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FAQs about Freshwater Puffer Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: The Nice Puffer: Colomesus asellus , the South American Puffer by Neale Monks, Freshwater PuffersAlone But Not Lonely: The Importance of  Keeping Puffers Individually by Damien Wagaman, Freshwater to Brackish Puffers, Puffers in General, True Puffers, Family Tetraodontidae, (Big) Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo Small Puffer Dentistry By Jeni Tyrell (aka Pufferpunk), Puffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: FW Puffers 1FW Puffers 2, FW Puffers 3, FW Puffer Identification, FW Puffer Behavior, FW Puffer Selection, FW Puffer Compatibility, FW Puffer SystemsFW Puffer Disease, FW Puffer Reproduction, BR Puffer Identification, BR Puffer Selection, BR Puffer Compatibility, BR Puffer Systems, BR Puffer Feeding, BR Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Disease 2, BR Puffer Reproduction, Puffers in General, True Puffers,

Pea Puffer Weight    12/4/18
Hola, Crew! Thanks in advance for your help and advice - y'all are awesome!
<Thanks for the kind words.>
Hope you can give me some advice re: my pea puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus).
First a little background. I have a three gallon Walstad-type tank, heavily planted with Mayaca fluviatilis, with Pellia covering about 1/3 of the substrate. Floating plants are Salvinia, duckweed, and giant duckweed.
Also lots of ramshorn snails. I originally set up the tank to grow out the Mayaca for pea my other tanks. Once that was accomplished, here was this well-cycled, heavily planted tank with no fish, kinda boring.
<So some might say!>
I love pea puffers, so after doing my research I concluded it would be ok to keep one in this tank. Of course once I decided this, no one had them in stock, despite the fact that they had been plentiful a few months ago.
Finally I found one at my LFS. It was extremely skinny (emaciated really) but looked otherwise healthy so I brought her home. I *think* it's a female, although it may just still be immature.
<Agreed, the blue squiggles around the face of the males can work, but isn't always reliable.>
So, into the tank she went, along with a pea-puffer-sized portion of live blackworms. This was about six weeks ago. In spite of the fact that I have never seen this fish eat, she quickly became quite plump.
She has obviously been doing quite well chowing down on the blackworms and snails. In fact I am wondering if she may be too plump, which would be bad for her health.
<Not really. I mean, gross overfeeding puts a strain on the filter, and if the food is protein-rich or fat-rich, then there's a risk of the same sort of problems you'd get overfeed a cat or dog. But fish don't need daily feeds, so skipping feeds is an easy way to slim down a plum little fish.>
She has definitely put a dent in the snail population, and it seems that the blackworms have established a small yet thriving colony so she can graze on them whenever she likes.
My question is, do I need to intervene here?
<Interesting question. On the one hand, if you stop adding food, and let her graze naturally, she should be fine in terms of health. But on the other hand, there's a definite problem with the tank if snail and worm
populations are burgeoning.>
Should I remove some of the snails, etc?
<Some periodic reduction of the population size might be healthy, yes.>
Or would it be ok to wait until she has decimated the snail and blackworm population on her own, and then commence feeding her appropriate portions?
<This, too, could work.>
And is this blackworm/snail combination a balanced diet for her?
<Pretty much.>
I should mention that I have tried supplying other foods (soaked freeze dried krill, etc) but it just winds up feeding the snails and blackworms.
<Inevitable, really.>
I do make sure to feed algae tablets to the snails to make sure they are "gut loaded".
I want to do my best for this little gal, so your advice will be much appreciated!
<See above.>
Oh, forgot to mention - I do an 80% water change every 5 - 7 days. Thanks again!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: South American Puffers - 11/7/10
Hi there!
How often should I feed my SAP's? At the moment I'm feeding them daily except for 1 starve day. They still won't take snails. I finally found Physa and they aren't interested in them. I've also introduced a pea into their diet now and again.
<Hello Lisa. Feed your SAPs a couple times per day, enough so their bellies become gently convex. If you starve them for a day, and then use forceps to offer a squished Physa snail, you should find they scarf them up. Peas are a good supplement, but oddly, not all SAPs seem to enjoy them. Cheers, Neale.>

Snails in one tank to provide food for my puffer?  5/24/10
Hope all is well, I have a quick question. I have two tanks, one is a 55G freshwater tank with a few different types of catfish and a spiny eel.
All levels are zero and water quality is maintained by doing weekly water changes. All the fish are doing well and healthy. My other tank is a 20G brackish aquaria with a Figure 8 puffer and several bumble bee gobies.
That tank too has all zero levels and water quality is maintained by doing weekly water changes.
My question is this, can I put a snail or two or three in my 55 gallon freshwater tank to supply my puffer with enough snails for food?
<Worth trying... I'd look for "Ramshorn" species myself...>
I was going to setup a snail only breeding tank but am now thinking it may be beneficial to have some snails in my 55. I don't want them to take over and wasn't sure if this is a sound idea. How fast will these things propagate?
<More or less continuously if mature... but you'll not be able to grow enough to produce all food for this puffer>
Is it a good thing to have some snails in my 55G tank for cleanup and what not?
<Not really... Snails are problematical for a few reasons; the most significant for being vectors of many fish and human diseases... Read here:
and the linked files above>
I'm scared that if I put a couple in, the next thing I know my 55G tank will be crawling with them and no matter how fast I remove and feed them to my puffer it won't be enough to keep up with how fast they multiply. Or do you think setting up a separate snail nursery is a better idea?
<Read on! Bob Fenner> 

Dwarf Indian Puffer, foods  10/5/10
Hey guys--great site! I casually happened upon it while researching for my Dwarf Indian Puffer. You all have so wittily mastered the art of knowledgeable replies...
My Puffer is doing very well, eating a wide variety of foods, but I am having a bear of a time finding him small snails. I have called all pet stores in my area, and none will sell me button or Ramshorn snails--I can
only purchase trumpet snails or trapdoor snails, all truly too large for him to reasonably manage. Do you know where I could order these? I live in Indiana, near Fort Wayne. They make him so happy, but the live plant tank at my LFS is not proving a reliable source for the snails I am seeking. I would love to find live bloodworms or blackworms, but these too are scarce where I hail, and he seems to resent frozen food.
<Hello Allison. You really can't buy suitable snails online; you have to grow your own. Physa and Physella work great, and can be picked out of almost any pond. They're sometimes called "tadpole snails". For what it's worth, Dwarf Puffers aren't especially prone to overgrown teeth, especially if they're offered a mixed diet including krill, brine shrimp and daphnia along with the usual bloodworms. It's possible to trim their teeth too. Do read here:
I've used this method myself, though unlike Jeni I don't believe the net is helpful for holding the fish, and would argue wet hands are safer for both you and the puffer. But either way, this is certainly a doable method, should the need arise. Cheers, Neale.>
Dwarf Indian Puffer, foods  10/5/10
Thanks much--those do look delicious. His teeth seem fine, so far, though small puffer dentistry does look like an adventure'¦
<Actually not that hard; my own take is here:
Thanks again, Neale,
<Always glad to help. Enjoy your puffers! Cheers, Neale.>

puffer food
Using Dips and Feeding FW Puffers 8/9/10

Hi. Thank you very much for the help the other day with my bloated Firemouth. I followed your advise and he seems to be doing fine now. You did not quite get to the bottom of one of my questions however. It could be my
own fault for not properly phrasing my question. So here it goes again. Is it possible to administer meds. such as fungus or parasite medication to a single fish in a small container (no filter, no heater) containing only the fish, the meds. and a gallon of water for a short period of time, say 30-45 min or does it take longer for the medication to properly take affect?
< There are dip medications that are used as you have suggested. Many fish are dipped in a salt bath as well to get rid of external parasites like flukes.>
also wanted to ask you about the feeding of my puffer fish. I live near a very beautiful spring and spring run which empties into a river. The spring run is full of small snails and freshwater clams and mussels. Can I feed these animals to my puffer or would there be a danger of introducing parasites into the fish? If not, could these animals be treated in a quarantine tank with Parasite Clear to remove potential parasites before feeding time and for how long would they need to be treated. I look forward to your response, and thanks again for all that you do here. Brett.
< Parasites and snails are usually killed by the same medications. The clams and mussels are filter feeders. If the water source is very clean and has no contaminants the invertebrates may be ok to feed to the puffers. An
alternative would be Can-O-Snails by ZooMed Labs. This product was designed to be a reptile food but my friends with puffers swear by this stuff. The canning process kills that parasites and the snail meat can be cut up for any size puffer. I don't think I would feed it exclusively but it is worth trying a couple times a week as a treat so they don't get imprinted on it.-Chuck>

