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FAQs about Green Spotted Puffers 2

Related Articles: Green Spotted Puffers, Alone But Not Lonely: The Importance of  Keeping Puffers Individually by Damien Wagaman, The Arrowhead Puffer, Tetraodon suvattii, miraculously malicious, Freshwater/Brackish PuffersTrue Puffers, Puffers in General, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, Puffy & Mr. NastyPuffer Care and Information

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


A lump in the green spotted puffer's stomach    12/7/13
Dear Crew,
I would like to thank you in advance for your advice, I have already cleared most of my questions by reading through your answers about green spotted puffer fish:) I have to admit, I was not prepared for this little puffer (named Plush) at all, since my friend just got me one without prior notice, which makes me upset since the puffer seems stressed in the limited facility. I am trying my best to set up a tank and cycle it as soon as I can.
Yesterday, 3 hours after getting my puffer, I changed to mild brackish water first (12.5 grams of marine salt in 5 gallons of water. Is that okay?
<Well, 5 US gallons is 19 litres. For a young Green Spotted Pufferfish, you're aiming for about 5-6 grams marine salt (about one teaspoon) per litre. If you multiply 5 grams for 19 litres, then 5 x 19 = 95 grams. So no, you aren't using nearly enough salt. As the pufferfish gets closer to adult size, you'll need more, probably about twice this amount for a specific gravity around 1.008-1.012.>
I'm really worried). It seemed fine but when I woke up this morning, it's white stomach was all blotchy gray, but after I fed Plush some fresh prawn, it visibly turned brighter and the stomach became pearl white again, which amazed me since I am new to this. I think it's a pretty healthy puffer, it's 2.5 inches long, has a neon glow at the top of its head and makes eye contact and comes near when I lean in.
<The fact its colour is changing when "happy" (i.e., being fed) makes me suspect the problem is the environment. For a start, increase salinity over then next few days as outlined above.>
But what really concerns me is that there is a round lump on one front side of its stomach that was not observed the previous night.
<If you overfeed pufferfish, they can develop odd lumps, especially on the white underbelly of this species. Should clear up in a few hours.>
It curls its tail in a slight u-shape from time to time, I think it is stress from the water quality and the lacking environment, which I am trying to improve as soon as possible. But could you please advise me on what that lump might be? It makes Plush look a little lopsided. I am so worried for this little cutie, and I want to let it live to a ripe old age happily, please help me out!
<Meantime, do read here:
Nothing particularly difficult required to keep this species healthy, but do understand the need for a big aquarium, a strong filter, and at-least moderate salinity.>
Thank you.
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: A lump in the green spotted puffer's stomach      12/8/13

Thank you for the guidelines Neale,
I now have a 20gallon tank (going to get a bigger one once it gets bigger)
and have increased the salinity level^^ It now reads 1.010
and there is an external hanging filter running:)
The lump disappeared after it had something like diarrhoea?
<Possibly, but likely not.>
I hadn't fed it anything but its feces were all watery and bright yellow.
It was pretty explosive, I wonder what they fed it there:((
<Who knows? But for now, offer a good varied diet (avoid live foods for the most part, and certainly avoid feeder fish) and try to offer some green foods such as cooked peas -- which they usually eat, if hungry, so feel free to starve your fish for a few days if necessary. Deworming is sometimes useful with wild-caught fish, but a few weeks of good, healthy diet should make it clear whether this fish has parasites or not. If it thrives, grows, and shows a healthy appetite, don't worry too much about deworming it.>
I am feeding it live prawns now and it seems so happy in the bigger tank!
<Live prawns are okay, but live foods all carry a risk of introducing parasites, with the exceptions of brine shrimps and earthworms, both of which live in habitats where there aren't any fish-infecting parasites about. So they're safe. Any aquatic animal other than brine shrimp carries a risk. If you use shrimps/prawns, do gut-load them first -- feed them with herbivore foods before using them. Once their guts are filled with "greens", they're an excellent source of fibre and vitamins. Earthworms are as good, if not better, because they eat decaying plants all the time, and likewise snails.>
Its feces are dark greenish-brown and normal. But I think it has ich! After installing the bright tank light I noticed that there were tiny white spots on its body near the tail. About a dozen of them. If the ich persists even at 1.010, what should I do?
<Freshwater Ick will die out very quickly in salt/brackish water -- but only once the cysts burst and the free-living stage leaves the host fish, so it might take a couple days before the symptoms on the fish clears up.
Raising the temperature (to 28 C/82 F) can speed things up. Cheers, Neale.>
re: A lump in the green spotted puffer's stomach    12/12/13

Hello Neale,
For two days now I have taken out all decorations and sand from the tank and the temperature has been constantly 27.5-28 degree Celsius. I have been changing 25% of water everyday as well.
<And replacing with brackish water?>
The puffer seemed to be doing well till now, and it's been eating better than ever.
A few of the cysts have burst.
<So within a few days, all the white spots should be gone.>
But I just noticed that it vomited all the prawn out, though I gave it a smaller portion than normal. It's staying at the bottom of the tank though it was active just a few hours ago. It has the dark stress line along its belly as well. Do you know what might have gone wrong?
<Not specifically, no. But pufferfish do regurgitate food occasionally. Don't feed for 1-2 days. Then offer a small piece of something easy to consume, like shrimp. Don't overfeed. Usually, regurgitation happens when fish are overfed or given something "stale". Cheers, Neale.>
Re: A lump in the green spotted puffer's stomach     12/18/13

My green spotted puffer has been doing very well, all the ick is gone and I started feeding him gut-loaded feeder shrimp.
0 nitrite, 5 nitrate and 0 ammonia. It was window-surfing an hour ago but it's suddenly at the bottom of the tank curled up in a ball!!! It's breathing through only one gill as well. Its belly was gray from time to time but it didn't last more than 5 minutes so I have been assuming it was just mood swing or something...
What could be wrong with my puffer?
<Likely nothing if aquarium size, temperature, water quality and salinity all seem correct. Review, and act accordingly. But nine times out of ten, Green Spotted Puffers doing this recover under their own steam. It's usually a temporary shock, overeating, or some other short-term blip in care that has caused them to behave this way.>
Please advise. Thank you!
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: A lump in the green spotted puffer's stomach     12/18/13
My puffer stayed in that position for approximately 15minutes and now he's all fine (??!!). It gave me such a fright! It's still breathing through one gill only, which is strange since it's been breathing through both. Do puffers normally look that ill when they switch gills?
<This does seem an odd habit seen in puffers from time to time. Not necessarily a sign of parasites or ill-health. Observe, maybe do a water change to freshen up the aquarium, and wait 24 hours before worrying. If breathing rate is normal, and the fish isn't gasping at the surface or otherwise exhibiting signs of (respiratory) distress, don't worry too much.>
Thank you in advance for entertaining my paranoid questions
<Welcome, Neale.>

GSP issues     11/1/12
Hello! Sorry for bothering you, but I seem to have quite a bit of an issue. I happen to have 3 GSP's (all around 1 inch, they are really tiny) living together.
<Do be aware that they aren't always sociable. Some get along fine with friends, others are grumpy and territorial, best kept alone. Do keep an eye out for signs of aggression (nipped fins and circular marks on their bodies) and if necessary separate them.>
There is one from about 6 months ago, and the other two are from about 2 months ago. They all live together, no fin nipping or stress issues... that is... until about a week ago.
The one I have had for longer (Clyde) seems to have developed some issues recently. He has decided to stop eating and really just likes to lay around on the fake plants or on the floor.
<This is pretty much what adults do. Perhaps he's just getting older?>
(They didn't rip up the plants at all! :O ) He has been like this for about a week now, and I am starting to really get worried. I checked all the water levels and they are all completely normal. Their water is brackish, and it's the exact same as it has been since I first got Clyde.
<By "brackish" what do you mean? What's the specific gravity? Anything less than SG 1.005 won't work in the long term. If you're adding salt as "teaspoons per gallon" or anything like that, chances are you aren't maintaining enough salinity.>
I don't know why he is acting this way, but he seems extremely stressed, blows up at the slightest provocation and is in general not acting like his normal self.
<Not good.>
The one reason why I'm really confused is because his coloration is perfectly fine! There is no black belly and his greens, black spots and white belly appear normal.
<The changes in colour are a sign of stress, but not the only one.>
The only place where his coloration appears off is near his anus, where it is a VERY bright white. The other two GSP's are normal, fat and happy. I put Clyde in a 10 gal quarantine tank (That's all I have at the moment) but I don't know what to do. He is very thin and seems to be hyperventilating right now. Please help! Courtney :)
<Do need some data here. How big is the aquarium? What sort of filter do you use? What's the pH of the water? Do you use tonic salt or proper marine aquarium salt? For the record, the correct answers are something like 55+ gallons (for adults anyway, but even juveniles should have 30+ gallons); filtration needs to be generous, so a large external canister is ideal; the pH needs to be between 7 and 8; and you need to be using marine aquarium salt to maintain a specific gravity of SG 1.005 to 1.010. Chances are that there's simply something wrong with the set-up, and this GSP has reacted before the others. Catch the problem, fix it, and he'll recover. Cheers, Neale.>

fish query! 12/2/11
Greeting from the Texas Panhandle!
I am all puffed up about keeping the spotted puffer.

<I see.>
Going on three years now and around two dozen puffer fish I am batting a big �O�.

Can you help? I have purchased these fish from, yes I know, Wal �Mart. I have also visited several so called fish shops and nothing seems to have worked. Some of the fish get a dark belly and die within two days. Others just seem to get depressed and kick over. I suppose that fish can get depressed. Do they? The tank I placed the puffers in is a twenty long with no other occupants. The tank has been operating for several years with bi-weekly water(1/2 to ¾ changes). It has been a planted tank and still is with healthy plants. Substrate is clay, soil and gravel, small smooth gravel. My water is well water and a 6.5 reading.
<Here's your problem. Green Spotted Puffers are brackish water fish. Raise the salinity to about 25% that of normal seawater, i.e., about SG 1.005 at 25 C/77 F, which is about 9 grams of marine aquarium salt per litre (or 1.2 oz per US gallon). Don't make the change all at once or you'll kill the filter, but do, say, four 25% water changes across 4 or 5 days.>
I have a large population of small black windmill snails in the tank, tiny to not so tiny. I took info off of the one eyed monster, the computer, and snails seem to be the puffers choice of food. Some of the spotted fish have taken some of the small snails but they too died. The fish not the snails. The snails have done well! . After the 10th or 11th puffer fatality I placed some black mollies in the tank to see if the water was messed up . The mollies did well for three months until I gave them away. The tank seems to be well cycled. I sure would enjoy keeping a puffer or two if that is possible I am beginning to think the puffer fish to be like armadillos. All you see are dead ones on the road side with a Lone Star beer bottle! Is it possible to keep puffers healthy?
<Yes. They are actually very tough, in the right aquarium.>
Can you send me some where to figure this wee problem out? Thanks Bob
<Do read:
I am the Texas Panhandle fellow who just wrote about my poor luck with puffers-spotted and figure eight puffers. After I sent the note I read what others have written you and I feel that I know what (MY) problem was Thanks
<Cool. Cheers, Neale.>

Green spotted puffer... beh., fdg., hlth... reading  8/14/10
About 3 months ago I purchased a green spotted puffer.
<Ah yes, a lovely brackish to marine species. Unfortunately sold as a freshwater fish by some retailers.>
He is in a 20 gal tank and has no tankmates at this time.
<Not a community fish anyway, and best kept alone or with its own kind.>
About a week ago I opened a new package of bloodworms and noticed he was not eating them. The store got in a different brand. I am not sure if that has anything to do with my issues or not?.
<Possibly; when puffers refuse food, it's a good sign they're stressed. Healthy specimens will eat most meaty foods with gusto!>
yesterday I noticed that he is as round as a basketball. I didn't think anything of it at the time and thought maybe he finally decided to eat. However today he seems to be a little bigger and I decided that it wasn't because he ate the bloodworms (looks more solid)...water checks out just fine and the temp is steady. He does swim some but also spends a lot of time laying on the bottom of the tank....I did put some small snails in his tanks a few days ago and I am not seeing them in there....up until a couple days ago he was very active and bright green and white now he is puffed up sluggish and slightly black.....could it be he just ate the snails and it takes longer for those to digest?.....Thank you for your help....Tammy D.
<The black colour is also alarming, as is the lethargy. My guess is you're keeping him in freshwater, or something close -- a "pinch" of salt per gallon doesn't count as brackish water! He will also need a bigger tank once more than a couple of inches long, I'd say 40 gallons for specimens 3-4 inches long, and 55 gallons for adults. Do understand this species needs brackish water, at least SG 1.005, i.e., about 9 grammes marine salt mix per litre of water, about 1.2 oz per US gallon. Tonic salt won't do, and his lifespan in freshwater will be short. Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

help! GSP hlth., no info., reading   8/29/2009
My green spotted puffer is at the top of the water gasping for breath. My other one is starting to show the same symptoms. I heard it can be due to the Nitrates in the water so i put a chemical in to lower them and bought some real plants. Is there anything else i can do to save my fishy :(
<...? Need more data to help you... But we've accumulated sufficient input from others. Read here:
Bob Fenner>

