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FAQs about Figure Eight Puffers, Disease/Health

Related Articles: Alone But Not Lonely: The Importance of  Keeping Puffers Individually by Damien Wagaman, Figure Eight Puffers, Freshwater/Brackish PuffersGreen 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 InformationPufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo,

Related FAQs: BR Puffer Disease 1, BR Puffer Disease 2, BR Puffer Disease 3, & Figure Eights 1, Figure Eights 2, & FAQs on: Figure-Eight Puffer Identification, Figure-Eight Puffer Behavior, Figure-Eight Puffer Compatibility, Figure-Eight Puffer Selection, Figure-Eight Puffer Systems, Figure-Eight Puffer Feeding, Figure-Eight Puffer Reproduction, & BR Puffers 1, BR Puffers 2, BR Puffers 3, BR Puffer Identification, BR Puffer Compatibility, BR Puffer Selection, BR Puffer Systems, BR Puffer Feeding, BR Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Reproduction,

Freshwater and Brackish Puffers require water of "high quality"... with little to no organic waste (ammonia, nitrite...) good aeration, circulation...

Figure 8 puffer, please help!      4/6/18
I would like to start by congratulating you on such a marvelous site, You are my one stop shop for any fish related question I have!!
<So no pressure then...>
Unfortunately I have stumbled upon a problem that is proving hard to find help for. I have a figure 8 puffer, alone in a 15 gallon tank. He was bough from a local fish store about 2 years ago, as a fresh water fish but as you advised, I gently introduced brackish water.
We are having some building work done in our home, so I needed to move the tank, so rather than stressing him out by moving him from one tank to another, whilst doing my water change we decided to move the entire tank, whilst if was only half full, which went very well, ( although rather heavy!) without any hiccups!
<Can be done this way, yes; but do be careful -- the silicone seals aren't very resistant to 'twisting' when the tank is moved, so slow, weeping leaks are a risk when moving a partly filled tank.>
Once moved and the water change completed, in its new location, my puffer was swimming around happily coming to the front of the tank to greet anyone who passed.
<Good oh.>
I was so happy with my little fella coping so well with the move that a few days later I decided to reward him with some live blood worms, as he normally has frozen, which he guzzled down.
<I bet.>
However the next day I noticed that his belly had strange lumps in (and I apologise for my crudeness) his anus seemed rather noticeably open.
<Can happen if the fish has overeaten and the pressure of food behind the anus is forcing it open more than usual.>
This is not just the normal big belly after food, but almost 3 small pea size lumps.
<Likely just mouthfuls of food; I would not worry if the problem cleared up within a day or two.>
I have attached pics to try to show them.
<Yes; can see the issue.>
I read up on you site and though that maybe he is constipated, so I added some aquarium salt to his tank.
<Alongside the marine salt mix? This will achieve nothing. To be clear, it's Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) that helps with constipation and bloating, not common salt (sodium chloride). 1-3 tablespoons per 5 US gallons/20 litres.>
That was 2 days ago now and he doesn't seem to have changed, still 3 large lumps in his belly and although he isnt eating the food I offer him, He is still swimming around as normal and coming to say hello every time I walk up to tank.
<Then I would not worry too much. It is common (though bad practice) for pufferfish to be overfed to the degree they become bloated, and if left a few days, they will sort themselves out. This isn't natural though, and reflects our tendency to provide them with a much richer diet than they'd get in the wild. Epsom salt can help with constipation, as will high-fibre foods such as cooked peas, or failing these, Spirulina-loaded frozen brine shrimp or live daphnia.>
Do you think it could be caused by the stress of the move or is it more lightly constipation? If so how long should it take for the salt to..... relieve him?!
<Epsom salt will work quickly; a few hours.>
Should I just keep adding the aquarium salt to the water once a week whilst I do my water changes until the lumps go? Or is there something else I should try?
<There is NO need to add extra aquarium salt on top of the marine salt mix. Will achieve nothing, and will be raising the salinity somewhat, which may be harmful to any plants in the tank. The puffer won't care, of course!>
As I said he's not eating now either, how long will he be able to survive without food?
<An adult fish this size should be able to go 6-8 weeks without food.>
Is there a chance it could be internal parasites? if so is there a product you would recommend in the UK, Im struggling to find one on the UK market.
<I don't think that's the issue here.>
I am sorry to bombard you with questions, but we have become very fond of the little fella, so any help you could offer would be much appreciated,
Other info I thought you might want to know is, diet of frozen bloodworms, snails and cockles in shells,
Ph is 7.5
Ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate between 0 and 2.5 ( it wasn't white but a slight pink tone to it)
water salinity 1.005
water temp 24.5
Many thanks and Kindest Wishes,
<Hope this helps. I would not be concerned about internal parasites or worms unless this persisted for more than a few days. Two days' bloating sounds like constipation, and can be treated without anything more expensive than Epsom salt, which you may well have at home anyways, and checking online, apparently £2.49 for a kilo at Boots drugstore! Way more than you'll need, but nice in a hot bath, too. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Figure 8 puffer, please help!    4/7/18
Thank you so much for your quick reply!! I was unaware that the aquarium salt wasn't Epsom salt!!
<Oh! Well, glad to help.>
I did ask in my local fish store and they told me that marine salt ( that I use to make the water brackish) was different to the aquarium salt,
<It is. Aquarium salt is basically sodium chloride, perhaps with some other bits and bobs added, but really not much different to the sea salt you'd buy at the supermarket. Marine aquarium salt mix, on the other hand, is mostly sodium chloride, but also a whole slew of other minerals, like calcium carbonate, used to buffer against pH changes. It isn't "dehydrated seawater" but rather something with the properties of seawater in terms of salinity, but a much higher ability to resist pH changes.>
so I assumed that aquarium salt was another "brand" of Epsom salt..... I know never assume!!!!!
<Sage advice.>
Not a problem, thank you for clearing that up, and off to Boots I go!!!
Thank you again for your help,
You really are the fish whisperer!!!

Kindest wishes,
<And thank you for the very kind words, Neale.>

Brackish Puffer Woes     3/5/16
Hello Crew -
<Hello Rebecca,>
Thank you for the resources your website provides - and for manning this question/answer line.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I’m emailing because I cannot seem to be able to keep a puffer fish alive and it is making me beyond upset/sad/without understanding. I apologize in advance for the length of this email, but I’m hoping you’ll be able to tell me what I am doing wrong or what other best practices I am missing regarding brackish puffer-fish keeping. I think the easiest way to tell my story is via timeline:
- I talked my BF into going to the local aquatic expo with me; we purchased a bunch of the raffle tickets and I won a 40 gallon breeder tank with stand! Yay! A bit of research online and countless visits to local LFS stores later I decided figure eight puffers were the fish for me.
<This is a BIG tank for Figure-8s! Very generous.>
So I purchased the largest api canister filter, black sand/fluorite substrate, and a disgusting amount of trinket type fish safe decorations (I had read puffers get bored easily so I planned from the getco to swap decor every once in a while to spice things up for the little guys). Set the tank up as fresh because the local LFS I decided to go with always keeps their puffs in fresh water; I figured easier to acclimate the fish slowly to brackish with the tank via salty water changes (moving up slowly) rather than doing the drip method to acclimate them to brackish immediately upon purchase…
<Thing to remember is fish that live in tidal habitats are designed (for want of a better word) for sudden changes in salinity. They often perk up when you do water changes that change the salinity. So provided you change the salinity across half an hour, there's no harm taking a puffer from freshwater into brackish conditions. That said, so long as the water is hard and alkaline, Figure-8s won't be stressed by a few weeks or even months in freshwater. So for sure, match the aquarium shop conditions, then change the salinity over subsequent water changes.>
- Purchased an API master test kit and some of those dip-type testing strips. Set the tank to cycling with a few defrosted blood worms and biospira (i think that was the name of the starter culture…). 45 days later: cycled! ammonia - 0/nitrites - 0/ nitrates - 0/ph 7.7/79 F (I haven’t tested the tap water for hardness as the local LFS indicated it won’t be a problem - they use tap water when doing maintenance on people’s home tanks etc).
<Well, if you're adding marine aquarium salt you shouldn't find hardness a worry. Marine aquarium salt contains minerals that raise hardness and steady pH, as well as taking care of the salinity. That's why marine aquarium salt is what you want, not "tonic salt" or "table salt" or even edible "sea salt" from the grocery store.>
Purchased a malaysian driftwood log; boiled it for approximately 15 hours (over a couple of days, a couple hours at a time) until the tannins were no longer leaching into the water. Also stocked up on API tap water conditioner, API ich-cure, prazi pro and assorted frozen foods (clams/bloodworms/brine shrimp/big shrimp with legs). Set up an air stone bubble wall along the back of the tank, an air stone under a pile of glass rocks (fish safe) at the front of the tank and a bubbling dragon in the center of the tank. Also tossed in around 10 marimo balls (ranging in size from 1” to 5”).
<Don't always do well in brackish, so keep an eye on them.>
- Trip to the LFS 1 (Major Tom, Freckles aka Dick and Harry/Harriet & Dottie): So little bit about me, I just graduated from law school and my BF bought me my first fishes as a grad gift the day before I got to walk at the graduation ceremony. Any who, I got talked into purchasing a juvenile green spotted puffer (less than an inch in size) along with the originally planned 3 juvenile figure eight puffers (each was about 2 inches in length). The color was off on the green spotted puffer (Dottie-Spot aka Spottie-Dot according to my BF) and I knew it wasn’t going to make it, but nonetheless I hoped getting the little guy/gal into salty water (1.001 raises at a time…) would perk him/her up. I performed a 20% water change and raised the salinity to 1.001 the first night; I continued to up the salinity with each water change until the tank reached around 1.005-1.006.
<Ideal for this species is anywhere between 1.003 and 1.005. No real need to go higher. The fish won't mind, but filter bacteria might take a while to adapt, and certainly plants are going to start dying above 1.005. Note, these specific gravities work at 25 C/77 F. Warmer or cooler water is different. Specifically, in warmer water SG 1.005 is actually MORE salt than at 25 C, and in cooler water, SG 1.005 would be LESS salt than at 25 C. First thing I'd do is make sure the water is at 25 C/77 F; no advantage (and some risks) to higher temperatures.>
After feeding about a cube worth of defrosted bloodworms on the first night Water parameters were at nitrite - 0/ammonia - 0/nitrates - ~10). Unfortunately the green spotted puffer died the next day while I was gone at the grad ceremony. Talk about a bummer. The water spiked at this point with about 5 ammonia and 20 nitrates/ nitrites 0. I performed another water change ( I think it was around 50% or so) and everything leveled back out.
<Here's your problem: Biospira doesn't work very well. Often not at all. Your tank is cycling, and it'll take some 6 weeks to settle down, perhaps a bit less now you're already started.>
- All 3 figure eight puffers began flashing against the aquarium decor on day 2. No white spots appeared on any of the fish (tails or otherwise) but this may have been because of the raised salinity.
<Correct. Whitespot does not live in brackish water.>
I began to raise the temperature of the tank by one to two degrees Fahrenheit every other day. The tank was 83 F on day 8 when the last fish died. I fed them every other day and never more than they would eat in about 3-5 minutes (full bellies but not over fed was what I went for).
<I would not use high temperatures here. SG 1.002-1.003 will kill Whitespot dead virtually overnight, certainly before fish start dying. Raising temperature is another approach for sure, but it reduces the amount of oxygen in the water, and also speeds up metabolic processes that means the fish produce more waste more quickly. Not worth it. Keep it cool, 25 C/77 F, because puffers are oxygen-sensitive and stressed by low oxygen levels.>
- One of the three remaining figure eight puffers came with (what I thought was) a very very stuffed belly (Harry aka Harriet). However, Harry never ate in front of me either at the store or at home. On about day 2 Harry started to poop white stringy goop piles and I figured it was an internal parasite.
<Can be. De-worming puffers is well worth doing, but wait until the tank is cycled.>
I had read that this is common with Figure eights because they are wild caught. So I began a routine: Harry got a 3 - 4 hour bath in a bucket of tank water dosed with Prazipro (half dose as puffer’s are scaleless) for the next 4 days.
<I'm not a fan of this "scale-less fish" nonsense...>
The other two figure eights (Major Tom and Freckles aka Dick) ate blood worms soaked in prazipro over the next few days and refused all other foods attempted (defrosted brine shrimp/freeze dried brine shrimp/clams/shrimp). It seemed to be working as after day 2 Harry’s belly had gone down to a normal size and I’d vacuumed some rather large and disgusting piles of dead white worm goo out of the tank during water changes.
- Freckles aka Dick died next on day 4. The water spiked again, I changed it again. Major Tom died the next morning. Again a large water change because of a spike in ammonia to about 20 and a spike in nitrates to about 20.
<Nitrate going up to 20 mg/l is fine. When nitrate goes up it means your filter is working. It's ammonia and nitrite (with an "i") that are bad. Ammonia above 0.5 mg/l and nitrite above 1.0 mg/l will kill your fish very quickly, within days, even overnight. While either is above zero, don't feed. Even if that means not feeding for a week or two.>
I changed out the carbon and the filter floss in my canister filter on day 5 (just rinsed the bio balls and foam pads in a bucket of tank water). Harry seemed to be doing great (except for not eating) until day 8 when I came home from work to him floating around the tank, out of control, bashing into everything like a little grey torpedo on the current. Harry died on day eight.
Fast forward to the present day. I just finished a 2 month period where I let my tank rest empty except for the marimo balls to make sure any parasites were dead. I cleaned all ornaments in a water/vinegar mix and rinsed well before putting back into the tank. I’ve done enough water changes in that 2 month period that it has been over 100% new water in it and took the tank back to fresh. Parameters were nitrates 0/nitrates 10/ammonia 0/ ph 7.5. I am dealing with a small explosion of brown algae (diatoms?) on a few of my decorations. It seems like weekly removal of algae is necessary for this type of tank. I am my own clean up crew as the puffs would eat any other :-)
<Pretty much. So avoid direct sunlight and over-lighting the tank. Some of the newer fluorescent tubes are designed to minimise algae. Worth checking out.>
- LFS Trip 2 (Gillie- Suit, Hawkeye and Radar): Last Friday (6 days ago) I purchased 3 new figure eight puffer fish. Each is about an inch and a half in size. The LFS had them in a freshwater 30 gallon tank with several scats, 4 spotted green puffers and a 4th figure eight puffer that was entirely white on its back half (not good! the LFS took that fish to the hospital tank when I pointed it out). Gillie-suit had her right fin nipped in half and dangling. Hawkeye and Radar both have nipped tails but otherwise are good color-wise and appetite wise.
- The day before purchase I removed the carbon from my canister filter and replaced it with extra filter floss. On day one with the puffs I dosed the tank with prazipro (half dose) as a preventative measure as the other puffers at the LFS did not have good color/were in rough shape. I also raised the salinity of the tank by changing 10% of the water out for salty water (end salinity was 1.001). The tank started at 79 F on day one and is currently at 82 F (day 6).
<See above re: temperature.>
- After 48 hours I did a 50% water change as all three puffers were flashing against the decorations. The salinity went up to 1.003 as an end result of this water change. Gillie-suit earned the name by being the best puffer fish at hiding I’ve ever come across. I attributed this to the ripped up fin. However, her color was fading at this point. All three were still eating anything I feed them (once a day feedings). From day one I have soaked all food in tank water with prazipro to unthaw before feeding them once a day.
<See above re: food.>
- Last night Gillie-suit refused to eat and her color began to fade; also, her gills looked more open than they should be and a small white thing poked out of her bum (looked almost like the tip of a worm). I performed a 50% water change resulting in parameters of ammonia - 0 / nitrite - 0 / nitrate - ~ 10). I have kept the tank dosed at a half dose of prazipro since day one of bringing the puffs home. Gillie-Suit died around 2am; I’d stayed up worrying and watching her to the end almost ripping out my hair and at a loss on how to save her. I wound up putting her in a bucket with an air stone and fake plant around midnight because she was torpedo’ing around the tank like I’d seen the last three puffers I owned do right before they died. Before the bucket she also got stuck to the filter intake (despite the block of blue foam I’ve got it wrapped in). I had hoped being in a bucket without any current would let Gillie rest up and heal.
<Doesn't really work if the bucket contains worse water than the tank. Those floating breeding traps are a better way to isolate injured fish, or failing that, a decent sized net or even a plastic ice cream tub with a few holes drilled in it.>
- The other two have now divided up in the tank: Hawkeye is trying to swim out the intake and Radar is hiding perched on top of the heater next to the intake. Hawkeyes has a white belly but Radar’s is a nasty grey. Correction: Radar just left his perch and is currently spazzing around the tank (Not sure how else to describe it other than zoom in one direction, zoom in another, zoom up zoom down zoom all around)
<Sounds like normal puffer behaviour.>
Now I am worried about my remaining two puffs. The tank is currently at 1.005 salinity/ph- 7.8/ammonia - 0 /nitrites - 0/nitrates - ~10; temperature is 83 F. Please tell me what I’m doing wrong is a simple fix?
<You're actually well on your way. Conditions sound good, if a bit warm.>
My dream of a brackish tank with figure eights feels like it is slipping through my fingers. Could I have too much current?
Too many air stones?
<Unless bubbles are sticking to their fins, probably fine.>
Not enough filtration?
<If you're reliably 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite day-in, day-out, filtration is probably fine.>
Should I add a hang-on back filter? Thank you for any advice you may have on getting new puffs settled in and keeping them happily that way. I am currently planning on a big water change/vacuum gravel tomorrow.
Kindest of regards,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Figure 8 puffer; trauma        10/28/15
Hello there. I have a figure 8 puffer that's been in a well cycled 15 gallon tank now for about two weeks. He is in a diet of frozen brine shrimp, blood worms, live snails and live ghost shrimp. The last time I was arranging one of the Decor items in his tank, he jumped out of the top and landed on the desk surface where the tank is sitting.
I immediately returned him the water, but since then I've noticed that he is bloated on one side only. He is the only one in the tank, and parameters are nitrites equal 20, nitrates equals zero,
<The other way 'round>
and I am careful to keep a brackish water condition for him.
<Mmm; how brackish? Have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishsubwebindex/fig8pufsys.htm >
He is the only one in the tank and I do 50% water changes every other week.
I also have lots of live plants. When I looked online about the bloating, I saw things about burping the puffer fish when they gulp in air accidentally.
<I would NOT do this. Too easy to internally damage the fish>
I tried these techniques and some bubbles did come out and it appears that one side deflated but the other did not. He is still very active and swimming quite a bit and eating regularly. But the other side still has yet to deflate. Should I wait it out or continue trying to burp him?
<I encourage waiting>
Or is there other things I should consider?
<Mmm; do see/read on WWM re a modicum of Epsom Salt use.... I would try this
Thank you for any help you can give me!
Worried puffer mom's
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

