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FAQs about Freshwater Puffer Systems

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, 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 Puffer Compatibility, 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,

Carinotetraodon irrubesco      5/28/13
Hi crew,
Wanted to make a quick enquiry. I've kept three red eye puffers for a few years in a mixed community with success.
<Is indeed a nice, relatively tolerant species of puffer.>
I would now like to move them into a 40gal biotope based on Borneo/Sumatra.
What would be your recommended fish for this setup?

<Ah now, Fishbase says this: "Specimens typically caught along bank vegetation in large rivers. The specimen from Sambas were obtained amongst submerged bank vegetation. The water was murky brown, with pH about 6.0.
Syntopic species include Rasbora tornieri, R. bankanensis, Doryichthys deokhatoides, Brachygobius doriae and Dermogenys sp." So there you go: schooling cyprinids, pipefish, bumblebee gobies (!!!) and wrestling halfbeaks. I'd certainly go along the lines of a school of midwater cyprinids such as Harlequins being about right in terms of size and personality. Some small barb species like Cherry Barbs could work too. I have kept C. irrubesco with Celebes Halfbeaks which are a bit bigger than Wrestling Halfbeaks but, in the UK at least, much more widely sold. I'd be leery of mixing Gobies given the problems getting Gobies to feed in community tanks, but I suppose if you were desperate to try then something like the Black Toraja Goby might work.>
My puffers have never bothered the Kuhli loaches or garra in with them. I'd like bottom dwellers and fast shoalers. Also how might you decorate the tank? I've been looking at ideas but am keen to hear your expertise.
<Again, see the comment from Fishbase, above. Carinotetraodon irrubesco inhabits dark, acidic streams that lack aquatic plants but have lots of vegetation growing from the riverbank into the water, which could be mimicked using a mix of bogwood roots, a few rocks, and perhaps floating plants that grow downwards, like Indian Fern.>
Thanks in advance.
<Welcome, Neale.>

Avocado puffer    10/2/11
So I've got this bare 20 gallon tall tank and am wanting to try my hand at a different type of puffer. So would a single Auriglobus modestus (true freshwater species) be a happy specimen in a 20 tall that will be HEAVILY planted? I notice the 20 tall inst ideal as a 20 long would be but my stand wouldn't hold that long of a tank... As for food I have a 10 gallon as well that will be housing one of those self cloning crayfish that I've heard makes copies of itself like crazy along with snails in the tank so there would be lots of live food to watch this aggressive puffer munch on as well as frozen foods that will be trying to be fed as well. Basically my concern is it starting to pace the glass and become stressed, but I would think having the tank being extremely forested and jungle Val completely covering 3 out of the 4 glass panes along with the driftwood and live food should keep him entertained and happy. If not please let me know! Any advice appreciated!(not a total new comer to puffers, I've had dp's successfully before and done rigorous research on almost all fw puffer species).
<This species gets fairly big and is an extremely active swimmer. I would not recommend a "tall" 20 gallon tank. They don't really like plants and prefer open water, so adding plants to the tank is fine for decoration but won't make the puffer any happier in terms of aquarium size. Somehow doesn't sound right. The longer the tank, the better, and if you can get an aquarium 3 ft/90 cm long, then so much the better. Forget about growing Crayfish for food. As a treat, fine, but do remember they're rich in Thiaminase and consequently a poor staple. Snails are good treats and should be a safe food item. This particular puffer eats insects and bits of larger fish, so a combination of frozen bloodworms and similar, along with bits of (Thiaminase-free!) tilapia fish fillet would make an ideal staple diet. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Avocado puffer
Thanks again Neale for the information! I think I might have already asked this, but just to reiterate, are there any other freshwater puffer species that would be suitable for a planted 20 gallon tall tank, possibly putting the dwarf puffers aside?
<Tetraodon cutcutia and Tetraodon cochinchinensis would be possibilities, though neither is commonly traded. A single or even a matched pair of Carinotetraodon irrubesco is another option, but these are, in my experience, rather shy in small tanks. In any event, all three species mentioned are relatively inactive fish as well as being quite small, so they aren't too fussy about swimming space.>
But if not do you have any other general recommendations for this size tank as far as stocking goes (I've found that the dimensions of my tank are just really odd in general) ...as I am just not sure of what to keep in this tank haha.. so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
<Tall 20-gallon tanks don't have the ideal shape because they're tall rather than long, and most fish swim from left to right rather than up and down. So you can either go with small fish that won't care (for example Badis species and some midwater Boraras) or else fish that do indeed mostly move up and down, such as Gouramis or Bettas. A lot depends on what you're aiming for: prettiness, breeding, social behaviours, etc. There are any number of fish forums where you might canvas opinions, including one here
at WWM. Cheers, Neale.>

20 gallon puffer tank! FW, sel./stkg.    8/15/11
Hey all, soon to be re-transforming my 20 gallon tall tank into a heavily planted co2 tank! Want to get back into puffers as well so was wondering what species I'd be looking at....
obviously there's always the dwarf Indian puffer which I'm well versed with..but I'm looking for something that grows a tad larger...but is still manageable in my 20 gallon..
<I see.>
Possibly the common named Avocado puffer? (does it get too big being 4" max?)
<This is Auriglobus modestus, a nasty, nasty species that is active when young but rather lazy once mature. It's territorial and predatory, and even when combined with other fish, even its own kind, it initially usually ends up being kept singly. In any event, a singleton could be kept in a "long" 20 gallon tank, though slightly more space would be preferable.>
And I'm pretty sure Amazon puffers are out of the equation with a tank my size... (being they prefer groups)....or would they be a suitable choice?
<I wouldn't keep SAPs in 20 gallons. But you might find a pair of Carinotetraodon irrubesco well suited to your tank. They're fairly peaceful and work well in planted tanks. By the standards of the genus, the males are fairly tolerant. Alternatively, a single Tetraodon cochinchinensis would work too. On balance though, a swarm of Dwarf Puffers might be more rewarding if you want a planted tank that looks "busy" as you could add shrimps and possibly Otocinclus catfish too.>
Any input would be great!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 20 gallon puffer tank!   8/15/11
Thanks Neale! Always a pleasure to get responses from you!
<Glad to help.>
Going back to the Auriglobus modestus, even though they may be aggressive, do they come with personalities as with some of the larger fish such as Oscars (equally intelligent if not more?) and other puffers?
<Hmm, well, they are busy fish, and easily tamed, but they're not at the most intelligent end of the spectrum. Among the smaller puffers, it's the brackish water Figure-8 Puffer that stands out as the smartest species, easily comparable to the larger Tetraodon species. It's worth mentioning that brackish water doesn't mean "no plants", but rather a more careful selection of plants.>
I've allays liked their greenish sheen, and also do they end to hide when young or older?
<Not particularly.>
In addition, if I was to do this so called "swarm" how many dwarf puffers would I be looking at (from my standpoint at about 4-ish?)
<4-6 specimens, perhaps more if water quality management was excellent, and definitely more females than males.>
Even with it all planted and their line of sight distracted from one another is there room for more? (personally I thought the 1 per 5 gallons is suitable, but depends on conditions correct?) '¦.
<Some argument over this, but yes, I tend to suggest 5 gallons per specimen, though others suggest as little as 2 or 3 gallons.>
ok and lastly, I was referred to a type of puffer (whose common name and species name escapes me) which is part of the "Target" puffer species ... apparently it gets to be about 4 inches but has a really Puffer fish like look compared to the avocado puffer...
<Tetraodon cochinchinensis is a scaled down Target Puffer sometimes called the Fang Puffer; Tetraodon cutcutia is an oddball Asian species sometimes called the Sea Frog despite being primarily a freshwater fish! Both would be suitable for a 20 gallon tank.>
And thanks for suggesting the Carinotetraodon irrubesco as I was also considering them as well (just wasn't 100% sure a 20 gallon would suffice for a pair)!
<Can, would work, but C. irrubesco does become more outgoing in larger tanks. In small tanks they're somewhat shy, in my experience. Cheers, Neale.>

