Porcupine puffer is ...poisoned? Another Siganid incident,
I have a porcupine puffer and a foxface Rabbitfish in a 110 gallon.
They both were doing great until last night. I heard a commotion of some
sort in the corner of the tank.
By the time I got over there, whatever was going on was over, but my
porcupine was puffed and sitting on the bottom of the tank. He is much
paler than normal and now lays on his side on the bottom.
Did the Rabbitfish poison him? How can I fix it?
<Maybe... I'd separate these two of course... but really, just time
going by, good care will see if the Diodontid recovers or no. Bob
Please and thank you!
Sick Spiny Puffer... something... re hlth?
I have a fist sized spiny puffer in my 180 gallon tank. About a
month ago he developed overnight big ( dime to quarter size) white
patches all over.
<Have you searched re on WWM?>
I thought he was a goner for sure. It actually looked like his
skin was pealing off. I isolated him and treated him for Ich
and also did some Erythromycin baths and soaking his food in it for a
week or two.
He eats well, tail not bent but he is lazy now and sits on the sand
bottom until it is feeding time. The original patches healed only
to be replaced with others. The Ich treatment was non copper.
I treated him separately then then whole tank a week later.
He is a very tough fish and I've enjoyed him for years. I hate to lose
him so I am willing to try anything you recommend.
My LSG expert just says treat for Ich but I am pretty sure this is not
Ich. Have not seen any small white dots on the puffer or any other of
the many fish I have in this big tank. Also no one else is sick
and I have not lost a fish in at least 6 months.
It is a fish and coral tank with 4 in Sand bed with a large 4 stage
canister filter. I don't have a sump or refugium yet, but it is next and
coming soon. I tested the water and it was not in bad condition but I
did a 25% change at the beginning of his illness and am doing another
one today along with servicing the filter canister with different media
to remove nitrogen, ammonia, phos., , etc. as well as carbon
Appreciate any help you can give me. I just found your site, it looks
<Can't discern what this was/is w/ the information provided. Read here:
The linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Quick question! 1/11/14 Quick question about my porcupine puffer! Her name is
Gizzy, (After Gizmo
the gremlin of course) I have had her for 5 months. She has begun
scratching against the sand substrate in her tank. Is that
normal or should
I be concerned?
<Some such glancing, scratching is "natural">
She is about 7 inches, she is in a 55 gallon tank
<Really needs more room than this>
with LR, she is eating normally, her other behavior (happy to see us,
following us around the room in her tank, sleeping habits, etc..) are
normal, the tanks water parameters are fine, her color is normal and
not inflating any as if stressed. Can you tell me if "scratching" is
Thanks in advance!!
Concerned Puffer Mommy!
<Unless there are other symptoms, I would not be concerned... Perhaps a
cursory read through what is archived re this family on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Requesting help with porcupine puffer tooth/beak loss
I am writing as I have searched the web and your site and cannot find
any information on a porcupine puffer with a missing beak, or I am not
We have had our puffer for about seven years, in general his appetite is
good but over the last couple of weeks his eating has become sporadic. I
had noticed that he has been preferring scallops (unshelled) over
mussels which are usually his favorite.
<Both poor for steady diet...>
I did not think to check his beak until this evening, and while I normally
can see his beak, I cannot see anything in his mouth. I can look
straight into his mouth back to a flap that opens and closes as he
respires. The floor of his mouth is smooth back to his throat.
Also his lower lip/mouth area is discolored orange and looks a bit
<Mmm, could, would you send along a well-resolved pic or two?>
Can a puffer regrow their teeth?
<Yes; their teeth are constantly regenerating... being worn down as
If so what should I be doing in the meantime?
<Other foods... see WWM re Diodontids...>
What would be the underlying cause?
<Perhaps the Thiaminase aspect alluded to first here>
Please let me know what further information you require as I am not sure
what to send in.
<Mmm, just search and read I believe>
Thank you in advance for your assistance!
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Requesting help with porcupine puffer tooth/beak loss
Thank you for your response.
1.I read up on the Thiaminase issue, going to pick up vitamins today.
2.I also read about lockjaw, however all the reports I was reading
indicated the puffer could not open its mouth. In our case he does not
close his mouth.(see attached picture) Is it possible for his mouth to
be locked open?
<Have seen this... some sort of muscular paralysis... but don't think
this is Lenny's do here>
3.If it is lockjaw will he need to be force fed? I also read varying
advice on how long to wait before the last time he ate to attempt force
<I would hold off on this for now... a healthy Diodontid of size can go
weeks w/o feeding. Too much trauma, poss. damage from handling to
suggest it w/o real need>
4. Without a beak are they capable of eating?
5. Will try to get a clear picture of the inside of mouth to send as you
requested as well.
<Okay... but the ones you've sent will do... Yowch! Does look/appear
that this specimen IS missing its beak/teeth!>
6. In picture you can see his quills sticking up, seems that he can no
longer lay them flat, could this be related to the Thiaminase issue?
<I think it may well be all related... Somehow this fish has "knocked
out" and/or worn down its beak altogether... will regenerate in time...
Let's hope the vitamins do the trick. DO try good pelleted foods (New
Life/Spectrum, Hikari), of size pellets... this fish can/will take such
if/when trained (mainly by other fish's behavior)>
Porcupine Puffer Health – 2/15/13
My Porcupine Puffer has very poor health, and I wonder if there are any
measures I can take to help it improve.
I acquired it as a very health/active specimen 6 months ago. After full
QT and introduction to my display, it developed a parasitic (?...as you
know...) infection (which I had thought/hoped to be fully eradicated
from my fallow tank at the time). Near death (slime coat sloughing off,
spots/patches all over), I began hyposalinity treatment in my display
This seemed to have fully alleviated the infection, although its likely
already-poor health sustained water quality problems in addition to the
prolonged osmotic shock until I exited hyposalinity months later (and at
your admonishment - thank you!).
For months after the hyposalinity exit (and with still gradual rise to
full salinity), it has been extremely lethargic. I have isolated it in
my display as it was being relentlessly bullied by a Butterflyfish and
an angel smith (both about half its size). It eats heartily for at least
one of three feedings every day (krill soaked in Zoe/Zoecon),
<A poor constant diet... this alone can account for this fish's
See WWM re Diodontids food/feeding/nutrition>
and has grown to about 8" (from 4" at acquisition). However, it seems to
get more lethargic and non-responsive as time goes. Perhaps its days are
limited by all of the disease and hyposalinity entry/exit variables?
I recently read an article that discussed kidney damage incurred by
marine fish in water that has salinity that is even slightly below their
natural environment. In the last week, this lead me to begin the final
elevation from about 1.017 to 1.024.
Otherwise, it is very lopsided - swollen/bulging on its right side. See
the attached picture. Several months ago, when I removed it from the
tank to get scraped/'scoped (yielding prognosis that slime coat was
healthy and no pathogens noticed), it had an air pocket on the same side
of its body that gradually alleviated. I can't imagine this could be
air? Especially as it spends much of its days laying near-motionless on
the sand? Do you have any thoughts on whether this bulge could be its
primary scourge? Or other thoughts on its condition?
I may start up my 10G or 30G tank and transfer him there to "hospice" if
you don't think there are other things I can do now. While these volumes
are tiny for a fish this size, at this point its range of motion *really
is* this limited.
Any thoughts are appreciated...Dave
Re: Porcupine Puffer Health – 2/16/13
Thanks Bob, I reread all.
<Ah, then you saw the bits re Thiaminase, Euphausiids>
Now I see it is at least possible that my feeding could otherwise causing
discomfort. I have not been reconstituting the krill in water, as required
per one WWM puffer article that discusses feeding. I will change foods (and
try more variety). The last Porc puffer
I had would chomp anything I put in the tank (including tin foil that I
accidentally dropped in from the cube tray, yikes).
This one has never taken to anything but krill...so skewers, krill
withholding, substitutes I will try until he eats...
<Good. Even Spectrum... w/ conditioning/trial-mixing>
Now I wonder if the dried krill feeding could in fact be causing an air
pocket within the puffer?
<Another possibility; yes. I'd use frozen/defrosted krill>
I see he gulps/bubbles quite a bit (as can be expected with pieces of
freeze dried kill floating on top of the water surface). I see an article on
another site regarding puffer air bubbles (and also mention by Ananda in
prior puffer FAQs) suggesting a procedure for holding and gently relieving
such in a puffer. Dare I try?
<Not yet... IF the fish is able to submerse, I'd leave it alone. Too easy to
traumatize, damage otherwise. BobF>
Re: Porcupine Puffer Health
Hi Bob, a quick update on my porcupine puffer health.
