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FAQs about Puffer Stocking/Selection

Related Articles: Puffers in General, A Saltwater Puffer Primer: Big Pufferfish! by Mike Maddox, Puffer Care and Information, True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, (Big) Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo, Small Puffer Dentistry By Jeni Tyrell (aka Pufferpunk), Puffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: Puffers in General 1, Puffer Identification, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Compatibility, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, Puffer Reproduction, True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

Clear eyes are one good sign of health. Here's a healthy Diodon holacanthus in Malaysia.

Puffer tank sizes       2/11/16
Hi Mr. Bob and crew, I am doing a lot of research on my next acquisition.
<Really? Searching or re-searching?>
I have a lot of time due to setting up a qt, cycling a new tank for the geriatric fin friends and redoing the 150g for a puffer. (new skimmer, added a 29g refugium, rearranging rock, new power heads..etc)I am finding so many different tank requirements for the different species.
<There are many such requirements as INDEED there are different species.
Some fresh, some variably brackish, others entirely marine!>
Give me a suggestion :)I want one of the personable species that can live its life in a 150 gallon.
<All posted, archived on WWM, elsewhere>
I read the porcupine gets too large.
<There are other Diodontids; most all could/would live for years in a 150 if started small-ish>
But even the others seem to get huge. Is there one that can live in my tank happy. I read they can live 10-20 years.
<Yes; tis so>
It will be the only fish in the tank. I will not be upgrading tank size.
I am also reading on feeding etc to take care of my fish. I know you are going to tell me to keep reading ;-)
<Is a fave response>
I will. But a suggestion in species would be appreciated. Have a great day! Stace
<A re-reading then: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm
similarly for other puffer families.
IF you're set on having a Burrfish species... Note that the "maximum size" listed on WWM (and many other places, like FishBase.org) IS the biggest any specimen has been acceptably recorded. Max. aquarium size will likely be no more than half this in standard length. Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer tank sizes      2/12/16

Thank you for the reply, yes I am researching.
<Original experimentation...>
When I noted the different tank sizes for different species, I should have clarified different tank sizes for each of the different species I have been researching. Some say 125 some say 180 and even some sites may say 75g for a particular species.
I am not set on a porcupine puffer or burr fish. I want the most suitable species that can live for decades in what I have.
<Many choices... amongst all families of Puffers>
I will try to choose wisely so I am not asking in 2 years why my fish is sick and the most common reply on here which is, "That tank is too small for that fish."I was hoping a simple reply such as look at the immaculatus (example) then I would have happily chosen that fish had you suggested, or any other you suggested. I asked you as you have noted, most probably the swimming habits etc of different puffer species. I personally have no idea why one puffer who may get 1 foot and another who may get 1 foot require different tanks. I will keep researching. Have a good, Stace
<A Diodon species will go here indefinitely.... You "need" to be told? Okay; get a Diodon holacanthus; right now!
Re: Puffer tank sizes      2/12/16

Ps.. I am a tad offended. I have been searching, researching or re-searching. I don't care what you call it. If I had not been re-searching then I would not know what a cockle is.
<Mmm; well; I was hoping you were doing original research and could inform me, the readers of WWM on the subject... What you DO find out, compile, please do share with us>
I had never heard of them before, or thiaminase problems, or lock-jaw and dental problems. I have been looking where to find cockles, mussels, crabs, prawns etc to be shipped to me. Then I read they have to be rinsed well and frozen. Then thawed for my fish. Yes Mr. Fenner, I am searching. I am searching for a suitable fish for my tank and a suitable place to find him food! I did find cockles at Citarella's in NYC. Have a good day sir!
<And you, B>
Re: Puffer tank sizes      2/12/16
<Ho boy... sorry for the misunderstanding>

My goodness you are a tough cookie. My first email asked for a suggestion.
That is different than being told. Many questions on your site, people state their stock and ask for suggestions for another fish. They get answered politely. I asked you for a suggestion since I respect y'alls opinion. I don't deserve to be treated like an ignorant child. I will stick with your books. I ordered, Livestocking, Pico, nano etc...today from Amazon since I am setting up my first reef system in a 40g. At least in your books you don't come across as rude, snobbish and impatient. Don't
worry, I will never bother you again!
Apology to Mr. Bob       2/15/16

Mr. Bob, We had a bit of miscommunication last week over a puffer fish acquisition. You apologized for the miscommunication even after I said some not so nice things. I too would like to extend my heart felt apology.
<Ah; gladly accepted>
I get too sensitive. I ain't making excuses nor want any sympathy. It is just an explanation to my attitude. I am extremely agoraphobic. I am so scared of people I have to take heart medication to keep adrenaline lower.
<I too take too many pills daily. To lower my blood pressure... some are def. "mood modifiers"... Which I detest>
The only people I talk to are people online. That is no excuse for getting perturbed when I've a question.
<Agreed; and again; was just hoping to have you report from your re/search what you discovered. To share>
You were right. I need to choose my own fish with my own due diligence. I thought it would be cute to have you choose a species. I am going to name him Bob :)I am going into my puffer acquisition as if I am buying a puppy.
<A good comparison I'd warrant. These are very personable, intelligent animals>
I am putting a lot of work into upgrading the tank and filtration (as learned here along with proper diet) I intend on emailing you in 15 years and telling how 'Bob' is doing :)I have learned so much from you. I am so proud of my almost 10 year old clown, (Elmo) my 10 year old starfish, (Star) and 5 year old clown (Maxine)Your works strive me to be the best I can be for my fin friends.
<Ahh; so deeply gratifying to read; realize>
They are not 'just fish' to me. They are my beloved pets. Thank you for the many articles I have read, the books, the access to read others questions.
I am looking forward to getting my livingscape for the 40g. It should be here in a few days! My hubs burnt my other books :(He is a wee bit protective when he thinks my feelings are hurt. On the bright side, now I can buy the updated Conscientious Marine!!!
<Heeee! It is much improved. I finished the draft of the first edition in.... 1995! Some improvements since then.>
I am too excited about that! He has been warned to leave my books alone!
Hurt feelings go away, books are forever! Thank you for the knowledge you share and my deepest apologies for being too sensitive and over reacting. Your fan always, Stace
<Very glad to "hear" from you. Let us start anew. Bob Fenner>
Mr. Bob/puffer; sel., now poss. article!       2/16/16

