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FAQs about Dwarf or Malabar Freshwater Puffers, Carinotetraodon travancoricus

Related Articles: Sexing the Dwarf Puffer, Carinotetraodon travancoricus, by Amy Janecek Freshwater PuffersPuffers in General, True Puffers, Brackish Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, Puffy & Mr. NastySmall Puffer Dentistry By Jeni Tyrell (aka Pufferpunk),

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Pea Puffer Weight    12/4/18
Hola, Crew! Thanks in advance for your help and advice - y'all are awesome!
<Thanks for the kind words.>
Hope you can give me some advice re: my pea puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus).
First a little background. I have a three gallon Walstad-type tank, heavily planted with Mayaca fluviatilis, with Pellia covering about 1/3 of the substrate. Floating plants are Salvinia, duckweed, and giant duckweed.
Also lots of ramshorn snails. I originally set up the tank to grow out the Mayaca for pea my other tanks. Once that was accomplished, here was this well-cycled, heavily planted tank with no fish, kinda boring.
<So some might say!>
I love pea puffers, so after doing my research I concluded it would be ok to keep one in this tank. Of course once I decided this, no one had them in stock, despite the fact that they had been plentiful a few months ago.
Finally I found one at my LFS. It was extremely skinny (emaciated really) but looked otherwise healthy so I brought her home. I *think* it's a female, although it may just still be immature.
<Agreed, the blue squiggles around the face of the males can work, but isn't always reliable.>
So, into the tank she went, along with a pea-puffer-sized portion of live blackworms. This was about six weeks ago. In spite of the fact that I have never seen this fish eat, she quickly became quite plump.
She has obviously been doing quite well chowing down on the blackworms and snails. In fact I am wondering if she may be too plump, which would be bad for her health.
<Not really. I mean, gross overfeeding puts a strain on the filter, and if the food is protein-rich or fat-rich, then there's a risk of the same sort of problems you'd get overfeed a cat or dog. But fish don't need daily feeds, so skipping feeds is an easy way to slim down a plum little fish.>
She has definitely put a dent in the snail population, and it seems that the blackworms have established a small yet thriving colony so she can graze on them whenever she likes.
My question is, do I need to intervene here?
<Interesting question. On the one hand, if you stop adding food, and let her graze naturally, she should be fine in terms of health. But on the other hand, there's a definite problem with the tank if snail and worm
populations are burgeoning.>
Should I remove some of the snails, etc?
<Some periodic reduction of the population size might be healthy, yes.>
Or would it be ok to wait until she has decimated the snail and blackworm population on her own, and then commence feeding her appropriate portions?
<This, too, could work.>
And is this blackworm/snail combination a balanced diet for her?
<Pretty much.>
I should mention that I have tried supplying other foods (soaked freeze dried krill, etc) but it just winds up feeding the snails and blackworms.
<Inevitable, really.>
I do make sure to feed algae tablets to the snails to make sure they are "gut loaded".
I want to do my best for this little gal, so your advice will be much appreciated!
<See above.>
Oh, forgot to mention - I do an 80% water change every 5 - 7 days. Thanks again!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

help... Injured FW puffer    11/28/18
So i have a 40 liter freshwater tank with penguin bio filter (charcoal), powerhead with small bio balls in plastic container, heater and java moss balls along with snails, cherry shrimp, tetras, Bristlenose Pleco and a blue fish that i cannot identify.
Anyway, i also have a cute leopard dwarf puffer.
<For browsers, also known as Pygmy puffers and Malabar puffers, Carinotetraodon travancoricus>
They've cohabited in the same tank for the past 12 months just fine, all of them. no issues.
But i noticed a few days ago that my puffer has a lesion growing on his right back side. please see photo along with blow up photo and outline of lesion.
<I see this in your excellent pix>
It is fleshy looking with a reddish tint along with white. I cannot figure out what it is, it almost looks like a bite but the other fish are not carnivores, they just eat tetra fish flakes and mind their business.
<Might be a bite... some sort of infection... started by a physical trauma>

it seems to be getting bigger, right now it is about 3mm. he's not that big, maybe 1.5" length....i believe a female, and the only puffer in the entire tank.
<I agree... don't see the typical "crinkling" about the eyes; designating a male>
She acts fine, moves around the tank looking and observing, not showing any signs of being in pain or in discomfort.
if you have an idea, i would be willing to try any steps necessary to make that lesion go away.
thank you in advance.
regards, Bob
<Am asking Neale to chime in as he knows much more re puffers than I. Bob Fenner>
help /Neale     11/28/18

So i have a 40 liter freshwater tank with penguin bio filter (charcoal), powerhead with small bio balls in plastic container, heater and java moss balls along with snails, cherry shrimp, tetras, Bristlenose Pleco and a blue fish that i cannot identify.
<This is 10.5 US gallons, so rather a small tank for the fish you already have, let alone any additional species.>
Anyway, i also have a cute leopard dwarf puffer.
<I cannot find the name "leopard dwarf puffer" anywhere online. The Dwarf Puffer is Carinotetraodon travancoricus, a very small freshwater species.
The Leopard Puffer of the aquarium hobby is Tetraodon nigroviridis, a large (15 cm/6 inches) brackish to marine species. It is definitely not compatible with any of the fish you have, and of course needs a much bigger tank.>
They've cohabited in the same tank for the past 12 months just fine, all of them. no issues.
<There's not been a shot fired for years on the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas, doesn't make it a safe place to live. Tetraodon nigroviridis is a large, aggressive, potentially territorial species that readily bites tankmates. While sometimes works okay alongside other punchy fish, such as the larger marine Damsels, it's otherwise a shockingly poor community fish that tends, at the very least, to be nippy.>
But i noticed a few days ago that my puffer has a lesion growing on his right back side.
<My money would be on a pufferfish bite if there's two puffers in this tank. Could otherwise be a physical wound from being thrown against something sharp, like a rock. You sometimes see this sort of wound when skittish fish throw themselves out of the tank, hit something sharp in the hood (like a reflector behind a lamp) and then fall back into the water.
But if the bite is circular, and there's another puffer, then puffer-on-puffer aggression is the story here. When you keep similarly sized puffers of like disposition, circular bite marks on the skin are quite common. These usually heal with little/no need for medication. If the puffers are very different in size, then the smaller one can be damaged much more severely, the skin being broken, and as you can see here, the underlying flesh becoming exposed. Isolation, and medication as per Finrot, is the order of the day. Fish can recover from such wounds, but fungal and bacterial infections are very probable without the use of a reliable medication, such as an antibiotic, to keep the wound clean.>
please see photo along with blow up photo and outline of lesion. It is fleshy looking with a reddish tint along with white. I cannot figure out what it is, it almost looks like a bite but the other fish are not
carnivores, they just eat tetra fish flakes and mind their business.
<Yeah, it's not the tetras or the catfish. The read is muscle, the white is decaying flesh and skin.>
it seems to be getting bigger, right now it is about 3mm. he's not that big, maybe 1.5" length....i believe a female, and the only puffer in the entire tank. She acts fine, moves around the tank looking and observing, not showing any signs of being in pain or in discomfort.
if you have an idea, i would be willing to try any steps necessary to make that lesion go away.
<See above.>
thank you in advance.
regards, Bob
<Hope this helps. Neale.>

Re: help    11/29/18
thank you all for your reply and assistance.
I believe my puffer was somehow in the wrong place at the wrong time and got nicked by activities from the catfish which is a fairly large (4-5" long) and pretty lively in the tank.
<Possibly, but Ancistrus are very placid, and it's extremely unlikely they'd "suck onto" the flanks of a healthy pufferfish. Otocinclus sometimes do this, and occasionally common Plec varieties, particularly
Pterygoplichthys spp., will latch onto large slab sided fishes. But I've never seen or heard of Ancistrus engaging in this behaviour. Their ecological niche is quite different to either the Otocinclus or the
Pterygoplichthys. I'd keep a very open mind about this explanation.>
He likes to go under a log and move it around and makes the glass gravel smack against the tank. So i believe Neale was right to say he was accidentally a victim.
So you listed using some kind of antibiotic to help with the wound and the puffer's healing properly.....do you recommend a brand and type? how is it administered? Or do you think it will heal on its own?
<Something like KanaPlex is a good first choice, or the old Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 combo. Outside of the US, a reliable antibacterial, such as eSHa 2000, could be used instead. Avoid bogus cures such as salt, tea tree oil, or anything else that sounds like it cures everything. Follow the instructions on the packaging, most being dosed per gallon, and used across several days. Remove carbon from the filter. It's also a good idea to up the aeration a bit.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: help     12/5/18
my poor dwarf puffer died yesterday....I'm so sad. it is still a mystery how he got injured.
<Indeed. Time to reflect, think about stocking options, compatibility between species, etc. Use this as a learning experience.>
but he just couldn't heal
<Sad to hear.>
oh well, thought i would let you know.
<Thank you for sharing. Good luck with the remaining fish! Neale.>

Pea Puffers and Snails?     2/26/16
Hello WWM,
I know that pea puffers really like snails. I have been feeding mine frozen bloodworms because I find it easier than feeding pest snails from my local fish store. Besides not having to deal with the hassle of feeding snails, I also don't like the possibility of introducing parasites into my tank.
<Not much of a risk to be honest. The snail-borne parasites generally have another host for part of their life cycle, like a bird for example, and that is absent from the aquarium situation.>
I've heard mixed information about pea puffers needing snails as a staple diet. Some say they have teeth that will overgrow if they don't eat snails, others say pea puffers don't have a problem with overgrown teeth like other species of puffers do.
<It's *less* of a problem, at least.>
I figured you guys would be able to get to the bottom of this question for me. Do pea puffers need snails to keep their teeth trimmed down?
<Not practical; much too small for dental surgery!>
Will they live if I continue to only feed them frozen bloodworms, or do they need a variety of foods to thrive?
<Nothing will do well on bloodworms alone. They're like popcorn for fish.
They can eat lots of them, but not much nutrition. There's also some question about the way they're farmed, because they probably live in quite dirty water and may bear high heavy metal concentrations. So by all means use them, but not exclusively. Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp are a far better staple.>
Thanks for your response!
<Variety is the goal here, with plenty of "shelly" food such as crustaceans and whole insects. Cheers, Neale.>