F8 Puffer has orange string hanging     4/4/13
I attached a photo of Dorphy my F8 he or she has been acting strange ever since its larger and older buddy died a few days ago Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 nitrate 5-10  PH 7.6 and today pooped orange string with balls attached and now has a second today his stomach turned grey but seems to be turning white again there are 2 other puffs with him 37 gals 6 electric green tetras 3 zebra danios 6 bandit Corydoras catfish and a yoyo loach what could it be?
Thank You for your business
Sincerely: Steven
<I'm confused by your stocking. Figure-8 Pufferfish must have brackish water, around SG 1.003, which is roughly 5-6 grams marine aquarium salt per litre. That's lethal to things like Danios and Tetras, so I'm assuming that you have placed this fish in a freshwater aquarium. That, my friend, is why this fish won't do well, why the other one died, and the odd thing you see here may be a warning sign. Have a read here, and follow the links:
No, these aren't eggs; they're likely unusual faeces, possibly caused by parasites but it's hard to say for sure. Move your Figure-8 puffers to brackish water as soon as possible, and they should improve. Meantime, visit the excellent Puffer Forum, here:
While the guys and gals there are a bit waspish at time (they take pufferfish very seriously) they know their stuff and they'll tell you precisely what to do. Cheers, Neale.>

Figure Eight Puffer - Tetraodon biocellatus     4/4/13
<I do like About.com's offerings, including food recipes, gardening... and pet fish>
This link tells me it's a fresh water fish and this sites host has kept them for up to 5 yrs at a time in freshwater so I don't think in 2 weeks of having him in freshwater would kill it.
<Mmm, no. Are freshwater... >
 Not being combative but want to understand this species.
Thank You for your business
Sincerely: Steven Konen
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: F8 Puffer has orange string hanging     4/4/13

Also was purchased 2 weeks ago from pet supermarket and they had them in freshwater. Don't understand?
<Oh, I see; the response below (will be posted above... chronological) by Neale.
Tetraodon biocellatus IS a freshwater species. I've personally collected them in a few rivers in S.E. Asia... is listed as FW in Fishbase.org...  most everywhere else. Maybe Neale (a UK citizen) is mis-taking the common name for something else? Here's a bit on this on EOL:
Am bcc'g Neale here>
Thank You for your business
Sincerely: Steven Konen
<Thank you for your follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Re: F8 Puffer has orange string hanging     4/5/13
So are you saying they are a freshwater fish?
<Yes... Tetraodon biocellatus...>

The link I sent Leeds me to believe that a few weeks in freshwater would not kill a fish that was kept in freshwater at the store where I purchased them so I'm confused. Are you saying that you feel they do better in brackish but are truly freshwater?
Thank You for your business
Sincerely: Steven Konen
<Not a biz; but a free information, interactive site offering help on ornamental aquatics. Bob Fenner>
Re: F8 Puffer has orange string hanging     4/5/13

Why are you offering help if you don't give any
<Not sure the misunderstanding here, but will try. Tetraodon biocellatus,
the fish we call the Figure-8 Pufferfish, was once thought to be a freshwater fish. That seems to be wrong, and comes about because a name used in the hobby for this species, Tetraodon palembangensis, *is*  a freshwater fish, sometimes called the Humpbacked Puffer. It's a totally different fish, bigger, mottled brown, upward pointing snout, and feeds on fish it lunges at from below. Anyway, Tetraodon biocellatus, the Figure-8 Pufferfish you have, is a low-end brackish species. While it may live in freshwater for long periods, it does much better in brackish, and should be kept at around SG 1.002-1.005. As you have experienced, kept in freshwater they are sickly and short-lived. Move your specimens to a brackish water tank. Job done. Not sure what more help you need! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: F8 Puffer has orange string hanging     4/5/13

Hello Bob, Steven,
Have replied via WWM; didn't see this message from you until this morning.
<Aren't you still on your honeymoon?>
Figure-8 Pufferfish *are* brackish water aquarium fish. Fishbase is wrong, or at least, uses old resources based on misidentifications or misunderstandings. Do remember that Fishbase is not a primary source but collates scientific literature, including any obsolete or incorrect data therein.
<Ahh, am sorry for my part in this confusion. I have collected what I thought was T. biocellatus in straight freshwater... Could be that these were just there temporarily or that I had a different species altogether>
Later works, e.g., Aqualog, treat Figure-8 Pufferfish as brackish water fish.
In any event, moving freshwater fish into brackish water (where possible) generally kills of parasites by interfering with the
parasite's life cycle. So while it's hard to say what's wrong with this Pufferfish, switching to moderately brackish conditions would be very helpful.
Cheers, Neale
<Thank you. Bob Fenner>
Re: F8 Puffer has orange string hanging (Bob, an FYI for you, too)     4/5/13

That was perfect just an explanation from a professional was what I was seeking had no clue it was a different fish thank you for the extra effort for us stupid people. I have research this fish and gets mixed answers.
Sincerely: Steven Konen
<Thank you both for your patience and understanding. Bob Fenner>
Re: F8 Puffer has orange string hanging     4/6/13
Have no doubt that this is true, Bob. Like Knight Gobies, Bumblebee Gobies, Violet Gobies, and Mollies, they likely to occur, commonly, in freshwater habitats. But by all modern accounts they are comprehensively more durable kept in brackish water (like the fishes just mentioned) with Klaus Ebert in the Aqualog book describing collections of these puffers living for, on average, twice as long in brackish as in freshwater.
Yes, still on honeymoon. Yesterday went visiting the Sian Ka'an nature reserve and coral reef. Among other highlights were the mangroves, where I watched Mollies of some sort swimming in a lagoon alongside Needlefish (Tylosurus sp) and Mangrove Jellyfish! Have often described Mollies living in near-marine habitats, but this was the first time I'd seen it in action!
Cheers, Neale
<And you, BobF>

Figure 8 puffer issue.   11/10/11
Hi guys,
I stumbled upon your site while looking for an answer to my question. I have a 20 gallon tank with artificial plants and a fake cave. Occupants are 1 sail fin plecostomus (4"), 1 tiger plecostomus (2"), and 2 figure 8 puffers (2.5" & 1.5"). Water was just changed two days ago and maintained at same brackish level as before, about 1tbsp/gallon. Water was also tested and my levels are all good. I've had all the fish for almost two years and noticed the smaller puffer started getting thin within the last month. Both puffers teeth were long so I trimmed them this evening. Big guy came through ok but Lil guy isn't doing so well. Acting very lethargic and shows no interest in eating now even when snails were added. I scooped him into a fry net so that he wouldn't be bothered and the current wouldn't push him around so much. At closer inspection, it looks like he is unable to close his mouth. This was the second time I've trimmed their teeth and didn't really seem to any trouble either time. Any suggestions?
Aaron S.
<Hello Aaron. This pufferfish species needs brackish water. If you're adding at least enough marine aquarium salt (not "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt") for the Figure-8 Puffer, then your Plecs would be stressed or dead, as would the snails. So we can be fairly sure that this is the problem.
Move the catfish and snails to a freshwater aquarium. Then raise the specific gravity of the water in your pufferfish aquarium to SG 1.005, which is about 9 grammes/litre (1.2 oz per US gallon). Use a hydrometer to check the specific gravity, bearing in mind that SG 1.005 is the correct specific gravity at 25 C/77 F, which is the temperature the hydrometer will be calibrated to, and also the right temperature for this species. The fact your smaller puffer has long teeth has more to do with diet than anything else, but shouldn't cause him to become lethargic unless he's starving.
It's a chicken/egg situation -- if the puffer won't eat his snails because he doesn't like his environment, he can't wear down his teeth and they'll become overgrown. Nonetheless, the teeth issue is misleading here: without confirmation you're maintaining these fish at not less than SG 1.005, then my money would be on lack of salinity being the prime issue. Hope this clears things up. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Figure 8 puffer issue.  11/11/11

Thanks for the quick response. I'll have to check gravity. Only thing that bugs me with the whole situation is that he won't close his mouth. He was swimming around in the fry net this morning acting much mire alert. I tossed a couple freeze dried krill in which is what I usually feed them if not snails...they cleaned the tank of those so I started a breeder tank. He tried to eat and did the normal attack and jerk movement but couldn't bite the food or at least keep it in his mouth since it's stuck open.
<Dislocated jaws are common among fish that fight by locking jaws, such as cichlids. But that likely isn't the issue here. Pufferfish fights reveal themselves as circular bites on the flanks and missing bits from the fins.
Once jaws are dislocated, there's not much you can do. If the fish can't feed, euthanasia is usually what needs to be done.
Cheers, Neale.>
re: Figure 8 puffer issue.  11/11/11

Thanks. They pick on each other occasionally but never seen them fight it lock jaws. I figured it'll come down to euthanizing him. I'll keep my eye on him for the next couple days though before I make that decision. Sad cause these are the first two we've had for this long and we're definitely attached to them. Thanks again for all the info.
<Glad to help, and sorry about the unfortunate situation. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Figure 8 puffer issue. 11/11/11

Thanks again for all the help. Lil guy decided early this morning to start his permanent weekend. Passed away some time before I could euthanize him this morning.
<Too bad. Sorry couldn't be more helpful. Good luck with the remaining fish, Neale.>

help 9/19/11
I have a figure 8 puffer and it has Ick
I have been treating it with quICK cure and it is still bad help please.
<Please give me information on its aquarium. In brackish water strong enough for Figure-8 pufferfish, Ick (Whitespot) shouldn't happen at all. So something isn't right here. Are you using marine salt mix at an adequate concentration; i.e., at least 6 grammes per litre, or SG 1.003 at 25 degrees C/77 degrees F. (That's roughly one level teaspoon per litre, or about 4 level teaspoons per US gallon; use a hydrometer to double check.)
If you try to keep Figure-8 Puffers in freshwater, they won't live long.
Cheers, Neale.>
<PS. Don't use medications with copper or formalin in them. These can, will stress Puffers, and in some cases kill them. But as I say, brackish water conditions should prevent this problem completely.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: help 9/19/11
thanks for replying quickly. I appreciate it. my sg is at 1.002 I double checked it with my hydrometer. I will move it to 1.010. thanks
<Glad to help. SG 1.010 is too big a change though! You'll kill the filter bacteria. Going to twice the salinity, i.e., SG 1.004, will be more than enough to work. Will also keep your Pufferfish happy. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: help - 9/20/11
I know I am slowly moving it I just moved it to 1.004. I will do it over 2 months .002 per week.
<Would go even slower than that. Do bear in mind the filter bacteria will slowly die at about SG 1.005, to be replaced by marine bacteria. So the slower you go, the less risk of filtration problems.>
can you help me with a problem. I have to check all the time when I change water and I need to restore the salt I have a 10 gallon tank but will move it to a 55gal when we my parents move to a house we are still looking for 1. for now I need help on how to move it .002 all the time when I add salt please help.
<What's the question? I don't understand what you're saying here. I'm happy to help though. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: help
whenever i do water changes my salt goes lower how do i restore it 9/22/11

<Then you're doing it wrong. If your aquarium has a specific gravity of 1.003, and you replace 20% of the water with new water at 1.003, the resulting specific gravity should be 1.003. Do make sure you understand how to use a hydrometer.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: help 9/22/11

ohh ok i didnt put the water that i put back in the tank to 1.003 thanks.
oh and my puffer wont eat food. i tried red ramshorn snails. bloodworms.
should i feed him clams i got alive clams and are growing them right now.
<Please use proper grammar next time you write, i.e., "I" for "i", and capital letters at the start of sentences. May not seem much to you, but it's important to us. You see, not everyone who comes to WWM has English as their first language. For those people, it's difficult to read bad English.
In any case, if a Pufferfish isn't eating, it's because there's something wrong with his environment. Happy Pufferfish will eat any small, meaty, food including snails and bloodworms. So be open minded here -- something isn't right, and you need to fix that. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: help   9/24/11

ok thanks but he isnt eating because he had ick
<Please check your grammar and resend. Thank you, Neale.>
Re: help... BR f'  9/24/11

