Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Tobies, Sharpnose Puffers Identification

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, Boxfishes, Puffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: Tobies 1, Tobies 2, 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,

Toby Identity    3/25/15
I wondered if you could confirm if this is a Canthigaster solandri.
<Mmm; maybe: http://wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm >
My friends if more orangish and this one has a darker body without the lines on the top of the body. I wondered if that was because he was a juvenile. One is a flash at night (green dots) and one is him during the day. His eyes appear green. Very cool little fish and I love him! He doesn’t seem to bother the other fish and him and my engineer goby like to play tug-of-war with the scallops I feed them. He also eats to the point of looking like he is going to pop! Crazy little thing! Thanks!
<Looks more like an Ambon to me. Bob Fenner>

Re: Toby Identity    3/25/15
Yes, I thought C. ambon as well, however there are no radiating lines from the eye area like C. ambon.
<This characteristic is variable geographically and size wise... smaller, younger specimens don't show it>
Also it seems that mine is more dark brown, similar to the darker version of C. solandri which was confused with C. papua at one time. Can you tell me if this is a male or female? I thought male because of the larger spots.
<Am going w/ your guess. Bob Fenner>

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

Re: Canthigaster valentini / saddled Toby? 5/23/12    5/24/12
Dear Jordan,
<Hi Jennie>
 thank you so much for your quick reply, firstly yep 'Brill' is a great thing to be called, I'm a Brit so we like to shorten everything.
<I see, learn something new everyday.>
Secondly it's nice to hear from someone else that loves stomatopods, they are so fascinating to watch, every time we sit at our dining room table out he pops to show off, I've taken many videos of him as he is such fun.
Thirdly, I'm right (due to your help) I do indeed have a happy puffer fish not a filefish, I'm so happy, not that I would have sent her back to my LFS as I've grown very attached to her, so cute.
<I'm glad you got the fish you wanted, I commonly see these two fish mislabeled at my LFS.>
Well off I go to feed my crew (4 tanks of marines, 1 cold water tank, and 2 ponds with sturgeon) (I won't bore you with my other pets, the list is endless) I hope you enjoyed your waffles, urmmm my fav.
<The waffles were excellent, thank you for the steering me towards them.>
Kind regards. Jennie Bailey

Fish ID question - is this a Canthigaster bennetti [Bennett's Sharpnose puffer] (RMF, second opinion?) 10/1/2009
Dear Friends,
Came across your helpful site and looking through the pictures, my fish seems to be closest to Canthigaster bennetti [Bennett's Sharpnose puffer], but not sure. I have been trying to identify this fish since I first saw it, and this has been the closest I have got to it. I hope you can identify it for me. Thanks.
Seen in a rock pool in southern Kyushu Japan on the 11th June 2009.
Yours sincerely,
<Hmm... Canthigaster bennetti doesn't have the two bands along the midline of the flank:
I'd actually consider this species Canthigaster rivulata, which has the two bands plus the black spots on either side of the anal fin:
Cheers, Neale.><<I do concur. RMF>>

Re: Fish ID question - is this a Canthigaster bennetti [Bennett's Sharpnose puffer] 10/2/2009
Hi Neale,
Thanks very much for a prompt reply. Yes, I think you could be right. So I can now file the fish in the appropriate place.
<Happy to have helped. Do explore Fishbase; it's a great site for identifying fish to species level, particularly if you have locality data and know what family a fish belongs to. Cheers, Neale.>

Puffer ID please -- 12/25/2007 Hi, <Hello.> I have this puffer fish, but I am really not sure what kind of puffer it is. It looks like a saddle puffer and I bought as a saddle puffer but when I take a closer look, it is so different. <By Saddle Puffer you mean a Canthigaster valentini? Your puffer is a close relative.> Can you please help me please? <Sure. It probably is a juvenile Canthigaster epilampra, also called Lantern Toby. A typical character is a small orange spot above the pectoral fin that is surrounded by a blue line. I think it can be seen on pictures 202 and 205. A similar species without this spot is the Fingerprint puffer Canthigaster compressa. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm.> Here is the picture link: http://www.aquabreeder.com/productimages/details/saltwater/Red%20Back%20Yellow%20Tail%20Puffer%201.JPG http://www.aquabreeder.com/productimages/details/saltwater/Red%20Back%20Yellow%20Tail%20Puffer%202.JPG http://www.aquabreeder.com/productimages/details/saltwater/Red%20Back%20Yellow%20Tail%20Puffer%203.JPG http://www.aquabreeder.com/productimages/details/saltwater/Red%20Back%20Yellow%20Tail%20Puffer%204.JPG http://www.aquabreeder.com/productimages/details/saltwater/Red%20Back%20Yellow%20Tail%20Puffer%205.JPG Here is the video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-dFqLM5wME Thank you very much. Yours, Sean Shi Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! <Thank you. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, too. Have fun with your puffer. Marco.>

Fish name, Toby... 11/23/07 Hi Crew, <Steven...> I saw this fish in a friend's saltwater tank and he indicated he had bought a blue goby. To me it looks more like some type of triggerfish. Can you tell from this picture (attached)? <Yes... a sharp tooth puffer...> Your help is greatly appreciated. He has a pretty mild mannered tank with a few tangs and an angel, so I think he ought to know if he was taken for a ride at the fish store and was sold something different than he was told. Thanks again for all you do. Regards, Steven <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm BobF>

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

Toby puffer identification 9/25/05 Hello Bob, <Emily> I was on your site and read your notes on the difference between the Toby and the filefish. I can't really tell from the pictures which is a puffer and which is not. I have recently bought a Toby puffer( valentini I think) and just wanted to verify that I got a puffer instead of a filefish. Can you give me more prominent signs to look for in order to tell a puffer from a file fish? <Mmm, the very best is their dorsal fins... though not often erected, will likely be when excited (like when feeding). The Filefish has a prominent anterior spine (first dorsal ray), whereas the puffer has all-about the same appearing rays> My fish doesn't seem to have the obvious blue lines running from the head to tail but there is a hidden blue/green color at the back if seen at a special angle. <Mmm, the color difference/s are not consistent, nor telling> Appreciate if you could help me identify my fish. Thanks, Emily <Look on fishbase.org, the Net... at both species... and their dorsals. 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>

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>

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>

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>

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>

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.

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>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: