Welcome to the wonderful world of puffer keeping - Piranha-Fury Forums

Piranha-Fury Forums: Welcome to the wonderful world of puffer keeping - Piranha-Fury Forums

Jump to content

  • 2 Pages +
  • 1
  • 2
  • You cannot start a new topic
  • This topic is locked

Welcome to the wonderful world of puffer keeping All you need to get started with freshwater puffers

Posted 17 December 2005 - 10:53 PM (#1) User is offline   elTwitcho 

  • Danse Macabre!
  • Group: Awaiting Authorisation
  • Posts: 10561
  • Joined: 22-June 04
  • Location:Hell, 7th circle

In my opinion, one of the most under represented groups in the fish keeping trade is that of the puffer species, which is unfortunate because those who have discovered keeping puffers, often find them becomming their favorite fish.

Most people stay away from puffers for a variety of reasons. I don't have a saltwater tank is one of them. I don't want to deal with brackish water is another. Few people realize however, that there is literally a puffer out there for everyone, for any tank size so long as they are willing to put in the basic care required of any fish. With this guide hopefully more people will learn about the proper care for the fish that is as personable as an Oscar, as vicious as a great white shark and cute as... well something cute anyway.

Why own puffers?

Puffers essentially represent some of the greatest things about fish keeping. They are responsive and will come to the front of the tank to great you almost bursting with excitement every time you walk by. They have a variety of patterns that can be as stunning as any other fish's coloration and their unique swimming style makes for a unique sight in any aquarium. Some are constantly active and providing you with something to watch while others are masters of the ambush hunting style and will even bury themselves under the substrate waiting for a hapless fish to pass by. All I've ever come across will also not fail to disapoint in their savagery, ripping ghost shrimp to pieces before they hit the tank bottom, biting crayfish in half or crushing snails whole. In short, what's not to like about puffers?

Setting up your puffer tank

Puffers aren't overly sensitive about temperature and although they will need a heater, temperatures of 78-80 fahrenheit will work well for most of them. The primary requirement is that they have lots of decoration to break up lines of sight and keep them engaged with their environment so they do not get bored, and that your filtration is up to par. Puffers are scaleless fish and are especially sensitive to ammonia, nitrite and high nitrate levels. Since NO FISH should ever be exposed to any of these toxic conditions, puffer keeping isn't really much different except that you won't have alot of room for error if your ammonia does spike. An efficient filtration system that does not produce too much current (puffers are not rapid swimmers) combined with regular water changes will keep your puffer healthy for a long time and provide years of enjoyment from a great pet. Planted tanks make ideal puffer environments, although one should provide a sand substrate for those puffers who prefer to bury themselves under the substrate, and ensure that the substrate is as deep as the fish is long so that they can bury themselves properly. Puffers that do not bury themselves will get by just fine on any variety of substrates so long as the tank is maintained and the substrate is vacuumed.

The kinds of puffers available

There are a few choices of puffer available to the prospective puffer keeper, coming in all shapes and sizes, personalities and water types. For the purpose of this guide I am going to deal with the purely freshwater puffers, which represent the least adaptation for the fish keeper who is used to taking care of freshwater fish and isn't yet ready to start screwing around with brackish or salt water.

The options are basically broken down like this (though you could break them down however you want).

Dwarf Puffers

A great introduction to the world of puffer keeping, and one of the better choices for small tank enthusiasts looking for something interesting to keep without spending alot of money. Dwarf puffers won't usually get larger than 1.5 inches and can live alone in a 5 gallon for their entire lives. In a 10 gallon tank with lots of cover (planted tanks work great for this) 3 puffers could comfortably live together however this arrangement will work better if you can get a group of 2 females and 1 male to keep inter-puffer aggression down. These fish are curious and very active and will provide hours of viewing pleasure if they are looked after.

Diet is fairly simple for these fish. They will likely eat feeders if you throw them in the tank as they are pretty aggressive feeders as previously mentioned. That said, DO NOT EVER FEED YOUR PUFFER FEEDERS. Fatty feeders are a completely innapropriate diet for a fish that lives primarily off insects and crustaceans. That said, frozen shrimp (thawed obviously), krill, bloodworms and brine shrimp as well as snails will make a great well rounded diet for your fish. IMO emphasis should be placed on everything but brine shrimp which aren't the best nutritionally but are always appreciated as a treat.

