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FAQs about Tobies, Sharpnose Puffers 1

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 2, Toby Identification, Toby Behavior, 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

A "false" Toby... look-alike filefish. 

Valentini puffer injury from pump Hi, my puffer and I need help. I recent attached a new pump and Aqua C skimmer to my tank. Stupid me did not attach anything to the intake and this morn my Puffy was stuck in it. <Arggghh!> He sleeps by attaching his belly on something and apparently tried to take on nap on the pump. I'm not sure how long he was there was there but my husband and I turned it off and got him down. This was 12 hours ago and he is still alive. His belly is a mess. All distorted and crinkled. It does not appear to be an open wound and I see no blood i.e. internal bleeding that is apparent at least. A fin may have been injured or took away by the pump as well. He is not feeling good at all and not moving much at all. He is behind a net which he seems to like. This will protect him from the others. He is my first fish and very special. He even knows his name. water parameters are good. I do a 10% weekly and this was two days ago. He has made it through two bouts of ich last year and seems to be a fighter. His eyes are cloudy now and I've seen his eyes like this once before when he had ick last year. How can I help him. Please, I spent $ last year to save him from ick and I'll do what's necessary this time as well. I do not want him to suffer either. Please advise me how to help him. Thanks, Sharon <I appreciate your concern. About the only "things" to do are to provide a stable, optimized environment at this point... Try feeding this fish foods soaked in Selcon or equivalent and "keep the faith"... Puffers are very tough, resilient animals. I do hope yours rallies. Bob Fenner>

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>

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.

Help with puffer Hello, Two days ago I purchased a 2" Valentini puffer from my LFS. They had him for a week and when I put him in my aquarium he was doing great. He was eating right away and looked very happy. The next day (about 4 hours ago) I came home from work and didn't see him anywhere. Finally I noticed his body bent in half and being sucked into the powerhead (AquaClear 50). <Not good... Canthigasters are smart, strong enough to avoid such intakes> I also have no idea how long he was stuck there. When I unplugged it he was very disoriented and his body was very crooked. He doesn't look so well and I'm afraid he might die. He is still slowly coasting around the aquarium but he is acting weird and won't eat. His body is still misshapen and bent. What do you think his chances are? Will his body turn back to normal? Should I be doing anything for his recovery? <Keeping an eye on the fish, putting it in a smaller system where you can do so...> Next, my tank is a 75 gallon, and has been running for about 2 months now with about 80 lbs of mixed types of live rock, and about 3 1/2 - 4 inches if special grade reef sand. Everything has been testing great for almost a month. I have a Remora Pro skimmer with upgraded Mag drive 3 and pre-flow box, a Fluval 404 canister filter, 265 watt pc lights, and 2 powerheads (an Aquaclear 50, and 70.) As for livestock right now, I have the Valentini puffer as mentioned above, 2 percula clowns 4 peppermint shrimp about 15 various snails, green star polyps, green candy cane coral, some mushrooms, and a couple feather dusters. As far as future plans, I want to add more fish, not positive on which ones yet, and only a few more corals. I guess this is pretty vague, but do you have any suggestions about anything. Also, my Fluval 404 is set up how the directions told me( from bottom-up... 1-carbon, 2-carbon, 3- prefilter rings, 4-prefilter rings.) For the type of tank I am going for, what would be the best setup I could do...(live rock rubble, more prefilter, more carbon , or maybe a different order). Thank you soooo much for your help, this is the most helpful sight out there. <Your system sounds fine... it appears you bought a "bunk" specimen... but I didn't see mention of quarantine... Hard to impossible to say what the root cause of your trouble is/was here... aquatic animals do not "show" signs of impending trouble (predators would detect this, eat them in the wild)... but you definitely would do well to develop and adhere to a quarantine protocol. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm and the MANY linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Toby (puffer) benthic feeding habits 2/9/05 I have a Canthigaster valentini that on occasion will pick at/eat sand. Is this natural? <Quite natural... they even rasp the mucous off the base of polyps and anemones> All water parameters/maintenance in perfect condition. No disease. No stress from other fish. <No worries> He eats well otherwise. Regards, Mike Rivera <Keep observing/enjoying my friend. Anthony>

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> Sharpnose Puffer Losing Eyesight ? Hi. <Hello> I have a Papuan Toby that seems to be unable to see food, even if it falls in front it. The eyes are not cloudy, however, they seem to have lost of that odd sheen that I've notice on these fish, and they look almost dilated. <Good observations> I've had this fish for over two years - could it just be age ? <Possibly... usually these blindness events are tied to nutrition, parasites...> It seems to take it longer and longer to change from its sleeping color ( almost white ) back to its daytime color ( dark with spots ). <Another good fact... relating sight> I recently switched back to half actinic lighting, but I've had it before, and it did not cause eating problems with any of the fish, including this puffer. Thanks, Edward. <I do hope your fish's sight loss is reversed. Do you supplement its food with a vitamin et al. soaking? You might try Selcon, Zoe... Bob Fenner>

Re: Sharpnose Puffer Losing Eyesight ? Bob, <Edward> Just thought I'd give you an update.   Yesterday and today, I left the lights on for a half hour before feeding.  It seems that it is just taking longer than it used to for the Toby's eyes to adjust.  I'm not sure if this is because of the switch to a half actinic Britelite bulb, but that is probably the culprit. <Mmm, I hope you're right> He is eating better. The fish have always had a rotated diet of good frozen foods ( formula1, 2, and krill ), so I was a little more suspicious of the newer lighting vs. poor nutrition. This Toby has always been a bit of trouble.  His beak was oddly overgrown when I bought him, and I eventually took him out of the water, and gently clipped the beak down so that he could open his mouth up enough to nibble at rock and hard things and maintain a functional mouth. <Good move> BTW - I had always wondered if two Tobies could live happy lives in the same tank. <Mmm, usually not... unless the system is quite large, lots of hiding spaces... and best introduced at the same time... you can try, but I'd make them the same species, get one decidedly much larger or smaller> A few months ago a put a small Valentini in the tank, and after about 10 minutes of posturing (Valentini only ), everything was fine and both fish ignore one another and are often hanging out in the same corner of the aquarium. Thanks, Edward. <Glad to read of your success... As stated, canthigasterines usually fight/bite each other. One aspect of habitat partitioning behavior. Bob Fenner>