Confused!  Puffer ID, Tetraodon, Colomesus, GSP gen. care...  10/23/08 My Amazon puffer did NOT look like the ones in Google images or yours, So I looked and found the green spotted puffer (*Tetraodon nigroviridis)* to match my own. I previously asked questions so I must re ask due to Wal-mart telling me wrong. <Tetraodon nigroviridis is usually distinctive: luminous green-yellow body colour covered with lots of small, circular black spots. It is often confused with Tetraodon fluviatilis, a species with a more greenish body and irregular black spots on the flanks and a few large saddle-shaped patches on the back. Then there's Tetraodon biocellatus, the Figure-8 pufferfish, which has two pairs of distinct yellow-ringed black spots on the flanks; two such spots on either side of the dorsal fin and another two on the caudal peduncle (the "tail"). The Amazon Puffer Colomesus asellus can be confused with these fish, but the important differences are that it has black a series of saddle-like patches running over the back and a distinctive black spot on the underside of the caudal peduncle. All of these, except Colomesus asellus, are brackish water fish.> I have Him in well planted (lots of hiding spots and open water) with 2 Juv African Cichlids, All very young. I do have ghost shrimp about 10ish for a snack and to clean up all in a 29 Gal. They RARLEY nip at each other which shocked me. Should I add another fish or is this enough? <Tetraodon spp. are not gregarious and do not need tankmates of their own kind or other species. Tetraodon biocellatus is sometimes kept in groups, and being rather small, they tend to get along fine unless ridiculously overcrowded. Tetraodon fluviatilis and Tetraodon nigroviridis are a bit more territorial, but in large tanks (upwards of 40 gallons, usually) it is possible to keep two or more adults. Both Tetraodon fluviatilis and Tetraodon nigroviridis are confirmed fin-biters, so just because they're fine with your other fish now, don't expect that to last. Wild pufferfish of these species eat the fins of other fish, and so it's a question of instinct.> What age does this puffer "puff"? <They don't, unless scared. Because of the risk of swallowing air, this isn't something to encourage, even putting aside the very idea of deliberately scaring a fish to make it do something!> What kinds of snails do I feed it? <Any of the right size.> How do i go about trimming the teeth if they over grow? (many people have many different views (even weird ones). <Do review the article on Colomesus asellus I referred you to last time. Jeni Tyrell has also written an article on this topic at WWM, though she and I differ in opinion on the use of nets to hold the puffer. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm > What fish are compatible with my group? Should I add another Puffer? <Puffers of this type are best kept alone or with their own species. For a start they need brackish water, which reduces your range of options. But even allowing for that, these fish are biters. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i6/lonely_puffer/lonely_puffer.htm > Is there any "hard shelled Critters I could feed it to dull the teeth? <In theory yes there are: snails, unshelled prawns, small mussels, etc.> How big do they ACTUALLY get (many websites are different? <In captivity, expect at least 12 cm, and I've seen numerous specimens around 15 cm.> Why is it called the green spotted puffer when there not really green spots..? <Tetraodon nigroviridis does indeed have a green body with black spots.> How come many Petshops and Wal-mart mislabel there fish? <No idea.> Sorry if some of these questions seem obvious, but many websites, pet stores are telling me differently, I saw an artical in a fish magazine with Mr. Fenner (SP?) Which led to me saying you know this website might be the "truthful" one. So please help me out thanks SO much, Kurt Meissner! Future Sociologist and Marine Biologist. (horrible spelling) <Happy to help. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm Much written about these fish here at WWM; do read, enjoy. Cheers, Neale.>

White-lined trigger fish question... questions... scenario... 10/26/08 Hi guys (and girls), After 20 years of maintaining my 29 gallon tank I am finally going to up grade. <OK.> In my current tank I have two green spotted puffers, <As in Tetraodon nigroviridis/Tetraodon fluviatilis? They don't really need marine conditions, though they certainly thrive in them.> one clown fish (Nemo) and just added today a 3 inch white-lined trigger fish. <This trigger is Sufflamen bursa, I assume? A smallish (25 cm) member of a relatively peaceful genus. Generally works well with plucky but otherwise peaceful community fish.> I know sounds like a scary tank to stick your fingers in. <Quite! Though Sufflamen spp. are really quite docile animals, by the standards of the family Balistidae anyway.> Now since I have introduced the trigger into a small tank with 3 other fish (listed above) could this potentially make him get along with these fish once I move them into my 55 gallon tank. So far he has gotten along with the puffers. The clown fish has evicted him from his corner of the tank (he's a tough clown and he thinks he's a puffer eats raw shrimp an everything). The trigger has found a happy home inside a large oyster shell embedded into my live rock (which the trigger seems to enjoy eating...). <While these fish should get along just fine, I'm concerned the tank is a bit small if only in terms of metabolic wastes. Adult Tetraodon *on their own* need 30 gallons, and twos do fine in 55 gallons. Add to these a Clownfish and a potentially quite sizeable Triggerfish and you may be setting yourself up for some nitrate and pH problems. Not that any of these fish aren't hardy or adaptable, but that's not something to impose upon. As juveniles you will be fine, I'm sure, but as they grow monitoring water quality will become increasingly important.> OK here's my question. Should I try to move all these fish into the 55 gallon tank. Or should I leave the puffers and the clown in the 29 gallon and move the trigger to the 55 gallon. <Triggers view tanks as *their* territory, so should be move in last where possible. I can't see any obvious ways to divide out the fish between the two tanks that has any clear advantages over the others.> If your answer is for me to move the trigger into the 55 gallon with out the others then what kind of fish would have the best chance of co-existing with my new trigger; <Sufflamen spp. generally get along well with Tangs, Angelfish, Damsels, and really anything forward enough to keep up at dinner time. They aren't aggressive Triggerfish at all and usually work well in communities, though calling them "reef-safe" is probably overdoing it.> Are clams safe to put in there or will they be food too??? <Just so much live food...> I am just trying to make the most of this tank as it will be visible to 3 rooms in my home. (I am installing tank into the wall) <Sounds a fascinating project. Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish tank and GSPs  03/15/2008 Hi all, I've been reading your site for a long time now for help with setting up a proper home for the green spotted puffers that my wife had to have. I recently set up a new 29 gallon tank for the little fish, one is less than 2 inches and the other is about one inch, juveniles I think. <These are indeed juveniles. Adults get much larger, a chunky 12-15 cm/5-6" depending on the species.> When I set up the tank I cycled it with freshwater BioSpira because I already had the GSPs in a freshwater 15 gallon tank awaiting their new home, so waiting for it to cycle naturally wasn't going to work. The tank cycled fine and I added the GSPs with the intention of raising the SG slowly, the recommended .002 amount. <Very good.> I wasn't sure on the math so I thought I had guessed low at a half a cup of marine salt mixed into five gallons of R/O with an old Seio powerhead and a heater during a ten gallon water change. <Guessing isn't really viable here. I have a little freeware Mac/Windows application called Brack Calc that will help. It converts specific gravity into salinity and weight of salt per unit volume of water, factoring in temperature as well. http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/aquaria/brackcalc.html For an aquarium at SG 1.005 for example, you need about 9 grammes of salt per litre (about 1.2 oz per US gal). That's a fine salinity for the first year. After this year is up, you'll likely want to raise the salinity to about SG 1.010, and that translates as 15.5 g/l (about 2 oz per US gal). Weighing the salt will give you a much more accurate salinity than eyeballing, but you'll still need to use a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity. Even a basic $5 glass hydrometer is adequate, though more expensive plastic swing-arm ones are easier to use, and even more expensive refractometers are arguably more accurate (and definitely more fun!).> When I checked the SG it didn't even register, so the next week I added a cup of marine salt the same way during another ten gallon water change. I didn't check the SG until a few days later thinking I should let it cycle through the filter a few times, and I found out that the SG had jumped up to something like 1.008. <Well within the tolerances of the fish, but likely stressing the filter bacteria and certainly killing the plants.> Now I have an insane algae bloom that is taking over the whole tank and is covering the plants and rocks and even the Fluorite substrate. I am thinking that I crashed the tank possibly by killing a lot of the freshwater bacteria in the tank and the BioWheel of the Emperor 280 filter that I am using. Would this jump in SG be enough to crash the tank in this way? <Yes; I'd quickly go down to SG 1.003-1.005 and hope for the best!> I only have two test kits currently, for phosphate and nitrate, and both tests showed fine results, phosphate at .25 and nitrate at 20 ppm. <Neither of these test kits is critical, so they're odd choices. The two ESSENTIAL test kits are nitrite and pH. Nitrite tells you if the filter is working (if there's nitrite present, it's not); and pH tells you if the water chemistry is stable (if it is rapidly dropping, then it's not). Both are early warning indicators of bigger problems.> I changed out five gallons of the tank water and replaced it with five gallons of freshwater, but of course the damage has been done, and the SG is close to 1.004. Originally I thought I could do this tank as a planted mid range brackish with plants that can survive in brackish water, so I have Java Fern, Java Moss, Babies Breath, and two other types of plants that I am spacing on the name of. <Okay, the Gypsophila should be taken out STAT! It's not an aquatic plant, and its death and decay will promote algae and kill water quality. Both the fern and the moss can tolerate significant salinity, Java fern in particular occurring naturally in brackish water. Still, I'd tend to keep plants only while the SG was below 1.005; above that, you're better off with rocks and plastic plants. Trust me on this.> I used Fluorite substrate and I have some bowl rock for caves and a few pieces of driftwood. Now that I have been reading more and more on brackish tanks and GSPs in general I am thinking that this tank is in no way going to work for the fish in the long term. The driftwood I know is a problem now, and eventually I will have to scrap the plants anyway to get the SG up enough. <Indeed. Bogwood lowers pH as it decays, so should be used carefully. If you have a high carbonate hardness (that's the "KH" scale test kit) the effect will be trivial. But many aquarists simply don't use bogwood, and instead opt for ceramic/plastic wood instead.> I am thinking about abandoning it and starting over with crushed coral as a substrate (which I was talked out of doing in the first place by my LFS, which is why I went to Fluorite and plants...) and a lot of rocks and fake mangrove root decorations. <In a brackish water aquarium, there's simply no point spending money on plants or plant-friendly substrates UNLESS you intend to keep the specific gravity very low, SG 1.003-1.005. This is a fine salinity for many brackish water species including gobies, glassfish, figure-8 puffers, livebearers and more. But if you're keeping mid- to high-end brackish water fish, you need to think more along MARINE lines than freshwater. Use granite, slate and other rocks to create a nice complex "reef". Decorate with shells and barnacle clumps. I like using silicone and oyster shells to create oyster reefs just like the ones you see in harbours. Ceramic/plastic tree roots can be used to create mangrove forests, and plastic plants (especially the big 3' long ones) are really good for this too. But skip the live plants.> I know eventually I will need to upgrade to at least a 55 gallon tank to keep both fish in, so I wonder if I could wait awhile, raising the SG in the tank to low end brackish (1.004 - 1.008) so I can keep the planted tank the way it is for awhile? <This is fine.> At what point (size, age) do GSPs need to be in high end brackish/marine? <Tetraodon fluviatilis and Tetraodon nigroviridis NEVER "need" marine conditions. They certainly do well in marine conditions, but don't imagine it is essential. Provided you keep the carbonate hardness high (using crushed coral, oyster sand, etc.) and the nitrates low (lots of water changes, and perhaps a protein skimmer once SG reaches 1.010) you can maintain them indefinitely at mid brackish conditions.> I am wondering how long I can keep the planted tank until I by the new tank to switch to something that can go to full marine eventually. <I'd recommend moving the GSPs to mid- to high-salinity conditions once they get about 8-10 cm in length.> I am also worried about the GSPs being bored in the tank, even with all the plants and rocks and driftwood they seem to be a bit bored already. <Puffers do benefit from interaction. Try feeding them with "difficult" foods like unshelled prawns, so they have to work for their dinner. Train them to become hand tame; use forceps (they bite!) to feed them. Offer small amounts through the day, so they get to interact with you regularly. Add lots of plastic plants and rocks that go up the tank, not just along the bottom. If you watch puffers in the wild, they swim up and down objects very systematically, looking for prey. They don't need much open swimming space, but they do need lots of "stuff" to swim around, so really fill the tank with all kinds of stuff!> I originally thought that there was no way I would want to have my GSPs in full marine, but I am starting to think that it would be so much easier to maintain, as I already have a large reef tank and the know how to take care of a marine system. A skimmer and live rock eventually would be much easier for me to take care of, and the plants I have will eventually die if I do raise the SG to something that the GSPs will appreciate. <Skimmers work from SG 1.010, but as you say, live rock needs marine. And this is indeed the big advantage to keeping this species in marine conditions. On the other hand, balance the costs, particularly all the extra salt, carefully: brackish water fish are much more fussed about water quality than water chemistry.> What would you suggest as far as scrapping the planted tank, and what suggestions do you have for a new tank as far as decorations and things so my fish don't get bored? Thanks a lot, the site is great. <Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm That's about as good a summary on these fish as you'll find anywhere on the Web! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Brackish tank and GSPs Thanks for the quick response, all the info you gave me was very helpful in making my decision as to what to do with my puffers. I changed five more gallons of water today (I only had 5 gallons of R/O at the house) and tomorrow I will do a massive water change, 50-80% possibly. <Why do you need to use RO water? Plain vanilla tap water with a decent dechlorinator should be fine.> I was hoping to get the water close to fresh again and use freshwater BioSpira again to jump start the bacteria, would you advise this? <Depends what you want to do. If you want plants, then yes, lower the SG to around 1.002 or 1.003. The BioSpira will work fine.> Also, I wanted to mention that the common name I used before, 'Baby's Breath', was completely wrong, I must have been thinking of something else. What I was referring to was actually Moneywort (Bacopa monnieri), so no need to worry. <Ah yes, this plant is brackish tolerant. But it isn't easy to grow: needs huge amounts of light otherwise it looks really unhappy (long stems, small leaves) and then dies. Nothing less than 3 watts of light per gallon.> I researched brackish adaptable plants for a month before I purchased anything. The test kits I used were the only ones I had at the time, and they were purchased for my reef tank originally, I know they didn't really have anything to do with my question but I thought I'd throw out all the info I had. I will buy some more test kits tomorrow. Another quick question on this topic, I noticed that the smaller puffer has become quite aggressive to the other bigger puffer ever since I crashed the tank, chasing the nipping at his fins. <Unfortunately quite common with this species.> I was reading another question here that was being handled by Pufferpunk that was in the same vein as mine. Someone had an uncycled tank with two GSPs in it and the smaller one was being aggressive to the bigger one, and she mentioned that nitrite stress from having no bacteria might be contributing to the fishes sudden aggressiveness, would you agree with this as the case? <I would humbly disagree with PP on this. Aggressiveness in fish isn't likely to be caused by physiological stress. I suspect that there's a little anthropomorphisation going on here!> I have had both fish for at least four or five months together and they have always gotten along fine, almost always glue to the gill exploring everywhere together. <This simply isn't a social species. Males likely guard nests, so as the fish mature, they become more intolerant of other members of the species. This contrasts with sociable puffers such as South American Puffers that don't guard their eggs and consequently don't mind (actually, want) tankmates of their own species.> Tomorrow I was planning on moving the filters and the water into a 15 gallon tank, and add the fish for holding. Then I was going to remove all the Fluorite substrate, and all the plants and bog wood. Then I was going to add crushed coral for a substrate, add more bowl rock in an upward direction, find new plastic decorations, and add the puffers and BioSpira again to cycle the tank. Is there anything I am missing in my plan? <Wouldn't bother. At a low salinity, if you want plants, you need a standard substrate. Plants won't grow in coral sand or river sand; they need nutrient rich substrates of some type. Rely on the marine salt mix to maintain the pH and KH where you want it, plus possibly the addition of calcareous media to the filter. Once you decide to "upgrade" to a medium salinity system a year down the line, then you may as well move the puffers to a bigger aquarium, and use this (by now full of happy plants!) aquarium for guppies or whatever.> Thanks again for the quick and great advice. <Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer Questions, sys. mostly  2/24/08 Hi guys! <Hey Micah, Pufferpunk here.> Once again, I wanted to thank Merritt for his amazing advice. I added a thin layer (maybe a centimeter thick) of regular gravel on top of the fluorite to keep the dust out of the water column. It's made quite a difference (though, perfectionist that I am, it does still bug me that the water is a little dusty. <Glad to hear that is working out for you. I'm sure Merritt will read this.> Well, yesterday (after letting my tank run for about a week with a tiny amount of bacteria introduced from an established tank), <Sorry to say, that bacteria will probably have been dead in 24 hours, without any food source (ammonia).> my local fish store finally got some Marineland Bio-Spira in stock, so I went to the store and picked up the Bio-Spira and two puffers. Neither of them is longer than my thumb, so I'm guesstimating them at 2" or less. <What species?> One of them seems quite content and is swimming about, investigating. The other, I can't tell if he's sleeping or what. Sometimes he'll swim around but often he just lies on the bottom. <Did you observe his behavior in the store? I always try to pick puffers that are actively buzzing around & greet me at the glass. It's also good to ask the shop to feed them so you can be sure they are eating well.> When I come over and press my face near the glass, he'll perk up (I imagine he gets excited because he thinks I'm about to feed him) but before too long he goes back to lying on the bottom. I'm just a little worried because his buddy (no signs of aggression yet, fingers crossed...I tried to get two approximately the same size) is substantially more active. <If you buy them as juveniles at the same time, there is a good chance they will get along through adulthood, bearing they have a large enough tank with lots of broken lines of sight. Puffers are sensitive fish & they do not take to being moved easily into a new environment. He may just be sulking & need time to get used to his new surrounding. How big is the tank? 2 2" puffers should be in a minimum of a 30g tank.> Am I worrying for nothing? They both seem to be eating fine (last night I gleefully fed them some of the stupid pesky common pond snails that have been breeding like mad in my guppy tank). Really my concern is that their color seems off. The one is a darkish brown-green (think olive) with a neon green patch on the top of his head, with large spots all over. The other is much less spotted, very dark brown-green (much more brown than green). Both of their tummies are white as white can be, but I do worry about that dark coloring... <Its really hard to tell without knowing the species. Im guessing, green spotted puffer (Tetraodon nigroviridis)?> Tonight they happily ate thawed blood worms just until I could see their bellies were nice and rounded. I also have some small "Cichlid Gold" pellets recommended by the guys at my fish store that I'm going to try tomorrow. Is this a varied enough diet or more variety if I can? I'm a vegetarian, so I don't have too much seafood around but I don't mind picking up some crab legs or something if they need more nutrition. <Im glad to hear they have such a good appetite! Excellent feeding article here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ Finally, the guys at the fish store told me to use API's aquarium salt, to salt my water. I've been following the directions (half a rounded teaspoon per gallon) but from what I've seen in the forums, this salt simply won't provide enough minerals for my puffers and I'd be better off using Instant Ocean or something similar. Any thoughts on this? I don't want to be causing my puffer to get ill from lack of minerals. <If you indeed do have a couple of GSPs, then you need to make their water brackish, by using marine salt & measuring the salt content (specific gravity) with a hydrometer or refractometer. You should not raise the SG more than .002/weekly water change & you must be sure your tank is completely cycled before even considering messing with salt. Ammonia & nitrite should remain 0 & nitrate should be kept below 20. You mention in the beginning of your letter that you are using a substrate for live plants. Im afraid you will find very few plants that will survive the levels of salt required to keep these fish happy. More info on the green spotted puffer can be found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> I know the moving and fish store experiences were probably super traumatic for them (one started puffing up in the fish net after he'd been pulled from the tank!), so should I just give them time to adjust? <Absolutely, they need some time. Puffers should never be lifted out of the water in a net & if they puff with air, it can prove deadly for them if they cannot expel the air. The puffer should be corralled into a container & lifted out of the water, when transferring it to a bag or other tank.> Also, how long can I wait before I need to transfer them to a larger tank? <I have no idea what size tank they are in now. The bigger the tank, the better for your puffers. Although a 55g will suffice for 2 adult 6 football-shaped puffers, I recommend a minimum of 30g for each fish. They are intelligent creatures & need a lot of décor to keep them busy investigating, which takes up a fair amount of swimming room. They are also messy eaters & high waste producers & they need the water volume to dilute the waste. Mine would have been happy to be a singleton in a 55g tank.> I'm planning on getting them a 55 gallon one in a few months and letting them grow into it. I'm too much of a softie to put mollies in there with them when I know they'll eventually bite the mollies heads off. <Youve got that one right!> Thank you all so much. You've been wonderful to hold my hand through this experience. If you'd like specific water parameters on the tank, I tested the ammonia levels this morning (I'd been adding a bit of food every day to the empty tank to help promote bacteria growth) <OK, good to hear. Did you do a good-sized water change, before adding the puffers & Bio-Spira?> and it read at .25 ppm. Nitrite is reading at .25 ppm as well, <Badboth of those are toxic to fish & must remain 0 at all timestime to do water changes, until you fix that.> pH is 7.2, <Should remain steady around 8, for brackish fish. Best done with a substrate of crushed coral or aragonite. You can wait until the move to the larger tank, if you wish.> nitrate looks like it is reading somewhere between 5 and 10 ppm (though it's always confused me as to why the scale on my test strip goes from 0-160 ppm). <Ive heard of nitrite testing as high as 200. Forget the test strips, they are not very accurate & get yourself a liquid test kit like the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Freshwater Master Test Kit. As your salt level goes up, you will have to use the SW test for ammonia.> I'll be doing a 20% water change tomorrow morning when I do my water changes for my other tanks, which should help with the levels of chemicals. <Id bump it up to 50% weekly for puffers (I actually do a minimum of 50% weekly on all my tanks).> Any feedback you have is always welcome. The puffers are absolutely as adorable as I thought they'd be and even though I know theyll probably get more aggressive later, watching them swim around together is pretty darn cute. <I certainly cant argue with that! Good luck with your little friends. ~PP> Thanks again! Micah