keeping Carinotetraodon irrubesco in a blackwater tank      5/10/14
I have a blackwater tank with 5 Luciocephalus aura. They are said to come from the Batang Hari river, which also has Carinotetraodon irrubesco. Is there any danger keeping Carinotetraodon irrubesco, or possibly other red eye puffers, in a true blackwater tank?
<Has been done, but not commonly, so long term experience *under aquarium conditions* is lacking. There are aquarists at The Puffer Forum who have done this, so you could consult there. I kept my specimens in more middling conditions, around pH 7, 10 degrees dH.>
The Luciocephalus are in deionized water of ph 4.90. Could these puffers live in that kind of water (or are they restricted to less extreme habitats), and if blackwater ph and hardness values are acceptable, what about the potential exposure to ammonium? I don't plan on putting them in a tank with ammonium, but I wonder if they would be more sensitive to it than labyrinth fish are.
<Puffers have a reputation for being (broadly speaking) hardy fish when kept in the right water chemistry, at least over short periods of time. But long term, exposing them to persistent non-zero ammonia or nitrite levels
won't do them any good. Still, they're likely to be (overall) less sensitive than Pikeheads.>
And also wonder if fluctuating ph is more dangerous to puffers than labyrinth fish. The Luciocephalus have had increasingly acidic water added in daily water changes to get the tank to 4.90. They showed no stress from
this. Maybe acclimating irrubesco to that ph from the higher ph they are used to at stores would be riskier.
<The pH scale is a logarithmic one, which means going from, say, 7 down to 5 is actually a much bigger change than it seems. If I recall correctly each "step" is a ten-fold increase in acidity or alkalinity, so pH 5 has
ten times more acidic ions than pH 6, which has ten times more than pH 7.
Or something like that, anyway. The bottom line is that if you receive your specimens shipped/sold in neutral or even alkaline conditions, adaptation to a lower pH would have to be done slowly. A quarantine tank is surely
part of your hobby anyway if you're keeping Pikeheads, so doing the water chemistry waltz across 4 weeks while quarantining the Carinotetraodon makes a lot of sense.>
The Luciocephalus usually hover motionless, and the other potential danger is that the irrubesco might bite them, although I haven't seen irrubesco show that much aggression, unlike dwarf puffers or most other freshwater puffers.
<Indeed. I've kept four over the years, and all were pussycats. But there are occasional horror stories. Again, our friends at The Puffer Forum will have more to say about this.>
Thanks for any information.
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Dwarf Puffer - Advice; beh.         3/12/14
Hi Again,
I've come back for some more advise! <advice>
Water Param.s:
My tank is 180L and I have 3 dwarf puffers and 3 Otos.
environmental ranges>
Nitrates:  40ppm straight out of tap so using a nitrate removal filter to get it down to 0 ppm
<Good... keep these under 10-20 in your system as well>
Ammonia: 0.001(from Seneye, verified as "0" with an API test kit)
Adding co2 (KH 12, bringing ph down to 7.0) - controlled via a PH controller. PH verified with Seneye
A few months after one of my DPs died(see below), I decided to get a couple more. My original DP is fine and getting on to 2 years.
One of the "new" puffers has always done a strange "flick" with its tail fin when swimming against the current but I thought nothing of this.
Recently I've seen that this fish gets into what I can only describe as a frenzied panic - it darts around the tank often colliding with the sand. This in turns sends the other two fish into the same sort of panic and they do the same thing! They all end up with their tails curled hiding away for about 30 minutes before resuming the hunt for snails as if nothing happened!
Could this just be "odd" behaviour of a jumpy fish? Or something more sinister?
<Likely reacting to a reflection (in the side panel... internal... you can't see it from outside); I'd place a piece of paper... tape on one end outside the tank>
Thank you in advance,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sick Dwarf Puffer      1/23/14
hi, I have 6 dwarf puffers, 3 white Corys, and 6 Otos in an 75 litre tank.
<Standard warning here: Corydoras aren't safe companions for Dwarf Puffers. Don't copy this at home, kids!>
I use a liquid test kit for ammonia (reads 0) and test strips for GH (180), KH (120), pH (8.0), NO2 (0), NO3 (0). These have not changed since I started the tank on the 1/1/2014. I do a sand clean/stir and change 20 litres of water every 5 days. I have java moss, and 3 other plants on this tank as well as lots of rock and caves. I feed them live bloodworm, daphnia and snails. As the snails are a little large for them I crush them.
<All sounds good.>
First 2 weeks only had the 6 puffers, (of which 1 died of what looked like internal parasites) the others were all active and would greet me at the front of the tank begging for food.
Now another of my lil puffers is sick.... I have treated the entire tank with Fluke-Solve for 24 hours after reading this is a good wormer for scaleless fish.
<Indeed. "Worms" can be a problem for puffers, with Levamisole and Praziquantel being widely used and generally safe.>
My sick puffer showed no improvement from this treatment or from soaking his food in the medication. Up until yesterday he was eating 2 bloodworms and 2 daphnia per day but was Very thin and pooping pale stringy poop.
<Would suggest that this is something else, likely either a bacterial "wasting" disease or else some type of Hexamita-like protozoan parasite.
Wasting Diseases are almost always untreatable, with euthanasia being the best approach; Metronidazole can work well against protozoan parasites and some bacterial infections, but this little chap looks a bit far gone for therapy to be cost effective.>
This morning I found him on the sand barely breathing and trying to swim but only going in circles and now am worried he has TB as his spine is curved.
<Indeed. Am not hopeful here.>
All my other fish are still active, and are eating well. Thanks for any help you can give.
attached is pic of my sick puffer.
<You might try asking at The Puffer Forum if there's anything magic bullets available they've heard of, but to be honest, I'd euthanise a fish this size in this condition. Sorry not be any more positive. Cheers, Neale.>

re: Sick Dwarf Puffer      1/23/14
Thank you so much for your advice.
<Most welcome.>
The LFS said the Corys would be ok with the puffers and have yet to have any problems between them.
The lil sick puffer died shortly after I spoke to you :(
<Oh dear; sorry.>
All other fish are still happy n as alwaz begging for food every time I
walk in the room. Thanks again
<Good luck with the remaining fishes! Neale.>

re: Sick Dwarf Puffer      1/24/14
Sorry 2 more questions!
I have 1 white led light and 1 blue, is this ok for my plants or do I need to get fluorescent lights?
<Hard to say without knowing what sort of LEDs you have. As a rule of thumb, if the LEDs were part of an inexpensive aquarium set-up, they were designed merely to light up the tank. Such LEDs aren't likely to keep most plants happy, though it's definitely worth trying Java Moss and Anubias, both of which can get by on remarkably little light and *still* thrive.
LEDs designed to grow aquarium plants are usually quite expensive, typically upwards of $100 even for a relatively short strip of lights.>
Also 1 of my puffers has gone quite light on its back but with 2 orange stripes down the sides of its belly and at the base of its fins. It still has a very good appetite and is very active.
At the moment I have no idea what sex I have as their all juveniles.
<There are lookalike species of Dwarf Puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus and Carinotetraodon imitator) as well as differences between males and females, so you can expect some variation in appearance. Cheers, Neale.>

Dwarf Puffer - Died     5/24/13
Yesterday one of my dwarf puffers appeared very bloated and wasn't at all active, this morning the puffer fish has died.
On close inspection, one side of the puffer fish is red and it looks very large and swollen.
My tank is 180L and I have (had) 2 dwarf puffers and 3 Otos.
<Well... there is some overlap twixt these fish species chemical/physical environmental ranges>
Nitrates:  40ppm straight out of tap,
<Yeeikes! I'd get/use an RO device for your potable needs>>
so using a nitrate removal filter to
Nitrates: 0 ppm
Ammonia: 0.001(from Seneye, verified as "0" with an API test kit)
Adding co2 (KH 12, bringing ph down to 7.2) - controlled via a PH controller. PH verified with Seneye
My other dwarf puffer appears fine.
<Mmm, mysterious>

This was really unexpected and happened very quickly within the space of 48 hours.
Do you have any idea what could have caused this?
<Likely "something internal"... These puffers often have lumenal parasite issues. I so wish the trade would prophylactically treat all imports w/ Metronidazole and an anthelminthic (Likely Praziquantel)... Do read re these medications on WWM>
<Sorry for your loss, and thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Dwarf Puffers - gill movement    3/20/13
I have 2 dwarf puffers and 3 Otos in a 180L tanks - heavily planted.
I've recently noticed that both puffers seem to exhibit rapid gill movement, this is more pronounced during feeding, but not isolated to feeding time.
<Likely feeding is when they're most active, hence gills move more quickly than other times.>
I've posted this on numerous forums but unfortunately, I've not had any luck in diagnosing the issue.
<Your best bet is ThePufferForum.com ; while this site can be a bit intimidating at times (some very strong opinions are held!) the folks there REALLY know their stuff and are usually very helpful.>
The fish "appear" ok, they don't appear to exhibit any other symptoms. They eat a mixed diet of frozen blood worms, brine shrimp and Ramshorn snails and appetite doesn't seem to be effected and they are always exploring their environment - they are very active.
A video of the gill movement  can be seen below. This has been ongoing for about 2 months.
As an aside, In the video, her movement may look strange and in some forums where I have posted this, its become the focus of the diagnosis. Some have commented on the fin curling, but this seems to be normal behaviour when they are checking out snails - adding a snail right next to the glass was the only way I could get a good video where the gill movement can be seen clearly.
I'm going to provide as much detail as I can here in the hope that this sheds some light on the situation:
Water Parameters
Nitrates:  40ppm straight out of tap, so using a nitrate removal filter to bring this down to 0 before adding to my tank(not RO, just a nitrate remover)
Ammonia: 0.001(from seneye, verified as "0" with an API test kit)
Adding co2 (KH 12, bringing ph down to 7.2) - controlled via a PH controller. PH verified with seneye
<All sounds fine, though CO2 is something to approach with caution. Try switching it off for a week or two and see what happens. Shouldn't affect the plants. Why do this? Because using CO2 causes relatively rapid pH changes and to some degree displaces other dissolved gases, including oxygen. So let's tick this possibility off the list by removing additional CO2 and seeing what happens. If, after a week or two, the Puffer still acts oddly, then this isn't likely a factor.>
What I add to the tank:
I perform weekly 25-30% water changes, water is prepared 1 night before and I add SeaChem prime
I add Neutro+ as a daily fertiliser and have recently started adding sachem excel (problem was exhibited before this though)
Thank you in advance and I appreciate any advice you can provide.
<Velvet is the classic "gills first" parasite, though there are others.
Treating with salt as per Velvet and Whitespot wouldn't be a bad idea, especially given that Pufferfish, including Dwarf Puffers, have a very high tolerance for salt so the risk of harm is zero (your Otocinclus should be okay at 1-2 g/l, but keep an eye on them). Otherwise, if the fish are healthy, I'd not risk medicating with anything more harsh than salt.
Observe, optimise aquarium conditions, and keep an open mind. Cheers, Neale.>

Carinotetraodon travancoricus water changes, and MTS control     11/14/12
Hi Folks
I've been in touch recently about removing Trumpet Snails from substrate,
<Good luck on that! Easiest to replace all the substrate, and thoroughly clean the filter. Even then, expect a few to remain: remove these on sight, before the multiply.>
in preparation for a Dwarf Puffer system, and I have done a fair bit of reading on the fish now but still have some questions regarding maintenance. I can see that water changes are going to need to be about 50% per week.
<Or thereabouts. In very small tanks, yes, 25-50% water changes per week are essential. But if you were keeping 5 specimens in a 10, 15 US gallon/37, 60 litre tank, then fewer water changes would be fine. The fact is that many people try to squeeze them into tiny tanks, and for that to work well you do need a lot of water changes.>
Ordinarily I'd never change more than 25% in one go, so would I be correct in saying that they're going to need 2 x 25% water changes per week?
<That's ideal.>
Would 1 x 50% water change be safe in occasional circumstances, e.g. if I'm going on holiday?
<Yes. You can change 90% of the water if you want, provided water temperature and water chemistry stay steady. That's the common misconception. Think about it, a fish in a river is never in the same water twice; it's always moving through "different" bits of water, so to some small degree is always being exposed to slight changes in temperature and water chemistry. So long as any changes are slight, then there's no harm changing as much water as you want. But if you can't be sure the new water has the same temperature and water chemistry as the old water, the doing small water changes (around 20-25%) ensures that any swings stay small.
Make sense?>
Also, I gather the fish have rather voracious appetites.
<Yes. Or at least, in the wild they eat a lot of indigestible material:
snail shells, insect exoskeletons, etc. They probably eat some algae too.
All this fills their stomachs so they feel full. In aquaria we give them nice meaty food which is easily digested but not very filling. It's much like humans: fibre-rich food is filling (like vegetables) while energy-rich food (like chocolate) isn't. Anyway, the puffers seem hungry because they feel hungry, even though they're getting all the energy and nutrients they need.>
Normally, if I go away for a week, I just leave my other fish to it and resume feeding when I get home. Will I need to get someone in to feed the puffers?
<Not for a week or two.>
Getting someone else feed my fish is something I'd really like to avoid as I've read far too many horror stories.
<For sure.>
The system is planned as follows, just in case there's anything I've misunderstood:
A 60 litre tank (c. 2'x1'x1') with sand substrate and lots of  thin, root-like, bog wood. Heavily planted with what is likely to be Limnophila sessiliflora (both floating and rooted), Amazon Swords and Vallisneria sp. Filtration will be provided by a 600 litres per hour internal filter with a spray bar angled at the glass and temperature will be around 26C. I'm planning 5 puffers, hopefully more females than males, and the LFS has indicated they should be able to help me out if I end up with a bad ratio.
<Sounds good.>
My tap water is usually pH 6.8-7.0 and very soft. I'm planning to get a hardness test kit to make sure I'm over 5dH, attenuating with Rift Valley salt mix if necessary.
<Again, sounds fine. These puffers are very adaptable. I'd leave water chemistry alone unless you find pH drops significantly between water changes, but by default, aiming for around 10 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5 is ideal.>
Feeding will be twice daily with frozen tropical fish foods, initially, until I can figure out what is pet fish friendly in the frozen fish part of the local supermarket. I've got a little Ramshorn Snail farm going in a 12 litre tank for them too and will feed the fish very small ones. I know someone with Clown Loaches, so if I get an excess of large snails in the farm I can give them to her.
<Sounds good.>
Hopefully my research, both here and elsewhere, is complete but it would be great if you could cast your eye over it and also give me some advice on my initial questions. I'm probably over-complicating things as usual but I'd rather ask first than send you a panicked "Help my puffers are dying" email.
<Sounds to me you're planning ahead.>
Thanks, I really appreciate you giving your time to help me out.
By the way, if it is Sabrina that picks this up, I chose to freeze the substrate for four days since someone told me they had tried boiling with no success. I'm on day three now, but if it works, I'll report back. It might be of use to someone else in the future.
<Will post this on the WWM Daily FAQ and let Sabrina know it's there.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Carinotetraodon travancoricus water changes    11/19/12

