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FAQs about Green Spotted Puffer Health/Disease

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Improper environment...number one source of trouble, stress...

Stress... number two source of trouble, mortality

Improper, inadequate diet... numero tres

Green spotted puffer     1/28/19
I have a 13 year old green spotted puffer. The last week he is refusing to eat looks massively bloated and is spending his time either hiding at back of tank or vertical next to the filter.
Water parameters are the same as his usual Ph7.8 nitrate 7.5 nitrite 0 ammonia 0 temp 24 degrees
<No salt?>
He’s in a 180 litre tank with about 8 ghost shrimps ( originally put in as food about 2 months ago- But he seems to prefer the company!!)
No changes to food/tank/ inhabitants etc
I am very attached to him and it’s heartbreaking to see him like this.
Do you have any idea what I can try? I know he’s old now but I’ve had him longer than my kids! :-(
<Hah! He's a fair age for a GSP, but with that said, the species isn't really a freshwater fish, and the bloating you describe could easily be caused by some sort of osmoregulation problem. Adding marine aquarium salt, even at a relatively low dose (say, 5 grams per litre; SG 1.002) will probably help enormously. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Green spotted puffer     1/28/19
Thank you so much for replying. I’m so stressed. :-(
<Oh dear.>
I’ve always added Interpet aqualibrium salt ( 1tsp per 10litre)
<Much too little, and the wrong kind of salt. 1 teaspoon is around 6 gram, so that's 0.6 gram per 1 litre, which isn't nearly enough to register as 'brackish'.>
I’ll get some Marine salt tomorrow.
<Ah, much better.>
Tonight he looks like he has a load of tiny white spikes.
<Those are his spines.>
Sent from my iPhone
<Useful to know, I guess? Cheers, Neale.>

Green spotted puffer eye       10/16/15
Hello, we have had a Green spotted puffer fish for about 4 years now in a saltwater tank. Today I noticed his right eye is cloudy, with a little bump on it, and possibly a little swollen. He's acting normal and has been eating normal<ly>. We have not introduced any new fish to the tank, and all water tests come out perfect. We do weekly water changes, and feed the tank a variety of foods. Is this something we should treat or could he have damaged his eye on a rock?
<As it is only the one eye, I agree with your guess as to a physical trauma here. I would do nothing outside of usual good care and nutrition; though I do know folks who might suggest applying a solution to the damaged eye. Bob Fenner>
Re: Green spotted puffer eye       10/16/15

Thank you for the fast response. What would you suggest we apply to the eye if it gets worse?
<Send along a pic and I'll ask Neale Monks here. BobF>
Green spotted puffer eye       10/16/15

This is the best photo we could get. The cloudiness looks worse in person, but you can see the little bump on the eye.
<I wouldn't treat. What say you Neale? BobF>

Green spotted puffer eye     Neale's input        10/16/15
<<I agree with Bob. A single cloudy eye usually means physical damage, and the best treatment for this is good water quality. I'd review salinity, and if possible, raise it; certainly ensure it's above SG 1.005. Seawater dips for 10-20 minutes can be very therapeutic for brackish water fish as well (35 gram marine salt per litre of aquarium water, in a bucket or ice cream carton). Repeat such dips daily. They usually remove external infections, and the raised salinity in the main aquarium should prevent further infection. Do check the tank for the reasons the eye got damaged: sharp coral skeletons or rocks, other aggressive fish, and so on. Pop-eye is fairly common in puffers, but normally because of an environmental shortcoming rather than parasitic infection. You can safely use Epsom salt in brackish tanks as well, alongside marine salt, and it'll help reduce swelling. Do read about this on WWM, alongside further details on this species of pufferfish. Cheers, Neale.>>

Two GSPs; no rdg.       9/3/15
I have 2 green spotted puffer fish, one is find but the other is sick I think. It has a grey belly, almost black even, they are in freshwater but I need to make their tank a salt water tank but I don't know how exactly.
What can I do for both issues I'm having?
<.... by reading here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner who urges you to learn how to/use WWM>

Sick Pufferfish /RMF        5/9/15
i have a 2 green spotted pufferfish (Pacman and Milo) and i believe Milo is sick. i have had him for about 2 weeks now. He is in a 30 gallon tank. The water parameters are Ph: 4
<... no>

Nitrites: 0 Nitrates: 0 Salinity: .016
<1.016... quite salty. Have you read on WWM re GSP care?>

and the water is hard. I just did a 50% water change yesterday. The first 2 days i got him he was eating bloodworms
<A poor choice...>
and thawed shrimp
<... and this. See WWM re Thiaminase>
but now he has not really eaten since then
( i have offered him a live crab, frozen mysis shrimp, thawed shrimp, live shrimp, thawed clams, and brine shrimp and snails). He was already skinny when i got him but very white on his belly. Now he is still super skinny, not eating and has a gray stress line between his spots and his white belly. he still greets me when
i come see him and he swims around pretty good but for the most part sleeps alot
<No such word>
on the ground or in the plants i have in my tank. I don't know what to do.
he is so cute and i just adore him and want to make sure he is healthy. is there anyway he could possibly have parasites or something? i have noticed that Pacmans poops are like little pieces of gravel strung together but Milo's poops are stingy. please help.!
<Am sending this over to Neale for his much more experienced input. In the meanwhile DO read where I've referred you. The indices, search tool.... Bob Fenner>
Sick Pufferfish /Neale

i have a 2 green spotted pufferfish (Pacman and Milo) and i believe Milo is sick. i have had him for about 2 weeks now. He is in a 30 gallon tank. The water parameters are Ph: 4 Nitrites: 0 Nitrates: 0 Salinity: .016 and the water is hard. I just did a 50% water change yesterday. The first 2 days i got him he was eating bloodworms and thawed shrimp but now he has not
really eaten since then ( i have offered him a live crab, frozen mysis shrimp, thawed shrimp, live shrimp, thawed clams, and brine shrimp and snails). He was already skinny when i got him but very white on his belly.
Now he is still super skinny, not eating and has a gray stress line between his spots and his white belly. he still greets me when i come see him and he swims around pretty good but for the most part sleeps alot on the ground or in the plants i have in my tank. I don't know what to do. he is so cute and i just adore him and want to make sure he is healthy. is there anyway
he could possibly have parasites or something? i have noticed that Pacmans poops are like little pieces of gravel strung together but Milo's poops are stingy. please help.!
<Start off by deworming (quite common problem with puffers) and then review diet thoroughly. Crustaceans (shrimps, prawns, mysis, etc.) should be a minority part of their diet because of high Thiaminase levels. Mussels should also be a small part of their diet. The bulk should be Thiaminase-free foods, cockles and white fish fillet (cod, coley and tilapia are all good) plus gut-loaded live invertebrates (earthworms, pond snails, etc.). Try to get some greens into their diet, whether as gut
contents in prey or else directly (Spirulina-enriched frozen brine shrimps for example). My guess here is that he was purchased with worms, hence skinniness, and things haven't improved since then. An optimal diet plus PraziPro or similar should do the trick. Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer- Gill Problem        1/21/15
I have had my GSP for about 9 months now. He is about 2" in length and lives in a 36 gal tank with no tank mates. His salt is at 1.08 and temp. at 78 F.
<I assume you mean 1.008, which is fine; 1.08 would be lethal!>
I have never had any problems with him or the water. I do regular water changes once a week, changing about 25% each time. His diet consists of shrimp, bloodworms, and snails and i feed him one of those foods once a day.
<All good so far.>
But about a 2 weeks ago i noticed him not acting like his energetic self following a water change I did the previous evening. He was rubbing on his decor. and as the days went on he started laying at the bottom of his tank, breathing heavily, and he started to clamp his fins and curl up at the bottom of his tank; also turning very dark in color.
<Often, though not always, a sign of stress.>
I took his water to be tested at the privately own fish store i had purchased him from and they said his water was perfect for him (as i try to keep it) and they couldn't suggest what it could be that is making him sick. He has no white spots, fins are not frayed or damaged, and there is no sign of any parasites or fungus. I have been currently doing regular water changes every 2 days or so just to keep it fresh for breathing and hoping it would help him which it has in some way. Over the past week he
has been swimming more and hasn't scratched on anything at all but he tires very, very easily. He has had no problems eating since this all started and is still eating well. My BIG concern is that his right gill has become very swollen and he does not use his left one at all anymore!
<Curious. Might be some sort of gill parasite, though it's hard to imagine what. There really aren't many parasites that can live in brackish water we commonly see in the aquarium trade. Assuming this fish came from a freshwater tropical fish tank, then one solution is to "go nuclear" and expose the fish to full marine conditions. This is what salmon farmers do, for example, moving their cages between the sea and freshwater lochs, and in doing so, kill off freshwater parasites in seawater or marine parasites in freshwater. Make sense? Do check your salinity is what you think it is.
Hydrometers are notoriously unreliable. I remember seeing one (extremely competent) marine aquarists strap no fewer than four "swing arm" hydrometers together, dipped them all into the marine aquarium, and then essentially took an average of what they showed, because they were never consistent with each other! For brackish fish, such errors don't really matter, but it's worth checking your hydrometer. At 25 C/77 F, fully marine conditions -- SG 1.025 -- should be 35 grams marine salt in one litre of water. Make some up thusly, that concentration (salinity) and temperature, then check what your hydrometer shows (which isn't salinity but specific gravity). If it's only off by a tiny bit, say SG 1.023 or 1.026, then don't worry too much. That'll be fine for brackish fish. By the way, if changing the salinity of the tank isn't practical, dipping the puffer in a large
bucket of full seawater for half an hour each day might work too. Certainly worth a shot today to see if there's any improvement. Indeed, changing the salinity of an aquarium up or down a few points on the SG scale can be very therapeutic for brackish water fish. Unlike marine and freshwater fish that need stability, brackish fish are adapted to change and to often seem to appreciate it. In the case of GSPs, keeping the water too saline when they're young can be as off-putting as keeping then in freshwater conditions when they're adults. Since yours seems to have some damage to his gills, I don't think that's the issue, but it's worth thinking about in the long term.>
His left gill looks like it is completely closed or clamped shut to his body and just looks like part of his normal skin, it would be hard to locate if a person didn't know where gills were located on a fish. The skin under his left eye leading to the gill area has become wrinkled looking and today i had noticed it looked a bit sunken in! His color is mostly very dull but his belly is still white and over the past few days has been sleeping more than swimming. I have searched all over the internet hoping to find a cause and solution to help him and have come out empty handed.
After reading posts on your site you seemed to be very educated and extremely helpful to others problems. I would be more than appreciative of any advice you could give me in regards to my Lil Puffer!! He is my best friend and seeing him like this breaks my heart.
<Do also visit ThePufferForum.com. They have a good forum there, and while sometimes a little protective of our inflatable friends (woe betide anyone who says they're keeping GSPs in freshwater!) they surely mean well, and you'll often get some very expert assistance.>
Regards, Samantha
<Hope this helps! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer- Gill Problem (Bob, any other ideas?)       1/29/15
<<A mix of Metronidazole and Praziquantel added to accepted foods... blitzkrieg, blind approach. RMF>>
Thank you so much for your response!!!
I have been doing the suggested full marine baths (did the first as soon as i got your e-mail) once a day at SG 1.025, 77 degrees F, for 30 min.s and then placing back into his hospital 10 gal tank SG 1.008, 78 F (everything like his normal tank) and have been doing a 40% water change to his hospital tank every evening. I have not seen any improvements in his
behavior, gill function, or color and he has lost his appetite over the last 2 days and will not eat a thing.
<Hmm... not good.>
There are still no signs of any parasites on his body (white spots, bumps, wounds) and his fins are still not frayed or anything. I have attached some photos of my poor Mr. Puft (idk if this helps). His color is more brownish now than in the photos i took 2 days ago (attached). I was wondering you have any other suggestions i could try to help him?
<A good move could be Metronidazole alongside an antibiotic. Together these give a good broad action against internal protozoan parasites (such as Hexamita) as well as systemic bacterial infections.>
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Sick Green Spotted Puffer        1/12/15
I've had this puffer for about three months now. Was in freshwater at LFS. Maybe 2" at the time. About six weeks ago I noticed a white speck on her tail so I thought probably ick. I had just started raising salinity at that time. I don't think it even measured above sg 1.000.
<... this is just pure freshwater>
using instant ocean and refractometer. Few days later noticed scratching herself on overflow box and a greyish spot on her back where scratching.
<... am stopping here: FIX your English and re-send>
sick puffer        1/12/15

I've had this puffer for about three months now. It was kept in freshwater at the store. About six weeks ago I noticed a white speck on her tail. I added half of a cup of instant ocean sea salt. The tank is 20 gallons. I continued to add salt at a rate that would raise the SG .002 per week.
A few days later I noticed the fish scratching itself on the overflow box.
<Mmm; not necessarily indicative of anything>
I also noticed and a greyish spot on its back. I started treating with Seachem Paraguard.
<I would not have>
Water tests: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate,
<How is NO3 rendered zip?>

ph 7.8 and kH 8. Now the SG is 1.010. My heater has been broken for maybe a week. I am not sure how long it has been broken. The night time temperature has been dropping down to 75F.
<This is fine>
I noticed the black lines on the fish that you can see in the pictures.
Every day there is more of them. Can you tell if this is stress related from the cold temperature or a disease symptom?
<I do think you are right; that these are stress marks. I would do nothing to change your routine till you have an accurate thermometer. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick puffer        1/12/15
I use API saltwater test kit. Should I be using a more accurate test for nitrate?
<Yes; I would have/use a better kit brand for all>
Since this morning the lines under the eyes have gone away. The ones on the head and back are still there. Are they also stress?
<Ah yes; highly likely. This fish looks fine otherwise. BobF>
sick puffer       /Neale's further input        1/12/15

<<Broadly agree with Bob. Would suggest lowering the salinity a bit, to maybe 1.003-1.005, because high salinities are not necessarily welcomed by very young GSPs and Ceylon Puffers. Otherwise your specimen appears fine.
Changes in colouration are not unusual with this/these species, and over time they tend to become darker anyway. Keep a close eye on appetite, and provided the puffer is otherwise healthy, I would not worry overly much.
Cheers, Neale.>>

Skin injuries on green spotted puffer      6/19/14
Hello Crew,
I just discovered that my green spotted puffer has quite a few scratches on its skin. I think it is skin injury that it obtained while chasing for the live feed I've been giving. I have a bunch of hard corals (dead ones) which are the only sharp things in my tank so it's probably that.
The injury isn't too deep, just on the surface but it is upsetting that it has visible marks like cat scratches on its sides and head. I've been searching for medication in the 2 LFS I go to but I couldn't find any, which is frustrating.
<These scratches will heal without medication, particularly in brackish or marine conditions (in freshwater these GSPs are much more sensitive). Keep an eye out for Finrot, but otherwise don't worry too much about them becoming infected.>
Will the colour come back on the scratches or will it stay as scars?
<Can do, yes.>
Is there anything I can do?
<Bigger tank for a start, because your GSP may be scratching himself because this tank is too small for him to safely turn around or swim quickly. Replacing the hard coral skeletons with fake plastic ornaments
without rough edges would be worthwhile, too. There are some fake seaweeds that look good, as well as all the usual Roman vases, Greek temples and other ornaments that might not be authentic but can look good with a bit of algae on them.>
Please recommend some common medication, I will try my best to look for them again. My puffer is currently in 30gallons, sg 1.012.
Thanks in advance!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer (Bob?) <<Massive water changes; better still: MOVE this fish elsewhere>>      8/21/13
Hi Wet Web -
My GSP is really sick. This came on really sudden and the other GSP in the same tank is perfectly fine.   Have you seen anything like this before? 
Does this look like the dreaded  "sudden puffer death syndrome"?please see attached...
<Hello Lisa. This does look serious. I do need some idea of the aquarium, e.g., size, water quality (have you done ammonia and nitrite tests recently) and above all else the salinity. At first glance these look like bite marks, but aggression between puffers is usually obvious and their bite marks tend to be circular and very distinctive. So, I'm wondering about a parasitical infection of the skin and/or the sensory pores, something along the lines of Costia or Head-and-Lateral-Line Disease. These are typically combination diseases that involved both exposure to the parasite plus maintenance shortcomings (poor water quality and poor diet, specifically lack of vitamins). Medicating these can be tricky, but typically Metronidazole together with Nitrofurazone or similar is recommended. A vet would be able to offer more advice tailored to this fish, so that's
definitely something to be considered. I would also urge you to get in touch with the folks at ThePufferForum.com; they're a little ornery at times, but their expertise in treating sick pufferfish is exceptional.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer (Bob?)    8/22/13
Green Spotted Puffer (Bob?) <<Massive water changes; better still: MOVE this fish elsewhere>>
<<<Can't be more categoric than that! Cheers, Neale>>>
>Or hopefully more emphatic! B<
Re: Green Spotted Puffer (Bob?) Mortuus est     8/22/13
Dear WetWeb-
Thank you for your advice.  I'm sad to report that Olivia passed away late last night.
<Am sorry to hear this.>
I took all advice and did the water changes, medicated, etc....  but to no avail.  It was so strange, the time between the onset of illness (and I watch my puffers every day) to death was less than 24 hours.  There is another GSP in the same tank who appears to be perfectly fine.  Olivia was 7 years old and 6 1/2 " long... and an absolute pig.  I last fed her Tuesday night and she consumed her share and that of the other puffer - she totally overate.  I'm wondering if she had an intestinal blockage from being such a sow.
<Unlikely; pufferfish are very much bulk feeders that consume a lot of indigestible material (bits of shell for example) and are presumably adapted to handle such food.><<But, should not be fed to excess continuously... Once a day for smallish meals, is best. B>>
I will perform a necropsy tonight to rule that possibility out.
<Would be hard to identify, unless of course you're a vet or fish biologist, in which case you're ahead of me! But otherwise, food quickly decays in the gut of dead fish, making it very difficult to determine if the digestive tract was blocked, damaged, or otherwise affected.>
I'll keep my eye on the other puffer.
<Wise; and do try talking with the Pufferforum people.>
thanks again.
<Welcome, Neale.>

my green spotted puffer has white spots... please help     12/23/12
I have gotten two baby green spotted puffers from a local pet store a couple of weeks ago. One of the puffers has some white spots on his skin. I have treated my tank for Ich and it did not change anything. Please give me some ideas as to what the white spots might be or what I can do to help my poor little puffer. I don't want him to die, but I am out of ideas as to what it could be. Thanks.
<Hello Rebecca. First, a few questions. Firstly, do you understand that Green Spotted Puffers need brackish water? Secondly, do you have carbon in the filter? The first question is crucial because many, perhaps most health problems with GSPs come down to people trying to keep them in freshwater.
They won't be healthy in freshwater, and usually get sick. You should be adding marine aquarium salt (not "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt) at a dose of about 6-9 grams/litre (resulting in a specific gravity of 1.003 to 1.005 at 25 C/77 F). So, you need to make sure you have a box of marine aquarium salt (such as Instant Ocean or any other salt used in marine aquaria). You also need to have a hydrometer, an inexpensive tool used to measure specific gravity (or you could just weigh out the salt as described above).
Getting the salinity right will stop Whitespot/Ick in its tracks, and it will also reduce or eliminate completely problems such as Velvet, Fungus and to some degree Finrot. The second question was about carbon. Carbon removes all sorts of things from the water, including medicine. So before medicating any aquarium, you need to remove carbon. My hunch here is that your GSPs were maintained in freshwater and you're keeping them in freshwater, and that's why they're sick. Switch to brackish conditions and they should perk up dramatically. Medicate for Finrot (e.g., with Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2) if the white stuff is more like slime or flakes rather than discrete tiny white specks. Cheers, Neale.>

GSP with continuous gill problems    4/12/12
We would like to thank you in advance for any advice you can give.
<Most welcome.>
We have a 55 gal aquarium with 3 small Green spotted puffers, water temp is 80F, SG 1.008, nitrite and ammonia 0, nitrate .5, pH 7.4.
<All sounds fine, except the temperature is much too high. Aim for 25 C/77 F. The higher the temperature, the less oxygen water holds, and at the same time, the higher the temperature, the higher the metabolic rate of the fish, so it needs more oxygen than in cooler water.>
We have had these puffers for nearly 2 months the smallest puffer is slowly deteriorating , this fish relies on only 1 gill at a time for breathing he is slowly loosing interest in food and activity.
<This sounds serious. One possibility is a developmental abnormality: this fish was born with a deformed gill, and as it grows, this is causing steadily more and more problems. A second possibility is a gill parasite, but these are uncommon in brackish water fish. You could try placing the fish in full strength seawater for 20 minutes or so, and that should shift anything that infected the fish when it lived in freshwater conditions.
Repeat daily for a week. Thirdly, there's social problems, i.e., stress.
GSPs are not social animals and they do not coexist for long. While juveniles can be okay in groups, two males will squabble, as these are territorial fish in the wild, and the weaker male will be bullied by the stronger male. It's very common for the weaker male fish in situations like this to become shy, retiring, show less interest in food, and to grow much more slowly. As the size difference between it and the dominant male gets greater, then the problem of bullying gets worse.>
It has laboured breathing  and retreats to a cave and flashes on decorations while the other fish show little or no symptoms. What should some one do in this situation?
<See above. If you can, separate the weaker fish to its own tank (even 15-20 gallons would be fine in the short term) maintained in a strongly saline environment, at least 50% normal seawater, SG 1.010, and maximise oxygenation. Feed a good variety of foods, taking care to minimise Thiaminase-rich foods (shrimp, mussels) while maximising Thiaminase-lacking foods (cockles, tilapia fillet) so that you can factor out dietary
None of the fish show any signs of Ich or external problems.  Thanks again
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: GSP with continuous gill problems (RMF?)    4/12/12

Thanks Neil, I am considering what you wrote and I appreciate your time.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: GSP with continuous gill problems (RMF?)    4/12/12

Hello again Neale
I have pondered your response at length, The green spotted puffer that is deteriorating routinely switches the gill that it relies on while clamping the other at times the fish will roam the tank with enthusiasm and I have witnessed it flinch as if it has been poked with a pin and then it will immediately retreat to its cave.
These fish exhibit absolutely no animosity towards one another and can be often seen acting like a small team in their daily routines. We are watching the smallest GSP slowly die.
<Quite possibly, but is the fish feeding? If it is, that's good. I would separate them if at all possible. Have you tried the seawater dips yet?
These would eliminate some possibilities, making it easier to plan ahead.>
Any thoughts?
Thanks again
<Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer! Hlth. 9/3/11
Hello There!
I've had my pet GSP, Mango, for a year. Recently he has been very ill.
<Oh dear.>
He's had something which we haven't as of yet identified, but he has been treated with a broad spectrum medicine recommended by the local aquatics (eSHa-2000).
<An anti-Finrot medication; does very little, if anything, against internal infections. But should help with skin damage.>
We had the water parameters tested at our local aquatics, and although I cant be completely accurate or recall the exact numbers, the results showed that the levels were in the correct range for ammonia and nitrate, but the nitrite had spiked.
<And that is the problem. Puffers of all types are sensitive to ammonia and nitrite. You need ZERO levels of both. Nitrate (with an "a") should be low, ideally 20 mg/l or less, and certainly less than 50 mg/l.>
The water also lacked the correct salinity. (The salinity has now been changed to 0.006 as by the request of the Aquatics, along with ongoing corrections to nitrite levels.)
<Do you mean SG 1.006?>
We have addressed all these problems and he seemed to be making a very positive improvement! (He is now swimming around a lot, and he is no longer a dark colour on the top of his body, and also has no stress lines).
However he has not eaten for a week now(!), and recently seems to have become more pale, almost to the point of losing his black spots at start of his stomach, and bloated. He seems to bump into stuff a lot also, although his eyes seem clear and not covered in mucus/ infection/ a slimy film.
<Just keep up with they water changes, preferably daily ones of 10-20%.
Keeping working hard to ensure the filter is working 100% and that your nitrite and ammonia levels are zero. Wait a few days, maybe a week, before feeding. If he's healthy, he'll be hungry! No point feeding him if he isn't hungry.>
Do you have any ideas as to what could be wrong still? Or how best to continue? I have attached a photo of our GPS 'Mango' in his current state - if it can be any help. Mango Pale and Bloated, also with the markings that we are still ongoing treatment for. Thanks, Sam S
<Your fish looks like he's been burned or otherwise damaged. If the wound is clean, and the skin is basically sound without any sign of redness or blood, then medicating with the eSHa 2000 should prevent infection by fungus and bacteria. In time, he should heal. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer! 9/3/11
Hey Neale. thanks for the advice.
sadly mango took a very sudden turn for the worst and within an hour of showing additional symptoms he sadly passed away.
I appreciate your help in the matter though.
Sam S
<Ah, too bad. I wonder what the white stuff was? A burn? Damage from another fish? In any event, GSPs are normally quite tough, though I personally prefer Figure-8s in brackish water or (in groups!) South American puffers in freshwater. These latter are very resilient, but neurotic; much different to the usual puffer. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer! 9/4/11
Yeah I'm not sure really. It didn't have tank mates but I think it might have been a scrape from something in the aquarium maybe, although I cant imagine what.
<Do suspect the heater. It's a VERY common source of injuries with lethargic fish. A "heater guard" is a good idea. Some heaters come with them. Google "aquarium heater guard" to see some examples of these and after-market ones you can clip onto your existing heater.>
In the end he went from seeming ok, to swimming upside down and passing away in very short succession. It seems a shame but I think I may have missed the underlying problem, much to my fault and possibly noviceness at aquatics. I will look up these other puffers and do some research as I thoroughly enjoyed looking after mango.
Thanks Neale,
<Cheers, Neale.>

GSP - RIP :( 4/5/11
<Hi there Walter>
I am a budding hobbyist who had recently obtained a Green Spotted Puffer (GSP). I had been reading up on them for a while and was determined to add one to our family at some point. I picked one up as an impulse
<This is a behavioral trait to be guarded against in our interest>
and added it to a tank with a tiger barb and bristle nose Pleco.
<... what re water quality here? Were these kept in brackish water?>
I know that the 10 gal tank was way too small but they seemed
<The operative word>
to be getting along while the 30 gal tank was finishing cycling for my puffer. About a week in I noticed a bulge on his belly that was dark. I knew that GSPs have a tendency to carry parasites as they are caught in the wild and thought I should medicate him for them. The following week I went through my weekly cleaning (30%) and later in the evening I dropped in a Tetra Parasite Guard tablet. Almost immediately the puffer started acting stressed, and before I went to bed I noticed him huddled up under a rock-shelf I had built.
<I would have changed the water out...>
I came home from work today and went up to the tank to greet my little bug-eyed friend and he was lying dead on his side at the bottom of the tank, puffed out. Was I wrong to use the medication?
<Apparently so>
Could it have caused his sudden death?
<Appears to be related>
I made sure to "fix" the water that I put into the tank during the change. I'm sad that I lost my new friend and want to be successful with a GSP.
<Better by far for you to wait till the larger system is up, well-established. Please read here:
and the linked files above re this species. Bob Fenner>

Green Spotted Puffer Internal Parasites 3/9/11
Hey WWM,
<Hello Mike,>
I'm writing to find out if there is any way that I can safely treat a reef tank for internal parasites or if there is anything I can do to help my situation.
<I'd assume that by definition anything anti-worming will kill free-living worms as readily as those inside your fish. Likewise, anti-protozoan medications tend to be very hard on inverts generally, including those little critters on live rock. But "internal parasites" does tend to be a vague term thrown about by aquarists, so let's start by pinning things down. Are we talking about worms here, or Protozoans? Moreover, what aquarists call "internal parasites" often means a fish that has been stressed through poor diet and/or conditions, and from there, started to express symptoms of stress and poor health.>
In the image attached you could see my green spotted puffer with what appears to be some kind of internal parasite. I can work on providing a clearer image if you think it would help.
<Yes; this image provides no clues, unfortunately.>
If you have any idea what kind it is, I would love to know. I have not seen any worms come out of him or anything on his outside layer/gills.
It appears to be affecting the entire system now.
<In what way?>
This green spotted puffer has been through a lot as my first fish and has been around for almost 2 years now and has had this problem since the very start, but I fear it is getting worse because the spots are growing in size.
<The dark patches are not uncommon on GSPs, and if the fish is otherwise happy and hungry, I wouldn't worry overmuch.>
A long time ago I have quarantined him and treated him with all kinds of terrible chemicals, worst of all CopperSafe when things were really looking bad. None of it helped and he really reacted poorly to freshwater dips (I'm happy he recovered). Eventually I just learned that it may be best not to intervene and just provide him with a healthy environment so he can hopefully fight off his parasites himself. Since then he has been a part of the building of a 110g reef tank and acclimated to 1.026 salinity which he seemed to enjoy. He acts/eats normally and has a healthy diet of mussels, Nassarius snails, worms, PE mysis, arthropods, and other goodies at which time he turns very green, he uncurls his tail, and his spots fade a little (this also happens at night). His behavior is that he swims around/rests in the rock-work during the daytime, but comes out when the lights are dim or off. For whatever reason he has become nocturnal.
<This is odd. Most puffers are day-active fish, as their bright eyes would suggest. But if they're harassed by their tankmates or otherwise unhappy, they may become crepuscular, coming out at the aquarium equivalents of dawn and dusk.>
The tank has 0 Nitrites/nitrates/ammonia at all times and gets 5-15% RO/DI water changes a week.
Getting fish out of the tank almost always requires for me to break down the rockwork and that stresses out my corals and other livestock.
The worst part of it is that I see some of my other fish scratching themselves on the rocks, my mandarin stopped eating recently and now spends some time swimming uncharacteristically in the open space rather than the rockwork (despite an abundance of copepods and arthropods available), and my firefish appears to have some kind of lesion on his side now, possibly due to a parasite as well or scratching himself.
<It's unlikely anything the fish was carrying externally when sold as a freshwater fish will now infect your marine fish. For the most part, freshwater and marine external parasites are completely distinct, non-overlapping groups. Internal parasites could potentially spread from fish to fish, but even then, their tolerance of marine conditions if freshwater species would be low, so getting from the GSP into your marine fish would be challenging. Cannibalism would be a viable route, but otherwise it's unlikely to be an explanation here. Now, the two things I would concentrate on are diet and environmental conditions. Carnivores are very prone to dietary issues. Do review Thiaminase and vitamins generally; there's much about them here at WWM. Secondly, look at water quality generally, social behaviour, temperature, and all the other things that might be causing stress, such as paint fumes in the house.>
I am growing more and more concerned and hoping to find out what this is and if there is any way that I could safely treat my tank or do something to help fight this off. is there any advice you could give me?
<Identifying this "disease" if such it is will be very hard, and my gut feeling is that a good starting place would be The Puffer Forum, here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/
They have some quite expert puffer keepers who may be able to pin down things more precisely than me. Otherwise, in terms of treating internal and external parasites, you will want to read the various marine aquarium articles on this topic here at WWM.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

gsp has white balls and lumps forming on sides (w/pic)... No reading, following directions 2/21/11
<... where is your grammar Jason?>
my gsp and i have had alot
<... no such word>
of close calls and i really would like to know what to do for him now. i have not changed anything in our routine. he started getting a lump on his side and eventually he scraped the top off and it healed. then he started getting them on both sides about 3 per side. then seperate from the lumps a white/eggshell nodual(like a human skintag)formed and slowly got bigger about 2mm. i ran some 'lifeguard' anti everything, for him at the pet store suggestion. he then got more white balls about 3 per side, seperate from the lumps, and one under him. nothing near any oriface. the first one has disapeared at this point to be replaced by the others i dont know if it got scraped or, fell off. i took pics and showed them at the petstore but they were stumped. they said to try another round of lifeguard and it just finished yesterday. one more day and i can do a h20 change so its cloudyier than normal. he is still his normal self activity wise and behavior but, im concerned for my little buddy. tried to take another pic but fish wasnt having it. the lump in the pic has been scraped and is healing and you can see 2 whiteballs. the pic right after 1st round of lifeguard. what to do? thanks, jason
<... and data re your system, history of care, set-up, foods/feeding. DO run anything you send to us through a spelling/grammar checker and read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsysfaqs.htm
and the linked files above; particularly GSP Systems, Disease. Bob Fenner>

