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FAQs about Tobies, Sharpnose Puffers Compatibility

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 Behavior, 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

Puffers are predators  Please see the following article for more detailed information.... Puffers in general http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm Sharpnose Puffers http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobyfaqs.htm  

Canthigaster solandri. question     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>

Bennett's Sharpnose Puffer and Harlequin Tusk; comp.
Would these two specifies get along in a 125 gallon tank?
<Likely so... Canthigastrines are nippy, but Choerodon are smart and fast.
Bob Fenner>
The Puffer is about 3 inches and the Harlequin Tusk (currently in the tank) is about 6 inches?
Thank you

Toby puffer; sys., comp.          12/10/15
Hi I have a question what is the minimum size tank for a white spot Toby . I currently have him in my 72gal bow front but he has taken a liking to my Trach and lobo so I need to move him my daughter loves this fish she has room for a small 12gal nano tank in her room would that work. Thanks
<Mmm; well; the lower limit might be ten gallons or so.... The twelve should do it. Bob Fenner>

Red Mandarin and Papuan (or Blue Spot) Toby Puffer Compatibility     4/25/13
Good Day!
I have quick question on compatibility.  Long story short, we have a Red Mandarin Dragonet - we have had great success with this guy in our very young tank.  He has taken to target feeding Nutramar Ova, Arctipods, and frozen Mysis shrimp (on occasion) and we some how happened to get a good run of pods in our 2 month old tank.  The tank is a 30 gal biocube and
with about 25/30 lbs of live rock with lots of places for pods, as well as about 20 lbs of live sand.  My wife has fallen in love with the Papuan and Blue Spot / Jewel Toby puffer and, everything that we have found says they are compatible. 
<Mmm, Canthigasterines/Sharpnose puffers, are biters...>
These are the only fish that would be in the tank and I just want to make sure that they would be a good match.
<They are not>
 The Mandarin is male, about 3 inches long.  My main worry is fin nipping, but I'm not sure if there is anything else to worry about.  Should we hold off on the puffer until we get our big 75 gal tank up and running and can move the Mandarin or do you think we should be ok?
Thanks for you time,
<I would hold off. You want more peaceful choices here. Bob Fenner>

Blue spotted puffer question  2/23/13
<Hi Amber>
 I've been looking around for info on this but I'm not getting very clear answers. I have a 92 gallon corner classroom tank that I have been setting up over the last 8 months. Right now I have a small blue tang, small yellow tang, green mandarin and a BTA . I also have a blue spotted puffer that's in the quarantine right now. As this is a classroom tank I would like to
get example members of most of the invertebrate groups but wanted to check about how they would do with my puffer.
<They would be expensive meals.>
 I would think that things like larger feather dusters, maxima clams etc. would be reasonably well protected from such a small puffer,
<Size is irrelevant when one cannot defend itself.>
 but like I said I haven't been able to find a clear answer. Also if you have any suggestions for some other inverts that might do well with my puffer that would be awesome!
<I've seen mixed success with larger Stenopus sp when the Toby is well fed.
A constant supply of freeze dried algae may assist in this regard. Large hermits would be safe from predation but they can be quite destructive.>
Thanks for the help!
<Quite welcome.>

Neutralizing Ostracitoxin... Toby comp.     7/2/12
Hi guys,
I have a bit of problem with ostracitoxin. We here in South Africa can collect our fish with a simple permit from the post office.  We collected some fish over the last two weeks, and all of them survived the 7 hour trip back home to Johannnesburg.  They are all going into my FOWLR.  Some of them where Canthigasters (medium C. amboinensis, 2 tiny C. valentini, Medium to large C. bennetti).
<These Tobies are very nippy, particularly toward other Canthigasterines... You'll need a VERY large (hundreds of gallons) system if you intend to keep altogether>
 It seems one of them have now released ostracitoxin (I suspect amboinensis or bennetti) and killed quite a few of my fish in the qt (Chaetodon Lunula, C. Vagabond, C. Auriga). The qt is in hyposalinity at 1.012 SG
<Am not a fan... see WWM re Hyposalinity>
 and it has a simple sponge filter that has been running
<Mmm, not well at this low spg>
 for the last 2 months or so. It is fully cycled, as I successfully QT'ed a few fish that I bought before this in the exact tank.
<Not this many and not these species>
Two other fish we caught, a pixy Hawkfish and C. kleinii are also not looking good (loss of balance, rapid breathing).
<These need to be moved elsewhere; in another system>
The two tiny Canthigaster valentini's seems unaffected, and the Canthigaster bennetti also seems relatively ok (only rapid breathing). I have removed the kleinii, hawk and valentini's from the display into a newly made up bucket of saltwater in hyposalinity. I have started running Seachem Matrix carbon in the qt with the bennetti and amboinensis. Some of the fish (Lunula, Vagabond and Amboinensis) have been in the qt for a week now without any issues. I introduced the other fish last night (Canthigaster bennetti, Chaetodon Auriga, 2 Canthigaster valentine, pixy Hawkfish). The amboinensis actually ate a few pellets last night after the other fish were introduced, so not sure what could have stressed him out so much after that, as it was basically dark in the room till this morning.
Maybe it is rather the bennetti releasing the toxin?
<Possibly; but just crowding w/ such nippers is very stressful>
 Although he did not look too stressed last night when I introduced him?
I have had experience with boxfish contaminating a plastic container after one such episode, with the effects on fish still lingering after months if placed in this container.  I never knew Canthigaster can also release this toxin, so I have learned my lesson to rather let them be (or qt them separately).
<Ah yes>
The question is if there is anything I can do to neutralize this toxin in the qt in my filters and glass/silicone? From what I read, it is not protein based, so not sure if hot water will work like on lionfish toxin?
Maybe vinegar? Or is there any other way to have the tank/filter habitable in the near future again?
<I don't know re neutralizing in situ. Raising RedOx (a few possibilities re means) by/and doing water changes, increasing skimming, the use of protein-removing resin/s is likely efficacious>
<And you, Bob Fenner> 

Canthigaster Compatibility, and stocking a 40    10/4/11
Hello WWM Crew,
I want to run a potential stocking list by you real quick. I am trying to build a tank (on a budget) around a Canthigaster puffer, and around the space and equipment I have. The spot that the tank is going to go isn't going to accommodate anything bigger than 36" long and about 16-18" deep, height isn't a restriction. I'm considering either a 30 breeder, 40 breeder, 50 gal or 65 tall. Price wise, the 40 breeder is the best option, I can pick one up for 40 bucks right now, I can build a stand and canopy on my own fairly cheap and I believe I already have enough filtration, I am going to use an Emperor BioWheel 400 in combination with a Marineland H.O.T. Magnum that I already have for filtration, this tank is going to be FOWLR, so I'm not overly concerned about lighting, I'll probably just try to pick up a basic LED system for around a hundred bucks or so, and add on a HOB skimmer. I'm a little concerned about the filtration set up not being sufficient, I'd like to use a drilled tank with a wet/dry setup, but budget wont allow that, so I'm leaning towards understocking, besides the Canthigaster (Considering Papua, Solandri, or Valentini) I'm trying to add as much as possible visually while limiting the additional bioload. I'm thinking of adding a Centropyge Angel (leaning heavily towards bispinosa or loriculus)
<Neither in a forty>
for color and for movement I'm considering a small group of something flashy, either a trio of Pseudanthias,
of a larger group (6-9)
<Uhh, no>
of Chromis Viridis
<Maybe three>
to round out the tank. I'm not sure about clean up crew, the Toby might rip apart any invert I add to the tank,
I'm still tempted to add a few cheep inverts and feed the Toby well and just see what happens, If the particular Toby I get happens to like the inverts I'm thinking of using a lawnmower blenny to help with algae removal.
<Mmm, could start w/ a small one... but 50 gallons is about a minimum...>
Fr the live rock I'm leaning towards branching coral skeletons, Chromis seem to like that and it will add lots of interesting places for the Toby to explore as well as lots of escape routs/hiding places in case I happen to
get an overly boisterous Toby... Does anything about this proposed setup raise a red flag for you?
<See above>
Do you have any suggestions to improve it, or would you do anything differently? Thanks!
<Do read through all our archived files on the Canthigastrinae please; as well as any species you're interested in co-stocking. 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

