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FAQs about Freshwater Puffer Compatibility

Related Articles: The Nice Puffer: Colomesus asellus , the South American Puffer by Neale Monks, Freshwater PuffersAlone But Not Lonely: The Importance of  Keeping Puffers Individually by Damien Wagaman, Inside the mind of a puffer; Understanding pufferfish behaviour for better pufferfish husbandry by Neale Monks Freshwater to Brackish Puffers, Puffers in General, True Puffers, Family Tetraodontidae, (Big) Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo Small Puffer Dentistry By Jeni Tyrell (aka Pufferpunk), Puffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: FW Puffers 1FW Puffers 2, FW Puffers 3, FW Puffer Identification, FW Puffer Behavior, FW Puffer Selection, FW FW Puffer Systems, FW Puffer Feeding, FW Puffer Disease, FW Puffer Reproduction, BR Puffer Identification, BR Puffer Selection, BR Puffer Compatibility, BR Puffer Systems, BR Puffer Feeding, BR Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Disease 2, BR Puffer Reproduction, Puffers in General, True Puffers,

Species compatibility... Comp. of FW puffers, bumblebee gobies.         12/4/15
Hello! Im writing you back after getting my new planted tank started... its a 150 gal high tech tank..
A few messages ago i wrote you a list of very peculiar species i wanted to keep in this planted tank.
So far i have got none of them except for the green fire tetras (10).
Additionally i got a few fish for free from a fellow aquarist who no longer wanted them:
A breeding pair of chocolate gouramis (and they ARE breeding!), and 4 golden barbs, though these seem to be the mixed gold and green variety. Im planning on getting 3 or 4 more gold barbs.
Anyway, the tank is still very under stocked and while searching for some candidates for the tank i stumbled upon Sahyadria denisonii, and ordered 7 with a local importer, they should be arriving in three weeks. I found out they are endangered species so i will probably try to breed them, in fact i might try to breed any endangered species i come across.
So getting on point. I was about to order 5 Colomesus asellus, but i continuously got mixed opinions about them... some say fin nippers and others say they are totally peaceful...
<Can be fin-nippers; but much less so than all other small puffers sold for aquarium use. IF kept fed, uncrowded, you should be fine>
i really want the fish but im not sure if im ready for everything the guys mean (breeding snails, cutting the teeth twice per year... be on the lookout for possible aggression) i might try them in a separate tank but not for now... instead, while looking for similarly looking fish i stumbled on bumblebee gobies.
I would like to get them but im getting mixed reviews on them too. Some say totally brackish while others say that they can live in freshwater,
<There are a few species.... some are one or the other: READ here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishsubwebindex/bumblbgobyfaqs.htm
and the linked files above>
but that they tend to be a bit more delicate... this last statement, however, is not clear enough to understand how they will fare in freshwater... i normally run acidic, soft tanks using RO water and peat but this 150 gal will have my normal tap water... which is about 12 Dh and 7.7-8.0 ph... i understand this ph will favor gobies, is this enough to manage to keep them successfully their normal lifespans?
i already breed mosquitoes larvae and grindal worms so i have live food for these guys, but i would like your confirmation.
<Re? Please learn to/use WWM in advance of writing us; the search tool, indices. SEE/READ the "HOW TO USE WWM" file>
Also, is it just me or does it seem like fish that need soft, acidic water are more likely to acclimate successfully and be kept their normal lifespans in alkaline and hard water...but the opposite doesn't happen?
<Mmm; some; yes.... but I chalk/credit a great deal of this to the fact that many ornamentals are captive produced nowayears and that they are far more adaptable to a wider range of conditions. I can recall when Chocolate Gouramis were almost impossible to keep; same w/ Discus/Symphysodon, and, and....>
i kept my cardinals, neons, black neon tetras and some of my current Apistos in my normal tap water for some time and the Apistos even bred... but my platies and mollies rapidly showed signs of sickness when i started to turn their water more acidic/soft.. (don't worry they are in hard tap water right now).
Thanks again.
<And you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Puffer, FW... sel./comp. Child; no rdg.     7/20/12
Hey I'm looking to get a puffer and transfer it to fresh Water and put it in a 29 gallon tank with a angel fish and some black Molly how do you think it would do thanks my name is rocky
<Not well... these fishes need different water quality... and the puffer is too aggressive. Search/read re all three on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater community puffer?   3/21/11
I have a 29g, moderately planted tank that is now cycled and I am slowly growing my community. Currently in the tank are 2 Otocinclus, 1 SA bumblebee catfish, 1 hi-fin platy, 1 pineapple swordtail,
<Both Platies and Swords prefer/need cooler water than some of your other fish.>
1 Lyretail Creamsicle molly,
<Mollies need very specific conditions to stay healthy.>
1 long-fin red skirt tetra,
<Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, I assume -- potentially a nippy species.>
1 Bloodfin tetra,
<Aphyocharax anisitsi; also enjoys coolish conditions and can be a fin-nipper.>
and a baby angelfish.
<Obvious target for fin-nippers.>
Are there any species of freshwater puffers that are docile enough to live in a community such as this?
<No. There are NO COMMUNITY PUFFERS. None. Your problem here is that you have a mismatch of species AND your tetras are schooling fish that won't do well kept as single specimens per species. Concentrate on provide good (i.e., the right) conditions for the species you have, and I suspect you'll find your community tank looks a lot better and each species lives a lot longer. Hope this helps.
Cheers, Neale.>

South American Puffer compatibility  2/24/11
Hi, First off I love your site.
<Glad to hear this!>
I recently became a member and I believe I've read almost all of the information on FW Puffers.
I have a 20 gallon tank that has been set up for years and water testing always comes back great. I had a Green Severum and 2 mystery snails.
<Mystery snails have a poor track record in aquaria. Severums need 55 gallons, at least: they're big fish!>
I recently bought a 36 gal Bow front and have allowed it to cycle thoroughly. In the 36 I have many plants and places for hiding,
<Severums eat plants. Feed lots of fresh greens such as cooked peas and spinach, as well as Sushi Nori and other algae-based foods, unless you want it to destroy your plants!>
the 2 inch Green Severum that was in the 20 gal, a 3 inch Purple Spot Gudgeon (it was labeled as a Purple Spot Goby at LFS but I think from some research that it is in fact a gudgeon)
<In Australia, the word "gudgeon" is used for almost any Sleeper Goby, family Eleotridae. What you have is Mogurnda mogurnda, in all likelihood, or something very similar. These are fairly big, to 15 cm/6 inches, and notoriously cranky and territorial. While it should work with a Severum of similar size, it will need space to form its own territory. A nice fish in many ways, but not a community fish.>
and a 4 inch blue Crayfish.
<Hmm'¦ not a fan of Crayfish kept with fish. Usually ends badly for one or other! Also, Crayfish eat plants as well as snails, so there are other complications'¦>
I finally decided on the South American Puffers and got 3 from my LFS.
<Very nice fish.>
I am happy to put the Severum and Gudgeon in the 20 gal if I need to but I prefer they stay where they are at.
<Not really an option either way -- these will need 55 gallons.>
Can the puffers (all about 1 inch not including tail fin) hang with the other fish.
<No. SAPs will nip the fins of the Severum, and conversely, the Mogurnda may well eat them if they're small enough.>
I can imagine that over time the puffers will grow and definitely take control over the tank,
<On the contrary, SAPs are nervous and not at all aggressive.
Think of them more like busy schooling fish, and act accordingly.>
but now I'm worried that they are too small and can't handle the other fish.
<A justified concern.>
The Gudgeon seems to be very aggressive and tries to eat whatever he can fit in his mouth.
<Indeed. Mogurnda are omnivores, and eat a mix of greens, smaller fish, invertebrates, and some organic detritus. Under aquarium conditions they are very predatory, as are all Sleeper Gobies. Only keep with fish of similar or large size.>
The Severum used to be a very relaxed fish but now that it is in the larger tank with the Gudgeon, he has become very territorial.
<Yes; partly it's because you moved them, so they're all readjusting, and that means defining new territories. But as the Severum matures, he WILL become more aggressive. The name "Severum" comes from the same root as "severe"! Though fairly peaceful by cichlid standards outside of spawning, they are VERY aggressive once spawning, and you MUST expect a certain amount of territorial behaviour.>
One reason I don't want to put the Gudgeon and Severum in the 20 gal is that I put a few pond and Malaysian Trumpet Snails in there to start a breeding ground for the puffers and am worried the fish will eat them before they can reproduce enough to keep up.
<Irrelevant. The SAPs will not eat many of the Malayan snails. In fact Malayan snails are really only useful when very small, and some would argue they're not of any use at all because SAPs don't seem to like eating them! Pond snails, Physa spp., are much better. They will of course peck at the Mystery snails, killing them by inches, though you could breed the Mystery snails and feed the baby snails to the SAPs.>
Also if I need to give the Severum and Gudgeon to the LFS I will and I know that they are willing to take them.
<May be necessary if you can't upgrade the tank. SAPs are best kept alone, or else with robust, fast-moving midwater fish such as Tiger Barbs or Bleeding Heart Tetras. As for bottom dwellers, these need to be fast swimmers that can hide away among the rocks or bogwood roots -- Yo-Yo loaches for example would work well.>
Almost forgot to mention that in the 20 gal I also have 2 *Corydoras aeneus (*I think)
<SAPs will nip the fins of these. Have tried this combination several times, and it doesn't work.>
and a little less than 1 inch white crayfish.
<May be damaged by the SAPs.>
So what should I do? Thank you so much for all the information on the sight. I have spent hours perusing and have learned a lot. Filtration in 36 gal is one hang-over-the-back Aqueon and one internal Fluval ranked for 35-65 Gallons.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: South American Puffer compatibility   2/25/11

I appreciate the quick reply. I was able to take the Green Severum and Purple Spot Goby to my LFS and they were happy to have them.
And the puffers already seem more at ease. I do have another question though.
I got a feeder thing for feeding worms, and I got some black worms which I heard can destroy a tank if they start to populate in the gravel.
<Not true. Quite the reverse in fact. In theory, worms help to aerate substrates and keep the bacteria in the substrate healthy. But in practise they rarely live long enough to make much difference, getting eaten within a short period.>
This may seem kind of stupid but how long does it take for the Puffers to start recognizing me and when/where I feed them.
<SAPs never really become "tame" though they will swim to the front when they see you, and may even beg for food. But they are riverine species that migrate across long distances, so unlike other freshwater puffers, they don't sit in one place and learn about their environment. SAPs are fun, but not as interactive as other puffers. They're much more like tetras or barbs.>
Also some times the one Puffer spins; not in circles but like a bullet.
That normal?
Another question regarding feeding. How big do they have to be to eat little pond snails that are smaller than a dime?
<Puffers generally can't eat snails they can't fit into their beaks and crush. For SAPs, those snails need to be small, 3-4 mm shell lengths seem about right for SAPs that are 5-6 cm long.>
Is the thing about the snail being the size of their eye true?
<Yes, though they may nip at larger snails, often killing the snail but not eating it, producing pollution in the tank.>
Thanks and thanks for the advice from earlier.
<Cheers, Neale.>

SAP / Amazon Puffer tank mates   9/23/10
I have a GSP in a brackish tank by himself living what seems like a happy life filled with many shellfish. After reading many articles about SAP being "nice", I ended up getting one for my community tank.
<Mmm... Colomesus can still be pretty nippy>
I'm still not 100% sure that was the right call. I've only had him since yesterday and want to know your opinion before I get too attached to him. It's still ~1" and new to the tank, a temporary 35 gallon (all
fishes are small / juvenile). His tank mates are:
Featherfin Pleco
Albino Bristlenose Pleco
Pictus Cat
Dwarf Gourami
<This fish may get chewed>
I'm upgrading to a 55 or 75 gal tank and want to add the following when I do (future tank mates)
Kuhli Loach (couple)
Gold Gourami
Opaline Gourami
Pearl Gourami
and depending on size of upgrade a friend or 2 for the Pictus.
<Are better in groups>
Will the SAP be OK with the tank mates listed above?
Thank you!
<Likely so... these other fishes are "robust" as far as community choices go. Bob Fenner>

Amazon Puffer, comp. f'  9/3/10
Hi, I was referred to you from another forum quoted as having excellent advice! So here goes!
I'm about to upgrade my tank to a 150 liter which is more a cube shape (about 500 square CM footprint). It will be the new home for Bumble Bee (Amazon Puffer) and Litch (Bristlenose catfish) both of whom get along fine in fact the catfish is more aggressive than the puffer.
<Territorial rather than aggressive. Ancistrus catfish are territorial, in part because males guard their eggs and fry very carefully. Beyond that though they're harmless fish.>
My question is with the increased space should I get another Amazon Puffer to hang around and keep Bumble Bee company as I understand these fish like company, or would I run the risk of upsetting the balance and putting Litch at risk?
<I'd get 1-2 more. There's no question Colomesus asellus is happiest in a group.>
Or should I get another type of fish for the tank - I'm not in the position of stocking for stockings sake and if you were to recommend something else I'd rather it was something other than your average tropical fish if you catch my drift!!!
<Indeed. South American Puffers are not "community fish" though they will coexist with retiring catfish and medium-sized fast-moving midwater fish such as Bleeding Heart Tetras and Black Widows.>
FYI Bumble bee is very personable and rarely surfs the glass unless he wants something, but obviously that's when I'm there and I've no idea if he would like the company or not! - Maybe I'm humanizing him too much? Would adding another puffer reduce this personality?
<You'll get to see new behaviours, certainly. At night they curl up together. They often fight over food, grabbing it from each others. They're a social species and very fun to watch in groups.>
Many thanks in advance for you advice
<Cheers, Neale.>