Changing the gravel in a FW dwarf puffer tank    5/16/11
Dear Wet Web Media,
I looked through the information about changing the gravel in an aquarium on this site and others, but I don't feel as if I have enough information to proceed. I have a cycled (but recently cycled) 10 gallon aquarium with 3 good-sized bunches of Hygrophila difformis (Water wisteria) along with one largish lava rock, a small lava rock covered by Hemianthus micranthemoides (Baby tears), a small Buddha figurine, and plans to get some wood (real or fake). I have an Aqueon 5-15 filter with a sponge in it for biological filtration bacteria. In the tank I just put in my new baby dwarf puffer (female I think) that I shall name Penelope.
<Are very nippy... tend to bite others>
She is about ¾ of an inch long. My water right now is pretty well perfect (0 Ammonia, 0 nitrite, 5 ppm nitrate) and I plan on weekly 25 to 30% water changes to keep it that way.
My question is, can I in a week or two to allow the puffer to acclimate to its new home (or longer if you guys think that is better), change the gravel?
<Mmm, yes... best to move all plants, decor and "dirty" filter to provide for nitrification and more>
I want to go to more of a biotope setting and I picked out some pretty tacky gravel originally (oops). Given the plants, the biological filtration sponge, and the rocks, will there be enough bacteria to prevent a mini or complete cycle?
I know puffers don't survive the cycling process, so I want to avoid this. I also plan on keeping bags of the old gravel in stockings with the new gravel to help with colonization of the bacteria, but I want to make sure all of this is enough so I don't hurt my puffer.
<Good technique>
Thanks for all your help. Your information is quite helpful, especially about the puffers.
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Red Tailed Red Eyed Puffer Help!?-- 05/09/09
Hi and first of all thank you. I've been looking over your site for the past few days and it's been very helpful. My question is this, I had bought a Green Spotted Puffer at my LFS and a few days after decided to buy a female Red Tailed Red Eyed Puffer
<Carinotetraodon irrubesco, one of my favourite species; I have four of them!>
Unfortunately I didn't really get to find too much information on them before I made my purchase and I would like to know if I can keep this puffer since I'll real soon be adding salt to my tank to make it more brackish conditions for my GSP?
<No; this species cannot be kept in brackish water. It would also be too small to be kept with the much larger and more boisterous Tetraodon species.>
Will she be able to survive these conditions because I really want to keep this fish, I've never seen it anywhere else and they had it named as a Ninja Puffer so it was difficult to identify the actual species, Carinotetraodon irrubesco.
<It's quite widely sold in England, but I've never heard it called the Ninja Puffer before! Usually we call them Irrubesco Puffers. Females are quite similar to other Carinotetraodon, but the reddish tail and the irregular brown stripes on the belly should be give-away clues.>
Everywhere I've looked they are under freshwater but I am hoping that they will be able to thrive in the low salinity water.
<It won't.>
Thank you.
<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.>

ATTN: Neale: South American Puffers & Knight Gobies  -12/11/08 Hello Neale (or other crew teammate): It has been a while -- I hope you are well. In the past, I have discussed South American Puffers with you, and although my family and I are in love with them, we still don't have any in our home. I have created a plan for a new aquarium, (which will be the tenth one in our house). I would sure appreciate it if I could run my plan by you, to see if you think it's a "sound" plan, and to get an additional idea or two from you. My plan is to set up a new 65 gallon aquarium, with dimensions of 36"x18"x24". I would like to stock it with South American Puffers and Knight Goby(ies). Based upon what I've read on W.W.M. and heard from you, I believe the S.A.P.'s can be healthy in freshwater or slightly brackish, and the Knight Gobies would do *best* in slightly brackish water, so I think it would be best to run it with specific gravity of 1.03. Do you agree? I have very hard water with a ph of 7.8. So the next question is: Can I use that as it is, or would I would need to "temper" it with some of my R.O. water? I would prefer to use straight tap water, if it would work out okay. Could you please make a suggestion for a good/healthy number of each species, to keep in this tank? Are there any bottom dwellers for this set of circumstances? Finally, would 10-12 times/hour be a healthy turnover rate for my filtration system? Thank you for your time and attention, and for what you do. I'm studying and learning all the time. Cheers, Jake. <Hi Jake. In terms of salinity, both Colomesus as Stigmatogobius will be fine at SG 1.003. The hard water will be fine, indeed better than fine. Certainly don't need to use RO water unless your local water has a lot of nitrate or ammonia in it. Colomesus can be kept singly, but is much less nervous kept in groups, ideally three or more. Knight gobies are territorial but work great in groups, even pairs, provided they aren't overcrowded. Now, in terms of social behaviour, SAPs can be a bit on the nippy side, and Gobies are precisely the sorts of fish prone to nipping, what with their long fins and slow swimming speed. This isn't to say Colomesus are wildly unmanageable nippers, far from it, but some specimens are persistent nippers and this can cause not just stress but also make the victim prone to Finrot. For bottom dwellers, I'd recommend perhaps catfish, such as Hoplosternum littorale or one of the Asian Mystus catfish such as Mystus vittatus, Mystus aff. gulio or Mystus wolffii, all peaceful schooling predators that get to about 20 cm in length. Brackish water fish tend to enjoy fast turnover rates, but I'd take care not to go berserk with the water flow. Make sure there's some slower pockets where fish can rest. Large rocks and careful use of spray bars/outflow pipes should take care of this. Cheers, Neale.>