He isn't eating because he has Ick.
<He won't have Ick in brackish water. At least, not for long. Should clear up within a few days, certainly less than a week. If he's [a] in brackish water at least SG 1.003, and [b] has been covered in white spots for more than a week, then something is not right. Ick can't complete it's life cycle in brackish water. Velvet Disease is a bit more tolerant of brackish water, but won't survive above SG 1.005.>
Can you show me a picture of a puffer with over grown teeth.
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: help, BR    9/28/11
my puffer still hasn't eaten
for 1 week and his stomach is bug still. what is wrong I feed him bloodworms and he doesn't eat it. I don't know if he eats it but I don't see him eating. What is the problem.
<I do need information on the aquarium to answer this. How big is the tank?
What sort of filter are you using? What is the temperature? What is the salinity? What is the pH? Are ammonia and nitrite levels zero? Is nitrate below 20 mg/l? It's important to realise that puffers won't eat if they're stressed. Review water chemistry (should be 15+ degrees dH, pH 7.5-8.5); salinity (SG 1.003 upwards); temperature (should be middling, around 25 C); and water quality (0 ammonia and nitrite; nitrate less than 20 mg/l). Puffers are not prone to disease, but any wild-caught fish can come into
your aquarium with parasites, and when stressed for whatever reason, these parasites can then cause problems. Concentrate on ensuring optimal conditions, and then offer small meals of suitable live foods, for example brine shrimp, or else small pieces of white fish fillet or prawn. Remove uneaten food.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: help
ok but my puffer has a white mucus thing on his eye. what is it?
<Likely damage to the eye, either environmental or to do with water quality. Review, and act accordingly.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: help

it looks like fungus and he is not eating. Is it internal parasites or is it bacteria? please help
<I do need information on the aquarium. Size, filtration, water quality, water chemistry, water temperature. A photo would also help. Fungus is unlikely in brackish water, so again, what's the salinity (or specific
gravity). "Internal parasites" doesn't mean much; most fish have them anyway, and they only cause problems when the fish is stressed. Consider aquarium conditions, diet, and social interactions with other fish. There are medications that treat external bacterial and fungal infections, such as Seachem Paraguard, and you may want to use one of these. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: re:... BR...?
Very helpful thank you. Okay new questions. I just bought the correct salt and a hydrometer. How should I begin to introduce it into my already aquarium salt established tank? Also should I treat for parasites to play safe. I have only had mine about 3 weeks I've not seen anything but can it still be there? Oh and I used sand for fresh water but need more. Can I add the salt water sand and mix the two or should I keep it just fresh water. sand ooorrrrr ;) change it all to salt water sand whew
<As stated before, change the salinity slowly. Decide on the salinity you want to maintain the aquarium at. Did we say SG 1.003? Can't remember. Anyway, let's suppose it's SG 1.003. Do a 20% water change, throwing out the old water and replacing it with new, salty water. That new bucket (or buckets!) of water will be made up to SG 1.003, which is roughly 6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water. Stir the salt into the water thoroughly, let it settle for a few minutes (ideally 20 minutes so all the salt grains dissolve) and then use your trusty hydrometer to check it's the right specific gravity (which is what SG stands for, by the way). Do make sure the water temperature is 25 degrees C, because that's what most hydrometers are calibrated to. Very much colder or warmer and they will be inaccurate. Now pour that water into the aquarium. Next week, do the same thing, and then the week after, and so on. After a few weeks the tank will effectively have had all its water changed, and if you test the water in the tank, it'll be SG 1.003. By going slow you'll give the filter bacteria time to adjust. Yes, sand is fine in a slightly salty aquarium. Do avail yourself of the many articles here on brackish water fishkeeping.
Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish Figure 8 Puffer    5/21/11
My Figure 8 Puffer is an adult, about 3 inches, in a 10 gallon tank fully filtered with much scenery, with a Betta fish.
<Can't be brackish enough if the Betta is still happy! Seriously, the Figure-8 Pufferfish, Tetraodon biocellatus, needs a minimum of SG 1.002 at 25 C to stay healthy; that's about 5 grammes of marine aquarium salt mix per litre of water. Such a concentration would be stressful for Bettas, if not downright lethal. On top of this, a Betta needs a tank with minimal water movement, whereas puffers are extremely sensitive to low oxygen concentration. The older they get, the more oxygen they need, if you remember from science classes at school the way volume increases as a cube of length. We're talking at least 8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, a water turnover rate that would be unpleasant to say the least for any Betta splendens! Plus, lack of space in the tank will exacerbate any oxygen concentration issues, and realistically, this species needs a minimum of 75 l/20 gallons. So there's no way you can be providing the right conditions for both these species in one tank.>
They get along well, my puffer shows no signs of aggression what so ever.
He was also improperly cared for in a 5 gallon tank in the shop, so although 10 gallons may be small, I believe he is happy in it, as he shows no signs of boredom and is constantly swimming around investigating the area.
Recently, I moved from upstate NY to southern New jersey. I brought him with me in the car, which I can only imagine was very stressful. When I put him back in the tank in my new home, within an hour he floated to the top hyperventilating with his tail curved to the side. That was about a week ago. Since then, he has calmed down and has not done that.
Recently, I noticed his coloration getting extremely pale. Although he still swims freely and investigates the area, with his fins moving quickly as normal, and his appetite still very good, he is not as active as usual. He has maybe 1 or 2 or 3 small white dots on his top fin, but nowhere else, and he is in a brackish tank, so I don't think it is ich.
<See above.>
He also seems to be swimming lopsided. For example, he seems to be tilted on a slight angle when he swims around.
Why might he have lost so much coloration? Why might he be slightly tilted when he swims upright? Why is he less active than normal? If he is sick, how can I help him with spending minimal money?
<Do read up on the requirements of this species. Improper care is the likely cause of your problems here. In the short term, needs a more brackish environment; longer term, i.e., within the next few weeks or couple of months, more space and more filtration. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Brackish Figure 8 Puffer   5/24/11

Hi, I am writing again because I did not really get the answer I was looking for before (respectfully, I mean this, of course).
Let me tell you the current condition of the Figure 8 Puffer. 3 Inches, 10 Gallon tank,
<Too small.>
moderately decorated, with a few places to hide. He acts normally, white belly, fins moving rapidly, swims rapidly, eats very well, and swims to the front of the tank when I arrive and stares at me face on at the very front of the tank.
However, he is losing his coloration, to the point where he once was a dark grayish/blackish with strong neon yellow markings. He now is a light grey, with dull gold markings.
<Some colour changes do happen naturally. But Tetraodon biocellatus does not change colour nearly as much as, say, Tetraodon fluviatilis and Tetraodon nigroviridis, so do first check that you have the species you think you have. Confusion between the three species is VERY common.>
He is alone in a 10 gallon tank, and every day, I take about 1 gallon out and replace it with a new gallon of freshwater.
<I assume you mean freshly made up brackish water.>
The water salinity is at 1.009.
<Too high for this species, if this is what you have. SG 1.003-1.005 is optimal for Tetraodon biocellatus.>
I did with marine salt.
<Marine aquarium salt? Not "sea salt" or something like that?>
He seems to be roaming the tank interested in checking things out, however, recently, in the past hour or so, he has frantically been swimming up and down the sides of the tank.
He has small white dots on his top fin and his back fin. they are very small. I also noticed, today, for the first time, he has very small black dots clustered around his forehead (but nowhere else on the body, and this was not there before.)
<Do check this isn't Whitespot or Velvet. It is VERY common for people to misunderstand making brackish water. Just to recap, one litre of SG 1.003 brackish water will contain about 6 grammes of marine aquarium salt mix; in US units, that's 0.8 ounces per US gallon.>
I fed him blackworms from a somewhat sketchy pet store. could he have a parasite?
could he be sick? I believe the water conditions are fine, although I do not have any equipment to check the water, I always drop nitrite/nitrate/ammonia/chlorine tap water conditioner into the tank,
<Water conditioner DOES NOT do anything about the ammonia produced by your fish. Please understand this. Water conditioner makes tap water safe to use. THAT IS ALL IT DOES. Once the water goes into the aquarium, you need to rely on filtration to remove ammonia and nitrite. Buy and use a nitrite (with an "I") test kit. Write back once you have the result.>
and clean any large chunks of poop from the gravel. If the water conditions are ideal, than what could the problem be?
<May well not be "ideal".>
what might would the black dots/white dots indicate? How might I know if he has a parasite?
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Brackish Figure 8 Puffer   5/26/11

Last question, promise:
provided my water parameters are correct, what could be the reason of the figure 8's strong pale discoloration?
<One issue, as stated, is the aquarium: it's too small for this species. Puffers are active, curious fish that react badly to being confined.>
I am 100% positive it is a figure 8. he is strongly pale to what he used to be, and has small black dots in a cluster by his forehead. Could he be sick?
<Difficult to say. External parasites are unlikely if he is kept in suitably brackish water. Make sure you are providing the right salinity. It's easy to go wrong, especially if you use some "spoon per gallon" measurement rather than using either mass of the salt/litre or else a hydrometer.>
Another thing, no matter how much I feed him, his belly always seems to be concave inwards. For example, when I first feed him, his belly bulges out nicely, but then within a few hours, once the food is digested or discarded, his belly are turns concave inwards. I feed him twice a day and he is an adult, to the point where his belly is bulging nicely...to the sense where I may even be over feeding him, yet his belly always turns concave inwards within a few hours.
<Don't feed soft foods too often as these are digested very quickly. Feed small, but regular, meals of unshelled foods, including krill, pieces of lancefish, fortified brine shrimp, etc. Avoid freeze-dried foods; favour fresh and wet-frozen foods. Do read WWM re: pufferfish diet.>
His eyes are starting to change from bright yellow to a dark golden yellow. his belly is still white though and he is still acting/eating normally.
<Some colour changes are normal, others caused by stress, and yet others by health/diet problems. Reflect, analyse your situation, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Sickly Tetraodon biocellatus; was: re: All my fish are acting strangely 11/2/10
Over the past few days my puffer has started acting strangely again.
<Oh dear.>
It stopped eating and lost weight although the body is still white and color looks pretty rich. I've been using Morton's cooking sea salt as a way of increasing salinity.
<What? No, no, no. Cooking salt is NOT viable here.>
Using a hydrometer, I tried to get the gravity to 1.005. The tank is still a 10 gallon tank and planning on getting at least a 20 gallon tank to house it.
<Good; 15-20 gallons is required for a Figure-8 puffer.>
My power filter is rated at 100gph and my heater is set at 80 degrees.
<Bit too warm; 25 C/77 F is ideal. Remember, use a thermometer to check the temperature is correct; the number of the heater is APPROXIMATE.>
Current ammonia nitrite levels are at 0 according to API freshwater test kit. Nitrate is at a 5 or 10. My ph is 7-7.5 which I plan on correcting by using aragonite sand.
<Marine aquarium salt mix will do the hardness, pH and salinity all at the same time. Forget about the sand, and stop using cooking salt!>
I've been feeding the puffer freeze dried bloodworms, small freeze dried shrimp, and snails. But lately he seems to just ignore it and he no longer follows my finger instead seems to run away. I don't seem to see any sighs of ich how ever his mouth does seem to be a little red since I've seen him ram his face into the glass like it's trying to eat it. Any advice would be great, and if I can't fix his problems. I'll find someone to take it and keep it from dying.
<Replace the water with proper brackish water made using marine aquarium salt mix; 5-6 grammes/litre should be fine for now. Read:
Cheers, Neale.>

F8 Puffer with faded colors and sluggish... dis., env.
First, I'd like to say, thank you for ignoring my previous letter.
I had been waiting for a response since the 16th, and not even gotten so much as an auto responder letter from you at least saying, "we got your email, we'll be in touch" Maybe I missed something where the only time you answer email is if a donation to the site is applied.
<Didn't arrive. Trust me. Messages are ALWAYS responded to within 24 hours.
Since I do the brackish water ones most of the time, anything about figure-8 puffers would have been seen by me.>
Yeah, I'm bitter, and I'm sorry to be taking it out on you, but you put yourselves out there on the web.
<I'm not sure this hostility is deserved.>
Giving the impression of being able to help.
<Impression perhaps? But we don't *promise* anything! We try our best. Sometimes messages don't arrive, or are accidentally deleted.>
I sought your help and got nothing.
<We didn't promise anything. Want a guarantee? Then pay for a vet. We're volunteers, trying our best to help.>
Well my puffers have passed on, after much treatment for fungus, bacteria, parasites and no one having the slightest idea what the problem was.
<Sorry to hear that.>
Hell even if you all had responded with "we've never heard of that before" It would have been better than nothing at all. Sad thing is I got more assistance from the LFS who had not even the slightest clue about puffers since they don't even carry them.
But at least they tried. I know this is not your fault, and certainly not your problem.
<Indeed not.>
I know you don't owe me anything in the form of a response at this point, but you should consider that if you're going to set yourselves up as an authority or a knowledge base you should at least give those people who seek your assistance something in the form of a response.
<With respect, I don't set myself up as an authority. I *am* an expert fishkeeper. I literally wrote the book on brackish water fishes! Go look on Amazon, and you'll see my book there.>
Hopefully a helpful answer but at least an acknowledgement of their issue.
<Seriously, it's very rare for us not to reply to messages. Even the angry ones!>
If nothing else, could you please at least address the issue in my previous email, so that should anyone else ever have the same problem I had they would be able to search the web and find useful advice. That much would be appreciated, and would make my loss feel like it's contributed to helping someone else's puffers live a little longer.
<Will certainly try.>
Hi, I've gotten a lot of useful info from your site so far, but even with using your search tool I'm not finding anything relevant to my situation.
Hard to know where to start so I'll just jump into it. I have a FW 20 gal hex tank that I keep my 2 F8 puffers in.
<Too small, the wrong shape, and the wrong salinity. Figure-8 puffers need about 20 gallons for the first one, and another 10 gallons for each additional one. Hexagon tanks are the wrong shape because they have a dire surface area to volume ratio. Puffers are exceedingly sensitive to low oxygen concentrations, so you need a wide, long, shallow tank. As for freshwater, this stresses Figure-8 puffers and dramatically shortens their lifespan. They need hard, basic, saline water -- you're aiming for 15+ degrees dH, GH 7.5-8, and a salinity about 20-25% that of normal seawater, i.e., about 6-9 grammes of marine aquarium salt mix per litre of water for a specific gravity at 25 C of 1.003-1.005.>
I've had them since the first week in February 2010. So to date it's been a little over 4 months that I've owned these two puffers. With the exception of the last 2 weeks I have not had any issues with them. About two weeks ago I noticed one of the puffers would tend to have faded colors especially when sleeping/resting.
<Poor colours imply stress, in this case because of poor environmental conditions.>
After he would become active his color would darken up some. I figured maybe it's just always been that way. We have a Jack Dempsey in a different tank who shows his colors based on his mood, so I didn't think much of the puffer's color change.
<Ah, somewhat different. Cichlids use colour to communicate; puffers not so much. If a puffer goes dark or abnormally faint during the day, it is very likely stressed.>
However more recently (within the last week) I've noticed his color doesn't darken up as much anymore, and now today his color is nearly faded to about the same darkness as his yellow/green lines. The other puffer looks fine, he doesn't seem to be showing any of the same signs.
I checked the tank with a ph kit, and a 5 in 1 test kit. My Nitrites were high,
<Lethal. Puffers have ZERO tolerance for ammonia and nitrite. Both must be zero at all times.>
and ph was really low(around 6.0). It was originally my understanding that the puffers did well in 6.8-7.0.
<Your "understanding" is completely wrong here. These are BRACKISH water puffers and MUST have a moderately high pH along with moderately high to high hardness and a low to middling salinity.>
I have since learned they need higher ph. All other parameters were in line.
<No mention of salinity yet.>
I've done a couple water changes, raised the ph and gotten the water optimal once again, but his color still remains faded.
<Yes, likely will until you provide consistently correct conditions.>
His belly is bright white, no discoloration around the mouth. He does appear to be clamping his tail fin, but I think he's always kind of done that. In addition to his faded colors he's fairly sluggish, and on occasion allows himself to be stuck to the filter inlet tube. I know he's suffering. When he comes to the front of the tank to visit he'll hover but also kind of wobbles in the space like he's having trouble maintaining his position.
<You're killing this fish through improper conditions; read, react, and change their environment.>
I had intentions of going BW with this tank, and I also understand that the salt will sooth some ailments.
<Soothe? No, no, no... nothing to do with ailments. These fish come from ESTUARIES. They need a mix of seawater and freshwater.>
So I have added about 6 tsp of tank salt. I'm not looking to go bw just yet just to help him feel better and start the process. I have searched the web high and low over the last 4 days looking for similar symptoms of F8 puffers and can find nothing.
<Couldn't have looked very far. Honestly, stories of people killing their Figure-8 puffers in immature and/or freshwater aquaria are two a penny.>
Please, I do hope you all still answer these emails and can possibly help me. My knee jerk reaction at this point is to treat the tank with Melafix or something similar, but I don't want to add stress by introducing an unnecessary chemical to the tank.
<For gosh sakes, the issue here is ENVIRONMENT. Are you aware that these fish CANNOT be kept in a freshwater aquarium? Do you understand they MUST NOT be kept in an immature aquarium?>
Let me know if I need to send you a pic of the puffer in his current state.
Lastly I wasn't able to stay and watch yesterday, but the afflicted puffer is typically the more aggressive eater, but I didn't see him eat. I can't say for certain that he didn't but I'm thinking he might not have.
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Emergency  6/19/10
I am in the Nashville, TN area and I am having a major problem with one of my figure 8 puffers that I have never had before.
<Tetraodon biocellatus, a brackish water species; if maintained in freshwater, it never exhibits good health for long. I trust you're keeping him in brackish water?>
His teeth have become over grown.
<Related to diet.>
My other one is fine. I feed them Krill, snails, occasional Tubifex worms, and some types of shell fish.
<Does need more crunchy, less soft food -- or this wouldn't be happening!>
I have called all the vets and LFS's around this area and they are telling me the same thing. He needs to be euthanized.
From fooling around on ya'lls site I know there are people out there that do this and I need to find some one to do it or he will die.
<All you need to do is use some cuticle clipper to trim the ends of the beak off. Not too difficult. Use some Clove Oil at a dose of about 2 drops per litre of aquarium water in a small container. Net the fish out, dip him in there until he calms down. Then using wet hands, hold the fish with one hand, and use the clippers to trim away the beak. You can peel the lips back very gently if you need to, but really, all you need to cut off is the bit that sticks out beyond the lips. Cuticle clippers are the only tool suitable for this -- don't try with scissors, nail clippers, etc! You need
the shape of cuticle clippers to do the job.>
Any advice?
<Cheers, Neale.>
<PS. Forgot to say. Once you're done with the clipping of his teeth, put him in the net, return him to the aquarium, and when he wakes up (after a minute or so) let him loose. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Emergency
yes I keep them in brackish water. wouldn't have it any other way. in my late mail you seen some of the things I was feeding my puffers....what else should I add to their diet?
<If it crunches, it's good! Snails are obviously good, but so are woodlice (I believe Americans call these "rolypolys" or something). Non-live foods include unshelled shrimps (particularly their legs), crayfish, and mussels
that have been smashed so the meat and shell is mixed. Some aquarium shops sell wet-frozen foods such as krill, Gammarus and whole lancefish -- these are also good, though I have to admit my puffers never cared much for
Gammarus. Realistically though, if you have a puffer predisposed to overgrown teeth, then you may as well get used to doing the dental work once or twice a year. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Emergency
Thanks for the how to on dentistry for puffers. I have owned several over the past 5 or so years as I've upgraded to a 75 gallon tank and never once have I had this problem.
<Agreed; the Figure-8 puffer is not a species for which overgrown teeth are a common problem, unlike, say, South American puffers which have very fast-growing teeth.>
Maybe ''he'' is predisposed....I'm sure I can get some more crunch in there however. I really appreciate the speedy response. I want to keep my puffer alive and healthy.
<And you will. This certainly isn't "fatal" by any means.
Jeni's article linked above is detailed and relevant here, but I don't agree with her re: the use of nets to grip the puffer while working, and instead prefer to use wet hands, which are, I feel, less likely to abrade the skin.>
I have another figure 8 who is especially fond of him. :)
<Ah yes, puffers are very much individuals, and some get along rather better than others. Cheers, Neale.>

