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FAQs about Burrfishes, Porcupinefishes Environmental Disease  

FAQs on Burrfish Disease: Burrfish Disease 1, Burrfish Disease 2, Burrfish Disease 3, Burrfish Disease 4, Burrfish Disease 5, Burrfish Disease ,
FAQs on Burrfish Disease Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Nutrition, Social, Trauma, Pathogenic, Treatments 

Related Articles: Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Puffers in General, Puffer Care and Information, A Saltwater Puffer Primer: Big Pufferfish! by Mike Maddox, Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo, True Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

Related FAQs: Diodontids 1, Diodontids 2, Diodontids 3, Burrfish Identification, Burrfish Behavior, Burrfish Compatibility, Burrfish Selection, Burrfish Systems, Burrfish Feeding, Burrfish Reproduction, Puffers in GeneralPuffer Selection, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, Puffer Reproduction, True Puffers, Freshwater to Brackish Puffers, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

Need ROOM; non-destructive tankmates (and non-tasty ones); not too much metabolite (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate)


Porcupine Puffer Ingesting air      1/20/16
Hi Crew!
Again I turn to you for your infinite wisdom!
<Def. not infinite; and more like simple knowledge; recorded facts/FAQs>
This should be a quick question for you :-) Thanks to your site I've been able to determine my puffer has been ingesting air and it's becoming trapped in his intestines. I'm worried about his long term health, since he does this very frequently. Your advice to other writers alluded to possible infections due to dried out skin. I believe he's either a) gulping it at the surface when he's scouring for food or b) getting it from the air stone which he loves playing in.
<Ahh; likely activities>
I've tried burping him several times following your instructions, but have never seen bubbles. I'm assuming he just manages to work them out on his own since some days the lump is gone, just to return a day or so later!
Just when you think you're in the clear...!
Do you have any suggestions for how I may help him avoid this reoccurring issue?
<Move the airstone to the back where the puffer can't get to it (behind rock?), and start feeding it via tongs underwater>
Or perhaps am I wrong on my diagnosis. I'm sure he can't be to impressed with my hands always around him poking and prodding.
Here's some background:
<Will need something larger in time>
50lbs live rock
1.024 sal
0 amm
0 nitrite
10 nitrate
420 cal
1200 Mag
12 kH
24 degrees
1x porcupine puffer 5" (pic with lump)
1x blue spotty puffer (Toby)
1x two spot goby
2x turbo snail
3x baby hermit crab
1x blue tuxedo echinoderm
1x flower pot
1x hammer coral
1x unknown coral (pic)
Thanks so much!
Your biggest fan,
<Cheers dear; Bob Fenner>


Re: Porcupine Puffer Ingesting air       1/21/16
Thanks Bob!
<Welcome Renee>
I will try your suggestions absolutely. When I checked on him this morning, again, the lump was gone. So it in fact only appears on days where I feed him, which is every other day. Followed by a day of no lump. I'm currently feeding him brine shrimp, trying to slowly introduce him to new things.
<Oh yes; for sure. Artemia can be like a diet of cotton candy... Do see/read on WWM re Diodontid feeding>
Hopefully I can find something that'll work and resolve this issue! I'm sure he'll be delighted not to be constantly bobbing for apples or captured by my giant hands haha.
Adieu mon ami!
<Ah, mon cher. Au revoir. BobF>

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 him

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 recover?
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 for him.
<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...
Thank you
<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
<Some Body>
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 help.
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.
<Also good>
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 can....
<Patience is indeed a virtue. BobF>

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 0.
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 Fenner>
Thanks in advance for your help!
Re: Porcupine Puffer with breathing problems - 5/23/10

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. BobF>
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 better.
<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 region>
<Nos vemos, BobF>

Puffer stopped eating, env., nutr. 1/23/10
<Hello Jimmy>
I have a porcupine puffer that I've kept in my 55 gallon tank
<... 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 tankmates?>
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 mouth.
<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.
Please Help!!
<Need to go back, do a bit more cursory reading. This fish is misplaced, mis-fed... Bob Fenner>

Pufferfish with chlorine poisoning  2/3/09 Hi, thanks for having this service. I have found many answers here. I have a 125gal saltwater tank occupied by a 4" porcupine puffer, 7" Volitans lionfish, Foxface Rabbitfish, 3' zebra eel and 2 small damsels that survived the initial start-up a year ago. While on vacation we had a friend come by to feed the fish. Thinking he was helping, he removed a few of the skeleton corals and cleaned them in bleach. He did soak them in a freshwater dip with prime before he placed them in the tank. However, the next morning our Russell lionfish was dead and the puffer is sitting on the bottom, having breathing problems. <Yikes....> He also has a thick white substance coming from his pores, mouth, gills and eyes. <Body mucus...> Obviously, he is experiencing chlorine poisoning. Within 12 hours of the poisoning, I changed 40 gals, added extra prime to the tank, placed the airstone next to the powerhead to create a higher oxygen content in the water and added StressCoat to the water. He did begin swimming around periodically, but most of the time he is resting on the bottom. Is there anything else I can do to help him survive? <Yes, place a good deal (a couple of "units") of activated carbon... like Boyd's Chemipure or such in the water flow path, and possibly PolyFilter if you can get it pronto> I am also worried that even if he is recovering, he will not eat, as most fish won't when they are ill. <Not to worry... These puffers can go w/o feeding (if in good health initially) for weeks> I don't want him to starve to death before he has a chance to recover. How long can he survive without eating? I tried soaking his food in garlic extreme, that did not work. Do you have any suggestions to get him to eat? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FishInd3.htm  toward the bottom of the page... re var. puffer groups Feeding> Sorry for going on so long, I just really want to help him. Thanks George <Patience here. Bob Fenner>
Re: pufferfish with chlorine poisoning   2/16/08
Hi Bob, Good news, the puffer and all others have recovered and are doing fine. Thanks George <Ahh! Thank you for this follow-up of good news George. BobF>