I don't see any improvement in its activity level, it barely moves from
the tank bottom. It mostly altogether skips feedings, although usually
responds (heartily) to at least 1 of 3 feedings daily. It still has this
large, lopsided bulge, protruding in the right back quadrant of its
body. It seemed to respond to a large aquascape change, for one day
becoming active again. Otherwise, the equally-sized volitans
lionfish in the tank does seem to corner, intimidate, or hover over the
<These two species are incompatible. The puffer biting the Lion,
depriving it of food; the Lion stinging the puffer>
I see it exhibiting threat response only rarely to this (i.e., color
change, very slight puffing/arching); otherwise it seems to ignore or
slowly hover away on occasion.
My water quality is now very good, all other fish seem to be thriving.
I was unable to wean it from freeze dried krill, having tried many
different foods (shrimp, clam on the half shell, squid, plankton,
pellets, Nori seaweed, etc). It would not give up a feeding strike for
almost 3 weeks of offering non-krill options. However, I consistently
soak the krill in Kent Zoe multivitamin (and have started re-hydrating
in freshwater before feeding).
I continue to suspect this to be either Thiaminase, related to the
bulge, or some other unknown (congenital?) affliction.
Do you think I should attempt another, longer (or never-ending) dietary
change? Perhaps withhold all but pellets until it changes from
krill...to see if this helps?
<I'd separate these fishes. B>
Porcupine Puffer 1/12/13
Hi Bob and Crew, I have a Porcupine Puffer and for about nine months He
basically stays in his cave all day. He never swims unless he see his
cup of food or when I am doing a water change. He tries to help. I
bought him really small and he swim more when he was little. He swims
all night and in the morning when lights or off he is normal, happy, and
swimming. I have vho lighting and I don't think it is too bright for
him. Nobody is picking on him. He is in a 180 eats Mysis, and krill
everyday. Is he ok?
<Likely so; such lethargy, night time activity isn't uncommon>
All parameters are good. Nitrate is 10. I don't think that enough to
stress him do you?
<Are there other fishes present that might be bullying the puffer by
day?> Thank you!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Porcupine Puffer, hlth., comp. 1/10/13
What happened to my friend "Hap"? I am so sad! He lives in my son's tank.
<Mmm, something/one's been "after" it; of there's been a precipitous drop in
Today his eyes started looking hazy. Tonight he was swimming along and all
of a sudden seemed to struggle then floated to the top if the tank with this
"bubble" attached! It looks like there is a hole in his side!
<Yes; physical trauma>
He is normally in an 80 gallon tank with a lion fish, a grouper, a star
fish, live rock and small corals. I don't think he is going to make it
through the night.
<Number one candidate is the grouper... next, a poke from the Lion...
perhaps just a bad run-in w/ the corals... this system needs to be much
larger... You need to move the puffer now to convalesce. Bob Fenner>
Re: Porcupine Puffer
Thanks Bob. We moved him last night, but he didn't make it. I grew up "going
fishing" with my Daddy in the creeks and lakes for dinner. Never thought I
would get so attached to a darn fish!
But here I am feeling like I lost a good friend. Your site is amazing. I
will learn from it and maybe get my own tank just for a puffer. ~ Jen
<Real good. BobF>
To Medicate or Not . . . - 12/28/2012
Dear WetWebMedia Crew:
<Hi Matthew! Sabrina with you tonight.> First, thank you for all of the time and effort you put into your
site and advancing the hobby. The website is a tremendous resource and
I have consulted it countless times over the years.
<Thank you for these very encouraging words.>
I am writing today--for the first time--for advice on how to treat
my Porcupine Puffer's fin rot.
<Alright. Let's see....>
Water Parameters / Aquarium Info
Aquarium Specs: 240 gal. FOWLR.
Ph: 8.0 (measured at the end of the day's light cycle)
Ammonia: Not detectable
Nitrite: Not detectable
Nitrate: Under 10 ppm
Phosphate: Not detectable
Temperature: Maintained between 76-78 with heater/chiller
Livestock: 1 Blue Tang, 1 Clownfish, 1 Porcupine Puffer, several dozen
hermit crabs (the puffer--generally--leaves them alone), ~100 lbs live rock,
live sand. Most recent addition was the Clownfish, which was added at
least 2 years ago. There have not been any major changes to the
aquarium's load (either up or down, other than due to the growth of the
existing fish) since the arrival of the Clownfish.
<Sounds very good so far.>
About 6 days ago, my porcupine puffer became extremely lethargic and stopped
<You mentioned the clown is the newest addition, of at least two years ago,
but not the age of the puffer. This is worth considering.
They're not immortal, sadly. Just like humans, fish get more
susceptible to disease as they age - I actually work with a naturally
short-lived fish at Stanford, where we are studying aging and longevity, and
we do get to observe them actually "get old".>
His belly didn't look overly bloated, but did look about how it normally
looks after he has eaten even though he had stopped eating. Other than
the full stomach, there were no other outward signs of any health problems.
<The full stomach is telling.... With their impressive appetites, I do
wonder if he perhaps ate something, or too much of something, which might
have caused a bit of a gut blockage....>
I adopted a wait and see approach as I have seen him go on random one or two
day "hunger-strikes" a couple of times in years past without any serious
Unfortunately, he continued to get worse, and by the time I realized that he
appeared to have a serious internal bug of some sort, the LFS was closed for
Christmas Eve and Christmas, so I did not have access to any antibiotics.
At his worst point, he merely sat on the bottom of the aquarium breathing
heavily. He stopped responding to stimulation and may have even been
temporarily blind as he showed no response to light or any other stimuli.
<Interestingly, I've seen in a freshwater puffer very similar symptoms -
including the apparent blindness - which we also thought might have been
from a gut blockage or from overfeeding. Fortunately, the critter
recovered suddenly and on his own.>
I thought he appeared to be only a few hours from death. On the
morning of the 26th, Puffer started to swim around the aquarium slightly and
I noticed that his feces was white and granular (still not eating at this
<Perhaps finally passing something....?>
In the evening I purchased Maracyn Two on the advice of the LFS. I
setup a QT and added the Maracyn Two.
<I would be hesitant - EXTREMELY hesitant - to somewhat randomly begin
medicating, especially if the animal had "perked up" a bit....>
Unfortunately, after adding the Maracyn Two to the QT, I noticed that the
packages I had just purchased had an expiration date of 4/11. Further
research indicated that Maracyn Two and similar medications actually turn
toxic after their expiration dates. Based on that, I did not move
Puffer to the now-contaminated QT.
Today, the 27th, I purchased new--non expired Erythromycin from the LFS and
planned on draining the QT and starting with new water from the display
<Erythromycin is effective mostly against gram-positive bacterial issues, if
I recall properly. Unless you know very surely what you're treating,
and to what medications it is susceptible, this wouldn't be my personal
first choice - though I know others who would disagree. If I feel I
have to "guess", I would probably resort to Kanamycin sulfate, IF I was sure
I was dealing with an unknown bacterial complaint.>
When I got home, however, Puffer looked MUCH better--about 80% of his usual
self--and even had an appetite again (what a relief).
<Oh! Very good!>
Because he was looking like he was on the road to recovery, I decided that a
move to the QT along with the associated stress might cause more trouble
than it was worth (thoughts?).
<This, in my very strong opinion, was certainly the right choice. I
would absolutely not stress (by moving or especially by medicating) this
apparently recovering animal.>
On the 26th--about the same time Puffer was starting to look a little
better, I noticed the start of fin rot on his left pectoral fin. In my
opinion, the fin looks slightly worse today than it did yesterday (though my
wife says it looks unchanged). I imagine that the fin rot is a
secondary infection picked up while Puffer was (and still slightly remains)
in his weakened state.
<Could be. Or could be from an injury, perhaps from being lethargic;
maybe he got scraped, or nipped by a tankmate, or.... Who knows.>
I can drain/refill the QT, move Puffer, and dose the Erythromycin (or any
other antibiotic you suggest . . .),
<As above, Erythromycin isn't typically my first choice, but I do believe
I've seen Bob suggesting it as one of his. You will get differing
OR I can leave Puffer alone in the display to continue his recovery on his
<This is what I would do, were it me/my fish.>
I am again afraid that the stress of a move will do more harm than good and
may disrupt the progress he is clearly making with the internal infection.
<I still would consider that it may have been a simple gut blockage.>
If I maintain good water chemistry and Puffer continues to beat the internal
infection, can the fin rot clear up on its own,
or is an antibiotic going to be necessary?
<Possible, but not probable.>
To further complicate the decision, I am going out of town the next three
days. I have someone coming to feed the fish and they can dose any
required antibiotic, but I worry that I won't be there to monitor the QT
should any issues arise.
<A wise worry. I would not medicate or move this fish at this time.>
On the other hand, if the fin rot continues to advance, I will not be there
to put Puffer in the QT and start treatment.
<An understandable concern; however, unless this Finrot is definitely
bacterial AND particularly virulent, three days will probably not spell
doom, even if it worsens.>
Which option do you think presents the best odds for recovery over the next
<I, personally, would leave the animal alone.>
Say the fin rot continues and I delay treatment for three days, is this
likely to cause irreversible damage/death?