green spotted puffer has red gums and, has trouble swallowing. 01/10/10
my 5 yo, full size (7+ inches, he's a fatty!), gsp has been displaying strange behavior lately and it has me concerned. Mr. creosote had his tank moved while halfway empty and hasn't recovered his ferocity in over 2 weeks. I'm used to him jumping nearly all the way out of the water to get his krill. he used to race back and forth across the tank (25gal)
<Much, MUCH too small.>
at anything he even thought might be food. now he just pins his head under the tip of the heater. I can barely get him interested in food and, all he seems to do is chew and spit. he's so weak he can only get his head above water, I also notice that between his lower teeth it looks bloody/bright red.
<What sort of environmental conditions is he in? A specimen this age/size must be in fairly saline conditions, from one-quarter to full strength seawater, i.e., 9-35 grammes of marine salt mix/litre, or SG 1.005 to 1.025.>
I've had him for years and not done anything different other than drain the tank 1/2 way, moved back and forth, to replace carpet a few weeks back. he did get kinda pissy when moving but, I tried to keep him calm. I'm kinda into my little bugger and would like to see him all mean and nasty again.
<Not sure "mean" and "nasty" are the things to aim for in life.>
thanks for your great site, and time! Jason
<Do bear in mind most problems with GSPs are caused by bad care, usually the wrong environmental conditions, but sometimes a poor diet, specifically thiaminase-rich foods and live feeder fish. Do read here:
Dollars to doughnuts a bigger tank and elevated salinity will improve things. Cheers, Neale.>

green spotted puffer question 8/30/10
Hello Wet Web Experts:
I have looked all over the internet and haven't been able to find any information on my particular problem.
My GSP often has a stress line.
<A what?>
It comes and goes.
<Indeed. Are you talking about dark patches that come and go? That's a "normal" response in many puffers to stress. Not sure why they go dark and/or discoloured, but they do.>
He has no other symptoms of infection or illness and his overall behavior seems normal for a puffer.
He is in a well decorated 20 gallon tank.
<Too small for this active species, even for a pup. If this chap is around 8 cm/3 inches long it really needs 30 gallons, and an adult above 10 cm/4 inches needs 55 gallons.>
All of the water parameters are normal.
<Meaning what, precisely? Let's recap. Green Spotted Puffers need brackish to marine conditions. The specific gravity should not be below SG 1.005 for long term success, and there's a good case for keeping them at around half-strength marine conditions. Obviously they also need hard, basic water chemistry. Temperature should be middling, around 25 C/77 F and not substantially warmer or colder.>
I've noticed that the line completely disappears when I turn off the filter and airstone in the morning to feed him.
<May not necessarily be related. Water quality and chemistry vary during the day, in particular depending on how long ago the fish were last fed, so the seeming relationship here may reflect other factors than the one you assume.>
As soon as I turn the filter and air off, he returns to his normal coloring, no stress line, with a bright green dot on his head. He seems to be in an excellent mood. When I turn it back on his stress line reappears.
Do you think the noise of the filter might be annoying him?
<Possibly, but in a small tank without space to swim around, he may feel particularly confined.>
I would have no idea how to reduce the sound, as the filter really isn't loud, but I imagine that any noise is amplified in the aquarium.
<Yes, water carries sound very well, much better than air. But on the other hand, underwater environments are extremely noisy places in the wild, even though our ears function so poorly underwater they seem serenely quiet.>
I don't think its the current, since I have the filter on the lowest setting and I've attempted to buffer it further with a tall ornament.
<On the contrary, these puffers appreciate a good strong water current; marine-levels of water turnover are far from unpleasant to them.>
Also, he only ever wants to eat fresh, raw shrimp; freeze-dried or frozen bloodworms; and snails. He is particularly demanding of snails, which I "grow" for him in a separate tank. He won't have anything to do with any flake or pellet food, krill, plankton, etc. Do you think that this very limited diet is unhealthy?
<Provided you gut-load the snails with good quality flake food, you're fine.>
Thank you very much.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Green spotted puffer... beh., fdg., hlth... reading 8/14/10
About 3 months ago I purchased a green spotted puffer.
<Ah yes, a lovely brackish to marine species. Unfortunately sold as a freshwater fish by some retailers.>
He is in a 20 gal tank and has no tankmates at this time.
<Not a community fish anyway, and best kept alone or with its own kind.>
About a week ago I opened a new package of bloodworms and noticed he was not eating them. The store got in a different brand. I am not sure if that has anything to do with my issues or not?.
<Possibly; when puffers refuse food, it's a good sign they're stressed. Healthy specimens will eat most meaty foods with gusto!>
yesterday I noticed that he is as round as a basketball. I didn't think anything of it at the time and thought maybe he finally decided to eat. However today he seems to be a little bigger and I decided that it wasn't because he ate the bloodworms (looks more solid)...water checks out just fine and the temp is steady. He does swim some but also spends a lot of time laying on the bottom of the tank....I did put some small snails in his tanks a few days ago and I am not seeing them in there....up until a couple days ago he was very active and bright green and white now he is puffed up sluggish and slightly black.....could it be he just ate the snails and it takes longer for those to digest?.....Thank you for your help....Tammy D.
<The black colour is also alarming, as is the lethargy. My guess is you're keeping him in freshwater, or something close -- a "pinch" of salt per gallon doesn't count as brackish water! He will also need a bigger tank once more than a couple of inches long, I'd say 40 gallons for specimens 3-4 inches long, and 55 gallons for adults. Do understand this species needs brackish water, at least SG 1.005, i.e., about 9 grammes marine salt mix per litre of water, about 1.2 oz per US gallon. Tonic salt won't do, and his lifespan in freshwater will be short. Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer EMERGENCY!!!!!!! 7/28/10
I'm frantic!
<I'm Bob>
I just walked by my 30 gallon tall tank and saw my Green Spotted Puffer (Pete), Tetraodon nigroviridis, sucked in face first (and puffed up) to the AquaC Remora intake. Pete is about 4 years old. I immediately turned off the skimmer and Pete was released and swam away, but his poor face is a MESS. His snout is all wompy and it's bloody....he's swimming around. I haven't tried to feed him. This just happened. My first thoughts are a quarantine tank, no lights, cartridge filter with some plastic plants he can hide in along with the regular clay flowerpots. I KNOW (or am terribly worried) that infection will set in. What kind of meds, if any???
<None at this junction, and I would not move this fish. Do fashion a screen for the skimmer intake>
I wrote a while back about buying this fish, researching, and then finding out that I had to convert him to saltwater. I posted about "Pete and his Personal Trainer". I've had correspondence with both Jeni/Puffer and Marco.... I've gone to great expense to keep this little guy...he's the whole reason I have a saltwater tank to begin with. I love this little fish.
I'm attaching photos, and I'm terribly sorry if they aren't the right size.
I do not know how to resize these pictures. I just now took them with my cell phone. They are as clear as I could possibly make them with him swimming. He's swimming fine, not struggling. His tail is fanned out and he's not swimming in what looks like "stress" mode; his tail isn't curled.
His color is normal except for his face (no black stress marks), and neon green top with a white underbelly.
In the tank are two Domino Clownfish (ORA)
<Dascyllus trimaculatus can be VERY territorial... biting even you when you put your hands in the water>
along with a Red Bubble Tip Anemone. I just acclimated and placed all three in the tank yesterday. I have various hermits and several Zoanthids, Palythoas, and mushrooms (and am prepared to move them to another tank if the 'nem goes on the move). I also have a very small yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) in the tank (I'm moving all of these fish into a 150 gallon within the next 2-3 months).
<Thank goodness>
I've had no problem with the puffer and the Tang. If I need to remove the Tang, I will do so.
I keep my water at 1.026 SG, the temp is 77. I have a Fluval 405 (intake covered, wish I had thought to cover the intake on the MaxiJet 1200). I can give you all other parameters, I haven't checked those today, but will do so while awaiting your reply.
Please help me. I love this little guy and I'm heartbroken. He's been through all of my mistakes and made it through with me...he's a resilient little guy, but I don't know if he can pull through this. I want to take action and take action NOW!
I apologize for any typos...I'm a bit frantic.
Thank you so much!
<Do take care, and realize this GSP will do better with good general care where it is presently. Bob Fenner>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer EMERGENCY!!!!!!! 7/30/10
Thank you so much for your reply and I'm delighted I to hear from you, Bob!
I have your older version of the CMA, and I'm awaiting my arrival of your newest edition. I told my husband, "I'm responding to Bob Fenner." He said, "Theeeee Bob Fenner?" I talk about this site so much, lol.
<I see>
Okay, Pete the puffer is doing better.
<Ah good>
He doesn't look nearly as gnarled as he did yesterday. He's "laying low" and not fluttering about the tank as much, but I assume that he is healing because he is still swimming around. I will try feeding him soft foods (squid and bloodworms) tonight soaked in garlic, vitamin C, Selcon and VitaChem (which I do always, anyway).
I checked my parameters and I'm very concerned.
Nitrate - 5
Nitrite - 0
Ammonia - .25 --->WHAT???<<<---
<Hopefully spurious>
Ph - 8.2
Alk - "normal" (I use Red Sea liquid testers and "low", "normal" and "high" are the results on the color window card).
My test kits are brand new. I did a small water change last night (about 3 gallons). This past weekend I had to treat my system for Acoel flatworms.
That is the ONLY reason I can think of for an ammonia spike in my tank.
This is an established system that has been stable for a very long time.
I've had no fish losses nor invert losses (except the ghost shrimp I feed Pete), with the exception of a large turbo snail. During the flatworm treatment, I had help. My husband and I siphoned the dead and dying flatworms out of the water column while adding fresh, aerated water to the system. I used airline tubing so as to "target-suck" the worms without removing large amounts of water while doing so. Between siphoning the flatworms out and adding new water, I estimate that we turned over around 10 gallons of water in this 30 gallon tank. I saw tiny brittle and Asterina stars floating in the water column, but I left them. I assumed they were stunned. I believe I was correct, because after the treatment/new addition of water they "came back to life" and began burrowing, crawling on the glass, etc., as they normally would do. My very large hitchhiker brittle star lost the end of one leg, but is still alive.
I ran a large amount of carbon in my Fluval 405 (2 trays full) and kept the Remora skimmer running during this treatment. I used Salifert Flatworm Exit.
<A good product in my estimation>
I'm just not understanding where this ammonia is coming from.
I do not have Domino Damsels (Dascyllus trimaculatus). I have Domino CLOWNFISH. These were introduced by ORA earlier this year along with the Midnight clownfish.
The smaller clown has taken up residence in the anemone and will not let the larger one near. The larger one's bottom lip is now torn and I can see its teeth from this battling between the two. The only solution I can think of is to remove the smaller, more aggressive clown into a 5 gallon bucket (heated with a small heater...
<Better to just float in a plastic colander for a few days>
only 5 degrees above ambient room temp, and aerate the water with a bubbler) and let the larger clown settle in to the anemone. These fish are small and they still have some juvie orange in their face and body coloring. I'm surprised it's the smaller clown that is the more aggressive winner here. Do you have any other solutions? I've decided to remove the yellow tang and purchase another one once the 150 gallon is set up and going. Do you have any other suggestions in dealing with this hierarchy battle? I very much like these fish and I don't want the larger one dying from stress...and who now has a missing part of its lip along with an increased ammonia level. ARGH! I've included pictures of the clowns.
These are the clearest I can get with my phone camera.
How many water changes can I do in a day and NOT harm life in the tank?
<Less is better>
I'm thinking the best way to go is one large water change, adding new water as I'm removing old water. I'm leaving to go out of town after tomorrow for 4 days, so I need to treat the ammonia ASAP.
<Just leave it and dispense w/ feeding>
I'm going to do a 5 gallon change while I'm awaiting your response.
Thank you so much!
<II? B>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer EMERGENCY!!!!!!! - 8/1/10
Hi, Bob.
<Big C>
Here's an update on my GSP and clowns.
I've delayed going out of town to make sure the puffer was eating, which he finally started to do today. Yeah! Squid and Mysis soaked in Selcon, Marine Zoe, Garlic, Vitamin C, and VitaChem. He hasn't started eating the
Nori he usually eats. Pete, the puffer, is healing from something that I truly thought was going to be catastrophic for him.
<These animals, Tetraodontiforms in general, have remarkable "powers of regeneration">
My first reaction was to remove him and quarantine him, but I'm glad I followed your advice.
<Ah yes>
I think he's doing much better in his "home" than in a different tank. He only has tiny remnants of red from the blood being sucked into his face by the intake. He's only puffed once before (that I'm aware) and it took him
2 weeks to eat (from what I'm assuming was the little folds in his abdomen to go back in place). I'm truly surprised at how resilient this little fish is. The photos did not capture the extent of the damage. Then again, I think in this instance it's a great thing he has such a stretchy and "pliable" little body, because he sure looked pretty "whompy" and horrible when I turned off the intake. He is now fluttering around the tank more with his tail fanned and his color is good (neon on top, totally white underbelly). There is some black discoloration on the left side of his face from the trauma.
<Neurological. This colour may be permanent>
He has a bit of red left on his "snout". He has taken to rubbing his face on the glass. Could this be his version of rubbing an injured part of his body such as what we would do to an area of our body that hurts?
<Don't know>
He's not as active as before the incident; he rests more, but he looks as if he is on his way. I've included photos, but he just wouldn't be still long enough for great ones. Hopefully you can discern enough to give me your feedback. <Pix too small, blurry; not posted>
The clowns are eating (Marine Cuisine soaked in same) and the anemone is eating as well. The clown fighting has diminished and the larger clownfish's lip is healing. The smaller clown is allowing the larger one to come closer to the anemone before attacking, but the attacks aren't so violent as before.
<The larger/female individual will be dominant soon and these troubles will be over>
I've included a couple of photos: 1 of the larger clown (I hope you can see the bottom lip) and another of them fighting near the anemone.....in case anyone is interested in seeing. I will have to float the little scrapper clown in the colander on my return in 3 days. The tang has stopped posturing up to the larger clown.
I'm careful to not overfeed and I'm fortunate enough to have a puffer who couldn't care less about the hermits in the tank which serve to clean up beautifully. I'm leaving the foods prepared and soaked with strict instructions for my daughter while I'm gone.
I did a 5 gallon water change yesterday. I will do another tonight before leaving in the morning. The ammonia is still present and I'm still not sure of the source. I've used the Red Sea drip tests (new) along with a new API drip test just to double check. Both are showing the ammonia is at .25. When I treated the tank with Flatworm Exit, I removed the nitrate sponge and the phosphate sponge and replaced them with charcoal.
<Leave the charcoal in and don't fool with the chemical sponges>
Charcoal also filled the tray above to help with removing the medication.
In my Fluval 405, I now have 2 trays of charcoal, 1 tray of floss, and one tray of ceramic rings. Could the change in the filter media have caused the ammonia spike? If so, what now?
<Time going by>
Thank you so much for your help!
Corinthian <----- not II, but I, of course!
<I thought as much. BobF>

Sick green spotted puffer... RMF suggests boycotting Wal-Mart, sending their mgmt. letters re 5/19/10
Please help me my kids
picked out two green spotted puffers that Wal-Mart sold as freshwater fish.
<Hope you have a big brackish water aquarium. Two GSPs will need to be maintained in a 55 gallon aquarium once mature, since they reach 15 cm/6 inches within a couple of years and are sometimes very aggressive. They are
brackish water fish, and should not be maintained below SG 1.005, i.e., a salinity of about 9 grammes of marine aquarium salt mix per litre of water [about 1.2 oz per US gallon].>
They also said appropriate for small tanks and with many other fish.
<No and no. Even juvenile GSPs will need at least 20 gallons of water, and they'll outgrow that tank within a year. They are fin-biters, and view other fish as nothing more than meals to be eaten either whole or one chunk at a time.>
After research some say salt some say fresh water which is it?
<They must have brackish water, or they can also be kept in a marine aquarium. GSPs will die if kept in a freshwater aquarium.>
Today one of them looks like each eye has a bubble over it and looks like a white film over mouth what should I do?
<Start by reading:
Until these fish are moved to appropriate conditions, they won't get healthier. They're likely suffering from acute ammonia/nitrite poisoning if this is a new aquarium, or stress because of the wrong water chemistry.
Either way I'd be treating for Finrot and/or Fungus, perhaps both, whilst also ensuring conditions were appropriate to those required by this species. And as some general advice, you're the adult, so don't let children make decisions where living creatures are concerned. Children have zero concept of responsibility, and their interest wanes in new pet animals after about 15 seconds. GSPs are big, difficult fish that should live some 10-15 years if properly cared for. By all means keep pufferfish yourself and share them with your children, but for gosh sakes don't buy them for
your kids, any more than you'd buy them a snake or some other exotic pet.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick green spotted puffer 5/19/10

Yes I know this I was a vet tech for 8 years and if the accurate conditions where on the aquariums at Wal-Mart I would have never purchased these fish, I promised my children fish we where mislead about conditions of these I
bought under the assumption we had accurate living conditions!
<Indeed, but as a vet I'm sure you're all too familiar with the difference between good intentions and actual reality. A German Shepherd is a great dog, but only in a particular situation where it gets lots of exercise and strong handling. Just so with puffers. Great fish, but not for everyone. As for relying on the pet store, would you rely on a car salesman when buying a new automobile? I imagine not. You'd go through all the various magazines and consumer reports on each model, comparing the pluses and minuses, and then come up with a balanced decision. Just so when buying livestock, whether it's a stick insect, a German Shepherd, or for that matter a Green Spotted Puffer. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Green Spotted Puffer 5/5/10
Hello WWM,
<Hello Mike,>
We are hoping that you could help us with some advice about our 1.5" green spotted puffer.
<By all means.>
Ever since we introduced a sick Percula (appeared to be Brooklynella and other problems) to the tank, the puffer began acting strange, not eating as much, resting a lot, not moving around actively. The clownfish did not last long, even with our attempts to treat him in a separate tank.
<Tetraodon nigroviridis isn't normally added to saltwater tanks so small, and I'm in two minds whether that was a good idea. While some people do keep GSPs in saltwater tanks, it certainly isn't essential to do so.
Furthermore, most people who move them into marine conditions do so when they're about half grown. It's important to note that Tetraodon nigroviridis is a species that isn't particularly associated with saltwater
conditions, and is more an estuarine species that appears to enter the sea for breeding purposes. With that said, Brooklynella could easily be the/another stress factor.>
It wasn't until he stopped eating entirely and we noticed a bit of blood near his fin/gill that we started getting very worried. Our puffer started twitching erratically from time to time so naturally we assumed that he had
some kind of internal parasite.
<Possibly, but more likely an external parasitic infection of some sort.>
Additionally, when he twitches, he seems to blow air out of his mouth, we can tell because you can see the sand moving.
<He blows air or water? If he's blowing air, you could see the bubbles as well, surely? If he's blowing water, that's sort of normal for puffers, which sometimes "exercise" their puffing up muscles, and also blow water to push sand about and thereby expose prey.>
When he noticed that he turned dark and began swimming frantically on his side, we discovered that one of his gills was not open so we caught him (not easy) and massaged the gill open. Unfortunately within 30 minutes the gill closed up again. The gill appears to be working after we open it and with a flashlight there did not appear to be anything in there that we could see with our naked eye.
<Many external parasites can, will affect the gill lamellae before anything else. Under such circumstances fish will be stressed, often without any obvious symptoms.>
When it closed up again we gave him a freshwater dip to see if anything would come out. We saw a very very tiny small white spec come out of his sick lung, but it could have just been some sand or dirt.
Afterward, we placed him back in the tank and his color returned.
Unfortunately his gill closed up again, and he still has twitches. He is swimming very slowly near the top of the tank (not floating thankfully) with good color now, but still refuses to eat the even the black worms he
used to love so much (we even tried the garlic trick with no success). His tummy is not sunken yet, but at this rate it probably will be.
Please help!!! We think it may be a gill parasite, fluke? We'd like to avoid using any chemicals or Coppersafe if possible, we have them around.
Puff appears to be sleeping less but still will not eat (it has been a few hours since we last opened his gill manually). Should we continue opening his gill? He seems better when we do but it closes up fast. Is there
anything you can suggest? If it is a gill parasite, can it go away over time without any treatment? Should we be concerned about adding fish to the tank now?
<In this case, I'd move the pufferfish to a low-end brackish water aquarium around SG 1.005. Maintain him thus for a couple of weeks. If necessary, use Zeolite to remove the ammonia if you don't have any freshwater or brackish water filter bacteria handy. Within that span of time any marine external parasites should be eliminated. Plus, the reduced "stress" on your puffer's osmoregulatory system will help too.>
Regards, MT & LM
<Cheers, Neale.>

My Green Spotted Puffer appears sick 3/17/10
Hello, my name is Robert. I purchased two GSPs from Wal-mart (unfortunately) about a month ago. We currently have the two puffers in a 10gallon tank - too small, I know, but the tank is only temporary until we can find a good deal on a bigger tank. We have slowly been acclimating the puffers to brackish water conditions by using marine salt and the SG is currently about 1.005.
<Good. This is likely "salty enough" for your Tetraodon at their present size>
We use SeaChem prime as a conditioner and our toxin readings are nil.
About a week ago one of the puffers became very lethargic and began to darken. First grey then almost black in places (particularly his sides and face).
<Could be psychological only... or resultant stress, ill-health from damage prior to your care>
He has gradually declined in both color and eating voracity. The past two days he spends nearly all of his time on the bottom of the tank breathing heavily.
<Bad signs>
He swims briefly if agitated but quickly resumes laying at the bottom of the tank. This morning I spotted a reddish/brown strand about 1/2cm protruding from each of his gills. I called my LFS and they believed it could be gill flukes
and recommended Seachem's Paraguard which I subsequently administered. This was several hours ago and there is still no change in his behavior/color (I know relief would not be instant), but I want to be sure that I'm doing all I can for the little guy. And I'm not entirely sure if it is, in fact, gill flukes.
<Highly unlikely>
Any ideas? Note: The other puffer in the tank has bright and vivid coloring and swims and eats with gusto.
Any help would be much appreciated, thanks!
<Our resident brackish expert, Neale Monks is out currently. I'll place your query in his in-folder for response on his return. In the meanwhile please do read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
My Green Spotted Puffer appears sick, Neale 3/17/10
Hello, my name is Robert. I purchased two GSPs from Wal-mart (unfortunately) about a month ago. We currently have the two puffers in a 10gallon tank - too small, I know,
<Yes, and likely the immediate cause of any problems. Like a dog cooped up in a small room, intelligent fish like puffers can react badly to confined spaces, even if in terms of life's essentials water conditions seem good.>
but the tank is only temporary until we can find a good deal on a bigger tank. We have slowly been acclimating the puffers to brackish water conditions by using marine salt and the SG is currently about 1.005. We use SeaChem prime as a conditioner and our toxin readings are nil.
About a week ago one of the puffers became very lethargic and began to darken. First grey then almost black in places (particularly his sides and face).
<Classic "stress" reaction in pufferfish. Start by checking the obvious things like water quality, oxygenation, and so on. Make sure the filter is working properly and that there's suitable turnover of water all around the tank. Check the heater is working properly. Consider possible toxins in the air, such as paint fumes.>
He has gradually declined in both color and eating voracity.
<Don't feed at all while it is off-colour.>
The past two days he spends nearly all of his time on the bottom of the tank breathing heavily. He swims briefly if agitated but quickly resumes laying at the bottom of the tank. This morning I spotted a reddish/brown strand about 1/2cm protruding from each of his gills.
<From both gills? That's odd. Could be a fluke, but could equally easily be excess mucous, e.g., from an irritant on the gills, either organic (like Velvet) or not (like a toxin).>
I called my LFS and they believed it could be gill flukes and recommended Seachem's Paraguard which I subsequently administered.
<Fairly general purpose so far as medications go, and wouldn't be my first call here. If gill flukes are suspected, then the best option here would be to do two distinct baths: first in seawater, and then in freshwater. Expose to both for up to half an hour. Try and minimise pH and temperature changes. Leave a good six hours between each. Repeat a day or two later if necessary. The aim here is to shock the parasites (if present) without stressing the fish.
This was several hours ago and there is still no change in his behavior/color (I know relief would not be instant), but I want to be sure that I'm doing all I can for the little guy. And I'm not entirely sure if it is, in fact, gill flukes. Any ideas? Note: The other puffer in the tank has bright and vivid coloring and swims and eats with gusto.
<That one fish is healthy and the other not so does suggest, but doesn't prove, a biotic factor such as parasites. But difficult to know.>
Any help would be much appreciated, thanks!
<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.>

sick green spotted puffer 01/30/10
I have 2 greenspotted puffers (who are best buddies).
<Tetraodon nigroviridis. Most problems with this species come down to trying to keep them in freshwater. This will not work. They are brackish water fish, and need at least SG 1.005 at 25 degrees C (about 9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water).>
I bought them at Wal-Mart (bad, I know now), about 10 days ago.
<Nothing wrong with buying them from Wal-Mart. What is bad is buying them without doing any research.>
They live in a 20 gallon fresh water tank as they came to me as freshwater fish.
<They aren't freshwater fish. That the retailer doesn't know this is inexcusable, but doesn't let you off the hook. You should always research your fish prior to purchase.>
The tank was well cycled for over a year. One has declined in health over the past two days.
<Not a freshwater fish. No matter how well maintained, they will eventually die in freshwater. Moreover, 20 gallons isn't enough space for two specimens, at least not when sexually mature. This species is fairly aggressive towards its own kind, and almost always best kept alone.>
Now he looks extremely ill. He lies at the bottom, sometimes with his tail curved in. He will swim up for feeding time and is interested but can't seem to eat. He has a cloudy eye and his body color will change at time from dark belly to clear white. At times it seems his side fin is paralyzed; other times he swims easily. At times he breathes heavily as if he is gasping for air. Other times he is OK.
<You are killing this fish by inches, by not keeping him in brackish water.
End of analysis. You need to buy some marine salt mix, like that used in marine tanks, and add at a dose of at least 9 grammes per litre of water.
Start by replacing 25% of the water this weekend with brackish water that has this amount of salt added PER BUCKET (i.e., don't add salt to the tank, just the amount needed per bucket of water). Repeat next weekend, and so on. Over the weeks this will slowly raise the salinity to where you need it, without stressing the filter bacteria.>
Water parameters are pH 7.2 NH3 0 nitrites 0 Temp 86. Water changes at least once/day.
<Weekly water changes are fine.>
He is on the bottom now, head into gravel and the other puffer just stays by his side.
Please tell me what to do to help this little guy.
<First of all, read here:
Then do as instructed above. Otherwise, this fish WILL die. Repeat after me: "Green Spotted Puffers are not freshwater fish; they cannot be kept in freshwater aquaria." Say this out loud ten times, ideally in front of the Wal-Mart clerk. Cheers, Neale.>

green spotted puffer fish sick 1/31/2010
hello, I have two fresh water green spotted puffer fish.
<There are no such things. Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
I have had them for about 6 weeks now. This morning my smaller fish started looking really dark in its body and eyes. The other fish looks fine. The sick fish is also floating around and bumping into things. Please help me! The only things I have in the tank is two green spotted puffer fish, a large rock cave, and river rocks on the bottom.

Green spotted puffer... in FW, sys., hlth. 1/13/10
I've had a FW green spotted puffer for a year and a half almost.
<There is no such thing as a "freshwater" Green Spotted Puffer. Only brackish water Green Spotted Puffers sold as freshwater fish. Retailers aren't completely reliable when it comes to stating the needs of any fish, which is why reading about a species PRIOR to purchase is so critical. In this case, there is ample information available about Tetraodon nigroviridis, and all books and magazines agree, this is a brackish water species.>
He has always been very active and curious up until three days ago. I noticed that he was not as active as he usually is.
<Health is never good when aquarists attempt to keep these fish in freshwater. This cannot be stated too strongly. While the precise salinity isn't important, you do need at least SG 1.005 (9 grammes marine salt mix per litre of water) for long term health. This is quite salty water, and it's important to understand that this isn't the same thing at all as regular freshwater with a spoonful of aquarium tonic salt added per gallon.>
Then the next day when I woke up I found him lying on the rocks. I turned on the light and he had a white, cloudy glaze over both of his eyes. Of course I freaked and did a semi water change.
<Don't freak; read. The information required to keep this species successfully has been understood and written down for at least 50 years -- so there are no surprises here.>
He's moving around more but I feel he could be blind. He's not moving around the tank as though he's aware of anything and the worst part, he's NOT eating. I have noticed the past week that he was not eating as much, but I did not really notice anything wrong until his eyes and that's when he has just fully stopped eating. His stomach is turning a grayish color and it breaks my heart to know that he could starve if I do not fix it. What could be wrong?? Please help me, I love my puffer.
<Contrary to what The Beatles sang, love is not all you need. You need information. In this case, the best hope for your puffer is to transfer it to a brackish water aquarium. If you want to use the aquarium you have, you need to be careful otherwise you could kill the biological filter. Do a 25% water change today, replacing the freshwater in the tank with water that has 9 grammes of marine salt mix (Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, etc.) per litre of water in the bucket added. In other words, for each 10 litre bucket of water you add, stir in 9 x 10 = 90 grammes of marine salt mix. Do the same thing a day or two later, and again, and again, until you've done four 25% water changes across about a week. This will raise the salinity of the water slowly. The pufferfish should immediately perk up. From now on, be sure to keep adding the right amount of marine salt mix to each bucket of water you add. Use a hydrometer to keep tabs on the specific gravity (the basic $5 floating glass models are fine, so long as they go down to 1.000). Top up evaporation with tap water, not brackish water, though.
That's it! Cheers, Neale.>

Puffer, GSPs, 12/11/09
Hello. I have 3 1.5" GSPs in a 50 gallon tank. They are a somewhat new addition to our home (about 3 months). Their water is almost perfect condition and I am in the process of raising the salinity (at the moment it is a little less then slightly brackish), which from my research is what is necessary.
<Ah, yes... particularly with larger, growing specimens as yours here.
Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm>
I am only having one problem one of the fish is really skinny
<A bad sign>
and has been since we got him, at first I just thought it was stress, I am really worried now. He eats great, his color is good, and he seems to be acting normal (like the other GSPs), but he is still really skinny. I think he may have a parasite, and if so is it contagious, and if it is, why have my other puffer shown no signs? What would be the best treatment for a multi-fish tank.
<Do give a read above the citation I've sent you to, to further read re the health/diseases of these fish. It may be prudent to add a vermifuge/anthelminthic and antiprotozoal to their favored foods... These are gone over on the site/WWM. Bob Fenner>

Possibly sick GSP 11/17/09
I have one beautiful, happy 1.5 inch Green Spotted Puffer.
<Very nice.>
Bennie (short for Benetton) has 2 tiny white spots, one on the top fin and one on his tail. They become noticeable when he fans the fins out.
<Are they actually specks, like salt grains, or off-white patches?>
I'm not completely convinced he's got ich though, they don't seem to irritate him, they haven't multiplied, and they're not on his body.
<Ick won't occur in brackish water anyway. Assuming you're adding a reasonable amount of salt for Tetraodon nigroviridis, Ick simply won't occur. By "reasonable" I mean SG 1.005, or 9 grammes per litre marine salt mix (roughly 1.2 oz/US gal, about 5.5 level teaspoons per gallon).>
My BW 10g tank is only home to Bennie, and at his small size, I figure he's okay for another inch.
<Don't bank on it. Puffers are very sensitive to nitrate, and nitrate levels in small tanks can be very high.>
He's usually very active, curious and friendly. I only worry about him because after around a week of his adorable hyper mood, he becomes withdrawn and inactive. He sits a lot at the bottom of the tank staring at his reflection, or swims up and down the tank repeatedly. I hear splashes throughout the duration of his strange mood, as he skittishly tries to jump out of the water, then he zooms around the tank before returning to his lethargic state. Is this normal?
<No really, no.>
His infrequent but reoccurring depressed moods and the two spots are my concerns.
<Do read here:
Assuming the white specks aren't Ick, then physical damage or early Finrot are more likely. Neither are major problems if treated promptly. Physical damage generally heals under good water conditions, while Finrot is safely treated with antibiotics. Melafix is safe with puffers, though its usefulness is low to non-existent once a bacterial infection gets started.
Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer, env., hlth. 09/08/09
Hello, I need some advice.
I purchased a Green Spotted Puffer 3 weeks ago. After 2 weeks I found him dead. I returned him to the store and got another GSP. 1 week later he was dead. I just got another today and I do not want the same fate as the others.
<Hm... a pattern is emerging...>
However I am not sure what I am doing wrong. I have tested my water and so did the fish store... water quality was very good.
<Need numbers! Lots of folks have misconceptions of what "good" water quality and water chemistry might be. In the case of Green Spotted Puffers, ammonia and nitrite must both be 0, and nitrate should be as low as practically, ideally less than 20 mg/l.>
At this point they were still in fresh water.
<This never does this puffers much good. So apart from a pH around 7.5 to 8, and a hardness level 10 degrees dH or higher, you really should be adding some marine salt mix to the water. For juveniles, a least 6 grammes per litre (about SG 1.003 at 25 C) is fine, but once they get to above 8-10 cm/3-4 inches, you need to be adding about 9-16 grammes per litre (SG 1.005 to 1.010 at 25 C).>
I was going to change them to brackish water but never got the chance since they keep dying.
<Try doing things the other way around: set up a brackish water aquarium, and then add your puffer.>
I have been feeding them 2 times a day skipping 1 meal a week. Their menu consists of snails, frozen bloodworms and frozen brine shrimp. I try to give them at least 1 snail per feeding and either brine shrimp or
bloodworms. They would gobble them up with no hesitation.
<Diet sounds fine.>
I quit feeding them after the stomachs were rounded. Any ideas why they keep dying?
<Presumably environmental; review tank size, filtration, water circulation rate. Puffers have high oxygen demands, and a good, strong filter is essential. I'd be looking at something rated at 6-8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So for a 30 gallon tank, 6 x 30 = 180 gallons/hour would be the minimum viable filter.>
Should I switch the tank to brackish water right now to see if that helps?
The tank is fully cycled and the temperature is kept at 75-78 degrees. I put a lunar light on the tank for night viewing. Will this hurt them in any way?
<Don't leave these lights on all night, just an hour or two. Whether they're "harm" the fish is debatable, but they aren't natural and may make it difficult for fish to sleep normally.>
I appreciate any help you can give me. I hate to keep losing fish for no reason.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer 9/9/09
Sorry... Numbers:
Ammonia = 0
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = about 5 -10
Hardness = 250
Alkalinity = 180
pH = 8
<All sounds fine.>
My filter cycles the tank about 9-10 times per hour. I am also running 2 sponge filters to help with bacteria growth and oxygen. I will switch it to brackish water tonight...
<Suspect this will help.>
<There's a nice review of the species, here:
In general, these are hardy fish, but if kept in freshwater for too long, do get sickly. Do watch for things like overfeeding, and ensure the tank has a good circulation, as puffers are invariably sensitive to low oxygen
concentrations. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Novice Makes a Ton of Mistakes That May Kill Fish. Is the problem fungus? 8/12/09
Sorry I forgot to keep you up to date!? I guess I lost this email! Thank
you for your help!
<Happy to help.>
All of my fish survived.? Mostly I think I was overreacting (especially about the puffer, whom I baby more than anyone ever should baby a fish... it's almost a little creepy, but I admit to it!)? I used Melafix to treat the Popeye after all of the other treatments had been filtered out, and replaced the water with reverse osmosis water in 25% increments.?? No eyes were lost, no fish died, and I really learned a valuable lesson.
BUT! I have a question:?