Questions about FW Puffers. Mainly comp. -- 12/04/09
Hello WWM Crew!
I have several questions about FW puffers... (first a little background!) I've been keeping FW for over 5 years, at one point or another I've kept everything but discus. (and puffers) I've recently moved cross country and had to sell all of my tanks before I've moved ( I managed to bring some of my more expensive gear though) Anyway, after getting settled in here a few months later I have permission from my live in GF to set up (two!) tanks. for the two places that I have to put tanks one should be able to house a mid sized tank, the other place is quite small, probably only a 10 gal, but I will probably build a two high rack to hold two 10 gals (properly braced to the wall, with the tanks properly secured inside the rack, this isn't my first homemade stand, I've built everything from 10 gal racks like this up to 300 gal stands...) anyway, I'm coming up with stocking lists for the three tanks, for the largest tank I think I've settled on a 40 gal breeder as I think it will give me the best bang for my buck in the space I have (cant fit a standard 55 there) I think that the large footprint will fit best with my desire for a heavily planted tank, and the fact that I'm in a 3rd floor apartment and I will likely be running at least 20-30 total gallons of 5 and 10 gallon tanks as QT/live food breading tanks under the 40 gal... anywho, back on subject, as I said, I live with my girlfriend who, while generally being indifferent towards my hobby, is nice enough to let me keep 3 tanks in our little apartment without much complaint. Anyway, whenever I drag her to public aquaria she tends to be slightly bored until we find a display with some puffers in it, then I cant pry her away. She absolutely loves them, so I'd like to keep some, the more interested she is in my tanks the more tanks I'll get to keep! :) Fish keeping is a lot easier if the people who live with you enjoy your tanks too...
So my initial thought with the admittedly limited FW puffer knowledge that I had would be to set up a Species tank in one of the 10 gals with 1 male and 2-3 female Carinotetraodon travancoricus, but after taking her to the LFS I got a very unenthusiastic "they're really small..." (she's used to the big marines in the public aquaria...) I then walked her over to a 150 gal in the LFS and said "we could get one of these and get a marine puffer..." to which the answer was "no way in hell" so we left the LFS, she was rather depressed that she couldn't get a puffer. So I went home and did a lot of research further into puffers, and low and behold I find the Colomesus asellus. not only is it a bit bigger than the dwarf, it might be possible to keep a slightly larger group in the 40br, which was already planned to hold a South American Community which would be cool, because it would free up one of the 10 gals for any number of other species tanks I've been thinking about trying, Jordanella floridae, Endler's Livebearer, too many others to list... (sorry, I keep getting sidetracked... back to the main tank:)
<Colomesus asellus is peaceful and gregarious; keep at least two specimens, otherwise singletons end up being incredibly nervous. As for tankmates, nothing slow or with long fins. Florida Flagfish would be okay, given plants and hiding places, but Guppies are a no-no.>
Most of the research I've been doing seems to indicate that most of what I was planning on keeping in the community tank should co-exist with the Colomesus asellus just fine provided that the tank is heavily planted (it will be) and has lots of little bolt holes and territories (which it will), and broken up sightlines, (which it will) but I am finding conflicting information on what will co-exist well, or no information at all for some of the species that I'd like to keep. So I'd really appreciate input from someone who's kept SAP's before.
<I keep them in a "community" of sorts.>
My stocking list is pretty open for variation right now, the presence of the two 10 gal's means if there's something I really, really, really want I can set it up in it's own species tank. (though I'd like to set up one of the two as a FOWLR + very hardy soft corals + one 3" fish), anyway, here's a list of what I'd like to be able to keep overall (not necessarily all in the same system) I would definitely like some input on which would do better with the SAP's, and which I would need to set up in their own tank if I want to keep them. (I realize that some of the species on this list would be inappropriate in a 10g) Anyway, here's my list in order of how much I want to keep them (I'd likely forget about ones towards the bottom of the list in order to accommodate the ones toward the top of the list and of course the SAP's...
1 - Carnegiella strigata - one of my favorites, and with a tank with as much surface area as the 40br I have the chance to put together a really spectacular large group (with a properly sealed lid of course)
<Possible, but these fish are nervous and easily damaged. I mixed these with SAPs, and the Hatchets didn't do well, and all were dead within a couple of years. Even if the SAPs weren't directly responsible, they were one more stress factor. So I wouldn't.>
2 - Corydoras sterbai, C. elegans, C. paleatus, or C. panda. - Some of the best personality fish I've ever had have been Corys... a planted FW system just doesn't seem to be complete with out them to me... though the species I prefer tend to be the smaller variants.. would that be better or worse? On the one hand I could see the bigger Corys being more resilient if a SAP decided to taste them, but if I have my information right it's fin bites that are going to be the issue, not body bites, so maybe the smaller, faster ones would be able to hide places the SAP's cant follow and get away easier than some of the larger models... but I'd really appreciate some insight from someone who's kept Corys with SAP's before...
<Corydoras are nothing other than moving targets. SAPs happily nip their fins. Not a good combo. Retiring catfish that stay out of reach are better (e.g., Dwarf Upside Down catfish) or else fast-moving loaches (e.g., Cherry-fin Loaches).>
3 - Xiphophorus helleri - of the more natural greenish/blue variety. I have a fondness for live bearers, I would continuously bring in surplus stock to my old LFS, who was nice enough to give me a bit of credit for them, Whenever I can lessen my impact on nature by putting fish back into the hobby (and lessen the hobby's impact on my wallet by putting cash back in it :p) I try to. the fry produced by a largish breeding group also provide a little extra variation to the diet of some of the other community members... that might be a little cruel, but hey, it's just nature, right? the reason fish have so many fry at one time is because so many other fish find fry tasty... (or maybe I'm destined to burn for eternity in fish hell...) I keep my tanks heavily planted, lots of Java moss, lots of Anacharis both planted and floating, the hardiest/smartest/fastest of the fry will make it and join the adult population while the slow and dumb will still contribute to the community :) besides, if every single fry made it to maturity I don't think my LFS would want as much stock as I would be bringing in...
<Swordtails should be okay, but the SAPs will try to nip at them. In the favour of the Swordtails, they are fast-moving and alert.>
4 - the Xiphophorus maculatus variant seen here: https://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=830+1103+2726&pcatid=2726 if only because it's so different than any other variant of platy I've seen, and besides Endler's it's the only variety of guppy/platy/molly/sword livebearer I've never kept. obviously I wouldn't keep these and the X. helleri in the same system, (and would probably rather have the more natural colored swords in the big system) but is either more suited than the other with the SAP's? I guess there's a little more fin to nip with the swords...(or are they equally unsuited?)
<Platies will be nipped. Perhaps not fatally, but they will be nipped.>
5 - Melanotaenia boesemanni - I know this throws the biotope right out the window, but in my experience they are second only to Corys as far as entertainment value goes (for the FW fish I've kept), and I should be able to maintain a good sized shoal in a tank this size, with a powerhead at one side for them to play in they would be a striking display. I would think as fast as they are they would simply outrun any puffer that took too much interest in them, but this is one of the species that I have been able to find absolutely zero compatibility information. (as opposed to the conflicting information I get about everything else :P)
<Rainbowfish should be okay, given swimming space. I keep Glassfish and Bleeding Heart Tetras with my SAPs, without major problems.>
6 - Oto's & Cherry Red Shrimp - two species that always seem to end up in any planted tank I keep... some of the stuff I've been reading says that Oto's are good tankmates for SAP's, which seems odd to me that Corys would be bad choices with Puffers, while Oto's would be good choices... because in my experience there's very little in the Corys own size group that would be in a community tank that can really phase them, while Oto's are more susceptible to being stressed... as for the shrimp, half the articles I read say they get along great with SAP's and/or Dwarfs, the other half say they are expensive puffer food... I'd appreciate it if someone could clear the air on the subject, and if I cant keep either of these or Corys with the SAP's, what should I look to aid in algae munching/sand stirring/fill out the bottom 1/3rd of the tank? I have mixed feelings about snails (more about that later) and I've never been a fan of Plecos, so I know little about them, I would!
n't trust my own ability to tell a "dwarf" from a soon to be tank buster, and being that I am in a new area with new LFS's I wouldn't trust their salespeople to sell me a "dwarf"... At least not until I get to know them a little better. If I cant use species I'm familiar with for the bottom 1/3rd of the tank, advice on what to use and how to make sure I get the right thing would be greatly appreciated.
<I'm not a big fan of Otocinclus for reasons discussed previously here at WWM. Cherry shrimps = dinner.>
7 - tetra's/shoaling fish. - I'm a big fan of shoaling fish, (if that isn't already obvious) and I'd like to keep 1 large group or two smaller groups of 1-2" shoalers. So far the only recommendations that I have seen are Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma, and Megalamphodus megalopterus, neither of which I've kept in the past, of the two I'd probably be more interested in the erythrostigma, but are these the only two suitable species? I'd much rather keep Hemigrammus bleheri or (moving away from Tetra's, and the biotope.) Rasbora axelrodi, or R. heteromorpha. any commentary on compatible tetra's and tetra-sized shoaling fish beyond the two that are mentioned in articles in WWM would also be appreciated.
<Any fast moving tetras, barbs or Rasboras should be fine. Things that don't move quickly, like Neons, are at more of a risk.>
8 - Papiliochromis ramirezi - never kept them, but always wanted to, the tank seems like a good fit of them (large bottom area, plenty of territories) they are supposed to be one of the least confrontational of cichlids (with SAP's being supposedly one of the least confrontational puffers), and I find it an intriguing possibility if I decide to keep only South American fish in this tank... but I've found zero info regarding the two together, anyone have any experience with them? I'm thinking there might be conflict over territories... but SAP's are not supposed to really care about establishing a territory... so would they leave each other alone? (note this one is near the bottom of my list, I wouldn't lose any sleep if it's not a fit, but I thought I'd ask, as it would be something I'd be very interested in if they are a good fit. )
<Bad choice. These fish need much warmer, softer water than anything else listed. You are correct that SAPs are non-territorial. Since they simply scatter their eggs and leave the fry to develop in the plankton, there's no need for territoriality. This is why they're gregarious towards each other rather than aggressive. SAPs can get along just fine with cichlids, but I'd choose fairly robust species that enjoy similar water conditions. Kribs work great, but anything else with a reasonable "punch" so it can dissuade the SAPs from nipping it should work fine. On the flip side, overly aggressive cichlids, like Convicts, would be a bad choice since the SAPs aren't in themselves aggressive or even brave.>
lastly some other species I'd be interested in keeping due to past success with them or never having kept them and wanting to, in no particular order: Jordanella floridae, Kryptopterus bicirrhis, Crossocheilus denisonii, Puntius sp. "Odessa" barb, Again, I don't have to have any of these, but I am interested in them, so if any would fit in well in the system, great, if not no big deal.
<Glass catfish will be nipped, remorselessly. Crossocheilus are fine (or at least, my Garra certainly are). Jordanella should be fine too, given hiding places.>
Oh, Snails, I forgot to talk about snails. I know that SAP's like snails, which is good, because I don't like snails, I've had one too many tanks overrun by Melanoides, and if I understand my reading right these aren't a good choice for puffer food anyway.
<Melanoides are neither here nor there. They don't do any harm, and only become a plague if the aquarist lets them do so. They are arguably beneficial, especially if like me you use sand rather than gravel in your tanks. SAPs don't eat them much, and contrary to popular rumour, puffers are well able to choose snails they can eat safely from snails they can't.>
I will be setting up a QT with this system and taking great care to ensure that Melanoides never enter the system, however I really cant afford a good light for the QT, some plants may not be happy with a week under crappy lights... besides hand scraping manually any other suggestions to keeping these little pests out?
<Clea helena.
I am thinking about adding a little of one of the various anti-snail treatments to the QT or maybe giving the plants a quick dip in a small Rubbermaid prior to introduction to the system while quarantining plants to shorten the time they need to spend in the QT. Is this a decent plan? something better I could do?
As for feeding the puffers, I've had a lot better luck with Ramshorns in the past they've been a little slower to reproduce in the same systems, I rarely had to harvest excess Ram's, but it seemed like a daily task with the Melanoides (after they outcompeted the Rams and the Rams all but disappeared from the tank) With all other things being the same (feeding level, fish in the tank, water chemistry, the Melanoides seemed to just plain outbreed the Rams by a wide margin) But I wouldn't mind having Ramshorns the tank, (especially if something eats them) Even if I give the snails a 4-6 week head start on the puffers will a small group of puffers really pick a tank this size so clean of 'em that I would need to have a separate breeding tank to replenish their numbers? (this isn't a huge deal, I have room for 3 5-gal tanks for various needs under the 40, 1 will be the FW QT, if I end up keeping SW in one of the 10's then a second will be a SW QT, leaving me a third to do whatever I want with, so I could set up a breeding tank for them, as a bonus one of the local LFS's seems fairly interested in surplus, so I could selectively breed for deeper coloration in the 5 gallon... but anyway, are these the best choice for self-replenishing puffer food or is there something better to consider?
<Forget about feeding snails as a means to prevent tooth overgrowth. Doesn't work. You *will* need to trim their teeth eventually. It isn't difficult.
(oh I don't think I mentioned it anywhere above, but I will be running a Fluval 305, with 2x 65w PC, which I will be buying new lamps for (the old ones are almost 2 years old by this point and haven't been run in 8-9 months...)
As for the number of SAP's for this tank, I'm thinking 5 or 6; 1 male and 4-5 females (just in case what looked like a "female" grows up to be a second male) does this sound good? Less? More?
<You can't sex them. They're gregarious, so simply buy a school of them.>
Finally, are there any other fish that I may have missed in my research that would fit well in the above tank and with most or all of the species high on my list?
Thanks for the help!
<Cheers Neale.>
Re: Questions about FW Puffers. 12/5/09