<I certainly can't know - but this is a possibility. It's one you
should think about. However, I think the "safest" risk to take is to
leave the animal to his own devices and hope for the best. I do think
that, should he remain in appropriate water quality, he could recover on his
own, and I think this is a safer risk to take than dropping him in
unfamiliar surroundings with antibiotics that will possibly compromise his
immune system and cause further stress to what was otherwise a healing
I was unable to get a picture of the fin, but have attached a sketch
approximating the extent of the existing damage.
<Tough to say from a sketch, even though your sketch is very well made.>
Thank you so much for all of your help! I apologize for the long
email, but wanted to explain my current thought process.
<And a wise one it seems to me to be.>
<Best wishes to you and your puffer, -Sabrina>
To Medicate or Not . . . Porc pine puffer 12/29/12
<Very welcome. Best wishes, -Sabrina>
Puffer Disease - fin "spots"?
Since I last emailed you, I had him in Quarantine while letting time
pass in my 200G tank for a newly placed Blueline Rabbitfish (joining a
resident Bluehead Wrasse). I observed distinctive white spots come and
go on the rabbitfish's fins (i.e., separate to the raised under-skin
bumps that I corresponded with you about). I wondered if the prior Ich
strain had survived my Cupramine/Quinine runs and several months of no
one in the tank except the Wrasse who exhibited high resistance to the
I placed the porcupine puffer (from LA Diver's Den site) after 2 weeks
of my own QT. He had a FW dip before being placed. It seems he did not
bring any pathogens to the tank, but clearly is now exhibiting symptoms.
From the attached picture, hopefully you can see the spotting/clouding
on his fins. There almost seems to be a fluke-type raised "dot" with a
tail on some of the spots. This is present on his other fins. Otherwise,
I see some slime coat shedding this morning, and the fin spotting has
become far more pronounced. He likes to hover in the return flow, and
for the first time last night he retreated to the rocks at night, but
otherwise still eats vigorously.
<Mmm, could be just reaction sites from bent fin spines... might be a
worm parasite of some sort, but doubtful>
I also see the Rabbitfish stays hidden with its night coloring during
much of the day.
I wonder if this is a disease symptom, or if he's just trying to keep
cover from tankmates. I also see the wrasse scratching (gill area)
against substrate/rock occasionally.
<I personally wouldn't treat any for anything. B>
Re: Puffer Disease - fin "spots"?
Thanks Bob. Here is a second pic of the puffer, with the anal fin in focus.
This shows the clouding, and if it were 3D you would be able to see the
trailing tail at the darker white center of some of the spots. All other
fins have this level of spotting.
Regarding a wait-and-see approach, I'm just worried that the Puffer seems to
have had heavy progression on spots on all fins, and a first-time slime coat
sloughing, since yesterday. Having wondered if the display tank still had
problems, I ordered 2L of Paraguard (should arrive today), and
thought I'd start administering main tank doses to keep the pathogen down
while the Puffer and Rabbitfish increase resistance. Seems it couldn't hurt
<Could hurt, damage the fishes health, kill off beneficial bacteria, much
I just again looked at the tank, and see a similar cloudy patch (versus
distinctive spotting) on the Rabbit fin. No "tails" on the spots.
The other challenge I have is timing of this development. I leave town
tomorrow. I can easily leave the neighbor instructions to add a dose of
Paraguard when they come to feed, but probably would scare them off if I
asked them to observe/document any further progression and offer a crash
course on fish disease. Hm. <... one last time: I would do nothing here. B>
Re: Puffer Disease - fin "spots"?
Bob: OK! Sorry you needed to repeat yourself! Can you imagine how much fun
my wife has doing the same. Happy Thanksgiving, Dave
<Heeeeee! You too!>
Re: Puffer Disease - fin "spots"?
Bob: Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. Quick updated, the puffer is
still eating, but seems very lethargic, breathing heavily, and his
coloration is much darker. I do see a few (2-3) distinctive new white
spots on the Rabbitfish as well. This is a game of tough calls - what would you do?
<Get out one of my microscopes... have a cheapy old fashioned one and a
QX 3 USB type two arms lengths away... and take a smear sample of the
skin mucus and look/see what this is. BobF>
Continue to watch and leave as-is? Or, transfer the puffer to a hospital
setting so he can fight and build immunity in a non-infested tank?
I have two other fish that have been in QT for an extended period. Seems
at this point I should wait for a period of time before introducing them
into the display, and continuing to inoculate them with display tank
are generally hardy specimens with regard to parasites (Chinese Hawkfish
/ C. Pinnulatus, Engineer goby). How many weeks would you wait until
after seeing the last display tank spot before introduction?
<See WWM re>
Thank you, Dave
Re: Puffer Disease - fin "spots"? 1/3/12
Bob, continuation of questioning on puffer disease as per the previous
I see these spots beginning to return to the porcupine puffer,
<... review my previous writings to you re hyposalinity... Am hunting
for an appropriate axiomatic statement: "Oh, if I only had a dollar for
now that I have exited hyposalinity. If you will recall from the pics
and descriptions previously provided (I can recap if this would help) -
these are not spots, but larger splotches on the fins.
<... can't tell w/o sampling, microscopic examination>
I began the hyposalinity treatment when the puffer seemed to be almost
overwhelmed by this affliction (stopped feeding for days, labored
breathing, clearly near death). He made a complete recovery during hypo,
with splotches responding to this treatment and completely disappearing
(although there was a curious eye splotch that occurred at one point).
As of now, there is clear progression but no other visible symptoms. I
am afraid to wait/observe as the last round of this battle didn't go
I just did a 4 minute freshwater dip, to see if evidence of flukes/worms
may be seen. I saw no effect from this dip.
Honestly, I don't see how I could get a scrape from the puffer without
causing damage to its delicate fins and/or significant distress.
<Some damage, stress... worth it... Think on "going to the doctor or
dentist" yourself... procedures...>
I do not see any other fish developing any such external problems.
<So? What you going to do?>
Any thoughts on what I could be missing in terms of possible disease
This is frustrating, I'm tempted to re-establish perfect water quality
then return to the <1.010 hyposalinity level and attempt a full 6-8 week
treatment. I maintained this level initially (despite the system
distress) for a full 2-3 weeks after observing the last splotches on the
puffer, but clearly that duration did not eliminate this pathogen. When
he was first placed in the tank, water conditions were near perfect
(Am/NO3/NO4, pH/temp, etc).
<Just the usual; for you to keep reading... WWM is not a complete,
direct, nor well-organized compilation re fish disease... as yet. There
are works that are, and these are cited on WWM. Did we discuss Ed Noga's
"Fish Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment" tome? Am given to understand an
e- version of the second ed. can be downloaded for about ten dollars.
I'd be "casting your net" a bit further than simple e- chatting on the
Net... Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer Disease - fin "spots"?
Bob, thanks for whacking me with the idiot stick. I find that a whack a
day keeps me on track, although probably more annoying for those who
need to administer than it is painful for me...
<Uhh, well, happy to help>
I (of course) decided I needed to proceed exactly as you prescribed, but
also that I couldn't stomach a smear without first observing, so I
loaded the puffer in the car and took a long drive to the well-known
"fish doc" in the area (at an LFS...not a biologist but well versed in
disease ID and, as I understand, is consulted by the Denver Aquarium on
<Ahh!> He did several smears, which I was able to observe. His
diagnosis was that no evidence of pathogens and a generally healthy
slime coat seemed apparent. Hmmm.
So I am still left with some questions, but at this point will continue
the march to normal SG, observations, and continued reading (as you have
prescribed)...Keep the stick handy in case I get off course again...
<I'd be moving this fish to the permanent display. BobF>
Spiny Box Puffer Problem 7/13/12
I'm currently a marine biology student at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA and I
just started volunteering at the Baton Rouge Zoo. They have a
small aquarium there and today I was working with some of the animals.
One is a Spiny Box Puffer and she's a beautiful lady. However,
there has been a development or build up of gases in one of her eyes. It
doesn't seem to affect her activity, or at least of what I have seen.
<Likely a physical trauma result. Quite common>
But it is raising concern in me. The zoo doesn't seem to be so
concerned about it themselves,
<I wouldn't be either>
which has kind of dampened my spirits. So, I did a little research
and I came across the condition exophthalmia, or PopEye.
After looking at many images of the condition, it seems very similar to
what our lady here has. That's also when I found you on
Is there any remedy for this that you know of?
<Just what is posted on WWM, elsewhere in my, others writings>
It looks like there are gases in her eye. Tell me what you think, and if
you want images or anything else, let me know. I want to say the
team is using Baytril to treat it.
<I wouldn't... just time going by, good care; no treatment/s called for,
Let me know your thoughts on that as well.
