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FAQs about Freshwater Puffer Identification

Related Articles: The Nice Puffer: Colomesus asellus , the South American Puffer by Neale Monks, Freshwater PuffersFreshwater 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 Systems, FW Puffer Feeding, FW 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,

Many, MANY "Freshwater" puffers sold to aquarists are slightly to moderate brackish... to full strength marine species... Know the species you're dealing with AHEAD of buying.

To ID the puffer you have & the one you are interested in, look here: http://www.pufferlist.com/

Puffer identification       8/23/18
Hi Neale
<Hello again,>
How are you
<All good!>
I am looking to buy a puffer that has just come in stock, though struggling to identify it. Is it a dubiosi? Looks like the ones I have seen in pictures but I know it’s very rare, no idea what else it could be based on the pattern! Please can you make an educated guess as to what it may be?
<Does indeed look like Tetraodon duboisi to me. Certainly so if it's an African import. There are some similar Southeast Asian species though, notably Tetraodon turgidus. Telling them apart is hard. However, Tetraodon duboisi is a 'lurker' that burrows into the sand given the choice. It has a slightly upwards pointing mouth (when viewed from the side) at the end of a rather triangular snout (when viewed from above). These modifications help it launch itself up from the riverbed towards any unsuspecting fish or insect that it can then eat. Tetraodon turgidus is more globular in shape, with a shorter snout with the mouth pointing forwards. It's less of a burrower and more an active explorer like other puffers, nibbling at whatever if finds. Many Tetraodon turgidus have a one particular round spot between the dorsal and anal fin that has a red centre, something never seen (to the best of my knowledge) on Tetraodon duboisi. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Takifugu poecilonotus... ID, care...   2/17/12
I had some puffer problems and on the pufferfish.net forums it was suggested to me to see if i could contact Neale Monks or Bob Fenner at WWM for the care facts of the Takifugu Poecilonotus.
<Fire away.>
(The pic attached is one of my puffers around 2.5 inches a week before he died)
<Wow, this species is the spitting image of Chelonodon patoca. Amazing that they should evolve almost identical colouration.>
Long story short, I went to a fish store around 5 months ago to get 3 dwarf puffers, tiny thumbtack size at the time. I had a nice ten galleon tank set up for them with lots of vegetation (real and fake) to hide in. 1 Puffer died within the week, but four months later i had two really active, healthy puffers that were around three inches in length and most definitely NOT dwarf puffers.
<I see.>
I absolutely loved those puffers. I fed them brine shrimp daily, once a week they had snails and every other week, glass shrimp. Towards the end of the fourth month they started to show signs of distress and become agitated. I became worried that they weren't getting everything they needed and started to brows through lists of aquarium puffers to see if i could find the species.
<Ah, now, how sure are you that these are Takifugu poecilonotus? I've never seen that species in the trade, though I admit they both have very similar colours. By contrast, Chelonodon patoca is an occasional import. There aren't any obvious differences, though Chelonodon tends to have a more angular head and boxy body, whereas Takifugu are more streamlined and have a more tapering body. All this said, oddball Takifugu species do turn up very occasionally.>
Last week their energy levels dropped dramatically and they just laid around on the bottom of the tank and hardly even ate. I continued to look for what species they were and even posted my puffer's picture online on a forum and no one knew what species they were.
<I see.>
The 13th of Feb I started just going through the list of puffer species that Wikipedia had and Google searching each name of every individual puffer on that list. Feb 14th, when i woke up and checked on my puffers.. they were dead. Yesterday I finally found what my puffers were, Takifugu poecilonotus, and that they were brackish-marine fish, only freshwater as fry.
<In common with many other Takifugu spp.>
I would love to have a second chance with this species, but i can't seem to find any info on them. Are they freshwater as juveniles then brackish water? High end Brackish or Marine? If anyone on this site has info on this particular puffer it would be much appreciated. I feel horrible about the death of the two I had.
<Hmm… do download, read "Takifugu obscurus is a euryhaline fugu species very close to Takifugu rubripes and suitable for studying osmoregulation", a good laboratory-based primer on Takifugu species including Takifugu poecilonotus. The gist of their study is that apart from T. obscurus, none of the other Takifugu species adapts to freshwater successfully. They further note that Takifugu poecilonotus adults are seen in the sea, spawning occurs in the sea, and it's the "fingerlings" found in river estuaries. Bottom line, treat these as temperate (~18 degrees C; i.e., a cool room temperature) high-end brackish to marine (SG 1.010+) fish. A chiller may be needed in summer to prevent overheating, but certainly ensure a spacious tank with lots of water current and oxygenation.>
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Takifugu poecilonotus  2/17/12
Thank You :)
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Re: Could this be a Tetraodon pustulatus 3/18/09
Hi Rob,
today our arrived, what a beautiful and neat fish ...
Attached please find 2 pictures, feel free to post them on your site.
<Ahh! Will do so; with credit to you. Danke, BobF>
Hi Bob,
I´ve made a third picture that shows him/her from the side ...
Viele freundliche Gruesse ... :)
<Thank you for this Lars. BobF>

