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FAQs about Figure Eight Puffers, Behavior

Related Articles: Alone But Not Lonely: The Importance of  Keeping Puffers Individually by Damien Wagaman, Figure Eight Puffers, Freshwater/Brackish PuffersGreen 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 InformationPufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo,

Related FAQs: FAQs, FAQs 2, & FAQs on: Figure-Eight Puffer Identification, Figure-Eight Puffer Compatibility, Figure-Eight Puffer Selection, Figure-Eight Puffer Systems, Figure-Eight Puffer Feeding, Figure-Eight Puffer Disease, Figure-Eight Puffer Reproduction, & BR Puffers 1, BR Puffers 2, BR Puffers 3, BR Puffer Identification, BR Puffer Compatibility, BR Puffer Selection, BR Puffer Systems, BR Puffer Feeding, BR Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Reproduction,

 

Stressed Figure 8 Puffer; beh., sys.     3/21/12
I have recently purchased two Fig. 8 Puffers. I have them in a 20 Gallon tank (Soon to be 29) with 3 Dalmatian Mollies.
<These are fun Pufferfish, but can be very nippy, so watch your Mollies carefully. Expect to rehome them, and be pleasantly surprised if you don't.>
The smaller of the two (approx 1 inch) Has 0 problems. Eats, sleeps, navigates etc. The larger Puffer (approx 1.5-1.7 inches) he's been stressed the whole three days I have had him.
<Environment?>
I read that having two puffers should be O.K. in a 20 Gallon but I cannot find anything on whether the Mollies could be adding the stress factor.
<Can do. Although nippy, this Pufferfish species isn't especially aggressive, and very small specimens are easily spooked (they often go dark in colour when stressed). Male Mollies can be aggressive and may  harass smaller fish. Watch them carefully, and see how the two species are interacting. In and of themselves the Mollies shouldn't scare the Puffers, but it _could_ happen.>
My Ammonia and Nitrites are at 0. Nitrates at 5-10 mg/l   And PH at about 7, maybe 7.2?
<Way too low. These are BRACKISH water pufferfish, so you should be adding not less than 5 grammes marine aquarium salt mix per litre of water (about SG 1.003 at 25 C/77 F).>
Was a little lighter than 7.4 rating on High Range PH Test Kit. I have a tall drift wood piece in the back right corner with a cave like rock set up against/next to it. In the front left I have 6 6in. grass weed and spiral grass as well as 2 10in spiral grass. I have one more rock with a hole in it looking as if it were some sort of entryway into the "Plant Field" if you will. I can send you a picture if you like. I am just wondering if it is too cramped for the larger puffer ATM. Will the 29G help? Do I need more plants for hiding? Should I get an even bigger tank? Will removing the Mollies help until I get the larger tank? Any information would be so greatly appreciated. Thanks you very much, Steve.
<My assumption here is that the environment is wrong -- switch to brackish, and see what happens.>
P.S. Don't be afraid to get very scientific/elaborate with descriptions. I live with a Marine Biologist and a former Aqua Culture Major.
<Real good. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stressed Figure 8 Puffer

So I have been reading years worth of your answers the past few days for Fig.8 Puffers. You repetitively say "Use Marine Aquarium Salt" Is that different than just a regular Aquarium Salt?
<Yes. Absolutely.>
What I have consists of 1 ingredient, NaCl.
<Correct. Sodium chloride, also known as table salt. This is not the same thing as the salts (plural) that make seawater or brackish water. While adding aquarium salt works in the short term, it lacks the full range of salts including those that raise hardness and pH, e.g., calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium sulphate. So by all means use up your box of aquarium salt. But once it's done, switch to a marine aquarium salt -- the generic brands at your local big-box pet shop will be fine. Use just the same way, but in the knowledge that long term, your fish will be healthier.>
Expect to rehome Mollies? Pleasantly Surprised if not? Elaborate if you don't mind?
<You may get lucky. I'd guess that 1 in 4 of these Figure-8 Puffers turns out to be completely peaceful and ignores, for the most part, its tankmates. But the odds aren't in your favour, and some can be persistent fin-nippers, and a very few are outright psychotic.>
From my observations, The Mollies aren't bugging the puffers at all when it comes to nipping.
<Good.>
the male Molly is constantly harassing my females but I don't see any nips on tails or anything as of now.
<Sounds about typical.>
It is a brackish water tank. SG is at 1.004 ATM.
<Cool.>
So I am not sure if that changes any opinions. ALSO. Was the PH too low or the NO3?
<The pH. Ideally, and certainly if you'd used marine aquarium salt, the pH would be around 7.5, an ideal level for low-end brackish water fish such as Figure-8 Puffs.>
You really seem to know your puffers so I am very grateful for you to be the respondent. I can send a picture if it will help.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stressed Figure 8 Puffer