Valentini Puffer Long in the Tooth 1/9/05 Hi! <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I've got a quick question about my Valentini Puffer.  I've had him for nearly one year in my 44 gal FOWLR.  His tank mates include a blue devil damsel, a longnose hawkfish, a false percula and then two inverts: a coral-banded shrimp and a cleaner shrimp.  Recently I've noticed that my puffer has had trouble eating.  I associate this problem to his fused beak forming an 'over-bite' of sorts making it difficult for him to open his mouth wide enough to swallow most food pellets.  The puffer is approx. two inches in length and I feed him once a day alternating between 'Formula Two Marine Pellets' and frozen cubes of 'Hikari Mega-Marine Cubes' (too many ingredients in cubes to list).  I do not believe this to be a matter of 'lock-jaw' as I've read about on your site, just big teeth.  What do you suggest that can be fed to him to file down the beak, keep in mind his mouth can't open very wide.  I've read about people feeding clams and prawn (what's this by the way) to their puffers, if this would be an appropriate food to reduce his beak, would I just feed him the tender meat inside of the shell?  Thanks in advance for all your help!  Peace and Puffer Grease <Once your puffer's teeth are overgrown, no amount of crunchy foods will help.  Here's an article on proper feeding of puffers & trimming their teeth: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1085932782  I hope this helps!  ~PP> -David I have an orange tailed Fiji Puffer.  <That common name isn't seen much in the pet trade, but typically this name is given to Canthigaster solandri, sometimes called spotted Sharpnose puffer.> He hasn't eaten in 2 weeks and seems lethargic.  I've read other postings but haven't found any similar to mine because my tank has never experienced infestations.   His tank mates are a Picasso Trigger and an Assorted Puffer.  Both fish are eating and responding normally in the 50 gallon tank. <Hard to tell what "Assorted Puffers" might be, if it's another Sharpnose puffer then it isn't good cause two Sharpnose variety of puffers in the same tank can be bad.  One will be more dominant, and the submissive one will eat less, and not be as outgoing.  Also, Triggers can be aggressive.  My Picasso wasn't bad, but a friend had one what would pick on tankmates constantly.   My biggest concern is that a 50 gallon tank is not large enough for these fish.   The bare minimum for a single Picasso (Huma Huma) trigger is 75, and with that and other messy fish such as puffers you run the risk of problems with such a small tank.>   Tank conditions are ideal, 78 degrees, salinity 1.023 - 1.025, Zero or minimal nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia.  All fish enjoy eating a varied diet of freeze dried krill, frozen brine shrimp, and live minnows.  <You should offer these fish other foods besides this.   Freeze dried Krill is good, my puffers love it, but it's not as nutritious as offering them fresh seafood.  I purchase shrimp, octopus, squid and clams and offer my puffers it to them once or twice a week.   You can purchase bags of seafood mixes at your local grocery story (food for people).  Plus you get to snack on it as well.   Frozen Brine Shrimp doesn't offer much of anything in the way of nutrition.  And Live minnows aren't a good source, since these are freshwater fish, they don't have the same nutrients and fats found in marine fish.  Plus, live fish still offer a way to bring parasites to the tank.> 25% of tank water and filters are change every 4 weeks or so. <This should be smaller water changes more frequently, and make sure that you premix the water a day or two before adding it to the tank.>   I've had the Fiji for almost 3 months.  The Fiji's behavior began to change after the last tank change.  I did move the live rock that he normally sleeps on. <"Tank Change" meaning that you literally changed the tank around, or that you changed the water in the tank.  If it was after a water change, then it could be that the new water might have had a difference in it's chemistry compared to what was in the tank.  I check alkalinity and other levels in my mixes before adding them to the tank.   If you changed the fish to a new tank, then it could be difficult for it to adjust.  Make sure that there is enough territory for these fish, that they all can claim a spot of the tank as their own.>   The fish get along.  The trigger nips once and a while at both fish but never breaks the skin or continues for a period of time.  <Chances are high that it might nip when you aren't around as well.  The fish doesn't have to break the skin to disturb the other fish enough to not eat.> Any thoughts on what could've caused the puffer to stop eating and become less responsive?  <Sounds as though he's being bullied.  I had a small dogface puffer that did the same thing, it turned out that one of the clown fish that shared a tank with it was constantly pestering it.  Once I removed the aggressor, all was fine.  I suggest you start setting up a quarantine tank and let it get ready just in case you need to move this puffer out.  perhaps once he is out he will start eating.. or you can move the aggressor there and see if the puffer improves.> He is relieving himself on a regular basis so I was thinking he might be eating something else.  <puffers pick at stuff on the live rock.  Mine love to eat almost everything possible.> He also does seem a bit more bloated but he does not have any spots or change in color that would indicate parasites, disease, or injury. Thanks! <My guess is he is being picked on by something. that is what it sounds like to me.   Separate them if you can and see if it improves.   Also another trick is to buy some live snails from your local reef shop and feed them some live foods.  I've "cured" many a depressed puffer by feeding them that. it's like giving chocolate to a 6 year old.  Good luck. -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 >

Puffer species. If a peacock puffer is too risky then what is an alternative for a 30 gallon tank. are there any other small puffers for a true 1.023 marine aquarium, <You could possibly convert some of the figure 8 puffers to true saltwater if you did it very slowly.  They don't achieve a huge size. or I was thinking possibly some of the smaller species that aren't quite the true puffers like Valentini Puffers and some of the different Toby species.  They are very similar in the look and actions, what they eat and yet they don't get to the same sizes are some of the puffers. Good luck, MacL> Puffer addendum if a peacock puffer is too risky then what is an alternative for a 30 gallon tank. are there any other small puffers for a true 1.023 marine aquarium <Karl, just wanted to suggest you look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm, for a semi complete listing and some pictures of the Tobies. Good luck, MacL>  

A blue-spotted puffer Hello, <Hi there> Thank you first of all for running such a great aquarium site, I have found much helpful information there. <Welcome> My question is about a fish I recently purchased from the pet store as a "blue spotted puffer".  I am looking for any additional information on it that you may have, because I want to take care of it in the best way that I can.  They claimed that the fish only grows to 4" in length, does that sounds accurate?  By the way, I should mention that I did find one reference to this fish on your site, but that post mentioned that you weren't sure which of a couple species of puffer the person was referring to.  Here is a link to a picture of one that looks just like mine. http://mk37.image.pbase.com/u45/sutt/upload/25957866.Blue_dot_puffer_013 004.jpg   Any idea what species these are? <Yep. Please see here: http://wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm> I am wondering what kinds of things I should be feeding it.  Right now I am feeding these freeze dried plankton pieces, and also flaked food.  I am going to try some pieces of shrimp and crayfish from the store also, to see if he will eat that.  I also am curious if you know anything of his particular species temperament?  The store claims that it tends to be peaceful with other species, but of course I know there will still be other species that it will eat.  It already ate one of my polyps, and I was planning on getting more of them.  Any ideas on types of polyps it would be unlikely to eat?  I am also afraid it might eat my camel shrimp or my hermit crabs, although it is quite small right now, and that may not be an issue until it grows larger.   <Tobies, Sharpnose Puffers tend to be pugnacious... at times biting tankmates, including invertebrates and fishes> Thank you so much for you assistance. ~Kyle <Glad to share... do encourage that folks study up in advance of such purchases. Bob Fenner>

