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FAQs about Tobies, Sharpnose Puffers Behavior

Related Articles: Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Puffers in General, Puffer Care and Information, Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo, True Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, BoxfishesPuffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: Tobies 1, Tobies 2, Toby Identification, Toby Compatibility, Toby Selection, Toby Systems, Toby Feeding, Toby Disease, Toby Reproduction, Puffers in General, Puffer Identification, Puffer Compatibility, Puffer Selection, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, True Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Boxfishes

Canthigaster solandri.  N. Sulawesi pix.

Canthigaster solandri. question. Beh., Comp.    1/30/18
Hi guys,
I purchased a blue spotted puffer last friday and the first day he was out and about and the second day was out and nibbling on the rocks. For the past two days he has spent the day hiding vertically behind a rock.
<Happens; all puffers can be/are "moody" at times>
Yesterday, I did see him out in front and seemed fine and a few minutes later went back to his hiding spot. I have had saltwater tanks for 15 years but never this variety of fish. There are two blue damsels and a larger yellow damsel who is the dominant fish, but I have not seen much harassment.
All of the tank parameters are excellent ( ammonia, nitrate, nitrite 0) and the tank has a great amount of live rock. Any ideas?
Best, Jody
<I'd not panic. Just be patient here; and this Toby will become more outgoing w/ time. Bob Fenner>
Re: Canthigaster solandri. question     1/30/18

Thank you for the timely reply Bob, really appreciate that. Yeah, I'm not going to panic--I have dealt with so many tragedies/learning instances over the years. Not only 15 years of SW tanks but years of FW as well, yet am still not an expert as yourself...and funny as I advise people on their setups.
<Ahh... an expert... previously married and flow under pressure.>
BTW, I have your book which is so legendary and give a thank you for all the dedication to you and your crew.....now, hoping my new little guy comes out as he is really pretty and my 8-year old son is bummed that he is not out. I have to show him the puffer is there, with a flashlight.
Take care, Jody
<Thank you Jody. BobF>
Re: Canthigaster solandri. question     2/4/18
Hi Bob, Just an update and still wondering--the Toby is still here but he only comes out when the lights are off.
I have noticed him grazing on the rocks when it is dark--otherwise he just sits on a cave-like rock in the back of the tank. Kind of bums me out because he is a nice looking fish yet we never see him.
<Canthigasters are tougher than Damsels... just wait>
Just wondering if he is intimidated by the yellow damsel--kind of figured these fish could hold their own. He is about the same size as the damsel and the damsel kind of chases everyone around but I have not seen the damsel actually attack him just brush up against him. Best, Jody
<See above. BobF>
Re: Canthigaster solandri. question     2/4/18
Ok, thanks for the support. The yellow damsel is a nice fish and very active, but I was considering taking him out if he is the reason the Toby hides. What a pain in the ass that would be with all the rocks. I will take your advice and wait as we are only a week in and the Toby does come out when the actinic lights are on but I have yet to see him eat Prime reef frozen food. Jody
<Have read back through your messages; you don't mention the size of this system. If it's large enough, consider adding a couple more Damsels to dilute the aggression here. B>
Re: Canthigaster solandri. question     2/4/18
Hi Bob,
Well, it's on the small side--30 gal.
<Ahh, too small for more damsels>

I know you are going to say a bit small for the Toby, however, before I ran a 60 gal with a porcupine puffer who was with me for more than 10 years. I will confess I have always had undersized tanks but have mitigated
that by under stocking and providing ample hiding spots. Just don't have the space for larger systems and plan on stocking small as I've started delving into coral as well. That yellow guy has always been rambunctious as he would nip at my hand when cleaning all the time. That guy chases those blue damsels all the time--been this way for 5 years.
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: Canthigaster solandri. question      2/7/18

Hi Bob, Me again--so, yesterday I removed the yellow damsel and put him in a small temporary tank I have to see if the Toby gains comfort and comes out.
<A good experiment>
While I have seen him grazing on the rocks in the dark, I am worried that he does not get any meaty food. He was out with the blue lights on this morning but as soon as the white came on he retreated to his hiding spot.
Tried putting Prime reef food and he did not budge. Wondering if it might take a few days for him to gain comfort.
<Likely so... I'd wait the few days, to see. BobF>
Re: Canthigaster solandri. question      2/10/18

