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FAQs about Puffer Systems

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 Selection, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, Puffer Reproduction, True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

Many puffers like this Arothron mappa get BIG and are messy... think on this for housing.

And screen those pump and filter intakes!

Sweet Puffer vs. EVIL POWERHEAD     2/6/20
:(.... Two days ago, i <I> witnessed something i don't ever want to see again.
it was so heart breaking. I walked into the living room where our 190 Gallon saltwater tank is. We have a Wrasse, a Trigger, a Clown fish and a Snowflake Eel. I look over and see this white thing attached to the center of power head and its spinning so incredibly fast. It didn't quite click that something was wrong but i knew it wasn't supposed to look like that.
So i called for my boyfriend and asked him "UH, What is that white thing spinning in the tank? Its attached to the power head." When I saw his reaction i knew it was our beloved "BP" or "Big Puff".
<Oh, poor thing!>
We immediately unplugged the power head and once he stopped spinning he was puffed up and wasn't really moving, i am assuming because of how dizzy he was.
<Why does your power head had no strainer on??>
After about 30 seconds or so, he wiggled himself free. This poor guy, both of his eyes are white, but you can still see his pupils underneath, and its moving. It almost looks like it keeps trying to adjust or focus. His spikes at the front of his face are still raised two days later. His skin has now turned white.
<Any idea on how much time it was stuck?>
My boyfriend built a small acrylic box with 1.5" diameter holes on each side so that fresh saltwater can circulate.
<Good move>
We had to put him in the box because he was trying to swim around and kept bumping into all the live rock and it was scraping up the white parts on his eye. Making it look like it was peeling. My question(s) is do you think its better to let him roam free in the tank?
<No, I think it is better to isolate it.>
Is the being in the box stressful? Is there any possibility that he'll will survive this?
<Hard to know... besides what you can see, It very likely have internal damage caused by the suction power of the pump.>
From my description of his eyes, does it sound like he can see at all or does it sound like he's probably blind? What can i do to help him? Move him to a QT tank? I'm afraid his wounds will become infected and make things worse for him.
<I suggest moving it to the quarantine tank ASAP, let it there with very dim or no lights at all. At this point, just hope for the best, but from your description of its condition, this fish may be a goner.>
I'll be awaiting your reply.
Thank you,
Paris Towner
<The best luck for you guys, please do keep us posted. Wil.>
Re Sweet puffer VS EVIL POWERHEAD       2/7/20

I just wanted to update you, Big P passed away yesterday.
<Sorry for your loss>
I wanted to let you know so that other fish owners could be responded to instead of trying to help me. Thank you anyway. I adore your website. It’s all so informative. Thank you for donating your time to help us all out!
<Thanks for your kind words. Cheers. Wil.>

Puffer proofing. Internal pump placement, use concerns       3/9/16
Mr. Bob and crew, Haha, I ain't finished bugging you yet about the puffer I plan to purchase ;)I did decide on which species to get. I am going to get a dog face puffer for my tank which is 150 g. 29 g refugium, and about 30
gallons in the sump.
<A good choice>
Will be the only fish.
<Mmm; I'd add more>
My question is... I can Not figure out the best way to puffer proof the power heads.
<Really just complete, and possibly enlarged intake screens. Some units these can be purchased for; others you have to fashion... Hide behind rock, drill and fit PVC etc., cover in large-cell foam...>
Omg! Too many horror stories about that! Some suggestions are sponges, but with their curious nature that sounds like an accident waiting to happen. I thought about lighting grate. I think people call it egg crate?
<Yes; another good choice>
I could build a little cage around my power heads?
<Yes; or maybe use more, smaller volume/suction pumps>
The squares look awful big. I dontbknowcwhat size the fish will be when I finally purchase it. I did find a product for crafts called Darice 7 plastic mesh. It is 7 squares per inch. I am waiting for an email back and hoping they will tell me what it is made of.
<Something chemically inert>
I know what it do with the cords.
<Set these underwater units just below the surface... with the cords out... this is the best placement... AT the air-water interface, for moving the most water...>
But can't figure out the safest for my power heads. Hee hee I had ordered some Hydor 3250 gph but whoa! What a sand storm, lol I tried some 1950 but not enough flow.
<Again; consider using multiple units>
I am considering the.. I think they are 2200 or something like that. Maybe once I build a safety over the power heads I can use the 3250's. I bought a wave maker and will start off with them at minute intervals just in case so
the little fellow could escape if needed. Maybe that should be 30 seconds?
<Shorter... 15 at most is what I'd use>
I am setting up a 40g qt. I bought a large sponge filter which is seeding in the sump. I bought a bio wheel 350 but have no place to put it on the 150 to seed. Can I cut some aquarium foam and put in the sump.
Sorry for the long post. I just thought you might be missing me..lmao!!HaVe A hApPy DaY :)Stace.
<And you. Bob Fenner>

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!

Puffer Injury from Filtration -- 01/12/2010
My Porcupine Puffer had a serious encounter with my filter intake. Some how the grill came off while I was working, and I came home to find my fish close to death.
<I'm very sorry to hear this -- have you determined how the grill came off  (and subsequently, how to prevent it from occurring again in the future)?>
Its left fin and gill appears to be seriously injured, not to mention it is also missing a good amount of skin between the eye and gill.
The eye looks fine, and he is using it.
<This is good.>
I moved him to a hospitable tank, and now on day 2 he seems to be moving much better but still wont eat.
<Excellent, keep up with due diligence>
Does my fish have a chance on living, and is there anything I can do to help him?
<Absolutely -- if he's still swimming, there's more than a good chance he'll pull through. Just keep the water parameters in check in the quarantine, and keep an eye on the damaged areas. Likely the feeding strike is due to
the stress of the situation -- just give it some time and I'm sure he'll be back to his normal piggy self. Good luck! -JustinN>

Puffers and Acrylic 5/19/08 <Hi Kirk, Pufferpunk here.> My wife's (and 3 year old for that matter) favorite fish are Puffers. <Mine too, what a surprise!> I am really leery due to some horror stories of acrylic scratching to add a Porky or any of the Arothron Puffers to my 240 acrylic. First of all would you agree that it is risky for large puffers in acrylic tanks and if so I think I could get them to settle for a dwarf puffer or Toby. Are there any you think could hang in my tank with my moderately aggressive crowd? <I do recall reading about puffers scratching their teeth across the acrylic, when begging.> Current fish, tank started early Jan. of this year. Black velvet angel Coral beauty Harlequin Tusk Sargassum trigger Baby Niger trigger Sunset Wrasse Biggest fish thus far are the wrasse and Black velvet, at 5 inches. Would like to do a Sohal (or other Acan tang)....Do you think Sohal is too much fish for this Tank?? Juvi Emperor angel....both later this summer. <Personally, I think the fish you have in there & the ones you have future plans for are enough for that tank. Puffers are very messy fish & require 100g for one of the larger species. I would not think any of the Toby species would fair well with your larger fish. If your wife is set on keeping a puffer, I suggest setting up a separate tank for one. There are also many fresh & brackish water puffers available. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/ I appreciate your time and advice, Kirk <Good luck on your puffer hunt! ~PP>

Puffer Problems and Overstocking 3-4-08 I have been looking on your website for two days and I got some information, but I was hoping if I tell you the story you might have a more clear answer. I have a 125 gallon saltwater tank with about 120 pounds of live rock. I have 2 maroon clownfish 1 Sweetlips 1 lawn mower blenny 2 sharp nose puffers 3 green spotted puffers 1 yellow tang 1 anemone 1 Foxface 1 dogface puffer and lasting 1 porcupine puffer. <First things first…This tanks is incredibly overstocked!! Half of this list would be more applicable. Second, you never ever want to combine anemones with puffers due to their curiosity and tendency to nip at things that spark their attention. One nip to an anemone can be the end of a puffer. > I just moved the tank last month and have had some trouble with the nitrate level since, as of today my levels were, ammonia .25, nitrite 0, ph 7.8 and nitrate 80. Off the charts almost. <Due to overstocking.> That being said, two days ago I introduced a new porcupine puffer into my tank. <Was he quarantined first?> It was smaller by about half. I noticed the new one was chasing my OG around the tank and I said I would give it overnight and if they were not getting along by then I would take it back. <Combining multiple species of puffers will most often lead to aggression. You have 4 different kinds here, so there are always going to be problems unless you remove some.> The next morning (yesterday) I found my OG puffer breathing very heavy at the bottom of the tank, he was not responsive to my touch or net. I removed him from the tank and put him in a bucket with a pump to get him more oxygen. This seemed to work as he perked up and started swimming and got his color back after about three hours I put him back into the main tank. That is when I noticed he was running into things, first he went to the top of the water line and gulping air, then calmed down but still is running into stuff, his eyes are moving around but he can't see. I put him in an iso net as I don't have a hospital tank right now. I am using ich-attack and MelaFix right now and I have done a 30 gallon water change tonight. <Ich isn't his problem and medicating unnecessary will do more harm than good seeing as puffers was very sensitive to medications. I cannot stress enough about quarantining new fish before adding them into your main tank. New fish, especially porcupines carry parasites and other diseases that can harm or kill your other fish. You need to see about getting him into a quarantine tank a.s.a.p. Do 50% water changes in your main tank every other day for at least a week. I would see if a local LFS can take some of the fish out of your tank. I know it will be hard to part with your friends but if you do not lower the bio-load then they will surely perish. Your high nitrates are due to too much feeding and not enough water changes. The reason why the puffer responded positively when you removed him from that main tank is because it was like a breath of fresh air for him. Placing him back into the bad water caused him to go bad to feeling bad again. I think once you remedy this water and overstocking situation, things in your tank will be much better.> Please let me know how to help him he is my favorite fish. Thanks so much for your time. <You're welcome and good luck. ---Yunachin> Holly

Tetraodont... hlth, sys.  - 1/04/08 Today when we feed my dog face puffer we walked out of the room and some how he got stuck to the filter. <Mmm, something wrong here... a healthy puffer can/will not get stuck... unless the intake wasn't screened> My boyfriends daughter started screaming that the fish was dying and when we walked into the room he was stuck and was almost as big as a tennis ball, I have never seen him this big. It looked as if he was about to pop., he was about 4 times his normal size. After we unplugged the filter he started to deflate, and has been swimming around a little bit. His skin looked almost like it had white little bumps, but they have pretty much now gone away. Is he going to be ok? thanks Kaytea <I do hope so... I would make sure the intake/s are screened, increase the size of said screens. You might try using the search tool on WWM re similar instances. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tetraodont... hlth, beh.   1/5/08 ok, so literally after I hit send, I looked up and he was all puffed up again! I have no idea why this is happening. Is there a reason this could be happening? What would cause this? <... Please... read where you were referred to... http://wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm toward the bottom of this sub-index. RMF>

Re: Tetraodont... hlth, beh.   1/5/08 Thanks so much, he was fine this morning and has been swimming around and eating like normal :) <Ah, thank you for this follow-up. BobF>

Stars & Stripes Puffer & Tank Size 12/15/07 Good afternoon WWM Crew, <Hi Todd, Pufferpunk here> I have a 10 inch Stars & Stripes Puffer by himself in a standard 135 gallon tank. Is this tank too small? He darts across the tank & smash into the side from time to time. He seems to move around pretty well otherwise. I've read that they need at least a 100 Gallon tank and maybe as much as 200+. If this tank is adequate for now, how big would he have to be in order to have outgrown it? <Since this puffer can grow to 19", it will eventually need a huge tank due to its size. 300+ gallon tanks are highly recommended. Minimum Tank Size: 180 US Gallons. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/Marine/A_Hispidus/ ~PP> Thank you for your time. Best regards, Todd

Re: help with my puffer. Unplugging an undergravel filter? - 07/14/07 Again, thanks a bunch for your help, I was wondering.... if the nitrates are high, could I just eliminate the tube connecting the powerheads to the undergravel filter and would that in a sense stop the nitrate factory??? <You can do that, but may want to add some more live rock to compensate the missing nitrite and ammonia removing capacity of the "turned off" undergravel filter (see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ugfiltmarfaqs.htm). Live rock will provide the same biological filtration (ammonia->nitrites->nitrates) as the undergravel filter and even more. The following process is also known as natural nitrate reduction, when specific bacteria inside the rock turn nitrates into gaseous nitrogen, which will leave the system. Be sure to measure ammonia, nitrites and nitrates at least daily when changing the filtration of a system. Cheers, Marco.>

