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FAQs about Brackish Puffer Disease/Health 2

Related Articles: Freshwater/Brackish PuffersAlone But Not Lonely: The Importance of  Keeping Puffers Individually by Damien Wagaman, (Big) Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo Small Puffer Dentistry By Jeni Tyrell (aka Pufferpunk), Green Spotted Puffers (GSP's), The Arrowhead Puffer, Tetraodon suvattii, miraculously malicious, True Puffers, Puffers in General, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, Puffy & Mr. NastyPuffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: BR Puffer Disease 1, BR Puffer Disease 3, GSP Disease, Figure-Eight Puffer Disease, & BR Puffers 1, BR Puffers 2, BR Puffers 3, BR Puffer Identification, BR Puffer Behavior, BR Puffer Selection, BR Puffer Compatibility, BR Puffer Systems, BR Puffer Feeding, BR Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Disease 2, BR Puffer Reproduction, Freshwater Puffers 1, FW Puffers 2, FW Puffers 3, FW Puffer Identification, FW Puffer Behavior, FW Puffer Selection, FW Puffer Compatibility, FW Puffer Systems, FW Puffer Feeding, FW Puffer Disease, FW Puffer Reproduction, Brackish Water Fishes in General, Puffers in General, True Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Green Spotted Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes,  

2 dead Ceylons -- perhaps salinity too low   5/19/07 Stats: Ph-7.5 Ammonia-0 Nitrite-0 Nitrate-20 Hi, I recently hooked up a three stage coral life RO filter and a 42 gallon metal storage tank for drinking water. All of the fittings are plastic and drinkable water friendly PVC lines. I used this water after flushing 15 gals through the filters and membrane and tank. <15 gallons of water to flush a 42 gallons tank is not much. I had a comparable little metal storage container made for drinking water (army related product). The water didn't loose a certain metal taste even after months. Although they may be fine for humans, they possibly are not safe for sensitive fish, at least the water from my container was never used for the fish tanks.> I changed about 10 gal in my 55 gallon freshwater tank with a 1/8 tsp (if that much) of reef buffer (because my previous tap water had a pH of 8.0) and two of my fat and healthy puffers (Ceylon, aka Tetraodon fluviatilis) died the next day. The other one that's still alive has patches of his skin that are coming off! Please see attached picture. All other puffers - 5 of them, different species and cichlids are fine. <8 puffers (3 Ceylons and 5 others) and cichlids in a 55 gallons sounds a little overcrowded.> I am figuring that it is either the metal storage tank, not flushing the RO system enough or the reef buffer. <I'd carefully exclude the reef buffer. Most likely the storage tank or possibly another reason not related to your new installations.> I did about a 30 gallon water change in desperation with my tried and true tap water (with conditioner of course) that has never caused me problems (not like this anyway). I typically keep my ph anywhere from 7.3-7.5. I tested the pH last night and it was 7.5. <Carry on doing water changes to remove any possible toxic compounds/ions.> I really hope I didn't kill my puffers with the reef buffer (please don't yell at me) <never would.>, but I had no other means to raise the pH and feared that I would shock the fish by adding water with a ph of  7.0. I also added two tbsp of salt (like I always do). <Ceylon puffers will only be hardy in water with a SG of at least 1.005. 2 tbsp of salt per 30 gallons will hardly give the water a salty taste. I'd suppose your puffers died, because they were in fresh water too long and could not deal with maybe minimal changes in water chemistry they'd have no problem with in brackish water. Separate your last survivor to another tank with a SG of about 1.005. If you need to cycle it fast, you may want to use BioSpira or old filter material from a brackish tank with similar SG. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/green_spotted_puppies.htm. Care for your puffers is the same.> I have two other fish tanks and now I am afraid to use the RO. <The RO should be safe. I'd flush the metal canister again. If the water in the storage canister has a metal taste or if any other fish die, when you use this water, exchange it.> Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you for your site, it has helped me a great deal in the past, I have always been able to find the info I was looking for, this is the first time I ever needed to write you. I am so sad. Please help me. --Kimberly. <Glad you like the site. Good luck. Marco.>

An Mbuna African Cichlid in upper left... RMF

Swollen Puffer  4/16/07 Hi, <Hello, Pufferpunk here> I have a leopard puffer named Pettie (that might need to be changed) who's stomach is very "puffed". I have had him for about 2 weeks & now all of a sudden, Pettie's belly has grown! How can I find out if he is & what to do next? Thanks so much! <It could be a couple of things. An overfed puffer's stomach can stretch quite large.  Or it could be puffed with air.  Can it swim normally?  See this article about air-filled puffers: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/help-my-puffer-is-air-filled/ There are many good articles on caring for your puffer at that site.  ~PP>

Pufferpunk's Sick Puffer Thu, 17 Mar Hi all, I know I'm Pufferpunk & should have all the puffer answers, but my own green spotted puffer (T nigriviridis) has stumped me. I keep his water pristine (50% weekly water changes) & none of his puffer/non-puffer tank mates are sick. I can't imagine what has compromised his immune system like this. His eyes are so cloudy, he's practically blind & his fins are fraying. He looks as if he's interested in food, but can't find it, cause he's blind. The other 2 puffers have rallied around him & the damsels keep going over as if to say, "Are you ok?" Any advice here? I'm treating with Melafix & water changes right now. I do not have a extra tank large enough to quarantine him--he's 6". ~Jeni <Does sound like a deficiency syndrome... have you tried force-feeding this fish? I would... Is the lighting very bright over this tank? Bob F> 

Re: Pufferpunk's Sick Puffer Bob, It's only been a few days & he is already quite plump, so I don't think force feeding is necessary as of yet. I found an old response in my puffer forum about cloudy eye in a porcpuff, from Leslie:  "It could be a bacterial or fungal infection. It's hard to say. I have a friend who has been using 7cc of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) in 1 liter of clean tank water for an 11 minute dip. He swears by it and has been using it for 25 years." Are you familiar with this? I still can't account for the frayed fins.  This is very strange. What would cause a fish's immune system to crash like that? ~Jeni <Is it both eyes affected? And only one fish... Is strange... the dip idea is a good one... relatively safe and effective... I would super-dose the system with a HUFA/Vitamin mix as well. Bob F> 

Re: Pufferpunk's Sick Puffer Ok, he's in the peroxide dip right now, since I already have that in the house. Does peroxide have a shelf life? <It does... particularly if it's been opened...> It's pretty old. How often should I be doing this? Should I leave him in there longer than 11 minutes? ~Jeni <No more than this time. BobF> 

Anthony's Take on Pufferpunk's Sick Puffer and MelaFix I really think Melafix and many other such homeopathic treatments are at best "stimulating", but really touted way too much as "cures" for a wide range of ailments. I suspect a search of the archives will reveal far more queries in frustration that the tea oil did not cure Ich, balding, jock itch and everything else they claim this product treats. I do believe it has some efficacy... but claiming (as they did at least at first) that it treats bacteria AND parasites AND X other things... is... well... hard to believe. And apparently hard to quantify. Requests for data to back it up have been ignored. Ahh... the pet industry. Hmmm... point of this rant: I would not use such tea oils as a first course of action with expressed pathogenic symptoms. Rather... save your Melafix for QT on arrival as a "preventative". It worries me to so many people opt this way first instead of using proven medications :( The time lost is often at the cost of fishes lives. Lest there be any doubt of my perspective, I'm friends with an Aqua Pharm rep... and got gallons of the product to try when it first came out. Used them when I was wholesaling a few hundred to one thousand+ fish each week. I used it weekly for the better part of a year before giving up. It seemed to mildly help some maladies... but really did not live up to the claims at the time. FWIW My advice... get this fish into bare-bottomed isolation. Use the standard Nitrofurazone/Furazolidone cocktail for at least 5 days (follow mfg dosage). Add B12 to the food if the fish is eating... or to the water if not (appetitive stimulant, proven ;)). If you want to continue Melafix. No worries... all good. For other homeopathic meds: garlic and beta glucan (for parasites and immunity boosting respectively). If parasites are indicated at any point... formalin and malachite watched closely (short baths or in the QT tank). Best of luck!  Anthony <Marina's note: It didn't help my dandruff, either!>

Re: Pufferpunk's Sick Puffer - Don't Use Ten Year Old H2O2 Since that peroxide solution is probably 10 years old (or older) & has been opened for that long, I think I should do it again. How often should I do this--several times/day, daily? ~J <Once should do it. B> 

Michael Maddox's Opinion on the Puffer From personal experience, I will have to agree regarding the anti-biotic treatment. As much as I am against  indiscriminate use of these medications, cloudy eyes\frayed fins usually indicated a bacterial infection, as well as the possibility of abuse by tankmates. We like to attribute human characteristics to animals, but puffers are NOT each others' friends, and I know from first hand accounts they will kick each other while they're down, every single time. Please isolate him ASAP, before another puffer decides to make him into a chew toy! (learned this the hard way, 9 years ago ^ ^). Good luck! Let us know how he\she fares.  M. Maddox

Quick Update on Pufferpunk's Puffer Conveyed this morning: after the H202 dip (with fresh H202) the puffer's eyes are noticeably clearer.

Justin's Suggestions for Pufferpunk's Sick Puffer Well if you cannot get this guy into another tank, do you have access to any large Rubbermaid containers?  That will do for a q/t as well. But get him out of the main tank.  Anyway please q/t this guy for several reasons, one I don't think its tank mates are saying hello, as other puffers and damsels are notorious for picking on the weak and sickly, especially at night. Also you need to get an antibiotic in the water ASAP not tea oil anymore. I use Fungus Eliminator by Jungle Products since it has two antibiotics, Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone. Which should help its general well being. If you truly cannot treat outside its tank this can be added into the display without staining or killing off the bacteria cycle... Also that tea oil is probably doing more harm than good right now, as it irritates the fish to force them to heal, and that might be creating more of a problem then the puffer can handle. If you must use MelaFix in the q/t you can but do be very watchful. Also go buy a marine predator pack of frozen food cubes. These have shrimp, clams and other foods in it as well as having a very appetizing smell for the GSP (mine finds it seconds after it hits the water, even if its hidden behind power heads etc as it floats) if it wont eat this should help it to and it will keep the teeth down as well.  Hope it does ok, and gets back to normal. I am sending you another email with other info enclosed solely for you as well on this. <Justin (Jager)>

Ill Puffer 2/13/04 Dear WWM-crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> We have a green spotted puffer, about two inches long; he's now been with us for about three months. Today, we noticed that he has brownish-red string-like things coming out of his gills on both sides (on his left side you can barely see them, but on the right side, one string is protruding about 2mm.) He also isn't his old self--he swims slowly, seems to be breathing quickly, and has done strange things like get himself stuck on the filter pump. He also seems bonier and  skinnier than usual. His coloration has also darkened considerably to gray on the sides and around his mouth. Read everything we could online, but there's nothing on these strange gill strings. <It sounds like your puffer is suffering from internal parasites. Try to find some Discomed, by Aquatronics. Although that company has gone out of business, there is plenty to be found on the internet. You will need to treat it's food with the med. Since it is also in it's gills, I'd try Parasite Clear, by Jungle. You can also add a garlic remedy, like Garlic Guard, or Garlic Extreme.> Water quality, ammonia is fine. Specific gravity is 1.005. Please help! --Kyle & Hannah <Here's a great article on your puffer: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm I'd start raising the SG .002 weekly, until the tank is around 1.010-1.012. I hope he makes it! ~PP>  Figure eight puffer fish question Hello, <How goes it? 70F outside today, bright and sunny...sometimes Texas does have it's moments...> I recently purchased a figure eight puffer, he seems quite happy in his tank and has eaten some water snails. Most of the time he seems happy swimming up and down but every now and then he lies flat in the water (he's tricked me into thinking he was dead once) and morning I found him in his tank with his tail bent round his side. Is this a sign of him being unhappy or ill? <Not usually, puffers often wrap their tail around themselves, especially when sleepy. Remember, puffers require brackish water (SG of ~1.012 or so is the SG I kept my puffer tanks> lots of variety in their diet (anything meaty works for them, snails are definitely the best staple) tankmates they won't kill, and frequent water changes because they're messy. Here's a link for some further reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/green_spotted_puppies.htm   Enjoy your puffer - they're cute and fun!> Thanks in advance for your reply, Sabine <You're welcome> <M. Maddox>