Hey Bob, Just an update on my Toby situation--it's been five days since I have had the yellow damsel out and the Toby comes out a little more. I did see him out yesterday for a half hour with all the lights on. But, he still spends most of his time back behind the rocks though instead of sticking on the rock he does swim there and look at me
I have tried daily to get him to eat frozen food to no avail but the good news is, is that he did eat a little bit of fresh shrimp this morning. The blue damsels don't seem to care about him, so I hardly think there is any intimidation there. I guess you could say there is progress but it is hard to be certain that it is because the damsel is not there--guess if a day or so after the damsel was gone and the Toby was out swimming all the time it would be certain.
So, my dilemma becomes the situation with the yellow damsel as in do I wait and hope the Toby becomes outgoing and possibly put the damsel back in or do I take him to the fish store?
<Might be worth trying putting it back in a couple weeks. The social dynamic in the system has changed>
The yellow damsel is not too happy in his small tank as he just sits in the corner, but he eats.
I'm not a fish psychologist so just don't know how long this Toby is going to be a shy guy. My 8-year old son is kind of bummed the damsel is stuck in this small tank and I would like to be able to have him in the main tank as
he adds color and activity but would this be at the expense of the Toby only hiding all day?
<Good lessons for your child to learn here. B>
Sorry to bother you with such an ongoing saga,

Toby puffer sleeping habit question     4/24/16
Hi Bob et al.
< Earl here.>
Apologies, it's been such a long time since I made contact. I just couldn't remember where to post my question regarding: puffer sleeping habit.
<This is the place.>
Here it goes: I have just acquired a cute under two inch long Canthigaster Solandri puffer. I have observed it closely. A couple of minutes after dimming the lights, the puffer regularly heads for its favorite sleeping space and anchors itself vertically onto the live rock. I would like to know how the puffer performs this feat and is it for camouflage purpose?
<Protection, hiding, general shelter from the current, all you'd expect.
These fish are expert maneuvers and can position themselves any way they darn well please and it seems like this guy have decided this is the way to go! I think if you look at where it puts itself up for the night and the fins on its underside all we become clear :) At any rate, business as usual and you seems to have a nice, regular schedule it is used to and has settled in fine. I bet he pops out pretty quickly once the lights come back on. You're using a timer on the lights, right? You can see how they like a regular schedule (like children, cats, and myself). Best, Earl>
Thank you so much for all the vital information that's continually generously been poured into the site.
Re: Toby puffer sleeping habit question     4/24/16

Ah brilliant! Thanks from Toby & I.
Keep it regular!
<No problemo, he looks like a healthy specimen in an appropriate environment. Keep it up.>

re: dimmer, Toby puffer sleeping habit question   4/25/16
Hi again Earl, I don't have a timer nor dimmer yet. Since I found the fish to be quite timid and sensitive, for now am using basics, just three sheets of blue tinted acetate and regularly starting at around 5:30 pm start to slowly layering them up under the led bulb until it creates a moonlight effect. Very relaxing process. Will try saving up for a dimmer!
<Heya. It doesn't matter as long as it's consistent i.e. the lights are on and off at the same time every day, plus it's simply worlds of convenience for the caretaker. Your plan seems ok although you do need to get it up to full light around midday etc.. You mentioned that the fist is new to your tank so he will likely get less timid regarding the light although as per WWM/CMA leaving the lights off for a day or two is always a good idea. It's the opinion of myself and also those worlds beyond my own expertise that aquarium reef fish are not well off in total darkness so a moonlight style lamp all night (VERY dim) rather than complete blackness is preferable.
I would suggest a simple controller if you plan to get into that level of specificity as far as ramping up intensity, etc.. There are comparatively cheap ones on the market now compared to a few years ago (I use a Reefkeeper Lite on my fish-only tank). You can get them on the secondary market as they are solid but simple entry-level controllers and aquarists tend to want the "latest and greatest" and sell older gear as they upgrade to (IMO often needlessly complex) gadgetry with computer-linked wireless control, apps, and so on. This model has 4 outlets, I used one for the heater, 1 for a halide that came on first and turned off last, and another outlet that turned on 2 more lamps a few hours later for a "noon day" period and those turned off after a few hours. I went a decade without a controller and now I wonder how I lived without it! I have gone way off track here but the extra security is invaluable imo besides the obvious other uses.
The $15 hardware store version in the meantime is: just use regular old plug-in timers and use one per lamp. Say you have 2 separate fixtures. Just time one to come on earlier, go off later, as per above, you get the idea.
Easy peasy! -Earl>

Re: dimmer, Toby puffer sleeping habit question       4/26/16
Thanks, this is more that I was hoping for. .blown away by the Crew as always :)
Final quick note: Near its bedtime, the puffer becomes quite defensive and does the rounds to check if predators(including me) are in the area. And, regardless whether or not the light is fully dimmed, by 8:30pm is anchored to its rock, ready to doze off.
All the best to everyone, Stef

leopard Toby puff; beh.   10/27/13
I received a leopard Toby puffer a few days ago from LiveAquaria. He has been in QT for 3 days now. Yesterday I did get him to eat some frozen krill
but he spends 80% of his time hovering in the same spot. Is this normal since he is new? Thanks!
<Ah yes; not to worry. Bob Fenner> 
Re: leopard Toby puff, beh.        10/29/13

