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FAQs about Tobies, Sharpnose Puffers Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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

Related FAQs: Tobies 1, Tobies 2, Toby Identification, Toby Behavior, Toby Compatibility, Toby Selection, Toby Systems, 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

The presence of other life may mal-affect feeding 

Blue Spotted Puffer (Canthigaster solandri) skinny     1/12/19
Hi crew,
<Hi Leanne! Wil this morning.>
I appreciate the time you guys take to respond to us novices. Your forum contains a wealth of information! hope you can provide some insight as I have spent the best part of the past 4 hours researching this to no avail.
Firstly the setup..
I have a 300L marine aquarium with approx 40kg of live rock, sump/refugium with skimmer and return pump and timed LED lighting. The water parameters are perfect.
<We need more accurate info on your water parameters(numbers).>
All our crew are small in size, there are two clownfish, two Blenny, one Picasso Trigger, Banana Wrasse, Banggai Cardinal, Three Spot Damsel, Coral Banded Shrimp and three Pyjama Cardinals.
Here’s a photo with most of the crew..
The patient..
My daughter bought a Blue Spotted Puffer (Canthigaster solandri) for me about 11weeks ago from our LFS. ‘Fatso’ adapted to his new home extremely well and began eating food right away and nibbling at the rocks and took a liking to my Zoas and small snails/shrimp we ‘had’ in the tank.
<It needs a more complete/balanced diet. Green stuff (algae)must be included on its diet.>
The issue..
The last 24hrs has been stressful (for me), he looks extremely skinny and I’m worried he is not eating properly. Nothing has changed in the tank or the environment he is in. I don’t know what to do. I have attached before/after pictures of him, Fatso looks anorexic.
<Yes, it looks emaciated. >
Apologies for the poor quality, he hides in the cave so lighting is poor.
Please let me know if this is normal and if not what can I do to help him.
<No, this is not normal, have you notice any aggression by other tankmates, maybe your Picasso trigger? >
Thank you,
<Cheers. Wil>

Re Blue Spotted Puffer (Canthigaster solandri) skinny     1/12/19
Sorry! I forgot to include his current diet. Other than eating my beautiful Zoas and nibbling at live crabs & snails, Fatso is fed frozen Mysis shrimp and a mix of frozen marine food (purchased from LFS) and fine diced squid.
<Ahh ok... still needs more greens on its diet and vitamin supplements.>
Thank you,
Leanne Mott
<Welcome. Wil>

Re: Blue Spotted Puffer (Canthigaster solandri) skinny       1/14/19
Wow! Thank you so much for a super quick reply!
<You´re very welcome Leanne!>
How do I get more greens into Fatso? Is there a plant or coral I could introduce into the tank which he could eat or would a frozen ‘Marine Green’ food suffice?
<Caulerpa algae may be introduce in the tank for "Fatso" to nip at constantly, There are different brands of nori such as TLF "Sea Veggies", that you can easily put in an algae clip. >
What supplements do you recommend? I’m in the North West of Australia so the LFS is limited to what it stocks but I can order from online stores.
<I personally use: Selcon, VitaChem, Kent´s Marine Marine C and Seachem´s Vitality; soak the food a few minutes before feeding or just add directly to the tank.>
Thank you once again, I really appreciate your response.
<Glad to help>
<Kind regards. Wil.>

