I still to this day cannot figure out what was wrong with the puffer towards the end. <I'm going to leave a copy of this in Pufferpunk's box -- she has a Fahaka and so knows more about them than I do.> Now what I have left is a Labidochromis a mono and a pleco, not very exciting. The Labidochromis I have had for almost the same amount of time that I have had the puffer. The mono I am worried about because I have read and you also told me that as the approach maturity, Mono's need the water to be saltier than when they were younger. I read in one book, and I cant see how this is true, that mature Mono's need 1-2 tbls. spoons of salt added to ever 1.3 gallons of water, to me that seems like way too much salt. <Mature monos should have far more fish than that -- about 1/2 cup per gallon, or a bit more to get it up to full-strength saltwater. They are brackish fish that live in the ocean as adults.> I don't know if it because of the lack of salt in the tank, but the mono has a dark gray tint to its scales where it should normally be silver. <Could definitely be insufficient salt.> Right now, when I do a water change, I will put about 1 1/2 tbls. spoons of salt to every 5 gallons. Do you think that is too much, too little or just right. <Nowhere near enough for the mono, okay for the other fish -- though I am still concerned about whether or not you have good water chemistry for the Labidochromis.> I have to worry about putting to much salt in because of the pleco. I think I need a little advice in this area. <I would move the mono to another tank and turn the existing tank into a cichlid tank.> I was going to get a larger tank, right now I have a 20 gal. <The mono will need a much larger tank as it gets older. So will the pleco.> After my favorite fish died, I just don't have it in me right now to replace the puffer and ad more fish to the existing tank nor do I feel like starting over with a larger one, which I know eventually would like to do. <Yup, I understand that.> What advice can you give me about moving on..? <Take care of your existing fish, which means get a second tank and split them up...starting a second tank is much easier than starting the first tank.> I would greatly appreciate it if you could write me back so I can get back on track and have a better direction on what I want to do and what I need to do to make the lives of my remaining fish a good one. <Asking questions is a good start. Please do check out our forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk, to.> Thank you for your time, Chris <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Bitten Puffer 11/22/03 Hi there, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> forgive me if I've missed a post on your board, but I did search and couldn't seem to find anything on this. <I don't believe there is.> I have a 45 gal brackish water tank with 3 Green Spotted Puffers and a school of Sailfin mollies. Just so you know :) I am fully aware that I take on risk with this setup. <Yes, as those puffers will get 6" each.  I have a similar set-up (maybe you've seen my webpage-- http://wetwebfotos.com/Home?actionRequest=userview&userID=1918 ), but it is a 55g.  I really don't recommend less than 20g/puffer.  You may continue to see some intraspecific aggression between them, especially as they get older & more aggressive.> Recently, I changed the substrate in the tank, I had to do it in stages,-so as not to re-cycle the tank) so I had a piece of glass set up 1/2 the height of the tank separating the old substrate from the new. The puffers did not like this at all. <Not surprised.> I was observing the tank as I often do a few days ago when I looked closely at one of the smaller GSP's and noticed what appeared to be "road rash" on it. I immediately tested the water parameters and did a 30% water change. Over the next few days I watched the puffer closely, it did not act sickly and seemed to be getting better. But, as it began to heal, I could clearly see the reason for the initial redness : He had been bitten. <Not surprised again.  Puffers strike out when frustrated. Although you were overly cautious, in my opinion, I don't think all that was necessary.  I have changed entire substrates w/o any cycling problems at all.  Putting the puffers in a dark bucket for an hour or 2, while changing out the gravel, probably would have much less stressful.>   The only culprit large enough to leave marks of that size would have been my largest GSP. <Actually, not necessarily, your largest may not be the meanest, or most aggressive.> Now it is quite a few days later and the injured puffer continues to eat well and act normally, but now the bite marks are edged with grey and have lost all coloring in the center of them, leaving them white. The injury sites do not look infected at all, but I was wondering what exactly is happening to the puffer? To me, it looks like bruising and that the damaged tissue at the middle of the bites has been shed -for lack of a better word- and the new tissue has yet to gain coloration. <Yes, bruising is more likely a description.  Usually they heal quickly, unless a chunk of flesh has been removed.> Will the bite sites regain color? <Maybe.  You can try adding MelaFix.  That will definitely quicken the healing process & probably leave less chance of scarring.> If the fish had internal injuries of some sort, would I know by this point? <Yes, I think you'd know by now.> btw, the tank is a s.g. of approx 1.016 using marine mix salt. <Sounds good.  My adult GSPs are now very happy in full marine 1.022.  Did you change over to crushed coral?  That's what I use.  I would seriously consider finding a home for one of those puffers.  (Maybe the aggressive one?) I think you may be continuing to find intraspecific  between them, as being in such close quarters.> thanks in advance <You're welcome--Pufferpunk> Malli (puffergurl) SW GSP info 11/23/03 Bitten Puff Hi WWM :) Pufferpunk~ the TT = The Tropical Tank ;) <Goodness, how could I forget!  I moderate the Puffer & BW section of that site.  I'm just on too many sites!> What other fish would you suggest for tankmates if I went to full marine? <I am having somewhat success w/damselfish.  I haven't lost one in quite a while.  The tomato clownfish is doing great.  They killed the percula clown right away.  Also, hermit crabs seem to be doing great too.  There are probably a whole lot of different SW fish that would be ok w/GSPs, but you have limited room.  If you overstock, you'll run into problems.> If I stayed brackish, do you think Knight Gobies would make it if I gave them hiding places and made sure they ate? <The BB gobies never had a chance w/them.  Even if you stay w/BW, you need to keep the SG pretty high.  I don't think many other fish (other than scats, monos & silver sharks) like it that high.> Do you feel a protein skimmer is a good idea with puffers ? (I've heard they can benefit almost any tank) <If you're going salt--definitely--I have one & you wouldn't believe the gross crap it takes out!  I have heard of folks using them in BW too.> You'll be happy to know I think I've found a home for one of the puffers, someone is going to do a full marine pufferfish tank, so in a couple months I'll give him to them hopefully, as I'm not so keen on simply giving him to any old person. <Glad to hear that.  Just make sure they acclimate the fish to SW slowly.  I use a drip system using an air hose w/a knot tied in it.  I put the fish in a bucket in it's original tank water & drip water from the new (SW) tank into it, so the SG is raised .001/hour.  I've never had a problem that way.> Malli (puffergurl) <Sounds like you're doing well w/your puffers!--Pufferpunk>

New Puffers 11/23/02 Hi Jeff, Pufferpunk here> Hi guys...we got new fish yesterday, 3 leopard puffers. <Very cool fish, I have 2 6" adults.  They are living in saltwater right now, which they prefer as adults.  They are very aggressive fish that will kill/maim/eat any fish they please.  If not kill, then severely nip most of their fins.  They need hard-shelled foods to eat, because they have "beaks" for teeth, they need to be kept ground down.> Today, they are all hanging out on the bottom of the tank, and one has seemed to have lost his spots on his back, it is all "dusty" looking. What could be the problem? PLEASE HELP!!!! <Sounds like they are stressed out.  What are the tank parameters--ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, salt levels?  These are brackish water fish.> Thanks JJ <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Puffer Info 11/23/03 <Hi Jeff, I've read the 2nd response to your 2nd email, so lets just combine these into 1 email.> Here's the water numbers : 7.8 Alkalinity PH 40 KH (Total Alkalinity) 150 GH (Total Hardness) we live in Florida :) 0 Nitrite between the 40 and 80 color for Nitrate <What I really need (& most importantly) are the ammonia & nitrite levels.  They are the most toxic. I'm glad to see nitrite is 0.> We fed them some shell on shrimp, seemed to do the trick, now they are just hanging out on the bottom again, all 3 of them. is there a better way to help with stress? I sent you another email with our fish line-up. What should I check on next? <Like I said, until you get those fish into a bigger tank & the puffers into their own  BW, SPECIES ONLY tank, you will continue to have problems.  Your puffers definitely will kill off some of your FW fish.  Also, puffers will even bully each other w/o a lot of decorations to break up lines of sight & also giving them places to explore.  They are probably overwhelmed by all the action going on in your tank, w/that many fish.> thanks JJ <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