Thank you for the response! I have one more quick question regarding the leopard Toby puffer. When eating food added to the tank, the puffer bites the food then spits it back out. He does this over and over. Is this normal?
<Yes... please search, read re Tobies on WWM; including the foods/feeding FAQs. B>
 Does he not like the food? I cant tell if he is eating any or spitting it all back out. Thanks

Canthigaster Valentini / saddled Toby? Beh., ID   5/23/12
Dear crew,
<Hello Jennie>
 I know you are told this all the time, but I wanted to tell you also, you are brill,
<Not familiar with that term but thank you, I hope.>
 I wrote to you around a year ago regarding a hitch hiker mantis shrimp baby as I wanted to identify him as I wanted to keep him (in his own setup, growing daily, now 2 1/2 inches long and a peacock, he is stunning, we couldn't kill him as it wasn't his fault he was taken out of the ocean)
<Wonderful, I'm quite the Stomatopod fan and I wish more had your point of view.>
 Sorry for waffling, now for my question.  A few weeks a go we bought a Saddled Toby, she is 1 inch in length and settled in very well, she eats, plays (well she is a puppy) and just generally a very happy puffer but I have never seen her puff up and I watch the tank all the time, I know that this is a good sign as it means we have a happy puffer but I'm now a bit worried that maybe we have a Saddled Filefish,
<I'd be much more concerned if it was "puffing". Easy to differentiate by the number of dorsal fins.>
 I've checked and checked and I'm 99% sure she is a puffer, so my question is, is it normal for a Saddled Toby to be very happy and never puff up as the only difference I can tell between the two is the dorsal fin, or lack of in a puffer?
<"Normal" is a relative term but a happy/healthy puffer will rarely inflate. The Paraluteres prionurus, or Mimic Filefish, will have two dorsal fins and the Toby will just have the one. This is the easiest way to tell them apart that I know of.>
I'm sorry for asking a dumb question.
<Not a dumb question but it did give a craving for some waffles.>
Kind regards Jenn Bailey
Re: Canthigaster valentini / saddled Toby? 5/23/12    5/24/12

Dear Jordan,
<Hi Jennie>
 thank you so much for your quick reply, firstly yep 'Brill' is a great thing to be called, I'm a Brit so we like to shorten everything.
<I see, learn something new everyday.>
Secondly it's nice to hear from someone else that loves stomatopods, they are so fascinating to watch, every time we sit at our dining room table out he pops to show off, I've taken many videos of him as he is such fun.
Thirdly, I'm right (due to your help) I do indeed have a happy puffer fish not a filefish, I'm so happy, not that I would have sent her back to my LFS as I've grown very attached to her, so cute.
<I'm glad you got the fish you wanted, I commonly see these two fish mislabeled at my LFS.>
Well off I go to feed my crew (4 tanks of marines, 1 cold water tank, and 2 ponds with sturgeon) (I won't bore you with my other pets, the list is endless) I hope you enjoyed your waffles, urmmm my fav.
<The waffles were excellent, thank you for the steering me towards them.>
Kind regards. Jennie Bailey

Valentini Puffer Behavior   9/26/11
Greetings WWM Crew,
I had just recently bought a tiny Valentini Puffer, and I've been examining him for about a week now. I've done countless research on his behavior so I could understand this little creature, but one question still remains in my head that I cannot find the answer to: his tail. He often keeps it closed, swimming around, swaying it left and right every now and then... But every now and then, he opens it. I'm not complaining though, because it is absolutely beautiful. But what could this mean?
<Mmm, mainly a choice in means of locomotion... puffers, triggers and other family members of their order (Tetraodontiformes) "get around" principally by "undulating" their dorsal and anal fins, utilizing the caudal more for steering and aiding in higher speed movement... Tail displays might well "mean" a bit as well in terms of communication; e.g. "Look, I'm too big to swallow">
What does it mean for it to be closed, swaying around, and open? I'm just wanting to understand. Thanks for all your help and knowledge.
Much appreciated,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Q from a Scientist - Caribbean Sharpnose Puffers Nipping Off Fish Spines?   8/22/11
Hi there,
<Hello Merritt here.>
I'm a graduate student doing some work on lionfish down in the Caribbean and witnessed an unusual interaction between invasive lionfish and a Caribbean Sharpnose Puffer (Canthigaster rostrata) that I'd be curious to hear your take on!
<Great! Helping with the lionfish invasion are you.>
During the capture, handling, and tagging of lionfish that makes up the bulk of my project, the skin covering the venomous dorsal spines of lionfish are often tugged down as they poke through the collection nets. On one occasion, after one such fish was released from its bag and was sitting on the reef recovering, a Sharpnose puffer came over and began biting at the exposed portion of the dorsal spines. On fish re-sighted after tagging, these exposed spines are often shorter and blunted, as though the exposed end has been bitten off. I was just wondering if your team has had any experiences with Sharpnose puffers biting off fish spines in the past, and on what might cause this behavior?
<Actually I have personally witnessed puffers of many species exhibiting this behavior in an aquarium. I can only assume in an aquarium that the behavior is either one of territory defense or two them being typical puffers.>
I know they're known for biting in close quarters, but this didn't look like a territorial encounter as the puffer looked more like he was grazing or investigating a snack than trying to drive the lionfish off. I wondered if there's any nutritional benefit to puffers from nipping fins or spines that might explain this?
<None that I know of.>
I've benefited from the wisdom of WWM many times before, and recognize that for many of the less-studied marine ornamentals, hobbyists probably know more about behavior than academics, so I look forward to hearing what you think. Thanks a million!
<From what I have seen puffers tend to be very curious creatures and tend to bite things/objects to figure out what they are. Others will just pick on tank mates (especially lionfish) by nipping their fins and/or harassing them until the fish is removed or dies. I will assume this observed behavior to be of curiosity and obnoxiousness that makes up a puffer personality than for nutritional benefit. Good luck on your research and hope that you find a solution to the lionfish invasion. Merritt>
Natascia Tamburello
MSc Candidate
Tropical Marine Ecology Lab
Department of Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University

