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FAQs about Green Spotted Puffer Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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, GSPs 2, GSP Identification, GSP Behavior, GSP Compatibility, GSP Selection, GSP Systems, 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

green spotted puffer help! Sys., nutr.       4/26/18
I hope all is well,
<And likewise to you.>
I saw some articles about puffers and was hoping you could help. I am looking to set up a green spotted puffer aquascape/bioscope and have a few questions:
- what substrate would be the best/most natural in comparison to their natural habitat?
<Estuarine and coastal marine environments are very varied. But an 'idealised' environment might include a mix of sand and broken seashells on the substrate, perhaps with a bit of gravel mixed in. Rocks are often encrusted with bivalves such as oysters and mussels, so either of those, perhaps siliconed onto the rocks before use, could help to recreate an oyster reef of the sort you see around estuaries and harbours. I'd tend to leave out corals and large, obviously marine seashells like conches, as these tend to favour fully marine environments, so wouldn't be quite so authentic.>
- what plants are found in their natural habitat?
<Primarily seagrasses and mangroves, neither of which are easy. Seagrasses need strong lighting, while mangroves are trees that have only their roots underwater, so while relatively widely traded, they aren't really equivalent to the plants we grow in freshwater tanks. At low salinities, you can use Vallisneria species to mimic seagrasses, but above around 1.003, these won't do well in the long term. Unfortunately for the aquarist, there really aren't any obvious mid to high salinity brackish water plants because such habitats are frequently silty in the wild, so any plants there grow above the waterline. At low salinities though, pretty much anything that thrives in hard water will do well at SG 1.001-1.003, including Amazon Swords, Vallisneria, Java Ferns, hardy Cryptocoryne species, and so on.>
- are the brackish/salt requirements different as juveniles than to adults? What is the ideal level of salt?
<A very complex question! In practice, the salinity isn't critical, so long as it's not freshwater. So if you wanted to keep a GSP at 1.005 indefinitely, it'd be fine. It'd probably thrive in water at SG 1.003 for that matter! But a lot of aquarist find these fish do well in marine tanks, and that opens up a few useful options, including the use of live rock, protein skimmers, and even tankmates like Damsels that are punchy enough to do well alongside puffers.>
-my local shop has some in stock and put aside for me. They are currently in freshwater. How best to introduce the salt to the water? Presumably slowly over regular water changes as opposed to adding loads on day 1?
<Either. GSPs, like most brackish fish, are extremely hardy. In the wild they presumably have to be able to cope with changes in salinity as the tide moves in and out. So while I would set the tank up to match the shop simply to minimise stress, and only change the salinity across several weeks for the sake of the filter, people can and do acclimate them to brackish water immediately after purchase.>
- the ones in the shop are currently juveniles, 1-2 inches, can I fit 6 to 8 in 120 litre tank if I intend to rehouse them into a big tank as they grow?
<Yes, at that size they should coexist, assuming water quality was good and all were feeding well. A singleton can easily fill a tank around the 180 litre mark though, and you'd probably need to allow a good 80-100 litres for each extra specimen. I have seen GSPs kept in twos without bother, but other specimens are notoriously cranky and aggressive. You really do need to keep an eye open for the tell-tale circular bite marks on the flanks -- a good sign of aggression>
-what is the best diet (i know pure meat with some shell fish for their teeth but wondering about regularity/variety). Would frozen bloodworm once a day with shell fish/snails 1-2 times a week be OK? What would be optimum?
<I'm not a huge fan of gorge-feeding predators, even if it is 'more natural'. Let's be clear, GSPs in the wild will be constantly foraging on low-protein foods including algae, organic detritus, and of course various small invertebrates. This is why they seem hungry all the time -- they're programmed, if you like, to constantly feed because what they'd be eating in the wild wouldn't be particularly nutritious. On top of that, predators have a tendency to consume a large amount, digest relatively little, and pass out a lot of organic waste the filter has to process. Regurgitation is a common problem as well. While you'll have to observe your fish and see what works for you, I always preferred to offer small, regular meals that kept the puffers active, rather than filling their bellies to such a degree they'd settle down, curl up, and sleep off their meal for a few hours!>
The shop have put them aside till the weekend so hoping to buy them then.
I have a freshwater tank already set up and fully cycled (was being used to raise fry) and therefore able to ‘adjust’ it to the scope in a short time frame. Though obviously it is something I want to get right and not rush.
<Understood. GSPs will thrive in freshwater for weeks if not months, particularly if you have hard water. So by all means get the fish home, feeding, and maybe do a small (~20%) water change with water at SG 1.003, so that the resulting aquarium salinity will be barely SG 1.001. That'll be enough to keep the fish in tip-top health, while not stressing the filter bacteria. From there on in, weekly water changes with water at SG 1.003 will nudge the overall salinity up to SG 1.003 after a few weeks. That's still 15% seawater, and more than enough for GSPs in the medium term. You can plan what to do next as they grow.>
Thank you in advance for your help!!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!      4/27/18

Hi Neale
Thank you very much for your detailed reply, I feel in a much more
knowledgeable/informed position to set up the tank
<Glad to help, and good luck! Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!     4/30/18

Hi Neale,
Firstly - I got my GSP's - they are awesome!
<Yes, they are. And a good size too, when mature. Big enough to impress your mates, but not so big you need a mortgage to house them properly.>
The tank has a good internal filter, however I just remembered I have a spare external filter and all new filter sponges for it. I was thinking as the puffers are messy - I should add the external filter as I have it anyway.
<Maybe. While pufferfish are messy, you also keep fewer of them in an aquarium than, say, Guppies. I'd be aiming for a water turnover rate around 6 to 8 times the volume of the tank per hour while small, and above around
8 cm/3 inches, I'd kick that up to the 8-10 times per hour. In other words, if your tank had a capacity of 200 litres, you'd choose filters that collectively provide a turnover rate around 1200-1600 litres/hour while they fish were little, and up to 2000 litres/hour for subadult and older specimens. Make sense?>
Is there any issues to having 2 filters?
<None at all. But avoid over filtering while the fish are small, so as not to tire them out. You also don't want so much air/water turbulence that the water becomes supersaturated with oxygen, as that can cause problems. But
other than that, nope, multiple filters is fine.>
Is there any issues to putting on a filter with entirely new sponges?
<Nope. If one filter is mature, and the other entirely new, the new one will be matured within a very short span of time. Alternatively, you can dedicate the new one to mechanical filtration, cleaning out the filter media aggressively, ensuring nice clear water.>
I know normally a 'new' filter would mean cycling the tank - but I assume if there is already a filter on and working and the tank is well cycled then this wouldn't be an issue?
Kind regards,
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!     5/1/18

Apologies for the bombardment of questions - if it is too many please feel free to tell me to stop!
<Will do.>
I have been feeding frozen bloodworms and that has gone down well. In order to vary the diet I wanted to try introduce something else, ideally something with a hard shell in order to help their teeth.
<Yes; I'm skeptical about such foods ever being a 100% solution to the 'overgrowing teeth' problem, but it does help, and some pufferfish species are more prone to the problem than others. Do bear in mind crunching algae from rocks is probably a significant part of their diet in the wild, so it's not just whole invertebrates. You can also take a hammer to mussels and cockles to break their shells a bit, and allow the pufferfish to wear away their teeth as they feed on such food items that might be too big to crunch open whole. Whole frozen cockles are sold in marine aquarium stores, while mussels and cockles are sold in some grocery stores.>
I was thinking of trying live red cherry shrimp at some point. At 1-2 inches are the puffers too small for live shrimp?
<They'll certainly have a good go at them, but this is a crazy expensive way to try and feed them. Red Cherry Shrimps aren't all that crunchy, so their impact on the puffer's teeth will, individually, be minimal. You may as well just collect woodlice from somewhere in your back garden you know is free of pesticides. Much the same amount of crunchiness, readily consumed, and zero cost.>
I was thinking of getting say 10 shrimp and my thoughts were as follows:
Either I could keep them in a breeding trap in the tank and release a few to see if they get eaten and then a few days later a few more.
Alternatively, if the puffers are not interested then I could release all 10, they may breed and increase and eventually the puffers may eat them?
<The Red Cherry Shrimps will be dead in hours, whether harassed or eaten outright.>
I'm not really sure how best to go about this as I've never used feeder shrimp before.
<Some marine aquarium shops sell native shrimps from the Thames Estuary and elsewhere called 'river shrimp' and these make good food for brackish water puffers. They can be gut-loaded before use, and will survive many days, even weeks, in anything from SG 1.005 upwards. They'll survive some hours even in low-end brackish to freshwater conditions.>
If not shrimp - any alternative ideas?
<See above. I'd honestly be less given to live foods for now. You can get good frozen foods that'll be better value, such as Krill, while cockles and white fish fillet provide better nutrients than shrimps do (shrimps contain thiaminase, which we don't want). Whole lancefish are good for bigger GSPs, as are live or cooked crayfish, cooked brown shrimps (expensive, but delicious in potted shrimp!), even things like king prawns like you'd buy in Asian supermarkets. You can also find dried whole shrimps in Asian supermarkets, and these are a good value, if occasional, treat. As mentioned already, crustaceans (and mussels) should be a small part of their diet, with cockles, white fish fillet, lancefish, squid, and insects being generally better all around when it comes to nutrients. Some source of greenery needs to be considered too, whether Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp, gut-loaded worms or shrimps, or even cooked peas and algae wafers, if your puffer takes them.>
I have followed your advice in not overfeeding them ��
<Glad to hear it!>
Thanks again in advance - I really appreciate all of your help ��
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!  And 8's    5/10/18

Hi Neale,
How are you?,
<All good.>
As an update - I started adding salt at my last water change and all seems to be going well!
Quick question - A local shop I noticed have figure 8's in (about 2 inches). My GSP's are 1.5-2 inches. From my research - they both like Brackish and come from similar environments - could I put a few in there?
Or best not to?
<While young, yes, they will cohabit reasonably well. GSPs tend to be a bit more snappy, while Figure-8s are perhaps a bit more active. But there's not much in it either way. As they get older though, GSPs do become substantially bigger and potentially more dangerous. Also remember that they're somewhat different in optimal salinity. Figure-8s are freshwater to low-end brackish, doing best at a low salinity, maybe SG 1.002-1.005; your GSPs, on the other hand, while perfectly fine at SG 1.003-1.005 for long
periods, perhaps indefinitely, are often kept in higher salinities, even full marine conditions.>
I know ultimately the GSP's will outgrow them, but the intention is anyway in 12-18 months to get a bigger tank.
<Ah, yes!>
At which point I'll possibly put the GSP's in the bigger tank and keep the F8's in the existing tank?
From my understanding it takes easily 2-3 years for GSP's to grow anywhere near full size anyway?
<Something like that, yes. Many specimens never get particularly big, though well-kept ones should comfortably reach 10 cm/4 inches, and be stocky with it.>
Even as juveniles can it be done? Or best to keep species only?
<See above. Yes, but with caution, and likely not indefinitely.>
<You're welcome, Neale.>

GSP feeding question    11/28/14
I have a young GSP that my husband bought in a moment of guilt from Wal-Mart. We put him in his own 15 gallon cycled brackish hospital tank (1.004 sg). He's doing awesome. I feel he'll do well and make a full recovery, when I'll transfer him to his own cycled 30g. My question is, through reading questions and answers on your page, what vitamins should i soak his food in to help with healing and infections? I know vitamin c and garlic are good; what dosage do i give? How about vitamins for my very healthy, very happy 2" GSP? Probably the same, but thought I'd ask.
<You don't really need to soak food in vitamins if you offer a big variety.
Just as with humans who eat at least a half-decent variety of meals, 90% of the time vitamins just produce expensive urine because our bodies are good at extracting vitamins. However, with predatory fish such as Puffers which only eat meaty foods (cockles, squid, tilapia fillet for example) rather than flake or pellets (which are vitamin enriched anyways) there is an argument to be made in favour of vitamin supplements. You can go to an aquarium shop and buy vitamin supplements for use in marine aquaria.
Seachem Garlic Guard is one such, but there are many out there. Usually you dip the food in the stuff, then use it. Most dissolves in the aquarium water, but some may stay in the food. Pufferfish often get deficient in vitamin B1 (thiamine) because certain meaty foods, especially mussels and shrimps/prawns, contain something called Thiaminase that destroys vitamin B1. So looking for a product with vitamin B1 in it would be a plus if you use mussels and prawns a lot. All this said, if you can get your Puffer eating a varied diet, ideally including food with some plant content (e.g., Spirulina-enriched frozen Brine Shrimp) and minimise the use of Thiaminase-rich foods, you should be fine without vitamin supplements.
Using vitamin supplements is not without expense or risk either. Let me direct you to some reading:
Cheers, Neale.>

GSP diet     8/13/14
im thinking of getting a few gsp or figure 8s as a cull tank for deformed baby fish I cant sell, I am also raising electric blue lobsters and might be getting some varied small crayfish.
is it safe for a puffer to eat an Australian electric blue lobster?
<Mmm; yes>
I will be mainly feeding the cull guppies to the lobsters, and them to the puffers, which will hopefully help their teeth.
I also have a lot of trumpet snails from tiny babies to 1" (between 1000-2000 ish..) would those with a good vitamin enriched food be a decent diet?
<If the Puffers can break their shells>
will be having them in a 30gal min to start. with filtration for around 50g brackish (marine salt) crushed coral sub. might even add some mangroves.
Thank you for your time and knowledge =)
<Do read on WWM re these Tetraodontids... many are lost to easy mistakes by aquarists. Bob Fenner>

