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FAQs about Brackish Puffer Systems

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. NastyPuffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: 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,  


Milk-Spotted Puffer, sys., comp.   4/14/09
I recently brought a milk-spotted puffer and all i know is that he is a marine fish that can live in brackish water, i brought him in fresh water but i am rising the salinity of his water at .002 per week, its currently
at 1.005.
<Chelonodon patoca can be acclimated to any salinity you want, even fully marine conditions, in the space of an hour. Like most euryhaline fish, it's highly adaptable to rapid environmental changes. On the other hand, your filter bacteria won't tolerate big salinity changes, so you need to make changes slowly enough the bacteria don't die.>
in his tank i have some dead coral, plenty of river rocks and some holey rock with silver sand for substrate, is all that suitable?
<Pretty much, yes. I'd be careful with lava rock type things that have a rough texture because puffers can scratch themselves quite easily, but otherwise sounds fine.>
I also wanted to know all of his proper water conditions, i know ammonia, no2 and no3 shouldn't be present at all but what should my ph, KH and GH be?
what salinity would be ideal for him?
<Much like the Green Spotted Puffer. Your species, Chelonodon patoca, will thrive from SG 1.005 to 1.025. The pH should be high, between 7.5 and 8.2, and the hardness should be "hard" to "very hard" on whatever scale you're using. As for carbonate hardness, the marine salt mix you add should take care of this, but you're aiming for about 10 degrees KH upwards.>
and temp?
<Middling; around 25 C is fine.>
i also have a red scat in another tank and was told they could go into the same tank together is this true?
<Chelonodon patoca is a notorious fin-biter; it's best kept either alone or with its own species (it seems to be quite peaceful, other than being a biter). Some folks have kept them with Scats, Monos, etc., but there are no guarantees, and lot depends on the Pufferfish itself, the size of the tank, and how well your fish are fed. When hungry, Puffers tend to bite more
Thank you
<Cheers, Neale.>

Ammonia in a puffer tank 4/8/08 Hello, I have a cycled 20 gallon long aquarium with 2 filters, a BIO-wheel 150 and a Whisper 10. The tank is at a SG of 1.003-1.004, temp is 80F, Ph 8.0 and is moderately planted with Anubias, Val.s, Java fern, Sags and Onion plants. The tank inhabitants are a grape sized F8 Puffer , 2BBG's and a 2" Knight Goby. I feed the tank once a day sparingly, frozen krill or frozen bloodworms, enough for the puffer to supplement his daily snails and leave manageable scraps for the gobies, who all seem to be getting plenty of food, plus the Knight Goby munches algae quite a bit. I always rinse the frozen cubes in a net and never let the "juice" into the tank. All the fish are active and healthy. <All sounds fine, but Knight Gobies are predatory and will eat the Bumblebee Gobies sooner or later.> My question is this, I have read/known that ammonia and nitrites are supposed to be 0 in an established tank and that nitrates under 10 (I think), and that weekly WC of 25%-30% needs to be done. I test my ammonia in the AM and it is fine, but after a few hours following feeding I get traces of ammonia, under .25, but still present. <You *must* have zero ammonia, 24/7, 365 days a week. If you're detecting any at all, it means one (or more) of three things: overstocking, under-filtering, or overfeeding. You can add a 4th item to that list in terms of maturity; cycling a tank the old fashioned way takes at least 6 weeks, possibly slightly more for a brackish tank.> So I have been doing daily WC's of about 2 gallons. I haven't let a daily go since I noticed this, because I was afraid to let it go till the next AM to recheck, since I have never witnessed this with any of the other tanks I keep, but this is my first puffer tank and I wanted to be cautious. <Wise.> Is the ammonia supposed to be neutralized instantly with a properly working bio filter or does it take an hour or two? <The ammonia comes from the gills of the fish as a waste product, and isn't so much from the food itself as the background excretory product of normal metabolism. It is directly equivalent to urea production in your body: the kidneys constantly remove the stuff and convert it into urine, and not just when you're eating. In other words, the amount of ammonia produced by the fish is more or less constant (there may be some variation, but it isn't between "none" and "lots"). Under normal circumstances, the amount of ammonia produced by your fish will be exactly equal to the ammonia consumption of a healthy biological filter, so that the net effect is that zero ammonia is detectable at any given moment.> I was wondering because I have no nitrite readings. <If you have high levels of ammonia but no nitrite, it usually means you have inadequate, or at least immature, biological filtration. What's happening is that the filter is converting only a small amount of ammonia into nitrite, and that nitrite is converted immediately into nitrate. So review filtration, in particularly concentrating on how much biological media there is, how old it is, and how you are looking after it (washing biological media under a hot tap for example will kill the bacteria).> Also, even though I have 2 filters with a combined gph of 250, is the BIO-wheel model I have's ( the 150) actual BIO-Wheel too small to colonize an efficient colony or should there be enough nitrifying bacteria throughout the tank, the gravel, plants and filter pads that I do not need to upgrade to a larger BIO-wheel model given my gph? <Gravel and stuff just sitting on the bottom of the tank will have next to now useful effect. Undergravel filters work because the water is pushed through a deep bed of gravel; gravel by itself presents too little surface area to the water to help without the pump. For a 20 gallon tank, any decent filter with a turnover of at least 100 gallons per hour should be adequate for these sorts of fish. So it's more likely an issue with maturation or maintenance than the mechanics of the filters themselves. Do also throw out junk like carbon and "ammonia remover", and instead make sure the filter is optimised for biological and mechanical filtration. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Cat Ate My Puffers! Sys.  8/20/07 Well thanks a lot but my cat ate my puffers. But I will get more soon. <I kind of doubt that. Puffers are poisonous & your cat should be dead. Puffers are adept jumpers--I've lost 2 F8s to jumping. More than likely, they are on the floor somewhere. Always be sure to have a tight-fitting cover over puffers & don't leave any openings. ~PP>

Re: Puffer and Brackish Tank query. Marilyna pleurosticta food, system 06/11/07 Hi <Hi.> I have some follow up questions on the puffer that you guys help me ID. First off... the puffer seems to be doing fine active and curious. I think he is bored cause he seems to swim left or right and up and down on one side of the tank. Is that normal behaviour or he is just bored? I caught him biting the heater once or twice also. <He might be bored. You could change the decoration and see if his behaviour changes. Be careful, larger puffers have crushed heaters with their teeth.> His appetite seems to have declined. Last 2-3 days he doesnt seem to attack the piece of prawn that I have been giving to him. <Dont overfeed him. Just feed until his belly is rounded, not bulged.> Originally, I used to give him cooked or boiled prawns and that would not even reach the bottom of the tank. I switched it to raw.. <much better> and he seems to eat it .. but not in the last 2-3 days. I do weekly change from 40-50% water change. There has been no change in the water parameters from the time I have added him in the tank for like 4-5 weeks ago. Do you know why his appetite may have died down? <My first guess is overfeeding as long as the water parameters are fine (nitrates<<30, no ammonia/nitrites).> I have tried mussel also but he didnt seem to fancy that very much. <New food sometimes needs some training.> I have tried those 2 food types. Any suggestion? <Squid, shrimps, crabs. Soldier crabs are commonly eaten by them in the wild.> Also how big do they get? What could their maximum size be in the wild and/or aquaria? <6 in., 15 cm.> You guys have suggested that the puffer I have is a Marilyna pleurosticta. <Pretty confident about that.> Also you have advised previously that they are a marine puffer. How long can he stay in brackish water. (He is brackish cause it was sold to me as a fresh water with gravity of 1.004 he is now in 1.006 and continue to increase it weekly as you guys have advised). <Not known for sure for this species. Considering experiments with its relatives (Takifugu), which are also more or less euryhaline, some weeks.> Or could they stay in brackish water and just restricts their full capability. <Possible, but improbable. If you did not overfeed him, his loss of appetite could be a first sign of a lack of salt in his tank. If its condition seems to decline (e.g. colour changes, lethargy) you may have to put him into a marine tank with a few hours of transition in a bucket.> Or is this bad for their health. Does it shorten their life span? <Probably yes. While they enter tidal flats and estuaries they mostly inhabit shallow coastal waters.> Do you know of any websites that may have further reading on these puffers. Fish Atlas online of some sort maybe? <No. At least one member of http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ has this species as written previously, there is also lots of information on puffer care, diet and training.> Last question, I have a brackish tank which is located outdoors on the Veranda with a roof, but it does captures some sunlight (I do cover it with a sheet to reduce the sunlight absorbed in the mornings)... But I still have algae issues.. usually within a week of cleaning they show up. I do use an aquarium algae treatment. <Id skip that and since you seem to be close to the source try to get some brackish water plants to out-compete those algae.> But I was thinking of using a pond algae control medication. Are the pond medication more concentrated than normal tank algae medication. <Many different products.> Can I use this on my tank with the following fishes. Archer Fish, Mono, Scat, Mudskipper and bumble bee goby. Im concerned that it may affect the mudskipper mostly due to it being scaleless...? <I wouldnt.> What would you suggest as a better solution? <Permanently reduce the sunlight, decrease nitrates with water changes and try to get some brackish water plants.> Thank you very much. Wil. <You are welcome. Marco.>

Fahaka Puffer Fretting  3/19/07 Hey guys, <Hey yourself, Pufferpunk here.  Didn't they teach you to use capital letters at the beginnings of sentences in school (also when using I as a pronoun)?  Never mind the punctuation...  Kidding aside, we have to correct all that, before these letters are posted in our FAQs.  That sure is a big time waster for me.  Next time, please review your letter before sending.> <<Nuff' said? Yeah. RMF>> I have recently moved my fahaka puffer from a 55 gallon with a 7 inch Ceylon and a 3 inch GSP, into a 36 gallon bow front by himself.   <Hmmm... you may find those two puffers left in the 55g to become quite crowded, when the GSP catches up with the Ceylon.  They should be in practically saltwater by now, too.  General minimum recommendations for those species is 30g (GSP) & 40g (Ceylon).> The thing is, he used to be very active in the slightly brackish 55 gallon tank and now that I moved him into the 36 gallon he stays in the same spot all day.  I see him move around sometimes but its only once a day maybe and I have him in just about complete  freshwater now. <When I moved my fahaka from his 55g into his 125g tank, I thought he'd be happy but he moped around & wouldn't eat for 3 weeks!   It's just how they are--moody beasts.  He probably doesn't like the smaller tank, either.> As an experienced aquarist I first checked water conditions and everything is perfect and where it should be. No nitrates, nitrites or anything. <That's odd... an established, cycled tank should have some nitrates.  How was the tank cycled?> I'm wondering if there's anything wrong with him or is it just that he's not moving as much because he's by himself and there's no one for him to antagonize anymore? <Good thing you moved him.  I'm afraid as he matured, he probably would have killed the other two.  How big is he now?  You do realize they grow to 18" & require a 120g minimum tank?  They grow quite quickly too.  Mine grew into his 125g within 2 years, at 10" from a tiny 1" puffer. Your help would be greatly appreciated, losing this puffer is not an option for me as I will do anything possible to keep him going. <Start saving for a much larger tank for this giant, along with a ton of filtration for the bio-load he's going to produce.  Look at www.thepufferforum.com, for more discussion on puffers.  ~PP>

Re: Fahaka Puffer Fretting. Cycling a FW Puffer Tank & BW Puffers  3/20/07 Ok, so there are some nitrates in his tank but not enough to be afraid of. I also know about the size issue as I already own a 16  inch fahaka that's currently kept in a 200 gallon. So the tank issue is not a  problem as I currently am waiting to move and put him into a 150 all by himself as his current tank will soon turn into a ghost shrimp tank, (I. E) puffer food.   <Great!> I didn't know that the Ceylon and GSP should be in saltwater by now though. <See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > The issue concerning how I cycled the tank was that I put water from the 55 tank and  put it into the 36 and let it cycle for about a week doing two water changes in between to get the salt content lower. <There is nothing in using water from an established tank that can cycle a new tank.  I don't see how his tank could possible be cycled in that way. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/water-filtration/fishless-cycling/ > If its his mood that's the problem that's not unexpected at all, as he had been sharing a tank with a 5 inch yellow peacock cichlid since day one and three months later I cant even find a scale from the darn thing. So my main concerns now after you telling me this is, what do I do with the freshwater fish that are in the Ceylon and GSP's tank <Either set up a separate FW tank or find another home for them.  That tank is going to be too small for the 2 (adult) puffers, never mind more tank mates.> and how long should I wait to seriously act on his disgruntled mood and further investigate the situation. <1st thing I'd do is add Bio-Spira to the tank to cycle it instantly.  Keep an eye on water parameters.  You didn't mention how large the puffer is, so I can't tell if tank size is the issue.  Is he eating?  ~PP>

Re: Fretting Fahaka  3/20/07   3/21/07 Ok, so if the tank is not cycled, what do I do with the fish in the mean  time? <I'm assuming you're speaking of the fahaka tank?  Test the water daily, for ammonia, nitrites & nitrates & do huge daily water changes, if necessary, to keep them as low as possible (ammonia & nitrites should be 0 at all times).> To answer the question of him eating, he is eating and every ghost shrimp I put in there disappears within the day. <Ghost shrimp are basically non-nutritious, unless gut-loaded with food.> Also where do I get this Bio-Spira stuff, because I called three local fish stores and none of them have it and can this stuff be put in with the fish in it?   <Yes, you should do a large water change & add it to your filter. If you cannot find it locally, do a search, there are many online stores selling it.> I am somewhat perplexed on what to do, as I'm already starting to acclimate the other tank to a higher salt content. <I'd wait until your FW fish are out of there, before raising the SG.  Also, don't raise it more than .002/weekly water change or you will crash your system.> I have a divider that I could use but I don't want to short the other puffers of their well deserved space. <I doubt there'd be any way, short of siliconing a piece of glass across the middle of the tank, that would prevent salt from mixing into the other side.> On the matter of size, I would say that he is about 3 inches. <Won't last in that 36g tank for long then, growing about 1/2" per month.> Also I'm not sure if the puffer that I think is a GSP, is actually a GSP, because his blotches are much larger than regular green spotted's and I thinking that it might be an ocellated puffer.   <Takifugu ocellatus are a metallic green with bright round orange spots on it's back.  They are much more torpedo-shaped & have a longer snout than a GSP.  They really don't resemble GSPs at all.   Look here for ID: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/?sid=25b4c1cb72b4f21631afc47bbbf1d7f4 > Another issue concerning that tank is ever since I moved the fahaka, the so-called GSP, shall we say, has also began to bottom dwell with no fin movement and only perks up and goes belly white during the night or whenever I add salt to  the tank.  Never in my four years of keeping puffers have I ever experienced odd  situations like these and am very concerned, as every puffer owner is, when their little buddy goes ill or gets pissed.   <Check the water parameters in that tank too.   See: www.thepufferforum.com, for more info.  ~PP> Thank you so much for your help!