I also forgot to mention that I have about 75 snails. Not sure what specie they are but since I have added the puffers, most of them have retracted into their shell and move very little since the introduction of the puffers.
<Well, yes! Snails aren't as stupid as they look. Often they become nocturnal in the presence of predators that nip them. Do also be aware that most snails will die in brackish water (though the Malayan Turret Snails, Melanoides spp., thrive in brackish water).>
Also, since adding the deadwood this morning, The puffer seems to be less stressed over the past few hours.
<Ah, now, is this bogwood from the pet shop or random wood from the garden?
Both will lower the pH, and that WILL upset low-end brackish water fish.
Again, higher carbonate hardness (measured with the KH, not GH, test kit) will prevent this, so that's another reason to favour marine aquarium salt.
Plain sodium chloride doesn't affect the pH at all. On top of this, regular wood from the garden can carry across toxins like pesticides, and to my cost, I've seen what this can do, and very quickly.>
So maybe I just need to go get a larger tank. ALSO I have a very large filter for my tank. So large that the lowest setting still causes somewhat strong current. Possible adding factors?
<Brackish water fish generally enjoy strong water currents, being adapted to tidal habitats and all! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stressed Figure 8 Puffer

Pet shop Wood. It was my friends from a former tank of his. cleaned thoroughly with a tooth brush and very hot water. I also soaked it prior to that in practically boiling hot water.
<Should be fine then. But do check pH. If it sinks below 7, you have a problem.>
My girlfriend works at a local pet shop so I am going to have her pick up the Marine Aquarium Salt and a few more plants tonight.
<Hmm… would skip the plants unless you're sure they're salt tolerant. Up to about SG 1.003 most hard water-tolerant plants (like Vallisneria, Amazon Swords, etc.) are fine; but above that, few do really well, and most just die.>
So should I just keep an eye out for snails that haven't moved for several days and pitch them or should I thoroughly inspect them and assure they are living?
<Yes.>
What is the meaning of this statement "(measured with the KH, not GH, test kit)"? was it just a point of favoring marine aquarium salt or something I need to use for my tank?
<Two kinds of test kits, carbonate hardness and general hardness. General hardness is measured in degrees dH or mg/l calcium oxide and is often called the "GH" test kit, e.g., by API. Carbonate hardness is measured in degrees KH or mg/l calcium carbonate and is often called the "KH" test kit. Both tell you something about the aquarium, but carbonate hardness is the best measurement of how well water buffers against pH changes. General hardness mineral salts have little impact on pH changes, so in this context, such a test kit is far less informative. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stressed Figure 8 Puffer    3/21/12
Well I don't have any real plants. I was just thinking of adding 2-4 more taller types of fake grass and a few pieces of slate for proper caves and thick area for Mollies to hide and breed.
<Sounds good. Do see some of my recent messages on decorating brackish water set-ups.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishsubwebindex/brackishdailyfaqs.htm
With care, you can create a unique style that doesn't look like a failed marine or freshwater system!>
As well as the snails. How large are the few snails mentioned that thrive in brackish water?
<Well, Nerite snails are often brackish-tolerant, but mostly small, at most an inch in shell width, though quite globular, so pretty chunky-looking.
Clithon spp. for example are widely traded and do well in brackish water.
Some of the Neritina species will do well too. Otherwise Melanoides spp.
are good choices, but they breed very quickly, and can become pests.>
If so could I probably acquire them from a local shop? Any suggestions on brackish water set ups? I potentially want to get a 40G+ and try to breed Puffers. Any pointers?
<Breeding puffers is very difficult, and only one or two species do so even halfway readily under aquarium conditions. The best species for this are either Carinotetraodon lorteti or Tetraodon suvattii, both freshwater.
Cheers, Neale.>