Puffer eating beetles       6/10/14
Hello Crew!
I'm here to seek your expertise again. My green spotted puffer is living fine by itself in a fully-cycled 30 gallon tank. It's around 3inches now, only grew 0.5cm in around 5months. Do you think the growth is a little too slow? Or is this normal?
<It is a bit slow, but I wouldn't worry much. If it's happy and lively, then it's presumably healthy.>
It's moderately fat and happy, but I'm wondering what's stopping it's growth in length. I feed it once a day, with vitamin-soaked frozen clam/prawn. And I feed anti-parasite herbal treatment once a month as well.
Also, I'm a little worried that it's been feeding on the pea-sized beetles that get attracted to its tank light. I have never heard of puffers feeding on beetles, and my puffer has eaten at least 3 in a week (one of my family members reported it to me). Do you think it would do any harm? I actually think it's a good source of calcium and protein but you know, just in case:)
<It's likely fine. All sorts of terrestrial insects end up in rivers, and these are an important source of food for fish. Mealworms are actually used to feed many large fish, and crickets are used to feed those like Archers that prefer insect foods.>
Lastly, I'm wondering if it would do any harm to my little 3inch puffer if I slowly convert it to saltwater? Right now it's around 1.011-1.012. It's hard to get the common brackish plants to adapt to this sg and I'm worried about the nitrate level since there are currently no plants at all.
<Indeed. For a young GSP, it's just as well to stay at a low salinity, 1.005, and use hardy plants. Once the fish is about 8 cm/4 inches, you can then adapt it to seawater. Keeping very young specimens in seawater isn't frequently done, and I don't know how safe this is.>
I do weekly 30% water changes though. So I'm thinking of converting it so that I can put plenty of macroalgae in the tank:)
<A good plan. They also work well in tanks with live rock, and live rock is excellent for reducing nitrate levels.>
Thanks in advance for your help!
Cheers, Sam
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer    2/8/14
I have had my GSP for seven years now and recently he stopped eating. He won't eat any kind of food, frozen or live. He's lost a lot of weight from not eating much any more, and now he just won't eat at all. His tank, water, and temperature is all okay. I was wondering if there was anything that I could do to help him, or is it just because he's getting older?
Thank you,
<Hello Branndea. Seven years isn't particularly old, more middle age for a Green Spotted Puffer, so I wouldn't write this chap off just yet. I'd expect a GSP to live for at least ten years, and I'm sure some specimens live for much longer than that when kept well. Now, putting aside ammonia and nitrite poisoning (e.g., from being kept in new aquaria without adequate filtration) the main reason GSPs get sick is from inadequate salinity. They are brackish water fish, and to some degree the older they get, the more sensitive they are to being kept in freshwater conditions.
You say nothing about salinity in your message, which rings alarm bells for me, so the first thing to consider is how much marine aquarium salt you're adding to the water. You really should be using something like 10 gram/litre (about 1.4 oz per US gal) for a specific gravity of not less than SG 1.005-1.006 at 25 C. Ideally, you'd be well above that with a fish this age, nearer half strength seawater; let's say a specific gravity of 1.010 (16 g/l or 2 oz/US gal). Many of the people who keep GSPs with the fewest problems do so by keeping them in marine aquaria, SG 1.018-1.025 depending on the situation and type of tank. In any case, since your GSP will presumably be living alone, raising the salinity is a no-brainer, so over the new few days up the salinity a few notches on the specific gravity scale, e.g., from 1.005 to 1.007, and see what happens. Don't make massive, overnight salinity changes because that'll stress the filter bacteria and that'd mean you'd be fighting an ammonia spike. But the higher the salinity, then very likely the happier your GSP will become, assuming you're starting from a freshwater or trivially low brackish water salinity.
Hope this helps, Neale.>

Pufferfish not eating   5/18/11
Hello guys!
I'm writing to let you know that thanks to your site I saved my GSP. I live in Mexico, and although there are many pet stores and aquariums, it's quite rare to find a devoted aquarist as a LFS owner who really knows all the details about fish keeping and thus, give accurate advice.
<Oh. Well, the good news of course is Mexico is packed with fascinating native fishes, many of which are popular around the world. I have some Ameca splendens next to me here, and they're are/were native to part of the Ameca river system in Jalisco.>
Two weeks ago I noticed that my 3" puffer started not eating. It was a very busy time for me (2-3 day trips twice in that period of time) so I wasn't alarmed until I came home and noticed that he was extremely skinny and his belly was sunken in :( black coloration and all.
<Does tend to indicate stress. Puffers quickly turn dark when unhappy, and may well stop feeding.>
I did a lot of research and came to the conclusion that it could be a parasite infection, but I never saw any parasite. Despite that, and the fact that my lps advised to treat for parasites, I did a 3 day treatment with Metronidazole and Praziquantel (general cure) with no visible signs of improvement.
<Indeed. Puffers are not particularly prone to disease. Indeed, they're usually quite hardy. But they do need the right water chemistry. What sort of pufferfish do you have? To give three common examples: Tetraodon biocellatus needs brackish water (SG 1.003 at 25 C is ideal), while Tetraodon fluviatilis and Tetraodon nigroviridis need brackish to marine water (SG 1.005-1.010 at 25 C is fine).>
At this point I was hopeless. My puffer had not eaten for more than two weeks and time was running out, but it was a particular case on your website that gave me a hint... someone asked about a puffer with cloudy eyes that couldn't see well and acted clumsy. Then I realized that my puffer was not eating because he couldn't actually find the food I was putting in the tank! I tried everything: pellets, snails, ghost shrimp, brine shrimp... and he chased everything and looked hungry, but never got to eat.
<Oh dear. Puffers can be difficult to feed. Not so much because they won't eat -- healthy puffers will eat lots of food -- but they do need a balanced diet, and without a good variety, they are prone to vitamin deficiency.>
It wasn't until I tried with a tiny piece of prawn held with chopsticks that the puffer ate to the point to fill his belly!. I guess my hand was to big to miss! XD I'm guessing that he is struggling due to bad water param.s, surely because he's been living in a 20 gal aquarium and he needs more than that.
<May well be the case. Tetraodon biocellatus is fine in 20 gallons, but Tetraodon fluviatilis for example will need 50 gallons.>
The crisis was probably because I moved two months ago and messed up the cycle. (I never noticed until now), poor little one.
I'm moving him to a new, bigger aquarium. What can I do to keep the water param.s at their best while he's in his 20 gal?
Thank you very much!
<Claudia, I do need to know the species of pufferfish. There are many pufferfish traded as pets. I've named three of the commonest. But there are true freshwater ones, as well as some marine species that get sold as freshwater fish occasionally. So a photo might help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pufferfish not eating   5/18/11
Thank you for your quick response Neale!
<No problem.>
Sorry for not being specific. It's a green spotted puffer I'm talking about =)
<It is indeed a Green Spotted Puffer, Tetraodon nigroviridis. A brackish to marine fish. So unless kept in brackish water, will not live long. Kept in freshwater they tend to live 2-3 years, and then die. In brackish or marine conditions, can live 10+ years. Your specimen is also underweight. Not fatally so. But still, does need some good meals. Try a mix of these things: tilapia fillet, earthworms, cockles, cooked peas. Once or twice a week, use these: mussels, shrimps, prawns. These three things contain Thiaminase, so if used too often cause problems.>
cute little thing.
<Yes. Do read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_1/cav1i1/green_spotted_puppies.htm
This is a picture of him yesterday, after eating!
<Good luck, 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.>

Sick green spotted puffer... RMF suggests boycotting Wal-Mart, sending their mgmt. letters re  5/19/10
Please help me my kids
picked out two green spotted puffers that Wal-Mart sold as freshwater fish.
<Hope you have a big brackish water aquarium. Two GSPs will need to be maintained in a 55 gallon aquarium once mature, since they reach 15 cm/6 inches within a couple of years and are sometimes very aggressive. They are
brackish water fish, and should not be maintained below SG 1.005, i.e., a salinity of about 9 grammes of marine aquarium salt mix per litre of water [about 1.2 oz per US gallon].>
They also said appropriate for small tanks and with many other fish.
<No and no. Even juvenile GSPs will need at least 20 gallons of water, and they'll outgrow that tank within a year. They are fin-biters, and view other fish as nothing more than meals to be eaten either whole or one chunk at a time.>
After research some say salt some say fresh water which is it?
<They must have brackish water, or they can also be kept in a marine aquarium. GSPs will die if kept in a freshwater aquarium.>
Today one of them looks like each eye has a bubble over it and looks like a white film over mouth what should I do?
<Start by reading:
Until these fish are moved to appropriate conditions, they won't get healthier. They're likely suffering from acute ammonia/nitrite poisoning if this is a new aquarium, or stress because of the wrong water chemistry.
Either way I'd be treating for Finrot and/or Fungus, perhaps both, whilst also ensuring conditions were appropriate to those required by this species. And as some general advice, you're the adult, so don't let children make decisions where living creatures are concerned. Children have zero concept of responsibility, and their interest wanes in new pet animals after about 15 seconds. GSPs are big, difficult fish that should live some 10-15 years if properly cared for. By all means keep pufferfish yourself and share them with your children, but for gosh sakes don't buy them for
your kids, any more than you'd buy them a snake or some other exotic pet.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick green spotted puffer  5/19/10

Yes I know this I was a vet tech for 8 years and if the accurate conditions where on the aquariums at Wal-Mart I would have never purchased these fish, I promised my children fish we where mislead about conditions of these I
bought under the assumption we had accurate living conditions!
<Indeed, but as a vet I'm sure you're all too familiar with the difference between good intentions and actual reality. A German Shepherd is a great dog, but only in a particular situation where it gets lots of exercise and strong handling. Just so with puffers. Great fish, but not for everyone. As for relying on the pet store, would you rely on a car salesman when buying a new automobile? I imagine not. You'd go through all the various magazines and consumer reports on each model, comparing the pluses and minuses, and then come up with a balanced decision. Just so when buying livestock, whether it's a stick insect, a German Shepherd, or for that matter a Green Spotted Puffer. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Puffer fish won't eat: Puffer dentistry. 5/16/2010
I have a Green Spotted Puffer Fish in a salt water tank with a Coral Beauty Angel a Blue Damsel and a Pajama Cardinal Fish. He has always gotten along very well with all of them (3 years)
I feel horrible but I noticed he has grown teeth and I can not get him to eat anything. Is there anything I can do at this point.
A friend recommended a weekend feeder because of the vitamins and nutrients in it. Is there anything I can do to get him to eat? And keep him alive?
<If his teeth have become completely overgrown, you will need to trim the teeth manually. Please read here:
as well as the linked pages at the top of each page.>
Re: Puffer fish won't eat: Puffer dentistry. 5/16/2010

Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly.
<Hi, no problem.>
I have everything I need and will be trimming the teeth today or tomorrow.
One question. By 3 drops of clove oil, do you mean with an eye dropper.
<Yes three drops from an eyedropper.>
I don't want to add too much.
Thank you!
<Best of luck.>
Re: Puffer fish won't eat: Puffer dentistry. 5/16/2010

Hey, it worked!!
<Great news!>
I was worried because he was really dark and because I thought he might be too weak from not eating. But it was the only thing I could do so we did it. Thank you so much.
<Glad we could help.>
He still hasn't eaten anything but he is swimming around a lot more. I'm sure he is stressed and he has a few bloody marks on his face, probably where I had to hold his lip up but he seems much happier.
<You can try offering food in the morning and see how he does.>