Dwarf Freshwater Puffers and Oscars (fdg.)  09/15/09
Hello crew and sorry to be sending this message again...either I have had no reply or my spam filter instantly deleted your reply D:
<Oh dear.>
I have a ten gallon aquarium in my basement being used to breed feeder guppies for my black volitans lionfish.
<Why bother? These fish are so much healthier given a more varied diet.
Besides being expensive, Lionfish aggression increases when they're given live fish as food. Bob Fenner has written copiously on feeding Pterois spp., and I'd encourage you to review this material here at WWM before getting bog down in a pretty pointless exercise.>
The tank is filtered and instead of a heater I use a big reptile lamp clamped to the side near the water to provide light for plants and warmth.
The tank is sectioned off into 2 parts with a divider: 6 gallons for maybe around 15 adults (mostly female) and 4 gallons for babies (around 20?).
Anyways I also have a large mass of floating hornwort and 2 bunches of Cabomba in with the adults the strategy being provide as much cover for babies until I can see them and switch them over to the other side and it has been successful thus far. However there is also becoming a huge problem with snails. I was wondering if a dwarf freshwater puffer could help with this.
<Not in any meaningful way, no. Puffers will eat snails to be sure, but this species would sooner eat the fins of your Guppies, and in any case is so small it would only eat the very smallest snails.>
All of the guppies are either the same size or twice the size of the puffers at the store I work at.. Would the puffers leave the guppies alone for the easy prey of snails?
<Not a chance. Snails are difficult prey, which is why every Puffer that ever lived will sooner take something easier! See those shells on the snails? They evolved over literally 500 million years for one particular
reason: to stop predators. And, for the most part, they're very good at doing this, which is why there are (at minimum) 60,000 snail species on Planet Earth compared with a mere 5,000 mammals.>
Would the puffer eat flakes or should I use frozen brine instead after all the snails are gone?
Would the guppies (both adults and babies) be able to take care of themselves in the hiding places provided by the plants?
Also I saw the maturation period for the guppies on your site was around 6 months. Is the time less for the feeder guppies?
<Six months is a bit generous really, I'd say about three months for male Guppies, and about four months for females.>
Also in addition to the puffer dilemma I am also a little uneasy about some Oscars I recently came into. I have a red Oscar, a red tiger Oscar, and an albino tiger Oscar (all 1.5 inches) in a 50 gallon with a 2 in Pleco. When all Oscars and Plec reach 6 in I plan to upsize to a 150 gallon.
<Will be necessary before too long; allow about 55 gallons for the first Oscar, and a good 30-40 gallons for each additional specimen. Although not an aggressive species given its size, Astronotus spp. do become territorial once pairs form.>
The first night the red tiger was lying on its side on the bottom but now 3 days later all seem to be in good health. This is my problem. I have been feeding them Hagen's freshwater flakes which they will eat but then spit out something none of my previous Oscars did.
<I'd not even bother with flakes for Oscars. As you hopefully know, Oscars evolved to crunch invertebrates, typically snails, crabs, crayfish and things like that. They also eat small fish and frogs, not to mention fruit and a certain amount of plant material. In short, they're omnivores. For small specimens, finely chopped white fish and seafood makes a great diet, perhaps augmented with krill and other marine invertebrates. Live snails would be an excellent addition to their diet, though they'll ignore them unless hungry. Try squishing some snails first, after skipping a couple days feeding: the Oscars should get the hint (as well as a good dose of calcium from the shells!). Adults eat similar things, but more chunky, taking care to avoid fat and thiaminase problems (see WWM re: these key issues). Oscars are easy to hand feed using long forceps.>
The store I work at said they were being feed Omega brand flakes and should switch over. Should I not risk them ever switching over to Hagen's and get some Omega brand at work tomorrow?
<Hikari Cichlid Gold is probably the best staple for Oscars, but even then, I'd only be using that once or twice a week. Fresh or wet-frozen foods are better in terms of avoiding constipation. A bag of mixed seafood from my local grocery store costs a few UK pounds, and should last juvenile Oscars several weeks. Augment with frozen lancefish, earthworms, krill, cooked peas, etc for a nutritious, inexpensive diet. Use flakes and/or pellets sparingly as a "vitamin booster" rather than a staple.>
In a few weeks I plan to start giving them frozen brine/ live brine, cichlid pellets and the occasional guppy. Is this a decent food plan?
Thanks again-Ray
<Cheers, Neale.>

Emergency! - dead worms and cloudy water (understanding BOD!), & FW puffer fdg.   02/06/09 After years of healthy fish and clean water, suddenly yesterday my tank was cloudy like I've never seen it before. I thought it was a temporary die-off of bacteria -about 3 days earlier, I had removed one of those Purigen filter bags to bleach and soak it (did not put it back in yet), but there were still regular filter pads in there. Two days earlier, I had also put in some blackworms for my puffer to eat as usual - they had all situated themselves nicely in the substrate like they always do, didn't seem to be any problems. Well yesterday the worms had scattered all over the tank as if in distress. Today they were almost all dead and disintegrated and the water was really foul. All the fish were at the top looking for air. Was this due to (a) lack of oxygen due to cycle being all messed up from filter bag removal or (b) maybe the worms were diseased and when they died they set off an ammonia spike? I have changed half the water, am probably going to change another half tomorrow and start to get rid of the worm remains. Fish all seem to be still alive somehow. Thanks for your prompt response! Bob <Hello Bob. It is NEVER a good idea to add live food (or any other kind of food, other than plant material) to a tank that is not consumed within 5 minutes. Not ever. The reasons why your live food in this case died and caused problems is difficult to say, but the point is that the situation should never have arisen in the first place. Yes, when live food dies it causes the oxygen content of the water to drop. There's something called the Biological Oxygen Demand (or BOD) that encompasses not just the oxygen used by animals and plants, but also things like bacteria and fungi. Decay is a major element of this, and the more decay there is, the higher the BOD. If BOD exceeds the amount of oxygen in the water, you get an oxygen crisis, and things can die unless they can supplement their oxygen by breathing air. Lungfish and Gouramis for example are masters of this latter art, but Puffers can't do it, and obviously any bacteria stuck inside a (closed) filter can't do it either. If filter bacteria die, ammonia and nitrite processing decreases, and water quality drops. So, the "fix" here is to do a big water change to flush out any ammonia and nitrite, clean the substrate to remove as much decaying organic matter as possible, and then make jolly sure you don't add too much live food ever again! If you have excess live food, store it in a container of water in a cool place. Add a bit at a time, just enough for your fish to be nicely fed but not gorged so much it swells up. Puffers should look lean, with a gently rounded belly, and should NOT look like they swallowed a bowling ball. As for the filters, all else being equal they should bounce back within a day or two. Rinse any media gently in a bucket of aquarium water, and then put the filter back together. No long-term harm should happen. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: emergency! - dead worms and cloudy water (understanding BOD!), & FW puffer fdg.   02/06/09 thanks! <Happy to help.> I feel horrible. <Oh?> To explain, I have never had luck keeping my worms in the fridge. <Don't bother.> Despite changing the bit of water they soaked in daily the worms always died and messed up my whole fridge. <Indeed.> Therefore I have always "hidden" live food under a rock covered in java fern in the corner of the tank where even the puffer could only access a few worms at a time, and this has worked for years. <Ah...> However this time the new store I went to gave me too many worms (twice the normal amount), and I think maybe this caused the BOD problem you refer to. Maybe I'll try again with the cool storage especially after this problem. I hope everything stabilizes soon. Thank you. <Why not buy frozen? (As opposed to freeze dried.) Safer, cleaner, cheaper. Puffers take to frozen food without complaint. You can also offer a variety of things: bloodworms, blackworms, glassworms, etc. More variety = better health. You don't need live foods. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: emergency! - dead worms and cloudy water (understanding BOD!), & FW puffer fdg.   02/06/09 This has been an ongoing war for years with my puffer. He simply does not do frozen. I have starved him for months feeding only frozen and he hates it. He spits it out and then finally loses interest altogether. My LFS guy said, he'll eat it if he's hungry enough but I have never seen any evidence of this even when he's emaciated. This is a very entitled and privileged animal. <Made a rod for your own back here. Do try bloodworms. My puffers (including Dwarves, Red-tails and South Americans) love them. Offer alongside the live food, mixed in. While feeding on the one, they'll likely take the other. Switch brands. Some seem more palatable than others. My puffers are less keen on glassworms and mosquito larvae than bloodworms. Also try hand-feeding, using forceps. Wriggle the food about enticingly. Generally, puffers *will* eat if they're hungry enough. Never seen one refuse! What kind of puffer is it? Cheers, Neale.>

Re: emergency! - dead worms and cloudy water (understanding BOD!), & FW puffer fdg. - Part 3  02/06/09 It's a dwarf. Forceps, are you serious?! Wow, high maintenance, this one. <Yep. Deadly serious. I feed many of my fish this way. Besides helping to "tame" them (i.e., to settle into captive life and view humans as friends, not giant predators) it's also a way to make frozen/dead food more "interesting", so they take it readily.> If I'm not mistaken I tried frozen bloodworms - in those compartmentalized plastic chambers? <Yes.> Is there a brand you recommend? <Any should be fine to start with, but look for "mini bloodworms" given the species you have; the big bloodworms might be too tough. Don't thaw them in warm water: let them defrost slowly. I find thawing them quickly sometimes does something to the flavour, and the fish are less keen. But do, please, try mixing bloodworms with the live mosquito larvae. Once they're in a feeding frame of mind, they may well peck at anything.> Also I tried frozen shrimp. He also got a few snails here and there, till they became hard to find. <Indeed.> Thanks so much for all advice, the fish are already swimming around better after I changed most of the water. <Cool. Good luck, Neale.>

Indian Dwarf Puffer Feeding 8/20/08 Hi there, of late I been having freshwater puffer on the mind... I blame a YouTube video of a Indian Dwarf Puffer eating a snail and fell in love with them. I have spent the last few days looking up freshwater puffer. As I was reading about things they like to eat a question pop into my mind that needed a answer, but it was not a kind of question one could easily Google. Could a Indian Dwarf Puffer live on pond snails or other easy to breed snails as their main food or would a wide range of food be needed to keep a healthy puffer? Snails seem like a better food choice than other foods for them to eat. Being easy to breed one could offer them a steady selection of live snails. If a dwarf puffer could live off snails how many would one feed them? Could one fill the tank with snails and trust them to not kill themselves by over eating? Their is something I like about the idea that my fish friend's meal will stay fresh on the bottom of his tank until he hunts it down and kills it. I kind of like snails but stay away from them on account they breed like rabbits and eat plants. <Hello! A wide range of food is best for puffers. Dwarf puffers can be feed snails, live black worms, frozen bloodworms, flake food and pellet food. The problem is finding the type of food (live or not) that they will accept regularly. Snails should be feed as treats once the puffers accept frozen foods or flake food. These dwarf puffers are very small, about 1 inch at full size, thus they can not break the shells of snails like larger puffers so pond snails are an excellent choice! Just drop one or two into a tank and watch your puffer hunt them down. You don't want to give them an unrestricted amount of snails because puffers are notoriously known to be glutens and will eat themselves sick. Here is a helpful link about feeding dwarf puffers: www.dwarfpuffers.com You are welcome! Merritt A.>