Suggested Food Schedule for Puffers/Cycling, etc.  8/28/07 Hello WWM Crew, <Hi Jen, Pufferpunk here> I am considering setting up a tropical freshwater aquarium and I've been researching a few different fish species. I came across a page of yours that spoke very highly of the personality of puffers and I was intrigued by them at the pet store (specifically the Amazon puffer... something on the smaller size but bigger than dwarfs). <Yes, puffers make great fishy pets! There are certain dentistry problems that come with the Amazon species of puffers though. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm> Even with the extra steps for care, they seem to be what I'm after. My concern is that I am a college student without a car, so trips to the LFS for shrimp, frozen krill and snails will be few and far between. I do however, have easy access to a grocery store. <Some puffer foods can be found in the produce dept of your grocery store. Chopped up small & frozen. How about a bait shop? It is also easy to order freeze-dried krill/plankton/worms/shrimp. I use: http://www.jehmco.com/PRODUCTS_/FISH_FOODS_/Freeze_Dried/freeze_dried.html > I want to figure out if it would be feasible for me to keep a puffer. I read through many of the FAQs but could not find a complete answer to my question about their dietary requirements. What sort of (grocery attainable and affordable) food schedule would be recommended for a small puffer? I know that nutritional balance will be important but I have no experience to know what that balance is and how frequent of feedings and I would want to give my fish the best chance for a healthy life from the start. I would like a hypothetical one-week-of-feeding suggestion. I should be able to get as many snails as I could want from biology department aquariums. <A varied diet is most important. These articles should be very helpful: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/category/feeding/ > Also, since I am starting a new aquarium, I will need cycling fish first, that will need to occupy the final setup as well, most likely Danios. What is the minimum size tank would you recommend for my two or so small cycling fish and say an Amazon (asellus) puffer that I add later? <15 gallons for the 1st puffer (of that size & species) & 10g for every one added after that. Puffers are best kept in a species only tank. I highly suggest against cycling with fish. It is harmful to the fish, takes several weeks & really isn't necessary. It is not good for any fish to place into an uncycled tank. In addition, if you cycle with (for example) 3 danios, there will be just enough bacteria to support those 3 fish. Then you add another fish (a puffer)--there is no extra bacteria to support it. Please look into "fishless cycling". Many, many articles written on it. For an instant cycle, you can use Bio-Spira (no other products will suffice!). Place it into your filter & add fish immediately. I also suggest looking into the Figure 8 puffer as a more personable (IMO), easier to find, less "toothy" puffer to keep. ~PP> Thanks for your help! Sincerely, Jen

Re: Suggested Food Schedule for Puffers/Cycling, etc. 7/29/07 Thanks for your help Pufferpunk, especially the bit about fishless cycling and the article referrals. I knew that there were other methods but he websites I was looking at for aquarium setup focused on using fish. I appreciate the product recommendation as well. <I'm thrilled you are open to other, more harmless cycling methods!> You have an awesome site! Thank you so much. <Thank you, PP> ~Jen

FW Dwarf Puffers in a BW Tank  2/11/07 Hi guys! I love your site, thank you so much for having the awesome info! <Thanks Michelle, Pufferpunk here tonight.> Ok, let me first say that yes, I did read all the articles & FAQ's I could before dropping you this e-m. Perhaps I missed something? <We try but not every detail of fishkeeping is in there.> Anyway, I have had a brackish tank (39 gal) for about 2 months now. I have one F8 puffer, 3 Dwarf puffers and 3 Bumble Bee Gobies. <Dwarf puffers are not BW fish.> My tank has 8 plants in it, a crush coral/gravel substrate, two small clay pots (cleaned thoroughly before placement), the bottom of one of pots is balanced between the two creating a cave as well, and finally, a large hollowed out conch shell. <Sounds OK so far.> My numbers are as follows: salinity: .005, <You mean specific gravity of 1.005?> ammonia :0, Nitrates: 20 -40, <Nitrates should be below 20.> Nitrites: 0, PH: 7.6, <pH is best kept at around 8.  How much crushed coral is in there?  It should keep the pH higher than that.> Hardness: 50 & Alkalinity: 120. I do 15 -25% water changes every week. I feed them krill or krill w/Spirulina twice a day (a half a frozen block, also feed on a schedule) and fresh snails 3-4 times a week. Water temp is 82-84. <A bit on the high side.  Aim a bit lower, 78-80.   For feeding ideas: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ > I have an Emperor 280 (LFS said it should take care of bio-load). And I just replaced my tank light bulb with a full spectrum florescent. Alrighty, with all that said...  My dwarves are not nearly as colorful as the pictures I've seen on your site and others, though they act "normally", I think they are still juveniles. Any idea's? <I killed my 1st dwarves by keeping them in BW (before I knew better).  These are strictly FW fish.> Second, my F8 is very, very, shy and won't let me look at him unless we are feeding, even then he runs. He spends most of his time swimming up and down the corner of the tank where the heater is. <He may be frightened by the much more aggressive dwarf puffers.  Depending on how long you've had him, he may also still be adjusting to his surroundings.  See if he acts differently, when you remove the dwarves.> And his mouth appears in the last three weeks to have turned dark. His color is also faded. Now, I have read up on this as much as I could. I read that the "black chin" could be from too high Nitrites, so I got the test kit, did water changes, etc.. and got them to 0. My LFS said perhaps the salinity is too low, so I brought it up from .004 to .005. <1.005 is perfect.>   He seems to eat normally but I am worried. I don't understand why he just swims up and down the corner. The shyness I guess could just be his personality.. :(    The plants vary in height from smallish Java ferns to a tall Anubis, I have the caves "covered" by Sagittarius grass so he doesn't feel like he's out in the open. Oh he's about 2 inches, so I think he's a juvenile too. <Not really--generally grow to 3".> Do you have any idea's??  I am worried and want to do what's best for my fish. I really like them a lot and hope to have a fish w/live rock some day soon but if I can't take care of these guys properly, I don't want to risk it. <Good of you to start "small" & work your way up to SW.  More info on your F8 puffer:   http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/puffers-in-focus/f8/ Check out the forum within that website also.  ~PP> Thank you for your help and sorry for the long windedness but I want you to know everything. Michelle A.

Keeping A FW Fahaka Puffer with SW Snowflake Eels  1/5/07 Hello, <Hi Hector, Pufferpunk here> First off, great source of information! I am glad I found it and I have already referred some people to it. <Fantastic!> I have a Fahaka puffer that I got when he was 2" long.  He is now 7" long. I see that he is freshwater by reading your forums. My water is kept just below 1.002 SG.  I have two snowflake eels in the same tank. My concern is for both the eels and the Fahaka. Is that SG too high for the Fahaka and or the eels?   <Below 1.002 will not affect the Fahaka but the eels need high-end BW or even better, marine conditions.> It seems he will eventually eat the eels from what I've read here.  So far he has eaten two algae eaters already but both were introduced to the tank after he was a bit larger, unlike the eels. He has been in the tank for 5 months the eels are two years old.  They had encounters when the Fahaka was small and the eels have chased him away. I have caught them laying skin to skin (freaked me out!) but they seem to have a healthy respect and equal affinity towards each other at this point. <Just don't be surprised one day, if your eels are maimed/eaten.  I'd get them in a higher salinity, without the puffer--he is a FW fish.   ~PP>   Please advise, Hector