Sick GSP? 1/26/04 HI, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> My green spotted puffer has recently gotten sick. I have no idea what is wrong with him. His eyes are black like when he is sleeping, but before they were it looked as if he had hemorrhages above them. He is hardly eating, his stomach has 2 stress lines from his eyes to his tail, he is hiding, and it seems as if he only uses one gill at a time. He has no visible parasites, the water is fine (ammonia=0 nitrite=0 nitrate=0 and PH= 7.5), and he is the only fish in my tank, in which the salinity is at about 1.000. <How was the tank cycled? 0 ammonia & nitrItes are great, but 0 nitrAtes makes me believe that the tank hasn't been cycled. Salinity (SG, or specific gravity, measured with a hydrometer) measuring at 1.000 is freshwater. There is not enough salt to register. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > I have had him for about two weeks and he just ate three neon tetras that I added to see if they would get along. <GSPs are not good with tankmates.> The spots on his back are sometimes faded, but it doesn't look like he has mucus anywhere on his body. I also recently (4 days ago) added some algae remover to the tank, but nowhere on the box did it say that this medicine couldn't be used for fish with no scales. <Algae remover is a waste of $$$ & can be toxic to fish. I'd do a 50% water change & add fresh carbon to your filter. Get some marine salt & start raising the SG .002/week. If the tank hasn't been cycled, then all of this doesn't matter, because a puffer cannot live in an uncycled tank. Get your water tested again at your local fish store.>  Please help me WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY FISH (I am extremely frustrated). Thanks <Make sure you read the article I linked you to. After reading that, you may find that keeping this exotic fish is more than you bargained for... ~PP> 

Lonely puffer 2/27/04 <Pufferpunk here again> I have bad news. My little puffer has now passed. I am very upset.  I took him out of the tank and dissected for the heck of it. It seemed as if he had some kind of blockage right before his anus. It looked like he had some small pieces of coral lodged in there? I am not 100% sure though.  <That definitely is possible. Sorry for your loss.> My other guy seems to be doing better, I am staying on top of my water changes and my SG is at 1.006. Since my little GSP died, the bigger guy seems lost w/o him. Is it possible that he is lonely? The figure 8's don't really interact with him the way the Spotted puffer used to. Should I get another GSP? <I'd still like to know the tank size & tankmates.>  By the way I just want to say THANK YOU for helping me, this site is awesome and I read all the postings every time I get a minute (which turns into hours..). I am learning so much from this site. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!  <You're very welcome, that's what were here for! ~PP> 

Puffer Questions 1/22/04 Hi Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a 120 gallon tank with two green spotted puffers and two figure eight's.  <Nice sized tank for just 4 puffers!> My question is - One of my green spotted puffers ( 2.5 inches long) has a black ring on his belly. It is about the same size as one of his spots. It seems like the top part of the ring is a little thicker than the bottom part. It also becomes darker at certain times.  <It could possibly be a puffer bite, or just a stray spot. Some GSPs have belly spots.> His waste is sometimes chunky brown pieces, I am not sure if this is normal or not? <Normal puffer poo.> Also one of my figure eights stays to himself, and doesn't interact as much with the rest of the three puffers. It seems like he ignores me most of the time when I go to the tank. While the others are begging for food constantly. I don't see anything attached to his skin or anything. <Puffers can be moody creatures. Is he eating ok? Skinny? Is he bullied by the others?> I keep the ph at 7.9-8.1. The nitrites and nitrates are good. <PH is fine, ammonia & nitrItes should be 0 at all times, nitrAtes should be under 20. Is there marine salt in there? What's the SG (specific gravity, measured by a hydrometer)? I see a couple of problems with your fish combo. F8s prefer a low-end brackish water environment of a SG at around 1.005-1.008. GSPs prefer high-end BW & even marine levels as adults. Also, F8s are mild mannered puffers that grow to 3", while GSPs are extremely aggressive puffers that will grow to twice that size.> I have an emperor 400 Bio wheel and a Magnum 350 canister for filters. He darts around a lot. It seems like something isn't right but maybe I am overreacting. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!! <Answer my questions & we'll see if we can get to the bottom of this. ~PP> 

Death of 2 puffers hi there... <Hello> will be grateful if u could help enlighten me... I bought 2 green spotted puffers... let's call em A and B... I put them in a fairly large aquarium round 4 to 5 feet wide kinds...A was pretty active when I brought it back, eating all the bloodworms am feeding them... but B is kinda sluggish... and when tries to eat something, A chases after it, so B gave up and I haven't seen it eating at all for few days... and soon B develops this horrid brown black colour all over it's body and start getting real skinny... after a few more days it died... I tot it was some rivalry stuff with the 2 of em so I ignored A...is still eating fine and pretty active until one day it refuses to eat and at the end of the day it turn brown like B and died... I don't know what's the problem cuz at first I thought it was the water ... I just use freshwater without adding salt) cuz some sites says that puffers can survive in freshwater... so I tot B was weaker... but then the active A sudden death just puzzles me... before they died they don't seem to have any growth whatsoever on em and the color on their body always fluctuates from yellow to brown patches... is it really hard to keep puffers?... I heard they are hardy fish and the thing is my dad rear his other tropical fishes in his tanks till the water turns green and they still seem to be all right... thanks <Yikes... very likely these "freshwater" Puffers were not so "fresh"... Please take a read over the "Freshwater Puffers" materials stored on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and try to identify what type you had... I suspect these two perished mainly for lack of the salts found in their natural waters. Very common, and unfortunate. Bob Fenner>

Juvenile Green Puffer I have two green spotted puffer, and two figure eight puffer's in a 30 gallon brackish aquarium. All have been living peacefully together (more or less :) for a couple weeks now. My question; one of the green spotted puffers developed a cloudy "film" over one eye last night while I slept. Do you have any idea what this could be? <A "sort of secondary" infection, likely bacterial, stress-related... likely from the system being so new... crowded puffer-wise... and likely will solve itself> None of the other fish have any evidence of this, and the one fish with the cloudy eye still seems to be swimming around healthy, and eating. Did he maybe get in a fight? Or do you think he is sick? Thanks for your AWESOME site, and priceless advice. Good-day! <Maybe a fight, and not really so "sick" as in treatable for a condition, agent. I'd just keep the system on an even keel and wait this out. And you're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Pufferfish (brackish...) Hi Bob, Thank you so much for all the information on this website. We recently (3 weeks ago) added a spotted green puffer fish to our established freshwater plant and fish tank (30 gallons). He seems to be doing very well. We feed him living and frozen brine shrimp. Just today, I noticed that he has two small white spots on his one side. I'm very worried about this.  <Are they "symmetrical", as in evenly placed on both sides of the body? If so, these may be nothing more than "tubercles"... natural structural parts of the puffers body... Otherwise, you may have cause for concern... as this isn't really a freshwater fish, as you likely know, but a brackish animal... that likely has too different water quality requirements than your plants, likely your fishes as well... As in a need for hard, alkaline water with ionic/salt content: http://wetwebmedia.com/fwpuffers.htm > From looking over your site, I think I should feed him a more well rounded diet (addition of blood worms?  <A good idea... a favorite food of this group, as are tubificid/black worms> I've tried dried plankton, he hates that), and maybe add some salt to our tank. But we do have some plants and other fish, including Corydoras julii, Siamensis, and albino shrimp, so I am worried about adding salt into the system.  <You should be... the Corydoras can take some salt, the shrimp, not much...> The fish store supposedly has acclimated their puffer fish to freshwater. <Though they cannot live permanently in "very" freshwater... this species migrates in/out of the sea...> I really love this Pufferfish, so I am willing to do what it takes to keep him healthy. Your help is greatly appreciated. <In any length of time (months) this animal will need different water conditions. I know this is hard to come to grips with... but I'd either trade it back in, or place it in a different type of system... There are other brackish livestock, including fishes, invertebrates and plants... but what you have cannot practically be kept together. We can/should chat this over if it's not clear. Your friend in fish, Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Carina Howell

Sick dwarf puffer Hi, I have had a tank with 6 freshwater dwarf puffers (most about 1/2 inch) in an eclipse system 6 (6 gallon w/ charcoal/BioWheel) for about half a year now... everything has been great with no problems until the largest one (almost 1 inch long male) developed a white spot in the middle of his back about a week ago. Since then, about 8-10 of these spots have slowly developed over his back and head. These spots look larger than any ich spots that I have seen, these are about 1mm in diameter and some have turned black. There isn't any noticeable bump or depression in the skin, however.  <Good descriptions, not likely ich... perhaps not even infectious or parasitic> He has no other symptoms except that he has recently developed a very small white spot on his fin and brown dot on his underside, he has also started to act a bit disoriented and seems to be having a bit of trouble eating, though he tries. I removed the filter and have tried a 5 day, full strength cycle of Quick Cure (malachite green) as well as adding a little over a tablespoon of aquarium salt. <Good choices in therapy... about what I would have tried... in addition to vitamin administration to the food, water> I also raised the temperature from the normal 82 up to 85 and begun daily 20 percent water changes but to no avail. A couple of spots have recently begun developing on a second puffer in the same progression (from the middle of the back to the head). Do you know what this could be and how I could treat it? Also, can I raise the temperature and salinity any more? <Could be a Microsporidium, sporozoan infestation... Worth taking a look at scrapings of the area (even histological sections if you can secure help, do this maybe through a local college...) to determine origins... I would stick to what you're doing and add a complete aqueous vitamin and iodide mix to these fish's foods daily and to the tank water weekly. Such preparations are made and labeled for ornamental aquatics use by retailers, e-tailers. You might even try (yes, this is a semi-endorsement) a "garlic" prep. in their food. Good luck, life my friend. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Jeremy

Sick puffer Hi, I recently purchased a figure 8 puffer that's about an inch and a half long. He's currently in a 10 gallon freshwater tank with 4 painted tetras and a ghost shrimp. He occasionally chases the shrimp, but other than that he's left everyone alone. <So far... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/fwpuffers.htm> The tank has an Aquaclear 150 filter filled with the sponge and Ammocarb in a bag. The heater keeps the tank at about 78 - 79 degrees and the pH is about 7.3 . I leave the light on during the day (there's a Brazilian sword plant in the tank). The tank has cycled and I've added 2 tablespoons of Aquarium Salt.  <This is one of the freshwater puffers...> He was eating fine for about a week (fed freeze dried brine shrimp and live blackworms twice a day) but today he refused all foods at both feedings (morning and night). He looks thinner and seems weaker (hanging out on the bottom a lot). Is he sick? Is there anything I can do? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help, Eric <Your Puffer may well be sick... perhaps just not acclimated... I would try offering it other foods, perhaps a bit of cut shrimp, squid or crab meat. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick puffer Thanks for the quick reply ... unfortunately I just flushed the little fella. No idea what happened unless he wasn't well cared for at the pet store or maybe couldn't acclimate to the new tank. Thanks anyway. Eric <I am hopeful that your apparently cavalier action and message here are simply my (mis)interpretation. What did Pliny the elder write, "If a man would be unkind to his parrot (and you with a psittacine e-nomen), then why not his country...". Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Lymph on FW Puffer Great site. My figure eight puffer has Lymphocystis I believe.  <Very common> They are large clear bumps on his underbelly. I've asked several aquatics stores what to do, but they've offered little advice. Is there something you would recommend to treat this ailment? <If large enough, discrete... can be carefully pried off twixt thumb and a finger nail... Salt of appropriate strength/use helps, as does lacing/soaking foods with a vitamin preparation. Please read here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lymphfaqs.htm and the links beyond. Bob Fenner> Joe

Puffer with problem Hi, My figure-8 puffer has a large growth on his tail just before his back fin. It looks like a blister. There is no discoloration. His appetite is fine. Antibiotics have been ineffective. What is it? How can I treat it? <Likely some sort of subcutaneous tumor... best to ignore it... chemicals won't "treat it", surgery is more dangerous, stressful than it's worth. Good water quality, feeding... will see this animal to its best health. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Paul

Re: sent from Puffernet Jason, <Hello,> Thanks for the suggestions and I will check out the FAQ's on the puffers. But I am not familiar with copper. Is that copper like the metal? <Same element as the metal, but in liquid form.> Any way is it something that is normally carried at the pet store? <Yes.> Again thank you for your time and help. I'm sure my puffer thanks you as well. Ed <Ed, also check out Bob's answers to various FAQs on Copper in Marine systems. Obviously your puffer isn't a marine fish, but I think some of the information in these links will be of some use as well: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marparasitcurefaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/copperfa.htm Hope that's helpful. Cheers, J -- >

Problems with a Figure-Eight Puffer <JasonC here, helping out while Bob is away diving.> Bob Fenner Hello I recently sent this message to the folks at Puffernet and they said to send my message to you. <really.> I just copied what I sent them put it on the bottom of this letter. The only thing new with my puffer is the worm looking thing in his eye was there one morning and when I got back from my run it looks like it popped out. <hmm...> My puffers eye is almost back to normal <glad to hear this.> but I worry that if it was a parasite he may have eaten again because I saw it nowhere in the tank. <may have gone into the substrate.> and he is always on lookout for food. <sounds good.> He also still has a bump on his back it doesn't look like it has moved to much. Again thank you for your time and any suggestions on what to do would be a great help. thank you ed Purdy <Ed, it sounds like you should probably take actions with copper or other similar mechanism that would kill those evil-nasties. I would suggest you read through the following FAQ on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufferfaqs.htm - from what I can gather your puffer will respond well to copper and so now might be the time to use some. Cheers, J -- >

Figure Eight Puffer Concerns >Hello I own a figure 8 Pufferfish, shortly after I >brought him home I noticed that he had a bump on his >back. It has continued to grow and since move. I think >he has a parasite of some sort growing under his skin >and don't know what to do? The parasite has since >split into two or multiplied at times it looks like >there is a worm in his skin. I never see it move I >just wake up and it is in a different spot. It is >currently in his eye and I can see what looks like a >little worm wrapped up in his eye. Please let me know >what you think this might be and what to do to help >the little guy out. Other wise he has a great appetite >swims fine and acts normal. Thanks for your time. >Ed Purdy

Spotted puffer Hi I have a question about Pufferfish. I bought a spotted puffer about 2 months ago and he acts and looks really healthy. The other day I noticed something strange , he turned a different shade. He was laying near an ornament I have and was really dark. When I looked in the tank he came swimming over to me like always and his color went back to his normal shade. A friend of mine has a spotted and a figure 8 and he said he noticed the same thing only one of his turns lighter. Is this normal?  <Yes, normal> Do they do this for camouflage? Or is it a mood thing? <Both as far as I'm concerned. Bob Fenner>

Picked a Peck of Pimpled Puffers (marine, but applicable to FW puffers as well) Mr. Fenner, <Geri...Anthony Calfo here answering Bob's mail while he is away studying to become a Tibetan Sherpa> I have 3 small green spotted puffers in a 30 gal brackish tank.  <adorable fish... you are keeping them brackish, right? what's your salinity?> They are all eating well and are very lively. I have had them about two weeks and two of them have developed small bumps (no discoloration-just raised areas) under their skin. The bumps were first noticed on their bellies and now one fish has a couple on his side. I need help in determining what these bumps are and if I need to treat them. Please reply-Thanks for the advice. <tough to diagnose from a general description of the symptom, but here goes: if the bumps/dots are symmetrical and identical in size... and not larger than a common grain of salt (as opposed to an uncommon 5lb grain...in which case you can forget the quarantine tank and just find a small deer to lick it off, hehehe) you may very well be dealing with an external parasite. Not at all uncommon with this species and not as obvious to you compared to pictures of large-scaled fishes in books. You must be very careful using medication with these fish and follow manufacturer's recommendations for scaleless fishes (or halve the dose for twice the time). Otherwise, large or asymmetrical bumps will rule out most if not all common parasites and you'll look for other pathogenic symptoms. I would highly recommend Dieter Untergasser's Handbook of Fish Diseases. A great and easy to understand book with pictures and fool-proof flow charts. We need to narrow the puffers condition down before we medicate. In the meantime... look for medicated fish food at the LFS and maintain consistent water quality. I'm (educated) guessing that your fish have common white spot and will need a parasite medication. Keep us posted, Anthony>

Jaws the Mbu Puffer? <Ananda here today, fielding the puffer questions...> is this a silly question? if you were to be accidentally nipped by a Mbu puffer would you get sick? <Not a silly question at all. There might not be any of the puffer toxin in the bite, but there could be other nasties in the tank that might make a cut unpleasant, to say the least.> I know if you value your life you shouldn't try to eat them in the sushi bars and such.. I don't know who could eat a puffer anyway.... <Me neither! And I love sushi, but puffers are just too cute to consider eating. Even if it wasn't dangerous.> I know they could kill you if you ingest them, what about just sticking your hands in the aquarium and such? <At the least, do wash your hands -- and arms! -- with hot water and soap before and after putting them in the tank. If you have any cuts or scrapes on your hands, use aquatic gloves. Otherwise, you risk getting infections from the stuff in your tank, and risk contaminating the tank, especially if you use hand creams/lotions, perfumes, etc. --Ananda>

Unwell Leopard Puffer Fish >Hi, >>Hello, Marina here, but am also sending this to the resident brackish expert, Ananda. >About three weeks ago, I purchased two Leopard Puffer Fish (about 1" long).  They're currently in a 90 Gallon Brackish Water aquarium that I've had for about two years.  Partial water changes are made religiously once a week.  The one puffer fish is doing fine, looks healthy/eats/moves around a lot.  The other puffer started off fine, but after a few days, I noticed his belly had a few thin dark lines.  It almost looked as if food had leaked out of his stomach, but not through the surface of his skin.  Since then (about three weeks), his belly has gradually gone from white, to a dark black color (from his tail, moving up towards his head).  He spends a lot of time laying at the bottom of the tank, still get's excited during feeding time, but seems to have problems eating (choking). As of today, I also noticed ick in the tank (two visible ick cysts on our Australian Finger Fish, and upon closer inspection, both puffers are speckled with ick as well).  I returned to the pet store to learn that the puffers we purchased were from a tank that was placed under quarantine shortly afterwards due to ick. >>Great.  At least you know, yeah? >I'm now treating my tank with ick medication, but my concern is still with the one 'black bellied' puffer.  Could this have been caused by the ick?  The other puffer does not seem affected in the same way, and aside from the ick, all other fish are doing fine.  Should I be considering some sort of internal parasite or infection?  I asked some of the employees at the Pet store and got strange looks as a result.  Searching the internet has not provided me with much information on any Puffer Fish related illnesses.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. >>I'm giving you this link on f/w puffer FAQ's.. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpufffaqs2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracpuffaq2.htm Please follow the links within links, sorry I can't be of better help at this time.

Copper and puffers (07/26/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> 1. Had beautiful gold spotted puffer in tank with serious ich outbreak.  LFS said treat with copper power in show tank.  NOW know that was a bad idea. <I would never treat anything in a show tank...> Conscientious Marine Aquarist suggested puffer fish OK with copper Ananda said get out of copper and do daily water changes in QT tank Which is right????? <To some degree, both. I always try to steer people away from using copper with puffers and other scaleless fish because they are *so* touchy with copper. While it is *possible* to treat puffers with copper, it is also *difficult* to maintain the copper at a level which is sufficient to kill the parasites without endangering the puffer. (As an example, a couple of days ago, one reader lost a puffer moments after putting it into a coppered tank. The tank had been used to treat an angel, which survived the same level of copper that was lethal for the puffer.) Add to that the fact that copper will also kill all beneficial bacteria in a setup, and that means the hospital tank is likely to have some ammonia -- which is deadly to any fish. The combination could easily prove too much for a puffer to take. Freshwater dips are significantly less dangerous to the puffers (as long as you keep their heads submerged so they can't gulp air!). And the daily water changes are designed to do accomplish two things: keeping the ammonia levels down and removing any ich from the bottom of the tank.> 2.Also, tank had constant bubbles from Iwaki 55rlt pump with wrong sump ( too small) and couldn't keep up with water flow and was sucking air too.  Is this a source of stress for fish? <It could be.  --Ananda> Thanks, Russ

Puffer Ails 7/10/03 Our Mbu Puffer about (12 inches in length) has decided he does not want to eat shrimp anymore. We were always supplementing snails, crawfish. He just will not eat the shrimp. He has been doing something funny with his mouth, after he has bit into something, He opens up his mouth very wide like he is trying to push something out but nothing comes out, its gives us the impression that something is stuck in his gums??? Does that make sense?? <have you checked for overgrowth on the teeth?> He has been eating the snails even though he goes through this ritual. He is not as eager to eat as he once was. We have ordered him Ghost Shrimp, Brown Snails and crab. What else do you suggest? <some Selcon to supplement the diet... also gut-loading the prey with nutritious dry foods and frozen fare that the puffer would not eat alone> My husband pet him yesterday, when he was cleaning the tank. The Mbu "Andy" started to color up and move his fins like this made him happy. I thought he would puff up and act mad but he seemed to like the contact. Cute.   He has tank mates that he has had from the very beginning. A Bala Shark "Cedric"  and 30 small Tetras. When he is finished with his food they all come over and he lets them eat what ever he was having. I don't know how long this will last but it is really cool. I'll take a picture for you guys... We were rinsing the shrimp in filtered water, we should use a little water out of his tank I guess in a cup that belongs to him do you think he may not like his food rinsed in the filtered water?? Could there be too much Chlorine?? <no worries here> We research and read and talk to people we just want to do the right things for our Mbu Puffer Friend. He has become quite the family member. We are getting him that 300 gallon tank so that he can grow very old in it.  Thanks, Vivian   <many FAQs in our archives on puffers... do browse as well http://www.wetwebmedia.com Anthony>

Re: sick puffer (07/27/03) Hey Ananda - thanks for the quick reply.   <You're welcome...it so happened that I was online when your email came in.> The puffer's belly is still white.   <Oh, good. Puffer bellies are good stress-barometers.> The slug came from my garden (was on a leaf).   <Are you using any fertilizers or pesticides? If so, I would avoid using the garden slugs.> I went back & checked on him after turning off light & adding water and he seems much better!  He attempted to eat a couple of antibacterial sticks. I put in a couple of mosquito larvae and he did eat one of them - still seems to be having some trouble seeing them. <Ah. If he's having trouble seeing, do a water change. That can be a symptom of a water quality problem.> Are they ok to feed?   <That depends on where you're getting the mosquito larvae from. If they're from a pond or something near your house, you need to be *certain* that the local government does not spray for mosquitoes. If you're certain that they're "organic" mosquitoes (pardon the pun), they should be okay.> Thanks again, Donna <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Puffer injury/illness Hi Bob, Sorry to keep bugging you,  <no worries.... but it is still me, Anthony Calfo, here at your service. Bob is/has been away in the Caribbean. Also, please not our new addy is/will be changed to crew@wetwebmedia.com for inquiries if you'd like to note it in your address book> but thought I would let you know what's happening with my puffer. I had him in the 40 gallon and treated him with Maracyn two for 5 days.  <Maracyn is a brand name Erythromycin... which is a gram positive medication. As such, it is almost completely useless for most all marine fish (and FW too) illnesses. It is not only an outdated med, but most bacterial infections are gram-positive in nature. Always buy/use broad-spectrum antibiotics to play the odds in your favor. Furthermore, in the case of this fish, as I mentioned before, this is not a pathogenic disease. It is almost certainly a physical imposition (injury or defect). It needs to be treated differently.> He never showed any symptoms during that time. He was very active and had a great appetite. I returned him to the 7' tank and he was fine for two days. He is now showing those same symptoms...clamped mouth, pinched belly, lethargic, but nothing has come out of his mouth yet. ?? Is there anyone else that you know that could help me with this? Kelly still hasn't replied. I just don't know what to do anymore. Thank you so much. Lynn <my strong advice at this point would be to find a local or regional vet that will look at some better pictures of the fish for a prelim opinion (don't move the fish unless you have to). I regret that we cannot help more, but through e-mail, we cannot fairly assist you on a text description and vague photo (no worries here.... I do understand the challenge of getting a good clear photo). Best regards, Anthony>

More Puffer problems Yes, we have a green spotted puffer who has been very healthy until a few days ago.  He has stopped eating (blood worms, plankton etc), hides a great deal, is losing weight and now appears to have a slight bulge on the right side of his mouth.  I have checked into the diseases that I could find online and nothing matches this description.  There is nothing protruding to indicate internal parasites.  What could this be and what can we do about it.  Thanks, Lori. P.S. His teeth are not overgrown at this point either. <Hi Lori, You don't mention any facts about your tank, water, etc. so I can only give you a very general answer. The best place to start is matching the conditions required by your fish. Check this link for the information you need. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm Any variations from the conditions provided for your puffer should be corrected. Read down to the bottom of the page to cover disease and parasites. These guys are subject to several of these, but treatable. The FAQ's and links at the top of the page will provide you with a bunch of needed info.  Good luck!  Craig>  

Re: More Puffer problems Hi again, well we lost our puffer last night.  My six year old was very upset.  We have had him about 5 months.   <very sorry to hear it. Have you read through our archives (Craig mentioned in last e-mail) for the species survey(s) and all the many FAQ pages? This is one of the most commonly mishandled fish and we get a lot of mail about puffers. Common problem include incorrect or inconsistent salinity (have you been using a hydrometer with your salt additions?), feeding small hard shelled crabs and shrimp (live ghost shrimp, tiny crayfish, hermit crabs and their shells) to wear their teeth down. Else they get overgrown in months and the fish can suffer/die from it, etc. There are many issues to know with puffers. If you haven't had a chance yet, please do navigate the archives from the homepage for more information>> Anyway, I am guessing that our water quality has never been consistent and that is what finally took his life.   <yes, my friend... a common problem. The lack of a consistent salinity is very stressful. We simply must use a hydrometer to coordinate salt levels and top off for evaporation daily to prevent swings. Hydrometers are inexpensive ($5-15) and easy to use> In a last resort to keep this aquarium for my kids let me give you the rundown.  We have a 20h with a spotted cat, 2 clown loaches, a blood parrot fish and a Gourami.   <a huge problem here... the loaches need soft acidic water, the others are somewhat similar and the puffer needs hard, alkaline and salted water (full brackish). It is inevitable that one or the other groups of fishes would die. Its like mixing polar penguins and Amazon parrots in the same cage because they are both birds... one is going to die under the standardized husbandry (if not both)> They all get along great even when the puffer was with them. <not exactly, my friend... it was only ever going to last short term. As the puffer matured it would have become increasingly aggressive and literally picked the eyes out of the other fishes. The clown loaches mature at more than 12" long and will outgrow their tank mates, possibly eat them or simply stunt and die prematurely if kept in a small aquarium. If the spotted cat is a Pimelodella (pictus), it is a fish predator and can eat live goldfish at about 2 years old. Sorry, bub... but somebody had to mention it if the LFS didn't> Anyway, we have a whisper box filter, underground filter with powerhead, do not overfeed and change the water partially at least once a week <all excellent!> and I can never keep the ammonia down in our tank for more than a day.  Each of our fish is no more than two inches long!!!! <very simple then... 1) you really might be overfeeding (which I doubt and take your word for) or 2) (my guess) Your under gravel filter has large pebbles (lousy for filtration) and/or less than 3" of gravel (too shallow for adequate bio-filtration)> In the last couple of weeks, I took out the UG filter because not only was the ammonia high but the nitrite as well.   <Doh! A properly installed UG can be an excellent filter. I would return it> Now, my ph is perfect at neutral, nitrites are zero but the ammonia is still too high.   <you need a primary bio-filter, buddette. If not the UG, then a canister filter or like unit. Again... return the UG or shell out $100 for a canister filter> Also, I cannot seem to get rid of green algae in our tank.  I know that the puffers diet was a bit messy but we were careful to feed only what he would eat.  In fact, all of our fish enjoyed "his diet" of blood worms, plankton etc.  The only thing I can figure is that the size of our tank is the issue.   <agreed... the smaller vessel is a lot more difficult/less stable> When I was a kid we had a 55 gal tank and hardly ever had to do water changes.  We changed the filter once of week and at best once a month did water changes.   <agreed> Once a year we tore down the tank.   <not necessary...ever with a properly maintained tank. Too stressful (for you and the fishes <wink>)> What am I doing wrong that is making this tank such a chore and heartbreaking to my family?   <water quality as you suspected my friend> Please help.  Thanks, Lori. <best regards, Anthony>

Puffer Problems Hi Bob, As always, thanks for the great site. Here's a good one for ya... I see Puffers develop a graying area in the skin, which eventually spreads. We call it "Puffer Cancer", for lack of better terms. Once it starts, there is no repair, and the fish eventually dies. Any idea what we are dealing with here? <I have seen it in other stores and always thought it was because of use of meds.> We love our Puffs, and any input you have would be most appreciated! I only see this malady in Tetraodons, not Tobies. Is it a reaction to copper? <Could be or a reaction to formalin, malachite green, Methylene blue, either in your store tanks or your wholesalers. -Steven Pro> I await your response.

Puffer Problems Follow-up Do you have any suggestions to prevent this occurrence? <Only, not to use any meds that scaleless fish are sensitive to, but not much you can do about your wholesalers treatments. -Steven Pro>

Green Spotted Puffer Problem Good morning guys! One of my green spotted puffers is having a problem, and I'm not sure if it's constipation or something worse. He is producing VERY large feces, and seems to be a bit sluggish. When I fed flakes yesterday, the other spotted puffer and the large Cory that shares the tank both fed, but the affected fish just mouthed the flakes and spit them back. Later in the day, I fed a ration of frozen bloodworms - which all three fish completely devoured. <Puffers should not be fed flakes, they should eat pellets and hard shelled crustacea to wear their teeth down. ghost shrimp, tiny crayfish, krill, etc> What really has me concerned about this particular puffer, though, is the presence of small red dots on his left flank, somewhat near the anus. I don't know if he has bled internally, or if these are just marks from lying on the slab of shale that he enjoys resting upon. I am really concerned, though - I love these little guys, and hate seeing one of them in less than optimum health. Any thoughts? <Sounds like a bacterial infection. Improved diet and possibly quarantine with medication. Medicated pelleted food is available from Tetra. Best Regards, Gage> Thanks, Chris

Green Spotted Puffer Hi Gang, My Green Spotted Puffer has developed what looks like a whitehead on it's nose - Any ideas as to what this could be? Jason  <Hi Jason, This is likely Lymphocystis, a viral disease related to environmental/water quality.  Please test your water for wastes and make any changes necessary to improve your water.  Likely nitrates...  We get more mail on puffers than about any fish....many misconceptions and problems with water conditions. Please go to: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm  and read about the conditions your puffer requires. There is much more on Lymphocystis on WetWebMedia.com...scroll to the bottom of the page and type Lymphocystis in the google search engine.  No worries, this is curable, Craig>

Palembang puffer Hi Crew, I've a question.. (but don't we all) I just got a Palembang puffer, and the tank I got him from had probably 2 dozen of them all swimming happily... but I put this little chappy in a tank on his own, and he seems rather distressed, swimming up against the glass, even trying to jump.. and he looks like he's trying to escape.. is this just due to him being in a new environment? or is there something wrong with the water? I checked the ph and it seems ok... the only other fish is a tiny Pleco.  Thanks for your help <Hey Marcus, it is very possible that this is just a reaction from the stress of being moved into a new environment.  I would also test my water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, just to be sure.  Best Regards, Gage.> Marcus Tan

Sick puffer maybe I have 2 figure 8 puffers and 2 spotted puffers in a 5 gallon freshwater tank. One of the spotted puffers just recently started sitting on the bottom or close to it in the corner. It looks like it has a discoloration line between the white part of the belly and the spots. It is kind of a dark area, all the way around. If you know what this could be please write me back. Annie <Sounds like what folks term a "stress syndrome" of these fishes (they're brackish to marine)... with nervous involvement, parts of the body do discolor... I would read and heed the materials stored on our site re these tetraodonts: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm You need to add some non-iodized salt to the system, maybe some live rock (yes, as if this were a marine system) to speed (re)cycling in the different ionic environment... Bob Fenner

Re: sick puffer......... I am sorry to bother you again but today when I woke up my puffer whom I  wrote to you about yesterday had puffy cotton like stuff on his body around  his fin. Could this be something different? The per store says that its  ick and I got him some "Furacyn" medicine but he looks worse today. :( Also, do I need to add salt to my tank? I mean, I have Neons, swordtails,  shrimp, and baby swords. It is just a 10 gallon tank. Will the salt hurt  them at all? Sorry to bother! Thanks a bunch! > <Not ich... did they ask if the appearance was white, discrete spots? Likely a secondary infection of some sort of fungus... and once again, nutrition and environmentally related.  If you can understand the following, do add the salt and amend the foods as previously recommended. No amount of medicine otherwise will stop this problem... No to adding much salt with the Neon Tetras... Please either trade the puffer in (it will eventually eat the Neons) or the Neons... otherwise, the Swords will be fine with the salt... The Puffer is a brackish to marine species and quite nippy/aggressive... with easygoing freshwater species... I would have encouraged you to leave such a fish out of your system. Bob Fenner

Hurt puffer......... Hello! I have a spotted green puffer. He is in a freshwater tank with  female swordtails and guppies. I feed the other fish tetra color and I feed  him brine shrimp pellets. His tail is curled up and his left fin is  starting to rot it looks like. Not like Ich but just deteriorating. I have  only had this tank set up for a week and the day after I got the tank set up  I had baby swordtails. My fish went through a lot of stress separating the  babies from the tank so that is probably the cause of this. What could be  wrong with him? Ich? Fin rot? Maybe just a fight with another fish? :(  I love my fish so much and I don't want to loose any! :) PLEASE help  me?!?! Thanks so much! > <Likely the tail curling is nothing (this is what these puffers do) but pectoral fin is trouble... and likely due to being in a strictly freshwater environment (this species is actually more marine) and a too-limited diet... I would add "some" salt (a teaspoon per gallon ultimately... a teaspoon per day until you reach this amount... if you have no plants... or other livestock... the swords are fine... that are salt intolerant. And do look into other frozen, freeze-dried foods like Tubifex, mysids, krill, bloodworms... for your puffer. These two changes will reverse the current trend. Bob Fenner>