Hi Neale,
Thanks for all the great info. Regarding the feeding of snails and dentistry: you mentioned that feeding live snails doesn't do much for their teeth, (and I had already read your article on dentistry and am prepared to care for their teeth as needed) although I am a little puzzled by your response, about the only constant in every article I've read is that snails are nearly a must as part of FW puffer's diets,
<My experience is that feeding snails to puffers doesn't remove the need for dentistry if the pufferfish species is one prone to overgrowing teeth, such as Colomesus asellus. Other puffers -- presumably adapted to eating less crunchy food -- do not tend to get overgrown teeth no matter what they're fed; Carinotetraodon species are examples of such puffers. So yes, feed snails, but no, doing so doesn't seem a practical or economical way to avoid the dentistry. I've kept my SAPs for about 5 years now, and while they're regularly fed snails, I do end up having to clip their teeth maybe once a year. This is certainly less often than if they were just fed bloodworms, but I can't see any economical way to feed them an all-snail diet, assuming that doing so would prevent dentistry altogether.>
and it seems that most of what I have read states that Melanoides shells pose a danger to tooth chipping.
<There are one or two people about who have reported this, and it's been endlessly copied around the Internet. My problem here is that it doesn't make any biological sense. Puffer teeth are *meant* to chip, that's why they grow so fast. Furthermore, pufferfish routinely select and test prey, so will have an in-built sense of what snails would be suitable for eating. It's worth mentioning that big pufferfish eat corals in the wild, yet no-one goes on about them chipping their teeth! Even on scientific grounds, observing a broken tooth on a puffer and believing it was caused by eating Melanoides snails isn't the same thing as seeing the pufferfish trying to eat a Melanoides snail and in doing so chipping its teeth in front of your eyes. As the lawyers say, it's not always "post hoc, ergo propter hoc." Even if it is a real phenomenon, it is so rare as to be trivial. My puffers live with Melanoides snails, as do most freshwater pufferfish kept in retailers' tanks and hobbyists' tanks around the world. And yet dangerous tooth-chipping has only ever been reported once or twice. My mom once broke a tooth biting into a bar of chocolate; that doesn't make chocolate dangerous.>
Do you suggest that I don't even provide snails in the tank at all?
<As stated above, I think it's a good idea. I just don't think it removes completely the need for occasional dentistry.>
As I said in the last email I'd just as soon not allow snails to enter the system if I don't need to, but I don't have a problem providing them if they would be a beneficial supplement to the puffer's diet, and/or provide some stimulation or fun for them to hunt/play with, but If it's not going to provide much benefit I'd just as soon not have snails in the system.
<Up to you. At least some Physa snails offered periodically would be very wise.>
Thanks for the links to the two articles, I had already read your article on dentistry, but I had missed the article on Clea. These do look like something I'd be very interested in keeping to control the populations of other snails or keep them out of the tank altogether.
<Do remember snail populations are a symptom of tanks with too much organic matter, and not a problem in themselves.>
Am I right in assuming that Clea will be just as vulnerable to the puffers as any other snail in the main tank?
<In theory, yes; but I've thrown a few Clea into the pufferfish tank, and I've seen at least one or two a few months later. Since they burrow a lot, especially if pestered, they likely avoid puffers to a degree. They also have very strong shells. So, worth a shot.>
would you recommend allowing Ramshorns and/or Melanoides to establish in the system and adding Clea and of course the puffers, letting the puffers and the Clea keep the Ramshorn/Melanoides population under control (and the puffers keeping the Clea population under control too probably)
<This is viable.>
Or using Clea in the QT (instead of chemicals, which is a relief, I'd much rather use a natural control measure than chemicals) to keep other snails from ever entering the system?
<This is also viable.>
Thank you for your feedback on other species that should be able to handle themselves in a SAP tank, it looks like that while I may not be able to include some of my favorites, there are still a lot of fish that I am interested in that I should be able to keep with them. I do have a lot of questions about the bottom of the tank, as I wont be able to use Corys (saddening, because the 10 gals will be too small to keep a proper group of Corys and I really do love them, but the only thing I'd hate more than not being able to keep them would be sentencing a group of them to death :\
<Certainly too small for the 5 cm+ Corydoras; but do look at Corydoras hastatus, C. pygmaeus, C. habrosus, and also a very pretty species I keep in a similar-sized tank, Aspidoras pauciradiatus.>
well, fingers crossed, if the puffer tank is well received I may be able to add another mid sized tank in a different room of the apartment ^_^) So, with Corys and shrimp out of the question, what could I use in the bottom of the tank to aid with aeration/algae control?
<I have Garra cambodgiensis, as well as Panaque nigrolineatus. Surprisingly perhaps, Nerite snails do quite well with SAPs.>
and along a similar line, with hatchets maybe not being a good choice on the surface, any other surface dwellers that would fit better?
<I had success with Halfbeaks, albeit the larger species, and in a fairly roomy 180 litre tank that gave them space to spread out. At the moment there are some youngish Ctenolucius hujeta.>
Finally, I'm interested to hear more about your SAP community, how big the tank is, what type of filtration you use, how many SAP's, what else lives in the tank with them (and how many other fish)... IMO it can't hurt at all seeking to emulate systems others with more experience have kept successfully when planning a tank for a species I've never kept before.
<Besides the two SAPs and the four Carinotetraodon irrubesco (a pair of puffer species that cohabit brilliantly well) there are the two, Ctenolucius hujeta, three Synodontis nigriventris, the Garra cambodgiensis, a 15 cm Panaque nigrolineatus, three Cherry-fin Loaches, and a scattering of Glassfish and Bleeding Heart tetras. There were some Ameca splendens in there for a while, but they were even more nippy than the puffers, so they live in their own tank now.>
Thanks again for your time and help!
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater Puffer compatibility
I was wondering if there is a freshwater puffer that can live in a 300 gallon tank peacefully with six 5-7 inch peacock cichlids?? I love how puffers look, swim; pretty much everything about them. I would like to get one that grows to be about 6-8 inches. I am so tempted to go get one, but something in my head kept saying check with the CREW at WWM.
<Hello Troy. Essentially the answer is "no". When you're talking about Peacock Cichlids, you could be referred to at least two genera here, so my answers have to be broad. Cichla spp. for example would be far too active, aggressive, and predatory to keep with most Puffers that I can think of.
Possibly, in a big enough tank, Tetraodon mbu would be an option, but that's such a difficult to maintain species that even by itself a 300 gallon tank would be too small, let alone alongside half a dozen messy cichlids. Tetraodon mbu gets to a good 1.5 feet in length under good conditions, and it grows fast if properly maintained. It's super-sensitive to nitrate, which will be a problem alongside predatory cichlids. The other Peacock Cichlids of the trade are Aulonocara spp. These are of course Malawian cichlids, so their water chemistry requirements are very specific.
While most pufferfish are adaptable to a range of water chemistry values, even species from soft water habitats, it's best to choose species that share water chemistry requirements simply to minimise the potential sources of trouble. In terms of size and water chemistry tolerances, South American Puffers would be a possibility, but they are confirmed fin-nippers, and they would cause real problems in a tank with cichlids. Furthermore, while SAPs are peaceful and gregarious amongst themselves, they're too easily bullied by much larger fish, and I could see them being battered by the much more aggressive Malawian cichlids. In short, while it is possible to mix *some* puffers with *some* tankmates, in your situation, it wouldn't be possible. Much better to choose a small pufferfish, set up its own tank, and enjoy it on its own terms. The brackish water Figure-8 Puffer for example shares the bright colours and outgoing personality of puffers generally, while being small enough to be maintained successfully in tanks around 20-30 gallons in size. It cohabits fairly well with Bumblebee Gobies, giving you some scope for a more varied aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>

Dragon puffer, sys., comp.  -- 02/18/09 Hello, <Hi.> My name is Rachel, and I work at a fish store. We have had this dragon puffer for so long. <This is a common name for Monotrete palembangensis.> He's fresh water, all alone in his own tank. I would like some info on him. I have a 55 gallon for him. <The volume is OK.> Will he need salt in his water? <No.> Will he be ok in just RO? <No. Plain RO water is too soft, has no carbonate hardness, will result in a dropping pH if not changed very often.> What kind of substrate? <Gravel or sand, whatever you prefer. This species does not borrow.> Will he like live plants in the tank? <Yes, as a lurker he'll enjoy them as cover.> How can you sex a dragon puffer? <Although they have been bred in captivity, they cannot be sexed for sure. The females generally seem to have a slightly larger girth when carrying eggs.> Will he be okay with faster tank mates? <Cannot be said for sure. Most other fish will end up as meals for this partial piscivore.> Can I find him a friend or will he kill that new friend? <Most likely the latter. If you are thinking about a second M. palembangensis you'd need a much larger tank, introduce them both together.> Please help I love this little guy and would just love him to live at my house. I already have a 20 gallon community with 4 dwarf puffers, 2 f.w. goby's, 6 Glowlight Danios, and 1 Cory cat. also another 55 gallon with a red eared slider and Pleco. I would like some information on the dragon puffer if you have any. <Feel free to send in more questions. Searching the net for Monotrete palembangensis or the older synonym Tetraodon palembangensis will bring up more hits.> Thank you so much for your time. Thank you, Rachel <Welcome. Marco.>

Keeping fresh water puffer fish, 8/24/08 Hi, I have just brought 2 fresh water puffer fish and added them to my tank which has been set up for around four months, the set up is all fine. <What species of puffer? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm .> The question is this- I have noticed that our bigger fish and loaches have had their fins nipped. It has only started since we got the puffers a couple of days ago. I haven't seen them do it so maybe they do it at night? <Perhaps, but unless you are watching the tank 24/7 it could be happening during the day as well.> As I have seen them go up to other fish and not attack them. I was wondering if this nipping will stop after a while when they learn that the other fish are not food or will they just keep doing it till the fish get infections and die?.. <Most likely this behavior will continue.> Would keeping the puffers fed once a day stop them from testing out the fish's fins? <Probably not, the behavior is most likely not due to hunger.> Do you think I should either get them a separate tank or take them back to my fish shop? <That is up to you.> Thanks for reading this and replying. Great website too. Chris <Thanks, but please spell and grammar check next time before submitting a query, we have to correct this before it gets posted.> <Chris>

Colomesus asellus and Carinotetraodon irrubesco, comp.  -- 07/16/08 Thanks for your help with my previous marine question! Answered so quick too! I have another query. Would 2 c. asellus and a c. irrubesco be compatible tankmates in a 120l tank (30x15x18)? I've heard it said they can get along, but don't know what size is meant for 'getting along'. I love both types of puffer fish and wondered if this was a possibility? Thanks again, your website has been so helpful in my research over the years! Jo <Jo, I can speak from personal experience here: Yes, this combination works great! I have a trio of Colomesus asellus and a male/female duo of Carinotetraodon irrubesco living in my 180-litre community tank. http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Projects/pufferfish.html For the most part they occupy completely different parts of the tank, the Colomesus asellus swimming about the open water, and the Carinotetraodon irrubesco sticking close to the ground, usually lurking under the rocks. Occasionally there are contretemps over food, the Colomesus asellus invariably using their greater speed to whip food away from the Carinotetraodon irrubesco, but that's about it. Most pufferfish make poor fish for multi-species system, but in my experience both of these species work quite well. Colomesus asellus can be a bit nippy towards slow moving fish, but my Carinotetraodon irrubesco seem completely harmless and even get bullied by the female Pelvicachromis taeniatus who cohabits with them and sometimes wants a particular cave the puffers though belonged to them! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Freshwater puffers; Carinotetraodon irrubesco and Colomesus asellus cohabiting 7/17/2008 Again, thank you for the advice - I do have a twig catfish - that would likely be nipped and need re-homing yes? <This is Farlowella or Sturisoma sp.? Then YES, these catfish would be completely unsuitable for a tank containing Colomesus asellus. My Colomesus certainly do nip at Corydoras for example, though catfish that hide away like Synodontis are ignored. Not sure about Carinotetraodon irrubesco; never seen them nip fins, though some specimens have been reported to attack and eat small fish. Never seen that myself though, I hasten to add. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Freshwater puffers; Carinotetraodon irrubesco and Colomesus asellus cohabiting 7/17/2008 Thanks for the quick reply, Neale. Thought as much. Was going to have the puffers and maybe some quick moving larger tetra (x-rays). <Mine live with Diamond Tetras, Bleeding Heart Tetras and Glassfish. Have cohabited with Cardinals, but the Colomesus did seem to take occasional nips at them.> I have two unpaired Bolivian rams (they've never bonded) and wondered if they would be able to fend for themselves like kribs in your tank? <Likely, yes. Have kept Mikrogeophagus ramirezi in my 180-litre set up without problems. Provided the cichlids have caves and cover, they should be fine.> Would leave me a tank free for a peaceful setup with my twig cat (the Farlowella) and some nice sparkling gourami's/peacock gobies or such-like if the rams could go with the puffers, but if not they've done fine with twig so far. <Sounds like a plan. Do bear in mind Farlowella are fast-water fish, and one reason they often congregate by the filter outflow is their need for not-too-warm, well oxygenated water. So think about creating a mountain stream tank for Farlowella, with lots of water-worn boulders, bogwood, and water current. Danios, minnows, etc would be ideal tankmates. Bearded Corydoras (Scleromystax barbatus) would also be great additions to such a tank.> I know I'm going through a tank shift when I move house so trying to organise some new set-ups! Thanks again <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Freshwater puffers; Carinotetraodon irrubesco and Colomesus asellus cohabiting 7/17/2008 Thank you for all the advice! Liking the sound of that set-up suggestion for Twig. <Cool. They're nice fish, often kept badly. Cheers, Neale.>

Can Puffers live with Sharks... FW  7/1/08 I just got a new aquarium last week (I caught the water fever must have more aquariums Lol). It is 10 gallons and has been running for the past 3 or 4 days. I have some plastic plants in it and a rock cave. I really like Dwarf Puffer fish and used to have one in a 5 gallon tank. I want to get another one and keep it in my new tank with a red tailed shark. I know that they are both aggressive species so because of that will they tolerate each other. I am not going to put anything else in the tank other than them. If I get them should I get another cave so they can each hide in their own? I have extensively researched both species and still can't decide if they will be compatible. Also will a Dwarf Puffer harm a large snail? Thanks for any reply! Your website is great and I have found a lot of useful information on it regarding fish and turtles. Keep up the good work. -Amanda <Hello Amanda, and thanks for the kind words. The short answer to your question is NO, this combination won't work. The most likely outcome is that the Dwarf Puffers will nip at the Red-tail Black Shark. Adult Red-tail Black Sharks also need MUCH more space than 10 gallons, so unless you (at least) quadruple the size of the aquarium, you couldn't fit one in. Furthermore, Puffers eat snails, and so any snail put in the tank with them will simply be viewed as food. Small snails are eaten whole, big snails a mouthful at a time. The best and most reliable approach is to keep Dwarf Puffers on their own, either singly or in groups, with ~15 litres/4 gallons per Puffer. Hope this clears things up! Neale.>