I am sorry I accidentally deleted your last email before replying. You said you would be interested in my writing an article about my experience in choosing a puffer,
<Ah yes; in particular the criteria you settle on (e.g. the size, shape of the system)>
and doing due diligence for whichever one i choose. I would love to write an article about my experience. It will be about 2-3 months before I can get an article written.
<Mighty fine. If you'd like, I will supply you pix (gratis) and help you to possibly sell the work into the pulp 'zines first>
I still have 2 months before the actual purchase of my fish. I am cycling another tank and will be doing more reading in the mean time. Thank you for all, Stace
<Thank you. BobF>
Puffer companions for 150g    3/12/16

Mr. Bob,
This should be my last question regarding the puffer acquisition.
Last email I stated it would be the only fish, Arothron nigropunctatus. You said I could add more.
<Yes; I certainly would>
System is 150g, 29g refugium, estimating 25 g in sump. I came up with these additions and numbered stocking order which will be done very slowly although my tank is well established. The refugium is new. Please make sure
I will not be stocking heavy. Sailfin blenny (Salarias Fasciatus) 1st5 Chromis (Chromis Viridis) 2ndHawkfish (Neocirrhites Armatus) 3rdFoxface Lo (Siganus Vulpinis) 4thPuffer (Arothron Nigropunctatus) last
<These should all get along; make for an interesting display>
Thank You so very much for answering all of my questions the past month or so. I am sure I was a pain at times.
<Mmm; more of a joy than negative>
I now know why so many times you would say to keep reading. I learned more than I would have had you just answered my questions.
<Ah yes>
I feel armed enough to give my puffer The care it will need, but continue to read so I can keep learning. Also I am enjoying, "Livestocking Pico.."I already have my plans for the 40g reef I am starting, so shouldn't be bothering you about that ;-)
<Heee heee!>
unless I have some dire emergency. Take care and as always, have a great day! Stace
Ps, I wasn't kidding about naming the Puffer after you but his name will be Captain Bob, heehee
<Now that's more like it. Cheers Stace. B>

Re: Fish Order/Aquarium Size, Puffer and Xanthichthys sel.,    11/30/11
Thanks for the fast response.  Are there any puffers your would recommend that would do well with this cast of fish?  Any puffers that are not tobies?
<None really. All need more room for psychological, metabolic reasons>
  Is the blue throat the best trigger for a 93 gallon cube, since there isn't much swimming distance?
<Is near the top in terms of adaptability. BobF>

Dog Faced Puffer and/or Porcupine Puffer 7/29/09
Dear WWM Crew,
I have bought my first, and only, 125 gallon salt water aquarium. It is not set up yet or even at my house yet, however, I want to research the fish I will be purchasing before I jump in head long into this.
Yes, I am aware of proper cycling techniques (I have freshwater now at home) and I have purchased live rock along with live sand from my LFS to help with the cycling of the aquarium.
I am torn between purchasing a dog-faced puffer or a porcupine puffer.
My LFS advises that I may have both in the same tank. I have read much conflicting information regarding housing puffers together.
I do not want to have to upgrade the aquarium at a later date and I want to ensure they have the best habitat for as long a life span as possible in the 125 gallon.
<... then the Tetraodont would be my choice>
My LFS also tried to talk me into purchasing a blue spotted ray
<... no>
but I have decided not too as everything I have read suggests their life span is significantly shortened in an at home aquarium. Would a 125 gallon aquarium be able to house these two puffers for their lifetime?
<Better for just the one>
Thank you very much for your time. Jill J.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Dogface.. many rather a Toby, sel. For a new tank - 05/28/08 Hello, <Hi Dawn.> I have a 55 gallon aquarium. I have been researching fish before I set up. My problem is I have fallen for a fish that I cant have because my tank is not big enough. My forbidden love is a dogface puffer. My question is could you give me some alternatives that are not so big. What I love about this fish of course is the personality and the cuteness. <A Toby e.g. a Canthigaster valentini. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm . They are puffers, too and share the traits you list.> I would also like some pretty, colorful tankmates. <Many possibilities, see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/part2.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm . A small number of small to medium sized fish (no surgeons/tangs) should work with proper filtration. Just avoid too passive fish like small cardinals and too aggressive fish like some damsels and maroon clowns.> This will be a fish only tank. I do have some fish keeping experience. this tank has been a fresh water community and brackish in the past. I would now like to try my hand at saltwater. <Be sure to prepare well with the help of literature and the internet. Maybe also contact a local club.> My son wants an eel ugh, my boyfriend wants a stingray. <Both are no choices I would combine with a puffer in a tank of 55 gallons.> So what advice do you have for me and my men. <Among eels there are many possibilities, morays are very robust and come in many sizes, but I'd recommend them only for a separate tank, see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/index.htm (scroll down to marine eels). A fish similar to an eel is the Convict Blenny (it's no real blenny), which might work with a Toby in your setup, see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pholodichthyidae.htm . Stingrays and skates all need very large quarters and are definitely not recommended for beginners with saltwater maintenance, see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rays.htm . If you like Tobies and your son likes the Convict Blenny two of you can be happy, but I fear your husband should not have a ray in this tank.> Thank you Dawn <Hope that helps. Marco.>