Toby feeding questions I've had a valentini puffer in QT for 4 weeks now, over 3 weeks ich-free. I'm planning on introducing the puffer in the 90 gal. display tank this week (which also houses a flame angel, neon goby and inverts). When I first got him, he was a really fussy eater (he was sick after all). Now he eats almost anything. I recently stocked my tank with various macro algae-Ulva, Sargassum and Gracilaria to provide greenery, get rid of diatom algae, as well as providing food for my fish. I am now wondering if the puffer will gorge himself on the algae in the display tank. He gobbles up the bits that I have been placing in the QT. <Perhaps> Do these little guys know when to stop eating? I don't want to inadvertently be overfeeding him by keeping the plants in the main tank. I do however, want him well-fed so he won't be as tempted to nibble on my inverts (turbo snails, Strombus grazers, micro-hermits, bristle worms). I know they might get eaten (I'm sad about this but I love my puffer more). I'm trying to be careful about over-feeding him. I usually feed him twice a day (a shrimp tail or ghost shrimp/Mysis or piece of clam in the morning), then some greens at night. Is this too much food? Lately, he's seems to have a larger appetite and is always begging for more food. <Your Sharpnose Puffer will not likely eat itself to death... or even to illness> Maybe I'll wind up taking the algae out of the main tank (I don't have a refugium, but I could put them in the QT once the puffer's out). As it is, the flame angel doesn't really eat any of them, but the snails seem too! Now I know why I never see SW tanks with live plants... thanks much -Angela <Keep looking. Bob Fenner>

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> Puffer Getting Better (6/7/04)   Hi there fabulous WWM crew/Steve, <Hello. Good to hear from you again.> Just a quick question and follow-up.   The valentini puffer is doing very well and has been ich-free for almost 2 weeks! <Excellent!> The hyposalinity seems to be working. I will keep him in QT for another 2 weeks, almost he looks like he's getting bored-pacing the tank, etc. The 10 g. must be too small. <Yes, but just think how happy he'll be when he can go back into the main tank disease-free.>   My question is, can I use a pre-seeded filter that have been in my main tank for over a month now in the QT to combat ammonia levels? <Since the tank has been fallow for a month, this should be OK.> The main tank's salinity is 1.023 and the QT's salinity is 1.012 (for now), so I'm afraid the nitrifying bacteria will be instantly killed by the difference in salinity. <Being single-celled, bacteria seem to adjust fairly well, and are able to live at a variety of salinity levels. However, acclimating over a couple of hours might help. Another option instead o the filter is a bag of Bio-Spira Marine if it is available in your area. You can add the remainder to your main as a "booster." thanks as always. <A pleasure. Glad to hear things are going well. Stay patient and all will be well in the end. Steve Allen> -a ps. WetWebFotos. com's message board is great! thanks for tuning me in. <Thanks for taking part.>

Valentini Puffer Died Hi, my name is Dawn < Hi Dawn you have Leslie here today> We just bought a Valentini puffer from a pet store and after only 2 days he got white spots. We put him immediately in our hospital tank and few hours later he died. Was this ich or could it have been something else. < Ich is certainly a possibility, hard to say without seeing or hearing more about it.> He did nip at a anemone but was fine all day and night. <They are not reef safe fish and I doubt that was the problem.> We have another Valentini in another tank and he does just fine with anemones and other fish. < Believe it or not fish have different "personalities" . The Sharpnose Puffers are not considered reef safe and all have the potential to nip fins. Some of the Sharpnose Puffer species are more aggressive than others but all have the potential to nip at inverts and other fish. You may occasionally find one that does not bother either. I had a friend who kept one in her reef for years, without ever a problem but an occasional missing snail.> What do you think could have happened? <Hard to say exactly but most likely the fish was carrying or picked up an organism capable of causing disease under the right circumstances, either at the wholesalers or the LFS. Anyone of several stressful events could have weakened the fish enough to cause the organism to become pathogenic. In most cases quarantining all new arrivals for a period of 4 to 6 weeks is recommended. Please read the following articles and associated FAQS for a better understanding of how this all occurs and how you can help to prevent it in the future. Marine Disease: The Three Sets of Factors that Determine Health/Disease: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm  FAQS on Marine Diseases http://www.wetwebmedia.com/disFAQsMar.htm  Quarantining Marine Livestock: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm  and Quarantine of Marine Fish: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm  Please help thanks. Sorry about your fish. Hope this helps, Leslie 

Valentini Puffer fish with 1 white spot (6/5/04) Hi my name is Kevin. <Hi Kevin, Leslie here this morning> Well my Valentini puffer fish acts normal but there's 1 white spot on his dorsal fin. I thought it was ich so I treated it for 2 weeks now, but it would not go away!!! My puffer act normally but it's just that 1 spot I have a hard time getting rid of it. So please if you no what it is, how to get rid of it, just e-mail me back. <It sounds like Lymphocystis, which is considered environmental and viral in origin. There is no known treatment and it usually resolves on it's own. You can help the process along by maintaining excellent water quality, feeding nutritious foods and minimizing stress. Please see the following FAQs for additional information.... Lymphocystis: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lymphfaqs.htm  Nutrition; Foods and Feeding for Marine Aquarists: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm  Puffer Feeding: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm  and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaq2.htm  FAQs about Tobies, Sharpnose Puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobyfaqs.htm  Thank you, Kevin <Your most welcome, Leslie>

Lots of Questions - Fresh and Salt water right now i have a lot of problems with my fish. one is My valentine puffer is sick but their is no dots or marks on him and it looks like he is in critical condition. can you help < Need more info like the water conditions and how long he has been sick.> Another Question I have 2 aquariums 1 is fresh 1 is salt water. I feed my cichlids cichlid flouting pellets. I also found out that my trigger fish like them to. is it ok to feed them the pellets. < Even though your puffer likes the cichlids pellets it is best to get him back on track with regular food made for saltwater fish for long term health.> This one is a lot simpler how do you determine the gender of a jewel cichlid and a Texas cichlid. < Male cichlid generally have longer more pointed fins and are larger than the females too.-Chuck>

