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FAQs about Puffer Food, Feeding, Nutrition 1

Related Articles: Puffers in General, Puffer Care and Information, True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, (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: Puffer Feeding 2, Puffers in General 1, Puffer Identification, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Compatibility, Puffer Selection, Puffer Systems, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, Puffer Reproduction, True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

The Longhorn Cowfish, not a fussy eater.

Crawfish as puffer food       3/9/16
Well Mr. Bob, So sorry I forgot a question on my last post.
<Ahh; better to do as you are here: separate out by topic, subject>
I am from the deep south. I live in Mo now. But it is crawfish season and I am having some shipped up from La for a crawfish boil.
<Oh yes! Am a giant fan... of Procambarus clarkii; as pets and fab food items>
I read on here freshwater foods ain't good for puffers but the articles I read all pertained to live fresh food. Does that include crawfish?
<These are fine for marine puffers... a bit messy; and better to use "just molted" ones... or recently molted; and remove uneaten body parts so they don't rot, decompose>
I was going to give them a good ro soak and freeze. It would not be a main food source. I know... Diverse foods, lol. If you are around Mo after lent come on over for a cold beer and a good old fashioned crawfish boil!
<Ah, much appreciated. Have tried to have these in Cal., but not the same.
Once when giving some talks in Louisiana; saw actual billboards advertising boil spice products!>
If ya are nice I'll make you the best Hurricane you ever had! Yeehaa!!Stace
<Again; thank you for your offer. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Sand And Clams From Galveston Beach/Foods/Feeding 1/24/10
Hi there,
<Hello Sabrina>
I am getting a Dogface Puffer this week and wanted to ask a few questions.
<Shoot.>
My first question is about feeding.
Galveston beach is kind of dirty as we have days when people aren't allowed to swim do <due> to bacteria in the water.
1. Would feeding my Puffer clams from Galveston be toxic?
<Leave the clams where they are. You may introduce bacteria or an unwanted disease into your system.
Read here and related articles/FAQ's as to feeding puffers.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm>
2. Would gathering the clams and putting them in a new tank with clean water and allowing them to filter feed for a while (a month or more) help lower any toxicity in the clam?
<Best to buy frozen sea foods from the supermarket or prepared foods for this purpose.>
Also I was thinking about getting sand from the beach to renew my existing sand and wondered if Galveston sand would be toxic to my fish.
<Would not do this as well for aforementioned reasons.>
3. Will adding sand to an already set up tank cause the tank to recycle?
<Use packaged coral sand for this purpose, no beach sand, and no problems.>
If so regular water changes would be in order but I wanted to ask so I would be prepared.
Thank you for your time. It is greatly appreciated.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Sabrina Roschbach

Proper puffer food… raw of course - 05/16/07 Hi, <Hi.> is it bad to feed puffers cooked prawns (as in boiled prawns)? <Not wrong per se as long as no spices were used, but they probably have less vitamins, which is bad for puffers. In addition it can be supposed that the proteins also have changed while cooking and thus might not be digested the way they'd be if they were uncooked.> I know it's preferable that you feed 'em raw right? <Confirmed.> Thanks... <You are welcome. Marco.>

Skinny Puffer=Death 1/21/05 Hello Bob, <Hi, it's Pufferpunk here> I tried to search for answers to this on your website but I got exhausted after trying to read through many of the FAQ's. I apologize if this is posted somewhere else. I had a blue spotted puffer approximately 2" in size in my 90 gal tank. He did fine for over year always ate a lot. I'm probably not the best expert with dietary needs but I five flakes, krill, and fortified seaweed to feed my fish.  <Definitely not the best diet for a puffer. One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet. All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish. Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild. Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye). Snails are an essential food to a puffer's diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails. As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat. Larger 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.>  Anyway, for about a month I noticed that no matter how much he ate he kept getting skinnier and skinnier. Even up till the last day when he looked completely anorexic he was still eating until his stomach was extended. He finally passed away. Any clues. I'm guessing some internal parasite or something along those lines but I'm not sure why it happened after a year??  <Definitely the symptoms of internal parasites. No doubt about it! Sometimes they can tag along inside the fish to rear their ugly heads after you have had them for a while.> Maybe something tagged along with some live rock but the other fish in my tank are doing just fine. I really enjoyed the puffer and would like another one but I don't want to go through that episode again. <Many wild-caught fish come to us with internal parasites. This is very common with puffers. Just to be safe, I'd treat your new puffer & the rest of your tank's inhabitants with Discomed, by Aquatronics. It goes on their food.> Thanks for your help, John Edelen <Sorry for your loss--good luck with your next puffer! ~PP> 

Sick golden puffer fish, actually just not eating Dear Bob <Steve> I have a golden puffer who I have had for 7 months he was eating and moving around the tank well until a month ago.  He would at first just stay by the tank overflow and now in the last week he just lays on the bottom, I have tried to get him to eat clam and Rosey minnows and he is not interested in eating at all. <Happens>   I see no noticeable differences in his body. white spots or blotches on his skin. I have checked his teeth and I don't believe that his problem is overgrown teeth.  His eyes are clear and they are still looking around.  I have been asking the store were we purchased the fish and they suggest that we freeze him to put him out of his misery. <What? No!>   He still has strength and I hope I can find out what is wrong and make him well again thank you Steve <Likely there is "nothing" wrong with this fish... do keep offering different meaty foods every other day. Keep the faith... this fish can likely go w/o food for at least two months... and they do quite often go on food strikes. Bob Fenner> Sphoeroides lobatus Feeding Suggestions, 1.11.05 Hello There, <Hello, Ryan with you today.> Can you Please help us! We have purchased 2 Long nosed Puffers from our local fish store. The thing is they did not have any information on them and they said the supplier they got them from did not know anything about them either. <Hmm...Well-planned aquariums blossom, rushed ones typically wither...Let's see what we can do to catch you up to speed.> We have been searching the internet and trying to contact all kinds of aquarium places that might be able to give us some information on how to care for these Puffers and keep them alive. The small one is about 2 in. and the larger one is about 3 to 3.5 inches. We have found a little info online about them, like they are non-poisonous and that they are not seen that much. <Although these puffers are typically considered harmless, I believe that they DO still produce small amounts of tetrodotoxin...So play it safe and do not disturb, frighten or eat!> The other places I have gotten emails back from have told me that no one knows that much about them in captivity. <I know a little, fellow crewmember Leslie knows a TON.  If you've still got specific questions after following the leads I give you, you're welcome to write back and ask for her.  Let's start here: Found from California to the Galapagos, Sphoeroides lobatus may prefer a bit cooler water than many tropicals, 75 would be a good average temp.  A large fish of this species could grow to a foot, so I hope that you've got a large tank.  A pair of these would do well in 200+ gallons.> We really want to do the best care we can for these Puffers. We need to know what their water condition. should be, right now they are in a tropical tank with a lot of foliage because they love hiding in it. They will not eat any commercial foods, so we have been feeding them feeder fish. The only thing we have to go on is to try to keep them as any other puffer, and feed them the same way. We have never had puffers before, so this is all new to us. What we have read so far is that they need hard shelled food to grind their teeth down (much as a Guinea Pig has to) so what is the best hard shelled feed to give them? <Mussels, clams and anything fresh from the grocer.  Anything you buy should be thoroughly washed and then soaked in tank water for 15 minutes prior to feeding.  I'd pick up a product called Selcon to ensure that you're covering all the bases.   Any information you can help us with or guide us to someone that may have knowledge of the care of these puffers would be very welcome in saving these Puffers from death because of something we might have done wrong for them. <Although this is a rare find, you can simply follow the guidelines laid forth for the entire Tetraodontidae family.  Care is very similar for all members.  Good luck, enjoy, and please don't stop learning about these amazing animals!  Ryan> Thank You, Arlene O. Yellow boxfish feeding- 2/3/04 Hey! <Hiya>     Just a quick question, I have just acquired a yellow boxfish and I haven't noticed him eating yet, he ate at the store. <What did they feed at the store?> I feed my fish tetra marine granules, which sink to the bottom and I read that boxfish are bottom feeders so I didn't see a problem with that. <Well, good theory, but if they aren't eating it yet then time to move to something else.> I was wondering if there was something else I could try, I have never had a problem with fish eating the granules but I understand that boxfish have a specific diet, <correct. When first introduced, the Cubicus Boxfish prefers a diet of live brine shrimp or bloodworms. Once acclimated, the diet should include chopped squid, clams, mussels, and herbivore preparations.> I have bloodworms but am leery about using them because I heard that they could harm my Tang, <Here are some links with some information regarding your fish: http://www.marinedepotlive.com/783554.html and http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_Display.cfm?siteid=21&pCatId=81 and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfishes.htm Any help would be helpful, thanks.  Matt

Plump Puffer 2/01/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hi, my puffer is overweight and its affecting his health. He is less active and I can see it in his breathing. <Heavy breathing can be signs of other problems. How are the water parameters?> Is there like some kind of diet food I can give him? <What's he eating now? For a puffer larger than 4", I suggest feeding every 2-4 days.> Also my tank is not clean as it once was and I was wondering if I would be able to buy some type of snail or crab or basically any type of cleaner without my stars and stripes puffer, yellow tang, percula clowns and damsels and I plan to add a Copperband butterfly. <Wow! You must have a pretty big tank for all those fish! Snails are out, but I have had some success w/hermit crabs. Puffers are very messy eaters & if you don't have some kind of scavenger to clean up after them, then you need to do a light vacuuming every week of the substrate, to prevent ammonia problems.>  Any help would be great, Thanks <Try feeding your puffer less often; to slight belly bulge, and not again until that is down. ~PP>

Puffer Questions <Pufferpunk again> Wow 2-4 days to feed my puffer! I was feeding him 3 meals a day of pellets. <Definitely too much food & not varied enough diet.> My water is fine, just had it checked out today. I thought hermit crabs were land only...Hmmmm...<nope> I guess I will have to try them, about how many do you recommend I add in my 100 gallon tank? <I started out w/a few smaller (cheaper) ones, just to see if they would survive w/my puffers.  You could fit at least 10-15 in a 100g tank.  Make sure you have several empty shells for each crab to choose from.> Also shouldn't I be worried about the tangs and damsels eating to crab too? <I don't think so.  If your puffer doesn't eat them, they're home free.> Thanks a lot -Jerry- <You're very welcome! ~PP>

Too Fat Puffer?  1/27/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I think maybe my puffer had to much to eat. I did not feed him yesterday, and this morning he was about like normal swimming to the top spitting water and eagerly waiting to eat. <Isn't that cute!> I wonder, I usually feed two times a day, not allot, but enough I see a small bulge in his belly. Is that too much? <1x/day should be enough.  How big is your puffer?  My larger puffers 4+", eat huge meals, every 3-4 days.  Binge & purge is how they eat in nature.>   He is a finicky eater. He only likes shrimp. Unless I put in the frozen krill and leave it in bigger chunks. Same with the blood worm. <Mine eat pretty much whatever I find at the fish dept. of my grocery store.  Shrimp. clams, scallops, oysters, mussels, crayfish, squid & when on sale, crab legs & lobster.>   You have really helped me a lot. <Maybe not me exactly, but thanks from all of us.> I was the same one that thought she had a problem with the sand, and my chemicals that kept rising. I did take (GIZMO) my puffer to a friend and she kept him till I was ready... <good> How do I tell if my Gizmo is a he or a she? any way.... (Porcupine) puffer. Is there any marks that will indicate this? <Nope, sorry but only the puffers knows for sure.> Again thanks and I am so glad you are here.  Sandy <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Feeding Clams to Puffers? (1/11/04) I bought some fresh clams in the shells at the grocery. Do I have to do anything besides open the shell a little? I was worried they might have germs or have been washed with something bad for my fish. <Your concern that they may be carrying germs or other nasties is well-founded. Do wash the shells first. Then open the shell a bit and freeze them for at least a week (in a freezer bag). Thaw them individually before feeding them to your puffer.> I don't want to throw them into the tank and cause a big problem. <Your caution is commendable.> I have a porcupine puffer. I wanted to add something to his diet that he'd have to work to eat.  Thanks,  P Brian <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