Re: Green Spotted Puffer Questions 2/25/08 Thanks Pufferpunk, <Micah> I thought the species reference in the title of the e-mail would be informative enough but my puffers are GSPs. <Of courseI really must stop answering questions at 2am> They are (for now) living in a 10 gallon tank, which I've planted densely with java ferns and micro sword grass. <I do suggest upgrading them ASAP. IMO, 10g isnt even large enough for a single 2 GSP.> I did my research beforehand and read that these species of plants tend to tolerate brackish water well. <For a while but not at the high salinity GSPs require. I dont suggest investing in a lot of plant-keeping products for them in the future. Eventually, you will want to think in terms of a marine environment for them, like live rock & a protein skimmer.> I plan on moving the plants and puffers to a 75 gallon tank in a few months (2 at most) -- this small tank is only going to be their home for a short period of time and I'll up the weekly water changes from 20 to 50%. <You may need to do those 2x/week. Keep a very close eye on the parameters & do water changes accordingly, keeping the nitrate below 20.> They do have a Penguin Bio-wheel filter designed for 20 gallon tanks, since I know that over filtration is beneficial here as they are such messy guys. Perhaps I missed it but I'm not sure you answered my question about API's Aquarium Salt vs. Instant Ocean...which is the one I want to increase the specific gravity of my aquarium? My LFS said the former was fine but then again, they also sell painted fish (booooooo), so I'm skeptical as to their knowledge base. I'll take your advice and hold off on messing with the salinity until the bacteria has gotten settled in doing its job. <Good choice. I did miss that question (again blaming the time of night, errrmorning). You must use marine salt to make water brackish & measure it with a hydrometer or refractometer. (That info was in my GSP article, though.)> Also, an update: the puffers both seem to be doing well (I even think one is getting to be a more neon shade of green, though I may be hallucinating) and even the one I was worried about (who was absolutely not as enticed by the pellets as by the blood worms or the snails) seems to be doing all right, though he's for sure not as active as his buddy. He's more of a lurker, swimming in and out of caves I've set up for them. I read in your article that you feed your guys gut-loaded shrimp. I have sinking algae wafers around that I feed to the Otocinclus I have in my guppy tank and I'm very interested in how to go about raising ghost shrimp and at what age I should start feeding my puffers the ghost shrimp. Can you recommend a good site on that? Or are ghost shrimp something I buy weekly and feed before putting in the puffer tank? <I dont see why you couldnt feed your puffers ghost shrimp right now. As far as gut-loading themjust let them sit in a bowl for a few hours with some food & then offer them to your puffers. Here is an article on ghost shrimp, by Robert T Ricketts (my puffer mentor): http://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1201559 As in the feeding article I linked to you earlier, there are many foods you can use to very the dies of your puffers. ~PP>> Thanks so much! Micah

Green Spotted Puffers, what else?  2-16-08 Hi guys! <Hello! Merritt here today!> So, I know, I know, I'm only one of many who has quickly become obsessed with fish-keeping. <Nothing to be ashamed about, I have seven tanks!> I just started my third tank (well, I inherited an aquarium...what else could I do but want to add more fish to my life?). This tank is small -- only 10 gallons. My other two are 10 and 20 gallons respectively, with Hatchetfish, guppies, and Otocinclus in the small one, and Gouramis, balloon body mollies, and Danios in the larger one (all strictly adhering to the 1 inch per gallon rule). In both tanks, I have thriving live plants, and I'm thinking of moving perhaps he Anacharis or some other equally hardy plant to the new tank. I have 2 juvenile GSPs (they look to be 2 inches or less) on hold at the local pet store...I had sworn I wouldn't get any more fish, but they were so cute that I couldn't stop myself. <All puffers have those cute faces that just say take me home> I set up the new tank today, with SeaChem Fluorite acting as a substrate. My main question is, can I keep the 2 puffers in the 10 gallon tank for now, and once they grow another inch or so, transition them to a larger tank (30 gallons, minimum)? <Well, how long are the GSPs now?> Or is that absolutely dreadful to impose on them, and I should let someone else take home one of the puffers I have on hold? <That is always the best solution for fish you are unable to take care of> I know that they're messy, and I have a Penguin Bio-Wheel filter set up (the model designed for 20 gallon tanks...I happened to have it sitting around because I was going to switch out my current 20 gallon filter, but it seems to be working just fine) and the filter is running. <It is actually better to have over filtration on a tank with puffers, mainly due to the fact that they are such messy fish> I've put some of the gravel and plants from the established 20 gallon tank into the new tank to promote bacteria growth. <Good idea!> I've read that they are less aggressive when young, especially if I plant the tank heavily and provide hiding spaces for one or the other. Am I overly optimistic? <No, I have heard many success stories with multiple GSP in one tank> Further, I have more snails in my small tank than I could ever know what to do with, and I would oh so happily feed these tiny fast-breeders to the puffers once I bring them home, but I don't know how many snails to feed per day. Or whether it should be a once weekly treat? <You want the puffers to accept frozen or freeze dried food, but a nice supply of snails is always great for puffers. You just don't want that to be the only food they will accept. It should be a weekly treat, and feed each puffer enough where their stomach has a nice round shape to it. I feed my puffers about 2 snails each, mainly depending on the snail size and the puffer size> I also have algae wafers and tropical fish flakes and freeze-dried shrimp that I feed my other guys (I like to vary their diet so that they can get optimal nutrition), but I don't know if the puffers would be interested in non-living food. <You can eventually get your puffers to eat non-living food with patience and time> So I guess my two main questions are: is two too many juvenile green spotted puffers to keep in a 10 gallon tank while they're still so small, knowing that I'm going to be moving them into a larger tank as they grow older? And, even if I just bring home one, how much of what should s/he be fed every day? <If the juvenile puffers are small, say less than an inch it should be okay to keep both in a heavily planted tank, but if you do notice any aggression among the two puffers promptly remove one. You will need to eventually move the puffer(s) to a larger tank and as the puffer matures you will need to transition the tank to a brackish water tank. The feeding rule for puffers is to not let their constant begging and cuteness trick you into feeding them. Try to keep on a scheduled feeding routine of once daily. Always mix up the diet with different types of food; live, frozen and freeze dried. You should visit the http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm for further information about GSP> Thank you so much, and sorry for my long-windedness! <You are very welcome!> Micah <Merritt A.>