Green Puffer  Hi Bob!  My husband and I have 4 Green Puffers. Two adults, and 2 babies. One of the adult puffers fades really bad in color. Going from his beautiful bright green, to a pale green to where you can barely see his black spots, and then back to his beautiful green again. Is this a sign of stress? He isn't acting any different and is eating like the fat boy he is. I am hoping that you have the answer!  Thanks!  Stephanie and Doug <Thanks for writing. Likely there is nothing wrong with the "flashing" adult puffer. These fish do shift brightness and markings with their moods... this one is likely just communicating with its kin. Do take a read over the freshwater puffer section and FAQs on the www.wetwebmedia.com site for more input on their care. Bob Fenner>

Puffer with Bent spine <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hey I was just wondering I've had my 2 dwarf puffers for about 3 months now everything has seemed to be fine eating and interacting normally they have a steady diet of small snail and ghost shrimps. My question is, I noticed yesterday one of the puffers was swimming around in circles. I know this question has been asked before but the odd thing is his body seems to be permanently curved. His body is arched in a weird way, and once in awhile he tries to bury himself. I'm not sure what to do.  I checked the water and everything is fine. The other puffer is acting normal, and the fish I have them paired with are fine. I have a non-aggressive cichlid and a Gourami from my previous tank and they have all gotten along fine. <There are 3 things I can think of.  Going from best to worse: it could be starving due to internal parasites.  The stomach would be caved in, causing the spine to bend.  This is treatable, if the fish is still eating.  I have had great success with Discomed, by Aquatronics.  Unfortunately that company has been out of business for a while, so you may be hard pressed to find any.  Here is info on alternatives: http://puffer2.proboards37.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1116217071.  The other  thing it could be is a defect in the spine & lastly, tuberculosis, which is contagious to humans.  Either way, it doesn't look good for the fish if it is the last 2 & the fish should be euthanized with an overdose of clove oil & then frozen. Sorry for the bad news, lets hope it's just IPs.  ~PP>

Puffer Scar? 5/17/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I ran across your site some time ago and it has been most helpful and informative in maintaining my aquariums. I've got a particular question that I haven't been able to find the answer to so far. I've got a common, "avocado" puffer. I've had the puffer for several months and it's been doing great. In fact, it's still doing great except for one thing. I noticed a white mark on the side of my puffer. It certainly isn't ich (there was an outbreak of ich a month or so ago; I simply added aquarium salt as directed and raised the temperature accordingly, and along with water changes the ich went away), and it doesn't appear to have the raised, cauliflower look of a bacterial/fungal infection.  The white spot is located right above the main black spot these puffers have near their tail fins. I've included a picture, <<Photo not found.>> with the puffer being as still as it's going to get for the camera.  The tank has lots of plants, some driftwood, and two big flowerpot "caves" for hiding. This setup has been working nicely and still is as far as I can tell.  My puffer has its usual voracious appetite; I feed a diet of frozen shrimp (in the shell), home grown snails, the occasional crayfish, and frozen peas (when I can trick the puffer into eating them; just like children - won't eat their vegetables!). The puffer still swims to the front of the aquarium when I come in the room, and waits in the front corner for my attention before performing its "I'm-overly-excited-give-me-more-food" dance, as always. Even after eating, my puffer will retire midway back in the tank and eye me for any signs that I'm going to get more food. One thought I had was that perhaps a crayfish had managed to get a scratch on the puffer (most of them don't have a chance, and my puffer likes to chase them around the tank to get the best angle of attack) and the white mark may be a scab healing over. Also, I have a fluorescent light on the tank, set on a timer, for the plants. Although the light comes on after daybreak (to provide a more natural transition from darkness to broad daylight) my puffer is occasionally startled by the light and will dart off out of sight on rare occasions when the light turns on. Perhaps the puffer scraped against something, again causing a wound to heal.  As a side note, I have never seen my puffer actually "puff" up; I take this as a good sign that it's rather content and stress-free in its home. Anyway, water parameters test ok and I'm doing daily water changes just in case, along with the addition of a little salt. Still, I know ya'll are prone to proactivity when dealing with possible illnesses and I wanted to balance overdoing things with due caution. Whenever I search the site, I always end up with information about ich (using search terms like "white spot, white mark, etc.") which isn't the case here.  Any info you can provide would be appreciated; I'd like to head off any potential problems ASAP! Thanks for the great and informative website (from myself & puffer). Brian <Not to worry Brian, looks like scaring to me. If you want it to heal faster, you can add Melafix. Sounds like you really care about the fella! Good work. ~PP> 

Sick Puffer?  1/05/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have had my puffer for about 1 month and I keep him in a 10 gallon tank that I have added aquarium salt in. <what kind of puffer is it?> For the past 3 days he has lost weight and it looks like someone has squeezed the back of it. (Which I know no one has). <Internal parasites?> I feed him flakes and he used to eat it just fine. But the puffer does not eat anymore. Could the puffer's diet be a problem? <Definitely could be part of the problem.  Read about puffer's diet here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  This diet is good for all puffers.> The puffer is by itself and has caves to go in and out of. It can hardly swim anymore. Please help me ASAP? <It would be of great help to know what kind of puffer you have.  Also, please post your ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes & pH.  ~PP>

Gray Spots/Patches on F8 Puffer  12/31/04 Hi.   <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I just noticed that one of my Fig8's (I have 2) has some gray discoloration on its belly, while the other one is still a bright pearly white.  Can you please advise what it might be and what remedy to use?   <A little more info would be helpful.  How long have you had them?  What are the water parameters--ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes, pH?  Are they in brackish water? What SG?  Are you using marine salt?  What are you feeding them?  Does it eat well, but remain thin?  Water changes--how much, how often?  I ask all this, because a darkened belly can be either a sign of sickness or stress, which can be caused by poor/incorrect water conditions.  If it changes back to white pretty often though, it could just be moodiness.  Here's a great article on them: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml> Thanks much for your time - appreciate all the useful info on your website. Pat <You're very welcome & Happy New Year!  ~PP>

Black dots on Puffers  11/29/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hello I just visited your site for the first time and found it very informative! <Thank you!  We aim to please.> I believe I read every post in regards to sick puffers - but I still did not find an answer to my question -- I hope you can help.. The LFS was of no help - 3 said they are community fish and are able to be in freshwater and live a long time.. <They can live into their teens, but not in FW.> I have 2 puffers, 1 figure eight and 1 spotted, they have plenty of hiding areas and are in a brackish 10 gallon tank - they are the only fish in the tank. <That tank is too small for 2 puffers.  I highly recommend not keeping those 2 species together.  The GSP is a high-end BW fish, that will prefer SW as an adult & grow 2x the size of the F8, which prefers low-end BW & isn't nearly as aggressive as an adult GSP.  They may seem fine now, but I can't tell you how many stories I hear about maturing puffers being killed by the more aggressive one.  You can keep a single F8 to maturity in a 10g tank.  An adult 6" GSP will need at least 20-30g.>   My concern is the larger of the 2 puffers (spotted) started to develop small black specks on its belly, almost like it picked up some remnants form somewhere - now the smaller puffer has developed the same thing - my larger puffer goes through the color change at least 2 times a week - my smaller puffer stays the same. I thought I was going to lose my large puffer, it started breathing hard and its fins were laying close to his boy not moving - so I added salt and did a partial water change. <How much salt do you have in there?  What kind?  You must use marine salt & measure it with a hydrometer.  Juvenile GSPs prefer a SG (specific gravity--a measurement of salt with a hydrometer) of 1.008-1.010.  Juve F8s prefer a SG of 1.005-1.008. He perked up a bit -but I'm really worried about the black specks. Do you know what this might be? <All puffers have spines.  It could just be dirt sticking to them.> The LFS gave me ick meds and I put that in today - but I know puffers are very sensitive to meds and I don't want to hurt them. <Get that med out of there now, especially if it has copper in it! Do a 50% water change (should be doing that weekly too) & add fresh carbon to your filter & remove after 2 days, so the meds don't leach back into your tank.   There should be no reason to use meds for ich.  Heat, salt & heavy water changes should get rid of ich.  Anyway, why would you treat for a disease it doesn't have symptoms for?  Ich would cause the fish to have WHITE spots, not the black spots you are seeing.  Stupid LFS!> Please advise if you can - and I hope someone asked this and I missed it - What is your advise? <Read these articles on the 2 puffers you have: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm   http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml> P.S I think you handled that persons question the way it should have been - if you don't want an answer then don't ask!! <Very true!  ~PP> Marriage is like a Garden; it dies quickly unless you lovingly tend to it....    <So agreed!  I have been married for over 13 years.  It is paying attention & compromise.> Bumpy Puffer  11/29/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I've had a green spotted puffer since July. In the last two days I noticed a bump developing on his upper back just behind his head. It's as if a few scales are out of line, except it's a visible bump. <Puffers are scaleless fish.  It could be a few things.  The best scenario would be just a cyst, that the puffer will absorb back into to it's body.  The worst is a tumor, or a parasitic nematode (see: http://nematode.unl.edu/), that will eventually kill the fish.  If it has any tank mates in there, I would quarantine the fish, until it is resolved.  Can you get a close-up of the bump?> His appetite is the same and there isn't any color changes. Also, the salt levels in the water are as they should be. <What are the salt levels?  Are you using marine salt?  Here is a good article on them: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> What is your advice? <Just do what you are doing & follow the article on it's care & feeding.  There's really nothing you can do.> Thank you for your time, Alina <Here's hoping it's just a cyst.  ~PP>

Green Spotted Puffers with Ich  10/24/04 Hi <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have four green spotted puffers and it looks they now have a small case of Ich.  I have some medicine that works great on the other freshwater fish but I was wondering if would be safe to use on them. The medication is called Rid Ich and contains that malachite green stuff.  They are in their own 10 gal tank and only have a Pleco in there with them.  Do you advise that I get some of the salt to put in or just use a dose of the med? <I'm not surprised at all that your puffers are sick.  A 10 tank is way to small for 4 of these puffers.  I suggest 10g/small puffer  (<2") & 20-30g/adult fish (they grow to 6").  Also, these puffers prefer high-end brackish water & marine water as adults.  Keeping them in conditions not suitable for them, will cause them to stress, lowering their immune system, making them susceptible to diseases, as you can see.  My suggestion to you is, get a much larger tank for these puffers & keep alone.  Get them in brackish water & raise their temperature to around 86-87.  Here is a good article on treating puffers with Ich: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1086103674 I have had great results with this method.  It is not a good idea to use Ich meds on puffers, as they are very sensitive to them.  Also, please read this article on the care & feeding of your puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm   Until you can get them into a larger tank, I would do large daily water changes (with dechlorinator), add 1tbsp aquarium salt/5gal for now (your Pleco won't appreciate marine salt, or any sort of brackish water levels) & raise the temp.  Make sure you cycle the larger tank, before adding those fish.  If you aren't prepared to keep all 4 as adults (needing at least an 80-120g tank), then please find homes for some of them.> Thanks a lot. Sarah