Hi Neale
Thanks for your answers and your reassurance. I'm ready to start setting up the system now that the last few pieces of the jigsaw are in place. I think this setup is going to be a brilliant experience, so thank you for helping me to realise it.
<Real good. Much written about these puffers online, but they are basically easy to keep provided the aquarium is fully cycled before they're introduced. You can use Cherry or Amano shrimps for that, if you don't have mature aquarium filter medium lying about. Cheers, Neale.>

Dwarf Puffers and MTS (and filter bacteria)
Dwarf Puffers and Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Sabrina's Old Nemesis!) - 10/31/2012

Hi Folks
<Hi, Gord! Wait. Gord? You again?! Just kidding. Didn't realize this was from you until I just now scrolled down to take a look to see to whom I should be saying hi. I just happen to have a soft spot in my heart for eliminating Malaysian Trumpet Snails.>
I'm planning a Dwarf Puffer setup in a 60 litre tank
that currently holds a pair of Lamprologus ocellatus with a sand substrate.
The N. ocellatus will be going to a new home at the weekend. I had introduced Malaysian Trumpet Snails (MTS) into the tank,
<Nooooooooooooo! Malaysian Trumpet Snails.... My old nemesis! Every time someone says, with an innocent tone, "I added some trumpet snails!" a piece of my soul cries.>
since I'd read they keep the sand aerated and I have positively encouraged them to thrive.
<.... I have nothing good to say here. I'm trying. See, I do know people actually seek them out intentionally, and add them to tanks, but.... I just can't wrap my brain around it. THEY'RE EVIL. Complete with little pointy beards and moustaches, and maniacal laughter. Not kidding, listen closely to your substrate. They're laughing at you *right now*.>
However I also read that puffers can damage their teeth on MTS.
<I wouldn't be surprised. And these little trapdoor devils can thwart puffers, too. I only know one fish that can definitely dispose of them.>
I'd like to use the same substrate for the puffers but I think I need to get rid of the MTS to do so (please correct me if I'm wrong).
<I would get rid of them, but for other reasons. Your reason, however, is reasonable, too.>
My options as I see it so far:
1: Dump some molluscicide (copper?) or bleach in there and wait a month for decay to complete. Wash substrate and tank.
<DON'T do this. Trumpet snails may survive it, for one, and for another, the copper that leaches into your substrate may release at some time in the future - and your puffers are very sensitive to copper. Don't do this; it's not worth it.>
2: Starve them. Don't feed the tank for a few months.
<Won't work. Evil doesn't need to eat. Okay, the snails *do* need to eat, but there's plenty for them, whether you feed them or not. Even if only one of these livebearing nightmares survives, you'll soon be repopulated.>
3: Sieve the whole substrate.
<Won't work. Newly born baby snails will still make it through. And they grow up to be evil.>
4. Dump the substrate and start again.
<An excellent option. But there are others.>
5. You tell me I don't have to get rid of the MTS, I celebrate.
<Well, you could do this. But I think you're not unreasonable for being concerned for the puffers' well-being.>
Obviously I'd rather go for option 3 since it doesn't involve decaying organisms in the substrate but I don't know what size the newborns are and whether they would pass through the sieve.
<They will.>
I have a feeling option 5 isn't going to happen.
<That's up to you, and how risky you feel it is. I, personally, for just the reason of the puffers' teeth, would probably eliminate them.>
Any guidance on this would be most welcome. I feel bad asking since there's already so much on ridding tanks of snails on WWM but I'm in a (to me) fairly unique position of being able to do it without any livestock in the tank and have an opportunity to break the system down if necessary. I'm not trying to get rid of an outbreak but a deliberately cultivated population.
<That concept still makes me cringe. Anyhow, you have a couple of other options. One of them stinks, literally, and one of them involves Botia striata. I have seen, firsthand in my own tank, Botia striata suck Malaysian Trumpets out of their shells with no problems at all. It's like the trapdoor isn't even there; they just knock the snail over and suck, and it's empty. I don't know how successful other Botia would be at this, but B. striata are a dream come true. They're also super cute. Try 'em, you'll like 'em! The smellier option a buddy of mine tried with success.
It's less than ideal, if you ask me - even cruel, perhaps - but it works.
Microwave the substrate. He did his in microwave-safe casserole dishes for an extraordinarily long time, and said the smell was appalling. But he was giddy with glee to have gotten rid of the little soul-sucking demons. Just don't miss a single pebble, nuke it all. Or just get a little school of B. striata. Oh, and drying the substrate out - for months - won't work. Been there, tried that. They just shut their little shells and nap, only to wake up and laugh when they're wet again. Why do I hate these snails so, so much, you might ask? They are really, really good at growing to a huge population and eating every speck of anything in the tank. Folks say they won't eat plants, but after they eat everything else, they most certainly do. And when they get to that point, they're like lawnmowers. First it's any decaying bits (they really don't take the live parts until last), but eventually, they just plow through everything. And have you ever seen, just after lights-out, how the substrate starts to crawl, and then they march up the sides of the tank like they're coming to take over the world?
Also, while I'm writing, can I clarify a concept that's been bugging me for a while?
<I'll try. No promises!>
To my mind, if I remove all of the livestock from a cycled tank and the bacteria is no longer being fed, it will START to die off,
and release the nutrients it held back into the water column. If this happens then there will be ammonia present from the decay and the remaining bacteria will eat that, grow and die again when it completes, so the system should stay cycled, albeit to a lesser degree.
<Yes, to a lesser and lesser degree over time, until a balance is struck.>
Would this equilibrium occur?
<Yeah, basically.>
It's relevant if I need to fallow this system to get rid of the snails.
<Still won't work. So sorry.>
I can't thank you enough for your help and resources. You've taken a guy that didn't even know what cycling was to overcomplicating it with questions like that!
<Haha! Isn't life, and learning, just wonderful?? So glad to have added to your life in this way.... and for you to have added to all of ours, and our readers'!>
I've also managed to do about 4 hours reading on Dwarf Puffers long before I've even set up the system, thanks to the influence and hard work of the Crew.
<Wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you, Gord, for your very fun questions, and for your kindness and encouragement.>
<Best wishes to you always, -Sabrina>
Dwarf Puffers and Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Sabrina's Old Nemesis!) - II 11/04/2012

Hi Sabrina
<Hi, Gord!>
Yes, me again! I'm like a bad penny. Thanks for a very entertaining email. I read that over my morning tea and you had me in stitches. It really set me up for the day.
<Hah!  I'm glad.>
I can only assume that you don't like Trumpet Snails then?
<Can't imagine where you got that idea!  *grin*>
Given what you've just told me, I'm not too sure I like them now either and it's not because of their evil laughter and pointy beards! Eat my plants? No way!
<Many/most folks will claim otherwise, but I've seen it firsthand.  They do eat any/everything else first, but as they grow too populous for the tank, they'll take down plants too.>
The worst thing is I put 4 into my community tank (60 litre, Barbs and Tetras) a week ago when I decided to conserve some Trumpet Snails for future use. I feel it might be time to go on a snail squashing spree and give the Barbs a little extra protein.
<My opinion is that trumpet snails aren't for my tanks.  Your mileage may vary.>
I'd be hesitant to take on life purely to rid a tank of a pest,
<Botia striata really are a wonderful fish, if you've got the room for a small school.  Quite a delightful little loach.>
so that leaves me with your buddy’s nuclear winter idea for the puffer tank.
I might go for a different take on this, though, and boil the substrate then sieve out the bodies. Unless these super-snails are immune to 100C water, that is! To my mind, it shouldn't be any different to cooking whelks. I wonder if you can eat Trumpet Snails? I have some quite big ones (kidding). 
<Mmmm, tasty....  Or not....  Wait 'til you smell 'em.  DO NOT do this if you have a significant other in the house, or if family is going to visit.  Trust me.>
Anyway, thanks. I think I have a way forward that doesn't involve too much hassle now. 
<Good luck!  I, personally, prefer the loach option, as for some reason I can't bring myself to kill things in one way if I think there's a "better" way, and for something to become a meal is, in some messed-up way, "better" in my mind.  It's an odd quirk.  I don't even kill spiders in my own home.  I guess I'm a pretty weird case.>
Thanks for clearing up the filter bacteria issue. It made sense to me that equilibrium would be reached, but often I think that there might be something I've overlooked in an aquarium setting.
<Seems like you're a pretty sensible guy, Gord.>
It is useful to know since I don't like moving fish just to keep feeding a filter, nor do I like feeding empty tanks.
<Feeding the empty tank just keeps a higher load of "waste" - mimicking having fish in the tank, basically, so that there will remain a greater amount of nitrifying bacteria.  Nothing wrong with doing that.  If you don't, and the tank is left alone, it just means being slow and careful when you add fish again.  No biggee either way.>
<Best wishes again and always,  -Sabrina>