- Maintaining Puffer Teeth - Thank you for responding! We are working on it now!  I have another, unrelated question. But, you seem to be quite knowledgeable on Saltwater Fish.  A friend of ours has a puffer who developed lockjaw, is there any way to prevent this? <Make sure they get some shelled seafood items. These help to keep the teeth filed down... is what they rely on in the wild.> I have read the section on puffers on the website. I have a porcupine puffer and he eats krill, clam, prawns, and squid. Will the prawn shells wear his teeth down enough, or do I need to get something else? <They will help, but it's probably also worth a try to get some shelled cockles or mussels in there from time to time for the puffer to crunch on.> I read about feeding them clams from the grocery, how can I make sure there are no bad chemicals or anything on these clams? <If they're in the grocery for human consumption, then they're fine for your fish.> I know to get fresh ones, but I wasn't sure if the grocery added anything for preserving them or washed them in anything that could make the fish sick. <Not a concern.> I have been considering adding piece by piece live rock to my tank. I currently have the artificial corals that are made by living color. I wanted to get the fish thing down before I moved onto something else. I had made the mistake about 6 months ago of adding copper to the main tank, stupid I know. But, what is done is done. I'm sure the copper levels have gone down, and if there are any amounts I'd be very surprised. <Run some activated carbon just to make sure.> But, does this prevent me from ever adding live rock? <No.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- > Porcupine puffer not eating (1/1/04) Please help- <Ananda here tonight, ready to try...> I have had a very healthy and happy porcupine puffer in my tank for 9 months now. We have just returned from vacation and he is acting odd. He doesn't get excited when I come to the tank and he is not eating. <Could be a stress reaction, perhaps.> He tried the first day but now doesn't even look at the food. I don't see any sign of ich or any other noticeable parasites. I have a 350 gallon tank with 9 other fish and all are doing well. <I'm glad to hear he's in such a nice big tank.> I am devastated. He is losing his size rapidly and I don't know how long he may not have been eating while we were away. <If it is indeed stress-related, possibly the entire time.> We had two automatic feeders feeding the fish 3-4 times daily and my fish guy stopped by and fed them as well on occasion.  His normal diet is krill and has always been. Is this a calcium deficiency? <Could be a dietary deficiency, especially with an uninteresting diet. Yes, 99% of the puffers out there love krill, but they need a variety of foods.>   What can I do quickly?   <Head out to your local Asian market, if you have one nearby, and get him a variety of seafood to try. You might try clams, squid, oysters, shrimp, small crabs, prawns, or other seafood. (Do avoid freshwater fish and mussels.) If he's still not interested, you could try getting some live small crabs, snails, or perhaps ghost shrimp from the local fish store. If you get ghost shrimp, feed them with a quality flake before you put them in the tank with the puffer. Since ghost shrimp are usually kept in freshwater tanks, you might drip-acclimate them very slowly to saltwater to keep them alive longer. If those don't work, the next thing to try is "fish junk food", more commonly known as live brine shrimp. They may entice a feeding response when nothing else works. I would save those for a last resort, however, since they are nutritionally barren. Also, make sure your water quality is good.> I will be devastated if something happens to him. Wendy <Understandable. Do check out the WetWebMedia site for the puffer feeding FAQs, too. --Ananda>

Re: Porcupine puffer not eating II(1/4/04) Thanks for the quick response.   <Your email came in just before I logged in, it seems...and this one showed up while I was typing another reply. :) > We took the water yesterday to the fish store and he confirmed all the readings were perfect. <Okay.> We were only gone one week and I don't know of any changes, though we did add a second filter system to the tank a week before we left, along with the automatic feeders.   <Shouldn't have been a problem, but...hard to know.> Looking at her, it seems as if her bottom lip is smaller than the top, and I don't recall that being normal? <Me, neither.> I have looked at setting up a quarantine tank, but I don't think I have as much time as it would take?   <About long enough to start water mixing, buy the tank, get it home, set it somewhere, fill the tank...maybe four, five hours for the water mixing. You could use half new saltwater and half tank water to fill the quarantine tank. You'll need to do daily water changes to keep ammonia and nitrites from building up.> My only other problem is the size of the tank. <A 300+ gallon, if I remember correctly?> Now that she is hiding, I can't "capture" her without removing much of the coral and I fear the stress will be too much? <If she is not eating at all, eventually she will die and you will have to remove her. Better to move things now to get her out of there so you can force feed her in hopes that she will recover. Also, the smaller lower lip may be indicative of another problem, especially if she shows any other visible signs of ill health (aside from refusing food, that is). Should you decide to medicate, it is far easier and cheaper to do so in a dedicated hospital tank! --Ananda>

Re: Porcupine puffer not eating II.5 (1/4/04) <Hi! Ananda here again...> No luck-she won't even look at food and is hiding.  It looks like she is breathing very hard and my blue tang is chewing at her fins.  Is it too late?  The water tested normal and all the others are doing fine <I would get the puffer into a quarantine tank to avoid the tang. If you can, bring your water to a local fish store for testing to confirm your readings. At this point, I'm wondering about the history of your tank, and what may have happened during your vacation. Do consider a forced feeding to get the puffer jump-started towards eating: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferFAQs.htm and do a page search for "vitamin" for a note on same from Bob, and also use the Google search bar at the bottom of the Daily FAQ page to look for "force feeding" and "force feed". I could include specific links, but you are a better judge of which particular bits of information you will find most useful.> Help-Wendy <I do hope the puffer pulls through. --Ananda>

Re: Porcupine puffer not eating III (1/5/04) Thanks again!  I am bringing her to the store we get all the fish from and he will now quarantine her and try to get her to eat and medicate her. <Okay> Should I worry about the other fish though they seem in perfect health? Wendy <Keep an eye on them, and keep your water quality pristine: zero ammonia, zero nitrites, and nitrates 10 or less if at all possible. Best wishes to you and your fishes... --Ananda>

New porcupine puffer IV (1/16/04) Thanks for your advice.  He wouldn't eat clams, or shrimp, but he did eat the bloodworms.   <Perhaps the pieces of clam and shrimp were too large?> Turned down the output on the 350 and dimmed the lights.  I'm going after work to buy some more bolo rock. <Bolo rock is something I'm not familiar with, so can't comment on that.> I do think now that it is a matter of shyness, he comes out when the light is off, although he's not pacing as he did when I first brought him home. The skimmer is not pulling anything out of the water, I did a water change anyway. I got him the day he arrived at the store, that might have been dumb, but I didn't want him in that crappy water. <Understandable, especially if the store does not quarantine new arrivals.> So I doubt he's eaten since he was acquired, probably from the Caribbean.  He did puff once when I brought him home, but only for a second.  Last night when I turned the light off to try to get him to come out, he came out and puffed- I am starting to think this is an acclimation issue and I will address it with a tank makeover, bolo rock, and I'm going to get a background to cover 3 sides of the tank rather than just the back. <Watch out on that tank makeover -- you don't want to stress him further. Covering the sides may help.> He's eating though, and the water is clean, parameters seem normal.  And he does swim around when the light is off, but doesn't exhibit the 'pacing' behavior that he did the day I got him. Are they somewhat nocturnal?   <Yup.> For lack of a better word, are they a bit sloth when not in want of food?   <They can be. Then again, he could be bored; make sure he's got stuff to swim around, through, behind, etc.> Again, thanks for your advice, I'll try to address the problems ASAP. Thanks for all your help, I'm sorry I keep asking, but I'm trying to do this properly and I do really appreciate everything. Thank You,  Aaron <I think your puffer has a good home -- glad I can help out. --Ananda>

Please help Mr. Cow! Hello! <Hi there Kara> First off the basics are. 125 gallon tank, all parameters such as salinity, ph, nitrate, nitrite, temp, etc. are good.   In the tank are Mr. Cow (longhorn cowfish - 7 inches w/tail), dog face puffer (4 inches), Picasso trigger (2 inches), flame angel, mandarin and a neon puffer (2 inches).   <sounds like very nice fish.  All fish with quite impressive personalities.  Though you have probably been told this before, but Picassos can be quite nippy to slow moving fish, and sometimes more so with puffer and cowfish.  Also Neon puffer, I'm assuming is a Solandri Sharpnose, very pretty fish> We have had these fish for over a year and they all get along.  At least they do when I am watching them. <glad you realize that many times battles happen with the lights are off, and no one is around to see.  It's a hard thing to drill into some fish keepers.> 5 Days ago Mr. Cow stopped eating!   <defiantly not a good thing.>I believe he is constipated as well. I have tried feeding him peas, corn, spinach and broccoli but he won't eat anything.  He normally ate the basics such as clam, shrimp, and other various frozen varieties. I tried garlic extreme in the hopes of tempting him to eat but it didn't work.  I've held him (he let's us pet/hold him) and tried feeding him but he simply clamps his mouth shut!   <have you changed anything recently in your tank, switched to another salt brand, or done anything different?  Cows can be temperamental at times, and just suddenly turn off of foods due to a slight change in the tank.  I had a friend who's cowfish suddenly turned off of food for over a week and a half after changing his salt mix.> He is the "king" of the tank and would steal the other's food whenever possible.   I would have to trick him to the other side of the tank with food so that the other fish would get some food.  And they say cowfish are slow movers/eaters!  Not Mr. Cow.  That's why I am so concerned.   <I can understand your concern.  Be sure to check out some of our pages on WetWebMedia, you can find some of them here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfishes.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfshfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfishfaq2.htm They cover some good concerns over the care of cowfish> Another thing I've noticed is that he is not as attentive to me.  He used to swim up and greet me all the time and "wag" his fins.  He used to be so happy.  Now he seems to be in a haze and doesn't really notice me.  He looks over but that's about it. < That is a similar trait to puffers and other distant relatives once they turn away from food they seem to not be interested in anything.  It stands to reason cause food is their number one!> What concerns me the most is that he seems to be bumping into things like the glass, heaters and live rock.  Not all of the time but he never did that before.  And he swims very slowly now, that is if he's not "standing still" in the corner. The thing is he still blows bubbles out of the water (for quite long amounts of time) as if he is hungry.  But he eats nothing.  He'll just let the food float by or even hit him on the face. <Do you have a Quarantine tank set up to be able to house this fish?  If not you might want to set seriously consider setting up a tank as soon as possible so you can move this fish away from the others.  He might simply be pestered by the trigger when no one is around and it's starting to take a toll on him.  Beside that, with not eating and these other signs, I think it might be a good idea to move it to a separate tank so he runs less chances of becoming sick in his weakened state.   That said, if he does show signs of sickness, then it's easier to medicate a QT then your display tank.> Now that Mr. Cow is not eating our trigger swims around more. <Makes sense, the King is seemingly de-Crowned for the time being and the trigger in my opinion would be the next aggressive in the tank following the Cowfish> In case he might be the problem (but I doubt it) we are giving our trigger away to our LFS this weekend. <If you set up a Quarantine Tank and move the cow to a new home, then the need to trade in the trigger is not longer there.> I've searched all over the internet, I have inquired on the puffer/cowfish newsgroup, and no one has experienced this. <I've had many folks with cowfish experience some similar.  Many times the cowfish bounces back with no problems other times it needs a bit of TLC.  I suggest you look at some of the mailing lists.  There is an amazing group of people totally dedicated to cowfish on the yahoo E-groups.  My advice to you is check out this group, I have a few friends there that are extremely knowledgeable on the Cowfish.  The link to that mailing group is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CowfishPuffers_andMore/ I've learned a great deal from the yahoo group lists.  Many experts there.> Some people say that it might be a phase.  I might be inclined to believe that if he weren't also bumping into things. <Agreed, not many "phases" in animals go by, not wanting to eat, becoming lethargic and bumping into things.> By the way - his coloring is normal, his fins look good and his eyes are clear.  We have 2 filters and two UV's running on the tank.  The other fish are all fine. <That is good to hear.  No spots or discolorations, so it might not be a bad health concern.  But, if this persists then the cowfish will become weaker and less able to defend itself from infections and illness. >   If anyone has any solutions I would greatly appreciate it!  I am very worried and don't want to lose Mr. Cow.  And I don't like to see him suffer because it breaks my heart.  Thank you. <Just keep monitoring the little guy, make sure that you offer it fresh and meaty foods now.  Try to spoil him with his favorite "treats".  I think that if you are going to trade in the trigger to the LFS then maybe think about getting some equipment to set up a QT for this cowfish.  It is a good investment, and if you use it once then it has paid for itself.  Be sure to look through our FAQs, and also check out the e-group being offered through yahoo.  Hope that helps.  -Magnus>