Diet for a small puffer  Hello everyone,  <Hi! Ananda here today...>  Your FAQs page is one of the superb places I've seen on the net! Its been the creamer of my cappuccino during my coffee breaks.  <Glad to hear it! ...make mine a double mocha...>  The last info exchange I had was from Magnus. Its about my Valentini (Tamblot is the name) who murdered my clown.  < :-( >  Anyway, the heartaches of everyone at home are gone. And in fact, Tamblot has all their attention now.  <Puffers are very, very good at doing that.>  He is being fed alternately with Tetra Doro Marin and locally prepared fish pellets. He also have a weekly dose of liquid fish supplement. Right now, I am planning to introduce more varieties into his diet.  <Sounds like a plan.>  Fresh seafoods I should say.  <Ah...be wary. They can harbor disease or parasites that could be transmitted to your puffer.>  These are abundant around but I don't know how to prepare such.  <Freeze them for a few days, first, to kill any hitchhiking nasties.>  As what I've read from your FAQs, shrimps, shells, squids, and such others are good for him and for his teeth.  <Yup.>  But how could I make a 3-inch fresh and kicking shrimp be a food to my 1-inch Valentini?  <Blink. A 1" puffer? No wonder he's become the darling of the tank!>  Would I just quarantine the shrimp for a week or two and let it loose inside the main tank to let Tamblot do the slicing?  <I think I'd keep Tamblot on already-dead food: much easier to keep a quantity on hand, that way, and easier to control the amount he can eat.>  If that's the case, I'm afraid Tamblot would look like a broiled turkey on a saucepan  for the shrimp.  <Ah, you are giving me such odd mental images this morning....>  We also have green shells and squids (I mean the sizes of these are good for, say a fried calamari topped with mayo). These are fresh from catch but then again how?  <For the squid, once it's dead and cleaned, freeze it, then grate it into small shreds. I'm not familiar with green shells, but again, I would simply(?) kill, clean, freeze, and dice the meat before giving it to the puffer.>  Hope you could suggest a few ways to prepare these stuff as a food for my Valentini.  <Giving him the food while it's still hard-frozen can help keep his teeth worn down, too.>  Thanx a lot and more power to your team.  regards, Joebel J. Sorioso  <Thanks, and best of luck with you puffer. --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>

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>

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>

Jactator With Blue Spots http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm At this link there is a picture at the top that says a pair of Canthigaster jactators. They look dark with blue spots. What would the LFS know them as to order them, and are they different colors than the blue spots? <Mmm, I made that pic... in Hawai'i... and I suspect that it may look more blue than the animals would appear in a lighted aquarium... Put another way, the nature of film, flash/strobes underwater... might have a great deal to do with the spots looking blue rather than white> I like the colors of the 2 pictured but it seems to be about the only pic I can find like them. Most of the rest are white spotted. I also have a question about the fish I have and would like to have in my 90 Gallon. 6" DSB, Skimmer, sump, lots of flow, 2 21" 65W 50/50 PC Fluorescents 10K. bout 100 LBS of Live rock.  Its been going for about 6 months. After it cycled I've added 1 fish each month.. So now I have 1 Yellow tang about 2.5" (He's really grown a lot since I got him!) , 2 clowns about 1.5"(One has slowly gotten a little larger than the other) , and an Orchid Dottyback about 2". All fish eat well and seem very healthy. I feed Formula frozen and dried algae and frozen shrimp every so often.  The Dottyback was the last one added and he's been in for 2.5 weeks now. I change about 5 Gallons 2X a week. If I can find this Sharpnose puffer I'd like to make him my last addition.... Before Him I was thinking of added maybe 3 Banggai cardinals and then 3 or 5 Chromis. In your opinion will this be a good stocking level for a 90? or do you think I need to choose between the Chromis and Cardinals. ? <I would likely just have one Banggai... but the rest should be fine. Bob Fenner> Any help is appreciated. Thanks! Bill.

Help Pick a Puffer Hello Ananda, once again, thank you for responding back to my email, <Hi! That's what I'm here for... > these were some of the choices I have considered, <okay> Blue Dot Puffer (Canthigaster epilampra) 5" Saddle Puffer (Canthigaster sp.) 5" Valentini Puffer (Canthigaster valentini) 5" SW Spotted Puffer (Canthigaster sp.) 5" <Hmmm. Sounds like the Canthigaster choices available at http://www.liveaquaria.com, one of the WetWebMedia sponsors. ;-) Cool. Between these species, I suspect it's more a matter of personal preference for color, etc. than anything else.> The SW spotted puffer the one above, my LFS sells just the SW spotted puffer it doesn't say what type but the said it will get 5" max, would you by any chance happen to know which puffer that would be? <Well, going from the LiveAquaria site, it has this fish being from Hawai'i. So I went to http://www.fishbase.org and typed in Canthigaster for a genus search. That gets me to their list of all the species in the genus. One of them has "Hawaiian Whitespotted Toby" as a common name. Checking that one out, the photos on the two sites appear to be a match...until you look at the color of the fins and tail. Looking at the "spotted Sharpnose", the body of the fish is again similar -- but this one has an orangey tail. Fishbase lists 28 species of Canthigaster...> And is there any problems with the puffers I have listed with considering tank size and other fish in the tank? <It's possible they could all get along...er, any one of those puffs would get along with your other fish, that is! I think your stocking list (zebra moray, copperband butterfly, yellow tang, right?) is okay, and the 75 is big enough for the Canthigaster...though the butterfly and tang would probably prefer larger quarters.> Last question you said the sea clone 100 would be inadequate for a tank that size with  the puffers, what protein skimmers should I look into and would there be any point in adding another sea clone 100 to the tank to go along with the other one? <I'd avoid another SeaClone...keep the current one for your quarantine tank. For assorted opinions on skimmers for this tank, hit the Daily FAQ page, scroll to the bottom, and type the following in the search box, including the quotes: "protein skimmer" "100 gallons" "skimmer selection" and that will give you a list of pages... then do a "find in page" for 100 and you should find relevant posts.> And when getting a protein skimmer does it need to be right now before I get the puffer or can it wait for down the road? <I'd get the skimmer first... so you can use the SeaClone on the quarantine tank while you have the new skimmer on the display tank. Your puffer will definitely appreciate having a skimmer on his QT!> Ahhhhh....I'm so sorry for asking sooo many questions, I know I said 1 more question, I lied sorry, there is just too many things that I am confused about, <We love to get questions when people are in the planning stages! It's so much less stressful on you and your fish when you can plan stuff out and iron out the wrinkles ahead of time. :-) And don't feel bad -- we have all gone through the confused stage, often more than once!> Thanks sooooo much! Any help would be greatly appreciated, Thanks, Jerry <You're quite welcome! Do check out the WetWeb chat forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk too! --Ananda>

Valentini puffer Hi Bob, Anthony and Zo; <Hello! Ronni here standing in for our under the weather puffer expert.> I am thinking of getting a valentini puffer down the road.  I now have a couple of peaceful tanks, and my plan is to put this puffer into his own tank.  My question is twofold:  How large does this tank need to be?  My understanding is that he doesn't grow to more than 3 inches. <He could actually reach 4-5". If he's by himself, a 30g tank would be fine. If you have any other fish in there a 55 would be better.> Second question:  Would it be cruel to put him by himself?  If so, could you recommend a couple of small fish to keep him company? <He's one of the Sharpnose puffers and should be OK with moderately aggressive to aggressive fish. I have one of the Sharpnose puffers (not the Valentini) and keep mine with a Strawberry Basslet, an Ocellaris Clown, a Yellow Tang, a Blue Damsel, and a 3-stripe Damsel. Mine is new to the tank but so far there have been no problems and I talked to several people who didn't foresee any problems with this mix (except possibly the clown, I'm prepared to move him if necessary). If you went with a 55g tank, I would get just one or two Damsels and maybe a Basslet. This way you'd have color and activity without overcrowding and stressing the puffer.> As always, thank you for your help. Connie <You're welcome! Ronni>