Figure 8 puffer marks 5/13/10
Hello Crew,
Hope all is well. I recently purchased a figure 8 puffer which at first glance looked to be a fine specimen. When I got him home and into quarantine I noticed two very faint marks on his back. He is only about an inch and half and swims around perfectly and has a nice rounded belly. The two marks appear dull brown in color, they aren't raised, if anything they are a little indented, maybe not. They almost look like a scab would on a human but very very small and faint. One appears to be round about half the size of a pencil eraser, the other is kind of blotchy. His color is perfect beside those two very little marks, white belly too. I would try to take a picture but I'm afraid you wouldn't even be able to see them in a photo. After reading essentially everything I could on these guys I could not find anything that this might be. He is acting absolutely fine and will eat anything I offer. Could these be old scars from being nipped by a foe before I got him. I will continue to monitor him, but for now all is well.
<It is quite common for pufferfish to have circular bite marks on their bodies. Under good conditions these heal completely. The problem with Figure-8 puffers is that they are often sold as freshwater fish, which they
are not. If kept in freshwater conditions they are rarely healthy for long.
As you hopefully realise, this pufferfish needs slightly brackish water, around SG 1.003 being ideal. That's equivalent to about 6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre. The salinity will also suppress bacterial and fungal
infections. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Figure 8 puffer marks 5/13/10
Thanks for the quick response as always. I have written you before about my brackish tank, don't expect you to remember as you answer 100s of questions a week probably. It does indeed have a salinity of 1.005 and a PH of 7.5, so no worries. It has been cycled for a couple months now and currently houses a few bumble bee gobies which are doing very well and eating great.
Another question I have... I have been using live bearer salt which says makes a great brackish environment, I believe Seachem makes it, Ahhh yes they do -->
It did not say marine on it, but had specific directions for creating different estuary environments on it for all different types of fish. I have since ran out of that and picked up some Instant Ocean. Are these salts both OK? Do you recommend one more than the other. As always thanks for your dedication.
<Seachem Livebearer Salt is an odd mix of sodium chloride with carbonate salts, so it's good for raising the pH and alkalinity. Compared to marine salt mix it contains proportionally less sodium chloride and more carbonate salts, so what you're making isn't really brackish water at all. According to Seachem, it's formulated this way because that provides the right conditions for livebearers, particularly Mollies, without raising the salinity to a degree that plants won't grow. So it isn't creating "perfect" estuarine conditions, no matter what the packaging says. In other words, it's neither Rift Valley salt mix or marine salt mix, but something in between. While I wouldn't rush out to buy the stuff, I'm sure it'll be just fine for now. But once the package runs out, I'd switch to generic marine salt mix. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Figure 8 puffer marks 5/13/10
How about Instant Ocean, is that considered Marine Salt?
<Yes. Anything for marine aquaria is fine. Generic marine aquarium salt is fine. You don't need to use a fancy label for brackish water fishes. But whatever is cheapest.>
Is it any good for making brackish conditions?
<Cheers, Neale.>        
Re: Figure 8 puffer marks 5/13/10

Thanks again, my fish and I appreciate it.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>                                                                         

Figure 8 Puffer in Brackish Problems  2/13/10
My Figure 8 is exhibiting atypical behaviour; he is hanging out in one area, generally laying on the substrate or various other locations all around where there is high water flow from the HOB filter and with rapid respirations.
<When fish swim towards the filter, it often indicates they're trying to swim "out" of the tank, i.e., what they think is the direction of current.
I suppose they're trying to get away from whatever they feel is wrong with their present habitat. As such, it's always important to review the basic conditions. With pufferfish, these tend to be water quality, water chemistry, aquarium size, and tankmates -- in descending order of likelihood.>
His appetite is normal, he will come up and get his food and then immediately return to his "holding area".
<Indeed. The fact his appetite is normal tends to suggest water quality isn't critically bad, but if water quality is variable, he may be stressed during the dips, and hungry during the good times. Be open minded, and check the aquarium size, filter, and amount of food being offered are all appropriate. As a benchmark, I'd recommend not less than 20 gallons for Tetraodon biocellatus, are realistically, a bit more. In terms of filtration, the type of filter isn't critical, but it should have a high turnover, upwards of 6 times the volume of the tank per hour, and ideally 8 times. So for a 20 gallon tank, you'd be using a filter rated at not less than 6 x 20 = 120 gallons/hour.>
The big three water parameters are 0,0,0 with SG 1.04 and temp 26.
<What about aquarium size? And water chemistry? Marine salt mix will generally raise general hardness, carbonate hardness and pH adequately well, but if your water is soft, then it might not do this adequately. You do need around pH 7.5 to 8, 10+ degrees dH, 5+ degrees KH.>
His behaviour fist changed several weeks ago from his typical outgoing and inquisitive behaviour after I added three Bumble Bee Gobies to the tank.
Over the following weeks I noticed both species of fish rubbing against objects in the tank and I ran a couple of treatments of PraziPro.
<Adding livestock normally introduces ciliate parasites like Ick and Velvet. For these, Prazi Pro is useless. Indeed, because of the complex life cycles of most worm parasites, it's relatively uncommon for fish to infect one another. Camallanus is the notable exception. Mostly, worms come with fish that have been maintained outdoors, where things like water birds and snails are available to complete the parasites' life cycle.>
The F8 slowly started to retreat to his area during this period. I attributed the change in behaviour to intimidation by the BBGs, there was initially a mistaken concept of food by the F8 and the BBGs had seemed to have turned the table, but things were tame with the odd instance of a BBG nipping at the F8. Assuming that the BBGs were intimidating my F8, I returned them back to the LFS from where I got them (and mentioned that they were rubbing). But there was no change in behaviour in the F8, back to his old self, remaining in his holding area.
<Brachygobius species aren't much of a threat to Tetraodon biocellatus; indeed, the two species get along quite well, given space and hiding places.>
Two nights ago, I was doing a gravel vac/water change and noticed a 2 to 3 mm white free swimming (serpentine motion) worm in the water. The following night I did a 1 hour dip in potassium permanganate hoping to rid him of any immediate parasites. There doesn't seem to be any improvement yet, but I am hoping.
<No, no, no... these random medications are more likely to stress your fish.>
Any suggestions on the worm (sorry didn't get a good look or photo) or the treatment? Naturally I am suspecting gill flukes. I also realized that I am probably going to have to nuke the whole tank with strong dose of potassium permanganate (removing the F8 first), unless you can recommend something less drastic.
<Look, start by reviewing environmental conditions. Much more likely cause of problems. Check water quality more than once through the day, perhaps immediately after feeding, and then an hour afterwards, and then another
hour afterwards. If the filter isn't working properly, you might have great water quality before you feed your fish, but lousy water quality afterwards. Check also water chemistry, in particular pH, just to see if the marine salt mix is buffering adequate. If you suspect external parasites, which is possible if you introduced new fish, the best solution
is to raise salinity across a week or so, from where it is now up to SG 1.010, which is about half-strength seawater. To do this, replace 20% of the water in the tank with SG 1.010 water every day or two. Doing this slowly will allow the filter to adjust. Anyway, half-strength seawater will kill off virtually any external parasite transmitted by freshwater fish.>
The only three possible sources of introduction could be from the Bumble Bee Gobies, feeding black worms, or maybe in frozen Mysis Shrimp(?).
<How long have you had this pufferfish? Do check the diet you're offering is sufficiently diverse, and do in particular review Marco's excellent article on thiaminase elsewhere on this site. Because so many seafoods contain thiaminase, vitamin B1 deficiency is probably not uncommon among puffers.>
<Cheers, Neale.>  

Re: Figure 8 Puffer in Brackish Problems  2/13/10
My KH is between 70 and 80 mg/l and PH is around 7.2.
<pH is on the low side. Do read here:
Another thing I forgot to mention is that I am using the API freshwater kit for my testing, I don't know if the brackish water will effect any of the tests and my email to API was kindly not responded to.
<Freshwater kits are fine.>
Yes, I do realize that there was not any real threat to the F8, but I figured that he was being intimated by the typical behaviour of the BBGs and that was the most prominent explanation for the change in his behaviour at the time.
<Would surprise me if this was the case.>
Well not entirely random since both are treatments for external parasites which there was two signs indicating possible parasites. PraziPro, I have read is relatively benign and potassium permanganate is certainly more drastic, but it should have killed any and all external parasite shouldn't have it?
<Prazi Pro is for internal worm parasites. As for potassium permanganate, it's a highly toxic chemical, and kills everything. Can't think of any good reason why you'd be using it. At sufficient dose to kill external ciliate parasites it'd kill your fish, too.>
Observing fish abrade themselves against objects is usually a fairly strong indication that there is a parasite present on the fish, isn't it?
<Not really. "Flashing" as this behaviour is called is a response to irritation of the gills, like you itching yourself. Sometimes the problem is Velvet or Ick, but it could just as easily be ammonia, nitrite, or acidosis. Any of these things will irritate the gills, eliciting the flashing behaviour.>
I can not see anything, apart from the free swimming worms in the tank,|
<What worms? Flatworms, i.e., those things crawling along the glass, are usually harmless, but do indicate pretty dirty tank conditions, since they feed on detritus and the microbes that live on it. Nematodes, the thin hair-like roundworms, can be parasitic, but most of the visible ones are again free living, non-parasitic ones.>
but together they indicate that a parasitic problem my deserve consideration.
<Consideration perhaps. But not before ruling out the other, more probable, things.>
With the rapid respiration of the fish combined with it's behavioural change of parking itself in an area of high water flow water area, I immediately started to strongly suspect gill flukes.
<Why? In 25+ years of keeping aquarium fish I've never seen gill flukes on aquarium species. They're pretty rare, and mostly an issue with pond fish.>
I do 50% weekly water changes weekly and am running at probably a minimum of 10X filtration and all of my water parameters are stable with the exception of salinity which I have been ever so slightly increasing over the past several weeks.
He is actually a very tidy eater, he takes a shrimp in his mouth and eats away at it until it is gone, so there isn't a significant food waste being generated because I feed one shrimp at a time, once a day.
I will naturally increase salinity to 1.010, how long should I hold it there?
<As long as you want.>
I have had the F8 for about a month, I would guess. Keeping a fish journal would probably come in handy. The multivitamin, Kent Zoe does have B1 in it, but will naturally check out Marco's article.
<Good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Pufferfish - 6th Feb 2010
Hi, We have (or had) two Figure of Eight Pufferfish and 3 Green Spotted Pufferfish all of whom have lived very happily in a brackish tank. They have always had salt, having researched the web before buying them.
<How much salt? Adding too little won't help, and adding too much can severely stress them. You haven't mentioned the specific gravity at all in this message. If you fall for the "teaspoon per gallon" type rules, you can
end up adding the wrong about of salt. You absolutely must measure the saltiness of each bucket of water you add to the aquarium.>
They are in a 130L
<Is this 130 litres or a 130 gallons "long"? 130 litres is 35 US gallons and far too small for 5 pufferfish of these types. Would be fine for 2 or 3 Figure-8s, but GSPs are big, fast-growing fish that become quite aggressive
as they mature.>
aquarium with sand, lots of plastic aquarium cover and hiding places (we have tried live plants but in the brackish water they just did not survive).
<You do need to check the right species. Figure-8s prefer a relatively low salinity, SG 1.003-1.005 at 25 degrees C, and various plants will thrive under such conditions. GSPs do need middling to high salinity, SG 1.005 upwards, and are generally not kept in planted tanks. The two puffer species are not normally kept together because of their different sizes, personalities, and requirements.>
They are fed only live food
<What sort of live food? All live food carries some risks, and some severe risks.>
and a varied diet and have for the past 4 years lived very happily together with no problem and an obvious hierarchy amongst them.
Last night the largest of the Figure of Eights started bumping into things and eventually its eyes glazed over and it began swimming upside down.
This morning it has died and we have two of the Green Spotted Pufferfish starting to exhibit the same behaviour. The water was changed this week 25% of the tank (this is our normal two weekly routine) and Nutracycle added.
<Nutracycle is fairly pointless stuff. Well, it's useful for the retailer because it makes them money.>
Having tested the water last night there is nothing apparently wrong with it and the levels are all absolutely perfect.
<Not enough data. Tell me the pH, specific gravity and nitrite at minimum.>
Do you have any suggestions as to what we could possibly do to help save our lovely fish x
<Need more data. Could be any number of things: accidental poisoning, misuse of salt, misuse of copper-based medications, faulty heater, risky live foods, etc. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Pufferfish - 6th Feb 2010
Hi Neale,
Thanks for your prompt reply.
<My pleasure.>
My husband is the fish keeper and he tells me the salt level is 1.003 and he tests it with a refractometer. He measures it exactly at each water change.
<Adequate for Figure-8s, but will be too low for GSPs once they're more than a 2-3 inches long.>
They are in 100 litres of water - sorry my mistake - in a 120l aquarium.
<Much too small.>
The fish are all under 3cms and we had the Figure of 8's first and then introduced the Green Spotted after recommendation by the Aquatic Centre.
<The London Aquatic Centre? I know it well...>
They have not really shown any form of aggression and seem to choose to be near each other in the tank.
<Perhaps not, but the GSPs are still babies. It's the sexually mature animals that become aggressive.>
We feed them a variety of food, blood worms, brine shrimp, snails, mussels, clams, they don't like Mysis and shrimp. They also have live river shrimp in with them and do occasionally eat them.
<OK. Do review thiaminase elsewhere on this site, and I'd add krill and small pieces of white fish fillet to their diet.>
The PH last night was slightly acidic at 6.5, nitrite was 0.5.
<Well, that's why the fish are dying. Are you adding marine salt mix or tonic salt? Had to be marine salt mix. And if you're using marine salt mix at the right level, and you're in Southeast England where the water is quite hard, then it's very odd you have an acidic pH. Let me just be clear here, refractometers are no more accurate than guesswork if not used correctly. They're fiddly and need to be calibrated. As a first pass, I'd always recommend weight salt and then adding it to the bucket. So for SG 1.003, that's 6 grammes per litre, so for a 10 litre bucket, you'd add 60 grammes. By all means use a hydrometer or refractometer to double check. My Brack Calc program makes this easy to do.
Marine salt mix contains carbonate and bicarbonate salts that should raise pH and hardness. If 6 grammes per litre doesn't do the trick, go to 9 grammes, SG 1.005, and see what happens. As for the non-zero nitrite, that'll kill puffers very quickly. Implies poor water quality: overfeeding, overstocking, immature filter, inadequate filter capacity. For a pufferfish aquarium, be generous; choose a filter system rated at not less than 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So for 100 litre tank,
you'd use a 600 litre/hour filter. Ideally, and especially once the fish are full grown, use an even bigger filter, turnover 8 times the volume of the tank.>
We have replaced the heater this week as the old one was damaged when cleaning them out - my husband dropped it when cleaning!
The only other thing that has been happening recently is that we have had two or three power cuts within the area in the last month, but not for long and we have an alarm on the tank for the heat and this did not fluctuate too much.
<Power cuts more than 20 minutes are more serious in terms of filtration.
Closed filters, like external canister filters, should be opened up and the biological media rested in basins or buckets just covered with water, so they can get oxygen. Stuck inside a canister filter with no power the bacterial suffocate.>
We also have a separate temperature gauge and the tank is at a constant 75-76 degrees. We haven't used any medication and don't have a carbon filter in at present and wondered if perhaps this would help as the tank looks a little cloudy.
<No, carbon won't help. Cloudiness is either a bacterial bloom (common in new tanks) or silt (if you added dirty substrate). Bacterial blooms die down once water quality improves, and silt is removed via mechanical filtration, e.g., filter wool.>
We now have all four remaining fish not looking well and either sitting on the bottom or floating around the top bumping into things. We know they are prone to 'sulking' as when we lost a previous puffer before adding the
Green Spotted Puffers the two Figure of 8's did not come out at all. The Aquatic Centre told us they can grieve!
<Rubbish. I have listened in on the staff at this shop, and while often the advice they give is good, sometimes it's dubious. As always, don't rely on someone selling you something. Read a book, or write to us.>
and recognise they have lost another fish - not sure how convinced we were of that, but it might make you smile!!! and this is the sort of behaviour two are currently exhibiting on the bottom of the tank.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Pufferfish - 6th Feb 2010
Thanks very much for your advice, we will do what we can and hope they survive.
<There's no reason they shouldn't survive, provided you do the right things. "Hope" doesn't come into it! Good luck, Neale.>