Koi food not for tropicals....puffer beh....BORED 1/29/08 Hi, I wanted to know how to keep a figure eight puffer occupied. Mine keeps swimming up and down the glass. How do I keep it entertained? Do I buy floating plants? I don't want to buy like crazy mazes to put in. I provide 2 caves but the puffer never goes in it. He eats and is healthy so why is he bored? <This isn't something I'd be overly worried about. Wild puffers naturally swim about constantly, scanning up and down solid objects like oyster beds and rocky reefs, looking for food. Their prey is hard to find and difficult to eat, so they need to hunt for hours just to get enough food to stay alive. In the aquarium, we make life easy for them, but their instinct is still there to search. Providing a strong water current (the equivalent of a treadmill) and lots of TALL plastic plants and other ornaments will certainly help.> Also, can I feed tropical fishes koi pellets? and the shrimp found in koi pellets? Not as a main diet, just as a occasional treat? <It isn't normally recommended that coldwater fish foods be given to tropical fish, or vice versa. Certainly there'll be no harm is using them once a week if you wanted, but don't use them as a staple.> Are koi pellets nutritious for tropical fishes? <They're different, and not really meant to be used one for the other.> Last, can puffers eat mealworms and crickets? <Both are best avoided unless killed and chopped up first. I'd honestly stick with bags of mixed frozen seafood from the grocery store. Cheaper, safer, more convenient. They're a bit hard for a small puffer like T. biocellatus to digest.> Thanks. Any help will be greatly appreciated. <Cheers, Neale.>

Figure eight puffer twitching  -- 06/14/07 I recently purchased a Figure 8 puffer from my LFS. On the way home, I noticed he would twitch sometimes, but I resolved that he only did it when he touched the sides of the bag he was in. He seems rather jittery, or flighty, in nature as it is. He has been doing fine these last couple of days. He spent the first two or so swimming up and down the sides of the tank, but now he has taken to swimming throughout the tank and exploring. Judging by my own instinct, he looks very happy. His belly is white and he swims around exploring and sometimes chasing some of the little fish in his tank away. He has been eating healthily, too. Unfortunately, I have noticed him twitching again... It doesn't occur very often, but it is noticeable. His breathing seems normal, and I have not seen any sort of spots on him, other than the tiny evenly-spaced dots that are his spikes. <Well observed.> I'm worried that he may have ich, but I am reluctant to do anything before I know for sure what is going on. What could be going on? <Some minor skin irritations probably related to new environment, most likely not ich. Occasional twitching can be observed with many new puffers. It's hard to scratch when you don't have arms. As long as the belly is white, breathing is normal and he eats, I would not be concerned. See http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/Brackish/T_Biocellatus/ for some general information on your species.> If it is indeed ich, exactly what should I do to get rid of it for him? I know a Formalin purchase could be in the very near future for me, but any advice on this subject would be greatly appreciated. <Formalin will work, but it is quite toxic. I'd prefer to increase the salinity of the tank. While Tetraodon biocellatus easily can survive at a SG of 1.01 given pristine water quality, Ichthyophthirius multifiliis cannot. Four weeks with frequent water changes should do the trick just in case. Remember any other fishes should be treated, too, and the display has to stay fallow, temperature in the display tank should be raised. Both treatment methods should be used in a hospital tank. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm> Thank you so much for all your help. Kiiks. <You are welcome. Marco.>