<You have them. Bob Fenner>
porcupine puffer 6/27/12
Hi Crew, I got new porcupine puffer in the mail today. He is about 6". I did
not use a net to get him out of the bag. Because they always puff up. I
opened the bad as wide as I could get it. He puffed up and floated out
of the bag. I noticed that he has a lump by his tail, and he is skinny. I
guess that's risk you take when you order online. I was just wondering if
the lump is just something from puffing up or if its a tumor? Thanks, Jim
<... Please read here:
and the linked files above. B>
Re: porcupine puffer, hlth., comp. 6/28/12
Hi Bob, I should of did my homework on this fish before buying. I
think he had a air pocket from puffing up. It went away after a few
hours. He tried killing my snow flake eel, and 5" Humu
Trigger that were in my quarantine tank. There is now a divider in
I fed him krill hoping that will cool his jets. No more porcupines for me.
I have always had a stars and stripes puffer with no problems with being
overly aggressive. I think he belongs with groupers and large triggers.
<Some variability in such species. B>
Porcupine Puffer Problem
Good Afternoon, Crew, thanks for all your hard work yet again!
<Hello Christin; sorry for the delayed resp.>
I am writing about what appears to be a particularly resistant strain of
crypt that I have been battling with in my quarantine tank. I have a 180
gallon tank up and running with a sump, 57w UV, Cone Skimmer and 2 large
powerheads. In this tank, I keep my predators: a Lunare wrasse, a Humu
Humu Trigger, a Snowflake eel, and a Niger trigger.
About a month ago, I purchased a large Melanopus clown (4 inches) and a
medium-ish Porcupine puffer (5 1/2 inches), and into the 30 gallon bare
bottom quarantine tank they went. I am running an Eheim 2217 and a
Penguin BioWheel 350 as filtration, with no skimmer or UV as I have used
Cupramine in the tank previously and am prepared to do so again if
Initially, they both appeared to break out with some fin spots that
looked like a little crypt, so I began dosing with quinine sulfate as I
have read on WWM that Cupramine can be very hard on puffers. After about
5 days, all was well. They continued to eat and be feisty, so I replaced
the carbon and let them continue their time in the QT medication free.
About 4 days ago, I woke up to find my porcupine puffer COMPLETELY
coated in crypt. Body, eyes, fins, it's everywhere. Literally overnight.
The clown isn't showing spots, he looks more... fuzzy I suppose, for
lack of a better
word. I immediately started dosing the quinine again, 1/8 teaspoon per
10 gallons after 25 percent water change daily, and my puffer seems to
be going down hard. Yesterday he stopped eating. I freshwater dipped him
(he didn't puff at all) with a little QuickCure additive, and he still
refused to eat.
<This could likely be from the med. exposure, handling>
This morning, he was wrapped around a filter intake (not stuck to it,
just laying around it) and his eyes are appearing cloudy. He is barely
moving, breathing rapidly and definitely not showing any interest in
<I'd remove the quinine; and actually treat w/ (chelated) copper... the
fish may well not feed for the duration, but this will not be
In a panic that perhaps I had overdosed the quinine, I did a 40% water
change with no medication, put in Polyfilter and carbon, and freshwater
dipped the poor little guy with just water and buffer, no QC.
I have never seen crypt come on like this and ravage little bodies so
fast, and I am starting to wonder if this could be Amyloodinium.
<Rapid breathing? Do you have a 'scope of a few hundred power
If it is, is it best to begin Cupramine?
<Yes; this is what I'd do>
Should I continue to dip the puffer?
<Only if being moved in turn to a non-infested setting>
The clown is eating and "playing", nibbling on my fingers, seemingly
unaffected by his white fuzz. I have no experience with Oodinium,
<See WWM re:
and the linked files above>
and I have NO idea how to treat at this point.
Thank you again for your advice,
<Hang in there. Bob Fenner>
Porcupine Puffer Problem Addtl.
Oh, I suppose it would be helpful if I mentioned:
<I'd keep this under 20 ppm>
Temp: Stable at 81 degrees F
<And this in the mid 70s>
- in quarantine tank.
Porcupine Puffer Problem Addtl.
Perfect, will do.
Porcupine Puffer Problem Photos
I have attached some photos of the puffer in question to help illustrate
<Markings could be from exposure to med.s... w/o sampling and
microscopic exam... B>
After 2 days of not eating, he moved around a little this morning and
ate a half of a clam strip. He has not had any treatment since I removed
the quinine and did the water change yesterday morning. Any thoughts as
to what this could be or how I can treat it?
Re: Porcupine Puffer Problem
Thanks, Bob, I appreciate the info!
Do you recommend Cupramine or Pointex at this point to treat?
<Both copper based... the former is my choice. B>
I sent you a couple of photos this morning so you can see what I'm seeing,
let me know what you think of those.
Re: Porcupine Puffer Problem
Great, thank you, I so appreciate all your time. I will start the Cupramine
today. Or, do you think I should let him ride a day or two to get over the
Re: Porcupine Puffer Problem - Follow Up
Good afternoon Mr. Fenner,
I am writing to follow up on this porcupine puffer I have been diligently
treating in quarantine since our last discussion.
I started dosing Cupramine as directed on June 20. After
the dose, wait 48 hours, dose again scene, the little guy cleared up pretty
dramatically. I have left the copper concentration in the tank, no major
water changes other than those to de-silt some food mess from the bottom,
less than 1/2 gallon. After 10 days, my little buddy began taking food from
my hands again (he has been eyeing me warily since the dip I gave him on the
19th...) and seemed quite well. Yesterday evening, as I was feeding him, I
was looking over his fins to see ACK!!!! NEW white spots!! How is this
<These white spots may well not be the same, not parasitic... Just
accumulated body mucus from the copper exposure... perhaps HLLE/neuromast
destruction/stress (symmetrical) from the same...>
Temperature had been brought down to 77.8 degrees after we last talked,
water parameters are still stable, and after now 12 days of Cupramine in his
tank, he is breaking out again?
<Possible, but doubtful. The only way to be sure: microscopic
examination... See WWM re>
Technically if there is nothing to pull out the copper, the concentration
should remain stable, correct?
<Mmm, no, not. Copper in any format will "fall out of solution" in time...
hence the need for testing, reapplication>
Should I just do a large water change and re-dose for the amount of water
removed, starting the 12 day cycle over again?
<One approach; but I would just do the water change (sans Cu++) and wait>
I am at a loss. The white spots do not seem to be very bad at this point,
but they are all over all his fins and some on his body. He also
turbo-puffed himself with no stimulus whatsoever this morning, as I was
seeing my husband out the door. I looked over to the tank and there he was -
stretched tight like a prickly little basketball... When I approached his
tank, he deflated, looked at me, and swam away.
I cannot, for the life of me, understand what it is that is happening in
this quarantine tank.
Thank you for your advice,
Christin P.S. The clownfish cleared right up and is showing no signs of
<Again, more "fuel to the fire", I'd wait and observe. BobF>
Re: Porcupine Puffer Problem - Follow Up 7/2/12
Thank you for the speedy response! Excellent, I will do the water change and
not add copper. Do you suggest replacing carbon and adding some poly filter
to clean up? Do you feel a 35-40% change is appropriate?
<Yes; these actions are all worthwhile. B>
Re: porcupine puffer-something is going wrong...
in the two first pictures i think that you can clearly notice that his
right side is bigger than his left one.
in the last two pictures though his two sides look even.
what makes me think that it might not be a tumor is the fact that both
of his sides are kinda swollen in comparison to other porc. puffers.
but still the right side is a bit more swollen than his left one...
<...? Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Porcupine puffer-something is going wrong - 05/11/2012
Hello! I have a porcupine puffer, Porky Law, for the last 8 months and I feed
him mussels and pellets
expand this diet... and due to grammar errors in your msg. and that you
obviously have not searched WWM ahead of writing, am sending this note back to
you... for you to fix your English and read
. I used to have a black belly triggerfish
as well, but it starved itself to death(two months ago) and now pork doesn't
have tank mates .Porky is 8cm
(I'm SO sorry but I cant remember how big the aquarium is, I know its an
essential information, but I can assure you that its big enough for him) .he had
Ich 6 months ago, but I treated him with a copper based medicine-yes, I know
that I shouldn't but the pet store guy told me so and I didn't do my research,
my fault. Thankfully the copper didn't have any side effects on him and he got
well really soon-.The thing is that lately he has been inflating frequently,
almost every week, without having an obvious reason. He's a fish that hardly
ever gets stressed and he used to inflate once in two months...he has a scratch
near his eye but I'm pretty sure that its not from an external parasite because
its healing quickly and he doesn't have more than this one. Other than that he
seems extremely healthy. However I've noticed a bump at his right side that is
getting bigger and bigger but it still isn't easily noticeable. I'm worried that
he has something more serious than just air trapped inside him(I haven't burped
him yet because I'm afraid that whatever that is that he has, ill make it worse
and I'm really afraid of hurting him by accident)..Moreover, his appetite has
gotten REALLY huge and whenever I'm about to feed him he gets more crazy than
usual. Last but not least, I've noticed that when he gets excited, small pieces
of food come out from his gills. I haven't noticed anything else abnormal, the
nitrates are a bit high-but not too high-and I'm working on that, I'm also
trying to enhance his meals as much as possible. I hope you can help me with
that, because I've read a lot of things online about diseases and stuff and I
can't seem to find anything similar to this. I know that something is going
wrong and I don't want him to die :( Thank you for your time M.