Figure 8 puffer in need of help 12/08/09
My figure 8 puffer that I have had for almost 5 years has had for the last couple weeks, a distended stomach, and is starting to float in the tank completely straight up and down. It's almost as if he/she is trying to keep from floating to the top.
<Not good>
He will still eat when I put food in the tank, and when he wants to can swim around O.K. but when he stops he goes vertical. He's in the tank with another figure 8 who is doing fine, water tests fine. He also has a little crook in his tale but I'm assuming his belly is the cause; maybe?
Thanks Jason
<Think so; but in turn, what's the cause of "his belly?"... Either something it ate that is gasifying, an entrapment of air from gulping same at the surface or... something else. I might try a level tsp. of Epsom salt, MgSO4 per five gallons of system volume here to see if this will help, but as the fish is otherwise able and wanting to feed currently, and its conspecific appears fine, I would hold off on physically manipulating ("burping") it, or adding any other remedy. Bob Fenner>

Re: Figure 8 puffer in need of help  12/11/09
The Epsom salt after 3 days has not worked. How long can this take??
<Perhaps a week>
I read one of your post on burping and gave it try more or less to see what the belly felt like. I did this in the tank under water and it felt like he had twigs, or hay in stomach.
<May well have a good deal of sand inside... not a worry though. Puffers are known to ingest such ala the "crop" of some birds... thought to assist in triturating/grinding of foods, liberation of internal parasites>
He still is eating when I feed (frozen/cubed brine). He 's in 20 gal tank, I put in 4tsp of Epsom salt. Any advice would be helpful. I'll say this he isn't going down without a fight, and I never thought in my wildest dreams I could so attached to a fish!!!!
<I urge further patience. These "things" take time. As long as the fish is eating, there is good reason to not lose faith. Bob Fenner>

Figure 8 Puffer... fdg., hlth., stkg.   11/24/09
I have had 2 figure 8 puffers for about 4 yrs. They have been thriving in their 55 gallon tank with lots of aquatic wood and plants. The parameters in my tank are fine. pH-8.2 constant. Nitrate- 0. Nitrite-0. Ammonium-0.
Specific Gravity/salinity- 1.06.
<Sounds a lovely aquarium with plenty of space. If you have live plants, you might nudge the salinity down a wee bit, to 1.005, as that'll suit a wider variety of plants without causing any harm at all to the puffers.>
Which leads me to my story. I had a puffer die the other day due to my own fault. I was cleaning all the mechanical stuff in my tank as I always do.
The last thing I cleaned was the cap on my canister filter inlet. I obviously forgot to turn it off (i know how horrible I can't believe I did that)
<We've all done stuff like this, so don't feel too bad. You learned your lesson.>
and he/she got wedge in there a little and by the time I realized he was dead. The question is about my other puffer. Since the ones death the other hasn't eaten (2 days) is this normal behavior?
<No, not normal at all.>
I haven't seen any spots on his skin that could suggest disease. His belly is nice and white other than where you see that their spikes can come out.
I am completely baffled, but I don't want him to starve to death (although he is nice and plump). I have been changing my water more than normal to combat whatever it is just in case it is disease. They were never sick a day in their life here with me! Can you offer any advice as to what to do?
<He should start eating soon, but you might consider buying two (not one) new Figure-8s to keep him company. While usually described as solitary fish, Figure-8s do seem to enjoy being kept in tanks where there are other members of their kind. Perhaps it's a social thing, or maybe they feel secure knowing other members of their species are in the same environment.
I'd get two rather than one so there's less chance of bullying. Indeed, your tank is very large given the maximum size of Figure-8s (around 8 cm/3 inches) so you could comfortably keep five or six specimens if you wanted.
That might even be the ideal. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Figure 8 Puffer, comp.  11/24/09
Thanks for you help.
<My pleasure.>
This figure 8 was never aggressive towards my other it was quite the other way around.
<Often the case. Possibly a gender difference? It's the males that guard the eggs, so may well be the more territorial.>
I was planning on getting 2 more.
I just didn't want to ge them until I knew everything in my tank was okay.
I never added new ones with the old two for fear of bullying, but the puffer that is left is quite docile considering the species.
<Figure-8s are variable, but they're rarely as out-and-out nasty as things like Tetraodon fluviatilis.>
I hand feed him and when I stick my hands in the tank to rearrange things he comes up to me and rubs his side on my hands.
<Sounds like he (or she) is a happy little puff.>
I try to not let him do that seeing since they do not have scales, but this puffer is something special.
<Puffers actually have quite tough skin, and while they don't have normal scales, they have evolved to resist abrasions. Their whole defence system works around the animal not being damaged if bitten or grabbed by a predator. So within reason, and so long as your hands are wet, petting a puffer isn't something to be too afraid of. One of the two puffer species I own, the South American puffers, need to have their teeth trimmed periodically, and that involves some fairly firm handling. As yet, no harm done!>
Not much like his other figure 8 friends.
<Oh. As they say, every puffer is unique.>
Anyways to draw a long story to a close he did finally eat today and your help is much appreciated by us all!!!
<Glad there's a happy ending.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Figure 8 puffers w/ possible ich problems 11-8-08 Hi, We have 2 figure eight puffers in a 29 gallon tank and have had them in there for about 3 weeks or so. We have been feeding them a good and varied diet of shell-on-shrimp, frozen krill, crab and clams. <Hello! Keep up the great work on the variation of their diet.> The tank has been up and running for about 3 months now and it seems to be fully cycled. Current parameters: 0 NH3, 0 nitrite, ~5 nitrate, pH 8.2 and we haven't had any problems with the ammonia or nitrites in about 2 months now. Prior to have these two puffers, we had one figure eight that we lost to internal parasites which we tried to treat too late. The salinity is 1.004-1.005 and we have been slowly stepping it up. We do regular weekly water changes of ~40-50%, using Prime as a dechlorinator. Both figure eights were so healthy, have great appetites, bright white full bellies, pooping nice and solid brown (no evidence of internal parasites) with their bellies staying nice and full, long after eating. <Sounds like you have a great pair of figure eights, mine is constantly begging for food and play time.> So about 2 days ago, my fiancé and I noticed that both figure eights were only swimming with one pectoral fin. Last night, my fiancé noticed one doing a little bit of flashing, and again, the other was only using one pectoral fin, and only looked like he was using one gill at a time. I did a 40% water change last night; just to be safe (even though water tested fine) and they ate ok. Not as voraciously as normal, but they still ate. My fiancé told me that during the day he noticed some flashing and when I got home from work, one of the figure eights was breathing fine, using both pectoral fins, but still noticed a little flashing, while the other figure eight wasn't using either pectoral fin at times, and I also saw him flash a couple of times. So definitely we have a problem. <I would have to agree with you. It sounds like the onset of disease for your figure eights.> We have had a 55 freshwater tank up and running for about 5 years now and we had an ich outbreak with a new fish we didn't quarantine properly about 2 years ago and I don't "see" any ich spots like I did for that outbreak on our puffers but I know it starts to show in the gills usually. I don't see any other signs of parasites on the gills themselves, like gill flukes or anything nothing is visible on the gills except for that they are a little bit inflamed and little reddish. <Yea, that is not a good sign.> We had had the temp at about 80 degrees F, so I have been increasing it tonight slowly and no we have it at about 82-83 right now. They both ate tonight, still not as voraciously as normal, but both ate okay. Also, I did another 40% water change, and was due for a salinity increase anyway, so I stepped up the salinity with marine mix and it is probably somewhere around a solid 1.005-1.006 when I measure with the refracto. tomorrow morning. <Sounds great! Keep up those water changes!> Do you think it sounds like ich?? Plus, how would I best combat it in a brackish tank? I've only had experience treating in freshwater (with the temp raised to about 86 degrees and addition of 1-2 TBSP aquarium salt/5 gallons for about 2.5-3 weeks worked like a charm to treat that ich). That's why I instinctively raised the temp up tonight and am trying to get the salt up a little without risking doing it too fast and ruining my bio-filtration. Sorry for the super-long question, don't want to lose these guys! <Well, thanks for all the information it really helps with answering your question. Regarding your figure eights, it does sound like onset of disease. Sounds, from your description, that ick could be making an appearance. Since the salinity has been raised and the temperature increased you are already on your way to helping your puffers. Just keep in mind that if you decided to medicate them that puffers do not have scales and medication affects them differently than other fish. Keep an eye on your puffers for any white spots and keep up on the water changes. Here are some links that should help your situation: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/brichfaqs.htm , http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9 > Thanks, Sandy <You are welcome and good luck!! Merritt A.>

Figure 8 puffer question, fdg. mostly     9/20/08 Hi. <Hello.> We have had a figure 8 puffer for about 3 months now. We have a 55 gal, brackish tank set up, crushed coral substrate, salinity is ~1.004-5 right now, pH ~8.0-8.2, nitrates and ammonia both 0, and we do ~25-30% water changes weekly. We have been varying the puffer's diet, giving him lots of seafood like clams, shell-on shrimp, frozen krill, frozen crab legs. I also always dose his food with Zoe Marine vitamins. He has quickly become my favorite fish in the tank! The other fish in the tank (which I know both are not brackish fish, but I have inherited taking care of this tank and doing the 'fish research' from my fiancé who had these fish in low-end brackish conditions for the past 5-6 years and never knew they weren't brackish) are one 4" clown loach (had this guy for about a year and is thriving and growing fast), one ~7" banded Leporinus and one ~8" red tail tinfoil barb. <Clown Loaches (according to Bob Fenner at least) are found in brackish water, and apparently will tolerate such conditions well; as for the other two species, I suspect in the long term they will need to be rehoused. To be fair, there are numerous barbs in slightly brackish water and you may be fine with the Tinfoil Barb, at least for a while, and if it keeps eating and swimming about normally I'd not worry overly much. But the Leporinus won't like the salinity at all. I'd strongly suggest lowering the SG to 1.003; that would be ample for the Pufferfish but not so high the other species would be stressed, at least not in the short- to medium-term.> My fiancé (three days ago) purchased a Columbian shark, which he did without doing research :( just knowing that he was a cute fish and brackish. <They are indeed lovely fish. But GREGARIOUS! And how! Singletons are never happy for long.> So, when he got home and I did the research, we realized how big this fish will get, so he is due to return this fish (under my demands!) to the LFS tomorrow. My question is: when we first got the puffer, he ate voraciously, every time I put food in the tank. It seems over the past week or so, he's 'gone off' his food... Because of the bigger fish, I usually hand feed him with forceps, or put his food into a large net and he swims right in and feeds by himself in the net. Could it be that the addition of the shark is causing him to go off his food. <Possible. But I'd not worry unduly. Once the Shark Catfish has gone, he should settle down. Shark Catfish do produce low frequency clicking sounds that sound to many other fish like threats. Have observed this when keeping them with Triggerfish, and trust me, mayhem ensued!> He's accepted none of the shrimp/ crab/ clam that I've offered him the past three nights, and has only pecked and eaten a little bit of some freeze dried krill I put in there as a last resort... his belly is still bright, bright white, and he has been acting normally, other than always keeping an eye on where the Columbian shark is. The only thing I've noticed is that he always did some flashing off the heater (he seems to love to rub his little body on it) but have seen no signs of any external parasites or ich... so he's still doing that flashing type behavior, but I always thought that that was normal in small doses for puffers. (Also, his beak looks great and doesn't look overgrown) <I'd not worry too much until the Catfish has gone; but I would be alert to Whitespot (Ick) or Velvet, both diseases that commonly appear after adding new fish. Neither is normally a problem in brackish water tanks, but I'd keep my eyes open anyway.> Any help? He used to zip right to the front of the tank whenever I went to feed the other fish, and I haven't seen this behavior in quite some time. I think hopefully that once we get the Columbian shark back to the LFS, he'll go back to feeding as normal. Is feeding him still once a day too much (he is ~2" long)... I have seen other people feed their puffers every other day? <The jury is out about the best way to feed predatory fish including puffers. I'm very much in the "small meals, but often" camp, though there's no question that in the wild infrequent big meals is much more typical. With puffers in community situations, I'd recommend keeping the puffer reasonably well fed so that it doesn't decide to nip the fins of its tankmates. Perhaps not the best way to keep them in terms of dietary behaviour in the wild, but a practical approach nonetheless. Cheers, Neale.>