Blind porcupine puffer... env., nutr.?  03/19/2008 Tank history and test results..... My tank is 120 or 125 gallons still trying to figure it out. Here are my test results: amm. 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 5-10 (colors so close I can't tell the difference) PH 8.4, Temp 79-80 KH 200-400ppm, phosphates 1, <High> salinity 1.021. <Mmm, I'd raise this> The tank is an upgrade has been running for about 4 months. All decor and filters were transferred to the tank with the upgrade. Before the upgrade the tank was running for 3 months. It went from freshwater and was slowly raised to saltwater. I took my time in raising the salinity over a period of 4 months. I started with 2-GSP's, after raising the tank to saltwater I added a Porcupine Puffer, another 2 weeks went by and I added a stars & stripes puffer. I don't have any corals in the tank, just live rock. The GSP's are both about 3.5", the Porcupine Puffer is about 3-4" and the Stars & Stripes is about 5-6". Currently on the tank I have 2 powerheads, 1 HOB filter, a heater, a protein skimmer, new wet/dry. On Sunday I switched two canister filters out for the wet/dry. I had 2 HOB filters on the tank but moved one to a qt this morning for my porcupine puffer. The Story: On Friday March 14th, I fed my puffers they all ate well, very well. My porcupine (the one in question) did what she normally does and went to her spot and took a nap. March 15th- My porcupine puffer was still in the same spot that morning which did not worry me yet. That afternoon when I got home she still had not moved. Now getting a little worried. March 16th-Porcupine puffer still in the same spot, only moving her fins and laying on the sandbed. I noticed that her eyes were not as glossy as they should be. Starting to get more worried at this point. Had planned to remove the two canister filters that were on the tank and replace it with the wet/dry. Did a 25% water change and switched the two canisters for the wet/dry. The initial blast from the wet/dry caused about a million bubbles to go into the tank but after about 30 seconds the bubbles were gone. The water was clear again. The porcupine never moved from her spot the whole time. I did not transfer media from the canisters to the wet/dry because I had the two established hob filters with sponges still on the tank. March 17th- Checked my water that morning, no signs of a mini cycle. Porcupine still has not moved. Came home that evening she swam around very little and not very far. Checked my water again that evening still no signs of a mini cycle. March 18th- The porcupine puffer was swimming around this morning, but instead of searching for food, she was bumping into everything, even the other puffers. Her eyes look hazed over more today than the last few days. After moving her into a qt, so that she would not hurt herself, I noticed this lump on her side that I haven't seen before. It's about the size of a peanut and causing her spines to stick up. Just about two weeks ago she had these odd spots on her fin and so did the Stars & Stripes. She has had them before and they seem to just go away without meds. Well again they went away without any meds. I don't know if these two things are related or not but thought I should mention it. <Good to mention> Well that pretty much brings us up to date. Sorry for the book I just wrote but I wanted to give all the details so that maybe, just maybe I can figure out what is wrong with her. Here are a few pictures that I took this morning: Picture of the lump http://s230.photobucket.com/albums/ee127/edmlfc1/?action=view&current=DSCF1926.jpg Another picture of the lump http://s230.photobucket.com/albums/ee127/edmlfc1/?action=view&current=DSCF1925.jpg Picture of her hazy eyes http://s230.photobucket.com/albums/ee127/edmlfc1/?action=view&current=DSCF1907.jpg <Mmm, me neither... from the data presented. Such blindness and lumpiness episodes are too-common amongst spiny puffers though... some environmental and nutritional inputs... Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishdisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Possible HLLE in Pork Puffer, fins also involved 3/18/08 Hello Bob and Crew! <Hello> My VHO lighting crashed about 2 weeks ago. Since then I've been substituting with two smaller strip-lights and 2 lamps. I ordered a new ballast after replacing the bulbs and giving up on tinkering. Anyways, my porcupine puffer has developed what looks like HLLE-The pale forehead, a few pits. He hasn't eaten in 3 days, and he's been swimming away from me and staying towards the bottom, breathing heavily <Not good.> Very unusual for him. Also,  He also has some bits on his fins and tail where it's opaque, with a streak of brown. I am setting up a QT tank, but I can't get a picture that's any help. Can this be from the lack of light? Should I treat with an antibiotic? <Not from lack of light directly, but probably due to lower water quality. What are your water parameters? HLLE is usually environmental and dietary in nature. I would not treat with antibiotics unless you diagnose a bacterial infection. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm  > <Chris>