More Puffer Questions 11/23/03 Sorry to keep bugging you.... <No problem Jeff, I just want folks' puffers to be happy & healthy.  I'm called Pufferpunk for a reason, you know.  Puffers are a great joy to me.  I just wish you'd wait until I answered both your emails, so we can narrow this down to one.> it seems sort of strange, now they are all colorful and swimming around the tank happily, almost enthusiastic. Could this be stress? <Probably not at this moment.  Puffers can be very moody fish.  Like I said, a 30g is just large enough to house 3 small puffers & no other fish.> I really want to be able to help these guys and keep them so I think I might look into a second tank. Are they more happy by themselves or what other "brackish" water fish go good with puffers? <Most puffers are best in species only tanks.  With puffers, you are always taking a chance on them not getting along (putting it lightly) w/other fish.  You can check out my puffer tanks at: http://wetwebfotos.com/Home?actionRequest=userview&userID=1918 There you can see photos of what an adult 6" GSP looks like.  You can also see how heavily decorated the tank is.  This makes the puffers & the fish housed w/them (& some do still get eaten at times) more comfortable.> Thanks again for all your help.  J <You're welcome, again--Pufferpunk>

mORE pUFFER qUESTIONS 11/23/03 <pUFFERPUNK AGAIN> I've been reading about our dear puffers and it says to add a little salt to the water for them. <actually much more than a little--my 6" adult puffers live in straight saltwater.  These fish are born in FW & through their lives swim in the streams between FW & SW to live their adult lives in SW.  Those streams are called brackish water.  Your puffer is more commonly known as green spotted puffer (Tetraodon nigroviridis).  They also need hard-shelled foods  to keep their "beaks" trimmed.  With those teeth they are very prone to fin-nipping other fish, if not killing/maiming/eating most other fish.>   Here's our line=up of fish, is this a bad idea? : 2 Bala Sharks 2 Rainbow Sharks 3 small tiger Barbs 2 Zebra Danios 2 Australian Rainbows 2 Opaline Gouramis 2 Neon Gouramis 2 Red Swordtails (male and female) and the 3 Leopard Puffers <Wow, sounds like you must have a HUGE tank!  Bala sharks are schooling fish that can grow at least 8+" each.  Danios & barbs  are also schooling (6 or more) fish.  None of those fish will like the salt levels you puffers will need.  Also, I recommend 1og/puffer if under 2", larger needs 20g/fish.> Also. I'm wondering if maybe our male Swordtail might not have tried to mess with the one puffer who is ill. He is now swimming with his head up towards the top and not moving his fins all that much. Kind of like bobbing underwater. <They sound very unhappy  living in that tank.  Maybe because it is overcrowded?  How big is the tank anyway?  Although puffers aren't peaceful in their own right, they still like a peaceful, stress-free existence, which would not include a bunch of fish in their tank.  They also need pristine water conditions, which will be difficult in a overcrowded tank.  Even in my tanks, I do 50% weekly water changes, to keep my fish healthy & happy.> The puffer is just sitting on the bottom of the tank, not really moving. He looks like he gets his color back a little when he swims, but he's not swimming all that much. <So, my conclusion is--return the puffers (& maybe several other of your fish, depending on how big your tank is--you'd need at least a 55g+ for the fish you have minus the puffers), until you have another tank to make into a brackish water environment for them.  Remember the tank size rule for puffers, when considering this.> JJ <Good luck--Pufferpunk>

New Puffer 11/04/03  Hi, Pufferpunk here>  Well - neither of them made it :(. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a picture  of them to send you, they were very tiny (smaller then my pinky nail). I think  my Uaru made a snack out of one of them, the other one was wedged under some gravel and looked like he was trapped.  <sorry for your loss.>  On a side note:  I came home about two weeks ago and was surprised again with a 'new' puffer.  This time, my boyfriend bought me a Leopard Puffer, he's about 3 inches long.  He's doing great, white bellied, huge appetite - he was suffering from some  pretty extensive fin rot when I got him and was a tad bit skinny, but  everything's growing in nice and clean right now and he's very 'round' and plump.  <I'm glad he's feeling better!>  He's on a diet of jumbo freeze dried shrimp, blood worms, Tubifex worms, random pellets, frozen brine shrimp and snails (any suggestions on other food items Puffers like?).  <If your "leopard" puffer, better known as green spotted puffer, or GSP (Tetraodon nigroviridis), then you have a high-end brackish water fish that will prefer saltwater as an adult. At 3", your fish is halfway there (they grow to 6"). They are/become very aggressive fish. Killing/nipping/maiming/eating smaller fish. I have 2 adults that I feed pretty much any crustaceans I find at the fish dept of my grocery store.>  I just noticed today that he only appears to have one gill opening on his left side. I pointed it out to my boyfriend who is now insistent that we take him back because he doesn't think he'll do well as he grows. I don't see any signs of him struggling at all and I'm reluctant to take him back because I'm now 'attached' - plus this is the first time I've had a puffer that seems to be thriving in my aquarium, even considering the poor condition he was purchased in. Will this become a larger issue, or is it more cosmetic?  I've read that certain conditions may cause a fish to clamp down on one of their gills, giving them the appearance of only having one gill - is this a possibility? I've tested my water and everything is in check. I'm hoping you're going to tell me one gill is just as good as two - my bf will listen to you! ::crossing fingers::  <You could look closely for signs of gill flukes, a worm-like creature that lives in their gills. I did hear of a guy that had the same problem w/his puffer & then noticed it was the other gill the next day that was doing the same thing & there was really nothing wrong w/the fish after all.>  Thanks, Chrissy  <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>  New Puffer Again 11/04/03  <Hi, Pufferpunk again>  Ohhh! One more thing I forgot to add - along with the missing gill, my  Puffer also has little white dots on him. Not ich - these look like teeny teeny  tiny little white balls - each about the size of a pin point. I don't know if  they're a problem, because they don't seem to bother him, but thought it'd be  worth while to mention. He's had them since we got him.  <I believe you are seeing his tiny spines. all puffers have spines.>  Our Severum sometimes has little white dots too, but his look more like cysts or zits and he's had that problem for almost a year now with no visible affect on his health.  <That could be hole-in-the-head disease.>  Thanks!  <Your welcome--Pufferpunk> 

Pleco to a Good Home <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Thanks for the help...please let me know if you guys know any good fish owners in NJ who might be looking for a Pleco.   <Sorry, I live in Chicago.  You could see if you could post a sign w/photo of your fish at all the LFS.> By the way, my South American Puffer died a while back, I think Ananda tried to help me then.  He had a prolapsed colon, at least that's what I believe.  Is there anything I could have done??   <I don't think there is anything other than adding some Epsom salt (Ananda knows how much).  Even then, there's not much luck w/prolapsed colons.  I had a couple of frogs that had it.  One died & the other got better w/o any treatment.> I'm still upset about that.  Those things are so adorable and friendly.   <Yes they are.  I have 6 of them & love every one!  I'm sorry for your loss ={ > Thanks again, Frank. <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Figure 8 Puffer Troubles <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hi...I can't seem to get a straight answer from anyone I ask or from my searches online...and I'm really worried about my poor fish!  I have a figure 8 puffer...had him for about 2 months now.  A little over 2 weeks ago, I noticed a small bump on his side, towards his tail...still the color of his skin.  After a day or so, it disappeared, but another bump appeared on his other side.  These bumps came and went...sometimes he'd have just one, sometimes several.  Now I think the bumps are small worms under his skin that are coiled up.  Yesterday, I noticed what looked like a reddish worm over his eye...I guess what would be his eyebrow.  It was no longer coiled up...now elongated...like a regular worm.  Today, the same thing is over his lip (no longer over his eye)...and he still has a coiled up bump near his tail.  Are these worms?  How can I get rid of them or treat  him?  <Yes, it sounds like nematode worms.  I'm sorry to say there isn't much you can do about it.  This is common w/wild-caught fish.  I've heard of it often especially w/F8s for some reason.  Killing the worms will leave the dead bodies inside the fish, to rot & eventually kill the fish.  Keep it under observation in a quarantine tank, if possible.  When the fish starts to suffer you need to euthanize it.  Either place it in a baggie of tank water into the freezer, or overdose it w/clove oil.>   I've tried adding salt to the tank (1 tablespoon of aquarium salt for a 10-gallon tank)... I did a 25% water change...I'm slowly raising the temperature today to see if that works.  Should I take him out and give him a salt bath?  Or try formalin?  I also have a spotted Pimelodus catfish, dwarf Gourami, and 3 Danios in the tank.  I was also wondering if he may have gotten this through eating frozen bloodworms.. because the elongated worm under his skin looks like a bloodworm. <No, this comes from it's natural habitat.> Sorry if I'm all over the place with this.  Please help!  THANK YOU!!!! <I'm sorry for the bad news ={ Pufferpunk>