An excellent dwarf puffer resource is http://www.dwarfpuffers.com/

Small Active Puffers

The next group of puffers are the relatively small, highly active puffers such as Carinotetraodon irrubesco and Carinotetraodon lorteti. These puffers stay relatively small and won't grow past 3 inches. A 10 gallon tank makes a good home for a single specimen of these puffers and if you want to take the risk of keeping them in a pair, make sure to have one male and one female in a 20 gallon tank. As with the dwarf puffers they are active and intelligent fish that will spend lots of time exploring their tanks, so you want to provide them with an interesting tank that contains lots of decorations and broken lines of sight. As before, a planted tank is ideal for this.

Unlike the dwarf puffers however (and most puffers are like this) these puffers absolutely should be fed snails as part of their diet to wear their teeth down, or you should be prepared to trim their teeth yourself. Unlike most fish that have a number of teeth in their mouth (or no teeth at all if it's the cyprinid family) the puffers teeth are fused together to form a beak that is specialized at crushing shells. This beak grows continually so without hard foods such as snails to wear it down they will become overgrown and the puffer will have trouble eating. A method for trimming puffer teeth will be posted in another article.

Aside from snails, these puffers should be fed frozen shrimp, ghost shrimp, bloodworms, clam meat or mussel meat and as always, AVOID FEEDERS.

The bigger active puffers

Representatives from this group include those puffers falling into the target puffer group and the amazon puffer c. asselus. These puffers grow between 3 and 6 inches depending on species and as the groups before them, are active and intelligent creatures. Tanks should be well furnished with lots of decorations and things for them to explore and tank sizes of 20-30 gallons are generally good (20L tanks are great for these fish).

Feeding is more or less the same as for the group prior to them (small active puffers) with the same emphasis on snails. If the puffer is much larger very small crayfish could be added to the diet but be sure the puffer is big enough to eat the crayfish as crayfish can be known to do some serious damage to fish in aquariums. Better still is to prekill the crayfish so there is no risk of your puffer getting injured.

The really big active puffers

These puffers, typically the Fahaka Puffer and the Mbu Puffer are some of the most impressive fish you will ever see in an aquarium. I will focus on the fahaka because you should never even think about owning a mbu puffer. They will grow to three feet in length and need massive massive tanks. You have no business buying this puffer if you are 99.99999% of fish keepers, so don't even try.

The fahaka puffer is widely regarded as one of the most aggressive fish in the aquarium trade and with good reason. They can not be kept with anything, not even their own kind regardless of tank size. At 18 inches maximum size and with teeth capable of crushing anything it can fit in it's mouth, this fish can easily mangle any fish that is placed with it. Tank size should be around 125 gallons as these fish will need to be able to move around. If the tank is going to be well decorated, even more room will be needed but this fish is by all accounts worth all the work involved in keeping it. Sometimes described as "death with fins" the fish is not only an incredible predator, but highly personable and a true "pet". Some owners have fahaka puffers that will also puff up to the size of a basketball on occasion for no particular reason other than wanting attention.

The fahaka puffer can be fed a variety of foods, such as frozen shrimp, clam and mussel meat, snails and as they get larger crayfish and crab legs can become a part of their diet to keep their treeth well trimmed.

The sedentary puffers

There is also a group of puffers that are primarily piscivores (fish eaters) and are quite different from the other types already looked at. These are the congo puffer (tetraodon miurus), the palembang puffer (t. palembangensis), the arrow head puffer (t. suvatti) and the stanlet pool puffer (sometimes affectionately called the turd fish). These puffers grow to about 6 to 8 inches and do well in a tank of 30 gallons or more.

These puffers differ greatly from the other puffers in looks and behaviour. Unlike the other puffers that will spend their time hunting around the tank looking for something to eat, these fish will hide in ambush and even bury themselves waiting for a meal to pass by. When the opportunity arises they will spring out from ambush on their unsuspecting prey with a ferocity that is seldom matched by any other fish. The rest of the time they spend hidden either digesting their food or waiting for another meal. These fish will consume huge amounts of food in one sitting and because of their inactive nature should only really be fed once per week at full size, and 2 or 3 times per week as juveniles as opposed to every day.

Feeding is the same for the larger active puffers, however it should be noted that these fish will often not accept dead foods at first. Feeders are not healthy for this fish and it is critical to get them eating prepared foods as soon as possible. Some keepers have reported success dangling a piece of meat on a string until the fish attacks, and others have reported success by dropping the food on top of the puffers head provoking an attack (don't do with anything that is hard and sinks quickly like snails).