Cat Ate My Puffers! Sys.  8/20/07 Well thanks a lot but my cat ate my puffers. But I will get more soon. <I kind of doubt that. Puffers are poisonous & your cat should be dead. Puffers are adept jumpers--I've lost 2 F8s to jumping. More than likely, they are on the floor somewhere. Always be sure to have a tight-fitting cover over puffers & don't leave any openings. ~PP>

Dangerous Puffers... to human aquarists! SW sel.   7/27/07 Not a question, just a quick story. I was putting an algae sheet on a clip in the tank this morning for my angel and tangs, and my dogface puffer bit the heck outta my finger. Man, those guys have sharp teeth! Beware!!! Thomas <Yep, that can happen. If you've ever seen pufferfish feed in the wild, you won't EVER underestimate their power. They can bite off chunks of coral or grind up oysters without any problems at all. It isn't so much the sharpness of their teeth, but the huge jaw muscles. The whole deal with the bug-eyed face and external nostrils you see on puffers is to make space in the head for the jaw musculature. Thanks for writing, Neale.>

Puffers, sel.  - 06/26/07 I am trying to finalize my fish list for my 72 gallon FOWLR tank. I thought I had my list complete but the five Chromis I wished to purchase picked each other off until there was only one. Here is my list in order of addition: 2 ocellaris clowns (in tank) 1 neon goby (in tank) 1 blue-green Chromis (in tank) 1 flame angel 1 six line wrasse 1 royal Gramma I also have 3 emerald crabs, 2 cleaner fish <What species?> and various snails in my tank. I have been looking around at the different fish that are available to keep in my tank and the only one that I like (tang) is to large to keep. Someone had suggested to me a puffer fish who I know to be aggressive and eats inverts but I have been so desperate (and I like puffers so much) trying to find the last fish for my tank that I started reading up on them. It seems like some people are having success with keeping puffers and inverts in the tank. From my reading it looks like I could probably expect my shrimp to disappear if I get a puffer but my larger snails should be OK if I can get the right one. What is your opinion on my keeping a puffer? <About this> What kind of puffer do you suggest that I might have the most success with? <The only one that will/would fit is a Toby, a Canthigaster species...> I have a ton of what looks like baby snails in my tank that multiply rapidly and if the puffer made a diet of them I would be content. Do you think I should try my luck with a puffer? <Mmmm, I'd keep looking for now if you're not very sure. Bob Fenner>

Deciding on a puffer species... System  - 12/12/06 Hello. <Hi there> I currently set up a small 10 gal tank. The reason for this is I received some extra live rock and couldn't put it into my large reef. I have decided I would like to keep one interesting fish in the 10 gallon. It does not matter to me whether it is reef safe or not. I do not want to keep any of the usual fish that are recommended for a tank this size. Anyway, I have been reading into puffers and from your site have realized that the smaller species of puffer such as the valentini cannot live in the 10 gallon (correct me if I'm wrong). <You are correct here... as a matter of fact, as far as I know there are no marine puffer species that are suitable for this small volume> I have also read puffers grow very slowly, would that allow me to keep a small one in the 10 for a while? <Mmm, nope> I can always upgrade when necessary. Another question I have is would I be able to accustom a figure 8 puffer to full marine water or would this be unsuccessful? <Mmm... not likely> I have read on your site that puffers can become accustomed to varying salinity therefore do you think this would work? <Variable by species, individuals...> If all the answers to all the above questions are no is there any other kind of puffer that I could keep in this tank? <Not IMO> Finally if there isn't do you have any recommendations on an exotic fish I could keep in this tank? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysstkgfaqs.htm and the linked files at top> I have noticed that most of the fish I like are not reef compatible but pretty much all of them need large tanks. If there is anything that could live in the 10 please let me know. Thank you for your time and advice. Marcin. <Read on my friend, read on. Bob Fenner>

Hardy Puffer? 7/14/04 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I was wondering what saltwater puffer is the hardiest and is not as sensitive to water quality as other puffers. Thanks <Most fish are sensitive to any poor water quality in your tank.  You must maintain the best conditions possible to prevent lowered immune systems, disease & ultimately early death.  Puffers are wild-caught fish.  It is our responsibility to keep them alive as long as possible.  We certainly don't want to deplete the wild populations to extinction, just for our enjoyment.  This includes cycling the tank before adding fish, good filtration & regular water changes.  ~PP>