Picked on Puffer  1/23/07 Hello, <Hi Jamie, Pufferpunk here> I have been searching the internet for answers but have only found pretty general answers.  We have had a porcupine puffer for about 6-8 months now.  He has been alone in a 39 gallon tank up until about a month ago.  He was getting too big!  We ended up setting up a 72 gallon bowfront to keep him in and thought he would like to have some friends.   <Your puffer will eventually need a minimum of 100g.> We added a Vlamingi Tang and a Chocolate Tang.   <This tank is too small for all 3 of these fish at adult sizes, IMO.> The Vlamingi is about the same length as the puffer and the chocolate is quite a bit smaller.  The puffer is very docile as far as I can see but I think the Vlamingi may be picking on him.  I thought a puffer would be the "tough" one but it doesn't seem like he will fight back or even stick up for himself. Every time the puffer swims around the tank the Vlamingi swims right next to him or even right above him.  It seems like the puffer is trying to avoid him but neither one is visibly picking on the other.  I'm not sure if this is territorial or just friendly behavior.  It looks as if the Vlamingi is herding the puffer around.  What do you think? <I have always been surprised at how shy puffers are, considering the many forms of protection it has: spines, puffing & poison.  They are rarely seen during the day & difficult to photograph (in the wild).  Most kept in captivity would prefer to be alone or with smaller fish, leaving them the main focus of the tank.> On another note my puffer is such a picky eater.  He is a little krill baby.  Can you suggest a way to get him to eat other foods that will help to grind his teeth?  They don't seem overgrown at all and I have heard they will grind them on rocks to keep them down as well.  I just worry that we are not helping him nutrition wise or teeth wise with the krill alone.  We have added tiny hermit crabs and snails in hopes that he will eat them but he just looks at them.   <He may eventually get the hermits but they are adept at ducking into their shells when threatened.  You are correct about the nutrition--I have read countless stories of puffers fed a diet of only krill, developing lock-jaw.  You must get him on other foods.   Here are a few articles to help you with that: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?p=53 http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?p=74   Good luck with Puffy!  They make wonderful, personable pets, especially kept as singletons.  ~PP> I appreciate any assistance you can provide. Thank you!  Jamie Johnson

Hello/Goodbye to shrimp, snails... with SW puffers, sys. mostly I guess     1/14/07 Hello I wrote a few months ago, I just wanted to say Thank You and that I have a 75 gallon tank 3 1/2 foot wide with 45lb. live rock 1 maroon clown and 3 damsels, 1 cleaner shrimp and 5 turbo snails. <Ok> I got 2 baby puffers 1 month and 1/2 ago and they seems so far to get along with all my other fish <fishes> and; also I have 2 anemones and 1 coral flower rock <? Not sure what exactly this would be..>, My puffers play with all my fish and love the cleaner shrimp. <What species puffers are these? Your tank is woefully small for the adult sizes of most marine puffers...> I do have 1 question, I was wandering why sometimes I get brown stuff I think called red slime on my glass ?   <Brown and/or green algae on the glass, or 'diatoms' are not the same as what is known as red slime algae, or Cyanobacteria. If this brown is only appearing on your glass, then this is normal and to be expected. The easiest solution to this is to purchase a magnetic glass cleaning device. Cyanobacteria typically infests sandbeds and rocks, as well as glass and pumps... just about any surface it can get itself onto! Oftentimes Cyanobacteria is a sign of a tank cycling through its normal algae phases, or a coupling of over feeding and under circulating. Read here for more information on Cyanobacteria, to determine which your tank contains: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm > I put the turbo snails and it seemed to work well so far, my water is perfect other than the nitrates being just at the okay level, already done a water change with osmosis. <Okay level doesn't really tell us much. Real numbers are more important here. If you are testing with some sort of dip strip test kit, go ahead and ditch it. They are notoriously inaccurate.> is there anything I need to know at this point, Is there more I should know to maintain good water quality and health for my tank? maybe add something else or should I just maintain for now? <You don't mention what type filtration is provided on your aquarium, nor how much flow is maintained. If you don't already utilize one, a vegetable refugium/filter is always a great, beneficial addition to a tank, which not only increases filtration and stability, but also provides the benefits of addition of more water to the running system size as well as providing a safe haven for microbiota. Another worthy addition, if you don't already have one would be a quality protein skimmer. Beyond this, just executing standard water changes, and monitoring testing results should be sufficient.> thinking about getting a turbo sterilizer, Is this a good thing to get? <There is much conflicting information regarding UV sterilizers and marine tanks. My personal recommendation is to save your money unless you find an absolute need for it.> Thanks ICE <Hope I've helped you here! -JustinN>

Very little tank, puffer  - 08/15/06 First I have to say please don't laugh.  I have no idea what I am doing. <Obviously you do... you're contacting us for help...> My son came in from the dock with a 1 1/2" puffer fish (very cute) added with Mom, can I keep him. I took an old 6 gallon fresh water tank put him in it with water from the beach and ran to the aquarium store.  They sold what they felt was the best filter that came with a sponge, charcoal and white porous little cylinders.  We added two sand perch maybe two inches long and 4 small hermit crabs.  All was  well and I was doing a partial water change w/beach water every other week. (fish and water from intercoastal beach)  Now we have freed the sand perches and put in two very tiny damsels one stripe, 1"' and one blue w/yellow tail," also one small star fish.  Now they came home from the  beach with a very small flounder. I keep telling them no more fish but I need to know HOW MANY. <Mmm, not even the puffer in due course...>   I have asked all the stores and every one gives me a different answer. Thanks for your info Carol <Please read this with your son: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffersysfaqs.htm Puffers are very "messy"... and this system will not support this small fish for long... Bob Fenner>

SW lessons not evidently altogether learned, Puffer sys.  - 04/19/06 Bob, <Actually, Jodie here.  Not as good, but I sure try!> First, a confession. <How long has it been since your last?  I kid, I kid.> Forgive me for diving into this hobby without first educating myself. I have spent two years learning about saltwater aquariums at the expense of more than a few fish and invertebrates. <Many people have, myself included (in the beginning).  At least you've seen the error of your ways...I hope.> I have also learned that most fish stores will sell you whatever you want without checking your experience level, commitment, or the age of the aquarium the animal is going into. <Most, yes.> I found Wet Web Media by accident and now read it religiously and I no longer buy anything without first researching it's requirements. Our family has lost hundreds of dollars worth of beautiful fish by listening to local fish stores. Money isn't the object when you have to explain the death of your pet to your son or daughter. <...or when you have to see some poor fishes death throes in your "captive ocean".> I'm sorry I hadn't found this site sooner. We have two tanks, both 30 gallons. <Nano by some standards, can be difficult to maintain proper parameters.> Both are fish only with live rock. One contains a 5" puffer. <Yikes.> I know, it's too big for his environment. <Waaaaay too small.  This fish will suffer stunting, at the VERY least.  Puffers are active fishes and require many, many gallons for health and happiness.> The other has just a few small fish (I'm learning). I was cleaning the puffer's tank the other day and a rock fell. I turned it over to see if I could get more color on it and I found what looks like feather dusters, a little smaller than a pencil eraser. Is that what it is? <Probably; they tend to come in on live rock and then cover everything.> How do I take care of it? <Well, first of all, take it out of the puffer's tank.  He will almost certainly "sample" it.  Then POOF!  No more dusters.> It's a 2 year old tank, they seem to be taking care of themselves. <Yes, they usually do.> Do they like light? <It's not required, per se.> Are they nocturnal? <No.> I have more questions than you have time. <Is that a challenge?> Thanks for reading this. Any help is appreciated. <Charlie, please do get your puffer a much larger tank a.s.a.p.  It really is inhumane to cram a 5" puffer in a 30 gallon tank.  If you have any more questions, please ask!  We're here to help.  Cheerio,  Jodie>   Sincerely,    Charlie

Re: Puffer in too small system... - 04/19/2006 Thanks Jodie, <That's what I'm here for!> The puffer started out at about an inch and a half.  We are looking to put him and the rest of the crew in a 100 gallon tank and using one of the 30's as a refugium. <Good to hear (though your puffer may eat your other "crew").  What kind of puffer is this?  Many kinds will outgrow even a 100 gallon.> As I have said before, a fish shop will sell you what ever you want and rarely give you all the info you need to raise the livestock properly. <Sad but true.> If I had known about this site before, a few anemone, shrimp, an angel and an abalone would probably still be alive and in someone else's aquarium. <Maybe I'm too much of a pessimist, but more likely they would've just died in someone else's tank.> Recently, at a local shop, I was looking at some huge hermit crabs. When the person grabbed them out of the tank, they were so forceful that they sheered the claws and a few legs off in the process. <Grrr.> Needless to say, in our area of Huntington Beach California, we are down to one reliable shop. They are very small, very few fish, but very healthy and they ask questions. They won't sell me what I can't keep (shocker). Thanks for the advise and all of the WWM postings. I'll probably be asking you about filtration for the 100 gallon in the near future.  I use power filters now, but I don't think they would work very well in a large marine aquarium. <Power filtration, as in canisters?  You'll want a good one of these with your puffer.  They are messy eaters, and this will save you a lot of trouble.  Just keep up on their maintenance, as they can be nitrate factories if neglected.> But still, I'm an amateur at this. <We all must start somewhere.> Have a great day! <And you as well!  Cheerio,  Jodie>   Charlie

SW Puffer Systems/ Possible Disease - 3/24/2006 Hi Crew Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer. <<I will try.>> I have kept a large dog faced puffer (now 11 inches long) in a 100 gallon (UK) tank for five years, after spending hours and hours reading your site I decided to introduce live rock about a week ago.  The water parameters are: Nh3  0 ppm No2  0.1 ppm <<Should always be Zero.>> No3  30-40ppm  10% water changes per week required! <<Puffers are very sensitive to such things.  I do 50% weekly changes on my puffer tanks.>> Ph     8.3-8.4 alk 12dkh ca  370 phosphate 0.1 silicate    0 temp 78 - 80 s.g 1.022 The tank has a bare bottom, now with live rock, huge circulation (60X per hour) and an AquaC Remora pro skimmer imported from America - on your site's recommendation.  I am very pleased with it <<As am I, with mine :).>> Also 2 large Eheim 2028 externals.  I supplemented the calcium when I introduced the live rock with Tropic Marin Bio Calcium, because the reading was 310 and I would like to give the rock a chance to grow corallines. <<Ok.  Be sure not to push it too high.>> I noticed 2 days after introducing the rock and dosing the calcium, that he has large white markings in his fins, they are not like spots more like splodges (hope that is a relevant term!!) <<I'm not sure it is a term at all! :)>> and they don't seem to protrude from his fins more like they are in the fins themselves, the marks are about 2mm in length and he has 5 of them in total. He had a case of ich about 4 years ago when I introduced a Tang, I feel that this does not look like the same thing as they are much bigger and don't look as if they protrude, also in the past he has had one of these marks on his fins which came to nothing.  To confuse matters more, he has also lost a little of the colour in his tail fin, he has however, recently taken to resting his tail on the Tunze stream pump, because this has now become the new area where he rests after I introduced the rock.  This has left me thinking is this a parasite from the live rock (well cured),  or could it be explained away with his tail on the pump- and dosing of the calcium somehow affecting his fins. <<I think you may have had some die-off in the rock, hence the nitrite reading.  I wouldn't blame the pump, or the calcium for his marks.  This could be little more than a small display of stress.>> I am resisting the urge to panic (although it is building!! ) because his behavior is normal, no scratching or labored breathing, and as I have mentioned I feel sure he has had a similar mark before. Any ideas you have would be appreciated. <<Increase the volume of your water changes, and keep an eye out for changing behaviour.>> Thank you for your advice past and present. Dave Squire (England) <<Glad to help.  Lisa.>>

Dogface puffer caught in powerhead    2/17/06 Ok I have a puffer that was caught in a powerhead <Too common... intakes, overflows need to be screened...> last Thursday, he hasn't really eaten since then, but is still swimming around in his cave breathing a bit harder than normal. tests show no ammonia, nitrites or nitrates and pH is at 8.2-8.4 temp is 82 in his hospital tank. I have been treating him with MelaFix and PimaFix <Worthless... in fact, worse than this... may interrupt nitrification> daily for the past 5 to 6 days, I will be doing a water change again today. My question is this. The area that was stretched from the middle of his stomach to the top of his tail fin is turning into this slim/lint looking stuff that is falling off and under that there is white skin, I don't see any redness anywhere, so I'm not sure if this is just normal for the new skin to start growing back or not. He hasn't eaten for 8 days now, but 2 days ago he had interest in food for the first time since the accident, he only ate a very small piece of shrimp. I'm also putting Zoe vitamins in the water to hoping it will benefit him some since he hasn't eaten. I have seen him use the bathroom on several occasions. The last two times it is white and breaks up as soon as it leaves his body. His eyes are still bright and watches me when I'm sitting at the tank checking on him. Is there anything else that I can do for the little guy. Thanks for all your help in this matter, have a good one. :) <Read on WWM re Tetraodont and other puffer Systems, Disease. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Systems, Comp.  2/14/06 Hello my fellow fish friends. Hope all is well. <Hi there, Leslie here with you this glorious morning. All is well in my world thanks for asking!> My question is this I have a dogface puffer he got sucked up into a powerhead on 2-9-06. <Oh my so sorry to hear that. I keep my power head intakes covered with sponges for just that reason. The sponges would need to be cleaned on a regular basis.> I have been treating him with Melafix and Pimafix in a hospital tank, yesterday he took a nip at some food on the bottom of the tank, first time I have seen him attempt to eat since the accident, so I'm hoping he will pull through. < I hope so as well.  These guys typically have very good appetites but can go on hunger strikes if stressed. Eating is always a good sign. Continue to offer him a variety of meaty seafoods with a vitamin supplement and perhaps some Beta Glucan, which is excellent for the immune system. You can find this at most health food stores > When he gets better and after a couple of months to get his strength back, would I be able to get another puffer of the same type or a different one like a porcupine puffer. His house is a 220 gallon tank with 3 domino damsels and a 4 inch lion fish,( who no matter what I try, or additives on the food will only eat ghost shrimp which I don't know is good or bad in the long run.) <That is a nice size home for your puffer. Keeping Puffers together can be tricky. The folks who manage to pull it off are those who have larger tanks and vary the species.  So you would be best to try a puffer of another species rather than another Dogface. I don't have much experience with Lionfish.  Care not to over feed and a varied diet is always best. Have a look at these articles….. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lions&rels2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lionfdgfaq2.htm> Then I would also like to get a Niger trigger fish if possible down the road. <That should be fine.> Thanks for your input on this. Have a good one. <Your most welcome and I will thanks, Leslie!> Puffer Stuck to Powerhead Intake - 2/10/2006 I sent an email last night about my dogface puffer being stuck to my AquaClear 70 powerhead. <<Yes, both received, this one responded to.>> My husband came home and found him like that and unplugged the powerhead and the puff was able to come out and deflate himself, but his body ( his tummy area) was all stretched out of shape which is to be expected. <<Not good news at all.  How big is your puffer?  A healthy puffer should not get stuck to an intake, unless the pull is very strong, and the puffer is small.>> I called my local pet store and they told me to keep trying to feed him and that there is really nothing that I can do at this point. <<Sure there is.  Optimize water quality in a hospital tank, watch for and treat infection, and cover your intake on the powerhead.>> Well I was going to leave him in the main tank but the domino damsels were picking at him where the power head had stretched his skin so much that it looks like he has breaks in the skin in certain areas. <<Not good at all.  Wise to separate them.  You may consider using Melafix to prevent infection here.>> So I couldn't catch the damsels, but was able to easily catch the puff with water from his tank and put him in a 20 gallon with his rock cave that he sleeps in, he is just hovering in the cave, he isn't using his tail fin or anal fin hardly at all since this was smashed up when he was sucked up from the tail end up towards his stomach. I feel bad for the little guy and will put a screen on the power head once I turn it back on. <<Most definitely.>> It did have the tube that narrows down at the end on it I guess it wasn't enough to keep him out. Please advise what I should or can do at this point. <<I am curious to find the underlying cause of your puffer's weakness.  What size is your tank? Tank mates?  Ammonia, nitrIte, nitrAte and pH readings? I have a very dim light on, on his hospital tank, which is the same moonlight that I used on the display tank, should I keep it dimly lit or still do the day and night cycles. <<I would keep it dim until he is less stressed.>> Thanks in advance for all your help. <<You're welcome.  Lisa.>>