White spotted puffer reef safe? -- 04/03/10
Hey guys,
I'm in Kauai and just caught a: Hawaiian Spotted Puffer
Canthigaster jactator
He's about 2 inches. Before I put him in my reef tank, are they safe?
<Like all Tobies, Sharpnose Puffers, this fish can be nippy>
Some say monitor, others say no. I have a purple tang, yellow tang, two tomato clowns and a flame Hawkfish and blue Chromis. Would it work for my tank?
<If there's sufficient room, this fish should get along with what you've listed. Bob Fenner>
Re: White spotted puffer reef safe?   4/3/10

Is 180 gallons enough room? P.S. Bob, thanks for the help with telling me what I need to catch these guys in the wild!! Kauai is great!!
<Should be fine and a hu'i hou! Aloha, BobF>
re: White spotted puffer reef safe?
Thanks for the help. When you say "pick" do you mean fish or Corals?
<Mainly fishes. B>
re: White spotted puffer reef safe?
P.S.- Never got the Achilles I wanted. Only saw 2 and could not catch any.
<Need a good fence net...>
The Potter's Angels were awesome. I also could not get one of those either.
<A good fence net and luck! You've got to "tap" the Porites compressa where they duck into... to drive them into a well placed, anchored on the bottom in cracks... net>
I asked around for an Achilles tang and many here say they are hard to get.
Are they getting "fished-out"?
<No... just habitat sensitive. BobF>

Re: 12/03/10 Hogfish.. now Canthigaster   3/14/10
Twice bitten, thrice shy babe

Hey Simon,
<Hello Jason>
what about Canthigaster jactator?
<I think this might go well - as long as your system is fish only and not reef>
I have read mixed info about this puffer/Toby. Someone stated that this particular species is the most aggressive and biggest fin nipper out of the whole genus. Do you or Bob have any personal experience with this particular Toby?
<Not this particular one myself, although I have kept two other species and found that they nipped the fins of slower moving fishes, like Lions, but left most everything else alone. I would be loath to keep them with anything that has large, trailing type fins also. I have kept these with Butterflies with no problems>
I want to get one considering it stays small but I am concerned about him biting my Heniochus (5" and believe it or not, a bully).
<Mmm, the Heniochus does have some long fins.. this could be a risk.. but maybe one worth taking, as the size of the Canthigaster Tobies makes them far more suitable for your sized tank than many other species. Why not take him 'on approval' from your LFS, speak to them.. they should be prepared to take this fish back if it's a problem and still in good health>
I have a 90gal....in case you forgot lol. I want to know if you also think this guy is more aggressive than the rest.
<My guess is probably not, but Butterflies generally are not easily bullied by fishes smaller than themselves>
<No problem, Simon>
Re: 12/03/10 Hogfish.. now Canthigaster   3/15/10
Hey Simon I don't mean to be a pain in the butt but can you ask Bob or anyone else at your facility if they had personal experience keeping this particular puffer? I am reading many articles from other hobbyists that this fish follows other fish around regardless of size and just keeps taking chunks out of their fins (in the shape of half moons all over the body). I just read another article that says this is the worst of the sharp nose puffers and the only one that can be a terror. But, I really only rely on your crew for the most accurate answer lol. I would appreciate it, thanks.
<Have kept a handful of Canthigaster spp.. They're all "opportunistic biters" as posted over and over on WWM. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/tobycompfaqs.htm

Compatibility Question/Puffers/Compatibility 10/27/09
Hey WWM Staff,
Hope you having an amazing start to your week!
<I am, still above ground.>
I looked around a little bit
for answers to compatibility questions, but while there are a lot of compatibility questions answered about Lionfish, and puffers I did not see and with the breeds that I am interested in.
I was looking to combine an established Juvenile Volitans Lionfish (Pterois volitans) with a Black Saddled Toby (Canthigaster Valentini). They would be both will be placed in a cycled 75 gal FOWLR tank with plenty of holes and hiding crevices. (I'm not worried about the necessary tank size for the lion when he gets bigger because I am looking into a 125 or 150 gal in the next 2 years). Usually I would try to avoid the combination of a lionfish and a puffer, but given the small size of the Saddled puffer at full size, I thought maybe this would create a less stressful environment for the lionfish.
I had heard from a forum that because of their size, and semi-aggressive nature, if placed in a tank with an established lionfish, they would work (with caution). And two LFS's I went to both recommended the Saddled Puffer as a lionfish tank mate, as well as the preferred breed over other puffers. But an article by you guys stated that Saddled Puffers can be the worst tail biters. I'm a little lost : ( Advice? Also, can a male and female Saddled Puffer be kept in the same tank? If not the lionfish, how about tangs/surgeons <surgeons> or triggers?
<The Saddled Puffer or Toby will fight with conspecifics such as filefish, large finned fish, and other tobies, and can be aggressive at times nipping the fins of other tankmates. I would not risk mixing the two. James (Salty Dog)>
Dustin Musial

Canthigastrinae toxin   2/11/09 Hello crew, I have a quick question. Do Tobies, of the subfamily Canthigastrinae, exude tetrodoxin? is there a risk of them poisoning a tank if it were to die? <Mmm, yes, and a small one, yes. Search on the Net with the two word title above.> Thank you Pat <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Picasso trigger splotches, Canthigastrinae incomp.  - 02/08/09 Hey Guys, I have been going on WWM for about a year now for my info to random problems I found with my tanks. I transferred my 36 gallon corner bowfront to a new 75 gal regular tank. Along with my measly 25 lbs of rock (which I am on Craigslist looking for much more at this same moment) I transferred my 3 inch hippo tang, 2 inch Picasso trigger, 2 inch coral beauty, 1 inch percula clown, and 1 inch black percula clown. I this week added a valentini puffer about 1.5 inches in length and noticed that my trigger has been harassing him around feeding time each day. <Mmm, yes... Rhinecanthus can be incompatible with....> About an hour or two after feeding I noticed that there are small brown splotches on my triggers face. Could  this be caused by my puffer retaliating or something in the puffers skin or is it from the scratching of my trigger which has started a few days prior to switching the tanks. <Could indeed be bite marks> I currently employ an Excalibur skimmer, whisper hang on, and cascade 1200 canister filter. I am currently removing copper with Cupramine after a copper treatment about 9 months ago. <Should be long gone> (copper was reduced to .1 after the treatment for ich. I never removed it completely.) I got all water (DI/RO) from LFS which I have trusted with my fish tank life for the last 4 years who has never given bad advice to me. I am feeding the fish krill, brine, trigger formula, Nori, muscle, squid, Mysis. All are soaked in vitality by Seachem and VitaChem by Boyd enterprises. All fishes usually eat voraciously when food is in the tank but the trigger in the last few days has let even his favorite trigger formula food float by. Please help should I remove the puffer or just let things marinate for a few days. Thanks for your attention Brian <I would remove this Toby. Bob Fenner>
Re: Picasso trigger splotches  02/08/09
Thanks Bob I have someone coming Monday via craigslist to pick up the new addition puffer. I hold the trigger in higher preference. Thanks for the help and advice. Brian <Welcome Brian. BobF>