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 >>Aahh.. 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. >>Aahh.. 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>

Sharpnose puffer Dear WetWebMedia Crew, <Hi! Ananda here answering the puffer question....> I recently started a marine tank (due mainly to my affection for clownfish), <Wonderful little fish> and it has been going very well, but one unexpected result of this venture has been that a couple of my friends have decided that they, too, wish to join the ranks of the marine aquarists.   <It's a contagious hobby!> They showed me their tank a little while ago, and although they are very well-meaning, they didn't realize they should take the time to do some research before going out and purchasing a whole lot of fish.   <Whoops!> In a 50 gallon fish-only tank (meaning no live rock, although there is plenty of cover in the form of lace rock) <Which may eventually become live, should they add some live rock to the tank -- definitely a recommended course of action. On the other hand, there is no guarantee that the lace rock is free from undesirable minerals.> they now have three damsels (a domino, a blue one with a yellow tail, and a tiny 1" yellow guy with ~3 horizontal dark stripes--forgive my not knowing their names!), <Scott Michael has a wonderful book called "Marine Fishes: 500 Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species" -- I've heard it called "the picture book" in more than one fish store!> a nasty magenta Dottyback (who is sullen but not savage, according to my friends), an unidentified little brown goby and a Sharpnose puffer.  The puffer is what I am curious about.  He was only purchased a few days ago, and apparently sold only under the label of "Sharpnose puffer," so I don't even know what kind he is.  I looked through some of your pictures, and I think perhaps he's a C. smithae, but that's only a guess. <Could be Canthigaster rostrata...another place to look is http://www.fishbase.org> He is a very charming fellow, but neither my friends nor I know anything about puffers, and they're rather at a loss as to what needs he might have.  I'm now doing the research, <Lots of good stuff in the puffer sections here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm> since I'm the one "responsible" for their rather chaotic tank (the inspiration of it, so to speak), and although I think I have a pretty good idea now of the dietary needs of this puffer, he has a habit which worries me.  He doesn't appear to have any infection or abnormal growths, but 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 heard of it happening with trigger fish, but never a puffer...> During the day he swims along (I guess normally), hovering horizontally at low- to mid-depth in the tank, but at night he always sticks himself up into the corner.  Whenever I see it, I think he's died.  I'm afraid he may have gotten some air stuck into him when he was transported, since I wasn't there to see him netted and the clerks at our pet stores, though well-meaning, have generally very minimal knowledge about what they're doing.  (I live in Madison, Wisconsin--not an ideal location for this hobby.)   <I've driven through Madison many times...haven't stopped to check out the fish stores, though.> My friends say that when the puffer was bagged for them, the clerk simply netted the poor fish and lifted him up OUT of the water, before dumping him into his little plastic baggy. <Ugh. Not the way it should be done, but my brackish puffers all survived that.>   Is there anything we can do for this poor fish if he DOES have air stuck in him?   <Yes. Wear aquatic gloves and very carefully catch the puffer. Then gently hold him nose up and tail down and stroke his belly upwards. More on this in the puffer FAQs, linked here > Or do you think perhaps he just has some strange preference for the top of the tank (I rather doubt it, but...)?  And is there any hope at all for him with his current tankmates, <Should be fine -- the Sharpnose puffer, whichever species he is, shouldn't get much more than 4" long> or should I just beg my friends to let me take him back to the store <Not necessary> (not a solution I care for, but they can't afford another tank, and I have doubts as to whether my false Percs and royal Gramma would welcome the addition of a puffer to their tank)?  I'm sorry this email has been so long, <I've seen longer, so no problem> but I thought I should give you a clear picture of the situation.   <Which makes questions much easier to answer!> I hope you can shed some light on this for me, because I really feel useless to this little puffer at this point.  I don't like to be the kind of aquarist whom I so often see railed against in your FAQs. <I hope I don't come across that way...perhaps some of the ones you refer to are more of a "railing for the fish" than "railing against the fish-keeper"?> Sincerely, Elizabeth Mackie <Best of luck with your fish... --Ananda>

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>

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.> Thanx a ton. MERRY XMAS! Nick <Thanks for stopping by, Nick! And Happy Holidays to you, too! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Puffers on FAQ Hi, <Hello Laura> I was just doing my daily (well, since I started reworking our tank) reading of the FAQ and came across the question on puffers.  These little guys are my favorite fish, and I have kept both species of green spotted, figure eights, freshwater dwarfs, Canthigaster valentini, C. jactator, and C. solandri (have avoided the larger dog-faced and spiny marine puffs due to tank size).  I was hoping you could forward this message on to Tyler Re: what species of puffer to keep in a 20 tall and ordering puffers online. For a 20H, you could keep 1-2 figure eights (sg 1.005), 1 green spotted (sg 1.010-1.015), or 1-2 male and 3-5 female dwarf puffers (freshwater).  Dwarfs are notorious for coming in starving or with severe internal parasites (breeding them would be a noble goal considering how many are lost in the import process). <Agreed> I've seen three batches from three different sources (two different LFSs and another group ordered online for a total of 18 fish) drop like flies even with heavy feeding of vitamin-soaked, meaty frozen and live foods (these guys just won't eat dried foods, not even krill like the larger species).  They also really need lots of live plants to hide from each other when things get sticky.  Sexing can be accomplished as cited in other sources: males are not as round and have a dark brown dorsal stripe and yellow bellies.  For a first time puffer owner, I would really not recommend them because they tend to be very delicate. <Yes... need to be quarantined for weeks, fed foods laced with anti-protozoals, anthelminthics... like Metronidazole/Flagyl, Piperazine, Praziquantel... to eliminate internal parasites.>   As far as ordering puffers online, I wouldn't worry about fig eights and green spotteds if your source is keeping them in brackish but I absolutely would not order dwarfs online. These are fish you really need to see in person before you buy, and even then buying them is a fairly big gamble.  I finally got some successful ones that had been started by someone else for a few months; your best bet is probably to find another hobbyist who has been keeping them long-term. Anyways, I'm sure you guys already know all of this and just don't have time to make such an in-depth reply to every single person who e-mails you, so I hope me typing it all out will help :). <Thank you for the excellent input. You will have aided many, and saved many fishes thereby. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Laura

Re: Puffers on FAQ Ah yes, an afterthought: if, in your travels, you ever come across any Canthigaster pygmaeus, I would love it if you would drop me a line (pun most definitely intended) :). <Have only seen this fish a few times (in its range in the Red Sea). My pic here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm> Take care, and happy holidays! <You as well! Bob Fenner> Laura