Color Change in Puffers - 11/26/2005 I recently bought 2 figure 8's, and by their actions they seem to be doing fine; good appetite, and very active.  When they were introduced to their first tank (44 gal hex tank), one fish was less distinctive in its markings than the other, less contrast between the yellow and green/brown.  After a time I was required to move them to a 10 gal holding tank, as they took a liking to Colombian shark fins... . <This should have been researched/expected....> This is just a temporary change until larger accommodations can be set up....  But a strange thing happened, the pale fish became more distinct in its coloration and the other became more pale (for lack of a better term). Is this stress issue, a display of dominance, sleep coloration?  As I have stated they eat well and are active (the small tank is set up to have a current, and they seem to enjoy riding it, but rest in the plants (artificial) during the nights. Their bellies are white (no darker coloration) and the mid line of their bodies does not look like a gray line.  Also the coloration of the one that is less distinct seems to become more defined over night....  If they had both reacted the same way, or showed other signs of stress or illness, I would not be so  confused.... any thoughts?   <Brian, I'm going to assume here that nothing is really "wrong"....  But to be safe, I want to caution you to test ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, and be sure to maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, with water changes.  Fish do change color with time, and puffers are very, very expressive with color.  You've mentioned all the "problem" or "warning" colors are not present (bellies are white, etc.), so chances are this is nothing at all to be worried over.  I would hazard a guess that this may be an indication of pecking order....  but which is dominant I couldn't tell yah.  I would expect this coloration to continue to change slightly over time; you are probably more observant than many folks just in having noticed what you have.  Puffers are wonderful and exciting fish, very intelligent and enjoyable - I hope you have a great time with them!> -Brian <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Figure Eight Puffer - Bored?  4/29/06 Hello WWM Crew, Thank you so much, Bob Fenner, for your very helpful response to a previous question I had sent in with regards to my Columbian Sharks. They are really thriving. <Actually, Pufferpunk here today.> I do have another question but this time about my F8 puffer. First a brief history. My F8 and Columbian Sharks (Hexanematichthys seemanni) were in a 20 gallon tank together but my F8 bit off all the sharks' fins. My sharks are now in a separate tank, the brackish water of which is gradually being to marine levels as the sharks grow. <Great, I hope much larger...> At first my naughty F8 was delighted when my sharks left his tank - he swam all around the tank investigating every nook and cranny. However, a couple of weeks later and ever since then, he has been swimming up and down the same area of glass. So I decided to add more decoration to his tank in case he were bored. To no avail. So I decided to completely change the decoration. The decoration now includes large live java ferns throughout the aquarium with large rocks placed here and there and a large piece of driftwood that he could swim under - but doesn't. I've tried to make his tank exciting for him. The tank is cycled and at a specific gravity of 1.005. 20% water changes are done every 2 to 3 days, ammonia is 0, nitrites are 0, nitrate is under 20, kH is 80 (although the colour on the test for 40 is so close it is hard to tell which it is), and pH is 7.4 (but again I find it hard to tell which colour it is closest to, so it may be 7.8). <It sounds like you are taking excellent care of your puffer!  To keep the pH at a steady level of around 8, it is recommended to use crushed coral or aragonite substrate.> My puffer eats well and always has a very slightly rounded belly. His colours are vibrant and his underbelly is white. So he seems very healthy. I wonder if you would have any suggestions on how to make my fish's life more exciting? Do you think that maybe he didn't like the 'sharks' but would still like some other company? Perhaps another F8 or some other brackish fish? <You don't have room for another F8 but you could try a few bumblebee gobies. You can't always trust a puffer though--even the more mild-mannered species, like the F8.  I have 2 F8s in a 29g, started out with 6 BBGs & now have 1.> If so, what fish would you suggest?  I certainly don't want them to suffer the same peril as the 'sharks'. <Exactly what I was saying--you just can't trust a puffer!> And would another F8 be okay in the 20 gallon or should I get a larger tank and if so what size? <15g for the 1st F8 & 10g for every 1 added.> Do you think there is some decoration missing from my tank that would interest him more? <Many folks have added Habitrail tubes to their tank.> Sorry about all these questions. I do feel at a loss right now. I really do value the excellent information and help that you provide us on your incredible website. As I mentioned in my previous  e-mail, I have spent hours and hours and hours and hours reading your site.  You really do provide a wonderful service and with such excellent expertise. Thank you so much. <You're doing a great job--stop by  at www.thepufferforum.com for some more puffertalk!  ~PP> With much appreciation, Sandra Sleeping Puffer?  9/30/06 <Hi Amy, Pufferpunk here> I have had this figure 8 puffer for only 2 days and I noticed that today he went to the top and cocked his tail to the side and slowly fell to the bottom.  I thought he was dead but in less than a minute he started swimming again.  I was wondering if this is odd behavior or if it is natural? <It should be one of 2 things.  This is the way a puffer acts when it's sleeping.  It also acts that way when it's sick/dying.  If your puffer swims & eats normally, you should assume it is sleeping--as long as it's not doing this a lot.  Are you keeping it in brackish water with marine salt?  Is the tank cycled?   Check out this article on them: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/f8puffer.html.  Feel free to look around that website for more info on puffers.  ~PP> Thanks, Amy

Let Sleeping Puffers Lie...  9/2/06 Wet Web Media, <Hi Daniel, Pufferpunk here> I have a Figure 8 Pufferfish exhibiting really strange swimming behavior. For example, whenever I come to the tank after having been away from it for any length of time, I find him in a corner or next to an ornament vertically (head towards the gravel) or generally leaning against things upside-down. The past few days he seemed to right himself soon after I would approach the aquarium but just tonight he had a lot of trouble doing what looked like stabilizing himself horizontally to swim. He's still eating but I think there's something really wrong with him. <Not to worry, he's just napping.  He may have just been in a deeper sleep the last time you woke him. If his water parameters are good (ammonia & nitrite 0, nitrate <20, pH steady, around 8) & he's eating, then he should be fine.  Check out www.thepufferforum.com, for more info.  ~PP> Daniel Palembang puffer <Now synonymized as T. biocellatus> Hi Crew, I've a question.. (but don't we all) I just got a Palembang puffer, and the tank I got him from had probably 2 dozen of them all swimming happily... but I put this little chappy in a tank on his own, and he seems rather distressed, swimming up against the glass, even trying to jump.. and he looks like he's trying to escape.. is this just due to him being in a new environment? or is there something wrong with the water? I checked the ph and it seems ok... the only other fish is a tiny Pleco.  Thanks for your help <Hey Marcus, it is very possible that this is just a reaction from the stress of being moved into a new environment.  I would also test my water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, just to be sure.  Best Regards, Gage.> Marcus Tan