Snail/Puffer Eco System  11/6/07 Hello, I am cycling fishless, currently waiting to set up a Figure 8 puffer in a 30 gallon tank. <Very good.> I have done a good amount of research and one of the things I have noticed is that a lot of sites say F8s don't need snails to wear their beak down, but the ones that seem devoted to the brackish fish all say F8s needs snails, including this one. <It's one of those points where "your mileage may vary". Figure-8 puffers do NOT seem to be among the Pufferfish species prone to overgrown teeth. South American freshwater puffers (Colomesus spp.) and the Asian genera Auriglobus and Chonerhinos seem to be much more troubled by this issue. This likely reflects different rates of tooth-growth, presumably connected to different types of food in the wild. But that said, Tetraodon spp. can get overgrown teeth. So providing at least some shelly food is a good idea, and snails are very convenient.> I am a bit of a softy when it comes to live feeding but under the right conditions (one being I really really like the fish, second being tank sustainability of the live feeder) I will. <Indeed. Sticking live food into a tank adds a load to the filter, and in the case of Pufferfish, there are clear advantages to keeping water quality as a high as possible.> My questions: What would be the minimum to feed F8s keeping them happy and healthy. Say, a basic 'Feed snails every six months for a week' response. <It all depends. If you're giving the Pufferfish just soft food, such as bloodworms, day in, day out, then you may find the teeth become overgrown. In this case, using snails once a week would be a good idea. But if you're feeding them unshelled prawns, frozen krill, live woodlice and other prey that have shells already, the teeth may wear down just fine by themselves. So rather than looking at snails as a "cure", take an holistic approach instead. Try and make sure most meals are "crunchy" so that the puffer's teeth wear down all by themselves. The grocery store and the back garden will both provide plenty of suitable fodder. Unshelled prawns can be taken apart easily enough. You eat the yummy meat, but give the legs and tail-fins to the puffers. My puffers love woodlice, and these make a very satisfying crunching sound, suggesting that they are plenty hard enough to wear down the teeth if used regularly. And so on. Use your own common sense and see what you have to hand.> Second question is, is there a snail that will out reproduce my puffer or out reproduce my puffer enough that I would only have to buy a new set of snails every few months or so? <The ideal in many people's opinion are the small pond snail Physa spp. These are the semi-transparent snails often seen in aquaria. They are easy to rear in ponds. But I have to admit my puffers eat them only grudgingly, and normally only if I crush them first. So again, your own experiences will have to colour your actions.> This site states that the Malaysian Trumpet Snails are okay for Brackish water but I have read elsewhere that they can't live in any salt water. <Melanoides tuberculata will thrive at anything up to around 50% seawater salinity. They are phenomenally durable animals.> I do know they breed very fast. <Indeed. But some aquarists have connected broken teeth on their puffers with the presence of Melanoides snails. I have to admit to being skeptical of this, having watched Pufferfish crack open oysters in the wild, but in the interest of fairness I will at least recount those observations. I have Melanoides snails in many of my tanks, and puffers will sometimes eat the tiny juveniles. But they seem to show no interest in the adults. Quite possibly their shells are too strong for the small Pufferfish I'm keeping to open. On the other hand, I don't have "plagues" of these Melanoides snails in my tanks, at least not in the tanks with Pufferfish. So the puffers presumably do kill enough of the juveniles to moderate population growth.> I know Olive Nerites ARE brackish snails but also read they are slow breeders. <Nerites don't really breed at all in aquaria. Their life cycle seems to be fairly tricky to accommodate in captivity. Some people have had success, but it seems more by luck than judgment. Be that as it may, Nerites are practically bullet-proof, and small puffers don't seem to be able to eat them.> Is there another snail that would fit my bill? <The pond snail Physa is likely the balance between size, ease of care, and willingness to breed. Apple snails could be reared separately, but they don't last long in brackish water so would have to be added "one meal at a time".> Basically my thoughts are, if I have to feed live, I want to do it as minimal as possible, or set up a system where, with other then a few interventions, is nature-like and the live food can benefit from being in the tank also. I am I crazy? <Not crazy at all. I've found Pufferfish teeth get worn down "automatically" in tanks with a combination of Melanoides snails and silica sand; one or the other doesn't seem to work by itself. Possibly foraging in the sand combines enough grit with the prey animal to do the trick. Others have experimented with "feeding stones". These are rough rocks such as Tufa and pumice into which suitable food (such as prawn) is smeared and then any loose food rinsed off. To get the food, the puffers need to work away at the rock -- just as they would do in the wild. Yet others simply get into the routine of doing the dental work as and when required. It's really not that difficult, though admittedly requires a steady hand! Cheers, Neale>

African Yellowtail Puffer... ID, fdg... FW?   10/26/07 Hi Guys, I bought a 2 inch African Yellowtail Puffer about a month ago. I have been feeding small live fish which he would eat voraciously. One day, almost overnight, it seems like he could no longer eat properly. For the last week he has been hanging out on the bottom and occasionally swimming around looking like he is very weak. I noticed that it looked like he had problems trying to eat anything. What could be the problem?? Thanks Peter <Hello Peter. I have absolutely no idea what an "African Yellowtail Puffer" is. Perhaps Tetraodon mbu, since that's from Africa and has a yellow tail. I just hope not though, because it is a very difficult (read: almost impossible) animal for the home hobbyist to look after. For one thing, it is extremely sensitive to poor water quality. Zero ammonia and zero nitrite go without saying, but nitrate needs to be as close to zero as possible, and certainly not above 20 mg/l. Next, it's huge. I mean gigantic. In the wild, these fish get to over 60 cm (about 24") in length (excluding the tail fin). Some captive specimens have grown even larger. In terms of aquarium conditions, this demands a tank of the largest possible size, probably something upwards of 1000 litres (over 260 US gallons). Admittedly, yours will take a few years to get to full size, but still, you do need to have a plan. I'd actually argue they aren't aquarium hobby fish at all. Anyway, when a puffer stops feeding, you know something is very, VERY wrong. Normally they are swimming dustbins that will eat until they can't move. Your first problem is feeding the wrong food. Never, EVER give feeder fish to a puffer. Not only is it not required, but it is actually hazardous. Goldfish and minnows, for example, contain thiaminase (which breaks down Vitamin B1) and large amounts of fat (that cause problems with the internal organs). The correct diet for all puffers, repeat ALL PUFFERS, in captivity is a variety of the following: mussels, pond snails, krill, unshelled prawns, bloodworms, earthworms, river shrimps, and clams. Many also enjoy (and probably need) some amount of green food too. Tinned peas seem to go down well with many pufferfish. Puffers also need to be fed in small amounts. The goal is to feed once a day, or every other day for big (~10 cm/4") specimens. Each time, the fish should eat no more than enough to slightly fill out the belly to a gently convex shape. Puffers will eat until they swell up like bowling balls; that is not good for them! Also check water quality. With Tetraodon mbu especially, any amount of ammonia, nitrite or nitrate will sicken the fish. So instead of trying to ram more food down their throats, when these fish go off their dinner, do a 50% water change. And then another! Give it a couple of days, and then try something small and tasty, like a river shrimp or half a mussel. Above all else, worry more about water quality than food. When the water conditions are right, your fish will start feeding again. Hope this helps, Neale>

Help! My Golden Puffer is Not Eating  10/20/07 <Hi Ainede , Pufferpunk here> Hello I need some help ASAP. I acquired a mated pair of golden puffers two weeks ago. <I am not sure from that name, exactly what species of puffer they are. Is it the Auriglobus modestus? I'm also not sure how you can be positive they area "mated pair", as there is no way to distinguish the sexes of most puffers, nor do most spawn successfully in captivity. Please look here for proper ID: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/ > One of them is eating but the other one refuses to do so. I know he is hungry because he goes after the live food but then looses interest and hasn't eaten at all. He is getting rather thin and looks lethargic and I don't know what to do anymore. I have tried giving the following foods: frozen: krill and silversides, live: clam, shrimp, squid. Even tried feeding with tweezers. <Hmmm... so this is a marine puffer? Even less chance of being a proven mated pair. It would help a great deal to know what kind of puffer you have. The modestus puffer is well known for overgrown teeth, so this would be my first thought.> All water parameters in my tank are good and I am really worried--please help me. <"Good" means nothing to someone trying to help. I need to know the exact ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH & specific gravity (if saltwater). Tank age, size, tank mates (if any), water change schedule, will also help me. You could try soaking it's food in garlic & see if that perked up it's appetite. Please get back to me with more info. ~PP> Ainede

Suggested Food Schedule for Puffers/Cycling, etc.  8/28/07 Hello WWM Crew, <Hi Jen, Pufferpunk here> I am considering setting up a tropical freshwater aquarium and I've been researching a few different fish species. I came across a page of yours that spoke very highly of the personality of puffers and I was intrigued by them at the pet store (specifically the Amazon puffer... something on the smaller size but bigger than dwarfs). <Yes, puffers make great fishy pets! There are certain dentistry problems that come with the Amazon species of puffers though. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm> Even with the extra steps for care, they seem to be what I'm after. My concern is that I am a college student without a car, so trips to the LFS for shrimp, frozen krill and snails will be few and far between. I do however, have easy access to a grocery store. <Some puffer foods can be found in the produce dept of your grocery store. Chopped up small & frozen. How about a bait shop? It is also easy to order freeze-dried krill/plankton/worms/shrimp. I use: http://www.jehmco.com/PRODUCTS_/FISH_FOODS_/Freeze_Dried/freeze_dried.html > I want to figure out if it would be feasible for me to keep a puffer. I read through many of the FAQs but could not find a complete answer to my question about their dietary requirements. What sort of (grocery attainable and affordable) food schedule would be recommended for a small puffer? I know that nutritional balance will be important but I have no experience to know what that balance is and how frequent of feedings and I would want to give my fish the best chance for a healthy life from the start. I would like a hypothetical one-week-of-feeding suggestion. I should be able to get as many snails as I could want from biology department aquariums. <A varied diet is most important. These articles should be very helpful: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/category/feeding/ > Also, since I am starting a new aquarium, I will need cycling fish first, that will need to occupy the final setup as well, most likely Danios. What is the minimum size tank would you recommend for my two or so small cycling fish and say an Amazon (asellus) puffer that I add later? <15 gallons for the 1st puffer (of that size & species) & 10g for every one added after that. Puffers are best kept in a species only tank. I highly suggest against cycling with fish. It is harmful to the fish, takes several weeks & really isn't necessary. It is not good for any fish to place into an uncycled tank. In addition, if you cycle with (for example) 3 danios, there will be just enough bacteria to support those 3 fish. Then you add another fish (a puffer)--there is no extra bacteria to support it. Please look into "fishless cycling". Many, many articles written on it. For an instant cycle, you can use Bio-Spira (no other products will suffice!). Place it into your filter & add fish immediately. I also suggest looking into the Figure 8 puffer as a more personable (IMO), easier to find, less "toothy" puffer to keep. ~PP> Thanks for your help! Sincerely, Jen

