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FAQs on Brackish Feeding

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F8 brackish water questions. Fig 8 sys; salinity... Artemia cult.        9/22/16
Hello guys!
I know there's a lot of info already about this subject on wet web media and I have studied a lot of it. Thanks so much for all you do. I'm emailing you because I feel that I have a specific problem that I would like help with. About a day and a half ago, we bought a Figure-Eight Puffer. He's a little over an inch long, so what do you think...maybe about a year old or a little less?
<Sounds about right.>
He's in a 40- (US) gallon aquarium. All basic water parameters (nitrites and ammonia) = 0 except pH=7.6 and nitrates are <20. The aquarium is well-established. It was a freshwater setup for Gouramis and Tetras, but they have been moved to a different tank.
Anyway, I was unaware (until reading your website last night) that you can't just use API Aquarium Salt to create brackish water.
<It's okay short term. Better than no salt! But longer term, actually not economical or as good. Better to use marine aquarium salt.>

I added a teaspoon per gallon of that yesterday. Then I went out today and got some Instant Ocean after discovering on your website that this is what I need for making proper brackish water.
<Ah, good!>
One question I have is: Will it be necessary to do a large water change, say 75%, to remove as much of the API Aquarium Salt as is possible before adding the Instant Ocean?
<Nope. Your little Puffer will be absolutely fine as he is now. Just add your marine aquarium salt to each bucket of new water added to the tank.
I'd suggest adding 5-6 gram salt mix per litre of water. That should produce about SG 1.003 at 25 C/77 F.>
Also, how much Instant Ocean should I add to make brackish water with an sg = 1.002? (I read on your site that you should gradually introduce him to brackish water if the pet store had him in freshwater, increasing it to 1.005 over 3 days.)
<Correct; and see above.>
My hydrometer is reading just barely above 1.000 right now.
<That is because 1 teaspoon of salt per US gallon is a trivial amount of salt. Not brackish at all! Full strength seawater contains 35 gram salt per litre. That's about 6 teaspoons of salt! Most people have no idea how salty the sea is. You only want a fraction of that amount of salt. One teaspoon is about 6 gram salt, so a bit less should be 5 grams, and that's the
amount to add per 1 litre of water to get SG 1.002-1.003, which is ample for a planted low-end brackish system.>
He's a really cute little guy, very inquisitive, very active and we have a good supply of pond snails for him. I plan to vary his diet with frozen Tubifex and freeze-dried Krill. As for our snail supply, they live in my male Betta's tank where the pond snails run amok and he never bothers them!
My female Betta eats all the snails in her aquarium!!!
I also was wondering if it would be possible to breed brine shrimp in the puffer's aquarium since it will be brackish?
<In theory, yes; in practise, the filter will suck up the brine shrimp eggs before they hatch, so nothing will happen.>
Or am I remembering correctly that you said that they have very little nutritious value for a puffer?
<Adult brine shrimp are a poor food. Baby brine shrimp are much better though, and you can hatch these in an empty plastic Coke bottle (or similar!) filled with seawater (35 gram/litre) and bubbled a bit with an airstone. Even easier, buy some "enriched" frozen brine shrimp; these are a good food for puffers.>
If so, maybe it wouldn't even be worth it. And, is a 40-gallon aquarium large enough for two F8 Puffers to coexist without fighting?
<Actually, I'd keep three specimens rather than two. Pairs can squabble much worse than larger groups.>
I have heard yes and no from so many different people on that question.
<Indeed; all puffers are unpredictable, at best. But generally bigger groups are less troublesome, but of course need you to be extra careful about water quality.>
Thank you again for all your help in the past and in advance for your answer to all this. Sorry to have written a novel here, but I felt I needed to explain the situation in detail.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: F8 brackish water questions       9/23/16

Thank for the info. This helps me a lot. One more question if you please.
Do you use a testing kit for salt or for fresh water in the case of a brackish water setup? Thanks!
<Yes, you can use your freshwater test kits in a low-end brackish kit. The only problem might be pH or hardness kits "going off the scale" because the pH and hardness might be above the range of colours on the card you compare your test result to. But the nitrite, ammonia and nitrate kits are fine,
and chances are the pH and hardness will be fine too. Cheers, Neale.>