Porcupine Puffer Problems. 2-4-08 Hi there. <Hey, Mike here - I'm free! FREE! from lab...> My name is Stephanie, and I've had my Porcupine Puffer for about a year. <I've had one before as well, I love puffers> He's been happy and active until about 2 weeks ago. I know that puffers naturally have a sort of humpback look, but he's developed an actual lump on his back, more on the left side than the right. He hasn't eaten (or pooed) for about a week and a half. I've tried isolating him in freshwater for a while every other day because I've heard it's good for getting rid of parasites if that's the case, but he's doing the same. He'll only swim around every once in a while, and he practically goes into convulsions. It looks like he's coughing, sneezing, spasming whenever he swims around. His "breathing" has sped up too. He still gets the little happy glimmer in his eye when I go near the tank, but he won't swim towards me or flap his fins like he used to. <Could be worse> He acts like he doesn't want to move. I'm stuck. Please help. <I would stop the dips unless your puffer shows signs of external parasites, or behaves as though it's being externally irritated ('flashes' against rocks, scratches himself against rocks or substrate, etc). I'm going to need more information to really help you here though...what are your water param.s (pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, salinity)? What size aquarium and fish? Have you been feeding him a diet consisting mostly/strictly dry foods?> Thanks for your time. <Sure thing - wish I could be of more help. Get back to me on this. - M. Maddox>
Re: Porcupine Puffer Problems part II  4-05-08
I have two damsels and a clownfish along with my puffer (they all get along great and have since I introduced my puffer to them a year ago) in a 30 gal tank. <Whoa! This is *WAY* too small! You're going to need a 125+ gallon tank for this guy as he approaches adult size, and only very small specimens should be kept in an aquarium as small as yours, and not for very long without undue stress/stunting, which I'm sure he's now undergoing as you've had in him such a tiny tank for so long> All levels are PERFECT (just tested them two days ago...ideal conditions) ammonia, PH, nitrates, and salinity. <Ideal as in zero, 8.0-4, under 20ppm, and 1.018-1.026 sg? Numbers are more useful than statements> I just did a 25% water change when I cleaned the tank last week, but there's no change in his behavior. :( The lump on his back is getting more prominent too. Could he have a worm in there or something? Hopefully this helps more. <You didn't answer all of my questions, such as his diet and size. However, the best thing you could do at the moment is get a bigger tank and get him into it (75+ gallons preferably, 125+ ideally). Puffers can go on hunger strikes for days/weeks due to stress or illness, and usually survive if conditions improve. Set up a larger aquarium and move your puffer in asap, as well as offer raw meaty seafoods (shrimp, scallops or oysters, from your grocery store) or live foods (especially useful for temping him out of his possible hunger strike). Please see the following links for further information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffcareinfo.htm, and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm, and related FAQs. In the future, please do your research and do not place fish in environments unsuitable for their wellbeing. M. Maddox>
Porcupine Puffer Problems III  2-06-08
A hunger strike? All of the sudden after a year of the same living conditions, when he's the same size as he's been for a while? That just doesn't seem logical to me. And what about the lump on his back (more on the left side)? That's the main issue I need addressed, if you will. Thank you again for your time. <It isn't logical to you because you obviously haven't done your research regarding the proper care of this animal. Does it seem logical to keep a fish who's maximum size is well over 18 inches in a 30 gallon aquarium? Does it seem logical that your animal "has stayed the same size for a while"? Healthy animals grow - animals kept in a veritable 'jail cell' are stunted and do not, and this will manifest itself in physiologically and psychologically, which is the most likely explanation of his lack of eating and morphological problem. As I stated previously, move your fish into larger quarters asap, and offer him a varied diet. M. Maddox> <<Whoa! Harsh, but the facts. RMF>>
Porcupine Puffer Problems Part IV  2-06-08
Oooooh, struck a note with the 'logical' comment didn't I? So defensive, so defensive. <Simply illustrating a point> I should have said "similar size" as he has grown, and every once in a while I'll feed him silversides... and I have done my research...every fish store I've gone to has told me the size for how little (in size and amount) fish I have, my tank is fine...as well as other suuuuurely credible website 'experts' like yourselves. <Other fish species have nothing to do with the eventual size of your puffer> But hey...thanks anyways! <Sure thing> I don't have tons of money like you to buy a 400 gallon $2000 tank for one fish, with your obvious 'professionalism' displayed by trying to cut down a woman asking about a fish, surely the business must be lucrative. <Actually, this is a strictly volunteer website. Wasn't trying to "cut you down" - merely answering a question that you asked me. I can't help it if you dislike the answer, and choose to ignore sound advice. Maybe you shouldn't purchase and animal you don't have the financial ability to support. M. Maddox>

Puffer with lump -- 11/18/2007 Hey guys, <Hi Jason> I recently purchased a porcupine puffer last week, and have been getting some great info off of your website. After I acclimated my little 2" guy into a 55 gallon tank (soon to be a 120g), he seemed perfectly fine. The second and third day he had lost his appetite and started breathing fairly heavy. The staff at my local fish store suggested dropping the salinity, which I did over the next few days (from 1.025 to 1.012). <No need for hyposalinity here as long as no clear Whitespot infection occurs. Keep monitoring the water parameters and assure surface movement and skimming are sufficient to provide enough oxygen.> The salinity drop didn't help his breathing, but it did bring back his appetite in full force. <He needs to settle in. This can take a week.> After I woke up this morning, I noticed that he had a lump in his tail, just to the right of his back fin (approximately 1/2" in diameter and a few millimetres tall). It also appeared that his back fin was immobile, and he was floating tail-up/face down. <Some gas in his intestines.> I immediately though that he may have swallowed air during the night, so I attempted to burp him. After I submerged my hand in the tank, the bump went away, <'¦this confirms it's a gas bubble and no bacterial lump or tumor.> and he started swimming normally. After I removed my hand from the tank, the lump came back, and he started swimming tail up/face down again. Is he a little trickster or is that common? <This bubble is not common, but porcupine puffers with problems while settling in are more than common.> What else can I try to regulate his breathing? <Salinity should be 1.025 again. Provide enough oxygen by surface movement and skimming. Monitor pH, nitrites, ammonia, nitrates and act accordingly if endangering changes occur. If still necessary try to massage the gas bubble out of his rear end. Look for tiny white spots (marine velvet), salt like spots (marine white spot), cloudy eyes (secondary bacterial infection) and see WWM re.> (Here is my tank info: 55 Gallons, pH 8.2, Water Temp 78-80 degrees, Salinity 1.015, Ammonia/Nitrates/Nitrites 0, Diet: krill, brine shrimp, snails, <Should also add mussel flesh, clams and avoid to feed too much krill and brine shrimp. Add vitamins from time to time.> Tankmates: 1 striped damsel, 1 small red crab (both are really good about hiding from the puffer when he looks hungry!). Any suggestions? <See above and if you have not it read yet: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm and the linked files above.> Jason
<Good luck. Marco.>