Re: Puffer ID Marilyna pleurosticta 05/09/07 Hello Marco, Bob, <Neale> I wanted to make a quick comment about Marilyna pleurosticta and adapting it to brackish water. Like virtually all brackish water fish, these animals should acclimate within hours between fresh and fully marine water. In the wild they may have no choice, especially if they live in estuaries. I've frequently adapted euryhaline fish between fresh/salt water in 60 minutes using a variation of the drip method. Frank Schaefer (in the Aqualog book) describes dumping scats straight into seawater from freshwater as being essentially safe (though I dare say a bit of a shock for the poor fish, like going into the freezing cold from a warm house!). The problem with focusing on acclimating fishes to different salinities is that you miss the real problem. When you change the salinity in an aquarium, it is the *filter bacteria* that suffer, not the fish. Changing the salinity from freshwater to SG 1.005 is fine, but above that the filter bacteria die. So the tank begins cycling again. However slowly you make the change, because the bacteria aren't adapting but dying off and being replaced by something else, you have to cycle the tank once the critical threshold of salinity is reached. Below SG 1.005 there aren't any salt-tolerant bacteria, and above it the freshwater ones will be dying off rapidly. The safety zone where both bacteria will be functioning, if there is one, is small. Really, the best option is to move the sensitive brackish water fish to the quarantine tank, raise the salinity in the brackish water tank to where you want it, and cycle the tank with, say, black mollies.   Mollies are bullet-proof in brackish water and make excellent cycling fish. Once the tank is cycled, move the puffer (or moray eel, or whatever) out of the quarantine tank and into the brackish water via  the drip method in a bucket. Problem solved, with no stress on the delicate fish. Cheers, Neale <Thank you... Will share with Marco, all. BobF>

Re: Puffer ID Marilyna pleurosticta. Acclimation from fresh to marine 05/09/07 Hello Marco, Bob, I wanted to make a quick comment about Marilyna pleurosticta and adapting it to brackish water. Like virtually all brackish water fish, these animals should acclimate within hours between fresh and fully marine water. In the wild they may have no choice, especially if they live in estuaries. I've frequently adapted euryhaline fish between fresh/salt water in 60 minutes using a variation of the drip method. Frank Schaefer (in the Aqualog book) describes dumping scats straight into seawater from freshwater as being essentially safe (though I dare say a bit of a shock for the poor fish, like going into the freezing cold from a warm house!). <I can confirm dripping works. Have done that numerous times with different species.> The problem with focusing on acclimating fishes to different salinities is that you miss the real problem. When you change the salinity in an aquarium, it is the *filter bacteria* that suffer, not the fish. <That is exactly why I recommended a slow SG change, since the puffer is already in his display tank, which seemingly was cycled as freshwater or lower end brackish water.> Changing the salinity from freshwater to SG 1.005 is fine, but above that the filter bacteria die. So the tank begins cycling again. However slowly you make the change, because the bacteria aren't adapting but dying off and being replaced by something else, you have to cycle the tank once the critical threshold of salinity is reached. Below SG 1.005 there aren't any salt-tolerant bacteria, and above it the freshwater ones will be dying off rapidly. The safety zone where both bacteria will be functioning, if there is one, is small. <Ive started with fresh and slowly raised to marine in several cases and never measured any ammonia or nitrites. Therefore, I suppose the safety zone, as you call it, is large enough, the transition in the bacteria populations transitional. If this zone really is as small as you suggest, what about tanks with a SG swinging around 1.005? Shouldnt such tanks never cycle? I had a lower end brackish tank with weekly SG variation between 1.002 and 1.007 for years and it worked well. Maybe an exception?> Really, the best option is to move the sensitive brackish water fish to the quarantine tank, raise the salinity in the brackish water tank to where you want it, and cycle the tank with, say, black mollies. Mollies are bullet-proof in brackish water and make excellent cycling fish. Once the tank is cycled, move the puffer (or moray eel, or whatever) out of the quarantine tank and into the brackish water via the drip method in a bucket. Problem solved, with no stress on the delicate fish. <Thanks for the input and description of the alternative, possibly safer method. Marco.> Cheers, Neale

Re: Puffer ID Marilyna pleurosticta. Acclimation from fresh to marine 05/09/07 Hello Marco and Robert, <<<Hi Neale.>>> Changing the salinity from freshwater to SG 1.005 is fine, but above that the filter bacteria die. So the tank begins cycling again. However slowly you make the change, because the bacteria aren't adapting but dying off and being replaced by something else, you have to cycle the tank once the critical threshold of salinity is reached. Below SG 1.005 there aren't any salt-tolerant bacteria, and above it the freshwater ones will be dying off rapidly. The safety zone where both bacteria will be functioning, if there is one, is small. <Ive started with fresh and slowly raised to marine in several cases and never measured any ammonia or nitrites. Therefore, I suppose the safety zone, as you call it, is large enough, the transition in the bacteria populations transitional. If this zone really is as small as you suggest, what about tanks with a SG swinging around 1.005? Shouldnt such tanks never cycle? I had a lower end brackish tank with weekly SG variation between 1.002 and 1.007 for years and it worked well. Maybe an exception?> <<I agree with this, and have observed similar, and certainly recommend moving the SG between 1.008 and 1.012 for things like scats and monos. But have also heard of tanks "crash" when adjusted from freshwater to brackish. Quite how the bacteria involved are spread out across the salinity scale is a mystery to me. I also do not know if there is such a thing as "brackish" bacteria as opposed to saltwater and freshwater bacteria. Are marine bacteria euryhaline? <<<Both possible. Itd be hard to believe that such a nutrient rich environment as the (lower end) brackish waters are not settled by nitrifying bacteria. Given the number of tanks running at around 1.002-1.008 (most of the T. biocellatus tanks), there certainly are some stems (marine or brackish) in tanks that can deal very well with this range. E.g. Ebert describes his brackish puffer tanks having a SG of about 1.008 (1/3 marine).>>> Freshwater bacteria certainly die off around 1.005, but from 1.010 upwards you can swing the salinity upwards and back down pretty much without problems. <<<I think (just from empirical experience and without proper research) that when the freshwater bacteria die at 1.002-1.005, they are already replaced by other stems and that the transition as long as it is not too abrupt is not notable while SG is raised to 1.01 and above. Ill certainly try again and rethink this if necessary.>>> So somewhere in the 1.005-1.010 zone there is a hazy area I don't understand. As a default, it is simply easier to set up (i.e., fully cycle) a brackish water tank at the salinity you want, and then quickly add the fish, since the fish certainly adjust very quickly to big salinity changes, whereas filter bacteria only questionably so. <<<Certainly what Id do, if the possibility is there. The (more or less) marine fish in question, however, already was in its (basically) freshwater display. As you say, it could be quarantined while the display is cycled at a higher SG, but the quarantine tank needs to be cycled, too. Im not sure if the LFS that sold it as freshwater really is an option to hold the fish that long. That leaves the problem of a marine fish in a freshwater tank until the display is cycled, although Im confident a Marilyna could endure for 3-4 weeks. In my opinion both procedures have pros and cons in this case, but likely will be successful.>>> This is especially true where you have a fish that need quite a high salinity, like SG 1.010+, rather than SG 1.005 or so. It would be interesting to know if you could use mature marine aquarium filter media to speed-cycle a brackish water filter. If they use the same bacteria, then in theory that would work. But I haven't tested it myself so can't comment. Cheers, Neale>> <<<Thanks again for the input and clarifications. Marco.>>>

Temperature for Puffer Tank  1/5/07 Heya!, <Hi Solomon, Pufferpunk here> I just happened to stumble upon your website, indeed I am very impressed with the knowledge you have. <Why thank you!> However, I have one question and that is: What temperature should I keep it at for my Puffer?? <Puffers, like all other tropical fish should be kept at 78-82 degrees F. Please also read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm And join other puffer enthusiasts at www.thepufferforum.com  ~PP> Thank you, Solomon Gomez

Varying Salinities for Brackish Puffers  10/29/06 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have 2 green spotted puffers in 20L gallon tank.  I've had them for over 5 years.   <Time for an upgrade.  These puffers should grow to 6" if properly housed in the minimum of 30g each.> I know that it's not the best way to do water change, but I've always done extreme water changes and they never showed any signs of stress.   <50% weekly water changes are recommended for these fish to keep the water clean, without large parameter changes for them to adjust to.  When the water you want and plan to use, does not match at all with the existing tank conditions & if you do substantial changes, you will subject the fish to sudden differences in the osmotic pressure of the water around them. This stress may be so severe that the fish suffer shock and may even die. They are adapted, hopefully and usually slowly, to the water that they are in now, but too much change too fast is a system overload. Please read: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/water/otswater.html > Every water change I roughly estimate the salinity level and at the end sometimes it's a lot higher and sometimes a lot lower (more than .05 difference) than before the water chance. <I hope you mean .005?> Then I either add fresh water  or salt water to re-adjust the salinity and each time they were okay--eager to explore their re-arranged "home" and eating. <How hard really, would it be to do the math & figure out how much salt it would take to replace the water/salt you remove for each water change?> For the past6 months they lived in full salt water 1.023.  Then today I changed my water and the salinity level dropped to 1.014 (up to this point my puffers were fine--swimming and searching for food as always despite the disturbance) so in attempt to raise the salinity, I added salt water (pre-dissolved in another cup). After about 2 cups, one of my puffer started floating on top. I noticed heavy breathing, his coloration turned black and occasionally would stick his mouth outside for extra air.  So I took him out and put him in almost fresh water (2 cups of tank water and half bucket of tap water) and he became okay again.   <I don't get the purpose of shocking your puffer further.> I don't understand why he cannot go back to salt water and how he could have dropped down to fresh water.  I would like him to go back to his tank where his companion is waiting (they really enjoy each other's company although some argue that the species are not friendly). <If brought up from juvenile puffers, they usually do get along into adulthood.> Please advise. I really need some expert's help. They are my first fish ever. Thank you <When you raise & lower the SG like that you are not only messing with the osmotic pressure in the cells of your puffers, but also killing off much more sensitive "beneficial" bacteria that support the biological filtration in your puffer's tank.  I'd test your water for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates & pH.  What I really think is going on, is a combination of Old Tank Syndrome & SG swings, too far for your fish & bacteria to handle.  First off, start doing 50% weekly water changes, premixing the salt in a bucket overnight to the correct SG.  Then get them a much larger tank.  They can't be comfortable swimming in there.  You can find many good articles at that forum I linked you to, in that article above.  ~PP>

Mixing Puffer Species  9/26/06 FW, Br to SW incomp. Hello, <Hi Nina, Pufferpunk here> I am writing in hopes that someone can help me out. We had purchased 6 puffers about 1 1/2 weeks ago. 2 dwarf, 2 figure eights and my favorite, 2 green spotted. <You are keeping 3 different species of puffers that have 3 different water requirements & grow to 3 different sizes.  Dwarf puffers only grow to 1" & are strictly freshwater puffers.  F8 puffers grow to 3" & require low-end brackish water (a specific gravity of 1.005).  GSPs grow to 6" & require high-end BW (SG 1.010-1.015) & prefer marine conditions as adults (1.018-1.023).  The GSPs are extremely aggressive & become killers as they mature.  The DPs are nasty lil fellows that will nip at the more mellow F8s.> We added the aquarium salt, the "good bacteria" and what-not. <Aquarium salt is not the proper salt for BW fish.  You must use marine salt & measure it with a hydrometer or refractometer.  If the "good bacteria" you used was anything else other than Bio-Spira, then your tank is not cycled at all.  Everything else is junk & will actually hurt your tank, as all you are adding is dead bacteria.  Also, if you use any large amounts of salt w/your DPs it will kill them.> We've been feeding them a combination of the flakes along with the freeze dried brine shrimp and well... a snail that wasn't meant for food purposes. <Puffers are crustacean eaters.  Flakes are rarely eaten by them & brine shrimp isn't very nutritious.   Here is a good article on feeding puffers: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html > Anyway, we noticed that the larger of the 2 green spotted, "Shark Bait" as we call him, started to develop something like a pinkish growth within his tail. Neither of the two are/were as active as the figure eights. The other green spotted began to stay towards the top of the tank, close to/behind where the filtration system was. We made sure that they had enough food when we went out of town for a day. <No need to overfeed your tank like that.  They can certainly go without food for several days & skipping feedings is actually good for them.  They can only eat so much & what is left over will just foul the water.> When we came back, the green spotted was dead. Needless to say, we were pretty hurt and worried. We've also noted that the pink area on Shark Bait has grown a bit and it seems as if some of his tail is gone. If anyone can help out in any way we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you in advance. <My 1st suggestion to you would be to get 3 separate tanks for your 3 different species of puffers.  DPs require 3-5g ea.  F8s require 15g for the 1st & 10g for every extra F8.  Adult GSPs require 30g (minimum) each.  You can cycle with Bio-Spira & then get them in the BW puffers in their required Sags (raising the SG only .001-.002/week).  Check out www.thepufferforum.com & read everything you can in the Library there.  As far as the puffer's tail, it was probably caused by stress to it's immune system by being in an uncycled tank without proper salt.  Add Melafix to it's water, while doing water changes beforehand.  I'm afraid if this housing situation isn't remedied soon, they will all perish.   ~PP>    Nina