Valentini puffer behaviour   4/15/11
Hi WWM Crew,
Firstly, Thanks so much for the service you guys provide, I have learned a lot from reading the WWM site and hope to keep doing so.
Ok, to my question/s, but first a little bit of history on my tank. I have a 20g (approx 75L) tank that has around 10kg of LR (and associated hitch-hikers such as a brittle star and possibly a snail), with water
parameters being around: ammonia 0, nitrites 0 and nitrates approx 5-10ish, salinity is a touch high at 1028 <with a decimal point behind the one hopefully!> and ph is around 8.2ish. Tank has been
established (stable at these parameters) for around 3mths now.
I wanted to ask about the behaviour my Valentini (his name is Toby)
is exhibiting because I have no idea whether it is normal or not and have not come across any info yet that helps to explain his behaviour. He keeps getting these marks on his face, usually just between or behind his eyes and I was watching him last night and I think I know where the marks/injuries are coming from. There are plenty of holes in the LR, all with openings about the size of a pea and he swims around and looks into the holes and will then suddenly lunge into the holes (to try to bite or eat something?)
<Yes. Likely hunting for food items/organisms>
and he hits his head and face on the LR. I'm sure he must be damaging his eyes when he does it too. He does it every so often and I have no idea if this is normal behaviour or not?
<Is normal>
I know this fish is intelligent because he knows when its food time and also knows who to beg to get any extra tidbits and his charming ways have even melted my dad's heart, something I thought would never happen! Anyway, another quirk my little Toby has is he will swim around normally but if I watch him for more than a couple of minutes, he will swim up to the LR and then scrape his belly or sides along it and he keeps doing it while I'm sitting in front of the tank. If I get up and walk away, he goes back to normal, just chillin' with the clownfish. He does not do this if anyone else watches the tank, just me. Is this normal as well?
Or is my fish just attention seeking? [image: :-s]
<Possibly this too>
I've been keeping a close eye on him and everyone else in the tank, but they all look healthy, are eating like little piggies and I cant see any Ich or visible parasites and Toby has been doing this strange
rubbing-against-the-LR-only-when-I'm-nearby since I got him.
Also, just a little side note, Toby likes to sleep in a vertical position with his belly in the corner of the tank, using his fins to hold himself there. I think it may just be his way of finding somewhere safe to sleep so am not particularly worried about this, but thought I would share. Also, the orange ocellaris, who has taken Toby as her role model (apparently no one has told her things wont work out well between them!), has also adopted this sleeping pattern after trying to perfect it for the last month!
Anyway, thanks in advance, any help is much appreciated!
Sydney, Aust.
<And you, Bob Fenner, S. Cal., USA>
Re: Valentini puffer behaviour  4/15/11

Hi Bob,
Thanks so much for the quick reply, I can relax knowing that he is 'normal'.
Thanks Again,
<Welcome again, BobF>

Weird Puffer Behavior   10/24/10
I have a Blue Dot Puffer (*Canthigaster solandri) *in a 75 gallon tank with approximately 50 pound of live rock, crushed coral substrate 2"-3" inches deep and he is living with two small damsels. The tank has been up and cycled for about 6 months and the puffer has lived in for about 4 months.
All water parameters fall with the normal range. Recently, he has begun to exhibit a strange behavior. Starting from the lower front corner of the tank, he partially inflates, expands all fins, positions himself at a 45 degree angle (nose up), then zips across the bottom front of the tank. He also gets a sort of crest at the top and bottom of his body. He will do this back and forth for ten or fifteen minutes then just swims off an acts normal. He shows no signs of any disease or problem and he eats well. I was wondering if something is wrong with him or if this is just goofy puffer behavior. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me!
<Have seen this sort of behavior before... Do the damsels seem to be involved at all? I don't think/consider that this is "trouble" per se, but an element of "jail fever" by these intelligent (Tetraodontiform) fishes. Bob Fenner>
Re: Weird Puffer Behavior  10/24/10

