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FAQs about Brackish Puffer Selection

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Dwarf or green spotted? Sel. 06/16/08 Hi Guys! I would like your opinion on something. I am torn between two species of puffer, the dwarf or green spotted (fluvialis I think). I have both a 30 gallon and 20 gallon that I can put either into (and convert to brackish should I get green spotted). I was wondering which species is easier to keep and especially, breed? Which would be more likely to accept members of it's own kind? Thanks! Don <Hello Don. There are two "Green Spotted Puffers" in the trade, Tetraodon fluviatilis and Tetraodon nigroviridis. Distinguishing them with 100% reliability is difficult, but on the average Tetraodon fluviatilis has a darker green body with irregular markings, whereas Tetraodon nigroviridis tends to have a bright green body with regular black spots. Of the two, Tetraodon fluviatilis is somewhat less aggressive than Tetraodon nigroviridis but there isn't much in it and neither are reliable companions for either their own kind or other fish. If you do want to keep multiple specimens, get them when they're small and rear them together. Because they are fairly large fish (easily 12-15 cm in captivity) you certainly need at least 30 gallons for a single adult, and considerably more for multiple specimens. As you correctly observe, both these species need a brackish water aquarium for long term care, around SG 1.010 being ideal. Contrary to popular myth, they don't need a marine aquarium once they grow up, and in fact wild fish are found primarily in freshwater habitats once mature. In aquaria though brackish water is essential otherwise they become disease prone. The Dwarf Puffer of the trade is again multiple species including Carinotetraodon imitator and Carinotetraodon travancoricus. They are fairly sociable, and do seem to thrive in groups provided there is adequate space and lots of hiding places. Allow 4-5 gallons per specimen, and decorate the tank with lots of plants (live or plastic) as well as rocky caves and bogwood roots. No puffer is "easy to breed", though Carinotetraodon species are fairly regularly bred. Breeding is very cichlid-like, with the male guarding the eggs until the fry become free swimming. The fry are tiny, and need very small live foods, smaller than baby brine shrimp, more like infusoria. Cheers, Neale.>

Green spoted puffer Question redone. Read this-a-one if you can. other one is poop  11/07/07 Thank you so much for your response. <You're welcome.> I am new to the site, and been studying the site the last few days. I read from a few months back that: "GSP are wild caught fish and their numbers are being depleted." While I really like the figure 8 puffer, I don't want to be a part of an economic gain which is harmful to a species and the environment. If that is the case I may rethink my buy. Is it just GSP or f8's too? <Hmm... not sure I agree with the original statement. Fishbase lists Tetraodon nigroviridis as having a "high" resilience to fishing thanks to it being a fast-breeding species. It isn't listed on the IUCN Red Data Book lists either. These statements also hold true for Tetraodon biocellatus. In general, collecting small fish for the tropical fish trade has little to no impact on populations. There are exceptions though, but they tend to be species with limited geographical range but huge demand in the hobby. Neither of these conditions applies here. In almost all cases where a fish becomes rare in the wild, it isn't the aquarium fish industry to blame but environmental degradation. Building dams in rivers and turning coastal streams into brackish water pools for shrimp farming are two major threats to freshwater fish, and obviously larger scale things like climate change and deforestation have massive impacts on coral reefs and rainforest rivers. To be frank, I'd be surprised if any freshwater fish other than imported tilapia survive in Madagascar within 50 years, the degradation of that island-continent is happening so rapidly. But this is off topic now. In short, no, buying a pufferfish isn't likely to have a negative effect on their populations in the wild.> What is the their status as a species, how depleted are their numbers getting, and do you personally think buying a F8 puffer would add to the harm of these species? (I know buying one won't hurt but I hope you get what I mean) <The species is stable and resilient. Buying farmed "tiger shrimp" and the like from Asia is more likely to cause harm to these puffers because the coastal plains where they live are being turned into brackish water pools for culturing the shrimp.> I also am planning to switch to a much bigger tank when I have the money and a little brackish experience under my belt. I need a filter for my 30 gallon but I am looking to go bigger. Newbie question, but if I buy a much bigger tank filter, is there I chance I could over filtrate? <Almost no chance at all. Anything up to 10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour is fine. Puffers typically live in habitats with lots of water flow, and while they aren't fast swimmers, they're steady swimmers and seem to appreciate lots of circulation (and oxygen). Plus, clean water is always a boon. One tip though: instead of buying one giant filter, consider getting two medium sized ones. This gives you flexibility at cleaning time, because you can wash one filter thoroughly one month, and the other the next. This way there's no risk of killing off all the bacteria. You also have an insurance policy in case one fails. You can also install the water outlet pipes at different ends of the tank, allowing you to create more thorough circulation.> I don't think there is but better safe then belly up. <Indeed. Good luck, Neale>