Green spot puffers (10-29-03) Hi,<Howdy, Cody here today.> My husband and I just set up our fish tank last week, and bought several green-spotted puffer fish on Friday.  We've been adding salt gradually to make it a brackish water tank (1 tsp every day), and the fish seem to be doing just fine.  They turn a bit gray every now and then due to some stress of being new, but most of the time they are clear and bright, and we enjoy having them as our new pets.  <Hmm, it would have been best to have the salinity adjusted before you added the fish.> My question is this.  On Sunday we added one more green-spotted puffer to our tank, and he seemed to be acclimated well and within a few hours was swimming happily with the others.  In fact, he was so bright that we couldn't tell the difference between him and the other puffers without looking at the shape of his tail.<Too many fish too fast.  You should really just start out with 1-2 fish in the beginning.  Also what size tank is this?> On Monday we went to the grocery store and bought some frozen shrimp in the shell (I think they were more like prawns), and after thawing one, fed the puffers.  They loved it!  They ate quickly and aggressively, tearing the shell off and devouring the meat.  Their little tummies became so big and round, that we almost worried if they would overeat.  They seemed to know the difference between the shell and the meat, because when they would pull off a spiny leg they would spit it out and go back for the meat.  After several minutes, they ate until they were full, and left some uneaten.  My husband immediately took what was left out of the tank. For the remainder of the evening the puffers seemed a bit lethargic, hiding in the caves and swimming behind the plants.  We figured they were all very full.  We normally feed them frozen/thawed bloodworms, and have put a snail in the tank which they have bat around a bit but haven't killed him so far, but this was the first shrimp we gave them.  This morning we woke up and all were sleeping, but within a few minutes all were swimming around happily except for one.  The new one.  He was laying on the bottom looking like he was having trouble breathing.  He was in that half gray colored stage, and then after a few minutes he began to swim around a bit.  After which time he seemed to get tired, and went back to laying on the bottom.  As he lay on the bottom, he puffed himself up, floating with the current a bit and banged on the rocks a few times.  Then he deflated and was blown around the tank by the current about three times around.  He was wiggling like he was trying to adjust his stomach.  He was alive but wasn't swimming or doing anything to steer himself.  He finally landed in one of our plants, and stayed there.  When we came back in about an hour, he was laying on the bottom, dead.  The water is fine,  so the only other thing we could think of was food poisoning or something he ate.  When the puffer died, all three of the other fish were a dark gray, but within minutes of removing him from the tank they had all turned back to their normal bright color.  They have been swimming happily all day, and enjoyed their bloodworms this evening.  (we usually feed them once a day).  Although their tummies swelled up extra big pretty quickly, like they still had undigested food in them from last night. <After such large feeding it is usually fine or better for them to fast or have a very light feeding for the next night.> We have read your website and have searched every place we could find about feeding, and everyone suggests that frozen shrimp in the shell is fine to feed puffers.  Would this death been a result of a bad shrimp, or could he have choked on a leg, etc.?  We don't want to risk giving them this shrimp again if it will cause another death.  We did think that if we fed it to them again, we would cut it smaller and make sure there are no legs or tail.<The shrimp should be fine.  This is too may fish too fast though.  Also the size of the tank, filtration and salinity would be a big help. Let me know the current status and this info and we should be able to get you all straitened out.  Cody> Have you heard of this kind of death before?  Thank you for your help.  Your advice on the web page is invaluable!  Sincerely, Brenda Mitchell

Another puffer with ich <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I have a spotted puffer that holds his tail tightly to his body. He also has dark gray around his mouth. <A sign of light stress...> He keeps rubbing rocks and stuff in the tank so I gave him medicine for the ick, I would like some help for my puffers.  thank you <Good for you on recognizing that scratching on rocks and stuff is an indicator of ich. But the best medication for spotted puffers with ich is good old marine salt and a warmer tank. Increase the tank salinity to at least 1.004 over the course of a few days. Also, raise the tank temp -- slowly! -- to 82* F. If your scat's case of ich is still fairly mild, this should be sufficient. This is a brackish fish, so he's going to need some salt in his water long-term. (There's a lot more on brackish fish in general and freshwater to brackish puffers [okay, and marine puffers!] on the WetWebMedia site -- and we've got a good bunch of folks on the WetWeb chat forums with puffers, too! Check the brackish forum (yep, we're swimming in a lightly-salted pool) at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk !   --Ananda>

Re: Sick Spotted Puffer (Low Level Brackish) Dear Ananda, <Hi!> Thank you very much for your helpful insight.   <You're quite welcome.> Unfortunately my Puffer bit the dust this afternoon.   < :-( :-( > I was treating the tank with RidIch.   <Dang. Another case where this stuff just did not get rid of the ich.> Its a concentrated blue liquid medication used to get rid of Ick.  I am continuing to medicate the tank in case the Pleco or Mono may be infected by Ick.   <What was the s.g. in your tank before the ich showed up? Increasing the salinity by 0.003 points should knock out the ich.> I'm still unsure how long to medicate for however the directions on RidIch state; Use 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water and continue medication daily for five days.   <In other words, add 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons of tank water, every day for five days. And that's supposed to get rid of it. Sigh.> I do not see any sign of Ick on my Mono argenteus or my Plecostomus, but I want to make sure that the disease has died off. It was a very big bummer to lose my Puffer. <I understand...I lost one of mine once before I knew what I was doing with puffers.> I had him the longest, next to my Pleco.  I was thinking about adding a Silvertip Shark or Hifin Bullshark to my tank. <I have no experience with either of these, but I know there's some info on the WetWebMedia site.> I was wondering how long I should wait on doing that considering my present conditions.   <I would wait until your current fish have had no signs of ich for at least a month. Got a quarantine tank?> My water quality is very high.  I had my water tested at the local Petco and they said everything from ammonia, nitrites/nitrates, pH, and chlorine are all in good order.  Nothing out of the ordinary.   <Gah...but they didn't tell you what "ordinary" was, did they?? It's possible that you had some nitrates in the water, but that the level of same fell below the level they find acceptable. I find it more useful to have real numbers.> I read up on ICK in freshwater conditions.  It helped a lot.   <Ah, good.> Is there anything else you can recommend for me?   <Not much for now, other than patience and a good diet for your fish...> Your help is  greatly appreciated.   Brian <Best of luck. --Ananda>

Sick Spotted Puffer (Low Level Brackish) Hi, <Hi! Ananda here today...> I'm worried about my Spotted Green Puffer.  I've never had a problem with him/her eating, but a few days ago my puffer stopped eating.  It still comes up to the top like as if it wants to eat, but it never bothers to take a bite. I even tried feeding its favorite frozen squid and it doesn't bite.   <Odd. Check its teeth -- is he able to open his mouth enough to get his teeth around the food, or have the teeth grown too long?> I noticed it looks like its got ICK so I put in a treatment tonight.  I'm not sure how long I should medicate.   <Depends on what you're using... for ich with green-spotted puffers, my usual recommendation is to skip the medications and just raise the salt level and temperature.> I have a 20 long tank with a Plecostomus, and a Mono argenteus.  My specific gravity is at 1.005 (didn't want to put too much salt because I didn't want to hurt my Pleco).   <Yeah, the pleco isn't going to be happy in even that much salt. You might move the pleco into quarantine and then increase the salt level in the main tank.> Can you think of anything else that is wrong with my puffer? <Check your water quality.> How long does it usually take for ICK to die off?   <Depends on how you're treating it...> I only put two teaspoons into the tank (I followed the directions).   <Um, two teaspoons of what?> It didn't say how long to medicate though.   <Ugh.> Right now the puffer sits under a rock and only comes out when I come to feed.  Then it sees the food and goes back under the rock and sits there.  Can anything else be wrong with the puffer?  I do water changes once every 3 weeks.   <I would increase the frequency to 10% weekly or 25% biweekly...and make sure the water going into the tank is the same temperature as the tank water.> I'm not sure what level the PH is at or should be at, <The mono and puffer will be tolerant to a fairly wide range of pH, from about 7.2 to about 8.4, as long as its a *steady* pH. The pleco is from a lower pH range and would prefer its pH to be below 7.4, though they can survive in higher pHs.> but I've never had a problem until just a few days ago.  Please HELP!!! Brian <Do check over the assorted FAQs on freshwater ich -- and write back with what you're treating the puffer with now. --Ananda>