The damsels don't seem to be involved at any point in this behavior, before, during or after...Is there anything that I can do to alleviate this "jail fever"?
<Mmm, yes... a few possibilities... The first, no joke... is to tape a piece of paper on one end of the aquarium. Likely your little Toby is reacting to its own (internal, you can't see it/this from the outside) reflection. Cheers, BobF>

Valentini puffer, beh., sys.  10/17/09
Hi Crew,
I have a query about my valentini puffer; I have checked out lots and lots of your pages and FAQs and haven't been able to find the answer.
Hopefully you can help or shed some light on this issue.
We have a 35 gallon tank with live rock, coral (Zoanthus),
xenias, 2 percula clowns, 1 purple Dottyback, 1 watchman goby, a cleaner shrimp (hanging in there but with seriously manicured antennae) and our little valentini puffer.
<"that little nipper..."
We've had him about 6 months now.
I checked the parameters last night and everything seemed to be ok-ish, nitrate is fine, nitrite 0.1, phosphate 0, pH between 8.1 and 8.3 and ammonia ok.
The issue is that for the last week or so the puffer has been attacking his reflection in the glass really often,
<Not atypical behavior>
approximately 10/15 times a day. This is a definite increase in his usual amount of attacking. I don't know if this is normal behaviour or not but he seems really aggressive and persistent,
<Is normal... I would coat the side panel with dark paper...>
and afterwards he seems really tired with rapid breathing. I am worried that he may injure himself. He usually attacks his reflection in the front glass panel and not really the sides.
Could this be a developmental thing? Moving from being a juvenile to an adult?
<Yes; much more so with age>
He is eating fine and otherwise exhibits normal puffer behaviour. We usually feed him defrosted mysis shrimp and krill soaked in Lipovit.
Any advice and guidance would be much appreciated.
Thanks for all you help in the past.
<This fish, all Canthigaster species do better in larger (volume) settings.
Bob Fenner>

New Canthigaster Leoparda/Leopardus 8/1/09
Good morning crew,
<And you Greg>
Like most readers of your forums/library, I utilize your site as my premier encyclopedia for all things marine.
<Glad to share>
I recently purchased a Leopard Toby Puffer (Canthigaster leoparda), as I have a 34 gallon reef tank (a Solana, AIO, if you're familiar) and this is the smallest puffer I could get my hands on (I know these fish may eat inverts, but it's a risk I'm willing to take. There isn't much literature about this species, so I thought it had a better shot than most tobys to fare well in my reef, with its diminutive size and smaller mouth hopefully deterring it from eating too many critters). It is merely an inch long now, and I expect it double in size one day. Upon acclimation 2 days ago, the little guy seemed to be in shock, lying on its side for a couple hours).
It regained balance (maybe ammonia poisoning or something, there was a ridiculous amount of poop in the bag for such a small guy - clearly a testament to the large bioload of these puffers) and then moved to the corner of the tank that is out of direct light and low in current. I understand that these puffers are found deeper in the ocean, and my thoughts are that mine may be adjusting to the lighting (250 watt MH) as it is hiding either in the corner or behind the liverock.
<And Tobies are shy, retiring by nature, particularly when new>
This fish is the last addition to the tank and most aggressive, with a pair of very feisty Jans' pipefish (voracious eaters of frozen mysis and other meaty offerings), a pair of black ocellaris clowns, and a high finned goby. Is it common for these tobys to be very shy upon arrival, or should I be alarmed?
<The former>
The leopard Toby is eating twice a day - I've fed him PE mysis (largest and most nutritious, from what I gather)
<Ah yes... and friend Nuri Fisher of PE and co. is on hand here at IMAC West currently...>
and enriched brine. I was just expecting a much more aggressive or active fish and though it's too soon to tell his personality, want to make sure this is a normal part of the acclimation process.
By the way, I will eventually be taking a photo and submitting to you, as you do not have one in your Toby puffer faq.
Greg Sarkissian
<Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Valentini Puffer introduction... hlth., beh.   1/5/08 Hi guys <Wil> I just bought a new valentini puffer.. and I picked it up yesterday... I did the usual leave the bag in the tank.. put some tank water in the bag... (did not quarantine). <You'll learn> It was swimming a bit yesterday but has mostly stayed on the ground. <Not atypical behavior> This morning I found it on the ground of the tank not moving. I poked it and it moved but would not swim.. it looked like it would hop and that's about it. Is it sleeping? And when it stays on the ground, it looks like he's breathing heavily. <... could be trouble> am worried that it is struggling to get used to the new tank conditions. <What were "the old tank conditions?"> Tank conditions: SG 1.023-1.025, Ammonia = 0 Nitrite = 0... How long does it take for Valentinis to acclimate to its new surroundings, is it common that they stay on the bottom for long periods of time.? <Usually w/in a day or two...> What can I do to make the acclimatisation smoother? Thanks guys. <At this point? Not much... keep an eye on this fish... read re its care... Maybe on WWM! Bob Fenner>