Puffer fish ... ID, disease/env./sys.  11/16/06 Hi <<Hello>> I just bought 2 spotted puffers a couple days ago. Did they look like this?: http://www.pufferresources.net/puffer_profiles/viewtopic.php?t=19>> They were completely normal until yesterday when I noticed that one looked like he had ick. First of all what can I do about the ick. I am putting some medication in the water. <<Please don't before you know what kind of puffer you have, what ails it, and have them in a cycled, aquarium.  If these are indeed GSP's, (Tetraodon nigroviridis) then they need 30 gallons of water each minimum, and require full marine conditions as adults.>> Second, the same puffer sits in this one corner all the time while the other puffer is swimming around the tank. Is this normal? <<No. Please get back to me, and visit www.pufferresources.net.>> Thanks <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Nile/Fahaka Puffer, Tetraodon lineatus  11/14/06 <Hi Jo, Pufferpunk here.  I have corrected all your improperly capitalized words, so we can present this email to our FAQs.  Next time it will be sent back for you to correct!> I bought a Nile puffer 3 days ago and was really badly informed by the shop. I wish I had looked on the internet first! <Did they tell you it will grow as large as 18" & require a minimum of a 120g tank within 2 years?  They grow fast!> They told me it would be fine to fill up the new tank with water from my other tank with various tropical fish and put the puffer in the tank the same evening. I now know the filter wouldn't have matured and now my puffer has a cloudy looking eye and isn't moving much. I've tested the water and the NO3 is on 0 and the NO2 the others seem fine too. I'm not too great on the technical side so if you could explain in a way I would understand I would be very grateful. <For cloudy eye (due to poor water quality--fish don't get sick in healthy water), add Melafix.  The bacteria you need to cycle a tank does not live in the water.  It lives on the surfaces of the  tank.  Mostly in the filter material but also on gravel, glass, decor, etc.  You can squeeze the "dirt" from your older filters into your new filter to help the cycle along.  You should be doing 50-80% daily water changes, until your tank is cycled.  After the tank is cycled, do 50% weekly water changes.  My best suggestion would be to add BIO-SPIRA to your filter, to "instant cycle" your tank.  I highly recommend this.  It really is not a good idea to cycle a tank with a puffer at all!  They have no protective scales or gill covers.  Very sensitive to ammonia/nitrites.  How large is the puffer & what size tank is it in?  For more info on your fish, go to: www.thepufferforum.com  ~PP> Thank you, Jo

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

Tank Size for Arrowhead Puffer  7/10/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here.> What is the recommended tank size for an arrowhead puffer? I have a 55 gallon right now. <This puffer is an ambush predator.  It stays buried in the sand or in a cave, most of the day, waiting for food to swim/walk by, then darts out & grabs their unsuspecting prey.  This means that a 55g would be kind of a waste of room, unless you wanted to plant it nicely & use it as a display tank.  Another problem with a tank that large is that they prefer about 3" of sand to burrow in.  Sand has to be thoroughly stirred every week, before water changes, so as not to develop anaerobic (toxic) pockets of gas.  A PITA in a 55g tank.  I'd say a 30g would be nice for this fish.  More info on this species at www.pufferlist.com & www.thepufferforum.com.  ~PP> "Pea" Puffer ... health, sys.   - 06/30/06 Dear XXXX, <It's Pufferpunk here.> About a month ago I bought 2 pea puffers and they have been doing pretty good. But it seems like there starting to lose some of the color on there spots any tips. <what size tank are they in?  How well is it decorated?  What are you feeding them?  Water parameters (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH)?  Without really knowing what's going on in your tank, it's hard to tell.  See www.thepuffeforum.com & www.dwarfpuffers.com  ~PP> Thanks, Austin

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

Improperly Housed Puffers - 2/21/2006 Hello <<Hello Jeremy.>> I have recently come across your site searching for questions about my 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 Fahaka's 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 Fahaka's 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.>>

Cycling a 5g  Tank for Dwarf Puffer  9/21/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I need to know how to cycle a 5 gal. tank for one dwarf FW puffer, without Bio-Spira or chemicals. I've heard you can do it by simply adding a used filter fish, etc. The tank is used but I'm getting new plants, rocks and accessories. I just want a safe environment for my puff. Your help would be very welcome. <Personally, I love Bio-Spira.  You can fishless cycle with ammonia (see: http://www.thepufferforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=331) or use filter material, decor & gravel from an existing tank.  ~PP>

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>

FW Puffers in a 10g Tank  10/10/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have this small 10 gal with only two Peruvian puffers. I'm wondering if there are any puffers that are that size or compatible with them?  The only other freshwater puffers I know of are the dwarf puffers (too small?) and the fugu (too big?), or should I just go with a mess of these little Peruvians. Thank for your help <1st I must ask you to use correct punctuation & capitalization in your email, as I have to correct this before sending it to the FAQs at our site.  I wouldn't add any more puffers to your tank.  I generally tell folks 10g/ 1 South American/Peruvian puffer.  ~PP> Mbu Puffer--Tank Size  6/29/05 <Pufferpunk again> Yeah, I actually have some nitrates but the tank has been set up for over a year, <So why did you say nitrates were 0?> the tank is only about 65 litres (17 gallons), although he will go in something like a 400 (105g) when bigger. <Hmmm, that's going to be a problem.  Did you read the article I linked you to?  400l is no where near large enough for that puffer!  Even at 2", it should be in a larger tank, due to its messy eating habits & large bioload.  If you aren't prepared to house that fish in a MUCH larger tank, please return it for a more suitable fish.> The only food I have given him are mussels and cockles. <Puffers need a large variety of foods.  Look through The Puffer Forum for more diet ideas.  ~PP>

Dwarf Puffer Fish Hi, My daughter saw some dwarf puffers at our local PetSmart Store and would like to get them. We have a 5 gallon acrylic tank with a undergravel filter system. <I would go with at least a 10gal, it will be easier to maintain and keep the water quality stable.> What do we need to do to set up this tank for them? <To get the undergravel filter to work you would need a few inches of gravel and an air pump.>  Any special filters? What do we need to do to prepare the water for them? <I would go with one of the hang on the back style filters instead of the undergravel. In you will want to use a separate container for mixing water so that you can heat it before you add it to the tank.  Temperature fluctuations can be a problem with smaller tanks.> How many do you recommend? Male and female? Can any other fish co-habit with them? <I would go with maybe 2 in the 5gal, it would be hard to determine the male and female I would not worry too much about that.  Puffers are extremely aggressive, I would not add any other fish to the tank with them.> Do they need live plants? <nope> What do they eat? <blood worms, Mysis shrimp, small snails, other prepared frozen foods, no dry foods.> What medicines do we need on hand? What illness do we need to watch for? <I would not worry about this just yet, maybe formalin, feel free to browse the brackish disease FAQs for common puffer ailments. http://wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracdisfaqs.htm > We are beginners in the fish world-we would like to do this right. We sure do need some help. Thanks, Deb <Hi Deb, I think you will quickly find that a 5gal tank is going to be limiting.  If you keep up on weekly water changes and do not overfeed you should be ok.  Although puffers are adorable they are not always the best fish to keep, mainly because eventually you will want to add something else to the tank, and the puffers will do their best to tear up their fins and anything else they can nip on.  Please read the articles below for more information.  Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtips4beginners.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/taptrtmnt.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpufffaqs.htm  >