Now I Wanna Be Your Dog (face Puffer)! Hello, WWM Crew! <Good Morning> First of all, I have to tell you your site is magnificent. My husband and I recently set up a saltwater tank (yes, we have small children and did the Nemo thing.) While we have received abundant conflicting advice, we decided on the "slower is better" school of thought as best (as in, don't rush anything - curing a tank, adding live sand, adding fish, etc.)  <Great, in this hobby patience is rewarded with stability.> Here is what we have going on now: we have a 55-gallon fish-only tank humming along nicely, with 2 Ocellaris Clowns (we started with one, as advised by our LFS store owner, who then soon reversed himself and we soon added the second; regardless, the new addition, "Marlin," promptly took a chomp of the original, "Nemo" - of course -which only increased the resemblance of our "Nemo" to the movie Nemo, who has a shortened "lucky" fin. At any rate, all is well with them now, though as Clowns go, I guess "Marlin" should be renamed "Coral." ;) 1 Regal Blue Tang, 1 Yellow Tang and 1 Flame Dwarf Angel. <I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but each of these tangs needs a 75-90 gallon tank when they reach full size. As well as these tangs as they get larger, will be at higher risk of fighting, and or killing one another with their bone spines on the sides of their tails. Please try to return one or both soon or invest in a bigger tank (120-180 gallon for these fish to care for them properly for the long term. Both tangs get over 8" easily.> Everyone is getting along, and the tank appears - and according to our daily, and scrupulously recorded, tests - to be doing well. (TetraTec PF300 Filter, two "bubble bars" as we were advised the Tangs did much better with them, 40 lbs of live sand, and a 1 lb of live rock which we plan on soon augmenting, as we have recently learned it would be very advisable.) <Yes. Live Rock is the best filtration that exists for a saltwater tank. Though I think a protein skimmer would also help you a lot here to remove protein wastes from foods and fish waste form all these fish. do research one that will fit your needs. An Aqua C Remora should do fine> As I said before, we have received, from various books and alleged "experts" conflicting information. For example, two "experts" swore that a Regal Blue Tang was inevitable bad news, while another one said that they're tetchy and there's a high mortality and a fourth was ambivalent: as I wrote above, our "Dory" - the kids have named them, of course - seems to be doing just fine. She likes hanging out behind a large ornamental (fake) coral, and went through a period when she liked to fold herself up like an origami and hide out within another piece of ornamental (fake) coral which looks somewhat like a mutant cauliflower or an alien brain from Star Trek.  (For whatever reason, this activity appears to have bored her, or she discovered there was nothing interesting within the mutant cauliflower folds, and now has staked out the area behind the taller (fake) coral formation, though she's pretty amiable about sharing the space.) <I fear this will not last for very long at all. If or when it does become aggressive the situation will deteriorate quickly. Tangs generally as a rule do not play "nice" together. And in a 55 gallon they wont play nice for much longer if at all.> My question is, I'd like to add a dog-faced puffer (the desire was always there, and the puffer-writers on WWM just increased the desire.  I have read the FAQs and the articles written on WWM in regards to puffers, and they are so well-written and appealing that they have only encouraged me. (We have dogs - cockers, specifically - and I swear the dog-faced puffers look hopeful and expectant at me when I see them in our favoured shops. Ja Ja, they probably just want a hand-out, as do our cockers, but they are very hard to resist.  I understand (again from the FAQs) that puffers are predators, but it also appears that, handled correctly and fed, one would not necessarily provide the distressing scene for my adoring children to see of Mr. Puffer seeing Nemo, et al, as a too-tempting hors d'oeuvre. <Well as one of the resident puffer people here at WWM I know the draw, However, that is only asking for trouble in your present tank, and would be asking for trouble unless everything was moved to at least a 180 gallon. These fish get 15" and poop like adults even at small sizes. As for their mood or temperament, each puffer is very different and only by watching the one you want will you know what you are getting into. They are very personable, but at the same time they are very demanding as to water quality, feedings and tank sizes and can turn on tankmates quickly to fight for territory of if they are threatened. If you do get a bigger tank the puffer should be fine with the clowns provided it is well fed and not overly aggressive. Puffers eat invertebrates mainly and are not normally fish eaters.> Our original plan was, when conditions were right, to add two black clowns (at the LFS where we purchased our "Nemo" Ocellaris Clowns, we saw orange and black ocellaris coexisting quite happily in some display tanks - not in tanks where fish are available for sale) and then consider our tank complete, but I am hoping that there might be room and compatibility for a dog-faced puffer. Your thoughts? Pros? Cons? Thanks for all your help! ~ Candace <Well, As I stated above, a dog faced puffer is like a dog, it needs special care and a lot of room to roam. Those tangs are the same way. Please do not add any more fish into this tank until you get a much larger one. Also I do NOT advise getting more clownfish. Clownfish are very dominant and the pair you have has settled, but adding more simply means a new pecking order must be settled and that might mean one or more die after its all said and done due to stress or disease. Please do continue researching on WWM and fishbase.org before you buy any fish to make sure you know their adult full sizes and whether you can care for them.> <Justin (Jager)> 

Arothron Reticulated Sourced Do you think that you can help me find an AROTHRON RETICULARIS? I have come to the conclusion that this fish is commonly confused with the HISPIDUS. <Yes> I already have almost all the other AROTHRONS finding them has had there challenges but this one I am running in to a lot of brick walls is this found under any other names .... toadfish puffer pufferfish. Any help would be great.  Thanks again Bunkley <I encourage you to seek out the resources, personnel of the larger online marine livestock etailers... Dr.s Foster and Smith, Marine Center... (.coms)... contact, and ask them specifically to search out this puffer. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Arothron Reticulated
Thank you for the info. I did go to the link that was on the first email response. It did not take me to the exact page of the response that I found on the second response. So all said and done thank you for all your help and direction. I have already gotten in contact with a couple of wholesalers and retailers. They understand the struggle in finding that Arothron. <All has to do with factors like this genus' members distribution, common occurrence and these areas nearness to modern airports/collecting businesses... some species are far more common underwater than others> They put me on a couple of watch lists for it. Thanks for all the help and your info in the articles around that link are really interesting. Bunkley <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Question Hi, What would be the best Arothron puffer to put with Percula clownfish? Thanks >>>Hello, If I was going to attempt this it would be in a tank that was at least 120 gallons, and I would go with Arothron nigropunctatus or Arothron diadematus as they remain a bit smaller in size. The other representative of the genus need very large tanks. Good luck Jim<<< Puffer species. if a peacock puffer is too risky then what is an alternative for a 30 gallon tank. are there any other small puffers for a true 1.023 marine aquarium, <You could possibly convert some of the figure 8 puffers to true saltwater if you did it very slowly.  They don't achieve a huge size. or I was thinking possibly some of the smaller species that aren't quite the true puffers like Valentini Puffers and some of the different Toby species.  They are very similar in the look and actions, what they eat and yet they don't get to the same sizes are some of the puffers. Good luck, MacL> Puffer addendum if a peacock puffer is too risky then what is an alternative for a 30 gallon tank. are there any other small puffers for a true 1.023 marine aquarium <Karl, just wanted to suggest you look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm, for a semi complete listing and some pictures of the Tobies. Good luck, MacL>