Black Line on Green Spotted Puffer  10/26/04 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I just got a GSP a few days ago.  I noticed that he often turns black on his sides, kind of where his belly meets the green and black.  I was wondering if this is something to be concerned about.  I've watched him quite a bit and the black does go away sometimes and he'll be purely white on his sides and belly.   <This is generally a sign of the puffer being stressed somehow.> I was also wondering, what things I need to test for in the water.  So far I've been checking the salinity but that's pretty much it.  I know I should check the pH but I wasn't real sure how to go about doing that so any suggestions would be great. <The tests I use come from The Master Test Kit, by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals.  You need to test for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates & PH.> Is it better for the water to be too salty rather than less salty?   <"Saltiness" should not be a guessing game. SG (specific gravity, a way of measuring salinity) is measured by a hydrometer, which is what you will need to keep brackish fish.  Also, you MUST use marine salt.  You can start out low & raise it a little every week.  There is a great description of this process & all the info you'll need on your green spotted puffer here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> Right now he has a 3 gallon tank (I know way too small but I'm looking for a bigger tank, hopefully I'll get him one this weekend).  He has some plants, which I just put in today and he seems a lot happier with it.  There's also a log, which he often sleeps in. <As you have figured out, that tank is way too small for this fish.  A smaller GSP is ok in a 10g tank for a while, but a 30g is recommended for an adult (6") fish.  Did you cycle that tank before adding the puffer?  Were there fish in there before him?  If not, this could be the cause of the stress.  See: http://faq.thekrib.com/begin-cycling.html  If that tank isn't cycled, I highly suggest giving the fish back to where you got him, until you can properly house him in a larger cycled tank, or he will die from toxic ammonia & nitrites.  You will not be able to keep plants in brackish water, the salt will destroy them, causing to foul the water.> His current diet is just fresh water shrimp and mollies.  Would sand crabs from the beach be ok to feed him (just the little ones that don't really pinch)?  If I feed him those things is it still necessary to get him snails?  I'm not sure that there were any snails on the plants I put in.  It didn't look like it though. <It is not a good idea to feed fish to this puffer.  Fish are too fatty & can cause liver problems in these fish.  There is a great list of foods in that GSP article I linked you to above.  I don't suggest feeding them those crabs, unless they are quarantined & treated for parasites 1st.> Anyways, that's plenty questions for now. <This is not a fish for a novice fish keeper. If you are prepared to give your puffer the proper care, it can live over 10 years. ~PP>  Thanks!  -Tersha

Green spotted Puffer Problem Date:  Mon, 2 Aug 2004 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> We have 2 spotted puffers. one is fine the other has a pink and red end of its tail. It is inflamed and he is keeping his tail curled close to his body.  Please help, I don't want to loose this puffer!!!!! <1st of all read this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm.  This article should tell you the best way to care for your puffers.    Get some PimaFix and/or Melafix, as it sounds like your puffer has a bacterial infection on it's tail.  Next, have your water tested for ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes & pH.  Get back to me with the results.  ~PP>

Sudden death in my puffers  6/24/04 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I was just wondering why I have been experiencing sudden death with my puffer fish. I had a couple Green Spotted puffers for a few months and then I wake up and they are dying at the bottom of the tank. My last one was in its own tank by itself. It looked perfectly fine when I went to bed, but when I woke up in the morning I find it lying at the bottom of the aquarium, it lost all of its color. Thanks. <Sorry for the loss of your puffers.  Here's an excellent article on GSPs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm.  It should answer all your questions on them. Please let me know if you have any more questions after reading it.   ~PP>

Listless Congo Puffer 3/16/04 Hi <Hi Dan, Pufferpunk here> I bought a Congo puffer from my local fish shop and put him in a fully cycled tank ph 7.3 with a sand bottom. <Sounds great so far!> He wasn't too lively and would often just sit for a while without moving. A couple of times I thought he was dead. His eyes also seem like they have cataracts is the best way I can describe it. The guy in the shop said this is totally normal for this species as they sit and wait for passing fish, being "lurkers". Just wondering if you could shed some light on this for me as you seem to have the most knowledge of puffer fish from any site I have visited on the net. Any reply would be gratefully received. <If the Congo puffer you are referring to is the Tetraodon miurus, then your LFS is correct. These fish are ambush predators. They lay in wait under the sand up to their eyeballs, for food to swim by. In the case of a puffer in captivity though, fish is a poor diet. They are fatty & can cause liver disease. Try to get your puffer on other food (crustaceans) as soon as possible, throwing in an occasional worm. You can find more info on your fish here: http://home.messiah.edu/~dw1178/pufferlist.htm  Share experiences with your puffer here: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi > Thanks, Dan <Although not very active, a very interesting species to own! ~PP>

Puffer Burned 2/26/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Please can you help I have a T palembangensis puffer with what looked like might have been a burn. It went a bit red (it is on top of the fish) ring like. It's skin seem to come off like a blister, so I dabbed a bit of Meth blue on it just to stop infection, but now it has fungused up (cotton wool like). Please can you help me cure this? <It sounds like your puffer could have been burned by the heater, buy the round, blistering appearance. You can also try mercurochrome on the spot. Keep the tank pristine (water changes, water changes, water changes!). You can add 1tbsp salt/5-10g. Add Melafix & Pimafix. If it gets worse, you'll have to use something stronger, like Maracyn. I'd get a heater guard, so this doesn't happen again. Come visit us at http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi > Thanks, Eak <I hope your puffer gets better soon! ~PP>

Sick Palembangensis Puffer 2/26/05 Hi there Eak here. <Pufferpunk again> Thanks for your quick response. <I'd like to make a small request of you. You may have noticed that I corrected all your capitalization. That's because we need to do that, since all these inquires go into our FAQs & we want them to look nice. Pleas try to use capital letters in your inquires, when necessary. Thanks> I do have a heater guard on the (sleeve type) but I have noticed the puffer hiding under the heater he stays there till feeding time. <Are you saying the end of the heater is exposed, where he lays? Does he have enough plant cover so that under the heater isn't the only place he has to hide out?> He likes his live food red crabs and anything else that moves like shrimp. I have read this is typical behavior for this kind of puff. My water parameters are: pH 7.5, ammonia <0.3, nitrites 0, nitrates under 50ppm. <Try using water changes to get your ammonia to 0 & your nitrAtes <20. I do 50% weekly water changes on all my tanks. I wouldn't keep this puffer in a tank less than 30g.> I love my puffer fish he is brill his character is ace at feeding time.  Thank for all your help I will try those treatments on my puff. Thanks again <Good luck with your puffer! ~PP> 

Sick Palembangensis Puffer - II Hi there Eak again. <Pufferpunk again too> Sorry to keep bugging you. My heater guard covers the whole heater. I use tetra test kits my ammonia is 0, on the tetra test kit its lowest 2 readings are <0.3 My readings are <0.3. I have purchased some Nitrazorb to combat the nitrate problem. I have been doing a 25% water change every week quite religiously. <The best way to combat nitrAtes is doing water changes. I suggest raising your to 50% weekly. I'd still like to know what other tank mates are in there.>  My tank is 147 gallon 6x2x2 there are plenty of hiding places for it but it still chooses to sit in the open. But today there as been a new development my puff as got the same mark on his under carriage. <Maybe someone is biting your puffer? Where else could it be getting burned?> I have moved the puff to a quarantine tank with the same parameters but the nitrates are <20 mg/l. I have added some Tropic Marin salt to it, as I have brackish puffers as well, which are brill. <Brill? Aquarium salt is better than marine salt for medicinal purposes on FW fish.> I am now treating with MelaFix and PimaFix because I cant find the other things you suggested to use. Also I have to hand Myxazin, Protozin, Sterazin, Octozin, all Interpet treatments. <You could try dosing an antibacterial med at 1/2 dose, as long as it says ok for scale less fish.> It doesn't seem to be the heater but it definitely looks like a burn like you suggested. Thanks again sorry about my grammar and spelling I had to get my girl friend to help me with this one.  <I hope everything gets straightened out with your poor puffer. ~PP> 

GSP died...  6/20/04 Hi again... <Hi, Pufferpunk again> Sadly, despite all my efforts, my little puffer was dead when I woke up this morning.  He'd done some really strange things last night so I knew it was going to happen.  He was hiding out in one of the rock caves and started to puff up.  When he unpuffed (almost immediately) I thought he was gone then, since he wasn't moving around.  I gave him a poke and he swam around a bit.  Not too long after that, he came up to the top and it looked like he swallowed a gulp of air, then stopped moving.  I was sure that was the end too, but a few seconds later he was swimming about again.  But when I got up this morning, it was for real.  He was lying in one of the little rock caves on his side, all dark.  I took a couple of pictures of him, maybe there's some hint as to what finally did him in... I don't want it to happen to my other puffer. http://www.rahenna.com/temp/puffer/top.jpg http://www.rahenna.com/temp/puffer/bottom.jpg <I'm so sorry for your loss. =o{  You mentioned in another email about little white worms.  These are a result of poor water quality & over feeding.  Make sure you keep the water pristine.  Clean up all uneaten food.  Do 50% weekly water changes.  You have read the GSP article?  Everything you should need to know is in there.  I'll link you again: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm.> Poor little guy.  He still looked cute even though he was... you know.  Bye bye, Creamypuff...  Thanks for all the help you gave me, I'm sure it'll help me keep Chunkypuff happy and healthy. (See, they were Chunky and Creamy.  Like peanut butter. *sigh*) --Jaime <Very cute names.  My GSPs are Cricket & Bozo.  I hope there is another Creamypuff in your future.  ~PP> Figure 8 Puffers   6/23/04 If I'm sending this question to the wrong people, I apologize, and could you please send it to the correct person? <Hi, Pufferpunk here & you are definitely getting the right person!> Hey, I'm Jake, and I think my Figure 8 Pufferfish is sick/dying. <Oh, oh!> I read your FAQ about the puffers (link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpufffaqs.htm), and I think it might've answered my question, but I'm just asking to make sure. My Figure 8 Pufferfish (which I have extremely creatively named "Fish", due to my inability to think up names) that I've had for at least 2 1/2 months looks somewhat sick.  He's laying on the bottom of the tank, but he's not dead, because every time I get up to check on him, he's in a new spot. My aquarium is a small 2gal (unbrackished (I think that's the main problem)), with no filter (second problem?), and no heater/thermometer (third problem?). <Sounds to me like you've answered your own question.  1 figure 8 puffer needs at least a 10 gallon (20g for 2), filtered tank that is kept at around 78 degrees.  They do best in brackish water.  Here is a great article on them: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml> At first, when I noticed that my fish was laying on the rocks on the bottom of the tank, I thought he was resting. So I left him alone until I came back and looked at him again. He was still on the bottom of the tank, but in a different place. So, I stuck one of my fingers into the tank to see if it was warm enough. It was kinda cool, so I turned the aquarium light on and it's been on for the past 2 days. Ever since then, I've been watching him, and he hasn't improved at all. He's just been randomly moving around at the bottom of the tank.. and twitching some, but he's not dead. I don't want him to be dead. I'm sure I left out vital information about the fish and aquarium that might be needed to answer this question. So, I'll just tell the story. I purchased my fish at the "Pampered Pets" (family ran business) just down the street from here, and I'm going to call them and ask them what's up with the fish after this email.  Then, I moved the fish into a 20 gal. (unbrackished) aquarium (with filter system, heater, thermom, real plant.. etc). A number of other fish were in that 20gal tank already, including another one of the Figure 8 Pufferfish (and I thought it was cute when the puffer in the tank waited outside of the Fish Bag thingy for the other puffer to get out of it (they were brothers, maybe? since they both came from the same tank at the Pampered Pets))), and with two frogs and four neon tetras.  Then, we had problems with both of the pufferfish nipping at the neon tetra's fins (which I found to be surprisingly hilarious... but that's just me.), so I moved both puffers into my 2 gal. aquarium that I mentioned above. <Not to hilarious to the Neons, I bet.> Not many days later, the smallest puffer (affectionately named "Caboose" from the Red vs. Blue series (http://www.redvsblue.com)), died of unknown reasons. (and the puffer that I'm having trouble with right now was floating to the right of the dead puffer, looking down at the dead fishy (maybe they were brothers?).  Many weeks have passed since then, and I've fed him on a daily basis, and 2 days ago, I started having the problems. Oh, and about a week ago, I changed a fourth of his water, but I'm not too sure that that would affect him... or would it? <I do 50% weekly water changes in all my puffer tanks.> I know he's sick because he doesn't move around as much as he usually does,  and because his eyes don't react to anything that happens around him. He just lays on the ground and, if you look hard enough, you can see him breathing (is that the proper aquatic term for it?) somewhat heavily and slowly. If I've left out anything that you might need, please reply back to me. Thank you in advance, even if my fish does die, then I can treat the next one better. <I'll bet you anything, if you had the water in that tank tested, the ammonia & nitrItes would be very high.  I will also bet that tank wasn't cycled before you put the poor puffer in there, right?  Do you know what cycling a tank means?  Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm.  Please keep a puffer in a species only tank.  They are aggressive fin-biters & killers. Too many of these cute fellas are subjected to being punished by being placed in an uncycled, too small, unheated, unfiltered "bowl" destined to die there.  These are wild-caught fish, that are better off left there, until you can research them more thoroughly.  If he makes it, it will only be because you returned all the other fish in your 20g & kept him in the proper conditions he deserves, to live out a long happy life of up to 18+ years.  ~PP> Thanks, Jake Buchanan