Valentini Puffer with Lump in Neck Area     7/24/13
I hope you can help me. My Valentini Puffer showed up with this lump on the left side of her neck 2 days ago. She is in a 30 gallon tank with 1 Lawn Mower Blenny. Initially, I thought it might be air or she picked at a snail, but it has not gone away, nor has it increased in size. It is the lump right under her chin.  I tried the burping method (lightly grasping her body with nose up) and was getting ready lightly run my fingers down her torso, but she puffed up and I have never seen her do this, so I released her quickly and then was not able to grab her again without stressing her out.
PH - 8.2
Ammonia- 0
N02 - 0
N03 - 0
30-50% weekly water changes with Kent Reef Crystals and Prime. Tank has been set up 8 months. Some SPS coral frags, frogspawn and a couple of mushroom frags. Live rock & sand. Lots of Nassarius snails.
She still eats great ( homemade mixture of frozen squid, clams, muscles, shrimp, scallops, silver slides, peas, Nori and vita Chem all blended up and frozen). Once a week, I give her a clam or muscle on the half shell to aid her teeth. Poop is normal and she is acting like she always has.
Any help would be most appreciated!
Thank you & Best Regards,
<This looks like a common goiter... of times effectively treated w/ simple iodide/ate addition to foods. I'll mention the SeaChem product here:
And please do search on WWM w/ the simple term: goiter for more. Simply lace/soak foods with a drop or two ahead of offering, and hopefully this cyst will recede in a few weeks. There are other possibilities/causes; but these call for more risky treatments. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Valentini Puffer with Lump in Neck Area     7/25/13
Thank you very much for your quick reply.  That is what I thought it might be, but couldn't find anything solid info to support it.  I will get this iodine
<Note: instead you want an ionic form of Iodine; Iodide... a different oxidation state. Lugol's Solution will do if you can't find, don't want to order the SeaChem or other commercial preparation>
today and try to get rid of it.  Thank you again.
Best Regards,
<Please do report back your further observations, findings. BobF> 

Canthigaster papua diet    2/21/13
You guys have been very helpful to me in the past, so I'd like to run another question by you. I have a c. papua currently in quarantine, scheduled to be added to my 90g FOWLR in about two weeks. So far, he has basically ignored the NLS pellets that I've been giving him in the morning, but pigs out on anything frozen (1/6th of a Mysis cube, mixed stuff, etc., usually soaked in Selcon).
He's only about 2" long, and to me appears to be in very good shape, but I worry that I'm not feeding him enough, since he really only eats once a day.
<Why not twice?>
 Should I be giving him something a little meatier in the morning?
<You could>
 I just started adding Nori to his diet, which I was surprised to see him like (enough to play tug-of-war with me over it!). I do plan on giving him some kind of shelled seafood or snail once or twice a week to help with the teeth.
<A good idea>
Overall, how does this diet sound? Any changes you'd recommend?
<Sounds mighty fine. I'd just increase the frequency>
<A hu'i hou, Bob Fenner>

Blue Spot Puffer Fish, fdg.  -- 12/29/11
I recently bought a blue spotted puffer fish
<Is this a Canthigaster species? A Toby?>
 while I have done some research on them he was a bit of impulse. I asked the LFS to feed him so I could make sure he was eating. Well the guy came back with live feeder fish, I cringed because I know better than to feed them those! Well he said he has been eating frozen to but I figured he could be trained so I bought him. He has been eating flake and frozen Mysis, but is not much on the frozen sea food mix I bought from the grocery store. I believe it because the Mysis and flake move about like live food.
I was wondering if live glass shrimp or fresh water snail would be good to keep his "teeth" or "beak" down.
While all the research I have done it mostly show information on larger puffer fish. I was not expecting his mouth to be so small. If glass shrimp or freshwater snail  will not work to wear down what are some suggestions you guys might have.
                                            Thank you,
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobyfdgfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>
Re: Blue Spot Puffer Fish, fdg.     12/30/11

Yes he is a Toby I know that the larger ones you can feed clams and cockles. What would be the best thing to keep a Toby puffers "teeth" down?
<Ahh, smaller gastropods (snails) and bivalves, and crustaceans in the shell. Bob Fenner>