Re: Green Spotted Puffers, what else? Part II  2-18-08 Hi guys! Just a couple follow up questions after Merritt's awesome and helpful advice. <Thanks! Merritt again here!!> I used the SeaChem fluorite to cover the bottom of the tank instead of regular gravel, thinking it'd be better for the plants. <Your plants will thrive and you will eventually have a miniature jungle for your puffers> However, because of the dirt-like nature of the fluorite, every time there's any disturbance in the tank, the sediment gets moved around and the water gets, well, full of dirt. It all settles out within a few hours, but I'm worried this is potentially bad for the puffers (that aren't even in my tank yet...I just want to make sure everything is as perfect as it can be before I add them). I know in the wild, puffers probably have to deal with dirt getting stirred up and I'm probably just being paranoid, but I want to double check with you in case this is actually bad for their gills and/or eyes. <The SeaChem fluorite (what I use) to my knowledge doesn't harm fish. For my planted tanks to keep down on the floating dirt I put a small layer of rocks which prevent the dirt from entering the water column and dirtying up my tank> Next, I have a few stems I've taken from established tanks, and the filter has been running for 36 hours now with no problems. I also planted several java ferns and some micro sword grass in the tank yesterday. <Sounds like a green spotted puffer's dream home so far!> The local fish store is currently out of stock of Marineland's Bio-Spira, though they should get some in by the end of the week. Should I wait to add the puffers to the tank until after I've added the Bio-Spira? Or should I figure that the bacteria that came with the plants from the other tank is enough? I tested the water this morning, with no signs of ammonia spikes, but I added some food to the tank, just to encourage the little guys to breed a bit. <I am always for adding bacteria to newly established tanks, it definitely wouldn't hurt to add some bacteria with the Marineland's Bio-Spira> I worry about leaving the puffers at the fish store...I know that they'd be having more fun in my tank, but I don't want to put them in unless the tank will be ready. <You should ask your fish store if they would put the puffers on hold for you, one of my pet stores does that for frequent shoppers and if you pay for them first> Gah! What do I do? <Relax, you will get your puffers soon! Got anymore questions don't be afraid to ask or search the WWM archives> Best, Micah <Merritt A.>