Fw: Figure 8 puffer question Sorry, meant to include a 'thanks' in there! Sandy <No problems. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Figure 8 puffer question  9/23/08 Hi, <Hello!> I have monitored our puffer over the weekend, he still was not eating (only took some pecks at some bloodworms as a last ditch effort last night, he is rejecting all fleshy, meaty foods I've been offering him)... and I've now noticed a spot (white) that was always present on one of his pectoral fins appears larger maybe, he is doing a LOT more flashing, and is starting to clamp his fins...one fin, then the other. <The white spot could easily be Finrot, or the begins of, at least. Finrot is specifically blockages of blood vessels, and these cause tissue to bleed and die, and that's when you start seeing the red stuff. So I'd be treating for Finrot, using something suitable for pufferfish, such as Maracyn.> Starting to really think this may be gill flukes?!? <Never, ever encountered this. Certainly possible with wild-caught fish I suppose. Gill flukes are external parasites (despite seemingly inside the fish) and can usually be flushed out by changes of salinity. Given you have a euryhaline puffer species, I'd be doing daily saltwater dips (35 grammes salt per litre of water of equal temperature to the aquarium; cooking sea salt, tonic salt, marine mix all fine). Dip for at least 2 minutes and really anything up to 20 minutes. You're fine with the dip until the fish rolls over: then get the fish out! In theory this is shock to both the fish and gill parasite, but the fish being bigger (and euryhaline in this case) can tolerate the shock better than the tiny, stenohaline parasite. Do also see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwfshparasites.htm > I have done a little online research, and with the current fish we have in the tank, I don't want to drastically increase the salt... would something like Coppersafe be okay for all of my other fish? <Clown Loaches have a reputation for reacting badly to copper/formalin medications, so would tend to treat the pufferfish in a QT tank or via dips in another container of water.> (none of the other fish are exhibiting any symptoms). Thanks. Sandy <Fundamentally you may be hitting the wall here re: salinity; these Pufferfish just don't do well in freshwater conditions, and raising the salinity to what he needs will stress (likely kill) the Barbs and Loaches. This is often the problem with brackish water fish; it's not that they can't live in freshwater, they can, but they just become so much more sensitive to disease that it becomes a constant battle. In any case, would treat this fish with saltwater dips in the first instance, and secondly be reviewing conditions in the tank re: the preferences of this species. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Figure 8 puffer question  9/25/08 Hi, <Hello,> Thanks so much for your prior advice. I, too, think it's Finrot. Just a minor case though, I think. He has a little bit of signs of 'fraying' of his fins... plus I 'think' I noticed a little bit of reddening of under his tail area... but hard to tell. In any case, I really think it was induced not by poor water quality, but by stress of being in the 55 gallon tank with so many other fish. <Social stress is unlikely to cause Finrot, though aggressive behaviour between fish certainly can. Do keep an open mind about water quality. Even in big tanks with proper filters, you can have occasional problems with pH instability or high nitrate levels.> SO, our 20 gallon (which was a fairly newly cycled tank, only up for 3 weeks), which housed 4 platys only at the time, we have decided to use as a hospital tank/ permanent home for our puffer (if he makes it :!!) We got our pH up to 8.0, and I added ~ a cup of marine salt, just to slowly bring up the salinity. The platys are now transferred, and we drip acclimated our puffer, and have now put him into the 20 gallon. He is still obviously a little freaked out by the transfer, but doesn't look stressed. <Platies can, will adapt to moderate salinity, but I wouldn't take them above SG 1.005.> Question is, I bought some Maracyn plus tonight... should I dose the tank? I am worried that since the tank is so 'newly' cycled, that we may crash the tank and kill off all the good bacteria. <Maracyn -- used correctly -- has little to no effect on filter bacteria. Do review instructions on the packaging carefully, and don't forget to make a (say, 10%) deduction to the volume of the tank taken up with gravel and rocks.> But, I don't want to leave him untreated... I have all the original tank ornaments in there, same cycled filter media, and also added BioSpira (on the advice of my guy at the pet store)... plus, he is in a tank w/ aragonite.... should I worry about dosing with Maracyn plus, or go ahead with it.. thanks SO much. we love this guy!! <Go for it! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Figure 8 puffer question  9/25/08 Hi, Just as an update to my earlier question, he is in the 20 gallon tank, ph ~8.0, sal 1.002, nitrate/ ammonia both 0.... When I woke up a little while ago and checked on him, he seems okay, still not responsive to food, and I noticed some stingy white poo coming from him (never seen that before).... any ideas??? <Could be Hexamita; do see WWM re: Metronidazole/Flagyl for treatment. Hexamita parasites irritate the gut wall, causing excess production of mucous, and the faeces end up looking white and stringy. It's primarily observed (in freshwater tanks) among cichlids, but other fish can exhibit this or related diseases.> His white spot on his fin is no worse, no better.. but I still haven't added any medication to his tank yet?? I don't see any more flashing, just the white poo and also the small spot on his pectoral fin....and the 'weathered' fins (just his tail fin and pectoral fins look a bit 'weathered' like fin rot??? <A photo would help here, as these symptoms are a bit vague. Do treat promptly for Finrot in any event.> Thanks! <Cheers, Neale.>

Figure Eight Puffer Sick 9/9/08 Hello, <Good evening,> Thank you in advance for the time you take to answer everyone's and my questions. I recently acquired a new figure eight puffer. I am at school and I had one last year sadly he passed during shipping to get him home. I cycled the tank doing a fishless cycle. I changed out the water before bringing him home. Made sure he never left the water and have been feeding him krill ever since. He is showing no signs of distress, is happily eating and exploring the tank. However, I noticed that he had a light blue bump on his side near the front of his anal fin, right next to the anus. I got worried and asked around and have received no answer. I decided to try Melafix, though it may be useless, and I am on day two. <Melafix is, at best, a preventative that has mild antiseptic properties that can clean wounds before infection develops. Some would argue I'm being generous even by saying that. In any case, when fish show wounds, I prefer to use something that is more, let us say, reliable. In the US, the preferred drug for this is Maracyn, which will treat three different issues that can develop from wounds: Finrot, Fungus, and Mouth Fungus (not a fungal infection, despite the name).> The plot thickens as now today I see that the single dot appears to have turned into three. So now I am freaking out and wondering is this fungus or parasite or bacteria or what? <Do need a photo to be sure. Have you crossed Whitespot/Ick of the list of possibilities? How big are these cysts?> He was wild caught and I received him from a trusted LFS, they do have a 14 day live policy in case of problems but I'd like to save this guy. My parameters are Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 15, SG 1.004, pH 7.6, Temp 79 deg F. Any help is greatly appreciated. <All parameters sound fine. A photo would help to take this further.> Thank you <Cheers, Neale.>

Puffer swimming vertical... (Tetraodon biocellatus; env., hlth.)    8/14//08 I've had my Figure 8 Puffer for about 3 weeks now. A few days ago, I noticed he wasn't using one of his side fins very often and was somewhat bumping into objects. <Does sound odd. As ever, do water tests to check (at minimum) nitrite, pH and salinity. Puffers are extremely sensitive to declines in water quality, despite being (on the whole) pretty adaptable as far as water chemistry goes. But being a brackish water species, acidification would be very troublesome, and this is something that can happen "of a sudden" if the tank is overstocked/inadequately maintained.> All of a sudden yesterday, his tail started floating to the point that it was vertical, with his head looking straight down in the tank. He wasn't using his side fins, although he was using his top and bottom fins towards the tail, (but not actually using his tail to swim.) At one point, he propped his tail against an object to keep it from floating and just sat there. This continued and when I woke up last night, he was sucked against the filter and I figured he was dead, but when I came back with the net, he was swimming around again, but with the same symptoms. <Hmm...> I checked the water and ammonia levels were quite high so I went to the store and bought ammonia neutralizer. <Ah, there you go. Now, do understand that "ammonia neutraliser" has no impact on ammonia produced by the fish. That's the job of your biological filter. If you've suddenly got a spike in ammonia that wasn't there before, then you have either done something bad to the filter (e.g., over-cleaned the biological media) or else overstocked the tank and/or overfed the fish. Ammonia neutraliser is for removing ammonia from tap water. Nothing more. It makes tap water that has ammonia safe to use. It cannot be used to reverse ammonia problems caused by overstocking, overfeeding, under-filtering.> I cleaned the gravel and changed about 30% of the water and added store-bought spring water to replace it and cleaned the carbon filter, which was quite dirty. I added the ammonia neutralizer and also ph minus and also replaced a given amount of salt... <Hang on a second... First, under NO circumstances should you be using a "ph minus" product. Figure-8 puffers are brackish water fish and need a pH around about 7.5 to 8. The marine salt mix will be buffering the pH level nicely without any need for additional chemicals. Secondly, what's the "given amount of salt"? A lot of people mistakenly use aquarium salt or tonic salt with this species. What you MUST use is marine salt mix (Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, etc.) at a dose of at least 6-9 grammes per litre so that you have a specific gravity not less than 1.003 and ideally around 1.005. You use a hydrometer to test the specific gravity. Thirdly, carbon isn't really of much use here, and certainly has NOTHING to do with an ammonia spike. Carbon removes dissolved organic chemicals from the water, and as you know ammonia isn't an organic chemical! Carbon (in my opinion) is redundant in a properly run freshwater or brackish water aquarium, and the space it uses would be better off stocked with more biological media (sponge, ceramic noodles).> After the change, he seemed to be doing better within a couple hours.. Using his side fins more often, not going vertical as much and I hoped all was well. <He was happier because the water change diluted the ammonia. Nothing more permanent than that.> But I just looked up and he was floating vertical at the top, not swimming at all, and its tail was curved to one side. I touched him with a net and now he's gone back to swimming, without using his side fins, having a tendency to go vertical. When he does swim, he slows down and then speeds up. <Because the ammonia has gone back up again. The ammonia neutraliser is of no use at all here, and you need to be addressing the actual problem, which is likely poor choice of filtration, overstocking, and/or overfeeding.> The 10 gallon freshwater tank (with partial salt) is only about a month old and went through it's "cycle" a while back, but 2 partial water changes have been made since then. <A 10-gallon tank is too small for Tetraodon biocellatus. Even if it wasn't, a tank one month old will not be cycled properly, and certainly won't be safe for a species as delicate as a puffer. I have no clue what "partial salt" means, and I suspect you don't know either: please understand, adding a teaspoon of aquarium salt isn't what this species needs and won't keep it alive. You need to be adding a significant amount of MARINE salt mix so that the pH, carbonate hardness, and salinity are all appropriate. De see here for the basics on brackish water aquaria: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracsystems.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/20qsbrmonks.htm And also here for more on this species of pufferfish: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishsubwebindex/fig8pufsys.htm > His tankmates are 3 Danios 1 Cory catfish. It has a gravel bottom and he's been fed 1 cube of Redworms every day. <OK, the tankmates are completely inappropriate. As soon as the salinity goes high enough for the Puffer to be healthy, the other fish die. Move them out.> If he were dying, I'd think he'd be dead by now so I don't know what it could be. Help is appreciated. <I know precisely what's the matter: wrong environment, poor water quality, insufficient salinity. These are the things you need to fix, or yes, he'll die.> He has never inflated, "puffed", since I've owned him. <Not a problem; they don't usually puff unless they're stressed. Anyway, I hope this helps and you're able to secure a better environment for this fish. Good luck, Neale.>

Puffer w/ich 04/1/08 Hello, I just recently purchased a F8 puffer and while he seemed fine at the store, he appears to have a few white spots on his tail now since yesterday. He has been a good eater this week and generally acting like a puffer, but today it seems that he is holding one of his pectoral fins close to his body and is not using it to hover around, however still very interested in food. He is in a SG of 1.003 with a Knight Goby and 2 small mollies in a 30" long 20 gallon tank. I intend to raise the salinity to 1.005 over time, but did not want to shock my plants or my bacteria. <Going from SG 1.003 to SG 1.005 should be fine.> He was in a freshwater tank with African cichlids at the LFS. <Poor thing.> Since puffers are a bit delicate to meds, what temp and salinity can I use to combat this if it does indeed sound like ich to you? <SG 1.003 should do the trick all by itself, and certainly SG 1.005 would.> BTW, Water is ph 8.0, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 5, SG 1.003, 2 HOB filters at 250 gph combined, temp 82F <All sounds nice.> Any help would be greatly appreciated. K <Good luck, Neale.>

Figure Eight Puffer Not Doing Well   11/6/07 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I bought a figure eight puffer about a week ago. She is housed with two bumblebee gobies in a twenty gallon tank. The tank has been established for months now and the water parameters are as they should be. <It's always best to post your parameters when asking a question about your tank.> The problem is that overnight my puffer turned very light-colored and her eyes look cloudy. <Puffer eyes sometimes look cloudy, depending on how the light hits them. They can go pale when sleeping.> She has continued eating but her belly looks strange... it is bumpy and bigger on one side than the other. <That's her food.> Also, her mouth stays open and I don't know if this is normal or not. I have dosed the tank with Melafix twice, using half the recommended dosage. <What are you using it for? Does she have a bacterial problem? Please post exact ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH & SG. What do her teeth look like? What are you feeding her?> I hope you can help me to save her. I am afraid I will not only lose her but the gobies too. <I hope they're hanging in there. Always do a water change when something is off with your fish. ~PP> HL

Puffer Bite, BR    9/2/07 Hello, <Kimberly> My Figure 8 puffer has sadly lost an eye due to a bite from another puffer. <Mmm, what re the system these are in?> I have isolated her in a breeder tank so as not to stress her by moving her out of her current water parameters. She is currently in mid-brackish (1.010) salinity. <Mmm, not "mid"> (I have other puffers with higher salinity requirements so I tried to find a happy medium salinity-wise) After this incident (and if she makes it), she will be kept singly, in her own tank with 1.005 salinity) She is still alive and seems to be breathing normally. For most of the day, she was lying on her side and occasionally swimming in circles. Just tonight she started swimming normally again but is not eating. It looks extremely painful. Is there such a thing as a pain reliever for fish? <None that I know of unfortunately> What can I do to ease her pain, help to speed the healing process and prevent infection? <Good maintenance... frequent, partial water changes, the use of a bit of activated carbon in the filter flow path... Addition/soaking of foods in HUFAs and vitamins mix...> Thank you for your time, -Kimberly <Welcome my friend. You might find solace in chatting with fellow Puffer keepers on the Puffer Forum, http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/. Bob Fenner>