male dwarf puffer chasing female 7/10/12
I have two female and one male dwarf puffers in a densely planted 20 gallon.  They started breeding regularly about a month ago, and for the last few weeks the male has become very aggressive with one of the females.
<What they do. The males guard the eggs, and will do their best to remove females from the nesting area. Breaking up lines-of-sight can help. A mirror near the nesting site might distract him further, if he thinks it's another male, but use this trick sparingly, as it can exhaust fish if they have to threaten their reflections for hours at a time.>
In the morning they seem calm, in the afternoon the female is often hiding, looking terrified, or being chased very aggressively by the male. 
Sometimes later in the day they are breeding, it seems she eventually submits.  It isn't very fun to watch this behavior and I wonder if I should separate the female.
<Yes, if she shows any sign of damage, such as fin damage or circular marks on the body. Also move her if she's oddly coloured, unusually shy, or doesn't feed.>
The other female hides and shows paler color (maybe because its subordinate to the other female), it is healthy and doesn't look stressed, just seems to be usually ignored by the male in favor of the other female.  There is a young puffer that survived to get big enough not to hide from the other puffers, it looks like it will probably be a female which should help distract from the other that is getting bullied.
Is this probably a case of puffer behavior comparable to when they start fin nipping and never stop, with this male probably never going to leave this female alone?
<Hard to say.>
I usually don't hear reports of this kind of harassment with dwarf puffers, just that the males won't tolerate each other.  Should I remove the male or female from this tank, temporarily or permanently?  Thanks.
<See above. Would observe for now, but be aware of the possible outcomes, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Carinotetraodon travancorius sick     6/4/12
Good Morning,
<Hello Catherine,>
Please could you give me some advice regarding my lovely dwarf puffer?
<For sure.>
Some background info on the tank; 35L BiUbe,
<A bad aquarium, full stop, and the wrong size and shape for these pufferfish.>
ammonia 0.25 despite daily 20% water changes (50% change three days  ago, but not sure if it's making things worse, will get to that..),
<The problem here is the BiOrb family of aquaria, including the BiUbe, have a poor surface area to volume ratio, and this means there's not much undergravel filter given the amount of water that needs processing. Net result, good water quality is extremely difficult to maintain.>
nitrate 0, nitrite 0, pH7 (using API liquid test kit), temp 26C. The tank is planted with Amazon sword/java fern/Anubias nana/java moss, on rock and bogwood purchased from lfs.
I introduced three of these little guys about 4 weeks ago, fed twice daily with frozen bloodworm defrosted in tank water prior to feeding with tweezers (about 5 worms each at each meal). 
<Bloodworms aren't a good staple food, and (arguably) aren't a safe food either. You'd be better off with demonstrably safe foods, such as enriched frozen brine shrimp and small pieces of cockle and white fish fillet.>
A fortnight ago I went on a short holiday and left the fish with a pet sitter, I returned to two dead puffers, I was very surprised as they'd appeared very healthy and happy in their tank. The pet sitter told me one had a 'cotton wool' like appearance.
<Fungus, but could be post mortem just as easily as being the thing that killed them.>
I tested the water at that time (10 days ago) and had the above parameters, on the advice of my lfs stopped feeding for a couple of days with a 20% daily water change.
There was no improvement in ammonia after a week so 3 days ago I did a 50% change and filter change. There is still no improvement in water quality. I use a dechlorinator with aloe and 'Pure' bacterial balls plus a weekly plant fertiliser 'Ferropol'.
<In turn these are good, pointless, and probably needing to be used sparingly given your plants are all slow-growing types (the Amazon Sword won't last long under the pokey lights in BiOrb tanks, so treat as disposable and focus on the plants that have a reasonably chance of growing, the Anubias, Java moss and Java fern).>
For the last week my remaining puffer has looked well, been active and eating, however yesterday developed very glazed eyes, a shrunken belly and tucked tail fin, he was obviously distressed sitting on leaves at the bottom, this deterioration happened suddenly, within a few hours and I was sure he was going to die.
<I'd concur.>
However this morning he's bright eyed, active and eating again, with a nice round stomach.
I have a horrid feeling this pattern may repeat if I don't get to the bottom of the cause.
I worry it's the ammonia, in which case what else should I be doing to improve water quality?
<Reduce feeding amount overall; divide meals up across the day so there's very little in the tank at any one time; remove uneaten food promptly; maintain the built-in filter to the highest standards, e.g., with weekly rinses and removal of junk like carbon with more useful biological media;
and if possible upgrade the existing filter or add another.>
He did have very grey skin yesterday and what looked like a fluffy white patch on his head, and the smallest white dots on his body, barely visible to the naked eye. These have improved today.
<Very good.>
I'm so sorry for the long email, I'm very inexperienced and desperately want to do the best for my little fish,
<I'm sure this is true. However, you've chosen a relatively difficult species to begin with (not intrinsically delicate, but demanding) and the aquarium you have is one of the worst possible designs for beginners (expensive yet unable to hold as nearly as many fish as its volume might suggest). A "dream" set up for your first Dwarf Puffers would be a low, rectangular aquarium around 35-45 litres/8-10 Imperial gallons; a good but simple internal canister like the Eheim AquaBall or else a large sponge filter and air pump; a heater; sufficient lighting to see the fish and 1-1.5 watts/gallon if you wanted a few shade-tolerant plants; and lots of lava rock onto which you could tie Java fern, Java moss, and Anubias if you wanted to. You'd have only just enough sand to cover the glass (all three of those plants are shade-tolerant epiphytes) and maybe some ceramic ornaments to provide additional interest to the tank. All of this would well under what you likely paid for the BiUbe 35-litre system.>
so thought if I gave the entire background you could pick out the parts that are actually relevant.
Many thanks in advance for your advice,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Dwarf puffer compatability.    7/1/10
Hello WWM crew.
I am just inquiring about compatibility regarding Dwarf puffers. I have read the info on WWM about them and I fell in love with them.
<Many do. Can't say I like them as much as the larger Carinotetraodon, but even a bad puffer is still a good fish!>
I decided to acquire a single individual for my extremely unpopulated "fish wise" 10 gallon freshwater setup as it is Extremely infested with snails and there is only one other fish in the whole tank.
<This other fish will almost certainly need rehoming. Dwarf Puffers are best kept in groups ON THEIR OWN. They mix poorly with other fish.>
The other fish is a four inch long golden dojo loach.
<A schooling species that needs rather more space than this tank; plus, it's a COLDWATER not a tropical fish. Likely very unhappy here.>
So far the dojo loach ignores the puffer entirely and the Puffer, Just under an inch in length is very shy and Ignores the loach in return.
<Won't last.>
The dojo loach is an interesting animal, it seems to ether be swimming frantically in a eel like fashion or remaining entirely motionless.
<It's deeply unhappy.>
I'm just wondering if the little puffer may get brave and start to try and nip the long, dragonic looking loach or is this a sufficiently large enough animal to make the diminutive dwarf think twice?
<Will be nipped eventually, yes.>
Additionally, are the snails going to be sufficient to sustain this fish or should other foods be considered such as Tubifex?
<No, not adequate on their own. He will also need a mix of foods: live brine shrimp, daphnia, frozen bloodworms, some finely chopped seafood, etc.>
He is Truly a tiny thing right now and I've already caught him harassing snails bigger than his head.
<The problem is if he can't eat the whole snail, what's left rots. And a rotting snail is a source of ammonia, and that in turn raises the nitrate level. Puffers are somewhat intolerant of nitrate, so they really do need clean, well-maintained aquaria.>
The snails in question are of the type commonly found hitch hiking on live plants, "roughly pea sized" some smaller some bigger and they reproduce extremely fast. They have Semi translucent brownish shells which are symmetrical "no cone shape" for the longest time I was trying to exterminate them but I have since opted to try and use them as a natural food source.
<Sound like Planorbidae, what we call "Ramshorn snails", of which there are many species, some tiny, some quite big. In any case, snail populations are rarely controlled by adding predators alone. You really must control the amount of food in the tank. If you have a snail plague, by definition you ALSO have a dirty aquarium with too much food for them, whether uneaten fish food, faeces, algae, or whatever. Review tank cleaning, feeding, filtration. Snail populations drop when tanks are kept clean. Think about it: snails turn protein into more snails. They can't reproduce if there's nothing for them to eat. It's like when someone is fat but insists all they eat is fruit and muesli. Nope, they're lying, and they're eating something else as well! Likewise here, if you have too many snails, you also have stuff there for them to eat, and the fix depends on removing that food source rather than adding YET MORE animals to the system (and therefore yet more fish food for the snails to devour).>
And help would be greatly appreciated. Cheers!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dwarf puffer compatability.    7/1/10
Thanks for the quick reply. And the word of warning.
<No problem.>
I have some other tanks I can setup. Is it true the Dojos like fine sediment? I will move him asap.
<Yes, they like smooth silica sand. They don't like abrasive sands though, e.g., Tahitian Moon Sand.>
Frozen blood worm and bits of shrimp should be easy to get, I've got a place that supplies both of those things nearby.
<Do be careful with shrimp. It contains thiaminase, so should be used sparingly.>
I will also be vacuuming the sediment. later after I solve the snail issue I will restock it with something else.
So, since I will be moving the loach are their any suitable tank mates for this beastie?
<For whom, the loach? Weather loaches get along well with each other, plus other peaceful coldwater/subtropical fish: Goldfish, Bitterling, Rosy Barbs, etc.>
I keep reading that Males seem to tolerate of females but not other males.
I mention this just because with a single almost pea sized and quite shy puffer in there the tank looks uninhabited. If not, I may consider moving him to yet another system, "I've got allot of extra tanks"
<Dwarf Puffers generally work fine in groups, allowing 2-3 gallons per specimen, and yes, with females outnumbering the males. The important thing is that the aquarium has lots of bogwood or lava rock to break up the lines of sight, since the Dwarf Puffer males are very much "out of sight, out of mind". Tankmates for Dwarf Puffers are few. Some (but not universal) success has been had with Otocinclus catfish, but these are difficult to keep and require very good water quality, lots of oxygen, and a constant supply of green algae. Their mortality rate in captivity is extremely high.
Shrimps sometimes work well, and since Cherry Shrimps are cheap and colourful, they're certainly worth a try. But the bottom line is that Dwarf Puffers are best kept alone.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Irrubesco Puffer dorsal fin turning white 6/6/09
Hi again. I have an irrubesco puffer female and her dorsal fin started turning white.
<Likely Finrot and/or Fungus; treat accordingly. Avoid make-believe medications such as tea-tree oil (Melafix for example) or salt; instead use medications that actually work. In the UK and Europe, I'd recommend eSHa 2000, and have used this on precisely this species of puffer, so can vouch for its safety.>
It kind of looked like she got it bit and i had recently added a territorial parrot fish that i have now quarantined away.
<Carinotetraodon irrubesco is a small, gentle species that shouldn't be combined with aggressive fish.>
i have looked at her and it seems like it might have gotten worse so I'm wondering if it's something else, some sort of disease. I'm having trouble clearing up my water at the moment it seems a bit green and murky I'm looking into how to fix that but any suggestions are welcome. Basically what can this be and how can i
treat it or help her? also i have a jack Dempsey that's 'gasping' like a goldfish, could they be related issues?
<The JD isn't in the same tank, is it? That would be totally wrong! In any case, when cichlids "gasp" it is usually a good sign that the water quality is poor and/or the water chemistry isn't acceptable. Just to recap the needs of JDs, you want 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, less than 20 mg/l nitrate, a hardness around 10-20 degrees dH, and a pH around 7.5 to 8.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Irrubesco Puffer dorsal fin turning white 6/7/09

The only I'm worried about now is that i live in the United States and I've never seen eSHa here.
<Seemingly only sold in the EU; nothing really remarkable about it in terms of ingredients: contains Rivanol, Proflavin and copper. Medications available in the US that should work include Seachem NeoPlex, Seachem Sulfathiazole, Seachem ParaGuard and Seachem PolyGuard. Most/all of these need to have carbon removed before use. Follow the instructions carefully, and be aware that puffers often reacted badly to medications, so be sure and up aeration/circulation before use, and keep an eye out for negative
reactions such as gasping. That said, the medications listed here are safe for marine fish, which include many species at least as sensitive as puffers.>
what would be a good backup or where can i get something like what you're talking about.
<Cheers, Neale.>

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

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

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

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

Dear Sir, I have 2 Freshwater Dwarf Puffer Fish. I am considering Freshwater Stingrays. Will they co-habitate?  2/4/08 Thank you in advance for your time. Sincerely Debbie <Hello Debbie. No, these species will not coexist. If you don't mind me sounding like a rude clerk in an expensive jewellery store, if you need to ask, you probably shouldn't be keeping freshwater Stingrays just yet. In all honesty, these are incredibly difficult fish to look after. They need huge tanks (bottom of the tank needs to be something like 90 cm by 200 cm, capacity upwards of 200 gallons). They need perfect water quality. Not good water quality, not excellent water quality, but perfect water quality. You can't let them get sick because most medications we use for things like whitespot will simply kill them outright. Almost all people who buy stingrays end up with dead fish sooner rather than later. So please do be very careful before making this step: there are some excellent Stingray books out there, and you absolutely must buy and read one of them from cover to cover before even thinking about buying the fish itself. Good luck! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Question If you Please... Puffer comp... Dwarf FW... ?   2/4/08 My husband has had a large selection of fish most of his life including bat rays <<? Myliobatids? Not likely... perhaps FW... Potamotrygonids... RMF>>  in a 500 gallon tank. I am just getting started, and although my husband is very helpful, ( and yes he said they are very hard to keep also) I was wondering if you know what kind of fish to mix with puffers. My husband wasn't much help with the rays since he raised them in there own tank many years ago. The puffers were purchased to save them from an untimely demise at the hands of some fish hacks, they are doing very well, but know I have the problem of what now? Do you have any suggestions? <Dwarf Puffers -- Carinotetraodon travancoricus -- are not good community fish. They are confirmed fin nippers, and despite their small size, aggressively territorial. They are best kept alone or in groups, where each specimen is set aside about 20 litres/5 US gallons of space. In a tank filled with rocks and plants, groups can work quite well. Some people have mixed them with Otocinclus spp. catfish and medium-sized shrimps such as Amano shrimps, so that's an option too. Otherwise, Dwarf Puffers aren't really worth mixing with anything else. Cheers, Neale.>