Sick puffer, Burrfish env.   11/6/07 Hello people, <Jesse> I am hoping that you can help me with my Porcupine Puffer. I have had him for about 6 months and he has been doing great. He is in a 250g tank and the parameters are Ammonia: 0, Nitrate: 0, Nitrite: 30 (this has become a common reading since he was first introduced to the tank. <I would be reading, making plans on how to lower this...> Temp: 76-79, PH: 8.4, Gravity 1.020 (I was advised to lower it from 1.025 by my LFS). <Mmm, I would not do this... for the reasons stated on WWM...> About 3 weeks ago, his skin became blotchy and he developed dry spots across his back. The LFS said it looked like a fungal infection, <... no> but did not offer a remedy other than serious antibiotics. <... a very poor idea> I decided to raise the temperature to 81 degrees, and perform fresh water dips with Methylene (sp?) blue for 15 min.s. <... ditto> I also turned off the lights for most of the day. The puffer ate regularly, but often hid under rocks or rested in between rock formations for the majority of the day. I would also find that he would occasionally puff up after I had turned out the lights. After a week of treatment, he seemed ok. The infection <Not an infection> was no longer visible and he was back to his normal self. Last Monday he suddenly stopped eating. He has not eaten in over a week and swims away as though he is afraid of the hand that usually feeds him. He usually eats squid, prawns and octopus supplemented with Vita-Chem. <Good> I also occasionally feed him snails and crayfish to wear down his teeth. I have no idea what to do with him. My only other thought was that another fish was picking on him. I had added an Emperor Angel to my tank about 2 months ago, but I have never witnessed any aggression between him or the other fish. I hope that this was enough information; I would be terribly embarrassed if this was the funkiest question of the day. Thanks, Jesse <Heeeee! No worries. I would improve the environment... slowly raise the spg to seawater concentration (like a thousandth per day) and seek out the means of reducing and keeping the NO3 below 20 ppm... See WWM re... and this fish will return to good health. Bob Fenner>

White worm parasites. Porcupine Puffer dis... mostly   8/3/06 Dear Bob, <Robert> First of all, I wanted to thank you for your time in answering this and so many other questions and for having such a fine resource online for helping out aquarists (especially new ones, such as myself). It seems that anytime I search the net for info on taking care of my puffers, I get this site - and usually all of the answers I need. <Ah, thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated> I decided I needed to write in for this one, however, as I didn't find exactly what I was looking for in the previously answered emails. <Okay> My wife and I recently started a 55 gallon marine tank and have two Mollies (suggested by the pet shop for starting the cycle) and two Porcupine Puffers... <! Will be way too much here... even for initially "loading" this system/volume... and these species are by and large non- to anti-social with their own kind> One because my wife had fallen instantly in love with it (the particular fish, not just puffers in general) and the other because she was afraid it would be lonely by itself. <Not so. Please relate this to her. Not found in the wild in close association, "pairs" except during spawning...> This turned out to be not such a good idea, as the two puffers decided that the tank wasn't big enough for the both of them. <Oh, yes> The smaller (and cuter) Puffer (named "Fluff") is less territorial and less aggressive and seems more interested with swimming the length of the tank. The larger Puffer (named "Nutter") isn't as active and seems to get aggressive when Fluff intrudes upon his area. <...> We've remedied this for the time being by placing a divider in the tank. (I can almost hear your comment here about how they need more room - <Heeeee! Am I really becoming that/this predictable? Good> I agree) At least they have more room than they did in the pet store, if that's any consolation. <Mmm, not much. Do understand that pet stores are an aberration... that they only intend to stock life short term... that of a necessity they can't afford to not temporarily overcrowd their for sale charges> Our plans are to buy a second tank (probably another 55 gallon - at least for now) and put a Puffer in each. <Do see WWM, fishbase.org... elsewhere re the size of this species... Need much larger quarters, volume... not "when" larger, but now> We hope to do a much larger tank that's architecturally integrated into the wall, but we are still reeling from the money we've spent so far. <Planning... based on investigation, facts my friend...> The reason for this letter, however, is what I am assuming is a parasitic infestation. <"It?"> The appearance is of small worms that are exactly the same size as their spines, but instead of laying back against their bodies, they are sort of limp and upon closer inspection, appear to be attached to the puffers skin. It's hard to say exactly how long ago this began, as Fluff had what we thought was a 'dead' spine. We had thought that this was a result of Nutter attacking Fluff, but now that Fluff has healed up from the attack and they are separated, we've noticed several of these worms on both Fluff and Nutter. I was considering either a Freshwater dip or Formalin, but the idea of Formaldehyde worries me. <It should... toxic... to the fish and you> I was wondering if I could solve this problem and prevent against Marine Ich by simply reducing the salinity of the tank. <Mmm, not likely> If so, what range is good for killing off parasites and not too low for puffers? (I'm not worried about the mollies, as they're freshwater fish.) Would it be better (less shock to the puffers) to reduce the salinity to kill the worms rather than do the Fresh Water bath? <You can read re the use, efficacy of so-called Hyposalinity Treatments here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/martrthyposalfaqs.htm and the linked files above. I am decidedly not a fan of this technique... Not often useful, conclusive... too much stress on the hosts...> Thanks in advance for your rapid reply and as always for your helpful info. Robert Perkins <Let's see... the "worms" may well be a fluke (Flatworm) of some sort... and could well be a type of crustacean (likely a parasitic copepod of some sort)... These possibilities could be treated with a biocidal dip of formalin/formaldehyde (detailed on WWM), but require the animals to NOT be placed back in the infested system/s (obviously eh?). Instead, I'd try administering (either together or serially) a vermifuge like Praziquantel or economic poison/DTHP (in various generic nominations... see WWM re), or a combo. of both as in a product like "Fluke Tabs"... Much to relate re this... and I do wish we were near by where I could take a scraping, look under my cheapie microscopes, show you which is which here... But do read on re the above... and write back for clarification, more if all does not become clear in your searching. Bob Fenner>