Good links

The best place for identifying your puffer and finding species specific care guidelines : http://www.pufferlist.com/

Breeding snails
http://www.pufferfis...oods/snails.htm



Other ammendments and updates to this likely to follow. For those still not sold on the idea, here's my puffer, a slightly skinny but recovering tetraodon cutcutia

Attached image(s)

  • Attached Image: post-4659-1134877990.jpg
  • Attached Image: post-4659-1134878024.jpg


Remove Advertisements User is offline   Advertisements 

  • Piranha-Fury.com



Posted 17 December 2005 - 11:48 PM (#2) User is offline   Death in #'s 

  • Truffle shuffle!!!!!!!!!!
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 18887
  • Joined: 29-April 03
  • Gender:Male
  • Current Piranhas: Jeff Cohen as Lawrence "Chunk" Cohen, a fat, clumsy, food-loving Goonie who makes up sensational stories and tries to pass them off as true.

:) dam alot of great info
and i love those pics :drool:
and i keep numerous sw puffer species never had any freshwater ones
Posted Image

Posted 18 December 2005 - 12:03 AM (#3) User is offline    

  • Obsessed
  • Group: Awaiting Authorisation
  • Posts: 741
  • Joined: 31-January 05

good info what is the common name for that puffer in the pics? i couldn't find it on the pufferlist.com also about the dwarf puffers it may be hard to feed it anything but live food. i know that was the case with all of mine.

Posted 18 December 2005 - 10:33 AM (#4) User is offline   MR.FREEZ 

  • DOC#003162
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 15011
  • Joined: 26-January 04
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Antarctica
  • Interests:(.)(.)'s

pinning

dont want to lose this gem ;)

Posted 18 December 2005 - 12:15 PM (#5) User is offline   boontje 

  • Institutionalized
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 1834
  • Joined: 27-March 05
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Belgium

Great article, Twitch

I was actually setting up a tank for SA puffers

166 US gallons --- 1 x Tetraodon Lineatus (fahaka)

Posted 18 December 2005 - 11:55 PM (#6) User is offline    

  • Pygocentrus piraya
  • Group: Awaiting Authorisation
  • Posts: 24433
  • Joined: 07-July 03

Dont forget about pufferpunk. She has a wealth of puffer info as well. Nice work Twitch.

Posted 19 December 2005 - 02:19 PM (#7) User is offline    

  • Serrasalmus elongatus
  • Group: Awaiting Authorisation
  • Posts: 5301
  • Joined: 24-April 04

Definately pinworthy :cheers:

Although I'm not really in to puffers I must say that I found this a good and informative read.

Posted 03 January 2006 - 07:10 PM (#8) User is offline   Pilsnah 

  • Fanatic
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 1237
  • Joined: 19-March 05
  • Location:Dutch.
  • Interests:American Football<br />Sports in general<br />Fishtanks<br />Piranha's of course!<br />Marine biology<br />History<br />Geography<br />Travel<br />People worldwide<br />Journalism

Yo twitch, I was just researching puffers and then I stumbled upon your article. Good read and references.

Thanx a million :thumbup:
4 Caribe 7-10 inches

Posted 01 February 2006 - 03:14 AM (#9) User is offline    

  • Interested
  • Group: Awaiting Authorisation
  • Posts: 35
  • Joined: 23-January 06

Would a 120 Tall be to small for a Fahaka?

Posted 01 February 2006 - 03:54 PM (#10) User is offline   boontje 

  • Institutionalized
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 1834
  • Joined: 27-March 05
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Belgium

View PostTheAntiEggroll, on Feb 1 2006, 09:14 AM, said:

Would a 120 Tall be to small for a Fahaka?

what are the dimensions of that tank?

166 US gallons --- 1 x Tetraodon Lineatus (fahaka)

Posted 01 February 2006 - 05:03 PM (#11) User is offline    

  • Interested
  • Group: Awaiting Authorisation
  • Posts: 35
  • Joined: 23-January 06

View Postboontje, on Feb 1 2006, 03:54 PM, said:

View PostTheAntiEggroll, on Feb 1 2006, 09:14 AM, said:

Would a 120 Tall be to small for a Fahaka?

what are the dimensions of that tank?