Puffer Bumps into Glass? Hello, <Hi! Ananda here tonight> I have one green spotted puffer, purchased about two weeks ago. Four days ago, I noticed a couple of white spots that looked a lot like ich, so I got Super Ick Cure and treated him as the package stated for scaleless fish (half a capsule, then the other half 48 hours later).   <In a quarantine tank, hopefully...> I'm now waiting another 48 hours to change 25% of the tank's water.  I just got home to find him swimming around really fast, bumping into plants and the glass - he just seems really uncomfortable, and he wouldn't eat anything (which is very unusual for him).  Is this normal for ich? <Definitely not. More likely, the ich medication killed the biological filtration in the tank, and now the ammonia/nitrites are causing the puffer some distress. Do test your water and do a water change or three to get the ammonia and nitrites down to zero!> Should I do a freshwater dip?   <Do you have this puffer in freshwater, brackish water, or saltwater? I would avoid additional stress to the fish right now. Get the water quality under control first. Freshwater Ich is easily killed by increasing the tank's specific gravity by a few points; saltwater ich dies when you reduce the salinity. Please do read up on the WWM site about ich protocols and do write back if you have any questions. Also keep in mind that if you have medicated the main tank, it will need to cycle again... and that will be dangerous for the puffer. I would keep him in a hospital tank and do daily water changes for him to keep the ammonia and nitrites at bay while the display tank re-cycles.> Thank you! Jen    <You're quite welcome! --Ananda>

Re: Growth on lower jaw of puffer Okay, this is very strange. <So am I...Ananda here again tonight...> He hasn't been eating for over a week and the water quality is fine. The tank has live rock and a few old pieces of fake coral. They get a variety of food - frozen formula (ocean nutrition), Mysis shrimp, flake food, and occasionally live brine. They did recently get into a bivalve that had been in the tank and ate him and maybe that may not have agreed with him. <Sounds like a possibility....> What I am seeing does not look like pieces/parts from hardware in the tank or shell fragments. <Perhaps something that was, um, in the bivalve??> The last couple of days he showed some interest in some Mysis shrimp and today he ate some, so he may be on the upswing. <That's a good sign. Tempt him with krill if he's being fussy... my puffs go absolutely bonkers over the stuff.> His attitude today was much improved. Go figure, it may just have been a temporary illness (at least I hope). <Quite possible if it's from something he ate.> I don't really have the means to anaesthetize him, but I have been trying to get photos. It's beginning to look like he may actually come out of this on his own - please, please, please... <We're pulling for you and your puff...> Thanks, Patti <You're welcome! --Ananda>

Query regarding my new Indian puffer fish Hi there <Howdy> I have recently bought four Indian puffer fish, which I have housed in their own new aquarium, and they seem quite happy and alert, they are also feeding well.  My question is this, two of them have white underbellies, and the other two have slightly reddish underbellies.....is this normal? <Mmm, not likely> They are only tiny, and I believe they only grow to about 4cm (ah bless), and I would hate them to become ill because of my incompetence.  I carry out water changes (about 20%) every two weeks, as the tank is custom built to fit in my last remaining space, and they are fed on frozen (defrosted) blood worm every day.  If it helps further, they are the green kind with black spots, sorry I don't know the scientific name! <Please do take a look through the family Tetraodontidae on fishbase.org for an identification. These may be more brackish species than freshwater... and hence the discoloration might be partly due to inappropriate water conditions. Are these fish in a small system (like twenty gallons or less?). If so they may well be negatively interacting with each other... Bob Fenner> Regards, Kim

Re: Puffers on FAQ Hi, <Hello Laura> I was just doing my daily (well, since I started reworking our tank) reading of the FAQ and came across the question on puffers.  These little guys are my favorite fish, and I have kept both species of green spotted, figure eights, freshwater dwarfs, Canthigaster valentini, C. jactator, and C. solandri (have avoided the larger dog-faced and spiny marine puffs due to tank size).  I was hoping you could forward this message on to Tyler Re: what species of puffer to keep in a 20 tall and ordering puffers online. For a 20H, you could keep 1-2 figure eights (sg 1.005), 1 green spotted (sg 1.010-1.015), or 1-2 male and 3-5 female dwarf puffers (freshwater).  Dwarfs are notorious for coming in starving or with severe internal parasites (breeding them would be a noble goal considering how many are lost in the import process). <Agreed> I've seen three batches from three different sources (two different LFSs and another group ordered online for a total of 18 fish) drop like flies even with heavy feeding of vitamin-soaked, meaty frozen and live foods (these guys just won't eat dried foods, not even krill like the larger species).  They also really need lots of live plants to hide from each other when things get sticky.  Sexing can be accomplished as cited in other sources: males are not as round and have a dark brown dorsal stripe and yellow bellies.  For a first time puffer owner, I would really not recommend them because they tend to be very delicate. <Yes... need to be quarantined for weeks, fed foods laced with anti-protozoals, anthelminthics... like Metronidazole/Flagyl, Piperazine, Praziquantel... to eliminate internal parasites.>   As far as ordering puffers online, I wouldn't worry about fig eights and green spotteds if your source is keeping them in brackish but I absolutely would not order dwarfs online. These are fish you really need to see in person before you buy, and even then buying them is a fairly big gamble.  I finally got some successful ones that had been started by someone else for a few months; your best bet is probably to find another hobbyist who has been keeping them long-term. Anyways, I'm sure you guys already know all of this and just don't have time to make such an in-depth reply to every single person who e-mails you, so I hope me typing it all out will help :). <Thank you for the excellent input. You will have aided many, and saved many fishes thereby. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Laura

White Rings on a Sick Puffer <Ananda here, fielding the puffer questions...> I need to know what is wrong with my puffer, no website OR person has been able to tell me what is going on.  My green spotted puffer is getting dark on its dorsal side and has white rings, I am very concerned seeing as how I haven't had him for long and I just recently (TODAY) found someone to ell me that those are bad, and not meant to be on the fish (after days of searching).  I NEED to know how to fix this!!!! Bob <Hmmm. Are the white rings raised, sunken, or flat on the skin? Depending on which, this could be a result of several things. Chlorine or chloramine in your water that wasn't neutralized by your dechlorinator can cause round white patches that look slightly sunken in the skin. Raised white rings may be indicative of a parasite. How large are the rings? Are they all the same size? Are they present only on the body, or are there similar things on the fins and tail? Puffers change color quite a bit, for camouflage and mood as well as stress. What color is the puff's belly? Also, how old is your tank, and what are your ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and temperature readings? Perhaps there are some environmental factors at work here... --Ananda>

Puffers hanging out by the carbon <Ananda here answering puffer questions...> I have 2 spotted green puffers...  At least once a day (usually @ night w/ the lights on) they like to hang out right under the carbon cartridges at the top of my riser tubes...  why do they do that... <Not sure, but given the question below can hazard a guess... you may have water quality problems. The area of the tank near carbon cartridges may have the cleanest water in your tank. I would suggest a water change as soon as possible, with more frequent water changes in the future. I would also suggest you get additional filtration to supplement your undergravel filter. Puffers are messy fish, so you should "oversize" the filtration on your system, i.e., get filtration rated for a tank larger than the one the puffers are in.> Also, why to they get pale (grayish) in color from time to time? <Grey on a puffer belly is an indicator of stress. If you're referring to the colors on the back of the puffer getting pale, that can be caused by camouflage attempts, boredom, or even mood changes!> thank you!   Dionisi <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Re: figure eight puffer fish Hi, I wonder if any one can help? I have two figure eight puffer fish.  One puffer is about three to four years old and the other is still a baby.  Both fish are kept in a BiOrb tank, which holds around 30gallons. <I'm not familiar with the BiOrb.  Is it safe to assume that it has adequate filtration/heating/all the makings of a successful aquarium?> Lately the older one seem to swim franticly around the tank, becoming rather shy but I havent notice any flicking or rubbing against any solid objects. It seemed to eat its food but Im quite worried with this frantic darting around the tank, is it normal? <Are you adding any salt to their water, it could be cause by the lack of salt in the water as the fish ages.> Every time when I feed them, I havent seen the younger fish taking any food and it looks to me that he is getting thinner. I have tried to check for any sign of disease and I only found a small dot on the tail, which I believe it is fungus, but should this stop it eating its food? <May not be a fungus, if it is it could be a sign that something else is wrong with their environment.  What are you feeding them? How are the water tests looking? -Best Regards, Gage> I would be very grateful if any one could help me.