Porcupine Puffer VS Dogface Puffer.....Which is better??(8/7/04) Hi, <Hello there Leslie here today> I would like your opinion. What's better, porcupine puffer or Dogfaced puffer? <I'm not sure either is better. They each have their own charm. My personal opinion is that the Dogfaces are a more attractive fish and although they both have quite a bit of personality......the Porcupine Puffers beat them by just a tad in the personality department and have a very high cuteness factor. ...mine looks like ET. They are all big messy fish requiring a large volume of water and excellent filtration. Most of the commonly available Porcupine Puffers get to be between ......10 and 20 inches depending on which species you are interested in. See this article for a list of species, sizes and photos   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm There are several species of Puffers that are referred to as Dogface Puffers. Most are also 10 to 20 inches, however the Narrowlined Puffer Arothron manilensis  seems to stay a bit smaller in captivity attaining 1/2  of it's size 12 inch adult size in the wild.  The Dogface Puffers are profiled here......http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tetraodontpuffers.htm> Which one is more peaceful, stays smaller is better compatible with small fish like damsels and Chromis?   < A toss up I think and species dependent..... These fish are predators and opportunistic omnivores ......You will more often than not read and hear that they will eat smaller fish and occasionally that they may not.  You are taking a chance keeping them with smaller fish. I have been very lucky. I have kept mine with small fish and they have never showed any interest what so ever. One of my dogfaces lived peacefully with a tiny neon goby and 3 Percula Clownfish for just over 2 years before he died. He was a good bit bigger than all of those fish. There is a response to a query in the Puffer Feeding FAQs  by Scott F ....."I had a friend who foolishly kept a tank full of about 8 or 9 2" plus Domino Damsels with his 5" Porcupine Puffer. Every night, a damsel or two would vanish! After losing 5 or so, he finally got the idea that this was not a good combination!"   If you want to try it I think your best bet in my opinion would be a Dogface.   Start with a small one and do not feed it live feeder fish, add it after the other smaller fish and keep a close eye. Have a plan ahead of time in the event you need to remove any of the fish. > Thanks for the info <Sure anytime, Leslie>

Boxfish Tank Nuke Hi, <Hi, Bruce from Oz, Mike D here> A Couple of days a go my boxfish died and did what everyone is warned about, nuked the tank.. well almost. I think I found it very soon after the death. I quickly did a water change and bagged all the fish and took them to my pet store to house them.<ouch> I have lost 4 fish out of 8 including the box.<Was it a Blue Box? That's the only species well known for "nuking" a tank, per se> My question is how to deal with the tank. I have 50 gal (200 litres for us Aussies), anyway I have done about 40% water change.<You'll likely end up doing more, but I'd slow down and do it in more gradual conditions to avoid stress to the corals> The corals are looking a little sick, but I think that is because of the water change and moving all the rock to catch the fish.<You're quite likely correct here> I have a protein skimmer going full bore and you should see the black stuff that it has got out.<THAT'S not from the boxfish, and may be the actual reason for your catastrophe> The worms in the rock are still doing what worms do, the bloody mantis shrimp I know is in there (and suspect cause this mess) didn't die (bastard) and can still be heard (yes, I have so far got rid of 2 but I keep hearing the bastards).<Are you sure it's mantis shrimp and not pistol shrimp? Both are extremely secretive and make the famous "popping noise"> I have cycled the tank for a day and put in a couple of blue/green Chromis to check the water.<I'd suggest doing 5 gal/day and hold off on adding fish. If they break down, they're prime targets for ick or such and you may be breeding more problems for yourself. You don't need fish to "cycle" anything, a even the mantis shrimp will accomplish that for you> One looks ok, but is hiding in the rock (sort of strange for these type of fish) and the other after a couple of hours is panting and scales are slowly turning black. I'd get them back out, if possible, myself> I have been checking around the web on what to do if the toxin is released, all I can find is warnings. Yes I knew about it before I put the guy in. He was happy and feeding and loving life for weeks.<There's a very real problem with boxfish that many people don't understand, being that they have very tiny mouths and stomachs, thus need to eat non-stop. Many that people think are doing well are slowly starving to death, and the smaller the boxfish, the more likely this is to occur, as even more food is required fro growth> The list of fish dead are: Boxfish, Foxface Rabbitfish (he's death was not pleasant to watch)<very few are>, flame hawk, flame dwarf angel Survivors (so far) 2 blue/green Chromis (well they might kick it due to reintroduction too early), goldenheaded sleeper goby, fake clown, coral-banded shrimp, Sixline wrasse The stupid thing about it was the tank was close to being complete, with a little bit more mantis shrimp hunting and a couple more corals.<I'm going to go out on a limb and say I truly don't think the boxfish was the entire problem, with impatience likely being as big a culprit> Any thoughts, suggestions and I guess actively calling me stupid welcome.<Never stupid Bruce, for as hard as it is to deal with, it's sadly all part of the learning process. You didn't say how large the tank is, what the ammonia and nitrite levels were, nor how long the whole thing has been up and running.  I suspect that you'll find you had high nitrite and ammonia levels (as evidenced by your skimmate) and that too much was placed in the tank too soon after it had cycled. You DID let it set for six weeks before adding fish to allow it to cycle, correct?  If not, I'd suggest using our Google and entering cycle or cycling, as well as reading FAQs on same. If I'm wrong, I'll personally apologize, but I suspect the boxfish is being used as the excuse, while it was quite likely just one of the victims> Thanks Bruce Moyle To Add a Lion Hello!<Hi! MikeD here>  I have a 60 gal hex with few fish and would like to add a lion<This sets off alarm bells with me. A "few" in a 60 gal. hex means either very small fish or that it's already overcrowded, and neither is a good situation to toss a lionfish into>, I have seen the dwarf which I thought would be good size for my tank<For the tank size, yes, either a Dwarf Fuzzy or a Dwarf Zebra, which gets a little larger>, but while shopping I saw the name Antennata lion fish which I like the looks a little better but will it grow too large for my tank?<My tendency is to say yes, plus they are a tad more delicate>  One more question... Is there a puffer that stays relatively small that I may add, there are many varieties.<Here's another marine glitch. The smaller marine varieties are the most aggressive with other fish, with the Tobies known for their tendency to kill lionfish. The "freshwater" puffers often carried in many LFS (spotted, figure 8, actually brackish) would be better suited, but even here, the smaller the tank the more likely that they'll be aggressive>                                                                                             Thanks in<Good Luck> advance,                                                                        Josh