Eye Ulcer/Cloudy - Porc Puffer  - 06/07/06 I have a small Porc puffer which I purchased about 2 weeks ago.  She is in a QT tank.....and I have been treating her for her eye with lowering the salinity and making sure the water quality is tops.  The eye seems to be even more cloudy and even looks somewhat like an ulcer.  I don't know if the eye is getting better as in the issue is shrinking or worse! I have also used Epsom salts as well. <Good> But if I am taking water out for changes, how often do I need to replenish the Epsom salts. <Each time> She is eating well ... mind you today was a bit picky.  When I got home from work she was on the bottom in a rock hole and I thought she'd died! <Mmm, do sit about a good deal of the time... in the wild and in captivity> I picked her out of the store because she was the "underdog" and I seem to always take the fish I feel I could help give a better life to.  This includes all my pets... Should I dip her in fresh water. <Maybe enroute to your main tank> I could send a pic if necessary.  Please help I really don't want to lose her and I don't want her to suffer. Janet <I would likely foreshorten the quarantine period here and risk moving this animal into larger quarters... Much more likely that a good deal of the stress/component of this manifestation is due to being kept in small confines than it carrying a pathogen. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer Trouble - 2/20/2006 Greetings. <<Hi Dan.>> I have a 6-year-old porcupine puffer who is about 10 inches head-to-tail and lives in a 55 gallon tank. <<That's too bad.  At 6-years-old your puffer should be 18', and in a 125 gallon tank.>> As of the last few months, his desire and ability to eat has diminished greatly.  Over the years, I've fed him a steady diet of frozen krill and frozen silversides, with an occasional helping of romaine lettuce, which he used to love. <<Good as a treat perhaps, but poor nutritionally.>> He no longer touches frozen krill, and only on "good" days will swallow a piece frozen silverside.  Mostly, he now eats floating dried krill, but still with difficulty. Part of the problem, I think, is that he can't close his jaw. It's always open. When he sucks in a piece, he'll usually spit it back out and try again until he finally holds it down.  Based on what I've read on your site so far, it sounds like he either has nutritionally induced lockjaw or overgrown teeth, but I can't really tell. <<Can you see his teeth/beak all the time? I find your pics hard to make out.  Is he getting food down?  You should try mussels, Clams, cockles, crabs legs.  If he is eating at all, you have a chance to reverse any damage a poor diet may have caused. Soak the foods in garlic to stimulate his appetite, and a good supplement like Selcon, Vita-Chem, or both.  What's your water quality like? Number readings would be very helpful here.>> Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated! <<As above.  Most of all your puffer needs a bigger tank.  Please get back to me! Lisa.>> Regards, Dan
Porcupine Puffer Trouble II- 3/1/2006
Thank you very much for your reply. <<You're welcome.>> I've been traveling, so I couldn't respond sooner. <<That's ok, hope you enjoyed your time.>> I ordered the supplements that you suggested. The tank size is another issue. I'm torn over whether I should invest in more equipment or find someone to adopt him. Can you offer some advice on finding a good adopter? <<Your best bet would be to go to www.thepufferforum.com.  It's the best puffer site out there, and you can post your puffer available there.>> I should also mention that he's been blind in one eye for the last five years. (... a bad encounter a with a former yellow tang tank mate). <<You may have trouble adopting out a severely stunted, half-blind puffer, but it is certainly worth a shot, if you are not able/willing to house his properly.>> He is eating, but not as much as before. Freeze-dried krill is the only thing he can consistently hold down. He goes in and out of phases. Sometimes he'll show his voracious appetite and get very excited when I'm near, and other times, he just ignores me. <<HA! Maybe he's just moody :)>> Yesterday, he was very excited about feeding, but when it came time to swallow the silverside, he tried a couple of times and then gave up and lost interest. I can see his teeth/beak all the time. I can snap some more pictures if you can suggest a good angle, but it's very hard getting him to pose and remain still. <<There is a great puffer-dentistry article at ThePufferForum as well.>> Water quality is probably not so great, although the ammonia readings have always been at zero. What else should I be looking for? <<NitrItes, nitrAtes, pH, to name a few.>> Is skimming important? <<Yes>> I had a cyclone skimmer running for a long time, but it never seemed to collect much. <<Likely not powerful enough.>> Right now, I just have a powerhead running during the day to provide additional aeration. For filtration, I use a BioWheel. Your advice is greatly appreciated! <<As is your desire to learn.  Take care.>> Thanks, Dan <<You're welcome.  Lisa>>