Nautilus macromphalus (availability), Canthigaster valentini, Paraluteres prionurus care and compatibility   1/1/09 Hi! <Hello Maggie> Um, this may be a bit random, but... What would be the minimum tank size and environmental requirements for N. macromphalus, and where could I obtain one? (I'm assuming they're not available captive-bred, so if they're endangered, please tell me and I'll just drop the issue.) They're supposed to be the smallest Nautilus species (16 cm), so I'm guessing that they would probably adapt best to captive life in the average aquarium, and they'd probably make pretty cool specimens, besides.^_^ <Mmm, I'd try asking this on the "Availability" forum of Tonmo.com... and have your LFS contact Quality Marine in Los Angeles re... Am going to ask Richard Ross, fellow pet-fish presenter, Steinhart Aquarium worker and all-things Cephalopod Maniac for input here> Also, do C. valentini and P. prionurus have the same care, compatibility, etc. requirements? <Quite similar... though the Toby is much more likely to bite, sample other life> What about behavioral differences? I'd like to get a Valentini Puffer for my tank, but I just need to check something first. <About the same behaviorally> Do Valentini Puffers generally nip at mushrooms, star polyps, and the like? What about Xenia? If so, can these animals easily overcome (or preferably avoid) any detrimental effects caused by nipping? Is there any way to "train" Puffers not to nip? <No guarantee per specimen... but keeping fed, in a large, well-populated system, tends to diminish "sampling"> I'm interested in Valentini Puffers because of their cuteness, and also because of computer research that turned up with at least one source (I think it was more) saying that if one HAD to try a Puffer in a reef tank, a Valentini may be the best bet. Is this true? <Mmm, the best for? This species, other Canthigasterines DO stay small... this is about their best trait> Finally, do Blacksaddled Filefish nip just like Puffers do? <Not as widely... in terms of choice of groups of organisms> If I can, I'd prefer a Valentini Puffer because of the "endearing" behavior attributed to all Puffers, but Blacksaddled Filefish DO bear a superficial resemblance to Valentinis, which, as previously stated, are adorable (in my opinion). <Might work... if enough room, started small especially. Bob Fenner>

Canthigaster solandri, toxicity -- 06/07/08 Hi, <Hello Marjan.> My question is about the Canthigaster solandri. I've got a male and female for some while now, but I haven't been able to find on the internet if this is also a toxic fish and can it be dangerous for people and/or other fishes? <Only if it is eaten. Contains Tetrodotoxin. Can be very dangerous to people if it is consumed. Some predatory fishes are somewhat immune, others may die.> So that's my first question. The other question is about the eggs. I've read that the eggs are poisoned, but how do I have to see that? Are they dangerous to other fishes when they try to eat them <Exactly.> and if so, what happens than with these fishes? <There is at least one report of fish dying after the consumption of puffer fish eggs.> Could you help me with some more information about this? <As long as nobody eats the puffers or their eggs, there will be no problems regarding the poison. Eggs should be removed, if other fish are in the aquarium. If the eggs are fertilized you can try to hatch them and raise the fry in an extra tank.> (no other information needed, only the toxic part). Thank you already. Marjan (The Netherlands). Hope you will excuse my poor English writing. <No problem, your English is fine. Cheers, Marco.>  

Tank Mates for Blue Spot Toby 5/6/08 <Hi Barbara, Pufferpunk here> I have a blue-spot Toby (puffer) in a 75 gallon tank. What tank mates would be good, if anything, for this fish? I would like to add porcupine puffer, if you think that they would be ok together. <I do not suggest combining puffers of such large size differences together. In addition, an adult Porc requires a minimum of 100g. How about a Valentini puffer? Also hardy, fast-moving fish like wrasses, damselfish & pretty much anything that does not grow too large or isn't too small, delicate or has flowing fins. ~PP> Thanks, Barbara

Tank Mates for Blue Spot Toby 5/7/08 I received an e-mail from Pufferpunk but there wasn't anything in the reply. <That's odd... I don't see it in our Dailies either.> Please re-send your reply to my question about tank mates for a Blue-spot Toby puffer. I was considering a porcupine puffer and maybe a fuzzy dwarf lion fish. <I have kept my Bluespot Toby with a dwarf lionfish & they seemed to work fine (until the lion jumped). Be sure to have a nice "shelf" for the lion to hang under. I suggest against keeping a Porc with a smaller puffer & your 75g tank would be too small for an adult Porc. 100g minimum is recommended for them. A Valentini would work, also wrasses, damselfish, clowns (not the maroon--too aggressive). Pretty much anything that won't pick on the puffer or visa-versa. ~PP> Thanks, Barbara

A Centerpiece Fish Without The Bit! (Compatibility Query) -03/27/08 Hello, <Hey there! Scott F. in tonight!> About 3 months ago, we bought a 75 gallon tank with a CPR Backpack2 filter/skimmer and Emperor 400 BioWheel. Our levels all seem to be in check. We purchased a clean up package offered online including Hermit Crabs, 1 Arrow Crab, 1 Sally Lightfoot, 2 Emerald Crabs, Turbo and Nassarius snails, and 2 Peppermint Shrimp. We have 40 lbs of live rock and 80 lbs of live sand. Our first fish purchases included 2 Maroon Clowns and 1 Lawnmower Blenny. We have been looking for more tank mates and would really like to get a Canthigaster supramacula. What do you think about the compatibility of this fish with what we have? Or do you have any other suggestion for a "centerpiece" fish. <Well, the genus Canthigaster is filled with reasonably-sized fish that, although attractive and generally interesting, tend to be notorious for nipping and biting the fins off of their tankmates! I'd be hesitant to add this fish to your aquarium. Your fishes and invertebrates will thank you! An interesting "centerpiece" fish would be something like a Flame Hawkfish, or perhaps a trio of small Fairy Wrasses, or even a small Centropyge Angelfish (like C. argi, etc.)?> In addition, do we need to purchase an aerator or are our filters adequate for this job? <If the returns are breaking the surface tension of the water and creating some turbulence at the air/water interface, I don't think that you'll need additional aeration for your system.> Thanks Andrea <Glad to be of service! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Can I Put a Valentini In My Tank? 1/27/08 Hi there, <Hi, Pufferpunk here. Next time you write, could you please use proper capitalization? We have to correct that before posting in our FAQs, thanks. I corrected this one for you. A quick read over your letter before you hit Send, is quite helpful!> I have a question that I can't really find a clear answer to. I have a 60 gallon tank with a maroon clown, a blue tang, a rock anemone, button polyps, star polyps and a few crabs, snails and feather-dusters. And live-rock of course. I went to the pet store today and saw the cutest Saddle Valentini Puffer. But I'm not sure if it's save to add him to my tank. I found info about the compatibility to the clown and tang, but not sure about the others. Advise please. <Your tank sounds fine for a Valentini puffer. Mine has never bothered any of my snails or crabs but with puffers, you never know. They do not eat flakes or pellets though. Freeze-dried plankton/krill, Mysis shrimp small pieces of shrimp or opened shellfish is good for them. I soak in Selcon overnight, before feeding. My only concern would be the Maroon clown, they can be quite mean. I had one which chewed my puffers' caudal fins to a nub. The other problem is your Blue tang. They get very large & will need a much bigger tank eventually.> Oh and is it true that this little guy inflates to two times it's size?? Cuz some sites say he does and some say he doesn't. <Yes, all puffers can expand themselves to 2-3 times their size, if stressed/frightened enough.> Thank you in advance guys! <You're welcome! ~PP>

Re: Fish name, Toby, comp.    11/24/07 Bob, <Esteban> Thank you so much for your fast / informative response. You are spot on. I saw in the link you indicate he is prone to nip, would this potentially include him nipping at a 3' long zebra moray eel? <Yes... look for neat little cut out nips...> The eel is a very prized species in the tank and wouldn't want to have introduced something that is going to terrorize it. Thanks again, Steven <Mmm, well, "about half" of Canthigasterines leave well enough alone... but who can tell which side this one will be? Only experience will/can tell here. Cheers, BobF>