Re: Suggested Food Schedule for Puffers/Cycling, etc. 7/29/07 Thanks for your help Pufferpunk, especially the bit about fishless cycling and the article referrals. I knew that there were other methods but he websites I was looking at for aquarium setup focused on using fish. I appreciate the product recommendation as well. <I'm thrilled you are open to other, more harmless cycling methods!> You have an awesome site! Thank you so much. <Thank you, PP> ~Jen

Is it OK to feed dwarf frog tadpoles to my dwarf puffer? 7/15/07 Hi, it's me -- Betty -- <Hi Betty, it's me--Pufferpunk.> owner of dwarf frogs Slim and Chance, and also the owner of a dwarf puffer named Puff-Diddy. <I remember you!> Well, my dwarf frogs have finally mated successfully and now I'm the proud owner of lots and lots of teeny, tiny tadpoles. I don't really want any more dwarf frogs (although I do love Slim and Chance). I'm aware that they'll eat their babies if they're in the same tank, so I'm cool with that. I was wondering if I could feed some tadpoles to the dwarf puffer? Will he eat tiny tadpoles and will they be OK for him to eat? Also, could I try feeding tadpoles to Flash, my male Betta? <I don't think they would hurt but I also don't believe that would be a natural food for a puffer. I suppose they might come across tadpoles in nature. Try it & find out. Just be sure to remove any uneaten parts. ~PP><<RMF would raise the ADFs, sell them for big bongo bucks, buy frozen foods to feed the GSPs with the profits...>> Betty Williams

Re: Is it OK to feed dwarf frog tadpoles to my dwarf puffer? & Breeding Frogs   7/17/07 OK, here's a follow-up: Today I noticed the tadpoles were dead or dying, so I went ahead and gave some to my dwarf puffer, and he scarfed them down like potato chips! It was neat to watch. However, I did hope that some of the tads would survive to adulthood. I have a friend who would like a pair of frogs like mine. So I'd like to know when Slim and Chance are likely to mate again? If well conditioned and the water stays clean you have a pretty good chance of them going again.> How many times a year do dwarf frogs typically mate? < Depends on the pair and on the conditions. I am not sure but I think they can breed at least twice a year but the pair must be well feed.> I also realize I wasn't exactly prepared to raise tadpoles; I didn't have them in a heated tank, and I never could find a place that sold LiquiFry. I just crushed some Fish and Tadpole Bites and scattered them in the bowl they were in. So I'd like to be better prepared next time the blessed event occurs. Any recommendations? < Try Spirulina powder sold in health food stores. It is a powdered form of algae. Or try crushed Spirulina flake food from OSI.-Chuck>

South American "Zebra" Puffer, Colomesus psittacus 7/12/07 Hi- <Hi Elizabeth, Pufferpunk here> I have a zebra puffer that is about 1" long, I bought it recently. I have read that you need to feed them hard/shelled foods so that their teeth can wear down, but I'm not sure what I can feed my puffer, seeing as he is so small. He currently is fine eating the flakes/freeze-dried worms that I put in the tank, but I am hoping to get him a better and healthier diet. Any advice you can give would be appreciated, thanks! <You are correct that they need crunchy foods--especially this species. Unless fed a daily diet of snails, you will be trimming your puffer's teeth every 4-6 months. Even tiny puffers eat snails--as large as their eye, is the general rule. Here are several articles on feeding puffers: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/category/feeding/You will also need to familiarize yourself with pufferfish dentistry. There is an article on that in the Hospital section of that website or you can find it here too: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm ~PP> -Elizabeth

Food amount food for baby Nile puffer?  2/19/07 Hi, We just got a baby Nile puffer <Tetraodon lineatus... aka the Fajaka, Fahaka...> yesterday who has settled down in his large tank and took food of bloodworms very happily today. About 3" at present. We know about all the types of food to give him, but cannot find out about the amount each time for his size. <Hard to gauge other than to say, no more than offering once a day really... till the animal seems "full"... not bulging> we have put a 3 little snails in so he can have something to crunch for his teeth but has so far ignored them. Think he is too small for cockles yet? <You could try these... one at a time, pried open... removing in an hour or so if not consumed...> Any help would be greatly received as do not want to either over or under feed in this important growth stage. Many Thanks Denise & Paul <And a long read here?: http://www.google.com/search?q=Nile+puffer&rls=com.microsoft:en-us: IE-Address&i.e.=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7PCTA Bob Fenner>

Feeding Juvie Dwarf Puffers   1/29/07 Hi, all!   <Hi Candice, Pufferpunk here> I've had DP in the past but they were much larger than the two that I just bought.  (I sort of saved them from the LFS who when asked if they had any and said no and then when I found them didn't know what they were). <Common> Anyway, they are about a quarter of an inch long.   <Awwww!> So I'm thinking they're relatively young.  I got some bloodworms to feed them but they don't seem to eat them as well as adult DP do.  They just kinda "chew" them and then spit them out.   <Many puffers eat this way.  They're still getting something from that.> I assume this is normal for such young puffers and I've had them about two weeks and they seem fine.  My questions is: Do you have  any suggestions on feeding them something else? Any info would be great.  Thanks, by the way, in advance. <You could try freeze-dried plankton.  You may have to crush it up  a bit to fit their tiny mouths but don't forget, they have teeth too.  You could try thawed, frozen glassworms, if anyone sells them anymore.  Check out www.thepufferforum.com, for more info.  ~PP> Candice

Puffer Care & Feeding  11/9/06 Hi, <Hi Christina, Pufferpunk here> I have a green/gold puffer that is about 3/4 of an inch long. <By your description, I am thinking it might be the green spotted puffer but it might also be a dwarf puffer.  You can look here for proper ID: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/?sid=2e4443f5da7cc80865ecbedfc44ba28e > It lives in a 29 gallon tank with 3 rasboras, 3 German rams, 1 loach, and 1 dwarf Indian Botia.  The tank is quite heavily planted and the puffer seems to spend most of its time amongst the plants. <Typical behaviour of a dwarf puffer.> I never see him eat anything, he never comes up to the surface and I worry that the other fish are eating all the food before the puffer can get any.  I never see the other fish pick on him or vice-versa.  I feed them all flakes, freeze dried brine shrimp and frozen food.  I've had the puffer for a little over a week.  Do you think he is getting enough food?  Is there something else I should feed him? <Puffers do not eat like regular tropical fish.  Here's an article on feeding puffers: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html Feel free to poke around at that forum too!  Either way, whether it's a freshwater dwarf or the brackish green spotted, puffers do not belong in a community tank & will eventually nip/bite/maim/kill your other fish  ~PP> Thanks, Christina

Dwarf Puffers, Not Eating  10/29/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I recently bought 3 dwarf puffers and they are tiny, I mean pebble size and the problem is they won't eat anything.  They chase the frozen brine shrimp and the flakes but won't eat them. Tomorrow I'm gonna go catch some snails but what should I do? I don't want them to die and also when I treat them to brine shrimp how much should I give? <Was the tank cycled before you added the puffers?  Fish (puffers especially) introduced into an uncycled tank, live in their own waste.  I know that wouldn't make ME very hungry!  Otherwise, you could try live blackworms, rinsed well.  I don't know of any healthy fish that would turn those down.  You could also try soaking food in garlic juice to increase appetite.  In addition to snails (tiny ones--as large as their eye), you could try freeze-dried plankton.  Brine shrimp isn't very nutritious (mostly water) but can be fed as an occasional treat.  Feed till their bellies are slightly rounded.  ~PP>

Coming Soon... Dwarf Puffers, and snails   8/20/06 Dear Crew, <Shel> Previously we have discussed my goldfish, specifically, the Fantail named Sara. As you know, tanks are addicting <Heeee! Oh yes> and my son decided he wants Puffers in their old 10-gallon tank. I have it very nicely planted (thank you AZ gardens for your Plants for Dummies habitat kits) and ready for Puffs. I have what may be a really stupid question but I need to ask it anyway. I know elsewhere you recommend raising snails in a separate tank for them but I was wondering why you cannot just put the snails in the tank with them. <Just hard to impossible to control many of the hermaphroditic species numbers/population mainly, and that the puffers may eat them all...> If this is one of those, "Duh" questions, I am truly sorry. I have enclosed a photo of the prepared tank purely because it's a nice picture. The water level is low because I had just finished planting.  Thank you once again for all you do. Shellie <Though puffers of most sorts/species will make short work... eat the snails. Bob Fenner>

MBU Puffer not eating.. read: stunting - 8/9/2006 Hello, I saw your post on FAQ's for MBU puffers and had to get in touch with you.  I also have a Tetraodon MBU and I was having some problems feeding him. I have  had him for about 8 months and he currently lives in a 30 gallon tank by himself. <<Just for the record, you do realize that your puffer will grow to 30' (two and a half FEET) or more, and will need a 1000-gallon (one thousand US gallons) tank? I would say he is about  4-5" long now. <<He is likely stunted already.  Please look into housing this giant puffer properly, or donating him to a public aquarium or research centre, even another aquarist that can.  It infuriates me that pet stores sell these monsters without educating people on how enormous they get.>> When we first bought him the aquarist told us to feed him freeze dried krill and we have been feeding him this throughout. <<An all-krill diet is not sound.  Try crab legs, snails, shell-on shrimp, cockles, clams, mussels.>> Recently it seems  he has developed an aversion to this food. <<Common when fed only one item.>> He is  going up for the food, takes a bite and than doesn't touch it.  I have tried to feed him shrimp, silversides, scallops.  He does not even move towards  them. <<Give him time to get hungry, try a garlic additive, or try dangling it around to have it appear live.>> My water has been tested and everything is normal. <<Actual numbers are helpful.>> The temperature is at 82 degrees F. <<A little high.>> The pH is around  8.0-8.1.  These are the conditions that he has been in from the start.  There is also no salt in the water. <<That's good.>> Physically he looks very healthy (well rounded). No signs of fungal or bacterial infections, no signs of starvation, and he has the drive to eat.  So I guess my questions is: How do I get him to eat other foods, is he disinterested or is there something else that I am missing?  If I have left anything out please feel free to contact me via my email.  I will appreciate any help. My other thought was that he could possibly have a parasitic infection.  His anal region is black. <<My guess is this poor puffer has stopped eating due to severe stunting and improper diet.  Eating means growing, and he has no room to.  Please take what I say about the size and tank requirements of your puffer seriously. I can tell you love him, so lets try and house him in a way that will not end in death prematurely.>> Thank you. Jawad <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Live brine for puffers? (11/07/03)  One quick question Ananda, have you had any luck with feeding your puffers live brine shrimp? Just wondering, my puff is hooked on pellets and I want him to eat a variety of foods. Thanks  <One quick answer: I've never bothered to feed my puffs live brine shrimp. Live brine shrimp has little more nutrition than water -- it's the fishy equivalent of junk food. You might try some fishy foods with krill as an ingredient, or head for the grocery store for some frozen shrimp. You get the shrimp, your puffer gets the shrimp tails, with shell. :-) --Ananda>  <Oops, forgot to ask: what kind of pellets is your puffer devouring so happily? I might want to try some for my puffs! Thanks. --Ananda> 