> I'm sorry for my grammar mistakes but I'm from Greece, so i have yet
to perfect my English...
<<Ahh! No worries. Your English is MUCH better than my Greek>>
I've read every single answered question at the diseases section, and i
could not find anything similar to what I'm trying to describe you. what
I'm trying to say is that porky doesn't have air trapped inside him, but
a swollen area, without discoloration, at his right side between his
tail and his gills.
<Mmmm, I wonder what from?>
the area is not pink, nor of any other colour so i suspect that it might
be a tumor because it has been growing slowly for months.
<Likely some sort of growth, as you surmise/guess>
i guess that in the case that its a tumor i cant really do anything but
is there a chance that it might be something else?
<Not likely; no>
as i said in the previous message, he is eating normally, his behaviour
hasn't changed and he is swimming normally but he has been puffing
up frequently. the pet store guy doesn't know a thing about fish-he gave
me an incompatible tankmate as you said, he gave me copper as Ich
treatment and he assured me that my puffer would be extremely healthy if
fed pellets for the rest of his life-so i cant really trust him with
I'm really sorry for bothering you and i would really appreciate it if
you could answer(again)to my question
<Best to try treating from "the inside out" by adding food supplements
to this fish's food. I would soak all that you find useful here:
in a preparation (commercial or put together by shopping at your human
apothecary/φαρμακοποιός ) in the way of a concentrated vitamin mix
(liquid) and HUFA blend. Do write back if this isn't clear, complete.
Re: porcupine puffer-something is going wrong'
i hope this picture might help-i promise that the last time I'm
<Not a bother... and please send along a bigger, more-resolved image or
two when you can. BobF>
Puffer air bubble? 4/23/12
Hi, Based on scouring your FAQs on puffers, I think my puffer fish (who I've
had for six years now) has an air bubble.
<Mmm, much more wrong here... the "crew cut tang" as well show signs of poor
environmental stress and mal-nutrition>
I'm not sure though since most of the FAQs suggest that a puffer can't
survive very long with an air bubble, and mine has endured this problem for
about 3-4 months now. My puffer has trouble swimming upright, and often sits
on the ground upside down now. I've tried gently rubbing his belly but
he always puffs immediately. Based on looking at the attached pics, what do
you think? Is it an air bubble? Any remedies you would
Thanks, Ethan from Massachusetts
<... re-read re Burrfish and Zebrasoma diseases... these fishes are doomed
otherwise. Bob Fenner>
porcupine puffer, env.,
I have a porcupine puffer for about year now. We recently went on
a trip for three days and two nights. While gone we had some
complications with our nitrate levels
because of the care givers. The fish tank light was on for
the whole time and we run a t8 six bulbs. We have lost
four of our fish
and the puffer is not eating any food. This has never been
a problem for him before we feed him shrimp nightly.
The puffer is now running into the side of glass, puffing up when turn
the lights on or off, swims in circles, and drags his tail or mouth on
the gravel. Do you have any suggestions on what this could be and
how to treat him.
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Yellow Spined Porcupine Puffer 2/3/12
Hey crew, here's a link to a picture taken today of my
porcupine puffer. I've had him for about 15 months and
he's 6+ inches from tip to tip. I started noticing his fins
and spines going yellow about 6 months ago. It's only
steadily gotten worse(?)
<Worse in what way? The colour? Not a problem>
since then. There have been no changes in behavior or
I've tried every search for yellow fins/spines and jaundice
in puffers, but to no avail. His diet consists primarily of Nori
(a suspect in all of this), but with squid, shrimp, or oyster
soaked in garlic extract and Selcon at least once a week.
If it's relevant, he's in a 135 mixed reef tank with a
pair of Clowns, a trio of Yellow Tail Damsels, and a Niger
What are your thoughts? I really like the color, but don't
like it being unique.
<Is fine... genetic and nutritionally related. I'd switch
the last a bit.
Read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
Burrfish, bitten? 5/31/11
Hey guys! First time asking a question about the millionth time on your
site! I have a emergency... Well I think.. First tank details 125
gallon fish only tank 175 P live rock, HOB CPR refugium, AquaC remora
protein skimmer, Aquatic life 4 lamp T5s. Livestock 6 inch Porcupine
Puffer I have had for about a year, 2 foot gold spot moray eel in take
3 years, and 2 small damsels in tank 3 years. parameters all normal.
tank has been going for about 4 years. I noticed today my puffer was
resting in middle of day very unusual. I went to take closer inspection
I noticed what looked like to be tears in his skin behind his left fin.
3 or 4 small maybe half inch or smaller tears. Also there seams to be
around 10 of his spines that have protruded threw skin. This morning
when I awoke I looked for puffer but I could not see him. I looked in
rock work, he had gotten deep inside small crevice in rocks. I have
never seen him down in the rock work like this. I
am thinking he may have torn skin while in rock work? Any help would be
greatly appreciated I really love this little guy and don't want
anything to happen to him. I can send pictures if needed.
<Do please send along the pix... I suspect the Moray... Bob
Sick Porcupine Burrfish 5/5/11
We have an ill porcupine Burrfish and I'm looking for advice.
I'll describe the symptoms, then the tank, and lastly what
we've been trying thus far to treat him. I am concerned that this
may be an instance where there is simply nothing more we can do, but
wish to ask for ideas.
The fish in question is a porcupine puffer that we've had for about
7-8 months. He's around 7 inches in length, continues to eat
voraciously, and (when offered food) will still come to the top of the
tank to enable easy capture, treatment, or transfer. About 5 days ago
we noticed a grayish to purple area behind one eye.
<Mmmm, have seen this before. Put these words in the search tool on
WWM and the word puffer, read the cached views>
If anything, it looked as though perhaps he'd gotten a spine
injured and the discoloration had spread from that area. The area has
slowly been spreading and now covers ~ 10-15% of his total surface,
including the area around one eye (which has become cloudy). The
effected area also appears slightly swollen relative to the rest of
him. The color looks exactly like the photo at the top of the Burrfish
disease FAQ. The response in that entry mentions vitamin
supplementation as a course of action. While we'll certainly give
it a try, this particular fish eats quite a varied diet already and I
at least wouldn't expect him to be overly deficient of anything. In
addition to the normal puffer fare, this guy has long been willing to
greedily consume tablets, pellets, and even algae sheets and mashed
veggies. The food he gets varies from day to day and regularly includes
the "vitamin fortified" variety. His behavior suggests he is
not feeling well, but he is still curious about food and will come out
He is kept in a 210G tank with a large amount of live rock (and even a
few leather corals propagated from our reef tank). He is housed with a
huma-huma and niger trigger, a pair of maroon clowns, 2 fox face
rabbits, a sohal tang, a majestic angle, yellow bar wrasse and a blue
tang. The tank has ~ 100G of additional filtration from a very large
conventional sump, a 30G refugium, and a 30G deep sand bed. There's
a large red-sea skimmer, 2 UV filters rated for 120G tanks, and large
primary pump, coupled with several power heads (forgive me for not
getting the exact models) . The tank itself is around 11 months old,
though much of the rock, sand, and occupants came from a 90G that was a
year older). The most recent addition is the adult blue tang which was
re-homed from another person. The blue tang developed Ich shortly after
the transfer, but has fully recovered and no one else seems to have
contracted anything (adult, came from an established home of several
years, spent 10 days in QT, then went in main tank where he developed
white spots, those came and went after a few cycles). Otherwise things
have been relatively unchanged for several months prior. Tank
parameters are as follows:
Ammonia : 0
Nitrite : 0
Nitrate ~ 20 (historically it varies from less than 20 up to 30-35
depending upon how on top of water changes we are)
SG : 1.022
Temp : 78-80F (it's spring finally and the temperature of our house
changes a bit the past few weeks)
ph : ~ 8.2 to 8.3
kH : ~ 200ppm
Our treatment thus far has been daily water changes of 10-20%, food
spiked with Metra+, and a dip in BiFuran+ once every couple days. For
water changes we have about half the volume pre-mixed, but the rest is
only mixed for 15-30 minutes before being used. The metranitozal in the
food has been an old "stand by" for a few years now for a
wide variety of fish ailments Our puffer thankfully is still eating and
comes to the top of the tank to beg (thus enabling easy capture for
dips). The Bifuran dips are usually done with ~ 2G of freshwater in a
bucket, mixed with the medication, and he spends about 2 minutes in the
bucket before going back in the main tank.
Thus far we've seen no improvement. The discoloration continues to
spread slowly and his behavior clearly shows him to be not feeling
In the past I've not had much luck with a QT in terms of treatment,
only as a preventative measure to stop further infections. In this case
I'm concerned that confining him to one would be too much stress.