Tetraodon nigroviridis (identification)   10/25/08
Ok, here's my puffer he's small freshwater, what kind is it? since No one knows. Also I looked closely there's absolutely NO green on him. just yellowish gold black and white.
<This is the brackish water species Tetraodon nigroviridis. It is not a community tank species and is known in the wild as well as in aquaria to bite at the fins of other fish. Other than that issue, when kept on its own (or with its own kind) in a large (40+ gallons) brackish water aquarium it is hardy and easily maintained. Maximum size is about 15 cm/6". Make sure the water is hard and alkaline, and ensure the specific gravity is upwards or SG 1.005 by adding marine salt mix (not "aquarium salt" or "tonic salt") at a dose of 9 grammes per litre. Will not stay healthy in a freshwater aquarium for long. Sadly too many aquarists buy this fish without doing their research, and the result is a lot of sick, stunted pufferfish. Don't be one of them! Much written about this species here in the Brackish Water section of WMM; read. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tetraodon nigroviridis (identification)  -10/25/08 Thanks! <Most welcome!> Now I must get another tank for him! He would Of died if you didn't inform me of the right species. <Do read Jeni's article on the very similar species Tetraodon fluviatilis. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishsubwebindex/gspsart.htm Temperament, care, etc. are identical.> Infact I'm going to name it after you! <Ooh!> but one thing how do you pronounce your name? <Like "Neil", just spelled the Irish way... a family tradition going back beyond my great grandparents. But there are much better names for Puffers out there, so take your time to find something that reflects his personality.> And THANK YOU SO MUCH! other websites kept calling me a newbie and said find out for your self. My gratitude is off the charts, I LOVE my puffer and I'd cry if he died. <Looked after well, these fish live a long time and become VERY tame. There's no need to do anything drastic just yet. He'll be fine in a freshwater tank for some months, so feel free to shop around, buy a good aquarium at a good price, set it up, cycle it, and then put the puffer in. Over the course of a few months, gradually raise the salinity, first to SG 1.001, then next month to 1.002, to 1.003 the next month, and so on up to SG 1.005. Go slow, watch his behaviour, take care of the little guy.> Thanks soo much! <More than happy to help, 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>

Puffer fish ... ID, disease/env./sys.  11/16/06 Hi <<Hello>> I just bought 2 spotted puffers a couple days ago. Did they look like this?: http://www.pufferresources.net/puffer_profiles/viewtopic.php?t=19>> They were completely normal until yesterday when I noticed that one looked like he had ick. First of all what can I do about the ick. I am putting some medication in the water. <<Please dont before you know what kind of puffer you have, what ails it, and have them in a cycled, aquarium.  If these are indeed GSPs, (Tetraodon nigroviridis) then they need 30 gallons of water each minimum, and require full marine conditions as adults.>> Second, the same puffer sits in this one corner all the time while the other puffer is swimming around the tank. Is this normal? <<No. Please get back to me, and visit www.pufferresources.net.>> Thanks <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