Valentini Puffer Personality Question   8/23/07 Good Day Crew, <Hi Eric, Pufferpunk here> I am interested in a Valentini puffer and have been doing extensive research on this site, as well as The Puffer Forum, Liveaquaria.com and some others. I know most everything I can think of, in terms of care, adequate setup, companions, water quality, temperament, food, etc, etc. I do have one remaining question. <OK> One reason I like puffers so much is their intelligence and "dog like personality"... as stated on this and other sites. <Me too, exactly!> I know that varieties of the Dog Face, Spiny Box, Porcupine, others normally develop a "personality" - meaning they almost "beg" for food, respond to your proximity and some have even been "trained" to respond to non-verbal clues so they don't eat food meant for the eel. (Interesting point, did read on this website, don't remember exact article). <Not sure I believe that one.> My problem is that I'd LOVE a puffer like the ones mentioned above, however my tank is much too small. (55 ga, 48 inches long) For this, I would like a Valentini but have not found anything in regard to their personality ( I know they're aggressive) -- meaning normally do these puffers exhibit similar behavior/intelligence/begging/etc. as the previously mentioned puffers? <Yes, yes & yes! All those things in a cute little package. I have recently purchased one. It is in the tank behind me & I always catch it looking at me over my shoulder, while I'm working on the computer (when it's not looking for food). There is a gal, Bonnie, at The Puffer Forum, that suggested the Valentini over other sharp-nosed puffers, when I asked her about which one to get. She said personality-wise, that species would be the best choice. I sure like my lil fella! So far, he's left all the crabs & snails alone (each puffer may be different though). He is very curious & never touched any of the corals I have in there. I've got several kinds of leathers, zoanthids, frogspawn, hammer, mushrooms, tube anemone & plate coral. He also lives with a couple of damselfish. Good luck with your puffer! ~PP> Thanks for all the help! Great site, Eric

Valentini Puffer   8/23/06 Hello, <Hello> I have a Valentini puffer in my 125 gal community / live rock tank. He has been my 'anchor' resident for over eight years (2 false Perculas and a Royal Gramma have been with me for nearly eight years and a number of other critters for about two - four years.) He has been a great host and hasn't nipped fins, but does occasionally eat my frequently replenished snail stock  (he's definitely a male Valentini). <Mmmm>   He still looks healthy as a horse.  How long should I expect him to be around? Any ideas on the life span of the Royal Gramma or False Perc's? Thanks, Craig Martin <If memory serves, all three of these species have been known to approach twenty years in captivity. Good on ya. Bob Fenner>