Re: Please help Mr. Cow! Hi Magnus, Thank you for your quick response! <That's what we are here for.  We worry about your fish almost as much as you do!> To answer your question - no changes were made to the tank.  I wish it were something so predictable.  My husband and I did bring our Trigger to our LFS.  Mr. Cow is still behaving oddly.   <Darn I was hoping it could have been something changed, so it could be a possibly quick fix.> And yes I had already joined the newsgroup at yahoo for cowfishes last week before contacting you.  Basically none of the members knew what to make of it.  Some said to wait a few weeks and that it might be a phase. <Well they are very knowledgeable on the subject of cowfish, a few of them there are the ones that taught me.> I also looked at the links you had also sent me at wet web media.  I found nothing and that's why I wrote to you.  (By the way are there more than just 2 pages of FAQ's on cowfishes at wet web media?.  I had seen only 2 pages and when you had sent me the links they were the same pages.  Are there more?  Perhaps I am missing something.) <Hopefully more pages will be added in the near future...> So in conclusion it has been well over a week and Mr. Cow still isn't eating, isn't responsive and is bumping into things?  Do you know what it could be?   <It's that mysterious illness that fish get ever once and awhile.. no visible signs of sickness, no reason for it.  It's times like that when you wish the fish could just tell you what is wrong.  I've lost a few random fish though the years by having similar problems, and have had as many fish suddenly get better with little to no help from me at all.> We wouldn't even know what to treat him with in a quarantine tank.  Oh - his face seems to be getting paler (whiter).  As in humans when we are ill and  our complexions pale.  I guess we will set up a quarantine tank and wait and see what happens.   <I found a really nice article discussing how to set up Quarantine tanks, it gives you a general how to. http://www.reefnut.com/Quarantine%20Article.htm I highly recommend checking out the Forum on Reefnut, there are a couple people who are extremely knowledgeable on medications and will no doubt be able to help.> If you have any ideas what this illness could be please let me know.  I gather once fish start bumping into things they don't generally last. Thanks for all of your help!!!!! <Not sure yet.. but I'm looking around for anything that can help.  Not all fish that bump into things are marked for death, many times medicines do cure this up.  But, check out Reefnut, see if one of them on the forum might help.> Sincerely, Kara <Wish you and Mr. Cow the Best -Magnus>

Dosing Iodine 12/26/03 Hi again, hope all your holidays were well.   <Pufferpunk again--same to you!> Just got back from the LFS, and picked up some Kent Zoe Marine (Ananda suggested lack of vitamin B) and a bottle of Kent Iodine (Pufferpunk recommended Iodine).    I dosed the tank with both of these per the instructions.   Should I follow up and dose them both weekly?    <I soak my foods at every feeding in vitamins.  I believe you need to dose the iodine daily, for 2-4 weeks.> Anything else you can think of that may help his situation?  No one I talk to has ever heard of a fish not being able to open its mouth. <I have actually heard of this in puffers several times now.> Thanks, Mark <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Puffer Question, Can't Eat? Yes it sounds exactly like lockjaw...I tried to get him to spit water at me, but he couldn't open his mouth...in fact I have not seen him open his mouth yet since this started a few days ago.  It appears glued shut! <Thyroid disease can cause "lockjaw" in fish.  Try dosing w/iodine, 1 drop/2gal, mix in water before adding to tank.  Treat for 2-4 weeks.> For diet, he gets krill, and that's about all he will eat.  I have tried some silversides, and squid, but he had no interest once he bit it once, and would not eat it. What else can I feed him?    <You need to offer your puffer a more varied diet.  Oyster, clams, mussels, shell-on shrimp, scallops, crayfish, crab legs, earthworms, crickets, or whatever you can buy at the fish dept of your grocery store (except fish).>   Can you recommend a vitamin B to use to mix with the food?   <I soak my puffer's food w/liquid vitamins.  The one I use now is Biovit (high in B), but I think I'll get a more rounded vitamin solution next time.> I have some Kent garlic but that is it.   <Garlic is for parasites.>  I think since he cannot open his mouth, I don't see me getting anything into him very well, I can try if it comes down to it.  What can I dose the tank with?  At least it is a QT tank I guess... (main tank isn't ready yet) Water all checks ok, pH is about 8.0 - 8.2. Can you give a little more detail overall about how to treat him or the tank and where to get what I should use. Thanks!  Mark <You're welcome & good luck--Pufferpunk>

Porcupine Puffer with Difficulty Eating (12/24/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> My 5" Diodon holacanthus can't seem to eat.   He ate great a few nights ago, and had been for a month or 2 since I got him.   <The fact that he has been eating is good.> He's in a QT still, 75gal bare bottom, PVC, and a large sponge filter with an air pump, and a MaxiJet 1000 with a spray bar moving water.   <So far so good, if you have the water quality up to par (zero ammonia and nitrites, nitrates 20 or less).> He looks 100% healthy, he even chases down the food, he tries to eat it...but he can't open his mouth. <Sounds like what might be a bit of lockjaw, caused by a dietary deficiency, which in turn can be caused by keeping the fish on a limited diet. You may need to give him some B vitamins -- with saltwater fish, it's possible to dose the tank; alternately, research and consider giving vitamins via a syringe inserted into the stomach.> 0 He just chased a piece of krill across the bottom of the tank trying to eat it.  I took the krill back out so it wouldn't tease him. <This does indeed sound like he wants to eat, but cannot. If you are concerned, soak some food in a vitamin-rich supplement, puree it, and feed via syringe.>   Is this a strike?  I would think he would not look anxious to eat if that was that case... Thanks, Mark <It doesn't sound like an eating strike. You might also check the discussion boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk. --Ananda>

Porcupine pufferfish Hi: <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I purchased a porcupine pufferfish back in May of this year <Aren't they just adorable?> and have recently noticed that he has great trouble swimming after he eats.  He initially ate Mysis shrimp up until about two months ago.  It didn't seem to satisfy his hunger so I switched him to raw shrimp.  He consumes one large raw shrimp every other night.   <Sounds like enough food.> I cut the shrimp up in real small pieces and feed him one piece at a time!!!   <He actually has 4 fused plates for teeth, that are pretty sharp, w/a powerful jaw, for tearing out his own pieces of shrimp.  Actually, he needs the shell on the shrimp & lots of other shelled foods to eat, to keep his "beak" trimmed.  I buy most of my puff's foods at the fish dept of the grocery store.  Clams, mussels & oysters I just pry open a little, so he can use his teeth to open the rest.  I also feed: crab legs (cut into 1" pieces, w/the shell on), crayfish & shell-on shrimp.  Some of the softer foods my puffers like are: squid, scallops & earthworms.  Foods I buy from the LFS are: krill, snails & live fiddler crabs.  It is best to feed puffers a large variety of foods, just like they'd be eating in nature.> However, it seems as though he is a little "sideways" and can't swim very well.  Do you think I am over feeding or could he perhaps have a swim bladder problem??   <Every other day feeding for a 4" fish sounds good.  Has he always been like this, or just when he eats?  Does he float to the top?  Did he puff when ht was netted?  Is he pooping regularly?  If this just happens when he eats & then goes away after his food digests & he eliminates normally, I wouldn't worry about it.  Puffers get pretty lumpy after eating, the food sometimes goes to one side.> He is approximately four inches long and getting quite wide.  He is housed in a 42 gallon fish only tank and at the moment his only tank mate is a good sized sergeant major.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. <I hope this helps.> Many thanks- Sandy P <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Puffer food alternatives (10/25/03) Hi, <Hi! Ananda here today...> I have been feeding frozen prawn for my puffer and I cannot find small snails in Singapore as they usually only sell those like golden snail etc. <Hmmm. Time to get a few and raise your own snails. The baby snails should be small enough.> I thought of given it clams but I am afraid that since clam are live and if they might just pass on diseases to the fish as clams from the beach are very dirty if you don't cook them. <Yup, and I've heard of that happening. You could freeze the raw clams for about a week or so and then give feed them safely.> My puffer fish are very small, maybe about 2CM in length, so what do you suggest to feed them with either than fresh frozen prawn tail? Any food either than clams and snail that I can feed them and let them buffer their teeth at the same time? <Baby snails, shredded frozen seafoods... hmmm. Perhaps small bits of crab legs, particularly from the smaller sorts of crabs?> Please assist. Thanks! Have the most outstanding day!  Cheers, Jensen <Hope this helps! --Ananda>

Re: Puffer food alternatives (10/26/03) Hi, <Hi again!> > <Hmmm. Time to get a few and raise your own snails. The baby snails should be small enough.> In Singapore, we cannot find small or baby snails.. cos they don't import them in... <My apologies for not being clear about what I meant. I was suggesting that you buy adult snails and allow them to breed and lay eggs in a separate snail farm tank. When the eggs hatch, baby snails will appear in your snail farm tank. You could let those baby snails grow for a little bit and then feed them to the puffers.> > <You could freeze the raw clams for about a week or so and then give feed them safely.> But once it is put into the water, it will start to de-froze then bacterial will start to act up... <My understanding is that after being frozen for a week or more, the bacteria are no longer viable and would not start to act up when the food thaws.> Either than snails (which I cannot get them), prawn (shell not tough enough to buffer the teeth), shell food (spread disease) and crab leg (how do you buy crab with the body) <At some of the "Asian" markets in and near Chicago, they sell whole, live crabs. If you do not have any place that sells whole crab, talk to your grocer or seafood seller and ask if you can get the usually-useless pieces that they might throw out.> ... is there anything I can put in for them to buffer their ever growing teeth?? <Another idea... if you can buy very small dry shells (like those sometimes sold for substrate for saltwater tanks, perhaps?), you could put food in those shells and put the shells in for the puffers.> Thank you so much!  Have the most outstanding day!  Cheers, Jensen <You're quite welcome, and I wish you the same. --Ananda>