Puffer With A Problem? Hello! <Hi there! Scott F. with you> I have eight dwarf puffers in a 10 gallon tank. temperature at 79 degrees, ph 7.6. Pebble (name of the very first puffer i adopted) has been displaying strange behavior: * she's been hiding out in the top back corner of the tank behind the heater (stays there all day), * doesn't eat (unless i drop couple of live brine shrimp in front of her face with a dropper), * lost a lot of weight (view of her from the top looks like her eyes are bulging out), * HALF OF HER LEFT EYE IS "RED" !!! Please help~! <Well, it sounds like "Pebble" might have some kind of infection. If it were just one eye that was bulging, I'd suggest trying Epsom salt in the water to help reduce the swelling. If it's in both eyes, it sounds like it could be some sort of infection. I'd consider moving "Pebble" to a separate tank for treatment with a commercial antibiotic product, such as Maracyn. Before beginning ANY treatment- please research possible diseases on the wetwebmedia.com site for more information. Proceed with caution- good luck! Scott F.>

Re: Mystery Disease: "Sudden Puffer Death Syndrome" Hi Ananda, <Hi again...> Here is more information. Some curators at public aquariums have had similar questions to you, and I have had the person with the most experience with the problem, respond. As far as the photo, I am trying to get another copy. We are having trouble contacting the original poster, as he is not returning e-mails for some reason. <I read some more of this, and something sounded familiar. Turns out woman person who had the photo posted once on the WetWebMedia chat forums, with the photo link when it ws working. I think I remember the photo -- it showed a large dark patch on the side of the puffer. Is that the one?> Thanks for taking the time to look into this. Here are the responses: ------------- I have a fellow aquarium maintenance company owner who recently had the same symptoms occur in a Puffer before it's death. We are pretty sure they came from the same collection sight but were collected by different companies??? <Of course, my next question is where, specifically, were they collected? It would be interesting to get more data about their original habitat.> He is doing a post mortem and I will keep you appraised. <I'm looking forward to this and hope it will provide some answers!> 1. Yes all fish were from the same source 2. 3-4 days before onset of sx <that's "onset of symptoms" for us non-medical folx!> 3. Yes same feed. A variety of fresh seafoods were offered including clam, squid and prawns soaked in vitamins. 4. Same collection area ----------- The  fish behave and feed normally up until the last 36-48 hours of life. Still normal after initial 24 hours after onset of blanching. Sometime around 24-36 hours before death feeding stops they become listless the blanching rapidly spreads from the "eyebrow" area to cover most of the body. Change to the eyes themselves are only noted within 24 hours of death when the clear part of the eyes become milky white without evidence of lesions within a few hours (very rapid onset) Blanching always starts above one eye and spreads backwards with the eye itself showing symptoms last. <The cloudy eyes with no visible parasites makes this sound more like a bacterial problem....> My fish are from the same distributor and collection area, but have had no issues with other species from the same distributor and collection area. Also does appear to be able to survive for long periods without a host. A tank had other species but no Puffers in it for fourteen days after a Puffer was lost in that tank. Another Puffer was brought to the tank for holding while the display tank was being repaired along with other species from the same display tank. Within 3 days only the Puffer was affected and died after exhibiting the same symptoms. This Puffer was 5+ years old and came from a different collection area. <I'm curious what kind of filtration and circulation equipment was used on the affected tank(s), and if either UV or ozone were used.> So it appears for some reason to be species specific. <This is not the only puffer-specific rapid-onset disease/parasite I've heard of. With some differences, this sounds like what people on the WetWeb chat forums have started calling "Sudden Puffer Death Syndrome" -- the affected puffer (typically green-spotted or dwarf) is apparently healthy, then suddenly quits eating and dies within one to three days.> All deaths have occurred in my quarantine tanks as the onset to death is so rapid and I quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. <That is good to hear.> A post mortem is being done on a recent loss today. Thanks! ********** These are the original messages posted to the CowfishandMore group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CowfishPuffers_andMore/message/2403 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CowfishPuffers_andMore/message/2442 <I will take a look and possibly post over there, too. --Ananda>

Froggy the puffer: teeth trimming/snail question; Froggy swimming oddly (03/17/03) <Ananda here tonight/this morning, after being out of commission for a couple of days.This is one big message, combined from three. > Thanks so much again Ananda. Froggy is doing ok still- not much fatter- and I'm getting the scissor type trimmers tomorrow after school... I was going to try cuticle cutters of my moms- but I'm just going to play it safe with the trimmers. <Sounds good you dont want to chance it with your moms set.> The quarantine tank seems to be cycling pretty well- I used some of the 20 gallons water supply to help it cycle and made sure the salinity matched in both the 20 and the 5.5 etc... <Easy way to start up a quarantine tank: use some water from an existing tank when you do a water change.> I was just wondering about the thing about keeping snails- I know that the snails live in the Fresh Water Plant area in Petco and I wasn't sure if they would live in the brackish water... <Some will, some wont. Keep them in freshwater, at least to start with.> Either way I'm going to try and get some tomorrow also. Nothing urgent to respond to right now. Thanks a lot Ananda- without all of your help I think Froggy would have already starved to death- his top teeth seem to go all the way down to his lower lip... Still can't get much in but he can get in the smaller brine shrimp. I said to Froggy you said hi. And he says his name is  cute and not silly.   <Sorry -- didnt mean to imply that Froggy was a silly name but that many people have either cute or silly names for their puffers. Some of my puffers have silly names (Blimpy and SmartPuff, for instance).> Hope to hear from you again. <I frequently hang out on the forums.> Bye for now. ( and thanks again and again) <Youre welcome. More to follow.> Hey Ananda- i didn't get the scissor type trimmers-I used good cuticle cutters. Froggy has good room for food to get through. I did the "operation" on him about 20 minutes ago and I just fed the puffs some frozen blood worms and some live worms. He doesn't seem to care much for the live worms right now. He hasn't eaten much - but everything he does try to eat gets through easily- although he doesn't have the best looking teeth I have seen him with. <Snails, shell-on shrimp, and hard-shelled foods will help with the teeth now.> I was really nervous about the whole thing- but I didn't even bump his lips :) He didn't puff up when I held him to clip his teeth- kind of to my surprise actually. I think hes kinda shook up though... He isn't following my finger around the glass and he is backing away from the glass a bit when I come too close... <Mine do that all the time.> I feel kinda bad about him being a little scared of me though I think he'll be more social soon. Thank you Ananda- I'll tell you how he is doing this weekend - things are looking pretty good right now though. Talk to you later, Froggy and Daniel. <The next chapter follows> OK- now Froggy ( My pufferfish) does seem to be a little fatter. <Thats good.> But he doesn't act normally at all- He can't swim very well- all the time when he tries to swim he wobbles from side to side. <Thats not good.> For the last 2 days all he has done is sat on the bottom at a 20 Degree angle - his face down and his tail kinda going up. Whenever he tries to swim he wobbles around a lot or is at a 45 degree angle ( NOSEDIVE 45- not 45 degree angle up) and when he sits on the bottom for the other 23 hours of the day all he does is move his two side fins by his gills. When ever he tries to swim and comes down back to the bottom he usually lands on his chin kinda hard. God I'm worried.... Some one please help! <Since this started after his teeth were trimmed, one possibility is that he swallowed a bit of air. You may need to burp him. Heres one of Anthonys descriptions about doing that: Gently net underwater with a soft nylon cloth net (not coarse green fabric). Securely grab the fish through the net and orient the fish tail-down/ mouth- upward. The struggle to get free will often massage a burp of air out if it exists. You should only need 5-10 seconds to complete if it will work at all. If that doesnt do it, ping/post back and well look into other possibilities. Meanwhile, you might want to read more of the FAQs on puffers I found Anthonys info in the marine puffer FAQs. --Ananda>