Arothron manilensis systems  9/10/05 I want someone to try and clarify something for me about the narrow lined puffer. I received a reply back from you guys about a month ago stating that this species would get way too large for a 90 gallon system. However, from reading the info listed on your site, this fish doesn't sound as if it gets to o large. From anyone's experience with this fish, what size can I expect a narrow lined puffer to reach in a tank? <Mmm, Arothron manilensis does grow to a foot maximum... in the wild... It will/would be "crowded" somewhat in a ninety... likely limiting its growth ultimately to a handful of inches shorter. Have seen this fish kept in smallish systems... would it have lived longer, better in larger? Bob Fenner>

Hungry Puffer 8/15/05 Hi.  I have a 55 gallon FO tank.  I have a porcupine puffer (4-5 inches now) who has eaten my two damsels over the last week. <Happens...>   I also have a percula clown and a small yellow tang.  I added the puffer about 6 months ago and at the time of purchase was unaware how large it would get. <Pays to investigate...> I then figured I would keep it until it outgrew my tank. <... dismal> Maybe that time is now.  I really don't want to return him to the LFS but it may be in the best interest of the remaining fish. <Yes... and the puffers> I have been feeding the puffer more in hopes of keeping his mind off the clown.  Will this work? <To some extent... but all are likely mal-affected by declining water quality as a consequence...> What do you suggest?  Also if I do return the puffer could I replace him with a Niger trigger <Not a good choice, your system is too small, the fish too aggressive> or would he go after the clown too?  I hope to upgrade to a larger tank (125 I hope) in about a year. Would he be OK in a 55 until then. Thanks, Chris <No... Enjoy investigating your choices... Bob Fenner>

Chillin' With Your Puffer?  Magnus Offers Some Thoughts... With my larger marine puffers I found that actually have the tank in the 70s not only seemed to have the fish a little more comfortable, but their metabolism was slowed enough that I noticed a vast difference in the water chemistry. It was enough that water changes seemed much easier, perhaps it was only my imagination. But, upon testing the water levels I did notice that the ammonia and nitrite/nitrate levels seemed a lot more stable (even though I happened to miss the weekly water change the previous week).  As for the puffers, while still the Aquatic Dogs of the SW world, I did notice a slight decrease in their intense drive to eat all the time. My Porc would go for food, but more of a leisurely pace (either due to the temperature slowing his actions, or the less "starving" feeling due to a decreased metabolism). I even attempted this on other larger puffers. My Dog-Face Puffers were almost unchanged aside from the fact that they seemed to be more content and not constantly drifting around the tank and rock work. I would catch them resting in their places more frequently, while they did "jump and swim at me" when they saw me, they seemed less paranoid in searching for food. My lineatus (striped Toadfish) while it was large didn't seem to like the change in temp. Became less active to the point that it seemed unfair. So I raised the temperature. Upon testing this theory a friend of mine with a Mappa tried the drop in temp, and it did seem the puffer was less active and wasn't at a constant search for food. It would rest in the tank more, and he managed to get some great pictures of it. My Burrfish also seemed less 'agitated" the was the only puffer (relative) that would actually occasionally take a bite out of the rock or decor. That stopped when the water level was dropped about 8 degrees.  In my opinion, the only puffer that really had a drastic difference was my Common Porc.. Puffer. John C (Magnus)

Leslie's Thoughts on Chillin' The Puffers.. Hi Jager, Decreasing temps in general will slow metabolism and slow growth. It also seems to slow activity at least in my experience, which would be consistent with John's observations of these fish kept in lower temps. It will also help to decrease bacterial loads. Most bacteria love heat. I have heard of and used this method many times to help fight bacterial infections as well as raising seahorse fry and juveniles. We used decreased temps to help prevent bacterial infections. I don't think you can generalize about the temps of all large puffers based on their size. In lowering the temp of any of your critters including the marine Puffers I believe you need to take into consideration their geographic distribution in the wild and if that range is wide it might be nice to know exactly where your fish came from if at all possible. Unless I am mistaken not all the large Puffers hail from the same waters. I am no geography/climate zone expert and I have never seen any of these fish in the wild as I do not dive yet, so I usually rely on resources like WetWebMedia, www.coralrealm.com, Baensch Marine Aquarium Atlases, and www.fishbase.org for information about the climate the fish are accustomed to. There is usually a climate zone i.e. tropical, subtropical, temperate or sub-temperate listed, which are based on latitude, a geographical distribution, or a temp range listed in these references. I seem to remember a discussion with Anthony re my Red Sea Masked Puffer needing a slightly warmer temp than I was keeping my other Puffers at. I just did a quick scan of all the Arothron puffers and Diodon Burrfish on fishbase.org. Most of the Arothron puffers are tropical with a few being listed as temperate and subtropical. The ones we commonly see in our hobby are all tropical. As for the Burrfish ....Diodon holocanthus and Diodon hystrix are listed as being subtropical while Diodon antillarum and Diodon liturosus are listed as tropical I personally would not keep any of the tropical puffers in the low 70s. There is so much less room for error in our small aquariums than there is in the wild....small that is, by comparison to the ocean. I do not keep or believe that any of our critters should be kept on either end of the spectrum for any of their water parameter ranges.  Just my thoughts on the subject. HTH, Leslie 

Too much flow for Burrfish? Hello Crew.  Thank you for considering my questions in the past as well as today's.  I am very grateful, as are my fish and corals. <Welcome> My question today is in regard to having too much flow for my Burrfish.  My situation is that I recently got my big tank (117 gal. FOWLR) plumbed after running in it 3/4 of the way full while I acquired all the necessary hardware.  I have two Eheim 1260 pumps serving duty as overflow/sump returns, and I have one 1260 running closed loop to generate flow latitudinally (the tank is 7' long).  The reason for adding the closed loop pump was due to the fact that the Eheim pumps aren't living up to my expectations, and the flow from the return diffusers seems negligible. <Really? Am surprised here... is there some sort of restriction on their intake sides?>   I have 4' of head and one 90 degree elbow on each return, and the pump curve shows me that I should be getting approximately 500 gph per pump, but it really doesn't seem like it.  I'm guessing with all three pumps, I'm getting approximately 1500 gph. <... please re-read these last sentences... if you have three pumps... these should produce about 1,500 gph... which is what you state... You can/could actually measure the flow... with a container of known volume, a time device with a second increment measure...> The reason why I question whether or not it is too much flow for the Burrfish is that he went from swimming all over the tank to staying in one spot and swimming against the current.  He doesn't appear to be stressed, but I never see him stop swimming. <Not a problem... an intelligent, playful animal species... this is not too much current for it I assure you> I also have a dogface puffer in the tank with him, and the extra flow seems to have re-invigorated him.  The puffer went from sulking in a cave most of the time to swimming out in the open regularly, occasionally taking refuge in the cave and having a rest.  That's why I worry about the Burrfish, because he never seems to rest.  Should I be concerned? <No> There are areas of lower flow where he can take refuge, but he seems to stay out in the current.  I would happily remove the closed loop pump if it weren't for the fact that my tank is a Cyanobacteria generating nightmare. <Look toward nutrient limiting, avoidance strategies here... we have much posted re this> The additional flow seems to be helping, as is the addition of a bigger skimmer (a G-3 model made by someone whose name escapes me at the moment).  I should mention that the tank also houses an 18" snowflake eel, as well as a 24" zebra eel.  I have cut feeding way back (now only every other day), and hope to see positive results in the disappearance of the Cyanobacteria.  Considering everyone's adult sizes and the expectation that the Cyanobacteria will subside in time, is there room for any more fish in this tank? <Mmm, no... you already have more than you should in this 117 gallons> I would really like to get a yellow tang, or possibly a school of six green Chromis.  What do you think about this stocking plan?  My tank contains approximately 100 lbs of live rock and 60 lbs of aragonite, and I'm considering adding another 50 lbs of live rock. Thank you for your consideration. Lou <Mmm, time to advance your search for a larger system, places to put it/them... Bob Fenner>

Optimal Size Tank for One Stars and Stripes Puffer Hello Crew at WWM: <Jacqueline> Your website is excellent! Thank you for your interest and helpfulness to all of us hoping to create a comfortable healthy environment for our Puffers! <Welcome> My first question: What do you consider the optimal size tank for "One Very Special Stars and Stripes Puffer" (probably about 2 months old...I have owned him/her for one month, approximately 5 cm not including his tail fin). <A forty-sixty gallon currently... a couple hundred gallons to larger down the road> I am a relatively new fish owner (6 months with 2 KOI that I had outside in a small lily pond) whom I brought inside. However, I have been fascinated with animal behaviourism for over 30 years; for years I have maintained an aviary and specialize in handicapped birds, and a breeder/exhibitor of many champion Paso Fino horses. The point being, fish (but not animals in general are new to me). <Neat> <Marina's great-grandfather bred and showed champion Paso Finos.> I saw a Stars and Stripes Puffer in a restaurant and "fell in love"... could not keep my eyes (or thoughts) off that little fish. My local tropical fish store located this baby puffer and he/she arrived in perfect condition. From the onset he has been extremely personable! He is not afraid of anything and he is so happy! His territory is entirely his, he stays in my kitchen where I interact with him quite a bit. Not having any knowledge of "Puffers" (dumb on my part) I worked out a deal with him...I feed him and he lets me "pet" him on his back. He loves this! I can see that they are intelligent because he figured so many things out quickly, such as rubbing his head and back against the stems of the fabric lily pads in his tank. He looks for his "petting"! Then, like "letting the horse out of the barn before you have checked the fencing", I, for the first time, did a Google search on "Puffers". Imagine my shock to learn that they are highly toxic!! <Mmm, not to the touch... to humans or fishes> For three days I have been dumbfounded. Is anyone aware of the degree of toxicity if bitten by a Puffer? <Not toxic to be bitten (only to bite/eat some of them)... but does hurt if/when they are large/r> My young puffer shows no aggression, he knows he is alone in his tank, so I carefully continue the "pets". <No worries> I realize I must add to his diet. Currently I feed him one small brine shrimp twice a day cut into 4 sections and presented to him with eyebrow tweezers. I do not deviate from this routine. I am aware that it is very important to birds and horses (and dogs) to keep the same schedule. It gives them security and confidence in their environment. <Yes... a very good point, not often discussed in our interest> Another example of Puffer's intelligence. He knows he will have 4 pieces of shrimp: 2 very small, 1 medium and then 1 large.. following that comes the "petting". Where can I purchase high quality shellfish, snails, green algae, etc. for optimal nutrition. <Human food stores> What kind of a regime would you suggest to keep this Puffer healthy and small as possible. I understand the word "scanty". I almost "weigh" his meager portions of shrimp! In the barn we have a saying..."do not make eye contact" with the horses or you will cave in and feed them what they wish! Thank you so much for your interest and time... Puffer and Jackie <You can/could continue to feed daily... but as you state, just small amounts... Have you read through our puffer area?: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm scroll down... on puffer systems, feeding... Bob Fenner> 