As it is, we are able to capture him as needed for treatments and no
other fish seem to have an issue at all (particularly as it appears to
have started from wound).
So, are there other medications that might be effective or should we
continue with our current strategy?
<I would continue as you're doing... though I don't know
what the root cause is here, nor obviously its cure>
It doesn't seem like something the blue tang brought with him, but
I could be mistaken. I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have.
I realize sometimes despite our best efforts there's nothing we can
do (or that we do too much).
<Maybe someone else who reads our words will chime in w/
suggestions. I do hope so. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Porcupine Burrfish 5/9/11
I appreciate your response and wanted to follow up.
We unfortunately lost our puffer and understandably quite sad. He was a
favorite fish. However, in the hopes that something can be learned from
our experience I'll try to give you a good report. The original
message and your response are attached below.
We continued the Bifuran freshwater dips and Metra soaked food during
the course of the illness with no apparent effect. The last couple of
days we performed the medication dips with 50:50 ratio of tank water
and freshwater to reduce the stress to some extent. The water changes
have left the nitrate ~ 10 with the other water parameters unchanged.
Full course from the first noticeable symptom was 7 days. None of the
other fish in the tank show any signs of
As best as I can tell from examination it seemed to start from a wound
at the base of a spine which then probably became infected and spread.
Areas that were unaffected appeared normal, while those over which the
infection had spread appear dull gray with a slight purple tint. Just
at the boundary of the effected area there appeared to be a slightly
whitish line. As the boundary advanced, the whitish line also advanced.
As it crossed an eye, the eye became cloudy for a few days, then
becoming completely white and opaque. The affected areas (dead tissue
by this point?) were slightly swollen relative to the rest of his body,
raised perhaps 1-2mm His behavior continued to be quite reasonable
through the last day. While obviously not feeling well and being a bit
disoriented, he continued to come out to feed, coming all the way to
the top of the tank (thus permitting relative ease of capture for
dips). As an aside, if you can teach a fish to come all the way to the
top of the tank and into a corner to feed, then it really does become
quite straight forward to get something even as big as a puffer into a
small container to be removed from the tank for treatment.
Given a repetition of the same situation perhaps medications other than
Bifuran and/or Metra should be tried. That said, I have no idea how
many different things could produce the same symptoms and what
treatments those might respond to.
<Ahh, me neither>
Perhaps the best advice is to try to keep the water quality as high as
possible so that when a wound does occur, there is perhaps a smaller
chance of an infection developing (or the fish is perhaps slightly
better able to fight off such an infection). Nitrate in that tank has
typically varied between 20-30, which while extremely high for corals,
has not been, in my experience, terrible for robust fish that otherwise
are healthy. However, perhaps a better range for such a tank would be
around 10 (well, less is better, but difficult to maintain with large
I expect we will try another puffer in the future. He had such
personality. I'm expecting to wait 3-4 weeks before attempting to
add a new one.
<And you. Bob Fenner>
Spiny Burr skin advice 1/21/11
Thanks for taking the time to answer questions and provide a
fantastic (free) service. It is well received.
<Ahh, well met>
I will start will my tank stats.
5"x2"x2" tank with a 3"x18"x18"
80 Kilo of Live rock.
Spiny Burrfish (Chilomycterus schoepfi)
Magnificent Foxface (Siganus magnificus)
Flame Angel (Centropyge loricula)
Fu Manchu Lionfish (Dendrochirus biocellatus)
The Burrfish was my latest and final addition. It had been QT for
four weeks and then introduced to the main tank after not showing
any signs of illness. In QT it was eating Prawn, Squid, Whole
Cockle, Mussel, Dillies and Mysis Shrimp, Which it continues to
eat now (stick fed) in the main tank.
<Do minimize the shellfish component here... issues over
He doesn't really move around a lot, but also doesn't shy
away and hide.
Just seems to hover at one side 3/4 of the way up. He isn't
rubbing against the rocks and I have not witnessed any aggression
from, or to him. He has however, become covered in white spots
which "flake" away which looks like loose skin (please
see attached photos. Sorry about quality).
<I see this irritation>
I have searched your site and learnt that they can shed skin and
this may be the case although it has been like this for two weeks
and I'm not sure what to do. Any advice would be gratefully
Thanks for taking the time to read/answer this.
<If, as this is the only fish thus malaffected, I would
"do nothing" here... will very likely clear up in time.
Likely some aspect of water quality is irritating this fish...
almost always corrects over time. Bob Fenner>
Re: Spiny Burr skin advice, and now comp.
Thank you for the response which had made me feel easier about
the health of my fish and hopefully help others who may find
themselves in a similar situation.
<Welcome, and thanks>
In regards to the shellfish, I am offering this once weekly.
<Ahh, this is fine>
I stated in the previous email that the Burrfish was "my
latest and final addition" but after a visit to my LFS I saw
a Niger Trigger and a Dogface Puffer, which got my brain ticking.
I have looked over the compatibility pages within your site and
both fish appear to be compatible with my current residents,
given appropriate space.
Do you think adding one of the said fish could work?
<The Dogface more likely than the Odonus>
or would space be an issue due to the forthcoming adult size my
fish will reach?
<More likely temperament rather>
I also would not be adding to the tank until the Burrfish was
back to full health.
Thanks again for your time.
<IF you get the Niger, do add it last. Bob Fenner>
Re: Spiny Burr skin advice 1/23/11
Thanks again Bob. You certainly know your stuff, I am pleased to
report the Burrfish has improved dramatically with it's skin
now almost fully healed, but I will give it a few week to keep an
eye on it before I look for a suitable Dogface specimen.
Hopefully I wont be bothering you again in the near future.
In your debt
<Glad to have helped you. BobF>
I have a puffer emergency!
My puffer has been refusing food the last few days.
Today he was acting rather lethargic, so I removed him from the main
tank (a 72 gallon he shares with a clown) and placed him in a small
quarantine tank in case I had to administer meds or force feed him.
<Mmm, I would not do either at this point>
His clown friend is absolutely fine - swimming about in her normal
<Manner likely or this is a VERY nice system>
This evening, when trying to feed him, he became agitated and he
After he returned to normal size, it was apparent that his skin
actually tore across his belly and is literally hanging off of him.
You can see a thin layer of either thin skin or fascia along his belly,
and his skin is hanging off of his body (spines and all.) He
doesn't seem to be in any more distress than he was before, but I
immediately put Furan (the only meds I had on hand) into his water to
prevent infection in the gaping hole that will likely kill him by
<Not likely to kill this fish... but I would place it back in the
I have no idea what to do for him to at least keep him comfortable. I
have never in my life heard of a puffer blowing a hole in himself by
puffing. I feel absolutely awful. . .
Thank you for your help!
<And do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner> Puffer Emergency1/4/11
I just realized I didn't even tell you what kind of puffer he is!
I'm so beside myself over here, I'm not making much sense.
He's a porcupine puffer, about 5 inches in length (still a little
<Ahh, you did mention spines... figured it was a Burrfish of some
sort. BobF> Puffer Popped1/4/11
My friend has a puffer fish, and tonight it got nervous and, well,
<Is his name (not the puffer) Aron? I've just responded to
It actually tore a hole in itself when it expanded. It is still alive
and she was wondering if there is anything that can be done. I have
searched everywhere on the internet and can find nothing on this topic.
ever heard of this before and if so how common is it?
<Not common, but not unheard of. Part of the reason that folks who
know, try to dissuade people from doing what they do that results in
these fishes "puffing up". I've asked Aron to return this
fish to the main display, where it will be happier by far, and to be
patient, read... Bob Fenner> Re: Puffer Emergency1/5/11
Thank you for your reply Bob! My little guy passed away last night.
In a twist of terrible coincidence, I also lost a yellow wrasse last
night in a completely separate system. He was in the reef tank, also
with a clown, and he dropped dead.. He was old though, but terrible
timing. Maybe my clowns are just full of murderous rage and are killing
off their tank mates! :-/
<I do hope/trust not>
Someone from thepufferforum.com suggested skin cancer - poor little
Thanks for the reply!
<Welcome my friend. BobF>
Porcupine Puffer black belly -- 12/08/10
Good Evening Crew,
Thank you all for your hard work and expert advice, and I apologize in
advance for the long read.
I have searched all over the web for the past two days, but I have not
been able to get a lot of information. I have a 4inch porcupine puffer
in a 100 gallon FOWLR tank. He is currently in there alone. A week ago
he had a false percula clownfish with him, but I noticed that the clown
was a bit too small (about an inch) and without risking the clown
turning into a snack, I decided to return him. The porcupine puffer was
quarantined in a 10 gallon hospital tank for about 3 weeks, as I
treated him for Ich.
<With what medication, treatment?>
He has been in the main tank for about 2 weeks now.
All water parameters are fine, salinity 1.023, ph is 8.0.