Re: Puffer food alternatives (10/27/03) Hi, <Hi again!> >> <My apologies for not being clear about what I meant. I was suggesting that you buy adult snails and allow them to breed and lay eggs in a separate snail farm tank. When the eggs hatch, baby snails will appear in your snail farm tank. You could let those baby snails grow for a little bit and then feed them to the puffers.> How do I make sure that they breed?? Not all females are attached to the male snail right? hehe... So generally how do I get them to breed.. wow.. it is getting more and more complex here... :) <Many snails are hermaphroditic, but not all of them are...if the snails you can get have different genders, and you can't tell them apart, I'd start with four snails. That way you have a much better chance of having both genders. Sabrina showed me a great site for snail info: http://www.applesnail.net/content/snails_various.php > >> <Another idea... if you can buy very small dry shells (like those sometimes sold for substrate for saltwater tanks, perhaps?), you could put food in those shells and put the shells in for the puffers.> But do I make sure that the food stay on the shell?? .. So do suggest that I use the normal clam's shell wash it and dry it.. then I put food on it.... ? <You will probably want to experiment some, based on what kinds of shells you can get. You might try filling the small shells with food, then freezing them, and dropping them into the water when they are frozen.> You have always been a great help to me.. and I really have learn a lot of you... Have the most outstanding day ahead!  Cheers, Jensen <Do let me know if you find something that works for these little guys! --Ananda>

Cyclop-eeze for Boxfish? Hi Bob <Sal> Thanks for the idea. Maybe I could follow in your footsteps and write a book. <Of a certainty yes> I do have a new question ( of course ). I' m reading about a food that I just heard about called Cyclop-eeze. Have you heard of them? <Yes, saw it fed at a local marine club meeting just two nights back. Has a very good reputation> Do you think it could be fed to adult fish ( cowfish )? <It's tiny... but worth a try... you could make it into "cubes"... with a binder... other materials... homemade> The website says food size is 800 microns. Sounds like a very good food source. Id like to know what you think. As always thank you very much.     <Worth trying. Bob Fenner>    

Porcupine puffers: biting the hand that feeds them? Hi. <Hi! Ananda here today...> I would like to know how to hand feed a porcupine puffer fish. <Hmmm. Hold its favorite food (krill, at a guess) at the surface, with your fingers above the water.> If it puffs up will it die or get sick. <If it puffs up with water, it should be okay when it un-puffs. If it puffs up with air, that can be fatal. If that happens, you need to get your aquatic gloves on and hold the puffer underwater with his nose pointed up, and stroke the puff's belly upwards to try to "burp" him. But you should NEVER try to make a puffer puff up!> And will he bite? <Do you mean, will it bite you if you try to hand-feed it? Maybe, but probably not intentionally. If you are wondering if it will bite other stuff in the tank, the answer is again "maybe" -- it depends on what is available.> Thanks <You're welcome. Do check out our puffer pages, starting here and following the links near the top of the page: http://wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm/ ... Enjoy! --Ananda>

Call me stubby - hand feeding puffers 9/1/3/03 Hi. <howdy> I would like to know how to hand feed a porcupine puffer fish. <veeeeery carefully as the old joke goes. And really, no hand-feeding is suggested for larger individuals. But using stainless steel skewers or tongs can work nicely. Very strong plastic/nylon rigid rod (skewered point too) just the same> If it puffs up will it die or get sick. <nope... but is a sign of stress or fright most often 0 not to be encouraged> And will he bite? <it is a possibility... and their teeth are quite powerful: they are certainly strong enough to tear flesh and draw blood. Generally not a common occurrence, but don't give them an easy chance either <G>> Thanks <best regards... and with hope for a lifetime of full-fingered handshakes from you. Anthony>

Puffer on a Hunger Strike? Hi, I hope you can help.   <Hi! Ananda here tonight, and I hope I can help!> After being told by my local "expert" salt water fish guy that he has never heard of this problem my aunt lucked out and found you.  He hasn't eaten in 4 weeks.   <Erk. That's a bit long, even for a puffer.> This did happen once before for about 3 weeks and then he bounced back.  Not happening this time around.  I read with great relief your recommendation regarding force feeding (which sounded horrible)  I tried it with my aunts assistance with what we could find available at 8:30 last night.  He seemed to spit the majority of it out and became so stressed he puffed bigger than I've ever seen him.  How far should we be placing this in his mouth. <Depending on what you're using -- if you have a flexible tip on the end of the syringe, you should be able to see it poking his belly from the inside. If you hit something hard, it's gone down wrong. Withdraw the end of the syringe and try again.> The fish store said we could end up breaking his jaw.   <Not likely, if you're at all careful about doing this.> The other fish are fine water seems to where it should be.   <We want numbers here... "fine" to me is zero ammonia, zero nitrites, and nitrates 20 or less.> I'm pretty sure the problem is nutritional as he would never eat anything other than freeze dried shrimp.   <Yeah, that's a problem, all right. Could be a vitamin B12 deficiency, too. Also, check his teeth! If he hasn't had anything hard and crunchy, his teeth may be overgrown. In that case, you may need to do some puffer dentistry.> If I can save him how should I correct his eating habits and how is the best way to force feed him.   <See if you can get dead/empty snail shells from the "big" rams-horn or mystery snails in the freshwater tanks at your fish store. Fill those with shrimp, if that's all he'll eat. Hopefully, he'll learn to associate shells with food. Then you can migrate him to other things with shells.> We all love this fish.  My aunt says he is now slimy compared to how he usually is...we pet him often. <I don't think petting him "frequently" is a great idea. If he's slimier than usual now, it's probably because he's stressed. A few other questions -- what kind of puffer is this, how big is his tank, what kind of filtration system are you using, and what other fish are in the tank? All of those will have an impact on your puffer's health. --Ananda>

Diet for a Small Puffer, Revisited Hi <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> >>Then leave a bit of the shrimp tail in the shell, >>freeze it, and then drop it in with the puffer. Cooked or uncooked? Cheers, Jensen <Preferably frozen and uncooked, but cooked is okay if that's all you can find. If you find fresh shrimp, do freeze it for a while first, as it may have picked up bacteria while sitting out on the fish display. --Ananda>

Etouffee for puffers? Is Crawfish good for them?? <Your puffer will enjoy them. --Ananda> "Puffer eats coral?"  "Yup, they do that..." (07/30/03) Hi and thanks for listening.   <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon...> I'm wondering if you have an idea why my striped puffer takes bites out of a certain coral in the tank.   <Because it's one of his natural foods. Out of curiosity, which coral is he munching on, and which ones does he leave alone?> Water is good, food is varied and enriched.  s he perchance filing his "beak?"   <Well, sort of -- his "beak", as you call it, is *designed* to eat corals like the one he's munching on.> Thanks, Debbie <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Re: "Puffer eats coral?"  "Yup, they do that..." (07/31/03) Hi again Ananda! <Hi!> Wish I could answer which coral he's biting; it's just a dead decorative coral and I haven't been able to identify what it was.   <Ah. In most cases, I would steer people away from using coral skeletons. But since you already have them and your puff is munching on them....> It's white, porous, and shaped like a soaked lettuce might be with layered spirals of plates. <Could be any number of species... I can picture which one this might be, but my mental picture has no caption. Maybe someone else will know which type it's likely to be.>   He leaves the (also dead) blue corals alone as well as the columnar styles and lacier styles. I'm not worried about him doing it, unless it's too often, although the first time I heard the loud CRUNCH I admit I jogged into the room to see what happened.   <Oh, my, I can imagine. Goodness knows, I'd run, too!> On another note, how does one support y'all financially, as I would like?   Debbie <On the Daily FAQ page, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, click on the "Amazon Honor System"/"Click to Pay" link underneath the Google search bar, and go from there... many thanks. --Ananda>

Dogface puffer not eating (07/24/03) <Hi! Ananda here with the puffers today...> My dogface puffer that I have had for 2 years has stopped eating for about a week. <Hmmm. It is not unheard-of for these fish to go on a "food strike". What are you feeding him?> All my tank stats are where they should be and no signs of parasites or bacterial infection. I tried feeding him different foods but he just doesn't seem interested any suggestions would be appreciated <Do check out our assorted Puffer Feeding FAQs, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm ...also, check the length of his teeth! If they are overgrown, so that your puffer cannot open his mouth very far, you may need to do some puffer dentistry. If that's the case, let us know... --Ananda>

Puffer Ails 7/10/03 Our Mbu Puffer about (12 inches in length) has decided he does not want to eat shrimp anymore. We were always supplementing snails, crawfish. He just will not eat the shrimp. He has been doing something funny with his mouth, after he has bit into something, He opens up his mouth very wide like he is trying to push something out but nothing comes out, its gives us the impression that something is stuck in his gums??? Does that make sense?? <have you checked for overgrowth on the teeth?> He has been eating the snails even though he goes through this ritual. He is not as eager to eat as he once was. We have ordered him Ghost Shrimp, Brown Snails and crab. What else do you suggest? <some Selcon to supplement the diet... also gut-loading the prey with nutritious dry foods and frozen fare that the puffer would not eat alone> My husband pet him yesterday, when he was cleaning the tank. The Mbu "Andy" started to color up and move his fins like this made him happy. I thought he would puff up and act mad but he seemed to like the contact. Cute.   He has tank mates that he has had from the very beginning. A Bala Shark "Cedric"  and 30 small Tetras. When he is finished with his food they all come over and he lets them eat what ever he was having. I don't know how long this will last but it is really cool. I'll take a picture for you guys... We were rinsing the shrimp in filtered water, we should use a little water out of his tank I guess in a cup that belongs to him do you think he may not like his food rinsed in the filtered water?? Could there be too much Chlorine?? <no worries here> We research and read and talk to people we just want to do the right things for our Mbu Puffer Friend. He has become quite the family member. We are getting him that 300 gallon tank so that he can grow very old in it.  Thanks, Vivian   <many FAQs in our archives on puffers... do browse as well http://www.wetwebmedia.com Anthony>

- Puffer Questions - Hi! <Hello to you, apologies for the slow reply. JasonC here...> I am writing again about a puffer with white spots. They appeared again and won't go away, but the fish seems OK (eats normally, doesn't scratch). The water quality is good. If this is ich, how long would it take to spread to gills (does this happen in any case)? <Days to weeks.> She's had the spots for quite some time now, but they appear only on the fins. <Only on the fins... I wouldn't be overly concerned with this unless they begin to spread to other places on the body and/or you see the fish begin to scratch.> I also wanted to ask if there is any rule about when to feed this fish (I read somewhere that they were nocturnal predators, but mine just sleeps in the dark). I feed her about 1-3 times a day (a few small pieces, clams). Is that too much? <I think so... these fish are smart and know how to do the 'feed me dance' and get a response from you. Twice a day could also be too much, so just keep the portions small... this fish will grow according to how it's fed.>  Thanks.  Katja <Cheers, J -- >

Skittish Puffer!  (7/3/03) I recently purchased a porcupine puffer, and he seems to be very skittish. He tends to hang out around the back of the tank and when I am in the room, he will keep one eye on me, and swim slowly up and down the length of the tank. He hardly eats when I am in the room but when I come back the brine shrimp, mussels or krill that I leave for him is gone. (I doubt that my only other fish, a domino damsel is eating it all.) His appetite is very healthy, and in general he seems to be very healthy. He has been in my tank for about 2 weeks and I wanted to know is this common with newly introduced puffers?  Is there anything I can do to make him less skittish? <Just give him time and substitute something like Mysis for the brine as the brine has very little nutritional value.  Cody> Thanks.  Kevin