My Green Spotted Puffer had been staying in the tank, until I noticed some odd behavior.? She used to pick on EVERYBODY, even the Green Terror who is more than twice her size and another cichlid who chases the other fish so violently I'm on the verge of giving him to the pet store down the street (who swears they won't flush him), however, I think she may have suffered a little bit of a "beat down."?
<Green Spotted Puffers, widely called GSPs, aren't community fish. Period.
End of story. Adult males are territorial when mature, and both sexes view the fins of other fish as potential food. They are normally kept alone or with their own kind. 30 gallons is about right for one, 55 gallons for two.
Finally, GSPs need brackish water. They CANNOT be kept indefinitely in freshwater, whatever the guy in the pet store might have suggest. Indeed, there's some evidence they need marine conditions to breed.>
She had been swimming only in the top corner of the tank and avoiding the other fish (I at first assumed she'd go back to her old ways, and kick some tail but she didn't!) She was once so aggressive I had to fight to convince everyone she was worth it, but she began running away from even the feeder fish! Her colors even got very dark.
<What is the salinity of the water? When GSPs lose colour, it's often a sign that they're being kept in the wrong conditions. Juveniles need to be kept at around SG 1.005 at 25 degrees C, about 9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water. Adults will need about twice that salinity.>
I was scared, so I bagged her up (she usually stays at my 55 gallon that has no place in my house and therefore stays at my boyfriends') and took her home. Before I even got out of the car I noticed her colors had brightened and she was genuinely (and a little stupidly) exploring the bag (a normal fish store bag with about four inches of water in it.).
Anyhow, she seems fine, (she explores the tank and "herds the feeders," watches me type pretty intently, and hasn't really slept yet), but she's stuck in a tank that I know is too small for her, (I think it's only ten
<Do not feed this fish feeder fish. Indeed, don't feed ANY fish feeder fish. The only people who use store-bought feeder fish are people who haven't thought through what they're doing. I'm not against the use of live
fish _per se_, as it can be the only way to keep (a very few) difficult predatory fish species. But those feeders must, repeat MUST, be home-bred and gut-loaded. The most idiotic thing you can do is buy Goldfish or Minnows as feeder fish. At the price they're sold at, they're maintained in squalid (read: disease-ridden) conditions, and they're also filled with fat and thiaminase that cause MAJOR health problems. Luckily, here in the UK, feeder fish simply aren't sold any more, but in some parts of the world
they may still be on sale. Don't buy them. Read more, here:
She's only about an inch long, and the only other inhabitants are a couple of fiddlers, who are scared of her (she enjoys chasing them onto the land, or into the tunnel underneath it), and some feeders I got for her.
<Why...? Where did you read that GSPs eat small fish? What book? They don't. They eat invertebrates and some plant material, as well as the fins of larger fish. Do read here:
How long can/should she stay there??
<Few days, maybe weeks. GSPs need brackish water conditions.>
I'm a little short on the cash I would need to get a bigger tank, and before I borrow money from my parents (and persuade them it's necessary)
I'd like to know the time frame.
<Don't buy a fish until AFTER you have researched its needs. In this case, you've created an expensive problem, because you have a fish that gets big (15 cm/6 inches) and is so aggressive it can't normally be kept with other species. It grows quickly, and within a year will be at least half grown.
I'd like to be able to offer a cheap workaround, but you know what, there aren't always quick solutions. Hence, you research BEFORE you buy. I'd have told you this if you'd asked, and saved you some money.>
AND do you think she could go back into the big tank anytime?
Thank you for your input!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Fish question (Tetraodon nigroviridis; health, diet) 6/19/09
WWM Crew,
<Hello Stacey,>
I have 3 green spotted puffers in a brackish 30 gallon tank. I originally had 4 and I've had them for about 6 months now. The fourth one became sick and the fish store I went to really wasn't any help. They gave me an antifungal fish medicine and told me to separate the fish so I put that one in a ten gallon tank and the medicine seemed to kill the fish just from the chemicals that ate away at it.
<It is certainly true that some medications appear toxic to Pufferfish. It isn't common for Fungus to be a problem in brackish water aquaria; for whatever reason, fungi just don't seem to do well under such conditions.
But bacterial infections such as Finrot and the misleadingly named Mouth Fungus (also known as Columnaris) can occur. Neither will be cured by anti-fungal medications; to treat them, you need something like Maracyn designed to deal with bacteria.>
However, I realise another one of my puffers is starting the same symptoms.
<Now, when two fish suffer the same problem, you have to start looking at the bigger picture. Begin by reviewing water conditions. Thirty gallons isn't viable for three puffers above, say, 10 cm/4 inches, simply because these fish are so messy and put a heavy strain on the filter. Check the ammonia and nitrite levels, which need to be zero, and the nitrate, which should be 20 mg/l or less most of the time, and certainly never higher than 50 mg/l. Weekly water changes of 25% or more are important. Also check the water chemistry; these puffers need hard (10-25 degrees dH) water with a pH around 7.5 to 8. If you have a specific gravity about 1.010, then a protein skimmer is an option. You should not be keeping these puffers below a specific gravity of 1.005, which is equivalent to 9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre; that's roughly 1.5 level teaspoons of marine salt mix per litre, or about 5.5 level teaspoons (or 1.18 oz) of marine salt mix per US
gallon. I mention this because a lot of people think brackish water is a teaspoon of tonic salt per gallon -- it's not!>
The fish just hangs out at the top of the water in the corner breathing heavily, looks bigger than normal, and will not eat. I switch off between feeling the fish bloodworms, ghost shrimp, and feeder fish and I recently
began giving them small snails.
<Never, ever use feeder fish. Who recommended this? Why would you feed anything as parasite- and disease-laden as feeder fish to your pets? Let's recap the proper diet of Green Spotted Puffers: snails, krill, cockles, squid, cooked peas, algae wafers. Don't use mussels or shrimps/prawns too often because these contain a lot of thiaminase, and over time, can lead to a Vitamin B1 deficiency. A couple times a week is fine; rest of the week, use other foods.>
Do you have any idea what might be wrong with my puffer, and what I can do to save him?
<Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Spotted Puffer 05/29/09
I have 6 spotted puffers (Tetraodon nigroviridis), in full saltwater for about 4 years.
<No real need to keep them in seawater, though the use of live rock and a skimmer is definitely beneficial. Provided you stay on top of water changes, around half-strength seawater is fine.>
The 6th was a late addition sort of a rescue from a friend that could keep tank going. Anyway, the 6th one has always been reclusive and stayed away from the others in the tank. The last several months I've noticed that this puffer is not as tenacious about eating as when I first introduced him into the tank. Originally he was the smallest and ultimately has become the largest by far. It was half the size of the others when introduced to the tank and is now 3 times the size of the others.
<Wow! Are you sure these are all the same species? Or for that matter, are you sure they are all Tetraodon nigroviridis? Tetraodon fluviatilis is easily confused with Tetraodon nigroviridis, and at a pinch, there are other species, such as Tetraodon biocellatus, that might be confused with Tetraodon nigroviridis as well.>
Sorry, long story short, this puffer has become increasingly lethargic and tends to stay towards the bottom in an area where the substrate has been dug out slightly or up in a corner almost wedged in. Today I noticed that the right eye is sunken in and it is gasping in a sense.
<If just one eye is damaged, that's typically physical damage rather than environmental stress. If possible isolate the fish, but either way, and treat with Epsom salts to reduce the swelling. A dose of 1 teaspoon per US gallon is usually effective, but you can use up to 3 teaspoons per gallon if the puffer doesn't show signs of healing. Dosing with a systemic antibiotic such as Maracyn 2 is also a good idea. Do also review likely causes of the physical damage: overstocking, aggression, clumsy handling on your part, etc.>
The eye is pretty bad, fairly sunk in, upon further observation. I couldn't find any relative articles of FAQ's on your site so I am seeking advice. I work at a local fish store and am baffled by this, not sure what to do, your site is the best one I know of (I refer customers to you guys all the time as a good place for knowledge and expertise) so I need your help in rescuing this little guy for a second time (rescued from friend about 3 years ago).
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Sick Spotted Puffer 5/30/09
Much thanks, however time wasn't on my side or the puffer's for that matter. You help is very much appreciated. I don't believe is was physical damage, no marks or other signs of such, but the eye was very recessed. Species of the puffers, yes definitely a question I have tried to work with, I need to review the differences.
<Quite easy. Tetraodon biocellatus has two circular yellow markings on each flank; a pair on either side of the caudal peduncle, and then another pair a bit further forwards and upwards, on either side of the dorsal fin. Tetraodon nigroviridis is distinctly luminous yellow-green when young, and has numerous small dark but irregular spots. Tetraodon fluviatilis is somewhere in between, with markings mostly like Tetraodon nigroviridis, but with saddle-like markings across the back that could, at first glance, be confused with the two pairs of circular markings on Tetraodon biocellatus.
Tetraodon nigroviridis and Tetraodon fluviatilis do well at mid to high salinities, whereas Tetraodon biocellatus prefers lower salinity.>
I've had these guys in a saltwater environment for about 5 years and they've done great. Initially, it was a brackish tank but I switched up after a few weeks and outside of the rescued puffer they've been thriving.
Thanks again, this is a good reminder for me to update my information and knowledge, you guys rock!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Nematode or...? GSP, poss. dis. 10/22/08 Hello, I have a GSP that I have had for about 6 months now. He is currently in a 40 Gal tank with a few blue leg hermit crabs and a 2 black mollies. The mollies are what I cycled the tank with (that and their offspring that now are housed in another tank, but that's another story), and the GSP was added several months later when the readings were showing weekly that it was in fact cycled. I added the Blue legs when it got to about SG of 1.012, hearing that they can do pretty decently at lower salinities then a lot of their marine cousins. So, these all have been in my tank for about 4 months, no additions. Water has been maintained at SG of 1.013, Ph 7.8, Ammonia, nitrites 0 and nitrates less than .5. I do weekly 50% water changes. The GSP is about 2 inches now. A week ago, I noticed a spot on the belly of my GSP, it was like what diatom algae looks like when it first starts out, but was a bit more red than brown. Then it seemed to go away, late last week it came back, but it looked like it was starting to be little hump/lump/ pimple. Yesterday it looked much larger and today it looks less spread out, but more so like a growth or something. I can't tell if it is on him or in him....it is reddish and raised. I was wondering if this is a nematode and how would I know for sure, <Mmm, only way to be sure is to look at such under a dissection microscope... can cut through (make a coronal section) through the esophagus... is tri-radiate, determinate for the phylum> or if he might have scrapped himself or has had a run in with a crab pincher or something. I have tried to get a picture but he isn't having any of that. He eats well, acts the same...all of that, I just want to know if there is something safe I can do to try to prevent any harm that he might eventually be in if it is left untreated. Any help would be greatly appreciated. <Mmm, tough to tell w/ no image... but if it were mine, I'd stay tentative at this point, not try a vermifuge or other... and see if this spot/issue resolves itself. In the meanwhile you can read re Worms, Disease, and GSPs all the way around on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Sick GSP - Brackish 9/17/08 I have a sick GSP that is about 3 inches long. He started acting sluggish and not eating like he used to. I next noticed a whitish gray film on his back in front of his tail and includes the small fin about 1 cm in front of his tail too. The area stretches down both of his sides too. The next day the area looked as if the skin was peeling off but was not detached yet. Today the skin is gone and only a white area that is depressioned (lower than the rest of the skin) and the fin is nearly gone. He does not look good at all and sits on the bottom without moving even when you tap on the glass near him. The white area shows signs of pinkish red spots too and it looks like more peeling will occur in some areas where the brownish skin still exists. <This is a pretty severe secondary infection of some type, likely bacterial rather than fungal. Bacterial infections look like white/grey scum, whereas fungal infections look wooly. Fungal infections are uncommon in brackish/salt water environments. Assuming it's a bacteria infection, you need to be using Maracyn or some similar antibiotic. Do make sure to optimise water quality and also remove carbon from the filter while treating. I'd personally be doing seawater dips as well; essentially make up a container with water containing 35 g salt/litre, and then dip the fish for 2-20 minutes at a time, once per day. Dip for as long as possible, removing the fish if it shows signs of severe distress (e.g., rolling over). Sudden salinity changes stress the bacteria on the skin, drawing water out of them. While this won't cure the disease, it does seem to speed up recovery.> The tank has been up and running for 8 months or so and has a black goby and a scat in it too. The black goby periodically chases and tried to bite the puffer fish almost on a daily basis and especially when they ate food. However I know the puffer fish did get enough food. I have tested all of the following Ammonia, Nitrite, PH, KH and salinity. No ammonia or nitrate exists, the PH is 8, the KH is 8 and salinity is 1.009. <All sounds fine. Finrot-type bacterial infections (Aeromonas, Pseudomonas, etc.) come about in two main ways: poor water quality and physical damage. If you're confident water quality is good, then do review possible trauma. For example, biting by other fish, or scratches from things like bleached corals. Heaters can cause severe damage if the puffer got stuck next to one. Coarse nets can also damage the skin.> I don't know what else to do. The pet stores around here don't know much about brackish fish and I see you guys are the experts. Please advise. <No real differences in treatment here compared with saltwater or freshwater fish. There's a bacterial infection, and it needs an antibiotic cure.> Pic of sick GSP attached. Thanks for all your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick GSP - Brackish 9/17/08 Thanks for the fast response. <We aim to please...> I will run out and get some today. I will also be doing the salt water bath as you described. <Very good.> The infection is definitely caused by the black molly. He picks on the puffer and I will be moving him to a new tank now that I know it caused this much harm. <Ah, yes, this does happen. Do check the Molly is getting enough green foods to eat. Wild Mollies are almost entirely herbivorous, and have mouthparts evolved to rasp food away from solid surfaces. It is possible that in lieu of green algae he's decided to go for the mucous on the Puffer. This sort of behaviour is certainly known from other algae eaters. As you're seeing, damage to the mucous allows infections to work their way into the skin.> Again much appreciated! <Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer Diseases 8/3/08 Hello, I had two Green Spotted Puffers in a 30 gallon tank and they had been in the tank for about 1 year and seemed pretty healthy until one just died. He became bloated, lost his color, stopped eating and his sides developed indents where his fins came out. The other puffer was healthy until he developed the same conditions. On your website it was suggested that they stopped eating because their teeth became over grown, so I sedated him and cut his teeth, but they weren't that over grown and he is still not eating. I just noticed today that on one of his black spots the color is gone, but it does not look like ick. I keep him in a brackish tank with the temp at 80 F and a fluval filtration system. I do 50 percent water changes ever week, so I don't know what could be wrong with him. He is fed dried blood worms, dried krill and snails. Could it be possible that he has been over fed? Any suggestions as to what could be wrong with him would be a great help. Thanks, Nicole <Hello Nicole. Green Spotted Puffers (Tetraodon nigroviridis and Tetraodon fluviatilis) are generally hardy and undemanding, but that does depend on water quality being good and water chemistry being stable and saline. Just to recap, you have to make sure nitrite and ammonia are zero, and than nitrate levels are as low as practical, certainly below 50 mg/l and ideally below 20 mg/l. The water needs to be hard (15+ degrees dH, 7+ degrees KH) and have a basic pH (7.5-8.0). Salinity doesn't matter very much, but should be at least SG 1.005 and ideally around SG 1.010. A 30-gallon tank is at the low end of what works for these puffers, given that their maximum size in captivity is between 12-15 cm. So water changes do need to be regular and substantial, but your 50% per week should be adequate. Fluval filters are usually very good (owned and used them many times myself) but sometimes the user can make mistakes with even the best filtration system, for example not clearing out the filter often enough, or choosing the wrong kinds of media. For pufferfish, you'd be looking at rinsing the biological filter media (e.g., sponges and ceramic noodles) every 4-8 weeks, and any chemical media such as carbon would need to be replaced at least that often. In fact I'd not consider carbon worthwhile in this sort of system, but would recommend a calcareous medium like crushed coral as being useful for buffering pH and maintaining the hardness. I'm concentrating on water quality/chemistry here because when a succession of fish die for vague, inexplicable reasons, these two things are almost always to blame. So the very first thing I'd do is check the pH and the nitrite (the two essential test kits everyone should have) just to get some idea of the water conditions. I'd also do a big (75%) water change and give the filter a thorough clean, taking care of course not to harm the filter bacteria (clean any sponges/ceramic noodles in buckets of aquarium water). Lower the temperature a bit too; 80 F is much too high, and instead aim for a more equitable 25C/77F. Warm water contains less oxygen, and puffers are very sensitive to this. While you're at it, also check the water is circulating properly. If the fish peps up after this, then there's a good chance environmental issues are at the heart of your problem. We can discuss further in due course. Cheers, Neale.>

Puffer emergency! 6/11/08 Pufferpunk, <Micah> Last night I noticed my puffer was very dark-colored, with a black belly. He didn't have the horizontal stress lines many GSPs get when they're upset, it was just an all-over dark. He still ate, and his color brightened somewhat, but later his color went back to dark. I transferred him (as I mentioned in my previous message) to his new tank, and while he's still swimming around, his color looks terrible, his tail is curled, and the dorsal fin at the end of his torso is flopped over. I know he's not happy, but it's not the chemical levels (*just* tested, as I mentioned in my previous e-mail). I can't think what the problem is, and I hate to see him in such a state. What to do??? <Puffers are very sensitive fish & do not like being moved. If hes eating normally, dont worry, hes just pouting. I had one go on a hunger strike for 2 weeks after being moved from a 55g to a nice big 125g tank. Id give him time to adjust to his new digs. ~PP> -A worried Puffer Mom GSP question re uneven belly bulge, possible parasite/infection 6/10/08 Hi WWM crew.... I looked all through the site and didn't see anything that matched my question...so here goes I have two small GSPs (going on three months) that at almost the same exact time about a week ago both developed an asymmetrically bulge in their left side...at first the bulges were only visible after feeding (previously after feeding their bellies had a symmetrical bulge)...now, in the last two days, the asymmetrically bulges seem ever present ...I cut back on their food recently (within the last two weeks) as I suspected that I have been overfeeding them. <Easily done; pufferfish are very good at training their weak-willed keepers to give them more food than they need. For any puffer, the idea is to provide just enough food that the belly is gently convex, but never so much that the belly looks swollen or lumpy. It's also important to remember Pufferfish are partly herbivorous, so providing them things like tinned peas is important. Some puffers develop a taste for algae wafers or pellets too.> Nitrates ~0 Nitrites = unknown Ammonia 0 PH = ~8.0 GH = 9-10 <All sounds fine.> 30 gallon tank cycled tank (I know they'll need bigger, possibly separate tanks ;) ) Emperor 280 BioWheel Salinity (1.08) Instant Ocean <Ideal.> 50% weekly water changes with R/O water <The R/O water is probably overkill, unless your tap water has a ridiculously high level of nitrate (above 50 mg/l).> Usual diet = frozen mysis, live ghost shrimp, occasionally small pond snails (from Petco) <Nice mix. But do consider some foods with plant content, such as tinned peas. Mussels are also good, because they contain a lot of algae in their guts.> In an attempt to vary their diet I fed them a mussel I got from the grocery store...I do not know if it was a fresh or saltwater mussel...I really hope I didn't infect them with something as I've learned unfortunately after the fact that this was not a good thing to feed them.* <Mussels are "the perfect food" for puffers, and if your puffers like them, use them as the staple. They are meaty but with a gut filled with algae, and so very much a "meat and two veg" style dinner (as we say in England).> I'm wondering if this is a normal appearance due to GSP anatomy, somehow related to the change in the feeding pattern (i.e when they do eat now, they eat more perhaps? Causing this bulge in the left side that wasn't present before), or perhaps some type of parasite or infection? <Unlikely a parasite.> Their behavior has not been out of the ordinary...one's belly color is all white, the other's is slightly grey above the bulge at the lateral color break. They are maintaining their weight, not getting skinny, no stringy feces, aside from appearing more hungry (again, possibly due to feeding them less often than they have become accustomed to), I haven't noticed any other changes in appearance or behavior ...other than this strange asymmetrically bulge in their left sides and the grey color near the bulge in that one, that worries me. <Stop feeding, and see if the bulge goes down.> Could temp be a factor? The tank has been warmer than what I'd like recently...pushing 80 degrees, sometimes up to 83...even after turning the heater off....mostly likely due to an increase in temperature and a rather hot apartment. I've cracked the lid on the tank, kept the light off and opened all the windows in an effort to lower the temp which yesterday was 79. <I'd perhaps add an airstone or adjust the filter to optimise splashing and water circulation, but beyond that I wouldn't worry too much.> I hope I've given you enough info. <Yep.> My puffs and their worried owner thank you greatly. <I suspect there's nothing the matter. Reduce food, see what happens. Hope this helps, Neale.>

New BR Puffer/Ammonia 5/27/08 Hello Crew, <Hi Micah, Pufferpunk here again. Welcome back to puffer keeping!> I recently decided to try to make another go at being a puffer parent and a few days ago, I moved the freshwater fish I had out of a long-established (since November) tank into another roomier tank. I added approximately 3/4 cup of Instant Ocean marine salt per gallon of water and let the salt dissolve for 48 hours. <Thats quite a jump in salinity! Certainly enough to kill off any FW bacteria you had in that tank.> Before I added the salt, I had what could be conservatively called a common pond snail infestation (a bonus gift that came along with some live plants). I added the salt at night, and the next morning, all of the snails were dead. <Yes, freshwater snails cannot survive in brackish water.> I don't mind the snails being dead, really, I'm just a bit concerned about the effect it'll have on the ammonia levels, as I tested them tonight and they were 1.0. <Possibly a combination of the dead snails & dead nitrifying bacteria killed off by the salt. The tank should be started over with a fishless cycle, before adding any fish to it.> I immediately did a 60% water change, and brought the ammonia levels down a notch (to .50). I know that that's still not ideal but I hadn't anticipated the effect the snail deaths would have on the water, so I had picked up a juvenile green spotted puffer today, and had him/her waiting in the wings while I performed the water tests. The puffer is currently in a bucket in the water he came home in (the LFS said they kept him in brackish water, but I tested it with my hydrometer when I arrived home and the specific gravity didn't even register on my otherwise reliable instrument, so apparently he's been living in FW). <Yes, most stores keep their BW fish in FW. What you should have done is transfer the tanks inhabitants out of that tank & added the puffer. He would have has a fantastic meal of snails, living in a fully cycled FW tank. After a week, you could have slowly raised the SG .002/week, so as to not harm the biological bed. Your puffers life is at risk now & I suggest returning it, until you can recycle this tank.> I set up a drip system to slowly acclimate him to the different water that will be his new home, so that'll be going on for the next few hours (the specific gravity in the tank is around 1.008). <I dont like this at all. That is a huge leap in SG for a fish that has been living in FW. I would keep the fish in the bucket of FW, until you can return it in the morning & fill it up with more FW, being sure it id dechlorinated. Hopefully, keeping it in a 5g bucket of fresh water will not cause too much ammonia to develop by morning. I feel adding a puffer into a tank with already known ammonia, may prove to be worse.> Should I be worried that the residual effects of the dead snails will be harmful to him? Is the best solution to monitor him carefully and perform water changes daily until the levels read at 0 again? <That is another solution but you are basically cycling the tank with the puffernot good for the puffer. Another solution would be to bring the tank back to FW (or around 1.002-1.004) & add FW Bio-Spira from a reputable source that can guarantee the product has been kept refrigerated from manufacturing to purchase. Unfortunately, too many suppliers arent keeping this product refrigerated, before it reaches the store. I hope you can figure this out & keep this fish happy in a cycled tank. ~PP> Thanks so much, Micah

Re: New Puffer/Ammonia 5/28/08 Observations on the puffer this morning: I didn't receive your e-mail until I woke this morning and fearing that the combination of the ammonia and my curious cats would be the end of him, I transferred him to the tank before retiring to bed. He appears to be alert and interested in his surroundings (swimming around, not bumping into things, etc.), though when I tried to tempt him with some thawed frozen Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp, he wasn't interested. I don't know if that's something I should worry about or if he's just a picky eater -- my LFS fed the puffers a diet of feeder fish exclusively, so the transition from terrified goldfish to floating already-dead brine shrimp might not have been too tempting. I'll try something else later, either thawed frozen bloodworms or plankton or some snails from one of my FW tanks. <Since your fish has up to now, always eaten live foods (even when in the wild), you may have to trick him into eating dead food. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/problems-feeding-your-puffer/ There are many feeding articles in that section of that forums Library. Read as many of those Library articles as you can.> In my previous e-mail I wrote 3/4 cup salt per gallon but what I meant is 1/4 cup per gallon. Does this make a difference in your recommendation to return him? <No matter how much you added, if your SG has been raised from 1.000 (freshwater) to 1.008, you can pretty much guarantee most, if not all of your beneficial bacteria has been killed off--just like those snails.> There is an alternative, though not the best one. I have a fully cycled 55 gallon FW tank that houses 5 Lake Malawi African cichlids that are easily twice the puffer's size. The cichlids also live with the requisite Pleco and a Synodontis catfish and all seem to live in harmony (the tank is large enough that there are no aggression issues... at least, all fins, even on the Pleco, are intact and I've never observed any sustained chasing). <That harmony wont last long with a nipping puffer in there With puffers, size doesnt matter.> Do you think it would be better to keep the puffer with them while I attempt to deal with my newly uncycled tank? <That depends on the temperament of the puffer. It may seem ok for a night or two but as soon as the puffer gets comfortable in his surroundings, he will start picking on the fish, no matter how large or aggressive they seem. My best suggestion would be to try that (maybe add a divider?) & get the puffers tank back to freshwater, add Bio-Spira to cycle the tank & put the puffer in there immediately after adding the product to your filter. Hopefully, youll get a good batch of the stuff. You should also add filter media from your established tank to the new filter or place it in a stocking (unrinsed) on your substrate. For more info & lots of quick answers to your questions, go to www.thepufferforum.com Good luck! ~PP> Thanks for your patience as always, Micah

Re: New Puffer/Ammonia 5/29/08 Pufferpunk, <Micah> Just an update for now! I followed your suggestion and placed a divider in my cichlid tank, giving the puffer 1/4 for himself (as well as 1/4 of the pots and artificial plants). <good choice.> My puffer is still alive (huzzah!) and tonight I fed him a few gut-loaded ghost shrimp and he ate at least one that I saw. I left two in in case he wanted a midnight snack. <Glad to hear he has an appetite.> So far, he still seems alert and whatnot. I do have a question, just to sate my own curiosity...do puffers take naps? Every so often I'll catch him perched on an artificial plant leaf, just sort of chilling and then when he catches me looking at him, he'll start swimming around and exploring. Just wondering if he's napping or if there was something wrong. <Yup, napping. Sometimes they'll darken or lighten & curl their tail when they're sleeping. ~PP> Thanks, Micah

Spotted Puffers in Serious Trouble 5/5/08Hello! Last night my husband and I were moving our 30 gallon small (about the size of a big toe) spotted puffer tank. We've had them for two years in this same tank and they were round, silky, and lively as usual and excited about dinner. We removed almost all of the existing water (stupid move!) to move the tank and then filled it back up with brackish water, the same that we would use with any normal water change. The water was the only change we made to the tank. It's still sitting in the same place, just a new table. <In itself this shouldn't cause problems. But if you disconnected the filter for a period of time, it is possible for the bacteria to die. External canister filters are particularly sensitive because without a flow of water, little oxygen can get into the filtration chamber. So when doing this sort of thing, canister filters should always be opened up and the filter media placed in an open basin or bucket, covered with aquarium water, and ideally with an airstone to keep the water agitated.> This morning I got my heart broken! All three of them had severely sunken eyes and bellies! I thought the two smallest were dead! They didn't eat dinner last night or breakfast this morning, and they love to eat! The skin on the largest one looked like it was molting! Within 9 hours! I've never seen them this way! <Massive mucous production is typically a reaction to sudden changes in water chemistry or quality. Pufferfish produce quite a lot of mucous anyway (perhaps because of their unusual skin with bristles rather than regular scales). When irritated by their environment, the mucous forms whitish sheets that looks a lot like dead skin. It clears up when things settle down, but is certainly a warning that something is very wrong.> I ran to the store, they tested the water; No ammonia but the pH was through the roof. They gave me a better water conditioner "NovAqua +", "Cycle" to replace the bacteria, and "Correct pH". <When you say "gave" you mean "sold"! Always bear this in mind when going to a pet store for help. Before randomly adding products to the aquarium, step back, and try to figure out the problem, so you can make intelligent rather than impulse purchases. Your first product is a water conditioner. Is there any reason the new water wasn't properly conditioned? You *did* add dechlorinator? If you live in an area where chloramine is used, then a product that removes chloramine should be used as well. Copper can be leached into water from the plumbing in your house, and any decent dechlorinator should remove copper as well. If none of these issues is a problem, then the NovAqua wasn't needed. The second product supposedly (I'm dubious) kick starts biological filtration. The only reason you'd need this (assuming it works) is if your biological filter had died. So test for ammonia and/or nitrite. If they're both at normal levels, then Cycle is redundant. The third product is a buffer. Brackish water at an appropriate salinity (SG 1.005-1.015) for Green Spotted Puffers should easily buffer itself without any additional products. Using a carbonate hardness test kit, you should have something like 5-10 degrees KH depending on the brand of marine salt mix you are using. This is why you don't use "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt" in brackish water tanks -- it's a false economy. You need the buffering capacity of proper marine aquarium sea salt mix, and used thus, it's cheaper than adding buffering potions. In any event, if you're recording a sensible carbonate hardness and the pH is steady around 7.5 to 8, then again, adding additional buffering products like Correct pH is redundant.> I came home and righted the water three hours ago but their appearance is still devastating. What else can I do for them? They're fighting for their lives. <Yes and no; brackish water fish by their very nature can, will quickly adapt to changes. It sounds to me, despite your initial ammonia reading, that the filter is unhappy. Brackish water fish tolerate water chemistry changes well, but water quality decline is something else entirely. Check the ammonia and/or nitrite levels again. Do large water changes, perhaps 25% per day, avoiding big changes in salinity that would kill the filter bacteria. Do not feed the fish. Provide lots of oxygen. Check the temperature. Deep clean the tank, taking care to siphon out any organic detritus.> Could something else go wrong that quickly? Thank you for your help. Any response is appreciated greatly. -Diana <Hope this helps, Neale.>