Puffer fish toxins Hi, good morning (for some anyway) . <Evening now>  When I woke upon this morning 95% of all my fish were dead. <Sorry to hear that.> I had a porcupine puffer that was not looking good...stopped eating for two days. Could his death have caused a major toxin release that would have affected the rest of the fish in the tank? Dead this morning was puffer fish, 3 tangs, two damsels, 1 cardinal, a rabbit fish, two small clown fish Percs.  Alive still are all the inverts, 2 tomato clowns and a blue devil damsel fish. Please advise Thanks Rodney 75 gal tank: All water parameters were within reasonable ranges, slightly high in nitrates and nitrites. Ammonia level nearly zero. All the inverts seem to be ok... Thanks again Rodney <Well this is sort of tricky because Pufferfish in the porcupine family (Not the Boxfish subgroup) but the ones that can raise and lower spines generally cannot put out toxins on their own externally. Now the puffer dying could have sent the ammonia sky high as your high nitrites and nitrates seem to say, or if the puffer has bite marks or missing skin then the fish might have been feeding on the carcass overnight which would have killed them very quickly. Your tank is fairly highly stocked with those 3 tangs and a puffer so the water quality might have done it in as well. if you can check the body for bites or missing skin, and keep testing that water. if it was the Tetraodon toxin then a PolyFilter bag and a lot of good skimming will help, though it should have and would have killed everything in the tank. Tetraodotoxin is the strongest poison made in nature and the little in a 1" puffer can kill a human so if a larger one did get eaten or picked on everything involved would be dead. Once again my condolences.> <Justin (Jager)>

Re: Puffers Fighting M. Maddox, Thank you for the quick response. I'm surprised to hear that my tank is too small for my porcupine. My understanding was that his adult length would be approximately 12", and it was also my understanding that 12" was the adult size of the dogface and Burrfish as well. If a 117 gallon tank is too small for a porcupine, then what size would you consider to be the minimum for the porcupine? <The common porcupine puffer, Diodon holocanthus, (according to www.fishbase.org) attains an adult size of app. 50 centimeters, or ~20 inches. This is likely to be slightly smaller in captivity, from 12-20 inches. For a 12" fish, I wouldn't go smaller than a 150 gallon breeder> Lou  <M. Maddox> 

Puffers, Knowledge in General  I have a 75 gallon tank that has nothing in it and was wanting a  porcupine puffer. Do I need all of that live rock and sand or can I do it  cheaper I was thinking maybe I could get some saltwater plants instead of  live rock etc.  <Would be better, best to have both...> Is there some kind of grass that would be clean and would cover the floor of the aquarium and would that be good for the puffer and later I was thinking about getting a valentini or dogface puffer would that be good. I will get other little fish in time. Should I set up my tank with damsels and if so how many should I get. I am trying the cheapest way to do it. Thanks <Take the long read over the sections on marine macroalgae, puffers of different groups... and associated FAQ files stored on the site www.wetwebmedia.com under the Marine Index.  Bob Fenner>

Lactoria fornasini Hi All, <Tyler> I just bought a 55 gallon tank to go along with my 135 gallon reef. I have always wanted to keep cowfish. My plan is to keep two thornback cowfish (Lactoria fornasini) in this tank along with live rock and sand (no other fish). I am going to run a AquaC Urchin for a skimmer but am lost after that. Do cowfish require a refugium for filtration or would I be okay with just a sump? I want to get everything straight before I start. Thanks a lot. Tyler <They do need, appreciate good water quality... and this species can become very large... see fishbase.org re... and can indeed be very "messy"... a refugium would be best... a sump at least useful... and they will need larger quarters. Bob Fenner>
Lactoria fornasini - Take 2
Thanks for the response. You said that this type of fish gets large, but this is the smallest of the cowfish at 5.9", correct?  <No... nine inches maximum... you obviously did not look on fishbase.org...> Scott Michaels book calls for a minimum of 55 gallons for these and they will be the only fish in the tank. Is this still acceptable? <For one...> One more question. Where in the heck can I buy these online? I did a search and didn't come up with much. Thanks for the help. <Please see WWM re... Bob Fenner>

Boxfish Hi Bob, <Or Maddox, and he's listening to Yahel... :D> Yesterday, I asked you about putting two thornback cowfish in my soon to be 55 gallon. You didn't think this would be a good idea. <Boxfish grow too large for a 55> In your opinion, what is the best all around boxfish to put in a 55 gallon? Things I would like to keep in mind for this would be availability, hardiness, ability to get along with other tankmates. <No boxfish will be able to remain in a 55 gallon indefinitely (I'm not aware of a boxfish species that attains less than 18"), no boxfish is hardy, though Whitley's boxfish is probably the hardiest out of the genus. Boxfish are best housed alone or with other peaceful tankmates that won't outcompete them for food> Thanks. <You're welcome - M. Maddox>

Keeping Puffer fish 1/19/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk again> What do you mean a pH of 8? I have never heard of measurement referring to pH. <Maybe you're from somewhere else than I (USA), but pH here is measured by numbers, 7.2 being about neutral.> The pet store was out of Beadlet anemones, Thanks for the advice. Why would a puffer attack a sedimentary fish? <Sedentary fish don't move around much or they rest a lot, making them easy targets for aggressive biters.> Sorry for all the questions, but with your profile of 11 tanks and so many brackish water fish I'm confident that your advice is of good standing. <Thank you for your confidence.> I don't know if it's a crush coral sediment or not, but the bags it came in said Ultra Reef Marine Sand. <That looks like it might be just plain sand. I would think if the sand you were using was aragonite, your pH would be much higher. ~PP> Your Friend, Brackishbeast 

A puffer fish question Hi my name is Kevin, I was wondering if I can keep a porcupine puffer by itself in a 30 gallon tank? If I can't then please tell me the minimum tank size in which a porcupine puffer by itself live in.  <Kevin, the porcupine puffer (Diodon holocanthus) is a very active fish that grows to be a healthy 12-15 inches in captivity if properly taken care of.  This fish needs at least 100g of space due to it's adult size and large bio load...this fish is messy!  <Good Luck!  Heather> Red Sea Masked Puffer in a 75G?? (9/7/04) Hey, <Hey to you as well!! > I have a 75 gallon fish only tank right now with a keyhole angel, yellow tang, and two ocellaris clowns. The two clowns will be leaving the tank to go into my reef tank soon, and I was wondering if I could keep a Red Sea Masked puffer in my fish only tank. <A bit small for that Puffer.> There is one that is six inches long sitting at the LFS, and he's been there forever (about half a year) I love him. <I love them too, one of my favorites.....Hmmmm I say that about a lot of fish :). They are very pretty Puffers, but that fish has a potential of doubling in length. One inch of Puffer per gallon is a good rule if you need a guideline. So he would soon out grow your tank. > There's  nothing wrong with him. <That's great ! It's very tempting I know but he is best left in the LFS unless you can provide the space he needs. > If I kept up on water changes, and fed sparingly, to make sure he grew slow, do you think I could keep him with just the two other fish? I never have a nitrites, ammonia, and my nitrates are always below 200 ppm. Yikes! I am hoping that is a typo with one extra zero.  Less than 200 ppm leaves a lot of room for guessing......anywhere from 1  to 199. If your nitrates are even close 200 ppm now and you are not having problems you may be in store for some. That is not good for the long term health of your fish. You will have trouble for sure if you add a 6" Puffer. Please review this article on Nitrates in the Marine Aquarium Systems http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm .> Its easy keeping everything under check now, so do you think it could be done? <Nope not a good idea, sorry to disappoint you :(. > Thanks, Evan P.S. If Bob Fenner writes back on this post, I just want to say I love your book :), its my bible. <I'm not Bob but I will pass it along and I am sure he will appreciate the kudos....it's mine as well! Your most welcome, Leslie>

Red Sea Masked Puffer in a 75G?? Follow up (9/8/04) Hey, <Hey Evan, Leslie here again> You're right. <WooooHoooo I love being right LOL :)! > That was a typo. Its always below 20 ppm lol <Thank goodness. OK, much relieved now I can sleep :). Ya gotta check those emails for typos so you don't give anyone else a near heart attack :). Some of the folks around here might be a tad older than I am ;) >   Thanks for the help. <Your most welcome. Cheers, Leslie>

Nitrite Levels and Puffer Fish  8/11/04hi <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Just recently I have stripped down my tropical tank and made it into marine.  I brought all my equipment of a friend who was selling up. He kept all of the living rock and coral sand living with the fish.  The nitrites went high then went to zero now they are going back up again.  The fish I have are one regal tang one clown one green Chromis and one porcupine puffer. The tank is Rio 125L filters are the standard Rio filter with a 1000lph power head, fitted and an external filter of about 600lph turnover. I also have a SeaClone protein skimmer.  Should I worry about the levels of nitrite being produced because of the fish or will they be ok while my tank finishes its cycle, is there anything I can do to help this situation and the fish along? <I never suggest cycling a tank with fish in it.  Ammonia & nitrItes are extremely toxic to fish.  Living in toxic water will compromise their immune systems & can cause permanent damage.  Porc puffers especially, are very susceptible to ich, brought on by a lowered immune system.  I highly suggest finding some SW Bio-Spira to finish cycling the tank immediately.  ~PP>.               cheers Andy.

Puffer Room Mates <Hi, MikeD here> Hi.  I have a 40 gallon saltwater tank with 25 lbs. of live rock and a 1.5 inch stars and stripes puffer.<He will definitely outgrow this within a year or so>  I have the opportunity to add a sailfin tang, Scopas tang, and pacific blue tang all between .5 and 1 inch long.<Bad, bad, bad. First off, one tang per tank as tangs are famous for not liking each other, and since they are all packing weapons, that's doubly dangerous, with each tang having a switchblade at the base of its tail and usually a willingness to use it. Second, the smallest minimum recommended tank for a tang is 75 gal, usually 100 gal.> Knowing that I will be upgrading to a larger tank in a couple of years<You won't have a couple of year with JUST your puffer, and even less if you add another fish. Stars & Stripes puffers commonly grow to at least 10" and can reach 1 1/2 feet>, is this a good combination of fish or are there other species that you recommend to go with my puffer.  And how large a tank should I eventually get?<I'd suggest a minimum of a 125 gal. tank, 72" long. A single tang would make a good friend, as well as possibly a wrasse and/or a hogfish. Squirrelfish also make good additions>  Thank you for your assistance<Good luck. I've got one myself that I've had just a few months and it's already doubled in size. By the way, shrimp from your supermarket would be a better basic food than anything from your LFS and will keep your tank and water quality better> Pat

Porcupine Puffer pond snails?  7/11/-4 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I took your advice and inoculated my 90 gallon with Marine Bio-Spira and live rock. <Great job!> I acquired a small 2 1/2" Porc. puffer for the tank. Other than paying $240 for 4 rocks (5.99 lb) things look good. <Those must be some rocks!> What kind of clean up critters do I need for the tank? I have seen reference to common freshwater pond snails but don't know if they are for cleaning or food for the puffer? <Pond snails may be ok for food, but if your puffer doesn't eat them right away, you must remove them or they will die & foul the water (they'll die soon after hitting the salt water).  Try: frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye). Snails are an essential food to a puffer's diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails. As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat. You can also try: puffers will eat cut-up pieces of scallops, shrimp, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish. Mine love to chase live crayfish, fiddler crabs and gut-loaded ghost shrimp. I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies. I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed. Smaller puffers (under 2") need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week. Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded. Medium sized puffers (2-4") should be fed every other day. Larger puffers (4-6) should be fed every 3-4 days. You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food! Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness.  Buy the clams, etc that are closed, they are fresh.  I crack them open a bit, so the puffer can get at the meat.  Their teeth will scrape the shells as they are eating out of it.> I have also heard Hermit Crabs work? What do you recommend? <It all depends on your budget & how much you care about their live tank mates as becoming food.  It's a total crapshoot.  I kept a large red legged hermit crab for the past 6 months in with puffers & just noticed it "missing" this week.  I can't afford to try starfish or cleaner shrimp, but other folks have had success with them.  I have never had any luck with SW snails. It's totally up to the personality of the puffer.  You can't just keep feeding it, just so it won't eat it's "tank mates".> I was also wondering how big a puffer needs to be before they can have a live clam in the shell from the grocery store? and is it the open or closed clams that are alive? Thanks a lot!! <Enjoy your new puffer friend!  ~PP>

Tank Size For Porcupine And Lionfish? <Hi Pufferpunk here, answering the puffer portion of your question.><and Mike D here on the lionfish> Is 90 gallons sufficient for a fully grown Porcupine puffer (being the ONLY fish in the tank) with adequate filtration, skimming, etc? <It depends on what kind of porc puff you have.  If it is the Diodon holacanthus, they grow to 18", so you need a tank at least that wide.  If it is the Diodon hystrix , I've seen them as large as 3" in the wild.  Not for your average aquarist!  See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm  ~PP> Also wondering Tenecor 150gal (72"x24"x20") is sufficient for 2-3 adult Volitans Lionfish?<My first impulse is to say "NO", so I will.  While they MAY not get as large as they do in the wild, there's a very strong chance that they will.  I currently have 2 P. russelli and one P. Volitans in a 72" 125, where they've grown from the 3" size, with now all about 8"-9", and it's getting hazardous to maintain. In the very near future, all three will be going in the 300, which is much more appropriate.>  Thanks!!!!