Green Spotted Puffer - Questions  1/5/08 Hey there! I just bought a Green Spotted Puffer today and I had a couple questions. I bought my tank pretty recently, and set it up about a week before I bought the puffer. The tank had been previously used, and it was just emptied when I bought it, so the gravel and filter had already matured and had a healthy population of nitrifying bacteria. Just to be sure, I did pH and ammonia tests. The pH came out as 7.0 and the ammonia was a happy 0, so I decided to get some fish. <All sounds good so far, but do remember GSPs prefer water on the hard, alkaline side when they're being kept in freshwater conditions (as juveniles only). So raising the carbonate hardness by adding some calcareous material to the filter, such as crushed coral, is probably in order. Alternatively, you could use a 25%+ dose of Malawi Salt Mix (either home-made or commercial) to each water change. Aim for pH 7.5, KH 8 degrees upwards.> I'm not completely new to fishkeeping, since I have some vague childhood memories of my dad's 40 gallon community tank, and remember helping my dad set up a ten gallon when I was about 12 or so. I'm the type of person that spends about a week becoming a total aquarist addict, reading everything I could so I'm ready. So I set up my 29 gallon tank, with some gravel, plastic plants, a filter, and a heater. After that, I visited some fish stores to take a gander at prices and the livestock available. I fell in love with some F8 puffers at a not-so-convenient-to-reach-but-wondrous fish store, but decided to further peruse my options. <Very sensible. Window shopping a couple of times is a great idea. Keep the aquarium mature by just adding fish food each day. The bacteria don't care whether the ammonia comes via decaying food or through the guts of a fish. So a pinch of flake or a rotting bit of seafood works perfectly well!> I went to two other stores. One didn't carry any puffers at all, and the other had a tank full of juvenile F8s and GSPs together, labeled singularly as 'Green Puffers'. I avoided the tank at first, since it was obviously overcrowded, to the point where every single puffer's tail was somewhat ragged, probably from each other's bites. <Correct; fortunately, these heal quickly.> Other than their tail fins though, they seemed to be in perfect condition. A couple days later, I decided to get a single GSP instead of 2 F8's, so returned to the store with the F8/GSP tank. <Hmm... for a 29 gallon tank I'd probably have gone for three figure-8s rather than a single GSP, but maybe that's just because I like small fish! GSPs can, do make wonderful pets and can be very rewarding and easy to tame.> I bought a bunch of plastic plants, a chunk of driftwood, some additional gravel, and a cute little GSP. When I asked the store what they fed him, they told me frozen blood worms. <Indeed, most puffers love them. Do remember these puffers are omnivores in the wild, and apart from the oft-quote requirement for snails, they eat insects, crustaceans, plant material, algae, seeds, and all sorts of other things. There is some evidence wild fish eat the scales and fins of larger fish as well (a bit like what many piranhas do in the Amazon).> Since I already had some of those in my freezer at home (my sister had a fish tank), I decided to pick up frozen brine shrimp instead, for variety. <Yet to keep any fish that eats frozen brine shrimp! All mine spit the stuff out when offered it!> At this point, I knew that GSPs needed to eat hard-shelled foods. <Correct.> I thought that was fine, since my fish tank had a total infestation of snails. It was only later, after I bought the GSP (whom I named Socrates) that I realized that the snails were Malaysian Trumpet Snails, which isn't so good for them. <So I've heard, and I know that at least one writer here at WWM believes this to be a serious issue (Jeni). However, I will make the point that in the wild pufferfish bite through oysters and coral, and both of these are FAR harder than Melanoides spp. shells. So while there may be some theoretical risk, in real terms you're pretty unlikely to have a problem. My Colomesus and Carinotetraodon puffers live in a community tank with Melanoides and apart from the tiniest baby snails seem to make no attempt to eat them at all (I suspect they don't taste that good).> No wonder he only bit at them and knocked them off the tank walls, instead of eating them. <Precisely.> Anyways, by the time Socrates was inside my tank, I had dumped about 1/2 (1 teaspoon per gallon) of aquarium salt in. Again, it was only after he was in that I realized that I should have used marine salt, not aquarium salt. <Adding aquarium salt won't do any harm, but as you understand, it isn't a long-term alternative. By all means use aquarium salt alongside something to harden the water (crushed coral/Malawi salt mix) so you get the KH going up as well as the salinity. But once the box of aquarium salt is through, replace with real marine salt mix.> I didn't have a hydrometer nor the money to pick one up now, anyways. <Really not an issue. A basic, floating glass hydrometer adequate for the job will cost you about $5. Yes, lots of people like those plastic swing-arm hydrometers ($20) while others prefer those high-tech refractometers (around $50), but for brackish water fish, a floating glass hydrometer is fine. You can also download my freebie 'Brack Calc' tool to convert weight of salt into salinity/specific gravity. http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/aquaria/index.html Using Brack Calc, you can determine that 25% normal seawater salinity is approximately SG 1.005 at 25C/77F, equivalent to 8.9 g/l (or 1.2 oz/US gal). While I'd never recommend marine aquarists rely completely on weighing out salt because it absorbs moisture from the air over time, this approach is acceptable in the short term with euryhaline brackish water fish that really couldn't care less about the precise salinity.> Now that I've been watching him for a bit (he seems healthy, and the top of his head is bright yellow, which I heard means he's happy), I have a couple questions. <OK.> 1) What snails should I buy to feed him? I know they sell juvenile apple snails at the aquarium where I bought him, but they're a tad on the pricey side. Just under three bucks for a single one, if I recall correctly. If the snail is bigger than him, is that okay? And what snails are easy to breed? <The easiest approach is to breed whatever pond snails grow in your part of the world. Physa and Lymnaea spp. snails are popular. Set up a bucket or plastic half-barrel in the garden, add snails, throw in some greens, and let nature take its course. You'll also get lots of other live foods such as daphnia and mosquito larvae that your other fish will appreciate. Apple snails are too expensive as you've observed. You don't have to use snails though. Any hard, shelly food of suitable size is just as serviceable. Crab legs, mussels, clams, shell-on prawns, crayfish, etc. will all work well. If the seafood available is too small, take a hammer to it! A smashed mussel will still give your puffer a good workout as it separates the shell fragments from the meat.> 2) Will frozen blood worms and brine shrimp, supplemented by the occasional snail, prawn, or scallop be an alright diet? <ideally, go the other way, using shelly foods most of the time, and then provide softer foods 2-3 times a week. Include greens such as algae wafers and tinned peas. Puffers don't always eat them, but many do seem to enjoy them.> 3) If the top of his head is bright yellow, is that a good thing? <Well, it's normal, if that's what you mean.> 4) He isn't very active when I'm not around. When I enter the room, I usually find him lying on the gravel, but when I turn on the light and sit and watch him, he gets up and swims around. Is that normal? <Pretty much. Puffers vary in temperament, and not all of them spend their entire lives buzzing around the tank. Provided he is healthy and water quality is good, don't be too concerned. Adding floating (plastic) plants for shade always helps fish settle in.> 5) He likes to 'pace' up and down against the tank glass, though not necessarily in my direction. What does that mean? If it means he's bored, how do I help that? Rearranging the decor in my tank is not an option. I have a fair amount of plastic plants and a big chunk of bogwood. <Normal, don't worry about it. The bogwood will acidify the tank over time, so do monitor the pH, and if required, replace with something ceramic. For specimen tanks, it's often better to use a ceramic or terracotta urn as a hiding place. For a start these things are bigger and make better hidey-holes, but when covered with algae they give a nice "classical" feel to the scene.> 6) When I bought the tank, it came with some guppies. I've had a single male guppy and two female guppies (one of which I suspect to be pregnant) in there before him, and although I thought they'd be pieces of flesh when he was around (I didn't really care for them anyways, they were mainly to cycle the tank which ended up not needing it anyways), but he's completely ignored them. What should I do with them? I don't really care whether they stay or go. <Up to you. Guppies will tolerate salinities up to seawater. Some puffers ignore them, others eat them.> 7) Will another GSP fit in the 30 gallon? It's rather tempting, seeing as the tank looks so empty, but I won't go against good advice. <As juveniles, yes, you could have two in there just fine. But once above about half size (i.e., around 8 cm) they will become more demanding for space. Some GSPs (likely the males) become quite aggressive and will dominate a tank. So if you do go down this route, have a Plan B in terms of upgrading the tank or rehoming the surplus fish.> 8) Is there a general rule of how much marine salt to add per gallon? I'd really rather not get a hydrometer unless it's REALLY necessary. <A hydrometer is necessary in the long term, and for $5, there's really no excuse. Up to around half size, GSPs need a specific gravity around SG 1.005; once mature, aim for SG 1.010 upwards. Some people keep them in marine tanks when mature. Certainly isn't necessary, but does mean you can use things like living rock to improve water quality. Protein skimmers will also work well in marine tanks, as well as brackish tanks above SG 1.010.> 9) If I find him lying on the gravel with a somewhat darker skin tone, is that normal? Is he sleeping? <Yes. Puffers sleep on the bottom of the tank and will chance colour at night. If they stay dark during the day, that sometimes means they're stressed or sick.> 10) It's basically impossible to clear the infestation of Malaysian Trumpet Snails. I'm not too worried about him cracking his beak (it seems like a rare occurrence, like a dog choking on a bone), but are they dangerous in any way? <Not something I'd lose sleep over.> 11) I want to feed him gut-loaded Ghost Shrimp, but my LFSs only carry Amano Algae-Eating Shrimp. They're rather expensive to buy as puffer fodder, so is there any way to breed them? <Nope, these shrimps breed in brackish/salt water, and the larvae are very difficult to rear at home. Cherry shrimps on the other hand breed like rabbits. Still, there's no real point to breeding shrimp, as you can get frozen krill (from aquarium stores) and frozen prawns (from food stores) that will be at least as good and far, far cheaper.> Thanks for all the advice, guys! :D <Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer <ID, sexing, gen.>, clown, snails... 30 gal... 5k US $?!!!..... 11/18/2007 I've written in the past regarding GSP's sexing and breeding. I was the one who mentioned the girl at the local pet store who said she'd visually sexed and then bred GSP's. Jeni told me that she was sure she (girl at store) was mistaken and she must be talking about dwarf puffers. I went back to the store for clarity, and she assured me that it was not dwarves, but GSP's. Anyway, it's neither here nor there to my current situation (just wanted to post an update). <I do absolutely agree with Jeni here. You (or the LFS person) described a dark line at belly of the males. Such lines are a keel, which some puffer species (genus Carinotetraodon) have. It can be erected e.g. during courtship. GSP do not have this keel (many have been dissected). Therefore, if this person bred puffers that had black belly lines, they were of the genus Carinotetraodon and no GSP. Does not mean they were Dwarf Puffers, other Carinotetraodon spp. have been bred, too. I do not say it is impossible to breed GSP, but some details of this specific story (black line, size of the fish) make it sound unlikely GSP were bred here.> I know this will be quite lengthy, but I'm hoping to convey to you my interest and efforts and the out-n-out headaches I've experienced. I also hope that others MAY learn from my mistakes. All of this was a HUGE learning experience for me. I'm growing and learning and really TRYING to do the right things. <Sounds good so far.> Okay, about a year ago, I bought the cutest little fish I'd ever seen. This was before researching (have I learned a LOT in the last year). My GSP was put in a freshwater community tank. I eventually moved him out and put him into a 30 gallon tank of his own and stared raising the SG with Instant Ocean. I used SeaFlor shell substrate (looks like a bunch of small coral chunks and hermit shells), lots of plastic plants and reef "bone" to build tunnels. Once the SG hit 1.018, I went to a pet store and struck up a conversation with an employee there. Even though I was researching like mad, I didn't feel prepared or knowledgeable enough to make the conversion to full marine on my own. I knew basically nothing and I trusted this guy. I paid him to come to my house, remove the substrate and replace it with live sand (Fiji pink), he also brought lots of live rock and some Tonga branch. He constructed a beautifully scaped setup that is quite unique. I was convinced to upgrade EVERYTHING mechanical for my tank (basic Eclipse setup that was eventually "gutted" in order to incorporate a Fluval 405 and a Red Sea skimmer while maintaining the look of the Eclipse hood). So, now I had this "condo on the beach" for Pete (the puffer) and Pete had his own personal trainer, lol (the tank man). All went well with the conversion, so I hired this guy to come weekly for water changes. He continually brought things for my tank that I didn't ask for, never expressed a desire for, but was ASSURED they would be great compatible additions for my tank. I kept researching but felt very pressured to buy the things he brought. <Here is were the problems began. If you do not want something he is bringing along, you have to say so clearly. When someone is trying to sell you something and you feel pressured leave him alone or send him away.> Eventually, the 30 gallon held Pete, a mated pair of true Percula's (charged $100.00 for), <Tank is too small for them and the GSP, not only because of water quality, but territoriality. Prices are pretty high, even if I convert $ into some hard currency.> 3 Firefish (charged $75.00 for), <Tank is too small for them, the clowns and the GSP.> 2 blood shrimp (charged $75.00 for), 2 anemones that died immediately (of course, I was charged for these, too), 2 Hawaiian Feather Dusters ($30), 2 Florida Fighting Conchs (don't remember the price), a Flame Scallop ($?), Ricordea mushrooms ($50.00), yellow polyps ($45) and that's all I can remember at the moment. <Again: high prices for this small world.> With each new addition, I researched and travelled to neighbouring cities to provide the specialized food needed (DT's Phytoplankton for scallop and feather dusters). My freezer is full of frozen fish food as well as human food I've bought for the fish. I eventually tore down the tank and removed all of the fish except for 1 Firefish I couldn't catch and Pete and the two clowns and a Scooter Blenny I purchased myself (which I add purchased Tigger-Pods and other copepods on a regular basis). My tank is teeming with Mysis shrimp, amphipods, and the Coralline has taken off (I upgraded lights and started added calcium supplements while watching my pH). My tank currently houses the Blenny, a Firefish, the two Fire shrimp (which reproduce, AMAZING to see the little critters swimming around), <Good to hear of this success.> 2 conchs, 2 Nassarius snails, 2 Mexican turbo snails, 1 Margarita snail, various mushrooms, a torch coral that the clowns have started hosting, 2 sea stars (1 brittle, 1 serpent), the polyps and some star polyps. I also have a nasty hitchhiker crab I haven't been able to catch along with some very large bristleworms. Pete, though, ended up being unhappy. <This is not a reef species. They can be kept at marine conditions, some zoological gardens and many hobbyists do that, but GSP most commonly occur in coastal mangrove areas, estuaries and frequently enter rivers. Although some of these environments may have full strength seawater salinity, none of their natural habitats is comparable to a reef tank. The main reason to keep a GSP at marine salinity is that due to skimmers and live rock it is easier to keep the water quality permanently high.> GO FIGURE. He was pacing all the time, and losing weight though eating regularly (he's fed snails occasionally, squid, Selcon and phytoplankton loaded live brine, Mysis shrimp, dried plankton (reconstituted with Selcon, Zoe marine, Marine C, and Garlic Extreme). <The diet sounds good, maybe feed more bivalves and snails as the main staple.> In conjunction with his weight loss and pacing, I noticed a large chunk taken out of the female clown's pectoral fin (I suspect that her aggression increased once she and the male started hosting the torch. I think she "attacked" Pete one too many times and he bit back). <Some GSP are quite aggressive, a few do not accept tankmates at all.> I haven't lost any of the snails or shrimps to the puffer (except for the baby Blood's that he, and the rest of my fish, ate). I knew this impossible situation wouldn't work and I was disheartened because of all of the energy, effort, and money spent over the last year (I'm approaching about $5,000 at the moment on a 30 GALLON TANK). <Yikes does this tank maintaining person have a wooden leg, an eye patch and a hook instead of a hand? You wanted a tank for a GSP and not a high end reef tank, did you?.> The original tank was started for PETE, and I felt like my ignorance (even though researching voraciously in all of my spare moments....there's a whole WORLD of information about marine tanks. While I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent (if not too gullible) I simply couldn't absorb all the information I needed to know while I allowed the inertia of the tank to snowball out of control). <Start with some books, e.g. Bobs book, and sites like WWM instead of paying 1000s of dollars for questionable advice. Not all LFS employees and owners are pirates, but without researching much by yourself, you will have a hard time to evaluate whose advice is good and who will make you pay for thing you do not want or need. Reading is the easiest way to achieve enough knowledge to make your own experiences and reasonable decisions. Without reading you are likely to fail or become a treasure chest. Advanced fellow hobbyists re usually a more reliable source of information, local clubs are good places to get into contact with them.> My willingness to trust someone whom I believed sensed my desperation to "act" for my fish and willingness to open my pocketbook for my hobby saw an easy way to make money. I'm truly not trying to come off like a victim...I let Pete's Personal trainer after he came to my house and installed an EcoAqualizer ( I told him 3 times not to do it) and charged me $250 for this contraption and for and cleaning the 30 gallon tank. He never left my house for less than $90 and that was for simply cleaning the 30 gallon. <Hope you can return the hardware you do not want and get your money back. Possibly talk to the boss of this person.> Alas, one of my friends gave me a 28 gallon tank. I added the water from a LFS's main display tank, added Fiji pink sand, a bubble wand (Pete loves these), plastic plants and a huge chunk of live rock. I added the LFS's tank water because we have to go out of town and I wouldn't be here if any cycling went on while we were gone. I have a Whisper filter running on it along with a submersible Fluval filter. No ammonia, no nitrites, and nitrates below 20. I look to upgrade the filtration and lighting within the next two months (Christmas is coming). <OK. A skimmer would be a good addition, it could remove nitrogenous waste before it is turned into nitrates by the filters. Since you have a FOWLR (fish only with live rock) tank you do not need the Whisper and the Fluval for anything, but some current. Ideally the live rock should do all the biological filtration. In case you remove them or replace them by a small powerhead, do not remove both at the same time to avoid a minicycle.> Several months ago I started a 3 gallon Eclipse tank for breeding snails. There are a few large Ramshorn snails in the tank that lay eggs regularly, but I'm not seeing many babies grow. The eggs hatch, I see a large amount of dots (baby snails) and then I don't see them any more. I have a chunk of cuttlefish bone to harden the water, I use no heater, the filtration is the simple Eclipse filtration and there is a huge wad of java moss. I feed regularly with algae tablets (that don't contain any kind of copper), bloodworms, and Betta pellets. I don't change the water that often. I read somewhere that most success comes from using water change water from another tank. There is no substrate. On to my questions: 1) Today I accidentally fed Pete a Malaysian Trumpet Snail (it was mixed in with my Ramshorn snails). He ate the whole snail, shell and all. Will this hurt him? It was small enough that he could swallow the whole thing. <Some puffer keepers report that the shells of these snails are hard enough to break the teeth of a puffer. As long as this did not happen he will likely be fine.> 2) Should I add a sponge over the intake on the 3 gallon Eclipse snail breeder tank? Do you think that is where the baby snails are disappearing to (getting sucked up the intake and ending up on the filter pad)? <Possible, have a look a that pad to confirm. You could try adding a sponge.> Should I add a small heater (I just bought one). <A heater can accelerate the snail breeding, but be careful not to over heat this small volume of water.> 3) Is it okay to use fresh RO/DI water for the snail tank? <No. It has no hardness the snails need to build up their shells, the cuttlefish bone alone will not be sufficient.> Should I use treated tap water? <Yes, thats better.> I've read the few articles online about rearing snails, but I'm at an impasse. <Have a look at www.thepufferforum.com. Youll find more information there.> 3) With diligent water changes and eyes on water parameters, will Lulu's fin heal (the female Clown whose pectoral fin was bitten)? I think Pete bit her into the "meat" of the fin, although I don't see any sores or anything alarming (besides the chunk missing). <Will likely heal. If the bases of some fin rays have been removed, they will not grow back again but Lulu will probably get well, again. Anyway, watch the wound for possible infections.> I know this was long and I thank you if you've read thus far. <No problem. Only the part about your puffer trainer was horrible and hopefully will warn some people not always to believe everything they are told.> This past year has been an increasingly stressful experience for me (and my livestock, no less). I was trying to do the right things, which, many of them, ended up being the most wrong things to do. <I hope you are on the right track now and still able to enjoy this mostly wonderful hobby. Read on, learn and the mistakes of the past will not be in vain.> Thank you for any and all help, Corinthian. <I hope I helped. Cheers and good luck. Marco.>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer, clown, snails..... 11/20/2007 Marco~ Thanks for your response! <Welcome.> I really liked the way you explained the genus differences between the puffers. I really tried to "pin down" more information from the girl at the LFS, but she seemed to be wishy-washy using a lot of "I don't remember" to my questions. The size of the fish, as SHE described them, matched the size of GSP's. I thought I was going to stumble on some kind of new "break-thru" information regarding GSP sexing and breeding. Silly me. Lol <<I dont think this was silly. There are several people claiming GSP were bred, but so far hard evidence is missing.>> <Here is were the problems began. If you do not want something he is bringing along, you have to say so clearly. When someone is trying to sell you something and you feel pressured leave him alone or send him away.> I hear ya, Marco. The way he handled things was very slick and I'm not nearly as naive as I used to be. As I've said, I really learned a lot. <<Thats great to hear. The more knowledge, the less trouble, the more fun.>> <This is not a reef species. They can be kept at marine conditions, some zoological gardens and many hobbyists do that, but GSP most commonly occur in coastal mangrove areas, estuaries and frequently enter rivers. Although some of these environments may have full strength seawater salinity, none of their natural habitats is comparable to a reef tank. The main reason to keep a GSP at marine salinity is that due to skimmers and live rock it is easier to keep the water quality permanently high.> No wonder he was so unhappy. His current tank is only 28 gallons, but is what I could pull together on the spur of the moment. I know he'll be much happier in it. <<I wish him (and you) a long and happy life.>> <The diet sounds good, maybe feed more bivalves and snails as the main staple.> He won't touch clams or oysters...even when soaked in Selcon & Garlic Extreme. <<Did you open them? Smaller puffers are often unable to crush too large bivalves. It is true their teeth need abrasion, but bivalves are also good food, because of their nutritional value. So, it is ok to open them for the puffer. The GSPs I know eat almost everything (plants, flakes, wood, fingernails), your specimen seems to be more picky.>> There were some small bivalves that hitchhiked in with the live rock. He never touched them. Maybe in his new tank, where he is the only fish in it, he will become more "territorial" and more willing to "investigate" resulting in him eating more clams and oysters. Hhhhmmm....maybe he was "over stimulated" or on "overload" in the other tank and that's why he didn't bother anything in it. <<Possibly stressed by all the unknown life and Cnidarians in there.>> My snails just aren't living to sizes large enough to feed him right now, but I do supplement them with fish store nuisances when I can. <Yikes does this tank maintaining person have a wooden leg, an eye patch and a hook instead of a hand? You wanted a tank for a GSP and not a high end reef tank, did you?> Yes, the tank was for the GSP. I said I wanted something very simple. But, then I "needed" this or "needed" that and with the additions that showed up....they were so pretty, and I'm sure you know how things like that often go. I would have never bought those things myself (file clam, tube anemone that I had to get rid of, etc. etc.), but when they were brought to my house and I was assured by someone "in the know" that they would be great in my tank....well, now I have a tank for THOSE things and a new one for the GSP. Boy was I stupid. My future plans are to have a 90-120 gallon tank. I really want a Dog Face Puffer. <<Great fish, too.>> <Start with some books, e.g. Bobs book, and sites like WWM instead of paying 1000s of dollars for questionable advice. Not all LFS employees and owners are pirates, but without researching much by yourself, you will have a hard time to evaluate whose advice is good and who will make you pay for thing you do not want or need. Reading is the easiest way to achieve enough knowledge to make your own experiences and reasonable decisions. Without reading you are likely to fail or become a treasure chest. Advanced fellow hobbyists re usually a more reliable source of information, local clubs are good places to get into contact with them.> I have TCMA by Mr. Fenner as well as Bornemann's book. I just bought Wilkerson's book on clownfish (now I'm in love with my clowns). I read all of these voraciously when I'm NOT reading WetWebMedia. <<Sounds like you are well prepared now.>> This has been my "home" since I found this site when searching for GSP information. AND, I was reading this site, but as I said in my previous post, I couldn't read enough fast enough and I was letting things get out of control. By the time I was learning what I needed to know about Zoanthids and Ricordea, I was having to learn about tube anemones....see what I'm saying? I don't know why it was so difficult for me to just put my foot down, but it was. A mistake I won't make again. <<We live to learn.>> I live in the FL panhandle and I can't find any local clubs (even when searching on the net). <<You could ask at http://www.swfmas.com/ if they are aware of clubs in NW Florida. Also check MASNA: Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (If you want to start a club it may be worth talking to them anyway). Id be surprised if there was no club in the entire area, especially in cities like Pensacola, Tallahassee.>> I have a girlfriend who just got into the hobby not too long ago. We've talked about starting some sort of society, but I don't even know where to begin....but I'd LOVE to do it! Just in the last 2 months, my friend's 120 gallon tank broke on the bottom and flooded her house. She was able to salvage her live rock and a couple of fish and a bit of sand (her tank had just finished cycling). Another friend treated his 90 gallon reef tank with antibiotics and it killed EVERYTHING in his tank. He was devastated. Had I known he was GOING to do that, I would have done what I could to stop him. So, we NEED some type of society here where we can all get together and share information and frags and create friendships with others who love this hobby. If you can lead me in the right direction, I'll be glad to follow up with it. <<One way to get in touch with new fellow hobbyists to meet, share information and swap items and animals, possibly on a regular basis, are the different LFSs. Depends on how outgoing you are and if you like talking to strangers. Second way to find people is to look for local ads in newspapers and the net, especially people already selling or swapping frags. When you have found a small group of friendly reefers/fish keepers you could try to find a place and date to meet, have a drink and share aquarium stories. Thats how it usually starts. Sometimes it stays at this informal level, sometimes a club is formed. Also consider thepufferforum.com as you are interested in puffers. It is a great place for experience exchange, too.>> I've duly noted your advice regarding my specific questions. <<Hope it helped.>> Marco, I think I'm on the right track now. This website provides a plethora of information. I just read and absorb everything I can and I just LOVE this place. Thank you and to all who offer such immeasurable information and support. Corinthian <<You are welcome and I wish you good luck with your future endeavours. Marco.>>