Live blackworm colony in brackish water?     6/11/16
Hello WWM,
<Hello Meghan,>
I am in the process of setting up a brackish tank for a violet goby I purchased before doing adequate research. So now I'm trying to make sure I get it right so I won't have to move "her" once in brackish water.
Currently she is housed (I know inadequately) in fresh water in a 55 gallon with several dozen guppies.
<A surprisingly good combo! Violet Gobies seem to ignore the adults, and any impact on the baby Guppies seems to be trivial and accidental.>
Her current water parameters are pH 8.2, very hard water.
When I test the ammonia is always 0, nitrite 0, and nitrate never over 20.
I use a thick (3 - 5") layer of organic dirt and sand that releases a lot of tannins into the water. She loves to dig, dig, dig!
<Oh yes. They also enjoy gulping plankton (such as live brine shrimp) as well as scraping at algae-covered rocks. They're very interesting animals.>
I love the look and behavior of this beautiful little goby. She seems to be doing well, despite being housed in fresh water, and has grown 3/4" in the last 3 weeks. I enjoy watching her dig and sift for food, so want to make sure her permanent home encourages this natural behavior.
To this end I'm wondering if I could culture a self-sustaining colony of blackworms in her eventual home.
<Almost certainly not. Lumbriculus don't have a very high tolerance for salt; if you use Google Scholar and search for "Lumbriculus" and "salinity" you'll find a fair amount of experimental data. While they would probably do okay in low-end conditions, around SG 1.002-1.003 say, they're unlikely to prosper at higher salinities. Bear in mind Blackworms are freshwater Oligochaetes, and specialise in freshwater habitats. Once the environment becomes brackish or marine, Oligochaetes become much less significant players in aquatic ecosystems, being replaced by the Polychaetes instead,
many of which are euryhaline and able to adapt to changing salinity environments.>
If I introduce them into the substrate and feed them in fresh water, then slowly make the transition to brackish water do you think they might adapt and survive?
<I would not put money on it, and a bunch of dead worms in the sand isn't going to be much use to your water quality! In any event, even if they did survive, I doubt they'd maintain sufficient populations to feed your Goby.
You'd need many square metres of mud for that.>
Ideally I'd like to get the specific gravity as close to 1.010 as possible for the health of the goby, but I might be willing to stop at a lower salinity if acceptable to both worms and goby.
<Violet Gobies are euryhaline, and as happy at SG 1.003 as they are at SG 1.010. As you have seen, they're quite hearty animals! They come from mudflats and actually have the ability to survive in mud when the tide goes out. What kills them is the total absence of salt over long periods. Once you get into the brackish range, they're pretty much happy with anything!>
Any info or advice will be much appreciated!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
re: live Blackworm colony in brackish water?     6/12/16
Neal, Thank you for your prompt, good natured, and incredibly informative reply. :)
<Most welcome.>
You mentioned that the blackworms might survive at SG 1.003 and that SG 1.003 would also be an acceptable salinity level for the goby, with the caution that dead worms would be bad for water quality if they can't take the salt.
Rather than throw in the towel over water quality fears, I propose a little experiment. I'll set up a small spare aquarium I have with a layer of dirt and sand, a filter, etc, as I would for the larger goby tank - but all in miniature.
<An excellent idea.>
Then add a Blackworms culture and fresh water. Every 5 - 7 days add a small amount of water with marine salt dissolved in it. I'll do some calculations and decide how much water to change each day and what SG to add. I think two weeks to target SG seems okay. If the worms survive use them as the seed population when I set up the permanent goby tank.
<Indeed. Or else simply culture the worms in ideal conditions indoors or even outdoors in a "water feature" of some sort, and then add the worms to the tank as a periodic treat.>
As to your statement that I'd need several square metres of mud filled with blackworms to adequately feed my goby, I figured with her potential size and huge current appetite I'll have to continue my routine of 2 - 3 times a day feedings.
<Oh, certainly yes; at best, any "in aquarium" colonies of food will be a mere snack, not a staple. Have you come across the book "Dynamic Aquaria"?
Not an easy read, being aimed at academics setting up ecologically balanced food webs in aquaria, but full of useful information. One of the major themes is the HUGE amount of space required to produce sufficient quantities of prey for even relatively small fish such as freshwater Angels. Off the top of my head, it's something like 100 gallons for a
single Angel, that sort of ratio. Of course you're not proposing that, I know, but I'd be surprised if the blackworms were able to maintain much of a population in even a 55 gallon tank alongside an adult Violet Goby. So even if they survive, topping up the supply with ones from another tank or pond will surely be essential.>
I don't want her to mow through the entire Blackworms population at any point, I just want them there for her to nibble to discourage boredom. I know most fish are opportunistic feeders, so all my trouble might be eaten in one glorious afternoon, but if the worms survive the salt I'll keep some of the test pop population aside in brackish water to culture and feed as treats. Let me know what you think :)
<See above. Definitely worthwhile, and a fun experiment, but skeptical of long-term success. Cheers, Neale.>
re: live blackworm colony in brackish water?       7/26/16