Tank materials for puffers <Ananda here with an addendum...a couple of quotes from the earlier email: > I also noticed that there are smaller (than copepods) white worm-like critters stuck on the sides of the acrylic with the copepods, ... About the tank, we do have a larger tank planned, as the fish grow over time. We have been looking at 300+ gallon tanks. We have seen some large puffers! <I was looking at your email again, and realized you mentioned an acrylic tank. Puffers often have a tendency to "cruise the glass" when bored. They swim up and down repeatedly -- teeth up against the tank wall. When that tank wall is acrylic, you get *tons* of scratches. Kelly Jedlicki, aka "Kelly the Puffer Queen", spoke at a local marine aquarium club a while back. She brought slides. One of them showed her only acrylic tank when it was empty. It was so heavily scratched that you could barely see through the acrylic. Granted, she had several puffers in there, but she said it was the first and last acrylic tank she would ever get. I realize it will weigh a ton and require a dozen people to move the thing, but do look into getting a glass or "Starphire" tank when you upsize. --Ananda>
Tank materials for puffers II
Ananda- <Yep, I'm here :-) > Thanks for the input. We had been looking specifically at acrylic tanks. When Molly was feeling good, it was very much like her to cruise the sides of the tank, just as described. <Many types of puffers do this.> We do have scratches, & I noticed that the small "white things" tend to concentrate themselves on the scratches. Thanks so very much for all your help. <You're quite welcome. It would be awful to know you spent the big bucks on a giant acrylic tank, only to have you unhappy with your puffer when she scratches the heck out of it...! --Ananda> 

Puffer Injured by Powerhead 5/4/04 Please help!   <Hi Jill, Leslie at your service this evening. That's what I am here for and I will do my best!> I have a porcupine puffer. <Love them!!> Yesterday I found him stuck to the bottom of the power head.   <Utto,  I can relate. I made that mistake once. That must have been scary for both of you.  It's hard to believe that these big tough looking fish can actually get stuck to an intake, but they do> Actually his eye/head was stuck.   <Awwwww poor little guy I'm so sorry> As soon as I found him I unplugged the power head <Perfect> and he swam off. <That's a good sign> Where his head was stuck was swollen but appears to have gone down.> <OK that's good news> His eye is another story.  It has a bubble on it now.  His eye looks normal under the bubble though.  I don't think he can see out of the one eye.   Hmmmmm, he might not be able to.  If it was actually the eye itself that was involved rather than the surrounding tissue that is a good possibility. Hopefully the eye itself was not injured. This will be easier to assess once the swelling resolves a bit more. If it was just the surrounding tissue once the swelling goes down his eye and vision may be fine. > He was pretty stressed (as you can imagine) <Yes,  I bet he was>  and wouldn't eat last night. < Understandably so> (He usually eats everything) <I can relate and I bet he does>    He seems to be swimming normally today and he will eat.   <This is a good sign> I am wondering if there is anything I should be doing for him. We called the LFS and they said that there was nothing we could do except wait and see.  They said there was nothing we could do for him and to leave him alone.  Is this correct?   < Hmmmmm I guess that would be a matter of opinion. I am not so sure I agree with that.  I like to take the pro active approach. There are several interventions you can take to minimize the risk of infection and maximize the healing process: 1) For starters keep a very close eye on his eye and the surrounding tissue for any signs of secondary infection..... increased swelling, pink or reddened tissue.    2) Keep his tank very CLEAN. I like to do daily water changes when I have an injured fish and I am trying to prevent an infection. 3) Do what ever you can to keep his environment stress free. 4) Dim the lights or use ambient light only, maybe some sunglasses:).   5) You can certainly add some vitamins to his food. An easy way to do this is to pierce the food and soak it in a multi vitamin solution for about 15 min prior to feeding. Selcon and VitaChem are a good combo or a few drops of baby vitamins daily to food or directly to the water once a week. 6) Be sure to feeding nutritious foods 7) It maybe a good idea to have an broad spectrum antibiotic on hand should the eye or surrounding tissue begin to appear infected. Dr. Edward J. Noga in his book Fish Disease and Treatment recommends aggressively treating ophthalmic wounds to avert blindness.  Once the swelling has gone down a bit get a better look at that eye.  If the integrity of eye itself has been compromised then  I would be in favor of treating.  National Fish Pharmaceuticals   http://www.fishyfarmacy.com is an excellent source for aquarium medications as well as information. 8) Last but not least .....Puffer proof all powerheads and intakes with strainers at least or sponges. These will need to be rinsed clean frequently. > He made it through the night so I am hopeful.   <I'm glad to hear that good news. They are pretty tough resilient fish> This is my favorite fish <They are pretty special and quite endearing! > and I really want him to be ok. <Of course you do> Any advice would be helpful.  Thank you so much!  Jill <Your most welcome best of luck with your Puffer, Leslie>

Puffer Problem, New Cleaner Wrasse 5/4/04 Hi, your site is great and a big help to us fish keepers. <Good Evening Leslie here with you tonight. Thank you; it is a pleasure to help!> I have a little problem with my dog faced puffer, <Utto> last week I added a cleaner wrasse and ever since he has changed to a darker color and spends most of his time sat in the corner. <I suspect your Puffer is trying to be inconspicuous.... by blending into the rock and sand. Cleaner wrasses and gobies are not recommended tankmates for Puffers. The incessant pecking is often stressful and to much for their sensitive hides. The Labroides is doing his job very well and my puffer seems to pose for him as do the rest of the fish, the only problem is that every so often the wrasse picks a little too hard and the fish chase him a bit but always go back for more. As a marine biologist myself this suggests that the wrasse is just hungry and the fish are 'too clean' so I have made sure there is plenty of food in the tank. <These fish do not fare well in captivity and are better left in the ocean for many reasons. Please have a look at this article Cleaner Wrasses in the Genus Labroides here..... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/labroide.htm Is there anything you could suggest as of why my puffer seems down? <My guess is he does not like being picked at> My nitrate is also a little high, about 15-30, I'm doing plenty of water changes but struggling to keep it down. If you do not already have a protein skimmer I would strongly suggest one. Some other interventions include adding some additional live rock and some macroalgae for nutrient export.  > Also what would you say to a porcupine puffer as a little tank mate? <Little? Not for long. This would really depend on just how big ....big enough is. Definitely not until you have a handle on those nitrates. These endearing fish are hard to resist. I know they are one of my favorites. They are quite messy eaters and big waste producers. You are already having trouble keeping your Nitrates below 30. If you add another Puffer it will unfortunately only get worse. > The tank is big enough and is fish only. <Big enough? I have seen and heard some interesting assessments of big enough over the years. I guess this would depend on just how big your tank is and what other fish are already present.  A general stocking rule for Puffers is 10g of water to each inch of fish.  Each of those fish will eventually be a foot or more depending on the species you are keeping. So unless the tank is 200+ gallons or the Puffers are small and you plan on a bigger tank in the near future this would not be recommended. > Thanks for your time. Phil. <You are most welcome! Leslie>

Tank Size for Porcupine Puffer  5/3/04 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a 3 month old 80 gallon saltwater tank with an Emperor 400 filter and an undergravel filter with two power heads.  The substrate is about 2 inches of coral gravel.  There are two large volcanic rocks and two coral skeletons.  The livestock consist of one 5 inch Porcupine Puffer (just got him three days ago and he is doing fine so far) and two small 1 inch yellow tail blue damsels (they have lived in the tank for 2 and a half months.  They were the guinea pigs.) For the most part, the damsels have learned to live together...one lives in the middle of the tank and the other lives on the right.  The Porcupine Puffer has tried to eat one damsel but the damsel is quick and hides immediately.  I am sure the puffer has tried more than once to eat the damsels but I was a witness to this attack only once. My questions are: 1) Do I have room for more fish?  I want about two more fish. That's it.  If so, what type of fish would you recommend to be compatible with the puffer?  I am interested in getting a Naso Tang, a Blue Regal Tang or a Yellow Tang. <An 80g tank would be the very minimum for an adult porcupine puffer.  I usually like to see them in at least a 100g.  As you have already observed, your puffer is aggressive, even at a young age.  It won't get any better.  You could try some other small, quick fish, like more damselfish, that can get out of the way fast & hide.  I also suggest a more heavily decorated tank.  The bioload that your puffer will produce in a "small" tank as a 12" adult, will be enough to deal with.>   2) Should I get a protein skimmer and if so, which one? <Yes, you definitely need a protein skimmer!  Actually, on my 55g puffer tank, I have a HOB filter, a canister filter & a skimmer.  Look through the FAQs at WWM on skimmers.  Puffers are messy eaters and high waste producers. Extra filtration is necessary for these dirty fish. Immaculate aquarium upkeep is a must.> 3) What should I feed my puffer in addition to the krill I already feed it and how frequently should it be fed?  I have been told by my aquarium shop to feed the puffer 2 to 3 krill every three days.  He seems to be too hungry and seems to be  happy to be fed at least once per day, 2 shrimp each time. <One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet. All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish. Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild. Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye). Snails are an essential food to a puffer's diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails. As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat. Larger puffers will eat cut-up pieces of scallops, shrimp, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish. Mine love to chase live crayfish, fiddler crabs and gut-loaded ghost shrimp. I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies. I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed. Smaller puffers (under 2") need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week. Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded. Medium sized puffers (2-4") should be fed every other day. Larger puffers (4-6+") should be fed well every 3-4 days, with 1 smaller feeding in between. You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food! Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness.> Thanks for any help and advice you can give me.  Irene <You're welcome!  Enjoy your puffer friend!  ~PP>

Porcupine Puffer  5/3//04 Thank you for your great and quick response.  I am the person who asked you about the one puffer with the two blue damsels in an 80 gal tank.  I will do my best to take care of my puffer, Spike.  I guess I won't be getting more fish.  My tank is too small.  I want to take care of Spike the best I can and don't want to worry about so many other things.  I don't want more damsels.  I do have more decor in the tank.  I just didn't want to list them all.  I will get a protein skimmer today as well as a water cooler.  The weather has been very warm here in CA and the water temp is now 81!  I unplugged the heater two days ago after I had already turned it down. <I really don't think a cooler is necessary.  Temps of 78-82, or even a little higher for a few days is fine.  The only harm that could come to your fish is if it was kept at high temps for years, this would quicken it's metabolism & shorten it's lifespan.>   Do puffers jump out of tanks? <Definitely!  They are also excellent spitters.  Check out this cute site: http://www.puffers.org/.  ~PP> Irene

Cuban Yellow Boxfish <Hi Bryan, just want to apologize somehow I overlooked this email. I'm very sorry for the delay in response.>  Hey guys I just got a Cuban yellow boxfish 2 days ago. Everything was fine until I got up from watching the NCAA games to find the boxfish stuck to the side of my filter.  <This happens quite frequently with box fish. They can't swim very quickly and often get caught in the intakes. Place a sponge around the intake and it will take away the risk of it getting stuck on there.>  I turned off and the filter and freed the fish, but I am worried that the stress may have caused him to poison the tank.  <It's a viable concern, but it doesn't happen as frequently as you read about.>  I have taken him out of the tank and put him in a quarantine, but how long will it take before I will know if he poisoned the tank?  <within 12 hours you will see lethargy in the other tankmates. Doing a large water change will help dissipate the toxin should there be any in the water.>  Obviously I'll know if the other fish are dead in the morning, but any there any other signs. I have already done a water change on the main tank and have my carbon running as well.  <That would be the best course of action. Hopefully it all worked out well. Another thing you might want to consider is having a skimmer on hand just in case. If you do feel that he might have spread toxic material in the water, I have read reports of how skimming the water and doing water changes have greatly reduced toxin-kills.>  Sincerely,  Bryan Mortlock  <Best of luck, and like I had said before, sorry for the oversight. I do hope it all turned out okay. Add a sponge cover to the filter and it will take away the danger of that happening again. -Magnus.>

Striped Puffer (Proper Tankmates)? I am in the planning stages of setting up a 180 to 240 gallon tall FOWLR set up.  It will have a sump the ecosystem style with lots of macro algae, also Planning on using a EuroReef skimmer. <sounds like it will be a good set up!  using Macro algae sumps have been proven to be very effective for keeping healthy marine tanks.  Having a skimmer will be good since puffers can be very messy fish.>        The system will be set up around a baby striped puffer Arothron something, <Striped puffer (Arothron manilensis) also called lined toadfish, are very impressive fish.  When full grown they get between 15-20 inches, and with the bright white colors, dark stripes and long tail they definitely stand out in a tank.> from my understanding its not a fin nipper and a bit shy in nature I gathered that from a forum and one mans opinion sp. <That might be the case with that one man's Manilensis, but not all are that way.  I have seen these be fin nippers in tanks, nipping at long finned slow moving fish. They are shy when small, but as they mature they become more outgoing.  they are not as intense of personality as the Porcupine puffers, but not as docile as some of the dogface puffer cousins.  These fish are easy to care for, and very hardy.  Other information you need to know about these fish.  They need to feed on meaty foods, especially some with crunchy shells so it can grind down their ever-growing teeth. We generally feed squid, shrimp (the same kind people eat), mussels, and all kinds of chopped up fish to our Striped puffer.   Live fish will also be taken but should not be fed exclusively.  there is a good article here: http://reefnut.com/Puffer%20Article.htm that talks about dog-faced puffers.  the info is very similar to the puffer you want to get, so it's something you should keep on hand.> My wife has requested a Dwarf lion and moray...I'm thinking possibly a chain link moray. <Dwarf Lion is out.  They are small, slow moving and with venomous long spins will be a temptation to nip by the puffer.  Also, with two large fish like a moray and puffer you will most likely never see the lion out of it's cave during the day.>       What I would like to know is what would be some great tank mates for him, when it comes to non reef safe fish I'm at a loss...mostly familiar with reef keeping...        Fish of interest to me would be an angle preferably a non dwarf likely a queen or blue face, or imperator...just one angel.. butterflies are of interest and tangs...I know its real general....but any ideas would be of great help... <The trick with puffers is to keep fast, large, short finned fish with them.  Or have a fish that stays tight to the ground and isn't in his swimming space like blennies.  Also it's a good idea to have fish with it that are equal in their aggressiveness.  Balances out the scale, so neither really become dominant in the tank.  Queen Angles as well as blue Face have been with Common Dogface puffers in large tanks, the people who owned the tank said that there hadn't been any problems.  though, I have witnessed some puffers try to nip at the angels fins.  Like I said each puffer seems to have their own personality.  Larger tangs work well, because they are fast enough to get away from the puffer if he should decided to nip the fins. Some Triggers are too aggressive for Arothron puffers, such as Clown triggers and Picasso.  But, given enough rockwork, and caves systems some triggers can be kept. It should be able to have their own territories with little to no problem.> thanks for taking your time to read and respond, and keep up the great work, sincerely Roy <I'm glad I could help, I love these fish, mine is quite a big member of the family.  take good care if you get one.  Good luck.-Magnus.>