White Spotted Toby in a Reef Tank? 10/26/07 Hi, <Hi Katrina, Pufferpunk here> I have a Hawaiian white spotted Toby and a yellow tang in my 55 gallon tank. I would like to turn this into a reef tank. I understand that I can not have starfish or shrimp. I would like to know what type of corals I can have and if I can have mushrooms, polyps or sea fans. Thank you for all of your advise. <You never can tell with a puffer but you could start out with xenia, mushrooms (there are a lot of different species) & leathers & see what he might pick at. Then try some inexpensive Zoanthids & if he leaves them alone, add some of the more colorful ones. That should make a lovely reef tank right there! I have a Valentini with all sorts of hermits, snails & shrimp. I also have frogspawn, hammers & Fungia plate with it. See this thread about a gal I know keeping 2 species of tobies in her beautiful reef tank: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=7305 A 55g is not big enough for a tang. A 100 gallon or larger aquarium is necessary to provide plenty of swimming room. ~PP> Katrina

Re: White Spotted Toby in a Reef Tank? 10/29/07 <Katrina> Thank you for your help. I think I will go ahead and try some mushrooms and leathers. They are easy to get here where I live. The local pet store I bought my tang from said that he would be fine in my 55 gallon tank. You are like the fourth person that has said he needs more room so I'm going to go today and see if I can trade him in for credit. <Sounds like a good idea. Remember, fish stores make money selling fish. ~PP> Thanks, Katrina

Nippy Puffer--Canthigaster papua 10/07/2007 Hello there, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> First I would like to say that you have the best website I have been able to find on Saltwater systems. I am constantly getting questions answered and have been able to save numerous fish/sea stars thanks to you. <That's great, thanks!> However, until recently I didn't own my own saltwater tank. I have always stuck to freshwater. Then my mother (the owner of a 90 gallon saltwater, who feeds only flake food) purchased a False-eyed Puffer along with a Maroon Clown, Regal Tang, and a large Foxface for her tank. <That's a lot of bioload to her tank.> It wasn't long before all her fish, including the Foxface, had holes in their fins. Thanks to your site I was able to identify the problem - the very hungry puffer. <Yup!> Desperate to save her fish (the Maroon had no fins left), she gave me the puffer. <I hope her fish don't wind up with a bacterial infection. Another reason to do research on fish before purchasing. Be sure to tell he the Foxface's fins are poisonous (like a lionfish) & pack a nasty wallop.> As I wasn't planning on owning a saltwater, I quickly converted a 10 gallon tank I had just finished cycling. <Cycling as marine?> I am currently running a Emperor two stage filter and have been closely monitoring the salinity, pH, ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels. He is (of course) the only fish in the tank and seems pretty happy, if very bored. <If you cycled as freshwater & then added salt, the tank isn't cycled at all. The salt will kill off any of the good bacteria in your filter. You need to get some cured live rock (maybe from your Mom's tank?) as much as you can--1-2lbs per gallon. Puffers are intelligent, inquisitive creatures that need lots of decor to investigate.> I feed him a small piece of frozen shrimp once a day and remove any uneaten food before bed. <That's good. Any uncooked crustacean you find at your grocery store (in the fish department) is good for him. Freeze & then thaw in cool vitamin water.> My problem is that I know this tank is too small and I am trying to research what needs to be done with his next home. He already seems somewhat lonely and with a bigger tank I would hope to be able to put something else in with him. <25 gallon minimum for him alone. If you want tank mates, then go up to around 40g.> Also, I would like to get at least one cleaner snail (a Turbo maybe), along with live rock. <Live rock needs to be #1 on your list. Then you need a skimmer, preferably one large enough to use on the largest tank you're buying. Go to www.reefcentral.com, scroll down to the bottom of the forums where the reef club forums are & see if you can locate a club near you for rock & a used skimmer. They also have a Used Equipment forum at that site. Of course, you can buy a new one too but as far as the live rock, the only way you can be sure the rock is totally cured is directly from an established tank. It is important that you add cured rock ASAP. That is how the tank will be cycled.> I can find little information on what is compatible with this fish. Lots of stuff on what not to put in with him though. As I already know he is extremely nippy, I would like to avoid any potential problems as best I can. If only for the sake of his future roomies. My LFS is great but they are (after all) the ones who said this fish would be completely safe (for sure) in the 90 gallon. <He may never play well with others. You could try some cheap, fast-moving fish, like damselfish but you're taking a chance with any tank mates, as you already have a good idea of your puffer's temperament.> As I live in apartment and am on a (somewhat) restricted budget, I want to avoid getting a tank that is more than two people can reasonably be expected to be able to move. If you can offer any advice It would be most welcome. See the profile: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php?g2_itemId=469 > Especially on putting the snail in with the puffer. I know they eat some snails but would it eat a large Turbo? <I would think he might pick it to death. There really are no cleaners you can safely keep with a puffer but you can always try... BTW, I'm secretly jealous--been looking to add that species to my tank for a while now! ~PP> Many thanks, A new puffer lover

Suitable Tankmates for White Spotted Toby  8/14/07 Hi Bob and all at WWM! <Phil, Pufferpunk here with you today.> I recently started a small marine system (40 gallons) with live rock. I currently have a small 2.5 inch Hawaiian white spotted Toby that I "adopted" from someone who dismantled their tank. Would the Toby be compatible with a cherub dwarf angel? If not, are there any other small fishes that you could recommend as tankmates for the Toby (damsels, royal Gramma, Basslets?). I realize that my space is limited but I would like to add just one more fish to the tank for some variety. Thank you for your time and consideration. <I would stick with small, fast-moving fish that can dart & hide from the puffer, if needed. Your ideas of a royal Gramma or Basslet (they shouldn't be mixed) should work. It will eat invertebrates found in a reef tank. Its teeth are actually a fused beak-like structure which it uses to crush its prey. It may be aggressive at times, nipping the fins of tankmates, leaving a circular hole as its mark, so watch it with it's "friends". ~PP> Best wishes, Phil S. Lancaster, PA

Worst case scenario. Vacation Wipe Out, Restarting 7/24/07 Hi Bob and crew, <Hello> My tank of 1 year old got wiped out and I don't know what to do. Please help!!! <Will try> Here is the situation'¦ I went on vacation and left the fish to a nice lady to care for them. The saddle back puffer died (after being harassed by a pair of tomato clowns) shortly after I left and no one was there to remove him until at least 24 hours later. Apparently, the dead puffer released its toxin that killed most everything else in the tank. <Does happen fairly often.> When the lady showed up the next day, she was horrified by the scene and didn't know what to do. All the dead fish was left in the tank for another day until she finally tracked me down and got instructions to remove them. By that point, the few survivors gone belly up also. There are over 30 casualties all together. <Wow> She removed all the dead fish she could finds and I asked her to leave the system running in the hope that at least the live rocks could be saved. I came home late last night after two weeks of vacation. The tank is full of algae, but otherwise completely lifeless. Everything is dead, including anemones, starfish, snails and corals. <Welcome back.> I couldn't even find any copepods in the gravel anymore. <Probably a few did make it.> Additionally, a few dead fish been stuck behind some rock works while decomposing for two weeks. There appears to be a white fungus that cocoons the rotted fish under water. Needless to say, I am totally grossed out. Interestingly, the little Seachem ammonia indicator tag is showing a safe level of ammonia in the water. <Shows you the value of those indicators.> I feel really bad for the lady and worst for the fish. Incidentally, one of the filters sprung a leak last year while she was taking care of my tank. Water continuously leaked all over the hardwood floor and she had to mop it all up and did repairs while she had me on the phone. Poor thing! I am sure she'll run away the next time I mention the word 'vacation'. <Hope you got her something nice.> Anyway, here are my questions: 1. Could a little Toby puffer be so full of toxin as to have wiped out the tank? <Yes> 2. After the cleanup of dead fish, do I need to do anything more then just changing the water and filters material? <Probably need lots of water changes to get the nutrient levels back in line, but nothing beyond that.> 3. Are the live rocks and sand dead/poisoned? <Can still be used.> 4. Do I need to cycle the tank again? <Is cycling now I bet.> Thanks! -Hoshing <You are starting from scratch here, need to recycle the tank, add a few pounds of new live rock to reseed everything and give it some time to get back up and running. Now I need to go call the women watching my tank while I'm here in Hawaii.> <Chris>