Toby picky eater  1/29/11
<Hi there>
Thank you in advance-- your pages have answered many questions for me in the past, and I am a huge fan of your work.
I have a 55 gallon fish-only tank with live rock, three damsels, two Ocellaris clowns, a flame Hawkfish, five little hermit crabs and five Nassarius snails, and for a month now, a 2.5-inch Hawaiian white-spotted Toby (C. jactator). I do a 50% water change once a month.
<I'd do two 25% percentages twice>
Until recently I had a C. solandri who thrived for five years on flake (Formula One and Prime Reef) plus once or twice weekly frozen cube Marine Cuisine (brine, krill, Mysis).
My new Toby won't touch the flake or the Marine Cuisine, but he also won't touch (or he will mouth and then spit out) defrosted Carnivore Creole (squid, octopus, clam, scallop, fish + vitamins and garlic), and he ignores clams on the half shell.
He also hasn't touched the snails or the hermit crabs (he pecks them, particularly if I hold them up, but hasn't seriously tried to eat them).
<Not yet>
He loves krill though--
I feed him 1/2 of a frozen krill two times a day. I know from your site, however, that this isn't enough to meet his nutritional needs.
I'm not sure what to do.. I haven't been able to find anything about puffers and tobies not liking clams.. I have tried fasting him for a day or two, but I haven't had the heart to try more.
<You should>
Also, I have read that jactators can be especially prone to nip fins, especially if underfed, and I am terrified of that starting and then becoming a habit. My specific questions are:
1) I've tried fasting and foods with garlic.. Do you have any other recommendations for him to eat a more varied diet, specifically to get him to eat clams?
<I'd leave off w/ the clams, mix in a successively larger percentage of New Life's "Spectrum" pelleted food w/ the Krill>
2) How long is it okay to leave a clam in the tank before pulling it out? I don't leave them in for more than 6 hours.
<A day or so>
3) Is there any ballpark figure on how long it is 'safe' to fast a Toby, for their health and the heath of their tank-mates fins?
<A week or two>
4) I'm also wondering, is a whole krill a day for a small puffer over-feeding? Or under-feeding?
<Look to the animal's "tummy" and general behavior>
Thank you so much for your time, and any advice you have is greatly appreciated!
<Glad to assist you, Bob Fenner>

Sharpnose puffer; diet & dis. -- 01/05/10
I have a spotted Toby, and I am not sure of the exact species name. It is either a (Canthigaster spp.) or (Canthigaster amboinensis). He looks like your website photo of "Ambon Sharpnose Canthigaster amboinensis" which has iridescent blue spots on his body and blue stripes around his eyes.
<Feel free to send a clear picture (side view) for a proper ID if you wish.>
I have had him or over 4 years and he is the only fish that has lived through many fish kills when I had problems establishing my tank. I call him Job. He has never nipped at other fish and has an amiable personality. He is not aggressive at all. He eats the ghost shrimp I place in the tank for his feeding, yet he also eats flake food and dried seaweed.
My 50 gallon tank is now well established with live rock and live sand. I have 2 filtration systems (hanging and under cabinet canister) I change my filters (charcoal filters, Algone, Chemi Pure) when necessary according to directions. I also have a protein skimmer, UV filter, temperature control system, and 4 water flow jets.