Wild Caught fish, Clown rashes Hi, <Hi there, Magnus here.  sorry for the delay in response.> I have a 1" saddleback together with a puffer fish on a tank filled with sea water for two weeks now.  I've been maintaining self sustaining freshwater ponds way back in 1999 and decided to stop due to hectic sched. <I know that exact feeling!> Anyway, these two were given to me as a present by a friend who just arrived from a diving vacation.  This raised my desire to do fishkeeping again. <You picked some great fish to get back into the hobby.  Puffers are extremely personable fish!> These marines were originally transported in a 5-gallon container (a prison) filled with sea sand, a few corals and sea water (their natural environment).  Quite a convincing present. <quite an interesting gift! I wouldn't mind getting something like that for a present.> Right now, I am preparing the main tank where I could house them.  It sounds odd that the fish came first before the aquarium is done.   <Not typically the way to have it done, but as long as you work, it should go okay.> I just added an under-gravel filter to their prison to make life a bit comfortable.  I changed water last week to fresh sea water taken from a nearby island where they came from.  I only measure the SG from time to time assuming that natural sea water needs no pH, ammo, trites and trates monitoring. <you are right, Sea Water is pretty much sea water.  just be careful where the water is collected.  Make sure not near any outlets, or docks were man made chemicals or wastes are in the water.  Can be dangerous for the fish in such a small area.> Lately, I noticed that the saddleback is occasionally scratching its body on the filter tubes especially when I switch off the filter. <Many fish in the ocean have skin parasites, it's probably something like that.  and the fish is rubbing on the objects to get the parasites off.> I also noticed, that there are some very fine pink rashes on its white stripe near its head. I cant figure out if its an itch. <The pink rashes are most likely bruising from the fishes rubbing. I would suggest adding some medicine to the water to help fight the parasites.  If you have any stores that carry Mardel medicines I suggest you pick up some Maracyn Tablets.  They should work well for curing the fish of external problems.> Both are doin good on their appetite.  I am planning do some freshwater-Methylene Blue bath.  Would it do any good? <I wouldn't use it, I'm nervous with Methylene blue  on puffers.  They are sensitive to that.  I would go with medicines designed for Salt Water fish.> Thank you. Joebel J. Sorioso <Good luck. -Magnus>

Tank size for Porcupine Puffer 2/22/04 Hi! <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a porcupine puffer. She is 7 inches in a 70g tank with a Flagfin angel. I am planning to set up a new tank in a couple of months. I probably won't add any more fish. The size would be about 210g. Is that enough for an adult puffer? I found some very different info on the web (from 80 to 300 gallons). What's your opinion? <It all depends on which species of porcupine puffer you have.  One species, (Diodon holocanthus) http://saltaquarium.about.com/library/photos/blpicfishmdemaiopuffer.htm, grows about 12" & needs at least 100g.  The giant pufferfish, (Diodon hystrix), http://tekipaki.jp/~puffer/puffer/diodon/hystrix/photo.htm, can grow as large as 3' & 1000g would be good for a fish that size.  Then you have the Burrfish, which grows on the average 10+".> Thanks, Katja <You're welcome!  ~PP>

Cave for Puffer  1/17/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hi, First of all I'd like to say that your site is excellent and really informative. <thanks!> As to my question: I'm planning to set up a 160 gallon system for my two pets - a puffer (Diodon holacanthus) and a Flagfin angel. I would really like to build a cave big enough for the puffer (she is currently about 9 inches). Is it OK if I use a terra cotta flower-pot - turning it upside down and making a hole in it - or do you recommend some other material or method (live rock, perhaps?) <Either of those ideas sound ok.  Just make sure you secure the live rock together with something, so it won't fall on your puffer.  A friend just lost her puffer from a rock falling disaster that caused internal injuries.  It was horrible!> One more question: a little while ago the puffer was bothered by the lights. She swam about nervously when the lights were on, then I shielded the lights and it was a bit better. Now she prefers to stay on the darker side of the aquarium and seems to "come to life" when the lights are off. I read that puffers are nocturnal fish, but is that normal? <Yes, the cave should make it more comfortable & secure.> Thank you for your help and advice.  Katja <Your welcome, enjoy your puffer!--Pufferpunk>
Cave for a puffer II (1/16/04)
Hi! <Hi! Ananda here this morning...> I have another question about cave building. I read about a mixture containing Portland cement, but some recommend it, others say it can seriously interfere with the water chemistry. What's your opinion? <Sounds like you're talking about "Aragocrete". The way to use it is to make your cave structure, and then let it soak in water for several weeks, doing water changes frequently. The raw Aragocrete will cause the pH to spike off the charts, so you can't just mix the stuff, shape it, let it dry, and put it in the tank -- it MUST be "cured" first. But once that's done, it's quite safe in the tank.> Thanks.  Katja <You're welcome. --Ananda>

New porcupine puffer (01/15/04) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> Just need a little advice on a new acquisition. I just purchased a 3 to 4 inch porcupine puffer. <Cute size.> I set him up in a QT, but its only 29 gallons- is this ok? <For a QT, that's fine.> I put in 40 lbs of live sand, hooked up a Magnum 350 with ceramic and carbon media as well as a skimmer suitable for a 60 gallon tank. Does this sound reasonable for a quarantine?  What are your suggestions for setting up quarantine on this messy little guy?   <I would have skipped the live sand; usually, quarantine tanks are kept bare-bottomed so any possible ich can't infest the sand. But since it's in there already, keep it in there the entire duration of the QT. Do add a couple of PVC pipe sections for the puffer to sleep and hide in. It's great to hear you've got a filter and skimmer on the tank.> I know they need allot of room, and he'll go into a 150 once out of QT, most the time I QT in a 10 because I always try to buy them as small as possible if they look healthy, but I am very apprehensive because of all the things I read about how messy and their usual health problems when purchased, is 29 ok for a QT for this size puffer?   <Very good.> Is that enough live sand? <I would've skipped it, but... c'est la vie.> Enough flow?   <Should be.> Skimmer ok? <I'm thrilled you've got a skimmer on your QT. That should really help.> Any special instructions I should know after the fact that I should have probably had before. <I think you've covered pretty much everything. He'll want a cave, though, so a PVC pipe elbow or joint or something is in order.> I guess I just didn't think about what I was going to do for QT for this guy, and now I'm worried I might have messed up.  Are they so messy that he'll pollute the water before I get home this afternoon to change it? <With that filtration setup, he should be okay. Do check your water for ammonia every day and do water changes as needed.> He's small for a porcupine, how often should I feed him in QT? <As often as you would in the main tank. You may as well get him used to his normal feeding schedule. But do make sure he eats what you give him; he may be a bit stressed from the move.> Should I slowly lower the salinity to ensure he's ick free or see if symptoms develop. <I'd wait and see. Do watch closely for symptoms and nip them in the bud if they show up.> Am I in over my head here? <I think you'll do fine.> Will he get too big during the QT period for this tank, usually I do 2 months. <I don't think he'll grow quite *that* fast.> Should I throw some of my live rock in there? <Nope. You might put several pieces of PVC pipe in, though, to give him a variety of caves to choose from.> Thanks for the great site and any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks,  Aaron <Thanks for the kind words. Enjoy your new puffer! --Ananda>  
New Porcupine Puffer II (1/14/04)
Thank you for the fast response, I do feel a bit better.   <Ananda here, glad I could help.> Yea, I kinda thought the sand might be bad idea, but I was hoping to keep water quality up, probably an over reaction.   <But probably not a harmful one. It may indeed help the water quality.> When I set up a nano cube reef, before I put any fish in it I had a magnum HOT on it. <Uh-oh....> At only about 12 gallons they maelstrom was quite pretty, but not exactly the effect I was hoping for. <Oh, my. I can imagine.> On some good advice given to me by Pufferpunk I went to a human sized filter and found a lot  of very interesting little life forms in the canister, go figure, well they are in the tank proper again and would probably thank you guys as well as I.  Any chance I might be able to keep this porcupine puffer with a golden puffer in say a 240 if it was the only 2 fish in there? <Hmmm. It's a possibility, if by "golden" puffer you're referring to Arothron meleagris -- but keep in mind the ultimate size of those guys (about 20"). One Arothron-Diodon combination that is known to be safe is the dogface puffer & porcupine puffer.> I saw two together once in a 150, along with other fish at a LFS, it seems like a bad idea, but they didn't really mess with each other, of course I see some pretty strange stuff at fish stores.   <Me, too.> So with a guy this small, should I try to feed him like cherry stone clams, mussels, rock shrimp?   <Stay away from freshwater mussels, at least. Kelly the Puffer Queen determined that some disease or parasite they were carrying was the source of some puffer deaths. I'd try frozen shrimp tails (you eat the shrimp), frozen squid pieces, and the like for this guy. Try some frozen mixed food, too (Formula One frozen and the like); it's got a good balance of nutrition, and hopefully this youngster will be more amenable to the frozen mix than an older fish.> Earthworms pretty safe?  I hear they are extremely nutritious.   <But they lack marine proteins. They might be an occasional treat, but I wouldn't feed them often.> He makes a real mess with frozen krill and I don't think those shells are hard enough to have any real effect on his beak, not that I can see it yet.   <The fact that they're frozen will help some. I find the tank thaws the frozen shrimp tails fast enough that I never bother to thaw them first.> Anyway, really appreciate all the advice and thanks a million.  Sincerely, Aaron <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>
New porcupine puffer III (1/15/04)
<Hi! Ananda here again...> Ok now I'm a little worried. Came home today and the porcupine won't come out of his little cave, well he came out when I came home, swam for a little bit, then went back to his cave.  I sent the wife over to the store to get some different kinds of food for him, he ate this morning and wasn't hiding when I woke up, he was awake and running around.   <One thing to keep in mind: these are nocturnal fish in the wild. It will take your little guy a while to adapt to your diurnal schedule. He was probably sleeping when you got home, and when you woke up, he was still awake from his night's roaming around the tank.> I did another 15% water change.  Still zip on ammonia, nitrite.   <Coolness.> Salinity is 1.022 temp is 86 F.  I do notice that from time to time my Green Spotted puffers just hang out in caves in the bolo rock, and they seem fine, but I'm worried.  No spots, eyes are clear and responsive, but he seems scared for some reason.   <Add more "caves" for him to hide in. The shorter the distance between him and a cave, the more secure he will feel, and the more often he'll be out and about.> I'm going to see how he responds to some food and wait.  Been switching between a Magnum 350 for chemical and biological filtration and a Magnum HOT for polishing and possible parasite removal. <Okay> I've never used chemicals to treat a sick fish, and feel that they can usually heal on their own if provided with comfort and safety. <Often, but not always.> I'm worried though.  Any advice? <Hang in there, give him more caves and stuff to play in, and let him get used to your daytime schedule.> Thanks, Aaron <You're welcome. --Ananda>

So you want a porcupine puffer.... (1/12/04) <Hi! Ananda here tonight.> I went to the local pet store to look at some fish I had thought about getting when I saw a porcupine puffer. I understand that they need a saltwater tank. I just don't know how big.   <For the long term, I'd recommend 240 gallons or larger. This fish gets as big as a football/soccer ball, and really appreciates some swimming room.> The employee at the store said that a 25 gallon tank would do fine. Is that correct? <For a quarantine tank for a very young juvenile, perhaps... but these fish can live several years. Do consider that the store employee is doing their gob in trying to sell you stuff: not only the 25 gallon tank and the fish, but all the other equipment you will need and want -- and then all of that equipment *again* when you realize you need a much bigger tank for that fish.... Think of the 25 gallon tank as the "free sample" that isn't free, and you're that not far off. > Can I put any other fish in with it?     <It depends on the size of the tank. There is a lot of information about porcupine puffers and other puffers on the WetWebMedia site. As it seems you may be new to saltwater fish keeping, you might start with the basic marine fishkeeping sections. Please understand that getting a system sufficient for a porcupine puffer in the short term will probably cost at least $1000USD. A system that will be sufficient for an adult porcupine puffer will probably cost several times that. Further, puffers are quite expensive to feed, as they need shell-on shellfish to keep their ever-growing teeth worn down.> Thank you for your help, please write back at [...]   <Please consider investing in a couple of books before going further. The first two I suggest to potential marine aquarists are Mike Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium" and Bob Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". The former is more of an overview, while the latter goes into a fair bit of depth on many topics. You might also ask questions and read others' questions and answers on the WetWebMedia discussion boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk --Ananda>  