Puffer and BTA as Tank Mates?  4/18/07 Hi again, <Hello, Brenda here>   I had another question, this one about my Saddled Valentini Puffer.  He lives in a FOWLR tank with a fuzzy dwarf lionfish.  I have been considering a BTA, and the puffer tank is the only one without corals so it seemed to be a good choice for the anemone. <Puffers and anemones should never be kept together.> I have read that every puffer is different and some may not pick on coral and inverts but others will.  I know that my puffer will eats snails, but there have been polyps and 2 small mushrooms that appeared on the rock and he has never bothered those.  I guess my question should be:  Is there some way to know if my puffer will kill a BTA without just putting one in there and waiting to see? <It is safe to assume here that it will nip at the anemone.> I would rather not risk the life of the anemone without some assurance.   This might sound stupid, but what if I put a fake anemone in there and see if he chews on it?  (don't laugh)  I'm hoping that you have a better suggestion. Carrie <My only suggestion here is to avoid this combination completely.  Brenda>

Re: Still Figuring Things Out... Toby Comp., reading  3/13/07 How's Bob doing this evening? <Okay, but now the AM on Tues.> Alright, I've been doing some research and discovered that the puffer I currently have is a Blue Spotted Sharpnose (Canthigaster). <Ah, my first guess> This is the only fish I currently have in this tank, he's a little guy.  I have a 60 gal Hexagon tank (it's more tall then long), I have a lot of little caves, etc. that I've built for privacy.  But a lot of open space out in the front. <Not that much...> I've been researching like crazy to find a couple of smaller fish that would go well with my puffer.  I want the puffer to be my main attraction of the tank, just maybe not the ONLY attraction.  Anyway, I'm having trouble finding any real answers for what would work with the lone puffer (I've literally read the entire compatibility page and really couldn't find what I was looking for).  Is there anyway you can help get some names in my head so I can do more research and decide what I like? <Only to encourage you to keep reading really> Appreciate it, you guys have really helped calm my nerves with the constant battle of conflicting advice. Jon <You'll 'know' that you know enough when you do. Keep reading... you need/want something/s that are fast, smart, not too big, nor will get too large... that can live in this small volume, shape world... Oh, and that you like to observe. BobF>

Tank Stocking Trade Offs...  - 10/22/06 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. at your service tonight!> I've been reading through your website over the past 3-4 weeks while my first tank is curing/cycling and I must say my ideas what to put in to it have changed a lot. I have a 29g, 65watt compact light, with around 30 lb of live rock. I am thinking about putting in 1 Flame Angel, 2 Firefish, 1 Valentini Puffer, 1 Dwarf Red Tip Hermit, and 3 Margarita Snails, a Scarlet Shrimp and a Ricordea Mushroom coral.  Would this be to crowded? <I would definitely pass on the Puffer, particularly if you have any intention of keeping crustaceans or inverts. Even if they don't eat 'em outright, they can "sample" them and cause damage. Also, I would go with a smaller Centropyge if you're intent on keeping one in this sized tank. Perhaps a C. argi, which maxes out at around 2inches.> Could I add a yellow-tailed damsel? <You could, but it has the potential to be a behavioral problem in this sized tank. I'd opt for something more peaceful.> Or a Longnose Hawkfish? <I'd go for a Flame Hawk, but it's still a potential problem in this sized tank, particularly if you love your snails. I had one that literally enjoyed nailing snails in my tank...They would all disappear regularly. Think about some small, colorful and really cool Blennies and Gobies for interest!> Also would I have enough hermit and snails to clean up the algae or should I add a few more, because I am getting a lot of brown algae on almost all my rocks? <You can, but not if you're planning on the Hawkfish...I'd look into husbandry issues (stepped up water changes, aggressive protein skimming, and use of chemical filtration media) as a means to counter the algae as well. Snails help with the algae, but they do not eliminate the causes...> Thank you for your time. <Glad to be here. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

The Placid Valentini Puffer - 4/3/2006 Hi, regarding a Valentini Puffer.  I have a Valentini in my 80 gallon tank.  He was bought by mistake as misinformed when purchased on his nature.  This was about 1 year ago but I have found that he is very placid and good natured if anything he is the POOF <<?>>of the tank which consists of: 1 Valentini Puffer, 1 Boxer Shrimp, 1 Yellow Tang, 2 Blue Cheek Gobies, 1 Common Cleaner Wrasse, <<I'm very sorry to hear that.>> 1 Blue Damsel,1 Neon Damsel,1 Humbug,1 Domino,1 Green Chromis,2 Clown Fish,3 Hermit Crabs and last but not least 1 Atlantic Anemone. <<Sounds nice, though overstocked.>> He did go near my Boxer Shrimp once until the shrimp attacked him!! <<That's one tough shrimp!>> And as for the cleaner Wrasse again he just shoots away as soon as he goes near him. He also leaves the hermit crabs alone but he is well fed includes muscles in there shells. He will even be hand fed with prawns etc. He is probably the most interesting fish in the tank with his behavior, especially when he settles done for the night on his beloved power head!! I know we must be extremely lucky that he hasn't eaten his fellow fishy friends. <<I hope he stays this docile for you; their temperament can change any moment!  Thanks for sharing.  Lisa.>>

Valentini Puffer Compatibility   03/07/06      Thank you so much for your amazing website!  I nearly always find the answer I was looking for in your FAQ's.  Anyway, I know you must get a lot of e-mails, but I hope you won't mind one more.      I recently added a 2.5" Valentini puffer (Canthigaster valentini) to my 125 gallon tank.  I really wanted a puffer and like the fact that he stayed small as compared to true puffers.  I do know that he tends to be "nippy."   So far, so good, though with my other fish, but it's only been two days and I'm wondering if this will stay true in the long run. <No way to tell... some do... others...> I have a FO tank and the other inhabitants include a 4" yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), a 3" flame angel (Centropyge loricula), a 2" regal tang (Paracanthurus hepatus), two 1.5" Ocellaris clowns (Amphiprion ocellaris) and a 5" Ward's Sleeper Goby (Valenciennea wardi).   <Mmm, just have to keep your eyes (mainly on these last two species) for "cookie cutter" holes...> I also have about 130 lbs of live rock so there are plenty of hiding spaces.  From what I've read, this should be OK, but wanted a second opinion.      I was also wondering about feeding.  Right now, I alternate Emerald Entree, Mysis shrimp, Formula One and Formula Two with some krill thrown in for the puffer, which he gobbles up quickly (all foods are frozen, no flakes or pellets).  I also always have some dried seaweed / algae on clips for grazing.      Thanks again!      Kimberly <In the stated conditions, I give you very good chances of success. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Two Sharpnose puffers? I have an established 125g with lots of rock and dead coral. I have 4 small damsels and a 2inch (slightly over) Hawaiian sharp nose puffer. C. Jactator. They have all been in the tank for about 2 years now. Today I added a 3 inch (slightly under) spotted sharp nose puffer. C. solandri. <Oh...> They went at it a couple of times the first hour. Nothing major, and now *they seem give each other space. But it did surprise me since the Hawaiian is extremely passive. The fish store said they would be alright together. <Maybe... but I would not advise this> After reading more information, I realize this might be a mistake. Will the spotted get more aggressive towards the smaller Hawaiian after he becomes more established?  Or is there any chance of things working out between them? Thanks and this is a great site.  ,   Glenn <Some chance, not much. There will always be tension, stress... Canthigasterines, other than in established pairs do not occur in the wild together. Bob Fenner>

Question: Can I mix a Valentini puffer with cleaner shrimp or any other types of "clean up crew" invertebrates? I would like to add some shrimp, etc. to help keep the tank clean, but don't want to mix incompatible animals. >> You could, and hope for the best... but there is always the possibility that even this small species of sharp-nose puffer will get hungry enough to try them out. I have had members of this subfamily (Canthigastrinae) in reef systems without incident, but many people relate stories of "cookie" size/shape bites, out of invertebrates and other fishes with keeping Tobies/sharp nose puffers in with their crustaceans, corals.... Bob Fenner, who would still try the Valentini, but make sure it has meaty food in its diet daily... BTW, I saw this species in a reef tank today at the Waikiki Aquarium in Oahu, Hawai'i.