Returning a Puffer to Wal-Mart  12/5/06 How upsetting. I should have done research before getting my GSP. After receiving you email and reading your article I've found out that I'll probably have to return my GSP. But I got him from Wal-Mart he was in a small 10 gal, FW , tank with many other fish (10 baby puffers, 4/5 cat fish, 5 upside down cat fish etc.  etc. ) much too crowded for him. On top of that he was fed nothing but those tropical fish flakes. I can afford to get him a heater. But he is in just a 10 gal tank and is about an inch and a half and I defiantly can't afford a larger tank. And it seems as though his up keep can be very time consuming. Who knew I fish could be so needy! I'd give him to another pet store but I don't want his skin problem to effect anyone else's fish. If you know of anyone who lives in (or is willing to travel to) SE Wisconsin I'll give him up to a good home. I'll be sure to ask around on the forums to see if there is anyone. <Be sure to make a copy of my article to give to Wal-Mart employees, if you return the fish.  I'm sorry to say, the puffers there are doomed...  ~PP> Thank you for your help, Katie <<Happy to state, Wal-mart is OUT of the livestock biz. 2/07. RMF>>

Figure 8 Puffer Question - 6/6/6 Dear WWM Crew, <<Hi Ronald.>> Thank you for this great source of help.  I recently moved the inhabitants of my 37 gallon hexagon tank into a 75 gallon tank.  I have the 37 gallon tank in my office and would like to restart it with something different, and I am considering a Figure 8 Puffer. <<Very cool puffer.>> I have read the articles on your site and it seems that they do best as the only Puffer in the tank. <<Figure 8's in general are better with their own kind than some other species.>> My question is, are there anyone other fish that I could add to the tank with the Figure 8, or would he need to be the only fish in the tank. <<Some recommend Bumblebee and Knight gobies, but it is really hit or miss.  Orange Chromides are my choice, but not for the 'tall' style tank you have.>> I realize that they are a brackish fish, and I am looking forward to using some of the decorations from my old marine tank. <<In your tank, I'd think two figure eights and perhaps some gobies will be fine.  Check out www.thepufferforum.com for more information on caring for your puffers.>> Thank you for your advice. Ronald Boudreau <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

What Size Puffer Tank?  1/10/06 Hello! <Hi, Pufferpunk here>    The most experience I have ever had with fish extends to a goldfish in a still 1 gallon bowl, the water of which I'd change out maybe every week or so (though Bittersweet did live 4 long and happy years).  Having seen the error of my ways, I've gotten a  new goldfish in a nice little tank complete with air filter and cute light. resulting in one happy fishy.   <Glad to hear that for the fish's sake.  Goldfish are not "Bowlfish" They are high waste/ammonia producers, can grow to 12" & live over 20 years!  Large tanks & huge water changes (up to 90% weekly) are necessary for longevity in this fish.> My roommate however has grown up with aquariums and has opened my eyes to the joys of slightly more exotic fish.  A few days ago we got three small puffer fish - 2 Green Spotted and 1 Figure 8 that live in a 10 gallon BW tank.  Unfortunately, one of the spotted puffers was sickly when we got it, and it died this morning.  We had gone back to the pet store the day after we got the fish to tell them about the sick one, and they said we can either exchange it or get a refund, which brings me to my questions for you.  Both puffers are still fairly small, less than 2" each, but I've heard that they grow really fast and each can get around 6".  They get along with each other right now, I haven't seen any fin-nipping or anything like that because so far we have kept them all fairly well fed, but will they stay that way, or will we eventually need to get separate tanks?  We're going to upgrade to a 20g tank when the fish get a little bigger and we have more room in our dorm, but would a 10g tank be alright for 3 puffers, or should we just stick with two in the smaller tank?  Also, how can you tell the gender of the fish, which are the more aggressive, male or female?   <A 10g tank is fine for the F8 for life.  I suggest returning the GSP.  It will eventually need at least a 30+g tank & marine conditions as an adult.  Eventually it will outgrow the F8 by 3x & be much more aggressive.   Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm I really don't think they are good fish for dorm rooms.  The F8  would be perfect, if you can afford the salt.  You will need to keep the SG (specific gravity) at around 1.005 & do 50% weekly water changes.  You must use marine salt.  Here's a good article on them:  http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/f8puffer.html  Good luck with this wonderful little fish, they are a joy to keep.  ~PP> Thank you very much for your help, Serena Takifugu ocellatus, Better for Eating? 10/26/05 <Hi Alicia, Pufferpunk here> I've been trying to research this fish the past few days and I noticed a blog on Ask Jeeves that brought me to your site. <Glad you found us!> I was wondering if you could possibly point me in the right direction for getting specifics on keeping this species. I've searched most the web and know the basics (what fish base and the like has to offer) and I've spoken with hobbyists on the matter, but no one has really given me much to work with. Any help you can offer me on the matter would be greatly appreciated and I promise to spread the word through what branches are available to me so we can start keeping this beautiful fish alive in out tanks and stop dragging them out of the environment. <I'm sorry there really isn't much info to spread. Even the foremost experts on puffer keeping (Dr Klaus Ebert-author of: The Puffers of Fresh and Brackish Waters & Robert T Ricketts-author & puffer keeper of almost 50 years [& my puffer mentor]) have not been able to keep these puffers alive in captivity for more than a few months. I have been keeping track of a few folks that have had a little longer success than them, only to lose their puffers suddenly. They seem to do best in marine conditions, with pristine water & plenty of room. These puffers seem to be thriving one day & dead the next. Go to www.thepufferforum.com & do a search there. There are a few folks that have kept them for a while & you could try to pick RTR's brain a little there too. It is sad that there is no hope for this species, as for their beauty, they will constantly continue to be remove from their environment to a sure death sentence. ~PP> 