Puffer's favorite food (11/09/03) Hi Ananda, <Hi!> It is the Formula ONE Marine Pellet, small pellets, for carnivorous/omnivores Marine Tropicals, it says super color enhancing. I don't know what it is about the pellets, but he loves it, I was reading the ingredients and it says shrimp, plankton, sardine, soybean, wheat flour, salmon egg oil, along with 1 million other things :) <Thanks for answering my question about which food your puffer goes nuts over. I thought it might be one of the higher-quality foods. If he eats only this, he should be pretty much okay, nutritionally speaking, though do try to get him to eat some shell-on foods. Thanks! --Ananda>

Puffer not eating... (10/22/03) Hi (Ananda perhaps?), <Yep! Hi again!> Its me again with the puffers in the powerhead current.   <And me, still chuckling at the thought of them being so cute doing that...> All is fine except for my T. suvattii/leiurus (not sure which he is, everyone tells me something different, and he has characteristics of both, though he seems fine in brackish water).   <Can you send a photo? Jeni aka Pufferpunk has had one of those species, I think, and should be able to help ID it.> The only food any of my fish will touch is krill, cocktail shrimp tails, or snails, which I pre-crush to help them out. <Unless you're in a position where you have to use cone snails or snails that are too large for the puffers to get their mouths around, let them do it. :-) > This particular puffer will only eat the krill in the current from the filter or the powerhead.   <A fussier-than-usual little guy...> When it is feeding time, he comes out all excited, takes a bite, and then thrashes about like a dog with a stuffed animal, except I don't think he takes any of the food into his mouth and swallows it, it falls away and he continues to thrash for a few more seconds, but he never goes back to the food. It's like it smelled good, but tasted bad.   <Hmmm. What else does the food come in contact with? Is he maybe tasting soap from just-washed hands, or something similar? Maybe consider grabbing the stuff with a fork, and then letting it sit in clam juice for a while?> Or that there is something in his mouth that makes him hurt when he bites.  His teeth are definitely not overgrown though.  He just watches everyone else eat, then goes back under his caves and lurks around.  I could see how he might be shy when eating around the other fish, but why the thrashing behavior?   <Hunting instinct?> And when he isn't eating, he isn't shy at all to defend his cave. I would like to move him to a separate tank in the future, but he will have to stay with the other fish in the 55 gallon for a few more months because of my living arrangements. <I think the idea of giving him his own tank is definitely a good idea.> thanks in advance for your invaluable advice, Dave <You're quite welcome! --Ananda>

Eating problems with an African Fahaka Puffer Hopefully someone there can help, <Ananda here to try...> I have had my puffer for about 2 years now in a 20 gallon tank, along with a pleco, a Labidochromis and 2 Mono's. <That is a frighteningly small tank for that combination... the pleco will get to 2' long, the puffer will get over a foot long, the monos will need brackish water and eventually salt water as they approach their adult size of almost a foot long and a foot tall. (The size of the Labidochromis depends on what species you have.) These guys need at least 55 gallons by now, and the monos need brackish water in a different tank.> Soon after the black out in the North east in the middle of Aug. my puffer began to lose its appetite. <How are your water parameters?> I have fed the fish frozen Mysis shrimp for the 2 years I have had it, but recently would not eat. <In my experience, puffers do get tired of a monotonous diet -- the Fahaka owner I know was feeding hers squids, mussels, oysters, clams, scallops, crayfish, crab legs, fiddler crabs, earthworms, & krill when he was that age.> The fish appears to be very hungry. It would come up to the surface and swim frantically, waiting to be fed, but would only mouth the food when I would put it in. <It's entirely likely his teeth are overgrown. He needs to be getting hard-shelled foods to keep his teeth worn down. But since he hasn't had those, he probably needs his teeth trimmed. A few discussions about doing so: http://www.lmas.org/library/dentistry.htm http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=20&thread=7779 http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1057161492> After some recommendations from my pet store, I have tried tetracycline and even as a last ditch effort, put a small dose of formaldehyde in the take. <I am not certain that either of those will help at all.> The puffer is still not eating and is getting very thin. Some say that the fish may have gill flukes which can make it painful for the fish to eat. Maybe that is why the puffer is not eating. <Does the puff have any other symptoms of gill flukes?> At this point, I don't know what is wrong with this fish. I do not want to lose it to something that may be treatable. I would greatly appreciate a response and maybe even a list of recommendations of what I can do.   <Start reading more about puffers! You might start with the WetWebMedia puffer pages (including the marine puffer pages, as there is much good info on feeding puffers there, too). There are also a lot of posts about puffers in the brackish forum on the WetWebMedia chat forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk. Also check out Pufferpunk's puffer forums at   http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi> Thank You,      Chris <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Eating Problems with an African Fahaka Puffer/Brackish Fish Compatibility Ananda, <Yep, I'm back...> First off, I just wanted to thank you for getting back to me. Getting advice when you really need it is better than not knowing what to do next, so thanks. <You're welcome. :-)> So the puffer, he/she is eating now. I don't know if it was the formaldehyde that I put in the tank or if it was a change in diet, but it is now eating like it always did. <I would guess diet.> I changed to krill and he/she seems to like it. <I have heard of extremely few puffers who turn down krill.> You had mentioned that his teeth may need some work, I read the links you had included in the email, not for nothing but a Dremel tool seems a little over the top, I don't know if that is the road I want to take. <Okay, but then you'll need harder-shelled foods than krill....> I also read that you can put crabs, clams and or mussels in the tank, is that a possibility for my tank? <Yup. I would avoid freshwater mussels that have not been frozen, however...there is some anecdotal evidence that these can be disease carriers.> What would you recommend? He does have a set of teeth on him, but I don't think it is restricting him from eating. <Try some other foods and see how he does. Shrimp tails are an easy one to start with, as are crab bits (especially the pointy ends of the crab legs).> You mentioned that my tank may be a little small (20 gal) for the fish that I have in the tank. <For their adult sizes, no "may be" about it.> How many gallons would you recommend for them. I have the Fahaka puffer, <Pufferpunk just got a 125 gallon tank for hers.> 2 Mono's, <Long-term, 75 gallon, minimum...also depends on what other fish you keep in with them, since they need a brackish tank going to saltwater> one yellow Labidochromis <Probably a 55 would be sufficient> and a pleco. <Long-term, maybe a 90 gallon -- what the fish stores don't tell you is that these guys can get to be 2' long. It *might* be able to share the Fahaka's tank, if the Fahaka will leave it alone.> I think you said somewhere around 55 gal? <It depends on the species in the tank....> You also sad that as the Mono's mature, they will need brackish water and eventually salt water as they approach their adult size. How long does it take to reach their adult size, how salty should the water be, can they remain in the same tank as the other fish, and how can you  tell if the fish already needs saltier water.    <It should probably have saltier water now. How big is it?> More questions, what should the average temperature, of the tank I have now, be considering different types of fish? <Most people I know go with 76 degrees for most of their fish. Some particular species like warmer temps, but 76 should be good for now.> Sorry about the length of this email, but I figured that I should ask as many questions I could based on the helpful response I received from you before. <If you'd like more peoples' opinions, do check out our brackish and freshwater forums on http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/!> I know I may be doing some things wrong with the tank I have now, I would rather know what I am doing than do further damage to the poor little fish. <And we are happy that you're investigating things now, *before* those fish have difficulties.> Thanks again, Chris <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Dwarf Puffers  9/19/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have been researching puffers for a while.  Yesterday I purchased 3 small dwarf puffers (the size of a small pebble).  I have them in a 10 gallon tank for now until they grow. I have added 2 tablespoons of aquarium salt and have the water temp at 80.  They do not seem to be eating.  I have tried frozen brine shrimp and pellets but they seem to be too small to eat those foods.  I was wondering what to feed the tiny guys? <Most puffers are wild-caught fish, which means they are used to eating live foods.  Mine love live blackworms--you should try those.  Once you get them eating you can try frozen-freeze-dried foods.  They also will need snails to eat, to keep their teeth trimmed.  Dwarf puffers are strictly freshwater fish & do not like salt.  A 10g tank should be fine for them for life, since they won't grow larger than 1".  Here's a great site for them: www.dwarfpuffers.com.  ~PP> Dwarf Puffer Questions  9/02/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I bought a dwarf puffer about a week ago at PetSmart. (I bought 2 but 1 died the next day) They say it won't get any bigger than 1 inch.  Now that I have it and have questions, I can't seem to find anyone who knows what to do with it.  The biggest question is to do with food.  It was eating all the snails in the tank but now that they are gone I don't know what to do with it.   <Yup, they sure love their snails!> I have tried blocks of frozen brine shrimp and a refrigerated bottle of zooplankton.  He doesn't seem to even think they are food.  But he appears to be constantly searching for more snails.  I am worried that he will die if I don't find what to feed him soon.   <Mine love live blackworms.  For dry food, mine eat krill & plankton.> I bought some guppy fry and put them in but the other fish all ate them before the puffer had a chance.  He seems to want something that's alive.   <Try the worms 1st.  Most puffers aren't fish eaters.  If you have fish that are eating the puffer's food, you may have to separate the puffer.  Dwarves tend to be shy.> The second question is that one of the pet store owners told me she thought he should be in brackish water and after looking through this site I think she is probably right.   <Absolutely not!  Dwarf puffers are strictly FW fish.  Here's a great site for them: www.dwarfpuffers.com > I am considering a 5 gallon tank with brackish water if this is necessary.  What would you recommend? <A cycled 5g FW tank would be perfect for 1-3 dwarf puffers.  ~PP> Julie Curtis