Hello Neal,
Thought I'd update you with the final outcome of my salty blackworm experiment.
<Sure thing!>
I set up a 20 gallon long tank with a decent colony of blackworms in fresh water. Organic soil and sand substrate, seeded (cycled) mini corner matten filter, and some rocks and fake plants. Then for two weeks I raised the specific gravity by .001. At two weeks all was going well and the SG was 1.002. The worms were really taking over - looked like a little forest sticking out of the dirt.
My violet goby, in the mean time, was wreaking havoc on my 55 gallon.
While all had seemed fine for a while, silt from all of its digging had built up in the filter and began repeatedly clogged my matten filter to the point of zero water flow.
<Ah, yes, I can understand this. With big/jumbo fish, it's often easiest to
stick with relatively coarse media. Physically remove silt during water changes rather than relying on the filter. Turkey basters are a good tool for "spot cleaning" piles of uneaten food or faeces without having to waste more than a few minutes.>
I was doing daily 25% water changes and using a wet/dry shop vacuum to remove as much of the silt from the filter foam as I could. With such restricted water flow the ammonia and nitrite began building up, too. The guppies seemed oblivious of the poor water quality, but Kappa (my goby) was looking sluggish and red about the gills.
<Yikes! Do bear in mind these fish are facultative air-breathers. They're actually pretty tough, able to survive in burrows in the wild. Of course one adaptation to this might easily be becoming sluggish to conserve oxygen.>
So I transferred my goby to the 20 gallon (which had better water quality - 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite, and (if I'm remembering correctly) 60 ppm nitrate.)
Kappa promptly swam several circles around the tank, then dug under a rock.
Over the next week the 20 gallon long's water quality declined. I suspect this was due to an insufficient population of beneficial bacteria to deal with my Goby's size and messy eating habits. Kappa also did its best to clog up the filter by digging through nearly every inch of substrate. Luckily I'd used a thinner piece of filter foam for the corner matten
filter and it was easier to keep clean.
So just a caution to anyone considering violet gobies in a planted tank - skip the dirt! Your water will be forever cloudy and your filters forever clogged with silt. Instead do washed sand. It seems to work fine.
<Correct. Clean substrate and coarse filter media. Heavyweight filtration as well, but you know that by now!>
Kappa seemed to really enjoy snacking on the blackworms at first, but once the water quality stated to decline, its appetite did too.
So I was back to a sluggish, red-gilled goby in a muddy looking tank. I was doing tons of water changes - sometimes twice in a day to lower the ammonia and nitrite.
With all the back and forth water buckets, eventually the inevitable happened - I miscalculated the amount of marine salt to add to get to my target SG (by now I was up to 1.003) and got it too salty.
I knew pretty quickly - the worms shot up out of the sand and flopped over.
Some crawled around like they were looking for a way out...
<Correct analysis.>
As quick as I could I got the salinity down with another water change - this time with no salt. The worms settled down. Kappa looked positivity ill. I stayed and watched for a couple of hours, hoping all would be okay.
Then finally went to bed about 3 in the morning. I didn't record the SG that night - but replaced about 10 gallons - so about 1.002 I'm guessing.
In the morning I went in to find the aquarium lid in the tank and my cat looking very pleased with herself. Panicked, I took out all the rocks and fake plants, even the filter looking for my goby, but couldn't find it.
Cautiously I felt through the substrate (I'd heard violet gobies can give quite a bite) but found no Kappa. I sat down and cried.
A few hours later I went back in and there was Kappa swimming around! I'm guessing it was buried in the dirt and I missed it somehow.
<See above. When stressed, they dig burrows. Like lungfish.>
Now the goby is in yet another tank at around SG 1.005 - there are no worms or live plants to worry about, so I'm sometimes imprecise with my salt measurement.
<Which is fine. You can transfer Violet Gobies from fresh to marine and back again and they'll be fine. They inhabit mudflats where the tide comes and goes, and sometimes they might be under a river, sometimes under the sea, depending on the time of day. As you can tell, selling them as freshwater fish is extremely misleading!>
However the water quality is great and its gills are no longer red and its eating and growing very well. The substrate is washed black sand - with a "dam" of aquarium gravel up against the bottom edge of the matten filter foam to keep Kappa from digging under and getting stuck halfway (which it did before I added the gravel).
However, I consider the salty blackworm tank a partial success. The worms were at SG 1.003 for nearly a week and thriving.
Kappa didn't manage to eat them all, but might have if it had felt better.
However, I learned just how easy it is to get the salinity level incorrect and for that reason I don't think I'll try to establish an in-tank blackworm colony in brackish water in the future.
Overall an informative and exciting experiment!
<Agreed; armchair speculation on my part is all very well, but an experiment will usually provide the facts! Within reason of course -- senseless stressing or killing animals for the sake of curiosity isn't something I condone. What you were doing here wasn't that, and I'm pleased you were able to maintain worms and goby with success.>
Thank you for your guidance!
- Meghan
<Welcome! Neale.>