Looking for rare boxfish Mr.. Fenner: do you have any source for obtaining a white-barred boxfish Anoplocapros lenticularis? thank you, john McKenna <Do give the fine folks at Marine Center a "ring": http://www.themarinecenter.com/ If anyone, they'll be able to secure you a healthy specimen. Bob Fenner>

Longhorn Cowfish.....hardy??? (7/25/04) Hi, <Hi Leslie here tonight> I was wondering how hardy cowfish are? <Well, unfortunately this family of fish do not have a good record of success in captivity, which is related to lack of appropriate nutrition. These fish need green as well as meaty food, on a regular basis.  Most are lost to outright starvation. In addition the Longhorn Cowfish you are asking about attains an adult length of 18 inches and requires at least a 180g tank.  Add to this that many members of this fish family possess a toxin called  "ostracitoxin"  which they can release into the tank if stressed.  Although rare there have been losses of entire systems to this toxin.>  Thanks < Your most welcome, Leslie >

Lionfish/Porcupine Fish Capacity Question <Hi, MikeD here> I am confused by some conflicting advice about stocking levels.<That's not surprising> I was told that in a fully cycled 90 gallon with appropriate filtration, skimming, etc. I could have 2 Russell's Lionfish and a Foxface Lo but only 1 Porcupine Puffer, is this true?<Well, yes, no and maybe. Pterois russelli often only grow to 10", with a Lo Foxface reaching 7".  As adults, these three would be pushing the upper limits, but with a good skimmer and extra water changes, it can be done.  Porcupine puffers, on the other hand, can reach 12"-18" depending upon which source you choose or believe. The primary difference is that large puffers are about 1/3  as wide and high as they are long.  In other words a porcupine that's 12" long may be 4" high and 5" across, almost like a football. When you consider this massive body size with the amount of oxygen it requires and the amount of solid waste if produces, then factor in a feeding technique that produces copious amounts of oils from the chewing process and it becomes much more understandable.>   I am also going to put some live rock in.<every little bit helps...good idea.> Thanks!! <You're welcome>

I want a huge puffer tank too! (6/27/04) Hi! I have searched through your FAQ and did not find the answer I am looking for. I currently have a white dogface puffer and would like to add a black dogface puffer that is about the same size. Can 2 dogface puffers co-exist in  my tank? <I wouldn't recommend it, even in a large tank> The white one I have now gets along great with my other fish, including a porc. puffer and a stars and stripes puffer. <Puffers of different species (depending on the tank size and feeding regime) won't mess with each other nearly as often as puffers of the same species.  I'd be wary about that> (I returned my stars and stripes puffer today as he was getting too big for my tank and became aggressive at feeding time.) thanks so much! <No problem.  You're going to need a tank of at least 400 gallons when these fish reach maximum size!> Jen <M. Maddox>

Takifugu ocellatus 3/31/04  <Hi, Pufferpunk here>  First, thanks for providing what I consider the most comprehensive captive aquatic information source there is! :)  <Awwww shucks, thanks a lot!>  My question regards a puffer I found on your site: Takifugu ocellatus is this puffer available in the US, and if so, under what common names?  <Personally, I have never seen it available for sale in the US. It's common name is ocellated/peacock puffer. I did recently hear of someone on my puffer site that found one in Florida, but I'm not really sure about the ID. Here's the thread: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=marine&action=display&num=1080532270 >  I wasn't able to find much information about it, even on Fishbase. How large does it get?  <It's cited in Dr Klaus Ebert's book, The Puffers of Fresh & Brackish waters to grow to 6".>  What water parameters does it prefer (if I'm even able to acquire one).  <Here is what Dr Ebert says about this puffer: "This exceptionally attractive marine puffer is imported from China. It is a lively swimmer & neither a fin-biter nor aggressive towards conspecifics (it's own kind). Unfortunately it has proven tricky to maintain. No long-term data are available. It is hoped that this attractive puffer will be imported again so we can discover the optimal maintenance conditions for it & so that interested aquarists have a chance to try & breed this beautiful fish".  I assume it eats foods and has habits similar to other puffers. Thanks for any info. Michael  <You're welcome. Definitely not a fish for keeping in captivity, as even Dr Ebert couldn't maintain one. There are other nice fugus available though, like the one the guy has at the end of the thread I sent you. ~PP>