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>

Disastrous 1st Tank!  8/10/04 To make a long background story short, the local pet store approved and sent me home with a disaster of a first fish tank.  They gave me a thumbs-up on putting two sunset platys, two silver mollies, and a green spotted puffer in a new 10 gallon tank.  On their recommendation, I did cycle the water 48 hours before putting the fish in using Cycle and some water conditioner.   <This will not cycle a tank.  that product is a total waste of $$$ & will actually harm the cycling of your tank.  there is dead bacteria that adds to the waste in your tank that the fish are producing.  Read: http://www.piranha-fury.com/information/default.php?id=cycling> A molly gave birth the first night though, and we now have 8 fish in only 10 gallons.  We are about a week into the tank's life and the adult mollies have become VERY active and the puffer has lost a lot of color.  We feed the mollies and platys tropical fish flakes and give the puffer either snails or brine shrimp.  Saline levels are currently around 1.008.  The ammonia level was around 2.0, but after a 35% water change its down to around .75.  The puffer seems slightly healthier now but is still grayish.  We want to let the water reach an established level, but the high ammonia seems dangerous.  What direction should I go now to save these fish?   <I would highly recommend returning the puffer.  They are definitely not community fish & they are not good fish to cycle a tank with (personally, I prefer fishless cycling).  Read this on your puffer: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> Thanks in advance. <I really would take any advice you get from a fish store with a grain of salt.  Do as much research here in our FAQs as you can.  This is a great website full of good info here.  ~PP>

Polka-doted Pignose Puffer 10/2/04 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> First I want to say thanks because I really like your site. It has some really good information and I use it for my puffer as well as my other fish. Thanks. <Thank you, we try out best!> Okay, I have a pignose puffer (suvatti) named Poseidon, who is about 5 inches long. He is in a ten gallon tank, and the pH is about 7.6 and the temp. is about 80. I don't have any other readings now as I need to get my water tested. <good idea to test for ammonia, nitrItes & nitrAtes.  A 5" puffer (which are huge waste producers) in a 10g tank, is a lot of fish!  I realize they don't move around much, but for reasons of water quality, I suggest a 20g, or at least a 15 for that puffer.  Also, I recommend 50% weekly water changes for all puffers.> But, the problem is Poseidon has a white circle mark, about 3 millimeters in diameter on his left side. Also, he has two similar spots on his right side underneath his gill. I'm worried that this is fatal, but he's had them for about 2 weeks now. Otherwise his behavior is normal. <My 1st thought is a bite from another puffer.  Puffer bites are circular & about that size.  How long have you had that puffer?  If he's fairly new, you can assume that guess to be correct.>   There is salt in the tank (1 tlsp per 5 gal), and I have an underground filter. <No salt in that tank!  This is strictly a freshwater puffer.  I also don't recommend UG filters for these fish, since they need sand to burrow in, which won't work for that kind of filter.  It also won't remove the waste particles from this fish.  Just wondering--what are you feeding your pignose?> I'm wondering if this disease can be diagnosed and if so if there is a cure. I didn't see it on your site - maybe it's uncommon with puffers? I'm thinking it is a fungus, but I don't want to jump into any medications yet. Also I heard puffers are sensitive to medicines, so I want to be careful. <True, you never want to use unnecessary meds on a puffer, especially copper!  Adding Melafix should heal that right up, if puffer bites is what you have.  ~PP> Thanks a lot! -Eric Problems with South American Puffer 3/4/05 <Pufferpunk again> Tank is much smaller than that - just over 10 litres (about 3 US gallons I think). <Poor puffers! SAPs are the most active FW puffers (bar one other FW species). They need plenty of room to swim. Mostly you will see them scanning back & forth along the glass, unless plenty of decor is in your tank.> They were originally bought on advice from a fish shop that they were OK puffers to add to a community tank. We brought them home and quarantined them in the small tank for about 3 weeks, then added them to the main tank (approx 35 US gallon), but they didn't seem at all happy there, so we extracted them and moved them back. <Maybe they were pacing the glass & you mistook that for unhappy? That's just what they do. See: Here.> They have seemed happy since, and the LFS told us the small tank was OK. Maybe they were being overly optimistic. <I just don't see how they could be happy in a tank that small. Maybe the small size of the tank, prevented them from swimming the way they usually do, so they seemed "calmer"?> No tank mates, just the two puffers. They don't have any trouble getting to the food usually - we feed them on frozen bloodworm, with live stuff sometimes. Have not heard of feeding them on snails before now. <An extremely important food in any puffer's diet, or their teeth get overgrown, especially this particular species.> That's a very interesting link - I haven't seen anything like that before on fish the size of ours. I found your page with the Dremel suggestion, but we'd be more likely to accidentally decapitate the fish with a Dremel than do any good. That said, there's no visible enlargement of the teeth like the one in the picture. From reading all the pufferfish pages on wetwebmedia, the other thing that looked like a possibility to me was lockjaw. We have only really fed them bloodworm, having tried a couple of other things when we got them that they refused to eat. No-one ever recommended snails to us... <Try krill/plankton. I have never heard of lockjaw on FW puffers. Is the puffers mouth locked open or closed? The teeth can actually grow so long they will cut into the mouth, preventing them from opening & closing it. Look closely, with a bright flashlight. I still think this is the problem.>  Nitrite and ammonia both zero, nitrate not tested recently, but we do regular water changes, so should be OK. Water is soft, about pH 7.2, and kept at about 26 degrees C. Looking at the link I'm really not sure - ours look more like the "post-trim" version, no visible overgrowth like in the first picture. I only found your website yesterday, and I think we've had less than wonderful advice regarding these fish from the two fish shops we've been two. I have been told by one that our current problem could be due to old age - as dwarf puffers like ours typically only live a couple of years. I suppose that might be true, but I do find it a little hard to believe given that they can apparently grow up to 15cm long. Perhaps tank size is a reason ours haven't grown a lot? <Your puffers are, no doubt, stunted in that tank!> Anyway, I think it's probably too late to help our sick fish, but I'd like to be able to avoid repeating any mistakes in future. <I've always been surprised, how quickly a skinny, long-toothed puffer started eating after teeth trimming. If you do find that this is the problem, I would suggest NOT using clove oil for tranquilizing the fish, as it may be too weak to bounce back. Just trim without it. Either way, they really need a bigger tank. ~PP> 

Problems with South American Puffers - II - 3/4/05 <Pufferpunk again> There are numerous plants and decorations, and they have seemed happy to wander around. <I'm glad they're happy, but 10g each is really recommended for these active swimmers.> The larger tank has an Eheim external filter, and the current seemed to bother them. We had them in there for a few days, and they just huddled in a corner and looked (to us) pretty miserable. They also didn't eat much. When we put them back in the smaller tank, they swam around more and ate without any trouble. So we checked with the LFS, and then just left them there. <It is sometimes difficult for small puffers to find food in a large tank. As far as the Eheim, you can add a spray bar to distribute the "current".> Where do you get krill/plankton from? I think I can get snails from the LFS, but I'm fairly sure they don't have krill or plankton. <You should be able to find it freeze-dried or frozen. If your LFS doesn't have it, most mail order fish supply stores, like www.drsfostesmith.com, or, I buy in bulk from http://www.jehmco.com/PRODUCTS_/FISH_FOODS_/Freeze_Dried/freeze_dried.html > Would a 15g tank be suitable? We were thinking on getting one that size for them before all this... <A 20g would be better. ~PP> 