Brackish Tank Questions; stkg., substrate, fdg.      4/15/16
Hi, I haven't had an aquarium in a while and I'm thinking about getting back into the hobby. In particular, I'd like to start a low-end (SG 1.002-1.003) brackish community tank in the 29 gallon aquarium sitting empty in my basement. I have some questions relating to stocking, substrate, and feeding.
<Fire away!>
First off, my tentative stocking plan is:
(1) Peacock spiny eel (Macrognathus siamensis) OR (1) Barred spiny eel (M. panacalus)
<Either should work here, though Macrognathus pancalus is arguably the more truly brackish of these species. Neither will want much salt though; 1.002 should be ample. Lower salinity will also ensure plants can grow well, especially Indian Fern, a definite plus here for stopping Spiny Eels from being jumpy.>
(1) Male and (2-3) female short-finned mollies
(2) Orange Chromides
<Generally fine, though as territorial as any other cichlid of this size.>
(1-3) Knight gobies
<Nice fish, and will ensure no baby mollies survive!>
Would this be overstocked?
<Nope. Busy, yes; overstocked, no. Just keep on top of filtration and water changes.>
I'm also concerned that in a 29, a pair of Chromides might become tyrants if they decided to breed.
<Always a risk.>
If you think that would be the case, I'll either reduce the Chromides to a singleton or remove them from the plan completely. (If you think this setup would be overstocked, they're also my first choice on what to eliminate.) I'm also wondering if even provided enough hiding spaces, the 29 might be too small for multiple knight gobies. How many do you think would be ideal for this setup?
<Two females and a male should be okay.>
On to substrate, I have a bag of CaribSea Sunset Gold sand laying around my house. Would that be soft enough for the spiny eel, or should I stick to buying some silica sand?
<I've not handled this brand of sand personally, but if it feels smooth rather than sharp, it's probably fine. That said, pool filter sand/smooth silica sand is so cheap, you might want to play it safe and go straight for that.>
Additionally, what depth of sand would be best to allow the spiny eel room to burrow but not to risk anaerobic decay? Does 2" sound about right?
<Sounds fine.>
As for feeding concerns, I want to make sure that the plant-based foods for the mollies and the meat-based foods for the other species wouldn't cause any health problems if the other party ate some of it. I also would like
some advice for feeding a balanced diet to the spiny eel and knight goby.
I know that spiny eels go crazy for earthworms, and I suspect that the knight goby would enjoy them, too.
<Yes! Very much so. Knight Gobies are very much predators.>
However, I'm a bit confused as to which of the big three in aquatic feeder worms (bloodworms, blackworms, and Tubifex worms) is most nutritious and least likely to carry diseases.
<Not much in it, to be honest. Tubifex have a very bad reputation, probably justified. But bloodworms and blackworms aren't exactly cultured in crystal clear pools of French mineral water! On the other hand, if gamma
irradiated, they shouldn't carry any pathogens, and if used sparingly, the risk from introducing heavy metals, for example, shouldn't be too serious.
That said, marine aquarium foods like krill and fortified brine shrimp are certainly safer and usually accepted readily.>
I've seen claims in favor of or against all three of them, even here on Wet Web Media. I'd sort of like to start a culture of one of these in one of the smaller empty tanks as an easy source of live food, but I don't know which would be best for the fish.
<If you're growing them yourself, they're probably all reasonably safe.>
I intend to buy wet-frozen krill as another food for the goby.
Do you think that the eel would also eat those?
<Yes; spiny eels are hesitant feeders, and nocturnal to boot, but they aren't over-fussy. My specimens have happily taken chunks of prawn, for
I also know that any and all molly fry will probably end up knight goby
<Oh yes!>
What other foods would be good for one or both of them?
<See above.>
Some of the things I commonly see suggested, such as lobster eggs, aren't available in my area as far as I know,
<Do try stores aimed at marine aquarists.>
and others, like tilapia, I don't think my parents would approve of buying seafood sold for human use to feed to pets.
<So far as seafood goes, one approach is to buy white fish or squid for yourself, and wrap the scraps in some aluminium foil and place it in the freezer. Your fish aren't fussy, and for a few weeks at least such scraps will contain sufficient useful nutrition.>
If I do get the Chromides, I plan on using one or two brands of cichlid pellet or flake food for a staple, in addition to the smaller varieties of worms.
Finally, for the mollies I'll provide some sort of spirula-based flake food, and maybe algae tablets, but I'd also like to give them fresh veggies. When I see stuff like this mentioned, I always hear that you should blanch the vegetables and put them in the tank when they've cooled off, but I never see any recommendation for how long to cook the veggies.
Is there some sort of good rule of thumb for that?
<None. The blanching thing is about softening, not cooking. Zapping lettuce in the microwave for a few seconds usually does the trick. But lettuce is nutrient poor and shouldn't be anything more than a "salad bar" that goes
along with the main course, i.e., the good quality flake. Some foods, like cucumber, can be left in the tank to soften naturally, and the fish will peck away at over time. Since these foods contain near-zero protein, their impact on water quality is minimal, even if they end up as horrible mush.>
Thanks for the help.
<Welcome. Sounds a nice tank and well planned! Cheers, Neale.>