48X18X30

Im thinking the 18 inch width would kill me? :no:

Posted 01 February 2006 - 05:19 PM (#12) User is offline   boontje 

  • Institutionalized
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 1834
  • Joined: 27-March 05
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Belgium

View PostTheAntiEggroll, on Feb 1 2006, 11:03 PM, said:

View Postboontje, on Feb 1 2006, 03:54 PM, said:

View PostTheAntiEggroll, on Feb 1 2006, 09:14 AM, said:

Would a 120 Tall be to small for a Fahaka?

what are the dimensions of that tank?

48X18X30

Im thinking the 18 inch width would kill me?  :nod:

they can grow up to 18" so I'm afraid it doesn't give them enough room to turn well
also the 48 inch is not ideal
I think a tank should be at least 60" long and 20" deep (but 23" or more would be better)

166 US gallons --- 1 x Tetraodon Lineatus (fahaka)

Posted 02 February 2006 - 02:07 AM (#13) User is offline   elTwitcho 

  • Danse Macabre!
  • Group: Awaiting Authorisation
  • Posts: 10561
  • Joined: 22-June 04
  • Location:Hell, 7th circle

View Postboontje, on Feb 1 2006, 05:19 PM, said:

View PostTheAntiEggroll, on Feb 1 2006, 11:03 PM, said:

View Postboontje, on Feb 1 2006, 03:54 PM, said:

View PostTheAntiEggroll, on Feb 1 2006, 09:14 AM, said:

Would a 120 Tall be to small for a Fahaka?

what are the dimensions of that tank?

48X18X30

Im thinking the 18 inch width would kill me? :lmao:

they can grow up to 18" so I'm afraid it doesn't give them enough room to turn well
also the 48 inch is not ideal
I think a tank should be at least 60" long and 20" deep (but 23" or more would be better)


I tend to agree. It'd be good for a little while, but I've heard stories of a puffer with a permanently bent tail from the tank being too small for him. The last thing you want to do is grow a fish out, become really attached to them, and then do permanent physical damage to them.

Posted 02 February 2006 - 04:07 AM (#14) User is offline    

  • Interested
  • Group: Awaiting Authorisation
  • Posts: 35
  • Joined: 23-January 06

View PostelTwitcho, on Feb 2 2006, 02:07 AM, said:

View Postboontje, on Feb 1 2006, 05:19 PM, said:

View PostTheAntiEggroll, on Feb 1 2006, 11:03 PM, said:

View Postboontje, on Feb 1 2006, 03:54 PM, said:

View PostTheAntiEggroll, on Feb 1 2006, 09:14 AM, said:

Would a 120 Tall be to small for a Fahaka?

what are the dimensions of that tank?

48X18X30

Im thinking the 18 inch width would kill me? :lock:

they can grow up to 18" so I'm afraid it doesn't give them enough room to turn well
also the 48 inch is not ideal
I think a tank should be at least 60" long and 20" deep (but 23" or more would be better)


I tend to agree. It'd be good for a little while, but I've heard stories of a puffer with a permanently bent tail from the tank being too small for him. The last thing you want to do is grow a fish out, become really attached to them, and then do permanent physical damage to them.

Even if it was big enough I was told the Fahakas like to rub their beaks on the tank (especially a smaller one like that) so Id be scratching my tank to hell. :bowdown:

Posted 08 May 2006 - 08:17 AM (#15) User is offline    

  • Interested
  • Group: Awaiting Authorisation
  • Posts: 19
  • Joined: 07-May 06

i have a farhaka puffer and never seen him do tht. mine just blends in to the ground and sits there sometimes swims around, he eats nightcrawlers 4 goodness sakes! (yes i didnt want to offend anyone and say god)

Posted 21 July 2006 - 10:22 AM (#16) User is offline    

  • Addicted
  • View gallery
  • Group: Awaiting Authorisation
  • Posts: 323
  • Joined: 09-July 06

I have 2 Green Spotted Puffers and they are the most entertaining fish to watch. They have a lot of personality. If you want a responsive, goofy fish then this is the one for you. Be careful though because they are nasty little fin nippers. I had to take the my Pacu out of there tank because they were picking on him. The pacu was about 5 times there size, so they obviously don't care about size diffrence. They don't pick on any of the tetras or the feeder goldfish which is there size.