Puffer care shopping list (09/01/03) Hey, <Hey! Ananda back again...> Thanks for the quick reply. Well, the rocks are pretty big with algae growing on them but I already took them out of the tank. I got them from the same fish store that gave me the wrong information about my fish. <Urk. I would not want to put them back in the tank for a while yet.> Now I think my fish also has ich because it has white stuff growing on its tail. <Yep, sounds like ich. Salt will fix that.> I can't go to the fish store till tomorrow because its Labor Day today. Can you give me a list of everything I should buy so I don't have to make several runs to the store. <Sure! Hmmm...another thing to write up for the WWM site.> I know that I need to buy a different type of food, snails, some salt, and the SeaTest hydrometer. <That's really about it, but here are a few more details.... Food: frozen uncooked shrimp from the grocery store works; he might also like squid (grate it while it's frozen). (Only one of my five puffs likes squid, so don't get it unless you like it, too.) Also, pond snails, or baby Ramshorn snails, which *should* be free. Do not get him the cone-shaped snails. For a treat, he'd probably love frozen bloodworms (I prefer the Hikari brand); a "worm cone" makes it easier to feed those (drop a small chunk of the frozen stuff into the cone, and the worms won't make a beeline for the filter intake). For freeze-dried stuff, you can wait a bit and order from online; it's significantly cheaper that way. Salt: Instant Ocean is just fine for puffers. The garlic oil may also be available at the grocery store... you want to get the gel caps that are intended to be a human nutritional supplement. Check out this thread for another discussion on puffers, including a link to what I'm talking about when I say "garlic oil": http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=31&thread=12165&start=0&trange=15> I mean, I only have one fish in the tank so should I go out and try to find another one so it wouldn't be so lonely? <Not when he's got ich!!> Sorry if I sound dumb about this, its just this is the first time I'm taking care of fish. Thanks. -Kathy <You're welcome -- and you have a head start on many fishkeepers since you're doing research! :-) Also, do check out the WetWebMedia chat forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk -- we have several experienced and novice puffer keepers on board. --Ananda>

Sick Green Spotted Puffers (08/31/03) Dear Bob, <Hi! You get Ananda tonight...> Thank you for your interesting Web Site. <You're welcome.> I live in Cape Town - South Africa and I am in desperate need of your help. <My puffers and I are here to help.> I have 3 Spotted Green Puffers. They are beautiful little creatures. I have had them now for 6 weeks. Last night I noticed that all 3 looked bloated. Their eyes have become cloudy, and they are swimming around very slowly, bumping into things, and will not eat anything. They are greyish underneath and have become a strange yellow/orange faded colour. <Many of these behaviors/symptoms are indicators of poor water quality. I would do a 30% water change tonight and another one tomorrow. What are your ammonia/nitrite/nitrate readings? Ammonia and nitrite should be zero, and nitrate should be less than 10 in a healthy tank.> This morning I found one resting on top of the water. He had died........very upsetting. <Sorry to hear that...I know it's hard to lose a puff.> The other two are even worse. In the tank with them, I have one scat and one goby, who both still seem in perfect condition. <Different fish have different ways of reacting to poor water quality.> There is beach sand, which I washed thoroughly at the bottom, and two plastic plants which they seem to enjoy hiding in. The salt content in the tank is sitting at 1.02 and the temperature is sitting at 26. <26C is about 79F, which is a little on the low side for these guys. I'd raise it to about 27C. My puffs are happier when their tank is at about 81F (~27C).> Only the puffers have been affected. What do you think it can be..... Can I still save them? <I think so, if you act right away. You might increase their salinity a bit, too, with the water changes. I'd shoot for about 1.006 within a week or two. The goby should be able to handle that (what kind of goby is it?), and the scat won't even flinch.> Many Thanks Steven <You're welcome, and keep me posted. --Ananda>

Did Puffy Huff or Puff? <Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob travels> We have a spiny box puffer fish. He is pretty small still and we had him about a month. He has been fine and eating fine but we have noticed that he is swimming weird lately. He seems to struggle to swim and swims at an angle with his tail fins upward. He can dive to the bottom of the tank but it looks like he is struggling. Does this mean that he has swallowed air? <possible but uncommon once established... usually occurs after netting out of water when sold/moved> Since this swimming problem has started he does not seem to eat anymore either. We also have some larger fish that are bothering him. The fish who are the villains are a Sailfin tang, blue tang and a Heniochus. What can we do to help puffy? <needs quarantine immediately. Ultimately may never work with current tank mates, but suffer and die if forced to do so> If it is air, how exactly do we help him release it without getting bit or hurting him? <gently net underwater with a soft nylon cloth net (not coarse green fabric). Securely grab the fish through the net and orient the fish tail-down/ mouth- upward. The struggle to get free will often massage a burp of air out if it exists. You should only need 5-10 seconds to complete if it will work at all. Quite frankly, it may not be air at all and the symptoms are general. Stressed by harassment from other fish, it could have a pathogenic infection... that is why quarantine for isolation, treatment and observation is critical to save its life>  Thanks for any help with our little guy. <please write back with a success story! Anthony>

Puffer Question I have two Spotted Congo Puffers. Or at least I'm fairly certain that is what they are from the description on your site. My tank is in good condition, all fish seem healthy and all readings are normal. The only problem is that last Monday I noticed one of my fish (not puffer) had ich. Which means all my fish have ich. <Not necessarily... but your system does...> So I bought Rid-Ich and used it as directed for a week. This seemed to get rid of the ich. But now I see that my two puffers are staying at the bottom of the tank, not eating as much, and are still rubbing up against rocks. They are not darting around however. My question is, does ich cause loss of appetite and non movement? <It can, but definitely the medication does.> They used to be very active but now seem to stay in the same place. I don't see signs of parasites on them and their color is still bright, most of the time. Do you think they have ich and I should continue to treat with Rid-Ich? Or any other suggestions. <I would not continue the treatment at this point, but wait a good week or two, see if other (spotty) symptoms recur... then go the "elevated temperature and some salt" treatment route for two weeks, if so. Your livestock is better not chemically treated for now. Bob Fenner> Thank you for any help, Isaac Vollaire ps. Sorry if I didn't give enough info or if anything is confusing.

Green-spotted puffer skin problems <<Greetings,>> We recently purchased a beautiful green spotted puffer. He is very healthy acting and eats very well. I have been reading a great deal about the skin problems they can have and I have come to the conclusion that something is going on now with ours. He has white patches about the size of his black spots all over him now. We have had him only about a week. It does not look like ick and no other fish in our tank has showed any sign of his similarity. Does any of this sound familiar to you? How would we go about treating him. <<I would look first to water quality issues - make sure pH is correct and water is changed often with chlorine-free water.>> We have recently started the salt thing and I am hoping that will help. <<Ahh good - these are brackish puffers, a small amount of salt is a must. If you haven't read this page, do check this URL and the FAQs beyond: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm >>  It is very unfortunate indeed that pet shop employees don't have a clue about such delicate fish. <<indeed.>> Also, are there any books out there specifically on freshwater puffers that you know of? <<Specifically on these puffers, no but you might try a web-based search with a tool like Google or ask in the brackish section of our forum, http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ >> Thanks, Lori.  <<Cheers, J -- >>

Sick Puffer Hi, I hope you can help me here ... <that makes two of us> I've a 150l tank running at 1.006/78F with external canister, UV & Nitrate reductor (as the Scats ate all the plants). Chemistry seems OK (NH3-0; N02-0; NO3-<20; PO4<0.5; PH 8.2) with hardness kept high from the coral sand. Other inhabitants are a couple of orange Chromides, a few bumblebees, a couple of scats and some Madagascan rainbows. Tank is mature and has a regular 20L RO change weekly. My green spotted puff has definitely come down with something: completely off his food (not even live shrimps tempt him), and has now turned almost totally dark brown (even his belly); he mostly lies on the bottom, often at an odd angle, and occasionally does odd pirouettes and has inflated himself at least once (the only time I have ever seen this in the 15mths I've had him). No obvious external signs (spots, ich, redness etc.) and no fish / major maintenance recently. <sounds like it may be a problem with a physical parameter of water quality. Has the salinity or temperature strayed by chance? I must also say that the mix of fish that you have is highly unusual and definitely incompatible in the long term. The scats will be too large and fast/competitive for most other fishes (intimidating), the puffer if it survives is too toothy and aggressive and the bumble bees are too small and passive. And lastly, the species you keep favor a very wide range of differing salinities as adults> Other fish seems OK but three weeks ago I lost my violet goby - just found him dead when I got home - without any apparent reason. Any suggestions as to what I might do to save him ? DR <please explore the following page of links for brackish systems and setup at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex Best regards, Anthony>