In the beginning he was fine, showing no signs of stress. The past 3-4
I noticed his belly was getting darker (as the article on your website
by Justin Petrey states, a white belly is a happy belly, as a result of
this I made it a habit of mine to check his belly every time I saw
him). His belly went from all white to practically all black. His belly
doesn't have any "spots" but rather, is a full
grayish-black . The only white part of his
belly is the spines, as they are white and I don't think they
Is this simply a form of stress? from what?
<Likely so and from the treatment, quarantine... and possibly
"loneliness" in the 100>
is it possible he still feels cramped in the 100 gallon, due to the
formations of live rock in there? (as in if the rocks are too cramped
together, I have 140 pounds of live rock in there).
<Not likely, no>
The tank is 6 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 3 feet high.
<Mmm, this is more than 100 gallons>
Maybe the tank isn't wide enough and he's feeling
claustrophobic? Just mentioning this because other people have
mentioned that simply changing the decor inside the tank has sometimes
perked up their porcs.
In the beginning he was swimming everywhere, checking out the whole
tank, but as soon as his belly started turning black, he seems to only
stay on the left side of the tank. He comes to the top when I feed him,
which is mainly shrimps.
<Do see WWM re these animals proper nutrition... and the need to
avoid Thiaminase-loaded foods as sole feeds>
He does eat muscles, and clams, but that seems to depend on mood.
Sometimes he'll happily eat whatever I feed him (I try to vary his
diet), but most of the time he won't accept anything other than
<Needs to be trained off these, onto other foods>
He is still eating, but lately right after eating, he seems to start
breathing quite heavily, and tends to just settle on the substrate,
tucking his fins in, almost "curled up". Could this be
<Is a possibility, yes>
Also, before adding him into the quarantine tank, I did a fresh water
dip, Half-way through his treatment I did a freshwater dip, and before
adding him to the main tank, I did a fresh water dip. If there were
worms/flukes on him, they should have died from the freshwater dips
<Mmm, no... external ones perhaps, but internal, not. You may want
to administer an antihelminthic in its food... Prazi likely>
It feels like he is getting worse and worse each day, and I'm not
even quite sure what the problem is.
Thanks for your time, and your input.
<Do give the above items a read, and please re-contact us if you
have further questions/concerns. Bob Fenner>
Puffer Disaster 10/8/10
I have a porcupine puffer that is in seriously bad condition. I
recently bought an 80 gallon tank to move him into, but while I was
away this week the tank he was in (which was too small for his size)
turned to poison.
The filter quit working properly, not sure why, but water quality was
horrible. I had to call in the guys from the local store to come move
into the large tank to try and save him. This was 3 days ago. He has
turned very dark and hanging on the bottom, breathing is labored and
his right eye keeps rolling back into his head in convulsions. He
seemed to be hanging on but now he is staying the same. I know he is
dying, but I'm not sure if / when to euthanize him.
<I would hold off here... Tetraodontiform fishes of all kinds are
very tough; this fish could rally>
Or even how to do it for that matter.
<... posted... on WWM>
I do not want him to suffer but is there any chance that he will
He is about 8 inches long and we have had him for 4 years. I was
planning his move upon my return...we are absolutely gutted.
The local guy suggested today that I put some antibiotics in the tank
<Mmm, I wouldn't do this either... depending on the type used,
might well do more harm than good... interrupt nitrification...>
As I write this I am assuming that he is still alive at home....
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...
<Where, when in doubt, read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FishInd3.htm
scroll down... the puffer area, towards the bottom. Keep the faith! Bob
Fenner> Re: Puffer Disaster 10/8/10
Thank you for the encouragement. Last night the water quality in the
Elos (80 gallon) had an Ammonia level of .25 with the pH down a notch.
I performed a 20 gallon change, added a bottle of bio-Spira to
I also took off the canister for the skimmer
and added the Artemiss. But this morning the readings were the same. I
performed the 20 gallon change again, put the skimmer back together,
still found the ammonia had no change so performed another 20 gallon
change for good measure. I have opted to keep the skimmer running and
skip the antibiotics in favor of good solid water quality.
The puffer has moved some, but still lies at the bottom contorted to
his right side, some white on the base of his tail and tip of tail fin
has begun to shred some. He is fighting so I am giving him all I
<Patience is indeed a virtue. BobF>
Porcupine Puffer question, hlth.
Dear WWM team,
I have posted here in the past and the advice I was given saved my
fish. J I have been volunteering at my LFS
and we recently acquired a porcupine puffer (our second one; the first
did well and we sold him to a
happy home). We placed him in one of our tanks a week ago and over the
past 24-48 hours, he has moved to the bottom of the tank (actually, in
a pile of rocks) and his once bright eyes are now clouded over (white)
and you can just make out his pupils through the haze. I feel bad
because we have tried
removing all of the other fish from his tank so we can be certain
nothing is bothering him, we always add "Garlic Guard" and
"Marine C" to our tanks at feeding (twice per day) and have
even gone out and purchased the puffer special food (Muscles and
Squid). I have not noticed him eating anything in the past 24 hours and
nothing seems to be helping his declining condition.
Should we move him to quarantine or will this add too much stress?
<I'd likely dip/bath this fish... pH-adjusted freshwater, w/
Formalin, per the protocol, info. on WWM and move to a different
system... Nuke the existing (likely is infested), drain, rinse, and
If we do move him, what should we do for him? All of the other fish in
the store are healthy.
Thank you for your advice!
<Do the folks there have a microscope? I'd "do" a skin
scraping and take a look first of all... Time IS of the essence. Bob
Porcupine Puffer with breathing problems... Poor env.,
nutr... reading 5/23/10
Hi, I have a porcupine puffer, he's been with us for around a year,
he lives alone in a 35 gallon tank.
<Too small a volume...>
He usually has seems to be fine, swimming around all day. We feed him
with little fishes like mollies or similar.
<... insufficient nutritionally>
A couple of weeks ago, he started to get slow at catching his food and
since a couple of days ago he's just lying in the bottom of the
tank and it seems he has trouble breathing. When he finally catches his
food, it took him some
time to swallow it, when normally it didn't.
All water parameters are perfect: ammonia 0, KH 12, PH 8, nitrite
Also, his stomach appears to be sunken.
What can we have?
<A need to read: http://wetwebmedia.com/trupufsysfaqs.htm
and the linked files above on Feeding, Disease/Health... Bob
Thanks in advance for your help!
Re: Porcupine Puffer with breathing problems -
Bob, thanks for your advice. To start we are tried to feed him with
something from the sea, the problem is that he usually doesn't eats
anything that is already dead, he likes to catch his food.
<... can be trained to accept most any foods>
We put a shrimp into a raw spaghetti and moved it into the water but he
didn't buy it and didn't eat it... I have been reading and I
think that we need to force feed him, but how can we do that?
<See WWM... the search tool... linked on all left shared borders
with this question, read the cached views>
Is it safe for us to touch him? What if he gets puffed?
<I would try other foods first... these fishes can go for several
weeks w/o feeding if in good shape initially... Again, keep reading.
We are very worried cause he's looking bad...
Re: Porcupine Puffer with breathing problems - 5/23/10
Bob, thanks for your comments and references to the website, it has
been very useful. We force fed the fish and he's looking a lot
<Ah, good. Bueno>
We are planning to do this at least for this week, while he gets better
and then start training him to eat dead food, we don't want to let
him starve when he looks so weak.
Your website is wonderful, I haven't seen it before this weekend
and I have learned a lot this last couple of days reading everything.
Thank you so much for helping all of us with all your knowledge!
Greetings from Costa Rica to you and your colleagues at WWM!
<Ahh! Have been there... the capital, and up and down the Pacific
coast... once to Limon... have friends living in the Guanacaste
<Nos vemos, BobF>
Dark growing spot on porcupine puffer!!
I spent HOURS reading through your site today and could not find
anything about this, I do apologize if you have addressed this
elsewhere but I could not find anything.
Yesterday I purchased a porcupine puffer from a local pet store.
I have had my tank set up and ready for him for several months
now. I have my water tested several time by a few different fish
stores and informed them that I
was planning to purchase a porcupine puffer and they all said
that my water looked perfect for one ( I'm sorry I do not
know exactly what the reading were)
<You'd do well to start, keep an archive/journal of your
I finally found a store that had a few porcupine puffers (none of
which were very active) and one of the workers at the store went
around and tried to get them to move around by putting some brine
Mysis in their tanks, but
they still had no response. I figured maybe they were just
stressed but he said they had been in for about a week. Finally
one of them started moving around and was interacting and even
playing with some thing he had found on
bottom of tank. I noticed a small black spot on his back, and
this was my only concern about getting him since I have never
seen any coloring or markings like that on one before. I asked
the employee about it and he said it was just a unique mark that
he had. I took him home with no problems,(water was tested again
this day before purchasing him) he actually seemed much happier
and active the moment he was taken out of the tank at store. Got
him home and acclimated him in a bucket with air stone for 2
hours and when he finally got in my tank he seemed happy as can
be and quickly spent hours investigating everything, he bit the
thermometer and filter and nipped at the hermit crabs we bought
for him. He seemed very active. This morning he was the same way,
I tried to feed him some of the Mysis shrimp
<Mmm, unless this fish is very small, it will not take such
small foods... see WWM re foods/feeding of Burrfishes>
I had bought for him and he seemed somewhat entertained by it as
he was watching it go all over tank, but he wasn't very
interested in eating it.