South American Puffer Won't Eat 3/3/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hi, We have two puffer fish (Colomesus asellus), both tiny (maybe 1-2cm long), that we've had for about 2 years. They are the only two fish in a small tank, along with a few plants and other decorations. <How small? They require at least 10g each.> One of them has recently stopped eating - no obvious reason for it, though conceivably related to a small spot outbreak that seemed to only affect the other fish. Repeated attempts at feeding have failed - he shows little interest mostly, but sometimes gets excited, only to not manage to actually eat anything. He'll just attack the food without any actual success, then give up fairly quickly. It's been about 10 days since I've seen him eat anything, and he's looking pretty thin. <What kind of food are you offering your puffers? What tank mates are in there? Puffers are relatively slow swimmers, so if there are other, faster fish they will get to the food 1st.> On advice from my LFS, we've done several water changes, changed the filter unit (small air-pump driven one), and last night did another water change, removed the carbon from the filter, and treated with Esha Exit (spot) and Esha hexamita. Instructions say it's safe to mix these two medications, and we're stuck at this point and just hoping for a miracle. <You really shouldn't indiscriminately treat for diseases your fish may not have. Especially with puffers--they are extremely sensitive to meds, being scaleless & without gill covers. This particular species of puffer are known for overgrown teeth. Unless fed a daily diet of snails, their teeth will need trimming every 4-6 months. I'm surprised they lasted this long!  See: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1085932782.  I'll bet anything that is the problem your puffer is having.> Both fish in the tank are now hanging in a head up position near the surface, breathing more rapidly than I think they should be. I can't imagine there's an O2 problem in the tank, and I've tested for ammonia and nitrite in case the filter change has caused havoc, but all look OK. The fish that has been eating looks much better than the other, but not 100% OK. I'm worried that it may already be too late to save the starving one, and that whatever is causing this may be starting to affect the other as well. Any help/pointers much appreciated - we're out of ideas at this stage. <<It would help to know tank size & tankmates. I do 50% weekly water changes on all my tanks. The ammonia & nitrItes should be 0 at all times & nitrAtes <20. Check out that link on Puffer Dentistry & let me know what you think. ~PP>

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

Feeding Puffers Wild-Caught Crayfish Ok?  8/7/04 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have several FW puffers.  There is a creek behind my house that is loaded with crawdads.  My puffers love crustaceans.  My question is, Is it safe to give these wild crawdads to my puffers?  If so, is there any kind of prep I would need to do to them to make them safe?  I have heard that if you are going to eat them, you should put them in clean water for a day or two & clean out the creek water & any debris.  Are there crawdad diseases that would be dangerous to my puffers?   I would appreciate any help you could give me. <The chances are really poor for transferring active pathogens from a crayfish to BW fish.  To FW fish it is likely to be higher, depending in part on how long the Cray is held in fishless QT.  Direct transfer of wild-caught anything from native waters to tropical tanks is IMHO a moderate risk proposition - meaning that if you do it often (routine feeding during capture seasons) sooner or later you will introduce something - which may be trivial, or may be major.  If you have the facility to quarantine more than one batch separately, their odds are much improved.     The same applies to LFS crays - they have been captured (from breeder ponds?), held for shipping, shipped, distributor (possible but not always) holding, then LFS tank - that is non-trivial QT in itself, 4-5 minimum tank/vessel changes over days to weeks.  It would have to be a very hearty pathogen to make it through that.  True wild-caughts are more likely to have crayfish parasites (very common on the East Coast anyway) which can be visible on the crays.  But those do not infect/infest fish - they just make you wonder what else the critter is carrying. Thanks, Jackie <I hope this helps.  BTW, what kind of puffers do you have?  Join us at www.thepufferforum.com.  ~PP> Puffer Long in the Tooth  7/26/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a figure eight puffer and he is about 2" and from the day that we bought him he has had a large beak. We have just started giving him snails to eat. <Once the beak is overgrown, no amount of food will help.  Hard-shelled foods are fed as a preventive to keep their teeth trimmed.> How often can we give him snails to eat? <With a normal sized beak, 1-2x/week is fine.  I actually don't feed mine many snails.  My F8 puffers eat krill, plankton, blackworms & earthworms, small mussels & shrimp tails.> Will this be enough to trim his teeth? If not how do we get rid of the beak? We had heard that some people cut them, how they do it I have no idea but if possible we would like to avoid this. <Once the puffer's beak is overgrown, it must be trimmed.  See: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital> Please let me know I would appreciate it we get pretty attached to our fish. <Me too!> Thank you and God Bless Jessica Garcia <Good luck with your puffer's dentistry.  ~PP> Dwarf Puffers  9/19/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have been researching puffers for a while.  Yesterday I purchased 3 small dwarf puffers (the size of a small pebble).  I have them in a 10 gallon tank for now until they grow. I have added 2 tablespoons of aquarium salt and have the water temp at 80.  They do not seem to be eating.  I have tried frozen brine shrimp and pellets but they seem to be too small to eat those foods.  I was wondering what to feed the tiny guys? <Most puffers are wild-caught fish, which means they are used to eating live foods.  Mine love live blackworms--you should try those.  Once you get them eating you can try frozen-freeze-dried foods.  They also will need snails to eat, to keep their teeth trimmed.  Dwarf puffers are strictly freshwater fish & do not like salt.  A 10g tank should be fine for them for life, since they won't grow larger than 1".  Here's a great site for them: www.dwarfpuffers.com.  ~PP> New Puffer fish My husband recently bought a puffer fish from our LFS. They called it a puffer, and upon closer questioning, called it a green spotted puffer. It was recommended to us by the same LFS to control snails in our tank. Ours is a freshwater aquarium and home to five neon tetras and a couple of catfish. They assured me it will be fine in our six gallon freshwater tank, but upon looking at various websites, I have my doubts. <Your doubts are warranted. He will need specialized care; some salt in the water, larger tank, will probably eat the neon's eventually, etc.> This puffer has gone thru many many snails in the two days we've had him. In fact he's eaten them all and now I'm scavenging snails from the tank filter. As usual, dad and the kids have brought home a new pet, and mom gets to figure out how to keep him alive and hopefully happy and healthy. So, should I return him? Also, what to feed (the store gave us frozen baby brine shrimp to feed him, but he's completely uninterested - they're obviously too small for him, although the tetras were in heaven). <Frozen Mysis shrimp and/or plankton would be better.> Any advice is appreciated. I've looked thru your website and it's very helpful. However, now I'm inundated with often conflicting info and I need to go straight to the horse's mouth. <Take a look here for a lot more info http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpufferfaqs.htm> Thanks so much, Julie Billington <Welcome to the hobby, Steven Pro>

Re: New Puffer fish Thanks so much for the quick response! We got him/her some freeze-dried shrimp and some frozen brine shrimp. He liked the frozen shrimp and loved the freeze dried shrimp. I probably overfed him because I was so happy to seem him eating. The tetras continue to be impressed with the new additions to their diet. We're now scraping our pennies together for a 20 gallon tank. My main concern now is whether the catfish will tolerate the salt in the tank. <It depends on the species of puffer and how much salt you will have to add to keep him happy. Most fish will be ok with 1 tablespoon of salt per 5 gallons of water. It is a pretty standard recommendation for various health reasons. It would be best when you get the 20 to keep both tanks up and separate the fish. Neon's in one and the puffer in another.> Thanks Again! -Julie <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Spotted Puffers Hi there, I have a question regarding my spotted puffers.... I have had them for a couple of months now (absolutely loving them!). The first couple of weeks I had them they would not eat much, only a nibble here and there. They would swim up and down the back of the tank... almost looking like they were trying to escape. I was (of course) rather concerned, but wasn't sure if I needed to be. I did check the water numerous times just to be sure it was appropriate for them... nothing seemed to make any difference. One evening I decided to turn the tank light off to see if they would eat better in a more dim atmosphere... and wow what a difference! They both perked right up!  <this was because of the reflection (mirror like quality) of light in the tank... floating plastic plants would diffuse and refract it instead> I have been keeping the light off (with plenty of light in the rest of the room via window... not directly on the tank of course) and since their appetite has REALLY increased and they are taking full advantage of the entire tank. I must say, they are very comical to watch. The two I have also seem to be very fond of one another... never venturing very far for long without the other. So.... is this normal?  <a common situation> In their natural habitat are they more likely to be found in murky or dim waters?  <nope... the mirror effect is just freaky... the intensity of light has little else to do with the matter>  Most importantly, is this healthy? Thank you!! ~Alecia <sounds like you are both at ease now. Best regards, Anthony>

Leopard Puffer In A Bad Spot? I just bought a Leopard Puffer fish 3 days ago and I tried feeding it flakes, freeze dried bloodworms, sun dried baby shrimps and frozen shrimps, but it wouldn't eat any of it, worst of all, it doesn't seem to have any interest in it. Am I giving it the wrong food? <You might want to try tempting the fish with some live blackworms...sometimes the movements can be stimulating to the fish> It had not eat for 2 days now and I'm worried. Is there a special way to feed it? <Again, I'd try some live food, at least to get the fish to start eating. If you're using frozen or freeze-dried foods, try putting the food items on a feeding stick and move it around by the fish to simulate a living creature> And whenever I lightly tap the glass around it, it swims speedily and tries to jump out of the water, what does that mean? <Just could be a typical fright reaction. Try keeping the lights more dim for a few days until he settles in> Please reply back to my email ASAP, I don't want to starve it to death, thanks for your time. <Keep trying to get this guy to feed. Don't give up...If necessary, you may have to move him to a separate aquarium to get him eating in a non-competitive environment. Hopefully, your continued efforts will pay off. Good Luck! regards, Scott F.>