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

Proper Puffer ID  7/25/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a Tetraodon schoutedenti (think that is how it's spelled) <Spelled: schoutedeni> and he has had a dark grey belly for several days now.  He doesn't see as interested in his food as he used to be, doesn't seem active like he used to be.  He has a variety of food to choose from, live ghost shrimp, freeze dried brine shrimp, freeze dried krill and snails.  The PH is 7.5, and I add a bit of salt every week.  Mostly he seems to nestle into the plants and stays grey.  Any ideas on what is going on with him? <Yes, I can tell you exactly what's wrong with him, he's not a T schoutedeni, he's a T nigroviridis.  There has not been a schoutedeni sold in the aquarium trade in over 20 years!  You have a brackish water fish & are keeping it in freshwater.  See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm   Also, check out: www.thepufferforum.com.  Be sure to test the water parameters for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates & pH.  ~PP>

Misidentified T. schoutedeni  7/9/06 Sab., put in FW/Brackish tetraodont ID f' <<Done.  -SCF>> <Hi , Pufferpunk here> We bought the above puffer fish and have been doing web searches for it all day to figure out which kind, if any, fish we can put with him.  On Google they also called him a leopard Congo or Congo leopard fish, if that's the kind we do have is that freshwater? we stupidly bought it at Wal-Mart and they couldn't give us any information other than the fact that they thought it was freshwater.  They couldn't even tell us what kind it was or what it ate and told us to buy tropical fish flakes for it but later went to a different store and bought frozen krill which it seems to love and ghost shrimp.  Any help would be greatly appreciated! <The fish you bought from Wal-Mart is a green spotted puffer (T nigroviridis)  See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  There hasn't been a schoutedeni seen for sale in the aquarium trade for over 20 years.  Also see www.thepufferforum.com.  Many good articles on care & feeding of puffers.  (Please use proper capitalization in your letters.  I have to fix, before we can post it in the FAQs.)  ~PP>

Bronze Puffer, Lack of Info - 3/1/2006 I have a bronze puffer in a 55 gallon tank. When I first got him I noticed a small pink spot on the tail. I asked the guy at the pet store what it was and he said it was like a scab, and it would go away. Well it never went away; it just spread all over its tail. Its tail is now really swollen and puffy, and kind of a pink, white color and it looks like its fraying at the ends. It seems to be spreading up to his body. I'm wondering what medications I should use. He still swims a lot and eats but his whole tail is just a mess. Please help. I want to save the little guy. Thanks, Jess <<Hi Jess.  Do you know the species name of your puffer? Is it fresh/brackish/saltwater? Without knowing what kind of puffer it is, I can not tell you how to fix the problem.  Please email me back, and include this correspondence in your email.  Thanks, Lisa.>>