Puffer Tank Size  9/7/06 Hi there, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> My puffer (I think he is a spotted 8??) is acting weird. <Hmmm... which is it, a spotted (green spotted puffer) or figure 8?  Those are 2 different puffers.  Look here for ID: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/Brackish/ > I bought two puffers about 6 months ago. One was just over an inch long and the other just smaller. Now the larger one is huge, just over 3 inches. <It grew 2" in 6 months?  Must be a GSP then.> The smaller one is still small and really cute. The bigger one is acting weird. When I turn off the light in the tank, he sits on the bottom and turns a darker color. When the light goes back on he changes back after a second but he lays on the bottom at least half the day. I just put them in a 10 gallon tank. (They were going crazy in the smaller 5 gallon tank.) I thought I had read somewhere that they don't grow very fast. He is so big and so cute. Please help me figure out if he is sick or if he is relaxing with more room. He is kinda scaring me... <Even if those are both F8 puffers, they would need at least a 20-30g tank, even at this size.  If one or both are GSPs, then 30g each is recommended.  Either way, that 10g is way too small.  I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did in the 5gal.  It sounds like your puffer could be stressed.  It also could just be napping.  I suggest reading over the profiles in the link I gave you.  There are also excellent articles on both those species in that forum's Library.  If they are 2 different species, then you will need to separate them.  ~PP> Thanks, and I hope I didn't ramble on too much. FW & BW Puffer Questions 3/20/06 Your site is much appreciated. <Thanks!  Pufferpunk here, to answer your puffer questions!> I have just a few questions. I think I have a GSP (nigroviridis) bought  as a freshwater fish. It's about 1.5 inches and I'm going to start  introducing him to a brackish setup. I also have 3 dwarf puffers in with him. Do I need to take them out or could they be introduced to  brackish as well? <Dwarf puffers are strictly freshwater fish.  I killed my 1st 3 by thinking the same thing & putting them in BW.  I'm actually surprised the GSP hasn't gone after them yet.  I'd separate them ASAP!> The gravity I'm going to raise with marine salt will be 1.008 - 1.012. <Be sure to only raise it .002/week, so as not to disturb the biological bed too quickly.> When he reaches 3 inches I'm going to move him to a larger tank with SG at 1.020. <I wouldn't bring it that high until it's around 4".  1.015 is fine until then.> Also, I think I have nigroviridis but could possibly have fluviatilis due to all the confusion. These fish thrive in the same parameters of water quality, correct?   <Identical parameters.  Totally different-looking fish though.  See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > Thanks for your time.  W.G. <Come join us at www.thepufferforum.com, for more puffer fun!   ~PP>  

Improperly Housed Puffers - 2/21/2006 Hello <<Hello Jeremy.>> I have recently come across your site searching for questions about my puffers water condition. I have 3 GSP and 2 Fahaka puffers (all are in the neighborhood of 3.5 inches long) in a 46 gallon tank (tall corner unit) with a Penguin BioWheel 200. <<Your Fahaka's needs freshwater, and a 125 gallon tank each, while your GSPs need high-end brackish water, and 30 gallons PER fish.  They are not compatible, regardless of aggression, as they need entirely different water parameters.>> I have had them in this tank for about a year now and they all seem to get along just fine, no problems with aggression towards each other. <<See above.>> Recently I have been having problems with my tank looking cloudy, more like a white haze. My water parameters are as follows Ph 7.8, Ammonia 0ppm, nitrite 0ppm, and nitrate 20ppm.  Specific gravity is 1.006. <<Your Fahaka's need 100% freshwater, and the GSPs need much higher SG.>> I do 20% water changes every week and clean the gravel. The water turns cloudy after about 2 days or after I feed them. I feed them 3 cubes of bloodworms every other day. <<Inappropriate diet.  These guys need shell fish/snails/crunchy foods.>> The water starts to clear up but when its time to feed them again its gets cloudy. Any suggestions on what might be causing this condition? <<You have some really problems on your hands I fear!  Please start by reading here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html, and visit www.thepufferforum.com for proper information on caring for your puffers.  This tank is not only way over-stocked, but filled with fish with differing water needs, none of which are being met.  Hope to see you at The Puffer Forum.>> Thanks, Jeremy <<Good Luck.  Lisa.>>

Care & Feeding of Figure 8 Puffers  2/19/06 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I'm looking into getting figure eights but I want to make sure everything is right, like what kind of salt and to make sure I have set up my tank right. I have asked around at the LFS and they tell me to use aquarium salt, But other people say to use marine. The LFS said I should have about 1 teaspoon to every 5 gallon is this right? <You must use marine salt & measure with a hydrometer.  After some experimentation, I have calculated I use around a cup of salt/5gal to make a SG (specific gravity) of 1.005 (rough estimate).  That is where they seem to be most comfortable & live longest.> I have been looking info up on the F8s all night and just want to know how to start and maintain a brackish water tank. Thank you for your help. Love the site. <Check out this article on F8s: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/f8puffer.html.  Check out the puffersite that article is in too!  There is great info on the special food they need to eat to keep their teeth trimmed & plenty of folks to talk to about your puffer, before & after you purchase it.  ~PP> Too Many Puffers in Uncycled Tanks  1/11/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have cycled 55 gallon and 60 gallon tanks.  pH jumps from 7.6 to 8.0 occasionally (stays around 7.8 though) since the tap here is really hard.   <It is extremely important for pH  to remain steady in a tank.  It is a shock for a fish to have to constantly adjust to changing pH.  One way to assure a constant steady pH in a brackish tank is to use crushed coral or aragonite substrate.  The way to keep a steady pH in a FW tank is by doing 50% weekly water changes, which also should be done in all puffer tanks.> Ammonia is .25 in 55, 0 in 60.  Nitrite is at .25 in 55, 0 in 60. <In a cycled tank ammonia & nitrite are always 0.  You must never put a puffer into an uncycled tank!> Nitrate is 10 in both.  Salinity is 1.0010 in both.  I like to keep temp between 80-82, since my fish have always been more active in warmer waters. <It will also raise their metabolism & shorten their lives.> Last week, I bought a GSP from a great LFS.  He was the only GSP I've ever kept that was always buzzing around, with great colors (always white on the belly). He ate a little here and there, but I think he ate leftovers from the guppies when I wasn't around. <Was he in freshwater at the shop (generally they are)?   How was he acclimated?  Was this fish added to the uncycled 55g?> I then purchased, 2 days later, an extremely large, well-overfed puffer that the 2 men at the LFS argued the breed of.  One said Green Puffer (it was in the tank with many smaller Green Puffers), the other said it was a Jade.  So, I went home and added him to the 55 with the GSP, since the 60 was almost done cycling. After hours of research (on my cell phone; just got the internet), I concluded he was a "Jade" puffer, or a Ceylon.  His color kept jumping from white to black on his belly, even after feeding (I've had puffers in the past, so I know about the moods and signs of them).  He loved to hide in our jungle of plants, and played occasionally with the GSP.  We have a pleco that the Ceylon even gets along with (the pleco will suck on his body to find algae, then swim away ^_^). <Plecos are FW fish & do not belong in BW.  Fish do not grow algae on their body.  It is sucking the protective slime off your fish.  Please remove it.> It was a surprise to me, since the puffers I've had over time usually hated each other, let alone other fish. <GSPs & Ceylons have been known to get along.> The Ceylon was overfed by it's last owners, and is HUGE.  He's about 4-5 inches with a very full looking belly all the time.   <That's a huge bioload to add to an uncycled tank!> And he eats a ton of meal worms and ghost shrimp whenever it's feeding time.   <Meal worms are extremely fatty & not a natural fish food.  Ghost shrimp are not nutritious, unless gut-loaded.> He likes to pick at the large snails in the tank whenever he gets bored, too. The LFS suggested to me a highly recommended LFS down town.  So I went to check out their selection, and came across 4 puffers.  3 were in a tank together, named "Black River Puffers".  The owner of the LFS said she really knew nothing about them, and that she was told they were a type of GSP, from another region of the world.  The 4th puffer was alone in a tank, quite large, and name a "Nile".  I bought one Black River, and added him to the 55.  It was a bit overcrowding, <No kidding!> but the only fish who seemed to even mind or notice was this new one.  I found nothing on the common name online, but after days of researching, I decided he was a Target (the dark green/brown with spots, and frayed looking fins).  Quite an ugly fish, but I have to say he's one of my favorites. <At which point your biological system is ready for a complete crash, I bet.> When I finally knew he was a Target, and a FW fish, I moved him into a 10 gallon immediately.   <Cycled?> He swam around aimlessly, though he did have places to hide and it was dark in the room frequently.  He seemed to be doing okay, but I noticed from day one that he didn't eat anything. I woke up yesterday morning to find him lying on the bottom of his tank, breathing heavily and not moving at all.  His mouth was gaping open, his little fins trying to move him around, to no avail.   His body rolled with the current.   <Sounds like signs of ammonia/nitrite poisoning.> I put some Melafix and Pimafix in the tank, hoping it would help him, and went out to the LFS (not the one where I bought him; I'm never going there again.) They suggested to me that he probably had swim bladder and handed me a bottle of antibiotics, saying that since his mouth gapes open, to put a few drops in his mouth.   <Um, I wouldn't go back there either!> A man walked into the store, preparing to buy $1000 worth of fish tank and accessories, and I was immediately blown off (I'm never going there again either, even if their puffers are beautiful).  I didn't buy the antibiotic, saying I'd come by later. I didn't. I went to Petsmart, since the guy that works there is (what my boyfriend calls) a "fish nerd".  I talked to him extensively about the Target, and he said antibiotics won't help since it's not an infections. <Very true> He said to feed him peas or oranges, since it's a gas problem.  He also said that if the fish didn't eat, he'd more than likely die.  This morning, he did. <Died in it's own waste.> However, when I got home last night, the Ceylon AND GSP were both on their backs toward the surface, with air trapped in their bellies.   <More than likely, from gasping for air at the surface from living in an uncycled tank & then adding huge bioload to it, causing the biological filtration to crash.> My boyfriend massaged the Ceylon, getting most of the air out, and we transferred him into our cycled 60 gallon immediately, not knowing what caused this problem.  We tried to get the air out of the GSP, but it wouldn't come out, and he was struggling (poor thing).  We did move him to the 60, since the Ceylon seemed to be doing good.  A little while later, the GSP puffed himself up, with spines out and everything, and couldn't deflate.  He died this morning as well.   What happened?  I think the Target might have had something wrong with him, not just (or not even) swim bladder, that maybe infected the tank?  The Ceylon is fine, swimming around, completely white, full belly. But I've never had a GSP who inflated, much less heard of one who couldn't deflate.  Please help. <Water changes, water changes, water changes!  Your tanks are not cycled.  The "target" could be one of many of the target species.  You will be needing a larger tank for the "target" puffer.  Go to www.pufferlist.com & read about the target puffer confusion.  You'll find your puffer at that site, along with recommended tank size.  I suggest you get Bio-Spira for both tanks to cycle them immediately.  Do a large, 80% water change before adding the product to your filter.  The 55g is good for the Ceylon alone, it will grow to 7-8".  No more puffers in there please.  Go to www.thepufferforum.com & read The Library there.  There are excellent articles on GSPs (same care goes for the Ceylon) & cycling.  ~PP>> Making BW for a F8 Puffer, Cycle is Bunk - 10/24/05 Thanks, wow I had no idea about the brackish water thing. With the set-up I have now can I make a brackish tank? I know I'll need marine salt and a hydrometer or whatever measures specific gravity of the water. Right now I can't move the loaches out of the tank. I am moving the goldfish out tomorrow hopefully. I thought you needed some crazy equipment to handle a brackish tank. I have not researched it so if you could let me know what I would need to do I would be glad to do it. Cycle, as I read, had dormant bacteria that come alive when the conditions are right, is this wrong? Water quality seems good, although things that are not visible could be deadly I know. Well thanks again for helping!  <Your loaches will not appreciate the salt. Can you find somewhere to re-house them? Maybe your LFS will take them or you know someone that has a much bigger tank? Cycle is total bunk. Bacteria does not come alive. The ONLY product that contains live bacteria is Bio-Spira & it needs to be kept refrigerated, so the bacteria doesn't die. Check out www.thepufferforum.org, for more puffer info & lots of great articles in the Library! ~PP>

FW water quality, puffer 8/9/05 Bob, <Erik> Update and 2 quick questions for you... My tank appears to be cycled. Ammonia and nitrites are zero. Nitrates are between 20 and 40 PPM. I did a 50% water change yesterday to bring these down a bit. My tap water is not as loaded with Nitrates as I'd originally thought. Your comment made me rethink my original tests so I did a control and tested straight tap water, only 5 PPM nitrates. <Ahh> But I did notice one strange anomaly, and I double checked it several times to be sure, my tap water does appear to have ammonia in it! I did a control with distilled water, and of course it registered zero, the tank is registering just above zero, but less than .25 PPM, way less. The test tube appears pure yellow until I put a control of distilled water next to it. You can then tell it has a very slight green tint to it which indicates some level of ammonia. Am I correct in assuming that a control test of distilled water will always look a little purer than tank water? <Generally> There will always be trace amounts of ammonia in the tank because of waste that hasn't been converted by the bacteria yet correct? <Umm, no... not detectable amounts in a completely cycled system> Any way, I retested twice and yes, my tap water appears to contain between 1 and 2 PPM of ammonia! <Trouble> I'm going to try a different test kit, I find it hard to believe that the city would allow such high levels. I don't drink tap water anyway but I worry about the fish and my cat. He'll get bottled water until I find out what's going on. <A good idea> Anyway, my important question is this... Is it normal for a Cholonodon patoca (Milk Spotted Puffer) <Mis-spelled... Chelonodon: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=6610&genusname=Chelonodon&speciesname=patoca> to spend quite a bit of time resting on the bottom? <Yes> When he moves, he's moving and healthy looking, but he rests quite a bit. I've seen you tell other puffer owners that they do this, but there is very little info out there about my little guy. As passive as he is, I'd expect the Milk Spotted Puffers to be more popular. Haven't seen him even threaten to fin nip his tank mates to date. I know this will change with age but he's pretty friendly right now, even shares his food with the sharks! Salinity is about 1.008 and I am gradually bringing that up so as not to hurt the other fish. Water temp is about 80 degrees F and the pH is about 7.6-7.8. Thanks Again, Erik <Keep studying... prevention... Bob Fenner>

Specific Gravity for a Figure 8 Puffer 4/5/05 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I just found a LFS in the middle of know where that has figure 8 puffers!!! <Lucky you!> The thing is that they are in freshwater. I know that you need to make it .002 per week so you don't kill off the beneficial bacteria but do you possible know how much salt (tsp/tbs?) I need to add for a 20G to raise it .002 per week? <For a rough estimate: it takes around a cup of marine salt to raise the SG .002. You'll have to do some math, when you replace the salt from a water change & raise it another .002, a week later. You still need to check with a hydrometer to be sure. There are several threads on that in this forum: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi  ~PP> 