Valentini puffer Hey <Good evening!> I just recently bought a Canthigaster valentini and I'm worried about its teeth growth. At the current moment its teeth are fine but I have no shellfish (by the way what type of shell fish should I feed) but I am feeding it fairly hard granule pellets. <Is he eating this?> Will this help? <It may help> If not when should I start to worry about the teeth? <If the teeth become a problem you will probably be able to see it. He will also (most likely) have trouble eating. Keep this guy's water optimal...he's not all that hardy. Just about any kind of shell fish will work...try clams from the fresh seafood area of your local supermarket. Open the clam to half-shell and drop it in. He'll likely eat squid and fish as well. May also eat oysters and mussels. Maybe shrimp with the shell on...> Thanks, Nick <You're welcome! David Dowless>

Re: Valentini puffer Hello, my puffer is eating the granule pellets and is pretty happy and healthy By the way would freshwater snails be appropriate to feed him? <Not really... likely to die, pollute your water. Marine originating shellfish, fresh or frozen-defrosted are what you want> I also feed him brine shrimp formula 1 and a frozen herbivore cube every now and then along with the granules is the a sufficient diet? <Yes> Also I was thinking about breeding my puffer fish, would a 47 gallon be large enough to have both a male and female? <Should be if otherwise not too crowded> If so where can I find quality info on breeding? Thanks for your help! <At a college library. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm Bob Fenner>

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>

Http://cowfishes.com/hawaiian.html and Sharpnose Puffer Teeth Bob, Hey I was trying to figure out how to trim my Hawaiian Whitespotted Toby's teeth - as was suggested in a certain book. Do you have any ideas? <Actually, for such small puffers, I suggest you provide hard materials as foods (shellfish like cockles, shrimps in the shell...) and let them trim their own... like taking dogs for walks on the street to wear their nails down... I'm going to ask the Puffer Queen re this... she's so skilled maybe she can use a Dremel tool with Tobies...> - Take a look at the text on everyone of the fishes - the site is a re-wording of Scott Michaels book! http://cowfishes.com/hawaiian.html -Dave <Curious. I'll send this along to Scotter... perhaps he is working with these folks. Bob Fenner>

Toby Teeth Trimming Hey Bob, <Hey Kel> For the smaller puffers, I have used MS-222 and then cut the teeth with wire cutters and smoothed out the rough edges with a veterinary file. <Woman! You've got steady hands!> The Dremel is too big for the Tobies. Their teeth are not as thick/hard as the Arothrons and so the wire cutter does a good job. <Okay> Hope this helps. Let me know if I can be of further assistance. <Will do so my friend... wish I wasn't so pooped to join you, Walt, Deb in the schpa in Dallas... next time! Bob F> Kelly aka Puffer Queen

Sick Puffer I asked you about my sick puffer several weeks ago. It is a small blue dot puffer and he has become blotchy and has scratches on his body. He is by himself in a 55 G tank so I suspect he came with a parasite. I lowered the salinity to 1.019 in the tank, but that has not helped. I now have a 6 g System 6 tank set up with a cycled Biowheel. I am tempted to give the puffer a freshwater dip and then place him in this bare 6 g tank.  <be sure to never lift the puffer into the air (all transfers under water) for fear of him gulping air. Also.. a small water change from the bare bottom of the tank will reduce parasites> My question is whether I should put copper or some other medicine in the tank also.  <no copper.. the puffer is scaleless and sensitive to metals. Yes, Formalin instead as per mfg dose> He is eating brine and blood worms but doesn't touch any other food as far as I can see. Thank you. <try mysids or Gammarus shrimp frozen. Minced krill too to keep his teeth worn down (else they overgrow.. they need shell to eat). Please reduce or stop feeding the brine shrimp.. it is a nutritively barren food. Compare the nutritional analysis of it to other foods. Kindly, Anthony>

Puffer <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> I have a small blue spot puffer in a 50 Gal. tank by itself, except for about 7lbs of rock and some hermits. The puffer is new to me before I put him in this quarantine tank. He occasionally rubs his body against the sand or a rock and I have noticed several blotches where his coloring is lighter than surrounding area. I wonder if he came to me with a parasite infection. <<It wouldn't be the first time...>> I am gradually lowering the salinity to a target of 1.018. My idea is to lower the salinity, hoping that if this is parasites, he will get better. I would then put in in a 6 gallon tank by him self for 6 weeks, hoping that without a host, the parasites will die off. Am I handling this correctly? <<Yes this should do, although you could also do a pH-adjusted, freshwater dip to hasten things along. More info on that here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm >> I am trying to avoid copper. <<Good plan. Cheers, J -- >>

Sick puffer (a Toby) Good morning, <cheerios> I have a small Valentini Puffer fighting off an infection. The tank, about 2 weeks ago, got what looks like an infection of Velvet. Being new to the hobby I did not detect it in time and lost my Naso Tang - very sad and I'm kicking myself for my ignorance. <am sorry to hear it truly... yes, please do quarantine all new fish without exception in the future> The puffer (and a few others) started to get it as well but I began treatment of the main tank with Rally. <ugh...more like good water quality and fish immunity making the save... or at least trying> The tank contains live rock and an anemone so I thought that this was the best bet. <Mmmmm.... such products are very dubious if even effective. As a rule... homeopathic meds are preventatives at best... really not for full blown infections> After 4 treatments and waiting a week she was not getting any better. However the other fish perked up. So I did a 10% water change and started Rally again for 4 days. She started getting a bit better. Her symptoms turned into slightly cloudy eyes, her fins looking thick and a bit milky, not as social as before this all started, and hiding/sitting on the reef a lot. Now, this is still an improvement over her condition last week. <still... at least this fish needs a bare bottomed QT tank and direct medical therapy> At this point I am wondering if she has a secondary bacterial infection and it I should start another 4 day series of Rally. <I wouldn't> I do not know how much of this stuff is safe to the tank to endure. Being the 3rd series of medicating it I do not want to cause any other kind of issues. <indeed> Is this a good idea? <I cannot even begin to describe how incredulous a product is that makes a claim to effect a cure against Oodinium, flukes and bacteria. Physiologically these organisms could not be any more different! You and I are more akin to Elephants and ground moles by far than the aforementioned pathogens are to each other. In fact... you and I are nearly more closely related to such tonics and snake oils taxonomically than the aforementioned pathogens...heehee (OK... just joking). In suit, their treatment and eradication methods are quite drastically different. Please give serious thought to such products and check the with more than a few people (like on message boards) for a collective opinion on such controversial products> Is there anything else that I should be trying instead. <yep... a real medicant. Something tried and true. Turbid skin and eyes do not imply a bacterial infection. Unless you have seen fin rot, red lesions, sores, etc... do not assume a bacterial infection. Sounds to me like the Velvet was never treated... and you are just looking at later stages.> Should I just now give her time to heal on her own since she is getting a bit better? <risky... but add daily FW dips to the deal and I'll agree for 3-5 days. After which the fish will have improved or clearly need meds and QT> I'm doing my best to keep the puffer alive and well. The benefit of your experience would be most kindly appreciated. <kudos for your empathy. DO remember that this fish is scaleless and cannot take organic dyes or copper meds> Thank you!<best regards, Anthony>