Hoping to add GSP... incomp., sys.... reading   3/9/10
Hello and thank you in advance for your time,
<Happy to help.>
I have a 39 gallon freshwater aquarium set up right now with about 20 guppies (correct ratio of male to females for breeding), a Pleco, bamboo shrimp, Ramshorn snails, and some failing gold Inca and black mystery snails.
<None of which are suitable for life alongside a GSP. Green Spotted Puffers are *brackish* water fish that need to be maintained at around SG 1.005 when small, and anything from SG 1.010 to full marine conditions once adult. They are omnivores that eat shrimps and snails, and wild fish at least include fish fins on their diet, so anything kept alongside them is likely to be nipped. These are very much personality fish you buy expressly for maintenance on their own. That said, some success has been had mixing them in marine tanks with feisty Damselfish and the like.>
I have learned since the purchase that apple snails are not necessarily the best to keep because of the hibernation period they need, and I will be returning them to the LFS. Anyway, in a few days I would like to add some GSP's, 2-3 depending on your recommendations.
<Not with the livestock you have.>
I am hoping to be able to breed the guppies and snails quick enough to sustain the puffers and maintain my breeding stock of guppies and Ramshorn snails.
<Won't work. Unless you have a pond, you'll never produce enough live food for a Pufferfish. Be under NO illusions here: in an aquarium as small as this, any shrimps and snails will be eaten (or at least damaged). As for the Guppies, they'll probably be nipped and eventually eaten, but this sort of behaviour does seem to vary from Puffer to Puffer.>
I will be supplementing with additional food sources, frozen brine shrimp most likely,
<A treat, not a staple; contains almost no nutrition at all.>
and I am ok with adding in as many snails as I need to (I work at a Pet Store, so they are free), and hopefully only a few guppies a week.
<What's with the feeder guppy mentality? Puffers don't need to eat fish, and any Guppies cheap enough to use like popcorn will be maintained under fairly dismal conditions.>
I am aware that the bamboo shrimp is not going to last to long with the puffer, but I will be giving him the best life I can until this point.
<Won't work this way. The poor Atyopsis will be pecked, worried, subject to amputations by the puffer for weeks if not months before finally being killed.>
Do you think that this would be possible.
<Not a snowball's chance in Hell.>
Right now a separate feeder tank is not an option.
<Least of your worries.>
Another question I have is, can the Pleco be slowly moved into brackish, as I will be switching to brackish once the puffers are in the tank (waiting because I know that no store keeps them in the correct, brackish, conditions and they will be coming from freshwater.)
<No. Plecs can't be kept at the brackish water salinities Green Spotted Puffers require.>
Looking forward to some insight.
<Certainly provided. A terrible idea you have here. Back to the drawing board with you!>
Teach me well, because as I said I work at a Pet Store, and unfortunately I often have to do a lot of studying outside of the training that I get at work to get the knowledge that I feel I need to pass on to customers.
<A laudable intention.>
I think it goes without saying that I am fairly new to aquatics as a whole, but I am a sponge for knowledge, so teach away.
<Have done so.>
Studying the rest of your site as you read,
<You would do much better thinking along the lines of a freshwater puffer species. A small group of South American Puffers could coexist with a Plec (I have mine with Panaque nigrolineatus) though Guppies will certainly be nipped. As for snails and shrimps, these are mere pufferfish food, so any combination of the three is doomed, like keeping pigs with truffles.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Hoping to add GSP, foods, live fish as foods,  3/10/10
Thank You so much for the speedy reply, was not expecting that. Wow, where to begin. I completely agree, back to the drawing board it is.
<Indeed! But happy to help.>
Just to verify, it is an moral question when it comes to feeding live fish, is it not?
<Both. In terms of morals, it's certainly cruel and unfair on the prey. In the wild prey animals have space enough to avoid predators most of the time, something that doesn't happen in an aquarium. Also, wild versions of Goldfish and Guppies are not deformed, so they have subdued colours for camouflage, and the right shape for swimming, neither of which holds true for the farmed versions of these fish. Finally, we don't really know whether death by ingestion is painless or not, and there's science either way when it comes to whether fish can feel pain or not. Almost no predatory fish in the hobby needs live fish as food. So all things considered, it's morally difficult to justify feeding live fish to most predators.>
Or do you advise against it for some other reason?
<Yes. There are several practical issues. Firstly, cheap "feeders" commonly introduce parasites. Anything cheap enough to be a feeder won't have received much in terms of healthcare or water quality. Secondly, certain feeders (specifically Goldfish and Minnows) contain Thiaminase and large amounts of fat. Thiaminase leads to Vitamin B1 deficiency, and there's ample evidence now that this is a major problem for predators in the wild and in captivity. Bob Fenner has established that *the* major cause of premature mortality among Lionfish is the use of Goldfish as feeders, with all the specimens he's autopsied having unnatural amounts of fat around the internal organs. Finally, there seems to be a link between aggression and the use of live food, with the predators that settle best into community systems being the ones fed fresh or frozen foods instead. In short, if you can get a predator onto non-live foods, you're not only going to save massive amounts of time and money, but you'll also be providing a better, healthier diet. To the folks who think they're losing half the fun, let them instead concentrate on teaching their predators to become hand tame.
My Ctenolucius gar for example feed from forceps, and that way I can show off what a good fishkeeper I am whenever people come to visit!>
I guess it makes sense that even once the puffer has had its fill he would bother the ones that weren't lunch.
<Actually, animals, especially puffers (and of course humans too!) will eat much more in one sitting than they need to. Overfed puffers put a tremendous strain on the filtration system, with issues such as nitrate levels and background acidification coming into play. It's best to feed modestly, small amounts, perhaps daily, perhaps less often when the fish is mature.>
It seems that I'll be needing another tank.
<For GSPs, yes. They're best kept alone, with their own kind, or in a tank that might ultimately be converted to a marine system so you can add Damselfish.>
My thoughts were, to escape the issues involved with the commercially sold feeders, rosy reds, comet goldfish, etc, such as diseased unhealthy fish, that I would try to breed my own.
<Almost never worth bothering with. By all means have a tank of snails in the yard, and use these as often as you want. But don't go out of your way here. You can maintain pufferfish perfectly well on foods from the grocery store. Unshelled shrimp, squid, cockles, tilapia fillet and so on all make good staples. Do read Marco Lichtenberger's excellent piece of Thiaminase though, so you can choose the right seafood:
You want to limit Thiaminase-containing foods to the minority portion of the diet.>
Guppies because of the quick reproduction and hardiness of the fish, as well as their tolerance of salt when introduced gradually to their existing freshwater tank, and their ability to live in brackish water.
<This is true, but fancy Guppies are less productive than wild Guppies, and neither matches Mosquitofish. In any case, you won't be able to produce these in anything like the numbers you're imagining.>
I am willing to do what it takes to keep all of my fish happy and healthy, including the ones intended as feeders, however short or long they would be living in my tank. And as you said, the one cheap enough to feed are kept in dismal conditions.
My guppies were kept in our community tanks under prime conditions, not the feeder tanks, which is why I would feel safer feeding them to the puffers than the feeder tank fish, which unfortunately are kept under fairly dismal conditions, mainly massive overcrowding =(. I didn't design the store, I just work there. I thought maybe the guppies outnumbering the puffers would make it possible for them to still breed, but I thought wrong lol.
<I fear so, unless the tank was 1000 gallons! I've seen Guppies kept with Piranhas in zoos, but beyond that sort of scale, this just doesn't work.
It's been tried many, many times.>
What would you recommend for feeding puffers than if not live fish.
<For juveniles, wet-frozen krill, Mysis, chopped cockle and mussel, and things like the legs from unshelled shrimps are all ideal. Woodlice (what Americans call Roly-polys I believe) also go down well, and of course any snails of suitable size, such as Physa spp. Adults will eat much the same thing, but for economy's sake you'll probably want to scale up to chunky fish and seafood: cockles, mussels, squid, crab legs, whole shrimp, tilapia fillet, etc. Again, snails of suitable size are good. There are some puffers that take dried foods like algae wafers and marine fish chips, so you might try these, but generally flake and pellets are ignored (though two of my six puffers enjoy Hikari Cichlid Gold).>
I've seen it all over the web that brine shrimp are appropriate (explanation, not defence of the issue),
<Baby brine shrimp (nauplii) are excellent, but adult brine shrimp contain very little in terms of vitamins. You can buy wet-frozen fortified brine shrimp that have vitamins added, and these would be a good addition to the diet of any fish.>
as well as thousands of videos of puffers eating live food, but obviously you can't trust everything you see. As I said I get all the Ramshorn snails that I want for free.
<Well they're excellent, so long as they're from a fish-free pond. Anything collected from a pond with fish runs the risk of introducing internal parasites.>
As to why GSP, we had some come into the store for adoption and I fell in love.
<They are lovely fish, to be sure.>
They were used to freshwater, coming from Wal**rt, but didn't seem to be doing to well in our tanks, low ph I think.
<Likely so, or something similar.>
I was planning on bringing them home but unfortunately they didn't make it at the store. I don't know about where you are, but here they are always sold acclimated to freshwater, and I wanted to give them a chance to thrive by slowly moving them over to brackish.
<Sometimes sold as "freshwater" fish here too, but thankfully not by the better shops.>
As you said these fish are full of personality, and they stuck in my head from the moment I saw them.
I am dreadfully sorry about the small amount of knowledge that I have coming from the LFS. I am new there, but I wouldn't say that anyone has any more knowledge than myself at the store.
<I'm glad you've established your niche and you're willing to work at it. I hope you'll be able to share your knowledge with your colleagues and your customers.>
What would be some good staples to read so that I can educate myself and my coworkers in the fish we sell (all freshwater, mollies, platys, guoramis, goldfish, Plecos, swords, etc. as well as African, Oscar, blood parrot, and just recently flame mouth cichlids.)
<We do have a listing of books that those of us here at WWM have found useful and recommend to others, here:
Unfortunately the store has a habit of hiring folks off the street with very little experience and then training them, but I feel our training should be much more extensive.
<I agree.>
I will be speaking to my GM about possibly requiring some sort of outside training beyond what corporate sends us.
<There *are* courses for tropical fish shop specialists out there, at least here in the UK, and the shops often display certificates to show that their staff have completed these courses and "raised their game" to the next level. That's something I think reflects well on any store.>
Thanks again, cruising your site as you read,
<Glad to help. Enjoy your fishkeeping and your work! Cheers, Neale.>

Puffer, GSPs,   12/11/09
Hello. I have 3 1.5" GSPs in a 50 gallon tank. They are a somewhat new addition to our home (about 3 months). Their water is almost perfect condition and I am in the process of raising the salinity (at the moment it is a little less then slightly brackish), which from my research is what is necessary.
<Ah, yes... particularly with larger, growing specimens as yours here.
Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm>
I am only having one problem one of the fish is really skinny
<A bad sign>
and has been since we got him, at first I just thought it was stress, I am really worried now. He eats great, his color is good, and he seems to be acting normal (like the other GSPs), but he is still really skinny. I think he may have a parasite, and if so is it contagious, and if it is, why have my other puffer shown no signs? What would be the best treatment for a multi-fish tank.
<Do give a read above the citation I've sent you to, to further read re the health/diseases of these fish. It may be prudent to add a vermifuge/anthelminthic and antiprotozoal to their favored foods... These are gone over on the site/WWM. Bob Fenner>