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

Freshwater Puffers/Overheating Hi, I have a question regarding my freshwater puffers. Last night, I noticed that the tank had gotten to about 100 degrees. <Wow!> The heater was still on and it's been hot here. <Sounds like the heater broke. Strange that these always seem to break and cook a tank. I have yet to here about a heater going bad and just shutting off. They always attempt to boil the aquarium.> The fish had changed to a light yellow, completely different from their normal brown. I was able to cool the tank back down to a normal level by ice and changing the water. <While the high heat was a problem, the abrupt change made it worse.> I added stress coat and aquarium salt. This morning they still are not normal. Help. Is there any thing else that I can do for them? <Temperature changes are a trigger for Ich outbreaks in many instances.> They almost look as if they have lost their sight. Is there any hope for them? <Keep a close eye on them, be ready to treat for any possible infections, and keep things as clean and stable as possible.> Any of your suggestions are welcome. <Mostly for others, if this ever happens to you, disconnect and dispose of the heater, add a tremendous amount of aeration (adding a air pump and stone and/or turning up the venturi inlets on your powerheads), and wait for the temperature to come down on its own. Also, replace the heater with a new, high quality unit so that the temperature does not end up crashing to extreme lows either. The biggest danger with high temperatures (other than making fish chowder) is low dissolved oxygen.> Thank you, Charlene <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Regarding salt in Freshwater Puffer/Tetra Tank Hi there Bob. First off, you have a great and very informative site, but I do have one question. I have a figure 8 puffer in a 5.5 U.S. Gallon tank which is shared with one painted tetra. These 2 fish were sharing the same sized tank at my fiancé's house about 3 months ago, but they were also with 2 other puffers and 2 other painted tetras. So 6 fish in all. They frequently got ICH and the one fig. 8 I now have was constantly bullying the other 2. <A very difficult situation for them and you, to live in such small, crowded confines. Hard to keep stable, optimized> The other puffers died, I think because of stress, and the tetras went to another good home. <All reasonable> So I took "him" and the pink tetra and they are living very happily together, or so it seems! :) To my point. My question is: Should I have aquarium salt in the tank? <Mmm, not much if any... you are likely involved in a "no win" situation here with the "tetra" probably preferring relatively soft, acidic water of low salt content, and the puffer preferring about the opposite conditions (see fishbase.org on the Net re this). My real suggestion is to choose one or the other "type" of water and the animal/s that live well in it, and build your collection around this starting point> Right now there is none in there, only the freshwater and the necessary chemicals to keep it somewhat clean. <Actually, all freshwaters have some salt content... one approach to try would be to "go between" the condition-ranges of physical and chemical parameters these types of life are pre-disposed to...> I do water changes every week, siphoning the gravel and I feed freshly killed freshwater crayfish, live ghost shrimp, frozen bloodworms, freeze-dried white shrimp, (lucky fish) and the painted tetra also gets tetra-min (small pellets). <Sounds good>| So far they have not gotten sick, but from all the horror stories I see on your site, I don't want my little puffer friend to die. Sorry for such a long email, but I wanted you to know the whole story, you seem like quite an expert. Thank you very much for your time and expertise! ~Dennis <And you for sharing, writing, and doing your best to provide for your aquatic charges. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

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

Figure Eight puffers (freshwater, brackish...) Sometimes on your FAQ you say that figure eights are freshwater, sometimes brackish, and I've now just read you say they were possibly marine. Puffernet/Fishbase both say fresh, so which is it? <THE Figure Eight (Tetraodon biocellatus) is freshwater: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm> And does it really matter that much, provided I adjust them slowly? <It does matter. This species does not do well "kept salted", frequently perishing to a degree from weakening by being kept in salty water> The same questions applies for a new Tetraodon fluviatilis, which I just purchased today. <Please see the article cited above> Aside from this small confusion, this site has been tremendously helpful to me. Thanks! <Glad you find it so. Bob Fenner> Andy Barton

Little red starfish help Greetings crew, I am having a bit of an issue with a little red starfish that we have. I have 4 green spotted puffers and a figure 8 puffer in a 75g - marine set up. I have converted everything from Brackish to Marine over about 10 months so I have been . They are normally well behaved but after 10 months of peaceful existence with the rest of the tank inhabitants I fear that they have decided to try to eat a little red starfish that we have. What does it look like when a starfish's health is failing? does it's outer shell degenerate in a specific area or could this be the work of nippy puffers? I understand that these species normally should not coexist but I think that I have to choose which species I would prefer to keep. I would prefer to have a more peaceful reef setup with some more delicate species like soft and stony corals I wouldn't mind giving my puffers to the LFS I got them from but my girlfriend is really attached to them. I do have a quarantine tank that I could put them in but I want to reserve that space for quarantine treatments. I don't really know what to do in this case - do you have any advice on an issue like this? What can I do to encourage the healing process of my starfish? <Hmmm. Some surprises here for both you and your girlfriend! Tetraodon biocellatus Tirant 1885, the Figure Eight Puffer. Asia: Indochina, Malaysia and Indonesia. ******Freshwater********; pH range: 6.5 - 7.5; dH range: 5.0 - 12.0. A fish-biter. To a little over two inches in length. Aggressive fish tanks only. This is true for your Green Puffers too, they are FRESH WATER and should be removed from your marine system. The QT will be too small so.... Please read about FW puffers at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm  Just one more suggestion...use Kalk in your top off daily according to daily usage (calcium test. Using it every two weeks is going to bite you one day and 1. doesn't provide enough calcium and 2. spikes your pH once every two weeks. Inconsistent and unstable...not good. Read more about dosing Kalk at WetWebMedia. Hope this helps you out! Craig