Valentini Puffer & Talbot's Damsel  9/27/05 Hi! <Hi There!> I have a Valentini Puffer. We've had him (or her) for about 2 weeks. He lives in a 90L (Sorry I'm from Australia!! I have no idea what it is in gallons... maybe near 30 - 40g??) The tank is @ 24 degrees Celsius (again no idea ... actually wait I converted it online and its 75.2F) The ammonia levels are a little high (but we're doing water changes every 3 - 4 days to correct it and it's lowering pretty well) We take the water for a weekly water check at the LFS and they told us the water is great. (Better than theirs), except the carbonate hardiness is too low, so we are using Coral Success to fix this up). <The ammonia should be zero, so a little high would not be considered great water quality. I would like to see daily water changes until the ammonia is 0.> He is kept with a Pajama Cardinal, Ocellaris Clown, Banded Damsel, Domino Damsel, Green Chromis and 2 Talbot Damsels. He's very peaceful and just seems to pick at the rocks very often, no worry to me, I don't mind him doing it. We feed him a multi-vitamin frozen food and sometimes frozen brine. He also gets fed live brine. <He needs a variety of meaty seafood as well as some greens.> I have read your Puffer dentistry article and could not see anything specific about Valentini Puffer teeth. I have printed out your General Puffer info but I haven't read it yet. (I will after writing this but its 17 pages long!!) I was wondering how am I supposed to know when his teeth get too big? <It would be preferable to prevent his teeth from over growing by feeding him some seafood in the shell so he can keep them in check himself.> I read your other responses about Puffers and couldn't see anything specific to the Canthigaster Valentini. <The information should be similar and applicable to your puffer.> Also I read that some people are concerned about the size of their puffers stomach. <Their bellies do have quite a capacity for expansion, which can be witnessed after a good meal.> My puffer has got a bit of a big tummy, but since we've had him he's only puffed up once and eats all day long. <Most of them do like to eat.> (The tank has only been set up with fish for about 4-6 weeks) How will I know if its a fat stomach or an air filled stomach? <If he has taken air into his stomach you may notice the pocket of air as a bulge and his orientation in the water will be off, in other words he most likely will be off balance and have difficulty remaining in his normal swimming position. The area containing the air will be directed towards the surface and he may possibly even be floating near the surface if there is a good amount of air trapped. This is often referred to as positive buoyancy.> Also he's very hard to catch and the tank has a lot of live rock and coral that all the fishes have hiding-holes and caves to jump in as soon as my hand goes in the tank. So I can't really grab him to touch his stomach, (like you've told others to do) how else would I know? And wouldn't it hurt him if I were to press on his stomach? <This is really not necessary unless you suspect that there is a problem. It is preferable to keep your hands out of the tank and off the fish. Every time you touch your fish you disturb their slime coat which serves a protective function for the skin.> My puffer is so beautiful and loves to make faces at the glass and run up and down to show off to me. <Yes they are very pretty and have quite endearing personalities.  I find them irresistible to say the least. Puffers are one of my favorites.> Thanks for all the great info, I've learned a lot about him, just by reading some Q&A's on your site. <That's great keep up the reading. Educating yourself is one of the best things you can do for your fish!> Also I have 2 Talbot Damsels in the tank, they are pretty aggressive towards all the other fish (except the Pajama Cardinal and Valentini puffer, I think because they're bigger than the Talbot's) <Very possibly. I am not familiar with that particular Damsel species but the family as a whole is fairly aggressive. The PJ Cardinalfish should really be kept in a peaceful community tank. The Damsels and Puffer are really not appropriate tankmates. Please do keep a close eye on these fish for any signs of harassing the Cardinalfish.> If I took one of them out (if I can catch them) would this fix the problem? <No I don't think so.> My LFS said that if I keep my tank around 34C (75F) then it will stop them being so aggressive because it will keep their metabolism low, making them less hungry. Is this true? <In theory I guess it is a possibility but my best guess is that it would not work to your advantage. If it were my tank and fish I would not want to wait to find out. I would remove the aggressors as soon as possible. The fish that are being harassed are at risk for an injury and are definitely being stressed. Stress is a precursor to disease.  Elevated ammonia levels are also stressful. Add the stress of being harassed to the increased ammonia levels and you have a recipe for sick fish. Please do consider removing the Talbot Damsels as well as doing more frequent water changes. > Thanks for your help. Sincerely, Sarah <You're most welcome! Best of luck with your fish. HTH, Leslie>

Valentini Puffer  11/17/05 Hi! I have a Valentini puffer (saddle back), I previously wrote (in about end of Sept) to get some info and you guys were great! thanks.  I have a curved glass aquarium (the front corners are curved, and have no joint, so that the only joining of glass is at the back of the tank, where there are just normal right angle corners... I hope that makes sense?) <Yep> Anyway my puffer is a bit of show off and she likes to run up and down and up and down and up and down (for ages, sometimes 15 - 20 min.s, for about 3 or 4 times a day) the curved corners. I don't know if she can see a reflection of herself or something like that, <Or you... associated with food/feeding...> but I was wondering if its healthy for her to be swimming up and down the curved corners?  <No worries> and if its not what can I do about it? <Zip> And even if it is healthy Its kinda annoying. So how can I stop it.  <<This is not a domesticated animal whose behavior you can modify at will.  MH>> Just FYI, he's very healthy otherwise (he is about 9 months old) and the tank is very stable. We have 7 other fish (in a 90 litre tank) 3 x Green Chromis, a domino damsel, a ocellaris clown, a pajama cardinal and a sand sifter, all of whom are relatively healthy and generally not aggressive.  We feed them once a day, frozen green marine food (vitamin stuff) and generally the tank is in good order. <Sounds good> Also we have two (2 - 3cm's- around 1 inch) unwanted crabs. they came with the live rocks. Any ideas of how to get rid of them? <Could be baited, trapped out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/swcrabcomp.htm> Thanks for your help. Sincerely, Sarah <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

My little fishy (puffers) I call him (or her) Baby. Baby is a Valentini and only about one inch long. Baby is new to the tank and only has to deal with a Figure 8 Puffer. I am wondering about Baby's strange behavior. Baby pulls her/his tail close to the body and starts going in circles and darting about. Is this a defense mechanism?  <Hmm, maybe... have only seen and heard of this about Tobies, Sharpnose puffers (subfamily Canthigastrinae) a few times.> Are they also unusually shy? The figure 8 (Fishhead is his name) is not much bigger but was there first. This is my first tank, first puffers, and I am having a great time. It is in my office and everyone comes to visit Fishhead and Baby. Let me know what you think. Thanks, Linda <Good names, good owner. Bob Fenner>