Sick puffer (a Toby) Good morning, <cheerios> I have a small Valentini Puffer fighting off an infection. The tank, about 2 weeks ago, got what looks like an infection of Velvet. Being new to the hobby I did not detect it in time and lost my Naso Tang - very sad and I'm kicking myself for my ignorance.  <am sorry to hear it truly... yes, please do quarantine all new fish without exception in the future> The puffer (and a few others) started to get it as well but I began treatment of the main tank with Rally.  <ugh...more like good water quality and fish immunity making the save... or at least trying> The tank contains live rock and an anemone so I thought that this was the best bet.  <Mmmmm.... such products are very dubious if even effective. As a rule... homeopathic meds are preventatives at best... really not for full blown infections> After 4 treatments and waiting a week she was not getting any better. However the other fish perked up. So I did a 10% water change and started Rally again for 4 days. She started getting a bit better. Her symptoms turned into slightly cloudy eyes, her fins looking thick and a bit milky, not has social as before this all started, and hiding/sitting on the reef a lot. Now, this is still an improvement over her condition last week. <still... at least this fish needs a bare bottomed QT tank and direct medical therapy> At this point I am wondering if she has a secondary bacterial infection and it I should start another 4 day series of Rally.  <I wouldn't> I do not know how much of this stuff is safe to the tank to endure. Being the 3rd series of medicating it I do not want to cause any other kind of issues. <indeed> Is this a good idea?  <I cannot even begin to describe how incredulous a product is that makes a claim to effect a cure against Oodinium, flukes and bacteria. Physiologically these organisms could not be any more different! You and I are more akin to Elephants and ground moles by far than the aforementioned pathogens are to each other. In fact... you and I are nearly more closely related to such tonics and snake oils taxonomically than the aforementioned pathogens...heehee (OK... just joking). In suit, their treatment and eradication methods are quite drastically different. Please give serious thought to such products and check the with more than a few people (like on message boards) for a collective opinion on such controversial products> Is there anything else that I should be trying instead.  <yep... a real medicant. Something tried and true. Turbid skin and eyes do not imply a bacterial infection. Unless you have seen fin rot, red lesions, sores, etc... do not assume a bacterial infection. Sounds to me like the Velvet was never treated... and you are just looking at later stages.> Should I just now give her time to heal on her own since she is getting a bit better?  <risky... but add daily FW dips to the deal and I'll agree for 3-5 days. After which the fish will have improved or clearly need meds and QT> I'm doing my best to keep the puffer alive and well. The benefit of your experience would be most kindly appreciated. <kudos for your empathy. DO remember that this fish is scaleless and cannot take organic dyes or copper meds> Thank you!<best regards, Anthony>

Puffers Hi Guys! Hope you are all keeping well. You have helped me with various queries in the past. I have just seen the cutest little pygmy puffer fishes in my LFS. I would dearly love to give a few of them a home but know nothing about them. You may recall that we currently have a small tropical tank and a large reef tank, so we are not new to fish, just to puffers. Unfortunately, I cannot find any information about pygmy puffers in any of our books although I am guessing that the care for them is similar to that of their larger cousins. I want to make sure I can make them happy before bringing them home. I do understand it will require a species only set up. Any advice you can give regarding these mega cute little fishes would be much appreciated. Many thanks! Lesley <Not sure if you are talking about freshwater, saltwater, or brackish, but these links will give you a start http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm and then follow onto the linked FAQ files. -Steven Pro>

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

Puffer with large belly Bob, I have written you for advice several times in the past; here I go again. I have a Bennett's puffer that has had an enlarged belly  (like he ate too much, but he hasn't) for several weeks. I originally  thought it would soon pass, but yesterday he was gulping air and looking very emaciated around his face. He looks almost pregnant and is now  resting on the bottom in obvious discomfort. Any ideas? <Sounds like either this puffer has swallowed air, and/or eaten  something that won't pass... have you considered force feeding it (underwater)? Bob Fenner> Unfortunately puffer had all but expired when I woke this morning.  I did try squeezing his belly gently--it felt soft and full of air. He  was euthanized by placing him in the freezer. Thank you for the prompt response. This was my last remaining "original" fish from when I  first entered the saltwater world. I will miss him greatly. Kerry Lopez <Sorry to learn of your loss... likely not "your fault", but an internal disorder (damage, disease) that led to this puffer's demise. Bob Fenner>

Help with Sharpnose puffer in trouble I've had this 3" blue-spot Sharpnose puffer in my 10g quarantine tank for 2 weeks now. The scratching reduced to only a few times a day, I didn't see any spots to think it was ich. <Likely not... they just "scratch" to some extent...> His (just assume male for the time being) dorsal fin was not clear, there are some whitish stuff on it, but I'm not sure if it is Lymphocystis. The dorsal fin cloudiness seemed to get worse. I often see similar syndrome on Trigger fish at LFS, do you know what this might be? <Likely just some environmental stress showing...> He has been very active and a greedy eater, but yesterday he ate much less than usual, and spent most time hiding under a cave, sitting on the tank bottom. After some close inspection, I found that there was a small area on his side, about 0.5" by 0.25", where his skin/scales (do puffers have scales?) <Very small embedded ones> looked "lifted" or "erected" for a lack of better description. I suspect it's from his scratching on the rocks. He looked lethargic. I was afraid of infection in the described area so I treated with some Melafix. Is there anything else I could/should do at this point? Should I continue with Melafix? <I wouldn't do much of anything... if the fish seems fine otherwise I would place it... very stressful being in quarantine conditions. Not that much chance it is carrying anything catching. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Jason