The couple pieces he did eat he spit right back out. I thought
maybe it was too soon and was also told that by fish store. I was
gone for a good amount of the day and when I returned home he
seemed a little less active but I thought possibly because his
light is not on during the day. Then I noticed a little later
that he has his face up against the filter intake area, he
wasn't stuck, was just hanging out there, and again later he
had to top of his head/back pressed against it. Then he started
hanging out around the top of the water and not moving around to
much except once on a while when he would do a real quick sprint
type of movement. I thought he was being a little weird and
turned his light on to see him better and noticed that the little
dark spot on his back was now covering the majority
of his back!! He is just hanging out around the top of water and
once saw him kind of curled around the filter, between filter and
back glass of tank, his tailed has curled around his side and his
fins not moving. I'm VERY worried and am afraid that he is
not going to make it to the morning!!
Please help!! any advice would be greatly appreciated!!
<Well... I would at least call, contact the store where you
bought this fish re your concern... Inquire as to their
replacement, return policy. It reads that this fish may have been
damaged in collection, handling... and the dark spot/bruise
showing more now... There is nothing specifically to do to
"treat" such traumas, other than good care, time going
by. Bob Fenner>
FW: Dark growing spot on porcupine puffer!! please
He made it through the night but it has spread even more!!
<... insert: "Porcupine injury" here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
read the cached views... BobF>
there are two pictures you will notice that he looks alot
<... no such word>
healthier with normal coloring and in one of those you can kind
of see the spot as it was when it first started. Those 2 were
taken Monday night. I have noticed last night and just now that
he seems to act much worse when
the light is on, if that helps at all. please let me know asap, I
don't think he has long! :(
<You should siphon out the decomposing Mysis/food... B>
Re: puffer... no reading... 5/19/10
After speaking to the fish store that I normally go to for
everything, except the fish because they were having a hard time
getting porcupine puffers, he knew right away what it was. He
said it is a type of bacterial infection that is actually quite
common among puffers.
It usually spreads fast and kills them within 3-4 days if not
treated. It does not spread to other fish, just seems to attack
the puffers. He has me using Furan-2 anti-bacterial medicine.
<... not in your main tank I hope/trust>
It is not looking good right now since it has spread so far, but
I'm keeping my fingers crossed and I will not give up on
<... take the time to search... at least WWM, before writing
us. This treatment is an exceedingly poor idea... Will likely
result in a cessation of nitrification, discoloration of your
substrate... loss of life. B>
Re: puffer, hlth. 5/19/10
He is in a 10gal hospital tank...
<... too small>
and I did do research!! I was up ALL night trying to find out
ANYTHING about it and I felt that I had looked in all areas and
in all ways that I could on your site. Maybe it is in big words
that I don't understand like the ones you used in your last
response to me, I have no idea what that means...
<Please, don't write... instead, read... Re Nitrofuranace
and biological filtration... in particular nitrification... Furan
compounds kill necessary bacteria.... BobF>
Porcupine Puffer, hlth., nutritionally mediated
I have a porcupine puffer, just about a year old, with one swollen,
cloudy eye. He can't see well, he won't eat much, but he's
not lethargic; would this still account for cloudy eye?
<Could very likely be involved>
The causation of this "condition," whatever it might be, is
most likely attributed to his diet (he will eat NOTHING but shrimp, not
even ghost shrimp, pellets, flakes, NOTHING).
<This also is a/the factor... you can/need to starve, wean this fish
onto a better diet... or else it will surely perish>
The water quality is excellent and always has been- we've had a
Niger Trigger and a Blue Tang for almost 20 years now; also, it's
my Dad's fish tank and I don't know the specifics, to be
Tank size: >120 g.
Ave temp: 78F
Other fish: 2 dominos, 2 damsels, 1 yellow tang, 1 blue tang, 1 niger
trigger, 1 coral beauty (which I JUST discovered has a swollen eye- pop
eye?), 1 rock beauty, a snail, and a butterfly something or other; all
but the coral beauty is perfectly fine.
I don't know if I should force feed him vitamins or antibiotics.
<Please read, and have your father read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Porcupine Puffer Pop Eye? 08/02/10
I frantically need help!!! My fish have had Ich for about 2
weeks. They were in a 30 gallon tank, but are now in 2 10 gallon
tanks. I have already lost one Blue Jaw Female Trigger, Dragon
goby and my other Male Blue Jaw
trigger is right behind them. He prob wont make the night. I have
done everything I can think of. I was treating with Kich-Ich,
<A waste of time... had you read...>
but now I'm treating with Rid Ich.
<Are you joking and/or just trying to waste our time? Please!
In matters as dire as this, READ... don't wait for asking
questions! Rid-Ich is too toxic for treating Puffers... See WWM
(try the search tool) re these products, Cryptocaryon and
Kick-Ich wasn't working. But now I fear my Porcupine Puffer
has pop eye.
<Induced by the treatment, doubtless>
There was a large particle of Ich on her eye 2 days ago, but now
it has taken over here eye and its very clouded. It also now
looks like the skin is peeling off the center of her eye. I'm
suppose to dose the second treatment of Rid Ich tonight. I heard
that it also works on infections.
<... the formalin is a biocide. It can/does kill all
But is this actually Popeye or just her eye trying to heal
itself? Please I need your help. I love the hobby, but if I
all my fish, I don't want to get back into it. I attached a
photo of the puffer.
Thanks so much for all of your amazing Wet Web Media staff. I
really appreciate the help.
<... Then use the site... as tens of thousands do every day.
BobF, bummed for the life in your care>
Re: Porcupine Puffer Pop Eye?
I have tried to read your site and its not always easy trying to
find what your looking for on your site.
<How would you improve, remedy this?>
This is why I asked.
<But w/o looking first...>
I know you are experts and that is why I always come to your site
But when I ask for help I don't want to be treated like I'm
wasting your time.
I was still trying to check your site for the answers last night
before I got your response, and I'm still lost.
Thanks so much for the help
<Lost re what? Please start reading here:
Do you see/get the types of data/information we're looking
for to help folks? Systems, history, water quality tests,
Puffer stopped eating, env., nutr.
I have a porcupine puffer that I've kept in my 55
<... much too small a world. Let me put it this way... this fish
will (if it lives) grow to at least 6.5 inches long... twice the width
of this tank. Would you do well in a space of twice your width in one
of three dimensions?>
for about 1.5 years now. ph 8.2, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, and nitrate
20-40 (my tap water comes with around 20 nitrates).
<Needs to be treated ahead of use>
I've been reading the WWM website about puffers for two days now
and am kind of confused as to actually what is wrong with him.
<... water chemistry, test results? Foods, feeding data? Other
For the past week he hasn't been himself. Most of the day he sits
on the bottom of the tank, or finds a rock or leather coral to perch on
and just sits there gasping. He almost looks depressed. I do know now
that I need
to feed him other things other than krill,
<A very poor stock diet. This alone could be "it">
which I have feed him along with the occasional cricket I find (someone
at my LFS told me they would be good
for his teeth and full of protein). He normally see's me, and
starts dancing at the top of the water waiting for food. But for the
last 5-7 days hasn't. I can see two small lumps that almost appear
to be a jawbone underneath his
<Perhaps a goiter... see WWM re iodine/ide/ate and these>
I remember reading something about a parasite that makes small bumps
under their skin. But what I'm confused about is the fact that all
of a sudden he stopped being himself and now not eating. I looked into
lockjaw and if is teeth were too long but just don't know because
of the sudden decline.
<Need to go back, do a bit more cursory reading. This fish is
misplaced, mis-fed... Bob Fenner>
Puffer Injury from Filtration --
My Porcupine Puffer had a serious encounter with my filter intake. Some
how the grill came off while I was working, and I came home to find my
fish close to death.
<I'm very sorry to hear this -- have you determined how the
grill came off (and subsequently, how to prevent it from occurring
again in the future)?>
Its left fin and gill appears to be seriously injured, not to mention
it is also missing a good amount of skin between the eye and gill.
The eye looks fine, and he is using it.
<This is good.>
I moved him to a hospitable tank, and now on day 2 he seems to be
moving much better but still wont eat.
<Excellent, keep up with due diligence>
Does my fish have a chance on living, and is there anything I can do to
<Absolutely -- if he's still swimming, there's more than a
good chance he'll pull through. Just keep the water parameters in
check in the quarantine, and keep an eye on the damaged areas. Likely
the feeding strike is due to
the stress of the situation -- just give it some time and I'm sure
he'll be back to his normal piggy self. Good luck!