I have 1 Pencil Sea Urchin, 8 Mexican turbo snails, 2 sand sifting starfish, 1 Cleaner Shrimp, 8 small blue legged hermit crabs, and 2 small emerald crabs, all of which help clean the tank from algae and debris.
<Great your puffer leaves them alone, many would not.>
I also have 1 Yellow Belly Pacific Blue (Regal) Tang, 1 Percula Clown, 1 Royal Gramma, 1 Neon Goby, 1 Zebra Goby, 2 Blue Chromis, 1 Six Lined Wrasse, 1 sand sifting goby (Watchman), 1 Lawnmower Blenny, 1 Midas Blenny, 2 Firefish Gobies (1 red, 1 purple). All of the fish are less than 3" in length, except the tang which is about 6"; There are also small corals in the tank (1 Yellow Leather, 1 Red Brain, 1 Moon Brain, 1 Trumpet, 1 Blue Mushroom, and 3 Ricordeas. I have coralline algae on the live rock.
<In the 50 gallon tank? I'd check the water parameters. Bad appetite can be related to bad water parameters.>
All of the fish seem healthy, however the Toby has not been eating well in the past few weeks. I keep ghost shrimp in the tank for him to eat, yet have had to hand feed him frozen shrimp in the past few days in order to get him to eat.
<In a diet consisting mostly of shrimp you puffer needs vitamin additions, esp. vitamin B1, but also others.>
He has always been tame and does not puff up when hand fed in the tank. I do not use nets on him. For years, he has come up to my hand when I place food in the tank. However, lately, his coloring has faded (more gray and less vibrant) and he rests vertically against the glass in the tank constantly. He has gotten smaller in size and his skin on his sides seems to hang down which look like fold lines. His tail is become frayed. (See photo).
<No picture attached.>
None of the fish bother him. The only fish I have a problem with is the tang because he is so much larger than the other fish.
<Too large in my opinion for this tank.>
When the fish are fed, the tang hordes the food and eats as much as he can, taking away the food from the other fish. I have had to segregate the tang when feeding the other fish.
<Would be best for him and the other fish if he would leave.>
I found a bristle worm in the tank a few weeks ago and removed it. I checked the tank substrate and rocks for more worms and have not found any more. There were clear tunicates in the protein skimmer and some green hair algae on the back glass which I have had to clean recently. I don't know if bristle worms, tunicates, or hair algae are the cause for the Toby's demise.
I read one of your posts regarding "Puffer Care and Information" and it stated that puffers can be susceptible to parasites. I do not know if this is his problem and if so how do I get rid of the parasites on him?
<Cannot be excluded by now.>
Can I place him in a quarantine tank with a copper or other treatment?
<I would not treat without knowing for what.>
Please respond. I do not want to lose my favorite fish. Thank You.
<Check your water parameters. See if the nitrates are above 20-25 ppm, if so do a larger water change or a series of smaller water changes to dilute possible pollution. Also, consider if the tang can leave your tank -- it's too large and during feeding time a problem for the other fishes. In addition, stuff you Toby with vitamins at every feeding and feed it more often until he hopefully recovers. Only if more specific symptoms for a disease occur, which allow a diagnosis, I'd treat him with meds. Cheers, Marco.>