GSP with White Patch on Skin 4/17/08 Hi all, <Hi Scott, Pufferpunk here> This is my second time writing in because the last response I got was so informative. <I'm glad we were so helpful!> I have one GSP that appears to be a juvenile, judging by size, in a 30 gallon tank. He seems to have recently developed a white patch on his back just before his dorsal fin. Searching on the site I found similar questions but they always seemed to include lots of other problems along with the white patches on their fish. I know on one question Anthony suggested that the patches might be Brooklynella or Costia. I don't know a lot about parasites or fungus/infections as I have never had a fish come down with anything before and have never had to treat a fish. <Brooklynella is a marine fish parasite. In my 30 years of fishkeeping, I've never come across Costia, so I am not familiar with it but looking it up, it doesn't sound like what your puffer has.> I have been feeding live Tubifex worms to a butterfly goby because he will not eat frozen or flake food, so of course the GSP gets some too. <Are you sure they aren't blackworms? Rarely are Tubifex sold anymore because of the filthy conditions they live in. I feed blackworms several times/week to all my fish. I soak them in vitamins while they sit in the fridge & rinse well daily, giving them fresh water & vitamins. I think eventually, the goby will become puffer food.> I wonder if the live food has brought in something to the tank? <Possible but with all I feed out, I've never had any health problems with any of my fish, even my discus.> I have not added any new fish in a long time and I have had this GSP in this tank for at least five months or so. I was waiting for a while for the tank and plants to become established before I started raising the SG in the tank and when I finally did, I started to have a major problem with hair algae, which I didn't know a lot about until recently and realized it was unrelated to adding salt, so I thought that I had crashed the tank and stopped adding the salt. <Common occurrence when changing parameters of the water. Check your phosphate.> So basically this GSP has been in freshwater for four or five months until just now when I started adding salt again. I know this is bad for their immune system, do you think the GSP is having trouble fighting off whatever problem it is having? <Possibly> Will the addition of salt help to get rid of the fungus/infection on its own or should I medicate? <It certainly won't hurt. Start raising the SG .002/week, until you have reached around 1.010. At that point all your plants will have melted, I'm afraid.> The fish is eating fine and acting normal and all water parameters are in check. Another quick thing I was wondering is that this fish does not seem to be growing anywhere near as fast as another GSP that I have, unless I am not noticing his growth somehow. I wonder if there is anything wrong with him in that regard? <What other foods are you feeding him? Vitamins may help.> And also, this GSP seems to have very informative stress lines around his mouth that he changes often based on how happy/unhappy he his and the other GSP does not at all, and neither of them have ever really noticeably darkened, bellies or otherwise, where I have had one GSP before who told be me exactly what was going with his belly. Thanks a lot. <I'm confused--how many fish are in the 30g? It is recommended to keep 1 GSP/30g, so if you have more than that, plus other fish & it isn't growing, it could be a little stunted. What is your water change schedule? Exact parameters? Freshwater tends to stunt them too. As far as the white patch--it may be nothing--I'd be more concerned if it was fuzzy or reddish anywhere. A pic would help a lot. Add Melafix to the water & wait to see if it goes away or gets worse. In the meantime, work on making his tank brackish. ~PP> Scott

Ammonia and nitrite problems, with a GSP 4/16/08 Hello, <Hi Eric, Pufferpunk here> I started a 10 gallon tank about six months ago. I bought a spotted puffer and every thing went well. Two and half months ago I decided to buy a 50 gallon tank with a whisper power filter 300 gallons per hour, a submersible 200w heater. <Good move--adult GSPs need a minimum of 30g. He should be very happy in that large tank.> I made the mistake of putting my fish in before the tank cycled. Luckily he made it. <A single, young GSP in a 50g tank shouldn't prove to be too much of a problem, as his wastes will be diluted & will cycle within a month or two. As long as you do proper water changes, the puffer should be fine.> Three weeks ago I took my water and had it tested. <Best to have your own test kits: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH & a hydrometer to check the specific gravity for your brackish puffer.> My ammonia nitrate and nitrite levels had all dropped. I bought two more fish. What they called leaf fish and a wild card. <Hmmm... never heard of a fish called, "wild card".> I was going to get another fish so I had my water tested first. My pH had dropped to 6.2 and my ammonia level was up. <Good thing you didn't get another fish!> They suggested I buy pH test, pH up and Amquel. I treated the tank with the Amquel and the pH up. My pH didn't go up. I went to a different local fish store that had been around for a long time. I brought them some tank water. My ammonia was still up pH was down. They sold me some pH up buffer. My pH has gone back up. I also bought a freshwater test kit. My ammonia is still up. This was the point when I started doing the thing I should of done first research the web. <Definitely! While Amquel may put a Band-Aid on the problem, it is only a temporary fix & actually will hinder the cycle. pH buffers again, are only temporary & will cause the pH to fluctuate, which is more stressful than a low pH. The best way to solve your problem is with large, frequent water changes.> I was only changing 5 gallons of water a week. 5 days ago I changed 5 gallons of water. 3 days ago I changed 10 gallons. I'm still not testing good. My pH is 7.5. My ammonia is 1.5ppm. <Anything over 0 is very toxic to your fish, same with nitrite.> My nitrate is 15ppm. And now my nitrite is at 0.25ppm. I used a API liquid test kit. I was thinking about changing more water but afraid if I change to much I might mess up the biological filter. What should I do? <The biological bacteria necessary to establish a balanced system does not live in the water column. It is on surfaces: glass, decor, substrate, filter media. You can change as much water as necessary to keep the levels from being toxic. (I change 90% weekly on my discus tank.) You may want to start with 25%, 2x/day & then do 50% or more daily, until the water parameters are good.> Upon researching WWM I realized that my puffer should be in a brackish tank. <Correct> Had a couple of questions. My tank is a glass tank, will the salt corrode the silicone seals? Not at all. These are the same tanks used for keeping marine fish.> I have had my puffer for 6 months he is still doing fine. Do I need to change my tank to brackish soon to save my puffer? <The answer is yes. 6 months is a very short time for a fish that can live into it's teens. If not kept in brackish water (high-end BW as an adult), it will develop a stressed immune system, causing problems with disease & shortened lifespan.> I do realize that the other two fish will have to go into another tank. <You are right. They will not appreciate any salt at all (well, I can't say anything about the "wild card" fish...)> Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. <In case you didn't see this article on GSPs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm Another good site on puffers: www.thepufferforum.com. Enjoy your puffer! If fed & cared for correctly (eats crustaceans) you should have a darling pet for years to come. ~PP> WWM site has been helpful. Thanks Eric

Brackish Puffers... sel., hlth. gen. 4/8/08 Hello, I have a 65 gallon tank, my salinity level is 1.006, 0 ammonia, ph is @ 7.8. I want to know what's wrong with puffers. I have gone through a ton of GSP & Fig. 8's! it seems that I can keep 1 out every 10. When I purchase them in the store they always seem to look good, bring them home and they look like they are starved or have worms. They last for 2 weeks maybe then they die. The fish are cool but I'm tired of spending money on them please help? I also have a fig 8 right now that is breathing very fast for 3 days now. he is eating but not swimming just laying around any info will help thank you Dennis <Hello Dennis. Pufferfish are *not* easy to keep, and despite their widespread sale, they're not fish to start a new aquarium with. They need a mature, stable aquarium with plenty of filtration (to remove ammonia and nitrite) and regular water changes (to remove the nitrate). I'd recommend a filter offering not less than 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, and at least 25% water changes per week, and ideally 50% water changes. You need to have zero ammonia and nitrite, which means the tank should be matured for at least six weeks, and I'd recommend longer, before the puffers are brought home. Assuming that water quality is good, pufferfish should be easy to feed, and starvation isn't normally a problem. Indeed, overfeeding is generally a much more common problem with pufferfish. In any case, tell me some more about how old the tank is and how you matured it. Tell me also the turnover rating of the filter (this'll be in gallons per hour or litres per hour on the pump). Then we'll take things further. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Brackish Puffers? 4/9/08 My tank has been up and running for two years or more. <Should be fine.> I have 2 Whisper 60 filters with under gravel filters. <Whisper 60 filters have a rating of 330 gallons per hour, so should be adequate.> I do a 25% water change weekly and vacuum every month. I have 2 GSP's that have been alive for 7 months or so one's belly seems to be black more then white but he eats, swims, acts as normal as the day I bought him. <Though this varies, a dark belly is often taken to be a sign "all is not well" with puffers. There may not be a one-to-one relationship, but most sick or stressed puffers do become darker than normal in colour.> The other GSP is just fine swims a little erratic at times unknown reasons there. All the GSP's & Fig. 8's I buy last two weeks three tops. Are they hard to buy healthy? <Not especially.> It seems LFS's have and always sell sick ones. <Not particularly likely. These fish are collected from the wild, and in practise tend to be in reasonably good shape, provided they are looked after and properly fed. It isn't the same as with farmed fish where poor husbandry and overcrowding often allows a great deal of cross-infection of worms, viruses, etc.> Also it always seems like they have i.p.'s or worm's! <Unlikely. "Internal Parasites" and "Worms" are often catch-all terms used by aquarists who don't have any idea why their fish died. Unless you're a microbiologist or parasitologist, I'd steer clear of jumping to conclusions here. The vast majority of "mystery deaths" come down to water quality, water chemistry, and diet issues.> How many Puffers would you say would be enough in my 65 gallon? <Depends on the species. For Green Spotted Puffers, you need to allow about 30 gallons per specimen, because they get large and can be a bit testy. Figure-8 Puffers are smaller and generally ignore one another, so you could easily keep 3-4 specimens in a tank that size. Does rather depend on how many tankmates you have of course; the more fish you already have, the less space for additional fish. The "inch per gallon" rule doesn't hold for medium sized and large fish, and you need to be a bit more cautious, adding new specimens gradually and keeping a close eye on health and water quality.> The tank has 1 Silver Scat, 1 Red Scat, <Both potentially big fish, easily 20 cm/8" in captivity, so questionably suitable for this tank.> 1 Angel Fish, 2 Kissing Gourami's, 1 Red Rainbow. <None of these are brackish water fish.> 2 Mono Argenteus, <Hyperactive, so needs swimming space, and again, of questionably value here.> 1 Black Tetra, 1 Golden Nugget Pleco, 1 Leopard Pleco, <Not brackish water.> 2 Clown Loaches, <Has been said to be brackish water in the wild, but not convinced of this at all.> 4 GSP's, 1 Fig. 8. All of these fish have lived in this tank together for 7 months or more except 2 of the GSP's & the 1 Fig. 8 these 3 have been in there about two weeks ( almost there death time ) . Oh Yeah I change the filters every month two at a time. any info might help thank you for your time! <Given you have non-brackish water fish that are doing well, I'm curious whether you really are maintaining the salinity at a high enough level. In any case, you can't mix brackish water fish and freshwater fish in the same aquarium, so rather than fussing about which puffers to keep and how many, I'd concentrate on dividing up these fish. In the medium term, the Monos and Scats will certainly need a more saline environment than the Angels or Plecs will tolerate. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Brackish Puffers? 4/9/08 Neale Why do you guys and gals always tell people they are the ones wrong. you pretty much called me a liar about the maintenance of my tank. If I didn't do something i wouldn't tell you I did there's no problem solving in lying. <Ah, you misunderstand me. I'm only wondering whether you've been reading the hydrometer right, or perhaps your hydrometer is faulty. This latter problem often happens, and people think their tank is at one salinity, and it turns out to be something else entirely. The reliability of inexpensive hydrometers has been amply criticised on marine fishkeeping forums many, many times. Other folks misunderstand how a floating hydrometer works, and read the salinity above the meniscus rather than at the water level itself, so they think that have salinity X, and it's actually quite a bit lower. Not saying you're a liar at all!> All my fish except for the puffers have been in this tank for over 1.5 years when I first set the tank up salt wasn't even in there I gradually over 6 months time brought my salt level up. in which case these fish can and do handle the brackish water. <Doesn't work this way really. While it is true Angelfish and perhaps some of your other freshwater fish might be adjusted to 20% seawater, i.e., around SG 1.003, and perhaps slightly higher, in the long term this just isn't going to work. Monos and scats will need about 50% seawater, SG 1.010, and as sure as God made little green apples that will kill the Angelfish, loaches, etc. I don't need to debate this point, it's simply a statement of fact. Even at SG 1.005, the minimum GSPs and Monos will accept, is too high for most freshwater fish. In any case, maintaining freshwater fish in a saline environment isn't good for them.> I know which fish aren't brackish and which ones are. <In which case why combine them?> So do you have any useful info for my puffers not my other fish or are you just stuck on its the person never fish <From the information you've given me, there's no obvious reason why you should lose a succession of pufferfish. So if you're after an answer to that question, I don't have one. But the bigger picture is you have a collection of fish that doesn't reveal a clear understanding in what brackish water fish need in terms of salinity, carbonate hardness, and pH. And if a person doesn't fully appreciate what brackish water fish need in those regards, they are indeed going to have problems keeping those fish alive. Hence my concern about your mix of fish. That your freshwater fish are doing well suggests to me that the salinity isn't all that high, and certainly that the pH and carbonate hardness isn't likely very high either. Those factors imply an environment not optimised for brackish water puffers, and perhaps not conducive to their long term survival. What more can I say? Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer.. Too small environment: 3-23-08 Good Day! <Hello. Yunachin here.> I have some questions about my green spotted puffer. I should have read your site long ago, but I read other sites first...alas. I bought this little guy about a week ago and I've been keeping him in a small 1.8 gallon hexagonal tank (I know! way too small!). <You are right. These fish need a 30 gallon minimum. I hope you plan on moving him soon.> I put in about 1tbs per gallon (I did the math) and thought it would be fine. <Marine salt I hope.> I realize now that it's not and yesterday I started to notice what appeared to be molting (?) skin on him/her. They looked like little nubs and they were clear, so he/she may have had it longer than I noticed. <Possibly burns from ammonia. Puffers put off incredible bio-loads and can suffer in their own waste quite quickly.> Anyway, this morning, I noticed that he/she was way worse off. It looked like one of his eyes had like a contact lens over it or something. <Definitely too much wastes. A thorough water change will help aid this.> So, I researched more and found your site (alas, I hope its not too late!) and I brought out a 30 gallon with some good filters. <Excellent!> I have some sand that I have put in and I've also gone out and bought some aragonite...is it ok to mix the two? <Yes that would be just fine.> When I came back, it looked like it was too late; I thought he/she was dead. But then when I looked back, I noticed that the little guy had moved from one end of the tank to the other (still in the 1.8 gallon!!). <Probably very uncomfortable. The move to the new tank should be okay.> I am filling the big tank now and plan to put salt in it (I bought the hydrometer...to measure salinity) and I hope I am not too late. <Depending on how high you are making the specific gravity, you are going to have to acclimate him into the salinity. Just dropping him in will make him very sick. Check out this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm; > My brother is bringing me some fish de-stress from his house...is that okay to use? <Dont use any other chemicals as it will to make the situation any better and puffers are very sensitive to medications.> I can only hope I am not too late! What is this sickness that my puffer has and what causes it? How can I fix it? Thanks in advance! <This is caused by a very small environment, too much food in, not enough water out, etc. Get him into the 30 gallon as soon as possible and make sure to do frequent water changes until he gets himself back to normal. I would do at least 20% every week. Read more on the Green Spotted Puffer in the Brackish Section of the site here. Good Luck. Yunachin>

Green Spotted Puffer Sickness Re: 3-26-08 Thank you for your reply! <Youre welcome. Sorry I havent replied faster, I have been a tad ill.> I did a water change the same day I emailed you after reading some more on the site. The puffer is still alive, but I've run into problems with the 30 gallon tank. Today, I am acclimating him to the tank. To answer your question, yes, I used marine salt. <Good to know.> I've run brackish tanks before, just never any puffers and not to 100% success. The puffer looks worse today, but still showing interest in food. I will be acclimating the puffer through most of the day, very slowly. I'm not sure what salinity the tank is at now, the hydrometer I bought is telling me there is NO salt in the water, yet I can see the salt "waves" in the water and I can see that some has dried along the top. <Hmm..I would consider getting a refractometer. They are more accurate than hydrometers, just make sure they are cleaned properly after each use.> Anyways, this is just to thank you for your help. I hope the little guy pulls through, I am doing my best to ensure that. I don't think the puffer can wait any longer, the tank is still kind of milky looking from the aragonite but I figure that the 30 gallon is better than a 1.8 gallon, so I will slowly acclimate and hope for the best. Thanks again, sorry for the rambling...it is Monday morning. <I understand. Is this tank a cycled tank? Is there any media in there from the old tank? Filter? Substrate? If the tank has not gone through a cycle then your little puffer will not be strong enough to make it through the spike and everything you do will be in vain. There is an article on fishless cycling at www.thepufferforum.com ; it will help you cycle the tank much faster but you will not be able to keep your puffer in the tank at the same time. I wish you good luck for you and your puffer. Keep me posted if you will. Yunachin>

Green Spotted Puffer, beh./hlth. 2-12-08 Hi <Yunachin here.> I am new to aquariums but on the advice of a local centre bought a green spotted puffer to go in my aquarium. <What size tank? Tankmates?> I have salted the water <What kind of salt? How much? Did you use a hydrometer or refractometer to check your specific gravity?> but have noticed that the white underside of the fish has become discolored ( grayish) especially after feeding. Is this something I should be concerned about? <This is a sign of stress indeed. Can you please send me the parameters of your tank (ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, ph, how long the tank has been running, along with the answers to the above questions I asked.> Blessings <Youre welcome, --Yunachin> Steve

GSP hunger strike and stress lines 1/23/08 Hey there, thanks for the great site, it's been wonderful for all my puffer troubleshooting so far. However, I do have a problem that's been worrying me. First, back-story: a week ago my impulsive roommate bought two baby GSPs from Wal-Mart, the LAST two. Needless to say they were rather unhealthy. Both the 'big' one (about an inch long without the tail) and the little one (maybe half an inch? super itty bitty compared to the first) had concave bellies and I suspected IP. <If my "IP" you mean internal parasites, I'm skeptical. Almost all instances where non-veterinary-trained aquarists declare "internal parasites" as the reason their fish are sick or die, the actual problem is something else, most often poor husbandry of some sort or another. Pufferfish have a relatively short digestive tract, and will appear to be "empty" quite soon after feeding. Assuming that the retailer wasn't caring for this fish properly, e.g., by offering them flake food, then chances are the fish are hungry and will need a few square meals to get back into shape. But beyond that, nothing too taxing.> My roommate soon figured out she wasn't up to the challenge of GSPs and so gave them to me. I've been doing the best I can for them (upgraded to brackish water with marine mix salt, adding a teaspoon every day or every other day till I get to a SG of 1.010, offered fine gravel and sand for digging, lots of hiding spots, keeping the water parameters IMMACULATE, 10% water changes daily instead of 25% since they're still stressed, constant water temp of 80F, ph of 8.2) unfortunately due to my dorm's strict rules they can't be in a tank larger than 5 gallons (as soon as I move to my apartment this summer that will change big time and each will have his very own much larger tank). <All sounds good. A few comments though. GSPs are truly euryhaline fish, and the actual salinity isn't all that important. Juveniles are found in brackish water, but adults, oddly enough, in freshwater. Under aquarium conditions, they don't do well in freshwater permanently, in the sense of being more sensitive to disease. But in the short term, there's no rush to change the salinity in your tank. It's actually much more critical you make sure the filter is happy, and rapid changes in salinity can stress the filter bacteria. In my experience, you can switch the filter bacteria from freshwater to anything up to SG 1.005 without problems. But once you go above that, there's some sort of re-jigging going on the filter that means you need to be careful. For the first 6-12 months of a GSPs life, there's ABSOLUTELY no need to raise the SG above 1.005, so I'd stabilise conditions there for now. Apart from causing less stress to the filter, you'll also save money on the salt, which will mean you can do more water changes more often. Nitrate (and old water generally) is FAR more unpleasant for your GSP than salinity. The temperature is far too high: 25 C/77 F is more than adequate. High temperatures mean less oxygen and faster metabolism, two things you don't want to have to deal with in a small aquarium. I agree a 5 gallon tank is inadequate for a GSP, and my gut feeling is that even by summertime this year, that tank is going to look very cramped. Once you have the bigger tank, set it up at, say, SG 1.008 to SG 1.012, as you prefer, mature the filter, and once matured, install the pufferfish from the SG 1.005 5-gallon tank. GSPs can easily adapt to this change in salinity within an hour using the drip method (i.e., put in a third-filled bucket of SG 1.005 water, dribble in high salinity water, and once the bucket is filled, lift the puffer out and put into the new tank.> Other than the occasional stare-down at feeding time, there's no tank aggression so far (I guess because they're still so young). <Likely so. Males are believed to guard the eggs (if not the fry), so it is probable that only sexually mature males become aggressive. Much like cichlids, gouramis, killifish, etc.> The bigger one pretty much ignores the little one, and the little one sticks to the big one like glue. I know this is a total anthropomorphisation, but the little one seems to enjoy the company? <Entirely possible. Many fish are more or less social when young, and only become territorial as they mature. Angelfish are classic examples. The "friendliness" of pufferfish does vary with species as well as specimen, so it's difficult to make general statements with this particular group of fish. On the other hand, puffers are smart animals, and likely their default behaviour does get modified by being kept in captivity. My experience is that puffers in busy tanks are less likely to become nippy or aggressive, but others have had entirely different experiences. So who knows for sure!> Whenever they get separated he'll furiously buzz around the tank till he finds the big one, then settles down and happily follows his friend. <Heh!> Anyway, to get to the point, the little guys just don't really have appetites. <Try live food, and try variation. All my puffers love bloodworms, and they also get chopped seafood of various kinds, including squid, mussels, and prawns. Brine shrimp and daphnia usually work well with small puffers. They also love live woodlice (terrestrial isopods), and these are easy to find in the garden under rotting wood and flowerpots.> Since they won't eat medicated foods I treated the tank with fizzing IP tablets. I've been offering dried krill, Tubifex worms, bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp, and not much has appealed. <I find freeze-dried foods a total waste of time. Others have success with them, but not me. Do try "wet frozen" foods as an alternative.> I've been combing this podunk little town for snails to feed and have only managed to acquire 5 pond snails. The bigger GSP was all over the snails and finally got a little tummy, but the tiny GSP didn't seem to know how to eat them. <Wild GSPs likely don't eat many snails, so you may be onto a loser here. While I agree snails are a very good food item, wild GSPs are more omnivorous taking crustaceans and insects alongside molluscs. They also eat plant material and, apparently, the fins and scales of larger fish. So broaden the menu, and you're more likely to have success. My puffers don't actually like snails all that much, so I've pretty much given up on this, except in adding some Melanoides spp. snails to the system and letting them eat any baby snails they find.> To prevent possible bullying by the bigger one at mealtimes, I have a little container that I fill with tank water and put the little guy in with choice bits. I offered all the dried fare and several snails the size of his eye. He seemed interested in the snails, but couldn't figure out how to eat them. I crushed one for him and he pecked at it, then just started swimming around the QT till I put him back in the main tank. <Sounds good, but removing fish to feed them is kind of a hassle. Try hand-feeding. I use metal forceps of the sort used for dissections. Cheap and easy to obtain. Most fish, even quite nervous fish, will take food from forceps willingly. Also avoids the problem of you being nipped!> Last night I got some raw frozen in shell shrimp at the grocery store and chopped one up into teeny pieces and offered it thawed to both fish (little one in the feeding QT as before). The big one absolutely could not get enough and filled up his little tummy (much to my relief) but the little one pecked at the pieces then ignored them. <A staple food item for my tropical fish. Do remember that prawn contains a lot of Thiaminase, which breaks down Vitamin B1, so don't use it every single day. Unshelled prawns are the best: puffers love the legs, tail fins, and seemingly the eyeballs. I eat the meat in the tails myself! Sometimes they come with prawn eggs, and those are a rich, oily treat loved by most small fish.> I know puffers are often stressed for a bit after a big move, and I know they can survive a little while without eating, but I'm so worried the little guy is way too small to survive a hunger strike! <Force-feeding is an option, and I have done this once to reclaim a very sick puffer. But it's a last resort sort of option. Do try varying the diet as indicated above. Once you've done that, get back in touch if you really feel the need to force-feed the fish, i.e., it's condition is obviously declining.> Other than the concave belly, the little one is acting healthy: white tummy, no stress lines, actively buzzing around the tank, fanned tail, responsive to my approach, etc. The big one, however, has had stress blotches on either side of his mouth and a dotted stress line above his tummy (though his tummy is snow white and he acts otherwise healthy; responsive and inquisitive and etc). <All sounds fine. The colour of the abdomen is a bit hit and miss frankly, so while useful up to a point, don't put too much store by it. What matters by puffers is their [a] activity and [b]"chubbiness". Sick puffers tend to sit at the bottom and look bony, especially around the face.> I have tried everything I know to help. I keep the aquarium light off to lower stress, obsessively monitor water parameters, keep the water sparkling and aerated, offer as much of a variety of food that's small enough for babies (ghost shrimp are WAY too big), I'm currently growing some sea monkeys to stimulate an appetite (but they take a week or two to mature), I even got desperate and tried the holistic garlic juice food treatment, which totally did NOT work. <Didn't work when I tried it, either.> Neither fish has lockjaw or overgrown teeth, and I've offered pieces of cuttle bone to add to their crunchy diet. <Not sure they eat cuttlebone. I wouldn't worry too much about the teeth just yet. Some puffers never get bad teeth, and even the ones that do, it's an easy enough fix.> I am so sorry this is so long, but I wanted to give you as much info as possible. I've spent the majority of my time over this past week researching GSPs and brackish setups, spent over half my budget on treatments and foods and general aquarium stuff, and pretty much done everything I can think of to help. When they grow bigger I can feed them larger and more appropriate fare like ghost shrimp, but right now they are just so little. <I think you're doing all you can at the moment.> Please help me, I'm so worried about the big one's stress and the little one's starvation! I feel so awful for not being able to give them a bigger home yet, like I'm totally failing at my responsibility to give these guys a better life, and if they end up dying for no reason other than their 5 measly gallons, I will be crushed. <Only time will tell.> On a completely different note, I have a question that my research has failed to answer. The bigger GSP occasionally comes up to the glass, opens his mouth, and makes a sound that can only be described as a cricket chirp. <All puffers seem to make noises periodically. I think it's their teeth grinding. Seems to be normal, and in fact quite a few fish make noises, we just don't tend to notice them.> He isn't puffing, and seems to do it without provocation. Is he bored or distressed? What in the world does this mean, and is it normal? <Yes, don't worry about it.> Thank you for your time ~Kimberly <Cheers, Neale.>

3 GSPs in a 10 Gallon Tank? 11/28/07 Hey Bob, <Hi Chris, Pufferpunk here with you today.> At the moment I have a 10 gallon saltwater tank with 3 green spotted puffers in it. <Whoa, way too small for 3 of them! As juveniles (under 2") you could get away with 1 puffer in a 10g for a short time but as they become large adult fish (6" without tail), they require 30g each.> My oldest one, Humle (he's almost 1.5 years now), one day (about a few weeks ago) woke up with cloudy eyes. <Common with this species, usually caused by poor water quality. Puffers are sensitive to wastes in their water, which is why they need such a large tank to dilute them.> The cloudiness cleared by the end of the day but it seemed to have left him blind--if I move anything in the tank he WILL run into it and he doesn't dart from my hand when I put it close to the tank. <"Blindness" is a sign of nitrites in the water.> And I noticed he wasn't eating well (or I should say he was having trouble finding his food). His belly used to get all big and fat (so cute!) after he ate but since his eye trouble it just doesn't grow big anymore. So because he's my very first puffer and I'm quite attached to the fella, I've been hand feeding him. Is that bad? <Anything to get him to eat .> oh they all eat frozen krill and brine shrimp with occasional blood worms as a treat. Is there something else I can do for him? I'm worried that he isn't getting enough to eat or maybe I'm not feeding him the right foods? His coloring is fine but occasionally one of his eyes will become cloudy again (it almost looks like a cataract, can fish get those?) and it will stay that way for a few days before returning to normal. The other 2 puffers don't seem to bother him either, haha in fact if they get to close Humle is likely to bite them to test if they are food or not! So they have quickly learned to keep their distance. And do you have any ideas on why he all of a sudden went blind one day? (especially since my other 2 puffers are fine). <My suggestion is to start looking for a much larger tank for them ASAP. I am afraid this is only the beginning of your puffer troubles. I wouldn't be surprised at all if your puffers are severely stunted (at 2 years old, they should be around 4"). In the meantime, test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH & SG & get back to me with the exact numbers. After testing, I'd do a 25% water change daily, until you can get them into a suitable sized home. ~PP> Thanks, Chris

Re: Blind Green Spotted Puffer 11/28/07 Pufferpunk (sorry about that the last time!), <No problem Chris, Bob couldn't possibly answer ALL the questions sent here, he'd never sleep!> Oh my gosh I think I'm the worst puffer fish owner in the world! I had no idea they needed so much space! I feel horrible for keeping them in such a small tank!! Don't worry they will be getting a new tank very soon. <I'm happy for your puffers. :oD> and I tested my water (which isn't making me feel too much better either I might add) ok so the specifics are: temp= 79 F sg=1.027 pH=8.4 alk=3.6 NO3=150 ppm NO2=0.2 ppm NH3/NH4+=0.25 ppm [and since the temp is 79 and the pH was 8.4, 14% of the ammonia is toxic to my babies] <Not surprising. Save yourself some money on salt & slowly lower their SG to 1.020. It is not necessary to keep it so high.> Ok, so do you still recommend me doing a 25% water change? That NO3 level is scaring me and I'm sure the puffers aren't liking it very much either. should I change 50% or 75% of the water? <If you aren't already doing 50% weekly water changes, it will be too much of a shock to your fish to do more than 25% at one time. You can do 25% water changes 2-3 times the first day & then up that percentage to 50%, then 75%, until your ammonia/nitrite are 0. It will be impossible to keep up with the bioload you have in that tank right now, so you will have to continue doing these water changes, until you upgrade to a larger tank.> and if you are wondering, I have been testing my water every time I clean the tank (which is usually once a month) <I'm not sure what you mean by "clean" the tank but I recommend 50% weekly water changes, while cleaning the substrate, in a normally-stocked tank.> but I was using the strips and I ran out so I got the actual test kits (this is the first time I've used it) and oh my gosh, I never had levels like that with the strips! [I'm now seeing why people don't like the strip tests very much--they lie!!] <No kidding!> I'm so happy that I told you what was going on because I thought everything was fine and it's not and you mentioned that the blindness is a sign of nitrites in the water, will my Humle get his sight back once they are gone or have I permanently damaged his vision?? <After you get the water parameters to non-toxic levels, the fish should be acting normally.> And when I put them in a bigger tank will they start growing again or will they be tiny for the rest of their lives? <They will grow larger but may not reach their 6" potential.> Currently Humle (1.5yo) is about 2" with his tail, Caine is 1 year old and he is about 1.5" with his tail, and Squirt who is maybe 6 months old is about 1" with his tail. <Yes, much smaller than they should be at those ages.> How long do puffers usually live? <with the proper food & housing, your GSPs should live into their teens. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm and www.thepufferforum.com When setting up their new tank (might as well go for the tank they'll eventually need as adults--90g), use aragonite sand as substrate, live rock & a good skimmer & you won't have to worry about water changes as much. That's the whole reason for moving GSPs into marine conditions as adults, so you can upgrade their filtration to a better system. ~PP> Thanks, Chris

Re: Blind Green Spotted Puffer... now, what is a skimmer 11/29/07 Thank you so much for your help! <No problem, that's what I'm here for.> One more thing though, what exactly is a protein skimmer? I hear about them but what exactly do they do? <Their purpose is to remove small organic particles and dissolved proteins in the water. The proteins are the result of decomposition or digestion of food and dead organisms. These proteins have an "end" that's attracted to the air-water interface. So the particles are drawn into the chamber where a stream of fine bubbles is injected. The particles adhere to the surface of the bubbles and are pushed upward (by the bubbles beneath) into the collection cup, where they can later be removed. This prevents the organics from decomposing further where they can add to the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in the tank (and thereby reducing the nutrients available for algae growth). More info: http://www.simplifiedreefkeeping.com/faq/16.htm > What would you consider a good one? <Here is a critique of many models available: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/protein_skimmer_impressions.htm Unless you plan on plumbing your tank into a sump, your choices are narrowed to hang on back (HOB) styles. I had good success with the Coralife Super Skimmer (once you get it dialed in properly) & you would want the larger 220 model for a 90-100g tank. I know that tank size probably seems huge compared to what you have now but this is what I recommend you get for your 3 GSPs--they will grow into it quickly. They also love a lot of decoration to investigate, so the tank won't look so empty and eventually, you could add a few colorful SW fish as tank mates. Here is a picture of my 55g with my 3 poor puffers crowded into it: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/Pufferpunk/Pufferpics/55gGSPTank.jpg I eventually had to rehome them, as I didn't feel it was fair keeping them in that small of a tank.> I'll let you know how we are doing in a couple of weeks. Oh, and just to clarify, I should be partially changing the water 2-3 times a day or 2-3 times a week until the ammonia/nitrate levels are down to 0?? <2-3x/day, until your ammonia & nitrite are 0.> That won't mess up the bacteria stuff the tank needs or anything? (sorry if that sounds stupid). <No, it won't--the bacteria that you need is mostly on surfaces of the tank--substrate, decor & filter material. I suggest looking into a local reef club for a good deal on live rock, sand, tank system, protein skimmer, etc. Try: http://reefcentral.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=80 Check the many forums at that site for a ton of info on keeping a SW aquarium. Best to purchase totally cured live rock from local reefers, than chance uncured rock from a shop. Otherwise, it will be quite some time before your puffers get into their new home, as you will have to wait for the rock to cure (lots of die-off on uncured rock). Good luck, this will be an exciting adventure for you & your puffers! ~PP> Thanks, Chris.