Do puffer fish and tiger barbs get along?  3/30/08 I currently have a 20 gallon community tropical tank set up but I also have a empty 10 gallon tank that I would like to set up with some other types of fish. <Limited options in 10 gallons to be honest. Very few fish make good permanent residents in tanks this small for a variety of reasons.> I was thinking of getting a fresh water puffer fish and 1 or 2 tiger barbs. <Hmm... Tiger Barbs are schooling fish for a start, so you don't keep "one or two", you keep at least six. Period. Aside from the cruelty in keeping schooling species in too-small a group, Tiger Barbs are notorious for become aggressive and/or nippy when kept thus. In any case, they are FAR too big for a 10 gallon tank.> I also was thinking about maybe getting a dwarf Gourami but I know they tend to get sick so I want to know of any other fish species that would go good with the puffer and tiger barbs. <Mixing Gouramis (which are slow moving and have long fins) with either Tiger Barbs or Pufferfish just isn't going to work out. So I'd expunge that idea from your brain cells.> (I don't know if the puffer and the tiger barbs will go good together either.) <Depends on the Pufferfish. Several species in the trade are brackish water fish anyway (Figure-8 and Green Spotted Puffers for example) and so can't be kept with most barbs. There are some brackish water barbs it is true, but the Tiger Barb isn't one of them. The only Pufferfish I can think of that *might* work with Tiger Barbs is the South American Puffer, but it's a gregarious species that needs lots of swimming room, so a single specimen in a 10 gallon tank won't work. I keep a trio in the equivalent of a 44 gallon community tank, and they EASILY use up all that space. But even then, some fish occasionally get nipped, Corydoras especially.> I don't know exactly what fish will go good with the puffer but could you recommend some if there are any. <Puffers are, to be fair, awkward customers when it comes to multi-species aquaria. They also tend to be highly active fish that get bored easily, and when they get bored, they get nippy. Or put a less anthropomorphic way, it's in their nature to "nibble" the environment while hunting for the camouflaged prey (shrimps, snails) they like to eat. If there aren't enough rocks and plants, they'll nibble on any fish that don't get out the way. Broadly speaking, no-one recommends Pufferfish unreservedly for freshwater community systems. So I'd suggest either going for a Dwarf Puffer-only 10 gallon system, or skipping the puffers entirely and creating a 10 gallon "micro community". I have a well-planted 10 gallon system with various snails, cherry shrimps, bumblebee gobies, and (juvenile) pygmy halfbeaks Dermogenys siamensis, and it's a lot of fun. Choose small, relatively inactive fish. Not Danios or anything that needs lots of swimming space. And certainly nothing much over 2.5 cm/1" in length. If you went with the Dwarf Puffers, you could have three or four specimens in the tank, provided it was well maintained and serviced with a very good filter. Puffers are sensitive to poor water quality.> Thanks, Nick <Cheers, Neale.>

South American Puffer Tankmates? 11/26/07 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I was thinking about getting an Amazon puffer. I wanted to know if it will go good with an African butterfly, platies and swordtails. Do you have a compatibility list for puffers? <Most puffers are best kept in species only tanks. They are nippy & although Amazon puffers are a bit more mild-mannered than other puffers, I still believe it would tear up your African butterfly.> Also, do they really puff up and become a spiky balloon? <Yes, all puffers have spines & the ability to puff, although causing a puffer to do that can cause undue stress to the fish.> Also, what do they eat and are they saltwater or freshwater fishes? Last, do you have a care sheet for Amazon puffers? <See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/Freshwater/C_Asellus/ The other issue with this species in particular, is it's rapid teeth growth--requiring hand-trimming every 4-6 months. I suggest setting up a separate tank if you are interested in keeping a puffer. ~PP> Thanks for all your help.

Mixing freshwater (and brackish) puffers -- 08/05/07 Hi, I am setting up my 12 gallon tank pretty soon, all I want is some puffers, I was thinking a couple Figure 8s and a couple Indian dwarf puffers. How does that sound? <Not so good to be honest. Figure 8 puffers Tetraodon biocellatus have very limited life expectancy in freshwater aquariums. Experience shows they can only be kept in brackish water (SG about 1.005) in the long run, although they are distributed in freshwater habitats. Therefore and because a 12 gallon tank is too small for more than one Figure 8 puffer I'd recommend staying with dwarf puffers.> What is the most I can have of each one? Dwarf puffers: 1 male and 2 females could be kept in your tank if well planted. 1 Figure 8 would be possible if the tank is lower end brackish.> And is it possible to put a Green spotted puffer in there? <No, too small. Ever seen adult ones?> Also I think green spotted ones are brackish but have heard they can be acclimated to freshwater. Is that true? <No, not at all. If kept in freshwater, they are -- just like the Figure 8 puffer - very prone to various fungal and bacterial diseases.> If I go brackish, what are some good brackish cycling fish? <No need to torture fish. I'd prefer to cycle fishless, e.g. with fish food, a piece of shrimp, ammonia, filter material from another brackish tank, BioSpira...> Thanks so much! Adam. <You are welcome. Here is some more that might be interesting: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/V4I1/sexing_puffers/Sexing_The_Dwarf_Puffer.htm; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/V4I2/Brackish%20Systems/brackish.htm; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/green_spotted_puppies.htm and www.thepufferforum.com for more puffer species and information. Marco.>

Cichlids, stingrays and puffers...? comp.  -- 10/28/07 Hello, i have emailed you guys before and you have sent me great advise in return. I am considering buying a tank about 75 gallons in size and i have a particular interest in parrot cichlids. My question is would it be possible to place a teacup stingray in the tank with the parrot who are cichlids but more calm and less aggressive than other cichlids. I would also like to place some type of fresh/brackish water puffers in this community because i plan to place some aquarium salt in the tank for balance. If this is not possible could you please send me something in return in regard to fish that would be compatible with the parrots and the stingray. Also i have an interest in aggressive cichlids such as green/red terrors, jack Dempseys, (maybe parrots and Oscars), red devils. Could you please let me know if a tank of this sort would work out and if so could you give me a comp that could be placed in a 75 to 90 gallon tank. Thanks again. <In short: No. Mixing cichlids of any sort with Stingrays is unwise, and mixing Puffers with Stingrays even more unwise. Adding salt "for balance" doesn't have any scientific grounding at all, and is likely to cause problems. Put enough salt for brackish water Puffers to be happy, and the Stingray will suffer. Produce the soft, acidic water the Stingray needs and the brackish water puffer will die. Anyway, Puffers are 100% incompatible with Stingrays. Any species of Puffer large enough not to be eaten as food will be sufficiently big that it could nip the Stingray. So, discard this idea at once. As for cichlids: please do some more research. Oscars are NOT aggressive cichlids. An Oscar stuck in a small tank with an aggressive cichlid such as Amphilophus citrinellum (one of the "Red Devil" cichlids) is a very unhappy Oscar. Although territorial, Oscars are no more overtly aggressive than, say, Angelfish. Indeed, I've seen Angelfish that were far more problematic in community tanks than any Oscar! Parrot cichlids (by which I assume you mean those hybrid cichlids, not the "real" Parrot Cichlid, Hoplarchus psittacus) are essentially crippled fish, and forcing them to express their naturally territorial behaviour in a tankful of normal fish is unfair. Finally, there's no such thing as a "teacup Stingray". All that means is it is a baby. Given the various traded Stingrays easily reach disc diameters of 60 cm, and sometimes more, you need a huge tank to give them space. The common generic species is Potamotrygon motoro, and that's a fish with a 60 cm disc diameter and a tail that adds at least another 30 cm to that. As a rule of thumb, Stingrays need a tank that has width (front to back) NOT LESS than 150% the disc diameter of the fish. In the case of the commonly traded species Potamotrygon motoro, that means you need a tank NOT LESS than 90 cm front to back. Realistically, successful Stingray maintenance requires tanks measured in the HUNDREDS of gallons, not tens. A 250 US gallon tank of appropriate width and length is probably (certainly!) the minimum if you want the Stingray to have anything like a good chance of success in captivity. Does this sound excessive? It isn't. Of the Stingrays sold as pets, only a tiny fraction last more than a year, because so many people underestimate their requirements. There are many good books on Stingray care: I recommend you sit down with one of these and digest it cover to cover before moving forward. Are they worthwhile pets? Yes. Are they easy to keep? No. In absolute terms, they are significantly far difficult than most freshwater fish, and require a similar level of care to a marine reef tank with delicate invertebrates such as corals. Good luck, Neale>

Tankmates and Colomesus asellus 8/8/07 Dear Wet Web Media <Hi Ben, Pufferpunk here> I Have recently moved my discus from my 100gal UK to a 250 gal UK tank and am currently looking at stocking my 100gal from scratch. I have two inhabitants: a 12cm goldie Plec Scobinancistrus auratus <Beautiful fish!> and a 12cm Palythoas costatus and was wondering whether it is possible to stock with at least six Colomesus asellus? Would the puffers nip the Plec in such a roomy tank? <Maybe not> I might also like to add some Corydoras later on and also possibly a big school of cardinals. <C asellus have been known to nip at Cory's fins but I think in that size tank, with enough cover, they may be OK. Again, you can never tell with puffers. 6 C asellus should work nicely in that tank. Be prepared to do teeth trimming on them every 4-6 months though. They are well known for overgrown teeth in captivity. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm > Best regards and thanks for any help. <No problem. Sounds like a great tank. I'm sure the discus are happy too! ~PP> Ben

Mixing freshwater (and brackish) puffers -- 08/05/07 Hi, I am setting up my 12 gallon tank pretty soon, all I want is some puffers, I was thinking a couple Figure 8s and a couple Indian dwarf puffers. How does that sound? <Not so good to be honest. Figure 8 puffers Tetraodon biocellatus have very limited life expectancy in freshwater aquariums. Experience shows they can only be kept in brackish water (SG about 1.005) in the long run, although they are distributed in freshwater habitats. Therefore and because a 12 gallon tank is too small for more than one Figure 8 puffer I'd recommend staying with dwarf puffers.> What is the most I can have of each one? Dwarf puffers: 1 male and 2 females could be kept in your tank if well planted. 1 Figure 8 would be possible if the tank is lower end brackish.> And is it possible to put a Green spotted puffer in there? <No, too small. Ever seen adult ones?> Also I think green spotted ones are brackish but have heard they can be acclimated to freshwater. Is that true? <No, not at all. If kept in freshwater, they are -- just like the Figure 8 puffer - very prone to various fungal and bacterial diseases.> If I go brackish, what are some good brackish cycling fish? <No need to torture fish. I'd prefer to cycle fishless, e.g. with fish food, a piece of shrimp, ammonia, filter material from another brackish tank, BioSpira...> Thanks so much! Adam. <You are welcome. Here is some more that might be interesting: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/V4I1/sexing_puffers/Sexing_The_Dwarf_Puffer.htm; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/V4I2/Brackish%20Systems/brackish.htm; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/green_spotted_puppies.htm and www.thepufferforum.com for more puffer species and information. Marco.>

Combining Puffer Species  3/18/07 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have 2 dwarf puffer fish and 2 green puffer fish.   <By "green puffer fish" I assume you are speaking of the green spotted puffer, Tetraodon nigroviridis?> Can you suggest a fish that would be compatible with these fish, that would help keep the algae down in my tank? <You are keeping 2 completely incompatible puffers together.  The tiny dwarf puffer is strictly a freshwater fish.  The "green" puffer will grow quite large (6"), become very aggressive to the point of murdering those cute little dwarves & require high-end brackish conditions.  I'd rethink your fish so far, before adding anything else. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm Also check www.thepufferforum.com for more information on puffers. As far as your question, puffers are very aggressive fish.  Even the dwarf puffers have been known to take "rides" on fish 10x their size.  They have however, been tolerant of Otocinclus catfish in their tank for algae duty.  The GSPs will have to be housed separately from your dwarf puffers.  There really aren't any cleaners that will survive the high-end BW conditions they require or the wrath of puffer teeth.  ~PP> Thank you

Dwarf Puffer Tankmate?  2/20/07 Hi Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk again, Betty> It's Betty (the beginner who can't leave well enough alone).   <LOL, you're preaching to the choir--I have 9 tanks!> Pufferpunk may remember me from the "Can dwarf frogs get ich" question.   <Sure do> Since then I've acquired a dwarf puffer that's cute as a bug's ear (and not much bigger).  Puff has his own 5-gallon aquarium (see attached photo), Flash, my Betta, has his own 5-gallon aquarium and my dwarf frogs, Slim and Chance, (who are thriving despite their ill-fated names), also have a 5-gallon aquarium.  My question concerns my serpae tetra, Jet.  He's in a 2 1/2 gallon aquarium which sits next to Flash's tank (see attached photo).  When I purchased Jet, I failed to notice that he's a "schooling fish."  (Actually, I purchased two tetras, but one of them was bullying Jet, so I returned him.)  Then Jet contracted ich and I really didn't expect him to make it, but I treated him and he recovered.  I've made him as comfortable as I can in his small tank.  Although he was extremely shy at first, he's gradually coming out of his shell.  I really don't have room for another 5-gallon, so I was wondering if Jet might share a home with (a) Flash, the Betta, who appears to be flirting with Jet and who builds his bubble nest on Jet's side of the aquarium; (b) Puff, the dwarf puffer; (c) Slim and Chance, who are rapidly nearing adult size; or (d) none of the above.  Everyone is so healthy and pretty; I'd hate for anyone's fins to get nipped off.  I suppose I could return Jet to the pet store; he's my least favorite but I've sort of grown attached to him.  What do you advise? <A school of fish includes 5-6 of the same species.  Puff will tear him up.  No room for him in the other tanks.  I'd return him & hope he's purchased with some of the same tetras, to live out his life in a nice, comfortable school.     For more info on your puffer: www.thepufferforum.com  ~PP> Betty Williams

Puffer Fish... fresh and brackish tog.? No, comp.    2/18/07 Hello, <Hi Sue. Marco here> I have 2 dwarf puffer fish and 2 green puffer fish.   <Nice. I hope they are not in the same tank. With regard to the green puffers please read http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/green_spotted_puppies.htm> What type of fish would you suggest would be compatible with these types of fish for algae control? <Both species are unpredictable and may attack algae eaters even after some months of success. Some have their dwarf puffers with Otocinclus or Amano shrimp, but it cannot be guaranteed that yours will tolerate them. For algae control keep the water quality pristine with weekly water changes and give them some competition with fast growing plants. Have a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm and the related FAQs. Thank you, Sue <Welcome>