Leopard Puffer In A Bad Spot (Pt. 2) Sorry to bother you again, but I have one more question. How many days can a Leopard Puffer stay alive without food? (mine is only 1.3 inches long) <Well, this really depends on the individual fish, when it ate last, and whether or not it's currently ill...basically, there is no set length of time. I've seen fishes (even small ones) last for weeks without eating before they either ate or died (all to often, a fish that goes more than a week or two without eating is difficult or impossible to "bring back"). If this guy is really not eating, you may want to consider moving him to a treatment tank, where you can dose some vitamins into the water (such as Vita Chem). This may help induce the fish to eat, or at the very least, provide some nutrition until the fish actually eats. Keep trying- don't give up! Regards, Scott F!>

Questions on South American Freshwater Puffer Hi there, <good evening> I have a few questions.  First, I read the following on your website: "Again, on the negative side for aquarists is these fishes possession of tetrodotoxin, powerful poison to ward off would-be predators. A problem at times for ones that die, dissolve w/o notice in aquariums, and at times simply release same into their waters. Do not disturb. " <I would not worry too much, unless you plan on eating them.> I have no plans to eat my pets naturally, <Oh, ok.> but I worry about skin contact with their water.  Are these fish actually known to release their poison into the water in which they live?  I have also read that puffers read in captivity are found not to have poison in their systems as it is actually created by a food that they eat in the wild. <not sure if this is true with puffers, I have heard this is true of the poison dart frogs.> Secondly, I am having difficulty varying the diet of my puffers.  I believe the LFS fed them blood worms exclusively, and as such I have been unable to get them to eat anything else.  I can get two out of the three to eat M.Y.S.I.S shrimp, but they turn their noses up at brine shrimp, glass worms, beef heart, plankton, and anything else I've thought to feed them. <Mysis shrimp are a good start, I would not worry about the brine.  It is ok to starve them a little if you have to.> I have two concerns with this.  The first is that  I was told a diet high in blood worms would result in bloat.  Can puffers get bloat, and will too many blood worms cause it? <blood worms should not cause bloat, but a lot of dry food eaten quickly can.> What are the symptoms of bloat? <The fish will become bloated and have problems swimming, you would notice the change in appearance and behavior.> My second concern is their teeth.  I know they need to eat foods with shells in order to keep their teeth in check.  Is there anything else I could try feeding them that would help wear down their teeth? <snails.  If you have any friends with freshwater plant tanks, I'm sure they would be happy to share.  Otherwise check with the LFS, they usually have some in their plant tanks.  Take a look through our puffer FAQs for more info.  -Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffaqs.htm > Thanks! Laura Hardie

Aliens masquerading as spotted green puffs who won't eat snails!! (03/13/03) <Ananda here on the early-morning shift of the puffer patrol....> I recently purchased a 2.5gallon tank to raise small snails for puffer food, but I am noticing that they're not really eating them! <Someone call the Alien Registration Office... that's very, very odd... you're sure they're puffers, right?> I placed a few in my puffer tank one by one and watched them peck at it a few times, then let it sink to the bottom. I made sure I was giving them Ramshorn snails and not the cone shaped ones. <Sounds good...puffers would generally rather have round coiled rams horns than spiral pointy unicorn horns....> Do you think maybe the snails are too big for them (they're really small, but not small enough to just inhale)? <Ah. This is a possibility. The snail has to be small enough to fit in the puff's mouth all at once, so they can crush the whole shell. It must be something about wanting to eat the whole snail at once and not leave behind any good parts for any of the other puffers...?> Or do you think the MelaFix I put in my tank (I'm treating cloudy eyes) is somehow affecting their preference for food (though they still love the plankton and shrimp I'm feeding them)? <I think I told someone tonight that cloudy eyes are most often caused by poor water quality...so if I didn't tell you before to check your water quality, I'll tell you now. Melafix won't hurt, but might not help much. But then again, considering the smell of Melafix, it just might be throwing your puffers off their food. Meanwhile, plankton and shrimp are good for them, too.> Please help me help my little guys!!! <Anytime. Well, almost... gotta sleep sometime.> And thanks a bunch!!! <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Breeding snails for puffer food (03/10/03) hi there! <Hi! Ananda here on the puffer patrol tonight...> I am considering breeding snails to feed my spotted green puffers. <Good idea.> Can you tell me what the best type of snail to breed would be... <I use the small nuisance snails that are free from most fish stores... some are small rams-horn snails, others are round with a bit of a taper on the end. Avoid the ones that are cone-shaped.> How many snails I need to purchase initially... <Purchase? None, hopefully. I'd take as many as the fish store will give you, depending on the size of tank you have.> what size of tank/container they should be kept in... <As small as a gallon, depending on how many snails you want and how many puffers you have -- I have a 5.5 gallon tank as full-time snail farm.> Whether it needs filtration/aeration... <Yup, and water changes, too -- though you can use the old water from your puffer tank as new water for the snails.> And does it need to be covered? <Only to keep the evaporation down. You don't have to worry about the snails crawling around outside the tank. My snail tank is open-topped.> your advise is greatly appreciated! Irene <A couple of other tidbits: you don't need any substrate at all in the tank. In fact, using substrate will just make it more difficult to get the snails out. Do vacuum the crud off the bottom of the tank when you do a water change. And you will need to feed the snails -- old fish food, frozen/thawed vegetables, etc. --Ananda>

Freshwater dwarf puffer not eating <Hi! Ananda here today...> I have had this pair of freshwater dwarf puffer fish since February and all was fine until several members of the tank came down with ich. It is a ten gallon tank and I treated them with quick cure for 5 days and everyone recovered nicely. <I'm glad that you got rid of the ich, but what you didn't know is that puffers often don't tolerate ich medications very well.... should something like this happen again, you'll want to treat the fish in two tanks: one for puffers and scaleless fish, one for scaled fish. The scaleless fish get half-doses of medication for twice as many days. I wish the companies that make ich medications would tell you this on their packaging!> Following that I changed 1/3 of the tank water and reinstalled the carbon filter. <I would change another 1/3 of the tank water.> Since then one of my dwarf puffer fish has stopped eating. <Before or after you put the carbon filter back on the tank?> It has been 5 days now. He lingers at the top of the tank and is breathing heavy. His coloration is off. His belly is very white and his spots have gone dark brown. He now primarily sticks to one spot at the top of the tank. He is showing no other signs of illness that I recognize. I have been feeding the puffers both frozen bloodworms as well as the freeze dried variety. They have had no interest in any other food that I have introduced to them. <Try live blackworms and live brine shrimp. Bounce the live brine off of his head, if you need to. I mean that literally: use a pipette (or eyedropper) and add a few of the brine shrimp so that they hit the puffer. They won't hurt him. But hopefully they'll annoy him enough to get him to eat them. I once had to do that with a knight goby to get her to eat.> The tank temperature is at 78 degrees and yesterday I added two teaspoons of aquariums salts to ease his stress. None of the other fish in the tank have bothered him- he is not picked on. What should I do for him? Please help! Lauren Hall <I've heard of this sort of problem with dwarf puffers before: they seem to be fine, and then they suddenly stop eating, for no apparent reason. One theory I've seen is that it's a puffer-specific parasite. If that's the case, moving the dwarf puffer to a hospital tank and treating him with an anti-parasitic medication may help. [No hospital tank? For a dwarf puffer, anything big enough to hold a gallon -- or even a half-gallon -- will do in a pinch. To medicate in such a small container, you'll need to dose via solution. Very carefully measure 10 parts of dechlorinated water into a container (presuming the fish medication dose is based on one tablet/capsule per 10 gallons). Add the tablet or the powder from the capsule and get it dissolved in the water. Then dose one part of the solution per gallon of water in the hospital container.] Hope this helps!! --Ananda>

Figure eight puffers: weird thing in mouth? (06/19/03) Hello, <Hello! Ananda here today, having solved the browser problem....> I have a question regarding figure eight puffer fish.  I have a small aquarium which I keep on my desk at work.  I have had 6 puffer fish (only 2 at a time) in the past five months, all but one have died.  I keep the temperature appropriate and I feed them blood worms.   <First, I'm betting your tank is too small for your puffers. Second, they need far more than blood worms to survive! They need a variety of foods, including hard-shelled foods to wear down their teeth. Puffer teeth never quit growing, so they need to munch on snails, shrimp shells, and the like to keep their teeth worn down. Do check out the assorted Puffer Feeding FAQs on the WetWebMedia site (both the freshwater/brackish and saltwater FAQs will have useful information).> What I have noticed in the five that have died, and am currently experiencing in the last remaining puffer, is when I first got them, their mouths opened and closed repeatedly as they swam, very aggressive at feeding time and reactive to outside movement.  I understand that these are normal characteristics of this fish.  As time went on, it appeared as though their mouths closed up, no longer moving.  It looks as though there is something jutting down from the top of their mouth causing the opening to be very small.   <That would be their overgrown tooth! At that point, you may need to very carefully do some puffer dentistry to save the fish. Using a high-quality cuticle scissors, snip off the point of the tooth while the puff is completely underwater. You will need to hold the puff, who will probably puff up. Do a search in the brackish forum of the WetWebMedia chat forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk for more details about how one forum member did puffer dentistry on her little guys.> When this first starts to occur, they try to eat but the food can't pass through the small opening.  Eventually, they don't try anymore until they die 1-2 weeks later. Have you seen or heard of this before?  Please let me know. Thank you, Kathy <You need to immediately start feeding these guys some hard-shelled foods. If your current puff's teeth are too long, they may need dentistry before they can eat the hard shells. But get some pond snails -- the tiny ones that show up with the plants at most fish stores, not the huge ones or the cone-shaped ones. And shrimp tails work well. Puffers are cute, but really need the right foods! --Ananda>