GSP Not Well (improper feeding, no heater)... Sys., hlth., fdg.... 11/26/07 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have had my leopard skin puffer for about a year and a half now and just recently he is not doing so well. It started out as him not eating frozen brine shrimp after a year of eating them. <Very poor choice of food, especially if using as a staple. Adult brine shrimp are not nutritious, being made up of mostly water. Puffers need crunchy, meaty foods. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ > So I switched to feeding him snails for most of the time and he loved them. <Much better choice.> Because I was leaving for the holidays I decided to leave a couple of feeder fish in his tank to see if he would eat them. The next day I found he ate three of them! I bought more and left for the holidays, after returning I found that he had eaten only one and was laying on the bottom of the tank. <Ooooh, even worse choice than before. Feeders are not only an unnatural food source for a puffer but they are a fatty food that lives in poor conditions, passing all kinds of pathogens onto your puffer. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeders/ > I also found that I mistakenly left the window open that was right next to his tank so I figured that is why he was not doing so well. I filled his tank with warmer water and he seemed to be doing much better but the next day I found him laying on the tank bottom again. I rushed out and bought a heater and put it in the tank but after two hours his state has not changed. Is there anything more that I can do?! <All tropical fish need heaters to keep their tank temp steady, around 78. You don't mention the tank's water parameters--a must to list, whenever asking a query about a fish that is not well. You should always be aware of the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate pH & specific gravity levels of your tank. How much salt is in there? Are you using marine salt? What is your water change schedule (how often/how much)? What size tank is it? Tank mates? Knowing all of these factors can keep your puffer healthy & long-lived. My first suggestion to you would be to do a 25% water change right away & do another 25% later in the day, after removing the dead carcasses of the goldfish. Dechlorinate with Prime. Never feed them to your puffer again! Follow the suggestions in the feeding article linked above, after your puffer seems to be feeling better (an ill fish will not eat). Please write back when you have answers to my questions & I can help your puffer further. ~PP>

Re: leopard skin puffer Stunting a Puffer/Cleaning Tank 11/27/07 Thank you so much for your help. <I'm trying...> Ever since I bought him I have been feeding him the wrong thing and have never known it. <I hope you have read the article on feeding your puffer & will improve his diet.> I took out the fish immediately and he seems to be doing a lot better. He is swimming on his own now. When I do clean out his tank I put aquarium salt (about 1 tbsp for 5 gallons) along with dechlorinator. <That is not nearly enough salt for a year-old puffer & you must use marine salt to make brackish water. Have you read the GSP article I wrote? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > He is in a 5 gallon hexagon tank and seems to have plenty of room since he is by himself. <How large is he? If he has been living in a 5g all this time, I'm afraid he may be stunted. I don't like starting even a juvie in a tank smaller than 10g & eventually a 6" adult will require a minimum of 30g.> I clean out his tank about every two weeks, since it is by the window & seems to develop lots of algae. When I do clean out his tank I take out all the water (I know your not suppose to but I've been doing it ever since I have gotten him and it hasn't affected him) and replace it. Everything else in his tank seems to be correct (nitrate, nitrite levels, pH etc.) <"Correct" means nothing to me. I did inquire as to what those levels are & hoped for exact numbers. This manner if cleaning is extremely stressful for your fish. I recommend either moving your tank away from the window, covering the sides exposed to the window & doing your cleaning weekly, by doing a 50% water change, rather than the 100% bi-weekly you are doing now. Good luck with your puffer & his very soon upgrade to a larger, brackish water tank. ~PP>

Green-spotted puffer problem? 11/6/07 My husband and I recently began keeping green-spotted puffers. We bought four originally and almost immediately lost one of them. We discovered we had a definite ammonia problem, but quickly got it under control. We slowly introduced salt to achieve a brackish setting for them. <OK. Now, a number of things. Firstly, Green Spotted Puffers (Tetraodon nigroviridis) are not "hardy" in the sense of being good fish to add to a new aquarium. Ammonia will quickly kill them. Neither are they sociable animals. Under aquarium conditions their behaviour in groups tends to vary between indifference and outright hostility. While some people have kept groups of them and even bred them, there's no real advantage to keeping this species in a group and in general it is safest kept on its own.> The three we had were doing great. They are less than 1" , so we've been feeding them freeze-dried krill daily. (We figured out that we were originally giving them too much to eat, which caused the high ammonia level.) <Quite possibly. Puffers need only enough to gently fill out their belly to a slightly convex curve. Puffers are very good at "begging" for food. Learn to resist!> They were in a small tank (5 gallon!), but they were very small, and they seemed to have plenty of room to begin with. <Ah, but they grow very fast!> We had cycled a 55-gallon tank for our fresh water fish, moved them, did some housekeeping, and moved the puffers to the newly vacated 20-gallon tank, which has been running since July, with no fish losses. (The 20-gallon housed four African Leaf fish, one algae eater, and two black ghost knives [believe it or not the BGKs got along well], though they love their new extra space. The knives were quite small at first, so we kept them in the smaller tank until we had the 55-gallon cycled and ready for them.]) <Ok.> All of this to say that our puffers have been in the 20-gallon for about 10 days, and we just lost one! We are really upset, and have tried to figure out what went wrong. All the puffers seemed to be doing great, until today. Our ammonia was slightly elevated, but very little. <An ammonia reading of anything other than zero is bad; "very little" can still be deadly.> Our pH is good, and all our puffers, including the diseased one, have nice round white bellies and good appetites. <Define a "good" pH? GSPs need something above 7.5 and ideally around 8.0.> So we were very surprised that we lost one. We've had them for a total of about three months now. <What you're describing doesn't really surprise me. That you have an ammonia reading at all implies either over-feeding or over-stocking or under-filtration. Or all three. Puffers just don't tolerate this sort of thing.> One thing that always stood out to me about the puffer that died, was his spots and green coloring, especially on his back, were really dull compared to the other puffers. <Classic sign of stress.> Was this simply his natural coloring, or does it mean something more significant? <Stress.> I noticed when I took him out of the tank he had some somewhat stringy feces, which were still attached to him. Could it be parasites? <No.> If so, wouldn't we have noticed the stringy feces and sick behavior before now? <The stringy faeces are usually connected with bacterial or protozoan infections that opportunistically set in when fish are kept in sub-optimal conditions.> Could it just be the stress of changing tanks? <Unlikely.> We had checked the water quality, and temperature before introducing them. (We had to turn up the heat a tad, since the puffers like their water a little warmer than the others.) We "floated" them for 30 minutes, then I introduced about a cup full of the new aquarium water, and let them float another 20 minutes or so. <All very nice but largely redundant with brackish water fish that -- by definition -- evolved to tackled whopping great water chemistry changes almost instantly.> We would really appreciate it if you could shed some light on what may have happened, so we can keep it from happening to our two remaining puffers. We did buy the puffers from Wal-Mart, which is well-known for not taking good care of their fish. (We actually bought all they had, and figured we were "saving" them from ignorant fish buyers [Puffers look so cute and harmless], while saving the algae eater, which was being nipped to death in the tank with them.) <I sympathise, but to Wal Mart a "sale is a sale" and you better believe the store manager will simply order some more GSPs. The only way to stop the bad side of the fishkeeping trade is not no patronise any such vendors. Only when they lose money will they get out the market.> So, could it be he was unhealthy to begin with? <Possibly, but unlikely the cause of death.> I just think that if he was sick before we got him, it would've shown up by now. <Agreed.> I'm sorry for being so long winded, but I thought the more details, the better diagnosis. Sincerely, Kim and Robert <I hope this helps, Neale>

Topaz puffers not eating 11/06/2007 Hi, <Hello.> I bought 2 Topaz Puffers 4 days ago and they will not eat anything. I have tried feeding them live bloodworm, frozen daphnia and flakes but they don't seem interested. The shop sold them to me as FW fish as they have been bred in FW <I hesitate to believe that. There is not one report on the breeding of Tetraodon fluviatilis aka Ceylon puffer aka Topaz puffer. This is a brackish water species sometimes venturing into fresh water rivers, where it is caught and shipped. For aquarium care you will inevitably need brackish (or marine) water.> and they are 3-4 inches long. The shop fed them live bloodworm on the day I bought them. Their bellies are black the majority of the time and they tend to swim around the same area. Do you think that they are still adjusting to the tank or do you think they may be ill? Thanks. <Puffers need some time to settle in. In addition it is important to provide a good water quality and a tank of sufficient size. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/green_spotted_puppies.htm. Care for your puffers is the same, although they'll get slightly larger than their green spotted cousins. Cheers, Marco.>

GSP with Dark Belly 10/21/07 Hello, my name is Emily. <Hi Emily, Pufferpunk here> I have purchased 3 green spotted puffers and have them in a 65 gallon tank. <Although this tank is OK for them now (they're small juveniles, right?), they will require 30 gallons each, as 6" adults, making your upgrade a 90g tank (minimum).> I went and brought my water sample to my LPS, whom I trust 100% and my water levels were great in every aspect (I am very cautious when it comes to my fish). <That's wonderful but when you are posting a question to someone about a problem with your fish, "great" means absolutely nothing to us. We need exact results for: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH & SG. Water change schedule, length of time the tank has been set up, tanks mates, etc. would also be very helpful.> I bought two bright green ones and one that looked like it had a dark dirty-like belly and weirdly shaped black spots (not round like the others). She also has bright blue eyes. <Possible a Tetraodon sabahensis? http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/Brackish/T_Sabahensis/ > I read that dark bellies meant that they were sick, however my fish are very energetic and love to eat. I was curious to know if this puff of mine is alright, stressed or maybe a different species? The owner of the LPS said as long as it's eating and swimming great, it should be fine but apparently I can't always count on what they say. Sometimes she brightens up, but her belly always stays "dirty". What is your opinion? <Your LPS is correct, if it is swimming & eating normally, it could just be a moody puffer. I wouldn't worry. Knowing answers to my above questions would help though. For more info on your puffers, see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm & www.thepufferforum.com ~PP> Thanks, Em

Green Spotted Puffer--Internal Parasites 10/20/07 <Hi Christina, Pufferpunk here> I have had two small Green Spotted Puffers for a couple months now. I normally feed them bloodworms but give them flakes and live food (crickets, roaches, etc.) occasionally. <Puffers are mostly crustacean eaters. Although the foods you have been feeding them is acceptable, they must also eat more "crunchy" foods that are natural to them, like snails, shrimp, mussels, clams, etc. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ > Lately the larger fish's spots appeared to be fading. He had something sticking out of his side, which I removed a couple days ago. It appears to be a cricket leg (which I'm guessing poked out of him after he ate it). <Ouch! You might want to discontinue the crickets for a while. Are you sure the leg wasn't just stuck on the outside? Puffer's "hides" are very thick.> His coloring looks better now, though still not as bright as it was and he has (as he always did) a healthy appetite. However, after several feedings he still appears really thin -- his stomach doesn't get lumpy after he eats like it used to (and the other ones does) and his back appears to be caving in and hollow. Could he still be suffering from an injury? And if so, what can I do to treat him? <It sounds like internal parasites. GSPs are wild-caught fish & many come to us with them. It can take several weeks/months for the puffer to succumb to them. See here for treatment: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/internal-parasites-prevention-and-treatment/ > Thank you for your time and help. - Christina P.S. -- I would have posted this to the forums but the account creation page didn't have an option for me to put in a user name, and thus wouldn't work. <Sorry you're having problems with that but glad you got to me here! Check out the GSP article in that library too. ~PP>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer With Closed Gill 10/22/07 Thanks for the reply. I can't explain the question marks. Sorry. <Hmmm... that's odd. I'm leaving them in this time so you & the person posting this on our FAQs can see what the problem is. I have seen this before in other emails here.> Finally, through fecal matter, I found much of the problem seemed to point to internal parasites.? <How's that Did you see worms in the feces?> I set up a hospital tank (with water from larger tank, which by the way: ammonia is 0, nitrates 40, nitrites 0, pH 7.8, SG 1.008) and treated it with Metro-Pro and Prazi-Pro per my knowledgeable puffer contact person (questionable at this point) and the little guy didn't make it through the night. <Sorry to hear that. High nitrates are to be expected in an overstocked tank--the nitrates are more than double of what is acceptable/healthy for a puffer.> I followed directions exactly. <Did you soak his food in the med? Internal parasites need to be treated internally.> Upon expiration, his gill was open. I will watch my 2 healthy little ones. I have a ton of filtration (enough for a 70 gallon tank and a heck of a power head). <Great filtration does not replace proper housing.> Should I go ahead and treat my tank for internal parasites to be on the safe side? If so, with what? <I'd just keep an eye on them. Yo can soak their food in either of those meds & feed 2x/day for 1 week, if necessary.> The sick fish was in the tank for less than a week. My little ones are doing great right now - no changes in behavior or appearance. Thanks for your input. I really look up to your advice. <Thanks & good luck with their upgrade. ~PP>

GSP Problems/Nitrite Poisoning 10/9/07 Hey WWM Crew, <Hi Melissa, Pufferpunk here> I have a 125 gallon tank with about 100 gallons brackish (1.012) water. A mudskipper, mollies like crazy, 3 - 6inch violet gobies and a 2 1/2 inch GSP. <I'm surprised the puffer isn't nipping your other fish.> The tank was doing great until "something" happened and the nitrite spiked (it had cycled with Bio-Spira several months ago). Of course, my quarantine tank had crashed a week earlier and I have to start over cycling with that one, so the fish were stuck. <You need to find the cause for the spike. Generally, uneaten food, a dead body somewhere... > I redosed the big tank with Bio-Spira and the nitrite was back down in a few days. <Did you do a large water change first, cleaning around & under all the decor?> Everyone else seems to have recovered, except of course, the puffer. He stopped eating for about a week. I tried all his favorites: beef heart, bloodworms, mysis shrimp--nothing. <Beef heart is not a natural food for a puffer or any other fish. Puffers are crustacean eaters & need crunchy foods to keep their teeth trimmed. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/category/feeding/ > I started dosing the tank with Pimafix <Does he have a bacteria/fungal problem?> and he ate a little beef heart last Friday. He ate some bloodworms Saturday and beef heart Sunday. He decided not to eat yesterday. Now, I come in to work Tuesday morning and he's floating at the top, not moving, except for his eyes (creepy!). His cheeks (?) looked swollen, so I burped him and 2 sets of air bubbles came out. He swam for a little while, now he's back at the top of the water, with his mouth almost completely out of the water and his cheeks are puffed again. Ammonia and nitrites = 0, nitrates below 20. <There could be some permanent damage done due to the nitrite poisoning. They have no scales or gill covers. Did you find the cause of the spike? How high was it? How do his teeth look? What is the water change schedule--how much, how often? It is difficult to say exactly what the problem is but it doesn't look good. =o{ ~PP> Help! -Melissa

GSP Sick? Parasite maybe? 09/25/07 I've had freshwater fish before and I've done my share of research when it comes to saltwater fish. I am a bit new to the brackish center of the spectrum, I admit. <Ah, brackish water combines bits of both sides of the hobby, as you'd expect. In terms of water quality and disease, it's a lot like freshwater, but some aspects of the hardware (like skimmers) and of course the need for salty water places it closer to the marine side of things.> However, before I decided to buy my puffers, I got up to speed on what their care would entail. I could've purchased them somewhere else, but when I saw the pathetic setup they had these poor little guys in at Wal-Mart I felt compelled to save a couple from there. <I hear you... it's often difficult not to "rescue" unhappy fish. The problem is that the store doesn't register your act of charity as anything other than a sale, and will doubtless order a bunch more fish that will be similarly mistreated.> My little guys are in a 10g right now, since the 30g we have is dedicated to a variety of freshwater cichlids. <A bit small in the long term, but for a couple of little "pups", it might be okay. Don't underestimate their growth rate though: this species grows quickly.> I used the Instant Cycle I purchased from my LPS and threw in enough Instant Ocean to start them off slightly higher than what they were accustomed to at Wal-Mart... which I really had to guess on since the person they had caring for them had just thrown a tub (literally a tub) of aquarium salt in with the poor little guys and punched a hole at the top of it so that it slowly dissolved into their water. <Yuk! Actually, the salinity doesn't matter all that much. GSPs are fairly tolerant animals, and can live for long periods -- years -- in freshwater aquaria. In the wild, they are primarily freshwater fish, and only sometimes swim into brackish water. In the aquarium, brackish water IS essential to long-term health, but that's more about aquarium conditions being different to "the wild" than their actual ecological niche.> I know taking on fish from such a place is always a bit risky... but I couldn't help it. I've followed everything I've read almost by the book. The water temp is at 80, the pH is alkaline, I have plenty of hiding and (fake) native plant life and a sand , I feed them everything from ghost shrimp to blood worm to fiddler crabs. <These fish are omnivores in the wild, like most pufferfish in fact. While they certainly specialise in shelled prey other fish of similar size can't tackle, they also eat a certain amount of plant material as well. So a mixed diet of mussels, prawn, squid, and the occasional algae wafer generally works well. There's no particular need to give them live food. On the other hand, food with the shells still on, like unshelled shrimps and small snails, help to wear down their teeth.> I guess I spoiled them so they won't even touch flake unless it's the Cadillac of all flake... and even then they'll sometimes just suck it in and then spit it out. <A lot of puffers ignore flake. Algae wafers often work better, because of their crunch perhaps? One of my puffers happens to enjoy frozen peas! Peas are excellent as a source of fibre and as a vitamin top-up.> For the past month that I've had them I've done weekly water changes, I even added an extra submersible filter to add a little current and pick up what my other one doesn't. For the most part, they appear active and happy as can be. Strangely, there are two of them and they get along just fine... I've even seen them touching noses and just hanging out together. <They may well remain tolerant. GSPs are a bit variable, with the odd specimen being belligerent or a fin-nipper, but many are quite amicable creatures. Since we can't sex these fish, it is entirely possible that many of the horror stories are based on people keeping two mature male puffers in a relatively small aquarium.> My problem is that I don't know enough to be able to say with any certainty that the smaller of the two (Gizmo) is sick. It doesn't matter how much he eats or what I feed him, once he's digested the food, he appears emaciated and never seems as vibrant. <Possibly parasites, such as worms. Are you sure it's emaciated? Contrary to myth, puffers don't need to be so fat they look like swimming blimps! A healthy puffer will have a slightly convex belly. If the fish consistently has a concave belly, that's less good, and I'd definitely be trying a course of anti-helminth medication (such as Prazi Pro). In the meantime, just keep varying the diet, trying as many different foods as possible. Mussels are generally considered the IDEAL pufferfish food. They are very cheap and easy to obtain, and their guts contain lots of yummy algae that helps the puffer get the nutrients they need.> The bigger guy appears to have grown slightly, yet Gizmo looks tinier than ever. Everything else appears normal! Even his waste looks fine... it's not stringy at all! After looking at all the different postings and Googling the heck out of it... I'm really stumped. He's constantly changing color, which I've heard is normal. <Colour changes are normal in this species. Sick puffers tend to have weak or unusually dark colours, but this is by no means universal.> The only thing that I've noticed, which both of them do, is they appear as though they are coughing every now and then. <No idea what that is!> I know I've been a little long-winded... but I want to make sure are happy healthy creatures. And since I've never had brackish fish before... like I said... I'm stumped. Any help? Thanks, Ashley <I hope this helps, Neale>

Re: GSP Sick? Parasite maybe? 09/25/07 Just one extra question, Neale... <Yes...?> When you say mussels, are you speaking of mussels that I can buy at the grocery store? Shell and all? I'll buy whatever they need. <Yes, the regular mussels. Mytilus edulis here in England, but I dare-say something else in other countries. Large, blue-green, clam-like creatures. For small puffers you will need to open up the shells, and let them eat the meat directly. When the puffers are adults, they can crack open small mussels all by themselves! Mainstream grocery stores often sell mussels with their shells on as a luxury food item for Moules Mariniere and so on. You can use these if you want. But if you go to an Asian food market, you should be able to buy shelled frozen mussels in bags for very little money. These are what I use. You could also use the bags of mixed frozen seafood. I buy these from the grocery store, and the puffers I look after appreciate the variety. Usually these bags contain squid, mussels, and prawns. Puffers aren't wild about fish-sticks though, so you'll have to eat those yourself!> Thank you again, that is a big help! Ashley <Happy to help, Neale>

Puffer Trouble... GSP 9/23/07 <Hi Jennifer, Pufferpunk here. (I'm a Jeni too!)> I have two Green Spotted Puffers. One is almost 2 inches long and I've had him for a few months and the other is a little over 1 inch and I got him last week. My little guy was fine, eating great & even had a big dinner of ghost shrimp last week too! <Be sure to gut-load the shrimp with healthy foods, otherwise they are basically non-nutritious.> Yesterday morning I noticed that he had a rectum prolapse--from what I've already read about this on your website. I was going to wait it out and see if it went back in. I don't have an isolation tank, so last night at feeding time the other fish tried to nip at him (they were barbs) and he went to hide inside my castle. That is my mistake, so I have been keeping an eye on him--he does a pretty good job of hiding from the others. Anyway, I was considering trying to put it back in myself. Any suggestions? <This can be seen with intestinal parasites/intestinal blockage. If the puffer is in with other fish, it really needs to be moved to a separate tank as these fish will bite/nip at the prolapse causing further damage/swelling. Have you noticed it eliminating at all? What does it look like? Is it white or stringy? That is a sure sign of internal parasites. If no elimination, it could be constipated, which can be treated with 1 tbsp Epsom salt/10g & then add the same the next day, which will bring it up to 1tbsp/5g. This can also help to reduce swelling. Before treating though, do a substantial (50%) water change, as water quality can add to the problem. You should be doing these water changes weekly.> I've read that you can sedate them with clove oil and revive them by putting them back in regular water. I would try this when he's conscious but I'm afraid that he'll puff up, and plus that would be pretty painful. <I read about somebody doing that on my pufferforum (www.thepufferforum.com) but I cant seem to find the thread. I wouldn't mess with it right now though, especially since it has been getting picked on & is probably raw.> Although I don't just want to watch him die, because it seems like it's not going back in. Is there anything else you would suggest as far as like a vitamin? I read that it could be bacteria. <Yes, possible internal bacterial infection. The fact that you are keeping your brackish water puffers in freshwater, can cause compromised immune systems & poor general health.> If it is that's not good because if it isn't dead because of our salt water concentration it must be hard to get rid of. Any help would be appreciated! <I don't understand what you are saying. What is the concentration of your salt? Are you using marine salt? I would imagine if you had the proper concentration of salt in there, your barbs would be quite uncomfortable or even dead.> Another question about my bigger puffer: He's got two cute little buck teeth and I was wondering how big is too big in terms of teeth? <If they look overgrown, then they probably are. See: www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm > I try to keep small snails in the tank but I have to break them for him before he eats them and he doesn't always eat the shells. Should I try something else like crab legs? They would be much easier to get from my grocery store rather than those tiny snails. Thanks again!! Here is lots of info on feeding your puffers: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/category/feeding/ and more info on GSPs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm I suggest separating your puffers into a tank for themselves. 30g each is recommended, as they will grow quickly into 6" football-shaped eating machines & need the extra water volume for swimming & diluting their large amount of waste. I am not recommending any medications right now other than the Epsom salt, since it is difficult to diagnose the reason for your puffer's problem. Let's see if that helps first. ~PP> Re: Puffer Trouble 9/26/07 <Jennifer> Well, it never did go back in so we decided to take matters into our own hands. It wasn't stringy... it was like a round ball that was white and red colored. We caught him in the net and just held him in it while we pushed it back in with the flat head of a pin. <Ouch! I might have used something with a softer edge.> It took about a minute and a half and he didn't even puff or squirm very much. That was the other night and he seems to be alright. <Good> I added Epsom salt too, like you said. Right now I am only using aquarium salt (I know, I know) but I am waiting on a refractometer that I ordered off of the internet so I can start using my Instant Ocean. I have a hydrometer but the markings started at 1.012 and I wanted it lower. Then I will also get rid of my barbs and go full on brackish. <Great! Remember, don't raise the SG higher than .002/week.> After reading the article on clove oil you gave me, I am much less intimidated by having to clip my other puffer's teeth. That was very helpful, thank you! <That's why I wrote it!> Looks like I'll have to start a snail tank too... great! <I'm so glad you're going to have happy puffers. :oD ~PP>

Green Spotted Pufferfish Dentistry 8/10/07 Hi, <Hi Samantha, Pufferpunk here> I have a dwarf green spotted puffer his teeth are grown together, it has gotten to the point he can no longer eat! <What do you mean by "dwarf"? GSPs aren't a dwarf species. They actually grow quite large--6" not including their tail.> I feed snails, oysters, blood worms, crab, shell on shrimp and lobster sometimes. <All good, crunchy foods.> I am to the point of catching him and filing his teeth down but I am afraid the shock would kill him. is there anything I can do ?? <See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm Also: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm and: www.thepufferforum.com Good luck! ~PP> Thanks, Samantha

Desperately Sick Green Spotted Puffer 8/1/07Hi there, <Hi Lori, Pufferpunk here> I have often come to you site for info on my babies and always found it helpful :-) <Thanks, we try!> I came home from work today to find my GSP 'Barry' jammed behind one of the tank's filters, upside down. I thought he was a goner but when I released him he swam around ok. However, he is unusually brown and lacking in energy - he isn't moving his fins at all except when he has to, his anus is distended and I can see pink flesh (his insides??). <This could have been caused by damage from the filter or a prolapsed anus, where his insides stick out of his rear.> He isn't interested in the mussel I offered and he seems to be producing some kind of mucus (although it could be some algae from behind the filter). He also tends to be lopsided, and I've seen him twist as though he has cramps. <Very possible--not very comfortable.> I have added Melafix to the 70 litre tank <18 gallons> and the SG is 0.012. <1.012?> I have had some heater issues lately but have stabalised the temp at 27 degrees Celsius <80 degrees Fahrenheit> and his tank mate 'Normal' seems no more cranky than usual. Please tell me what to do here, I'm so worried I'm going to lose him and after 4 years I'm rather attached! <At 4 years old, they should be at their adult size of 6" each. Your tank isn't large enough for even 1 adult. It is recommended to give each puffer at LEAST 30g (~115L) each. I'd be curious as to your water change schedule (how much, how often). I recommend 50% weekly, at least until the puffers are raised up to marine conditions (best for adult GSPs), where better filtration (protein skimmer & live rock) can be utilized. Of course, in an overstocked tank you may have to do as much as 50% daily, to keep the bioload down to livable conditions. I also need to know your water parameters--ammonia & nitrite (both should be 0 at all times), nitrate (should be below 20) & pH (steady, around 8). For now, you can try adding Epsom salt, 1 tablespoon/5g (19L) of water. Whether he makes it or not, your remaining puffer should be in a tank about 2x the size he's in now. ~PP> Kind Regards, Lori PS: Sorry all my measurements are metric - I'm a Kiwi :-) <I added US measurements, so anyone who uses them & will be reading this can also understand.>

Re: Desperately Sick Green Spotted Puffer 08/01/07 Hi, wow, I feel like a bad parent! <At least you are finding out now, the proper care for your friends.> SG - yes 1.012 sorry, ammonia 0, I cannot test nitrates etc as my kit has run out of the tabs but I'll get more today. PH is 8.2. I run 3 filters to help maintain water quality, but I had no idea my tank was too small - the fish are only about 6cm (2.3 inches?) long... but the tank might be why they're small, yes? <Yes, stunted.> And to think I got a bigger tank than recommended at the store! I do weekly water changes, 50% and daily food waste removal. Last night I moved Barry into a hospital tank. He's in an odd head down, bum up position but alive and moving at least. I will immediately attend to both the tank size and the Epsom salts - thank you for your assistance. <Glad to be of help--I hope he makes it. More info here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm & here: www.thepufferforum.com ~PP> Lori

Re: Desperately Sick GSP 8/6/07 Hi! <Hi again> I just wanted to let you know Barry is now almost completely recovered from his ordeal. <Fantastic!> The swelling around his anus is gone (it's just a bit discoloured still) and he is back to his usual cheeky self. I have attached a photo of him in his new tank - it's a bit blurry, but you can see the graze and bruising on his side from the filter. <Ouch!> I am still treating him with Melafix and aloe vera stress coat and his tank is a couple of degrees warmer than usual, but I have discontinued the Epsom salts since he is out of his hospital tank. He did perk up almost immediately when I added the salts though, so thank you for your invaluable advice. <Glad to help. ~PP> Kind Regards, Lori

Sick Green Spotted Puffer 5/17/07 Hi, <Hello!> I read through all of your puffer literature before purchasing a "leopard puffer" (Green Spotted Puffer) from Petco several months ago, which helped me to have a very happy, healthy puffer...until I went on vacation. <Oh dear.> Unfortunately, the designated caretaker grossly overfed the tank (we have a Tropheus Duboisi, the Green Spotted Puffer in question, a Bamboo Shrimp, and a common Plecostomus in a 36 gallon freshwater tank). <Right, your problems here are multiple. Firstly, pufferfish eat shrimps. So the bamboo shrimp is doomed. Also, the pufferfish you are describing is either Tetraodon nigroviridis or Tetraodon fluviatilis. Either way, this is a BRACKISH WATER species totally unsuited to an aquarium with freshwater fish. Juvenile GSPs (as these two species are known colloquially) do fine at a low specific gravity, around SG 1.005 or 25% seawater, but adults need SG 1.010 or 50% seawater, and can be kept in marine aquaria as well. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/green_spotted_puppies.htm > The fish have all gotten along very well; the puffer chases the shrimp around when he sees him, but "'Da Shrimp" is pretty well camouflaged and only comes out of his artificial log at night, while "Puffy" is sleeping. <Sooner or later, Mr Shrimp will be puffer-food. This species of puffer isn't a 100% reliable community fish either, and while some specimens work fine in BIG community tanks, some are confirmed fin nippers and a few downright territorial and aggressive. Best kept in its own aquarium.> Moving on to the problem, when I came home from my 1-week vacation, the tank was overgrown with algae (I'm assuming this is largely because the caretaker probably left the light on 24/7), there was uneaten food everywhere, and the water temperature had dropped to 72F (we keep it around 78-80F). <This doesn't sound ideal, I'll admit. I do leave the lights on planted tanks where a timer cannot be installed. It shouldn't cause problems in the short term. Water temperature issues are more serious, but 72F shouldn't be harmful to your tropical fish in the space of a week. For reference, most fish can last a week without food with zero problems. Better to ignore the tank than have someone mess it up.> The puffer eats a mix of brine shrimp, blood worms, snails, goldfish flakes, tetra crisps, and the occasional krill and shrimp pellets...so most of these foods were floating around the tank, or sitting on the bottom. <Obviously the "caretaker" was giving too much food. My trick here is to put portions of food in paper or plastic cups in the freezer and then hide the rest of the food. Ask the caretaker simply to tip in one cup per visit.> I immediately cleaned the food out of the tank, cleaned the filter, scrubbed the algae off the glass, and did a 20% water change. <Sounds like a 50% water change on the first day, and another 50% the next day would have been preferable. In a crisis, the bigger the water change, the better.> When I checked on them in the morning, the puffer was sitting up on the heater with a grayish/black belly (he does this when he's stressed, usually)...I coaxed him into moving but quickly realized he was struggling to stay alive. <Sounds grim. Obviously the water quality had plummeted.> I moved him to a QT tank (no signs of infection, velvet, etc.) and tested the water in the main tank - high nitrites (.25~), safe ammonia, safe nitrates, safe pH. <Right, so what had happened is the bacteria had finally worked off the excess ammonia, but the nitrites were still in the system. Should recover normal water parameters in a day or two, but still, puffers have very low tolerance for such things.> I did a 40% water change and have been letting it cycle - all of his tank mates have done fine, but he is still struggling. <Indeed. Please do a 50-75% water change immediately, and then another tomorrow.> He is always dances for food, but has not eaten...is it possible he just overate while we were gone and is feeling sick because of it? <ABSOLUTELY do not feed the fish anything, zip, nada, until water quality has recovered.> What should I do with him while he's in the QT tank...should I treat the water with anything special? <Give him brackish water conditions ASAP. Have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracsystems.htm > He looks about the same size as he did when we left (probably a bit overweight), and has bright coloration on top...but still the grayish/black belly most of the time while in the QT tank. He seems happier in the QT tank, but after several hours I tried to return him to the main tank and it wasn't long before he was "floating" again (barely moving his fins, body angled up as though gasping for air). <Until water conditions in the main tank are optimal, don't even consider moving him back. Frankly, his health in a freshwater tank will never be very good, and I beseech you to either return him to the pet store or else adapt the main aquarium to a brackish water one where he will actually be HAPPY.> As of now he's back in the QT tank, sitting around the bottom and swimming a little bit from time to time. I'm looking for any advice before it's too late...thanks! <It's not too late. Please read up on GSPs and adapt your aquarium appropriately.> Best regards, Sheldon <Good luck, Neale>

Re: Sick Green Spotted Puffer 5/17/07 Hi Neale, <hello Sheldon,> Thank you for the prompt reply; it's no fun being worried about your pets! <Indeed not.> Regarding the SG level: so, the puffer should no longer be considered a juvenile? He's about 2" now. <Basically he's ready for low-end brackish water, around SG 1.005. When he's twice this size, he'll be ready for a tank around SG 1.010. The exact SG doesn't matter all that much, but you do want to make sure the pH is around 7.5 and the hardness nice and high. As adults these are quite hardy animals and easy to keep, but they are sensitive to high nitrates, so ideally keep the nitrates below 50 mg/l.> I had planned on moving him to his own tank when he was ready to go brackish, but didn't think it was time yet. <Always the risk when buying brackish water fish.> Unfortunately, the tank we had planned for him was given to a friend in an emergency (Oscars got too big, too fast!). <Oops.> I assume the higher SG levels would be harmful to the other tankmates (Tropheus duboisi, plecostomus, and bamboo shrimp)...is this correct? <Essentially yes. Certain species of Plec can thrive at SG 1.003-1.005 (and have, for example, become established in the brackish water canals in Florida). But you need to identify the Plec to species level first to be sure. The shrimp might tolerate SG 1.003-1.005 but I don't know. Some shrimps do, some don't. As for the cichlid, almost certainly not. For some odd reason, the Rift Valley cichlids are often sensitive to salt, despite being otherwise well adapted to mineral-rich water. Something called "Malawi Bloat" has been attributed to salt in the water. There are lots of salt-tolerant cichlids out there, but your Tropheus isn't one of them.> The bamboo shrimp can join our Bloodfin Tetra tank no problem, but the other guys might not have a new home yet. <Yep, the shrimp'll be fine there.> The puffer is doing very well in the QT tank and seems to be almost back to his normal self; I'll wait until this evening to test the main tank again... just waiting for ammonia to go down and nitrates to go up. <Sounds about right, and you're doing all the correct things. Should work out well. You do have some latitude with the GSP, so you don't have to rush out this weekend and buy a new brackish water tank. But such a purchase should be on the radar for something in the next few weeks or months rather than years. In the meantime, because the GSP is "roughing it" in freshwater, make sure the water quality is as good as possible.> Thanks again for all of your help! <No probs.> Regards, Sheldon <Cheers, Neale>

Tetraodon nigroviridis, Sudden Death 3/29/07 Hello, <Hi Phil, Pufferpunk here> I had a green spotted puffer in a ten gallon tank all to himself. The temperature was kept around 80 degrees. The water was filtered and ten percent changes were conducted weekly. <Suggested water changes for puffers is 50% weekly, due to their huge bioload.> The salinity was bumped up over a four or five week period from 1.000 to 1.005, which most Web resources recommended. The diet consisted of black worms (what the store fed their stock exclusively), the occasional pond snail (though this was a rare occurrence) and freeze dried krill. Substrate was just over one inch blue gravel, with non-metallic rocks and live java fern. Lighting was a simply fluorescent on an estimated twelve hour cycle with deviations here and there. <Was the tank cycled before the puffer was introduced? Although as a juvie (I'm assuming it was), it's not as important but crushed coral or aragonite is the best substrate, to keep the pH around a steady 8.> There where times when the puffer wouldn't eat but he always came around and took in ungodly amounts of food after a few days. This time, he stopped eating and his sides started to turn black. This had happened before but never lasted more than three days before his pearly white belly reappeared. <Was that after a water change?> At two points in the past several days, he was stuck to the filter intake but still very much alive. <Very bad sign. A healthy fish should be stronger than that.> I chased him away from it, thinking maybe he just got too close. I performed a usual water change yesterday. Last night he appeared to be having swim bladder trouble and was swimming around as though he were drunk. <Puffers don't have swim bladders. Swimming "drunk" is a sign of nitrite poisoning.> He came to rest next to a rock before I went to bed. When I got up this morning, he was face down in the gravel next to the rock. The body was swollen and discolored and the usually vibrant eyes had a rusty brown tint to them. He appeared to be a perfectly healthy fish for all eight weeks I had him. So can someone please tell me what may have caused this sudden death? Where did I go wrong? <Without knowing the water parameters, it would be difficult to tell. My guess would be the puffer's bioload caught up with him. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm Fore more info on puffers: www.thepufferforum.com Sorry for your loss... =o( ~PP> Sincerely, Phil

Green Spotted Puffer feeling Poorly 03/25/07 Hello, <Hi Hali, Pufferpunk here> I just have a few questions I would like to ask you. <OK, I'll try to help.> I have just bought a new green spotted puffer fish and he was doing fine. <Was he place in a cycled tank?> I have only had him for about a week, maybe a little longer. The past few days though, his sides and under his "chin" have been turning a dark, almost black color. <A sign of stress.> I was just wondering what is wrong with him, if anything. I have tried looking up information on other websites but haven't found anything very helpful. And when I had went to your website, the link would not down load. <Try this one: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/puffers-in-focus/an-introduction-to-green-spotted-puffers/ There is much more to learn at that forum too! ~PP> Any help would be appreciated. Many thanks, Hali

GSP Dropped on Head 3/24/07 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Any help you can provide would be much appreciated. <I'll try!> We got a GSP about a month ago from a "hobbyist" who likes to play LFS. When we got Fafnir, the man who sold her to us dropped her on her head and things have gone downhill from there. She's about 1Ã'½ in. and we have her in a 20 gal until we get her a 66 (which is going to be tomorrow if she survives) No2 & No3 are at 0 GH is 16d, KH 15d & Ph 8.0. I'm currently unable to tell you what the SG is, as I can't find a hydrometer anywhere around and have ordered it. The first week we had her everything went ok, she ate fine (mostly blood worms, freeze dried krill and baby snails) and acted like she had never before eaten snails when given the first time. After that week she started getting dark in color (especially the belly) and is not lethargic and not interested in eating. We just discovered her standing on her head not moving but once every few minutes and even that is just a few fin flaps. I'm not sure what's wrong with her :( the tank mates are 2 baby molly's that were thrown in for a bit of exercise and midnight snacks so I'm positive they aren't harassing her. Any ideas at to what could be wrong would be great. <Well, being dropped on her head, certainly couldn't have helped the poor fish! Could have gotten brain damage. In a cycled tank, there should be some testable nitrates in there. What about ammonia? How was the tank cycled, before adding your puffer? Have you been doing water changes? ~PP>

Green Spotted Puffer Infected Fin 2/26/07 Hi, <Hi Daniel, Pufferpunk here.> I just bought 2 green spotted puffers a week ago and they are both fine swimming around in my 10 gallon tank. (I will put them into a 30 gallon tank as soon as the silicone on the leaky one I found in my garage dries.) <Glad to hear you'll be upgrading soon. As they grow larger than 2" though, they'll need 30g each.> Everything seemed fine, they were and still are swimming around happily and are eating everything i <Please use capital I's as these letters are posted in our FAQs.> feed them (freeze dried krill and brine shrimp- ill <I'll> get to feeding them snails). <Not the best foods. Puffers need a more varied diet. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ Check out the other feeding articles there too.> i saw on one of them a pure white fuzzy thing its tailfin (tailfin? is that the right term.) <Tail fin> When i got it, part of its tailfin was missing (only the very top) and that is where the "thing" formed. <Could have been bitten off by other puffers, living in cramped quarters.> The remaining top section of the fin is somewhat red. I thought it was ick <Ich, short for Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.> and bought medication for it (API liquid super ick cure) but then read some of the FAQ's and realized that it might not be ick. If it is, this might be the kind of ick medication that messes with the puffers skin. <Good thing! It's bacterial, not ich.> My 2 questions are: is this ick that my puffer has (if not what is it)? And if it is, what type of medication should i be using? <1st thing you need to do is get them in a bigger tank. No matter what meds you use in there, their immune systems will be compromised in that small tank. Ich looks like grains of salt on the entire body. Sounds to me like a bacterial infection caused by poor shipping/puffer aggression/poor water conditions. You can instantly cycle their new tank with Bio-Spira. You haven't mentioned if the tank they are in now is cycled. I'd test for ammonia, nitrites (should be 0) & nitrates (should be below 20). Much more info at: www.thepufferforum.com Try adding Melafix & Pimafix to your puffer's water. (Bob F doesn't believe in this stuff but I swear by it, for mild bacterial & fungal problems!) See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/melafix/ ~PP> Thanks so much, Daniel

Re: Green Spotted Puffer Fish Problems (again sorry). Cycle is Bunk!!! 2/27/07 Dear Pufferpunk, <Hey there, Daniel> Ok, thanks for the help before now, I've decided to go all out and get a 55 gallon tank and make it brackish water (1.005-1.008 SG) <He'll love that size tank! Don't raise the SG more than .002/week.> and I've added Cycle to it (the store didn't have Bio-Spira) <Cycle is complete bunk & will only inhibit your cycle. All that is in there is dead bacteria. It's like adding extra waste to your tank, just when you have nothing to remove it. Please return that junk & if you can't find it anywhere, order Bio-Spira from here: http://fishstoretn.com/bio_spira.html > I plan on putting the fish in it in a few days, once the water filters through a few times. <Be sure to add the Bio-Spira directly to your filter & move the fish immediately into the tank. The bacteria needs fish waste to survive & multiply. Actually, you should move the puffer now--it would be better for your it to be living in a 55g uncycled tank, than a 10g uncycled tank.> I added Melafix and Pimafix half and half to the ten gallon tank. <Half & half? You should use the recommended doses, they treat for different ailments. You can add an airstone if the puffer seems to be breathing rapidly. You'll need to be doing 50% daily water changes, until the puffer can be moved (unless you move it now). Then check the water parameters & do water changes accordingly. Ammonia/nitrites should be 0 at all times (very toxic). Dechlorinate with Prime.> I also bought frozen mussels, squid, bloodworms and brine shrimp. (Again, the store didn't have live food.) I checked the Nitrates and Nitrites and they aren't good at all, <See, Cycle is bunk.> so I put this thing in the filter that is supposed to control them. <More garbage, I'm sure. The only way to help this situation, until you get Bio-Spira, is by doing large water changes.> Now the problem is that when I got home today, the same puffer with the infection thing on its Tail Fin was pooing basically a white string. It also doesn't have as round a belly as the other one, although its somewhat round. (It's not like the one with parasites that I saw in a store a while ago, that ones belly was concave, eek.) I read before that a white string there means parasites? That would not be good. This was only one time but should I do something about it? <Definately sounds like internal parasites. I'd get the tank cycled before treating for that. There are several articles in the Hospital forum at www.thepufferforum.com, on treating IPs.> I really appreciate all the help so far and its already paying off- <Sure, anything for those cute puffers! ~PP> Thanks, Daniel P.S: Don't you just love Petland, they have EVERYTHING. <Except Bio-Spira!>

Unhappy GSP 1/10/07 Help! <Pufferpunk to the rescue!> My green spotted puffer has lost it's appetite. It's in a 30 gallon freshwater tank with assorted community fish. <This species of puffers are a brackish water fish & prefer marine conditions as an adult. Needs a 30g to itself. If adding tank mates, a larger tank is necessary. No problems with it nipping at it's tank mates?> We have had it for a couple of years and it has always had a rather voracious appetite. We feed it flake food, blood worms (fresh and frozen), and sometimes brine shrimp. <Not the best diet for puffers--they are crustacean eaters. they must eat crunchy foods, to keep their teeth trimmed. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?cat=7 > For the last two weeks, our puffer doesn't even recognize the worms. It swims from one side of the tank to the other, usually banging into the glass like it can't see it. <Signs of nitrite poisoning? Please post the test results for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate & pH.> We have read on your web site about filing teeth, vitamin deficiencies, diseases, all kinds of stuff. Is there some way to diagnose and narrow down the choices? Thank you very much. <How do the teeth appear? Please post the results of above tests. Also how long you have had the puffer, what size puffer & water change schedule. Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm ~PP> Star

Please Help Percy the Pufferfish! 11/24/06 <Hi Wen, Pufferpunk here> I so desperately hope you can help me save the life of my beautiful fish, Percy. <I will try my best!> I feel daft getting so upset over a fish but I am quite sure all puffer lovers out there will understand. <Of course, they're like lil puppies!> He is a real favourite out of all my tanks and having done a great deal of research I now come to you hoping you can help feeling sure I am going to have to resort to meds. Here are the statistics: Percy is a GSP I bought as a tiddler <toddler?> from a reputable shop in BW some 4Ã'½ years ago. As such, I put him in a converted BW tank with a plec - and no, the plec had no obvious effects from it being BW. <You may not see it outwardly but your plec is suffering...> The two of them have 'grown up' together. Nothing else to disturb them or interfere. As they grew I moved them from one tank to another larger and again BW tank as suited their size - 20g which has had regular weekly water changes of 50% due to the amount they like to erm, deposit and at the same time water checks. <Eventually, your puffer will require a minimum of a 30g tank, he'd really prefer larger--like a 55g.> Ammonia 0ppm, NitrIte 0ppm, pH 8, Nitrate between 20-40 maintained, everything has been really very good for 4 years and both fish have been very healthy. <Nitrates should be kept below 20.> As an aside, I am currently changing the water from BW to SW after reading your pages and will add crushed coral to the substrate. <Sounds like you read my article! Then you REALLY need to get that poor Pleco out of there. They are strictly freshwater creatures & prefer the opposite conditions, most of whom come from soft water.> You walk in the room and he greets you at the glass etc. Regular colour changing telling you he is full or tired or lazy or zippy -you know the kind of thing, all the things that you become aware of when you get to know your fish. Ok so to the problem. Percy is now very much dark all the time, not eating, lethargic, barely breathing now, just occasionally putting on a spurt when the plec goads him into action, fins are listless and he rarely moves his eyes. I have changed his water more frequently as a precaution taking him out of the tank so that anything in the there disturbed doesn't do more harm to him and I burped him also, because like many people I have gone around the houses or rather the web pages trying to find the solution. BUT, today I realized what the problem was. It seems my son's tropical tank is also sick yet my marine tank is more healthy than ever. A scourer - a fish filter bought purposely for the job - used for cleaning the marine tank glass was inadvertently used for cleaning Percy's tank and the tropical tank before being thrown away. My conclusion? Percy is infected with bacteria/parasites from the Marine Tank. MY question - is this possible and can you please, please suggest anything at all to help before he dies? He has been struggling for almost 10 days now bless him and it seems all the prayers in the world aren't going to help him! <Although it isn't a good idea to cross-contaminate tanks, I have never sterilized nets, scrapers, algae pads, etc, between my 8 tanks. All my fish are healthy, so nothing to contaminate. What is wrong with your son's fish? Most FW bacteria/parasites will be killed in SW & visa-versa. Do you actually see any bacteria/parasites? What SG (specific gravity) is Percy at now? At 4 1/2 years, he should be full grown (6" without tail). Is he that large or has he stunted in that 20g tank? I think he & the Pleco in that small of tank are too much bioload, if the nitrates are getting that high, even with 50% weekly water changes. I'd definitely put the Pleco in a tropical, FW tank (drip acclimate) & find a larger tank for Percy. What have you been feeding him? > 20 years of keeping fish and I cannot for the life of me think that such a silly mistake like this is going to cost us such a dearly loved fish his life. Apologies if I have rambled on a bit. <Please answer my above questions. Without a definite diagnosis of your son's tank & knowing the SG of Percy's tank, I can't tell you what's wrong with him. Check out the articles in the Library & the forum at www.thepufferforum.com. I hope he feels better soon! ~PP> Hopeful, Wen

Dark GSP 10/12/06 Howdy, dear WWM crew~~ <Hi Linda , Pufferpunk here> I have read and re-read your posts on this issue with GSPs but after checking on all possible problematic causes for dark blotches on my GSP, I still can't come up with the culprit. Help!! I'll try to be as detailed as possible. First, the background: I am the owner of a beloved GSP (Puffy) who is presently about an inch and a half in length. My LFS sold him to me as a 'leopard puffer' about a month and a half ago and until about two weeks ago he was a very healthy fellow. His colors were fairly light olive with very dark spots (on his back) when I purchased him but he has started showing dark grey/black blotches along his tummy where the white meets the color of his sides, with an occasional tiny black spot where a belly button might be in the middle of his underbelly and his overall coloration has turned a dull muddy brown on his back, still with a bright green spot on his 'forehead', his sides are whitening/bleaching out and his spots fade in and out during the day. Puffy is presently in a 10 gal. tank awaiting his impending move to a 55 gal. brackish water tank I am setting up for him as quickly as I can manage it. He is housed with 4 platies I have had only for a couple of days who will also make a move with him to the BW tank. The platies are healthy and all doing fine in the tank, and there is no competition/aggression. <If you value the platies lives at all, you will remove them. The puffer will kill them, no doubt. Also they will not appreciate the higher salinity needed for the puffer.> As Puffy was sold to me in FW, I have kept him in FW until last week (before platies arrived), when I began to acclimate him to a low specific gravity of 1.004-1.007 (presently at 1.004, using Ocean Marine Salt), thinking that perhaps the FW was the reason he was darkening. <Could be. They are best kept at mid-range BW (1.008-12) when young & brought up towards marine conditions as adults. I wouldn't raise the SG more than .002 weekly, as not to disturb biological filtration.> I have had a terrible time keeping the 10 gal. tank gravel clean but have been performing water changes of 50-75%, while vacuuming the gravel once or twice weekly as necessary, to keep the grunge down. (I am considering logging into some forums for good advice on how to clean it better since I cannot get out the floaties in the water that re-settle on the gravel after I have vacuumed! I feel I am already changing out as much of the water as I dare to get the grunge!) <A better filter/larger tank will help. Are you possibly overfeeding?> I know I have too many nutrients in the tank because I have had some difficulties with hair algae and brown algae growing and I am trying to limit the lighting. I also upped my 20-30 gal. filter to a 50 gal. filter for extra filtration. Puffy is only being fed 1 time a day and he gets either a defrosted square of bloodworms, a small amount of dried krill, defrosted square of brine shrimp or a pond snail whenever I can get one (I'm also having trouble finding them for sale, and my LFS is stingy on freebies, so I have 2 common pond snails in a 2 gal. tank and am hoping to breed my own). <Are you dumping out the water you are defrosting the cubes in through a brine shrimp net? The "juice" that they are packed in aren't good for your water & can cause problems. Here's a better diet for your puffer: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html > Water parameters are okay as far as I can tell: Ammonia is at .5 (I've never been able to get it to drop to 0, no matter what and I started cycling this tank in July according to exact instructions!), <Again, maybe from overfeeding. Test your tap water to be sure. Any ammonia is not "OK" as far as parameters go. Another cause of your puffer's dark coloration.> Nitrite 0; Nitrate <20; Hardness 150; Total Alkalinity 100; Ph 7.8 and am not using any additives other than Ammo-Lock to neutralize ammonia in water changes, along with Stress Coat for the chlorine/chloramines neutralizer. <Better, would be to use Prime.> Now the question: What else can I do to help this poor GSP? He has been continuing to eat, but doesn't seem to be very happy - he runs up and down the tank sides (probably because he is bored or the tank is too small) <Correct on both.> or just mulls around the bottom of his tank and his tail fin isn't opened up. I have tried to be careful not to ruin my tank's biological base when doing the water changes/change of equipment, and I honestly don't think it's the water quality but if not, what is it? If it is the size of his 10 gal. tank, well then, all I have to do is paint the wall behind his 55 gal. tank before finalizing set-up. I have it outfitted with marine sand (shell) as a base, with two 50 gal. BioWheel filters, two heaters, heavily planted with plastic plants and as soon as I can fill it, I'll use live sand to kick start the cycling, with seeded filters from my other 55 gal FW tank, and a couple of live rocks. Am I missing anything? Would I be better off using Bio-Spira? Any advice from you is extremely welcome, as I revere your expertise! <Bio-Spira is always helpful when cycling but you could also just move the filter over from your present tank for a month, while the new ones mature (along with the fish). With just 1 small puffer in a 55g tank, that should be enough bacteria in that filter to support the fish. More GSP info: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm Also visit: http://www.thepufferforum.com Good luck with Puffy, he will love that big tank! Don't be in a hurry to stock it with a lot of other fish. ~PP> Thanks~~ Linda W.

-GSP Floating- 9/4/06 <Justin with you tonight> I just bought a Green Spotted Puffer. I have him in a small tank with a Dalmatian molly and an upside-down catfish. This is a temporary set-up. I have been making daily water changes and I am trying to keep this as a brackish tank. <Ok, but what kind of water was the puffer in when you bought him, Rapidly converting it to BW from FW can be deadly, and most fish stores keep these puffers in fresh water (FW).> The puffer was active at the pet store. He did fine in the bag on the ride home. When I put him in the tank, he checked out the molly and chased the catfish. Now he is floating at the top of the tank and there is no movement. When I lightly touch him on the head, he starts moving and swims around for a while. I watched him again while he is in this floating state. I see no gills moving, no mouth movement, then the eyes moved. <Sounds like a bad acclimation, and or something really off in your tank. Please find out what salinity the puffer was in at the store, and also have your water tested and reply back with both as well as the size of the tank etc. I cannot really help you that much other than to say keep doing water changes and give it time, it will either live or die, by how stressed it is, and how clean the water is.> Being new to this fish, I do not know if this is normal behavior or if there is something wrong that needs to be corrected. I have tried looking through your site, but had not found any similar questions. ~Stacy <Please answer the questions above and reply back, will be glad to help more as this is NOT normal behavior for a puffer. very active and aggressive hunter/seekers whom always explore the tank etc.> <Justin>

Keeping a Puffer in an Uncycled 1G Bowl 8/16/06 Researching Puffers <Hi Steve, Pufferpunk here> I have a puffer that has been pretty cool. I did have to separate him from the rest of the fish due to his nipping. <No surprise there. Did you do any research on this fish before buying it?> I put him into a small tank (1 Gal) and he was fine until lately he started to discolor. I am not sure if the tank had not cycled yet or maybe he has become sick. <Nothing belongs living in a 1g bowl. You cannot cycle a tank with a puffer! It will be poisoned by it's own waste. In addition, even a small juvenile puffer (1") needs at LEAST a 10g tank & a 30g tank when a 6" adult.> He has now begun to look fuzzy and his color continues to darken. What will happen to him from being in a 1 gallon tank? <He will probably be dead within 24 hours.> Can he be brought back to health?? <You could buy him a larger tank TODAY (10g minimum but expect to upgrade to a 30g when he gets over 2"). You will need to add Bio-Spira to cycle the tank. If you can't get a hold of that product, you could add into the new filter some of the filter media from your established tank to help the tank along w/a cycle. Do 50% water changes on the tank DAILY (use a water conditioner, like Prime), while testing for ammonia, nitrites & nitrates, to see how the cycle is doing (ammonia & nitrites need to be at 0 at all times [highly toxic!], nitrates <20). Here is an article on them: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> You can also go to www.thepufferforum.com & post there about your puffer. I really hope you can save him! ~PP> Thank You, Steve West Re: Green Puffer. Researching Puffers at Wal-Mart??? 8/16/06 This Puffer is a Dwarf Puffer but no, I had no prior knowledge on how to care for a puffer nor did I have time to research him. <What do you mean "no time"? If you see a fish at a store you know nothing about, you go home, get on the computer & find out about it. Then you may or may not go back to buy it. It's hard for me to believe that they are selling dwarf puffers at Wal-Mart. They are known to be selling tons of GSPs lately though. I've gotten literally hundreds of letters just like yours...> I have had several years experience with the standard types of fish with good success. This is a very new type of fish to me and he is really cool. I was only informed by the attendant at Wal-Mart that he may be ok to put with others. <And you believed him?> I really want to keep him and care for him so I will take you advice and try to help him. <Check out the Gallery at the forum I linked you to, for proper ID. ~PP>

Unwell Puffer 8/17/06 The reading has been great... A bit sketchy from variations but I have learned a lot. <Wonderful! Did you ID the fish for sure then?> Yes, I know that was an impulse purchase but no, I seldom listen to the advice from the part timers at Wal-Mart. I have discovered he needs a different type of food. He is eating like a horse now. Hopefully he can recover. <Great article on feeding your puffer in our Library at www.thepufferforum.com It starts on the Home page too.> He still looks a bit dark in color and has muck all over him but he is very active and seems to be responding well. <I'm so glad! The dark color is most likely stress, from being in that small, uncycled tank. Check www.craigslist.com to see if there are any used tanks for sale in your area.> I am doing water changes daily to keep him in a better environment until I can get him into a larger tank. <Good--keep that up.> Tell me if there is something that I can do immediately, to help him until I can get to the store for proper accommodations for him. Thanks!!! <I wouldn't touch the stuff coming off his skin. Probably peeling, due to ammonia burn. Add Melafix to the water, after each water change. ~PP> Cotton Growth on GSP - 8/15/2006 I just recently got two green spotted puffers 10 days ago. <<Nice! GSPs are one of my favourite. Do they look like this? http://www.pufferlist.com/puffer/brackpuff.php?puffid=15.>> When I got them, one of the puffers had a white spot on his head and a white spot on the fin of his tail. Well, the spot on his head healed I am assuming because it disappeared. <<Not really the case. If it was ick, the parasite drops off to reproduce and comes back worse in many cases.>> But I am really concerned about its tail. The spot has grown and now it looks like cotton is attached to it. <<Likely fungal.>> For a couple days now, he hasnt opened it up, besides last night. I don't know what it is or how to treat it. I've never had puffers before so its a new experience to me. If you could help me, I would greatly appreciate it. <<Alright, there are a few things we need to know first. How did you cycle your tank? What are the number reading for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? How large is the tank? Each one of your puffers will need at least 30-40 gallons of water and are full marine as adults. Are there any other tank mates? What size water changes do you do, and how often? All these questions will help me best help you decide a course of action. Please join us at www.pufferresources.net to get the best care information for your new friends!>> Sincerely, Katie <<Talk to you soon! Lisa.>>

Green spotted puffer fish - sick? 7/9/06 I bought three GSP's about a month ago from the LFS - about two weeks ago the tank got a nasty case of ich and though the ich has gotten better <... it was treated chemically presumably... these "med.s" are toxic> and we are on the mend, I lost one of the little guys in the process. Now one of my remaining two GSP's appears to have become black around the belly area and it looks like the blackness is growing everyday. He is also looking very skinny and not so healthy. He swims regularly and eats ok. <Very common... resultant from stress of treatment, disease... takes a few weeks to recover... at least> I have tried relentlessly to find out what this blackness is on his body and can find NOTHING on the internet....ANY ideas?????? I'm very attached to my two remaining puffers and will do anything to save him! Any ideas, thoughts, advice you might have would be much appreciated! Please help! Thanks so much! <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm and the linked files above. It may be that your environment is "off"... but you will find others who have experienced this behavior... Bob Fenner> Kathy Raife

Poorly Puffer 6/26/06 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have had a green spotted puffer for about three months now. As of late he has appeared very lethargic, hardly eating, laboring to breathe and sitting on the bottom. Also he is showing the grey stress marks on the sides of his belly. All levels are normal and I do water changes of 10% on a weekly basis, a temps is kept at 77. <What is normal? It's always good to post exact parameters. ammonia & nitrItes should always be 0, nitrAtes <20, pH should remain around a steady 8.> He is about 1.75 inches long and shares a 20 gallon with a small barb and Leporinus (which I removed suspecting him as the source of stress). His fins are starting to get ragged edges, so I will treat for fin rot but expect this is a side affect of a greater problem. <Agreed. The biggest problem I see here, is that you aren't keeping the fish in natural conditions--brackish water. (Your other fish are not BW species.) Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm Without adding the proper amount of marine salt for this brackish fish, it's immune system will be compromised & it will be sick. I'd add Melafix for the fin rot. Any other meds will harm your biological filtration. Your puffer will be OK in a 20g for a while but I'd consider moving it to at least a 30g (mine would have been thrilled in a 55g by himself!), as they will grow to 6" & like lots of swimming room. Also, 50% weekly water changes are a must with these heavy eating/pooping machines! Go to www.thepufferforum.com for more info. ~PP> Please help with any thoughts...it is obvious that he/she is not well. Brian GSP question regarding black belly coloration 6/19/06 <Hi Suzie, Pufferpunk here> A 1 1/2" Green Spotted Pufferfish came to live with us a month ago. <How fun!> The 10 gallon, 2 15 watt compact fluorescent bulbs, cycled tank that he lives in was originally freshwater. After research we have acclimated it to a brackish tank (increasing specific gravity by 0.002 over three separate 25% water changes in the last three weeks to 1.006). Original values: 20 Nitrate, 0 Nitrite, 75 GH, 80 kH, 7.8 pH, 80 deg F, 0 Ammonia. Current values since the increased salinity: 20-40 Nitrate (water changes done when 40 to bring down to 20), 0 Nitrite, 300 GH, 120 kH, 7.8 pH, 0 Ammonia. The GSP lives with 1 Black Synodontis catfish and three zebra danios- no current aggression between species. There is one live plant, a few fake plants, a driftwood piece, a fake hidey log for the catfish, an airstone, and gravel in the tank (do you recommend sandy bottoms for GSPs?) <The live plants will not fair well in BW, especially as you bring the puffer towards marine conditions as it gets older. By then he will need a 30g tank minimum, as he grows to 6" & likes lots of swimming room. The catfish will really hate even the amount of salt you have in there now & danios aren't BW fish either. I recommend a substrate of aragonite or crushed coral, to maintain the pH around a steady 8.> The GSP eats well (ghost shrimp, mussels, and bloodworms- soon young snails) and rests after a meal but is otherwise active and curious. He does get the "light area" on his "forehead" that I have read on this site to be attributed with a "happy"/non-stressed pufferfish. The other fish do not have any new coloration or exhibit any unusual behavior. I am concerned because the sides of his belly turn dark black during the day. These black areas have tiny black spots encroaching on his white belly. It is primarily complete areas that are black, not just spotty. They go from under his chin to his tail but do not cover his belly entirely. I have read about stress lines, black chin, black spot disease (which I don't believe it is), and nitrate toxicity. He doesn't act stressed, as he is inquisitive and doesn't swim up and down the glass. He eats well and he interacts well with other fish (so far... I understand their aggressive nature). I initially believed that this black area did not get lighter, but in the past couple of days I have noticed that once lights are out in the tank his belly appears entirely white, including on sides. In other words, the black disappears. Sometimes the belly sides are light grey at this time. How is this coloration change related to night? Is the black coloration from him blending in with the black tank lid? Is he more stressed during the day? If so, from what? Should I be concerned about this coloration? Should I change anything about the current water parameters or water changes? I have looked on many sites for information regarding this and the care of GSPs but I respect your opinion and hope to hear from you soon. Thank you for your insight!!! <You're puffer sounds perfectly healthy. Many change colors often. As long as it goes back to white at night (even some healthy puffers appear black all the time), the water parameters are good, it's swimming & eating, I wouldn't worry. Check out this article on them at WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm & other articles in the Library at www.thepufferforum.com. Feel free to post there too! ~PP> Suzie

Sick GSP? Lack of Info - 5/9/2006 I have a puffer (GSP) and I've noticed a narrow line of white going down one of his side fins. He sometimes keeps it clamped. I am wondering if this is fin rot and what I should do to cure it. Hope you can help. <<You dont give any information to diagnose anything with your puffer. Please start by reading here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html. Your puffer needs at least 30-gallons of full SW as an adult. Get reading! :).>> Thanks <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

-Why for art thou dead?- GSP... health 4/3/06 Dear Crew, <Cat> I originally emailed you last night. It was late and I was quite upset and now realize I missed out some important information. Just to reiterate: I had two Tetraodon nigroviridis for two months, they were both about an inch long and got on rather well until one of them stopped eating for two days, then I managed to coax a small amount of food into him on the third day but he died on the fourth, he was sluggish but his eyes were still moving quite a lot until the last day and other than this showed no symptoms. I did not medicate because nothing I had or could find seemed suitable. <Well that is a good move, when you do not know what is going on the last thing you want to do is throw a bunch of meds into the water and ruin everything.> The tank has a coral substrate and marsh root and shells, it is 60 cm long x 38 cm high and 30 cm wide, (apparently this is too small). The tank was set up originally with two dwarf puffers in it with fresh water, they lived in it for six months and were given a 20-30% water change once a week with Nitrite, Nitrate, Ammonia, pH and GH and KH water checks once a week. The filter was originally boosted with Nutrafin 'cycle'. They were moved to another tank before the nigroviridis arrived. <The tank is a bit on the small side, but shouldn't have been an issue at their sizes.> The puffers were kept in fresh water in the shop so I left some of the old water in and added new fresh water and started adding small amounts of marine salt three weeks later. It has been about two months and the hydrometer reads one ounce per UK Gallon I've been trying to find a way to convert that to a specific gravity ratio but no luck so far the numbers I come up with don't seem to make sense, anyway I think it may be too much salt too soon. Apparently a brackish setup should be roughly half an ounce per UK gallon. I have been doing water changes to get the reading down but within a day the salt content is back up to one ounce per UK gallon so I'll keep going. The pH has remained a steady 8, the GH is 10 degrees, the KH is 20 degrees, everything else is zero. I syphon debris from the bottom of the tank, I don't leave food in there and have been trying to breed snails for them. Maybe the cockles were still too cold when they were fed to them not sure they are defrosted. <Well, there are a few reasons that they might have died. one being that they did not tolerate the higher salinity of the water but that is rather unlikely given that, your fish are extremely tolerant of salinity if it is done slowly. You may have had a blockage, but I think also your KH may be a bit high. us we are aiming for 10-13 ish but your use of degrees is throwing me a tad off.> I asked in the other email whether I should dissect the dead puffer for the sake of the other one, but I don't know what to look for and I can't help thinking its more likely to be my fault than a parasite or a tumour Aagh! Thank you very much for your time. Regards, Cat. <I think you probably had a poor batch of fish. Your fish are wild caught and may have had internal parasites or other issues rather than something you directly caused. though the things I listed above may have also played a role. These guys are fairly hardy fish, but do not ship well at all, and being wild caught means you get a very mixed bag when you buy them.> <Justin (Jager)> GSP in Trouble - 3/30/2006 Hello, <<Good morning!>> I am wondering if you can help me with a Green Spotted Puffer question. <<Ill sure try.>> I think we have a Tetraodon nigroviridis. We bought one 3 months ago from a store that said he would be a great starter fish. that was wrong. <<Yes, they were very wrong. Stores push product, not responsibility sometimes!>> He is in a 2 1/2 gallon tank. He is 1 1/2 inches long. Is this tank too small? <<Horribly so. He needs at LEAST a 30 gallon tank.>> We read that they like brackish water so we add a little bit of salt when we clean it. <<You will need to buy a hydrometer or refractometer to measure SG. He needs full SW as an adult. Start by reading here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html.>> With this being our first fish we thought the filter kept you from needed to clean the tank every month. That was wrong too. <<It is recommended that puffer tanks have 50% of their water changed weekly.>> A few months passed and he started acting funny and wasn't eating much at all. So we cleaned the tank and did some research that this poor guy is more temperamental then we thought. Needless to say the fish store has not been helpful. They gave us live fish half his size for a lethargic fish to eat. <<Feeder fish are improper to feed your puffer. Read here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html.>> He ate two little things that didn't move and now he is barely eating and hanging out under the filter with the fish he is supposed to be eating. He seems to be having a hard time eating his worms. He spits them out a lot or has them hanging out of his mouth for a while. <<His teeth may be over-grown, and you likely have ammonia and nitrite present in your water. Please consider returning your fish until you can provide him with a proper, cycled tank. Read here about fishless cycling: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/water/fishless.html.>> Today he had what looked like a blood worm but was now white going in and out of his mouth repeatedly (just the tip handing out). This went on for minutes, and could still be. I am also being told that once a fish shows signs of stress it is too late. <<Not at all! Please act quickly to save him.>> I am going to test the water for nitrates, etc. <<You need to test for ammonia and ntrItes too.>> Should he be in a bigger tank? <<At LEAST 30-gallons to avoid stunting and death.>> Should we have a heater? Not sure what temperature they like. <<Yes, you need a heater. Poor guy. High 70s please. This is outlined in the first article I gave you.>> I know I sound like a bad fish mom. We thought we were getting a starter fish. <<Far from it, as youll learn. Please research future purchases BEFORE buying them.>> I miss my happy fish begging for food! Any advice is appreciated. <<Please, please read where I linked you, and act quickly to save your puffer. You need to be doing daily water changes to keep the toxins down while you remedy this situation. Should you have more questions, please write me again, and keep me posted. Lisa.>> GSP in Dire Straights II - 3/30/2006 Sorry to email so much but I really need help. my puff puts his head in the gravel and his tail turns up. Looks like he's struggling to stay down. Tried to burp. He wont eat. Do you think he's puffed. What should I do help please. <<Please read where you were referred. All the answers you need are there. Lisa.>>

Sickly GSP 3-28-06 Hi, <Hi Beth, Pufferpunk here> My BW GSP, whom I have had for about 2 1/2 years, is suddenly not eating, is laying around at the bottom of the tank a lot and seems to be breathing fast and shallow. <I'd test your water parameters--ammonia, nitrites, nitrates. Please post the exact numbers. How big is the tank? How often & how much water are you changing? What's the SG? Are you using marine salt?> I went to the LFS and they thought it might be internal parasites, so I started treating him with that yesterday. <What are you treating him with? If you have had him in the tank that long, where do you think he could have gotten IPs? Are you feeding him live foods?> I also had the water tested and everything was normal except for the PH was low, 6.5, so I have also started slowing bringing that up. <How? You shouldn't be using any buffer products that raise your pH. It will just drop again (assuming this is the pH of your tap water). Fluctuating pH is worse than low. The pH of BW fish should remain steady around 8. The best way to do this is by using aragonite or crushed coral as substrate.> He seems to be moving around better today, but now his anus is really stretched open and he seems bloated. Any suggestions would be great. <Answer my above Qs & lets see who I can help. Also read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm ~PP> Thanks Beth

GSP Sick, no info. - 2/28/2006 I have had my puff for two weeks. He is 1.5 inches. I recently started adding salt to introduce him to brackish. Now he doesnt eat and sits under his cave turning himself very dark. Do you think something is wrong with him? I dont want to cause him discomfort. Thanks. <<Start by reading here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html. Is your tank cycled? If so, how? What are the readings for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? Your puffer needs at least 30 gallons of water. If not cycled, please Google fishless cycling on WWM. Lisa.>>

Mysterious GSP Death 3/27/2006 Dear WWM Crew, <<Hi Cat.>> I had two Tetraodon nigroviridis; I have had them for two or three months. They have been kept in brackish water and fed on cockles, snails and bloodworm. I have checked the water levels regularly and nitrites, nitrates and ammonia are all zero and the ph is 8, they have all remained steady since I have had them. <<What SG are they kept in? Tank size? Tank mates? Temperature? How often do you do water changes, and how much each time?>> Two days ago one of them stopped eating and seemed a bit slow, compared with the other one, but other than this showed no symptoms. I was really concerned he was not eating but couldn't find any information on what to do if they don't eat but with no other symptoms to go on none of the medication I have seemed suitable. He died this evening. <<Im sorry to hear that.>> I had a puffer once before and he died the same way I almost never kept them again because I got so attached to him, I don't want anything to happen to the other puffer, I want to find out how they are dying - should I try and dissect him and look for something wrong even though I don't know what I am looking at? <<Doubtful you would find anything conclusive.>> I want to know if it is my fault - please help me. <<Without more information, it is hard to say. Was he having regular bowel movements?>> Cat from Cambridge, UK. Thank you. <<Glad to help. Check out www.thepufferforum.com. Lisa.>>

GSP in Dire Straights - 3/24/2006 Help!! I got a green spotted puffer about a month ago and have had him in a 10 gallon heated and filtered tank that has treated water. <<A Tetraodon nigroviridis (Green Spotted Puffer) is a high-end brackish water, to full salt water puffer as an adult. They require AT LEAST a 30-gallon tank. Please begin by reading this: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html. Please also read through the other articles on Fishless Cycling and others regarding your puffer. That site, www.thepufferforum.com is a great resource for you to use; please do. While you are there, take a look through the forums. You have a lot of work ahead of you my friend!>> However, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that despite his happy and friendly (even voracious) demeanor, he was flicking against rocks so I bought some QuICK cure and have been treating the tank for almost a week now. <<Please stop using medications. Puffers are scale-less, and are very sensitive to them. What your puffer needs is proper housing and water, not medication.>> I bought a couple more fish (including a Blue Ram cichlid) and to my surprise, I awoke one morning to see the cichlid and the angelfish dead and partly eaten. <<You should not have been surprised! GSPs are known killers, and your tank is FAR FAR overstocked as it is. Please do not buy any new fish, and consider returning your puffer until you can offer him a proper, cycled environment.>> Then starting two days ago, my puffer started going dark on the stomach and really off-pale in color and sticking up near the filter or swimming up and down the glass in that region. When I tap on the glass or bug him, he'd respond and almost get back some color so I thought it might be psychological. <<Your puffer does not need to be bugged. He is dying in his own waste, and needs your help NOW.>> However, the past day or so he hasn't been eating and so I moved him and the remaining fish to a new clean tank, <<Uncycled as well, Im assuming.>> but now he is wedging himself underneath the filter. Sometimes he'll stick himself to the filter intake so that his skin gets sucked on slightly and when I make him swim around he looks like he's gagging or "coughing". I scanned your e-mails and web for advice, but the only case's puff died! <<As will yours if you dont get reading/acting quickly.>> Help, before it's too late! Funny thing is that when I put him into the new water, he looked fine for the first couple minutes and then went back to his sickly color. <<I dont find that funny.>> I've continued to treat with the QuICK cure, but it looks like he's getting worse!!! <<He is.>> HELP ASAP before it's too late! I've never had such a charismatic fish and I'd hate to see him kick it right when he had gotten settled in! <<He is not settled in, nor will he ever be, in that tank. In the meantime, you need to be doing daily LARGE (75 %+) water changes to keep the toxins that are building up in your water down. You did not list ammonia, nitrIte or nitrAte readings, but I can assure you they are off the charts in such a small, uncycled environment. Please read and act quickly. Lisa.>> Puffer Amateur Puffer Gone to the Big Tank in the Sky 3/24/06 Thank you for all of your help. Bubba passed away yesterday. Truly a sad thing but with your help I know we did everything we could to try and save him. <Marcia, So sorry to hear that. =o{ Please reconsider getting another one, until it can be housed properly. Come on over to www.thepufferforum.com in the meantime! ~PP> Marcia

Why oh why, did my puffer die? 3/13/06 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I had bought a GSP two days ago. It's about an inch long. It's in a ten gallon tank (I know I need a 30 in the future). I had coarse gravel on the bottom, a pot for a cave, a plant and a heater. I conditioned the water with a water conditioner and added one teaspoon of salt, since the pet store had him in freshwater. The tank wasn't cycled or tested. It was about 75 degrees in the tank. I fed him freeze dried plankton the first day. He ate and then spit it out. After that, he never ate. I woke up today and he was floating on the top, then he went on his back and swam upside down. He died later that day. I'm getting another one, so please tell me my mistakes so they won't be repeated. <I'm glad to see you have decided to do more research on this special, exotic fish, before purchasing another one. It sounds like you may have already realized some of the mistakes you made with your puffer. If you do indeed understand about the importance of cycling a tank, then why did you put the puffer into an uncycled tank? My guess is this is why your puffer died. Either fishless cycle your tank (lots of info at WWM, or read this: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/water/fishless.html) or use Bio-Spira to instant cycle the tank. Testing a newly set up tank is also important & having your own test kit for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate & pH is good to have on hand. 75 degrees is a bit cold for most tropical fish. 78-82 is recommended. It is good that you realize your puffer will need a 30g tank. Did you also know that aquarium salt does not make water brackish? You must use marine salt & measure it with a hydrometer. Here's a good article on GSPs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm Check out the articles in The Library at www.thepufferforum.com & ask questions at the forum there.> Thanks <If you write in to us again, please be sure to use proper punctuation & capitalization. All these letters are posted in our FAQs. I corrected this one but the next one will be sent back to you for correction. ~PP> Green Spotted Puffers in Trouble - 3/6/2006 I currently have two Leopard Puffer fish. <<I am assuming you mean Tetraodon nigroviridis; green spotted puffer. Go to www.pufferlist.com to verify. If so, it is a high-end brackish to SW fish at maturity, and needs at least 30-gallons per fish. It is often sold as freshwater.>> One of them I purchased at Petco in the beginning of January. It was the happiest fish I have ever seen; swimming rapidly and so excited to see me to feed him his dried shrimp. <<This diet must be far more varied. How did you cycle your tank?>> Then about a couple weeks ago, he started turning a dark color and became sluggish and not eating well. I didn't change any of my routines. I feed him the same, change the water frequently, etc. I asked a Petco employee and he said I needed a bubbler. <<Likely is a water quality issue, not dissolved oxygen problem. What are your water parameters (nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, pH)?>> I purchased one and started using it in his tank and my Puffer was thrilled; swimming in and out of the bubbles and started eating like he used to and his color came back. But after a day of that, he went back to his sluggish self and dark color and not eating. What do you think his problem is? I've told all of this to the people who work in the fish dept. at Petco and they weren't exactly helpful besides telling me about the bubbler. Secondly, I thought maybe my Puffer was lonely, so thats when I purchased another one. <<Puffers do not get lonely.>> When I put the new one in with the other, my Puffer was thrilled and turned back to his bright color. Then, after about 10 minutes, my Puffer went back to being lazy, etc. and the new one kept going to the surface, gulping water or something, and then staying afloat at the top. <<There is definitely something wrong with your water.>> He did this several times and it worried me. He has been swimming around but he's starting to act like my other one by lying at the bottom. Do you think there is something wrong with the water? <<Yes>> I don't understand what is happening to them. Help?!? -Melanie <<Start by reading here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html, and checking the levels of toxins in your water. Talk to you soon. Lisa.>>

Green Spotted Puffers - 2/28/2006 Dis? Sys? I recently purchased two green spotted puffers that were sold as fresh water. My water was tested and everything was fine. <<Fine? How was the tank cycled?>> I keep the tank temperature at 80 degrees. I know that puffers are brackish so I am slowly converting them to brackish conditions. <<Not all puffers are brackish. GSP's require full SW as adults. Be sure to raise the SG no more than 0.002/week, as to prevent die-off of nitrifying bacteria.>> After about two weeks, they have been sitting on the bottom and scratching a lot. I can't see any spots on either of them, but today noticed their colour is lighter. I've added a medicine to stop scratching for flukes but they are still scratching. Any suggestions? <<Stop medicating your puffers without a sure diagnosis. They are scaleless and very sensitive to medicine, and should never be exposed to copper. How big is your tank? Two Tetraodon nigroviridis puffers require a 60-gallon tank MINimum. For more information and help with your puffers, visit www.thepufferforum.com. Start by reading here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html. Good luck, and hope to see you at TPF! Lisa.>>

Green Spotted Puffer - 2/20/2006 I'm not positive which species of puffer fish I have. He is about 1 inch, has a white belly, and a green back with black spots. <<Sounds like Tetraodon nigroviridis, Green Spotted Puffer. Lives in brackish water; full salt water at maturity, grows to 6" and will need at least 30 gallons of water.>> When I first got him he seemed to eat alright, but about a week ago he stopped eating. At first, he looked like he was still interested in eating, but he either tried and couldn't, or changed his mind completely and swam away. The thing that worries me most is that he just sits on the bottom of the tank all day, looking sad and depressed. His tail is always curved and he looks very stressed and sick. He has been losing color, too. I have sent e-mails to various sites asking for help, but no one will reply. I'm getting desperate, I have no idea what to do. Please help! <<Doesn't sound good. What are you water readings for ammonia, nitrIte and nitrAte? You should go to www.thepufferforum.com, and learn all you can there about your puffer. Please read this to get started: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html. Talk to you soon. Lisa.>> Doran Schmdt

Treating Puffers with Ich 1/15/06 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have three green spotted puffers. We have had them for about two weeks. We noticed about a week ago that they had salt-like spots on their fins. So we have been treating them with ick clear made by jungle. Well one of our puffers turned white or gray with black spots. He don't eat as much. He always lays on the bottom of the tank We called the hotline on the back of the ick box and they said to treat them also with the fungus clear to prevent secondary infections. I have read other books, internet, and also talked to a pet store they have all told me to do certain things. For e.g. I have changed the whole aquarium twice, we have given them a fresh water dip for 15 min. I have also put a bubble stone in the aquarium. So now its been about 4 days and nothing has happened they other two still have ick and our other is still discolored. Do you have any idea what is going on and how can I help? <Although very cute fish, they are not the easiest to keep. Most meds will do more harm than good. I suggest reading: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9 http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/water/fishless.html ~PP>

GSP Not Feeling Well 12/21/05 Hi <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I got a GSP puffer about a month go. He is almost 2 inches long. He has been eating great. I feed him krill , bloodworms and snails when I get them. He is in a 7 Gallon Tank with specific gravity at 1.010. Recently he has been hiding in the rocks and not eating which is unusual. I tested the water with readings, PH 7.8, Nitrate 20, Ammonia 0. I didn't know about the nitrites until I read some of your emails. <That would be the next thing you should test for then.> I bought some snails and feed him. He attacked them and ate them all but wouldn't touch the krill I also put in there. <Spoiled? I'd say he probably prefers live snails to dead food.> Do you have any idea why he would be what looks to be laboring on the bottom of the tank and not eating anything but snails. <Could be being overfed? His tank is getting too small too. Have you read this article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm? Also, you can join us over at The Puffer forum: www.thepufferforum.com, to talk about your puffer. ~PP> Thanks

Unhappy Green Spotted Puffer 11/16/05 Hello WWM Crew, <Hi, Jamie.> First off, I would like to thank you for all of your help! <And thank you for these kind words!> I have recently bought a green spotted puffer from my local pet store (good store! they knew they were BW) <Ahh, good.> and my puffer is behaving and looking rather pathetically. He was vibrant and happy when I had bought him, but now his colors have faded and he has a gray tint to his stomach towards the back, near his tail. <General signs of distress in a puffer.... usually environmentally related.> He also lays on the bottom...all the time! However, when he does go to the surface he sort of drifts there then goes to the bottom where he collides into the rocks and bounces off! <A bad sign, indeed. Be testing your water....> He also has weird white bumps lining the edge of his stomach. <Can you get an image of this? Also please be looking at other puffers (in stores, etc., and in images) to compare.... this may be "normal", and just looks pronounced with the puffer's poor coloration right now - or it could be an indication of external parasites.> All of my pH, nitrate, and salt levels are perfect, <Mm, "perfect".... the numbers would help, here. I do hope you are testing ammonia and nitrite, as well, and hope also that these are ZERO - if not, do water changes urgently.> but he is still acting weird. Can you help? Do you know what is wrong with him? Is there anything I should change? I will be waiting for your answer! <It is possible that the water parameters at the store were/are significantly different from yours.... Different pH or specific gravity could have brought this about, especially depending upon how the animal was acclimated - but I fear/suspect that water quality is less than optimal. Please be testing, and compare your levels with those at the store.> Thank you for your time and effort, -Jamie D. <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

My Poor Puffer <Pufferpunk unfortunately is out on holiday> 11/14/05 <<Unfortunately for whom? I bet she doesn't think so!>>Hello WWC, First off, I just wanted to say that your site is a life saver, literally. You have saved my fishes lives many times. <Ahh, you have saved them... perhaps with our assistance> Well, I am having a problem with my Green Spotted Puffer. My GSP is about 1.5" long. It is in a 10 gal. tank with no other fish. He was fine the first few days, but is now acting weird. I have learned that they are BW fish and need salt, <Oh, yes> obviously, so I added it and all the other requirements are up-to-date as well. My GSP is very thin, and will not eat anything. His stomach is white with a grayish tint to the back part of his stomach, closest to his tail. He also has to constantly open his mouth, as if he were fighting for the air. His reflexes are very slow, and he stays on the bottom, all the time. His colors are faded too, <Not good> but he has a very bright neon patch, of green, on his head. I don't know what is wrong with him and I really need some help! Do you know if he is sick, or is this normal behavior? I do need you help and I will be waiting for your answer. Sincerely, Jamie D. <Mmm, a few things... one, it is important that the system be stable... salinity and nitrogenous waste wise especially... Next, nutrition... At any length these issues are sufficiently covered on WWM. Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm and on to the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Stressed Puffer 11/10/05 Hi <Hi, Pufferpunk again> Asked you about my GSP the other day, just to report had my water checked everything fine, nitrates a bit high but nothing a water change wouldn't fix & not enough to stress the fish out I was told. <Anything >20 can be stressful to a puffer. Ammonia/nitrItes 0? You should be doing 50% weekly water changes & be sure to clean up any uneaten food, or feed smaller portions.> He's been really limp, curled round & his eyes are quite sunken. <Maybe internal parasites? See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7> I've brought a solution to de-stress him & also cure most diseases. <Melafix?> <<Ugh, there is no such thing as a cure-all. MH>> He seems to be improving slowly, more fins moving, un-curling, eyes looking a bit better. Is there anything else you could suggest? <I'm sorry; I get many emails about puffers & really don't remember your situation. Tank size, puffer size, water change schedule, diet, specific gravity? Did you read the article on GSPs at WWM? ~PP>

Dosing Levamisole hydrochloride for internal Parasites 11/10/05 Hi PP, Thanks for your prompt and informative response, <You're welcome!> I checked out the recommended link and came across Levamisole hydrochloride as an alternative solution to Discomed. The only problem is that the required PH level for a GS puffer is way out of range for this solution to work effectively. <Since the puffer needs to be fed it's food soaked in the med, pH, salinity, etc, will have no effect on the med.> I recently came across a medicine at a local fish store by a company called Jungle. The name of the medicine is Parasite Clear. Its suggested to treat tropical fish for both internal and external parasites. I was wondering if you have any experience or knowledge of this solution and its affects on a GS puffer? <I am not familiar with Jungle products. ~PP> Thanks again for all your help

Distressed Puffer 11/3/05 Hi Bob, <Nope, Pufferpunk here> Really hoping you can help me. Had my Green Spotted Puffer about 3 months, he's about 10cm big. Everything has been fine except for the last few days. It all started when I walked past the tank & herd him splash so turned round to look, he puffed into a ball, lost all his colour and had some sort of fit. He then turned back to normal & all was fine until he did it again, he has done this about 4 times now & I don't know why? When I saw him do it for the fourth time he seemed to cough out a couple of pebbles, do you think he may of swallowed some making him very uncomfortable? He still eats but something must be wrong as Puffers only do this when seriously distressed. <Start out by reading this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm. It would also help to know your water parameters: ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes, pH & specific gravity. ~PP> Kind Regards, Jayson Berry

Puffers--Cloudy Eye 7/14/05 <Pufferpunk again> My Babies are green spotted puffers. Today my baby has a swollen cloudy eye and the other eye looks red. The other puffers look fine. I removed the carbon filters and treated them with some medicine the pet store gave me. They said it was a natural medicine and would not harm the my other babies. Have you any idea what it could be? I am not home right now so I can't write the name of the medicine. <If it's a natural remedy, it might be Melafix, which is what I use for cloudy eye in my puffers. It is great for most mild bacterial infections in fish. You really don't need carbon for your filter. Pristine water conditions are best to prevent this. I notice when I get lax in water changes, that's when my puffers get this. Make sure the tank is not overcrowded (10g/1" puffer, 30g each adult), you have heavy filtration, clean up all uneaten food & weekly 50% water changes. Make sure you have them in brackish conditions, using marine salt, measuring with a hydrometer.> Thank you so much for your quick response. Other than his eye, he seems fine. Although he tends to stay to himself. He is my littlest puffer. <Be sure to read over those sites I gave you. There is great info there & knowledgeable, friendly people to talk puffer stuff with. Here's an article on your puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm ~PP> Thank you, Brandy & Melody

Unwell Puffer 7/11/05 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a green spotted puffer and he is laying on the bottom of my tank breathing heavily and has a black stomach. He is on a diet of frozen bloodworms, freeze dried krill, people shrimp, and Ramshorn snails twice a week. <Good diet.> I also have a bumblebee goby, a Senegal Bichir, a figure-8 puffer, and a Pleco in his 20 gal. <I generally don't suggest keeping F8s & GSPs together in the same tank, beyond their juvenile size. The GSP will eventually need much more salt (high end BW & SW as an adult) grow 3x size of the F8 & much more aggressive than a F8.> I have added 2 teaspoons of salt for every gallon of water of instant ocean marine quality salt. <Correct salt, but not enough. It roughly takes about 1 cup of salt/5g to raise the SG .005. F8s prefer a SG (specific gravity, measured by a hydrometer) of 1.005. GSPs, 1.008-1.010 as juvies & up as they mature. The SG can be raised .002/weekly water change (I usually suggest 50%/week, for these messy, high waste producing fish).> The GSP is about 1 and a half inches long, the figure 8 is about 3/4 of an inch, the Bichir is 2 in and the Pleco is 2 in. <The Bichir & Pleco will not appreciate the BW conditions your puffers need at all.> I checked the ph and it was 7.6. The ammonia was 0ppm and the nitrates were also 0. What should I do? <How was the tank cycled? What about nitrItes? With a cycled tank, you should be seeing some nitrAtes. What is your water change schedule? Start with a water change. Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm & follow the link on that page to The Puffer Forum. See ya there! ~PP> Thank you, Mike

Sickly Spotted Puffer 5/8/05 Hi! <Hi, Pufferpunk here. Sorry it's taken me so long to respond, I just got back from vacation last night.> I have a freshwater tank, with a young GSP and a goldfish type fish. The latter I got at an abysmal pet store that was closing down; I rescued him, but have NO idea what he is. He was in a tank that was labeled pink kisser Gouramis, but he is most definitely not that. Anyway, the GSP, Kiwi, is looking very ill lately. I intend to switch to brackish water soon, once I move him to a bigger tank, but I'm worried he won't last long. He was in BW at the pet store, and of the two GSP, he was the friendly healthy looking one. Kiwi spends all of his time in a little cave in the tank. While formerly a vibrant green, he is now a much paler shade. His skin looks thin and crinkly, like an old woman's. He keeps his tail pulled extremely close to his body. When I got him, I noticed that he was very thin towards the tail, without the roundness I associate with puffers. He is very nervous and skittish. This morning when I looked at him, his stomach was round and full looking, although he not yet been fed that morning, having been fed the night before. My girlfriend has a Figure Eight Puffer in a community tank, and the two fish are extremely different. Kiwi is unsociable and skittish, thin and sickly. The F8, Bumblebee, is round, healthy and friendly. Is the attitude a difference in breeds, or is it a symptom of his mystery illness? Please help- I don't want to lose Kiwi. <It sounds to me like he could have internal parasites. Many wild-caught fish come with them. You didn't say how small his tank is. I also don't recommend keeping a puffer with a goldfish (if that's what it is), as GF can carry many diseases other fish cannot fight off. I have had best luck treating IPs with Discomed, by Aquatronics, but that company has been out of business for a while, so you'll really have to search hard for any remaining products. You can look here for alternatives: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1093270673. If you go to the BW puffer section, there are excellent articles on care & feeding of your puffer. ~PP>

Puffers & Meds 5/9/05 Thank you for your help, and your wonderful site. Unfortunately, my GSP died a few days before I got your e-mail and nothing I found earlier had tipped me off that it might be some sort of internal parasite - I was using a Formalin and Malachite Green Ich remover from PetSmart, which probably just worsened things. <Agreed. Puffers are better off w/o most meds. Here's a good article on how to treat puffers w/ich: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1086103674 > When I took him out of the tank though, I noticed that Kiwi had some red, fleshy material hanging from his anus, which leads me to presume he was suffering from some sort of parasite. Still, thank you very much for your help. -Doug <Sorry I couldn't respond sooner. ~PP>

Sick Green Spotted Puffers (08/31/03) Dear Bob, <Hi! You get Ananda tonight...> Thank you for your interesting Web Site. <You're welcome.> I live in Cape Town - South Africa and I am in desperate need of your help. <My puffers and I are here to help.> I have 3 Spotted Green Puffers. They are beautiful little creatures. I have had them now for 6 weeks. Last night I noticed that all 3 looked bloated. Their eyes have become cloudy, and they are swimming around very slowly, bumping into things, and will not eat anything. They are greyish underneath and have become a strange yellow/orange faded colour. <Many of these behaviors/symptoms are indicators of poor water quality. I would do a 30% water change tonight and another one tomorrow. What are your ammonia/nitrite/nitrate readings? Ammonia and nitrite should be zero, and nitrate should be less than 10 in a healthy tank.> This morning I found one resting on top of the water. He had died........very upsetting. <Sorry to hear that...I know it's hard to lose a puff.> The other two are even worse. In the tank with them, I have one scat and one goby, who both still seem in perfect condition. <Different fish have different ways of reacting to poor water quality.> There is beach sand, which I washed thoroughly at the bottom, and two plastic plants which they seem to enjoy hiding in. The salt content in the tank is sitting at 1.02 and the temperature is sitting at 26. <26C is about 79F, which is a little on the low side for these guys. I'd raise it to about 27C. My puffs are happier when their tank is at about 81F (~27C).> Only the puffers have been affected. What do you think it can be..... Can I still save them? <I think so, if you act right away. You might increase their salinity a bit, too, with the water changes. I'd shoot for about 1.006 within a week or two. The goby should be able to handle that (what kind of goby is it?), and the scat won't even flinch.> Many Thanks Steven <You're welcome, and keep me posted. --Ananda>