My Two Green Spotted Puffers... sys., fdg.... gen.  7/14/07 Hi, I have a few questions I hope you can answer me about my two GSP's. <Hello. Will certainly try!> I bought them yesterday and they are living in a 2.5 gallon tank. Is this to small for them? <Yes. Far too small. Even a tank 10 times that size would be too small for two GSPs. These are mutually antagonistic fish that will reach around 12-15 cm in length. A single specimen works well enough in a 30 gallon tank, but when you add a second specimen, life becomes a bit less predictable because some (perhaps males?) are rather aggressive. A 55 gallon tank is often recommended as a good size for two GSPs, and I don't see any reason to argue with that.> The lady at the store said that the tank should be a gallon a fish so that is why I bought a 2.5 gallon tank, but I am not sure if she is right. <No, she's wronger than a wrong thing on the wrongest day of the year. Use some logic. Why would a "gallon per fish" even be possible? A Great White Shark is "a" fish, and yet it obviously wouldn't even fit in one gallon of anything.> I was also wondering if one day one of the fish will eventually eat the other, since I would not want this to happen because I already love them dearly. <GSPs do not eat fish. They eat shelled invertebrates in the wild and should receive same in captivity. Shrimps, snails, clams, etc. are all good.> Is it also possible that one fish is more intelligent than the other and eat all the food? <Doesn't seem likely that intelligence would be the issue. But a *dominant* fish can certainly bully another fish and steal all the food. This is quite common among animals generally (ever seen dogs "share" food?).> About how many bloodworms should they eat a day? <Ideally, none. They need *shelled* food or their teeth become overgrown. Visit your local supermarket and check out the seafood counter to see what's there. Unshelled prawns are often good for the smaller specimens. Otherwise, pond snails are excellent and you can also buy frozen mini clams and krill from the tropical fish store. Really anything crunchy will do.> They look constantly hungry and looking for food and they eat when I feed them, but I don't want to give them more than they're supposed to eat. <They are hungry because pufferfish have evolved to fill themselves with low quality food. Most of what they eat in the wild is indigestible, so they eat a lot of it, passing out all the "ash" as its called (broken shells, mainly). If you give them just soft food, there's no bulk so they don't feel full. Just like humans when they eat candy bars and cakes. We don't feel full after eating them even if we've had plenty. But if its something we're meant to eat, like salad and grains, we feel more full because of the bulk.> Also one has blue eyes and the other has green. Does this differentiate them of being a male or female? <Nope.> Or how do I know if they are a male or female? <Only another GSP can tell...> Is there anything very important I should know? <Are you keeping them in brackish water yet? They do not do well in freshwater. And brackish water isn't "add a teaspoon of salt per gallon" or anything like that. You need marine salt mix and a hydrometer to measure a specific gravity around 1.010. Be sure and read this -- http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > Thank You for your time and consideration. <No problems. Enjoy your new pets. Cheers, Neale>

Thank you to WetWebMedia... regarding the little GSP's   7/10/06 I just want to say thanks so much for all that you have put on the internet regarding the little GSP's...if it wasn't for you, I'm sure many people would have lost their little guys - I feel fortunate to have only lost one through our ich spell and just wanted to say thanks!  Keep up the good work!    <Thank you!>   The information you provide is also so helpful as to what to feed them, water conditions, etc.  Truly, thanks!      Warm regards,      Kathy Raife <Will share your enthusiastic, positive statement with JeniT/aka Pufferpunk, the originator of most of our GSP/brackish materials. Bob Fenner>

Pufferfish for Dummies  5/14/06 Dear Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I am interested in purchasing a puffer fish. I know nothing about fish and I am actually kind of scared of fish but I saw a little yellow puffer fish I fell in love with at the store (Wal-Mart). <Certainly can't blame you for that!> The woman in the department knew NOTHING about the fish and have not been able to find anyone at any other pet stores who can tell me all I need to know. <Not surprised there either.  Puffers are the most misinformed fishes in the hobby.> The puffer fish I am interested in was about the size of a quarter, white belly, yellow in color with little black spots. <Green spotted puffer, Tetraodon nigroviridis.> Should I get more than one puffer so they will not get bored and lonely? <Not necessarily; puffers don't get lonely.  See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i6/lonely_puffer/lonely_puffer.htm You could keep several of these puffer together if you raise them up as juveniles.  Keep in mind they require at least 30 gallons each as adults.> What kind of food do they eat (I read brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, hard things to keep their teeth warn down, etc). <Feeding your Puffer Friend: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html > Do you suppose this was a dwarf puffer fish? Or another species? <I'm sure it's the GSP.  Wal-Mart's been selling tons of these lately.> How big of tank should I have? How often do I need to clean it or can I get a tank cleaning fish? <Everything you need to know about the care of a GSP: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > Also, would Wal-Mart be an okay place to buy a little fishy or should I try to find one at an actual pet store? <Personally, I have boycotted Wal-Mart for the care of their fish for over 10 years.> I need all the information to keep a happy, healthy puffer fish!!  Please share all your knowledge! THANK YOU!! <Then you should go over to www.thepufferforum.com & read, read, read!  PP> -Rosie

Green Spotted Puffer Problem  3/5/06 <Hi Debbie, Pufferpunk here> I have a 30 gallon with ocean sand bottom.  Using an emperor 400 with 2 bio wheels. Varied food for health diet: blood worms, krill, and live black worms. <Here is an excerpt from my article on GSPs about feeding: One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet. All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish. Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild. Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye). Snails are an essential food to a puffers diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails. As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat. Larger GSPs will eat cut-up pieces of scallops, shrimp, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish. Mine love to chase live crayfish, fiddler crabs and gut-loaded ghost shrimp. I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies. I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed. Smaller puffers (under 2") need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week. Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded. Medium sized puffers (2-4") should be fed every other day. Larger puffers (4-6) should be fed every 3-4 days. You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food! Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness.> Water salinity is between 1.018 and 1.014. Water conditions are good according to LFS.   <I really need to know more than just "good".  Please post ammonia, nitrite, nitrate & pH results, for a better diagnosis.> Recently got 3 young green spotted puffs and kept in hospital tank for about 2 weeks to increase from fresh to brackish. I added these to the 30 gallon tank about 3 weeks ago and they seem happy and healthy. I also have one adult green spotted puffer about 2 inches long for about 1 year.   <Are you saying you now have 4 GSPs in a 30g tank?  That's 3 too many!> He was doing great until several days ago. <Not surprised.  Please read the whole article on GSPs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> He still has good color, glowing head, eating well but is suddenly acting strangely.  He seems to be "thrashing" occasionally and on purpose at the filter intake and staying in one area at top front of tank where the water jets flow. So, not so normal. Several times a day I have noticed the grey stress line from head to tail but it soon fades. He is not being bothered by the others and actually seems to like them... and again, they seem fine. He has no visible skin problems or visible parasites. He is not having trouble with  motor skills. But something is very wrong. Please help him if You can.  The pet store has no clue, they said add Melafix which did not help and helped to cloud the tank a bit... I guess killing off some bacteria? Anyway I added more today to see if that helps. Any info you can give me....Please. <Melafix can help with stress.  I think the cloudy water is from adding such a huge bioload of 3 more puffers into a tank that should only be housing 1.  As you will see in the GSP article, an adult GSP will need 30g each.  Either return the other 3 or get a much bigger tank for the 4 of them--eventually they will be needing at least a 120g tank.> I get VERY emotional when I lose  somebody...as I tried to explain to my husband... they depend on me, it's my responsibility and I love them... <I'm with you on that!  Try going to www.thepufferforum.com, for more puffer info.  ~PP> Thank you, Debbie   

Puff Daddy in a Crowded Tank  - 03/05/06 Thanks so much for answering. I have been so worried about him!   First, to answer your question on water conditions--I am really not sure if they told me and I have forgotten exact numbers or if they only said "good". I was really upset at the time.  I will be sure to ask and remember from now on. <Sounds like you need your own test kit.  You can get a nice Master Test Kit at www.bigalsonline.com, for a reasonable price.  Lots of other aquarium goodies too!> Second, I have read so much conflicting advice on these fish that it's overwhelming. I have come to realize, after reading all of your info, that I must not have an adult after all.  Puff Daddy is only around 2 inches. <Possibly stunted.> Guess maybe he needs a new name? ;) And I did forget to mention they do get little snails for their teeth free from the LFS. <That's good.> He was a birthday gift by the way, everything included. <Pets do not make good gifts.> Is the salinity alright for them at 1.012 to 1.014?  I just did a partial water change and that is what it is registering at now. And how do you know when to increase it to full salt or leave as is? I have not found anything on that. <All that info is in the GSP article I linked you to.> Truthfully, I have always been a cats (4 handsome boys and 1 beautiful girl) and dogs (2 really, really old Labs) person and I am very, very good at it. <I've been a cat & dog groomer for over 21 years.> But these little guys just really freak me out if things look wrong. That thrashing is strange behavior. Maybe I just never noticed before because I worked all the time, now I'm home all day every day. <Water changes are the 1st thing to do if you notice your fish are "off" at all.> I have a really hard time thinking that I may be responsible for them being uncomfortable or worse. <Yes, you probably shouldn't have gotten more puffers, until you had a larger tank.> But not to worry, they will be getting a new larger tank within a few days. Thanks so much for listening, Debbie <Be sure to add SW Bio-Spira to instantly cycle your new tank.  I'd go with the final size they'll need as adults (at least 120g).  It might look somewhat empty at 1st but they'll grow quickly.  In the meantime, I'd be doing daily water changes or test daily & do water changes accordingly.  ~PP>