GSP in a community FW Tank  1/12/07 Thanks for responding. When we bought our puffer, we were told that these could live in fresh water. <As per most uninformed LFS.> Oops. Anyway, ours is about 2 years old and 2.5 inches long. It's in a thirty gallon tank with a dozen other fish. <I believe it should be larger by now.> It has never had a problem with the others (nipping wise). <Extremely lucky.> I'm using the Eclipse in-hood filtration system and I rinse and re-use the filters for about 3-5 weeks. Water changes are about the same. <Weekly water changes are recommended for all FW fish.> I tested the water two days after a water change using a Mardel 5 in 1 test strip. <Not the best test results from these.  I recommend Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Master Test Kit or buy each liquid AP test separately.> Although the nitrite levels were well within the safe range, the nitrate levels were very high (80 ppm). <Should at least be <20, <10 is best.> The total hardness test was in the moderate range but the buffering capacity is very low. Also, the pH is down around 6.4. <Brackish fish prefer a pH of around 8.  Quite a huge difference.> As far as food, what would you recommend? <Please read the previous recommended feeding articles & GSP article I linked you to.  I highly recommend getting your puffer into it's own 30g (min) tank & start raising the salinity as per the GSP article.  Also follow recommended substrate to raise the pH & keep it steady.  No mention of how the teeth look?   For more puffer info: www.thepufferforum.com.  ~PP> Star

Tetraodon suvattii Tankmates  1/5/07 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I am still trying to decide what to put in my new 46 gallon tank, and am very interested in the pig-nose puffer (Tetraodon suvattii).  I looked on pufferlist.com--I know what the fish needs.  What I am wondering is if it can be kept with fish that are too large for a potential meal? I don't want it ambushing everything in the tank. Some fish I was considering would be a large Gourami or two, and possibly a Ctenopoma acutirostre (Spotted Climbing Perch).  Would a good option be an African Butterflyfish? It would never encounter the puffer since it would hang out at the top and the puffer would spend most of it's time at the bottom. If the puffer could co-exist with the Gourami and Spotted Climbing Perch, would they all be ok with the African Butterflyfish then? <The T suvattii is a natural fish eater.  It tears flesh off fish.  Anything you put in there with it, is a potential meal.  ~PP>                                                                Thanks

Mixing Puffer Species  10/30/06 Thank you for your prompt response and this information. We have 5 Green Spotted Puffers. 3 are 1 1/2 inches (Lumpy is one of these) and 2 are about 3/4 of an inch. We also have 2 yellow-green dwarf puffers that have been with us for 9 months. <So there are 2 different species, 5 green spotted & 2 dwarf puffers?> They all get along very well in our 55 gallon tank.  We have not found any fin nipping. <Not for long!> We keep the salinity at about 1.005-1.007, using a mix of aquarium salt and sea salt. <Dwarf puffers are strictly a freshwater species & should not be kept in brackish water.  I killed my 1st 2 that way.  Brackish water should be made with marine salt only.> The nitrite and nitrate levels are almost always perfect, though the water is naturally hard due to being in Phoenix. <"Almost always perfect" still doesn't tell me anything--no different than "fine".  Ammonia & nitrites should be 0 at all times, nitrates should be <20, pH should remain steady--around 8 for BW fish & 7.2 for FW.  Hard water is fine.>.   Are there any parasite treatments that would get rid of the worm without harming Lumpy? <Like I said before, if you kill the worm inside the fish, it will die & rot inside your fish, killing the fish too.  It is best to keep the fish separate (30g minimum for a GSP).  That would still leave you needing to find a much bigger tank for the other 4 , as 30g each is the minimum for them--that means a 120g tank as they reach adulthood. I would also put the DPs in a freshwater tank of their own.  A 5-10g would be perfect for the 2 of them.  As the GSPs mature, they will get quite aggressive, killing most of their tank mates.  You can imagine what a 6" killing machine might do to a 1" pea-sized puffer! I have a segregator I can use but it would still use common  circulation for the filter. <No good.  Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm Also visit: www.thepufferforum.com for more info.  ~PP>> Beth Friedman

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

I've got a dwarf puffer that I've had in a guppy tank for some time now.    7/13/06 <<Why in a guppy tank?  Guppies eat so quickly compared to DP's, and DP's are notoriously vicious for their size.>> Yesterday, I walked past the tank, and I noticed that the dwarf puffer had a fry coming out of its body.  I quickly did a bit of research, and I found that dwarf puffers lay eggs, not birth live.  Yet there are about 3 or 4 babies swimming around the tank, each with barely-there puffer spots. <<??? DP's certainly do lay eggs.  That's quite confusing indeed!>> My question:  How is this possible?  Could it be that it's not a dwarf puffer, but a different type? <<No.>> I've owned many dwarf puffers over the past few years, and they always look the same as the one I had.  Is it possible that maybe a guppy gave birth to fry, and this puffer ate a baby whole, and it didn't break down in the puffer's body and he passed it as it was when he ate it? <<I'm not sure.  I do know that live Artemia have been expelled out of some fishes' digestive tracts, but I've never heard of this happening with DP's.  What exactly does the fry look like?>> I've never seen anything like this, nor have I heard of anything like this happening, but none of my guppies have even looked pregnant, much less given birth before. Help! <<I wish I had more information for you.  Are you certain the fry was coming from its body? Study it closely and make a definitive ID; DP, guppy, or neither. Lisa>>

Keeping Dwarf Puffers with Tankmates  6/26/06 Pufferpunk, <Yup, it's me!> By your title, I'm guessing you know a lot about puffers! <You've got that right!  Here's my website: www.thepufferforum.com.> Well I have a compatibility question for you: Can cardinal tetras  be kept with "pea puffers"? <Absolutely not!  Dwarf puffers have been known to take "fin rides" on fish 10x their size.  Very aggressive lil buggars.  Some folks have had luck keeping them with Otocinclus & large shrimp.  They need 1 fish/3-5g & keep 1 male/3 females.> Also, how large do they grow? <1 inch> Do they need live food like other puffers? <They love love blackworms & will eat small crickets & snails.  Freeze-dried plankton will work well too.> The man at the pet store (A VERY good  LFS!) said they can eat regular flake but I am unsure of this. <Generally not.> I can't seem to find much info about them... <Also try www.dwarfpuffers.com> Oh, and "Wen"  is the Japanese word for an Oranda's crown. (I don't know any other name for it!) <Thanks!  A great GF site is www.goldfishconnection.com  ~PP> Just so you know, Anthony

Dwarf Puffers + Cichlids + sharks + koi +.... - 5/3/2006 I wasn't able to find the specific information I needed, so I was going to go ahead and e-mail you guys (and gals). <<Go for it!>> I have had a dwarf puffer for about two weeks, and he's the happiest little thing in the world. <<Sweet little things, aren't they?>> He was the absolute tiniest in the fish store, so I had to rescue him, and he's subsequently known as Spot. Well, I've also decided that rescuing cichlids and taking a koi a friend bought me was also a great idea. I have a 40 gallon tank with a dojo loach, a 3" koi, the puffer, a one eyed Bolivian Ram (he's about 3"), a red finned shark, a baby Convict, and a baby Kenyi female. They're all very small, the loach and the koi are the biggest. There's almost no violence in the tank, the worst that happens in that I can't find the puffer in the tank sometimes. The filtration is very good; I have under gravel filtration + a power head, and a good cleanup crew. <<I'm sure I don't have to tell you how over/improperly stocked you are though, right?>> My worry is that, not that the puffer will be aggressive (he's such a gentleman, due to his young age) but that my cichlids will be more aggressive to him as they get bigger, and he doesn't. He's had a few encounters with the koi almost taking him as dinner although he seems to never notice, and he's very active. I've been thinking about getting an albino Oscar. <<Certainly not for that tank?!>> I'm worried about the puffer. <<I would be worried for all of your fishes.>> Is there any chance he'll get eaten or bothered by the other fish? <<Yes.  Also, DP's will take on fish many times their size.  Your puffer will be out-competed for food in time, if he is not already.>> Or would it be a better idea to downgrade him into the 10 gallon tank and put the ram in there also? <<I would put the DP in the 10-gallon, with a few Amano shrimp and a few Otocinclus.>> I'm really at a loss as what to do, since the lure of an Oscar is overwhelming. I feel bad for the puffer, especially due to his increased curiosity and happiness in this tank. What do you recommend I do? <<If you really want all of these fish, please do purchase more/larger tanks to house them properly.  I know the lure of certain fish can be great, but it is our job to take care of them properly.  Good luck my friend.>> Thank you so much! <<You are quite welcome. Lisa.>>

FW Puffer systems - 3/24/2006 I would like to know if I can combine a freshwater puffer with my two small about penny size angels and 2 dwarf frogs. <<Nope.  Puffers are aggressive, non-community fish.>> I would like to know the kind of angels that I have one of them looks like a zebra with really extremely longs fins and the other is yellow with black spots. <<Read on WWM.>> How do I know the sex of them and how large will they grow? <Again, please read.>> I never seem to catch the yellow angel ever eating but the zebra striped one always seems to eat like it never gets enough. Thank you Tiffany <<Lisa.>>

FW & BW Puffer Questions 3/20/06 Your site is much appreciated. <Thanks!  Pufferpunk here, to answer your puffer questions!> I have just a few questions. I think I have a GSP (nigroviridis) bought  as a freshwater fish. It's about 1.5 inches and I'm going to start  introducing him to a brackish setup. I also have 3 dwarf puffers in with him. Do I need to take them out or could they be introduced to  brackish as well? <Dwarf puffers are strictly freshwater fish.  I killed my 1st 3 by thinking the same thing & putting them in BW.  I'm actually surprised the GSP hasn't gone after them yet.  I'd separate them ASAP!> The gravity I'm going to raise with marine salt will be 1.008 - 1.012. <Be sure to only raise it .002/week, so as not to disturb the biological bed too quickly.> When he reaches 3 inches I'm going to move him to a larger tank with SG at 1.020. <I wouldn't bring it that high until it's around 4".  1.015 is fine until then.> Also, I think I have nigroviridis but could possibly have fluviatilis due to all the confusion. These fish thrive in the same parameters of water quality, correct?   <Identical parameters.  Totally different-looking fish though.  See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > Thanks for your time.  W.G. <Come join us at www.thepufferforum.com, for more puffer fun!   ~PP>  

Cichlids and Puffers    3/2/06 Hi crew, I just wanted to ask a quick question or three. 1) Are there any specie's of cichlid that are compatible with any species of puffers (freshwater)? If not what species should I go with?  I just want something color full. < Red bellied puffers are truly fresh water and not too aggressive. They could go with dwarf cichlids from West Africa or south America.> 2) I have a 55 gallon tank and have it cycling now, when it's done what types of freshwater invertebrates or any other's might you suggest I get to keep a clean and healthy tank? < Algae eating shrimp and snails help keep things in check but they are no replacement for water changes and cleaning filters.> 3) Can I keep an eel with any one of those specie's? < Eels are all predatory and will eat smaller fish and shrimp.-Chuck> Thanks for any help Brian

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

Mixing BW & FW puffers  1/11/06 Matt Pace here, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have recently set up a 20 gallon mildly brackish tank with Aquaclear 50 gallon filter and air stone. I have 17 bumblebee gobies, 2 Siamese algae eaters, and did have 2 figure eight puffers. <What do you mean by "mildly brackish"?  What is the specific gravity?  Are you using marine salt?> One died day 2 (ammonia spike) and the other has thrived. <Hmmm... not cycled before adding fish, or overstocked?  It is already overstocked as it is...> I would like to either add another figure eight or a couple other dwarf puffers. <Absolutely not!  That tank is good to support the BBGs without the puffer.  You need to thin out the inhabitants in there.  Either return the puffer, or return about half the BBGs.> What types of dwarf puffers are compatible with figure-eights? Which would be better? <None> I also have a CAE in another tank. It is a ten gallon and I bought him when I did not know what I was doing. Since he is getting larger and I am afraid he will suck on my gouramis and tetras, Could I move him to the brackish tank (via drip acclimation method)?  Would he get along with puffers, SAEs, and little gobies? <No, it is a FW fish, not BW.  Neither is the SAE--it belongs in FW.> Otherwise I have to send him back to pet store. <Looks like you have several fish to send back.> I have read they get nasty as they get older and harass flat bodied fish. Since there are no flat bodies in my brackish tank and it is supposed to be somewhat of an Asian river/mangrove swamp biotope, I though it would work. Any and all advice would be appreciated. <You cannot mix FW & BW fish.  It will stress them out, compromising their immune systems, causing disease & early death.  You also should not overstock tanks, especially BW & SW.  Generally, A F8 puffer needs a 15g tank for the 1st puffer & 10 additional gallons for each added.  If you want other tank mates, then you need to go larger.  Thin out your stock of gobies & you should have a nice tank of puffer & gobies.  Don't be surprised though, if the goby population dwindles, as I started out with 8 & my F8s have eaten all but 1.  Puffers need a cycled tank & pristine water conditions.  Here's a good article on your puffer: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/f8puffer.html.  Check out that forum for more puffer info.  ~PP> Later, Matt

Dwarf Puffers with Barbs? 12/7/05 WWM Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a 20 gal freshwater setup with 4 tiger barbs, a Pleco and a spotted Pim. I really want to add some dwarf puffer fish (was thinking 3). Just wondering if the barbs would bother the puffers and if you think it could work out. <The main problem I could see with that combo is that the barbs may outcompete the puffers for food. Check out www.dwarfpuffers.com for more info on these fish. ~PP> Thanks for your time, Mark  

Dwarf Puffer In a Community Tank? 11/3/05 Hi <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I found your site while looking for information on dwarf puffers. I'm a beginner on keeping fish and I just upgraded to a 50g tank. I seen a dwarf puffer at a pet store. After that I really wanted to have one in my tank but every thing I have been reading about them says they are aggressive. <Very true!> All of the fish in my tank a peaceful. The only aggressive fish I have is a electric yellow libido. I was wondering if I could put one dwarf puffer in my tank with out causing problems for my other fish? <Not a good idea. DPs have known to take fin fides on fish 10x their size. Also, it will be out-competed for food by faster moving fish than itself. Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i6/lonely_puffer/lonely_puffer.htm> Also I was hoping you could recommend a bottom feeder or a algae eater for my tank. <In a tank that size, I would suggest a pack of Cory catfish & any of the dwarf species of Plecos.>  The fish in the tank are one fancy male guppy, two mollies, two swordtail's, two platys, three hatchet fish, three neon tetras, three black neon tetras, three glow-light tetras, one dwarf gourami, one true flying fox, one yellow libido, four zebra danios and four red Rasboras.  <Sounds like a nice tank. Keep an eye on that cichlid. Don't forget those weekly partial water changes! ~PP> Thanks, Mickelle 