Dwarf Puffer/Polypterus Compatibility   2/3/08 What a wonderful site you have! I learned so much from browsing! Y'all are doing a wonderful thing! <Thanks.> I'm not new with aquariums but I am expanding my knowledge base and experience. Do you think a single dwarf puffer would get along in a thickly planted cave-filled 55-gallon tank with one of the smaller species of Polypterus? <Absolutely not. Dwarf Puffers -- if by that you mean Carinotetraodon travancoricus -- are persistent fin-nippers. Bichirs are easily targeted by fin-nippers because they are slow, clumsy, and rather docile. The other day I came across a retailer with some Polypterus senegalus with various Mbuna cichlids, and the poor bichirs had their fins bitten down to the bone. On the other hand, an adult Bichir might simply view a small puffer as food, with unfortunately consequences for both. Don't do it!> I plan to have ghost shrimp, Asian clams, the ubiquitous snail, and not much else. If the puffer will eat pieces of the Polypterus, then I'll just have to give him his own tank and put somebody else with the Polypterus. <Indeed.> And can the puffer eat Asian clams or are their shells too hard? <Puffers might not eat the clams outright, but they will attack the siphons, which would equally certainly assure the death of the clam. Besides, Asian clams -- Corbicula fluminea -- are extremely difficult to maintain in anything other than an aquarium set up to their specific needs. They AREN'T scavengers and the THEY WILL NOT survive just by taking "stuff" out of the water. They need feeding every day with some sort of filter feeder food of the type used for corals and the like. In 99.999999% of the cases where people buy these clams, they're dead in a few months. Sure, they die slowly, but die they do.> Not that I drink too much or anything, but people who drink too much alcohol and want to cut back might find that the aquarium addiction is SOOOOOOO fun ... my beer goes flat because I'm talking to all my creatures. <Indeed?> Thank you for any advice you can offer. Take care -- Randi in Ohio <Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Dwarf Puffer 11/23/07 Hi, I recently bought a 1/2 inch dwarf puffer to kill off the bazillion snails that are taking over my guppy tank (5 adult guppies/10 gallons). I removed the guppies, heated the tank to 80 Fahrenheit, and made sure it was ammonia-free. But rather than doing some snail extermination, the little guy has just been laying in the sand with his tail curled since I bought him two days ago. He jumps up a few inches whenever a snail tries crawling on him, but then he spirals back down. I don't know what to do. I'm hoping you might help...otherwise, I'll have to exchange the poor little guy. Thanks, Jessica <Hello Jessica. Pufferfish are basically hardy animals provided their twin needs for correct water chemistry and good water quality are met. So the things to check here are water chemistry and water quality. Dwarf Puffers -- Carinotetraodon travancoricus -- are freshwater puffers that appreciate pH 6.0-8.0 and moderate hardness. Water quality must be good: zero ammonia, zero nitrite, and nitrates less than 20 mg/l. Water changes need to be around 50% per week. Your water temperature is a bit too high: aim for 25C/77F. As water temperature goes up, oxygen content goes down, and pufferfish are intolerant of stagnant water. Pufferfish need a varied diet, not just snail. Bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia and even small amounts of plant material are required (in planted tanks they will take bits out of the leaves occasionally, but otherwise supply things like tinned peas). Now, talking of snails... pufferfishes aren't the solution here. Snails turn excess organic matter into more snails. It's a simple equation. If you put too much food into the tank, or take too little organic detritus out, the snails will eat that surplus and make more snails. If there isn't anything for the snails to eat, they obviously can't multiply themselves (contrary to popular misconception, snails don't magically break the laws of physics and make baby snails out of nothing!). So anyone who confesses to a plague of snails is actually saying they overfeed their fish and don't clean their fish tank out properly once a week. Denying this is akin to a fat person saying they don't eat that much. If they ate the right amount, they wouldn't be fat! Likewise, if you control the amount of food going into a tank and remove organic wastes from the tank regularly, the snails won't breed rapidly. In a balanced tank the snails can only eat algae, and that might allow them to survive, but not much more, so you end up with a steady, small population of them you can remove by hand if need be. Cheers, Neale.>

My fish... Mis-mixes... FW dis. issues  11/23/07 Hi WWM crew I have 5 fish tanks at the moment all freshwater. I had 4 but I had to buy a new one because my big convict cichlid was picking on the littler one. Was this a waste because I could have put my little convict in (1.5 inch) with my grey bichir but I decided since my grey bichir (4 inches) is my favorite. could I still mix them and have an extra tank? or should I just leave them be. Also on my goldfish I noticed a black spot on his fin is this bad or should I just ignore it? Thanks for all of your help. <Ave! Mixing a female Convict cichlid with Polypterus senegalus could be possible, though it would depend on the temperament of the two fish. An aggressive Convict could harass the Bichir. Polypterus senegalus is a very mild-mannered species that does best in quiet aquaria. A couple of days ago I visited an aquarium store in London where the retailers had mixed Polypterus senegalus with a variety of Mbuna; the result was that most of the Polypterus senegalus had their pectoral fins nipped right down to the bone. Very nasty. So, in a biggish sort of tank (at least 30 gallons) with plenty of hiding places for both fish, I'd try it out and see what happens. A female Convict will probably be fine with the Bichir. As for the black spots on the Goldfish, these could well be Black Spot, a relatively uncommon disease that is caused by larval flukes. Normally the infection clears up by itself and causes no problems to the fish. So for now, just keep an eye on things. If you notice a large increase in the number of black spots, that would be more serious, and you should then treat with an anti-helminth of some sort. Jungle Labs 'Gold Care Parasite Care' is said to treat Black Spot Disease, and there may be others. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Dwarf Puffer  11/24/07 Hi again, <Greetings!> Thanks for the advice, but water quality wasn't the problem. I vacuum out around 10% every week and use carbon and Zeolite in my filter. I'll replace 50% now, as you suggested. I double checked the water--nitrates/nitrites, ammonia, pH, hardness, and chlorine/chloramine content are all safe. Since you mentioned ammonia being a serious threat to dwarf puffers, I purchased a detector that hangs inside the tank. I lowered the temperature to 77, too. <OK. Removing 10% per week is completely inadequate even for generic fish, let alone puffers. So I find it hard to imagine the nitrate levels were low. Carbon is useless in this sort of tank and so is Zeolite, so remove those and replace them with more biological media. To cut a long story short, carbon removes things water changes dilute anyway, and Zeolite removes ammonia which is being used up by the filter bacteria more efficiently. So neither does any good. Their main purpose is to remove money from the pockets of less experienced fishkeepers. Simple as that.> I admit I was definitely overfeeding the guppies for a while to ensure that their fry got enough food near whatever rocks they were hiding under, and God only knows how much my mother gave them while I was away at school. <Hmm... overfeeding is never good.> So I decided to feed the growing snail population algae discs to make them nutritious enough for a dwarf puffer (and to get them to leave my plants alone). <Won't work. Snails will either completely ignore plants (e.g., Malayan livebearing snails and Nerites) or view them as a salad bar no matter what you feed them (e.g., Apple snails, pond snails). Putting aside extra food for your snails is simply going to cause the snails to feed and breed more rapidly.> It turns out that my puffer was killed by an unknowing pet store worker. A much more knowledgeable worker told me today that the symptoms I mentioned are from the puffer having puffed air, which is fatal, which he must have done while he was being caught and transferred to the bag. <Nope. Pufferfish are perfectly able to gulp air and puff themselves up safely. They do this when captured by terrestrial predators like water birds. It certainly isn't fatal! What sometimes happens is they can't deflate themselves. This doesn't kill them directly, but means the fish can't stay underwater, and its gills dry out, and it suffocates. So unless the Pufferfish was floating upside down at the top of the tank with its belly out of the water, air wasn't the problem, and I have no idea where that store worker got that idea from. The "cure" when puffers do this, by the way, is to hold them head-upwards by the tail so the air can bubble out. This problem is exceedingly rare. Almost all, REPEAT, ALMOST ALL, pufferfish deaths in captivity are caused by improper water chemistry and/or water quality. They are otherwise extremely robust and easy to keep animals. So please, make sure you do large, regular water changes using a good dechlorinator and, in summer, if it gets too warm provide extra aeration to prevent the water becoming stagnant.> I received an exchange puffer, and this little guy is having all sorts of fun chasing snails and a couple fry that I had missed when I moved the guppies. Thanks for suggesting other foods for him--I ordered bloodworms and blackworms online today. <Very good. He will off course attack the Guppies, so not a good idea mixing them.> Thanks again for your help! Jess <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Dwarf Puffer  11/24/07 Hello once again, <Indeed, Hello again!> Sorry, I actually clean 20%-- two gallons out of 10. Sometimes more, when I've got an empty cat litter container I can use. I don't do the math thing very well sometimes... <I know the feeling..> So carbon and Zeolite are useless? <Not useless, but rather they have specific functions in freshwater aquaria. In the average tank, neither is essential and indeed wastes space in a filter that could be put to better use.> A few sites said that Zeolite was okay if I cannot find Bio-Spira, which I can't. <They don't do the same thing at all, so I have no idea what those sites were babbling about. Zeolite is an ammonia remover; nothing more, nothing less. You use it *instead of* biological filtration. Suppose you had an aquarium at pH 5.5 for acid-loving Apistogramma, you'd have to use Zeolite, because filter bacteria won't live at this acidity. Bio-Spira is a culture of filter bacteria used to jump-start a new aquarium's biological filter. You add it as per the instructions when setting up and (in theory at least) the tank will be near-instantly matured, read for adding fishes.> I used to have some, but all the stores in the area have stopped selling it. Do you know of a good alternative or a site for information about it? <This one, for a start. But regardless, once an aquarium has been running for more than 6 weeks, the filter bacteria will be more or less fully established. So Bio-Spira becomes completely redundant.> The point of the extra food was to make the snails breed more. Once I had decided to get a puffer, I wanted to have lots of healthy prey for him, and a forum suggested using a few of my pleco's algae discs. I know the fish will kill guppies; that's why I moved most of them. I missed a few fry, but losing two out of 30 is not a big deal. Besides, they're good food for the puffer, I hear. <They're not good food for the puffer at all. No captive pufferfish needs to eat live fish. Some people enjoy feeding live fish to their pet fish, and that's a different issue. But there are absolutely no advantages whatsoever to feeding live fish to vast majority (99.999%) of aquarium fish sold as pets. Quite the reverse in fact. In any case, the natural diet of your species of pufferfish, and indeed Carinotetraodon spp. generally, are insect larvae. If you look at their mouths, they are slightly upturned and are used for snapping up small insects they find around and among water plants.> I know that larger puffers can puff air, but every site I've gone to says that dwarf puffers will nearly always die if they do. <Some aquarium sites are great, some not so much. All I can tell you is that the writers at WWM know what they're talking about. Go look at a copy of this month's 'Tropical Fish Hobbyist' and you'll see an article by me all about freshwater pufferfish including your species and its maintenance. But let's suppose air somehow "killed" your puffer -- the symptoms would be obvious. The pufferfish would be floating upside-down with its air-inflated belly sticking outwards. Its gills would be unable to get below the waterline easily, and that's how they die, they suffocate. Unless your pufferfish did this, air wasn't the issue. End of story. Simply lifting a pufferfish out of a tank and putting it into a bag won't kill it. If the fish was swimming underwater when it arrived in your aquarium, then it hadn't inflated with air, and air wasn't the issue. So, was your fish floating upside-down or not?> Another person on here had one with the same symptoms as mine, and the helper didn't know what was wrong. I was just hoping that maybe someone else would know... <Not sure what your symptoms were. You may need to remind me. If we're talking about "the fish was kind of unhappy in my tank, it didn't eat anything, stayed at the bottom, and then died" that's almost certainly a water chemistry/water quality issue.> Maybe it's nobody's fault and he was simply stressed from being shipped to the store, stuck in a tank full of other puffers, chased by a big net, not very carefully tossed into a bag, and driven for half an hour. <Nope. That's not enough to kill this species at all. I've done far, far worse to pufferfish and they've settled down afterwards just fine. I just rescued a species about a month ago that was emaciated, had no tail-fin, and couldn't eat because its teeth were overgrown. It's fit as a fiddle now. Pufferfish are really and truly very robust animals. I'm not saying that things can't go wrong, but if you do this precisely by the numbers, there's no real difficulty keeping these fish, and they're certainly well worth keeping.> Sorry for being a nuisance and thanks again for all your help, Jess <One last thing. Do check your Dwarf Puffer actually was a Dwarf Puffer. Sometimes brackish water species -- and even marine species -- get sold as freshwater fish. The name "Dwarf Puffer" really applies to Carinotetraodon travancoricus, but sometimes a variety of other puffers get sold under this name. Different species have different requirements. When I was at university, I picked up two "Dwarf Brown Pufferfish" from a freshwater aquarium store. Imagine my surprise when I discovered these were juvenile marine pufferfish (Arothron hispidus) that grew to more than 40 cm in length! This is why experienced hobbyists sooner or later abandon common names and stick with Latin names -- it's simply so much easier! I hope this helps, Neale.>