Valentini puffer I would like to add a small Valentini puffer (Canthigaster valentini) to my 55 gallon tank .Does this pose a problem for my Anemones, feather dusters and  purple lobster. Thank you Richard Tarr >> Umm, likely a Toby, or Sharpnose puffer will cause trouble for the first two... with little chunks bitten out of them from time to time... but the Lobster might well turn the tables and grab/eat your little Canthigaster! Bob Fenner, who would look for another fish species/group.

Various questions <Canthigaster> Mr. Fenner, I have a 6 month old 29 gal SW system with 30 lbs. of LR, a 3.5" semi-DSB, and a Prizm skimmer. Recently, I discovered tiny bite marks on the fins of my two false percula clowns and my six-lined wrasse. I blamed this on my puffer, a 3.5" C. solandri, even though I had never seen him chase any of the other fish.  <Very common that Canthigaster (Toby) Puffers show such nippy dispositions> I returned the three affected fish to the LFS and kept the puffer and my lawnmower blenny (he is just too fat and happy for me to try and move him; he eats all kinds of foods, and even chews on Hikari pellets). Right now, the tank contains the puffer, the lawnmower blenny, a scooter "blenny" (added after I returned the other fish), 3 red leg hermits, 2 blue leg hermits, 1 chocolate chip starfish, and 1 curly q anemone (I have not found sharp-nosed puffers to be very bad about eating inverts; I have kept three different puffers with the inverts listed above with no problems). <Some individuals are incorrigible in this regard, others...> My first question is that occasionally (about once a week or so) my puffer will "puff" and will swim back and forth across the front of the tank in a very agitated manner. Any idea why he might do this?  <Because it can... my usual fave response... but perhaps it is "trying to tell you something"... "I want more meat in my diet"... "I'm in charge here!"... maybe it read in Reader's Digest that it should get more exercise? These are intelligent to the point of playful animals in my estimation...> A few days ago, I found a dead hairy pink crab in the front of the tank; I believe it was a pilumnus sp. Are these crabs harmful? <Not generally> Is there any chance he could have been doing some of the damage to my fish?  <Not likely... the ones that were nipped were almost assured punctured by the Sharpnose Puffer> I rescued the scooter blenny from a crappy LFS that had him in a tank with no LR or LS and was feeding him flakes. Needless to say, he was badly emaciated when I brought him home.  <Such folks ought to made to live on plain cereal for a while> I've had no luck getting him to eat anything except the occasional white worm (even live brine shrimp are refused), but I have a fairly decent growth of copepods and amphipods. Even though I have had him for two weeks now, he hasn't "fattened up" any. His little stomach is still horribly sunken. Was it too late for him when I got him?  <Maybe.> Is there still a chance he might recover?  <Yes, two weeks isn't long enough to tell.> I'm thinking about adding a small coral beauty or a flame angel to this tank. Is this a bad idea? <In a twenty nine gallon, even w/o other fishes, yes... too small a volume> I have just one more totally off-topic question. I have two dwarf puffers (Motretus travancoricus) that refuse all foods except for frozen bloodworms and white worms. I get up every morning and soak their breakfast in Zoecon and Freshwater VitaChem, but is this good enough to keep them from being malnourished? <For a while... best to keep looking for other meaty foods they will take> Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge! Laura <And I the involvement, camaraderie of intelligent, caring people as yourself. Bob Fenner>

Anything compatible with a hungry puffer? Mr. Gonzalez, <Hi, indeed, Lorenzo still hanging out here for a few more days...> I currently have a 30 gal saltwater tank with 25 lbs. of live rock, a 3" semi-DSB, a Prizm skimmer, and a Magnum 350 for circulation. Recently, my puffer (a 3" Canthigaster solandri) has been taking weekly or biweekly bites out of the other fishes' (2 false percula clowns and a six-line wrasse) tails. For their sakes, I took them back to the LFS. Now, my tank seems a little empty fish-wise. I have the puffer, a fat lawnmower blenny that eats Hikari pellets, and a scooter blenny. I kind of rescued the scooter blenny a few days ago (he was in a tank with no live sand or live rock and was being fed flakes, so he was horribly emaciated). I think that he may be too far gone, even though I have a pretty decent population of copepods and amphipods. Also in the tank are 4 red leg hermits, 2 blue leg hermits,  <These won't likely last much longer with that puffer around>  a curly q anemone, and a chocolate chip starfish. The puffer doesn't seem to notice the blennies or the invertebrates. Anyways, are there any fish that might possibly be okay in with the puffer without hurting him (he is my favorite fish)? < A long-nose of falco hawk might be compatible, and small enough (for a while) for your little 30g system.> Or should I just leave well enough alone? My fiancĂ©© and I are setting up his 110 gal tank saltwater as soon as I get out of college (~3 years), so I will have room to move a slow-growing fish out when the need arises. <When you have the bigger tank, you could easily get a trigger, tang, big/burly raccoon butterfly, lion, big angel, etc, that will co-exist fine with your inflatable friend. ;-) cheers! -Lorenzo> Thanks!

Canthigaster Puffers Could you possibly tell me if two Canthigaster puffers would get along?  <definitely not a great idea... most puffers across the board are ultimately intolerant of conspecifics. Sure it works sometimes... but more often not> I'm thinking of a false eye puffer (Canthigaster solandri) and a valentini puffer (Canthigaster valentini). Also, I know they can be nippy. What are my chances of finding mellow, peaceful Canthigasters? <wouldn't bet on it. It is the endearing nature of puffers top be inquisitive=nippy> Many thanks for your assistance (again!). Karen <best regards! Anthony>

Puffer Questions Hey Bob, Hope everything is going well with you and yours. This past weekend a friend of mine decided to move home from college and didn't want to be bothered to take his white-spotted puffer home with him. He knows I have a tank so he just gave him to me. He is very cute, about 2 inches long and very personable. My tank is a 46 gallon with 2 false Perculas, a plate coral, some mushrooms, an anemone, and various crabs and snails. If I keep him well fed do you think that he will be ok and will not pick on my inverts too much?  <Only experience, time can/will tell.... Some Tobies/Canthigaster/Sharpnose puffers do leave pretty much be... other ones become incessant nippers!> He hasn't been picking at them so far, just swimming around the rocks. I feed flakes, brine shrimp, formula one, and my own mixture of ground up Nori and oyster mixed with liquid vitamins. Is this ok for him?  <Yes. Sounds... delicious> I really like this little guy and want him to be happy, just not to the expense of my other animal's health and sanity.  <Good for you. I feel the same. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any advice you can offer. Olivia Guthrie

Toby puffer compatibility Hello Bob and team, <cheers> I recently received a commonly called Honeycomb Toby puffer. I don't have the real name handy. However, it's closely related and similar to the even more commonly available Valentine Toby puffer. Anyway, I received it by mix-up in an order and already have one of the exact same fish in my 75 gallon tank. The new Toby is in the hospital tank at the present time. Is it at all possible that the two Toby puffers of the same variety can co-habitat in the same 75 gallon aquarium? <pairs are often captured together and fare well... but separate individuals often fight. I don't think they will work together in the long run. Do consider alternate housing> Thank You, Steve <best regards, Anthony>