Multiple Dwarf Puffers in a 5 Gallon?  9/16/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Sorry to bother again. I just need to know if a single freshwater dwarf puff would get lonely in a 5 gal. tank by itself. If so, should I get 2 females, 1 male 1 female, or 2 males? I don't want to abuse such a neat fish:/ <No your puffer won't get lonely.  They are not a schooling fish & don't need "friends".  Also, since DPs need 3-5g/fish, a 5g won't be large enough for more than 1.  Now if you can get a 10g, a nice trio of females would be fine.  Also see: www.dwarfpuffers.com.  ~PP>

Dwarf Puffers-Tankmates?  6/28/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a question about dwarf puffer fish.  I have been trying to search puffer fish facts on the internet and I am so confused.  My dad has a 35 hexagon tank with a Red Tail Shark some mollies, and swordtails.  About 3 months ago he added 3 dwarf puffers.  Two survived and they are fine.  They don't bug the other fish and the other fish don't bug them.  I wanted to know if I could set up a 55 gallon tank with a red-tail, gouramis, puffers, and barbs.  Thank you in advance. <There are several problems in keeping dwarf puffers with other fish.  One is their general nastiness.  Most of the time they will pick on & even kill slower-moving or long finned tankmates.  It could be that your dad's fish have been able to escape the puffer's teeth so far but they may latch on eventually & can easily kill another fish.  The other problem is feeding.  Puffers need hard shelled foods to keep their teeth ground down.  This does not mean flakes.  If kept with fast-moving fish, the other fish will generally get to the food 1st & the puffers starve.  They are best kept in a species tank, with a few Otos & ghost or Amano shrimp, which for some reason they do not bother (never keep shrimp w/any other puffer, they will become puffer food.).  Here is a great site on that puffer species: www.dwarfpuffers.com  ~PP> Brendon Hernandez Fahaka puffer Hello, Just a couple quickies about a Fahaka I have.  He's 4" and in a 120g alone. <Good job on the tank size, he'll be happy for quite some time in there.  This particular puffer is quite aggressive and will not tolerate tank mates so you're doing a great job by keeping him alone.> 1.  Does the specific gravity really need to be 1.020?  <No, this fish is a freshwater fish.> 2.  Will he do o.k. in 1.000 water?  <Yes, this is pure freshwater and ideal conditions for your Fahaka.> 3.  Will his slight ich problem eventually clear on its own?  <Not likely, read this article on how to treat puffers with ich, http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1086103674> That's about it.  I really don't want another "reef" tank right now.  Not looking forward to the salt parameters. Thanks, Mike <Good Luck!  Heather>

Compatibility of Dwarf Frogs & Dwarf Puffers?  2/09/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Can African dwarf frogs and dwarf puffers live together? If not, What species are compatible w/ each of these? Thanks so much! <Bad idea! Dwarf puffers (& most any puffers) will pick on any species that lays around, is slow-moving, long-finned, or sedentary.  This includes dwarf frogs.  If a puffer is to be kept with any fish, it needs to be tough & fast-moving.  My dwarves live with much larger cichlids, Cory catfish & Plecos.   Dwarf frogs need to be with small fish, like tetras, in a small tank, so they can get to the surface to breathe.  Please choose your fish carefully.  I'm glad you asked, before purchasing the wrong combination of pets!  ~PP>

Dwarf puffer tankmates? (1/5/04) Hi, <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I need some advice on what I can put in my tank. Here is the set-up, I have a 20 gallon tank with a whisper filter, 1 1/2 of gravel, and a heater. <So far so good...> Living in the tank is two Dwarf puffers, and three Buenos Aires Tetras. I would like some color and exotic look. Can I add eels or sharks? (I really don't want the puffers or tetras eaten, the puffers more than the tetras though) What would you suggest? <Hmmm. A new tank for the dwarf puffers. If you only have the pair, they'd be fine in even a 5 gallon tank (or with a 10 gallon tank, which often costs less than a 5 gallon tank, you could add a few more of them). Otherwise, they're likely to nip the fins of the other stuff in the tank. That would enable all sorts of combinations of fish for the 20 gallon tank. You might like to post on the WetWebMedia chat boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk in the Freshwater discussion forum and get more opinions and ideas from the folks there. --Ananda>

FW Puffers 11/16/03 Hi, my name is Brian ... <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a 110 gallon heavily planted paludarium (50 gallons freshwater), with lots of plants and a couple of mangroves.  The pH is 7.0, the tank is kept at 74 deg. F.    <Sounds like a cool tank.  Don't mangroves grow in SW?> In the aquarium part, there are 12 white cloud tetras (leftover from cycling), and 2 violet Plecs (plus about 70 small snails that are breeding like rabbits - there were only 2 when they started).  In the terrarium section, there are poison dart frogs.  Because of worries about fish pathogens infecting the frogs, I was advised to keep away from South American fish varieties.   <Hmmm, I'd be more worried about the frog's toxins affecting the fish.> Are there any varieties of puffers that would do OK in my tank?   <Actually, I believe that the toxins puffers carry is the same as your frog's.  Some South American puffers (Colomesus asellus) might do well in your tank.  They don't grow very large (2-3") & are pretty mild tempered, as far as puffers go.  They may nip at the smaller fish.> Thank you for your time. <Your welcome--Pufferpunk) I'm sending this from my mom's email address though.  Can you possibly respond to XXXX@earthlink.net?  (If not, I can just get it from my mom ...) thanks again!

Freshwater puffers? (11/14/03) <Hi! Ananda here today...sorry for the delay on this one.> Hi, I currently have a 55 gallon FW tank set up, so far I have black Tahitian moon sand, 2 AC300's, a heater, and 2 air stones, also there is 2 parrot fish, 1 of the is really large and the other one is small, I have a catfish, not sure what kind it is but its gray with a silver stripe Across the middle of this body and his whiskers are about 6 inches long, also I have 1 Plecostomus and a white albino catfish in there, I was wondering if my tank would be compatible for any FW puffer, I saw some at my LFS but they were small and I was worried my huge parrot fish might eat the puffer and die as the puffers are poisonous, any ideas? <Whew! All that in one breath/sentence? ;-) I would be concerned about combining any small puffers with the big parrot fish, as it may attack intruders into what it perceives as its territory.> Thanks <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Dwarf Puffer Bullies 2/14/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here.  I must start out by asking you to please use capital letters at the beginning of all your sentences.  These questions are posted on our website & I have to take the time to correct this, before we can send it.  This takes precious time away from my helping folks with their fish.  Also, it would be helpful if you added a subject title, so we can better sort out your questions to the best person to answer them.  Thank you!> I have 3 dwarf puffers that are in a 10 gallon tank with lots of plants to hide in and a little cave. The bigger on has picked out one of the other ones to pick on and will not let it swim around in the tank. It has to stay still or it will go after it. Do you think i should take the bigger one out and put him by himself or just let them work this out? <I am wondering if you might have 2 males in your tank that could be causing the problems?  Male dwarf puffers will fight.  The ratio in dwarf puffer tanks is best at 1 male to 3 females, or all females.  To ID the sexes, look on this site: http://www.rr.iij4u.or.jp/~kohda/en/en-dwarfpuffer.htm  If this does not look to be the problem, then maybe there is not enough decor in your tank.  All puffer tanks with more than 1 puffer need several broken lines of sight, to establish territories & cut down on aggression.  Even with good established territories, there is always a chance that you have a dwarf puffer that just doesn't play well with others.  In that case, try returning it for a different one.> Thanks <Good luck & enjoy your puffer friends! ~PP>

New Mbu Puffer  8/10/04 Hey crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> First let me point out that I think your site is fantastic.   <Well, thank you very much!> I found myself looking and learning about systems I never even thought about.  Thanks for the good info. I read a lot of great info on Mbu puffers, but found some of the eating habits and acclimation techniques to be contradicting. Just to clarify, here is my situation. <There is a lot of contradicting info on puffers in general, on the web & even more from shops that sell them.> I have a 55gal, with 2 large Tinfoil Barbs (8"), 3 Bala Sharks (ave.. 5"), 1 Clown Knife (4"), 1 large Pleco (8" need to do something here, whole other subject) and a few Tiger barbs (1") <Hmmm, sounds overstocked already!  Do you have any idea how large clown knives grow?  4 feet!  They will also eat anything they can fit into their huge mouths.  Mmmmmm, tiger barbs!  I hope you aren't going by the 1"/gal rule, that's only for 1" fish.> All except the Clown Knife have been in the tank since inception. My tank has been up and running for over 2 years now with no major problems.  I do plan to upgrade to 100-200gal in the next year, <Not nearly large enough for all those fish.  I don't think a 4' fish will be able to turn around in there.> but trying to do things one step at a time. I was ready to put a great fish, and make an investment on something special.  After research into my water conditions I found that the Mbu Puffer would be a good choice.  After talking to a few people, I got one and he is glorious.   <One of the most stunning & personable fish alive, IMO.> Anyways, while I acclimate the most expensive fish I've ever bought, I am finding myself nervous.  I was very slow and deliberate in my introduction to the tank.  He even ate about 20min after getting out of the bag--fantastic.  But has not eaten since.  I am trying with Krill, frozen and freshly thawed.  I feed my other fish in the tank a variety of flakes/Brine Shrimp/ Bloodworms and other frozen that the Mbu takes no interest in either.  It has only been 24hrs, and normally I would just let the fish be, but this time I have more invested, financially and emotionally.   <The 1st thing that comes to mind is when I introduced 4 7-8" tinfoil barbs to my large puffer's tank (12" Fahaka alone in a 125g tank) for some swimming interest.  Boy was he pissed!  It seems they were just too much & his eyes would shift back & forth angrily at them.  They would eat every morsel of food, before it would get down to him.  I had to get rid of them, for his sake.  Now all is good in his tank.  You may be having the same problem. Between the rotund, slower-moving  puffer & all the streamlined fish you have in there, who do you think is going to eat 1st?  The puffer may not want to even bother, since he is the new guy.  Another scenario I can imagine, is the puffer getting mad enough to just start taking chunks out of some of the other fish.>   My question is basically how much will he eat (4in) and how often? <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). As your puffer gets larger (even now), there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat. Larger 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 need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week. Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded.> Are their any other techniques I should try when feeding him?  And at what point should I be concerned? He is moving smooth and seems OK as of yet.   <I'd be concerned when he hasn't eaten in a week or 2.  Again, I must stress, I think there is way too much competition for food in there.  Puffers are actually rather shy.> For your info, here are the basics about my water conditions.  T=77F, pH=6.9-7.0, Ammonia, nitrates-low, but known to jump (no live plants), filter-established external BioWheel with snorkel.  Bimonthly water changes (25%- probably increase now with Puffer) <You are having ammonia & nitrIte problems, because your tank is overstocked.  For most fish, puffers especially, those must always be 0!  Also, your pH is extremely low, from the huge bioload & small water changes.  Puffers prefer hard, alkaline water, with a pH of around 8.  I do 50% weekly water changes on all my tanks & none of then are stocked anywhere near the capacity of yours (even before your Mbu).> Any advise would be appreciated.  Thanks for calming my nerves. <Please read this.  It was written by my puffer mentor, Robert T Ricketts, who has been keeping puffers for over 40 years.  Please reconsider your tank & inhabitants.   http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=fbp&action=display&num=1088527135  ~PP> Sean

Re: seeking your expertise! <Greetings, Lisa. Anthony> Thank you for your reply. I guess I didn't clarify....I have FRESHWATER dwarf puffers, although I do put a little salt in the water. <yes...they really aren't freshwater, but necessarily brackish> From everything I've read, they belong in a freshwater tank?  <nope...they tolerate freshwater. They are likely brackish. You have the little figure eight or spotted green puffers, I suppose? The frogs are at full size, guess I didn't clarify that they are DWARF frogs and very mellow, and do not bother them.  <yes...agreed> As long as there is no danger of the puffers eating the frogs....am I okay? <Danger Will Robinson! Hehehe... yes, the frogs will eventually get nipped/eaten. A strange mix> Could I eventually move the puffs to the 46 gallon? Or would they pick on the Jelly Beans? <please read up on this site about brackish fishes and displays... a unique and wonderful microcosm...but limited in fish compatibility> From what I hear, the frogs would drown in a larger tank. What do you think? <they are really better suited to the smaller aquaria where they can feed easier away from active community fish> Thanks! Lisa <kind regards. Anthony>
Re: seeking your expertise! True Freshwater Puffer
Anthony, hope I'm not being too much of a pain... <not at all...information exchange, a wonderful thing> but the puffers are Tetraodon travancoricus (which is neither figure eight or spotted green). <ah, yes... and indeed freshwater. My apologies... 99 out of one hundred people with a question about "freshwater" puffer have a brackish species that the LFS did not know/inform them about> They are Dwarf Freshwater Puffers,  <from freshwater in India> although difficult to find on the web, <have you had the pleasure of browsing Puffernet? (http://puffernet.tripod.com)... a haven for you <smile>> they DO exist and from what I've seen they thrive and belong in freshwater. <agreed> They only reach the size of about one inch. SO since the frogs will still be larger than them, and the fish is known to be a fairly docile puffer (for a puffer),  <actually...everything I have read on the species details them as serious fin nippers with the males being especially territorial as they mature. Males have a pronounced ventral line (dark line on body flanks...where females have none... easy to sex)> do you think the frogs will still get eaten? They seem to co-exist fairly well at this time. <at least harassed eventually...more so if you have males)> I also notice that the puffers (although they are fed blood worm) eat quite a bit of the live plant in the tank also. <excellent food matter to be encouraged. Thank you for clarifying, and again...my apologies for assuming. Kindly Anthony>