Sick puff ... Thanks for the info. He's still hanging in there  <very good to hear> and I'm using Myxazin more in hope than to treat anything specific. I don't *know* of any temp. changes / power outages etc. although I do cycle the salinity between 1.004 and 1.007 as I do the RO changes. <perhaps a bit much for a swing in SG... do try to temper this swing> As for the fish, a bit of a mixture and yes - the scats will go marine fairly soon. They all seem to get on and though I've put lots of hiding places in the rocks/décor that the scats and puff are too big/fat to get into,  <heehee...very well> the bumble bees seem happy to just keep out of their way. The only loss to the puffer was a red-clawed crab last fall when he eventually grew big enough to take the crab on (or improved his technique). Thanks again for the advice DR <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Puffer Skin Problem?? <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> I have a green spotted puffer,.. great color/white underside. I have had him for quite some time now and he has been very healthy and active, and still is. I just noticed a raised spot on his back that has me a little concerned. One of the black spots on him is raised a bit and looks a little different. It is only affecting this one black spot and is circled with a little white (but not ick). I have looked on your site to see if perhaps someone has already asked of this particular problem but didn't see anything similar to my description. Does this sound familiar? <<Not especially, no.>> I have checked the water... the condition is good and the salinity is fine. Does this mean a parasite??? <<Would be my guess.>> I don't know! Please help... <<I would just keep my eye on it - a single parasite isn't going to harm your puffer, a whole fleet of them would be a different story. As long as it is still eating and behaving normally, I wouldn't be overly concerned and just make sure it doesn't spread. If you see more of these lumps, then consider some isolation and treatment in a hospital tank.>> ~Alecia P.S. You have a WONDERFUL site! I love visiting it, it has just so much information. <<Glad it is useful for you.>> I also want to say thanks for answering my occasional questions and the questions of others... your generosity does not go unnoticed!!! I think the fish appreciate it too : ) <<I hope so... Cheers, J -- >>

Puffer <<Hi James>> I have 2 figure 8 puffers in a 10 gallon tank. One of them has developed two bumps on his body: on the side and the other on the top of his body. The water tests well for nitrite, Ammonia, and pH. Both fish eat well and move normally. The other figure 8 hasn't shown the same bumps. Do you know what these bumps might be? Other than the bumps, the fish seems fine. Thanx. -James Kim <<Likely Lymphocystis, Look at pix here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/viraldislymph.htm> and these: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufferfaqs.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpuffers.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufffaqs2.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tetraodontpuffers.htm> I would advise more room and good filtration. These links should help, Craig>>

Figure Eight Puffer Parasite Hello Mr. Fenner, I acquired several Figure Eight Puffers for a tank that I recently finished cycling. The Puffers are the only inhabitants. I've had Figure Eights for almost a year now in another tank, so I'm pretty familiar with the usual health problems that crop up with them, since most are wild caught. One of my new Puffers was suffering from fungus, so I was treating the whole tank with MarOxy as well as Maracyn and Maracyn ll for any infection that might be present. Unfortunately, yesterday the sick Puffer took a dramatic turn for the worse and died. I wanted to get a closer look so I examined it under close-up magnification. Photos of what I found are enclosed. The images are magnified approximately 34X. <Good photo work> The parasites that I found aren't easily noticed with the naked eye. One image shows an elongated lump near the tail of the Puffer that is actually a worm living under the skin. Under magnification I could see it moving. It's approximately one inch long and 1/16" in diameter. There were A LOT of these worms under the skin on various areas of the fish. <Yes... nematodes> I was curious to see what might be lurking inside of the Puffer so I sliced the stomach open. More worms rolled out of the body cavity. These were in the body cavity and not in the intestine (I hadn't yet perforated the intestine). The photo shows one of the worms measuring between 1" and 1 1/4" in length and 1/16" diameter. Interestingly, when touched the worm retracts into a coil. <Typical> The other photo enclosed shows a yellow area that I assume is infection or irritation caused by the worms. <Perhaps> I've had no luck identifying this particular parasite. It just doesn't resemble the descriptions I have found of other worm-like parasites of fish. I'm hoping that you might know exactly what it is and also possibly recommend a course of treatment. I'm stumped! Thanks in advance. JoAnn VanDersarl <Hmm, where to start, or how to narrow down a statement here... The infestation you describe and show is likely resultant from an initial exposure from the wild... these roundworm parasites typically have "complex" life cycles that require one or more intermediate hosts... Maybe some lack in diet, environmental challenge hastened the "winning" (and ironically losing) phase of the worm parasites causing the death of their host (and themselves), but perhaps not much... It's very hard to access (unless you sacrifice and examine a significant portion of a good size sample of individuals) how much of what their parasite load is... All vertebrates (yes, including you and I) have something of such a mix of organisms living in and on us... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm and the FAQs beyond for more of a general understanding of the predisposition to these events. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Problem I think I may of messed up when selecting my fish. I have a 46 gallon bowed tank with 40 pounds of live rock etc. My ammonia is 0, nitrate is .2, ph is 8.2, and salinity is 1.021 with temperature a stable 79. I have had in the tank for about a month, a dwarf lionfish, and 2 green spotted puffers. Now I realize that the salinity may be a bit high, but I don't want it too low because of the lionfish, is this correct? The lionfish seems fine (he's just lazy), and the puffers seem to be getting a little lazier as time goes by. I have noticed that the puffers stomachs can turn brown almost daily now, but can clear up at any given time. I do feel the puffers have been overeating. I feed them a variety of food twice a day, and every second day, they feast on ghost shrimp, because I put enough in the tank to ensure the lionfish gets enough. (I can't trick him into non-living foods as of yet). So I guess I have many many problems, and my LFS gives me the worst advice in the world. So I guess I'm down to these questions: Is the salinity of 1.021 wayyyy to high?......Are the brown bellies the puffers get a sign of disease or stress?..... I'm sorry to bother you, <no bother at all. Salinity should be somewhere between 1.021 to 1.025. I have seen green spotted puffers in freshwater, salt water, and everywhere in between. I personally like to see them in brackish water. If they were acclimated slowly to full-blown salt water they should be ok. The color change is normal, as long as they are not showing any other signs of sickness. Does not sound like too much to worry about, just keep an eye on water quality and let us know if they are showing any other symptoms. Best Regards, Gage> Thank You, Brandon Roth

Puffer sickness <<Hello, JasonC here at your service.>> I have two puffers with problems. One is (I think) a Tetraodon nigroviridis--and an exceptionally beautiful one at that--and the only way I can think to describe the problem is that the puffer looks like its skin was painted on, only to have some youngster come along and touch its back before the paint was dry. It is eating fine, swimming around pretty well, etc. I first thought that one of my figure eights may have bitten this fish on the back, only I have moved it to a different tank, and the problem persists. At one time it appeared as if part of this marking was slightly raised on its back, but it now seems to have subsided. There are actually 2 spots on its back that look this way--maybe only a couple of scrapes?--but I cannot identity what they may be. <<I agree, it's probably just a scrape or previous bite from the puffer-removed.>> I should add that this particular puffer has been with me for little more than a week. <<Give it some time.>> The second puffer is a figure eight that I've had for a couple of months now, and its back also has a spot, only it looks very much more like a bite. It has a white tinge to it, and it was definitely raised for some time. I believe that ick developed for a while, because the white spots came on and seemed to be connected to the original big white spot on its back. I treated the fish for ick with alternate treatments of Melafix and ick remover, but while the little spots went away, the white fleshy bump remained on its back. Is it simply taking a while to heal, or could it be something else, and entirely unrelated to the ick? <<These things always take time... usually a month or more.>> And by the way, it too is eating well and moving about pretty much all of the time. <<As long as it's eating and getting around fine, I wouldn't be too concerned.>> Thanks a lot-- Andy Barton <<Cheers, J -- >>