Poorly puffer, Figure Eight    8/22/07 Hello! You helped me out earlier last week and I have another question. First of all I wanted to thank you for answering my questions. I have two figure eight puffer fish. One is doing great, swimming actively and eating... etc.. But one is starting to sick or something because his tail is becoming discolored, as in really light and not healthy looking. He swims a lot less but still eats. Any ideas as to what it is? <Greetings. The first thing to do is check the water quality. Besides being intolerant of ammonia and nitrite (both of which should be zero) pufferfish can also be intolerant of nitrate. Ideally, you want a nitrate level at or below 20 mg/l. This is best achieved by using regular water changes and avoiding overfeeding. Then check the water chemistry. You're looking for "hard" water around pH 7.5, and the specific gravity should be around 1.003-1.006. Then check for obvious signs of fungus or finrot; these two are very common on brackish water puffers that have been kept in freshwater aquaria for long periods. You might decide to use a puffer-friendly anti-fungus/finrot remedy proactively; I have found eSHa-2000 to be safe with pufferfish. Look for a brand that is safe for use with "sensitive" fish. Finally, on one occasion I noticed two pufferfish develop some sort of "slime disease" shortly after being settled into a new aquarium. This looked like cloudy white patches on the skin, associated with flakes of dead skin in places. This was successfully treated using a series of saltwater dips with anti-fungus/finrot medication added to the water. Pufferfish are highly tolerant of seawater, so dipping them for anything up to 20 minutes does no harm, and will kill many types of external parasite or bacteria. Cheers, Neale>

Figure eight puffer twitching  06/14/07 I recently purchased a Figure 8 puffer from my LFS. On the way home, I noticed he would twitch sometimes, but I resolved that he only did it when he touched the sides of the bag he was in. He seems rather jittery, or flighty, in nature as it is. He has been doing fine these last couple of days. He spent the first two or so swimming up and down the sides of the tank, but now he has taken to swimming throughout the tank and exploring. Judging by my own instinct, he looks very happy. His belly is white and he swims around exploring and sometimes chasing some of the little fish in his tank away. He has been eating healthily, too. Unfortunately, I have noticed him twitching again... It doesn't occur very often, but it is noticeable. His breathing seems normal, and I have not seen any sort of spots on him, other than the tiny evenly-spaced dots that are his spikes. <Well observed.> I'm worried that he may have ich, but I am reluctant to do anything before I know for sure what is going on. What could be going on? <Some minor skin irritations probably related to new environment, most likely not ich. Occasional twitching can be observed with many new puffers. Its hard to scratch when you dont have arms. As long as the belly is white, breathing is normal and he eats, I would not be concerned. See http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/Brackish/T_Biocellatus/ for some general information on your species.> If it is indeed ich, exactly what should I do to get rid of it for him? I know a Formalin purchase could be in the very near future for me, but any advice on this subject would be greatly appreciated. <Formalin will work, but it is quite toxic. Id prefer to increase the salinity of the tank. While Tetraodon biocellatus easily can survive at a SG of 1.01 given pristine water quality, Ichthyophthirius multifiliis cannot. Four weeks with frequent water changes should do the trick just in case. Remember any other fishes should be treated, too, and the display has to stay fallow, temperature in the display tank should be raised. Both treatment methods should be used in a hospital tank. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm> Thank you so much for all your help. Kiiks. <You are welcome. Marco.>

Figure 8 puffer with cloudy eyes and growth 2/28/07 Dear Crew, <Hi Jason.> I recently purchased a new figure 8 puffer about 1 week ago. He looked great initially, but over the past 3 days developed a white coloured growth over his left eye. The white coloured growth is about the size of his eye and appears to be attached to his skin. <The most common reason for fungal and bacterial problems with brackish water puffers is bad water quality. Check your ammonia and nitrite. If you have even small readings, read all about cycling a tank and get some material from a long running filter or Biospira (live beneficial bacteria). Second common reason is too low salinity. Figure 8 puffers do best with a specific gravity of 1.005.> Today, I noticed his left eye was clouded over. Otherwise he looks well and is eating and behaving normally.  I searched your forums but could not find any other questions/responses with a similar problem. Please help. Thanks. Sincerely, Jason. <Check the hospital forum at http://www.thepufferforum.com for further assistance. There are a lot of posts with comparable problems. You will also find a review on the products Melafix and Pimafix there, and may want to give them a try. Good luck, Marco.>

Figure 8 Puffer Not Well 10/22/05 Hey! <Hey yourself, it's Pufferpunk here> I want to say that I love your site and it helped me set up my tank very well. Right now I have a single figure eight puffer, 2 clown loaches, one fan tailed goldfish and two comet goldfish. Now I know what you are going to say "Goldfish shouldn't be in there" lol They will be out soon, its only temporary I have a tank coming for them in the next day or two. <Took the words right outta my mouth! Neither should the loaches.> But these goldfish are actually doing amazing in this environment growing rapidly. <I bet your poor puffer hates it in there though...> They will be out soon though. I have a 10 gallon tank with a 25W heater (a little small I know), there is sand for substrate, a silicon anemone, medium plastic plant, plastic coral, a rock with hole in it and a small terra cotta plant pot. As well, I have a bubble wall set up under the sand. The clown loaches are acting amazing. <Are you aware that clown loaches grow over a foot?> The concern is about the puffer. He acts normal sometimes but I leave for school after feeding him in the morning and when I come home he is usually lying in the anemone or on the bottom just lying there. Is there anything wrong with him? <He could be sleeping but I'd bet anything your water isn't nearly pristine enough for a puffer to live happily in there. The goldfish are huge waste/ammonia producers & that does not make for a healthy puffer.> As well I have a filter good for 20 gals and it has BioMax in it. <Extra filtration is necessary for puffers, as they are messy eaters & high waste producers themselves.> I have had the tank set-up for 2 weeks, then I changed the substrate (learned about the toxic rocks from Wal-Mart), then it had been set-up for a week. So the filter media, plants and all have not had the bacteria disturbed. <It is best to use crushed coral or aragonite as substrate for BW fish, as this keeps the pH around a steady 8.> Is this puffer ok? I want to know what to do. I am buying a Master Test Kit soon--sorry for the lack of water quality info, I know you like to have it. I do a 20-40% change every 4-6 days. <That's helpful> The tank is very clear and no bad smells. I have had the water tested at different periods by the pet store and they said it was great water. Trace amounts of ammonia, they said extreme trace amounts, and a PH of 7.2. <There should never be any ammonia in a fish's water. PH of BW tanks should be around 8. The goldfish are causing the ammonia & lower pH.> I use aquarium salt, 1.5 teaspoons for the tank. <You must use marine salt in a BW tank. F8s like the specific gravity to be around 1.005 & must be measured with a hydrometer.> As well he seems to attack the planter and the anemone, he will rub his chin on it curl his tail and flick very fast away, like an attack. Please any help would be good. Thanks for your time, keep up the good work. <Check out this article & the forum it is in: http://www.thepufferforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=64  ~PP> 

Figure Eight Puffer - A Follow-up? - 10/24/05 Hey again! <Yup, Pufferpunk again> Thanks for the great response. Right now I do not have the resources for a brackish water tank. After Christmas maybe but definitely not now. I was wondering if taking the goldfish out would make a difference to the water quality <Absolutely!> and I also had NO idea about the clown loaches, how long does it take them to grow that long? <Mine are about 6" & I've had then for around 3 years.> When they get too big I believe I will bring them back and trade for smaller ones or some different fish. <Not to live with the puffer or goldfish, I hope.> The puffer is seeming more active since I have added the aquarium salt though but he stays near the top playing the bubble wall. <Puffers love to play in bubbles! I think the aq salt is really not making much of a real difference. You need a lot of marine salt to make BW. For example, to make a SG of 1.005 (which is preferred by F8s), it takes roughly around 1 cup of marine salt/5g of water.> And I had the water tested again, I guess the tank is close to done cycling because the ammonia is gone and the nitrites are gone. I use Cycle, the beneficial bacteria solution--I think that sped the process up. <Actually Cycle is junk & can actually slow the process of cycling down, by adding DEAD bacteria (waste) to your tank.> I read all the articles that you have linked to below and some that the linked ones linked to but I would like to know any tips about keeping him or her in freshwater for now. <1 puffer alone in a 10g tank, pristine water conditions (50% weekly water changes), crushed coral or aragonite substrate, to keep the water hard & the pH around a steady 8. Why couldn't you just add marine salt to that? I'm afraid if you don't remove the goldfish, your tank will never completely cycle.> I know that they can live in freshwater very well but I guess its better in brackish water. <If 5 years of life in FW, compared to the 18+ years they can live in BW is considered "very Well" to you...> Thanks again, I am Doug by the way and I live in St. John's Newfoundland, Canada <Get those GF out of your puffer tank! Good luck with your fish. ~PP (hailing from the Chicago area)>

Treating Puffers with Ich  3/24/06 <Hi Brolin , Pufferpunk here.> I recently (over a week ago), purchased 3 figure-eight pufferfish from Wal-Mart.   <I wouldn't purchase toilet paper from them.> I know but I couldn't stand seeing such wonderful fish waste away. <Just encouraging them to buy more, since they see these fish sell.> They were already covered in ich.   <Never buy sick fish.> I chose three that seemed to have lots of energy.  I have cured ich in fish before and figured I could do the same with these puffers.  I have tried so many combinations of treatments and none have seemed to work.  I have been treating them with Quick Cure Ick (a formalin and malachite green solution).  I've added salt and raised the temperature and increased aeration, to prevent anoxic conditions.  I do a 50% H2O change if not once a day, every other day but the cysts on the fish have seemed to double the in the last two days.   <Bump that up to 80% daily.  Bare-bottom tank is best.> The fish still have a tremendous appetite, so I feel that there is still hope. <That is a good sign.  Sometimes it looks worse, before it gets better.> I was thinking about switching aquariums everyday until the fish are cured and thoroughly clean the previous tank but I didn't want to stress the fish out more and make them more susceptible.   <That does sound stressful.> I also have Clout, but it says not to use it on scaleless fish.   <I wouldn't use it then.> I was also wandering what kind of filtration would be good to have going?  I am currently running an undergravel filter with a power head and a power filter with just a fiber cartridge, no activated carbon. If I switch aquariums, should I just not use any rocks or substrate? <Bare bottom, simple filtration is best for a QT.> Please help!  I truly appreciate it, and so do my fish!! <Sounds like you are doing everything possible for these poor fellas.  Check here, to see if you missed anything: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9 Check out that forum too!  ~PP> Thanks and God Bless, Brolin Evans

Figure 8's with Ick  2/10/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I just  lost a figure out to Ick a few days ago, and I got two  more that I set up in a separate tank until I completely get the other  one clean.  My two new ones now are starting to get Ick and I  tried the Ick Cure (blue stuff) on the last guy and it did  NOTHING.  I noticed the pet store I work in carries a medicine for ornamental fish that is suppose to kill all parasites and Ick, would  that be a good thing to try?...if not what should I do because I don't  want to loose another puffer, especially not within a week of buying  the 2 new ones? < http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9  ~PP> I can't believe I ate the whole thing!  Re: help! My figure eight puffer is sick 8/8/06 Hi WWM Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I've spent hours on your site and can't find an answer so I'm not sure where else to turn.  I have a fairly small (maybe 2 - 3") figure eight puffer. <That's almost an adult.  They only grow to 3".> I've had him for about a month.  All of the levels in his tank (freshwater) are normal.  I do a 25% water change weekly, adding 1 tbsp. aquarium salt per 10 gallons of water, taking into consideration evaporation and the fact that salt doesn't evaporate. The tank is planted with 4 different live plants and has a pretty large hidey-hole cave as well as a smaller cave. Puff's diet consists of frozen bloodworms, frozen brine shrimp and live snails once a week. Up until a week ago he was eating with no problems.  He never once bothered his tank mate, a male Betta fish over food or considered Betta to be food! <That's hard to believe!  Puffers love snacking on long fins.> A week ago on Friday he made a pig of himself and ate 12 of the little "no bigger than a pencil eraser" snails in one 24 hour period.  After that he started acting strange. He started hiding under the filter instead of coming over to the corner of the tank "flashing" his teeth at me. He completely ignored any and all blood worms and brine shrimp. Today was snail day and I put two snails into the tank.  He swims over to where they're at and hovers as if he's "guarding" them from the Betta, but he has only nudged at one of them twice, instead of hitting at it like he usually does. When he's not doing that, he's so close to the substrate that it looks like he's just lying there on the bottom of the tank.  His belly looks larger than I would expect after a week of no food, but it's not swollen or distended. His underbelly is still a nice white, but under his bottom lip it's a bit dark, almost like mottled looking lipstick.  The same discoloration is around his bottom fin.  I'm at a loss. Betta is fine, the tank readings are normal and I'm worried that my little puff is a goner!  Any help or suggestions you can offer will be greatly appreciated.  Out of all three of our tanks, puff is our favorite fish. <It sounds to me like your puffer went on a snail binge.  It's probably constipated.  Try adding a tbsp Epsom salt/5 gal to his tank.  You fish will be a lot healthier & live much longer (up to 18+ years) if you kept it in brackish water though.  They prefer a specific gravity of 1.005.  A rough estimate of MARINE salt added to make that, would be about 1 cup/5gal.  Also, a substrate of crushed coral or aragonite, to keep a steady pH of around 8 is best.  For more info on your puffer, see: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/f8puffer.html check out other posts about your puffer at that forum too.  I'm sure your puffer will be feeling better soon!  ~PP> Thanks ... Kim

Puffers teeth too long, need filing?   10/5/06 I have several puffers and have had them for about three years. <<What species, and how are they kept?>> One of my figure 8's teeth grow much faster than everyone elses, faster that crustaceans can grind them down.  Do you think it would be possible to hold the fish and sand them down a little at a time with a very fine finger nail file? I couldnt find anything else about this technique. Maybe youve heard of someone trying this. <<Is common, and posted on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i1/puffer_dentistry/puffer2.htm>> Thanks, Phillip. <<Glad to help. Come check us out at www.pufferresources.net for more info on your puffers! Lisa.>>

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

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

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

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

Puffer <<Hi James>> I have 2 figure 8 puffers in a 10 gallon tank. One of them has developed two bumps on his body: on the side and the other on the top of his body. The water tests well for nitrite, Ammonia, and pH. Both fish eat well and move normally. The other figure 8 hasn't shown the same bumps. Do you know what these bumps might be? Other than the bumps, the fish seems fine. Thanx. -James Kim <<Likely Lymphocystis, Look at pix here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/viraldislymph.htm > and these: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufferfaqs.htmhttp://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpuffers.htm , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufffaqs2.htmhttp://www.wetwebmedia.com/tetraodontpuffers.htm > I would advise more room and good filtration. These links should help, Craig>>

Figure Eight Puffer Parasite Hello Mr. Fenner, I acquired several Figure Eight Puffers for a tank that I recently finished cycling. The Puffers are the only inhabitants. I've had Figure Eights for almost a year now in another tank, so I'm pretty familiar with the usual health problems that crop up with them, since most are wild caught. One of my new Puffers was suffering from fungus, so I was treating the whole tank with MarOxy as well as Maracyn and Maracyn ll for any infection that might be present. Unfortunately, yesterday the sick Puffer took a dramatic turn for the worse and died. I wanted to get a closer look so I examined it under close-up magnification. Photos of what I found are enclosed. The images are magnified approximately 34X. <Good photo work> The parasites that I found aren't easily noticed with the naked eye. One image shows an elongated lump near the tail of the Puffer that is actually a worm living under the skin. Under magnification I could see it moving. It's approximately one inch long and 1/16" in diameter. There were A LOT of these worms under the skin on various areas of the fish. <Yes... nematodes> I was curious to see what might be lurking inside of the Puffer so I sliced the stomach open. More worms rolled out of the body cavity. These were in the body cavity and not in the intestine (I hadn't yet perforated the intestine). The photo shows one of the worms measuring between 1" and 1 1/4" in length and 1/16" diameter. Interestingly, when touched the worm retracts into a coil. <Typical> The other photo enclosed shows a yellow area that I assume is infection or irritation caused by the worms. <Perhaps> I've had no luck identifying this particular parasite. It just doesn't resemble the descriptions I have found of other worm-like parasites of fish. I'm hoping that you might know exactly what it is and also possibly recommend a course of treatment. I'm stumped! Thanks in advance. JoAnn VanDersarl <Hmm, where to start, or how to narrow down a statement here... The infestation you describe and show is likely resultant from an initial exposure from the wild... these roundworm parasites typically have "complex" life cycles that require one or more intermediate hosts... Maybe some lack in diet, environmental challenge hastened the "winning" (and ironically losing) phase of the worm parasites causing the death of their host (and themselves), but perhaps not much... It's very hard to access (unless you sacrifice and examine a significant portion of a good size sample of individuals) how much of what their parasite load is... All vertebrates (yes, including you and I) have something of such a mix of organisms living in and on us... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm and the FAQs beyond for more of a general understanding of the predisposition to these events. Bob Fenner>