New Puffer fish My husband recently bought a puffer fish from our LFS. They called it a puffer, and upon closer questioning, called it a green spotted puffer. It was recommended to us by the same LFS to control snails in our tank. Ours is a freshwater aquarium and home to five neon tetras and a couple of catfish. They assured me it will be fine in our six gallon freshwater tank, but upon looking at various websites, I have my doubts. <Your doubts are warranted. He will need specialized care; some salt in the water, larger tank, will probably eat the neon's eventually, etc.> This puffer has gone thru many many snails in the two days we've had him. In fact he's eaten them all and now I'm scavenging snails from the tank filter. As usual, dad and the kids have brought home a new pet, and mom gets to figure out how to keep him alive and hopefully happy and healthy. So, should I return him? Also, what to feed (the store gave us frozen baby brine shrimp to feed him, but he's completely uninterested - they're obviously too small for him, although the tetras were in heaven). <Frozen Mysis shrimp and/or plankton would be better.> Any advice is appreciated. I've looked thru your website and it's very helpful. However, now I'm inundated with often conflicting info and I need to go straight to the horse's mouth. <Take a look here for a lot more info http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufferfaqs.htm > Thanks so much, Julie Billington <Welcome to the hobby, Steven Pro>
Re: New Puffer fish
Thanks so much for the quick response! We got him/her some freeze-dried shrimp and some frozen brine shrimp. He liked the frozen shrimp and loved the freeze dried shrimp. I probably overfed him because I was so happy to seem him eating. The tetras continue to be impressed with the new additions to their diet. We're now scraping our pennies together for a 20 gallon tank. My main concern now is whether the catfish will tolerate the salt in the tank. <It depends on the species of puffer and how much salt you will have to add to keep him happy. Most fish will be ok with 1 tablespoon of salt per 5 gallons of water. It is a pretty standard recommendation for various health reasons. It would be best when you get the 20 to keep both tanks up and separate the fish. Neon's in one and the puffer in another.> Thanks Again! -Julie <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

To have or not to have (freshwater puffers) Clear Day...Hey Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I'm trying to gather all the info I can on freshwater puffers. <there's a lot of information in articles and FAQ's on our WWM site on this topic... do research the following pages and the links at the top: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufferfaqs.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpuffers.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufffaqs2.htm, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tetraodontpuffers.htm> I've recently started another tank at my house. Its a 55 gal. tank with about 9 starting fish,1 gar, 1 Pictus Cat, 3 Tinfoil Barbs, 1 Green Severum, 1 Clown Knife, 1 Head stander, 1 Kribensis Cichlid, and 1 dead Fahaka Puffer. The Puffer was fin nipping some of them , but mostly the Knife. I came home one night , and it looked like he'd puffed up from a good fight ,and died days later. Are all puffers that mischievous ?  <some are severely aggressive... most are at least nippy> Is it my tank mates I've picked? Is there any Puffers that are less overbearing? They great fish , and I'm determined to keep some.  < a species tank with puffers only is your best route for this feisty family. Be warned... most won't even tolerate each other for long!> Please enlighten me. Thanks Matthew <best regards, Anthony>

Buy a puffer? Hi-  I just had a question. I would really love to buy a figure eight puffer, but right now I have 1 dwarf Gourami, 1 red platy, and a Bala shark in a 17 gal hex tank. Do you think the puffer will tolerate these other fish, if not what kind of fish would be good tank mates for a pufferfish? Thank you.  <the puffer is a completely incompatible fish for this tank for many reasons. Even small, they are extremely aggressive (known to pick the eyes out of other fishes!)... more importantly, they are brackish and need a salted (half seawater) setup. Learn more in our WetWebMedia archives starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm Please explore the FAQs and links at the top of the page. Best regards, Anthony> I would appreciate any advise you have to offer.  -Kristin 

Dempsey and Puffer problem Hello Bob, I have a 55 gallon tank setup with a Jack Dempsey, Pleco, and a Spotted Puffer. After scouring the internet for info on the Puffer I can't really figure out whether its the Nigroviridis or Fluvilitis. <Have you tried www.fishbase.org?> So with no real way to get reliable info on the type of puffer I have, I was thinking about raising the salinity of the tank a little, so I have added about one level tablespoon of salt for every ten gallons, but don't want to go higher yet without knowing if the salt will hurt the Dempsey and Pleco. <I routinely add 1 tablespoon of salt per 5 gallons to many of my freshwater clients tanks.> If its a freshwater puffer I was hoping it would be ok with the present tank conditions, but if its a brackish species I'm not sure what to do. There's not really any info on the internet about salt for Dempseys except for salt treatments, and those are only temporary for diseases. <Your fish should be fine. -Steven Pro>

FW puffers Thanks so much for the quick and helpful response. However, I believe I have a problem. I mentioned the "green spotted puffers" that I got from a pet-store, but I was wrong. The store calls them "gold and green puffers," a name that I cannot find anywhere on the web. After looking into it more, I think they are dwarf puffers, or Malabars, and this means that I have a problem, because I've been adding salt.  <Ahhh...yes> My question is this: how would these little fish do with my African Cichlids?  <anything beyond a species tank will be a compromise. Most all are notorious fin nippers and eye balls are fair game with slow and sleeping fishes. Really best in a species tank and not too crowded at that> So far the Cichlids haven't touched my figure eight puffers, but they're close to 2 inches and pretty thick. These dwarfs are between .5" and 1", and not very thick at all. Furthermore, would the figure eights crush these little guys? It's 55 gallons, but the cichlids pretty much own the bottom and the puffers claim the top. <alas... I can not honestly recommend such an unnatural mix> Thanks, Andy B <best regards>

Compatibility Hello, I currently have a 30 gal tank set up with a couple perch and a bullhead catfish. I would like to add a freshwater puffer. Is there one I could buy that won't kill my other fish. THANKS <Not really and the fish you have will outgrow your 30 gallons if you have a true Bullhead. Most of the puffers are not really freshwater but marine/brackish.  Craig>

Figure of 8 puffer/green spotted puffer Please can you help me? <I will try my best!> I have 1 figure of 8 puffer and 1 spotted green puffer in s 250 litre approx. community tank with a mixture of both large and small fish including my 4 Discus which obviously means that the water is soft. They were previously together is their own tank but I thought it would be a good idea to put them in my larger tank.  The Aquatic place that I got them from said that it would be OK but I'm not so sure that it suits my dear little spotted Puffer.  He doesn't appear to be very well.  He's not eating anything anymore and one of his side fins has stopped moving or is not there at all, he is just floating around and bumping into everything.  They are both very placid fish and I don't want to lose this little guy.  Can you help?   <Were they happy and healthy in their old tank? I would move them back...pronto!> Is he in the right conditions or should I move them into their own tank again?   <Well, as sensitive as the discus are you certainly can't change their water conditions...right? If the puffers aren't going to adjust, and it sounds as if they aren't, then move them back and put something else in with the discus> What should I do to save him? <That is what I would do. David Dowless> Regards, Dena Richardson
Figure 8 puffer/green spotted puffer Thanks very much for your comments David, I will have to buy another tank for the little guys and pray that the spotted puffer survives - he really doesn't look well at all at the moment.  But would the change from soft water to potentially hard do him even more hard or should I do a half soft and half hard water mix - what do you think? <I would certainly acclimate this fish slowly back to the old water whether the old water was hard or soft. Use standard procedures for acclimation...but take your time. Please don't just...drop the poor fish in the new water> Also should I put any sort of tonic into the clean system? <Don't think it would help> Regards, Dena <Have a happy holiday season! David Dowless>

Puffers Hello again, First of all, I'd like to say thanks for responding so quickly! I've been following your advice, but ran into a few problems here and there. I tried talking my LFS, all 4 of them, into ordering puffer fish and none of them would do it. Not even for a sale! <hmm, I'm sure they have their reasons.> This I really don't understand, but whatever... So it looks like I'll be buying 5 of the Dwarf Freshwater Puffers online for my 20 gallon tank. I'll be running it between fresh and brackish, just because the real scientific webpages I've seen have recommended that for their health & eating habits. <If they are Tetraodon travancoricus, then they are a true freshwater puffer.> pH will be 7.0-7.5, normal. Temperature at a constant 79*F. Now, there's one other thing... Tank mates! I'm thinking the best mates for such a small tank with 5 of these puffers would be one Blue Crayfish and two Synodontis Eupterus Catfish. (The catfish on their site can be found here: http://www.aquariumfish.net/catalog_pages/scavengers/scavengers.htm#top2 , and the Crayfish are here: http://www.aquariumfish.net/catalog_pages/misc_critters/critters.htm#top2 ) If these guys don't get along, I'm lost. In that case I guess it'll be a FW Dwarf Puffer tank only, and I'll put the two cats and the Crayfish in the tank with my two Kenyi. *sigh* Puffer fish are a lot of work already! Thanks SO much again, Tyler <Hey Tyler, I would keep the puffers in a tank by themselves, they are quite aggressive when they want to be.  You will start finding puffer size chunks taken out of the other tank mates. -Gage>

Green-spotted puffer questions Greetings, <Hello! Ananda answering the puffer questions today...> After having seen a green spotted puffer (Tetraodon fluviatilis presumably) at the LFS and instantly becoming a huge fan, <They are cute.> I am considering adding one to my 40 gallon community tank. <Generally not advised. First, these fish are brackish, requiring some salt in their water. Second, they are just not community fish....> From what I have read thus far, I do not think there will be a compatibility problem with existing tank mates as they are mostly larger, semi-aggressive, and / or fast. <That's what I thought when I got my first puffers. I was wrong, and my puffers are now in their own tank.> (1 x black molly, 1 large platy, a enthusiastically breeding pair of Plecos, a tiger barb, and 2 striped Botias.) > the puffer's viewpoint: "So many fins to munch on!" Puffers especially enjoy nipping big showy fins, like the ones on the molly. And I would definitely not add a stress-inducer like this to a tank with happily breeding Plecos.> The slower moving Botias are my biggest concern, but I do have alternative homes for these should harassment become a problem. <It would likely become a problem.> I am greatly concerned about the safe handling of puffers and especially the possible threat of poisoning (mainly to myself.) Given the general absence of information regarding safe handling, I am assuming that no particular precautions are really necessary other than normal 'sanitary' measures one would normally follow during tank handling. <If you follow those precautions (i.e., washing hands well before and after working on the tank, wearing gloves if you need to put your hands in the tank) and don't eat the puffer, you should be safe.> Nonetheless, the eventualities with such a potentially lethal poison do concern me. Not that I would ever fathom trying to eat my pet, <Ah, good> but fish do get sick and die. <Sad, but true. However, I have read about green-spotted puffers that lived into their teens.> If and when this should happen, what to do?  I have read that dead puffers do secrete their poison, and that they can also secrete in self defense, although the later through suicide if nothing else.  I suppose this would also kill tank mates, but what if it doesn't? <This is another very good reason to keep puffers separate from other fish.> I have no experience with puffers, and given the apparent popularity of the fish in the hobby, I assume overall it is safe. <As long as you respect the fish and their environment, yes.> I haven't read of any aquarist's death or poisoning, <...at least not from keeping pufferfish.> but I fear the more experienced hobbyist know something vital that I don't, and would definitely like to set a precedent. Your response and advice to a rookie would be very much appreciated. <Please start reading here: http://wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm and follow the links. And join us on the WetWebFotos chat forum -- we have several puffer fans on the forum.> I'd like to wish you and your colleagues all the best in the new year. <Will pass this on...> Sincerely yours, Richard O. <Hopefully, you can get a new tank for a puffer. Regards, Ananda>

Up late stressing about my four Corys <Ananda here this late night/early morning, fielding the puffer questions...> I just did what now seems to be a very stupid thing. I had an overflow of snails so I read all about loaches and went to the local aquarium store to buy myself a small pack of them, having read they where a schooling fish. I was a little nervous about this and was easily manipulated by the evil aquarium experts?  .   <Always stick to your guns when you have researched something...keep in mind that the people at the store are trying to sell you something and that non-commercial web sites about fish generally have the fishes' best interests at heart.> Anyways they told me I would be better off buying a single Puffer fish, and after asking what fish I already had in my aquarium told me to add a teaspoon of rock salt per gallon of water to my aquarium. <Knowing you had Corydoras catfish? Shame on them!!> It has been a little over a week now and my Cory Catfish are not eating, and I just read that Corys can not tolerate salt, <Usually not well at all. I would do a 50% water change with no salt in the new water.> but I now have a green spotted puffer fish as well. <Cute and intelligent fish, requiring salt as they mature.> Tell me how to safe my fishies without buying a second aquarium please.  :(    <Oh my. That is difficult, because the puffer needs salt, and the Corys can't tolerate it. Very young green-spotted puffers (under 2" in length) can tolerate freshwater for short periods. But your long-term solution is another tank for the puffer.> <Best wishes, Ananda>  

Upgrading tank for puffer, need list of possible tank mates Hey there. <Greetings I'm very sorry for the delay in replying, our resident puffer expert has been ill so I'm filling in for her as much as I can.> I am upgrading from a ten gallon to a 55 gallon tank for my cutcutia puffer. He is about 3 1/2 inches long.  I plan to use the ten gallon to breed small snails and guppies for my puffer to munch on as well as a hospital/quarantine tank should anything go wrong with my 55 gal.  (I also have an 8 gal to transfer the guppies to when quarantining and hospitalizing other fish) <Very good, I'm sure he'll be thrilled with the new home and diet!> I'd like to know possible tank mates for my cutcutia.  I've read that they are aggressive fish but that with plenty of room, tank mates will do fine. I'd like to know a few good kinds of stock and the numbers of each that would complement my puffer.  I plan for this to be a freshwater tank.  With somewhat limited funds/experience I'd like to stick with hardy fish that are easier to keep alive and thriving, as I am a beginner for large aquarium fish.  I plan to stock the tank slowly and I'd like a possible schedule or two if you have the time.  (i.e., set up tank, cycle with species A) for two weeks, add puffer, wait a minimum of two weeks, add species B)...  blah blah until I have a good number of livestock for my tank.   <Some good fish would be some of the fast moving fish like Danios, Barbs, Rainbow Fish, and Sharks. Stick with the larger species of these to prevent your puffer from seeing them as food. Maybe go with 4-5 Giant Danios and 4-5 Rainbows. Or, you could do a school of 8-10 Tiger Barbs and 4-5 Rainbows and they would look really nice. Due to the aggressiveness of most puffers, it's best to add them to your tank last. Basically, cycle your tank with something pretty hardy. You could use some tiger barbs for this but I would recommend going with goldfish and then trading them back in when your tank is cycled. Then, over the course of several weeks, add your other fish, finally adding the puffer as the very last fish. Do keep an eye on him and be prepared to separate the fish if he's being too aggressive. > I want to include some small snails and plenty of ghost shrimp for variety in his meals.  Also, I LOVE puffers but I don't know of any in my area (other than the one I just bought) so I would basically have to order any exotic fish online.  Also, which online dealers would you recommend I try to find the fish you suggest? <Take a look at our links page, there are a lot of retailers listed there.> Also, the number I've heard on the average lifespan of a puffer was in the teens.  Is that accurate? <I'm not really sure on this. Run some searches at http://www.wetwebmedia.com to see what you can find.> Thanks sooo much, Jessica <You're welcome! Ronni>