Porcupine puffer disease diagnosis... unsuitable water quality, copper exposure,  - 01/12/2006 Hello, Your web site seems quite helpful in disease diagnosis, so I hope you can help.  I have a 100 gal. saltwater tank that I have had for about 8 months and have had the porcupine puffer for about 7 or so.  The problem is that he has not eaten anything in the last 2 weeks, he is still very active and always greets me with excitement. <... have you read on WWM re feeding puffers, Diodontids?> The water quality is good salt 1.022 <I would raise this to near seawater strength... 1.025> ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates less than forty <Keep under twenty...> as far as can tell.  I do use copper in the recommended dosage <Stop! This is toxic to your livestock... should not be used on a continuous basis... some folks think never on puffers... can/will account for the non-feeding by itself> and have so since I have had the tank. <This is a mistake> He shows no external signs of disease, he acts hungry  when I bring his feeding cup around but when i put the shrimp in he goes for it once or twice then just lets it fall to the bottom.  Before I could barely feed my bottom feeder because he would eat everything I put it.  I know I need to vary his diet other than shrimp but as of now he does not want to eat, food suggestions would be helpful.  The damsel, sailfin, and snowflake eel are all happy/healthy fish. I don't know what to do he does not match any disease charts he just wont eat.   Thanks <... not a disease, unless you consider iatrogenic/induced, poor supplied circumstances as cause... Read on my friend. Your answers are on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: Porcupine puffer  - 01/12/2006 Will drive in to town, to pick up the Selcane <Selcon> today, is the iodine included in it? <No, it is strictly a vitamin supplement rich in HUFAs.>We have been soaking the frozen brine, chopped up silversides and krill in the garlic extreme, so am I to mix the Selcane <Selcon> and Iodine in the soaking solution. <I would alternate between the garlic and Selcon.>  Yes the Nitrate is/was off the charts with the 5 gallon water change every three days it has been "coming back" I (the local fish store said the nitrates wouldn't hurt any of the fish). <Indirectly  they can with high levels.  The nitrate will end up as dissolved organics which in turn creates an acidic condition which lowers ph levels.  With high nitrate levels I suggest you test the dKH often. Sea Chem's Reef Builder is a good product to use.> I will write down exact ranges on all the tests today and get back to you.  It was great to see that lots of people with puffers feel the same as I do, they are wonderful pets. <And a very intelligent fish to boot.> Thank you for your service. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Marcia

Poor Planning/Husbandry and Puffer Health - 12/13/2005 Hello - <Hi Francesca.> I noticed very recently that my Porcupine Puffer has been gasping/ labored breathing and stays around the top, as if 1) there's too much ammonia or not enough oxygen in tank or 2) some parasitic problem, maybe gill flukes? <This doesn't bode well for your tank. Has your Puffer been puffing at all (or ever). They are usually very good first indicators of poor conditions.> Just for background, I have a 30 gallon tank with a Clown, the Puffer, small Damsel and Yellow Tang. <This demonstrates extremely poor planning or a lack there of. Neither the Puffer nor the Tang are suitable here. They should both be removed to larger systems. This inappropriate stocking is a good part of your problem. Both will have stunted growth and die prematurely if they remain. The choice however is ultimately yours.> The Puffer's about 4 inches. I checked water conditions, Ph, <pH> ammonia of course, etc, and everything's fine. <I can draw no such conclusion here.> I like keeping my salinity level lower (not a reef tank) at 1.020, also hear it's good for preventing Ich supposedly, not sure? <Do read up on hyposalinity on our site for more info.> They seem fine though. <Obviously not.> Just did a water change too. I do these every 2-3 weeks, about 20% or so. <Being this overstocked you should be doing these much more frequently. Skimmer?> Every week I put in calcium supplements to maintain Ph (in particular Kalkwasser mix, and All in One Salifert). <Do you know what your doing with these? How much calcium is lost in your tank weekly? If not testing/regulating accordingly, please stop. Increase water change frequency.> I'm usually <Usually!?> careful pouring the Kalkwasser mixed with freshwater in it (I hear you're supposed to pour in slowly), <Only go on what you know and understand thoroughly. Going on what you've heard can be deadly and doesn't often apply in such cases.> but last week I may have poured it in too fast and 'burned' a bit of the puffer tail fringes. I'm wondering whether I may have slightly affected his gills too, thus the labored breathing. <Do you know the effects of a sudden pH spike? The effect it would have on any measurable amount of ammonia?> But that was last Thursday and it's already Monday. Or is it gill flukes? I hear that's hard to diagnose. <I doubt it's more than inappropriate care.> What should I do? I love this guy - his name's Piggy (aptly named of course). Great personality, good color and weight (not too fat). Even though he's acting like this, he still eats like a pig and is relatively active when I'm ready to feed him. <You'll need to start frequent water changes (at least weekly), study more on additives and their use/need and either buy a larger (100 gal. at least) system for these or adopt them out.> Thanks for your help, sorry email so long! I'm just at a loss what to do. <I know this was not at all what you wanted to hear and understand your attachment to your livestock. You must however consider what is best for them and how to best help them here. Just think how it would feel to constantly try harder (which can also hurt things if misapplied) only to watch them fade and slowly waste away (or become brain damaged, neurotic, Etc.). Besides, a little well intentioned "tough love" is what we all need sometimes.> Francesca <Josh>