Cycling tank for puffers Hello everyone, <Hi there> I recently purchased a 20g aquarium that I was going to use as homes for 2 figure 8 puffers. I have been cycling the tank with feeder fish but I was reading that cycling the tank with feeder fish in freshwater settings is pointless for a brackish system because the same bacteria can not live brackish system that can in a freshwater system. <Mmm, semi-factual... depends on definitions... of brackish...> It makes sense but I'm not sure what to do anymore. They said something about cycling it with ammonia? Can you help me out on this?! Also would 1tbs/5gallon of instant ocean be fine to add? Thanks!  <Time to send you to our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/ see the indices? I'd read through the Brackish one... and use the search tool there. Bob Fenner>

Thread-Like Worms 3/12/05 Dear Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a GSP in a 10 gallon brackish tank. The fish appears fine and is eating fine. His right gill slit is slightly opened (you can see a pocket of pink) compared to the left but he is not laboring to breathe. I think he was like that since I purchased him 1 month ago? No parasitic infestations are apparent on the fish. There are however wiggly 3 to 5mm thread-like worms swimming freely in the water and appear to be multiplying (not sure). The fish is fed frozen and dried krill, blood worms and brine shrimp and also live snails a few times per week. He is feed once a day six days a week. The GSP is uninterested in these creatures but are these worms parasites and potentially harmful to the puffer? They do not appear to be Planaria or leaches or insect larvae. They might have a head-really hard to make out however. Please advise or reference. <The white worms you speak of appears in tanks that are overfed and contain less than optimal water. They are harmless, but the fact that they're in the tank means you need to feed less & do more water changes (50% weekly is recommended). A 10g will not hold a GSP for long. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  ~PP>

How much salt for GSPs? Hey Pufferpunk! <Hey yourself!> I was using African Cichlid salt but I guess that isn't considered  Marine salt?   <Nope> I went out and bought some Red Sea salt.  On the directions it says to use 1.4 lbs per 5 gallons.  What is the proper amount to use for my brackish tank?  I was going with a tablespoon per 5  gallons of the African mix. <1 tbsp/5 gallons probably won't even register on a hydrometer.  It takes around a cup of salt/5g to raise the SG by .005.> I also bought a hydrometer.  I tried using it but either there is almost no salinity in the water or I am not using the tool correctly.  I bought the Instant Ocean one and it starts at .001 .  My tank is registering at .004.  Is that correct?  I read the directions and I just filled the whole thing up till the whole thing is full.  HELP!! <I don't understand. You say it won't register (as I would expect, with the small amount of salt you are using), but you also say your tank is registering at .004 (do you mean 1.004?)?  Here's a great link for your puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  ~PP<

Puffer in Cycled Tank? Dear Pufferpunk, <Hi there> I just wanted to address your concern about my puffer living in an uncycled tank. The tank is using the same filter w/BioWheel as the last tank, and all 5 gallons from the previous tank were added to the new tank. <Although it will prevent pH shock by using water from an established tank, there is no biological bacteria in water--only on surfaces, like decor, plants, substrate & filter material. Using the same filter is good.> Finally, I used Bio-Spira one day before adding the puffer. <B-S is great stuff, but is best added at the same time as the fish. Otherwise it can starve, without fish waste to "eat". I suppose 1 day wouldn't have killed all the bacteria.> He is acting happy and healthy, and even now, is hunting some ghost shrimp I gave him. <Glad to hear he is doing well, but in a newly established tank, it is never a bad idea to test for ammonia, nitrItes & nitrAtes, regularly.> Sincerely, Wesley P. Hermann <Check out my puffer site, The Puffer Forum: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi  ~PP> 

Puffers and brackish water Dear Mr. Fenner, Thank you for making yourself available to us for questions! <An honor, privilege and pleasure my friend> I have two green puffers in a 5.5 gallon tank. How much ocean salt do I put in to make it brackish?  <Hmm, better to encourage you to purchase a simple "hydrometer" a tool for measuring specific gravity/density of liquids... and to "shoot for" about 1.010 or so... but not all at once. Get a good grade of "synthetic sea salt" like Instant Ocean, and add a tablespoon or so per day (over many days) till this is about so... and take care to learn about how much to add to pre-made "water change" water so it's about the same for your routine maintenance> And will doing this improve their appetites?  <Assuredly yes... and color... and health overall> I have read that they should be voracious eaters, but as yet they are not. <Try a variety of meaty foods... along with the salt additions> Thank you so much for your time!! Sincerely, Kathy Grove <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Colomesus psittacus I have a 75 gallon freshwater tank with the following fish: 5 green barbs, 2 Bala shark, 3 dwarf Gourami, and 2 Suckermouth cats. I just bought 3 Colomesus psittacus which the aquarium store said were compatible with my set up and would only grow to 4-6". (tank has small pebble base, lots of plants, large rock formations and driftwood.) The information I have been able to find on this fish is conflicting. Are they freshwater or brackish? <Actually kind of both... found along Atlantic coast and inland waters... please see here on fishbase.org: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID= and the Freshwater Puffer FAQs on our site here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufferfaqs.htm> Will they become aggressive? They are fairly peaceful now. I don't want to have these little guys either get hurt, or hurt my other fish. Thanks, Happy Holidays, Elizabeth <I've had good luck with this species leaving most everything else alone (unlike so many other freshwater to brackish puffers), and all but your Gouramis are fast, smart enough to stay/get out of their way. I would just keep them fed (meaty foods daily) and keep an eye on them. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Puffer A friend just gave a puffer and a another fish but its not a puffer, anyway He gave me the aquarium, filter, air pump, everything, I just got them yesterday and now the other fish is dead, but the puffer is looking lively. I don't know what's wrong, My aquarium is 35 gallons and I put enough salt that I bought on the store. Could you tell me what's wrong. <Not with this information. Please read through the brackish sections of our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackish.htm Much to learn, discover, enjoy. Bob Fenner>

Acclimating a "Spotted" Puffer to SW & Keeping it with a Porc?  1/15/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here.  Please try to use proper capitalization & punctuation in your letters to us, as these go into our FAQs, so I have to correct that.> I have a great marine predator tank and recently decided to attempt to acclimate a brackish water puffer to a full marine environment.  I first tried a small figure eight puffer, who unfortunately after acclimating well became trapped in a temporary siphon and couldn't free himself, he stressed too much before I could stop the siphon and  died later that night.   <Never leave a siphon unattended!> My second attempt seems to be keeping quite well a "true saltwater as an adult" spotted puffer probably a Ceylon or the actual main stream green spotted puffer.   <Those are 2 totally different species: green spotted puffer-Tetraodon nigroviridis & Ceylon-T fluviatilis.  Same care though.  There hasn't been any good evidence on the long term effects of putting juvenile GSPs or Ceylons into SW.> Anyway, onto the actual way to acclimate these guys: I use a 1 gallon ice cream bucket that's as deep as its wide.  Put the fish and its bag water into the bucket.  Yeah, I know the water is potentially dangerous but its less stressful then acclimating them twice.  Use a hydrometer and fill it with your q/t tank water or display whatever (please quarantine if you can, it saves so much grief).  Do that every 15 min, adding saltwater to the bucket.  This will slowly raise the salinity until you reach the desired level.  My acclimation took 3 hours to get to 1.020. <My recommendation is quite slower than that.  Although I have only acclimated a FW fish to BW, or a BW fish to SW, I recommend no faster than .001-2/hour.  Any quicker than that, can cause a great deal of stress on the fish.> If no hydrometer (shame on you), use a measuring cup and add it that way (1 cup per 15 min).   <For acclimation, I recommend using a drip system, into a much larger bucket than 1 gallon, tying a knot into a piece of airline tubing, to s-l-o-w-l-y drip salty tank water into the bucket.  Definitely check the specific gravity with a hydrometer, every 1/2 hour.> Anyway, on to the good stuff. The puffer seems to take well to the tank (a 55gallon) with a porcupine puffer 2.5 inches and a moray eel 8 inches.  While I don't recommend normally adding puffers of different potential aggressive natures together they seem to do ok as they are both fairly passive.   <For now...  I would never keep a 6" adult GSP, with a 12" adult porcupine puffer (their eventual sizes).  Eventually the porc will need at least 100g.> I did get my puffer from a large group in very good health and that was in a tank with a brackish water eel, but I highly recommend watching your choice carefully as a puffer can and will kill things that pick on it if its so inclined. <Including puffers that will eventually grow only 1/2 it's size.> Most of my puffers have chewed on any long bodied fish (Bichirs, eels, dragon gobies etc.).  I will continue to monitor their actions but have seen no ill effects of adding them together.  It's definitely worth the work and a GSP Is one of the most active swimming puffers I've seen at a cheap price ($5.49 in VA). <I would definitely not keep those puffers together, long term.  ~PP>

Green Spotted Puffer questions 10/31/04 Hi Pufferpunk (I'm assuming) <Got that right!> My brother just informed me we have a 30 gallon tank so thats going to be my puff's new home after it is cycled.  But for now I don't have a tank that is cycled so I was wondering if you have any recommendations on how I can keep my puff until the tank is ready.  Right now he's still in the 3 gallon one and he seems to be ok but the ammonia level is way too high :/ ... pH, nitrites, and nitrates are good. Salinity is .005 <You should also cycle your tank at the same SG.  See if you can get a hold of some Bio-Spira to instantly cycle the 30g.  I don't see how the puffer will last long in the tiny tank.> The reading for ammonia was 8ppm, which makes me wonder why my puff is still alive.   <Not for much longer, I'm afraid...> However, I did some reading and I know ammonium is non toxic while ammonia is toxic but the test will read high if either is present.  Do you recommend getting that Ammo Lock to convert the ammonia to ammonium?  The guy at the fish store said I shouldn't because it doesnt really fix the problem or something.  Although now I'm thinking even though it doesn't fix the problem with the ammonia/um at least it's not in a toxic form. <Non-toxic ammonia is definitely better for your fish, but you will still be testing positive for ammonia.  I think large daily or 2x daily water changes (80-90%) are in order here.> Anyways, I got the Stress Free and Stress Zyme (made by aquamarine pharmaceuticals) in hopes that it might help.  I just put it in tonight. <That's Aquarium Pharmaceuticals> The fish store guy told me a bunch of stuff but I wanna know from you guys what I should do because it seems like they don't really know what they're talking about. <Yeah, is that the same guy that sold you the puffer for an uncycled 3g tank?> I also bought the aquarium salt but I was reading and I noticed that marine salt is different from aquarium salt.  I was just wondering what the difference is (out of curiosity)?  I originally made the tank with Hawaiian rock salt, which is basically salt from the ocean (not sure if you're familiar).  So I guess I'll return the aquarium salt. <You must use marine salt for BW & SW fish.  Everything you ever wanted to know about salt: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/salt.shtml> Last thing ... I noticed my puff has been spending a lot of time in the top corner of the tank.  I was wondering if he might be sick.  He only started doing that in the last 24 hours.  I put in some fake plants and he hung out in them for a while but now he's back in the corner.  I was reading that when a fish gets ich they go to the top of the tank ... but he doesn't have any white spots or films as far as I can see. Any recommendations? <Ammonia poisoning will make your poor puffer feel poorly.  NitrIte poisoning isn't far behind. Try adding an airstone, as 02 will get depleted in there.> As far as his belly, his belly is almost always white but his sides often go from white to black throughout the day.  Normally white in the morning and as the day goes on his sides start getting darker. Oh and what should I use to defrost frozen food?  I read something about vitamin water but how do I make the vitamin water?   <Buy any liquid vitamins you find for sale at the aquarium store & add a few drops into the water you defrost the food into.  Leave for at least a few hours, or even overnight in the refrigerator.  I suggest feeding extremely minimally, as not to add any extra waste products to that tiny tank.> Thanks a lot for all your help.   -Tersha <Get Bio-Spira in the larger tank, so you can get the puffer about of the 3 gal as soon as possible, or I'm afraid you will loose it. Try ordering Bio-Spira here http://www.fishstoretn.com/  ~PP>

Figure 8 Puffers--A Brackish Water Puffer  9/12/04 Dear Crew <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Over the past eight months, we had fish as pets, learning new stuff, and one day we finally found puffer fishes and we ended up setting up a new tank for them.  So far so good, but we have three of them and one I guess, is trying to setup dominance over the others, so I called Petco, where I got them and they suggested feeding them everyday so they will stop nipping each other, but it seems like the dominant one always nip the others after feeding... :( I do not want them to keep getting stressed and die, so please help! <1st of all read this wonderful article on F8s: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml This should answer all your questions on the care & feeding of these great pets.  I am concerned that you said you set-up a new tank for your fish.  Did you cycle it 1st?  How large is the tank?  F8 puffers require at least 10g/puffer.  Puffers personality vary from fish to fish.  Some may be very mild-mannered, while others may be killers.  If you have a killer, it must be kept singly, or it will kill their tank mates.  You just never know with puffers...  ~PP>

Figure 8 Puffer in SW?  7/25/04 Hello! Thanks for responding yesterday! <Hi, you've got Pufferpunk here today to answer your puffer questions.> Along with the other fish I mentioned earlier, could a clown trigger, Malu anemone, and a crocea clam live together? Also, the puffers I've had my eye on looks like a brackish figure 8 puffer, but with much more white on the belly and live in saltwater. What are they? <I'm not sure which puffer you are describing.  The F8 should have a white tummy.  Some folks have had short-term success with keeping F8 puffers in SW, but we don't know the long-term affects of this yet.  we do know of folks keeping them over 18 years in light BW.  There is a larger puffer that resembles a cross between a F8 (Tetraodon biocellatus) & a green spotted puffer (T nigroviridis).  It is  called a Ceylon puffer (T fluviatilis).  It has a similar pattern on it's back as an F8, with black spots on it's sides & abdomen.  This fish is in BW when young & prefers SW as an adult.  It grows to 7-8".  Also, I don't suggest keeping puffers with clams (puffer food) & anemones.  I recently heard of a puffer biting into an anemone & dying.  ~PP> Thanks. Cycling 6/19/04 Thanks for the response I have verified that I have a Tetraodon nigrifilis (likely nigroviridis, the green spotted puffer, RMF) as I suspected <Just as I thought> but, I do not know what an uncycled tank is. <Here's a great article on your puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm.  I'm sure if you do a search at WWM about cycling, you'll find all the info you need.  Until you understand the basic biology of an enclosed aquarium system, maybe you should stick to less demanding/sensitive fish than puffers, until you do.> Thanks again Leo <Puffers are great fish, but they need special care.  ~PP>