Freshwater Puffers kept as brackish Hi, I've been trying to identify this puffer for a while now, and I thought maybe you could help if I sent pictures. The one labeled fluviatilis is obviously a different one--I just sent it to emphasize the difference in snouts. <This is very likely: Tetraodon schoutedeni Pellegrin 1926. Central Africa; Congo Basin. Freshwater rivers, not brackish. To three and three quarters inches in length. Territorial with its own species. Our spiel from WetWebMedia.com which you can find on our site... or other pix on fishbase.org, Google... Note: this is NOT a brackish water species> Anyway, the unidentified puffer's belly seems to go black all the time, which led me to believe that there was too much salt in the water (1.005). I dropped it off to 1.002, and I think it likes this better, but it still hangs on the bottom most of the time, and its belly is still black more than half the time.  <These tetraodontids do spend a bunch of time "resting"... but the black is a bad sign... perhaps from kidney et al. damage from the salt exposure...> I would guess that this was the spotted Congo puffer,  <Oh! We're in agreement> but I am almost certain that there are no spikes on its belly. It also does not appear to have that drastic drop-off from the belly to the tail. One last thing--I'm not sure if this is significant, but this puff has vertical bands on its tail. <Not significant as far as I'm aware. Just variability w/in the species.> As for the fluviatilis, I got it the other day and the store had it at 1.016. <Umm, this is also a totally freshwater species... I would slowly return the system to a no-salt status> I currently have it alone in a ten gallon tank, but I'm wondering if this high a salt content will require additional filtration?  <You are wise here... do please read through our brackish offerings indexed here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/BrackishSubWebIndex.htm> I had used the tank as sort of a hospital tank, with only a small aqua clear power filter on back. I have now thrown an additional, larger aqua clear on, but I put lots of crushed coral in it to encourage extra biological filtration, which has usually helped in the past. Will this be enough filtration? <Only way to tell is testing water quality... or bio-assay/watching your livestock...> Do I need a protein skimmer? <No> Also, I noticed that you encourage live rock/sand in brackish tanks. Do I need to adjust regular marine live rock to this salinity, or can I just put it in? Thanks for the help. <We need to start further back in your aquarium history... do separate your real brackish water livestock from these freshwater species. Bob Fenner> Andy B

Non-brackish tetraodont puffer species in captivity <These tetraodontids (spotted Congo's) do spend a bunch of time "resting"... but the black is a bad sign... perhaps from kidney et al. damage from the salt exposure...> should I do anything about this, or does it heal itself? <<There is not much TO do... other than provide excellent care, > <Umm, this (fluviatilis) is also a totally freshwater species... I would slowly return the system to a no-salt status> so you disagree with fishbase or PufferNet? Actually the only indicator (of its species) I have is that the store had it at 1.016, and it seemed happy. I assumed from this that it was a fluviatilis. <<Umm, fishbase.org and I are in total agreement... don't know re other dbase...> live sand/live rock? <We need to start further back in your aquarium history... do separate your real brackish water livestock from these freshwater species.> just so you know, I do have the spotted Congo/figure eight tank separate from this other puff, which seems happy in salty water. <<Define "happy"... over many years in the trade have treated freshwater puffers with salted conditions... not good for long term health.>> I'm not sure what you mean by 'start further back in your aquarium history.' are you talking about cycling? this 10 gallon tank has been running for some time, but before I put in the new puff the tank had housed a target puffer (which had to go back to the LFS--way too aggressive) at 1.005. I didn't realize that the extra salt--from 1.005 to 1.016--would damage the bacterial population, so I've been sort of scrambling to figure out how to keep that ammonia and nitrite levels where they should be. That's when I thought adding live rock might help, but I'm not really familiar with it and wanted to check around on whether or not this would work. if not, are there any other ways to alleviate the problem without being too drastic? thanks so much for your help-- <Please read where you were sent previously. Bob Fenner>

- Decor for Spotted Puffers - <Greetings, JasonC here...> Hi, I recently bought five very small green spotted puffers. I have looked all around for information on them. <Did you check our site and the FAQs stored there? We archive a lot of questions about these. Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm > Up to now they are doing fine in a 20 gallon tank but all i have is a piece of drift wood. I am not very sure of what habitat i should imitate for them to be happy, if caves or rocks or a very heavily planted area or free space. <Perhaps a little of all that, except for the heavily planted tank... a 20 gallon tank is too small for that.> All the sites i have been to contradict each other. <Not uncommon at all.> I would appreciate your suggestion. Also is it recommendable to use pebbles as gravel or sand in a freshwater tank? <Sure. Many options here... read on.> thank you <Cheers, J -- >

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>

MBU puffer outgrowing tank >Hi there, >>Greetings, Katy, Marina here. >My beloved MBU Puffer is outgrowing his tank (3ft), he is now about 10 inches long.  We are thinking of upgrading the tank one more time to a 5/6 ft one, however, we do realize we won't be able to keep him forever.  The Aquatic Center we bought him at would take him back (for a credit note at 1/3 third his worth) but there he would just be sitting in another small tank, and how much longer until he outgrows that?! >>Indeed.  For those of you who will soon be reading this, it pays to research.  Katy, I will be using this query for 'teaching' on the site.  The following may sound quite harsh, but it is intended to educate others only, NOT to admonish you.  Get the largest tank you possibly can.  6' minimum, and wide rather than tall. >So, the question is, do you know of someone with a suitable setup to take him on? Private or maybe an Aquarium we can donate him to where he can grow to his full potential and basically live happily ever after? >>Unfortunately, Katy, I personally do not.  If there is someone who reads this and they know they can suitably house a 3' long puffer, hopefully they'll let us know.  Public aquariums and zoos are absolutely INUNDATED with requests from people wanting them to house their pet fish.  It is rare that they can take these animals.  I would suggest that you have two options (barring an unexpected, large inheritance): Post your problem on one of the internet aquatic forums, or humanely euthanize the fish. >As you have guessed I am not after selling him.  I'd love to return him to his natural habitat, but can't quite afford it. >>This practice cannot be discouraged enough.  There are many reasons why, but I'll give you two that I think are good enough.  First, as a captive fish, the puffer has been exposed to pathogens that may not be present in his "native" habitat.  Returning him there could ultimately be disastrous to that environment as a whole.  Second, as a captive fish, he is ill-equipped to go into a natural environment and fully compete for food and territory.  He could likely be doomed to die, either from inter/intraspecific aggression, predation, or starvation. >Maybe a stronger warning as to how fast and how BIG they grow should be put out! Let's face it, who can accommodate a 3ft fish? >>What is more in order is to remind people to *research* BEFORE they make a purchase.  Actually, I find I cannot emphasize this enough.  I do hope, when you're in your LFS, that you remind others that they would do well to research. >According to [the establishment] where we bought ours, we should have been able to keep him for years before he became too big. Right! >>Ultimately the responsibility lies with the person who decided to purchase an animal they knew they couldn't house for life.  Since it seems you knew the animal would become so large that you wouldn't be able to house it, I don't quite see the difference between sooner vs. later.   >>If, however, the difference is that you expected to have time to acquire/create better housing for the animal, then I would pose that you may still have some time, you're getting a larger tank as it is and may be able to milk it for all it's worth.  I would also suggest slimming his feeding, just a bit, to see if that helps to curtail his growth rate.  It seems that you may be TOO good at what you're doing!  Please understand that I really don't mean to be harsh, but because this will be posted on the Daily FAQ's I feel it's very, very important for others to read this and learn, before they go and make a similar mistake.  According to the information on our site, this puffer reaches to just a bit over 2'.  So, you might be able to house him and keep him to his old age. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm >Many thanks, Katy <-- just wanting to do right by him >>Best of luck to you and the puffer.  Try as I've suggested, and hopefully your pet can live out his years with his original owner.  Marina <-- keeping her fingers crossed for you both!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarf Puffers? Not quite... (04/21/03) Hi, <Hi! Ananda here tonight.> How many dwarf puffers can be "happily" kept in an eclipse 6 gallon tank? <I would go with one male and three or possibly four females.> Only dwarf puffers would be kept in the tank. <Okay. You'll need to be careful not to overfeed, or you'll get algae. If you do get algae, use an old bank card/credit card to scrape it off the tank walls.> Do they get along with each other?  Do they like company of their own kind? <To some degree, yes. You'll notice I mentioned one male and multiple females -- that will keep the aggression level low.> Thanks for your help. Mary <You're welcome. BTW, there are people on the WetWeb chat forums who have dwarf puffers... check it out. --Ananda> All Puffed Up! I am not yet an owner of a puffer fish and was looking into buy an figure 8 puffer fish so I was wondering is a  5 to 10 gallon tank way too small for a pufferfish. <Well, I'd be hesitant to recommend either size tank for these freshwater puffer fish for a long-term situation, but I'd look into a larger tank. I think that you could keep these guys in there for a while, but be prepared to move 'em on to larger quarters in the future...The can get a bit quarrelsome with each other from time to time!>