Porcupine puffer problem... just crowding 7/18/05 Hello, I have 2 porcupine puffers they are between 5 and 6 inches long in a 50 gallon tank. I have had them since they were 2 inches long and now they are fighting a few times a week. Is this normal???? <Mmm, yes> Is it a feeding issue? I feed them frozen krill everyday. can you help? Thanks, Tony <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffersysfaqs.htm and on to and through the linked files at top where you lead yourself. Your animals need much more space... and to be separated... Bob Fenner>
Re: Porcupine puffer problem 7/19/05
How big of a tank do these 2 puffers need? <A few hundred gallons. Bob Fenner>
Re: puffers 7/19/05
Thanks for the info..... one more question. The larger of the two puffers for the last 2 weeks has a defined bump on the underbelly.. almost looks like its pregnant. What could it be? <Likely a growth semi-directly related to stress... Bob Fenner>

Porcupine puffer Hi there guys! <Hi! Ananda here today...> I have been researching for days over our Porcupine Puffer, "Molly" we call her. I find your articles so very helpful & seems to be the first place I turn to research. <Glad to be of service.> Anyway, I cannot seem to find info. on our particular problem.... we have had the puffer about one month & she is about 2" in size. She is in our 60 gallon tank with a Naso Tang, a Yellow-Tail Damsel, a tiny Picasso Trigger & a Mantis Shrimp that lives in our live rock (hitchhiker!), all water tests are fine as they should be, temp. at 78 & lots of copepods. <Yowza. Hope you have a much bigger tank planned; both the Naso and the puffer could use 240 or more gallons as adults.> We recently lost a Clown Trigger to some disease we didn't catch early enough (a deadly fungus?). Over the past week or so, the puffer is breathing very heavily as though she is always gasping for air. She used to be an active swimmer & is now sleeping 80% of the day. Swims a little more at night & is still eating well. One of her eyes is a little cloudy & a few of her fins are frayed.  <Water quality alert. Poor water quality is the biggest single cause of cloudy eyes. Get some saltwater ready for a water change and do one tomorrow.> No visible signs of Ich, etc. but some gray shading around her mouth that has always been evident. We had treated the tank with Green-Ex (Malachite Green) & recently found that it is harmful to scaleless fish. :(  <And to live rock, inverts of all sorts... your live rock is quite likely dead rock now. That would explain the poor water quality: your biological filtration is shot.> We are stumped as to what this could be & just want to treat correctly. <I would start with fresh activated carbon and several largish water changes. If you've got significantly measurable ammonia, a 40% water change is not unreasonable.> Also, have read several different articles about FW dips with Maracyn 2 & Formalin, can you tell which is better to use, or the diff. between the two? <They are two totally different medications. I've never heard of doing a freshwater dip with Maracyn 2. Formalin will probably not help the puffer any... and may make things worse.> Also, do all Porcupine Puffers have teeth? <Yup, the better to crush corals and crustaceans with! Hmmm... make that "crush-staceans", perhaps? ;-) > There is a porcupine puffer at the LFS with a huge set of teeth (look like dentures! ha!) and "Mollie's" teeth are almost invisible. <Sounds like the one at the store is not getting a sufficient quantity of hard-shelled foods.> Sorry for the LONG e-mail, <Truthfully, I would have preferred an even longer one: one including all of the water parameters of the tank.> We are at a loss as to what to do & we just adore her. Thanks so much again- The Gilmores <Repeat after me: The solution to pollution is dilution. Now go get that water mixing. :-) If pristine water quality does not improve the situation significantly, I would put the puffer in a hospital tank and treat her with a good, broad-spectrum antibiotic. My preference in this case would be Kanamycin. --Ananda> 
Porcupine Puffer II
Hi Ananda - thanks so much for the quick response! It was great to hear from you & get so much knowledge at the same time. <Hi, and thank you!> Came home for lunch today (after original e-mail) & our puffer was swimming about more than before. However, I did notice that the Picasso Trigger (who is much smaller than the puffer) was picking on her. She nipped him right back & they were fine. Thought this may be a cause of stress. <Sounds like a fairly typical dominance issue -- keep an eye on the trigger so it doesn't get too aggressive.> We had done a water change (about 30%) last night & just tested the water. Parameters are as follows as we speak: Temp still at 78, Nitrite 0ppm, pH 8.2, Nitrate 20ppm with liquid drop type test by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals & 0ppm with "Dry Tabs" (the pill style) and Ammonia 0ppm.  <You might want to invest in a higher-grade nitrate kit. SeaChem, Salifert, and LaMotte should give you more accurate results than either of the ones you have.> We also added carbon to our filters last night with the water change, this had been removed for medication treatments. (We have 2 Fluval 304 Canister Filters). <While I know many people who dislike using canister filters of any sort on marine tanks, I do realize they can be useful as carbon holders!> Sorry if I had confused you with the question of Maracyn 2 vs. Formalin - meant to say Methylene Blue. I apologize! <Ah. No problem. As I understand it, Methylene blue is used in freshwater dips in part to increase the oxygen saturation of the water. It's also an anti-fungal. Formalin is used for parasites on the skin and gills, but not if the fish has open sores on its skin.> What is Kanamycin & what does it treat for?  <Kanamycin is a wide-spectrum antibiotic, and is useful for treating fin rot when that is caused by bacteria. It can be used to treat a variety of things.> Also, we have Copepods in our tank that appear randomly. I also noticed that there are smaller (than copepods) white worm-like critters stuck on the sides of the acrylic with the copepods, they seem to be longer & move about more squirmishly than the copepods that sort of jump. They are grouped around what appear to be small eggs in groups of about 10-15 (again, small & white, but round little eggs). They are much smaller than the copepods as I have to look at them with a magnifying glass & they do not appear to have any sort of legs or "antennas" as I call them like the copepods. Any ideas? Wish I could get you a picture, but they are entirely too small. Have only noticed them on the sides of the tank & my fear is that this is some sort of parasite. <Hoo boy, I'm going to bail on this one.... will put this back in the queue for someone else to answer this part.> About the tank, we do have a larger tank planned, as the fish grow over time. We have been looking at 300+ gallon tanks. <I am delighted to hear that.> We have seen some large puffers! She tends to love guppies (gold fish) and krill occasionally. <Eh, skip the feeder fish, which are frequently diseased. Ghost shrimp are cheaper (or they should be) and carry fewer parasites that can be passed on to the fish that eat them. But do not get any ghost shrimp that has what looks like a white thread in its body; that's a parasite.? She will eat anything that moves <Wow. Some people get fussy puffers. You got lucky. Check the dailies, too, for a post about "Pig Boy" the Diodon histrix (the "big sibling" species to D. holocanthus!).> & we try to get her to eat a variety of foods like live brine shrimp, ghost shrimp, squid, etc. <Live brine are fish junk food -- I'd save them for an occasional treat, or for an appetizer if she decides to go on a fast.> Again, can't thank you enough, hope to hear from you soon! The Gilmores & Molly <Best wishes to both of you and Molly and your other fine finned friends. --Ananda> 
Porcupine Puffer III
Hello again Ananda- Thanks for your quick e-mail, so relieving to have such fast feedback! We will invest in a higher-grade test kit for nitrate. This morning the Trigger picked on the puffer a little more, so I divided the tank (our acrylic is a 60 with 2 tubes through the middle) to he couldn't get to her. She did not swim much at all this morning & when she did it seemed difficult for her. <Any toxins that may have gotten to the tank recently? Cleaners, insecticides, smoke, or anything chemical might well affect the puffer before the others...> She was still breathing heavily - I will go today & pick up some Kanamycin. Do you suggest we treat her in a tank with this, or with a dip? <In a hospital tank. If you don't have one already, you might want to pick up a 20 gallon "long" tank for the purpose.> We are sure hoping she pulls through. <Me, too!.> You have been such a great help. Thanks for putting the e-mail back into queue on the "critters". That will help a great deal. Have a wonderful day, The Gilmores. <Best wishes to you and your fishes.... --Ananda> 
Porcupine Puffer IV
Hello again. No chemicals, that we can think of. We don't smoke, so that's not a possibility. Not sure. We do have a 10 gallon QT tank, but water is not testing to be very high in quality. We can take water from the show tank to fill it. <Perhaps 3/4 from the show tank, 1/4 fresher stuff...> We keep a 60 gallon Rubbermaid in the garage with Pre-Mixed salt for water changes, etc. Could this be the culprit if the water were bad? It stays tightly sealed with a lid. <It's possible, especially if it isn't one of the food-safe colors. From one of the forum veterans: "The Rubbermaid Brute in gray, white, or yellow is USDA food safe. The red and dark blue are not. Anything else according to Rubbermaid can/will leach plastic nasties into the water after a week or two. The 32 gallon can and lid is P/N #2632 and #2631. They also have a 44 gallon version. Check out this link for the scoop. http://www.rcpworksmarter.com/rcp/products/detail.jsp?rcpNum=2632 http://www.rcpworksmarter.com/rcp/products/detail.jsp?rcpNum=2631 She was breathing a little better at lunch, just resting on the bottom of the tank. <Another possibility that has come to mind is how oxygen-saturated or oxygen-deprived your water might be. I'm hoping you have a good protein skimmer? Do you have anything else that aerates the water?> Have a great rest of your day! <You, too! --Ananda> 