GSPs not wanting snails!  11/05/09
Hi Crew! First off, a little background information. I have two green spotted puffers that I've had for about a year and are between 2.5 and 3 inches.
<How sweet they must be!>
They're in a 175 gallon setup and it is full salt (a little early, I know, but they have been doing wonderfully).
Water quality is great, they have tons of live rock so they're not bored.
They are perfectly healthy and eat like little pigs... but they wont eat snails.
<Not uncommon. Snails are difficult to eat, and if given easier and tastier alternative foods, tend to ignore them. Much like how humans would sooner eat junk food than a salad.>
I have tried EVERYTHING to get them to eat snails. I've tried different kinds of snails, I've tried crushing the snails, I've tried shoving snails inside a large shrimp to "trick" them, and I've tried starving them for a
couple days.
<Try starving them for a week or two. Won't do them any harm at all.>
None of this works. Right now they eat frozen mysis or brine shrimp 2 days a week, crab or lobster legs 3 times a week, large shrimp 2 days a week, ghost shrimp and squid whenever I can find them, and sometimes will munch on the pellets meant for the two damsels sharing the tank with them (Great use of a 175 with four fish, I know, but the puffers will need that space eventually).
<Damsels and GSPs tend to get along rather well, so I wouldn't look at this combination too harshly. You may decide to add some of the very pretty, but very aggressive damselfish species you couldn't keep in a standard community or reef tank. Look at the tank as an opportunity rather than a problem.>
Anyways, their teeth are starting to get a little long. They don't look like bugs bunny or anything yet, but long enough that I'm concerned. I'm terrified to trim their teeth (I'll do it if I have to) and I wish they would just eat the snails!
<To be honest, trimming their teeth isn't a big deal. I keep Colomesus asellus, a species infamous for its fast-growing teeth. While a combination of crunchy foods and a sandy aquarium seems to slow down the rate at which their teeth grow, it doesn't completely remove the need for me to occasionally trim their teeth. I have a step-by-step guide here:
In other words, if your puffers resolutely refuse to eat snails, it's no big deal.>
Do you have any suggestions to get them to eat the snails?
<Hunger makes the best sauce...>
I'm desperate! Also, if you have any ideas of how to feed them better, I'm open to advice.
<Do choose snails they can swallow whole. A common mistake is to put big snails in there, assuming the puffer will peel them open like a can of beans. They don't. Want puffers tend to do is bite the whole snail, and more crunch the shell down, and if they can't get most or all of the shell in their mouth, they won't do this.>
Thanks so much for your help!
Carol M.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Novice Makes a Ton of Mistakes That May Kill Fish. Is the problem fungus?  8/12/09
Sorry I forgot to keep you up to date!? I guess I lost this email! Thank
you for your help!
<Happy to help.>
All of my fish survived.? Mostly I think I was overreacting (especially about the puffer, whom I baby more than anyone ever should baby a fish... it's almost a little creepy, but I admit to it!)? I used Melafix to treat the Popeye after all of the other treatments had been filtered out, and replaced the water with reverse osmosis water in 25% increments.?? No eyes were lost, no fish died, and I really learned a valuable lesson.
BUT! I have a question:? My Green Spotted Puffer had been staying in the tank, until I noticed some odd behavior.? She used to pick on EVERYBODY, even the Green Terror who is more than twice her size and another cichlid who chases the other fish so violently I'm on the verge of giving him to the pet store down the street (who swears they won't flush him), however, I think she may have suffered a little bit of a "beat down."?
<Green Spotted Puffers, widely called GSPs, aren't community fish. Period.
End of story. Adult males are territorial when mature, and both sexes view the fins of other fish as potential food. They are normally kept alone or with their own kind. 30 gallons is about right for one, 55 gallons for two.
Finally, GSPs need brackish water. They CANNOT be kept indefinitely in freshwater, whatever the guy in the pet store might have suggest. Indeed, there's some evidence they need marine conditions to breed.>
She had been swimming only in the top corner of the tank and avoiding the other fish (I at first assumed she'd go back to her old ways, and kick some tail but she didn't!) She was once so aggressive I had to fight to convince everyone she was worth it, but she began running away from even the feeder fish! Her colors even got very dark.
<What is the salinity of the water? When GSPs lose colour, it's often a sign that they're being kept in the wrong conditions. Juveniles need to be kept at around SG 1.005 at 25 degrees C, about 9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water. Adults will need about twice that salinity.>
I was scared, so I bagged her up (she usually stays at my 55 gallon that has no place in my house and therefore stays at my boyfriends') and took her home. Before I even got out of the car I noticed her colors had brightened and she was genuinely (and a little stupidly) exploring the bag (a normal fish store bag with about four inches of water in it.).
Anyhow, she seems fine, (she explores the tank and "herds the feeders," watches me type pretty intently, and hasn't really slept yet), but she's stuck in a tank that I know is too small for her, (I think it's only ten
<Do not feed this fish feeder fish. Indeed, don't feed ANY fish feeder fish. The only people who use store-bought feeder fish are people who haven't thought through what they're doing. I'm not against the use of live
fish _per se_, as it can be the only way to keep (a very few) difficult predatory fish species. But those feeders must, repeat MUST, be home-bred and gut-loaded. The most idiotic thing you can do is buy Goldfish or Minnows as feeder fish. At the price they're sold at, they're maintained in squalid (read: disease-ridden) conditions, and they're also filled with fat and Thiaminase that cause MAJOR health problems. Luckily, here in the UK, feeder fish simply aren't sold any more, but in some parts of the world
they may still be on sale. Don't buy them. Read more, here:
She's only about an inch long, and the only other inhabitants are a couple of fiddlers, who are scared of her (she enjoys chasing them onto the land, or into the tunnel underneath it), and some feeders I got for her.
<Why...? Where did you read that GSPs eat small fish? What book? They don't. They eat invertebrates and some plant material, as well as the fins of larger fish. Do read here:
How long can/should she stay there??
<Few days, maybe weeks. GSPs need brackish water conditions.>
I'm a little short on the cash I would need to get a bigger tank, and before I borrow money from my parents (and persuade them it's necessary)
I'd like to know the time frame.
<Don't buy a fish until AFTER you have researched its needs. In this case, you've created an expensive problem, because you have a fish that gets big (15 cm/6 inches) and is so aggressive it can't normally be kept with other species. It grows quickly, and within a year will be at least half grown.
I'd like to be able to offer a cheap workaround, but you know what, there aren't always quick solutions. Hence, you research BEFORE you buy. I'd have told you this if you'd asked, and saved you some money.>
AND do you think she could go back into the big tank anytime?
Thank you for your input!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater Snails... culturing for food 8/22/09
Hello, I just purchased a Green Spotted Puffer fish.
<A fascinating brackish water species. Sadly, often kept in freshwater, where it quickly dies. Do see here:
While I'd like to think you're keeping your puffer in brackish water, you'd be surprised how many people don't, and the consequent numbers of sick and dead Green Spotted Puffers there are in the world! Juveniles are best kept around SG 1.005 at 25 degrees C/77 degrees F, that's about 9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre. Adults should be kept in more saline conditions, around SG 1.010, or 15.5 grammes of marine salt mix per litre.>
I also purchased 12 little snails that range from the size of a pea to the size of a pin head. The snails are a different variety (Ramshorn and others.) I do not know anything about snails but have been told these reproduce very quickly.
<Quite possibly, but rarely fast enough to provide live food in a pufferfish aquarium. Even if the puffer only eats a modest meal of ten snails, that's practically the whole of your population. Repeat that daily, and you'll quickly wipe out any population. The exception to this may be the Malayan Livebearing Snail (Melanoides spp.) that thrive in brackish water and stay hidden under the substrate, but these have such tough shells their value as food is essentially zero. Only when hungry will puffers go for them, and even then, only the smallest specimens. Some aquarists consider them a danger to puffers, their shells being strong enough to crack pufferfish teeth. Whether this is a valid risk or not is debatable, but it's a concern some experienced keepers have raised. So, in total, there's no point whatsoever adding snails to a pufferfish tank on the basis of providing a suitable amount of food. It won't work unless we're talking a pond-sized aquarium where a population of hundreds, if not thousands, of suitable snails (e.g., Physa spp.) could be maintained.>
The fish store said they were all self reproducing. I put all 12 snail into a 1 gallon aquarium along with an air stone. I do not have any substrate in the tank just an empty bottom. It has fresh water that was treated with "Prime" and is at room temperature. The snails were all very active crawling all over the sides of the aquarium. I put a piece of lettuce in the aquarium (washed in treated water) and put the air stone on top of it to push the lettuce down to the bottom. When I got up the next day all the snails were laying on the bottom of the aquarium. I kept an eye on them and none of them have moved since. after it got dark I took a flashlight and looked in the aquarium and I could see 1 of them coming out of his shell but he never moves. I removed the lettuce and put an algae wafer in the bottom along with a little bit of tropical flake food. At this point they are not moving around. I got these to feed the puffer fish but I am afraid to give them to the puffer because I do not know what is going on. I have checked the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates but since it is fresh water only 2 days old everything was at zero. I did put 6 other snails into a 30 gallon aquarium the was already cycled but I cannot find them at this point. I got the 1 gallon tank free and I figure they would be easy to find so I could feed the puffer. Any help would be appreciated.
<Rear suitable snails in another tank. Physa spp. are ideal for smaller puffers (to around 8-10 cm) while larger puffers will take Planorbis, Vivaparus spp.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Freshwater Snails 8/22/09
WOW!!! Thanks for the fast response! I have posted on forums on my journey to learn more about puffers, snails and others and all I get is "I think" and "Maybe."
<I'm glad to have helped.>
I appreciate you also commenting on the puffer as well. I actually found the webpage you referenced right off the bat when doing my Googling. This puffer is about 1" big and has been kept in freshwater.
<Still a pup! Can be somewhat delicate when young, but not especially difficult to keep.>
You think it is best to start slowly changing him to brackish water now?
<Don't do anything radical. Simply use normal water changes to replace water with slightly brackish water. For a fish this size, SG 1.003 is ample. That's about 6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre. So if you take out a 15 litre bucket of water, add 15 litres with 15 x 6 = 90 grammes of marine salt mix. Once the fish is more than twice the size he is now, do water changes where you're replacing water with water that has 9 grammes of marine salt mix added per litre, i.e., a 15 litre bucket would contain 15 x 9 = 135 grammes. This is about SG 1.005 at 25 degrees C. In theory, you can keep GSPs perfectly well even at that low salinity, but once the fish are near full grown (around 10 cm/4 inches) you may care to nudge the salinity upwards to SG 1.010, about 15.5 grammes of marine salt mix per litre.
Again, you'd do this simply by doing water changes. Going slowly like this allows the bacteria in the filter to adjust.>
I also read that they come with parasites in them and they should be medicated right away which will extend their life. Is this something I need to do?
<Not unless there are obvious signs of infections. Over-medicating can cause all sorts of problems. Brackish water will kill a wide range of external parasites anyway, including Ick and Velvet as well as various "worms" and "lice".>
How can you tell how much food is enough for them?
<With puffers, a good rule of thumb is to feed them until their bellies slightly swell outwards. They shouldn't look like they swallowed a bowling ball! Skipping a meal once a week does no harm. Vary the diet, offering mostly shell-on foods such as krill, daphnia, bloodworms, etc. Some puffers enjoy cooked peas. Soft meaty things like squid and mussel are good for them, but use in moderation to avoid problems such as constipation and vitamin deficiency.>
I read they will eat until they rupture their stomachs.
If I drop 1 snail into the tank (the puffer goes wild) his stomach gets fairly large after he eats it so I stop feeding him at that point.
Am I feeding him enough food?
<So long as he isn't "hollow" bellied, he's fine.>
Keep in mind the snails are about the size of a pea or smaller. Your page says you have to GSP as well. What is best to feed a puffer of this size?
Your page says one thing to feed them is ghost shrimp.
<Adults certainly enjoy them.>
Being that my puffer is only about 1" big will he be able to eat ghost shrimp or is he to small?
<Probably not. Daphnia and brine shrimps, as well as wet-frozen krill and mysis, will be fine. My puffers sometimes refuse things like krill and mysis, I suppose because these foods are "hard work" to chew and swallow.
Don't relent! If needs be, starve your puffer a day or two, and then offer these nutritious goodies.>
Can I keep the ghost shrimp with the snails or will the ghost shrimp try to eat the snails? I think I need to make a trip out to the store to find some other types of food. I have been giving him a snail every other day and freeze dried brine shrimp (which you do not list as a food for them.) I did by some shrimp for me and gave him a little piece which he looked like he really enjoyed. I have only had him for about 1 week at this point.
<Brine shrimp are a fine treat, and they're full of fibre, but they contain almost no other nutrition. So while fine once a week, don't use them too often.>
I did find that most of the snails did move late last night. When I got up most of them were around the algae wafer, others were on the sides of the tank. Should they be constantly moving? <Yes.>
I read on your posts that some people have experienced the snails laying on the bottom and just moving at night. Other say their snails are constantly moving. I am sure it also depends on the type of snail.
<Precisely so.>
Thanks for taking the time to answer my email.
<My pleasure.>
I have a friend who has been raising cichlids for 15+ years but when it comes to brackish\salt water fish and puffers he doesn't really know too much about them. It is nice to see that someone with experience is willing to take time to respond to so many emails (of which I bet you get a lot of) and take the time to help others out so they can learn the best way to care for their aquariums.
<We try and do our best, at least. Enjoy your fish! Cheers, Neale.>

Fish question (Tetraodon nigroviridis; health, diet) 6/19/09
WWM Crew,
<Hello Stacey,>
I have 3 green spotted puffers in a brackish 30 gallon tank. I originally had 4 and I've had them for about 6 months now. The fourth one became sick and the fish store I went to really wasn't any help. They gave me an antifungal fish medicine and told me to separate the fish so I put that one in a ten gallon tank and the medicine seemed to kill the fish just from the chemicals that ate away at it.
<It is certainly true that some medications appear toxic to Pufferfish. It isn't common for Fungus to be a problem in brackish water aquaria; for whatever reason, fungi just don't seem to do well under such conditions.
But bacterial infections such as Finrot and the misleadingly named Mouth Fungus (also known as Columnaris) can occur. Neither will be cured by anti-fungal medications; to treat them, you need something like Maracyn designed to deal with bacteria.>
However, I realise another one of my puffers is starting the same symptoms.
<Now, when two fish suffer the same problem, you have to start looking at the bigger picture. Begin by reviewing water conditions. Thirty gallons isn't viable for three puffers above, say, 10 cm/4 inches, simply because these fish are so messy and put a heavy strain on the filter. Check the ammonia and nitrite levels, which need to be zero, and the nitrate, which should be 20 mg/l or less most of the time, and certainly never higher than 50 mg/l. Weekly water changes of 25% or more are important. Also check the water chemistry; these puffers need hard (10-25 degrees dH) water with a pH around 7.5 to 8. If you have a specific gravity about 1.010, then a protein skimmer is an option. You should not be keeping these puffers below a specific gravity of 1.005, which is equivalent to 9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre; that's roughly 1.5 level teaspoons of marine salt mix per litre, or about 5.5 level teaspoons (or 1.18 oz) of marine salt mix per US
gallon. I mention this because a lot of people think brackish water is a teaspoon of tonic salt per gallon -- it's not!>
The fish just hangs out at the top of the water in the corner breathing heavily, looks bigger than normal, and will not eat. I switch off between feeling the fish bloodworms, ghost shrimp, and feeder fish and I recently
began giving them small snails.
<Never, ever use feeder fish. Who recommended this? Why would you feed anything as parasite- and disease-laden as feeder fish to your pets? Let's recap the proper diet of Green Spotted Puffers: snails, krill, cockles, squid, cooked peas, algae wafers. Don't use mussels or shrimps/prawns too often because these contain a lot of Thiaminase, and over time, can lead to a Vitamin B1 deficiency. A couple times a week is fine; rest of the week, use other foods.>
Do you have any idea what might be wrong with my puffer, and what I can do to save him?
<Cheers, Neale.>

A sweet picture of a sweet puffer 6/2/08 Dear Wet Web Media (and most especially Pufferpunk, whose unflagging knowledge leaves me awed), <Awww... shucks, thanks Micah. What a wonderful compliment!> I'm just writing to send you a picture of the GSP whose life PP saved. He now happily patrols his sectioned-off 15 gallons (the other 30 gallons of the tank are shared by a few Malawi cichlids) and he readily partakes of common pond snails, thawed frozen blood worms, gut-loaded ghost shrimp and Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp. Next, we're going to try to introduce some cichlid pellets, though it's much harder to make those look even sort of lifelike... =) <I'm so glad he's doing well. Be sure to feed your puffer lots of meaty foods. Here are more ideas on foods for your puffer: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ How are the plans for his own tank? I'm sure the cichlids would like to have their tank back soon. For some reason, I can't download pics from this site but I'm hoping it will come out on our FAQs. An update on his happiness & health is a fantastic end to the wonderful birthday I'm having today! Thanks for keeping in touch. ~PP>

Re: A sweet picture of a sweet puffer  6/10/08 Pufferpunk, <Hi Micah> Today I transferred the puffer to his own tank (now detoxed of all the ammonia caused by the dead snails and bacteria... I changed out 90% of the water and vacuumed the gravel, though I didn't wash any of the gravel or decorations because I've had the filter running on that tank the whole time my puffer has been in the cichlid tank). I tested the levels in the tank, and they read: ammonia 0 ppm, nitrites 0 ppm, nitrates 40 ppm, <Best kept below 20.> pH 8.2. Temperature is between 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Specific gravity is negligible -- at least, it doesn't even register on my hygrometer. <Hydrometer> In a week I'll add a small amount of marine salt so I can start introducing him to the brackish water he should be living in. <Yes, I'd give him & the biological bacteria some time to settle in.> I do have one question, about feeding him. He's turned out to be an incredibly picky eater, though not in terms of frozen vs. live food. He readily accepts Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp and blood worms (both thawed shortly before being offered to him), but he hates more or less everything else. He won't eat ghost shrimp (I put a few in his tank, and a week later they were still all alive), he doesn't like plankton (he'll take a bite and then spit it out), he doesn't like krill (he seems to really enjoy tearing them up but not swallowing them), he won't accept cichlid pellets (those don't even make it into his mouth), and he's hit or miss when it comes to pond snails. I know he needs a more varied diet than he's getting, but he doesn't seem to want anything else I've been offering. Any ideas? I've heard soaking food in a garlic solution beforehand can whet the appetite. <Garlic should enhance his appetite. I don't know of any healthy puffer that would ever turn down live worms. ~PP> Cheers, Micah

Re: Green spotted puffer; feeding. -- 02/02/2008 Thank you for that great advice. <You are welcome.> I will be watching the puffer very close. I know that they need snails to keep their teeth dulled down, when I asked my LFS they told me that I cannot get them as small as I was asking for. I know they are as small as the GSP eye. What is the name of this snail...perhaps I can buy them online somewhere. <No specific small snail species is needed. You can feed them smaller specimens of bigger snail species. Most puffer keepers feed various Ramshorn snails, pest snails or common pond snails of adequate size, which they breed in a small tank or even a bucket. You could try getting some from a fellow hobbyist with a planted freshwater tank. Many would be glad if you'd take some of the snails off their hands. Only Malayan trumpet snails, however, are considered to hard and being possible teeth crackers by some puffer keepers. Please see here for some advice on snail breeding http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/basic-snail-breeding/ , and also other adequate puffer food items: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ . Green spotted puffers do not have very fast growing teeth like South American puffers or Auriglobus spp., I feed mine snails (mostly Ramshorn) approx. once a week and cannot observe any visible growth of the teeth. Of course there may be some variation within this species.> Thanks, Jessica. <Cheers, Marco.>