Do I Have a Miurus or Suvattii Puffer?  2/2/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I recently bought a 3-inch puffer from my LFS, who sold it to me as a "Miurus puffer." Of course I did a small amount of research before buying it and figured it would make a perfect addition to my heavily planted 55 gallon. pH 6.8, KH 5, temp 78 degrees F, NH4 0, NO2 0, NO3 10-20, PO4 .5-1 ppm. I use fluorite as my primary substrate, mixed with 20 lbs of sand and another 20 lbs of pea gravel. <Sounds like you could use at least another 20lbs of sand in there for comfortable burrowing.  It may try to dig up many of your plants in the process> The tank offers little room for the puffer to bury itself but it has found its way to the floor, beneath the Ammonia gracilis, where there is more space between the stems. <It would be happier if it could burrow up to it's eyeballs, for a better ambush on it's food.> The tank has about two dozen various tetras, another 40 shrimp, two dwarf frogs and many Ramshorn and Malaysian Trumpet snails. <All future puffer food!> I'm hoping the fish can fend for themselves, especially the Siamese Algae Eaters, which I absolutely require for obvious reasons; also, that the shrimp, snails and white clouds will breed fast enough to sustain their numbers ... they're all reproducing already. <Not a chance in Hades.  All will be in your puffer's tummy in now time!> My question: Can a Miurus "Congo" puffer have an arrowhead? Isn't that a trait of Tetraodon suvattii or the "arrowhead puffer"? I think I have an arrowhead puffer, not a Congo puffer. <You are correct.  The Suvattii will also have a longer snout.  See: www.pufferlist.com, for pics.> Seems their behavior/requirements are similar. Good thing. No need for a picture. It definitely has a bold, black arrow on its head. <If you value your other fish, I'd get that puffer into it's own tank ASAP!> Whomever I get this time, Wet Web's the best! I use your site, as well as Bob's and Anthony's books as absolute references for my reef and it's good to see your freshwater sections are growing substantially. If you need a plant/discus guy ... I know someone who really likes what Wet Web's all about! <Thanks! If you're interested, send us an email with your bio & we'll see if we can get you started.  ~PP> Thanks, Adam Fresh or Brackish Puffers?  2/09/04 Thanks for all the great info! <No problem!> I've visited aquariumfish.net before but I hadn't heard anything good or bad about them. Their site seems extremely informative. Unfortunately, their "potential" customer service is lacking. I will explain my experience with them a little later. <OK, now you've got me curious!> I visited the other sites you recommended. http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/intropuffer.shtml seems promising but I can't get the links to the other pages to work. I tried accessing it through both Explorer and Netscape without luck. I have no idea why. I'll try again on another day. <Hmmm, that's strange, I can still link from your letter here.  I have Explorer. Did you try to copy & paste in your address bar?> I think http://www.pufferfish.co.uk/aquaria/species/pufferfish/index.htm is an excellent site! Love it! <I agree> You asked if I know what kind of Puffers I would like. I would prefer a freshwater type that will grow more than 0.5" and less than 6". The only ones I can find to purchase via Internet are at www.aquariumfish.net. They are the true red-eye, common red-eye, figure eight, and dwarf puffer. Do any of these fish have a "fin up" on the others? (Sorry, I just had to). <cute!> I thought the Avocado or Congo would be nice to have but I can't find any for sale. <I saw both the "avocado" (could be the Ceylon--T fluviatilis or the bronze/golden puffer--C modestus. Both are known by that common name) for sale at www.aquabid.com.  F8 puffers are nice beginner  puffers, although they are light BW species.  Not very difficult though.  See: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml  These fish are not as aggressive as other puffers, so you can actually house them with other fish, like gobies.> Jumping back to the "potential" customer service issue with www.aquariumfish.net... Basically, as I mentioned before, I have had a big problem with nitrates for several years and have tried everything I can think of to fix it. Their website has an email address that is set aside for "questions & feedback". So, I emailed them about the nitrate problem. I also told them I was thinking of purchasing from puffers from them. I got no response at all. A week or so later I tried emailing them again. This time they answered but their response was for me to listen to their recorded radio shows by utilizing a Window's based computer "...at a neighbor's house, school, or library. Those of us that answer emails are not so qualified to answer difficult questions like yours..." Not quite the expertise I was expecting. Hopefully, the actual purchasing of the fish will go a little smoother. <I guess it comes down to the fact that they just are interested in your $$$.>   My nitrates started rising again -- sigh -- so I added some live plants and replace my Whisper Power Filter with an Emperor 400 Bio-Wheel Power Filter. (I am using the old filter media). <good> The Emperor is for aquariums up to 80 gallons so there is a bit of overkill, but I figured it couldn't hurt. There isn't anything else left for me to do but wait and see if it helps. <You can never over filter a puffer tank.  On my 125g I have 2 Aquaclear 500s & an Eheim 2217.  The AQ 500 cycles 500g/hr & is recommended for a 150g tank.  In addition, I do 50% weekly water changes & cleaning the gravel at the same time.> I also picked up some "nuisance" pond snails from our local PetSmart. The www.pufferfish.co.uk site had directions on raising them as food for the puffers so I am going to give it a try. <You're on the right track!> Again, thanks for you advice and I will let you know how things turn out. Karen Smith <Sounds like you are going to have some happy, healthy pets for a long time!  ~PP> True Freshwater Puffer Anthony, hope I'm not being too much of a pain... <not at all...information exchange, a wonderful thing> but the puffers are Tetraodon travancoricus (which is neither figure eight or spotted green). <ah, yes... and indeed freshwater. My apologies... 99 out of one hundred people with a question about "freshwater" puffer have a brackish species that the LFS did not know/inform them about> They are Dwarf Freshwater Puffers,  <from freshwater in India> although difficult to find on the web, <have you had the pleasure of browsing Puffernet? (http://puffernet.tripod.com)... a haven for you <smile>> they DO exist and from what I've seen they thrive and belong in freshwater. <agreed> They only reach the size of about one inch. SO since the frogs will still be larger than them, and the fish is known to be a fairly docile puffer (for a puffer),  <actually...everything I have read on the species details them as serious fin nippers with the males being especially territorial as they mature. Males have a pronounced ventral line (dark line on body flanks...where females have none... easy to sex)> do you think the frogs will still get eaten? They seem to co-exist fairly well at this time. <at least harassed eventually...more so if you have male(s)> I also notice that the puffers (although they are fed blood worm) eat quite a bit of the live plant in the tank also. <excellent food matter to be encouraged. Thank you for clarifying, and again...my apologies for assuming. Kindly Anthony>  