How Many Figure 8 Puffers in a Tank?  11/29/04 <Pufferpunk again> Thank you so much for your help - I wish I would have found you before I bought the 2 species -- that goes to show LFS are only out to make a buck .. so can I keep 2 F8 puffers together? and how big of a tank is needed to keep them happy? <1 F8/10g is the rule.  It always pays to research a fish you are interested in, before buying it.  ~PP>

Toxic Parameters in Puffers' Tank  9/25/04 Hi thanks for your help I tested the water and everything was all over the shot. I have got the levels back to how they should be. Only 2hrs after I adjusted the levels 2 of my puffers started swimming around and breathing normal, but now it is 7hrs after and I still have 1 puffer at the bottom of the tank still having a bit of trouble. He isn't breathing as heavy as he was this morning and he does swim a little every so often but he seems to swim in a spiral and then goes to the bottom again. But when he does make it to the top its like he's taking gulps of air. <It sounds to me like the puffer was weakened & possibly poisoned by the high ammonia & nitrites in your tank. Toxic ammonia burns fish's gills, eyes, fins, skin, etc. (ammonia burns). Nitrites are toxic to fish as well (it decreases oxygen levels in the fish's blood, causing the fish to suffocate). Either of these can cause permanent damage to a fish.> Now to answer your questions. I only have the 3 puffers in the tank and they are about 4 -5 cm.s long, the tank had only been set up for 3mths and for 2 1/2mths it only had 1 puffer.  He just hide under the rock or in a plant never came out, so I decided 2 weeks ago to get the other 2 puffers. As I put them in, the other one has never gone into hiding again.  It was like he was so happy to have friends, and they get on really good together. One more thing when they were on the ground panting there eyes had like a white film over them. The one on the bottom now still has it but the other 2 that are swimming don't have that anymore. Do you know what that was? <Probably from the ammonia burning their eyes.  Ever have ammonia in your eyes?  Ouch, it burns!  You didn't mention how large your tank was, but adding 2 more large-bodied, high waste-producing fish in a tank at one time, will cause water quality problems.  Keep a close eye on the parameters for now on.  Clean up any uneaten food.  Do you realize how large a tank you will be needing for all 3 of these fish when they are adults?  ~PP> Thanks so much for your help keep up the good work and I'm sure you will hear from me again. Bye for now, Candy

Sand Substrate for puffers? 4/10/04  Hi  <Hi, Pufferpunk here. I need to start out by requesting you to capitalize when necessary! All these questions are posted on our website & I have to use up precious time I could be helping other folks with their fish to fix this.>  I have read that a sand bottom tank is good for fig. 8 puffers. I wanted to know that if I poured the sand over my gravel if that would be fine.  <That is only true for burrowing species of puffer. Anyway, the smaller sand would fall to the bottom, just exposing gravel.>  Also, I need the sand for my freshwater flounder I am getting soon thanks for the help!  <I don't recommend putting a sedentary fish like a flounder with a nippy puffer. I prefer aragonite or crushed coral substrates, which are used to help maintain a stable alkaline pH of around 8 for brackish water fish. Here is a good article on the Figure 8: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml  ~PP>

Figure 8 to Marine? 3/29/04  Hello,  <Hi Dave, Pufferpunk here>  I was wondering if I could acclimate a figure 8 to marine over the  course of about a year. I currently have 3 F8's and 3 Green Spotteds, a shark cat and two mono argenteus in a 46 gal (to be moved to a 92 when they need it). They are all tiny right now, so I haven't brought up the gravity yet, but as they grew I wanted to bring it up to full strength marine so I can use live rock and add a few Saltwater fish, but I wanted to know how the figure 8's would react. I know the other fish are very tolerant and preferential of the higher salt as adults. I always read conflicting information about the figure 8's, and I read your site that says they prefer light brackish, but then I hear some people acclimate them to saltwater. Do you know of anyone who has done this?  <Although I have heard of F8s doing fine for short term in SW, I'm not too sure about long term. I do know that a friend & puffer mentor, Robert T. Ricketts, has kept them successfully for 18+ years in light BW (1.005-8). No one has ever documented keeping them long term in SW, so I just can't tell you how they'd fare. Here is the article RTR wrote on them: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml . Since F8s are only mildly aggressive, & grow to 3", while GSPs are extremely aggressive & grow to 6", I really don't recommend keeping them together as adults. Also, your tank won't be large enough for the Mono's, as they are schooling fish & would require around a 300g tank for a school of 1' fish.>  If it is possible, I prefer to do this as there are a few marine fish (wrasses mostly) I would like to add with them, and I want nitrate control without needing to use mangroves. Thanks,  Oh BTW, my gravity is at ~1.014 right now and everyone seems very  happy, very active, and very bright and healthy.  Dave Mencel  <I am having great success keeping my GSPs in SW. Maybe you could keep some notes, if you do decide to go ahead with keeping your F8s in SW. ~PP>

What Specific Gravity for a Figure 8 Puffer? 3/29/04  Figure 8 Puffer, what SG should I take the water to, and how big will it get? The SG should be less than  for my GSP tank, right?  <Yes, F8s seem to do best at a SG of around 1.005-8. I have brought mine up as high as 12, but usually I like to fluctuate it up & down a few points every weekly water change. Here's a great article on them: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml  ~PP>

Aragonite for my Puffers? 3/10/04 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here tonight> I emailed you about a month ago concerning my nitrate problem. I finally managed to keep my nitrates between 10ppm and 20ppm by making a couple of weekly water changes, adding a nitrate sponge, and switching to an Emperor 400 power filter with a bio-wheel. <Glad to hear you got that straightened out.  I do 50% weekly water changes on all my FW & BW tanks.> I have ordered a couple of Figure-Eight Puffers and Fan Dancer Gobies. As I was double checking everything I came across an article that advised adding aragonite substrate to prevent PH fluctuations. My water source is very hard. The KH is between 6°-11°, 100ppm - 200ppm and the GH is between 11°-22°, 200ppm - 400ppm. Taking this into consideration, do I still need to add the aragonite substrate? <PH & hardness is comparing apples to oranges.  What's the pH?  Aragonite or crushed coral substrates are used to help maintain a stable alkaline pH of around 8.> I was also wondering about food sources. I live in a rural area where the only pet store is a small PetSmart. I can buy frozen krill, frozen bloodworms, etc. but they rarely have snails. <Try cut-up pieces of almost anything you can find in the fish dept of your grocery store: shell-on shrimp, scallops, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish.> When snails are available they are entirely too big. I took some of their "nuisance" snails that were in their plant tank and attempted to raise my own but it didn't work. <Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails.  This article might help: http://www.pufferfish.co.uk/aquaria/foods/snails.htm> The store now keeps their plant tank snail free so those are no longer available. <Find out what day they are removing the snails from their tanks & see if they'll save them for you.  I just had a LFS tell me to come by on Mondays--snail picking day.> So, I was wondering whether it is okay to feed the puffers snails found outdoors or is there too high a risk for introducing parasites? <As long as there is no chance of fertilizer or pesticides.> Is the same true for feeder crickets available for purchase from PetSmart? <My F8s love crickets.  One parades around with a leg in it's mouth, like a dog with a prized bone!  Make sure you feed them 1st.  Mine eat oranges for a food & water source.> I don't suppose there is a company that sells "feeder snails?" <Try Aquabid: http://www.aquabid.com/cgi-bin/auction/auction.cgi?fwsnails  Stay away from the trumpet snails, their shells are too hard for puffer teeth & have known to break them on those kind of snails.> Your advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Karen Smith <Sure!  Enjoy your puffers!  ~PP>

Aragonite for my Puffers?  3/11/04 <Pufferpunk again> The water in my brackish set-up has the following readings: PH 7.5, Gravity 1.005, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10, and as previously mentioned the KH is 6°-11°, 100ppm - 200ppm and the GH is 11°-22°, 200ppm - 400ppm. Are all of these readings acceptable? I was under the impression that if your water is hard you do not need to add an aragonite substrate. <Again, I will say, hardness has absolutely nothing to do with pH.  Hardness has to do with the concentration of minerals in your water.  PH has to do with how much acid or alkaline your water is.  BW & SW fish prefer a pH of around 8, but most BW fish can acclimate to lower pH, without any problems.  It's when you get into SW that you have stabilization problems with lower pH.>   My Puffers and Gobies arrive tomorrow. Hooray! Sometime next week some Water Onions, Marimo Balls, and Banana Plants arrive along with a Lumichrome bulb for the light fixture. <I'm sorry to say, most plants won't do well in BW.> How much light do the Puffers need? <As long as it's not extremely bright--they should be ok with overhangs to get out of the brightness.> I tried to raise some snails by following the instructions at www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/snailsforpuffers.shtml without success -- or at least I thought. After I dropped the pond snails into the tank, I never saw them again. A short time later I bought two Ivory Snails. One disappeared but the other remained healthy. Yesterday while doing a water change I noticed four EXTREMELY tiny snails making their way across the front glass of the aquarium. I couldn't believe it. <Yippee!  Baby snails, congrats!> I'll try your link to see if I have a little more success. I've looked on Aquabid for snails. It seems to be a good place to purchase adults but I haven't seen any little ones. <Good stock for breeding.> I have some krill in the freezer. I would like to soak them in vitamins before feeding them to the Puffers, however, I have been unable to find "fish vitamins" at the pet stores or Wal-Mart. Where do you purchase yours? <This is what I recently purchased: http://www.bigalsonline.com/catalog/product.xml?product_id=27893;category_id=2771> Again, thank you for all of the wonderful information. I hope I have as much success keeping my Puffers as you have keeping yours. Sincerely, Karen Smith <It sounds like your puffers are getting a great start in their new life with you!  ~PP>

Figure 8 Puffer Problems 2/29/04 <Pufferpunk here again> Hello... The last water change I did was about 50%. I usually only do a 1/4 or so change, but I vacuumed a lot this time so it was more. I only have my Test strips here right now for testing the water. It comes back with these readings : pH - slightly acidic <What pH exactly?  Puffers prefer a pH of around 8.0.  Aragonite or crushed coral substrates are used to help maintain a stable alkaline pH of around 8.> KH - moderate GH - very hard ( try to use filtered water for the tanks, but live in FL) Nitrite - 1.0 or so <Should be 0 at all times!> Nitrate - very high, at least 200 <OMG!!! Nitrates should be under 20!  You must be over feeding your fish.  Continue doing 50% water changes/gravel cleaning daily until both of those (including ammonia at 0), are what is livable to a fish.  All your levels are toxic! How much are you feeding your fish?  Do they eat all the food within 5 minutes?  How often are you doing water changes?  %0% weekly is necessary for puffers.  This is definitely the problem with your fish.  Do you have salt in there?  How much?  You might want to buy some extra, because you are going to need to be replacing a lot over the next few days of water changes.> The tank has been set up since October and has had fish in it since then with little problems. What should I do now? thanks again JJ <Water changes, water changes, water changes!!! ~PP>

Tap Water for Puffers? 3/1/04 The large puffers I feed every other day or so, as I read. The little guy eats once a day. They tend to sneak some of the food for the other fish but not much. After 5 minutes I clean out what I can with a net. <Try feeding less amounts, so none is left over.  Pieces can still float into plants & between decor.> Ill do the water changes and keep you posted. Do you have any advice for an easier way to filter our tap water? I've been using a regular tap filter, but it takes ages for the water to go through. <I fill my tanks directly from the tap (no filter).  I add drops of Dechlor directly to the tank before filling with 80 degree water.  ~PP>

Testing Water Parameters  for GSP 1/3/04 I am not sure what the water conditions are. We use regular tap water and treat it with Doc Wellfish's Stress Coat and water treatment stuff. He is about 2" maybe a little bigger. His color is very dark and his yellow spot has vanished. How exactly do I check the water conditions?? I was not told how to at the fish store. <Ammonia, NitrItes, NitrAtes & pH, are some of the most important tests to keep an eye on for an aquarium.  Puffers especially, are extremely sensitive to toxic ammonia & nitrItes.  Both levels should be 0 at all times.  Search through the WWM site to find out exactly what these things do & how to cycle a tank properly.  I am positive your puffer is suffering from some kind of bad water problems.  You should purchase a Master Test Kit, to keep an eye on your water parameters.  You should also be able to have these tests done at your LFS.  After a tank has cycled, Weekly 50% water changes usually help to keep your tank water healthy.  `PP>

Mopey Puffer 3/01/04 <Hi Tim, PP again> The salt that we are using is Doc Wellfish's Aquarium Salt for freshwater fish. This is what the fish store gave us to start off with. <Like I said, GSPs come from the streams between FW lakes & the Ocean.  You must use Marine salt to duplicate those conditions.  What is the SG?>He isn't looking to swift now. He looks worse than when I initially mailed you last night. I am going to let him swim around where he wants like you said but what should I look for?? Any signs that I should watch for?? And about how long does it usually take for them to digest the food? <I forgot how large you said your puffer was, but to repeat the article, it says: "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."  I am still always concerned with water parameters, whenever a fish is acting poorly.  What are they (ammonia, nitrItes, NitrAtes, pH) exactly?  Are you doing regular water changes?  Try the marine salt & water change.  I forgot what size your puffer is?  Get back to me & I'll see how else I can help.  ~PP>

Brackish water for a GSP 2/25/04 <Hi, its Pufferpunk> OK. Got the GSP alone in a 20g tank. Now: Brackish water: Best products? Best method (i.e., add slowly, all at once...) <You're in luck!  My GSP article just came out on WWM!  Check it out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  This should cover everything you ever wanted to know about the care & feeding of your GSP.> Thanks again for advice. <You're welcome ~PP>