GSP hunger strike and stress lines 1/23/08 Hey there, thanks for the great site, it's been wonderful for all my puffer troubleshooting so far. However, I do have a problem that's been worrying me. First, back-story: a week ago my impulsive roommate bought two baby GSPs from Wal-Mart, the LAST two. Needless to say they were rather unhealthy. Both the 'big' one (about an inch long without the tail) and the little one (maybe half an inch? super itty bitty compared to the first) had concave bellies and I suspected IP. <If my "IP" you mean internal parasites, I'm skeptical. Almost all instances where non-veterinary-trained aquarists declare "internal parasites" as the reason their fish are sick or die, the actual problem is something else, most often poor husbandry of some sort or another. Pufferfish have a relatively short digestive tract, and will appear to be "empty" quite soon after feeding. Assuming that the retailer wasn't caring for this fish properly, e.g., by offering them flake food, then chances are the fish are hungry and will need a few square meals to get back into shape. But beyond that, nothing too taxing.> My roommate soon figured out she wasn't up to the challenge of GSPs and so gave them to me. I've been doing the best I can for them (upgraded to brackish water with marine mix salt, adding a teaspoon every day or every other day till I get to a SG of 1.010, offered fine gravel and sand for digging, lots of hiding spots, keeping the water parameters IMMACULATE, 10% water changes daily instead of 25% since they're still stressed, constant water temp of 80F, ph of 8.2) unfortunately due to my dorm's strict rules they can't be in a tank larger than 5 gallons (as soon as I move to my apartment this summer that will change big time and each will have his very own much larger tank). <All sounds good. A few comments though. GSPs are truly euryhaline fish, and the actual salinity isn't all that important. Juveniles are found in brackish water, but adults, oddly enough, in freshwater. Under aquarium conditions, they don't do well in freshwater permanently, in the sense of being more sensitive to disease. But in the short term, there's no rush to change the salinity in your tank. It's actually much more critical you make sure the filter is happy, and rapid changes in salinity can stress the filter bacteria. In my experience, you can switch the filter bacteria from freshwater to anything up to SG 1.005 without problems. But once you go above that, there's some sort of re-jigging going on the filter that means you need to be careful. For the first 6-12 months of a GSPs life, there's ABSOLUTELY no need to raise the SG above 1.005, so I'd stabilise conditions there for now. Apart from causing less stress to the filter, you'll also save money on the salt, which will mean you can do more water changes more often. Nitrate (and old water generally) is FAR more unpleasant for your GSP than salinity. The temperature is far too high: 25 C/77 F is more than adequate. High temperatures mean less oxygen and faster metabolism, two things you don't want to have to deal with in a small aquarium. I agree a 5 gallon tank is inadequate for a GSP, and my gut feeling is that even by summertime this year, that tank is going to look very cramped. Once you have the bigger tank, set it up at, say, SG 1.008 to SG 1.012, as you prefer, mature the filter, and once matured, install the pufferfish from the SG 1.005 5-gallon tank. GSPs can easily adapt to this change in salinity within an hour using the drip method (i.e., put in a third-filled bucket of SG 1.005 water, dribble in high salinity water, and once the bucket is filled, lift the puffer out and put into the new tank.> Other than the occasional stare-down at feeding time, there's no tank aggression so far (I guess because they're still so young). <Likely so. Males are believed to guard the eggs (if not the fry), so it is probable that only sexually mature males become aggressive. Much like cichlids, gouramis, killifish, etc.> The bigger one pretty much ignores the little one, and the little one sticks to the big one like glue. I know this is a total anthropomorphisation, but the little one seems to enjoy the company? <Entirely possible. Many fish are more or less social when young, and only become territorial as they mature. Angelfish are classic examples. The "friendliness" of pufferfish does vary with species as well as specimen, so it's difficult to make general statements with this particular group of fish. On the other hand, puffers are smart animals, and likely their default behaviour does get modified by being kept in captivity. My experience is that puffers in busy tanks are less likely to become nippy or aggressive, but others have had entirely different experiences. So who knows for sure!> Whenever they get separated he'll furiously buzz around the tank till he finds the big one, then settles down and happily follows his friend. <Heh!> Anyway, to get to the point, the little guys just don't really have appetites. <Try live food, and try variation. All my puffers love bloodworms, and they also get chopped seafood of various kinds, including squid, mussels, and prawns. Brine shrimp and daphnia usually work well with small puffers. They also love live woodlice (terrestrial isopods), and these are easy to find in the garden under rotting wood and flowerpots.> Since they won't eat medicated foods I treated the tank with fizzing IP tablets. I've been offering dried krill, Tubifex worms, bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp, and not much has appealed. <I find freeze-dried foods a total waste of time. Others have success with them, but not me. Do try "wet frozen" foods as an alternative.> I've been combing this podunk little town for snails to feed and have only managed to acquire 5 pond snails. The bigger GSP was all over the snails and finally got a little tummy, but the tiny GSP didn't seem to know how to eat them. <Wild GSPs likely don't eat many snails, so you may be onto a loser here. While I agree snails are a very good food item, wild GSPs are more omnivorous taking crustaceans and insects alongside molluscs. They also eat plant material and, apparently, the fins and scales of larger fish. So broaden the menu, and you're more likely to have success. My puffers don't actually like snails all that much, so I've pretty much given up on this, except in adding some Melanoides spp. snails to the system and letting them eat any baby snails they find.> To prevent possible bullying by the bigger one at mealtimes, I have a little container that I fill with tank water and put the little guy in with choice bits. I offered all the dried fare and several snails the size of his eye. He seemed interested in the snails, but couldn't figure out how to eat them. I crushed one for him and he pecked at it, then just started swimming around the QT till I put him back in the main tank. <Sounds good, but removing fish to feed them is kind of a hassle. Try hand-feeding. I use metal forceps of the sort used for dissections. Cheap and easy to obtain. Most fish, even quite nervous fish, will take food from forceps willingly. Also avoids the problem of you being nipped!> Last night I got some raw frozen in shell shrimp at the grocery store and chopped one up into teeny pieces and offered it thawed to both fish (little one in the feeding QT as before). The big one absolutely could not get enough and filled up his little tummy (much to my relief) but the little one pecked at the pieces then ignored them. <A staple food item for my tropical fish. Do remember that prawn contains a lot of Thiaminase, which breaks down Vitamin B1, so don't use it every single day. Unshelled prawns are the best: puffers love the legs, tail fins, and seemingly the eyeballs. I eat the meat in the tails myself! Sometimes they come with prawn eggs, and those are a rich, oily treat loved by most small fish.> I know puffers are often stressed for a bit after a big move, and I know they can survive a little while without eating, but I'm so worried the little guy is way too small to survive a hunger strike! <Force-feeding is an option, and I have done this once to reclaim a very sick puffer. But it's a last resort sort of option. Do try varying the diet as indicated above. Once you've done that, get back in touch if you really feel the need to force-feed the fish, i.e., it's condition is obviously declining.> Other than the concave belly, the little one is acting healthy: white tummy, no stress lines, actively buzzing around the tank, fanned tail, responsive to my approach, etc. The big one, however, has had stress blotches on either side of his mouth and a dotted stress line above his tummy (though his tummy is snow white and he acts otherwise healthy; responsive and inquisitive and etc). <All sounds fine. The colour of the abdomen is a bit hit and miss frankly, so while useful up to a point, don't put too much store by it. What matters by puffers is their [a] activity and [b]"chubbiness". Sick puffers tend to sit at the bottom and look bony, especially around the face.> I have tried everything I know to help. I keep the aquarium light off to lower stress, obsessively monitor water parameters, keep the water sparkling and aerated, offer as much of a variety of food that's small enough for babies (ghost shrimp are WAY too big), I'm currently growing some sea monkeys to stimulate an appetite (but they take a week or two to mature), I even got desperate and tried the holistic garlic juice food treatment, which totally did NOT work. <Didn't work when I tried it, either.> Neither fish has lockjaw or overgrown teeth, and I've offered pieces of cuttle bone to add to their crunchy diet. <Not sure they eat cuttlebone. I wouldn't worry too much about the teeth just yet. Some puffers never get bad teeth, and even the ones that do, it's an easy enough fix.> I am so sorry this is so long, but I wanted to give you as much info as possible. I've spent the majority of my time over this past week researching GSPs and brackish setups, spent over half my budget on treatments and foods and general aquarium stuff, and pretty much done everything I can think of to help. When they grow bigger I can feed them larger and more appropriate fare like ghost shrimp, but right now they are just so little. <I think you're doing all you can at the moment.> Please help me, I'm so worried about the big one's stress and the little one's starvation! I feel so awful for not being able to give them a bigger home yet, like I'm totally failing at my responsibility to give these guys a better life, and if they end up dying for no reason other than their 5 measly gallons, I will be crushed. <Only time will tell.> On a completely different note, I have a question that my research has failed to answer. The bigger GSP occasionally comes up to the glass, opens his mouth, and makes a sound that can only be described as a cricket chirp. <All puffers seem to make noises periodically. I think it's their teeth grinding. Seems to be normal, and in fact quite a few fish make noises, we just don't tend to notice them.> He isn't puffing, and seems to do it without provocation. Is he bored or distressed? What in the world does this mean, and is it normal? <Yes, don't worry about it.> Thank you for your time ~Kimberly <Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer, Coquina Clams, and Mole Crabs, feeding  -- 12/13/2007 Hi, Marco and Jeni and Crew! <Hello, Marco here today.> I wrote in a few weeks ago about my GSP, Pete. He's the one that had his own "personal trainer" that was quite expensive and who bit my Perc Clown resulting in a move into his own tank. <I remember.> I also wrote in with questions about rearing snails. As things would have it, I now have a 20 gallon set up with black sand, cuttlefish bone, and a couple of plants, as well as many Ramshorns that can be moved from the 3 gallon into the 20 gallon for rearing. I'm afraid that snail production won't keep up with the amount of crunchiness Pete needs to keep his beak trimmed. <It will take some time, but you will soon see snail eggs on the glass and plants and in a few weeks, when they reach the size of the puffer's eye, they can be fed. A 20 gallon tank should easily be sufficient. GSP are not among the species with very fast growth of teeth, 1 to 2 snails every 2 or 3 days are sufficient in my experience.> Last evening I opened my bag of frozen silversides (for my torch coral in a different tank) and saw a small black mussel/clam. I don't know which it was, but I'm guessing it was a clam. I fed it to Pete, and he happily crunched through the shell. I've had trouble getting him to eat clams/scallops/mussels of any kind besides that one. I've tried soaking in garlic, grating, chopping, etc. I bought fresh, froze it, thawed it, whacked it on a counter to break the shell. He will just spit any of them out or ignore them altogether. <Training puffers to eat new types of food can take a while and will need some patience. Have you read here? http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/problems-feeding-your-puffer/ > As luck would have it, I live in the Florida Panhandle a stone's throw from the beach. Yeah! <Nice. I probably would not be able to work if I was living by the sea.> While combing the beach, I've seen these small burrowing clams, which are locally called "periwinkles". After a search, I've found the names.....Coquina clams - Donax variabilis (common names are also "wedge", "bean", and "surf" clam ). Here are some links to pictures and info: http://zipcodezoo.com/Animals/D/Donax_variabilis.asp#Physical http://www.pbase.com/katemalone/image/4845690/large http://www.mitchellspublications.com/guides/shells/articles/0021/ <Hey, great. You really did your research prior to writing.> There is an abundance of these Coquinas right near my home. I think Pete would love them, they are just the right size (he'd HAVE to crunch through them) but I want to make sure they would be okay to feed to him. <Yes, as long as your beach is not polluted and the collecting of those animals is legal. As far as I know, they are even fine for human consumption. Your last link suggests to use them to make a broth, too.>. If so, how would I prepare/store them? Wash in freshly mixed water and freeze? <Exactly, although I think you can use seawater to rinse them.> I would thaw them in a mixture of Selcon, Zoe, and Marine C. <Sounds perfect.> Would I need to sterilize them in any way or would freezing do the trick? <Freezing should be sufficient.> I'd thought about dropping some in his tank for him to hunt in the sand..... I don't think I could keep any of them alive in the tank because their natural environment is one with daily cycles of waves. <I agree and would not put more in the tank than he eats on one day.> I'm also thinking that the crunched shells would be a good addition to the Fiji pink sand substrate (maybe help to buffer???). <'¦at least to a small extent.> There is also an abundance of mole crabs (Emerita talpoida). Are these okay to feed Pete? They are crunchy crustaceans that I have open access to. How would I prepare and store them? Here are some links. http://www.assateague.com/mole-cr.html http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/resources/cynthia_parr/Sept_Oct_2002_009.jpg/view.html  <Should be fine, too. I would treat them just like the Coquina and not feed them alive.> Thank you so much for your help/advice in the past and I look forward to hearing your response. Corinthian. <Sounds you are doing great. Carry on. Marco.>
Re: Green Spotted Puffer, Coquina Clams, and Mole Crabs... + Now, raising snails... for puffer food  -- 12/14/2007
Marco, Within two hours of placing the snails into the 20 gallon, I had a cluster of eggs smack-dab in the middle of the front pane of glass. Now, a few days later, they are gettin' down-and-goin' to town. Another question: I've read that one should rinse lettuce leaves (Romaine), dry them, then freeze them for a few minutes before feeding to the snails. Is it okay to just buy a head of lettuce, separate the leaves, wash, dry, and leave in the freezer until needed? <Sounds okay. Personally I prefer feeding well washed slices of cucumber and other vegetables in addition to old (but still good) fish flakes. Ramshorns are not picky and as long as you do not poison them with pesticides or heavy metals they seem to thrive on various foods.> What I buy always goes bad in the fridge before the snails can eat it all. It may be a silly question, but I want to make sure before I do so. Thanks for the link on picky puffer feeding. I've read it. Pete doesn't have a problem with other dead foods. Loves squid and bloodworms (dead, of course) and will even eat some greens (macro algae). He also gets mealworms (live) and snails when I have them available......I'll try the chopstick trick and see if I can get him to eat clams/oysters that way....or maybe I won't need to now that I can use Coquinas. Speaking of feeding him live foods....my backyard is Roly-Poly Central (Woodlice). I think I read somewhere that these are okay to feed him. Just double-checking with you. Are they? <I feed them from time to time to GSPs and other puffers, but they are not among their favourite foods and seem not to be very tasty.> There are no pesticides that we use, so they should be okay in that regard. Our sprinkler system does use water that isn't potable, though. <You can rinse them and freeze them if you are feeling unsure.> By the way, I called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Dept and was told that I could remove 20 clams/crabs at a time without a license. Yeah! <That's good news. Very good you called.> Hey, where's your picture under the Crew Bio section? I've seen Jeni on her Harley and Bob in his leopard print wrestling tights (eeeee hehehehe), Anthony with his beanie and goatee (you ROCK, Dude); plus pictures of other crew members. But no Marco.....! What gives? I'm just sayin', is all. <I'm very shy and reclusive.. just kidding. Will send a picture to Bob if needed. Until then you can find a picture on my homepage http://www.geo-lichtenberger.de.vu/ , click at 'Zur Person'.> Thanks again, Corinthian. <Not much to do here for me, but lots of good information for other GSP owners by you. Thanks for writing. Great how you care for Pete. Marco.>