Puffer trouble? (1/7/04) I may have got my self into some trouble. <Hi! Ananda here tonight to try to help you get yourself out of trouble...> In Dec I set up a 110 gal saltwater tank. I used 4 to 5 inches live sand. I let it cycle for 3 weeks, added live rock then a few days later I added a surgeon ( Damsel)? <Surgeonfish are commonly called tangs, and damsels are a completely different sort of fish... do yourself a favor and pick up a book about different sorts of marine fishes.> Looks like it any way. At that time the tank was stable. Jan 3rd I brought my Porcupine Puffer home. He was doing great. I keep checking the tank, Chemical wise. I think the sand was bad. I keep having my nitrites and nitrates spike.. like Nitrite 0.2 Nitrate  5.0 maybe 2.5 if lucky. <The fact that you're getting any nitrites at all means one of two things: (1) your tank isn't really finished cycling; (2) you need more filtration. I do hope you have a substantial skimmer -- porcupine puffers are *messy* fish. I would get a skimmer rated for twice the tank size. Also, this tank is on the small side for a porcupine puffer!> Last night we hurried and changed 30 gal, then I came home today and they were up again. I changed 15 gal. How can I fix this? I have black sand in the tank a layer or two down and when I siphoned it, stinks.. <Hmmm. Don't siphon your sand much -- you don't want to disturb the layers that are doing denitrification. Having a layer of black sand is pretty typical; that's an anaerobic layer, which is pretty much guaranteed to stink if disturbed.> Do you think it is my sand and what do I do. <Nope, I don't think it's the sand. If you don't have at least 100 lbs of live rock, I'd add more live rock. Check the forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk for comments on various sources for live rock. If you have a skimmer, make sure it is producing nice dark gunk. If it isn't, you probably need to tweak it a bit. If you don't have a skimmer, you need one. For opinions about which one to get, head to the Google search bar on the WWM site, and type in "skimmer selection 110" and peruse the links (do a page search on "110" to find the relevant entries).>   I don't want to loose my Puffer it has such a personality already... <Yup, they do...> Help. Will he make it threw all this? <With care, water changes, and good filtration, he can. You may find it more cost-effective to get him a quarantine tank and do daily water changes in the smaller tank while the larger tank finishes cycling. Besides, you'll want a quarantine tank for your next fish, too. Much more info on QT systems on the WWM site... --Ananda>

Puffer and pH (12/18/03) <Hi! Ananda back again...> Thanks for the reply... I have good news. After three days of hunger strike the puffer started eating and has been eating normally since. <Yay!> As to your questions, I've had her for about 10 months, the water I think is OK, no ammonia or nitrites, about 30 nitrates or so (no matter what I try I cannot get rid of them), <Do you have a skimmer, refugium, or deep sand bed? All are useful in reducing nitrates.> temperature is 77, salinity 1.022. I do have, however, some problems with low pH (its about 7.8). I am adding Kalkwasser, but I only succeed in keeping it at this level. And phosphates are another story (about 0.8). <Yikes. Check your alkalinity, too, then -- something is out of whack here. Phosphates and nitrates at those levels are going to make it difficult to keep the algae at bay -- if you do not have a refugium, I would heartily suggest one. The macroalgae will help with the phosphates, too. Do check your source water for phosphates and nitrates; you may want to get some sort of reverse osmosis/deionization system. Meanwhile, there's a lot of info on the WWM site about keeping pH and alkalinity etc at the levels saltwater fish need. If after reading those you are still stumped, do write in or post on the message boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk with all of the above info, your alkalinity readings, source water readings, water change schedule, Kalkwasser usage, etc and we'll get someone to help you out with that.> As for the mark on her tail, it is not raised at all, it seems rather smooth and it doesn't grow. <In that case, just keep an eye on it. You mentioned a concern that your puffer's tail wasn't yellowish -- not all D. Holocanthus' s have yellowish tails. Some are decidedly brown. An excellent example here: http://www.fishbase.org/Photos/PicturesSummary.cfm?StartRow=2&ID=4659&what=species > The only intervention in the tank since she stopped eating was when I placed the cleaning magnet from one side of the pump to the other. I don't know much about this stuff, but could it be possible that some sort of an electromagnetic field was created? <Hmmm. Possibly.> I know that sharks are  very sensitive about these things, but I don't know about puffers. I am just happy that she is OK, because it is really horrible and sad when a fish stops eating and you haven't a clue as to why she stopped and how to help her. <Puffers are known to go on occasional "hunger strikes" for no apparent reason. If your moving the magnet coincided with either the start or stop of her fast, perhaps there was a link -- or perhaps not.> Hoping for the best... Katja <Me, too. --Ananda> PS. Happy holidays!

Puffer waiting to come home... (12/17/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I have been checking out your site, and reading about puffers. This is great, I have one on hold at a pet store. We have a 110 gal tank. <Okay...for what kind of puffer? What kind of skimmer do you have? Puffers are messy fish....> We started with some live sand and coral that was taken right out of a tank and put in to ours about 5 inches that is a lot of sand. It turned our water green. <Sounds like algae.> We have been cycling it for two days it's still a little green, The ammonia is high in it, obviously we wouldn't put him in till it was down. <And you absolutely need to wait until the nitrite part of the cycle is complete, too. Do check out the information about cycling marine tanks on the WetWebMedia site.> How long do you recommend we wait to put our puffer in? <The cycle needs to have finished completely, and I'd wait another week after that just to be safe. Do you have a quarantine tank at home?> and should we net him or catch him a container? <Definitely a container. Netting puffers can be stressful, and exposing them to air during transfer has a risk that they'll puff up with air, which is dangerous. You'll want to use a drip-acclimation system, too (more on that on the WWM site).> I go see him every day he is use to us. Comes right up to the glass. <Good idea. Getting him used to your presence now will help ease his transition to his new home.> Thanks Sandy <You're welcome. Please do ask if you have other questions, or post on the WetWebMedia discussion boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk ...and try to be patient and wait to bring your puffer home! --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>

50 Gallon Tank... Overstocked? <Hi! Ananda here today...> I'm interested in purchasing a small cowfish, but haven't at this point do to the current stock in my aquarium. The aquarium doesn't look overstock to me, but it may feel like the occupancy has reached its max to the tenants. <Kudos to writing before getting such a demanding species. I would avoid *any* cowfish in a tank that small. Do talk to the kind folks on the Yahoo forum "Cowfish, Puffers, & More" at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CowfishPuffers_andMore/ to hear/read first-hand experiences with these fish.> Please advise if I've overstocked the tank or if I can continue adding. The following are the occupants in the aquarium: (1) 3 inch Powder Brown Tang, <Long-term, this guy needs a bigger tank. I would not keep this guy -- at his *current* size -- in anything less than 75g. And he's going to get a lot bigger.> (1) 3 inch Clark's Anemonefish, (2) Damselfish (a 2 inch green Chromis and a 2 inch four stripe damsel), <The 4-stripe is going to get bigger & meaner...> (1) 2 inch Mandarinfish, <Ack! For long-term survival, these guys need a tank at least 2-3 times the size of your current tank and lots of live rock to provide habitat for their food source (primarily copepods and other critters in the rock). Most people who report any success with these fish (i.e., keep it alive for more than six months or so) have at least a pound of live rock per gallon of tank size. Some have more, and many have a refugium dedicated to 'pod production. Do read up on these guys on the WWM site!> (2) Medium size Cleaner Shrimps, (1) small Arrow Crab, <Arrow crabs are not safe with smallish fish or smallish shrimp... and it's probably competing for food with your mandarin fish.> (5) small Cleaner crabs, (5) small Snails (for algae cleaning). Their is also (I'm guessing) about 15-20 pounds of live rock. <I would suggest tripling this as soon as possible. Do check the WetWebMedia chat forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk for discussions about where you can get good live rock inexpensively.> Thanks for any feedback you can provide P.S. The tank has a penguin filter and an under gravel 403 Fluval system. <*blink* Undergravel filters are, um, usually considered pass? by most marine fishkeepers... they can be a source of nitrates and are far from efficient at filtration. Much info on marine filtration, starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm ...Do look into getting a protein skimmer for that tank, too! If you use the Google search tool at the bottom of the Daily FAQ page, try "50 gallon skimmer" as a search phrase to get some recommendations.> The salt and water levels are checked weekly <And hopefully your ammonia and nitrite levels are zero, and nitrates are less than 20? If not, a filtration upgrade is definitely in order... --Ananda>

Messy Porcupine Puffer Dear Really Smart, Expert, Fish type Guys, <Sorry, they're not here right now, so you get Ananda tonight...> I have a Porcupine Pufferfish about 3-4 inches that is in a 54 gal and he makes a real mess. <Yep, they do that.> The bottom is covered with poo and a bit of uneaten food which I siphon out on a daily basis. <Do try to feed a bit less.> I was wondering what I could put in the tank that would clean up the bottom and my little piggy wouldn't eat.   <Hmmmm. Perhaps you could invent an automatic vacuum cleaner that works in saltwater?> I have read conflicting posts on hermit crab/puff compatibility,  and was wondering if you have any useful information.   <I've read that they are very compatible when the hermit crab understands it is to be lunch for the puffer... seriously, I think the only way the two might last together in the same tank is if the hermit crab is bigger than the puffer, and even then I'm not certain.> I did read the post about goatfish but I don't think that they would work because of the size that they reach (a bit unfair to the GF). <You'll need a bigger tank for your puffer, eventually, too.> I have attempted to ask this question in various forums and either received  no answer or ridicule so ANY info would be GREATLY APPRECIATED and MOST HELPFUL.   <Did you try the WetWebMedia forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk?> Thank you so much for your time and help. I got the poo in my tank! <You and everyone who keeps puffers.> Thanks, Dan <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Puffin' together? (07/31/03) Hi there. <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon....> I will soon be upgrading from my current marine setup to a 80 (UK) gallon tank. I currently have a baby porcupine puffer (3 inches) which will be moving into the new tank. <I'm glad you're upsizing now...and he'll want a bigger tank in the future.> The question is; can I also keep in the tank green spotted puffers? I understand that these puffers can do well in full saltwater, but will they be compatible with the porcupine? <That particular combination is one that I haven't heard anyone trying before. Puffers can be happy together in a sufficiently large tank. I think it may also depend somewhat on the individual fish, as puffs are some of the most intelligent fish people keep in their tanks. Also, how big are the green-spotted puffers? Their comparative size -- and belligerence level! -- will probably affect whether this combination of tankmates will work. Hopefully, you'll be keeping your current setup, so perhaps it could house the smaller puffs?> Thanks   Steve Yeung <You're welcome, and please keep me posted as to how this works out. --Ananda>

How big do these guys get, anyway? (05/30/03) <Ananda the puffer nut here tonight...> I am setting up a 90 gallon fish only tank and am very interested in adding a porcupine puffer to my collection. They have to be my favorite marine aquarium fish second to sharks. <I'll pass on the sharks, but porcupine puffers are my favorites....> My biggest concern is the size. I have been given mixed opinions about whether or not to keep one in a 90 gallon setup. Do you think this size tank is sufficient? James <For maybe a few months or years, depending on the initial size of the puff. But these guys get BIG -- as in well over a foot long. For the long term, I would want at least a 300 gallon tank to give one of these guys some swimming room. --Ananda>

Porcupine puffer not doing well (03/18/03) Hi, <Hi. Ananda here this morning...> I would really appreciate some advice about my porcupine puffer fish. Fist of all this is my set up 28 gallon tank <Gah! Way too small for an adult porcupine puffer. Put a zero on the end of that number and you're looking at a better tank size for these fish.> 1 x Fluval 304 filter GF with 2 x power heads <I am not a fan of either canister filters or undergravel filters on a marine tank. There are better options. More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marineSetUp.htm> stock 1 clown 2 damsels <For a 28 gallon tank, those three fish are enough. With two damsels, possibly more than enough.> 1 snowflake eel 1 poorly porcupine puffer <see size comment above> AM = 0 NI = 0 NA = 20 PH = 8.4 <These readings are pretty good.> tank is 4 months old <I'm concerned that you have added too many fish too quickly.> The puffer has taken a bit of a turn over the past couple of days, to start off he got a coating over his fins of brown stuff, then next day the skin on the back of his neck has started to peel of revealing white skin underneath, in general his colour is not as strong either. <This does not sound good. I would put this fish into a hospital tank immediately. I am not sure what this is, so will forward this back into the queue for others' comment(s).> Now his eyes are not as vibrant or puffer out but glazed, and has stopped eating, I have spoken to someone on the phone at the shop and have said its a bacterial infection, and that I should treat it with something called myxcel *Spelling. <I'm not familiar with that one.><<Me neither, maybe an antibiotic from the spelling... would not use this here... likely as you hint the root problem is environmental. Possibly just low dissolved oxygen.>> Do you know of this to happen to a puffer? what causes it? how can it be prevented? is my fish gonna live and look as good as he once did? is he gonna live? <I'll hold off on answering these, as I don't know what the disease/problem is, precisely.> I'm desperately seeking advice as I'm very upset as I love the puffer <The porcupine puffer is my favorite fish, but I don't have one...I'm waiting until I can get a nice big tank (I'm holding out for a 240 gallon). It'll be a few years yet. Until then, I will continue to enjoy them from a distance. You might need to do the same.> Thanks Ryan <You're welcome. --Ananda><<Bob F.>>