Species Tank for GSP 2/23/04 <Hi, PP again> We no longer buy painted fish for that reason. <I'm so glad to hear that!> The one that we have is 2 years old. He was a fish bought for my sister when we originally set up the first tank. I have an odd shaped tank about 15 gallons) that I am thinking about setting up for him. <Are you talking about the puffer?  That tank should do well for a while, but eventually at 6", it'll need a larger one.  Please make sure you  cycle the tank 1st.   Please do not cycle your tank with puffers in it, or any other fish for that matter.  Fishless cycling is quick and doesnt do harm to a living thing. You can also instant cycle with Bio-Spira.  You need to add your fish immediately after adding these live bacteria to your tank. Aragonite or crushed coral substrates are used to help maintain a stable alkaline pH of around 8.  If you have any questions about making it brackish, let me know. ~PP>

GSP to SW? 2/24/04 I am planning on trying to get a salt water tank going. This is of course when I can get enough money. <I wouldn't put a GSP in SW, until it was at least 4".> What fish would you suggest I start off with?? <None. As your fish grows, you will be upping the SG, eventually raising it up to SW levels.  Aragonite or crushed coral substrates are used to help maintain a stable alkaline pH of around 8.  Then all you need is a protein skimmer. If you'll be starting up a new larger tank later, then fishless cycle the larger tank at whatever SG the puffers had been living in.> Do you know anything about the new salt water set-ups that supposedly do everything for you?? I was at the fish store last night and was told that they do everything except clean the glass. Any truth behind this? <I wouldn't trust anything that doesn't require the labor of cleaning & water changes.  Puffers are messy eaters & high waste producers.  ~PP>

Fresh or Brackish Puffers Hello, <Hi Karen, Pufferpunk here> About eight years ago I tried to keep freshwater Pufferfish in my 30 gallon aquarium. Very little information regarding these fish was available at that time. After losing several Puffers I decided to wait until (if or when) they became more common before trying again. Well, here I am, eight years later and I am finally ready to try again. There is much more information available now. Unfortunately, I live in a small town and the pet store here does not carry Puffers of ANY kind. I would like to purchase a few freshwater Puffers via the Internet/Mail Order. I tried the links on your "Links" page but the retailers there only carried saltwater Puffers. "That Fish Place" has Puffers listed but they have apparently quit carrying them. Do you know of a reputable e-tailer who sells fresh or brackish water Puffers? Any help would be appreciated. <I have heard some good thinks about this supplier: http://www.aquariumfish.net/catalog_pages/brackish_water/puffer_figure_eight.htm  You can also try www.aquabid.com  I wouldn't go by the info supplied by them as far as adult size, etc.  You're better off going to several of the puffer forums available, including mine, to talk to folks that have been keeping puffers for a while.  Here are some great sites/articles on puffers: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/intropuffer.shtml http://www.pufferfish.co.uk/aquaria/species/pufferfish/index.htm  Do you know what kind of puffers you want?  If you have any questions about certain ones, please feel free to ask.  I love puffers & have 14 of them from 1-12".>   Thanks, K. Smith <Good luck!  Puffers make wonderful, long-lived pets, with the proper care & feeding.  ~PP> F8s in SW? 2/03/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here, remember me?  I get all these Qs now.> Hi Crew.  I've got a couple of vivacious F8's (Tetraodon biocellatus) in a 65 gallon brackish tank.  SG is 1.010 and slowly increasing.  Browsing around I saw the conventional wisdom here is that F8's do best in lower brackish (1.005).  What sort of experience is this based on?   <As you know, I'm all over the web.  I have never seen anyone post that an F8 kept in SW has died because of it.  I am not sure of the life expectancy in SW either.  I know you wanted more factual info, but I don't think you are going to find it. Just practical experience.  Mine are doing great at 1.008-10.  My friend RTR, recommends keeping them in low-end BW & has kept his alive for 18+ years that way.>   Have you experienced/heard of mortality or health problems in higher brackish/marine? <The biggest problem I see is keeping them with more aggressive SW fish.  F8s are only mildly aggressive.  Folks are always asking me about putting them (& green spotted puffers) in with their porcupine puffer.  Bad idea, since the porc will grow 12+".>    Any studies on this?  I ask because Dr. Klaus Ebert writes in his book, "The puffers of fresh and brackish waters," that F8's have "proved hardy and resilient in brackish and marine aquaria." I just wanted to hear how you feel about that statement.  I want to convert to full marine over time.  Will the F8's thrive in SW or merely tolerate it? <I always listen to Dr Ebert & RTR.  Confusing & conflicting info, I know.  Why don't you conduct a study yourself?> Thanks -- y'all are awesome as always.  Nick (aka sixtyfivegallon) <Awwwww, shucks!  You're alright yourself! ~PP> P.S. If you want any help on putting together a brackish book, my editorial services are available.  I wouldn't be able to contribute much if any content (leave that to the experts), but I pride myself on a keen and experienced editorial eye and would love to help with such a project. <Thanks for the offer, I'll pass it on!>

Puffer Set-Up 1/18/04 PufferPunk - unfortunately this a.m. I awoke to find my puffer (looks like a Ceylon per the picture you provided before) dead...  I am so sad... <sorry for your loss... =o( > And I just spoke with my friend who purchased three of the same puffers from the same place I did and they all had ich and her three puffers died just the other day.   <It is very common for stressed out fish to catch ich.> Could this be that we purchased these puffers with disease - and - not that I killed my puffer?   <It really depends on how you cared for it.  Ich is pretty easy to get rid of.> I love puffers very much and think I would like to try this again in time.  I need instruction on how to set up for a puffer.  I currently have a 5 gallon tank <You had your puffer in a 5 gal tank originally, or just for quarantine after it got sick?> with a fluorescent light, the filter that it has does not have a bio wheel... <None of mine do.> I do not know the proper name of the filter I have the only way I can explain it is that it hangs over the side of the tank and pulls the water through a blue carbon screen and then pours the water back into the tank like a little water fall.  <OK> The salt I have is Doc Wellfish's Aquarium Salt for freshwater fish made from evaporated sea water.   <Aquarium salt won't do, you need marine salt made for SW tanks> I have Cycle <big waste of $$$> which I read keeps the water healthy with bacteria <There is no bacteria in Cycle at all.  Only in a product called, Bio-Spira, which can instantly cycle your tank. See: http://fishstoretn.com/bio_spira.html> and then I ran out of the sample water conditioner that came with the tank so if you have one you could recommend I would appreciate it.   <Dechlor is the cheapest & what I use.> I read that I should set up the tank for one week before introducing fish into the environment - and not to buy fish the way I did 4 of them at once - is that true??   <Read this article on New Tank Syndrome & all the recommended articles: http://www.tomgriffin.com/aquasource/newtanksyndrome.shtml> Oh and last question - what would you suggest for me to have in the tank with a Ceylon puffer?      <Depends on what size your tank is.  I recommend at least a 10g for a puffer under 2".  2-5" needs at least 20g.  Over that (Ceylon/Jade puffers grow to 7-8"), you'll be needing a 30g tank.  Also, these fish start out in FW & move up in salinity to SW as adults.  Tankmates would have to be the same kind of fish.  Depending on how large of a tank you plan on having, there aren't too many other fish like that.  There is a silver shark, but it grows quite large.  Do a search on this site on BW fish.  Most puffers get quite vicious when adult & don't tolerate many tankmates.  Mine lives w/2 green spotted puffers, some damselfish & a clownfish in a 55g SW tank, but I may need to get rid of some fish soon, as it is overstocked.>   Also, I had brought my tank water into the aquarium shop I bought the puffer and he said it all checked out fine... but - I have to tell you I noticed that he had another type of puffer on the saltwater side of his shop that had ich... Can you tell me how this effects the other fish he may have in his shop (it is a shop that has a good rep in my area and has been around a very long time) <It depends if he has an open system that has all the tanks connected to each other.  The SW & FW tanks won't be on the same system.>   I'm sorry to go no and on - but - this has really taken a toll on me - I have made late night runs to our local Petco picking up salt's, extra tanks, etc., and none the less that I really cared about the poor thing. <Puffers are easy to get attached to.> Warm Regards, De <Good luck with the next one--PP>

GSP Acting Funny  1/18/04 <Pufferpunk--again) Ok I did forget to add the tank is cycled and it has a pump and a filter system on it <You said, "I recently bought a green spotted puffer at a pet store. I also bought a new 5 gallon tank for him my new puffer".  Sounds to me like you bought the tank & fish at the same time.  How was the tank cycled?  Did you read the link I gave you on New Tank Syndrome & recommended links on Cycling?>   but it isn't heated <Your puffer is a warm water tropical fish that will get ill without a heater!> and I've also put little salt cubes that u can sprinkle around the tank as if its a saltwater fish <You need marine salt & a hydrometer to measure it.  Just sticking some salt (aquarium or house salt) is no good.> I've had him for 2 weeks now and every thing seems to be going fine <Everything's going fine?  Again, you said, "it gets really dark and swells up ". That doesn't sound like it's fine.> when I emailed you I know I sounded like I knew nothing and just plopped him into a new tank. <sure does.> I do plan to get a larger tank but I cant in the meantime cuz they are expensive but I'm saving up. <If you can't afford the proper accommodations for your pet, you shouldn't have it until you can.  Would you buy a dog if you couldn't afford it's shots?  Do you even know what a puffer eats?>   I also was wondering will my GSP fight another one that I put in there cuz I read somewhere that they only fight fish smaller than them but they nip at the fins ? <You don't even have enough room for the fish you have in there & you want to add another one?  Please return your puffer, until you can buy a larger tank, heater, salt & hydrometer.  If you want puffers for your 5 gal get a couple of dwarf puffers.  They only grow to 1" & require no salt.  They do require a cycled tank.> thank you for your help <Please listen, for the sake of your fish!--PP> New Puffer 1/17/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I recently bought a green spotted puffer at a pet store. I also bought a new 5 gallon tank for him my new puffer. <Way too small of a tank for a messing eating, large waste producing fish!  Is your tank even cycled?  Or did you just put the puffer into a newly set up tank?  Is there any filtration on it?  Heater?  If you did not cycle the tank (doesn't sound like it), please return the puffer tomorrow or it will certainly die in that tank!!!  Even the smallest GSP needs at least a 10g pre-cycled tank.  Once it grows over 2" it needs a 20g tank.> But I know that they chew on other fish <yes> but when I put my snail in with the puffer he bites its little antenna's <A puffer's main diet consists of snails & other crustaceans.> and just mashes its face at the snails shell and will swim around it and it gets really really dark and swells up like my puffer is scared. <It's probably stressed out.  The tank is too small.  These are brackish water fish that grow to 6" & prefer saltwater as adults.>    I've read a lot about them <Not enough, I think.> and I love them. <Me too!> If I can't put this snail in my tank without my puffer eating it what other see creature can I put in my tank that would kinda' ve clean it like the snail would do? <Snails are puffer food.  Your puffer needs a larger cycled tank with brackish water to survive.  Read this article on new tanks & all the recommended links: http://www.tomgriffin.com/aquasource/newtanksyndrome.shtml> Please e-mail me back at XXXXXXX@XXX.com thank you so much for helping me out. <I really think you should return your puffer until you can house it properly.  Here is a good site to read, to start you out: http://www.pufferfish.co.uk/aquaria/species/pufferfish/index.htm--Pufferpunk>

GSP Size 11/21/03 Hi again WWM crew :) <Hi, Pufferpunk again> So you think that the puffers will all reach the full 6 inches? <I certainly don't see why not.> I had noticed, that the 2 smaller ones don't seem to be growing as much as my largest, though they eat well and have round bellies. I feed mostly krill, then bloodworm a few times per week and a frozen clam (thawed) once to twice weekly. <Sounds like a good diet.  I feed pretty much anything I see at the fish dept of my grocery store (except fish).> But I concluded since the largest is still growing, that diet must not be a problem. I was prepared to remove one or both of the smaller ones eventually (names are Zip and Zoom fyi). Do you think I should re-home the mollies as well? <You are always taking a chance on tankmates getting killed/maimed/eaten by a GSP, or any other puffer.  I still lose an occasional damselfish.> In fact, I had wondered about who actually *did* the biting as my largest (Skittles FYI) is very shy and I don't think I have ever seen him intentionally go after another fish. <I have never seen a damsel get eaten.> He has always been that way, I must sit still in order to watch him eat. I have seen Zip I believe eyeing up a Mollie's tail, and nipping at Skittles to get at the clam, so I now wonder if it was him.  I was hesitant to do the entire substrate, because, frankly, I am paranoid :) I did end up with a NitrAte spike... I'll keep your method in mind for next time!  No chunks have been removed! Yay for that. Do you keep your adults as a species tank? <My 2 GSPs live w/a Ceylon about the same size, 3 green Chromis, 2 yellow-tailed damsels & 3 other assorted damsels, a tomato clownfish & 3 hermit crabs, which are very good at escaping puffer's teeth.> I've thought of a Valentini puffer <bad idea, as these puffers are a completely different kind of puffers (GSPs & Ceylon's--very similar to each other) & I don't believe the Val gets very large.> but realized that there may be some severe issues here (not to mention your 20 gals rule) and I do not like to compromise water quality. If I did full marine, then I could get live rock and such...  I do not have crushed coral, but I do have oyster shells mixed with natural substrate. pH is approx 7.8-8. <Sounds ok> I have seen your webpage Pufferpunk, your tanks are neat :) (I'm on the TT as puffergurl) <TT?  Which site is that?  I thought that was you, Puffergurl!> Malli (aka puffergurl) <Good luck w/your guys--Pufferpunk>

1 more puffer ?....for now :) Yeah, they are too cute to part with...I'm trying to find anyone locally with a large tank for sale (affordably) so we can move them to it soon. <Good!  I know how you feel, they are really cute!  Did you see mine?> Then well have the regular tank and the tank for the puffers. <Try picking up some Bio-Spira to instant cycle the new tank.  If you can't find it anywhere, you can order it online at: http://www.fishstoretn.com/ I would highly recommend at least a 55g for these guys, as they grow to 6", are messy eaters, high waste producers & need perfect water conditions.> So far they are doing quite nicely after eating and some swimming about. <Glad to hear it--Pufferpunk> JJ