Toby Puffer Compatibility Hello Bob and team, <Scott F. at your service> I recently received a commonly called Honeycomb Toby puffer. I don't have the real name handy. However, it's closely related and similar to the even more commonly available Valentine Toby puffer. <Probably a Canthigaster species-check out wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm for photos and info. to verify what species you have> Anyway, I received it by mix-up in an order and already have one of the exact same fish in my 75 gallon tank. The new Toby is in the hospital tank at the present time. Is it at all possible that the two Toby puffers of the same variety can co-habitat in the same 75 gallon aquarium? <Possible, but not advisable. Although some are haremic in the wild, they are often found singly, and will do better that way in aquariums. There could be some territorial disputes, or worse. Even though your tank is of good size, it will probably be better in the long run to just keep one of them.> Thank You, Steve <Glad to help>

All Puffed Up With Nowhere To Go! HEY, <Hey! Scott F. here!> I have a small Canthigaster valentini, a yellow striped maroon clownfish, a domino damsel, a blue devil and a black mouthed bicolor damsel fish all in a 47 marine setup with about 29lbs of live rock and plenty swimming space with a hot magnum and a Penguin  330 with BioWheels and a small amount of green algae. Could I keep another species of the genus Canthigaster? <These guys can be somewhat nasty with members of their own species, as well as with members of their own genus. Puffers can be quite unpredictable in their behaviour, some accepting other fishes, others will attack just about anything added to the tank! Some people have luck keeping mated pairs (when they are available), but these are rare>   I ask this because the valentini nipped a lot on my clown and has stopped nipping every now and then with enough time in between for healing. Would  another small puffer kill my clown and would the two puffers fight even though they look totally different? <As above- really hard to say. I think that your tank is about maxed out for bioload, as far as fishes are concerned. I would not recommend adding any additional fishes to this sized tank, and especially not another puffer.> Also what other fish species would be safe with puffers? <Generally speaking, many different fishes are compatible with puffers, with the exception of other puffers! Really, the key here, IMO, would be a larger tank, which could provide more space, and support a greater diversity of fishes, which would spread out the aggressive incidents among a larger population, or perhaps even eliminating the majority of the aggressive behaviour altogether.> Could I trouble you for some puffer web sites? <I'm afraid that I don't have any off hand. You should probably use one of the larger search engines and start a search using "Puffers" as a key word. Hopefully, this will yield some good results. Also, you may want to check the WetWebMedia chat forum to see if any fellow hobbyists know of some sites.> Thanks a ton. MERRY XMAS! Nick <Thanks for stopping by, Nick! And Happy Holidays to you, too! Regards, Scott F>

Re: pufferfish (Sharpnose?) My son is doing a research project on the White Spotted Puffer.  In all his searching, he is unable to find out what/who their predator is. Are they prey to anything other than humans?  Your help is greatly appreciated.  Thank you, Joyce Lancaster <I've never happened upon any Tobies (subfamily Canthigastrinae) being pursued or consumed in the wild, nor reference to them as prey items, stomach contents analysis items... But do check this species on fishbase.org where you will find a summary of much of the pertinent scientific literature on the species. There are a couple you may be referring to. Our id's, pix here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm if this is not a Sharpnose species, you can "back-up" on the site to the Tetraodontid puffers and sort through them for identification. Bob Fenner>

Blue Spot Puffer? >Hi guys & gals! >>Hey Ronni!  Bob's kicked you to me. >I was at my LFS today and fell in love with a Blue Spot Puffer that they just got in. >>Ain't they cool? >They are holding him for me but before I definitely agree to buy him I want to make sure I'm not going to have problems by putting him in my tank. Here are the specs: 72g FOWLR (and 2 mushrooms) Approximately 75lbs rock but 15lbs of that is limestone with no coralline on it yet Ammonia/Nitrites 0ppmNitrates 15ppmCrushed Coral substrate 2-3" deep Aqua C Remora skimmer (barely producing anything no matter how I adjust it!) >>Bummer, your tank can't be *that* clean, can it?  :p >The Clean-Up Crew:5-6 Mithrax Crabs (I now know this is too many but I can't catch any of them!) >>LOL! >3-4 Blue Leg Hermits >2-3 Red Leg Hermits >1 Brittle Star (still fairly small and I never see him) >10 Burrowing Cerith Snails (If they're all still alive) >3 Astrea Snails >5 Nassarius Snails >1 Abalone >>Aah.. baloney.  I thought "fish only" meant fish *only*.  :p >I had more snails (Turbos and Red Foot Moons) but they have all died. Cody suggested that my hermits may have killed them since these were all larger ones and all of my little ones seem to be doing fine. >The Livestock: >1  3" Yellow Tang >1  1.5" Blue Damsel   >1  1" 3-Stripe Damsel   >1  2.5" Strawberry Basslet >1  1" Ocellaris Clown (how do you tell the difference between these and Perculas?!) >>Something to do with the thickness of the black edging, IIRC, and number of rays on the dorsal fin. >I will also soon be adding a 6-line Wrasse (about 1.25") and an Algae Blenny (about 3"). The latter to help with the green algae that is taking over some of my rocks, my skimmer intake, and my powerheads and I would eventually like to add a cleaner shrimp or two (can I have more than 1?) >>Yep. >and possibly another starfish or two but that will be the extent of my livestock. I know that puffers tend to eat inverts but was told this guy wouldn't bother shrimp and that because his mouth is so small he will also leave my crabs alone. Is this correct? Thanks! Ronni >>Ok, this is the trouble with common names, I don't know for sure what you're looking at. I'll be honest, though, I wouldn't do it.  Of course, if you're more attached to the puffer than to the inverts listed then what the heck, right?  Let us know!  Marina
Blue Spot Puffer?
>>Hey Ronni! Bob's kicked you to me. >Hi Marina! >>Ain't they cool? >Way too cool! My store doesn't get these very often. This one was just traded in minutes before I walked in the door. In fact, the owners were still in there when I got there. They did say they have Mithrax in their tank and he's never touched any of them but... >Then this sounds like a really special fish. >>Bummer, your tank can't be *that* clean, can it? :p >LOL! I wouldn't think so but even though there are lots of bubbles, there's not much of the nasty stuff appearing in the skimmer cup. >>Aah.. baloney. I though "fish only" meant fish *only*. :p >Err... umm... Uhh... Drat, I knew I was doing something wrong! *G* I guess it's a FOWLRAI (FOWLR And Inverts!) >>Something to do with the thickness of the black edging, IIRC, and number of rays on the dorsal fin. >OK, that's what I've been told. I just can't tell the difference on my guy! >>Ok, this is the trouble with common names, I don't know for sure what you're looking at. I'll be honest, though, I wouldn't do it. Of course, if you're more attached to the puffer than to the inverts listed then what the heck, right? Let us know! Marina >I looked up a pic of one and it appears to be Canthigaster janthinoptera (aka the Honeycomb Toby). The pic is located at http://wetwebfotos.com/Home?actionRequest=articleView&articleID=74 I guess I'll have to do some thinking on him. I'm not overly attached to the inverts and have actually been wishing I didn't have so many so it really wouldn't be much of a problem. There's one Mithrax I really like (he's pink!) but I could safely move him to my Nano Reef since I don't have any crabs in there. I'll let you know if I decide to get him. I have to let them know within the next day or two but even if I get him I won't bring him home for a couple of weeks so I know he's healthy.  Ronni >>Great help, Ronni.  Ok, from what I've found, he's likely going to nibble the inverts, but if you've got "it" as badly as I *think* you do, then you could toss the inverts you really want safe into the Nano.  Just my opinion, this is a *really* cool fish.  From what I'm gathering, he'll do just fine if you're able to keep inverts healthy (water quality-wise).  I would expect him to nail the CB shrimp if he gets hungry, but you can certainly offset that by offering plenty of small feedings, with lots of crunchy stuff.  So, if I were in your shoes, I'd probably want the fish so badly that I'd say sod the inverts and buy him anyway.  LOL!!  I hope this was a bit of a help!  Marina