New system for puffer lover (02/20/03) Hello to all. First of all, thanks again for all of your help. Your wisdom is invaluable! <Thank you for the kind words... Ananda here today...> I'm currently in the process of setting up my first marine tank. 120 gal FOWLR. I initially planned on keep about 8 small to med sized fish. That was until I recently fell in love with the two puffers I saw at the LFS. One of them was a Dogface and the other which is my absolute favorite was a Solomon (Black with small blue spots!). <I am still not sure which species this fish is. I think it may be Canthigaster jactator (aka Whitespotted Toby) or C. rostrata (aka Sharpnose puffer aka Atlantic Toby). Do check with your LFS to get a better idea of exactly which fish this is.> I am so intrigued with these two fish I have rearranged my entire plan. Being that these fish get to be so large, I'm going to downscale my live rock from 100lbs to about 50lbs. <A bad idea, in my opinion. Cutting your system's filtration capacity in half does not allow you to keep more fish!> I'm also going to cancel all of the small fish that I wanted. My new group is: 1: Solomon Puffer (black with small blue spots) 2: Dogface Puffer 3: Red Volitans Lion <If that Solomon puffer is the Whitespotted Toby, its fins are in danger of getting nipped.> 4: Bannerfish Butterfly (poor man's Moorish Idol) <Ditto.> 5: I would like to keep a Porcupine but I've read that they won't work with a Dog. <Dogs do tend to chase porcupines up trees, or at least until they get needles in their nose... oh, you mean the puffers! ;-) The porcupine puffer does get too big for this tank.> 6: Yellow Tang My setup will be: Wet/Dry filter/Aqua Medic Turboflotor/Mag 9.5 return pump/4 x 65w PC light/ 50lbs LR,2-3 inch live sand bed. <I would consider a different skimmer (search this site for "Turboflotor" comments) and a deeper sand bed, in addition to sticking with at least 100 lbs of live rock. The live rock and deeper sand bed would eliminate the need for the wet/dry filter.> Do you see anything wrong with my setup that I might have overlooked? <Wet/dry filters often become nitrate sources in marine tanks. This is less of an issue with a fish-only with live rock system, but the deeper sand bed and possibly a refugium would help keep the nitrates to acceptable levels.> Also, am I right in assuming that I should downscale the liverock if I'm going to keep these large fish. I figured that they would need more swim room and also my wet/dry should be enough bio-filtration. <Yes, they need more swimming room, but they need more filtration, too! Large fish eat a lot, and what goes in one end comes out the other end....> Please help. <I would consider waiting on the lionfish and butterfly until you can get another tank. With those two out of the tank, you might be able to include a few of the smaller fish you were considering in this tank. --Ananda> Demetrius

Puffers I have two different kinds of puffers in a 125 gal tank They have been together for 4 months. All of a sudden I'm reading that it is a bad idea. <generally yes> They will eventually fight and possibly kill each other.  <indeed... many puffers can be quite cantankerous and all are toothy> One is a porcupine and the other is a new guinea fowl.. Any feedback would be appreciated. <although I generally would not recommend two puffers, I have seem two such work very well together in other aquaria. I suspect you may be fine if you keep the tank understocked and allow these tow room to grow to a proper adult size. You perhaps know that you will need a much larger tank to hold both in 2-4 years> Gretchen  <Gretchen.. from your addy moniker, I noticed the word Petaluma. Any significance in relation to the Sonoma Native Indian culture? Best regards, Anthony Calfo>
Re: Puffers
My daughter was here looking at tank and her comment was after approximately 7 months you have two not very colorful fish and 5 little damsels. And you really need a bigger tank.?)  <<Why... how big is your current tank?>>  She trains event horses and said if this was mine I would ship them down the road and get cute little colorful fish that eat dainty flake food (this is in direct response to the smell of my refrigerator ala krill, clams, etc. and ones that like each other and have no teeth.   <<Ahhh... tell her to get her own tank ;-) >>   I hate it when my 35 year old mother of 2 makes such good sense.  <<Oh, so you don't like your fish either? Get some new ones... how big is that tank?>>  Your even mentioning 1000gal tank made my hair stand on in. I shall have to contemplate this.  <<Yeah, I would, do... don't have it yet though.>>  Forever the amateur,  Gretchen  <<Cheers, J -- >>

Puffer in quarantine Hello Gentlemen, <Cheers> We come to you with a problem, and sincerely appreciate all your help and information. <thank you kindly> We purchased a dogface puffer (4.5") two days ago and set up a quarantine tank (10 gallons)  <holy cow!!! should've purchased a smaller fish or a bigger QT tank <smile>. Did you need a shoehorn to get him in? Heehee> for him using water from our main system. We placed the q tank's filter cartridge in our main system's sump for a couple of days prior to installing it (the filter we bought was missing the bio-wheel and had to be returned, so I wasn't able to seed the bio-wheel ahead of time). <Ahh... several weeks is necessary at least.> Everything seemed to be going okay until last night when I noticed that the q tank's water looked a little cloudy. I had been siphoning out uneaten food and feces regularly. Upon testing the water we found that the ammonia level was 0.6-0.8,  <really an extraordinary amount of fish for this sized tank...likely rather stressful to for him to go the full four week QT for safety... yet you don't want to take him out prematurely and risk the whole display tank just because of an ill-advised/impulse purchase> and we immediately did a 50% water change with water from our main system.  <hmmm... some new seawater at this point would be fine> A few hours later we tested again, and it was still 0.4-0.6 (hard to match the colors exactly), so we did another 50% change. This morning I tested yet again and found the ammonia to now be at 0.2-0.4.  <wow... > I have stopped feeding the puffer since we discovered the ammonia and I have continued to siphon out his feces regularly, although it is rather difficult to get all of it since it is very fragmented along the bottom. <this animal needs food to maintain health and immunity under such conditions> We are concerned about keeping the q tank's ammonia under control. The puffer hasn't eaten much since we first brought him home two days ago, and now he is completely without food. He had been at the LFS for about a month prior to us getting him, and has shown no signs of illness while there or here. <try a small live crayfish... and if uneaten be concerned for an impending bout with illness> What would you recommend as our best course of action at this point? <my hands are tied on this one... the fish needs a bigger QT simply. Putting it in the main tank would be an emergency option if the fish was eating and not stressed. But right now, this animal notorious for Ich is stressed and on the brink of going into a full display. I wouldn't make that call.> Keeping him in quarantine but doing major water changes on a daily basis?  <I'm not convinced that it will make it through a full month in good health in this tank> How foolish would it be to just dip him and place him in our main system?  <very IMO> Where did we go wrong with our quarantine? <this fish takes up a third of the tank fully, do consider investing quickly in a 20 long or bigger QT tank. Considering a possible future use/need for QT with this fish which gets quite large... a 20 long may even be too small, but on that I would concede for now. Daily water changes or some cured live rock (as long as not medicating) will make this process a little easier. Kudos to you for having the good thought to quarantine.> Thanks so much for your assistance. Karen <best regards, Anthony>
Re: Puffer in quarantine
Anthony, Thank you very much for your prompt reply.  <always welcome!> I believe I may have given you the wrong impression about our puffer's size. The tank is 20" long, and he takes up less than a quarter of it when he's lengthwise. He's actually a pretty small puffer. <Hmmmm , either I misunderstood or you may have mis-measured. You mentioned a 4.5 inch puffer in a ten gallon tank. That's a lot if accurate> I fed him this afternoon, and he ate quite a bit.  <good <G>> I then siphoned out another 50% of his water and replaced it with fresh saltwater. I also placed some of our main system's filter media into his filter.  <a very wise move!> Hopefully that will help so that we can stay on top of the ammonia. <yes...agreed> Also, the puffer was not an impulse purchase. We are beginners, but we're trying to do things the right way. We got our main system up and running without a hitch, and its current inhabitants are thriving. <good to hear... do look into some of the tips and tricks in the archived FAQs on QT protocol for maintaining mature BioFiltration without a stocked QT tank> Thanks again for your help. Wet Web Media is an invaluable resource. Sincerely, Karen <do continue to learn, share, teach and grow. Kindly, Anthony>

Puffer Symptoms <Anthony Calfo here in Bob's stead while away> Hi! I have a narrow line puffer, dog face puffer, scooter blenny and recently added a very small long horned cow fish. My puffers prior to the introduction of the cow fish went on a hunger strike. <maybe they were trying to warn you that you are getting bad advice on fish compatibility (smile). The scooter with the puffers is entirely inappropriate (scooter will be stresses/harassed/killed then eaten in that order...eventually) and the cow fish grows enormous and needs a species tank> ( I had a hippo tang that survived several bouts of ick but died from lateral line and hole in head disease. In attempted to stop and fix the HLLD process and Ick, I medicated the tank several times with several different meds and spent paycheck after paycheck poly and charcoal filters to absorb all the medications. <A large water change or two would have been light years cheaper and better for the system...although Poly Filters are most excellent filter media> Finally, as a last effort I stopped medicating and was adding Zo? To their frozen brine shrimp and frozen whole prawns. <live crayfish and/or ghost/grass shrimp are also quite nutritious treats> Since this is my first tank, I medicated the tank not the fish. All the fish survived the medicating and re-medicating, even seemed to enjoy the Zo? Being added to their food. I continued the Zo? Long after the hippo tang died). After several days of the puffers acting lethargic, laying on the bottom of the tank not eating, just eyeballing the food, I started them on live food again (Only thing the puffers eat now). <symptoms could just be stress...or related to medicant. As "scaleless fishes, they can be sensitive to medication> As a treat, I added a crawfish and the narrow lined puffer got part of his lip bit off (looks very horrible, I am checking periodically for sign of infection).  <Holy cow...I don't see how it is even possible unless the crayfish were raised on wolf cookies and gorilla milk! Puffers eat equally formidable prey in the wild. Do you think that perhaps the puffer could have been nipped instead fighting for food with another puffer? They really have the dentures to hurt each other so bad> While examining the puffer I noticed a yellow tint (like the color of your water when the charcoal filter stops working) to the otherwise lighter grayish colored areas of his body. Is this normal?  <could be...very high degree of color variation among "dogface" puffer species> I also noticed that his anal and dorsal fin were edged in black, with no fraying. Is he sick? <tough to say without seeing him> Ever since I had purchased the narrow lined puffer from the fish store, about a year ago, the eyes has always been cloudy and his feces are encapsulated in a thin membrane and linked together in a chain. <such a short term symptom could indicate internal parasites, but long-term may just be a reflection of diet> The narrow line puffer loves to eat the pieces of algae sheets I was trying to feed to the hippo, so his feces are green not white or clear. <very good for him. Puffers eat prey that eat algae in the wild and it is inherently part of the diet> The puffer has gained weight and doubled, even tripled his original size and the cloudiness of his eyes has not changed. Is the puffers feces normal or does he have internal parasites and are cloudy eyes normal for puffers? <the cloudy eyes could be a few things...again, tough to say without seeing the fish. Does its vision seem impaired?> I also notice periodically both the puffers appear to cough or even sneeze, can you tell my what this is and why the puffers would do this. <Puffers often blast water near the substrate as part of a feeding/foraging technique. Yawning has also been observed in systems with accumulated nitrate> Lastly, with the addition of the cow fish do I really need to continually use a poly filter, in case of toxins? <I wouldn't recommend the cowfish at all... a great risk and even if it wasn't poisonous, it is inappropriate for all but the very largest tanks. Rather cruel to put it in a 90 gallon or smaller even if it is small now. Quite frankly, with consideration for the number of fish you've mentioned and some of their adult sizes, I'm really hoping that you have a large tank (over 100 gallons for starters). If not, please consider moving some fish out for their good health. Overcrowding increases occurrences of stress and disease. Kindly, Anthony>

Lionfish/porcupine puffer compatibility Hello Do you happen to know if my porcupine puffer (about 6 inches long) would pick on a lionfish? <Yes... a very real, and frightening possibility. Puffers can tease, nibble Lionfishes mercilessly> The Volitans type. NOT a dwarf lion. One of my LFS said the puffer absolutely would constantly pick on a lion, darting back and forth and nipping on his fins. Another LFS (just as reputable, if not a little more knowledgeable), said the two would be fine together. All of my resources (book wise) say nothing about keeping the two together, but most everything says lions are fairly docile, as are porcupine puffers. <The operative term here should be "can". They can get along or not...> And if it helps any -- the tank is 75g's and is fully cycled. It houses a 2' 3" peppered moray eel and a 6 inch porcupine puffer. I do 30% water changes every two weeks or so, and the ammonia and nitrite are zero, always. I'm very diligent about cleaning. :) Another question, if you have time -- I lucked into my moray eel, and am having a lot of trouble finding any info on them. I did find one page with a few small paragraphs about him, but otherwise...no one seems to have heard of my eel. He's commonly called a "peppered moray," but the scientific name is "Siderea picta." He's got beautiful coloration, all white with tiny black speckles all over his body and light blue circles around his eyes. Very bold...not shy at all. <Mmm, a very nice species... the name has been changed, to Gymnothorax pictus... you can find some info., pix on www.fishbase.org on this Muraenid... and in Scott Michael's fab v.1 Reef Fishes book... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Bryce

Puffy Update (not the rapper) Just wanted to let you know what happened with our Puffy!.  <thank you, good to hear the follow-ups. Anthony> You were right he needed to be taken out of the tank. We started to watch what was going on and we have some big bullies in the tank. They picked one of his back fins down to the nubbins, and he hides up under the heating unit to keep them from picking on him. So we had to take him to our local fish store and swap him out for someone bigger and meaner. <no kidding?! They had Rush Limbaugh in stock?!?> Thanks for the quick response it really helped. Plus now I know how to help "De-puff" one of these guys. Thanks again!

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