Re: help with Sharpnose puffer in trouble Yesterday evening when I got home from work I found the puffer gone. Of course I felt awful. <Mmm, gone as in dead?> I tested the water. Nitrite read 0. While ammonia also read 0 using FasTest kit, compared with the test result of the water from my other tank, the solution did have some color change, so there is detectable ammonia. But I don't know when the fish died, the ammonia could come from that. <Yes, likely> If ammonia spike was the cause, I suppose there should be reading of nitrite also? How soon will ammonia rise after a fish die? <A matter of hours to a few days (from decomposition)> I have 2 pieces of coral skeletons, 1 piece of barnacle, (each about the size of 5" x 4" x 4") and a sponge on a powerhead for filtration when I had other fish in this Q-tank. When I got the puffer, I added 3 more pieces of LR and another sponge from other tank (each about the size of my hand). Do you think this is enough for bio-filter?  <Should be, discounting any mis/over-feeding> I also changed 20% water once a week for this tank. It's bare bottom so I also vacuum the waste when I changed water. Do you think the filtration was adequate? <I would use a substrate myself... many advantages. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm> I wonder if I used antibiotics instead of Melafix earlier would have made a difference? I thought Melafix was more mild, and the symptom fit more to what Melafix is supposed to treat. My other question is, could using antibiotics like Furan-2 do any damage to fish if there was no infection? (or could it be used as a preventive measure?) <Good questions. In general I don't encourage the use of anti-microbials (or anti-protozoals) at "the hobbyist level" for prophylaxis... Am not a fan or an anti-fan of Melafix... but don't endorse its use either...> The fish was doing fine for more than 2 weeks, even with the wounds. one day he stopped eating, then the next day he's gone. could something else in play here? <Likely either internal parasite/infectious agents, cumulative damage/trauma from collection/handling/shipping, and/or general stress... or a combination of these. Sorry about your loss. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Jason

Re: help with Sharpnose puffer in trouble Another week passed and things just took a turn for the worse. In the past 3 days the fish ate less than usual and I could see him loosing weight. While he was still gorging on live black worms last night, tonight, for the first time since I got him 3 weeks ago, he didn't touch any food, including live worms. He is still swimming around. The red patch on him got smaller, so I thought it was getting better, but if he stops eating, I feel I have to do something otherwise it'd be too late? <Not necessarily. The whole of tetraodontiform fishes... the various puffers, triggers, filefishes... are prone to feeding strikes (for real and mysterious "reasons"...). Do keep hope, and offering a variety of foods. Try a few types of small to large frozen/defrosted or fresh crustaceans, shellfish...> Thanks, Jason p.s. he also had a "line" of skin about 0.5" long near dorsal fin striped away, showing whitish tissue/muscle. I assume it was also from scratching earlier. I don't see him scratch any more in the past week though. <Ah, good. Bob Fenner>

Sharpnose puffer is scratching Mr. Fenner, Hi, I just got a 3" Blue-spot Sharpnose puffer (Canthigaster solandri) 4 days ago, and I noticed that he started to scratch on the rocks 2 days ago. I can't see any spots (ich) on him, he had been eating well at the LFS for 2 weeks before I got him. What is the likely cause of this scratch, and what should I do at this point? <I'd ignore the scratching... likely nothing. All do "scratch" a bit.> Thanks, Jason p.s. he is in a 10g quarantine tank by himself. <Leave the specimen there for the requisite two weeks, then place it if no obvious spots, markings. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Hello Robert, Thank you having such a great web site. I search it all the time. My name is Jim and I have a question (if you have time to answer it). I have an 80 gallon SW tank, with (among other things) 2 Sharpnose puffers (Canthigaster valentini and Canthigaster epilampra). I plan on keeping the puffers, so I won't be keeping too many inverts. I currently have about 60 lbs of live rock. <Okay> I want to upgrade my lighting. Right now I have 1 10K 40 watt, and 1 Actinic 30 watt bulb. The tank looks nice, but the lighting doesn't really show off the color of my fish very well. It would also be nice to be able to grow more coralline algae or maybe some Caulerpa algae. I wanted to upgrade to some power compact lights and have been looking at the custom Sealife smart light setup which has 2 x 65 watt bulbs. My concern is, if I do this will unwanted algae grow completely out of control? My nitrates are usually around 10ppm. <No problem with the extra light (are you adding the new (I would, or even about double it)> Do you have any other suggestions if my idea is not a good one? <Just to increase the illumination to about double what you state OR keep the old lighting plus the new... and to utilize live rock with macro algae with your Tobies/Sharpnose puffers... as they will really like this to eat, and the algae will really improve their color and health> Thank you, <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner> Jim Moss

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 fianc?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!

Puffer References <Leslie, Lorenzo Gonzalez standing in for Bob-in-Indonesia> Dear Mr. Fenner, I am trying to find 2 of your references on the Sharpnose puffers.....TFH 5/86 and 1/76. What is TFH and do you know if back copies are available? Any information would be appreciated. <Tropical Fish Hobbyist. www.tfhpublications.com - Personally, I'd pay a call to the city library, for back issues... regards, Lorenzo> Thank you so much, Leslie

Some Puffer Questions . . . Dear Mr. Fenner, I wrote to you a few days ago about "False Eye" puffers. After closer examination of Fishbase.org (great site, by the way, thank you for the link), I am sure that my puffer is a Canthigaster solandri.  <Ah, good> If you don't mind, can you tell me if this species has ever bred in captivity?  <Not as far as I'm aware> What is the normal lifespan of a sharp-nosed puffer?  <A few to several years, depending on care> Do they do better in pairs or as single specimens?  <Almost always singly... though often found in pairs in the wild. Please see my "Puffer" group coverage on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for pix and more information on Tobies... including the FAQs there... and the lead to other articles.> What would be the minimum tank size you would recommend for a pair?  <Sixty gallons> I am sorry I have so many questions, but I can't seem to find anyone that seems to have any experience with this species. Also, you wouldn't happen to know any importers that sometimes get C. pygmaeus, would you? <A very nice fish... only see it occasionally... You could put in a special request... with the specialty e-tailers of such livestock... like Marine Center... link on the WWM site> Thank you so much for your help, Stella <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

False eye puffer I read on the wet web about puffers but I didn't see information on this one. I have a 46gal. aquarium with two Percula clowns and a yellow tang so far. would it be okay to have the false eye puffer. I read about him on another site and it looks like it would be. I looked under compatibility but it just says puffers not specific one. Thanks, <This is a new common name (for me...). If a Toby/Sharpnose Puffer (subfamily Canthigastrinae) might be nippy toward your Clowns... Other species get real big... so do try to find which species this is... maybe take a long look on www.fishbase.org under the puffer family names Tetraodontidae, Diodontidae. Good luck. Bob Fenner>

Comment on recent FAQ (False Eye Puffer, Toby) Recently, someone e-mailed you asking about a "False eye puffer" and you said you weren't familiar with that common name. There are three species sold as the "False eye puffer": C. solandri, C. janthinoptera, and C. margaritatus. I can't tell the difference between solandri and margaritatus; do you know if they are the same thing? <Ahh, thank you for this. These are all distinct species... You can see them on the www.WetWebMedia.com site as well as www.fishbase.org (under their genus Canthigaster, or the Family Tetraodontidae listing... You will also find a huge offering of common names on Fish Base, but on entering the "False Eye Puffer" I got "no response"...> I currently have a 3.5" specimen that is one of the above. He is getting along fine with two clowns, an algae blenny, and a 1" valentini puffer. <Ahh, good. The Tobies, aka Sharpnose Puffers are amongst my favorite fishes... nippy to a fault at times, places, but hardy, intelligent, even comical animals for our interest. 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>

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!

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