Disoriented puffer (07/27/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I have had a Tetraodon fluviatilis puffer for about 1 month. He's been doing well - eating mosquito larvae, slugs & Spirulina flakes.   <Do try to give him snails, shrimp tails, and other shelled foods on occasion -- he needs to keep those teeth worn down!> I went a couple of days just feeding flakes (had guests in "his" room).  I fed him a small slug this AM which he ate enthusiastically.  Now (7 PM) when I went to check on him he was near the filter intake, seeming weak and disoriented.   <Not a good sign. Where did you get the slug from?> The aquarium light was on and the water temp around 86 degrees, so I turned off the light and added fresh, cooler water.   <Do be careful not to take the water temp down too fast or too far... I would leave it at around 82 to speed up the lifecycle of whatever bug he's caught.> The water in the tank has been supplemented with liquid cichlid lake salt (sg is approx. 1.004 - I have been gradually increasing it).   <Sounds good. I usually use plain old Instant Ocean (marine salt) -- the chemicals in cichlid salt are slightly different than the ones in marine salt, and the marine salt is closer to what the puffers get in the wild. Besides, marine salt tends to be cheaper (economies of scale, and all that.> What should I do?  Thanks, Donna <You might check your water parameters: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate... keep an eye on the little guy. Change the carbon in your filter and do a water change. Is your puff's belly its normal white, or grey-edged, or grey? Let us know... --Ananda>

Dwarf Puffers 4/24/04  Hi there!  <Hi, Pufferpunk here>  I have two dwarf puffers (T. trav.) in a small tank (aprox 40 ltrs), which I actually bought especially for them. I took them off my local fish retailer as they couldn't sell them, not knowing anything about them. Obviously, being such a small tank its a little (approx 17"x12"x10") difficult to clean, so to help me along I bought 4 Bronze Corydoras. These cleaned the tank well, but were getting nipped by the puffers. I thought this might be a risk, and ended up transferring them to my large 96ltr.  <That makes your tank only about 3 1/2 gallons. Your puffers really require at least 2-3 gallons each. No wonder they were picking on the Corys!>  The question I have for you is this: is there a bottom feeder I can safely keep in the tank with the puffers that wont get its fins eaten that won't outgrow it?  <No way, in a tank that size. You really need a larger tank for those puffers. As you can see, the tank cannot support 2 messy eating, heavy waste producing fish (even for tiny guys) in a tank that small. That's why it's so hard to keep clean. If overfed slightly, the water would foul quickly enough to wipe out your puffers in a very short time. At least 5gal is necessary to support 2 dwarf puffers & that would be without any tank mates.> Also, I believe that both puffers are female, would introducing a male (as I intend) stop them being so anti-social? I know puffers are fin-nippers, but they chase each other about quite a lot. I've included photos of both, in case it helps. I was also wondering if you could just confirm the identification.  <I'm sorry, but to ID your puffers I would need a clear, bright photo of their tummies. Here's a great site on them & how to ID: http://www.rr.iij4u.or.jp/~kohda/en/en-dwarfpuffer.htm  & a site just for dwarves: www.dwarfpuffercom.>  Many thanks, Liam  <Good luck with your puffy friends! ~PP>

Death of 2 puffers hi there... <Hello> will be grateful if you could help enlighten me... I bought 2 green spotted puffers... let's call em A and B... I put them in a fairly large aquarium round 4 to 5 feet wide kinds...A was pretty active when I brought it back, eating all the bloodworms I'm feeding them... but B is kinda sluggish... and when tries to eat something, A chases after it, so B gave up and I haven't seen it eating at all for few days... and soon B develops this horrid brown black colour all over it's body and start getting real skinny... after a few more days it died... I tot it was some rivalry stuff with the 2 of em so I ignored A...A is still eating fine and pretty active until one day it refuses to eat and at the end of the day it turn brown like B and died... I don't know what's the problem cuz at first I thought it was the water ... I just use freshwater without adding salt) cuz some sites says that puffers can survive in freshwater... so I tot B was weaker... but then the active A sudden death just puzzles me... before they died they don't seem to have any growth whatsoever on em and the color on their body always fluctuates from yellow to brown patches... is it really hard to keep puffers?... I heard they are hardy fish and the thing is my dad rear his other tropical fishes in his tanks till the water turns green and they still seem to be all right... thanks <Yikes... very likely these "freshwater" Puffers were not so "fresh"... Please take a read over the "Freshwater Puffers" materials stored on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and try to identify what type you had... I suspect these two perished mainly for lack of the salts found in their natural waters. Very common, and unfortunate. Bob Fenner>

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

Tiny Tank, not so Puffer Hello. I have a 4.4gal UK fishtank, which measures 42x22xh33cm. According to the standard rules for fish per fishtank, it should be big enough for a Congo Puffer (Tetraodon miurus). However, I read something about this puffer somewhere that it needs a tank at least a 50 gallon tank. If it was in my 4.4 gallon tank by itself, would this be enough space for it? Thanks Tim Jeffree <Glad to see you're investigating before buying... and yes to the present system being too tiny... even starting with a tiny specimen, it would be too "psychologically" crowded. There are some other small freshwater fish choices that would go here: the littler Danios, rasboras... perhaps a couple of small Gouramis... some plant material... Some coverage of these can be found on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for your perusal. Cheers. Bob Fenner>

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

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

Tetraodon mbu Hi, 1.What tank size for Tetraodon Mbu? <Starting size of the fish? How long do you want to keep it... happy, healthy? A twenty to a two hundred gallon...> 2.How much swimming space? <About the same as specified by tank dimensions above> 3.What tank mates? <Only very aware, and or tough, mean, fast fishes... perhaps some live plants. Doubtful any invertebrates...> 4.What filter? <Outside power and internal powerheads for added circulation, aeration> 5.Any other important information? <Frequent partial water changes with pre-made water of high alkalinity, some salt... see here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=10103&g Cut and paste URL. A very mean fish species... best kept either in a "species tank" or a biotopic presentation with other fishes from the region (Lake Tanganyika, Congo...> <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

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