Brine shrimp?     8/4/13
Hi Neil, Hope you are well.  I have a few questions regarding Bumble Bee Goby and live food.
<Fire away.>
I have a 3 gallon planted tank that has/had brine shrimp.  They must have tagged along on some plants from a LFS.  Do these breed in fresh water? 
There seemed to be a small number of them, maybe 7 as I was salvaging quite a few when I changed water last, and sometimes they were attached together in a pair.
<Yes; mating, I believe why the male has such large headgear.>
I have very hard water already and I stuck a limestone with a small cave opening in there, there was already a bunch of java moss and some java ferns and I added a watersprite and some little tiny top floating plants tagged along (but it's low lit LED and those didn't grow out of control when they tagged along before). A couple of days ago I put a freshwater raised (the species with the unbroken bands) bumblebee goby in this tank.  He was initially pale and it looked like he'd die during the very first hour, but then he might have found a brine shrimp, because then he colored up nicely and became more curious and active.  It's got a lot of plants and hiding areas and a bubbler and a small filter and it was long time cycled, plus I rubbed a small Fluval cylinder sponge in my big tank's filter bacteria and put this over the air stone so I'd have even more healthy
<Even though sold as a freshwater species, I'd be prepared to add a taste of salt, just in case, and choose plants/companion species accordingly.
Identifying BBGs on the basis of colour markings simply doesn't work, so don't for a second imagine you can identify your species that way! Goby scientists have told me this in unambiguous terms, before then describing how they identify them reliably -- under a microscope! Given yours were sold in a pet store, you can fairly assume these are from the standard issue "Brachygobius doriae" group of species, and these do well in both hard water and slightly brackish, and as I say, I'd be prepared to add salt at 1-2 gram/litre, which won't harm hardy plants at all.>
He ignores the frozen blood worm but he's so active and plays continuously in the bubble current, so I think he must have been eating brine shrimp.  I used to see the brine shrimp swimming around sometimes, but I haven't lately....  I'm wondering, could he have eaten them all already in 2 days? 
He's so tiny.  He'd have to have a voracious appetite.  Just eating 1 would be like a person eating a 12" submarine sandwich.
<Quite so. But that's a trend across the animal kingdom: small animals eat more as a proportion of their body size.>
In a small tank like this, if they do breed in my hard water, what are the chances some could hide from him and that they will they breed before he eats them all?  Or do I probably need to purchase a culture and breed them in marine salt? 
<Chances of Artemia breeding successfully in freshwater are almost nil, and they don't usually live that long in freshwater anyway. Do try Daphnia instead. I have a gazillion Daphnia in an 8-gallon windowsill tank that lacks a filter, and I'd imagine adding a small air-powered sponge or similar wouldn't cause any undue problems. Just add Gobies!>
The lady claimed the bumble bee gobies will eat the frozen blood worm.
<They will, and also small bits of seafood, especially prawn. With BBGs it isn't so much their lack of interest in frozen foods as their slowness, so if kept alone, they're usually easy enough to train to take frozen foods.>
I've heard stories of people struggling with getting them to eat.  I purchased him thinking that the living food already in my tank would help him to adjust, and it's a well established nano tank so there's no cycling issues for him to endure.   I hope he'll eat the bloodworm too.  He's looking plump and active now and may not need the bloodworm just yet.  If he never does I guess I can let the Betta and Endler's eat it as treats and buy the brine shrimp culture for the Bee.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Brine shrimp?     8/4/13
Thank you, Neale.  That's very helpful..  I'll try daphnia. 
<Definitely worthwhile.>
A pet store manager had thought that's what I had, but I later realized from pictures they were actually brine shrimp.  They are kind of cute little critters, but I need a reproducing live food source.  I had clipped a little blood worm in a bobby pin hung over the edge of the tank but it was untouched, but since he likes to skim the glass he'll probably eventually see  if I keep putting it there.  The Betta who I ended up giving it to the other day was much quicker.
<I bet.>
The goby is shy but end of night yesterday he kept circling and passing the front of the tank.  He plays all along the glass of the back side and rides the bubble stream, but when he passes the front of the tank he hops cautiously and then waits in the gravel where he blends in then hops, waits, hops.
<Pretty much what they do; perhaps in the wild they hop into the water current to catch zooplankton, then sink down once they've caught something.
Adding food to the current near the Goby, for example by using a turkey baster, might be worth trying.>
I hope he eventually realizes no harm will come of him swimming in full display.  Maybe this will happen when he discovers the food and receives regular blood worm treats.
Have a nice Sunday.
<Likewise, Neale.>