Valentini Puffer Not Eating, Tried Everything, env. likely  9-12-09
<Evening, Mike here>
I got my Valentini Puffer a week ago, and have been feeding him twice a day little pieces of shrimp. Two days ago, he stopped eating. I came to your website and found that shrimp is a bad food source, so bought some squid and seaweed.
<Variety is key, and I'm glad you are researching proper husbandry!>
He refuses to eat those, as well. I tested my water conditions and had 0ppm for ammonia and nitrites and <10ppm for nitrates. The salinity is at 1.02.
<SG of 1.02x?>
The ph is a little low at 7.8.
<That's pretty low...raise it .1 per day for the next 5 days to ~8.3>
Nothing has changed in my conditions since I first got him. I tried the technique where you soak food in
garlic, but he still wouldn't go for it. His teeth don't seem too long, either.
I've done everything I know to do, and I'm am looking for more ideas.
<Puffers go on hunger strikes, usually when stressed by something. In this case, it's probably the water conditions - remedy your parameters and your puffer should begin eating again. Remember, the adjustments shouldn't be too rapid>
He is looking very skinny now, so please respond quickly!
<If he was healthy to begin with he can last two weeks easily, so no worries, yet>
Thank you for your help!
<Anytime - Mike Maddox>

Valentini Puffer Problem - 07/03/09
WWM Crew:
I have a valentini puffer named Stanley. He is roughly 4 years old. He is normally a very happy, social fish but this morning he is acting a little strange. He is swimming in a vertical position. He is literally swimming around the tank with his nose pointed toward the sky. In addition, he has a gray swelling on his ventral side, just anterior to his anal fin. (Looks like he is constipated???)
<Hmm... no, not as such; rather, looks simply very underweight. He looks a prime candidate for the quarantine tank, where I'd be fattening him up on a rich diversity of seafood: squid, prawn, cockle, scallop, even small bits of white fish. Most anything from the Sushi bar will do, but do remember not to overdo things rich in thiaminase, as these can cause long term problems:
So while prawns and mussels are good sources of protein, balance them out with seafood that doesn't contain thiaminase, such as cockles and squid.
Since you've had him a while, an obvious couple of questions to ask is how much he's been eating, and what have you been giving him?>
As he swims around the tank his posterior end bumps into things. Also he seems to be sitting on rocks. Granted, I have seen him sleep before, but he never rests on rocks in the middle of the day. Maybe it could even be considered rubbing. He has what looks like gray spots on the right and left side of his beak. From my reading, that seems to be stress lines.
<Colour looks about right, he's just rather "bony", so underlying structures like muscles may be more obvious.>
Stanley was just transferred into the tank two weeks ago. No problems, mushrooms and other fish doing fine. I have a goby and a bulldozer shrimp in the tank with him (they get along okay, and the other fish appear to be fine, although i don't see them very often.) The tank dined on bloodworms last night.
<Bloodworms aren't really the ideal thing for Canthigaster puffers, though they like them, and really do need a richer, more marine-based diet. I'd be looking more towards krill, mysids, chopped cockle, minced squid, and other such frozen marine foods. Conversely, brine shrimp, though widely offered, contain virtually no useful nutrition, being almost entirely "fibre".
Puffers also need some greens, whether Sushi Nori, blanched lettuce, or even cooked peas and algae wafers (puffers generally enjoy these last two items). Puffers that don't "get their greens" may well be prone to vitamin deficiency, and at the very least, we know they can't synthesise the toxins for which they're famous. I know Bob recommends the use of vitamin additives to meaty foods (brands such as Selcon) and that may be as good a way as any to ensure an optimal diet for those opportunistic, omnivorous fish we call Puffers.>
Stanley is pretty awesome, hate to have anything happen to him. What do you think is up, and can i do anything to help him? Thank you!
<Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Valentini Puffer Problem - 07/03/09
Thanks for the help...
<My pleasure.>
I knew at one time that he was larger in the belly, but was told that I was overfeeding him.
<Puffers generally are "big eaters" that thrive best when given "a little, but often". Their mode of swimming isn't very efficient, and they are rather active, so I guess they use up those calories faster than many other
fish of similar size.>
I will go buy him some seafood today. Won't be too hard as I am in south Louisiana.
I don't have a quarantine tank, would it be okay to leave him with the goby and bulldozer shrimp? or does he present a clear and present danger to them?
<He'll likely ignore the goby, assuming the goby spends most of its time hidden. As for the shrimp, it's always a gamble with puffers; shrimps are dinner, but the larger species may be robust enough not to be viewed as edible. If he hasn't bothered the shrimp thus far, you're probably fine.
Conversely, it's hard to imagine the goby or the shrimp competing too strongly against the puffer at feeding time.>
Thanks again for the advice. I doubt I would have any fish without the help of your website.
<Good luck, Neale.>


Jewel Puffer Trouble
<Hello Bernie>
I got a Jewel Puffer
<A Toby, Canthigaster solandri I'll assume>
about 5 days ago from a friend of mine with 3 other fish that it lived with for about a year. The puffer looked very happy in my tank that has a lot of established live rock and water conditions that are also good and
I fed it Newlife Spectrum 1mm sinking pellets and it would eat the most out of all the fishes in my tank. It looked very hungry.
<May need to be "weaned onto" this fine food... Such animals largely consume animal flesh in the wild>
3 days later I noticed that the stomach looked a bit funky in that it looked like there were irregular bulges around the stomach. 2 Days after that the stomach now looks like it's swollen but smooth but looks very
bloated. Hope this makes sense.
<Mmm... could you send along images?>
Today the puffer started hanging out at the bottom of my tank under a side of a rock and just stayed there like it was trying to relax with very little movement. I thought it was dying so I would try to get it to move
and then as it swims out it looks totally normal(it's behavior) but then goes back to finding a place where it can settle and not be disturbed.
Right now it's resting his large swollen belly on a rock and just chilling in the same spot. What should I do?
<Try other meaty foods, perhaps laced/soaked in appetite/vitamin et al. supplement (e.g. Selcon)>
I read the many questions you answered on the FAQs but didn't want to stress out my puffer(using the methods to expel air out of his body) if that wasn't the case. Did he just eat too much?
<Maybe this or something that just didn't "agree with her/him"... from the live rock could have come a myriad of indigestible to toxic materials>
Thanks for your help!
<The meaty foods... Mixed in time with more and more Spectrum. Bob Fenner>  