Porcupine Puffer Hi there! I have some problems with my new fish and was hoping you could help me on this regard. Currently I have a 55 gallon with 40 pounds Fiji LR and 20 pounds of aragonite and 20 pounds of crushed coral underneath it. My fish include a 3 inch Volitans a 2 inch dwarf lion a 2 inch long horned cowfish and a new 2 inch porcupine fish. <Awfully crowded for a 55, when/if they grow to adult size and live a full life.> The tank parameters are ammonia .25 ppm, <Should always be zero ammonia and nitrite.> nitrate 5 ppm, nitrite 0, pH 8.3. My question is this, I just introduced the porcupine a few days ago and all he does for the last 4-5 days is swim up and down on the back left corner of the tank. Also, he has a big white dot\spot on the top of the right eye. <Please tale a look here for general information on Puffers, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm  and here for disease information, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm , and continuing on through the other linked files.> Please let me know how to help this new fish of mine. P.S. He eats all the time though. <The best help I can give you is to point you in the right direction to educate yourself as to the proper care/husbandry of your animals. -Steven Pro>

Question about puffer fish Hi Bob, I've got a porcupine puffer fish who I have had for almost 2 years now! But I noticed a strange marking on his belly recently. It looks like green algae. Its green and splotchy all over his white belly.. I never noticed it until today.. I'm wondering if it could be algae?  <Actually, yes. It could be> Or is it more likely some other kind of disease? In any case is it dangerous? How would you recommend curing it?  <Improved water quality, change of foods/feeding, addition of vitamins and iodide to the food, water...> BTW, my tank does have some algae growth but I try to keep it under control so its not THAT bad. Your help is appreciated, thanks! Steve Weatherly <Perhaps related issue (algae in tank, on puffer) in that water quality, conditions dictate both... Do you have live rock? Macro-algae growing in the system or sump? These would help indirectly to vastly improve conditions, health. Bob Fenner>

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