Green Spotted Puffer - 2/20/2006 I'm not positive which species of puffer fish I have.  He is about 1 inch, has a white belly, and a green back with black spots. <<Sounds like Tetraodon nigroviridis, Green Spotted Puffer.  Lives in brackish water; full salt water at maturity, grows to 6" and will need at least 30 gallons of water.>> When I first got him he seemed to eat alright, but about a week ago he stopped eating.  At first, he looked like he was still interested in eating, but he either tried and couldn't, or changed his mind completely and swam away.  The thing that worries me most is that he just sits on the bottom of the tank all day, looking sad and depressed.  His tail is always curved and he looks very stressed and sick.  He has been losing color, too.  I have sent e-mails to various sites asking for help, but no one will reply.  I'm getting desperate, I have no idea what to do.  Please help! <<Doesn't sound good.  What are you water readings for ammonia, nitrIte and nitrAte?  You should go to www.thepufferforum.com, and learn all you can there about your puffer.  Please read this to get started: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html.  Talk to you soon.  Lisa.>> Doran Schmdt

What Size Puffer Tank?  1/10/06 Hello! <Hi, Pufferpunk here>    The most experience I have ever had with fish extends to a goldfish in a still 1 gallon bowl, the water of which I'd change out maybe every week or so (though Bittersweet did live 4 long and happy years).  Having seen the error of my ways, I've gotten a  new goldfish in a nice little tank complete with air filter and cute light. resulting in one happy fishy.   <Glad to hear that for the fish's sake.  Goldfish are not "Bowlfish" They are high waste/ammonia producers, can grow to 12" & live over 20 years!  Large tanks & huge water changes (up to 90% weekly) are necessary for longevity in this fish.> My roommate however has grown up with aquariums and has opened my eyes to the joys of slightly more exotic fish.  A few days ago we got three small puffer fish - 2 Green Spotted and 1 Figure 8 that live in a 10 gallon BW tank.  Unfortunately, one of the spotted puffers was sickly when we got it, and it died this morning.  We had gone back to the pet store the day after we got the fish to tell them about the sick one, and they said we can either exchange it or get a refund, which brings me to my questions for you.  Both puffers are still fairly small, less than 2" each, but I've heard that they grow really fast and each can get around 6".  They get along with each other right now, I haven't seen any fin-nipping or anything like that because so far we have kept them all fairly well fed, but will they stay that way, or will we eventually need to get separate tanks?  We're going to upgrade to a 20g tank when the fish get a little bigger and we have more room in our dorm, but would a 10g tank be alright for 3 puffers, or should we just stick with two in the smaller tank?  Also, how can you tell the gender of the fish, which are the more aggressive, male or female?   <A 10g tank is fine for the F8 for life.  I suggest returning the GSP.  It will eventually need at least a 30+g tank & marine conditions as an adult.  Eventually it will outgrow the F8 by 3x & be much more aggressive.   Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm I really don't think they are good fish for dorm rooms.  The F8  would be perfect, if you can afford the salt.  You will need to keep the SG (specific gravity) at around 1.005 & do 50% weekly water changes.  You must use marine salt.  Here's a good article on them:   http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/f8puffer.html  Good luck with this wonderful little fish, they are a joy to keep.  ~PP> Thank you very much for your help, Serena

Bitten puffer 12/11/05 Hail to the WWM Crew! <Wow!> this is my first time writing in as this is my first problem! <Good to hear!> My Green Spotted puffer has been fine ever since I got him, he feeds like a wolverine and is always happy flying round the tank. I have noticed that he has 1 single white spot on his side below his left pectoral fin. the spot is about 2-3 mm in diameter and perfectly round. I have no idea what it is, when he gets excited and his belly changes to white, you cannot see the spot anymore. This made me think it may be scar tissue that has lost the ability to change colour. <This sounds likely... but, in my experience, if you substrate is light coloured, and the puffer is healthy/happy (in brackish water), his/her belly should be white most of the time. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule.> Anyway, like I say, he has not change behaviour and he is still feeding can you help me to put my mind at rest? <Perfectly round marks could be bites from another puffer... do make sure the tank is large enough and there are plenty of refuges / broken lines of sight. I would still watch the fish closely just in case. I also recommend checking out www.thepufferforum.com .> Thank you TOM <You're welcome.... John>

My Poor Puffer <Pufferpunk unfortunately is out on holiday>  11/14/05 << Unfortunately for whom?  I bet she doesn't think so!>>Hello WWC, First off, I just wanted to say that your site is a life saver, literally.  You have saved my fishes lives many times. <Ahh, you have saved them... perhaps with our assistance> Well, I am having a problem with my Green Spotted Puffer. My GSP is about 1.5" long. It is in a 10 gal. tank with no other fish. He was fine the first few days, but is now acting weird. I have learned that they are BW fish and need salt, <Oh, yes> obviously, so I added it and all the other requirements are up-to-date as well. My GSP is very thin, and will not eat anything. His stomach is white with a grayish tint to the back part of his stomach, closest to his tail. He also has to constantly open his mouth, as if he were fighting for the air. His reflexes are very slow, and he stays on the bottom, all the time. His colors are faded too, <Not good> but he has a very bright neon patch, of green, on his head. I don't know what is wrong with him and I really need some help! Do you know if he is sick, or is this normal behavior? I do need you help and I will be waiting for your answer. Sincerely, Jamie D. <Mmm, a few things... one, it is important that the system be stable... salinity and nitrogenous waste wise especially... Next, nutrition... At any length these issues are sufficiently covered on WWM. Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm and on to the linked files above. Bob Fenner> 

Green Spotted Puffers from Wal-Mart  8/8/05 (and brackish set-up f') Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here to answer all your puffer questions.> Ive looked over you website, and will have to admit that Im completely illiterate to most of the terminology used here.  I am a total novice fish owner. Here is my story, and my problem. About 2 weeks ago I purchased (from Wal-Mart) two yellowish green, black polka dotted, white bellied fish about 1 inch in length that the department store had labeled puffer fish.   <That is the green spotted puffer (Tetraodon nigroviridis).> I also purchased a brand new 5 gallon tank, with filter and blood worms.   <As juvenile fish, a 10g tank may suffice for a short while, but after they have reached over 2", they will quickly grow to their adult 6" size & require 30g each.> I followed all directions given me by the tank, de-chlorinating the water, allowing it to filter over night, before adding the fish.  At this point there was no decorations in the tank.   <This is a very common newbie move.  You must cycle a tank before purchasing fish, especially puffers.  They are very sensitive to the toxins they produce.   In short: 1) Fish produce waste products.   2) Waste forms toxic ammonia. 3) Toxic ammonia burns fish's gills, eyes, fins, skin, etc. 4) Ammonia devouring bacteria that occur naturally all around us colonize in the tank and begin feeding on the ammonia, and multiplying. 5) Ammonia eating bacteria also has to relieve themselves, and its waste is what we call nitrItes.  Nitrites are toxic to fish as well (it decreases oxygen levels in the fish's blood, causing the fish to suffocate). 6) Other naturally occurring bacteria arrive and devour the nitrItes and multiply. 7) NitrIte eating bacteria also has to relieve themselves, and its waste is what we call nitrAtes. 8) Sometimes, live plants can be used remove parts of this final product of the nitrogen cycle. Not enough to keep nitrAte levels at an acceptable level, so we perform weekly water changes to get rid of the rest of the nitrAtes. This entire process can take up to 8 weeks. In the meantime, get a 20g tank & cycle it with Bio-Spira for an instant cycle.> I let the fish swim around for about 2 days before purchasing some aquarium gravel (light tannish in color) and a spongy looking rock (also light tan) with a hole through it that  local aquarium store had recommended.  I removed my fish, vacuumed out the tank, completely replenished it with fresh water (de-chlorinated), added the gravel and rock, allowed it to filter for about 12 hours, then added the fish.  Ive been feeding my fish blood worms as was recommended by the aquarium store as well. Since then, one of my little buddies has gotten ill.  He has a dark grey discoloration that looks like a bread mold growing from his flanks down over his little belly, and now over his back.  His tank mate is starting to show some of the same symptoms now.  They both have a loss of appetite now, and are very lethargic.  Im a complete beginner in this so I beg for patience if this is a subject already covered on your site.  To be honest with you, now that Ive browsed your site and seen many of the pictures of the puffers there, Im not even entirely sure that is what I have.  Please help though, I cant stand for the little guy to suffer. <Here is a good article on your puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm & a great forum about puffers: www.thepufferforum.net> Thank you very much for your time and patience, Morgan Kelsey <Puffers are not for the novice aquarium keeper.  Read all you can.  ~PP>

Spotted Green puffer issues... Aloha Webcrew... <Ananda here, answering the puffer questions.> Terrific website... I have found more info on your site compared to any other out there.... <Thanks, and glad it's helped.> Part of my question was answered by your FAQ area on the puffer fish... I have 4 spotted green puffer fish in a long 30 gallon tank (which gives them plenty of room to hang out together or get away from each other)...  I also have 3 green Chromides in the tank with them and 1 huge algae eater (big so they won't eat it)..   <How large are these fish currently? The green Chromides will need a much larger tank eventually, as they get up to 16" long.> All of my puffers look very healthy and swim around a lot (up and down and from tank end to tank end)..  There is something up with one of the puffers though...  He lays on the bottom of the tank quite a bit... He loses all of his spots and turns pretty dark, almost like he is hiding from everything and trying to get some rest...   <Do you have plenty of stuff for them to hide in and swim through in the tank? Is this puff getting enough to eat?> When he feels like it, he does get up off of the bottom and starts swimming with the other puffers... They all seem to like being together... Once he starts swimming, you can see his belly is pretty black from tail to mouth... <Not a good sign at all.> If you come to the side of the tank and give him some attention, the black almost all goes away and his spots come back immediately.... <Puffers are some of the most intelligent fish out there. Paying attention to him is reducing his stress level.> I read on your site that the spots can go away for mood or camo, but what about the black belly?  I have read on many sites that a black belly means they are sick... If that is the case, why does it come and go? <Is the puff's belly truly black, or is it grey? Grey is a sign of stress, and I have seen that come and go quickly. The black, however... do check the feces of this fish and the others in your tank. They should be uniformly dark-colored. If the feces from the puff in question are different, the fish may have intestinal worms or parasites.> The tank is a brackish water tank... I have some synthetic salt in the tank as well as aquarium salt... <What specific gravity level are you keeping these fish at? Also, if you have any ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate reading, do a water change as soon as possible and increase the frequency or amount of your regular water changes.> None of the other fish show signs of being ill and the one that I'm concerned about doesn't have any signs of ick or anything else....   <Which is why I'm suspecting a possible internal problem.> The puffers eat pretty well.. I let a bunch of small goldfish swim around and they eat them whenever they are hungry...   <Please desist with the goldfish immediately. These are NOT good for your puffers' health! The scales on the goldfish are relatively large, and feeder goldfish are notorious for carrying diseases.> I also feed them frozen brine shrimp and crawdads every now and then... <Do consider adding snails and other more puffer-appropriate foods. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm for info on puffer foods.> Any advice on my little puffer would be greatly appreciated... Keep up the great work on your website... <Will do.> aloha for now Gary <Aloha. --Ananda>

Green Spotted Puffer Mr. Fenner, Sorry to bother you yet again with one of my questions.  I've been reading over the FAQs re: brackish puffers.  I have a green spotted puffer about an inch long.  I got him at Petco from one of the marine tanks.  I knew he was a brackish puffer, but they had had him/her...it for about two weeks in the marine tank before I bought him.  I've had him for about 5 weeks now, and is doing great.  He actively swims, eats like there's no tomorrow, and before they died, harassed my domino damsels.  Is it OK to keep him in my marine aquarium.  I keep my SG about 1.023.  Like I said he seems to be doing fine (getting fat).  Once again, great website and thanks! <Please do take a look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm re a positive identification of your fish. I have seen brackish water species kept for good long periods in "straight" seawater with no apparent harm, HOWEVER they almost all "do south quickly" losing weight, setting at the bottom, perhaps dying of physiological difficulties within hours to a day or two... so, do keep a close eye on yours, and be ready to move it (in the hopes of its recovery) should you see it suffering, or dead. Bob Fenner> Vince Gibbens

- 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 -- >

Brackish corals and puffers >How much coral do you have to put in a 10 gallon brackish tank with green spotted puffers. >>None. >I never see coral in brackish tanks anywhere only in saltwater tanks. Do they like a high ph or only saltwater puffers? >>Corals like relatively high pH, and require so much for their growth that I couldn't begin to address it here.  If you're speaking of using coral skeletons in a tank with marine puffers, then I would caution against it as I have seen torn skin (they don't have scales.  Marina