Valentini puffer food  06/04/09
Hi Guys,
<And gals Nat>
Thanks for all your help in the past, your advice is invaluable.
I have scoured through the site and also have bought Bob Fenner's book but I haven't been able to find the answer to my question.
We have a valentini puffer and he has a really good appetite, with really distinctive (and effective) begging behaviour. The only foods however that he eats are defrosted brine shrimp and krill which I usually soak in
Lipovit. We have tried feeding him new era marine pellets which he largely ignores and now recently some formula 1 flakes which he totally ignores.
<Mmm, yes... Canthigasterines really only eat/get nourishment from meaty foods generally>
Is his current diet of 'live' foods balanced enough for his needs?
<I'd add a bit of fish flesh... perhaps frozen/defrosted silversides>
Also the other thing is that we would like to start him on the formula 1 flakes because it would be easier to feed it to him when we go on holiday as opposed to live foods which would require someone to come in every other day and feed it to him, which is a bit difficult (we have 1 of those holiday feeders which runs on a timer).
<Mmm, best here to make labeled (by the date) pre-measured frozen food packets for the "baby sitter's" use>
We don't really know what to do because he is not interested in the flakes at all. My partner says that we should hold off on feeding him the brine shrimp and krill and continue with the flakes, hopefully he will get so
hungry that he will have no choice but to try to the flakes.
<Not likely to work>
I feel slightly bad doing this though as he seems so hungry. Also there is the concern that if we persist with the flakes he will start munching on the cleaner and fire shrimp and double his attack on the coralline.
<Much more likely>
What do you suggest?
<To expand the diet as stated>
Many thanks for your help.
<Certainly welcome. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Valentini Puffer Not Eating 1/10/07 <Hi donna, Pufferpunk here> Hi, I hope you can help me. My Valentini puffer hasn't eaten in 4 days. I don't notice any sign of illness (like ich or spot on it) I usually feed it shrimp brine. <Brine shrimp> It seemed to like that but recently it's refusing to eat anything. It just swims around when I feed it and it looks like my puffer is looking for something else to eat. In my tank I also have a clown fish, 6 line wrasse, yellow watchman goby and a damsel. The other fish are all fine and eating. I wish I can read it's mind what my puffer is thinking . Please help and reply Asap! I don't know how much longer can it last, cuz it's looking thinner from not eating. <First of all, brine shrimp is basically non-nutritious, being about 97% water & almost no protein at all. You must feed your puffer meaty, crunchy foods. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ Here's an article on getting your puffer to eat: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/problems-feeding-your-puffer/ Be sure to check your parameters: ammonia/nitrite (should be 0 at all times), nitrate (<10)& pH (around 8-8.3). Puffers are sensitive fish & if their parameters are off, they will not eat. One more thing, take a look at his teeth. You have been feeding him soft food & puffers need crunchy foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Please do a search on puffer fish dentistry, if necessary. ~PP> Thanks, Donna

Re: Valentini Puffer Not Eating 1/10/07 <Hi again Donna> Thank you for your help. I will try to give my puffer other food. Last night I give it some frozen shrimp without the shell but it didn't seem to like to eat that either. Should I get shrimp with shell on it instead? Thanks again! <Although shell-on is a better "crunchy" meal for your puffer's teeth, I don't think with or without the shell matters as far as the fish's tastes. Your puffer is wild-caught & probably isn't used to eating foods that don't move. Follow that 2nd link I gave you on how to entice your puffer to eat dead foods. ~PP> Donna