Posted 21 July 2006 - 02:50 PM (#17) User is offline   boontje 

  • Institutionalized
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 1834
  • Joined: 27-March 05
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Belgium

View Postaltimaser, on Jul 21 2006, 05:22 PM, said:

I have 2 Green Spotted Puffers and they are the most entertaining fish to watch. They have a lot of personality. If you want a responsive, goofy fish then this is the one for you. Be careful though because they are nasty little fin nippers. I had to take the my Pacu out of there tank because they were picking on him. The pacu was about 5 times there size, so they obviously don't care about size diffrence. They don't pick on any of the tetras or the feeder goldfish which is there size.

you do realise that Green spotted puffers (tetraodon nigroviridis) are not a freshwater fish? They should be kept in brackish water when young, and in saltwater when they get bigger

166 US gallons --- 1 x Tetraodon Lineatus (fahaka)

Posted 05 October 2006 - 10:36 PM (#18) User is offline    

  • Captivated
  • Group: Awaiting Authorisation
  • Posts: 83
  • Joined: 11-September 06

I am thinking of to start up a Puffer tank.

What Puffers and how many should you have in a 50g tank?

Posted 16 April 2007 - 12:49 PM (#19) User is offline   Jiam Ji Girl 

  • Fanatic
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 1219
  • Joined: 07-September 06
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:North Hollywood, CA
  • Interests:Who am i? i am simply _ME_<br />fashion consumes me. designers own me. angel without wings. spunky. daddy's girl. sista's headache. momma's carbon copy. experimenter. fashionista. fanatic. lover to one. friend to many. 1/2 pinay n 1/2 chinese. full american. born in whittier. raised in cerritos. creative. genuine. one of a kind. friendly. stubborn. amiable. nerdy. hard headed. whimsical. sushi lover. philly rolls. humble. funny. poised. a normal abnormal. funky. flawless. i don't come w/ dice. so don't play me. irie man. 80's driven. trendsetter. pop princess. brilliant. mohawks rock. curly hairs cute. nothin' beats a fade. bangs are in. addicted to dance. photographer. skillfull. graphic design. executive assitant. html geek. freelancer. z driven. PLECOS. designer jeans whore. make love not war. juicy. covergirl. pussycat tendencies. secret &lt;- victoria. high fashion. thrift store. homeade. thats hott. i know right?! all real. what you see. is what you get. this all defines. &gt;&gt;ME&lt;&lt;
  • Current Piranhas: I like big butts and I can not lie!

thanks for the info.. very helpful. maybe i will be able to show my bf up.. since he think i can't take care of fish. we'll see about that!
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
I like big butts and I cannot lie.
Love me. Hate me. Do what you want with me. But I am always a winner! ;)

Posted 16 April 2007 - 12:59 PM (#20) User is offline   Jiam Ji Girl 

  • Fanatic
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 1219
  • Joined: 07-September 06
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:North Hollywood, CA
  • Interests:Who am i? i am simply _ME_<br />fashion consumes me. designers own me. angel without wings. spunky. daddy's girl. sista's headache. momma's carbon copy. experimenter. fashionista. fanatic. lover to one. friend to many. 1/2 pinay n 1/2 chinese. full american. born in whittier. raised in cerritos. creative. genuine. one of a kind. friendly. stubborn. amiable. nerdy. hard headed. whimsical. sushi lover. philly rolls. humble. funny. poised. a normal abnormal. funky. flawless. i don't come w/ dice. so don't play me. irie man. 80's driven. trendsetter. pop princess. brilliant. mohawks rock. curly hairs cute. nothin' beats a fade. bangs are in. addicted to dance. photographer. skillfull. graphic design. executive assitant. html geek. freelancer. z driven. PLECOS. designer jeans whore. make love not war. juicy. covergirl. pussycat tendencies. secret &lt;- victoria. high fashion. thrift store. homeade. thats hott. i know right?! all real. what you see. is what you get. this all defines. &gt;&gt;ME&lt;&lt;
  • Current Piranhas: I like big butts and I can not lie!

twicho... i was trying to send you a PM but your inbox is full.... check your messages so i can send ya mines!
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
I like big butts and I cannot lie.
Love me. Hate me. Do what you want with me. But I am always a winner! ;)

Share this topic:


  • 2 Pages +
  • 1
  • 2
  • You cannot start a new topic
  • This topic is locked


1 User(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users

IPB Skins by Skinbox

Skin and Language