Puffer Chew Toys? Hi Scott <Hello again!> Thanks very much for getting back to me. He/she is a 'sharp nosed puffer'. Does this make a difference to your assessment of the situation? <Well- it actually cements my recommendation about the fish...This guy is notorious for nipping fins of his tankmates. I think that there will be long-term problems with this guy...The nipping thing is not a "phase" that he's going through- it's a true habit...Depressing but true. I still recommend getting him into a tank with some other tough guys, for best results> Also, why does our leaf fish (his name is Pawkies) like to jump around the tank?  He never used to do this strange act?! <Well- it's some sort of behavioral adaptation to the "habitat" that he resides in...I wouldn't worry about it at all.> Looking forward to hearing from you. Laura W <Hope that this was of use to you! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Trigger, Toby, and...lion? (03/18/04) Hey guys, Jason here... <Hey Jason, Ananda here...> I recently lost a Valentini Toby to a compressed Toby, and in exchange, the LFS gave me a baby Huma Huma trigger.   <Seems like a fair trade, if you've got the room for the trigger... they get to be 10" long.> He seems to be getting along with my male Blue Damsel, and I have yet to introduce him to the compressed Toby (he's in time-out lol) <I hope the trigger is in quarantine?> Anyway, I was wondering if you guys thought a dwarf lion might be okay in this tank?   <It's likely that the dwarf lion's fins will get nipped by the Toby. Most Canthigaster species are fin-nippers, and any lionfish's fins would probably suffer.> My girlfriend really enjoys the looks of them, but I don't want to buy it if I'm going to find it looking like my valentini (not a pretty sight) <I would avoid getting the lionfish or any other slow-moving fish or long-finned fish for that tank. That still leaves you a lot of possibilities, depending, of course, on how big your tank is.> Thanks for helping us! <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Re: My Bloody Valentine Hello Magnus, <Hi Joebel> It's nice to hear from you.  Actually, it's sad to know that my saddleback died.   <Oh, I'm sorry for your loss.  Wish I could have responded sooner.> I found my saddleback one morning wiggling at the bottom of my tank.  I checked it out and found that all (literally all) its fins and tail were cut. Clean circular cut marks were found on the base of its tail and fins. <Those are the marks from a puffer attack.  They love to nip fins, in fact Valentini puffers are some of the worst culprits for fin nipping in the small Sharpnose varieties.  The small circular cuts are from the shape of the teeth of the puffer. Sadly I have seen puffers being fine with tankmates, while others of the same species will tear up tankmates for no reason.  Puffers have unique personalities, and it's hard to tell what they will be like in tanks.> I created an ICU for it hoping that my saddleback would survive such a brutal attack.  With liquid fish supplement and "hand feeding", it lasted for two days.  Later I found out that my Canthigaster Valentini was responsible for the murder. <I should have given you warnings of their personality.  here is an article on marine puffers, if you scroll to the bottom there is a quick paragraph dealing with the Valentini puffer. http://reefnut.com/Puffer%20Article.htm>        Do you think it is safe to add another fish to my tank after such incident? <No, it's apparent that your valentini is a tank aggressive.  Once you get a larger tank, you will be able to add another clown fish or small non-aggressive fish to the tank.  but in such a small situation I'm afraid your puffer will just do the same thing.> Any suggestions? <Get a big tank going, lots of live rocks with plenty of caves and places to hide.  then you will be able to have that fish with others with no problems.  Read the article I had given you and learn what you can about puffers.> Regards, Joebel <Good luck with the puffer, and I'm sorry to hear about your loss.  -Magnus>

Sharpnose Puffer, Shrimp Disappearance and Nipped Fins (9/30/04) Can you help? <I hope so :)> We have got a docile tank containing a sharpnosed puffer (not sure what species but has green eyes, yellow tail fanned, black and white zebra stripes with blackish dots) and a cleaner shrimps. <Well actually you do not have a docile tank. Puffers are predators > Please see the following article for more detailed information.... Puffers in general http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm Sharpnose Puffers http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobyfaqs.htm > Today 1 of the shrimp has disappeared and the puffer has a big belly. hmmm. should they be mixed? <Nope definitely not. Most Puffers will eat cleaner shrimp>   Also I have noticed very slight nips in the tangs fin and clowns fin. would the puffer eat shrimp and nip other fish. <Yes,  most of the Sharpnose Puffers are known to be fin nippers.> We were told they were safe as they were Toby variety. <I don't mean to be harsh but you were mis informed. > Is there anyway we can avoid these deaths and nips.   < You could place a tank divider in the tank but most do not find that an esthetically pleasing option. I don't think you have any other choice but to either separate the Puffer or remove  him.> Here is a link to Puffer Compatibility   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffercompfaqs.htm We feed Mysis shrimp and marine mix. <These are good foods but more variety would be better have a look at this article for more options...... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm HTH, Leslie >

Valentini puffer and coralline algae 19 Jan 2005 Hello,  <Hi Paul, MacL here with you.> I recently added a Valentini Sharpnose Puffer to my 125 gallon FOWLR. Since introduction a few days ago this little guy has done a number on my coralline algae. He is constantly nipping at the live rock, and has cleared off a good portion of the algae. I have attempted to feed krill, Mysis shrimp, and Formula One, but nothing seems to appease him like the beautiful algae. <I think you need to get him some algae based foods, like Nori or formula Two that is algae based. Hopefully that will get him started on something else besides your coralline. Unfortunately once they start it is very very hard to get them to stop.> I was wondering if he was going to continue in this manner until all coralline is gone, or do you know of some other foods to try? <Look for foods with Spirulina, perhaps some flake with it in it. Let me know if it works. MacL> Thank you for your time Paul,<Thank you Paul>

Toby in a tiny tank Hi! I finally figured out how to ask you guys a question...!!! Alright I have a 25 gallon hexagon tank that I was going to start up as a saltwater tank. I did a lot of research on saltwater aquarium so I think I am ready.  The main reason I want a saltwater tank is because of the Valentini Toby. I found half the answers I was looking for on your site but I still had some questions. I read that Tobies are not good in reef tank because they are coral chompers but I also read that they get a long with Tangs and clowns, aren't these fish reef fish...? <Mmm, well, most tangs and Clownfishes are "feisty" and smart enough to avoid nasty Toby bits... but, your system is too small for tangs> How could I mix them if the puffer doesn't go well in the reef setup? <One item... place the puffer, more aggressive livestock last> Do you know any way I could make it so that they could all go together like maybe have a smaller reef to accommodate the reef fish. If I could do that how small can the reef go so the fish will still be comfortable?! Also do you know any other tankmates?!?!!? Sorry for all the questions I just couldn't find the info anywhere. Ahh <Keep reading then... till you feel comfortable... The allusion to size... you're greatly handicapping yourself with such a small system... IF you want the Toby... I would stick with just this as your only fish... and keep other non-fish livestock with it in such a small tank. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Ashley.

Valentini puffer tankmate Hello WWM crew, <Hello James> I can't tell you how glad I was to find your site last month. I was about to jump into a what would have quickly become a saltwater disaster when starting my tank (I had kept a fresh water tank for 10 years and wanted to make the jump). I read the FAQs daily and have yet to not learn something.  <I as well> My 50 gallon tank with about 40 lbs (20 more on the way) of live rock has cycled (going on five weeks since set up) and all parameters are good. My family has decided on a Valentini puffer and would like to have one more fish as a tank mate, preferably a 'colorful' one. I personally would like a Foxface Rabbitfish but am afraid the tank size wouldn't accommodate one in the long run. <You are wise here> How quickly would a two to three inch Foxface outgrow this tank?  <Might not live at all... maybe a year.> Any other suggestions for a colorful companion to a Valentini?  Thanks, James <Perhaps a larger species of Clownfish. Bob Fenner>

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