Puffer question Hello! <Hi! Ananda here today...> I am new to the hobby and just got a 125g saltwater tank. Please excuse me in advance if I am listing too much info! <Too much info? Truthfully, more is better.> The setup has fish, live rock and live sand. Wet/dry system w/ protein skimmer.  There were 9 assorted fishes (yellow tang, a large Emp angel, yellow cow, powder blue tang, 3 blue damsels, a percula clown, and a semi-large maroon/gold clown) that came with the tank, all of which I had quarantined at my LFS until my tank was ready.  All of the fish get along great and have been together for at least a year. <Oh, my, that is a volatile mix. The cowfish will get huge. Do research their special needs. The maroon clown is likely to get mean and harm the percula clown -- you've got the most aggressive clown (the maroon) in with one of the least aggressive clowns, and that's a recipe for clown wars, which the percula is likely to lose. I'd get the perc into a different tank.> I decided to pick up an additional fish at the store which I thought was so cool- a rather small Hawaiian blue puffer. <Canthigaster jactator, presumably.> I had seen it in the store for at least 2 weeks and it looked rather healthy w/ no signs of problems; it was isolated in a small tank of its own. <Watching it for a while is a good idea.> The LFS is a very well run/maintained, clean store. I decided to drop all the fish in my tank simultaneously (after acclimating them) and they all immediately were in heaven (my 9 were in a 20g QT at the store, so I'm sure they were happy to be back in their 125). No signs of stress- all 10 immediately swimming about and eating well. <Yikes on several fronts: the 20g QT, dropping all the fish in at once (which could lead to a massive ammonia spike!), and adding the puffer along with everything else without QTing it at home first -- and not having a QT tank yourself! I'm amazed every fish is okay so far.> Later that evening, I couldn't find the puffer anywhere- turns out it went underneath a live rock and mounted itself upside down, belly flush rock AND changed colors (maybe shape too?) to blend in perfectly w/ the rock. It was like that again this morning only this time on top of a rock. It eventually woke up and started swimming about and eating this morning- colors are back to normal. <Surely, it was significantly stressed by the introduction.> I couldn't find any listing of this "camouflage" characteristic listed anywhere about this fish. I didn't know if this was normal (if it is, how cool!), or if it is sick? <I don't have experience with this species, but I have known puffers to change color to blend in with their surroundings and darken when stressed.> I also noticed a small blotch this morning which looked like sand or salt on one side of it, but it seemed to be gone an hour later, so I'm assuming that it was substrate. <Maybe. Keep an eye on it.> Anyway, appreciate any 411 you can give me on my new fish! <Start with the WWM site and info about puffers, and with Fishbase, at http://www.fishbase.org > Thanks! Sincerely, Michael Becker <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Puffers sleeping nose-up! (02/23/04) Dear Ananda, <Hi!> Hello, I was frequenting your Sharpnose puffer FAQs and came across the attached question from Elizabeth Mackie, and would like to contribute some info. <I'm including a snip from the post you've mentioned: "...at night when he "sleeps," he hangs vertically (nose-up) at the very top of one of the corners of the tank.  I have never seen a fish do that before." > I have a Canthigaster compressa Sharpnose puffer, and he WILL sleep in the vertical position if there is light bothering him. <Ah! Good to know!> Sometimes he will go up in the corner vertically and sleep, but usually he sleeps horizontally on top of a powerhead (for warmth perhaps? Tank is around 78 degrees.) <For warmth, perhaps, and there's the possibility he likes the massage action from the powerhead. Your puffer is not unique in this, at least.> Anyway, I often catch him sleeping vertically behind the powerhead, and my only guess is because I have the lights in my room on past his bedtime when this happens. He is the cutest fish! I have had him for several years, and this seems to be normal behavior for him (well, his actual gender unknown!) Hope I could help! Rob Lewis Long Beach, CA USA <Thank you for the info. I ALWAYS appreciate getting more or better info relating to puffers! --Ananda>

Puffed-Up Puffer  6/14/04 Hi, I'm really needing some advice right now <Hi, Pufferpunk here.> My valentini has been inflated on and off for over an hour. This happened after feeding him a shrimp tail (his favorite). He's never puffed up like this. <Something must have spooked him.> I put in a PolyFilter just in case of unknown toxins. I also did a 50% water change even though water levels were good: Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate zero, salinity 1.019, temp 80. <SG sounds a little low.  Better at around 1.023.> He's really upset and jumpy (he's usually very mellow) and is seems to be drifting like a balloon. <He sounds like he must have swallowed some air..  Hold him vertically, tail down, head under water & give him a few gentle shakes, until he "burps" it out.  He may inflate again while you're doing this, but he'll be sucking in water, so it'll be ok.> He uninflated a couple of times (very briefly) then puffed up again. I didn't see him ingest any air but I guess it's a possibility.  He's in a 10g. QT and has been for 3 weeks.  Poor little guy. I feel totally helpless:( Thanks much -Angela <After burping him, I'd leave the lights off & let him rest.  Good luck with the little fellow.  ~PP>  

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