Spotted Green puffer issues... Aloha Webcrew... <Ananda here, answering the puffer questions.> Terrific website... I have found more info on your site compared to any other out there.... <Thanks, and glad it's helped.> Part of my question was answered by your FAQ area on the puffer fish... I have 4 spotted green puffer fish in a long 30 gallon tank (which gives them plenty of room to hang out together or get away from each other)... I also have 3 green Chromides in the tank with them and 1 huge algae eater (big so they won't eat it).. <How large are these fish currently? The green Chromides will need a much larger tank eventually, as they get up to 16" long.> All of my puffers look very healthy and swim around a lot (up and down and from tank end to tank end).. There is something up with one of the puffers though... He lays on the bottom of the tank quite a bit... He loses all of his spots and turns pretty dark, almost like he is hiding from everything and trying to get some rest... <Do you have plenty of stuff for them to hide in and swim through in the tank? Is this puff getting enough to eat?> When he feels like it, he does get up off of the bottom and starts swimming with the other puffers... They all seem to like being together... Once he starts swimming, you can see his belly is pretty black from tail to mouth... <Not a good sign at all.> If you come to the side of the tank and give him some attention, the black almost all goes away and his spots come back immediately.... <Puffers are some of the most intelligent fish out there. Paying attention to him is reducing his stress level.> I read on your site that the spots can go away for mood or camo, but what about the black belly? I have read on many sites that a black belly means they are sick... If that is the case, why does it come and go? <Is the puff's belly truly black, or is it grey? Grey is a sign of stress, and I have seen that come and go quickly. The black, however... do check the feces of this fish and the others in your tank. They should be uniformly dark-colored. If the feces from the puff in question are different, the fish may have intestinal worms or parasites.> The tank is a brackish water tank... I have some synthetic salt in the tank as well as aquarium salt... <What specific gravity level are you keeping these fish at? Also, if you have any ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate reading, do a water change as soon as possible and increase the frequency or amount of your regular water changes.> None of the other fish show signs of being ill and the one that I'm concerned about doesn't have any signs of ick or anything else.... <Which is why I'm suspecting a possible internal problem.> The puffers eat pretty well.. I let a bunch of small goldfish swim around and they eat them whenever they are hungry... <Please desist with the goldfish immediately. These are NOT good for your puffers' health! The scales on the goldfish are relatively large, and feeder goldfish are notorious for carrying diseases.> I also feed them frozen brine shrimp and crawdads every now and then... <Do consider adding snails and other more puffer-appropriate foods. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm for info on puffer foods.> Any advice on my little puffer would be greatly appreciated... Keep up the great work on your website... <Will do.> aloha for now Gary <Aloha. --Ananda>

GSP w/White Spot 2/11/04 I just got some green spotted puffers and I noticed a white spot on its back. It looks like its dry skin. You can really see it under the light. I don't think its ick. Salt was added to the tank before the puffers were put in. What should I do? <Sounds like a scrape from something. Mine gets them all the time, since they spook easily. Just keep an eye on it. I'm more concerned about how much you really know about the care of this fish. What do you mean, you added salt? Was it in brackish water in the LFS? How much salt did you add? Was it marine salt? Is your tank cycled? What are you feeding it? I have 2 6" adult GSPs in saltwater. Did you know that's what they will prefer as an adult?> Thanks <Let me know if you need more info on the care & feeding of your puffers. ~PP>

Sick Green Spotted Puffers (08/31/03) Dear Bob, <Hi! You get Ananda tonight...> Thank you for your interesting Web Site. <You're welcome.> I live in Cape Town - South Africa and I am in desperate need of your help. <My puffers and I are here to help.> I have 3 Spotted Green Puffers. They are beautiful little creatures. I have had them now for 6 weeks. Last night I noticed that all 3 looked bloated. Their eyes have become cloudy, and they are swimming around very slowly, bumping into things, and will not eat anything. They are greyish underneath and have become a strange yellow/orange faded colour. <Many of these behaviors/symptoms are indicators of poor water quality. I would do a 30% water change tonight and another one tomorrow. What are your ammonia/nitrite/nitrate readings? Ammonia and nitrite should be zero, and nitrate should be less than 10 in a healthy tank.> This morning I found one resting on top of the water. He had died........very upsetting. <Sorry to hear that...I know it's hard to lose a puff.> The other two are even worse. In the tank with them, I have one scat and one goby, who both still seem in perfect condition. <Different fish have different ways of reacting to poor water quality.> There is beach sand, which I washed thoroughly at the bottom, and two plastic plants which they seem to enjoy hiding in. The salt content in the tank is sitting at 1.02 and the temperature is sitting at 26. <26C is about 79F, which is a little on the low side for these guys. I'd raise it to about 27C. My puffs are happier when their tank is at about 81F (~27C).> Only the puffers have been affected. What do you think it can be..... Can I still save them? <I think so, if you act right away. You might increase their salinity a bit, too, with the water changes. I'd shoot for about 1.006 within a week or two. The goby should be able to handle that (what kind of goby is it?), and the scat won't even flinch.> Many Thanks Steven <You're welcome, and keep me posted. --Ananda>

Green-spotted puffer skin problems <<Greetings,>> We recently purchased a beautiful green spotted puffer. He is very healthy acting and eats very well. I have been reading a great deal about the skin problems they can have and I have come to the conclusion that something is going on now with ours. He has white patches about the size of his black spots all over him now. We have had him only about a week. It does not look like ick and no other fish in our tank has showed any sign of his similarity. Does any of this sound familiar to you? How would we go about treating him. <<I would look first to water quality issues - make sure pH is correct and water is changed often with chlorine-free water.>> We have recently started the salt thing and I am hoping that will help. <<Ahh good - these are brackish puffers, a small amount of salt is a must. If you haven't read this page, do check this URL and the FAQs beyond: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm >> It is very unfortunate indeed that pet shop employees don't have a clue about such delicate fish. <<indeed.>> Also, are there any books out there specifically on freshwater puffers that you know of? <<Specifically on these puffers, no but you might try a web-based search with a tool like Google or ask in the brackish section of our forum, http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ >> Thanks, Lori. <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer Problems Please explain to me again why the fish we have are not compatible with each other. <Please see the previous four emails. There is not much else I can add.> The catfish is a pictus by the way. They all get along fine <For now> and are very healthy especially since the very unfortunate passing of our pufferfish. Their water quality has been perfect, at a pH of 7, neutral. <There are many other aspects of water quality beyond pH; presence of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, dissolved organics, hardness, oxygen, etc.> I understand that the loaches prefer acidic water and others alkaline but I have been told by other sites that as long as there is a neutral pH that pretty much all fish will adapt to and be healthy. <Fish can adapt to this middle ground, but it is not the best situation for them. It is a compromise where all live but none thrive.> I have owned pictus cats before and they have never shown aggression as someone mentioned previously. <They are capable of eating small fish.> Even in a 55 gallon tank. So except for the size of tank, why are they not compatible? Sorry to be confused. <If you are truly confused, I am sorry. We have given you the best advice we can. There is nothing more to be added at this point, but I get the distinct impression that you are not confused, you merely do not like our answers. You mention searching other websites and finding information that supports what you want to do. There is nothing else to say now. You have the information. Make your own decision. -Steven Pro>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer Problems If it was because I did not like your answers I would not even bother asking. I find that quite a rude response to someone trying to get information from all available avenues. <I have no problem with people searching out all available means of education and them making an informed decision about their situation. I find it rude and a waste of our time for someone to come back with the same question five times for the same answer.> Who is to say that all of your information is the end all be all anyway. <I never said it was. I can tell you factually how large each of those fish reaches as an adult and that a 20 gallon tank will assuredly stunt their growth and kill them.> You site should be dedicated to helping people pursue this hobby <Our website and the Q&A is available to help others help themselves.> and not try to make them feel inferior because you think you have more knowledge. <I never meant to make you feel inferior. I was just tired of repeating myself.> I represent the majority of people out there. I can assure you that most novice fish owners do exactly what the pet stores say. <Absolutely correct, but in the face of conflicting information based on the actual, undeniable adult size of your animals, you continue to doubt our collective advise to this day.> I being more than a novice pet owner know there is a middle ground between you and the pet stores. Both on opposite extremes. <I would not say that. I think many times we agree with good stores. Not all stores are bad. There are many excellent fish stores with highly trained and knowledgeable staff.> For example you say that our clown loaches need a 125 gallon tank to be "happy". <Perhaps I should have stated it differently. It will need a tank that size to turn around.> Well, I am sorry but if you are truly a fish advocate you would know that for them to be truly "happy" you would not take them out of the wild in the first place since the are all wild caught. <I am not a fish advocate. I am an industry professional, advocate, and mentor.> Again there has to be a happy medium. Anyway Steven, since you have chosen to be disrespectful I would appreciate you forwarding any future emails to your co-workers. <Do not worry, I will avoid you like the plague.> I do value some of the information I have been given but your attitude is totally unprofessional. <I found you repeatedly returning saying (to paraphrase) "So and so said I could do it. What do you think now?" disrespectful and a tremendous waste of our time. Sincerely, Steven Pro>

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

White Rings on a Sick Puffer <Ananda here, fielding the puffer questions...> I need to know what is wrong with my puffer, no website OR person has been able to tell me what is going on. My green spotted puffer is getting dark on its dorsal side and has white rings, I am very concerned seeing as how I haven't had him for long and I just recently (TODAY) found someone to ell me that those are bad, and not meant to be on the fish (after days of searching). I NEED to know how to fix this!!!! Bob <Hmmm. Are the white rings raised, sunken, or flat on the skin? Depending on which, this could be a result of several things. Chlorine or chloramine in your water that wasn't neutralized by your dechlorinator can cause round white patches that look slightly sunken in the skin. Raised white rings may be indicative of a parasite. How large are the rings? Are they all the same size? Are they present only on the body, or are there similar things on the fins and tail? Puffers change color quite a bit, for camouflage and mood as well as stress. What color is the puff's belly? Also, how old is your tank, and what are your ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and temperature readings? Perhaps there are some environmental factors at work here... --Ananda>

Green spotted puffer with swollen jaw (02/28/03) <Ananda here with the puffer questions....> I have a Green Puffer, t. fluviatilis, and he's been sick on and off for a month. He's in brackish water (about 1.008). We've been fighting high nitrates for quite a while, and about 1 month ago, his cheeks swelled up really big. We moved him from a 100gal tank to a 10gal tank for treatment. I looked up some information on the web and put him on a 5 day round of Maracyn-Two which helped almost immediately. <I'm curious what kind of filtration you have on this tank. The best way to control nitrates in a brackish tank is usually through water changes. Or, you could adapt a marine idea and connect a heavily planted refugium to the main tank. I would try ordinary corkscrew val.s; I have some in 1.004 right now and they don't seem to mind the salt at all. (Acclimate the plants to brackish water fairly slowly.) This would also be an excellent snail farm.> But 1 week ago, his left jaw/cheek swelled up again and the Maracyn-Two is barely helping. He stopped eating 2 days ago (his diet is mostly frozen krill) and spends most of his time at the bottom of the tank. His color is off- he's almost always dark, and is totally non-interactive which is abnormal. He has bouts of itchiness where he'll frantically scrape his face along anything he can, but those are less frequent since he's been on meds (for 4 days). <It sounds like he might have some sort of gill parasite. See if you can get a look at his gills. You may need to carefully catch him and hold him pointing away from you; he may puff, so make sure his head is under water. I would start him on an anti-parasitic medication.> Do you have any suggestions for treatment and for keeping nitrates down (he eats any plant we put in his tank)? He looks miserable. <Aside from the above, start varying his diet. Since he's eating the plants, try including some green stuff in his diet. Other things to include are snails (the little roundish pond snails, usually free from pet stores), various shellfish, ... more in our puffer FAQs in the brackish sections. And do more frequent water changes!> Thank you very much <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Pufferpunk's Sick Puffer Thu, 17 Mar Hi all, I know I'm Pufferpunk & should have all the puffer answers, but my own green spotted puffer (T nigriviridis) has stumped me. I keep his water pristine (50% weekly water changes) & none of his puffer/non-puffer tank mates are sick. I can't imagine what has compromised his immune system like this. His eyes are so cloudy, he's practically blind & his fins are fraying. He looks as if he's interested in food, but can't find it, cause he's blind. The other 2 puffers have rallied around him & the damsels keep going over as if to say, "Are you ok?" Any advice here? I'm treating with Melafix & water changes right now. I do not have a extra tank large enough to quarantine him--he's 6". ~Jeni <Does sound like a deficiency syndrome... have you tried force-feeding this fish? I would... Is the lighting very bright over this tank? Bob F>
Re: Pufferpunk's Sick Puffer
Bob, It's only been a few days & he is already quite plump, so I don't think force feeding is necessary as of yet. I found an old response in my puffer forum about cloudy eye in a porcpuff, from Leslie: "It could be a bacterial or fungal infection. It's hard to say. I have a friend who has been using 7cc of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) in 1 liter of clean tank water for an 11 minute dip. He swears by it and has been using it for 25 years." Are you familiar with this? I still can't account for the frayed fins. This is very strange. What would cause a fish's immune system to crash like that? ~Jeni <Is it both eyes affected? And only one fish... Is strange... the dip idea is a good one... relatively safe and effective... I would super-dose the system with a HUFA/Vitamin mix as well. Bob F>
Re: Pufferpunk's Sick Puffer
Ok, he's in the peroxide dip right now, since I already have that in the house. Does peroxide have a shelf life? <It does... particularly if it's been opened...> It's pretty old. How often should I be doing this? Should I leave him in there longer than 11 minutes? ~Jeni <No more than this time. BobF>
Anthony's Take on Pufferpunk's Sick Puffer and MelaFix
I really think Melafix and many other such homeopathic treatments are at best "stimulating", but really touted way too much as "cures" for a wide range of ailments. I suspect a search of the archives will reveal far more queries in frustration that the tea oil did not cure Ich, balding, jock itch and everything else they claim this product treats. I do believe it has some efficacy... but claiming (as they did at least at first) that it treats bacteria AND parasites AND X other things... is... well... hard to believe. And apparently hard to quantify. Requests for data to back it up have been ignored. Ahh... the pet industry. Hmmm... point of this rant: I would not use such tea oils as a first course of action with expressed pathogenic symptoms. Rather... save your Melafix for QT on arrival as a "preventative". It worries me to so many people opt this way first instead of using proven medications :( The time lost is often at the cost of fishes lives. Lest there be any doubt of my perspective, I'm friends with an Aqua Pharm rep... and got gallons of the product to try when it first came out. Used them when I was wholesaling a few hundred to one thousand+ fish each week. I used it weekly for the better part of a year before giving up. It seemed to mildly help some maladies... but really did not live up to the claims at the time. FWIW My advice... get this fish into bare-bottomed isolation. Use the standard Nitrofurazone/Furazolidone cocktail for at least 5 days (follow mfg dosage). Add B12 to the food if the fish is eating... or to the water if not (appetitive stimulant, proven ;)). If you want to continue Melafix. No worries... all good. For other homeopathic meds: garlic and beta glucan (for parasites and immunity boosting respectively). If parasites are indicated at any point... formalin and malachite watched closely (short baths or in the QT tank). Best of luck! Anthony <Marina's note: It didn't help my dandruff, either!>
Re: Pufferpunk's Sick Puffer - Don't Use Ten Year Old H2O2
Since that peroxide solution is probably 10 years old (or older) & has been opened for that long, I think I should do it again. How often should I do this--several times/day, daily? ~J <Once should do it. B>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re: Green Spotted Puffer Problems Please explain to me again why the fish we have are not compatible with each other. <Please see the previous four emails. There is not much else I can add.> The catfish is a pictus by the way. They all get along fine <For now> and are very healthy especially since the very unfortunate passing of our pufferfish. Their water quality has been perfect, at a pH of 7, neutral. <There are many other aspects of water quality beyond pH; presence of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, dissolved organics, hardness, oxygen, etc.> I understand that the loaches prefer acidic water and others alkaline but I have been told by other sites that as long as there is a neutral pH that pretty much all fish will adapt to and be healthy. <Fish can adapt to this middle ground, but it is not the best situation for them. It is a compromise where all live but none thrive.> I have owned pictus cats before and they have never shown aggression as someone mentioned previously. <They are capable of eating small fish.> Even in a 55 gallon tank. So except for the size of tank, why are they not compatible? Sorry to be confused. <If you are truly confused, I am sorry. We have given you the best advice we can. There is nothing more to be added at this point, but I get the distinct impression that you are not confused, you merely do not like our answers. You mention searching other websites and finding information that supports what you want to do. There is nothing else to say now. You have the information. Make your own decision. -Steven Pro>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer Problems If it was because I did not like your answers I would not even bother asking. I find that quite a rude response to someone trying to get information from all available avenues. <I have no problem with people searching out all available means of education and them making an informed decision about their situation. I find it rude and a waste of our time for someone to come back with the same question five times for the same answer.> Who is to say that all of your information is the end all be all anyway. <I never said it was. I can tell you factually how large each of those fish reaches as an adult and that a 20 gallon tank will assuredly stunt their growth and kill them.> You site should be dedicated to helping people pursue this hobby <Our website and the Q&A is available to help others help themselves.> and not try to make them feel inferior because you think you have more knowledge. <I never meant to make you feel inferior. I was just tired of repeating myself.> I represent the majority of people out there. I can assure you that most novice fish owners do exactly what the pet stores say. <Absolutely correct, but in the face of conflicting information based on the actual, undeniable adult size of your animals, you continue to doubt our collective advise to this day.> I being more than a novice pet owner know there is a middle ground between you and the pet stores. Both on opposite extremes. <I would not say that. I think many times we agree with good stores. Not all stores are bad. There are many excellent fish stores with highly trained and knowledgeable staff.> For example you say that our clown loaches need a 125 gallon tank to be "happy". <Perhaps I should have stated it differently. It will need a tank that size to turn around.> Well, I am sorry but if you are truly a fish advocate you would know that for them to be truly "happy" you would not take them out of the wild in the first place since the are all wild caught. <I am not a fish advocate. I am an industry professional, advocate, and mentor.> Again there has to be a happy medium. Anyway Steven, since you have chosen to be disrespectful I would appreciate you forwarding any future emails to your co-workers. <Do not worry, I will avoid you like the plague.> I do value some of the information I have been given but your attitude is totally unprofessional. <I found you repeatedly returning saying (to paraphrase) "So and so said I could do it. What do you think now?" disrespectful and a tremendous waste of our time. Sincerely, Steven Pro>

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

Puffer sickness <<Hello, JasonC here at your service.>> I have two puffers with problems. One is (I think) a Tetraodon nigroviridis--and an exceptionally beautiful one at that--and the only way I can think to describe the problem is that the puffer looks like its skin was painted on, only to have some youngster come along and touch its back before the paint was dry. It is eating fine, swimming around pretty well, etc. I first thought that one of my figure eights may have bitten this fish on the back, only I have moved it to a different tank, and the problem persists. At one time it appeared as if part of this marking was slightly raised on its back, but it now seems to have subsided. There are actually 2 spots on its back that look this way--maybe only a couple of scrapes?--but I cannot identity what they may be. <<I agree, it's probably just a scrape or previous bite from the puffer-removed.>> I should add that this particular puffer has been with me for little more than a week. <<Give it some time.>> The second puffer is a figure eight that I've had for a couple of months now, and its back also has a spot, only it looks very much more like a bite. It has a white tinge to it, and it was definitely raised for some time. I believe that ick developed for a while, because the white spots came on and seemed to be connected to the original big white spot on its back. I treated the fish for ick with alternate treatments of Melafix and ick remover, but while the little spots went away, the white fleshy bump remained on its back. Is it simply taking a while to heal, or could it be something else, and entirely unrelated to the ick? <<These things always take time... usually a month or more.>> And by the way, it too is eating well and moving about pretty much all of the time. <<As long as it's eating and getting around fine, I wouldn't be too concerned.>> Thanks a lot-- Andy Barton <<Cheers, J -- >>

Sick Puffers <<Hi Andy! This is Ananda. The WetWebCrew sent me your puffer questions.>> I have two puffers with problems. <<Okay, first set of questions, since they may help with the diagnosis: how many puffers, and which types, do you have in with the two that have problems? Are they in different tanks, or the same tank? And what are their tank conditions? I'm looking for ammonia and nitrate values, and specific gravity values if you're keeping them in brackish water.>> One is (I think) a Tetraodon nigroviridis--and an exceptionally beautiful one at that--and the only way I can think to describe the problem is that the puffer looks like its skin was painted on, only to have some youngster come along and touch its back before the paint was dry. <<Is the spot perfectly round, or oval, or irregular?>> It is eating fine, swimming around pretty well, etc. <<Good signs.>> I first thought that one of my figure eights may have bitten this fish on the back, only I have moved it to a different tank, and the problem persists. <<If indeed it is a bite from one of the figure eight puffers, it may take a while to heal.>> At one time it appeared as if part of this marking was slightly raised on its back, but it now seems to have subsided. <<Could be a sign of irritation of the area: when the irritation is new, the area would swell up, but then the swelling might subside later. I remember numerous childhood scrapes would do the same thing.>> There are actually 2 spots on its back that look this way--maybe only a couple of scrapes?--but I cannot identity what they may be. I should add that this particular puffer has been with me for little more than a week. <<Hmmm. How big is this puffer in relation to the others in the tank? It may be that a figure-eight (or other puffer?) is trying to establish dominance and bit the new guy in the tank. If this is true, you may need a bigger tank to contain that group, or, as you did, split the group. On the other hand, what kinds of tank decorations do you have? If you have anything remotely sharp, they could indeed be scrapes. Puffs love to hide in, around, and under things, so I can imagine the new fish in the tank might easily scratch itself on the decorations while it's hiding.>> The second puffer is a figure eight that I've had for a couple of months now, and its back also has a spot, only it looks very much more like a bite. <<How so? How long has it had this spot?>> It has a white tinge to it, <<A white tinge? Not pure white? Is it a paler version of the color around it?>> and it was definitely raised for some time. I believe that ick developed for a while, because the white spots came on and seemed to be connected to the original big white spot on its back. <<Were there any white spots on its fins or tail? I would expect both with ich.>> I treated the fish for ick with alternate treatments of MelaFix and ick remover, <<Melafix won't help with ich, but won't hurt, either. What "ick remover" did you use? Puffers are particularly sensitive to many medications.>> but while the little spots went away, the white fleshy bump remained on its back. Is it simply taking a while to heal, or could it be something else, and entirely unrelated to the ick? <<My suspicion is that it is something else entirely....Can you send us digital photos, of both fish? That should make it *much* easier to identify this.>> And by the way, it too is eating well and moving about pretty much all of the time. <<Again, this is a good sign.>> Thanks a lot--Andy Barton <<No problem. Always willing to help.--Ananda>>
Re: Sick Puffers
Unfortunately I am having a hard time getting the pictures to come out. Do you have any suggestions? Should the room be well lit? or dark with only the aquarium lights? et cetera. <<Ananda here while the regular WetWebMedia crew is off at MACNA.... Usually, I keep all the lights on -- tank lights, room lights, etc. If you're getting flash glare from the glass, try taping a piece of tissue paper over the flash. This will diffuse the light enough to keep it from causing glare on the tank glass.>> I've been using half dosages of Maracide and Melafix, and the figure eight seems to be doing fine. The ick is gone, and the white bump on its back seems to be shrinking. <<Ah, good -- half doses for double the duration is what I use for all scaleless fish.>> The spotted puffer's marks have turned white. No swelling--I'm hoping this is a sign of its skin healing itself (and not some creature inside fooling around. <<Keep an eye on it. And skin irritations are one of the instances where Melafix can help, as it may prevent secondary infections from setting in.>> I'll still tell you the conditions of the tank, just in case you see something that sounds fishy. The pH was always around 7.8, the nitrates and ammonia has not been a problem at all since the first cycle of the tank some months ago. The salinity in the water was between 1.001 and 1.004, and there were roughly 8 or 9 African cichlids in there. There were hardly any instances where the different species attacked one another. The fiercest cichlid occasionally started for one of the puffers, realized who it was, and left. So I don't really think it was one of them that caused any of these problems. <<That specific gravity is fine for both types of puffers you mentioned. I've heard other tales of cichlids and puffers together, but haven't tried it myself.>> One last thing--I don't really know the hardness of the water. When I tried to do the test, I could never get the orange liquid to turn green. I must not understand the procedure, because otherwise my general and carbonate hardnesses are off the charts. <<One thing they don't tell you about that particular test: once you start adding salt, whether it's cichlid salt, brackish salt, or marine salt, you're increasing both the general and carbonate hardness. All of those salts include other minerals, since cichlids and brackish fish do not live in soft water, and marine systems need a lot of extra minerals... so I'm not at all surprised that you can't get the color change to happen. The one time I tested my brackish puffer tank and decided to keep going until the color changed, I used something like 58 drops!>> My basic understanding was that I needed to worry more about the water being too soft, so I didn't worry much about it. <<Good. Your water hardness is fine.>> Now I have two final questions, and unless you hear from me again you can assume that the ailments went away. First of all--pH--how important is it? <<Varies depending on the fish species.... less so overall for fish that are brackish or somewhat brackish-tolerant like your puffers. What is more important is that the pH remain constant, rather than keeping it at, say, 7.0 rather than 7.2, for example.>> Figure eights require a lower pH than green spotted puffers, so will this be a big problem to keep it at 7.8 (that's what it comes out of the tap at)? <<My tap water is 7.6, and my puffers are not complaining. I think you should be okay.>> And what is the method of adjusting pH? I used proper 7.0 for some dwarf puffers, only to find out later that it was unsuitable for use with live plants. <<Interesting. You might look for some plant-friendly pH adjusters... or, perhaps, look into using RO/DI water, which is usually quite acidic, and then buffer the RO/DI water accordingly. I have never tried to decrease the pH here, so will pass this question along to the rest of the WWM crew.>> And in general it just seemed to make the pH much more unstable than when I just left it alone. <<Exactly the reason I have never tried to decrease the pH of my tank water. One thing you will need to watch is "alkalinity" -- not how "alkaline" the water is in terms of pH, but how resistant the water is to having its pH changed by other factors. Read here for more info: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/phalkbrackish.htm >> Additionally, one of the local pet stores has been telling me that he'll get some target puffers in soon, and these prefer (all of my numbers are from fishbase or PufferNet) 7.0. Would this be a bad idea to group these different puffers? Not much written on target puffers. <<Are you referring to Tetraodon leiurus? If so, the reports I'm seeing are that it is very aggressive and is best kept in its own tank. >> What's a reasonable salt level? Most people say that figure eights are freshwater, but spotted's (either nigroviridis or fluviatilis) prefer some salt. What's you advice here? <<Several things to consider here. When they are very young, spotted puffers can tolerate freshwater; conversely, figure eights seem to be tolerant of low levels of salt (s.g. of around 1.004). The spotted puffers require more salt as they get older -- one first-hand report tells of them being in an area with specific gravities from 1.010 to 1.019. Also, the spotteds get significantly larger than the figure eights. My inclination is that the two species can be kept together for a while, in freshwater conditions and later low-brackish conditions (sg 1.002-1.006, tops). Eventually the spotted puffers will get sufficiently larger than the figure eights and the two species should be separated. Then the salinity in the system for the spotteds can be increased gradually, until it is over 1.010 when they are adults.>> and what about if I get a target puffer in there? <<I've read that they are freshwater and brackish, so IF by chance it gets along with the other puffers, it should be okay in the same conditions. From what I've read, I don't think I could recommend the combination.>> Lastly, the pet store folks simply have no idea as to what sort of spotted green variety I have, so do you have any suggestions as to how they can be told apart? This one definitely has no spikes on its belly (mark out spotted Congo). It also does not seem very round. Its head is pretty large and wide, and its back and belly are relatively flat. If I were judging from PufferNet, I'd definitely call it a fluviatilis (more the torpedo than the club), but judging from most other people it's a complete toss-up. The guy at the pet store swore up and down that it was freshwater, but I can't say I trust him since they can't tell me which species it is, and since the other workers say it is brackish. <<The Puffernet article is the best one I know of...though I do wish it included more photos. I have to admit to not being adept at telling the two species apart.>> Thanks, and hope this isn't too long. Andy Barton <<No, not too long -- more information is good. Also, please consider sharing your experiences on the WetWeb forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/index.jsp -- many of the brackish crew there would love to hear about your puffers! Thanks, Ananda>>

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

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

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

Sick Puffer Hi, I hope you can help me here ... <that makes two of us> I've a 150l tank running at 1.006/78F with external canister, UV & Nitrate reductor (as the Scats ate all the plants). Chemistry seems OK (NH3-0; N02-0; NO3-<20; PO4<0.5; PH 8.2) with hardness kept high from the coral sand. Other inhabitants are a couple of orange Chromides, a few bumblebees, a couple of scats and some Madagascan rainbows. Tank is mature and has a regular 20L RO change weekly. My green spotted puff has definitely come down with something: completely off his food (not even live shrimps tempt him), and has now turned almost totally dark brown (even his belly); he mostly lies on the bottom, often at an odd angle, and occasionally does odd pirouettes and has inflated himself at least once (the only time I have ever seen this in the 15mths I've had him). No obvious external signs (spots, ich, redness etc.) and no fish / major maintenance recently. <sounds like it may be a problem with a physical parameter of water quality. Has the salinity or temperature strayed by chance? I must also say that the mix of fish that you have is highly unusual and definitely incompatible in the long term. The scats will be too large and fast/competitive for most other fishes (intimidating), the puffer if it survives is too toothy and aggressive and the bumble bees are too small and passive. And lastly, the species you keep favor a very wide range of differing salinities as adults> Other fish seems OK but three weeks ago I lost my violet goby - just found him dead when I got home - without any apparent reason. Any suggestions as to what I might do to save him ? DR <please explore the following page of links for brackish systems and setup at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex Best regards, Anthony>

Sick puff ... Thanks for the info. He's still hanging in there <very good to hear> and I'm using Myxazin more in hope than to treat anything specific. I don't *know* of any temp. changes / power outages etc. although I do cycle the salinity between 1.004 and 1.007 as I do the RO changes. <perhaps a bit much for a swing in SG... do try to temper this swing> As for the fish, a bit of a mixture and yes - the scats will go marine fairly soon. They all seem to get on and though I've put lots of hiding places in the rocks/decor that the scats and puff are too big/fat to get into, <heehee...very well> the bumble bees seem happy to just keep out of their way. The only loss to the puffer was a red-clawed crab last fall when he eventually grew big enough to take the crab on (or improved his technique). Thanks again for the advice DR <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Puffer Skin Problem?? <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> I have a green spotted puffer,.. great color/white underside. I have had him for quite some time now and he has been very healthy and active, and still is. I just noticed a raised spot on his back that has me a little concerned. One of the black spots on him is raised a bit and looks a little different. It is only affecting this one black spot and is circled with a little white (but not ick). I have looked on your site to see if perhaps someone has already asked of this particular problem but didn't see anything similar to my description. Does this sound familiar? <<Not especially, no.>> I have checked the water... the condition is good and the salinity is fine. Does this mean a parasite??? <<Would be my guess.>> I don't know! Please help... <<I would just keep my eye on it - a single parasite isn't going to harm your puffer, a whole fleet of them would be a different story. As long as it is still eating and behaving normally, I wouldn't be overly concerned and just make sure it doesn't spread. If you see more of these lumps, then consider some isolation and treatment in a hospital tank.>> ~Alecia P.S. You have a WONDERFUL site! I love visiting it, it has just so much information. <<Glad it is useful for you.>> I also want to say thanks for answering my occasional questions and the questions of others... your generosity does not go unnoticed!!! I think the fish appreciate it too : ) <<I hope so... Cheers, J -- >>

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