Diet for a Small Puffer (08/31/03) Hi, <Hi! Ananda and the puffers here tonight...> I understand from many many website that puffer fish needs shell food... <Yup. Snails and crustaceans are their favorite foods.> However, my puffer is only 2CM to 2.5CM and the mussel or whatsoever shell "mouth" will be close when we buy from the market so how do they feed on the meat inside the shell is even bigger than the fish? Some suggested cracking the shell first but does that make my tank very messy?? <I bet it would! Skip the mussels, especially if they're freshwater mussels (which can harbor puffer-harmful parasites). I would switch to snails for your little guy. You should be able to get pond snails for free from your local pet-fish store; they often come in on the plants.  You can even start up a small "fish bowl" to breed snails for your puff. Another food that is good for small puffs is shrimp tails in the shell. First, you get to eat the best part of the shrimp. Then leave a bit of the shrimp tail in the shell, freeze it, and then drop it in with the puffer. The tiny, tiny ends of crab legs might work for this, too, though I haven't tried that.> Currently I am feeding dried shrimp so is that ok for the teeth?? <Sure, though depending on the type of shrimp, it may not be enough to keep his teeth worn down and it might not be as nutritious as you'd like. I'd suggest getting some fishy vitamins (I use Dick Boyd's). Thanks! Regards, Jensen Wee <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Diet for a sick puffer Hey, <Hey hey! Ananda here today...> I think I have a green puffer. I'm not sure if that's the type but here's a pic of it. http://i.xanga.com/mzscandalous/Nick%20Jr.jpg <Well, it's a green-spotted puffer, and he needs help. His belly should be white! A puff with a dark or grey belly is a stressed, unhappy, or sick puff.> Well, I bought it a couple of days ago and it was fine until I added large rocks into the tank. <Uh-oh. What kind of rocks? (What do they look like, if you aren't sure of the type?)> The workers at the fish store told me it's a fresh-water fish. <"Bzzzz, wrong answer" to them.> But when I read the frequently asked Qs & As, it might be a Brackish type fish. <Yup, it is. He needs some salt in his water. Get a SeaTest hydrometer (the only one that reads the lower values) and some Instant Ocean.> Well, it stopped eating after I added the rocks in and it developed black spots on the white dorso area.   <Dorsal is on the back of the fish, ventral is on the belly of the fish, so I think you mean ventral area.... Anyhow, that's not good. Where did you get the rocks?> It hardly swims and it just lays around the bottom of the tank all day. I use to have it in a really small tank but I moved it into a 10 gallon tank since my friend told me it needs more space. <Yup, your friend is right about that one.> Please help. I really don't want this fish to die. <Me neither.> I've also been feeding it frozen brine shrimp because they recommended it at the fish store. <Brine shrimp can be compared to junk food, and not favorably. Your puff needs a better diet -- he's been underfed for a while. It might be easiest to with some shrimp tails -- you eat the shrimp body, puff gets the shrimp tail, in the shell. He should also get some snails -- the freebie pond snails from the LFS are ideal, and you can raise them in your little tank. There's a lot more on what you can feed puffers in the Puffer Feeding FAQs, found under both the brackish puffer and marine puffer sections on the WWM site. To find them, use the Google search tool at the bottom of the Daily FAQ page and look for "Puffer Feeding FAQ".> Please reply soon and sorry if I'm bothering you about this. <We are here to be "bothered". :-) Also check out the WetWebMedia chat forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk -- often, you can get a reply faster there, since you don't have to wait for an email to travel the net. And I check the forums at least a couple of times a day.> Thanks. Kathy <You're welcome! --Ananda>

Re: Diet for a Small Puffer (09/01/03) Hi, Thanks for your reply.. <Ananda here again, and you're welcome.> One more thing <<I would switch to snails for your little guy. You should be able to get pond snails for free from your local pet-fish store; they often come in on the plants.  You can even start up a small "fish bowl" to breed snails for your puff.>> But the snails I see here are rather big .. like the shell can be 1CM in diameter?? is this type of snail small or big?? <That particular snail might be too big, but you could always toss one in with your puff and see what he does. If you get a bunch of snails, you can raise your own, and give your puff the smaller ones. Just put them in a container with water and feed them daily. You don't have to feed them fish food; you can give them slices of boiled veggies. When you do a water change for your puff, do a water change for them, too.> Thanks a bunch! Cheers, Jensen Wee <You're welcome! --Ananda>

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

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>

Green Puffer impulse purchase--NOW what do I do? >I just couldn't help myself... I bought 3 "Green Puffers" and I'm ashamed to say that I have no knowledge of the care and diet they need. >>Admitting you have a problem is the first step...I *think*.. naw, now you want to know, I'll gently chide you to please refrain from doing this again, and we'll move on.  However, I, too, do not know very much about these fish. >The lady in the pet store gave me about 25 baby guppies to feed them. >>If I recollect, you're dealing with a freshwater or brackish water animal, and being puffers they'll need crunchy stuff to help wear their "teeth" down (in reality they have what is called a "fused jaw", and their "teeth" act more like melon-ballers).  Shrimps and such would be my suggestion, however, I'm going to more strongly suggest you search our site for information on green puffs.  Here is a link to get you started--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm >But she said she didn't know much about them either, so she gave your address. I'm hoping you can give me the low down on these really cool fish...Quick! I have them in a 30 gallon tank. I also have a Japanese something or another algae eater, & 1 Tetra. >>I'm not sure these other fish are safe with the puffers, and I know that neither is a brackish (part saltwater) fish. >I have lots of plants and a couple of rocks.  For the Puffers' sake, I hope to hear from you soon. >>Accept my apologies for the delay, I was irresponsible with my brand new computer and went online without installing antiviral software and promptly got infected.  Your message has been sitting in my inbox for a few days now because I've been afraid to infect anyone else via email.  I believe the puffers should be started on prepared foods ASAP, and I will also send this message on to our resident brackish/puffer expert, Ananda.  Also, please visit our forums at http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk and check the brackish forums!  Best of luck to you all, Marina

Feeder fish became friends with predator? I have had my brackish tank, home to my two green-spotted puffers, for a little over a year.  Until three months ago, my puffers were the only occupants.  I threw a guppies in the tank as a little treat and to my surprise, the guppy was there days later.  Not only has that guppy survived in brackish water surrounded by predators, there are now a total of four baby guppies living in this tank.  The first of the young appeared about four or five weeks ago and has grown considerably.  The other three have appeared in the last three days.  I introduced a new puffer to the tank yesterday and figured it would probably make a meal out of my unusual little friends, but he doesn't show any interest.  I do not understand.  Is this normal or as bizarre as it seems? <Does seem odd, but this is not unprecedented. Fishes to varying degrees are what humans label as "autistic", and if the "food" was in the tank ahead of the predator... it/they might well not be recognized as food items... Consider as an example the sacred cows of Hindu India... Bob Fenner>

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

Puffer's a Chameleon!  3/21/04 OK, thanks. When I'd raised the salinity it went to 1.004, so I removed some and started at 1.003. I will raise it to 1.004/1.005 next week. <Sounds like a plan!> My puffer seems a little weirded out, normal? But, the thing is, he has been changing colors like crazy! My girlfriend was like, "he is all whitish, he doesn't look too good, what's up?!" so I go over, and he comes up to me and before me eyes he changes back to his yellowish with spots?!?!?! I saw him, he had almost no spots and was an off white color, white, but more an eggshell or so, different than the white of his belly. But when he saw me and came over, he straight changed in front of my eyes! Never seen that before! What's up with that?! <It's totally normal for a puffer to change colors & spots.  They are masters at disguise & will try to blend in w/their surroundings.  Do you have light-colored gravel?  That may make them paler.  Also puffers are extremely sensitive & moody, which also shows in their coloration.  Don't worry, unless it's tummy stays black all the time & they stop eating.  ~PP>

Puffer Doing Great!  3/22/04 No he seems normal, just the crazy color change. He may be a little lazy because I left for the weekend and of 3 ghost shrimp, one ended up having babies, so I'm still pulling those suckers out. I only feed GSP 4 or 5 times a week, he gets lazy otherwise. So the color change is normal? Awesome. And yeah, I read that if their belly starts to turn dark, not good.... his/hers/its is pure white... probably due to my 3 a week emails since I got it,... Thanks PP....   <No problem, that's what I'm here for--puffers are my passion!  ~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>

A question about my puffer <<JasonC here, giving Bob time to pack for his dive trip.>> Hi! I have a problem with my puffer and was hoping you could offer some advice I have a green spotted puffer who is running himself to death we are watching our poor friend slowly kill himself. He is in a 20 gallon tank, salt level is 1.010 ph 8.2 temp 78-80 degrees, two filters one of them a Biowheel. Abe's behavior started when he began to get adult markings, he goes in an almost constant routine of up and down in the rear corner of the tank, hides when approached, and is now refusing to eat he will go up to the food and check it out and then turns away sometimes he does manage a few bites before retreating back to the corner. We offer a large variety of food: fresh crab, ghost shrimp are plentiful, frozen brine shrimp and blood worms. His tank companions consist of (ghost shrimp) two bumblebee gobies. We have done water changes, small scenery changes (which he used to love) and nothing seems to snap him out of the behavior. Before the markings started to change he would happily gobble down anything offered and would hunt down ghost shrimp simply for the joy of the hunt and seemed rather proud of showing of his round belly. now he is looking like a refugee of Wal-mart and I am afraid he isn't going to be a part of our family much longer.  Are there any suggestions you could offer to help my little Abe out?  Thanks in advance Cindy Ivie <<Gosh, it would seem that you are doing all the right things, and while I don't keep any brackish puffers myself, I do know that ANY ghost shrimp around my Porcupine Puffer would just... well, they wouldn't be ghost shrimp anymore. A couple of things come to mind - one is that some new, biological imperative or hormonal change have washed over your puffer as it has come of age - and these things work themselves out most of the time. Doesn't mean the puffer won't scare you a bit on the way, but time will tell. The other thing I would look for is perhaps other water issues that you didn't mentioned here - how are your Nitrates? How often are you changing the water? Seems like you ran the list of puffer-favorite-foods - is there a food your puffer loves that you haven't tried - if so, try it now. Best of luck, J -- >>

Puffers Dear Sir. I recently brought 4 Spotted Puffer Fish. Their just small things. First their in a 3 gallon aquarium .  <dangerously small tank to keep them in> Would a 20 or a 30 be best for them?  <much better> Will they live okay together ?  <perhaps...but their is a lot of interspecific aggression with such species. Never to be sure> And most of important. How can I tell male from female? I would like to try to breed them. And on the aquarium size I won't have much other fish in with them. Pls mail me back sir. But the thing I am most curious about is about sexing and breeding them. And if you don't know is their a place or a book that can tell me? Thank u Sir very much  <there's a lot of information in articles and FAQ's on our WWM site on this topic... do research the following pages and the links at the top: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufferfaqs.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpuffers.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufffaqs2.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tetraodontpuffers.htm, Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Puffer teeth Hello Mr. Fenner. Well....seems my green puffer's teeth have grown too long. He can still eat, and I'm feeding him snails regularly, but they don't seem to stop the growth. I've looked through your website and can't find an actual description for grinding down your puffers teeth (I apologize if I somehow missed it).  How can I file down my puffers teeth. <I assume that you browsed the FAQ's on this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontidfaqs.htm... beyond that it is about as simple as it sounds. A rotary tool (Dremel tm, or the like), a gently handled fish wrapped in a towel wet with aquarium water, a helper or IV drip raining saltwater in the gills for the short time that it takes (be sure not to stress the puffer when caught for the procedure). I'll make sure Bob gets this message with a request for a possible referral to published info(?) from the puffer queen (Kelly J). Kindly, Anthony Calfo> Thank you, Mark Keusenkothen

New Puffer fish My husband recently bought a puffer fish from our LFS. They called it a puffer, and upon closer questioning, called it a green spotted puffer. It was recommended to us by the same LFS to control snails in our tank. Ours is a freshwater aquarium and home to five neon tetras and a couple of catfish. They assured me it will be fine in our six gallon freshwater tank, but upon looking at various websites, I have my doubts. <Your doubts are warranted. He will need specialized care; some salt in the water, larger tank, will probably eat the neons eventually, etc.> This puffer has gone thru many many snails in the two days we've had him. In fact he's eaten them all and now I'm scavenging snails from the tank filter. As usual, dad and the kids have brought home a new pet, and mom gets to figure out how to keep him alive and hopefully happy and healthy. So, should I return him? Also, what to feed (the store gave us frozen baby brine shrimp to feed him, but he's completely uninterested - they're obviously too small for him, although the tetras were in heaven). <Frozen Mysis shrimp and/or plankton would be better.> Any advice is appreciated. I've looked thru your website and it's very helpful. However, now I'm inundated with often conflicting info and I need to go straight to the horse's mouth. <Take a look here for a lot more info http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufferfaqs.htm> Thanks so much, Julie Billington <Welcome to the hobby, Steven Pro>

Re: New Puffer fish Thanks so much for the quick response! We got him/her some freeze-dried shrimp and some frozen brine shrimp. He liked the frozen shrimp and loved the freeze dried shrimp. I probably overfed him because I was so happy to seem him eating. The tetras continue to be impressed with the new additions to their diet. We're now scraping our pennies together for a 20 gallon tank. My main concern now is whether the catfish will tolerate the salt in the tank. <It depends on the species of puffer and how much salt you will have to add to keep him happy. Most fish will be ok with 1 tablespoon of salt per 5 gallons of water. It is a pretty standard recommendation for various health reasons. It would be best when you get the 20 to keep both tanks up and separate the fish. Neons in one and the puffer in another.> Thanks Again! -Julie <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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>

Which is which? (Spotted Green Brackish Puffers) I wrote you a few days ago now I have another question; I have seen in many sources, yours included, the names Tetraodon Fluviatilis and Tetraodon Nigroviridis as what seem to be the same fish. I cannot tell the difference through the photos I have seen between one and the other species, or if there even is one; the fish I have looks like all the photos I have seen associated with these names, except one; In your archives you have Tetraodon Fluviatilis with 2 completely different pictures for the same name. This is important to me in my research of my particular species of puffer and how he needs to live. I am now so utterly confused, please help! My fishy needs this info! =) <Sorry for the confusion. I only find the one image associated with the name Tetraodon fluviatilis (though both species do come into the trade... from the same countries... and are... yes, unfortunately called the same in the trade. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufferfaqs.htm re someone else's input on this "name game". Bob Fenner> Thanks Mallika

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>

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

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