Needle Fish Will Not eat We have a needle fish we have had for a few months now we were feeding all the time and was told by the Pet Store to fed him 5 feeders every few days. He is in a 30 gallon tank with 5 small Tiger barbs, 1 Severum cichlid and 2 Dojo's which are about 8 inches each. About two months ago our cichlid( SEABASS) got ich we treated him and all was fine. Now our needle fish (STANLEY) is brown Has not eaten for over a week. Can you give me any ideas on what his problem could be? Thank You.  Donna Slawson < Needle fish are mostly a brackish fish. I would recommend a teaspoon of sea salt per 5 gallons of water. Your Dojos will not like the salt and may become ill.-Chuck>

An addicted eel!!! Hey all,  <Hi, Pufferpunk here>  I wonder if people remember who I am.  <Not really, I'm kinda new.>  I've had no problems so no real need to come scrambling back for new advice.  <That's good.>  My little experiment with a saltwater aquarium went well till I got bored of the maintenance and dropped it back down to a brackish tank again.  <Hmmm, the only difference is a protein skimmer, IMO.>  My Tetraodon nigroviridis that was in that tank through the saltwater and now brackish has grown very fat, and ever since I added in bumblebee gobies he's been looking much more content to have the company of their species again (he was raised from the smallest size with two bumblebee gobies before I traded them away).  <GSPs are best kept in marine conditions as adults. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  I have never been able to keep smaller, slow-moving fish with my adult GSPs.>  My hunt for aquatic plants ended when my aquarium now looks like a jungle and I have to frequently cut and remove the excess foliage to allow the light to hit everything.  <Curious, how low BW SG did you go? There are no plants that could survive over 1.005, never mind grow into a jungle.>  In that tank I have a male and female pair of johannis, a very lively banded archerfish, a masked julie, a Melanochromis exasperatus and four angels that I just acquired today. The angels are actually absolutely fabulous specimens, which I had personal pick between from friends of mine who are professional angel breeders. I wasn't able to pick any purebreds, but I did get a chocolate/marble, marble/smokey, gold/koi and marble/koi angel.  <All of the fish you just listed are not BW fish (except the archer. Are these all in the same BW tank as the GSP? The angelfish are actually soft water fish, which is the opposite of BW conditions. Also, those angels are going to be without fins in the very near future in the company of your puffer.>  Then finally there is the Red Sea whitespotted moray eel, who brings up the subject of this email.  Four months have gone by since I made the trade for this eel, and it took two months just for him to get accustomed to his new surroundings. After the first month he would come out and explore, and after the second month he was finally eating the krill that I'd stick in front of him on the end of air tube. Since then he's started to show more signs of aggressiveness when exposed to the smell of food, and when he actually attacks the food on the krill-on-a-stick. He seems to be acting like an adult based on how adult morays are supposed to be aggressively, but what I find weird is that as aggressive as he may be he wont attack anything live. I've put live mollies and silverbacks (the only thing he would eat when I first got him) right in front of his face, but he wouldn't dare touch them, even if I helped by half killing them for an easy catch. Now he eats krill like a starving hog in heat but I can't find anything else to vary with his diet. Also I'm noticing that there are frequently pieces of krill too small for his poor eyesight to see. What I mainly need is to find out what I can use as a larger version of krill, and another type of food that he might be coaxed into eating so I can vary his diet. He's a real healthy stinker, but he's still an addicted stinker nonetheless. Any other ideas would help.  <Try threading most any food you can find from the fish dept of your grocery store. Bounce it in front of his nose on the end of the thread. You need to be very patient, it may take a while, but he should eat it. You could start with shrimp. Again, this fish also prefers high-end BW & SW as an adult. ~PP> 

Puffer Eating Woodlice  3/22/04 Hi, Pufferpunk here> Have you heard of puffer fish eating woodlice.  Mine eat one that got put into the tank (by mistake) along with earthworm.  The puffer made short work of it and so far seems OK.  What do you think.  Could it become a regular food source or should it remain a one off? <I don't see why they wouldn't like woodlice--mine love crickets.  Just make sure their staple diet is mad up of hard, crunchy foods for their teeth.  ~PP>

Spectrum for Puffers? Hi Bob, I'm wondering if you could find out if Spectrum has been "tested" on freshwater or brackish puffers. I'd love to find a nutritionally-enhanced pelleted food that my puffers would eat. They've turned their noses away from a dozen different things I've tried, including pellets with shrimp, krill, and other typical puffer favorites, so I'm a bit skeptical that they'd eat the Spectrum. --Ananda <Am cc'ing Pablo Tepoot here (the owner, manufacturer of Spectrum foods). I recall he did have some good-sized marine puffers living on his pelleted foods... but did not have any freshwater or brackish animals at his home/farm as far as I recall. From what I've observed re the line, I would be very surprised if these other puffers did not accept the food. Pablo? Bob Fenner>