SW Puffer for 55 Gallon?  1/19/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I just converted my 55 gal tank to saltwater.  I have a Emperor 400 BioWheel, SeaClone 100 protein skimmer, and a 300 gph powerhead.  I currently have 4 damsels in my tank for cycling purposes (may return some to LFS later).  My tank will be fish only, with a few pieces of old (dead) live rock.  I would like to keep a puffer in my tank.  I have read that Tobies would be best for this size tank.  I would really like to keep a dogface puffer, if possible (I plan on upgrading to a 125 gal in the next year or two)  Do you think a dogface would be okay in a 55 in the meantime?  I would love to hear your suggestions on a puffer to keep in this tank, as well as tankmates. <A Toby would work.  So would fugus, if you can find them.  There are also toadfish, stars & stripes puffers (Arothron species) and of course, my favorite, the porcupine puffer.  Most of these would be contingent on the updated larger tank.  I have damselfish & a tomato clownfish w/my puffers, a few of them come up missing sometimes.  I think larger fast-moving fish are best.  Make sure your puffer gets lots of crunchy crustaceans to eat.>    Thank you so much, Brandy <You're welcome & enjoy your puffer!  You're in for a real treat--Pufferpunk>

Aging yellow boxfish question (1/5/04) Hi Bob, <Hi! Ananda here tonight....> I've just purchased your Conscientious Marine Aquarist book and am looking into getting a yellow boxfish. <A difficult fish to start with if you're a beginner....> I noticed the image of the adult being much different than that of the juvenile I've visited in the store. Do the adults always fade in color and age as these drastic pictures indicate? <I believe the amount of fading varies somewhat from fish to fish.> After how many years of life does this usually occur? Any information or resources would be much appreciated... especially pictures. <Your best bet is to ask the folks on the "Cowfish, Puffers, & More" Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CowfishPuffers_andMore/ They have a number of people with cowfish.>   Thanks so much, Gina <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Getting to Know Us, and How About a Puffer?  >Marina:  I just have to say it's a bit nutty when you can figure out the author of the replies before you get to the end. That said, you are HILARIOUS (that means REALLY FUNNY!)!  >>Well, thank you, Rich. I like the rugged individualism that's encouraged here, and enjoy having fun with this stuff.  >I copy and paste the dailies into text program for later perusal, and today I read a couple of LOL comments from 11/3 (even though you are funny on other days). I must repeat them here:  1. ">Great site. I stumbled here looking for information on DSB and all I can say is wow. >>Really, that's honestly ALL you can say? <insert big grin here>" HAAAA!  2. ">I need to do a water change, but I'm scared of it. Should I be? >>BOO! (Sorry, and here I'm just sick of Halloween..)" HOO HOO, I am in tears! (wipe, wipe, dab, dab)  >>I slay you? I'm glad I make you laugh, I've always felt that, should we prove to have no other purpose here on earth, we should at LEAST be entertaining. ;)  >3. to keep things official, I will ask you this: what's the smallest (adult size), best saltwater puffer for a 55 gal non-aggressive FOWLR?  >>Well, my first thought isn't exactly a "proper" puffer, but something more along the lines of a filefish.. let me pull out my little marine fishes bible here... (perusing, flipping pages here.. ah, fused jaw fishes..).. Ah yes, Canthigaster species. They are also known as Tobies, the False Eye Toby (Canthigaster solandri) only hits 4.5"-5". C. bennetti is even smaller, as is C. epilampra. Remember though, everything is relative, and these Tobies are peaceful RELATIVE to puffers. Boxfishes and trunkfishes, if you're well-acquainted with them, are definitely peaceful, better housed with other VERY peaceful animals (I'm thinking meek cardinals) for the obvious reasons. Then there are fishes like the Paraluterus prionurus (Valentini mimic), stays very small, and is quite peaceful. As far as the filefishes, the list of those that qualify as small, PRETTY, and peaceful is bigger than I'd like to get into here, as it's almost a whole chapter (those are, again, among my favorites). Just to keep it official and all (though there are few "rules" to emailing us). Do hope this helps, and I'm glad I help to provide some daily entertainment. Marina  Thanks, Rich 

Puffer #2? (11/01/03) <Hi! Ananda here today> Hi, I have a 75 gallon SW tank with a stars and stripes puffer, yellow tang, and 5 damsels. <Sounds like a pretty full tank... the stars and stripes puffer can get to almost 19" long; you may eventually want a larger/longer tank for him.> I also had a rock beauty angel but it died yesterday, how and why I am clueless, water and all is fine. <Most likely a nutritional problem; these fish feed on sponges in the wild, and *must* have sponges in their food to live long in captivity, as I understand it.> Anyways I wanted to know if I can add another puffer to the tank and if so , what type? <I would not.> Also, all my puffer basically eats is pellets, I tried silversides but he ignores them what else would work, thanks <Thank your lucky stars that your puffer will eat pellets...most will not. Your puffer also needs shell-on foods to gnaw on and keep his teeth in trim. More on the "Puffer Feeding FAQs", starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm .... --Ananda>