Puffers.......HELP  7/9/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I just bought some puffers from Wal-Mart. I used  aquarium salt for the tank. I have bought them some squid and some frozen dead fish.  I thawed the frozen fish before I fed them.  I am new to keeping puffers and wanted to know why they curled up on the bottom of the tank.  What did I do wrong?  What is their favorite temp/acid level they like?  My baby puffers are  3/4 inches long and my biggest one is about 1 1/2 inch.  Please email me ASAP so I can keep my babies alive and healthy.  Thank you - Brandy and Melody. <1st you need to find out what kind of puffers you have.  Go to www.pufferlist.com.  There is also a lot of info on keeping puffers there & at www.thepufferforum.org.  Good luck with your new "friends".  ~PP>

Which Puffer, F8 or GSP?  12/25/04 Hi <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I was thinking of getting a puffer (spotted or figure eight) I would love it if you could give me some tips and guide me to setting up my brackish aquarium, like what size of tank I would need, what kind of substrate, and some things to feed them. And any other thing that you could think of. If you could help it would be awesome <Of course.  2 of my favorite BW species!  Here is a great article on the figure 8 (Tetraodon biocellatus): http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml & the green spotted puffer (T nigroviridis): http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  Everything you should need to know is those articles.  Write back with any other questions you may have.  ~PP> THANKS!! STOCKING A TANK WITH PUFFERS Hi, I have a 75 gallon tank which I am looking to stock. Here's my plan: 15 Serpaes 2 green spotted puffers (Tetraodon schoutedeni), assuming that I can tell the difference between it and T. nigroviridis) 1 figure 8 puffer (a risky choice?) 6 Corys 3 Indian Dwarf Puffers If it wouldn't be overstocking the tank, I'd also like to add 8 tiger barbs. A pair cichlids would be cool instead/also, if I could pick a compatible/hardy pair, but again, I'm worried about overcrowding. If you think I had room for a pair cichlids, do you have a recommendation? < If you want to keep the tank brackish I think I would go with orange Chromides. The don't get too big and are very interesting to watch.> Now about puffers--your website repeatedly refers to puffers as brackish water fish, but in "Aquarium Fish Magazine", Dec 2002, in an article titled "Freshwater Puffers", Philip A. Purser, says that for T. Schoutedeni "salt-free water [is] best" (p 24). Is T. Schoutedeni an exception to the general puffer world, or do you disagree with this statement completely for all puffers. I am used to major differences of opinion in the saltwater world, why should it be any different for freshwater? < Most of the common puffers in the aquarium trade are brackish types from Asia. They are cheap and readily available. There are many puffer species that are found well up stream miles away from oceans. These require no salt at all. Many times statements are presented as overall generalities for the new aquarist. The African puffer you are referring to is not too common in the aquarium trade.> Anyway, I really enjoy your site and appreciate the help you've given me in the past. Thanks. < Thanks for your kind words.-Chuck> 

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