Problem with my green spotted puffer; Not eating - 11/28/2007 Hello, WWM crew. <Hi Marie.> I'm hoping you can help me. <Will try.> After searching through the FAQs I didn't see anything that quite matched this situation, so now I'm coming directly to you for advice. I bought a Green Spotted Puffer a little over two weeks ago, and he hasn't eaten anything yet. So far I've tried feeding him frozen bloodworms, live ghost shrimp, and live black worms. He looks at the food, but he just watches it sink to the bottom instead of going after it. I know he's supposed to eat snails, but so far every fish store I've been to didn't have any small enough. <Ask fellow puffer keepers for snails, many breed them. At www.thepufferforum.com you will find quite a bunch. Also, small pest snails are often found in the plant departments of the shops. It's best to start snail breeding before buying the puffer you want to feed with them.> Could it be that his teeth are overgrown already? <Possible, but you would see that. He'd look like a bunny with the teeth of the upper jaw reaching all over the mouth.> At first I thought he just didn't feel like eating because he was in a new environment, but it's been long enough that I'm assuming he should have adapted. <Yes.> I don't think there's anything wrong with the water, because the nitrite and ammonia levels are both 0, and I recently did a 50% water change with water that I bought from the fish store. <Nitrates?> The salinity is only about 0.004, but that's because he was kept in freshwater at the store and I'm slowly changing it to brackish by 0.002 per week. <Okay.> Do you think he might have a disease or parasites? <Possible, but impossible to diagnose from the one symptom.> He started acting lethargic shortly after I got him, and now he's much darker in color and he keeps his tail bent. <Signs of feeling uncomfortable.> How long can he live without food, and what food should I try next? <A few weeks, depending on how his health condition was before the hunger strike. You should try to get some snails and possibly try some unprocessed sea foods from the grocery store. Clam and mussel meat, as well as shrimps are usually accepted. Ask what he was fed in the store if you haven't already. Many puffer keepers swear on garlic (mostly as an solution) as an appetizer. Would certainly be worth a try, too.> Thanks. - Marie. <Sounds you are doing everything right. Hope he starts eating and gets well again. Marco.>

Re: Problem with my green spotted puffer; Not eating - 11/29/2007 Thanks for the advice, Marco! <You are welcome.> I went to the supermarket today, but I couldn't find any clam or mussel meat that wasn't spiced, so I bought crab instead. Is crab alright for puffers to eat? <Yes, very good.> The problem now is that I'm not sure how to feed it to him, because he won't come to the surface when I'm near the tank. He hides whenever he sees people coming. <That is some shy Green Spotted Puffer! Usually it is exactly the opposite when they have settled in. So, you will only have the possibility to drop a tiny piece of crab into the tank and watch from the distance if he eats it. Also consider garlic as a possibility to make the food smell more delicious (at least for the puffer).> I went back to the fish store too to find out what they fed the puffers, and they said blackworms, which he won't eat for me. They gave me some small feeder fish to try instead. I know that feeder fish aren't very nutritious <'¦and possibly carry diseases and parasites'¦>, but I'm hoping that he'll at least get something in his stomach. He stalked them a few times, but he hasn't tried to eat them yet. You said you can't diagnose a disease based on lethargy alone, <true'¦ diagnosis is difficult on living fish and lethargy accompanies many diseases.> but today I noticed some other possible symptoms. His eyes are starting to look red, and sometimes he seems to be twitching. <Sounds like problems with his slime coat, can have many reasons, too. Check water quality (see below). If he is also breathing fast look for salt grain like spots (but don't confuse them with the tiny spikes they have), could be a beginning white spot infection.> I can't tell for sure, but I think it's his right side that is twitching the most, and he sometimes swims crooked with his right side facing down. <This swimming with bent tail and dark colors is the way they swim when feeling stressed, unwell or tired.> Does that sound like an illness you're familiar with? If so, can it be treated? <No and not directly unless it is white spot.> Thanks. <Check again its environment: tank large enough? Tank properly cycled before the puffer was added? Still 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite? Nitrate below 30 (should be monitored due to all the feeding attempts)? Temperature 74 - 78F? Enough surface movement to provide enough oxygen? Substrate and decorations safe for aquarium use? Was a water conditioner and marine salt mix from the fish store used to prepare the water for your partial water changes? Specific gravity really at 1.004? It sounds your puffer is having an exceptionally difficult time settling in. For feeding I'd try the garlic with a piece of crab and also the black worms (sure he did not eat some, while you have been away?). Here is another article on feeding difficulties with some more suggestions: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/problems-feeding-your-puffer/. I still hope your puffer eats and gets well again. Marco.>

Re: Problem with my green spotted puffer; Not eating, now env., sys. and Wood Use - 12/01/2007 My fish ate yesterday! It was so exciting. <Good news.> When I checked the water parameters again, the nitrites had gone up so I treated for that and within hours he started eating. <There you go. The tank was not properly cycled. Whatever you did to cycle it, apparently it didn't work. Do daily water changes to keep the nitrites down until they stay at 0. Consider using BioSpira to instantly cycle the tank. Dry cycling products appear to be less efficient.> I'm still keeping an eye on him for any other possible problems, but I think that was the main issue. Now I have two other questions. <Okay.> Can I put Mopani wood in the tank after I've soaked it in a bucket of water for a few days? The instructions say that soaking it should remove all the tannins, but since puffers are sensitive, I don't want to put it in the tank unless I know it will be okay. <I would not put wood in a brackish tank, especially not a small one. Due to the salt wood often starts to rot, which can result in a serious decline in water quality. However, some pieces of wood for aquaria seem to be already 'mature' enough and don't undergo these rotting processes. So, if you want to try, test it first in a bucket or a fishless tank and let it sit there for a few weeks to see what happens.> Also, will a smaller tank cause health problems for him <Yes. Practically he will be poisoning himself with his own waste.> , or will he just stay little? <Will likely die at a young age and small size.> I live in a small apartment and right now I have him in a 10 gallon tank, because I can't find a spot to put anything bigger. <You will inevitably have to get a bigger tank for him or your puffer won't live very long. In large enough tanks they can get more than 10 years. There are small puffers e.g. dwarf puffers that can live happily in a 10 gallon tank but not Green Spotted Puffers. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/green_spotted_puppies.htm for their basic requirements.> I don't mind if he doesn't grow to his full potential size, but I don't want to compromise his health and comfort by keeping him in a small tank. <You would. If you are interested in the health of this animal your options are: get a larger tank (and cycle it properly this time) or find another home for him.> Thanks for everything. You've been a big help! <Thanks for your kind words. Marco.>

Re: Problem with my green spotted puffer -- 12/04/2007 Okay, thanks for the info. About the tank size, I'll look into getting a bigger one, and if I absolutely can't find a place to put it, I can ask my friend with a 70 gallon tank if she'd be willing to adopt him. <Good to hear. I hope you find the space, if not remember this fish needs brackish water (made with marine salt mix from the pet store) when giving it away.> For now though, is it okay to cycle the tank with BioSpira while he's in it? <Yes can be used with the puffer in there. Also, monitor your nitrates until you have a larger tank available and do water changes to keep the accumulating nitrates at least below 30.> Thanks again for all your help. I really appreciate it. Marie <You are most welcome. Marco.>

GSP Not Well (improper feeding, no heater)... Sys., hlth., fdg....  11/26/07 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have had my leopard skin puffer for about a year and a half now and just recently he is not doing so well. It started out as him not eating frozen brine shrimp after a year of eating them. <Very poor choice of food, especially if using as a staple. Adult brine shrimp are not nutritious, being made up of mostly water. Puffers need crunchy, meaty foods. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ > So I switched to feeding him snails for most of the time and he loved them. <Much better choice.> Because I was leaving for the holidays I decided to leave a couple of feeder fish in his tank to see if he would eat them. The next day I found he ate three of them! I bought more and left for the holidays, after returning I found that he had eaten only one and was laying on the bottom of the tank. <Ooooh, even worse choice than before. Feeders are not only an unnatural food source for a puffer but they are a fatty food that lives in poor conditions, passing all kinds of pathogens onto your puffer. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeders/ > I also found that I mistakenly left the window open that was right next to his tank so I figured that is why he was not doing so well. I filled his tank with warmer water and he seemed to be doing much better but the next day I found him laying on the tank bottom again. I rushed out and bought a heater and put it in the tank but after two hours his state has not changed. Is there anything more that I can do?! <All tropical fish need heaters to keep their tank temp steady, around 78. You don't mention the tank's water parameters--a must to list, whenever asking a query about a fish that is not well. You should always be aware of the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate pH & specific gravity levels of your tank. How much salt is in there? Are you using marine salt? What is your water change schedule (how often/how much)? What size tank is it? Tank mates? Knowing all of these factors can keep your puffer healthy & long-lived. My first suggestion to you would be to do a 25% water change right away & do another 25% later in the day, after removing the dead carcasses of the goldfish. Dechlorinate with Prime. Never feed them to your puffer again! Follow the suggestions in the feeding article linked above, after your puffer seems to be feeling better (an ill fish will not eat). Please write back when you have answers to my questions & I can help your puffer further. ~PP>

Re: leopard skin puffer Stunting a Puffer/Cleaning Tank 11/27/07 Thank you so much for your help. <I'm trying...> Ever since I bought him I have been feeding him the wrong thing and have never known it. <I hope you have read the article on feeding your puffer & will improve his diet.> I took out the fish immediately and he seems to be doing a lot better. He is swimming on his own now. When I do clean out his tank I put aquarium salt (about 1 tbsp for 5 gallons) along with dechlorinator. <That is not nearly enough salt for a year-old puffer & you must use marine salt to make brackish water. Have you read the GSP article I wrote? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > He is in a 5 gallon hexagon tank and seems to have plenty of room since he is by himself. <How large is he? If he has been living in a 5g all this time, I'm afraid he may be stunted. I don't like starting even a juvie in a tank smaller than 10g & eventually a 6" adult will require a minimum of 30g.> I clean out his tank about every two weeks, since it is by the window & seems to develop lots of algae. When I do clean out his tank I take out all the water (I know your not suppose to but I've been doing it ever since I have gotten him and it hasn't affected him) and replace it. Everything else in his tank seems to be correct (nitrate, nitrite levels, pH etc.) <"Correct" means nothing to me. I did inquire as to what those levels are & hoped for exact numbers. This manner if cleaning is extremely stressful for your fish. I recommend either moving your tank away from the window, covering the sides exposed to the window & doing your cleaning weekly, by doing a 50% water change, rather than the 100% bi-weekly you are doing now. Good luck with your puffer & his very soon upgrade to a larger, brackish water tank. ~PP>

Topaz puffers not eating -- 11/06/2007 Hi, <Hello.> I bought 2 Topaz Puffers 4 days ago and they will not eat anything. I have tried feeding them live bloodworm, frozen daphnia and flakes but they don't seem interested. The shop sold them to me as FW fish as they have been bred in FW <I hesitate to believe that. There is not one report on the breeding of Tetraodon fluviatilis aka Ceylon puffer aka Topaz puffer. This is a brackish water species sometimes venturing into fresh water rivers, where it is caught and shipped. For aquarium care you will inevitably need brackish (or marine) water.> and they are 3-4 inches long. The shop fed them live bloodworm on the day I bought them. Their bellies are black the majority of the time and they tend to swim around the same area. Do you think that they are still adjusting to the tank or do you think they may be ill? Thanks. <Puffers need some time to settle in. In addition it is important to provide a good water quality and a tank of sufficient size. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/green_spotted_puppies.htm. Care for your puffers is the same, although they'll get slightly larger than their green spotted cousins. Cheers, Marco.>

Feeding Green Spot Puffer Mealworms 10/31/07 <Hi Ciara, Pufferpunk here> Is it safe to feed my green spot puffer meal worms?? <Mealworms are fine as an occasional, crunchy food. They are very fatty though & should be not fed as more than a treat. For more feeding ideas, see: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ > Thanks for your informative site! <You're welcome! Have you seen this GSP article? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm ~PP> Ciara

Puffer Fish Question, GSP... fdg.... ham-on?  -- 10/30/2007 Hello, I have a green spotted puffer who has been doing very well so far. Tonight I was eating some Canadian bacon (basically ham) and I pinched off a little piece and gave it to him. I was not thinking when I fed it to him that it might make him sick. Do you all know if eating this little piece of ham will cause him problems? I am afraid that he will not be able to digest it or that the sodium will cause him problems. I'm really worried now. Please help! Thanks so much. <One little piece will probably do no harm. But this isn't something to repeat. The meat of warm blooded animals contains oils that congeal into solid fat in the cold body of a fish. This can cause serious problems. Processed foods can also contain chemicals that are harmless to us but untested on fish, so why risk it? If you want to give your Puffer a treat, buy some unshelled prawns. You eat the meat in the tails, and the puffer can have the head and the legs. He'll go wild for them! The crunchy shells also help them wear down their beaks. Store any leftovers in the freezer wrapped in tin foil, and break off a little when you're feeding your Puffer. A cheap, easy way to augment a healthful diet. Practically any raw or boiled seafood is good for them: squid, mussels, clams, etc. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Puffer Fish Question 10/30/07 Thank you so much! He seems ok so far, but I guess time will tell. Thanks again! I love your site!! <Thanks for letting us know he's doing well. Good luck, Neale>