Help with cowfish (06/21/03) <Hi! Ananda here today...> Hi I have been reading for days and I guess I am looking  for an answer that doesn't exist!!! <Or at least hasn't been written yet....> We have a 29 gallon that we prepared for weeks ,its water is perfect, the temp is perfect.....My husband surprised me with a 2 inch long horn cow... <As much as I usually approve of surprise gifts, surprise fish are generally not a good thing!> Now I know they have trouble eating for the first few days and they can be stressed easy...At the fish store he was told that the cowfish just came in, so we know he has had a rough few days... <The worst time, IMO, to get one of these fish is right after they have come in. You run a much higher risk of losing the fish if it has not had any time to adjust to tank life. After the first few days, the remaining fish will be the strongest of the ones that shipped. This is why many people will put a "hold" on a fish, even putting a deposit down, while letting the fish stay at the store for a week or two -- to avoid getting a weak individual.> We tried live shrimp and black worms...nothing...Today he is swimming on the very top of the tank almost hissing and spitting at us...Now I read they do this ...but he does it for hours... <Well, cowfish will spit water when they hunt. He's hungry! This is a good sign. They usually eat clams, squid, octopus, fish, and other benthic invertebrates. Do wander over to http://www.cowfishes.com and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CowfishPuffers_andMore/ for more info! Also when he does go to the bottom. he falls to his side. no energy at all.... <I think I have seen this before... do ask on the Cowfish boards about this behavior.> His coloring is fine and his eyes are all clear!! I realize he is dying but what did we do wrong??? Was he too stressed... <Quite possibly.> Is it good to wait a few days while he gets used to a pet shop tank?? I would think not!!! <See my comments above> If there is anything we can  do now or in the future let us know.. ps we have live rock and a tiny damsel that's doing fine....The cow fish is the only one not doing well. The damsel does not bother the cow at all. <At least not yet...damsels do get to be much larger, uglier, and meaner as they get older.> THANK YOU....LESLIE. I tried to research this myself and believe it or not I couldn't find a question (or answer ) just like mine.... <Do consult with the good people on the cowfish board mentioned above. They have a lot of experience with the specialized care these fish require. --Ananda>

Re: Sick porcupine puffer - on the road to recovery <Hello again> Thank you for your email I will check out the site.  The good news is he ate a couple of pieces of krill last night, maybe he was just striking. <Good news. Eels are notorious for not eating for weeks, sometimes months. I'm glad it was just a hunger strike. Have you tried feeding your fish some clams too? Those hard shells will really help keep the teeth filed. Use live clams (smaller the better) from a fresh fish market. Acclimate them slowly to your tank, and they can survive quite a while. I used to buy a 1/2 dozen at a time and let my mantis feed herself. Lots of fun to watch, and it gives them exercise too. Have a good night, PF>

Sick puffer Hi, <Hello, PF here with you tonight> I am desperate for help.  My porcupine puffer suddenly has stopped eating. He really wants to eat he gets very excited when I approach the tank and frantically swims after the food (krill) but then can he not get it into his mouth.  One day he was eating fine, the next day all he could do was bump it around.  I have read all the related articles on the site and I don't think it is a tooth problem as I can't see any teeth and I don't think they could have grown to be so large overnight to be an issue.  I have also read about lock jaw but I'm not really sure what this is or what to do.  Seems like putting him in a quarantine tank and treating the water with Vita Chem and B12 would be a good thing. Does anyone have experience or thoughts on what could be wrong and how I can help my puffer? <Well, rather than try to sump up what other people have written, I would ask you to go here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferdisfaqs.htm and read what is there. Lots and lots of good advice on problems like yours. Have a good night, PF>

Stubborn Guinea fowl puffer won't eat (06/04/03) <Ananda here tonight...> Hello I hope everything is well with the whole wet web media crew. I am a big fan of the website. <Thanks -- will pass along your good wishes.> I have a question and am asking for your ideas and opinions. I purchased a Guinea Fowl Puffer last Sunday and am having problems getting him to eat. <It does happen that these fish go on "hunger strikes" for a while after being purchased...> He is a very healthy looking fish and also probably one of the most calmest laid back fish I have ever had. When I brought him home he was in a large size box lined with a plastic bag and seemed to be very calm and not stressed at all. I was even able to put my hands under his belly and lift him up to put him in my tank and he did not seem to mind at all. <Wow. Not a recommended plan of action... it's best to always keep a puffer's mouth & gills underwater, so as to prevent it from gulping air.> He is very curious when you stick your hand in the tank or even stand on one side of the tank he will come over and see what is going on. My problem is it has now been 5 days and I have not got him to eat anything! I have offered him everything krill, squid, silversides, trigger formula, gamma, and today I even offered him live ghost shrimp that I purchased at the LFS on the way home from work. <With the live ghost shrimp, I would get a bunch of them and slowly acclimate them to saltwater (i.e., over the course of a couple of hours to days, depending on the pH and salinity of the system they were in at the retailer's). Then you can gut-load them before adding them to your puffer's tank. I would try adding some live brine to his tank, and if he eats them, then add some live ghost shrimp as a follow-up.> He is very curious though I offer food to him with a pair of plastic tongs and he will swim up to it like he wants it look at it even take a bite out of the food offered then spit it out. I have a 125 gallon tank with good water quality and steady temp. I hope he eats soon he is a very healthy looking fish and I am afraid he will become more prone to disease if this goes on to much longer. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <Depending on how big the fish is, you might also try shelled clams or oysters, snails, or even hermit crabs. (Stay away from freshwater mussels; there are reports that these can carry nasty diseases.) Do read through the Puffer Feeding FAQs if you haven't already done so... Do join the WetWebMedia chat forums; at least one person on the forums recently purchased the same type of puffer. --Ananda>

Feeding Porcupine Puffer >My name is Rodney, I have had a Porcupine puffer for over six months now and I cannot get him to eat anything but live feeders.   >>Bad fish!  Hi Rodney, Marina here. >Do you guys have any suggestions on how to get him to eat anything else?  I have tried live brine and frozen brine, silversides, mussels, and krill, but will not touch them he just loves those feeders.  I just don't want him to get sick or anything.  Any suggestions will be very helpful.   >>Yes, stop feeding him altogether for a minimum of three days.  This fish should be eating frozen (and even dried) foods.  Start with frozen whole foods, like krill and silversides, and put them on a feeding stick (you can make one out of clear acrylic rigid tubing, using zip ties to tie a plastic fork to the tube, and voila).  Don't worry too much about the fish getting sick, most are not like birds with such a high metabolism, and can go a week EASILY without feed.  You are more persistent than he, so you offer him this food once a day, if he doesn't eat, come back tomorrow.  Remember, BE PERSISTENT, he'll get the idea soon enough (I swear, aren't some fish just like some dogs? I can't help but envision someone with their stubborn little poodle "He'll *only* eat veal served to him on my best china!" LOL!)  Ok, this will work, believe me, the fish will not starve himself to death.  Good luck!  (sooner rather than later, eh?) Marina> Sick porcupine puffer: Hold the shells for this one, please... <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> We have a 72 gallon tank with just 1 damsel and 1 porcupine puffer.  The puffer was doing well, until I read on your website that it is not healthy to feed them goldfish.  I have tried everything from frozen mussel, to frozen krill, to shrimp, to silversides - but he will only eat live foods (live goldfish or crawfish).  Today, I purchased some mussel on the shell for him from the grocer.  He actually went for it and begin nibbling...shell and all!  Only afterward, he appeared sick and sat on the bottom.  Now he is not looking good or moving around.  Please help me!  We are new to the saltwater aquarium hobby - but I truly enjoy this fish and do not want to lose him! <This one's another case of "I saw it on the forum first and answered it there"... with this one, the forum worked better, as we were both online and I was able to get questions answered more quickly via forum than through email! Here's the thread in the 911 forum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?nav=false&forum=31&thread=9403 --Ananda>

Porcupine Puffer Sick? Hello, <Hello! Ananda here tonight...> Otis, my 6-year-old Diodon holocanthus, has developed some worrisome symptoms lately. For the last month or so he has had a lot of trouble eating - snaps at the food but can't seem to make it go into his mouth easily. He used to gobble down whole krill (soaked in Vita-Chem and garlic juice, of course), but now he can only eat tiny pieces of krill, and it takes several attempts before he can actually catch them. <What else are you feeding him besides krill? A diet of only one food is not healthy, despite any added vitamins. Do check out the puffer feeding FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm> I gently caught him and put my finger in his mouth, and there is space between his tooth plates, so I don't think they have overgrown. He does come to the top several times a day to beg for food, so he has not lost his appetite. He is also humping his back up most of the time (like they do when they are angry) and sitting on the bottom a lot.  Otis is (and has always been) the only fish in a 180-gallon tank, and all water quality levels, salinity, and temperature are optimal. Does any of this point to a specific problem? Any advice at all is wonderful - thank you so much. -Carin & Otis <Try feeding him some other foods. If this doesn't help, let me know. --Ananda>

Puffer Teeth/MS-222 Question I was wondering if anyone there knows what the proper dosage is, when using ms-222 on a small puffer(2" south American/Brazilian). I also need to know the duration of the anesthetic, maximum tolerated exposure time, and recovery time. Any information on this would be very much appreciated. thanks! <There is a wide range of possibilities in using Tricaine methanosulfonate. Please see here: http://biowww.clemson.edu/biolab/MS222.html Bob Fenner>

Puffer can't eat easily (03/12/03) <Ananda here, back on the puffer patrol...> Thanks for replying- I  have been feeding him the frozen blood worms a lot but he cant seem to get them all past his mouth most of the time. <Hmmm. You may need to chop them.> I went out to my favorite pet place ( Desert Pet Center) and purchased the cone shape feeder for live worms. <I use these for frozen worms, too -- it keeps them from immediately heading for the filter intake. In the puffer tank, I use two cones at once, since the most aggressive puff can't defend them both at once!> I also decided to set up an emergency fish tank just in case I'm not prepared next time when something else goes wrong. <Good to have... one option is to set up a sponge filter in your main tank so it gets colonized with nitrifying bacteria. Keep it in the tank (or sump, if you have one) until you need it for the quarantine tank. Then you'll have bio-filtration for the quarantine tank -- unless you turn it into a hospital tank by adding medication to it, which usually kills all the bacteria. Even then, it will function as a mechanical filter. Meanwhile, you can use your extra tank as a snail farm. Just pull the snails and temporarily put them in a large jar if you have to use it for a hospital tank.> I fed the puffs the live worms and I'm really sure his teeth are too long- its like he sucks in a piece of food but they bounce off his teeth- there isn't enough room for the food to get through. I will give the nail clippers a try- although I'm a bit afraid I might hurt him if he's resisting too much. <Do use the scissor-type nail trimmers, rather than the clipper-type.> He is starting to look a bit fatter- the spotted puffer is a very messy eater and leaves chewed in half food around- so he got through his tooth gap. <Ah, good.> Of course I'm going to try the clippers on his teeth. I'm glad you helped us- "Froggy" says thanks. I will e-mail you back after i try to clip his teeth. But thank you soooo much. <The following is from a slightly-later message...> O- Ananda- I have decided not to clip his teeth for now- I'm not sure how to do this- I'm hoping you can tell me how before I attempt to- I'm not sure whether to keep him underwater or how much tooth I can clip or if I can do this above water quickly. <Keep him under water! You will have to hold him. He *will* puff, so you can NOT do this out of the water. More details in this thread... http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=20&thread=7779> Until then I'm going to make his food very very small for him to eat. <Baby snails might help, too.> I hope to hear from you tomorrow. Thanks very much again. <You're welcome. Say hi to Froggy for me. (Does everyone give their puffs silly/cute names? :-) )  --Ananda>