Spotted Puffer  6/17/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I'm a thirteen year old who started Spotted puffer fish about a month ago for the first time (I'm used to amphibians). <I love frogs!> I started with two puffers but, one of the two was either killed or caught a disease shortly after a day at my house. Later, I bought another who also died, and finally I stupidly bought another which I gave away after about a week. <It's always a good idea to thoroughly research a species you are interested in BEFORE purchasing it.  Especially a wild-caught fish.> It has been two weeks since I have had two in the same aquarium and I was giving up but, then I noticed that one of the two puffers that I bought at the beginning that had lived through the entire time was swollen on the belly and I'm not sure whether it has an illness or if it is pregnant after all , I'm not sure whether one of the puffer I had was a male and had sexed in the past. <I highly doubt your puffer is pregnant.  It is very difficult to breed them & they need perfect conditions for that.  1st of all, there are several puffer with spots, so I'd like you to identify your puffer here: http://www.pufferfish.co.uk/aquaria/species/pufferfish/index.htm  There is lots of good puffer info on that site too.  Once you have a proper ID on your puffer, I can help you further on care.  1 thing I cannot stress enough, is not to put a puffer in a "clean", uncycled tank.  Do you know about cycling a tank?> Looking for any advice. Thanks Leo <Good luck with your puffer friend.  ~PP>

Baby Dwarf Puffer help Hello, <Hi! Ananda here today.> I have a very small baby dwarf puffer that seems to be wasting away. He is eating very well, but his midsection is very narrow. <Sounds like an intestinal parasite of some sort.> I had another dwarf puffer that had the same problem and it died within a couple of weeks. <Sadly common in dwarf puffers.> I don't want the same thing to happen again. <Me, neither...> Here is my setup... 1 gallon tank with brackish water (1 tsp. aquarium salt per gallon) <That's kinda small, even for dwarf puffs... and 1 tsp of salt per gallon does not a brackish tank make... which is good, since dwarf puffs are freshwater puffs!> - undergravel filter <Not my favorite sort of filter, but...> - heater - water at 80f 3 baby dwarf puffers (2 are slightly larger, about 3/4 inch long) - the one in trouble is only 1/2 inch long diet - freeze dried blood worms in morning, frozen brine shrimp in evening.  My best guess is intestinal problems??? <Probably.> Any help you have would be greatly appreciated. <I would suggest soaking the puffers' food in Discomed or something with the same ingredients (apologies for not being able to remember what those are right now). Other things that may help include Metronidazole and Flubendazole.> Thanks, Danielle <You're welcome. --Ananda> 

Baby Dwarf Puffer help II Ananda, <Yep> Thank you very much! I found a lot of differing info about fresh vs. brackish with these guys. So thanks for the input there.  I'll get the meds and keep these guys alive!  Thanks, Danielle <You're quite welcome. --Ananda> 

Puffer Puffed! 4/18/04  <Hi, Pufferpunk here>  I think your site is great <Thanks!>  and I hope you guys can help me cos I'm pretty upset about this new dwarf puffer that I have. I've been keeping one (A) for some time and he's pretty healthy and active. Bought the new one (B) today and the owner at the shop must have been drunk cos he lifted the poor guy out of the water and onto his palm and told me to look at how fat he was!  <That's horrible! I woulda kicked that guy right in the gonads! Idiot! You never let a puffer puff with air!>  I just read on your site that its terrible to make puffers blow up like this!! When I got back, I noticed how fat he still was. (I don't know if its cos of the incident), and introduced him into the tank with A. He didn't moved much and stayed mainly at the bottom on a rock so I thought he was just trying to adjust. A couple of hours later I saw A nipping B on his pectoral fin and B was helpless and he didn't move much. I was horrified and scooped him up and into a hospital tank with salt and medicine for wounded fins. He's now lying on his side at the bottom of the tank.. I'm afraid to move him.. and I don't know if he's passed.. I did see his tail flinch when I transferred him... Please help!!!!  <I'm sure puffer A recognized B's weakened state as an opportunity to pick on him. Quarantine is a good idea, but not with salt. Dwarves are strictly FW & don't like salt. Puffers are very sensitive to most medicines too. Melafix would be ok to use. Is he still puffed? If he is floating upside-down, then you'll have to burp him by holding him underwater vertically, by his tail & gently shaking him until he burps. He may puff again, but that's with water & will replace the air & be easily expelled. If he doesn't recover, I'd say it was from the shock of mishandling of the poor fish. I suggest you copy this email & bring it in to the owner of the LFS & give him a piece of your mind. That employee doesn't deserve to work around live things. ~PP>.

Cottony growths?  9/02/04 I read up on red finned sharks on the internet and it said they were BW fish.  I guess people are as confused about them as they are about puffers.   <There is a lot of misinformation everywhere.  You've come to the right place for correct info!> I also read on the internet, I believe it was this site but I could be wrong, that there are a few BW plants and the two I used were on the list.  Guess someone was wrong about that too.   <I believe some of that info needs to be updated.> I feed my puffers Mysis( spelling?) shrimp, brine shrimp, and a snail each once per week.  I only feed them every other day and very little at that.   <That is not nearly enough food for a small puffer.  They need to be fed daily & just skip one day/week.  Brine shrimp are mostly water & not very nutritious.  In addition to snails, try feeding live/frozen blackworms or Tubifex worms, freeze-dried or frozen plankton & krill.> I looked real close and one of the puffers does have some of the fungus on his fins.  But, it is the puffer I just got 5 days ago.  This fungus problem has been around longer than the 2nd puffer and the oldest one doesn't have any signs of it.  Is there some kind of fungus stuff that treats the water and not the fish?   <I would try adding Melafix to your water> I will do the water change and clean the tank.   <It sounds like pristine water conditions are the solution to your problem.> Thanks for your help. Michelle <Good luck getting rid of your fuzz.   ~PP>

GSP has lump in his throat 4/7/4  <Hi, Pufferpunk here>  I have a 2-1/2" GSP that's been in its tank for about 3 months now and doing well up until the other day when I put several ghost shrimp in with him. He was at first very excited biting a couple of them in half but then it looked as if he was choking. His color faded and he just sat on the bottom looking like he was having trouble breathing. Now three or four day later he still looks like he is laboring to breath and his color frequently changes from his normal bright green with solid black spots to a faded yellow with gray spots. There is also a small lump in his throat although it is not always visible. He will now only pick at bloodworms and krill, won't touch the shrimp, and has become very shy, hiding among the decor and laying on the bottom.  <Hmmm, interesting... A puffer friend of mine just lost an arrowhead puffer that looked like it was choking (also kept inflating itself). When she dissected it, she found a piece of gravel stuck in it's throat. Any chance your puffer grabbed a piece of gravel when he went after the shrimp? The fact that the shrimp is connected with it's feeling uncomfortable, is why it is probably avoiding them.>  His teeth do not look overgrown, he still at this point has a nice round belly although it is getting smaller by the day. He is in a 2/3 full 55gal tank with 1.008sg, 0-ammonia, 0-nitrites, 10-nitrates, and ph-7.9.  <Thanks for giving the water parameters, but why 2/3 full?>  I've treated the tank with Melafix so far but don't want to use anything else due to the crabs, olive Nerites snails, and shrimp in the tank.  <All puffer food...>  Is it possible that he has something stuck in his throat for this long? Could it be some type of internal worms?  <It doesn't sound like worms. Is your puffer defecating? Breathing ok? You could try to do a Heimlich maneuver, by "burping" your puffer. It is described here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  Maybe it will expel the blockage.>  Thanks in advance for any advice.  <Sure, let me know how it goes. ~PP>

GSP has lump in his throat... Part-II 4/10/04  I tried the Heimlich maneuver and also tried gently massaging the lump but it didn't do any good. The lump was not hard and my tank is mostly sugar sized sand with some large size crushed coral so I don't think he swallowed any.  <Rules that out, at least>  He was looking miserable and I was running out of options and did a 50% water change with aged premixed water but he never got better.  <Certainly couldn't hurt.>  It seems as though he went blind because he was no longer moving his eyes and bumping into everything in the tank before he died. I can only guess that it was some internal parasite although I have had him for several months with no problems and like I said he only starting showing signs of stress after he bit a couple shrimp in half.  <This really doesn't sound like internal parasites. Could be, he got a piece of shrimp caught in his throat. Did you do an autopsy? That definitely would have told you something.>  I had not observed him defecating since he started feeling bad and he did breath very heavily opening and closing his mouth rapidly. Thanks for the advice and by the way I only fill the tank 2/3 full so the crabs can have access out of the water on some rock and wood.  <Sorry for your loss =o{ ~PP>

Dwarf Puffer Ill? (4/1/2004)  Hi there,  <Michael here this evening>  I was wondering if you could help me with a problem I am having with one of my two dwarf puffer fish. I have a 5 gallon tank and 2 dwarf puffers  <A bit small for two dwarf puffers...look into a 10-20 gallon tank. What kind of filtration are you using?> I have had them for a couple of weeks now and they were doing great but recently one of them seems to always be at the bottom of the tank.  <Was the tank cycled before the puffers were introduced?>  From what I can see he is eating (I feed them frozen brine shrimp which they seem to like) so I am not sure if it's due to bullying or some kind of disease.  <Frozen brine shrimp alone isn't a great source of nutrition unless the brine shrimp are gut loaded and Selcon-loaded. Try varying their diet with snails and minced seafood - just be sure to freeze the seafood first for a day or so to avoid parasites> She also has some discoloration...under her eyes has turned kind of a dark grey, as well as down the sides of her body. <Puffers often darken/discolor when stressed, could be an indicator of bad water quality. Does the skin appear pigmented, or does she appear to have some sort of fungus or 'slime'?> Because only one of them is having this problem, I am assuming it has nothing to do with my water conditions <One is enough to be an indicator, I advise a thorough test of water parameters> but just in case, I keep their water temperature between 78C and 80C and because they are brackish puffers I add 1tablespoon of aquarium salt to their water every time I do a water change (weekly). <Commendable water change regiment, but if these are Dwarf Puffer fish "Carinotetraodon travancoricus" or "Carinotetraodon imitator" then they are true freshwater puffers and wouldn't appreciate any salt in their water. For help with species identification check www.fishbase.org> Please let me know what you think the problem might be, I will keep an eye out for any bullying, should I maybe get a third puffer? I just read that if there are only 2 there is very often bullying. <I wouldn't recommend a 3rd puffer in a tank that size, but a 3rd would be fine in a 20 gallon tank. I do believe the issue with your dwarf is a water quality problem - do a 25% water change every day for the next 4 days to remove the salt, and regularly test your water for ammonia\nitrites\nitrates\pH. Also, be wary of overfeeding in a tank that size. For more info about Dwarf puffers see our FAQs and www.dwarfpuffers.com >  Thanks so much for your time and effort,  <My pleasure>  Denise  <M. Maddox>