FW Fish in BW? 11/06/03  Hello all.  <Hi, Pufferpunk here>  I've recently started a 20 gallon brackish water tank with three 2 inch Green Spotted Puffers. Needless to say the water is Brackish.  <What do you mean by brackish? What's the SG (specific gravity)? At 2" GSPs need to be in a SG of around 1.010-1.015. It takes a cup of marine salt/5gal to raise the SG .005. The SG needs to be raised slowly, .002/weekly water change.  Your tank is too small for 3 2" puffers. Puffers are high waste producers & messy eaters & need larger living quarters than most fish. At that size, you need at least 10g/fish. As they grow to 6" adults, they will be needing 20-30g/fish.  You say, started a tank. Was the tank cycled before you added puffers?>  A fish store manager told me I could add Black Skirt Tetra's to my tank and that this freshwater fish could survive in slight saltwater conditions. Is he telling the truth?  <As I mentioned, GSPs need more than slight BW conditions & prefer SW as adults. They also can become very aggressive as they get larger & are best kept in species only tanks.>  <Good luck w/your puffers--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

Substrate for a tank with puffers Hi crew, <Hi! Ananda here again...> Sorry for all of my puffer questions, Ananda, but I have found you are the best advice I am going to get.   <Why, thank you... [blush]> If you had the time to answer one more for me, could you tell me if it is a good idea to change substrates in my tank.  I have a brackish 55 gallon with 3 puffers, 2 mollies and 3 BB gobies.  Just so you know the puffers have stopped going up and down the glass and are now bouncing around in the current from the powerhead.  Much more fun to watch. <Good to hear that my guess about the current was correct. I might have to try that in my own puffer tank!> I am planning on getting two kuhlii loaches in the next week.   <Not in the puffer tank, please! Puffers *love* worms... and kuhli loaches are just *so* worm-like, that I suspect your puffers would immediately commence a hunting expedition. Not to mention that kuhli loaches are strictly freshwater fish!> Right now I have a pea sized gravel and I would like to change it to sand.  Is this possible to do with the tank up and running, if it is even a good idea?   <No need to switch to sand on account of the puffers or mollies, but the bumblebee gobies might appreciate it. If you use it in a tank with the kuhli loaches, you may never see the loaches. On the other hand, if you get a reptile watering dish that's made of resin, you could fill that with sand and put it in the substrate. Then you can see if the gobies are interested.> Do I just scoop out all of the gravel and place in the sand with the fish still in the tank during a water change?   <I would put the fish into buckets or another tank. You're bound to stir up all sorts of gunk when you remove the gravel, and that's going to be somewhat stressful for the fish.> Would this create problems for powerheads, mechanical/bio filters, and siphoning?   <I would turn off the powerhead and filter when you are adding the sand.> Lastly, I have heard it can be a good idea to mix crushed coral/shells in with the substrate to keep the pH high and buffered.   <Depends on your current pH, but I've heard of people doing that.> Would it also work if I put bags of it behind the cartridges in my Aqua-tech 30-60 hang off the back filter, so the substrate would be entirely sand?   <That might work. But I'm not entirely convinced that you need to switch over to a sand substrate. If your main rationale for switching is the kuhli loaches, well, they'll need to be in a different tank anyway....> Thanks very much, Dave <You're welcome! --Ananda>

Up and down the glass (09/17/03) hi, <Hi! Ananda here today...> Three months ago I got a figure 8 puffer. I kept him in 55G of freshwater with a couple tablespoons of Jungle freshwater aquarium salt. 3 weeks ago I added a Green spotted puffer, and he had a lot of trouble adjusting, went up and down the glass all day, or wedged himself in a corner and turned black. <Gack. NOT a good sign.> Pet stores and websites said I should change to Instant Ocean and each gave me a different suggestion of S.G. ranging from 1.000 to 1.019. So much conflicting information!   <Yup, there is. I've heard the same range of salinities, depending on the size of the puffer -- they go into increasingly saltier water as they get older. At least most people agree that Instant Ocean is fine for brackish puffers.> So I added some instant ocean slowly and got it up to 1.006.   <That's probably okay for the green spotted puffer, and at the high end of what's commonly recommended for figure-8 puffers.> Now the GSP is still going up and down the glass and the figure 8 has joined him.   <Puffer see, puffer do... They're bored. What kind of tank decorations do you have? I use a bunch of sections of PVC pipe to give them something to swim in and around and through, and rearrange the pipes every water change.> I also added an arrowhead puffer to the mix, the girl told me 1.006 was fine, and now I am reading he is only freshwater.   <That's what I'm reading, too: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=50301&genusname=Tetraodon&speciesname=suvattii  ... One of the guys on the WetWebMedia chat forums ( http://wetwebfotos.com/talk) has a breeding pair and is raising fry, and he's got them in freshwater.> He has also joined the others in the up and down the glass game.   <"We're kinda bored in here, Dad...." The "up and down game" is more a reaction of boredom, and one that is fairly easily changed to a game of "hide and seek" with the addition of stuff to hide in and around. Fake plants can be helpful, too.> pH, nitrite, ammonia, nitrate are all fine. The fish are all between 1 and 2 in. <Ah, the extra-cute stage. :-)> Are they too young for a brackish tank?  Should I lower the salinity for now and raise it later?  Or are they telling me they need more salt??  Thanks, Dave <One way they may tell you they need more or less salt is their belly barometers may start showing grey around the edges for no visibly apparent reason. The more I research these guys, the more answers I find regarding what puffers need what salinity -- especially on the green-spotted and figure-8 fronts. To further confuse the issue, there are also a few different species that are called green-spotted puffers. I'd suggest keeping your s.g. around 1.004-1.006 for the green-spotted, the figure-8 can go from freshwater to whatever the green-spotted is in, and the arrowhead needs freshwater. --Ananda>

Up and Down the Glass (09/20/03) Hi crew, Thanks to Ananda for the reply.   <You're quite welcome, and I'm back for round two...> I thought I may have had enough decorations in my tank, but I took your advice on my bored puffers, but I am afraid there has been very little change.  They still swim up and down the glass for most of the day, except when eating and the time shortly after.  They really don't take much of an interest in anything in the tank except for the glass. I have sent you pictures of my tank before and after the change in decorations.   <Looking at the photos, the major change seems to be the driftwood in the center of the tank. But what the puffers still don't have is places they can hide from each other. You need to include something, or preferably several things, that will break up the sight lines within the tank. In other words, make it difficult for the puffers to see each other across the tank.> The levels in my tank at present are:  S.G- 1.006, pH- 7.8, nitrate <40ppm, nitrite-0, alkalinity between 180 and 300 ppm.   <I'd like to see that nitrate a bit lower (<20), but otherwise you're fine.> If it makes a difference the preferred up and down spot is next to the filter on the left side of the tank.   <I recognize that intake...it's either a Penguin or an Emperor. The fact that they're cruising in that area probably means they like the current. Maybe try putting a powerhead -- with an intake guard! -- on the other end of the tank to provide some more current.> Also in the tank are 3 bumblebee gobies and 2 mollies.  They are all fine.  Do they need time to adjust to having something to do? It has been 3 or 4 days since the change.  Is there any other possible explanation?  Thanks a bunch for your time.  Dave <I think they're still bored. Puffs tend to like a *lot* of stuff in their tank so they can swim over, under, around, and through it. Sometimes I swear mine are playing hide-and-seek. If you can, find some big pieces of driftwood to break up the sight lines, or add some terra cotta pots or carved rock for them to hide in (but do avoid any rock that feels rough or sharp). You might also add an air stone on a fairly-powerful air pump; the puffs may play in the bubbles. --Ananda>

- Brackish Puffer Questions - Hello again I'm sorry I have one more question. <Good evening, JasonC here... hopefully with one more answer.> Just for the health and happiness of these little creatures :) I got my water salt to 0.010 ,will that make the ph the needed level for them???? <Salinity and pH are two different measurements - a specific gravity of 1.010 is fine for this puffer... for pH you need something between 7.6 and 7.8.> What should the level be? Or does the ph need to be higher even with the ocean salt at 0.010. Is that the right number for green spotted puffers??? 2 questions 1) do they need any more ph like coral gravel or is the ph already high from the salt another on look down below <Match to the numbers I listed.> 2)what number should it say on the sea test hydrometer for green spotted puffers? Should it be 0.08?????? <1.010> Thank you so much Please don't mind the few questions I'm sorry nobody helps me with them not many people know a thing about them :) <No worries. Cheers, J -- >

Puffer salt (09/01/03) Hey Ananda, <Hey there> Thanks so much for the fish advice. <Sure.> Well one more question, for the salt, can it be any kind of salt like sodium chloride? <You really want a marine salt for puffers that are from brackish waters. They include other minerals besides the sodium chloride. "Instant Ocean" is a commonly-available brand, is fairly inexpensive, and is the one used by most of the people I know for their brackish tanks. Here's a pic so you know the kind of thing I'm referring to: http://www.marineland.com/products/consumer/con_iosalts.asp > Thanks so much, Kathy      <You're welcome. --Ananda>

More on Puffer salt (09/01/03) <I forgot to mention... you don't want to put your puffer into full-strength saltwater right away. I would increase the specific gravity to about 1.004 over the course of a week or so. The best way to do that is with water changes. You take some of the water out and add a bit of half-strength saltwater in to replace it. --Ananda>

Puffers Hi, I have 5 Green Spotted Puffers, 2 1/2" long. and 1 Figure 8 Puffer, 3/4" How long do these kinds of Puffer live? <Years if/when kept under properly maintained conditions> and how big can they get? <Please see the coverage on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpuffers.htm and the FAQs files beyond> I have them in a 77gal. I also read that they should be in 6.5 -7.0 Ph. water, Is that right? <Mmm, no... should be higher... see the brackish set-up, maintenance sections on WWM> I have kept mine in Brackish water at 81*F Ph: 8.0 for 2 years and they're doing great. Please e-mail me back, Thanks. <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Seeking Spotted Puffer Info Hello <cheers> I have what is commonly known as a Green Spotted Pufferfish; he has black spots on his top side, a white underside, and underneath his spots he has a fluorescent green color. I have had these before, but have been unsuccessful. I was wondering if you might be able to give me a few tips for keeping this guy alive, as I do love him! I have a 20 gallon tank, I know my ammonia and nitrite levels are pretty low (almost unreadable), my ph is between 7 and 7.5 , my salinity (brackish tank) is approximately .5 -.75 teaspoons per gallon, and my puffer lives with a baby Mono and a Mollie who have lived quite happily in the tank for a few months. I have been feeding my puffer frozen bloodworms and krill because he is still small. I know there are other foods but I wanted a definite answer as to what these were. So any information or tips you have as to feeding and tank conditions for this guy would be much appreciated, as I am sadly uneducated on this species. Thanks again Mallika <when in doubt, always consult our extensive archives of articles photos and FAQs first. You will rarely be at a loss. For this topic, begin with the following page and explore all links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm Best regards, Anthony>

Brackish Puffers Hi Bob, <<Hello, it's JasonC this time...>> I am attempting to set up a Brackish Aquarium and am finding info. that is quite contradictory to that of our local fish stores.... <<Not unusual at all.>> I had owned a green-spotted puffer a couple years ago, unfortunately fell deeply in love with the fish...he died about a month after I purchased him. I was quite heart broken and decided to go back to freshwater. Admittedly, I did not do much homework on caring for such a fish. I have a 55 gallon tank, w/ lots of plants (artificial) and caves, rocks etc. I was told to acquire a PH of 7.5-8.0. Which I have...on every site I read, it states low 7's..that is a big discrepancy. I was not told anything about salt at all. I need salts?? <<Oh yes, brackish is specifically something between ocean water and fresh water, and even this can vary a little bit depending on the species you want to keep.>> Another issue is that of food...I was told to feed roughly 6 guppies/wk for one puffer. But, I have heard nothing of guppies, only of brine and shrimp pellets. <<I wouldn't recommend the brine shrimp or live guppies. There are many pellet and flake foods which would provide more complete nutrition.>> I am only bothering you because I have read so much and to be quite honest, growing impatient and discouraged due to all the different info. <<No need to be discouraged. Continue with your research and at a certain point you formulate your own consensus.>> I currently have a green spotted puffer on hold at the store.. pls. help. I just need the basics. <<Here's a great place to start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracsetup.htm >> Thanks for your time, Kim De Cell <<Cheers, J -- >>

Figure 8 puffer Hello, I have a figure 8 puffer and had him in my African C. tank. He and my green spotted pufferfish did well in that tank for close to 6 months. They have gotten beat up quite a bit recently so I took them out. the Green spotted puffer I threw (adjusted the salinity for him in about 30 min before dumping him) into my salt water tank and he is doing great.  <Yikes... this is a quick (and dangerous) transition... likely damaging to your puffer internally... these changes need to be made over a period of a few weeks to months> I then weeks later tried the same thing to my figure 8 and he has not fared as well. His eyes got extremely cloudy and his color faded. He was only in the saltwater for a night. I then saw my poor fish in the morning and put him in my molly (brackish) breeding tank to recover. <Good move... you likely saved its life> I added some Melafix to the tank and his eyes are clearing up slightly. What should I do to further his recovery? I also thought the figure 8 could go to full saltwater. <Please read over the brackish water articles posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/BrackishSubWebIndex.htm The Figure Eight, Tetraodon biocellatus is actually a freshwater fish... not brackish or marine. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Chad