Dwarf Puffers, gen.  10/11/07 Hello All, <Hi Eric, Pufferpunk here> I have a question in regard to Dwarf Indian puffers (C. travancoricus). For the background, I have, I'd say, an "intermediate" level of experience with fish keeping. I started out about a year ago, with fresh water fish in a 10gal (and no WWM, unfortunately). I was taught the basics by my roommate, who has had freshwater fish for years. Then, about 6 months ago I discovered saltwater fish and had a 20gal high and a 55gal marine tank. I currently have the 55 gal tank running and with much help from WWM and MUCH, MUCH reading and emailing (a few times) questions, I believe I am on the right track there. Thanks for all the help! <Glad to heat that. Successful fishkeeping is very rewarding & a joy!> My question for today is in regard to my 20gal high tank. After it was thoroughly cleaned and re-setup, I am ready for some freshwater fish. Here is the setup: 20 gal high -Aquaclear Mini Hang On Filter -Maxijet 400 powerhead -Heater -Standard fluorescent lighting <I would go with the Aquaclear 300 (or whatever they're calling it now). You won't need a powerhead for dwarf puffers--it will just blow them around.> I would like to add some Dwarf Indian puffers, as I'm a huge fan of puffers in general and these I believe, are the only strictly freshwater pufferfish that are both available at local retailers and are actually OK LONG TERM for such a small volume tank. <Actually, there are many freshwater puffers that would do fine in your 20g. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/Freshwater/ > If I do choose to add the Dwarf's, how many could I have? I have read the "1 per 3 gallon rule"... so that would be six total and hopefully 1 male and 4-5 females, correct? Or is that pushing it? It is better to keep 1/5g but if you have the tank heavily decorated (DPs love live plants & spawn readily in them), breaking up lines of sight, 1/3g (actual water volume) is fine. Your plan for a harem is good!> Also, as I know is true with Cichlids, it's best to overcrowd because the larger will pick on the smaller fish and if there are higher numbers it lessens and distributes aggression between a higher number of fish. Is the same true with the Dwarf puffers? <No, puffers are territorial & need their space.> If yes and I need to add 5 or 6 fish, how do I acclimate them? Should I add them all at once? <That is usually best.> If so, I doubt the tank will be sufficiently cycled, correct? (I could use Bio-Spira but will that be enough??) <Sure will! Add the Bio-Spira directly to your filter, right before you add the puffers.> However, I'm also aware of the downsides of adding one or two at a time. I guess my real question is, what is the lesser of two evils? <If you can really be sure of the sexes, you should add them all at once. Sexing Dwarf puffers: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/puffers-in-focus/sexing-Carinotetraodon-travancoricus-the-dwarf-puffer/ Just be prepared for the ones that don't play well with others & have an alternate plan for them. Maybe ask the LFS about the chance of exchanging them if they all don't get along or their sex isn't what you thought, when they mature.> I have read a lot about puffers on WWM and have gone to the dwarf puffer website that Pufferpunk recommends but I have yet to find an answer to this. If you have any other suggestions for this, I would really appreciate it! <Well, here you just came right to the source!> Also, I've read conflicting information on this but is sand OK for freshwater tanks, as long as it's less than 1 inch? I'd much prefer that. <A shallow sandbed is fine. I have been reading a lot of complaints lately about folks not being able it keep it clean though. Otocinclus make good dwarf puffer tank mates & may help with some of their maid service.> Thanks a lot for all the help! Eric <You're very welcome! ~PP>
Re: Dwarf Puffers, puffer sel. period  10/13/07
Hello Pufferpunk, <Hi again, Eric> Thank you very much for the help in regard to the puffers! I actually went to one (national named) LFS and saw about 5 dwarves but they were awful looking. It was a sad sight. Needless to say, I did not buy them. I can't encourage that type of care. <Congratulations for not "rescuing" those fish! I can't stress enough to folks that think they're doing the fish a favor by rescuing them, DON'T DO IT! The shop will see them as a good seller & just order more of them to be mistreated/killed, while removing them from the wild--depleting the natural population of the species.> As for the other puffers, I have read the articles/areas you suggested. I thought that the Green Spot. and the Figure Eight were brackish, no? <Correct. F8s are best kept at a SG of 1.005. GSPs prefer marine conditions as adults & are brought from low-end BW on up, throughout their growing years. I know that 1st link is confusing, as they have the BW & FW on the same page.> I really like the Tetraodon pustulatus but there's not too much info on them on the web. (Google search on WWM produced no results under the scientific name). <That IS their scientific name. Beautiful fish!> I have never seen them in any store around here either. Are these quite rare? <Good luck ever finding one & they are quite expensive. Maybe you could try & follow this thread: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=9955&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=pustulatus They also get large--the same as a fahaka puffer, about 18".> And just for some further clarification, are you suggesting that instead of my powerhead, I should instead have 2 Aquaclear HOB filters? <The AC mini will not be large enough to handle the messy habits of a puffer in a 20g. I suggested 1 larger filter.> Again, thanks a lot for your help! <Good luck on your search! Check the Pufferpedia at the link I gave you for other FW puffer ideas. ~PP> Eric

Goldfish and Dwarf Puffer Update 8/10/07 I am sorry for forwarding this, I didn't intend for these to go on the FAQs unless you want to share but I do want to make sure you get them. I am going to do a read receipt this time to make sure it gets there. Enjoy the pictures. :) <Thanks Bob!> Dear Crew, <Shellie > It has been some time since I have mailed you due to an absence of any problems. However, with all the problem posts you have, I thought it might be nice to get one telling you everything is fine. I have enclosed a picture of the tank so you can see how much they have grown! I didn't leave out Pufferpunk, there is one of Lightning as well. As you can see, he has a permanent scowl. <Those wrinkles at the beginning of his eyes means he is a male.> He never did get another friend and seems quite happy to have the whole 10 gallon to himself. You could add 2 females for him. Here is how they are sexed: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/puffers-in-focus/sexing-carinotetraodon-travancoricus-the-dwarf-puffer/> I even catch him fighting with his own reflection. <At least he keeps himself occupied!> I apologize for the algae in the picture, I need to replace the plant bulb now that I no longer have the plants. I was thrilled to see a picture of my Sara as the heading on one of your Goldfish Disease pages. <She's a star! (For all the wrong reasons...)> One last thing, Sara did finally develop pop-eye, bad Fisher kept burying him in the gravel. He is doing wonderful for now, that was some months ago. For a long time we thought his one eye would be permanently flat. As you can see, the telescoping effect finally came back. <Resilient fish. Huge weekly water changes are recommended for the messy goldfish. Serious GF keepers do 90% weekly.> I thought others that have had a problem with this might like to know that sometimes the eye does return to normal. Enjoy the fish! Shellie <Thanks for the pics! :o} ~PP>

Is it OK to feed dwarf frog tadpoles to my dwarf puffer? 7/15/07 Hi, it's me -- Betty -- <Hi Betty, it's me--Pufferpunk.> owner of dwarf frogs Slim and Chance, and also the owner of a dwarf puffer named Puff-Diddy. <I remember you!> Well, my dwarf frogs have finally mated successfully and now I'm the proud owner of lots and lots of teeny, tiny tadpoles. I don't really want any more dwarf frogs (although I do love Slim and Chance). I'm aware that they'll eat their babies if they're in the same tank, so I'm cool with that. I was wondering if I could feed some tadpoles to the dwarf puffer? Will he eat tiny tadpoles and will they be OK for him to eat? Also, could I try feeding tadpoles to Flash, my male Betta? <I don't think they would hurt but I also don't believe that would be a natural food for a puffer. I suppose they might come across tadpoles in nature. Try it & find out. Just be sure to remove any uneaten parts. ~PP><<RMF would raise the ADFs, sell them for big bongo bucks, buy frozen foods to feed the GSPs with the profits...>> Betty Williams
Re: Is it OK to feed dwarf frog tadpoles to my dwarf puffer? & Breeding Frogs   7/17/07
OK, here's a follow-up: Today I noticed the tadpoles were dead or dying, so I went ahead and gave some to my dwarf puffer, and he scarfed them down like potato chips! It was neat to watch. However, I did hope that some of the tads would survive to adulthood. I have a friend who would like a pair of frogs like mine. So I'd like to know when Slim and Chance are likely to mate again? If well conditioned and the water stays clean you have a pretty good chance of them going again.> How many times a year do dwarf frogs typically mate? < Depends on the pair and on the conditions. I am not sure but I think they can breed at least twice a year but the pair must be well feed.> I also realize I wasn't exactly prepared to raise tadpoles; I didn't have them in a heated tank, and I never could find a place that sold LiquiFry. I just crushed some Fish and Tadpole Bites and scattered them in the bowl they were in. So I'd like to be better prepared next time the blessed event occurs. Any recommendations? < Try Spirulina powder sold in health food stores. It is a powdered form of algae. Or try crushed Spirulina flake food from OSI.-Chuck>  

Ich-look-alike? Skin parasite on Dwarf Puffer -- 06/17/07 Hi Crew, I really need your help with my male dwarf puffer. First, the vitals: two dwarf puffers, heavily planted six gallon tank, one Amano shrimp tankmate. Water tests with a consistent 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites, 5 Nitrates (which is how it comes out of the tap in these parts). Weekly 30% water changes, and their diet is 80% Grindal worms that I raise on a high-quality dog biscuit and 20% snails from my large planted tank. About six weeks ago, he began developing a handful of white specks that looked to me like a classic case of ich. <These are almost certainly Cercariae...> I thought it fairly strange, since I've had him & his female tankmate seven months with no additions to the tank. But I began a heat/salt treatment right away, bringing the temp to 82 with the addition of 1/2 tsp of salt per gallon of water. After two weeks's time and no change whatsoever in the appearance of the spots, I began thinking I was mistaken. Perhaps these were just skin flaws of some kind? <Mmm, no. Please read the second, third ref. here: http://www.google.com/search?q=cercariae+on+puffers&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7PCTA> I have treated many cases of ich over the years successfully with heat & salt, and have always seen that familiar dropping off of the cysts after a few days of treatment. So I brought the heat back down and waited. A few more weeks went by with no change, and then in the course of a week the spots began to increase. I tried again, this time with the temp at 84 for two weeks. No change. Heat back down to normal. Spots are now increasing slowly but steadily. The poor boy is at least eating and remains active, but I am seeing occasional flashing so I know this is bothering him. Whatever it is, it's spreading, and I am stumped. The female is totally unaffected by the way. Any ideas? Is this some kind of ich-look-alike skin parasite? There are no visible worms, no red spots, no clues of any kind. I am in terror of using anything stronger than salt on such a sensitive fish as a DP, but the heat and salt are obviously doing nothing. I've attached a couple really poor photos which will likely be too blurry for a diagnosis of any kind but will at least give you a sense of scale and placement. Thanks in advance for your help. <Will need to use an anthelminthic... My choice? Prazi/quantel... particulars are posted on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Ich-look-alike? Skin parasite on Dwarf Puffer -- 6/19/07 > >> I really need your help with my male dwarf puffer... > >> About six weeks ago, he began developing a handful of white specks that looked to me like a classic case of ich. > > <These are almost certainly cercariae...> > >>Thanks in advance for your help. > ><Will need to use an anthelminthic... My choice? Prazi/quantel...  particulars are posted on WWM. Bob Fenner Bob, picked up PraziPro on Sunday and began treatment (bath, following label instructions). Two full days now and no change at all in the cysts. If anything he seems to be getting weaker. Recommendations? Is there anything else it could be? <Yes... and I absolutely hate this guessing... Do you have a microscope? A way to send along pix from such? BobF>

Re: Ich-look-alike? Skin parasite on Dwarf Puffer    6/20/07 >> >> I really need your help with my male dwarf puffer... >> >> About six weeks ago, he began developing a handful of white specks that >> >> looked to me like a classic case of ich. >> > <These are almost certainly cercariae...> >> >>Thanks in advance for your help. >> ><Will need to use an anthelminthic... My choice? Prazi/quantel... >> particulars are posted on WWM. Bob Fenner >Bob, picked up PraziPro on Sunday and began treatment (bath, following label instructions). Two full days now and >no change at all in the cysts. If anything he seems to be getting weaker. Recommendations? Is there anything else it could be? ><Yes... and I absolutely hate this guessing... Do you have a microscope? A way to send along pix from such? BobF> No, not anymore. Years ago I could've gotten you a lovely scanning electron micrograph. <Look into the cheapy but great QX-3 to -5 units... on the Net> What to do? Malachite dip? <No... perhaps a regimen/one-shot treatment with Flagyl/Metronidazole... but this is only speculation... starting from the more likely to be efficacious to the outright guessing... B> Thanks again.