Figure 8 Confusion 5/29/-4 Hi! <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have read several conflicting issues about the figure-8 puffer, Tetraodon biocellatus, and I guess that you guys are my most reliable source of fish info. Firstly, how big do they grow to? Some sources say they max out at 6cm, while others say they get as big as 20cm. Are figure-8s poisonous? <These puffers grow to 2 1/2-3".  You'll have to do the conversion, sorry.> Do they carry the same neurotoxin "Tetraodotoxin" as their saltwater cousins? Fishbase.org says that they aren't dangerous at all. <Only dangerous if you eat them.  They carry their toxin in their skin & organs.> And lastly, are these puffers strictly freshwater, or do they need a little bit of salt in the water to thrive? <They are healthiest in low-end BW--a SG of around 1.005-10.  Here's a great article on them, written by a man that has been keeping puffers for over 40 years: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml> Thanks in advance. Andrew Lee <You're welcome & enjoy your puffers.  They're great little fish!  ~PP> Figure 8 Pufferfish Ok. I have looked everywhere for information on the figure eight puffer and didn't see any information on this. I have only one question; do they really puff up like other types of puffer fish? <Yes, all puffers puff, for reasons of threat, fear & stress.> They look really awesome and I probably will still eventually get one, but if they puff up, that would be a pretty cool addition. <It is extremely stressful for puffers to puff.  Please don't attempt to get them to do it.  The fish has to be very frightened to puff.  Here is a good article on F8s: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml Here's an article on how puffers inflate: http://biomechanics.bio.uci.edu/_html/nh_biomech/pufferfish/puffer.htm  Although this is about spiny puffers, all puffers have spines (F8's are tiny) & all puff the same way.> Thank you for your time. <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Powerhead puffers (01/16/04) Hi Ananda, <Hi!> Since you always remember who I am because of my playful puffers, I thought you might enjoy seeing them in action. <Oh cool!> I woke up this morning and Little Mickey, the smaller green spotted, and Grumen, the figure 8 were having fun in the powerhead.   <I'm so glad they still enjoy this.> Grumen always gets a little nervous when I am so close to the tank, you can tell by the way he stopped what he was doing to keep an eye on me.  Little Mickey could care less.  Unfortunately, none of the puffers use the pipe I put in there, but the knight goby does.   <That's cool too.> The pictures, of course, aren't as good as seeing them live, but I hope you enjoy them. <Oh, definitely!> As always, thanks for your advice, Dave <Thanks for the photos! --Ananda>

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

Color Change in Puffers - 11/26/2005 I recently bought 2 figure 8's, and by their actions they seem to be doing fine; good appetite, and very active.  When they were introduced to their first tank (44 gal hex tank), one fish was less distinctive in its markings than the other, less contrast between the yellow and green/brown.  After a time I was required to move them to a 10 gal holding tank, as they took a liking to Colombian shark fins... . <This should have been researched/expected....> This is just a temporary change until larger accommodations can be set up....  But a strange thing happened, the pale fish became more distinct in its coloration and the other became more pale (for lack of a better term). Is this stress issue, a display of dominance, sleep coloration?  As I have stated they eat well and are active (the small tank is set up to have a current, and they seem to enjoy riding it, but rest in the plants (artificial) during the nights. Their bellies are white (no darker coloration) and the mid line of their bodies does not look like a gray line.  Also the coloration of the one that is less distinct seems to become more defined over night....  If they had both reacted the same way, or showed other signs of stress or illness, I would not be so  confused.... any thoughts?   <Brian, I'm going to assume here that nothing is really "wrong"....  But to be safe, I want to caution you to test ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, and be sure to maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, with water changes.  Fish do change color with time, and puffers are very, very expressive with color.  You've mentioned all the "problem" or "warning" colors are not present (bellies are white, etc.), so chances are this is nothing at all to be worried over.  I would hazard a guess that this may be an indication of pecking order....  but which is dominant I couldn't tell yah.  I would expect this coloration to continue to change slightly over time; you are probably more observant than many folks just in having noticed what you have.  Puffers are wonderful and exciting fish, very intelligent and enjoyable - I hope you have a great time with them!> -Brian <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

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