Re: Puffer Refuses To Eat Thanks for the speedy reply, Ananda.  I did read through the puffer feeding FAQs, and that's where I actually got the idea for garlic and alternate food other than krill (I only had krill to begin with).  I'll give the ghost shrimp a try ASAP, but if the problem IS lock jaw, what type of treatment am I looking at and how technical is it?  Details would be nice.  Thanks again. <Actually, no "treatment" other than what you see: the possible force-feeding of the afflicted animal... and time going by for "self-curing" otherwise. Bob Fenner> Sandy

Puffer Refuses To Eat (03/05/03) <Ananda here on the puffer patrol...> I've been reading the WetWebMedia FAQs for the past two weeks straight, and I've had almost all my questions answered. <Good to hear.> However, I am experiencing a problem that isn't addressed specifically.  I read through all the puffer FAQs, diseases, etc...and I can't figure what's going on with my dogface puffer.  I recently purchased him from my LFS and he hasn't eaten a thing for about a week.   <Did you find the puffer feeding FAQs? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm > I've tried krill, shrimp (the kind for human consumption), brine shrimp, octopus, and silversides. I've even dripped Garlic X-treme on the food to tempt him.   <Overpriced garlic juice... try clam juice, from the grocery store.> He basically just ignores the food not even glancing at it. Occasionally, he'll actually bite into krill but he won't chew it up or swallow it.  He just leaves it in his mouth with his "lips" and teeth wide open as if yawning (kind of like a bass fish).  Eventually he'll either blow the food out or let it just drift out.  I don't think he has a problem with lock-jaw because I see him swimming around with his teeth and mouth closed, and he obviously doesn't seem to have a problem opening them during the rare attempts to "eat".  From what I've read in the FAQs, lock-jaw presents with the fish being UNABLE to open its mouth, right?   <Either that, or being unable to close its mouth.> Please, let me know what's happening and what I can do to fix it ...short of knocking him out and injecting him with food or vit B12.   <Tempt him with some live ghost shrimp.... more details in the FAQs mentioned above.> Thanks in advance. Sandy Thammasithiboon <You're welcome. --Ananda>

What non-living food can you feed a puffer? (02/26/03) <Hi, Ananda here today....> Can you please give me some advice I have obtained a Tetraodon miurus and am having problems trying to feed it.  On the isle of man where i live there is a law that prevents us from freeing it other fish or any thing living.  Can you please advise me what is the best, I love the little monster Janette <Usually I tell people to feed their puffers snails frequently, but I don't think a puffer would appreciate empty snail shells! I would let the little monster go on a rampage against bits of crab leg, shrimp tails, and other shell-on shellfish you can buy for human consumption. Become friends with your fishmonger and get the pieces that are not sufficiently attractive to be sold to humans: the tails of shrimp, the smallest legs of crabs and lobsters, etc. (You can use these to make a good broth base for chowders, too. ;-) ) You can also let him attack freeze-dried plankton and krill pieces, dried ghost shrimp, and other similar things. --Ananda>

Puffer feeding and deworming (2/19/03) <Ananda here today with more puffer questions...> WWM Crew, have recently acquired a spotted puffer and spiny puffer. The books say feed 3 times or more a day. Is this necessary? They are both good eaters. I have been following this schedule, no problem, just don't want to overfed. <It may not be strictly necessary, but is recommended to better simulate the puffers' natural feeding habits... Better for most fish (and humans) to eat smaller meals a few to several times a day than to eat one big meal once a day!> Also, have seen repeated warnings about puffers possibly needing deworming. Are there signs to look for in the puffers behavior [they eat like pigs] or is this just preventive medicine? How does one go about deworming a fish. I haven't seen deworming medications. <This refers to intestinal worms -- some wild-caught puffers come complete with nasties in their digestive tracts. If your puffer is eating well but develops a shrunken stomach, it may have worms. The best way to treat this is with an anti-parasitic food.> Also is the overgrowth of teeth, beak, a concern. They are in tanks with live rock, seems their rock pecking should keep the teeth in check. <Tooth overgrowth is always a concern with puffers. They need hard-shelled foods to keep their teeth worn down. Pecking at live rock should help, but may not be enough on its own. Do check out our puffer FAQs for more info.> Thanks for your help.   Paul <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Dog face puffer now eating! Ananda-- Hello, I wrote a few days ago about a dog face puffer that wouldn't eat.  After trying to feed it just about everything over the course of two and a half weeks the little guy finally decided that he was hungry.  Seemingly, he didn't require any special food at all because the one he chose was frozen cocktail shrimp.  Well, he has now eaten a few times and needless to say I'm pretty excited about it. Thank you for your suggestions.  Hopefully my good luck will continue and he'll fatten up a bit. Damon <Yay! Thanks for sending the follow-up good news. --Ananda>

Dog face puffer won't eat... 2/15/03 Hello. <Hi. Ananda here answering the puffer questions....> I am a bit worried about a dog face puffer I bought two weeks ago.  I purchased the little guy the morning after he got to the fish store so I was unsure of whether or not he had eaten at the time of purchase.   <Uh-oh.> Unfortunately, he has not eaten in the two weeks since he came home with me.  I've tried to feed mostly frozen as there is no place in my area (Duluth, MN) that has any live food.   <I grew up north of Duluth, on "da Range"... do check out the "First Oriental Grocery" on Superior St. and see if they have some fresh shrimp or perhaps squid.> I did manage to get a crayfish but he didn't show any interest.  I have tried various frozen foods from mussels and shrimp to baby octopus and freshwater Mysis, which have been made out to be the magic food for finicky eaters.  Anyway, nothing has worked.  I read from your web site that puffers will go without weeks without eating so I'm hoping that this is the case.   <Me, too.> However, I'm beginning to wonder if he's eaten since he was captured.  This could be a month ago I'm assuming.  A few days after I got the fish he got ich.  That is now cured but it doesn't really seem to matter.  I don't know if I should just wait around for him to whither away to nothing or if there's something else that I can try. <A few things... ordinary ghost shrimp, aka feeder shrimp. Acclimate them to saltwater slowly, so they can run around a bit in front of the puffer. You could try soaking the food in garlic juice (McCormick's garlic juice, from the grocery store, works fine), or maybe in clam juice. Every puffer I've ever heard of goes nuts over krill, whether it's frozen or dried. Also live snails are a possibility -- you could try an Astraea snail, or other small saltwater snail. Or perhaps a small blue-legged crab. Expensive meals, I know, but they might work. Do pick up live brine shrimp if any of the local stores carry it. If not, you may need to hatch it yourself. It is good for triggering a feeding reaction in most fish, though it's not that great nutritionally.> He has plenty of room and the other fish do not pick on him at all.  He is in a 110g with a niger and undulated trigger (believe it or not they seem to be buddies), <And yours are probably the only pair of the sort on the planet...! I'm amazed.> a domino damsel, a 4 stripe damsel and velvet damsel.  Water quality is fine.  Temperature is fine.  Any suggestions? <All listed above...> Thanks.     Damon <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Puffer With Disabled Jaw My porcupine puffer is about 5 months old, he eats great and is in great health....until just 2 days ago. He seems to be unable to open his mouth. He begs for food and even tries to eat it, but is just unable to do so. I have been feeding him a steady diet of frozen krill and he even pigs out on the flake food the other fish in the tank are feed. I spoke with a local fish dealer and he said there was nothing to do for him...I don't believe that. I know that their teeth can over grow, but that does seem to be the case here...I can see inside his mouth and nothing is in the way he just cannot open it. Any help would be great. thanks much. <Well- this certainly is a tough one. If the "locked jaw is a result of injury, there is always the possibility that it could heal, and the fish could regain normal use of its mouth. On the other hand, it may not. Short of surgical intervention (don't even think of it!), the best you can do is try to get him some nourishment. I'd start by removing him to a separate tank, if possible, and administering some marine vitamin, such as Vita Chem. My thinking here is that, even if he can't articulate movement with his jaws, he can still ingest water (marine fishes do drink water), and possibly some vitamins will get through! Also, you may want to "puree" some fresh seafood, mix it with Selcon or VitaChem, and load it into a syringe (w/o needle!). Then, you may actually need to net the fish out, and VERY carefully try to slowly deposit some food into his mouth. You might try a length of airline tubing at the end of the syringe, in the hope that the food "puree" will "go deeper". This is certainly a procedure that can induce stress on the fish...but in a potentially desperate, life-and-death situation, you may need to "go for broke". Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Puffer With Disabled Jaw (Pt. 2) Thanks for the info....I have been letting him ingest the flake and have added vitamin B12 to the water with this stuff called Vita Fish...I did a lot of reading on this and found that in some cases that it (lock jaw) can be caused by a vitamin deficiency, specifically B12. <Good research!> I've been treating him for a week now and he is eating much better...he can eat small pieces of krill now and is no longer becoming discouraged when he eats. I think everything is going to be all right. <That's really great to hear!> Please pass this info along to your other readers, I hope this will help someone else out and they don't need to think the worst for their puffer. Thanks again. <Glad that you "kept the faith" with this guy! All the more reason never to give up hope with a sick fish! Good job! Regards, Scott F>

- Puffer not Sucking? - thanks so much for your input...the puffer is trying to eat. <If you say so.> he literally tries to eat but physically can't get the food into his mouth. <Then perhaps its teeth have grown together.> He's not on an eating strike. <Ok.> some of your comments and advice is only applicable is he's not trying to eat. <Was just trying to cover all the bases - what seems to you to be 'trying' to eat may in fact be inspection and rejection - finicky eater.> that is not at all  the case.  this guy is aggressively pursuing the food.  it seems there is something wrong with his sucking mechanism because he's no longer able to get the food in <My friend, puffers do not have a 'sucking mechanism'. Do consider capture and inspection of those front teeth, which when they grow too long, will stop it from being able to open its mouth.> Eddie <Cheers, J -- >

- Packing them in... Porcupine Puffer won't Eat - Hi, <Greetings, JasonC here...> The porcupine puffer can't eat.  I seem to remember him having a tooth on the top lip...but I don't see a tooth anymore.  Could he have lost his tooth? if so, could that be why he can't suck food into his mouth. <A lack of teeth shouldn't stop a hungry puffer from eating, but if this happened recently then it could be a little sore, provided it really did lose a tooth. Puffers are prone to unexplainable mood swings and will stop eating for days to weeks at a time.> He approaches food with similar aggression as he used to, but his mouth sort of bumps into the food but it doesn't go into his mouth... he keeps trying and trying but it won't go into his mouth... most of the time he lunges at the food but the food won't even touch his mouth... in other words, prior to this problem, when the food was even 1/4 inch from his mouth it would vanish into his mouth with apparent suction. but know, the food is 1/4 inch and even closer to his mouth and it wont go in <Could be, depending on the puffers age, that his teeth have grown together... puffer teeth grow constantly and without a diet of appropriate foods, their teeth grow unchecked. There is a way to file these teeth down... if this is the problem.> 55gal 4" porcupine puffer 4" lunare wrasse 4" niger trigger 4" emperor angel (died of ick.. removed from the tank yesterday) live sand 35% filled w/ live rock protein skimmer 82 degree avg temp 1.023 avg salt 8.25 avg ph ammonia, phosphate, nitrite, nitrate all ok <My main man... this tank has too much 'stuff' in it. I'm sorry to hear about your emperor but likely its death was attributable to stress related to the fact that your tank is packed. Two four inch fish is almost too much for this tank... you had four, and of those you've got three messy eaters. I would suspect issues with your overall water quality at this point, which would also stress the puffer into not eating.> Thanks a million, Eddie <Cheers, J -- >