Figure eight puffer Hello, <Cheerio, old sport! Anthony Calfo in your service> I have owned a freshwater fish tank of some form for many years. Whether it was 50 gallon, 20, or 10 (I have a 10 right now because of the convenience), I have never really paid attention to pH, ammonia, etc.  <like an ice pick in my ears...hehe> I use a water X and add a teaspoon of salt for every 10 gallons. <I like that part <wink>> Right now I have a 10 gallon tank that follows me pretty much everywhere.  <most people have cats and puppies for this but hey... enjoy> Today I bought a figure eight puffer, I have always wanted a puffer and finally I decided to get one, but not before asking the dealer a bunch of questions. He said that although he may get territorial, he is a good community fish.  <you dealer is a fibber <G>> He said the fish will eat flake food, which is what I normally feed my fish, but I often give brine shrimp.  <Puffers are cute, lovable and dedicated fin nippers. They also will suffer on a diet of flake and brine shrimp. As crustacean eaters, they need hard shelled foods to wear down their naturally growing teeth. Without it the teeth will become overgrown to the point where the animal cannot feed. As such flake food is too soft and brine-shrimp without enrichment (Selcon soaked and the like) is a useless fare that is essentially water made to look like shrimp. Too bad it is so well liked by fish... it is the lowest grade food. Add frozen Mysid, krill and plankton to the diet (freeze dried krill too). Some folks keep fast breeding live snails (the puffers love them!!!) to help with the teeth too> He said my salinity would be fine.  <probably although they could take and might enjoy a lot more salt to truly be brackish> Once I bought the fish and released him into the tank, everything at the moment appears to be fine. I haven't fed yet, so I don't know how that will go. I started looking things up on the net here and one guy has me really afraid. He seems to know what he is talking about, but he says that having all these conditions right is vital and puffers are very sensitive. Can you help me out a little here?  <some truth to it... they are scale less fish and as such are sensitive to water quality and medications> Also, since I have released my figure eight puffer into the tank, he has swam up and down the side wall non-stop. It appears normal, but I saw a comment somewhere saying this was a bad thing, is this true?  <common but not normal or healthy in the long run. A stress induced response to many factors (salinity, light, water quality, etc)> Please help me out, thanks. Dave <no problem my friend... much has been written on this topic. Do a search on this site (tag the bullet for WWM only under the keyword field at the bottom of the home page) and look through the archives of FAQs. Much information there. Also, look through the brackish articles by following the links from the WWM homepage as well. I suspect that you will be enlightened and able to enjoy your puffer very soon. Best regards, Anthony>

Setting up a brackish tank for a figure-8 puffer I have bought a 45 gallon tank for my figure-8 puffer.  I am trying to set it up before moving him in.  I have heard that sand bottom and plants would make this kind of fish happy.  What kind of sand should I use? <Please see the WWM Brackish subweb. Index here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/BrackishSubWebIndex.htm> What kind of plants should I use considering the brackish conditions (I don't think I can grow mangroves because my tank has a lid)? <Correct... unless the tank is very tall> I bought java fern, wisteria and hornwort.  The hornwort is not doing well probably because it hasn't had enough light,  but I'm concerned that if I add too much light, the java fern won't do well. <Plant the former above the latter> Should I just get rid of the hornwort?  I am reluctant to do this because I read that this plant prevents algae.   Paul <Bob Fenner>

Re: figure of 8 puffer/green spotted puffer Please can you help me? <I will try my best!> I have 1 figure of 8 puffer and 1 spotted green puffer in s 250 litre approx. community tank with a mixture of both large and small fish including my 4 Discuss which obviously means that the water is soft. They were previously together is their own tank but I thought it would be a good idea to put them in my larger tank.  The Aquatic place that I got them from said that it would be OK but I'm not so sure that it suits my dear little spotted Puffer.  He doesn't appear to be very well.  He's not eating anything anymore and one of his side fins has stopped moving or is not there at all, he is just floating around and bumping into everything.  They are both very placid fish and I don't want to lose this little guy.  Can you help?   <Were they happy and healthy in their old tank? I would move them back...pronto!> Is he in the right conditions or should I move them into their own tank again?   <Well, as sensitive as the discus are you certainly can't change their water conditions...right? If the puffers aren't going to adjust, and it sounds as if they aren't, then move them back and put something else in with the discus> What should I do to save him? <That is what I would do. David Dowless> Regards, Dena Richardson

Arothron hispidus in brackish water system? (03/19/03) <Ananda here today...that's the white-spotted puffer, in case y'all were wondering.> Thank you very much for this wonderful site.  I've learned a great deal over just the last few days.   <You're quite welcome...I keep learning stuff, too, as we keep adding to the site.> I have looked for an answer to the following question but found none here. <Me neither. But then, we can't cover everything right away... :-) > In the Brackish Water Aquarium FAQ at http://users.macunlimited.net/n.monks/brackfaq.html (section (7a)) Arothron hispidus is mentioned as a puffer that adapts well to brackish aquaria.   <I'd forgotten that part. Required reading, btw, for anyone interested in brackish systems.> However, most of my research tells me they require full marine conditions.  What do you think? <When in doubt, search Fishbase: http://www.fishbase.org > How about other Arothron species, e.g. the commonly available A. meleagris and A. nigropunctatus? <Nope, neither of those two. But some of the Arothrons wander into estuaries... A. immaculatus, A. manilensis, A. reticularis, and the giant A. stellatus (that guy gets as long as a 55 gallon tank!). Of those, A. hispidus and A. reticularis sound like the most likely candidates for a high-brackish/near-marine system.> Thanks for any advice.  Until I learn more, I will not subject any Arothrons to less than fully marine water. <Sounds like a plan to me. Keep us posted on the WWM forums.> Sincerely, Nick Tempe, AZ

Puffers and brackish water Dear Mr. Fenner, Thank you for making yourself available to us for questions! <An honor, privilege and pleasure my friend> I have two green puffers in a 5.5 gallon tank. How much ocean salt do I put in to make it brackish?  <Hmm, better to encourage you to purchase a simple "hydrometer" a tool for measuring specific gravity/density of liquids... and to "shoot for" about 1.010 or so... but not all at once. Get a good grade of "synthetic sea salt" like Instant Ocean, and add a tablespoon or so per day (over many days) till this is about so... and take care to learn about how much to add to pre-made "water change" water so it's about the same for your routine maintenance> And will doing this improve their appetites?  <Assuredly yes... and color... and health overall> I have read that they should be voracious eaters, but as yet they are not. <Try a variety of meaty foods... along with the salt additions> Thank you so much for your time!! Sincerely, Kathy Grove <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Puffers I was wondering if you could help me in figuring out what is on the bottom of my tank. I have two small green puffers and I feed them shrimp pellets and meal worms - as I was told by the people I bought them off of. I have been reading your web site and do plan on feeding them more of a variety. What my problem is that a cottony growth develops over the rocks and any leftover chewed up food they leave. It looks like a moldy fungus and I am afraid of what it is doing to my fish. I clean their tank once a week and this stuff appears almost right away. Do I need to stop feeding them what I have been immediately? What could be the cause of this growth and is their a way of preventing it? <Good descriptions... and yes, you are very likely correct about the "moldy fungus" here... this is probably a mix of decomposers that are having a "field day" due to the abundance of ready foodstuffs and lack of competitors for such... do look to changing your food offerings as you say, and increasing aeration, circulation and filtration here... and you will find less of this material as time goes by> Thank you so much for your time Nicole P.S. I also have a 45 gallon tank running with no fish in it because I plan on putting the puffers in their; the problem is it is very salty and I wasn't sure whether too much salt is as harmful as not enough salt?! <Yes... best to "aim for medium saltiness, and steady"... a specific gravity in the "teens" (1.011-1.018)... and pre-mix, store new water for changes... for a week or so ahead of using... and to acclimate your puffers for a day or more "per thousandth" ahead of moving them into a different system with a different specific gravity. Bob Fenner>

My 3 Puffers Hello. I am hoping that you will be able to help me with my puffer fish. I have 3 of them, in a 6 gallon tank. They are pretty small still, and I think that they are MBU Puffers. <Yikes... a very small volume of water for this species... hard to maintain stably... and these can be very "mean" toward each other> They are the green one's with the black spots on them.  <Hmm, actually... this may be another species. Please see our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and in turn Fishbase.org for identification of this "freshwater puffer".> Lately I have noticed that their colors are changing. Sometimes the green is a deeper green and sometimes it is a more fluorescent green. But then sometimes there is some brown coloring between the white area and the green. What is this caused from?  <Could be simply "mood" changes, nutrition, water quality, even communication amongst them> I was reading some of the other people's problems with their puffers and one person said their puffers turned brown and then died. Are my fish sick?  <Maybe... most likely from "water quality" issues... may well be "brackish", needing some regular concentration of salts...> I feed them blood worms, and all 3 of them eat them aggressively, so I don't think that it's from lack of food. <Solely this one item? Their diet needs to be expanded my friend. How healthy would you be only consuming your one favorite food?> I have also noticed that one of them is always trying to jump out of the tank. Is the tank too small for them.  <Yes, for sure> I have heard that the puffers will do okay in either a large or medium size tank, and like I said before, they aren't very big. What does it mean when they don't have their tail flared compared to when they do have it flared?  <Once again, a number of possibilities: the beginning of a rapid flight/swimming due to... aggression, fear... communication?> I have also noticed lately that one of the fish is hanging out in the very top corner of the tank where he is cornered in behind the heater and the filter. Is there something wrong?  <Possibly... likely this is the more subdominant individual and it's finding solace in staying out of the way of its nippy conspecifics... do look into either a larger system, making it brackish, and/or trading in all but one of these fish.> Sorry for all of the questions, but I am new to this and I love my puffers and don't want them to die. Thanks - Kari <I appreciate this... extend your caring to investigating proper husbandry of your wet pets. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Info Hello again. Thank you very much for your advice before regarding my puffer fish. I had questions about my 3 green and black spotted puffers in a 6 gallon tank; one of them was starting to turn brown. Well, the one that was turning brown died the next morning, <Yes, sorry to learn of this loss> it was sad, but the other 2 are still ok for now. I put a couple of rocks in the tank and they seem to like that. But one is a lot bigger than the other, and is constantly starting to chase the little one around. The little one spends a lot of time hiding behind the rocks now. I am afraid that it will die. <All very typical... need larger quarters to get away from each other> It is still eating great and everything. Today I was in a pet store and I noticed that one of the tanks had little puffers the same as my small one with other bigger fish. Unfortunately I don't remember what kind of fish they were with. I was wondering if the little puffer would do okay in a 30 gallon tank that has about 5 mollies in it, a small guppy sized fish that has horizontal stripes on it, a Gourami, and 2 fish that look like bleeding hearts but they are darker shades of reddish orange. They are all pretty lively but docile in the sense that they don't nip at each other and pretty much leave each other alone. They are all bigger than the little puffer except for the one with the horizontal stripes on it. But it's an extremely fast little guy. Would the little puffer eat him? I would really like to get the little puffer out of the small tank with the mean big one in it. What do you think? Thanks! Kari <Well... the Puffer is not likely to be bothered too much by the fishes you list... in fact, the Puffer is much more likely to bite bits out of some of the new tankmates... You ought to check the physical/chemical requirements/ranges of these fishes to assure that they are mixable... maybe on fishbase.org... many of the fish species you list tolerate/enjoy hard alkaline, even brackish water, the "tetras" you tentatively identify do not... Bob Fenner>

Tiny Tank, freshwater puffers, lobster feeding Are there any types of fresh/brackish water puffers that would do well in this size tank? <In a 4.4 gallon? Not really... hard to keep water chemistry/physics stable... and "mean" fish/es that can/do damage to each other when confined...> I want to start off by keeping freshwater and brackish puffers, and then when I'm more experienced at keeping them, move onto keeping marine puffers. I'm going on holiday for two weeks soon, and I know that you can get feeding blocks for fish, but what can I do to feed my lobster while I'm away? <Get a fish food feeder here, and give it a few pellets per day of something "fish meal" based (like the Hikari "red" food).> Thanks Tim Jeffree <And do reconsider the Puffer situation. You need/want to a larger system to ensure your success here. Bob Fenner>

Figure eight puffers HELP! I recently got 3 figure eight puffers and was told to add half a bag of Sea Salt (1 bag does a ten gallon tank, and I have them in a 5 gallon for now) for brackish water. After careful measuring, half a bag equaled two cups of sea salt. <I do hope you didn't add all this... unless the fish you bought were in the same specific gravity water...> From all the reading I have done in the past few days (the more information, the more confused I get), it seems this guy at the aquarium store was on crack! THAT'S A LOAD OF SALT for a small tank that's supposed to be brackish, not MARINE ! How do I fix this (even though my little guys seem fine for now, they are eating fine, maybe just not as active as they could/should be?). <I wouldn't change anything at this point. A good practice, especially when dealing with such small volumes is to pre-mix any/all new water... like for water changes... and use a hydrometer to match the spg...> I'm afraid to come home and find them belly up! One week and I'm already attached to Gholum, MeGosh and Abigor! <Hopefully the beneficial microbes necessary for filtration made the rapid ionic and osmotic transition. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Jennifer Dixon

Puffer A friend just gave a puffer and a another fish but its not a puffer, anyway He gave me the aquarium, filter, air pump, everything, I just got them yesterday and now the other fish is dead, but the puffer is looking lively. I don't know what's wrong, My aquarium is 35 gallons and I put enough salt that I bought on the store. Could you tell me what's wrong. <Not with this information. Please read through the brackish sections of our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackish.htm Much to learn, discover, enjoy. Bob Fenner>

Specific gravity for a green-spotted puffer? <Ananda here today fielding the puffer questions...> I bought what I think it a Tetraodon nigroviridis about 6 months ago.  The store had it in water with a specific gravity of 1.016, but because this did not correspond with most of the research I'd done, I took it down to about 1.005.  Do you agree with this, and is this puffer that specific as to what its salt level can be? <Actually, this puffer can go from fresh water as a baby to full marine water as an adult. One guy in Malaysia reported finding them in the wild in waters with the specific gravity ranging from 1.012 to 1.019. These were probably the larger fish, which would be more visible.> I ask for two reasons, which I hope you'll comment on.  First, the puffer is now much less colorful than it was when I first got it.  It went from a bright yellow with distinct spots to a dull grayish color with less distinguished spots.  I'd like the brightness, but I also want the fish to live. <I'd say he'd appreciate some more salt.> Secondly, I have two larger tanks.  My 55 gallon has two Brazilian puffers and three figure eights, and this tank has very little salt.  My 30 gallon houses this spotted puffer in 1.005 water.  My wife and I are thinking of turning the 30 gallon into a salt water system, and I'm wondering if this spotted puffer would do fine in the fresh system with the other puffs, or if it could even stay in the 30 and go to salt.  Or if neither would be a good thing. <How big is the puffer? If you gradually turn this into a saltwater system, your puffer should be fine. Do check out our puffer FAQs, starting with the links here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm > Thanks, Andy B <You're welcome. --Ananda>

More on green-spotted puffers and specific gravity... Thanks for the response.  This puffer is about 2.5 inches.  Do you think it is too early to take it up to 1.019? <Probably not... but personally, at that size, I'd keep it lower -- maybe 1.010 or so.> By the way, I did look at the wetwebmedia puffer links, but on this particular puffer no salinity info is given.   <Hmm. Another thing to add to the to-fix list...> Thanks again. Andy b  

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