Floating Puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus)  5/16/07 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I found my pea puffer in an odd position, floating vertically with her nose at the surface of the waterline.  I've never seen this before and she stayed like that for several hours yesterday.   <Is it possible she swallowed some air at the surface?   See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/help-my-puffer-is-air-filled/ > I didn't see her eat any bloodworms or little snails that we added to entice eating and her belly doesn't have the roundness that it usually does.  Today, she is only in the surface position intermittently and does swim around and contemplate for a few minutes before returning to that odd position.   <It is possible she could have internal parasites.> We added 3 small mollies to help with clean-up <Mollies prefer brackish water.> and completed a water/filter change as we always have over the past 2 years but no other change was made.  Do you have any ideas about what may be wrong and how we can fix it?  It is so disconcerting to watch our puffer in this one position for so long, with very little interaction or curiosity.  Thank you for any advice to help our Puffy feel better.   <If it is indeed internal parasites (Maybe brought in by the mollies) & the puffer is not eating, you can try treating with Flubenol 15: http://www.flubenol.co.uk/   You can also try enhancing appetite by soaking it's food in garlic.  If after eating again, it's still skinny, you can soak it's food in Levamisol: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7   I hope your puffer is feeling better soon!  ~PP> Puff-n-Diablo

How Many Dwarf Puffers?  5/5/07 Hi there Its me again. <Hi Lesley, Pufferpunk here.> You've been so helpful in the past, I thought I'd ask you about my latest passion. <Of course!> I have a small 30 litre tank, heavily planted with some small rocks, which has been home to a Siamese fighter for the last year. He died last week, (of old age) and I went to the LFS to get another and I saw and fell in love with the dwarf or Malabar pufferfish. Having read all the articles I could find on your site, I have a question: Could I keep 2 females and a male in this little tank. No other fish, just these three. Would they be happy bunnies? Or would they kill each other? <since the rule of thumb is 1 dwarf puffer for every 3-5 gallons, 3 would be 1 too many.  I'd go with 2 females.> Secondly, I haven't looked at the ones closely in the shop, but is it possible to sex them when they are 1/4 inch long?? I understand the boys have a brown strip on the belly and the females don't? > a soon to be published article written by one of the moderators at www.thepufferforum.com: "Male Dwarf Puffers are generally the easier gender to identify. They have several distinct features that females do not. One of the first characteristic features to appear on a maturing male Dwarf Puffer is yellow body coloring, especially on the belly and tail. Males also have 'wrinkles' around their eyes, markings that almost look like iridescent cracks in the skin surrounding the eye socket. A dark belly stripe, running from just under the chin to the anus, is another easily visible male characteristic. The male body color is often darker shades of green on the top part of the body, and the spotted markings will tend to blend into lines resembling blotchy stripes running laterally down the sides and into the tail of the puffer as it matures, instead of the random, isolated spots of a juvenile. Males will often 'display' to the females and other males, raising dorsal (topline) and ventral (belly line) crests and darkening their body colors to an olive green. Female Dwarf Puffers are less streamlined and have rounder bellies and slightly larger bodies than males. Their markings will differ with each individual fish, but often remain similar to juvenile colors and markings. The body spots are generally isolated round or irregular, in no distinct pattern. The lower body is generally white or light colored, with no belly line running down the center. Females are often less shy and more active than males, spending most of their time on the search for anything edible." HTH, PP> Many thanks. Love this site! Lesley

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

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

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

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

Feeding Juvie Dwarf Puffers   1/29/07 Hi, all!   <Hi Candice, Pufferpunk here> I've had DP in the past but they were much larger than the two that I just bought.  (I sort of saved them from the LFS who when asked if they had any and said no and then when I found them didn't know what they were). <Common> Anyway, they are about a quarter of an inch long.   <Awwww!> So I'm thinking they're relatively young.  I got some bloodworms to feed them but they don't seem to eat them as well as adult DP do.  They just kinda "chew" them and then spit them out.   <Many puffers eat this way.  They're still getting something from that.> I assume this is normal for such young puffers and I've had them about two weeks and they seem fine.  My questions is: Do you have  any suggestions on feeding them something else? Any info would be great.  Thanks, by the way, in advance. <You could try freeze-dried plankton.  You may have to crush it up  a bit to fit their tiny mouths but don't forget, they have teeth too.  You could try thawed, frozen glassworms, if anyone sells them anymore.  Check out www.thepufferforum.com, for more info.  ~PP> Candice

Puffer Care & Feeding  11/9/06 Hi, <Hi Christina, Pufferpunk here> I have a green/gold puffer that is about 3/4 of an inch long. <By your description, I am thinking it might be the green spotted puffer but it might also be a dwarf puffer.  You can look here for proper ID: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/?sid=2e4443f5da7cc80865ecbedfc44ba28e > It lives in a 29 gallon tank with 3 rasboras, 3 German rams, 1 loach, and 1 dwarf Indian Botia.  The tank is quite heavily planted and the puffer seems to spend most of its time amongst the plants. <Typical behaviour of a dwarf puffer.> I never see him eat anything, he never comes up to the surface and I worry that the other fish are eating all the food before the puffer can get any.  I never see the other fish pick on him or vice-versa.  I feed them all flakes, freeze dried brine shrimp and frozen food.  I've had the puffer for a little over a week.  Do you think he is getting enough food?  Is there something else I should feed him? <Puffers do not eat like regular tropical fish.  Here's an article on feeding puffers: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html Feel free to poke around at that forum too!  Either way, whether it's a freshwater dwarf or the brackish green spotted, puffers do not belong in a community tank & will eventually nip/bite/maim/kill your other fish  ~PP> Thanks, Christina

Dwarf Puffers, Not Eating  10/29/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I recently bought 3 dwarf puffers and they are tiny, I mean pebble size and the problem is they won't eat anything.  They chase the frozen brine shrimp and the flakes but won't eat them. Tomorrow I'm gonna go catch some snails but what should I do? I don't want them to die and also when I treat them to brine shrimp how much should I give? <Was the tank cycled before you added the puffers?  Fish (puffers especially) introduced into an uncycled tank, live in their own waste.  I know that wouldn't make ME very hungry!  Otherwise, you could try live blackworms, rinsed well.  I don't know of any healthy fish that would turn those down.  You could also try soaking food in garlic juice to increase appetite.  In addition to snails (tiny ones--as large as their eye), you could try freeze-dried plankton.  Brine shrimp isn't very nutritious (mostly water) but can be fed as an occasional treat.  Feed till their bellies are slightly rounded.  ~PP>

Deceased Dwarf Puffer-Hoping You Can Help Me Understand  8/24/06 Dear Crew, <Hi Shellie, Pufferpunk here> I was hoping I would never have to write you one of these letters but the time has come. I purchased two dwarf puffers for my son's 10-gallon tank.  Since the goldfish were in it, I have kept it cycled in order to avoid a wait time for new inhabitants. One puffer seemed full grown while the other is rather tiny. My water numbers were all within the correct ranges (sorry I cannot be more specific for you) <Always helpful to post exact numbers in a letter like this.> and there are tons of plants for them to hide among, preventing aggressions.  They were bought three days ago and the bigger one crossed to the rainbow fish tank after less than two days. <Sorry to hear that! :o{ > I have looked all over the web for what might have ailed it and cannot seem to find what might have happened. It will not bring my poor baby back but it might help me understand. I have had a lot o reassurance that he or she was sick when I got them for the fish to have died that quickly but I will always wonder if there was something I did wrong.  The larger Puffer, DJ, seemed to have two seizures early Monday afternoon. Since there are so many plants I assumed he was having trouble getting out of the spot he was in. Until later that day there were no other signs of the problems to come. That evening I noticed that his body was very stiff when he swam and his tail stayed curled. For a while he could stay afloat regardless and I still had hope. I lost the hope about the time he would head for the surface with his curled tail and then fall back down in a swirling motion due to the curl. I watched, horrified, as the poor thing laid there in the sand breathing but unable to go anywhere. Every time he tried, the same thing happened.  I prayed to whatever fish God there is and was up until two A.M. reading your site and the Dwarf Puffer forum to no avail. In the morning he was gone. Despite that being yesterday and only having him for two days, I am still very upset. As you know from my care of the goldfish and their tank, I am extremely conscientious with my tank cleaning. The little one continues to thrive but I am anxious every morning and constantly scan the tank for the tiny fish. <A couple things come to mind.  The 1st being, if you didn't completely clean out your tank after raising GF in it, there could have been some pathogens that the GF might have been carrying.  GF are very dirty fish & can carry a lot of diseases that tropical fish can't handle.  My other thought is that your puffer could have had internal parasites & come to you sick.> On another note, I have managed to get a Puffer to eat something besides live or frozen and maybe this tip will help others. He has Omega One pellets (protein), freeze-dried brine shrimp and freeze-dried bloodworms. I put a little of each in a baggie and smash it to nearly powder with a meat tenderizer. Amazingly he does eat this since it is so tiny the current swirls it like live food. I do intend to get him snails and some black worms but I wanted to let people know it is possible to get them to eat other things. <Yes, in rare cases puffers will even eat flakes!  Some of mine ate algae wafers too.  A varied diet is best for them.> I apologize that I cannot seem to send you a short post. Hopefully this is not too long and the point was not lost in the length. I hope you can help me and DJ, although he is beyond help. <No problem, I'm glad to hear your whole story & I hope you have more luck with your lil puffer (& your new one).  Check out www.thepufferforum.com, for more puffer info.  ~PP> Thank you again, Shellie
Re: Grieving the Loss of a Puffer...  8/27/06
Dear Pufferpunk, Thank you so much for your reply. I was very careful about cleaning the tank since it was for goldfish and actually had to go through quite a process to get it ready for the Puffers. I know actual numbers are best on test kits but I still have those darn strips until the first of the month. I apologize for that. I am still sad about the lost Puffer but Lightning is helping. He is definitely a delight and always curious to see what we are up to. It's hard to find him in a 10-gallon tank yet often he finds me before I find him. For now he's a lone Puff and he seems happy that way. I did purchase his black worms and frozen bloodworms yesterday with the result being a tiny pot belly. I will quit worrying about what I did wrong in the case of the bigger one and simply enjoy the little squirt. I am finally content I did everything I could and just had the bad luck to purchase a sick fish. <I'm sure you did your best.  You still have room for 2 more...  Just try to be sure you keep the 1m-2f ratio.  ~PP> Thank you, Shellie