Human food? <Hello, Ananda answering the puffer questions tonight...> Well, I'm happy to say that this is the first time that I'm sending an email without sickness or a fishy funeral pending. In fact, everything is going just fine except that my fridge went out, <Gack!> so all of the meaty stuff that I feed my porcupine puffer is no good, and I don't want to make him subsist on Spirulina flakes until the repair and restock can occur (2 more days). <While he may not be thrilled with Spirulina flakes, he would be okay for a day or three. But I completely understand the desire to feed your fish the good stuff.> So, what other human food can he eat?  Fruits, nuts?  Canned tuna, sardines, clams? <You could stop at the grocery store or deli and get a small package of frozen shrimp, or one of those "krab" sticks. I think I would avoid the oily canned fish (sardines, any oil-packed fish). Perhaps canned shrimp or crab -- rinse well to get rid of any added salt. If you live in any of the northern states, you might be able to use your car as a temporary refrigerator for the opened food container. Regarding fruit, I have heard of one porcupine puffer who loved bananas!> Or should I just go for sushi tonight and bring him home a treat from the sushi bar? <Ah, sushi is such a wonderful thing....I would go to my favorite sushi place and ask the sushi chefs if they have any day-old "leftovers", or scraps that are cosmetically unsuitable for sushi. Those would probably be fine for your puffer.> <Hopefully this reaches you in time for your sushi excursion... Regards, Ananda>

Human food? Well, I'm happy to say that this is the first time that I'm sending an email without sickness or a fishy funeral pending.  In fact, everything is going just fine except that my fridge went out, so all of the meaty stuff that I feed my porcupine puffer is no good, and I don't want to make him subsist on Spirulina flakes until the repair and restock can occur (2 more days). <If it's not too "stinky" can likely be refrozen, saved, fed> So, what other human food can he eat?  Fruits, nuts?  Canned tuna, sardines, clams? <Clams of all these> Or should I just go for sushi tonight and bring him home a treat from the sushi bar? <To heck with the puffer, I'm coming right over! Actually, I would hold off for the two days if necessary, or proffer freeze-dried krill (one of their faves). No problem. Bob Fenner> Re: Human food? Actually, he loves the Spirulina flakes from O.S.I. <Ah, I was hoping it was those...they have a good percentage of shrimp, which is probably why the puffer likes them.> I just know that there's no way to fill him up on them when he's used to frozen krill or frozen marine blend, which I rotate.  And yes, I already do the sushi scrap trick when I go out...they must think that we're nuts. <Many people would say that we are. :-) > Bananas huh?  I've always thought that he'd like stuff like that, or dried apricots and apples, but they're all so high in sugar that I didn't think it would be very healthy for him. Besides, you never know what weird allergy they might have. Do they even have allergies to foods? <I have never heard of that happening. Dried fruits are always higher in sugar on a per-weight basis than fresh fruits, so I wouldn't recommend dried fruit. But an occasional bit of banana shouldn't hurt.>   Anyway, hopefully the repair guy will get the right parts tomorrow.  Till then, the frozen stuff was actually saved, but it's across town at my girlfriends place.  Here in gusty SoCal. <Glad to hear you were able to keep the frozen stuff safe.> Thanks for your help...y'all are the best! <You're quite welcome...and thank you. --Ananda>

Puffer With Damaged Jaw HI! <Hi there! Scott F. with you tonight>   We recently purchased a medium size spotted puffer...We received him in the mail 7 days ago.  His face seems deformed, like it hit something hard and his bottom jaw is smushed in and his teeth are broken. <That's a real shame...> We have not been able to have him eat anything yet.  He has either ignored the food and swam away from the krill. One or two times it seemed he attempted to eat it but was not able to because of his mouth. <That's going to be a huge obstacle for him to overcome> HE may of gotten a tiny bit but not what he is suppose to.  I soaked the krill in garlic and that is when he tried to eat it.  What should we do as if he doesn't eat soon he will die. Thanks <Well, I think that the best course of action would be to continue to tempt him and hand feed in the manner in which you are currently doing. Sadly, there is a distinct possibility that this fish won't make it. In nature, fishes with injuries such as this either adapt...or die. Hopefully you can get him to eat, and he can learn to live in a somewhat normal manner with this. If it were me, I'd stick by this little guy as long as possible. Don't go down without a fight! Good Luck! Regards. Scott F>

Re: sick porcupine puffer I have a porcupine puffer fish that has stopped eating.  He normally loves krill and turns his nose at just about everything else that I have tried.  A few days ago he ate one krill with some difficulty and the couldn't eat any more. He wanted to eat and approached the food at all different angles, but couldn't get the food into his mouth.  He appeared very frustrated by this.  The next day was the same. He came to the top to eat as normal, but just couldn't.  After this he has just stopped trying to eat when I put food in. His activity has appeared to decrease as the days go by, but he does swim around, occasionally sitting on the bottom. I have read a lot online about lock jaw and over grown beak/teeth.  How can i tell if he is suffering from one of these?  His lips keep opening and closing as he breaths. I cant see into his mouth because there is something behind his lips. <Those are plate-like teeth> I have one other guess. I would notice him puff up about once a week for no apparent reason.  The tank is in a quiet room and his only other tank mates are a clown  1/4 of his size a some snails.  I netted him in the tank ( did not bring him out of the water)  so I could attempt to check him out.  He looked like he was trying to puff up, but couldn't.  How does the fish keep the water in when he is puffed up? Is it possible that something is not functioning properly and preventing him from puffing up and possibly blocking his mouth? <Not likely... as you will find, these fish just do go on hunger strikes... for no apparent reason at times> It seems strange for the teeth to grow so fast that he could eat one day and not the next.  I know it is hard to tell what is wrong without seeing the fish. Any thoughts? what should I look for? How should I proceed? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files at top. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Paul

Puffer Unable to Open Mouth Good Evening WWM Crew, <Leslie> Leslie here.  Your very knowledgeable and dedicated crew has helped me out many times before. I need help with a Dogface Puffer tonight. I wrote not to long ago about this fish, a smallish one 4" or so. He didn't eat in the LFS for the first few days, but he ate while I was in front of the tank 2 days in a row, in the LFS, so I thought he might be OK.......silly me. He is in a 25g Q tank. He got a touch of ich which I successfully treated with a few FW dips, elevated temps and hyposalinity. I have had him about 5 weeks. I was hoping that eating in the LFS, after a few days of not, was a good sign. He has only picked and nibbled at his meals since I have had him. I have tried all the tricks,  as well as every food item recommended on your site.  I even resorted to the creepiest of all.......a  live crayfish, which btw will not die. He nipped at it a few times, but that is about it.  He has been a bit on the thin side all along but far from emaciated. He seemed to be maintaining his weight, just not putting any on, up until a couple of nights ago when he started eating even less and to appear thinner.  I was using Chem Vit in the tank once a week, because he would not touch any food item that had any sort of supplement on it. The last 3 days he has eaten less than he usually would nibble at. Tonight when I fed I noticed he was not eating at all and that he will not/or cannot open his mouth. His beak has never appeared overgrown. He is active, has good color, clear eyes and gets excited when I come into the room and appears to be hungry because he gets even more excited as soon as the food is placed into the tank. What causes this inability to open the mouth, if it is not related to overgrowth of the beak and is there anything I can do for him. Could the Crayfish have injured his jaw, or mouth. This is really very sad. I feel horrible about this poor fish and would like to something to help him. <Have witnessed this a few times... perhaps a trauma in collection, being moved about... Maybe a deficiency syndrome, something/s missing in the animal's recent diet...> Thank you so much for your help, Leslie <I would try "force feeding" this specimen at this point, with ground up (to hamburger consistency) meaty foods, holding the animal underwater with a damp towel (after netting it), using a plastic turkey baster type of tool. Bob Fenner>

Re: Diodon holocanthus eating problem Hello, I think this question is for Bob Fenner: <Okay> I live in Boston and have a 55 gallon saltwater tank with a yellow tang, two white damsels and a pufferfish, Balloonfish, or whatever it should be called... it's a Diodon holocanthus. <All these names apply> About 5 days ago, the fish suddenly stopped being able to eat. I suspect it happened immediately after mortally wounding a third damsel which had been in the tank since before we got him, about 5 years ago. We had been told the damsels would get eaten immediately, but they didn't. It seems as if the puffer suddenly doesn't have any "suction" in his mouth to be able to bring in the food the way he always has.  "He" (ok, we don't know his sex) really wants to eat it, and will chase it, but gets very discouraged when he can't get it into his mouth. He normally eats frozen krill and silversides with occasional tuffies, maybe twice a month. I have checked the water temp, salinity and chemistry - all good. There isn't any unusual algae growth in the tank. One other unusual event has happened: about two or three weeks ago he appears to have eaten a leg off of a chocolate chip starfish who had lived in the tank at least two years. Starfish was isolated in our pet store, but subsequently died. <Puffers do eat Seastars in the wild... A very large Diodon sp. bit the leg off a Blue Linckia in front of me once... I was impressed> I have read that sometimes these fish can have their teeth become overgrown. They look much the same as always to me. Could this problem become aggravated so suddenly? <No, not suddenly> He has never seemed to have a jaw problem before. Or could he have "popped" his jaw out of joint while chasing the fish? Maybe by hitting the glass too hard? He hasn't puffed in a long while but could this cause a jaw to pop back into joint? <These are possibilities... as is something getting "stuck" in its throat, alimentary canal.> I am extremely worried. I know he can fast for several weeks, but I don't see any good end to this. I have read about using an anesthetic, MS222, to drug him and then file down his teeth, which might be preventing him from biting his food. I am understandably concerned about doing this, as I have no experience in doing surgery on fish. Does this have to be done underwater? Could you write a more complete description of the process. <Could but would rather not... encourage you at this point. There is a very large chance/probability that your puffer will spontaneously recover... instead of the trauma, potential damage from handling.> I see that a few people have written in about a similar subject, but I haven't seen any follow-ups with their results - good or bad. Have you had feedback? <A good deal. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Alex Kates

Re: Diodon holocanthus eating problem Bob - Thank you so much for replying so quickly. It is wonderful to have a such a knowledgeable resource available! I was hoping to hear more details about some of the feedback you have had from people whose pufferfish suddenly stopped eating and may have had tooth overgrowth. Alex <Most all the anecdotal accounts I've heard of are posted on our various "PufferFaqs" pages... you mentioned having read these. Maybe give a re-read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/allpufferfaqs.htm following the links (in blue) at the top... or start at the Marine Index pages... surveying these FAQs files from there. I will cc Kelly Jedlicki (aka "the Puffer Queen", a popularizer of this technique) here, hoping she will chime in, perhaps lead you to sites where her puffer teeth grinding exploits are detailed. Bob Fenner>