Adventures in feeding green-spotted puffers (07/30/03) <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon...> Hey nice website you all got here, but anyways after I gave away my other fish I bought two spotted puffers a few days ago and they're doing ok. After I got the tank ready and put them in there I wanted to feed them so I put the flakes in. <Very, very few puffers will deign to eat mere flake.> Man they chased ever one flaked but didn't eat so I went and look them up on the net and click the first page on there. That's when I found out that they prefer live food but the website didn't elaborate on it so dumb me I left it at that and got off and back to my tank. I had two fiddler crabs left from the give away, I wanted to keep the huge male but didn't real didn't care about the female after I found out that they can't be bred in captivity so I decide to put the sacrifice the female and put in with the puffers and see what happens. <I'm betting the puffers enjoyed their dinner guest.> One of the puffers stared picking at it and chased it throughout the tank and it got a pick at it again and something floated in the water next to them all of a sudden and fell in the rocks so I came closer to see what it was and it ended up being a leg of the crabs. Right after I realized it was the leg the same puffer came up and at it whole, man that was interesting. <And one puffer had an oddly-shaped belly, I'm sure.> So that same puffer was tearing into the crab and the other one was being sort of a scavenger and the one the was doing all the work sort of picked it but didn't hurt it and when it was done he let the other eat the rest. <Could be that one likes crab better than the other. They seem to have individual preferences, sometimes -- of the five puffs that I have, exactly one will eat squid.> A day later my parents buy 5 of the same fish and brought them home to feed the puffs put they didn't pay attention to the name of the fish so I don't exactly know the name of the fish, but I know that it's a community tank fish. All of them are not as big as the puffers (1.5-2 inches give or take) so I put them in the tank with the puffers so they could eat. So far the puffers have eaten 2 of the fish and they seem ok. <I'm not a fan of giving feeder fish of any sort to puffers. Feeders can carry disease. The puffers need foods with shells.> Today I research more and found out about their eating and want to know if the puffers will be ok with what I gave them so far. <Skip the feeder fish. You can also feed them shrimp tails -- I keep the main part of the shrimp and give the puffs just the shell-on tail section. Ordinary pond snails are a good food for them, and they're usually free for the asking at the fish store. Do read up on the various puffer feeding FAQs, including the ones for marine puffers. Hmmm. One thing to avoid giving your puffs is freshwater mussels -- they are known to carry a puff-deadly disease.> I am very interested if they are going to have babies or not, so how do you tell from male to female puffer fish? <There is no officially recognized way to tell the males from the females. It is extremely unlikely that they will spawn in your tank.> I am going to try to find some blood worms but in the mean time, is ghost shrimp and female fiddler crabs ok? <Okay, but expensive. Do feed the ghost shrimp before you give them to the puffs, as ghost shrimp alone are not particularly nutritious. --Ananda>

Puffer who wants to eat all day? <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> Hi I have two puffers both spotted puffers. One swims around a lot and its color is very bright and healthy the other puffer sits at the bottom most of the time and when he swims his belly is dark kind like dirty. But after swimming and eating food it clears up and its color changes. Is this normal? <That's a sign of stress. What are your water quality parameters? (temp, pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, specific gravity) How big is the tank? Do you have enough "furniture" in the tank so that the puffs each have their own little safe places? Puffs get bored, too -- consider rearranging their furniture when you do a water change. Without more info, it's tough to make a diagnosis. --Ananda>

Figure 8 Puffer not eating <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> Ok...I've had 2 figure 8 puffers in a 5 gallon tank for about 2&1/2 months now. <Hopefully they'll get a bigger tank when they need it. :) > Both were doing great till just recently...I just added a Pleco because my tank was getting green...also I added a couple of small snails...the little round ones with a slight point.. <Those are "pond snails", and the ones that my puffs prefer.> Well the snails bee-lined it for the top of the tank...and I haven't seen them since....I don't think they ate them though...I think they may be on the inside of the hood. <Possibly the particular snails you got were a little large for the puffers. If that is the case, you can always put the snails in their own container and let them breed. Just feed them some (slice of cooked veggie works) and change their water when you change the puffs' water.> So anyway ..my problem is...that over the las 4 days or so...one of my puffers isn't eating very much...and just hangs out at the bottom a lot....he swims around like normal otherwise but looks like he might be starting to starve. I feed them freeze dried blood worms. <Do try other foods -- freeze-dried plankton should be a hit with them, as well as shrimp tails (you eat the main part of the shrimp, but leave some meat in the tail portion and leave the shell on). And check out the assorted "Puffer Feeding FAQs" on the WetWebMedia site for more ideas.> They're both about an 1&1/2 in size....when is it a good idea to start feeding them snails?. I think they may be too small right now to eat them. Any info you could give me would be helpful... <They need smaller snails. :) I raise my own in several different tanks, since they came in with plants and I just let them go and breed. Then I pull snails out for the puffs. Otherwise, try some other foods. Best of luck... --Ananda>

Dwarf Puffers 4/16/04  <Hi, Pufferpunk here>  Please help me if you can. About 2 weeks ago I got to freshwater dwarf puffers. They are in a 29 gal. tank with other fish silver dollers(2) and tetras and loach (clown). I have read that they need brackish water, but was told they did not by the pet store I got them at.  <The store was right. Dwarf puffers (Carinotetraodon travancorius), are strictly freshwater fish. See: http://www.rr.iij4u.or.jp/~kohda/en/en-dwarfpuffer.htm  Are these your puffers?>  I did not know that they had teeth and need special food to keep them worn down. <Yes, all puffers have a "beak" & like rodents, need hard/crunchy foods to keep them from getting overgrown. Tiny snails, blackworms (actually have a crunchy outer skin) & plankton are good foods for smaller puffers.>  They are very small about the size of child's pinkie nail. So please tell me how to care for the little guys-girls. I have a 20 gal. tank I can turn into salt tank for now if need be, but the are doing well in my all fresh water tank. Can they live out there life there?  <I see many problems here. 1st of all your silver dollars will get 5" & clown loaches close to 12"! Something will have to be done with them when they get larger. I suggest at least a 55g tank for them. Another problem is, your puffers are shy & slow on the uptake when it comes to competing for food. I'm afraid the others (especially the piggy silver dollars) will out compete them for eats. That's why puffers are best in species only tanks. ~PP>

Puffer Fish I have a question for you. I just found out that I bought a Figure-eight puffer (even though he was sold to me as a green-spotted puffer).. anyways I did not do much research on these fish before the purchase and I am next to new at this. This is my question.. it's a pretty simple one actually. Is feeding him shrimp pellets ok?<If this puffer will eat them, sure. Do also offer some meatier fare daily... like frozen/defrosted krill, shrimps of different sorts, silversides... as it is best to keep these tetraodonts full... Please read over the "Freshwater Puffers" on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for much more> He seems to really enjoy them even though some people have said they have difficulty feeding puffers pellets.. <Once tried, these fish really enjoy pelleted meat-based dried foods>  the reason I am suspicious is a few web pages say I should feed him shrimp/snails to keep his teeth filed down. Is this true.. and will the pellets do that or do I need to buy the shrimp/snails?  <Hmm, well, they will/do "chew" on most any hard material in their environment to do the same... I wouldn't buy snails for this purpose, but neither would I "peel" other shelled foods> Do I need to do this when he is young.. guesstimating he is an inch in size. I rescued him from Wal-Mart and I'm sure he was fed primarily flakes in rancid water knowing them. He seems healthy in my opinion at this point but I do not have much experience with fish and disease. TTYL, James <As I say, please read over the FW puffer piece and FAQs posted on the WWM site... you need to know a few things about this animals desired water chemistry and temperament and... Bob Fenner>

Eating Problems Hi there, I just browsed through your FAQ page and I think you may be the only one to help me. I have a common spotted puffer (the brackish variety), about 1.5in. long in a 10 gal. tank. Actually, there WERE two of them...unfortunately I fell for an undergravel filter system which, because it trapped all the waste, caused my nitrite levels to skyrocket. (strangely, the ammonia was fine) Daily water changes did nothing to alleviate the problem, probably because the readings were way off the charts. The one little fellow died as a result (I think that's what it was, anyway). Not wanting to kill another, I took the whole system out and replaced it with a canister filter (Aquaclear). The powerhead from the undergravel is still in there (with a small Quickfilter) for extra movement and hopefully so a biological filter will develop in there.  <Yes> The nitrite levels are fine now BUT, and here's my current problem: the fish won't eat (at least not the way he should). Even in the cruddy water, he ate like a pig, but now he just picks at his food. Furthermore, he likes to explore the tank a lot (tons of rock-caves), and every once in a while, he disappears behind the powerhead. Whenever he reappears from there, his belly is completely black. After a couple of minutes, he'll go back to a nice bright white (belly) but I am a little worried. Could he just be moody (as was suggested by the LFS)?  <Yes, likely so> Also, I put a java fern in there, hoping it would live, and so far it's looking pretty good (except when he tears chunks out of it). I read that it is a good idea to make plant matter available to them as food every once in a while. Does this go for all puffers? <To some extent, yes> My species? He seems to love it (at least he did, when he still ate...). Besides the plant, he gets a variety of silver sides, brine shrimp, salad shrimp (the little ones from the supermarket) and blood worms (all frozen) and (when I can get them form a reputable tank) live snails. He hasn't had snails lately, but he's not interested in any of the other stuff. Any ideas?  <Likely no problem here. Some residual reaction from the nitrite poisoning... and these puffers do go on feeding strikes for no apparent reason from time to time> Also, I'm getting conflicting info on the salinity levels: some say 0.800, others 1.005 and others again 1.020. Mine is at around 1.008-1.010. Could this be the problem? <Could be a contributing factor... the high side I'd use is 1.010... low 1.005> How quickly should I elevate salinity if it's too low?  <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bracmaint.htm> The LFS had him in water which was barely spiced. Anyway, could it be that he's still getting used to the new system?  <Yes> Is he, maybe lonely?  <Not likely> I know they're supposed to get nasty as they get older but these two seemed to play really nicely together. I plan to get him another buddy but not until I get everything straightened out perfectly. I'm still doing frequent water changes, but I test for levels first so I don't stress him unnecessarily. He gets treated with Stresscoat (when necessary) and I add Stress Zyme with every water change. Also, my pH levels are right around 7.0. <Should be a bit higher...> Again, I've gotten conflicting info on ideal levels, but the general consensus seems to be that it should be a little more alkaline. I didn't want to mess around with too many things at once, but could this be the solution for my problem? <Once again, likely a contributing factor> (If so, how quickly do I change the pH level?) Anyway, I think I've written too much but I'm hoping you can give me the info I need. Many thanks, Nina <Do read over the WetWebMedia.com re pH/Alkalinity in freshwater systems. Bob Fenner>

Re: Puffer Eating Problems Very grateful for the quick and helpful response. He IS eating now, just not as quickly as he should. Again, thank you very much. Nina <Good to hear/read of the improved appetite. Should continue to do so. Bob Fenner>

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