Brackish feeding? (10/21/03) Hey, just a brief question I guess. <Ananda here to try for a not-too-long answer...> I am trying to figure out what to feed my fish. I had actually asked before but kind of got fuzzy results, and I wasn't that specific in the first place. <Sorry about the fuzziness.> In my aquarium so far aside from aquatic plants, I have two mollies (Poecilia latipinna - I did my homework), <Hmmm. I forget how big your tank is, but do consider getting another female if your tank can withstand the extra bio-load. The females will appreciate it.> a baby spotted puffer (Guentheridia formosa), <Are you certain of this species? Fishbase lists this as a marine species. It's more likely that you have a "green-spotted puffer", one of the Tetraodon species.> and two bumblebee gobies (Brachygobius sua). I was suggested to feed them chopped up shrimp, the tails for the puffer, the shrimp bodies for the gobies.... but the problem is that my puffer is still a 3/4" baby. The only thing he will eat out of a mixture I make (krill-tropical flake-shrimp pellet-blood worm) is the blood worms, although for the most part the food always disappears in time. <I didn't realize he was so little! In that case, you're going to want to start raising pond snails, so you can feed him the little ones. Pond snails are mostly spherical, with a bit of a point, and should be free at any fish store that has them; they're considered a nuisance and hitchhike in on plants. The small, nuisance-type rams horn snails would probably also work. To raise them, just give them their own container of water and feed them. You don't need to keep them in brackish water, but they will need occasional water changes.> I'm more worried about the gobies though. I never catch them eating really since they hide a lot. Will he be ok for the time being eating blood worms or should I be looking for another type of diet for the little thing? Will that chopped up shrimp technique work if I beat up the pieces enough? Would the shrimp even be good for the mollies? <My mollies will nibble shrimp, but algae-based food is better for them. For the gobies and puffer, try taking frozen shrimp to a shredder. That should leave it in more bite-sized threads. Bumblebee gobies in particular are rather fussy. You can alternate the bloodworms with glassworms.> Robert <Hope this helps! --Ananda>

Brackish feeding? - More questions. <Hi! Ananda here today...I'm going to combine these, as I had started work on one when the second came in...> Ok, as for the mollies, I apparently had a brain fart in the store when not realizing to check their sex. I'd assume that they are both males because of the long points on each of their tails. <It's not the tails that are the indicator, it's the modified anal fin, called the gonopodium. It is long and pointed, whereas the females have 'normal'-looking anal fins.> I currently have everyone in my 10 gallon while my 55 gallon aquarium awaits another bag of sand and then cycling for a brackish setup. With 5 fish already, I could handle one more molly if the ones I had were both female (although I'm guessing not), but I don't know if I can hold 4 extra females. <I would wait on that.> Considering that the mollies are about an inch to an inch and a half long considering their tails, could I hold that many more? <Yes, in the 55g.> As for my puffer, there is a slight green coloration on top of him, so you may be right. What's the genus and species on that type? <Probably Tetraodon nigroviridis. Head over to Google's search page, click the Image tab near the top of the page, and do a search on 'nigroviridis'. That should bring up several photos you can compare to.> I have a couple of fishbowls that I can put snails in, but does it need aeration? <Filtration and aeration will help.> A lid to prevent escapees? <Nope. Not for the strictly-aquatic snails.> What do I feed the snails? <Old fish food, blanched green veggies, leaves you trim from aquatic plants....> How long till they reproduce and how long should I have the puffer on that diet? <They should reproduce fairly quickly. Puffers should have some crunchy food daily, if possible, but they really appreciate a varied diet.> Final note, the gobies definitely seem to be fussy. The most they will usually do is chew on a bloodworm and spit out the worm when there's no blood left in it. There are no stores here with glassworms. The best thing I can get here is hatching my own brine shrimp, but aren't they basically nutrient barren? <Newly-hatched brine shrimp are far better than adult brine shrimp, but not sufficient for a complete diet. You might look into raising other live foods, perhaps vinegar eels,  grindal worms, white worms, or other critters you can culture easily. (Try Googling 'live fish food' for this one.)> <I'm going to combine these, as I had started work on one when the second came in...> Greetings once again....I had talked to Ananda before, and I'd gotten a rough idea of what I was looking for, but in the end I still have a question for the crew. First off, we were in a bit of a mix when trying to figure out what type of a puffer I have. On the store it said "Spotted Puffer," but as we all know, pet stores have the great ability to get their common names wrong. <Sometimes they are indeed 'wrong', other times it's more a question of what names are used locally.> She had suggested that it be a Green Spotted Puffer, but I couldn't find that name under www.fishbase.com. <If Fishbase has a weakness, it is that many common names we actually use are not included....> So I'm still clueless as to what he is, and although he has a green shading on his back with a white belly, he still looks a lot like the Guentheridia Formosa. I'll post a couple pictures with this email. <No photos came through...could you re-send?> With many thanks to Ananda, I took her advice of looking for snails to much on, and my friend at the fish store went around fishing through their tanks to fill me a bag with a few snails, which I took home and stuck in an open fishbowl with a plant and an algae pellet to take care of everyone. <Sounds like a good start.> I've barely even had it and I'm seeing tons of baby snails crawling all over the place, and the puffer loves them. <And you get to watch his hunting behavior.> The other part was about my two bumblebee gobies (Brachygobius sua)... which ARE picky eaters, but the only thing that they will eat or only have an interest in is my bloodworms. <Not surprising, though they may show an interest in frozen/thawed mysis shrimp if you can get them.> Actually I'd stay longer to say more, but my mollies have just started to shoot out fry and I have to catch them and separate them before they can eat anymore. <Well, now we know that you don't have a pair of males! :-) > I dunno what you people do to catch fry, but I'll be damned if there is anything better than a turkey baster for catching those little things, lol. <*blink* Three years of keeping mollies and catching molly fry, and that never even occurred to me...I use a couple of nets.> Robert *Turkey basting the baby mollies* <Truly, some excellent ideas come from people who are do not know what they are 'supposed' to do. Thanks for the idea! --Ananda>