Feeding a Puffer Hey guys, I recently acquired a juvenile porcupine puffer (about 3"). I have been feeding him frozen bloodworms. He seems to like them but I'm wondering if it's enough food for him. <No one food is a complete diet. A variety is best. Please see the articles and FAQ files on Puffers on www.WetWebMedia.com.> I don't want to starve him. He actually nipped at my juvenile Lionfish a few times and that seems to be my cue to feed him. Any suggestions would be appreciated. <There is much to be had from our website.> Thanks, Lenny <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Porcupine puffer I have puffer that had been eating very well. I could only get him to eat freeze dried krill, I have tried just about everything there is, he won't he nothing but the krill.  <actually... for future reference, you need to know that this and most any fish can and will eat various appropriate foods in time. You just cannot be afraid to fast them for days...even more than a week if necessary. They can easily go without food for 7 days if healthy from go. Try small live crayfish or large glass/ghost shrimp, squid (tentacles drive them crazy!!!), etc. Review the WetWebMedia archives for feeding tips> I left him in the care of my husband to go out of town for work. I think he may have inadvertently feed him too much food. When I returned he was hiding in a rock and has been puffing up. He didn't eat last night and doesn't seems like he will today. I've think he may have eaten too much, too fast and could be blocked up from it, he is a very aggressive eater. Do you have any suggestions? They would be greatly appreciated, Georgia. <this may be an easy one, my dear. Epsom salt to be used as a laxative. Add one Tablespoon per 5 gallons of tank water (dissolve in some aquarium water first). Within three days you should see stabilization or improvement. Resist feeding for several days and be sure that the tank temperature is kept very stable! Kind regards, Anthony>

Puffer Advice from the Puffer Queen Hi Bob, I used to experience the same problem but have not had the problem in at least 6 years. I have heard many people attribute it to puffers eating too much freeze dried krill and developing "lock jaw". I do not believe excessive krill causes lock jaw. I do believe that the problem may be linked to a lack of some nutrient, mineral or vitamin. Since I have faithfully followed a varied diet supplemented with vitamins and weekly garlic, I have not lost a puffer to this ailment. I feed my puffers (my other fish and sharks as well) squid, shrimp, krill, prawn, tuna, red snapper, tilapia, swordfish, opah, marlin, mahi, scallops, crawfish, perch, mussels, commercially prepared frozen foods - shark and trigger formula, prime reef, as well as store bought frozen peas and Nori/seaweed.  <Wow, I want to be a puffer in your tanks...> I think many people t may tend to feed only krill as it is easy and the puffers love it but they forget that in the wild their diet is varied and they DO EAT GREEN/Vegetable material. All of my guys get peas weekly and seaweed at least every 2 - 3 days with their "main course" It is hard to say what one element has kept my puffers as well as some of my friends' puffers from suffering this ailment - but if I had to guess it is diet based - greens, vitamins, garlic and Variety. <Agreed> Vitamin B12 is a good appetite stimulant. I have successfully reversed some hunger strikes with B12 either given per feeding tube or injected. Unless the puffer is extremely weak or lethargic, it is often difficult to pass a feeding tube without him inflating or biting the tube in half. I find using MS222, to be far less stressful on me not to mention the puffer............. <For browsers, MS222 is a fish anesthetic, a controlled substance you might be able to procure through a veterinarian> and as you know stress can kill a fish or cause further disease/illness. This also helps prevent injury to the fish not to mention me! I have also successfully been able to get the large (14-20 inches) Chilomycterus antiga to eat within 36 -48 hours of transport from Florida by using heavy doses of Leng's Fish Solution. In the past, I have often had to jump start them with a tube feeding with B12 after 2-3 weeks of starvation............and believe me they were offered EVERYTHING under the sun. I often find trying to hold a puffer under the water and shove something in their mouth is unsuccessful and stressful - not to say that I have not had an occasion success doing this with my larger (14 plus inches) puffers. I have used a clear feeding stick with a whole shrimp and have stuck it in their mouths and they occasionally will then eat it - but like I have said it is not that often. <Yes> I think the longer the puffer goes without food, the greater the chance of succumbing to an opportunistic parasite or bacteria. Now I usually only wait 10 days at the most before I intervene..............call me impatient but I tend to apply human medicine with some input from a friend who is a vet (mammals only) to my fish husbandry.  <I am of the same school of thought> Hope you are still awake and hope this helps. Let me know if I can elaborate, clarify or help in any other way. Kelly aka Puffer Queen <Thank you my friend. Will forward, post. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Diet/Ich Bob, Steven, Anthony: <Anthony Calfo at your service> I just received a Blue Guinea Fowl Puffer as well as a Juv. emperor angel that I am quarantining in my 20 gal. tank.  <magnificent fishes!> I am aware of the veg. diet for the angel, I was told that the puffer likes meaty items. How do I feed the new addition? By hand, drop food in, leave a closed clam for him to chomp on? Any help would be appreciated. <do read through the articles and FAQ's archived on this site, please. Extensive info on this subject is available here. In a nutshell though... this puffer needs a lot of shell on crustaceans like frozen krill and live crayfish for example. There is concern about getting overgrown teeth among other things> I also have lowered my salinity down to 1.019. The place where I picked up the fish indicated that he keeps his salinity even lower. I was told ich can not live in salinity lower than 1.014. I informed him that I felt very uncomfortable lowering it that much and would go down to 1.019. I initially had my at 1.021, but I lowered before I acclimated the new arrivals to the tank. I am aware you lower the salinity when there is an outbreak of ich, however he indicated that he rarely has problem with ich due to the lower salinity.  <while some fishes will take the extremely low salinity, many will not. 1.017-1.019 is a nicely safe low end for most fishes> He is running a UV sterilizer as well. Is the combination doing the job, or one will not work without the other?  <fine for temporary holding (like a LFS) but unnatural to most and stressful to some fishes long-term> The subject is debatable, but I value your recommendations and if you feel that he is correct, I will lower even further. Thank you again for your assistance on this subject. Regards, Mendy1220 <you've got fine instincts. A little lower is OK, but do your water changes, feed well and simply be ready to medicate if necessary. Kindly, Anthony>

Puffer food requirements. Hi Mr. Fenner I purchased a 12 inch nose to tip of the tail fin yellow A Meleagris puffer.  <A beauty of a xanthistic variety, Golden as it were/is, but would be better if it had started as a smaller specimen in captivity> He lives in a 100g tank and I feed him mussels( the common food type from British Colombia) on the shell. We tried little clams and shrimps but he only nibbles on them. My question is how many mussels does a puffer this size need a day. I usually feed him 1 to 2 mussels a day. Water stays clean. <This should be fine... your specimen may well want, and consume much more, but it's better to limit its intake... and to continue to try varying its diet> I also have a 7 inch lunare wrasse who cleans up the small leftovers. Do you think the addition of a 6-7"goatfish would be appropriate. I would like a goatfish since they eat leftovers in the substrate. <Appropriate, yes. Do keep your eye on filtration, water quality. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Everett.

Puffers stopped eating! I posted the following question on the Yahoo Group, "Puffers." Someone responded with your website and your email address. Thanks for any information you can offer! <Glad to be here> We have three puffers, a golden, a stars-and-stripes, and a porcupine. The porcupine is young and healthy. The other two are larger and have been with us for over a year. Over the last three to four weeks, they have both stopped eating. They tend to lie on the bottom of the tank and appear to have labored breathing. The stars- and-stripes puffer has what appears to be peeling skin on its back. They occasionally appear to have glassy eyes, although this is not always the case. <Mmm not uncommon for these species, their families to go on such hunger strikes at times... w/o apparent provocation/reason...> We've basically ruled out parasites, because we have UV filtration, and they are housed in a 180 gallon tank that is crystal clear with appropriate nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels. There are three fish (including the porcupine puffer) that are thriving in the environment. If we can't figure out what to do, I fear that both fish will die. Any suggestions? <Don't think they will die... do think they will resume feeding... and if not that force-feeding can/will be productive. Please read through the "Puffer FAQs" areas on the WWM site (You may have already) re others experiences. Perhaps starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontidfaqs.htm At this juncture do try adding three "bags" of activated carbon in your filter flow path (to discount, reduce the amount of possible organic constituent in the water that may have reduced the puffers desire for food), and do try "other" foods, like an opened shellfish (for human consumption), or piece of uncooked calamari or whole shrimp (sans sauce of course). If these foods aren't consumed in an hour remove them. Adding vitamins to the water, live rock may also introduce "something" to eat, modify water chemistry stirring their senses. Know that these fishes can/do go w/o feeding in captivity and apparently the wild for a few to several weeks at a time... and if they don't resume feeding within a few weeks, we will discuss the possibilities of force-feeding, and more. I know that this waiting is difficult, but this is the most necessary ingredient. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Paula

Kelly the Puffer Queen Speaks! (Puffer health, garlic)  Hi guys, I had a similar problem in several of my tanks about 5 years ago. I have since quit using copper in my main display tanks and reserve it for my quarantine tanks which all new fish spend at least 2 -3 weeks in before moving "up the ranks". I have attributed my "strike" against copper to garlic use. I feed all of my fish (puffers, tangs, rabbits, groupers, sharks, squirrels, clowns, garibaldi, damsels, Porkfish, remora and blenny) garlic at least once a week. When they are in quarantine they get it daily for 5 - 7 days and then twice a week. If my fish are stressed or if I notice a spot or two, I feed garlic a couple days in a row. What brand of garlic? I do like Leng's Garlic elixir in that it has both the garlic as well as the vitamins and therefore is less work for me. If I run out, I will use my original method of garlic which is the garlic soft gel capsules. You can find these at Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, Drug Emporium, Meijer, Kroger or any health food store (although you will pay more at the health food stores). I poke a hole in the soft gel and squirt the oil onto the food - freeze dried krill absorbs the oil the best. I usually use one soft gel per fish but with my 18 - 24 + inch puffers, I use 2 - 3 per fish. This method takes time and if you do not like the smell of garlic, I would suggest using gloves and buy candles or air fresheners. I have gotten used to the smell and I have definitely noticed a difference in my puffers. I have also found garlic to be a good antihelmenthic. This was my original use for garlic in my puffers and later discovered that my fish were not requiring any ich medications. Most fish come into the trade with some form of worms and when a fish is stressed the worms that often live in symbiosis become opportunistic. Hope this helps. Let me know if I can be of any other assistance. Kelly aka PQ <Thanks much Kelly. Will send on/post. Be seeing you. Bob Fenner>

Re: question about my puffer (Progress made) I believe you had it right when you suggested it could be hormonal, or the planets have re-aligned because as strangely and suddenly as Abe quit eating he has started up again. Slowly at first, nibbling on some brine shrimp and is now having brine shrimp in the morning and a crab before bed. I have seen him chase around a couple ghost shrimp but hasn't eaten them yet however I still have hope for my little buddy. Thank you so much for your advice . Cindy <Ah, good to hear of the progress. Thanks for the update. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Diet and (not Jenny) Craig I have been sifting through your website trying to find a good diet for my puffer.  I keep reading that these fish are supposed to eat snails, crayfish, and other hard-shelled crustacea, but my puffer does not seem to want to eat anything other than guppies and goldfish.  I have tried cutting up squid, silver sides, and shrimp.  He will not eat anything that is not running away from him.  Any advice? <Yes, stop feeding soft foods and only feed those recommended, in the shell.  Guppies and goldfish are not a great diet for marine fish. Fine on occasion, but marine meats in the shell are best. You can find more on puffer diets on WetWebMedia.com.  Craig>

Pufferfish that won't eat Hi again, I just emailed you a couple of days ago about the new puffer I got, and I have another question. I have looked at many websites and tried to figure out what it is, but he won't eat. He hasn't eaten in two days and has no other symptoms. All the parasitic, bacterial and environmental sicknesses have other more direct symptoms. He's very friendly and comes out to visit, swims fine, and has no visual bodily symptoms. The pet store where I got him gave me all the instructions on temperature and all else that he needs. <If you have not already, I would double check your water quality; pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, temperature, salinity, etc. If you reply, please include exact numbers.> I feed him brine shrimp and those tiny snails, just like they did. <I would try some live ghost shrimp. They are very enticing.> I have had him for three days, and he ate on the first day, but not since. He was ravenous, like they had never fed him, and now, nothing. I just don't want him to die, he's already found a place in my heart. Caroline

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