Re: Valentini Puffer Not Eating 1/11/08 Hi it's me again. <Hi Donna> OK, I got the parameters and it turns out my nitrite is 0.5 and everything else is okay or normal. <I would prefer you don't use terms like "okay or normal". They mean nothing to me. I also need to know the exact ammonia, nitrate, specific gravity & pH. ANY amount of nitrite is toxic to your fish & would definitely make it not feel like eating. If you are showing nitrite, your tank is not cycled properly. Please tell me how you cycled your tank. How large is the tank? What filtration are you using?> So do you think I should change 25% of the water and add aquarium salt? <Aquarium salt? Why? Are you using marine salt to make your marine water or aquarium salt? Are you using a hydrometer or refractometer to measure the salinity? I definitely think you should do 25% water changes daily, until you can get the nitrite to stay at 0. I really need to know what your other parameters are though.> I also bought some other kind of food but Puffer is still not eating. Help!!! <Can't really blame him right now. ~PP> Donna

Proper feeding of Canthigaster solandri   9/19/06 Hi, Crew.   <Dan> I'm getting conflicting answers from the FAQs and from my LFS (Aquatic Warehouse in San Diego) <Ah, yes... know the store... some fine folks there> regarding feeding my new baby puffer (named "Toby" -- I know, not very original...). <Heee> Anyways, I know he is an omnivore, and feeds with gusto on the Mysis, macroalgae, Nori, and other mixed marine foods that we provide.  He also spends a fair amount of time picking at the live rock.  So far so good. <Yes> The LFS claims that he will not require additional "tooth grinding" food, as the live-rock-picking will keep his chompers happy. <Likely so> From the FAQs, however, it would appear that weekly hard-shelled things would be Very Good.  Can I get some clarifications on this? Thanks much, Dan <More tooth-wearing material might help, though as stated, with your live rock material, not likely necessary. Bob Fenner> Feeding Sharpnose puffers    4/14/06 Hi WWM crew: <Alex> I recently purchased two sharpnose puffers. One is Canthigaster valentini and the other is Canthigaster solandri. I have always been told that they told be fed clams and mussels still in the shell or raw shrimp or crab with their exoskeleton still attached in order to wear down their teeth. <Can, yes> My question is, do they have to be fed with those item all the time? Or just once in a while? Can frozen Mysis shrimp help wear down their teeth too? Thanks <Once in a while (weekly let's say) is fine. Mysids don't have much of a hard exoskeleton. And lastly, I would not place two Tobies (unless they were a "pair") in the same system, unless it was very large (hundreds of gallons), just in case you're doing this, or others reading here might not know. Bob Fenner>

Valentini Puffer with a picky appetite   3/14/06 Greetings Crew, <Eric> Let me first start off by saying that your site is wonderful and has provided me with a great deal of information.  However, now I have sort of a problem that I can't seem to find the answer for in the posts.  I have a 29 gallon fish only tank that I have had set up for about 5 months now. In it I have a chocolate chip starfish, a clown, and two shrimp. About a month ago I purchased a Valentini Puffer and introduced him to the tank. <Surprising that it has not "picked" on your shrimp and star...> He is very small, only about 1"- 1.5", which is actually the reason why I got him.  I didn't want to crowd the tank.  Anyway, he was lively at the store and I watched them feed him before purchase.  I noticed at first when I got him home that he was very lethargic and just laid around the tank a lot, but I learned from your site that this is normal activity. <Yes, can be> Lately he has perked up and started swimming around a lot more, especially when he sees me approaching the tank. <Good. Food conditioned response> His eyes are clear and he seems to be very healthy. But now I have another problem. I can only get him to eat brine shrimp.  He has a very large appetite and absolutely devours all brine I put in the tank, but he will not touch any other offerings.  I have tried frozen krill, dehydrated freeze dried mysis shrimp, and various types of flake foods. <Do keep trying these... mixed in with less and less Artemia... this animal will not starve I assure you> Even though the brine I feed him are encapsulated with multi-vitamins, I fear that he is not getting all the nutrients he needs. From what I have learned from your site, brine should only be fed as a treat and do not hold a lot of nutritional value. <Generally not in the longer haul> I want to provide him with a variety of foods that will keep him healthy.  I was just wondering if you could recommend any other foods or feeding methods that may help me get him to eat a more varied diet.  Thanks in advance for the help!! Eric <Mixing the foods and "holding out" will win the day here. Do keep an eye out for the ultimate bite marks... Bob Fenner>

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>

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>

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

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