Target Puffer tankmates question??? (04/15/03) Dear WetWebMedia, <Hi! Ananda here today with the puffer questions...> I have recently purchased a Target Puffer (about 3 inches long) and currently have him in a 20L tank.  He is the only fish in the tank and I am interested in adding another fish or two to it.   <Bad idea -- these guys are quite aggressive.> The fish store stated that the puffer was purchased by someone else a few days earlier and that it was returned because it ate everything else in the previous owner's tank (I'm assuming he had small fish).   <Maybe.> My question is this, in your opinion, what kind of fish could I add to the tank that you think would be safe from his aggression.   <In a 20 long? Not much... I don't have personal experience with this particular puffer, so you might try asking on the WetWebMedia chat forums: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk> The tank is freshwater, 20L, sand bottom, various dried coral and barnacle throughout for hiding places (My wife likes the tropical look, even though it's freshwater).   <Both dried coral and barnacle can have rough/sharp edges -- very bad for a scaleless fish. The could easily cut himself on the coral and possibly the barnacle.> I was thinking something along the lines of a shark or something else that is a little aggressive, fast, and doesn't have showy fins.   <It would need to be more than a little aggressive to keep up with this fish, I think.> Also, I've had the fish for almost a week now, and the only thing he seems to like is live brine shrimp, which isn't a problem, but I thought variety was better... he doesn't go for pellets.   <Brine shrimp are fish junk food -- useful to entice the fish to eat, but they'll starve if that's their daily diet. I've never met a puffer that would eat a pellet. They eat things like freeze-dried or frozen/thawed crustaceans, worms, and live snails. It's important that they get shell-on foods that they can crush; their teeth just keep growing and need to be worn down through use. Check out the various puffer pages on the WetWebMedia site for more info on what they eat and why.> Any thoughts or insight are greatly appreciated!!!  Thanks for all the great things you are doing for the fish lovers community! <Thanks for the kind words. --Ananda> Sincerely, Ray (NJ)

Figure 8 puffers in a community tank? Or with Oscars? (06/29/03) Dear WetWebMedia crew, <Hello! Ananda here tonight...> We have a 55 gal tank since December (Christmas present) for our 9 years old. <Cool.> We got totally hooked to it (more than her). <I'm not surprised. :-)> In any case, we manage to get 6 black widows, 6 guppies, 4 rainbow sharks, 2 sucker fish, 2 angel fish, 4 tin foils, a bunch of neons, 2 mollies (Dalmatians). <Yikes! Too many fish...> The tin foil got so big, we had to give them away to a friend's tank, as they ate the neons one after the other. <Yep, they'll do that. Tinfoils get huge, quickly -- as you found out!> We replace the neons and add up a beta (purple, gorgeous)  and a bunch of other neon as well as two angel fish. So far so good. Then my husband got us two blue gouramis. <I've heard reports of gouramis not playing well with angel fish -- but others say they have had no problems with that combination. Keep an eye on them...!> Meanwhile the  2 angel fish grew a lot !! After a radical water change (algae) we lost a rainbow shark. <If you must do a large water change, very carefully match the temp and pH of the new water to the old water.> Going to the pet store for a remedy for algae, my husband came back with 2 figure 8 puffers. <Uh-oh, I think I see where this is going....> It was love at the fist sight as they do look like cartoons fish !!! After two days, all the neons were missing, and the little bit I got cleaning out the tank was "little pieces of neons". <Yep. I think it's the red stripe or something. Many puffers seem to go nuts over red food.> I blame the puffers, my husband blame the water change !! <Could be either, or both. Neons are rather sensitive.> Anyhow, wanted to know a little bit more, I went again (thanks for previous advise) on your site and realize that puffers do it neons !! (even though the angel fish got blame for it). <Sometimes, angel fish will eat neons too. I suspect some gouramis might be opportunistic eaters, if the size difference between them and the neons is sufficient.> So far everybody is getting along fine, and has their own little life and territory problem, but every morning, this the first thing we check and every body is till there !!! <Read up on puffs....those guys are fin-nippers, and the fish you have...well, those fins are going to look like tasty puffer treats!> ... Until one of the puffer went belly up !!! <Ack!> and the other one was nowhere to be found. Fast remedy, my husband came back from shopping w/ 2 more puffers, and guess who is coming around.. the missing one. <NOT a remedy. Please try not to buy 'replacement' fish until you know why the fish being replaced has died, so you can correct the situation. Your remaining fish will thank you for it.> So now we have 3 figure 8 and then I read all that stuff about them being aggressive and all, unless they have "meaty food". So I go and gave the whole gang, dry blood worms. <Um...not exactly a "meaty" food, as they're freeze-dried -- do check the assorted Puffer Feeding FAQs, both marine and freshwater/brackish. Which reminds me -- these puffs should have a bit of salt in their water, and none of your other fish are salt-tolerant. These guys need their own tank!> Not one of them touch the bottom (where the puffers hang around) as the mollies and black widows and guppies went for the run  and all food was gone !!! <I'm not surprised. Until you can get them a new tank, you're going to need to feed them food that will sink slowly -- try some frozen bloodworms. Your puffs (and every fish else) will go nuts over those.> Reading a little bit more, I give them frozen shrimp ..... nothing happen, except that the frog (I forgot we also have a frog) started to have dinner and the mollies and gouramis fought for the other pieces... <If there's a bait shop near you, pick up a small container of "red worms". At least around here, those are the smallest size of earthworms. Your puffs will go nuts over them.> Then I read again and discover puffer and Mr. stupid and realize that may be my puffers are also stupid as they scan the bottom of the tank all evening and do not see the shrimps !! <I've had both figure-8 and green-spotted puffs for a couple of years, and the figure-8s seem to get more excited about worms than snails and crustaceans. They still need to eat the hard-shelled foods, though. Also, were you cutting the shrimp into smallish pieces for them?> Will it take hand feeding ? <In a tank this full, it might -- but do try the other things I've mentioned.> To make a long story (sorry) short, my husband birthday is coming up, and as he is longing for "Oscars" and other aggressive fish, will it be ok to move the puffers with the Oscars ? <Um. Oscars get *big*. I would suggest waiting on the Oscars and just getting him a new tank setup for the puffers.> The difference in size is a little bit scary to me ! So my daughter (and I) can keep this lovely peaceful, fish loving, getting along tank, and he can have his fierce aggressive tank all for himself. <My suggestion would be to hold off on the Oscar tank until Christmas....> A (short) answer to this long story will be greatly appreciated. <Um...do short sentences count??> Great web site, I recommend it to all my friends in the fish loving world, Patricia <Thanks for the vote of confidence! Please do join the crew of puffer fans and freshwater fish fans on the WetWebMedia chat boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk ... --Ananda>

Cramming a freshwater dwarf puffer into a 30g tank? (08/07/03) Hi WWM, <Hi! Ananda here today...> I have a 30gallon freshwater aquarium.  I've been reading about dwarf puffer being the smallest is the most non-aggressive puffer.   <Ooooh...I'm not certain that is the case. There's a reason you usually don't find other fish kept with them at fish stores.> I have 2-dwarf Gourami, 2-kuli loaches, 4 clown loaches, 1-albino catfish, 3-dwarf frogs, 6 guppies, 3-serpae tetras, 2 balloon mollies, 1-filter shrimp.   <Yikes! That's a bit much already. The clown loaches will *definitely* need a larger tank in the future, and the catfish probably will, too, depending on the species. And some types of frogs may decide to munch on your fish when they grow up...I would keep an eye on them and consider moving them to a different tank.> I want to know if they puffer will be ok with my other fishes.   <Not really -- the puffer will 99% probably not eat flake food. They usually ignore the stuff, often wasting away in pet stores that will not take the extra expense to feed them the meaty frozen foods they must have. Also, I've never met a puff who wouldn't nip a fin, given a fin to nip. (Hmmm. Say that five times fast.) With mollies, those fins are going to look like tasty treats to the puffer.> I feed a alternating diet of bloodworms, flakes and bites but don't mind going all bloodworm as it's has more protein.   <Unfortunately, the rest of your fish need a varied diet -- mollies especially need their greens to stay healthy.> I have lots of plants and places of the puffer to hide and really want to keep a variety of species in my aquarium.   <You already have quite the variety of species...more than most people I know.> Please let me know.   <Do get a new tank for dwarf puffers, should you decide to get them. The fins you save may be your...fishes.> Thank you for your time. Cheers, Rick Fung <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Freshwater puffers in this tank? <Hi! Ananda here today...> I've got a 72gal freshwater tank heavily planted which currently houses 7 clown loaches (1"-4"), a few frisky Yo Yo loaches, bristle nose Plec, and a 5-1/2" red tailed black shark that's quite aggressive although the loaches hold their own and sometimes give him a bit of grief back. <Okay... (though you will, eventually, want a larger tank for the clown loaches...)> I'd like to add a fig-8 or Indian dwarf puffer to the tank but had a concern as to the compatibility of it. <I would not add either of those two species to that tank.> All the info I could absorb tells me that it would be fine in my semi-aggressive tank although a lot of the info I can find on these puffers ranges from them being semi-peaceful to a semi-terror. <Yep, depends on the tankmates and on the individual puffers.> I also find conflicting info on the correct water parameters of the puffers especially the fig-8 which shown as freshwater many places and brackish other places. <Yep, the jury is still out on that one. Most people I know who have them keep them in light brackish conditions: specific gravity of no more than 1.006.> My tank holds a constant PH of 6.8 during the day and goes up to 7.1 at night due to CO2 injection, I add very little salt at water changes, and sometimes use peat to soften my water. Which of these puffers if any would be happy in my tank? <I would not try to keep any puffers in that tank. Another thing to consider is that some puffers will munch holes in the leaves of various plants. If you would like puffers, I would suggest devoting a tank to them. --Ananda>

Puffer Fish and Companions Hi, <Hello, Pufferpunk here> I have recently purchased a green spotted puffer.   <Cool fish!  I have 2 6" adults that live in a SW tank.> He is living alone with tonnes of tank space in a brackish tank.   <How high is the SG?  As they grow to adulthood, their SG needs to go up towards high-end BW & then they even prefer SW as adults.  Also, you need to feed your puffer hard-shelled foods to keep it's teeth trimmed.  Smaller guys (<2") can eat small snails, krill, plankton & maybe even be able to pick at a mussel.  Larger puffs (>2") can pretty much eat anything you find at the fish dept of your grocery store (except fish).> I also have a convict tank.  I have 1 convict (all convicts are kept in fresh water) that is not fitting in and was wondering if he could be gently conditioned to brackish water, and if he would be a suitable companion for my puffer or if the puffer would simply kill him.   <They may get along ok (mine live w/some very tough damselfish), but convicts are strictly FW fish & as I said before, you will need to be raising the SG way beyond what any FW fish could handle.> If they are incompatible could you suggest a few species that would co-habit well , or is this type of fish better kept along at all times.   <My 2 GSPs have always gotten along & I added a Ceylon (T Fluviatilis) to the mix.  Along w/damselfish, clownfish & even some very smart hermit crabs.  I do occasionally find a few damsels missing though.> Also is there a type of Algae eater that could live in the brackish tank without becoming dinner?    Not really, especially at the higher salt ranges.  You will need to your own maid service.> Any input would be great.   Thanks! <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Dwarf Puffers 4/16/04  <Hi, Pufferpunk here>  Please help me if you can. About 2 weeks ago I got to freshwater dwarf puffers. They are in a 29 gal. tank with other fish silver dollars(2) and tetras and loach (clown). I have read that they need brackish water, but was told they did not by the pet store I got them at.  <The store was right. Dwarf puffers (Carinotetraodon travancoricus), are strictly freshwater fish. See: http://www.rr.iij4u.or.jp/~kohda/en/en-dwarfpuffer.htm  Are these your puffers?>  I did not know that they had teeth and need special food to keep them worn down. <Yes, all puffers have a "beak" & like rodents, need hard/crunchy foods to keep them from getting overgrown. Tiny snails, blackworms (actually have a crunchy outer skin) & plankton are good foods for smaller puffers.>  They are very small about the size of child's pinkie nail. So please tell me how to care for the little guys-girls. I have a 20 gal. tank I can turn into salt tank for now if need be, but the are doing well in my all fresh water tank. Can they live out there life there?  <I see many problems here. 1st of all your silver dollars will get 5" & clown loaches close to 12"! Something will have to be done with them when they get larger. I suggest at least a 55g tank for them. Another problem is, your puffers are shy & slow on the uptake when it comes to competing for food. I'm afraid the others (especially the piggy silver dollars) will out compete them for eats. That's why puffers are best in species only tanks. ~PP>

Figure 8 Puffers Will figure 8 puffers get on well with these fish. If I get two fish, will they bother each other instead of the other fish? Sucking loach Red tailed black shark Dwarf Gourami Kuhli (Eel) loach Bronze Catfish Neon tetra Zebra Danio Guppies Flame tetra >> >> No... these marine/brackish puffers are "nippy", and will outright eat the neons and guppies... and bite the other fishes as they can approach them... Bob Fenner
Re: Figure 8 Puffers
Are there any other types of freshwater puffer that will get along with these fish? Thanks Tim Jeffree >> IMO not really... even the truly freshwater species from the Africa and South America are fin nippers... Best kept with other similarly "mean" fish livestock. Bob Fenner

Figure 8 Puffer Hi Bob, I was wondering what other "mean" fish will a figure 8 puffer get a long with. Thanks! <Larger, faster, meaner types... the best really are other brackish water species... the other not-so freshwater Tetraodont puffers, Monodactylus, scats, Chromides, archerfishes... you can find a bunch about these possibilities, even brackish water plants through a read through past hobbyist magazines... and goosing me to get more of my brackish pieces on our WWM site... Bob Fenner>

Mbu Puffer I am thinking on getting an Mbu puffer fish I know that it gets big but just how big does it get in the home aquaria  <About a foot in length in a big enough system, time, food going by...> there is all different advice like this puffer can go in with other fish depending on how the fish is but they never say which fish <"Smart", fast, aggressive ones... best are cichlids, catfishes, Characoids from the same region the Mbu is collected. You can find this information on fishbase.org> and also if I get one from a baby how long does it take to lets say 6 inches from say a 2inch  <About a year to two years... depending on feedings, maintenance... Please see "Optimized Growth": http://wetwebmedia.com/optgwth.htm> please could you email me back which some advice thank you  <Chat with you soon my friend. Bob Fenner>

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