Keeping a Puffer in an Uncycled 1G Bowl  8/16/06 Researching Puffers <Hi Steve, Pufferpunk here> I have a puffer that has been pretty cool. I did have to separate him from the rest of the fish due to his nipping. <No surprise there.  Did you do any research on this fish before buying it?> I put him into a small tank (1 Gal) and he was fine until lately he started to discolor. I am not sure if the tank had not cycled yet or maybe he has become sick. <Nothing belongs living in a 1g bowl.  You cannot cycle a tank with a puffer!  It will be poisoned by it's own waste.  In addition, even a small juvenile puffer (1") needs at LEAST a 10g tank & a 30g tank when a 6" adult.> He has now begun to look fuzzy and his color continues to darken. What will happen to him from being in a 1 gallon tank? <He will probably be dead within 24 hours.> Can he be brought back to health?? <You could buy him a larger tank TODAY (10g minimum but expect to upgrade to a 30g when he gets over 2").  You will need to add Bio-Spira to cycle the tank.  If you can't get a hold of that product, you could add into the new filter some of the filter media from your established tank to help the tank along w/a cycle.  Do 50% water changes on the tank DAILY (use a water conditioner, like Prime), while testing for ammonia, nitrites & nitrates, to see how the cycle is doing (ammonia & nitrites need to be at 0 at all times [highly toxic!], nitrates <20).  Here is an article on them: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm>  You can also go to www.thepufferforum.com & post there about your puffer.  I really hope you can save him!  ~PP> Thank You, Steve West
Re: Green Puffer. Researching Puffers at Wal-Mart???  8/16/06
This Puffer is a Dwarf Puffer but no, I had no prior knowledge on how to care for a puffer nor did I have time to research him.   <What do you mean "no time"?  If you see a fish at a store you know nothing about, you go home, get on the computer & find out about it.  Then you may or may not go back to buy it.  It's hard for me to believe that they are selling dwarf puffers at Wal-Mart.  They are known to be selling tons of GSPs lately though.  I've gotten literally hundreds of letters just like yours...> I have had several years experience with the standard types of fish with good success.  This is a very new type of fish to me and he is really cool.  I was only informed by the attendant at Wal-Mart that he may be ok to put with others.   <And you believed him?> I really want to keep him and care for him so I will take you advice and try to help him.   <Check out the Gallery at the forum I linked you to, for proper ID.  ~PP>

Losing Battle with Dwarf Puffers  7/27/06 Crew, <Hi Roy, Pufferpunk here> I need some help!  Although I have been in the hobby since Axelrod was Innes and have kept all manner of both fresh and marine tanks (I currently have 2 thriving Nano-reefs), I am at a loss as to what is killing my Dwarf Puffers. The tank is a 20 long, lots of silk plants and caves and hideaways. Cycled with the addition of Bio-Spira and with the occasional thawed mysis shrimp for about 25 days.  The tank parameters after cycling are:     pH is 7.2     Temp   80     Ammonia 0     Nitrite 0     Nitrate 5     They were the same this morning:     pH is 7.2     Temp   80     Ammonia 0     Nitrite 0     Nitrate 5 I measured after another DP turned up dead! About one month ago I placed 5 Dwarf Puffers (and a Dwarf Albino Cory) in the completely cycled tank.  I did not quarantine because the tank was new and all occupants were together in the LFS.  I have been feeding them a combination of live enriched brine shrimp, live black worms and freeze dried bloodworms once a day.  I have been loosing one a week; only one remains. The Cory seems fine!  The only thing I can think of (short of them being ill when purchased) is that I overfed them. <Hmmm... tough one!  I would think if you were overfeeding, there would be much higher nitrates.  Either your tests are off (try testing again at your LFS), your puffers were from sickly stock, they had internal parasites or you had all males.  Check: www.dwarfpuffers.com & www.thepufferforum.com, for more info.> Any insight would be appreciated. <Sure sounds as if you're doing all the right things with your puffers.  Sorry for your loss!  ~PP> Roy
Re: Dwarf Puffers Passing Away. "Leopard" Puffers (Tetraodon nigroviridis)  8/1/06
Pufferpunk (& crew), Thanks for the quick response.  Unfortunately I lost the last dwarf.   <Sorry to hear that.  Sounds like a bad batch--maybe with internal parasites.> I tested the water again with a new set of Seachem test and my Hagen kit, both confirmed 0 Ammonia, 0 nitrite and (now) 10 Nitrate.  The Cory is still fine and not exhibiting any problems.  I moved him out to my 10 gal Betta tank for a bit. I want to try my hand with a Leopard Puffers.  I have seen mixed information as to whether the are Freshwater or Brackish.   <These are BW fish that prefer marine conditions as adults.> Even some sites I have looked at recommend some aquarium salt but adding aquarium salt to freshwater doesn't make brackish water!  I would need to use marine salt...  Correct?   <Yup> My 20 long would not be a long term solution, I would be moving them to larger quarters. <30g minimum, per adult fish.  Mine would have been happy in a 55g by himself. I wouldn't keep more than 2 juvies in a 20g past 2".> I am also getting mixed messages about keeping them in groups.  I would try one or three (wouldn't attempt two)... what do your think? <Only if introduced as juveniles.  I kept 2 together without any problems.  With puffers, you never know when they may turn on each other.  See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm & www.thepufferforum.com  ~PP> Thanks, Roy

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

Link regarding Dwarf puffer fry   7/6/06 Dear Mr. Fenner,      <Susan>   Hello!      I came across some French content on puffer fry which I translated into english via Google.  The article is VERY informative and the photos of the eggs and fry are very nice.  So I thought I'd share them with you perhaps you can add them to your WetWebMedia puffer pages.  Recently my puffer laid eggs.  Your pages have been very useful to me always.       http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Faquariums-bonsai.ifrance.com%2Ftetraodons.htm&langpair=fr%7Cen&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&prev=%2Flanguage_tools      Thank You,      Susan <Thank you for this. Will post/share in turn. Bob Fenner>

"Pea" Puffer ... health, sys.   - 06/30/06 Dear XXXX, <It's Pufferpunk here.> About a month ago I bought 2 pea puffers and they have been doing pretty good. But it seems like there starting to lose some of the color on there spots any tips. <what size tank are they in?  How well is it decorated?  What are you feeding them?  Water parameters (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH)?  Without really knowing what's going on in your tank, it's hard to tell.  See www.thepuffeforum.com & www.dwarfpuffers.com  ~PP> Thanks, Austin

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

Lackluster Dwarf Puffer  5/20/06 So, I have a question. <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Just recently we set up a tank with three pygmy (dwarf) puffer fish. <How recently?  Did you cycle the tank 1st?> For a while the newest fish (Seiko) and the oldest fish  (Yasu), hung out together and played while the other one (Kichi) hung out by itself. However, a few days ago Seiko got sucked into the filter and died unfortunately. <Sorry to hear that.  Is there a strainer cover on your intake tube?> So, we brought home yet another one (Aku). Now, Aku and Kichi hang out together all the time and Yasu has been acting strangely. Yasu hangs out on the bottom of the tank and just lies around. Yasu lacks the energy he had and doesn't really play the way he used to. Do you have any idea what would change the fish's mood or if he is sick. <Info on water parameters would help.  Ammonia, nitrites & nitrates. If those are good (ammonia, nitrites 0, nitrates <20), then maybe the 2 that are getting along, have paired off & left out the 3rd.  Be sure your tank is large enough (at least 10g for 3) & there is plenty of decor.  I suggest visiting www.dwarfpuffers.com & www.thepufferforum.com for more info.  ~PP> Thanks, Samantha

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

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

FW Puffer ID 5/17/05 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I hope you can help me. I bought (what I thought was) a freshwater dwarf/pygmy puffer fish about 8 months ago and he now lives with a fully grown male guppy that has followed the puffer around all day long since it was a fry, without getting any aggressive reaction from the puffer. I am unsure whether my puffer is just not violent or if he is still adolescent and will become violent later. <Eventually, the guppy will lose its finnage.> I want to know what other fish types I can keep with the puffer fish. I have spoken to the aquarium I got him from originally which are now stocking dwarf freshwater Amazonian puffers but when I asked if they would be compatible they are unsure whether the puffer I have (which I bought from there under the understanding that it was a dwarf freshwater puffer) is the same species (the one I have already is striped, dark green in colour, just over an inch long and has not grown any bigger in the 8 months I have had him, whilst the ones they currently stock are spotty, lighter green and between 1-1 1/2 inches). Firstly do you know which species of puffer I have, as I am now uncertain what it is! <To ID the puffer you have & the one you are interested in, look here: http://www.pufferlist.com/ > Secondly, can you suggest suitable tank mates. So far on-line suggestions for keeping with dwarf puffers (if that is what I have!) include figure of 8 puffers, bumblebee gobies, white-tip shark cats, hillstream loaches, Otocinclus, although the tank I currently have him in is a BiOrb so some of these will be too large. <<find out what puffer you have for sure & I can be of more help. Many of the fish you listed are strictly BW: F8 puffer, BBG, white-tip "shark" (grows to 18" & lives in schools). How big is the tank?> Sorry to inconvenience you. Thanks in advance for your help, Jane <No problem. ~PP> 

Query regarding my new Indian puffer fish Hi there <Howdy> I have recently bought four Indian puffer fish, which I have housed in their own new aquarium, and they seem quite happy and alert, they are also feeding well.  My question is this, two of them have white underbellies, and the other two have slightly reddish underbellies.....is this normal? <Mmm, not likely> They are only tiny, and I believe they only grow to about 4cm (ah bless), and I would hate them to become ill because of my incompetence.  I carry out water changes (about 20%) every two weeks, as the tank is custom built to fit in my last remaining space, and they are fed on frozen (defrosted) blood worm every day.  If it helps further, they are the green kind with black spots, sorry I don't know the scientific name! <Please do take a look through the family Tetraodontidae on fishbase.org for an identification. These may be more brackish species than freshwater... and hence the discoloration might be partly due to inappropriate water conditions. Are these fish in a small system (like twenty gallons or less?). If so they may well be negatively interacting with each other... Bob Fenner> Regards, Kim

Puffer With A Problem? Hello! <Hi there! Scott F. with you> I have eight dwarf puffers in a 10 gallon tank. temperature at 79 degrees, ph 7.6. Pebble (name of the very first puffer I adopted) has been displaying strange behavior: * she's been hiding out in the top back corner of the tank behind the heater (stays there all day), * doesn't eat (unless I drop couple of live brine shrimp in front of her face with a dropper), * lost a lot of weight (view of her from the top looks like her eyes are bulging out), * HALF OF HER LEFT EYE IS "RED" !!! Please help~! <Well, it sounds like "Pebble" might have some kind of infection. If it were just one eye that was bulging, I'd suggest trying Epsom salt in the water to help reduce the swelling. If it's in both eyes, it sounds like it could be some sort of infection. I'd consider moving "Pebble" to a separate tank for treatment with a commercial antibiotic product, such as Maracyn. Before beginning ANY treatment- please research possible diseases on the wetwebmedia.com site for more information. Proceed with caution- good luck! Scott F.>

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

Sick dwarf puffer Hi, I have had a tank with 6 freshwater dwarf puffers (most about 1/2 inch) in an eclipse system 6 (6 gallon w/ charcoal/Biowheel) for about half a year now... everything has been great with no problems until the largest one (almost 1 inch long male) developed a white spot in the middle of his back about a week ago. Since then, about 8-10 of these spots have slowly developed over his back and head. These spots look larger than any ich spots that I have seen, these are about 1mm in diameter and some have turned black. There isn't any noticeable bump or depression in the skin, however.  <Good descriptions, not likely ich... perhaps not even infectious or parasitic> He has no other symptoms except that he has recently developed a very small white spot on his fin and brown dot on his underside, he has also started to act a bit disoriented and seems to be having a bit of trouble eating, though he tries. I removed the filter and have tried a 5 day, full strength cycle of Quick Cure (malachite green) as well as adding a little over a tablespoon of aquarium salt. <Good choices in therapy... about what I would have tried... in addition to vitamin administration to the food, water> I also raised the temperature from the normal 82 up to 85 and begun daily 20 percent water changes but to no avail. A couple of spots have recently begun developing on a second puffer in the same progression (from the middle of the back to the head). Do you know what this could be and how I could treat it? Also, can I raise the temperature and salinity any more? <Could be a Microsporidium, sporozoan infestation... Worth taking a look at scrapings of the area (even histological sections if you can secure help, do this maybe through a local college...) to determine origins... I would stick to what you're doing and add a complete aqueous vitamin and iodide mix to these fish's foods daily and to the tank water weekly. Such preparations are made and labeled for ornamental aquatics use by retailers, e-tailers. You might even try (yes, this is a semi-endorsement) a "garlic" prep. in their food. Good luck, life my friend. Bob Fenner> Jeremy

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