Figure 8 puffer Hello, I have a figure 8 puffer and had him in my African C. tank. He and my green spotted pufferfish did well in that tank for close to 6 months. They have gotten beat up quite a bit recently so I took them out. the Green spotted puffer I threw (adjusted the salinity for him in about 30 min before dumping him) into my salt water tank and he is doing great.  <Yikes... this is a quick (and dangerous) transition... likely damaging to your puffer internally... these changes need to be made over a period of a few weeks to months> I then weeks later tried the same thing to my figure 8 and he has not fared as well. His eyes got extremely cloudy and his color faded. He was only in the saltwater for a night. I then saw my poor fish in the morning and put him in my molly (brackish) breeding tank to recover. <Good move... you likely saved its life> I added some Melafix to the tank and his eyes are clearing up slightly. What should I do to further his recovery? I also thought the figure 8 could go to full saltwater. <Please read over the brackish water articles posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/BrackishSubWebIndex.htm The Figure Eight, Tetraodon biocellatus is actually a freshwater to brackish fish. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Chad

Haven't a clue (Starving brackish puffer on its last fin) hello there. first let me say that I am a bit nervous to ask any questions... <No need> after reading some of your responses*l*hopefully, you won't make me look like a complete idiot who hasn't fully researched the whole situation.  I have had fresh, brackish and marine water fish for about seven years-although, do not consider myself an 'expert'- <Me neither> and never have I encountered a "sick" fish quite like this. let me also say that my water qualities are up to par. now here is my situation-please, don't be brutal- I have a figure eight puffer who is about three years old. he has no visible signs of illness no redness, no spots, no nothing). he has not eaten in several weeks. I have tried everything. at first he would eat and then seem to vomit it back up the food would be covered in mucus like stuff) he was very active and then he became very still when he started vomiting. since then he has stayed on the bottom of the tank and in the past week he has rolled over to his back. it is like a sick puppy dog, when he sees me look in at him, his fins start moving and his eyes roll toward me, but still he doesn't move or roll over to his belly. I had asked someone else for help and they said it was more than likely old age.  I have to agree, but he said to make things dark and calm for him he's in a tank by himself). I thought he would die rather quickly, but he has not. he is literally starving to death and it kills me to see him suffer. please, tell me if you think he is sick or just old and god forbid, if I can't do a thing to help him. thanks for your time, Hon. sincerely, veronica <I would very likely try force-feeding this fish... with very small, cut up meaty foods... with the animal out on a wet towel... and possibly try "lacing" the food (maybe on the second day/try) with a vitamin prep. (and possibly Flagyl) material. Good luck, life. Bob Fenner>

Figure 8 Puffer Problems 2/29/04 <Pufferpunk here again> Hello... The last water change I did was about 50%. I usually only do a 1/4 or so change, but I vacuumed a lot this time so it was more. I only have my Test strips here right now for testing the water. It comes back with these readings : pH - slightly acidic <What pH exactly?  Puffers prefer a pH of around 8.0.  Aragonite or crushed coral substrates are used to help maintain a stable alkaline pH of around 8.> KH - moderate GH - very hard ( try to use filtered water for the tanks, but live in FL) Nitrite - 1.0 or so <Should be 0 at all times!> Nitrate - very high, at least 200 <OMG!!! Nitrates should be under 20!  You must be over feeding your fish.  Continue doing 50% water changes/gravel cleaning daily until both of those (including ammonia at 0), are what is livable to a fish.  All your levels are toxic! How much are you feeding your fish?  Do they eat all the food within 5 minutes?  How often are you doing water changes?  50% weekly is necessary for puffers.  This is definitely the problem with your fish.  Do you have salt in there?  How much?  You might want to buy some extra, because you are going to need to be replacing a lot over the next few days of water changes.> The tank has been set up since October and has had fish in it since then with little problems. What should I do now? thanks again JJ <Water changes, water changes, water changes!!! ~PP>

Figure 8 Puffer a Little Long in the Tooth?  8/12/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have just gotten a figure 8 puffer.  It looks good, eats well.  And this just may be normal, put it always looks as if its mouth is just slightly open.  I know that they have to grind down their teeth and all of that but this is a baby (about 2-2.5 inches long) I think, and I would assume that the teeth have not had enough time to grow out of control.   <Actually, these puffers only grow to 2 1/2-3", so yours is almost an adult.  Get a bright flashlight & look close at it's teeth.  Do they look like a beaver?  How is it eating?  Here is good info on trimming puffer's teeth: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1085932782.>   Also, are there any strange or unusual fish or creatures I could put in the tank (20 gallon long, Brackish).  My husband wants a catfish, but the only brackish one I could find gets way to big.  I plan to get at least one bumblebee goby.   <In a 20g cycled tank you can keep 2 F8s & a few bumblebee gobies, or 1 F8 a couple of BBGs & a couple of knight gobies (cute fish!).   Thank you so much for your time and the website.  It is wonderful. <Thanks a lot!  Here's a great article on your puffer: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml  ~PP> Michelle

Puffer Problems 2/29/04 <Hi Jeff, it's Pufferpunk here again> Hello again. I am still having a problem with our figure 8 puffer. He goes in these spurts of acting normal or turning really black on the bottom and faded on the top and sitting on the bottom of the tank. Our other puffers are fine and eat well and all, but I'm not sure if he is even eating. <If you don't see him eating, he probably isn't.> I did a good size water change the other day, and the tank is still a little cloudy from it. Could this have something to do with it? <What's considered a good size?  I do 50% weekly water changes on all my tanks.  If this is done on a regular basis it's fine, but if your fish are not used to big water changes, then you are changing the water parameters too quickly & could stress out or shock your fish.  The fact that your tank is cloudy makes me concerned that your tank still isn't cycled.  Test the water again.  What is the SG of the water?> Id appreciate any info. Thanks for all your help! JJ <Hope this helps--PP>

Figure 8 Puffer Troubles <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hi...I can't seem to get a straight answer from anyone I ask or from my searches online...and I'm really worried about my poor fish!  I have a figure 8 puffer...had him for about 2 months now.  A little over 2 weeks ago, I noticed a small bump on his side, towards his tail...still the color of his skin.  After a day or so, it disappeared, but another bump appeared on his other side.  These bumps came and went...sometimes he'd have just one, sometimes several.  Now I think the bumps are small worms under his skin that are coiled up.  Yesterday, I noticed what looked like a reddish worm over his eye...I guess what would be his eyebrow.  It was no longer coiled up...now elongated...like a regular worm.  Today, the same thing is over his lip (no longer over his eye)...and he still has a coiled up bump near his tail.  Are these worms?  How can I get rid of them or treat  him?  <Yes, it sounds like nematode worms.  I'm sorry to say there isn't much you can do about it.  This is common w/wild-caught fish.  I've heard of it often especially w/F8s for some reason.  Killing the worms will leave the dead bodies inside the fish, to rot & eventually kill the fish.  Keep it under observation in a quarantine tank, if possible.  When the fish starts to suffer you need to euthanize it.  Either place it in a baggie of tank water into the freezer, or overdose it w/clove oil.>   I've tried adding salt to the tank (1 tablespoon of aquarium salt for a 10-gallon tank)... I did a 25% water change...I'm slowly raising the temperature today to see if that works.  Should I take him out and give him a salt bath?  Or try formalin?  I also have a spotted Pimelodus catfish, dwarf Gourami, and 3 Danios in the tank.  I was also wondering if he may have gotten this through eating frozen bloodworms.. because the elongated worm under his skin looks like a bloodworm. <No, this comes from it's natural habitat.> Sorry if I'm all over the place with this.  Please help!  THANK YOU!!!! <I'm sorry for the bad news ={ Pufferpunk>

Bloated Figure 8 Puffer Good Morning, <Hi Margaret, Pufferpunk here> In reviewing other Q&A on your web site, we are still confused about one of our Figure 8 puffer fish. There are 2 puffers in a brackish water 5 gal tank. They have been eating well since arrival (about 3 months) and appear healthy. Fish were purchased after a 1 week period of quarantine by the fish store. However, about 1 week ago one of the fish continued to have a swollen belly beyond the normal post eating period. Other changes: swimming with head down, rear up, white string with balls trailing from the posterior opening (which always seems dilated) and then today, a red ting (like blood?) from the dilated opening or back fin -difficult to sort out. Might this be worms or babies? No changes in coloration or other signs of stress. The second fish has no signs of stress or other concerns. Thank you in advance for your guidance. <Usually stringy poo can be a sign of internal parasites but also the fish would become emaciated. It could also be possible that your fish is constipated but then it would not be able to defecate. The 1st problem I see with your fish is their tank size. F8s require 10g/fish. Was the tank cycled? What are the water parameters (ammonia, nitrIte, nitrAte, pH, specific gravity)? Are you using marine salt? The fact that it is floating tail up, also makes me believe that it could have swallowed some air. Is that possible? Try to answer my questions & I'll see if I can help. ~PP> 

Bloated Figure 8 Puffer 5/9/05 <Pufferpunk again> Thank you for your quick reply. I will try to answer some of your other questions in hopes of giving you more info. The water condition is closely monitored. The water is at a ph 7, the chlorine, ammonia other chemicals have been neutralized, the temperature is approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the salinity is 1 1/2 tablespoons of marine salt per gallon. <Ammonia cannot be neutralized. It can only be removed by water changes or a good biological bed.> The tank has a Bio-wheel to eliminate nitrites and nitrate. <Again, water changes (50% weekly, on a properly stocked puffer tank, which means 1/10g) is the only way to remove nitrAtes. NitrItes are removed with biological filtration. Ammonia & nitrItes should be 0 at all times, nitrAtes <20 & pH should be kept at a steady 8. Specific gravity (measured with a hydrometer) should be around 1.005. It takes roughly around a cup of salt/5g to make that. You should only raise the SG .002/week though, so as not to disturb the biological filtration.> The puffers are fairly small and seem to be doing generally well in the 5 gallon tank. <How small are they?> Their diet is mainly frozen shrimp with the occasional meal of ghost shrimp to control break growth. <Frozen brine shrimp is fairly non-nutritious & should be rinsed to remove the "juice" from the mixture, as to not add more unnecessary pollutants to the water. Freeze dried plankton & black/bloodworms are a better choice. The ghost shrimp should be gut-loaded with something nutritious, as they also are mostly water (I use algae wafers, so my puffers can get their veggies).>  Some bubbles are produced in the area where the Bio-wheel dumps water back into the tank. Could the fish have swallowed a bubble of air? If the fish has a parasite, what treatment do you suggest? Is the other puffer at risk of also getting the parasite? <Is there any time the puffer has been out of water? It could have gotten air that way. For IPs I prefer Discomed, by Aquatronics, but that company has been out of business for a while. You'll have to do a search to find some. Otherwise, look here for alternatives:  http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1093270673   It wouldn't hurt to treat both of them, but I'd get everything else straightened out 1st. Read this article on F8s. > Your help is appreciated. <I'd definitely consider upgrading soon. ~PP> 

Sick F8 Puffer 4/26/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I just bought 2 figure 8 puffers the other day and one of them is in bad shape. I came home tonight and he was lying on the bottom of the tank. His fins are still moving, he's still breathing, but as I'm writing this he's lying on his side and taking what seem to be heavy breaths. I did put a wooden spoon in the tank near him (to see if he was alive and also to see if he could move) and when I did he swam away like a bat out of hell, swimming fine with no problems. But then again shortly after he went back to lying on his side. The other puffer is fine, swimming and acting normal. I have no idea what could be wrong here. When I left they were both fine, was gone for about 4 hours, came home and now this. One thing to mention, he seems to be losing his color. It looks as if his spots and his over all color is 'cloudy'. I don't understand what I'm doing wrong. From what I've read, my tank conditions are good - pH and all. If you could give me any advice I'd greatly appreciate it. <How long has the tank been set up?  Was the tank cycled before adding the puffers?  What are your exact water parameters?  Ammonia & nitrItes should be 0, nitrAtes <20 & pH around 8.  Does it look like there is a covering of whitish "dust" on your puffer?  Are they in brackish water?  He might feel better if you got the SG (specific gravity, a measurement of marine salt by a hydrometer) up a bit.  Read this: http://www.aquasource.org/CMS/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=103&page=1  ~PP> Thank you, Justin D.

Figure 8 Puffer w/Ich 5/13/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> To start things out, I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank with 3 fish in it (a Figure 8 Puffer, a Von Rio Flame Tetra, and a Bristlenose Catfish). I originally had two tetras, but one tetra died a couple of weeks ago from Ich. At the time I did not know what Ich was (this is my first aquarium) and I tried to fix things a little too late. But I continued to medicate my tank with Quick Cure, doing 25% water changes every day (for 14 days), I also used Maracyn and Maracyn II for freshwater fish (for the first 6 days), and I vacuumed the gravel in my tank.  Everything seemed to have cleared up, until today. I noticed the Figure 8 puffer has little white spots on his right pectoral fin and on his anal fin. It looks exactly like the spots that were on the tetra that died. The other two fish are fine and have no visual signs of Ich. I do not understand what else I need to do or what I am doing wrong. Today was day 14 for the Quick Cure so I am still medicating my tank and doing the water changes, what else do I need to do? How do I get rid of this problem before it progresses into something that I can not fix? I really would hate to lose this puffer fish, I have become quite attached to him and his personality. I would appreciate your quick response and advise to this matter. <Puffers don't respond well to meds & they can be harmful. Ich is fairly easy to cure, using high temps (86-87 degrees), salt & large water changes (80% every other day) while cleaning the gravel. In the case of your puffer, since it is a brackish water fish, marine salt is used. By keeping your BW puffer in FW, you will be compromising it's immune system, causing it to be more susceptible to disease & a shorter lifespan. See this article here.  You're going to need marine salt & a hydrometer. You can raise the SG (specific gravity, a measurement of salt by a hydrometer) to 1.002 the 1st day & then to 1.004 in 3 days. It will take roughly, a little under 3/4 cups of salt to raise the SG to 1.002. The rest will take some math, since you will be removing some salt for the water changes. Make sure to premix the salt in a bucket before adding to the tank. F8 puffers prefer a SG of 1.005. Your other fish will not appreciate any salt at all, so you need to decide if you want FW or BW fish.  I hope this helps. ~PP> 

Distressed Puffer  10/3/05 <Pufferpunk again> It's up and moving again now! <This does not necessarily mean it's ok.  I would still like you to answer the info I asked for in our previous correspondence.  Unless your puffer was just sleeping, it could be stressed by something off in your water.> We're feeding it frozen food such as brine shrimp, blood worms and Cyclops. <One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet. All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish. Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild. Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms, pieces of shrimp, scallops, etc. and small snails (the size of their eye). Snails are an essential food to a puffers diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails. I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies. I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed. Smaller puffers (under 2") need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week. Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded. Medium sized puffers (2-4") should be fed every other day. You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food! Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness.>   When we first got the F8 puffer, it got a milky white lining over its eye. This has cleared up but I'd like to find out what it is so we can avoid it in future. <This is called cloudy-eye, a bacterial infection of the eye, generally caused by poor water conditions.  Also, if your puffer isn't kept in brackish water, it will be prone to diseases.  Cloudy-eye can be quickly cleared up with water changes & Melafix.  50% weekly water changes are recommended for these messy eaters & high waste producers.  ~PP>

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