Which puffer should he get? <Hi! Ananda here today...> Hi, I need some help with choosing a puffer, here are the specs, 75 gallon FOWLR, sea clone 100 protein skimmer, emperor 400 filter, Fluval 404 filter, power head, live sand, 50# live rock, zebra moray, copperband butterfly, yellow tang..... <The SeaClone is inadequate for a tank that size...puffers tend to be messy fish, and you're going to need a better skimmer to keep up with that bioload. I would also consider increasing the amount of live rock a bit and taking the Fluval filter off of the system once you get the additional live rock.> I plan to get a puffer preferably 5" or under to try and keep tank capacity lower, I know that with adequate filtration and good maintenance it will help the tank be suitable for these fishes in the long term with size and all, I am interested in the valentini and the spotted puffers would these be good tank mates? <The valentini would be great. There are too many species called "spotted" puffers for me to give a recommendation one way or the other on those; I really don't know which type of puffer you're referring to without more info.> And with the spotted puffers are they all pretty much the same, just different spotted colors and the same max. size? <Ah, no. There are freshwater, brackish, and marine puffers that have "spotted" as part of their common name...many species with a wide range of sizes.> Thanks for any assistance you could give me. -Jerry- <You're welcome. --Ananda>

No porcupine puffer...how about a Burrfish? (06/01/03) <Hi! Ananda here again...) Well if the porcupine puffer is to large then how about the Burrfish? <The Burrfish does not get as large as the porcupine puffer. However, Burrfish are more delicate and more difficult to keep. I believe the usual problem is getting them to eat in captivity. If you are new to saltwater fish, I would definitely advise against it. You might consider one of the Canthigaster puffers -- they're small, so a 90 gallon tank is fine for them. They don't have the E.T. appeal of the porcupine puffer, but they *are* cute. --Ananda>

Bitten Clown (04/21/03) Hey WWM, <Hey yerself... :) Ananda here tonight...> I made the mistake of putting in a Dog-faced puffer with two false percula clowns.  He mistook one for food and took a hunk out of my clown just in front of his tail (his colon).   <Ack! It seems some puffers have a liking for food that is red -- could be yours is one of them. Sorry to hear it got to your clownfish. Hint to others who might be putting a dog-faced puffer (or other puffer) in with clownfish: feed the puffer first.> There is red colour showing and a bit of white as well on his scales.  He's still eating well but has slowed down his activity, as well as breathing heavily.  I was just wondering if there is a possibility of survival, and if so, what I can do?   <Time will tell if he's going to survive -- not much you can do besides moving him to a quarantine tank and making him as comfortable as possible. And you might consider moving the other clown out of the puffer's tank.> Thank you very much for your time. <You're welcome -- hope it works out. --Ananda>

Diodon Dear Mr. Fenner, Do you think that Diodon and Canthigaster are good fishes for reef tanks? Do you think they are really dangerous for invertebrates like corals, sponges etc.? <Unfortunately, these puffer genera/species are generally not good choices for reef systems... Diodon get too big and can/do take "big bites" out of many types of invertebrates... and Canthigasters/Tobies/Sharpnose puffers have too much of a predilection to take small bits... But, have seen both groups used in large and not reef tanks... sometimes with troubles, often without> Is it possible to take more than one sub-adult or adult Diodon in the same marine tank?  <Yes, in large enough quarters. This is done> Are Diodon territorial fishes with other porcupine fishes? <Not generally> I hope you will send your precious reply to:  <Done> Thanks a lot in advance for your reply. <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Stocking for Predator Tank Follow Up So, would an Antennata Lionfish be a better choice over the Volitans? <Yes> I haven't seen any porcupine puffers smaller then the striped Burrfish (10 inches). Is there another smaller porcupine puffer that I'm unaware of? <No, they smallest in the trade get about a foot long. Perhaps a Toby/Sharpnose Puffer would make you happy. They are a much better fit for your size tank.> I really would like to have four fish in the tank if at all possible. Do you think this is possible, if so maybe a personal pick of yours for the fourth? <This is YOUR fish tank.> If not would the yellow tang, Humu trigger, and antennata lion be fine? <Likely so> Thanks for all the information and help. It really is good to see people who are so willing to devote their time to helping others. <You could get your four new fish (Yellow Tang, Huma-Huma, Antennata Lionfish, and Striped Burrfish) in there, but you will have to be willing to make up for it with increased water changes (25% weekly) and filtration.>  Sincerely, Matt <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Pufferfish compatibility/tankmates Hi Bob, I hope everything is well with you. I'm now in the process of cycling my 125 FOWLR with live rock. I'm really a pufferfish enthusiast (started off with freshwater puffers), and I'd like to extend my collection to saltwater... what saltwater puffer species are compatible/incompatible? <Most all get along and not depending on crowding, size... larger ones may eat, try to eat smaller... the Canthigastrinae will bite holes out of most any/everyone...> If I plan to move on to a reef system, will the puffers create a problem? <Yes, many smaller ones are nippy, larger ones even eating bigger chunks... and as a group they're very messy> Are puffers also compatible with any of the following: tangs, cowfish, lionfish? <Most Tangs, yes. Cowfish are puffers (Ostraciidae), and okay as long as "not upset"... see references to Ostracitoxin. Lionfishes, by and large no... the Puffers often get to be too eager at eating all the foods offered, and some will gladly nip at, bite the Lions> Thanks again, Knef <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Puffers and/or Sea Horses in a Reef Tank <<JasonC here, standing in for Bob while he's away diving.>> Will either puffer fishes or sea horses work in reef aquariums? What species will work? <<Puffers and reefs don't mix. Sea horses "could" be put in a reef tank, but typically a thriving reef tank requires more flow than a sea horse can deal with. So... I wouldn't really recommend a sea horse for a reef tank either.>> Thanks, Lisa H. <<Do read up on both - Puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm  Sea Horses: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tube-mfi.htm  Cheers, J -- >>

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