Sick Puffers <<Hi Andy! This is Ananda. The WetWebCrew sent me your puffer questions.>> I have two puffers with problems. <<Okay, first set of questions, since they may help with the diagnosis: how many puffers, and which types, do you have in with the two that  have problems? Are they in different tanks, or the same tank? And what  are their tank conditions? I'm looking for ammonia and nitrate values,  and specific gravity values if you're keeping them in brackish water.>> One is (I think) a Tetraodon  nigroviridis--and an exceptionally beautiful one at that--and the only way I can think to describe the problem is that the puffer looks like its skin was painted on, only to have some youngster come along and touch its back before the paint was dry. <<Is the spot perfectly round, or oval, or irregular?>> It is eating fine, swimming around pretty well, etc. <<Good signs.>> I first thought that one of my figure eights may have bitten this fish on the back, only I have moved it to a different tank, and the problem persists. <<If indeed it is a bite from one of the figure eight puffers, it may  take a while to heal.>> At one time it appeared as if part of this marking was slightly raised on its back, but it now seems to have subsided. <<Could be a sign of irritation of the area: when the irritation is new, the area would swell up, but then the swelling might subside later. I remember numerous childhood scrapes would do the same thing.>> There are actually 2 spots on its back that look this way--maybe only a couple of scrapes?--but I cannot identity what they may be.  I should add that this particular puffer has been with me for little more than a week. <<Hmmm. How big is this puffer in relation to the others in the tank? It may be that a figure-eight (or other puffer?) is trying to establish dominance and bit the new guy in the tank. If this is true, you may  need a bigger tank to contain that group, or, as you did, split the  group. On the other hand, what kinds of tank decorations do you have?  If you have anything remotely sharp, they could indeed be scrapes.  Puffs love to hide in, around, and under things, so I can imagine the  new fish in the tank might easily scratch itself on the decorations  while it's hiding.>> The second puffer is a figure eight that I've had for a couple of  months now, and its back also has a spot, only it looks very much more like a bite. <<How so? How long has it had this spot?>> It has a white tinge to it, <<A white tinge? Not pure white? Is it a paler version of the color  around it?>> and it was definitely raised for some time.  I believe that ick developed for a while, because the white spots came on and seemed to be connected to the original big white spot on its back. <<Were there any white spots on its fins or tail? I would expect both with ich.>> I treated the fish for ick with alternate treatments of MelaFix and ick remover, <<Melafix won't help with ich, but won't hurt, either. What "ick  remover" did you use? Puffers are particularly sensitive to many  medications.>> but while the little spots went away, the white fleshy bump remained  on its back. Is it simply taking a while to heal, or could it be something else, and entirely unrelated to the ick? <<My suspicion is that it is something else entirely....Can you send us digital photos, of both fish? That should make it *much* easier to  identify this.>> And by the way, it too is eating well and moving about pretty much all of the time. <<Again, this is a good sign.>> Thanks a lot--Andy Barton <<No problem. Always willing to help.--Ananda>>

Re: Sick Puffers Unfortunately I am having a hard time getting the pictures to come out.  Do you have any suggestions?  Should the room be well lit? or dark with only the aquarium lights?  et cetera. <<Ananda here while the regular WetWebMedia crew is off at MACNA....  Usually, I keep all the lights on -- tank lights, room lights, etc. If you're getting flash glare from the glass, try taping a piece of tissue paper over the flash. This will diffuse the light enough to keep it from causing glare on the tank glass.>> I've been using half dosages of Maracide and Melafix, and the figure eight seems to be doing fine.  The ick is gone, and the white bump on its back seems to be shrinking. <<Ah, good -- half doses for double the duration is what I use for all scaleless fish.>> The spotted puffer's marks have turned white.  No swelling--I'm hoping this is a sign of its skin healing itself (and not some creature inside fooling around. <<Keep an eye on it. And skin irritations are one of the instances where Melafix can help, as it may prevent secondary infections from setting in.>> I'll still tell you the conditions of the tank, just in case you see something that sounds fishy.  The pH was always around 7.8, the nitrates and ammonia has not been a problem at all since the first cycle of the tank some months ago. The salinity in the water was between 1.001 and 1.004, and there were roughly 8 or 9 African cichlids in there.  There were hardly any instances where the different species attacked one another.  The fiercest cichlid occasionally started for one of the puffers, realized who it was, and left.  So I don't really think it was one of them that caused any of these problems. <<That specific gravity is fine for both types of puffers you mentioned. I've heard other tales of cichlids and puffers together, but haven't tried it myself.>> One last thing--I don't really know the hardness of the water.  When I tried to do the test, I could never get the orange liquid to turn green.  I must not understand the procedure, because otherwise my general and carbonate hardnesses are off the charts. <<One thing they don't tell you about that particular test: once you start adding salt, whether it's cichlid salt, brackish salt, or marine salt, you're increasing both the general and carbonate hardness. All of those salts include other minerals, since cichlids and brackish fish do not live in soft water, and marine systems need a lot of extra minerals... so I'm not at all surprised that you can't get the color change to happen. The one time I tested my brackish puffer tank and decided to keep going until the color changed, I used something like 58 drops!>> My basic understanding was that I needed to worry more about the water being too soft, so I didn't worry much about it. <<Good. Your water hardness is fine.>> Now I have two final questions, and unless you hear from me again you can assume that the ailments went away.  First of all--pH--how important is it? <<Varies depending on the fish species.... less so overall for fish that are brackish or somewhat brackish-tolerant like your puffers. What is more important is that the pH remain constant, rather than keeping it at, say, 7.0 rather than 7.2, for example.>> Figure eights require a lower pH than green spotted puffers, so will this be a big problem to keep it at 7.8 (that's what it comes out of the tap at)? <<My tap water is 7.6, and my puffers are not complaining. I think you should be okay.>> And what is the method of adjusting pH?  I used proper 7.0 for some dwarf puffers, only to find out later that it was unsuitable for use with live plants. <<Interesting. You might look for some plant-friendly pH adjusters... or, perhaps, look into using RO/DI water, which is usually quite acidic, and then buffer the RO/DI water accordingly. I have never tried to decrease the pH here, so will pass this question along to the rest of the WWM crew.>> And in general it just seemed to make the pH much more unstable than when I just left it alone. <<Exactly the reason I have never tried to decrease the pH of my tank water. One thing you will need to watch is "alkalinity" -- not how "alkaline" the water is in terms of pH, but how resistant the water is to having its pH changed by other factors. Read here for more info: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/phalkbrackish.htm >> Additionally, one of the local pet stores has been telling me that he'll get some target puffers in soon, and these prefer (all of my numbers are from fishbase or PufferNet) 7.0.  Would this be a bad idea to group these different puffers?  Not much written on target puffers. <<Are you referring to Tetraodon leiurus? If so, the reports I'm seeing are that it is very aggressive and is best kept in its own tank. >> What's a reasonable salt level? Most people say that figure eights are freshwater, but spotted's (either nigroviridis or fluviatilis) prefer some salt.  What's you advice here? <<Several things to consider here. When they are very young, spotted puffers can tolerate freshwater; conversely, figure eights seem to be tolerant of low levels of salt (s.g. of around 1.004). The spotted puffers require more salt as they get older -- one first-hand report tells of them being in an area with specific gravities from 1.010 to 1.019. Also, the spotteds get significantly larger than the figure eights. My inclination is that the two species can be kept together for a while, in freshwater conditions and later low-brackish conditions (sg 1.002-1.006, tops). Eventually the spotted puffers will get sufficiently larger than the figure eights and the two species should be separated. Then the salinity in the system for the spotteds can be increased gradually, until it is over 1.010 when they are adults.>> and what about if I get a target puffer in there? <<I've read that they are freshwater and brackish, so IF by chance it gets along with the other puffers, it should be okay in the same conditions. From what I've read, I don't think I could recommend the combination.>> Lastly, the pet store folks simply have no idea as to what sort of spotted green variety I have, so do you have any suggestions as to how they can be told apart?  This one definitely has no spikes on its belly (mark out spotted Congo).  It also does not seem very round.  Its head is pretty large and wide, and its back and belly are relatively flat.  If I were judging from PufferNet, I'd definitely call it a fluviatilis (more the torpedo than the club), but judging from most other people it's a complete toss-up.  The guy at the pet store swore up and down that it was freshwater, but I can't say I trust him since they can't tell me which species it is, and since the other workers say it is brackish. <<The Puffernet article is the best one I know of...though I do wish it included more photos. I have to admit to not being adept at telling the two species apart.>> Thanks, and hope this isn't too long. Andy Barton <<No, not too long -- more information is good. Also, please consider sharing your experiences on the WetWeb forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/index.jsp -- many of the brackish crew there would love to hear about your puffers! Thanks, Ananda>>

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