Tetraodon Mbu Injury Question Hi, <Hi! Ananda here this morning, digging out from under the pile of so big dirt...> Firstly I just spent a while reading through your greatly informative website - congratulations on creating a handy and friendly database. <Thanks -- credit goes to many people.> My question refers to my buddy, Uncle Remus, who is a two year old Tetraodon Mbu freshwater puffer approximately 280mm in length. <Big guy!> I've just returned from vacation to find that he has a small 'jelly-like' lump on his back, near his tail fin.  He is eating fine (he was fed every two days whilst I was away) and is his usual happy self - but it's hard to tell if the lump (approx. 8mm in diameter and maybe 3mm in height) is a growth or an injury. I'm thinking it's an injury from one of his food hunting missions around the tank, where he might have cut himself on a log we have in the tank.  If this is the case, is there anything I should do to speed up his recovery? <A few drops of tea tree oil, or something like Melafix, wouldn't hurt -- but I would like to see a photo of this before guessing what the cause is.> The last thing I want is for the injury to get infected or enlarged. <Agreed.> Also, his beak could maybe do with a 'clean and trim'!  He has a black mark between the 'teeth' and the beak is maybe a little long... Aside from giving him cockles in shell (which he has most days), is there anything else I can do to keep things in check here?   <If he is not being fed daily, I would do so... smaller portions, more frequently, may help. And make sure that everything he gets has some sort of shell, even if it means you take empty shells and fill them with food for him.> I can't see how I'd be able to get him to keep his mouth open for me to file the beak by hand - especially without him biting me!. <You would need to put him under anesthesia -- MS222 and clove oil are the ones I know of that have been used successfully. If you decide to do this, do let me know and I will dig up more info.> Any advice would be much appreciated.  Thanks again,  Chris (London, England) <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Puffer Problem Hi -- I stumbled across your site looking for information about my golden Tonga puffer, Ralph.   <Hello, Sabrina with you today, hoping to help you and Ralph> I need some help with his breathing--I've had him a month short of two years and have treated him for gill flukes at least twice with Paragon with good success.  This time he's not responding at all, I've done four rounds and sometimes he will move it a bit but never really open it at all.   <By 'it' you mean his gills, right?  Well, gill flukes usually cause fish to gasp and have rather labored breathing due to the parasites causing damage to their gills, so the fish can't absorb oxygen from the water as well.  So far, this doesn't sound like flukes to me.> He's about ten inches long, six around and is in a fish only tank of 80 gallons with a pair of fire clowns, a squirrel fish and a coral beauty.  I'm running two emperor 400 hang on filters with activated carbon and a remora protein skimmer in addition there are two air pumps in his tank and I do at least a ten percent water change weekly.   <Sounds good, perhaps increase the amount of water that you change weekly, and be sure to check your water parameters, make sure everything checks out okay.  You're also going to want to consider going larger in tank size soon....> What would you suggest I do next for him?  He's just not a happy puffer--he no longer wiggles and splashes when I come home but is still eating his shrimp like a pig and some algae but not as much.  Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, he's my big yellow baby and I'm just desperate to maximize his life span.  When I travel I even have my family come over just to talk to him, he likes company!  Thanks so much, Janine <It may very well be that the very active squirrelfish is stressing your puffer out, and may be that your puff's just pouting about it, trying to let you know.  Keep us updated - hope Ralph perks up for ya!>

Itchy Puffer 3/8/04 Hi there crew, <Hi Chris, Pufferpunk here> I've had my figure of eight puffer for a few weeks now, he seems to be fine, but I have been wondering why he keeps brushing his nose up against the glass, which makes a very distinctive scratching sound.  Is he alright? He also often brushes up against the barnacle shells. Maybe you could give me a reason? <Does he have any white spots on his body?  Keep checking for that,  It could be ich, but without the spots, you can't be sure.  If he does get the white spots (looks like salt), you can treat according to this: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1077734610.  Also, here's a great article on your puffer: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml. Make sure there is a lot of decor in his tank.  Puffers are intelligent, inquisitive fish that need a lot of places in their world to investigate.  If he's just going up & down the glass all day, he may be bored.> Many thanks, Chris Turner <You're welcome!  ~PP>

Puffer doing Poorly 3/7/04 Hello again... <Hi, it's Pufferpunk> Well we are at our wits end it seems. We have tried doing 25 - 50% water changes for the past 4 days and everything but our Nitrates is down. The nitrates are down to just over safe level, so Im going to do another change tomorrow. <Water changes can be helpful.> Our figure 8 is still not doing well though. He is relatively blackish on the bottom and kind of faded all over. He wont eat, at least not that we can see and is substantially smaller in the belly and all than our other puffers. <I would suggest treating for internal parasites, but he'd have to be eating.> He swims around with his tail up in the water and tends to sit around on the bottom or on the rocks and not do too much. He also seems to swim up at the top of the tank with his head in the corners of the tank at times. What else can we try? <Have you tried to quarantine the fish?  He may be intimidated by the more aggressive spotted puffers.  I really don' recommend putting these 2 species together.  What is the SG (salt level) of the tank?> Our other two leopard puffers are fine and are doing great it seems. We don't want to lose this guy, but Im not sure what else to do. Thanks for your advice. JJ <I hope you can save him--PP>

Poorly F8 Puffer 3/7/04 <Hi Jeff> Here are some other pics of the puffy. Im not sure if its easier to see him on these or not. <Hmmm, I don't see a pic.> What is a way to check for some kind of parasite? <Internal parasites can't be seen.  They are usually diagnosed by poor appetite, eating, but always thin, wasting away & stringy feces.> Im thinking of putting him alone in our other small tank, and see if we can get him healthy that way. Any other suggestions? <Raising the temp can up their metabolism & get him eating.  If he will eat, you can treat his food with the anti-parasitic--Discomed, by Aquatronics.  Make sure you put him in a fully cycled tank.  You can "instant cycle" a tank with Bio-Spira.> Oh yeah, how do you measure the SG? Its not listed on my test kit. We add salt to the mix as prescribed. <You need marine salt & a hydrometer that can measure small amounts of salt.  I use a SeaTest, by Aquarium systems.> Thanks <You're welcome ~PP>

Puffer Passed On to Pufferland  3/8/04 Hi again, well I went to the store to get some Discomed like you said, when I got back, poor puffy had passed on. <Awww, so sorry for your loss. =o{> When I got home he was laying on the bottom of the tank and was really pale, almost no color. This makes us sad as he was a very neat fish to have before he got bad. Is there anything I should do with the tank now to make sure its ok for the others? <what others are left?  Do you have more of the same puffer?  I would do a 50% water change.> They all seem fine and eat and everything. How long should we wait until we look for another puffer? <Please refresh my memory as to what fish are in there.  Just the puffers?>   Im going out to get a hydrometer today also. We have a 30g right now, looking for a larger when we find a bigger place. Puffy was roughly 4-5" long. Our other puffers are 4-5" and about 2-3" respectively. <If I had known your puffer was that large I would have said it wasn't a F8 right away.  They only grow to 3" tops.  In a 30g, you have plenty of fish in there already.  Just concentrate on keeping those puffers healthy.  Are you sure of what kind they both are?  The larger one definitely isn't a F8.  If the smaller one is, then they need to be separated.  Did you read that article?  F8s are low-end BW fish, while the Ceylon is high-end BW-SW.  My 5" Ceylon puffer is in SW now.> Thanks for your help, even though I didn't act fast enough I guess. <Enjoy the 2 puffers you have left for now.  ~PP>

Puffer on his last fin? (03/05/04) Hello, I want to thank you for all the advice you post on the web, it has educated me on the puffers and other species of fish. <Ananda here today...glad the web site has helped.> My problem - I have had 3, 1-2" Green Spotted Puffers for 2.5 months now in a 20 gallon BW tank.  I keep their water temp at 80 and the salinity is weighing in at 1.004.   <What are your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate readings at?> I did a partial water change 2 weeks ago and cut back on the feeding to once every 2 days instead of the daily feedings then one of the puffers buried himself and died.   <Any particular reason you cut back on the amount of food?> Now a second puffer has been lying around on the bottom, greyish in color and breathing hard. <Sounds like a possible water quality problem to me.> So I added more salt and now he has moved to the top and is hanging out in the darkest area, right under the flow of water.   <Could be a lack of dissolved oxygen in the water, perhaps?> I started feeding them everyday again (today) and he will not eat, he inhales the food and then spits the same amount out (I have not touched it, it is sprinkled in from the can - as I have done since day one.) <And what are you feeding them?> I just bought them some shrimp and crayfish today (they are now in the freezer) to give them a change of diet. <Probably a good idea.> I am completely stumped. The third puffer is doing fine and has been happy all the while. Any ideas? <Many, if not most, problems with puffers can be traced to water quality and diet issues. Also, many puffers come with internal parasites and worms, as they are all wild-caught. You might consider giving them a de-worming treatment with a product like Discomed.> Thanks Gary <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Puffer Loss 3/1/04 He had been sitting on the bottom of the tank rocking from side to side and bouncing up and down. His color got REALLY dark (almost brown) and he would randomly puff up and zoom around the tank. Then he stopped doing that and would just lay there. It didn't even look like he was breathing. When he got to this stage we finally realized that the water temp was so low and put in a small heater tube to try and rectify the problem. This didn't help and he died shortly after. <A drop in temp would compromise it's immune system & slow it's metabolism, but I don't think it would have killed him (unless you live in Alaska outside).  The symptoms you describe sound like ammonia/nitrite/nitrate problems.> I was told that PetCo has a large stock of puffers (not sure what types) do you know if they would be a good place to purchase them (not planning on purchasing them for a while now). Just wondering. The store that we normally go to doesn't stock them often as they are hard to come by and hard to keep (especially when they only feed them flake food). <Just try to find one with a round belly that comes to greet you at the glass.> I would just like to thank you for all your help through this puffer problem. It was comforting to know that there was someone/somewhere to turn for info and moral support. Thanks again, and once I get my new tank set up I will make sure to send some pictures of the new guy. <Please do & I'm glad I could be there for you, even thought you lost your puffer.  I will again recommend you do as much research on the biological workings of an aquarium as you can, as these special, sensitive, long-lived fish need pristine conditions.  ~PP>

Unanswered Puffer Q? Hi, I was looking through today's FAQs & noticed a post about a sick GSP w/a photo, but no answer.  Wonder why it missed my box?  I'm not sure, but I think that is the guy who's puffer just died.    ~Jeni/PP <May be "disjointed" from other input/responses during the day... will be "consolidated", posted today and placed/archived here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracpuffdisfaqs.htm Bob F>

Puffy's Gone =o{ 3/1/04 <Please do the WWM Crew a favor & capitalize your letters at the beginning of sentences & when necessary.  These are all posted on our website & I have to spend the time to correct all those uncapitalized letters before it is sent out.  This takes precious time away from answering other folk's Qs about their fish.> Yeah. I plan on waiting until I can set aside a whole tank just for the puffer. I think that would be better for him in the long run, even though this one was doing ok with the other fish. I think it was a sudden drop in water temp that did him in. We realized to late and tried to save him with a heater but it didn't work. <Hmmmm, that didn't seem to be the problem you described.  This should give you plenty of time to set-up a species only, brackish water tank just for your puffer. ~PP>

Re: this is time again. I have a couple pictures of my puffer I hope these pictures will help you with a diagnosis. the first is what he looks like now and the rest are pictures from before he started acting weird. hopefully they will help you to help me. again, I am REALLY worried about him. he has been sitting in the same spot for the past couple of hours and just recently he got spooked by another fish and puffed up. I was worried because he has never done that before and he was swimming funny afterwards.

GSP RIP 3/1/04 Bad news.......my puffer died earlier today. A little while after I sent the email. He was all fat and bloated. <Sorry to hear that. =o{  Please do more research on GSPs, cycling & water parameters, before you get another one.  ~PP>

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