Vacation Feeding for Green Spotted Puffer How many days is it safe to go without feeding a green-spotted puffer. He is about1-1/2 inches long & usually eats 1 small slug and 3-4 large Spirulina flakes twice daily.  I will be gone for two days and then again 1 week in Sept.   I plan on having someone come by daily to feed him in Sept., but am not sure about the weekend thing.  Thanks, Donna <Feed well a few days before the trip and I think it can get by for a couple days. Don>

Bloodworms -- possible cause of puffer loss? (03/17/03) <Ananda here this morning...> Hi. I just lost my three puffer fish. <Sorry to hear that.> They had been fine for a while and all of a sudden, the other day, they started dying.  I'm wondering if the frozen bloodworms I'm feeding them have anything to do with it.  Like maybe there's too much protein in the tank.   <Unlikely that the food itself was the direct cause of it. However, it's easy to overfeed, and excess proteins in the tank can decay into ammonia/nitrites/nitrates -- and high levels of those can cause fish death. Without more information on your tank, it's impossible to say with any certainty what the cause of death was.> Any help is greatly appreciated. <Do look over the puffer articles and FAQs... both marine and freshwater/brackish, regardless of which type of puffer you had. Much of what has been written applies to most puffers. Thanks, Angie <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Figure eight puffer Hello, <Cheerio, old sport! Anthony Calfo in your service> I have owned a freshwater fish tank of some form for many years. Whether it was 50 gallon, 20, or 10 (I have a 10 right now because of the convenience), I have never really paid attention to pH, ammonia, etc.  <like an ice pick in my ears...hehe> I use a water X and add a teaspoon of salt for every 10 gallons. <I like that part <wink>> Right now I have a 10 gallon tank that follows me pretty much everywhere.  <most people have cats and puppies for this but hey... enjoy> Today I bought a figure eight puffer, I have always wanted a puffer and finally I decided to get one, but not before asking the dealer a bunch of questions. He said that although he may get territorial, he is a good community fish.  <you dealer is a fibber <G>> He said the fish will eat flake food, which is what I normally feed my fish, but I often give brine shrimp.  <Puffers are cute, lovable and dedicated fin nippers. They also will suffer on a diet of flake and brine shrimp. As crustacean eaters, they need hard shelled foods to wear down their naturally growing teeth. Without it the teeth will become overgrown to the point where the animal cannot feed. As such flake food is too soft and brine-shrimp without enrichment (Selcon soaked and the like) is a useless fare that is essentially water made to look like shrimp. Too bad it is so well liked by fish... it is the lowest grade food. Add frozen Mysid, krill and plankton to the diet (freeze dried krill too). Some folks keep fast breeding live snails (the puffers love them!!!) to help with the teeth too> He said my salinity would be fine.  <probably although they could take and might enjoy a lot more salt to truly be brackish> Once I bought the fish and released him into the tank, everything at the moment appears to be fine. I haven't fed yet, so I don't know how that will go. I started looking things up on the net here and one guy has me really afraid. He seems to know what he is talking about, but he says that having all these conditions right is vital and puffers are very sensitive. Can you help me out a little here?  <some truth to it... they are scale less fish and as such are sensitive to water quality and medications> Also, since I have released my figure eight puffer into the tank, he has swam up and down the side wall non-stop. It appears normal, but I saw a comment somewhere saying this was a bad thing, is this true?  <common but not normal or healthy in the long run. A stress induced response to many factors (salinity, light, water quality, etc)> Please help me out, thanks. <no problem my friend... much has been written on this topic. Do a search on this site (tag the bullet for WWM only under the keyword field at the bottom of the home page) and look through the archives of FAQs. Much information there. Also, look through the brackish articles by following the links from the WWM homepage as well. I suspect that you will be enlightened and able to enjoy your puffer very soon. Best regards, Anthony> Dave

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