Feeding Your Green Spotted Puffer  10/29/07 <Hi Marshall, Pufferpunk here> I have a rather weird story. I have a green spotted puffer who was looking great, feeding well and having no problems whatsoever. Then tonight when I fed him, I noticed that one of his sides are convex and then other is concave. It appears that he has broken his spine? His swimming is not as smooth as it used to be. The really odd thing about this problem is I had it happen to a dwarf puffer before. The previous puffer looked like this one and continued to be able to swim less and less and then won't eat and finally died. I don't know if it is a deficiency in his diet. I feed the tank blood worms. <Puffers do get "lumpy" after eating. There is a chance though, that your puffer could have internal parasites. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/internal-parasites-prevention-and-treatment/ Any diet that is not varied will be deficient. Here are feeding tips for your puffer: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ Thanks for your time, Marshall

Green Spotted Pufferfish Dentistry 8/10/07 Hi, <Hi Samantha, Pufferpunk here> I have a dwarf green spotted puffer his teeth are grown together, it has gotten to the point he can no longer eat! <What do you mean by "dwarf"? GSPs aren't a dwarf species. They actually grow quite large--6" not including their tail.> I feed snails, oysters, blood worms, crab, shell on shrimp and lobster sometimes. <All good, crunchy foods.> I am to the point of catching him and filing his teeth down but I am afraid the shock would kill him. is there anything I can do ?? <See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm Also: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm and: www.thepufferforum.com Good luck! ~PP> Thanks, Samantha

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>

Green Spotted Puffer, Skinny Puffer  5/11/07 <Hi Demetrius, Jeni/Pufferpunk here> I'm sending you this email as I am very worried about one of my fish, Tetraodontids <Tetraodon> nigroviridis (GSP).  I have a pair of mature GSPs in a sub-brackish (approx 1.0004-5) set-up, <They should be in high-end brackish to marine by now.> well planted, well fed and up until now in perfect breeding condition- one being a very round bodied and fat male, the other a slimmer but also rounded female.  <There is sure way to sex GSPs.  There has been no documented successful breeding of this species in captivity> I noticed 2 days ago the female has lost a very significant amount of weight and body mass, from her mid-point it is as though the fish has been pinched or emptied of its innards!  I am very worried.  Their diet is very varied and up until now they have both been eating voraciously. <Possible internal parasites.> I put in some fresh bloodworms for them that the emaciated fish has difficulty eating.  Is this a problem of the teeth? <Another possibility.> Can the fish lose so much body mass so quickly?  <Yes, with either of these diagnosis, although internal parasites is usually a gradual wasting away of the fish.> I will take her to the local store (a large one, well-known for expertise) for a look and inspection of teeth if necessary.  <I think it would be less stressful to do this yourself with a bright flashlight & without removing the fish from the water.  If the fish's teeth are so long it is starving, it should be very noticeable--looking like a beaver.> I wondered if with your huge experience, you could indicate the possible problem. <See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/internal-parasites-prevention-and-treatment/ Many thanks and kind regards, Demetrius  

Dentistry for GSP  12/23/06 Hi <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a problem with my green spotted puffer.  I've had him for about two years. He's in a tank all on his own with lots of places to hide.  When I got him, I didn't know much about how to properly care for a puffer.  I fed him frozen food and have been doing so for most of the time I've had him.  He is probably a little under two inches, but there is no doubt that his teeth are way to large.  His teeth were already very large when I was told I should be feeding him snails.  I've since thrown small bite sized snails into his tank, but I've only ever seen him hold them in his mouth briefly before letting them go again.  As far as I know, he ignores the snails.  Despite having very long teeth, I've seen him viciously tear away at and eat frozen food and he is quite active.  However, recently he doesn't seem to want to eat anymore.  He doesn't swim up to his food like he once did and he definitely isn't as active as he once was.  It's obvious that he is thin and his teeth are too long.  Now, I've seen him still pick at food and I know he can in fact open his mouth despite his huge teeth, but he just doesn't seem to want to eat.  I've since taken him back to the fish store I bought him at to have a look at him and they all agreed his teeth were way too long.  I had them test his water and it was fine.  I'm wondering if he's not eating because of his long teeth.  If so, how can I safely trim them without hurting him?  I can't force him to eat so getting him to munch of a few snails seems out of the question.  Any suggestions?  I fear if I don't do something soon, he'll starve and I'd really rather not loose this fish. <Pufferfish Dentistry: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm Feeding Your Puffer: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?p=53 > Thanks so much for your time

GSP--Feeding, Tank Size?  11/23/06 Hey there, <Hi, Pufferpunk, here> I've been recently interested in green spotted puffer fish and I have a few questions. One is how many puffers a 55 gallon could have? I was thinking two or three knowing that they are  very territorial and can grow to 6 in+. <The recommended MINIMUM tank size for these larger brackish puffers is 30 gallons.  You can always add fast/moving tough fish like damselfish or a tomato clownfish, when it moves up to marine conditions.  I had more than one in a 55g & I think one would have been quite happy in there by itself.  Definitely no more than 2 but that is really pushing it & then, no other tank mates.> Another question is about how they need snails to keep their teeth from overgrowing.  How big should the  snails be? I read that they should be the size of the puffers eye, is this true? <Correct--smaller, they ignore them--larger, they just suck the meat out, not benefiting from the "crunch factor" of biting through the shell & keeping trimmed teeth.> If it is how can I get these and how many should be fed to each  puffer? <You should be able to find pond snails at most aquarium shops on live plants.  They are generally considered pests & should be gladly given for free.  You can start your own snail breeding tank.  Here are some articles on snail breeding & general puffer feeding info: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?cat=7  > I'm planning on using reef sand. Is that a good idea? I read it's a good buffer for the water.  If it is, how much should I need for a 55 gallon long tank? <No more than 1" of sand, otherwise it will need thorough weekly stirring, to prevent anaerobic pockets of bacteria (toxic).  Quite difficult on a heavily decorated, large tank.  I prefer using crushed coral & cleaning around & under decor with a Python, during weekly water changes.> My next question is about the filtration.  I currently have a penguin 330.  Is this enough or do I need more  filtration? <I am not familiar with the Penguin but if it circulates 330g/hour, I don't think that's enough.  On tanks less than 50g, I use a HOB filter, like the Aquaclear 500 for mechanical & biological filtration.  Over 55g, I add a canister filter for extra biological filtration, like the Eheim 2213.> The last question is what kind of aquascape should I include in this tank? <Puffers are intelligent fish & need lots of decor to investigate.  Since I had no marine tanks at the time, I went the fake SW decor look. Here's my 55g GSP tank: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/Pufferpunk/Pufferpics/55gGSPTank.jpg  > If you have any more information I might need to know to keep my new friends healthy and to help them thrive, please let me know. <Check out the articles in the library I linked you to & the forum at: www.thepufferforum.com.  See ya there!  ~PP>

Diet for Green Spotted Puffers - 26/4/06 I've had my GSP's for about 3 months. <I have three of the blighters too... fantastic fish.> Since I got them I've been trying to get them as much variety in their food as I can, but they only seem to like the sun dried shrimp. I have tried several kinds of canned seafood which are supposed to be their favorite foods, but all they ever do is spit it out. They attack the dried shrimp and its gone within seconds though. I also give them occasional live ghost shrimp loaded with flake fish food, which disappear within minutes. They are active and healthy, but I'm worried they aren't getting enough variety. Am I right to be concerned or will they be alright with just the shrimp? <You're right to want to improve their diet. Do try fresh shellfish (not canned). Mine love all shellfish - mussels, cockles, whelks, clams. They're also partial to whole fresh shrimps tied to a clip. For all fresh seafood, it is best to freeze it for a day or two first, and then thaw it out in a cup of tank water before feeding (be sure to discard the dirty water beforehand). You may also want to check out the Puffer Forum - www.thepufferforum.com - for more ideas. Best regards, John.> Green Spotted Puffer ... foods/feeding, sys.  - 04/14/2006 Help me Web crew! <I'll give it my best shot, Mindy. Tom here> My roommates bought me a GSP. They have one in their saltwater aquarium and it is fascinating! It swims to you and almost "plays" with you. <Personality to spare with these guys/gals!> My husband is away in Iraq right now so my roommates thought it would be a good idea to give me something to take care of that wouldn't be too difficult but might become a little companion. I am in love! His name is Hootie. :) <You're secret is safe with us...until this gets posted to the FAQ's, of course. :)> I have some questions about him, though, and I haven't really found the answers anywhere else on the website. My Hootie is REALLY small. He's about the size of a quarter so I am wondering what I can feed him since he is so small. <There are a variety of foods that Hootie would be interested in either in the frozen or live form. One thought that comes immediately to my mind is live brine shrimp. My favorite LFS stocks these and most of my tropical fish go nuts over them. They shouldn't prove to be "intimidating" to Hootie since they tend to be itty-bitty themselves. Small snails might go over well, also. One of the most important things to remember with your Puffer is that he must have hard food to feed on to keep its teeth from growing too large. Like furry rodents, their teeth continue to grow throughout life and must be kept "worn down" to prevent serious feeding problems down the road. Also note that some Puffers can be fussy eaters with some only taking live food. Thrill of the "chase", I suppose. :)> The people where I bought the tank told me he would eat tropical fish flakes (I read on your site though that this is absurd) so we got some Sun Dried Gammarus also, but he doesn't seem interested in them either. Then we pulled out a frozen clam that my roommates feed their puffer and he doesn't seem to care about it either. The clam though is the size of him so maybe that's why? I'm just wondering what your thoughts are. <Although high quality flakes are an terrific source of nutrition for a lot of fish, your Puffer needs meaty foods. Please, stay away from feeder fish, as well. (Yes, Hootie would probably gladly dine on a Guppy.) All too often, though, these "feeder" fish can carry diseases and, frankly, aren't particularly nutritious at all. Why invite problems? As for the clam, maybe Hootie got bored waiting for it to "burp". :) (Seriously, if the clam is Hootie's size, he won't mess with it.)> Also, I read that they are sort of "affectionate" fish but mine seems to be a loner. If I put my face or my finger up to the tank, Hootie runs to the other side like he's afraid of it. What's up with that? <Hootie's a fish and you are a "people". He doesn't know what a "people" is quite yet. Once he realizes that you aren't a predator and, better yet, you bring him food, you'll have his undivided attention. Not to worry...> Despite his eating habits and lack of social skills he appears to be happy. He swims around a lot and his back fin is out and fanned and his belly is white so he's doing good right? <Sounds good to me...> My last question is about the water. Is my fish really a freshwater fish? Will I ever have to put him in a saltwater tank or can I keep him always in freshwater like he is? <He'll be fine for the time being in freshwater but you should plan on acclimating him slowly(!) to "brackish" water in the future. He might seem okay in a freshwater system but he won't thrive in one. In fact, you'll find yourself coming closer to marine (saltwater) conditions with Hootie than brackish conditions - salinity: 1.010 - 1.020. On the high end of "brackish" conditions.> I have Aquarium salt and we put a little of that in the tank because we weren't sure but the store he came from said he was totally freshwater. Their tanks at the store are freshwater and he had been there for two weeks already. So what do you suggest for my new friend? <At Hootie's stage of development, the fish store got away with a no-brainer. Many animals that need brackish conditions are sold as FW fish because, as juveniles, they ARE freshwater fish. What folks aren't told, in far too many instances, is that these fish won't last long in FW. Plain and simple. That said and, before I start "soapboxing", you'll need Marine salt as opposed to Aquarium salt. Aquarium salt is great for FW applications, when merited, but your Puffer will need Marine salt, ultimately, in his tank. Instant Ocean (Marineland) is a fine product for your application and contains the elements needed in your water. Please check WWM for acclimation procedures. Additionally, we've got an FAQ section specifically for brackish systems.> I know it sounds like a lot I just really like him and I want him to stick around to meet my husband when he comes back. I think they'd like each other. <I know I can speak for the entire WWM crew when I say that we all look forward to the day when your husband returns to you and, to Hootie.> Thankfully yours, huffmindy <Tom>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer ... foods/feeding, sys.  - 04/14/2006 Tom, Thank you so much for responding so promptly. Hootie says hello. <Please tell Hootie I said, "Hey!"> It's the strangest thing; After I got your response I noticed that Hootie is starting to stare at me. He still pulls away if I come too close too quick, but I think he's getting used to me. <Glad to hear that. Also an indicator, of sorts, of good health/well-being. If he were stressed or sick, he likely wouldn't be showing curiosity toward you.> Also a great thing happened. After days of seeing nothing I decided tomorrow I will go to the store and get shrimp to try. I turned off his aquarium light to go to bed and after I did that he swam up to the top and lunged at a dried baby shrimp I put in the tank earlier that day! Just to be sure I put in two more and he ate them both! I've figured him out; I guess he just likes to eat in the dark. How weird is that? I'm still going to get him some live food, but it's good to know how to feed him now. <A lot of fish naturally feed nocturnally so, in those cases, this wouldn't surprise me. I'd venture that Hootie will change this behavior once he's totally at ease with you. In fact, I practically guarantee it! Right now, though, he's probably feeling more comfortable foraging at night when he can give his full attention to food and not trying to figure out how you fit into the scheme of his life. He'll put two and two together rather quickly from here on.> Thank you so much for helping me and my new best friend. <More than happy to be of service.>   Sincerely thankful, Huffmindy and Hootie <Tom> Feeding Green Spotted Puffers 12/5/05 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a small green spotted puffer about 3cm long. <I bet he's really cute!> I purchased him a few days ago and he isn't eating. They gave me some floating pellets and told me he would eat those, he didn't. Well he would swim over to them nibble them and lose interest and swim away. <He's probably hungry but that's not the proper food for him. 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 puffer\u2019s 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 Green Spotted Puffers 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.> I have been looking at other questions people have asked and seen they have had the same problem. You recommended snails. That may be the best thing to feed them but is it the easiest? If it's the only way to feed them what is the simplest way to do it? And what size snails or other food would be best for my small Green Spotted Puffer? What is the best way to breed snails and how? After he eats the snail what do I do with it? <You can leave the shells in the tank, or siphon them out.> I hope I am not asking too much I just want to take care of him the best way possible.  Please respond ASAP--I don't want him to die because he isn't eating.  Thank you very much, John  <As well you should! Check out www.thepufferforum.com for more pufferinfo. ~PP>

Feeding GSP  5/21/05 Thank you Pufferpunk, for the reply.  I'm glad to know that 2 snails/day/puffer isn't over doing it.  Now, you said that I should try and vary their diet, and I was wondering, if I want to feed them people shrimp, I'm assuming it should be shell-on, cut into small enough bits for the little guys (~1 inch), and raw, correct?  <You got it!  It is best to freeze 1st, to get rid of any nasties.  I like to thaw in warm vitamin water.  You can buy liquid fish vitamins at most aquarium shops.> I would hate to feed them something wrong and hurt them, they are so happy in their new home!! Thank you for all of your work here.  I owe my knowledge and success to you.  Great Job! <Awwwww, shucks...  Anything for happy puffers!  ~PP>

Feeding Green Spotted Puffers  8-19-05 Hello guys and gals, I'm assuming Pufferpunk is the one answering this, although all of you are brilliant!! <Yup, Pufferpunk here!> Ok, enough sucking up.:)  Tank Info: I have 2 young (each ~1") very healthy GSP's, living in a 65 Gallon tall hex tank with a large bio-wheel filter.  The tank was 'instant cycled' with Bio-Spira (I had to order it in, as I live in Canada and it's not available here). Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates <10ppm.  I've had these guys for two weeks now. I do a 50% water change every week, gravel washing (with my siphon) the crushed aragonite substrate.  I have adjusted the specific gravity to 1.003 during this time, aiming for 1.005, considering their size.  Water is hard and alkaline (Ph 8). I feed them blood worms once a day, as much as they can eat in 2-3 minutes.  Now to my question: I have a small pond snail breeding set-up, and I have been feeding them 2 small snails each per day.  Is this too much food along with the worms? Their  bellies are rounded after feeding.  They still swim actively through the tanks plants after eating.  Thanks in advance for any help! <Everything sounds great!  I'd skip a feeding 1x/week & see what else you can scrounge up to make their diet as varied as possible: crickets, plankton, pieces of people shrimp, or whatever else you can find in the produce (fish dept) of your grocery store.  ~PP>

Green Spotted Puffer Lost Appetite 5/13/05 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a common brackish 2" Green spotted puffer in a 10 gal tank. <At this size, he needs to be upgraded to a larger tank (eventually 30g for him at 6").> He has always had a very hefty appetite and ate mostly frozen brine shrimp for the couple months I've had him. <There is little to no nutrition in brine shrimp. They are mostly water.> Recently (about a week or so ago), he just stopped eating. He had been alone for most of the time I had him, with just a Pleco and a couple danios and he looked lonely, so I recently got a figure 8 puffer to join him. <Puffers are fine on their own. The fish you have in with him will not appreciate living in brackish water (except the F8). Your puffer should be kept in mid-range BW at the size he is (1.012-14), by now. That's roughly over 2 cups of marine salt/5gal.> The figure 8 became dominant and was hogging all the food, so I assumed he was tired of fighting for it. So I moved the figure 8 to my other tank, because he seemed stressed having him around and figured that's why he stopped eating. <Is the other tank BW? The F8 requires a SG of 1.005. Again, not appreciated by FW fish.> Its been almost a week since he's been "alone" again and still hasn't eaten. I understand these guys commonly go on "food strikes" but in addition to this his mouth is wide open all the time (like he can't close it). I checked to see if his teeth had overgrown, but they had not and when I was checking his mouth he was closing it so its not like he can't. He just refuses to eat. I tried putting in some frozen blood worms and clam for variety but he just snubs it and moves on. He's still active and seems healthy, so I just want to know if I should be concerned yet or if there was anything I could try to encourage the little guy to start eating again. <The 1st thing I'd do is check his water parameters: ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes, pH & SG. Make sure those are all within parameters 9ammonia & nitrIte 0, nitrAte <20, pH around a steady 8, SG 1.012-14).  See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm for care & feeding of this fish. If the parameters are ok, I'd consider a larger tank. You can also try stimulating his appetite with garlic products available at your LFS. Thanks a lot, Henry <Hope your puffer is happier soon! ~PP> 

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

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>

Spotted Green puffer issues... Aloha Web crew... <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>

Care & Feeding of GSPs 2/11/04 <Pufferpunk again> <Oh boy do we have a lot of work to do!  1st of all, please use the proper capitalization in your letters.  It is taking me quite a while to go through all your letter & fix that, to post on the WWM site.  If you can't do this, I can't help you.>   I asked the workers at the fish store how much salt and what kind of food they ate before I got the puffers. <Most LFS know nothing about keeping puffers or brackish fish.> They told me to put in 3 tablespoons in my 10 gal tank. Its doc Wellfish's aquarium salt. <GSPs are born in FW, they migrate through the estuaries (streams) between FW lakes and the ocean, to live out their adult lives in saltwater.  Although you may hear these fish do fine in FW, they will grow larger, have brighter coloration, suffer less disease and live longer in higher salinities.  It is our duty as fish keepers to keep our friends in the best possible conditions for their health and happiness.  Therefore, you must use marine salt. Aragonite or crushed coral substrates are used to help maintain a stable alkaline pH of around 8.  I suggest keeping GSPs at low-end BW when juvenile <2', (in a specific gravity, or SG of 1.005-08), at 2-4', medium BW (SG 1.010-15) and adult >4' SW (SG 1.018-22).  You will need a hydrometer to measure the salinity.  It takes a cup of salt/5 gal of water to raise the SG .005.  If the puffer you purchase is in FW at the store, then you should start out your tank in FW and raise the SG .002/week, until you reach the desired SG.  This is so you don't destroy the good nitrifying bacteria as you add salt.  SW bacteria are different than FW, so you need time for the SW bacteria to develop as the FW bacteria dies off slowly. > The puffers at the store were being fed frozen blood worms so that's what I bought. I wanted to get ghost shrimps, but they might be too big for the puffers to eat. <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 puffer's 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.> I'm not sure if my tank is cycled. I let everything run for a week before I bought the puffers. I did water test before and a few days after I put them in, the water seems ok. <running a tank is not in anyway cycling it.  Puffers must be introduced into a fully cycled tank.  Please do not cycle your tank with puffers in it, or any other fish for that matter.  Fishless cycling is quick and doesn't do harm to a living thing. You can also 'instant cycle' with Bio-Spira.  You need to add your fish immediately after adding these live bacteria to your tank. Read this article & all the recommended links.  Read all this over several times until you understand it completely: http://www.tomgriffin.com/aquasource/newtanksyndrome.shtml> The big one always chases the little one, anything I can do about that? My friend said to get a third fish of a different type so that the bigger puffer will pick on both so there will be less stress on the smaller puffer. I have flower pots and plants in the tanks so they can hide, but the big one is always picking on the smaller one. <Your tank is way too small for 2 aggressive puffers.  You can start a young one out in a 10-15g tank, but once it is >2' they need a 20-30g tank/fish.  Keep in mind, in tanks this small, puffers will not be tolerable of tank mates.> <To keep these special, wild-caught fish healthy & happy (they can live 10+years), you need to do more research on them.  Puffers are not beginner fish!!! ~PP>  

GSP Questions 2/23/04 <Hi Tim, Pufferpunk again> I didn't know about all of those foods. What foods can I find at my LFS that I can feed him?? <For smaller puffers, crickets, worms, krill & plankton should be found at your LFS.  Most of the food my puffs eat, I find in the fish dept of my grocery store.  I freeze & thaw in warm vitamin water as needed.> The snails are currently in the tank and he is free to eat them as he pleases. I don't know how I can control how much he eats. <Most serious puffer keepers keep a separate tank for snail breeding.> The tank is a freshwater tank and he seems to be doing fine now. <Mostly sold as freshwater fish, they are really a brackish water species. Born in FW, they migrate through the estuaries (streams) between FW lakes and the ocean, to live out their adult lives in saltwater.  Although you may hear these fish do fine in FW, they will grow larger, have brighter coloration, suffer less disease and live longer in higher salinities.  It is our duty as fish keepers to keep our friends in the best possible conditions for their health and happiness> Is it normal for them to want their picture taken???? Mine does. If I bring the camera near the tank, his little yellow spot gets huge and really bright and his belly gets snow white. <He probably thinks you're going to feed him.  They are great beggars!> Also, are they sensitive to certain colors?? I put a little glass dome in the bottom of the tank on it's side for him to make into his home because I read on some sites that they like to live in caves and drift wood. The thing is red and he doesn't really seem to like it. Any info on living quarters for him would be greatly appreciated. <I've never noticed my GSPs hanging out in caves.  Although they do a lot of investigation of the decor, they mostly swim out in the open.>    He is in a 30 gallon tank with 1 painted glass fish, 1 hatchet fish, 2 tiger barbs, 3 zebra Danios, 1 fish (not sure what it is. It is clear with black tips on its fins), 1 Gourami, 1 red tailed shark, 2 Cory cats, 1 small angel fish, and 1 Pleco. would it hurt to put salt in the water for the puffer. <None of those fish will appreciate any kind of salt.  Eventually, your puffer will do severe damage to the angelfish, Hatchetfish, & any other fish not fast enough to get away from puffer teeth.  Puffers are best kept in a species only BW tank.  Please refrain from purchasing painted fish.  It is cruel to the fish & doesn't last anyway.  See: http://www.canadiangoldfish.com/dyed.htm Your puffer is going to grow to 6" eventually & require at least a 20-30g tank.  I suggest you set-up a separate (cycled) BW tank for him.> Thanks, Tim <Give your puffer the best care & it will reward you for years to come! ~PP>   

Vacation Feeding for Green Spotted Puffer How many days is it safe to go without feeding a green-spotted puffer. He is about1-1/2 inches long & usually eats 1 small slug and 3-4 large Spirulina flakes twice daily.  I will be gone for two days and then again 1 week in Sept.   I plan on having someone come by daily to feed him in Sept., but am not sure about the weekend thing.  Thanks, Donna <Feed well a few days before the trip and I think it can get by for a couple days. Don>

Feeding Green Spotted Puffers 2/29/04 Great article, thanks! <thanks a lot!  ~PP> Now about the snails: I have 3 pond snails I'm trying to get to breed. It's only been 2 weeks so I'm sure I need to give it more time. I'll be adding 2 more snails this week to try and up the chance. Try raising the temp in the snail tank.  If not (just a bowl, or something too small) just be patient.  Supplement snails from as many LFS as you can get to.> But, what size snails will a puffer (GSP about 2.5") eat? I figure I can give him one the smaller ones I have just to tie him over till I get some snail babies. Yes? No? <Usually, the rule of thumb is snails as big as their eye, or you'll have to crush them a little (yuck!).> I've had him/her/it on a ghost shrimp, blood worm diet. those don't grind down the teeth do they? Anything else besides snails that will work till my "breeding program" comes thru? <You can try all sorts of things from the fish dept of your grocery store.  Small mussels, pieces of crab legs, shell-on shrimp, small crayfish, fiddler crabs, etc.  Happy dining!  ~PP>>

Eating Problems Hi there, I just browsed through your FAQ page and I think you may be the only one to help me. I have a common spotted puffer (the brackish variety), about 1.5in. long in a 10 gal. tank. Actually, there WERE two of them...unfortunately I fell for an undergravel filter system which, because it trapped all the waste, caused my nitrite levels to skyrocket. (strangely, the ammonia was fine) Daily water changes did nothing to alleviate the problem, probably because the readings were way off the charts. The one little fellow died as a result (I think that's what it was, anyway). Not wanting to kill another, I took the whole system out and replaced it with a canister filter (Aquaclear). The powerhead from the undergravel is still in there (with a small QuickFilter) for extra movement and hopefully so a biological filter will develop in there.  <Yes> The nitrite levels are fine now BUT, and here's my current problem: the fish won't eat (at least not the way he should). Even in the cruddy water, he ate like a pig, but now he just picks at his food. Furthermore, he likes to explore the tank a lot (tons of rock-caves), and every once in a while, he disappears behind the powerhead. Whenever he reappears from there, his belly is completely black. After a couple of minutes, he'll go back to a nice bright white (belly) but I am a little worried. Could he just be moody (as was suggested by the LFS)?  <Yes, likely so> Also, I put a java fern in there, hoping it would live, and so far it's looking pretty good (except when he tears chunks out of it). I read that it is a good idea to make plant matter available to them as food every once in a while. Does this go for all puffers? <To some extent, yes> My species? He seems to love it (at least he did, when he still ate...). Besides the plant, he gets a variety of silver sides, brine shrimp, salad shrimp (the little ones from the supermarket) and blood worms (all frozen) and (when I can get them form a reputable tank) live snails. He hasn't had snails lately, but he's not interested in any of the other stuff. Any ideas?  <Likely no problem here. Some residual reaction from the nitrite poisoning... and these puffers do go on feeding strikes for no apparent reason from time to time> Also, I'm getting conflicting info on the salinity levels: some say 0.800, others 1.005 and others again 1.020. Mine is at around 1.008-1.010. Could this be the problem? <Could be a contributing factor... the high side I'd use is 1.010... low 1.005> How quickly should I elevate salinity if it's too low?  <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bracmaint.htm> The LFS had him in water which was barely spiced. Anyway, could it be that he's still getting used to the new system?  <Yes> Is he, maybe lonely?  <Not likely> I know they're supposed to get nasty as they get older but these two seemed to play really nicely together. I plan to get him another buddy but not until I get everything straightened out perfectly. I'm still doing frequent water changes, but I test for levels first so I don't stress him unnecessarily. He gets treated with StressCoat (when necessary) and I add Stress Zyme with every water change. Also, my pH levels are right around 7.0. <Should be a bit higher...> Again, I've gotten conflicting info on ideal levels, but the general consensus seems to be that it should be a little more alkaline. I didn't want to mess around with too many things at once, but could this be the solution for my problem? <Once again, likely a contributing factor> (If so, how quickly do I change the pH level?) Anyway, I think I've written too much but I'm hoping you can give me the info I need. Many thanks, Nina <Do read over the WetWebMedia.com re pH/Alkalinity in freshwater systems. Bob Fenner>

Re: Puffer Eating Problems Very grateful for the quick and helpful response. He IS eating now, just not as quickly as he should. Again, thank you very much. Nina <Good to hear/read of the improved appetite. Should continue to do so. Bob Fenner>

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

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