Mystery puffer <Hi! Ananda here today...> Hi crew, I believe I sent you these pictures last week, but something may have been screwed up because I did not get an answer.   <Must have...I've not seen these pix before, nor a request from you about this particular puffer.> Anyway, I was wondering if you knew what this guy was?   <Hmmm. It's the second picture that does the trick. I see a dark spot on his head, and it appears to be sort of arrow-shaped. If it is, you have an "arrowhead" puffer, Tetraodon suvatii. Check here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=50301&genusname=Tetraodon&speciesname=suvattii and we also have a really cool discussion about a breeding pair here: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=91&thread=8676 > If it makes a difference, he can change color from almost white with brown spots to brown with white spots, and his eyes can go from clear to a very cloudy blue.  The pet store said he was a brackish black spot river puffer, but I can find no such reference online or in any books of a black spot river puffer.  Thanks, Dave <I'm not finding anything on "black spot river puffer", either. But I think you have an arrowhead puffer. Let me know if that dark spot isn't arrowhead-shaped, and we'll look around more. --Ananda>

Re: Bob... pics of wacky fishes (Tetraodon suvattii) attached again here, bud... and as a side note: among the many glitches with our WWM crew mail program... if you close and reopen messages with multiple pics attached (when not all come through)... you can get the pics to "appear" in various combinations. No joke... I checked these very message last night to see if it made it... opened once and saw only the piranha, opened a second time and saw only the puffer... opened two more times and got both. Heehee... too funny. <Bizarre... I do HATE computers at times... Let's see, first you put the key in, then ten jumping jacks, but not too exuberant... Bob>

Puffers Hi Guys! Hope you are all keeping well. You have helped me with various queries in the past. I have just seen the cutest little pygmy puffer fishes in my LFS. I would dearly love to give a few of them a home but know nothing about them. You may recall that we currently have a small tropical tank and a large reef tank, so we are not new to fish, just to puffers. Unfortunately, I cannot find any information about pygmy puffers in any of our books although I am guessing that the care for them is similar to that of their larger cousins. I want to make sure I can make them happy before bringing them home. I do understand it will require a species only set up. Any advice you can give regarding these mega cute little fishes would be much appreciated. Many thanks! Lesley <Not sure if you are talking about freshwater, saltwater, or brackish, but these links will give you a start http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tobies.htm and then follow onto the linked FAQ files. -Steven Pro>

Pygmy Puffers Hi Steven Thanks for the very prompt response. The links you provided are very helpful - thanks. To the best of my ability, I think the pygmy puffers are T. travancorius (sp?) and/or cf. travancorius. It would appear that they are freshwater but can "survive brackish". They are about the size of my thumbnail! From further reading, I understand that they eat bloodworms and snails (which is handy since my tropical tank has an abundant supply it seems), but are there other foods they might like? I don't want them to suffer from any malnutrition etc. <Do archive the site looking for additional food recommendations. Also, try the chat forum http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ for ideas from your fellow fish keepers. -Steven Pro> Again, as always, many thanks.

Puffer Dear Mr. Fenner, Before I ask my question I must say what an awesome site you have. It is truly remarkable. Well on to my question... I bought what I believed to be 3 Green puffers, Tetraodon fluviatilis at my LFS in mid November. I kept them in a 20 gallon long tank with good water quality, ph, GH... etc. I also kept them in brackish conditions of .007 salinity (The hydrometer was hard to find, since most start at .01).  <Sounds good so far> Well all was well with all but one of the puffers. He constantly kept trying to chew on the glass and would use bursts of energy to shove his face on the glass. I thought it may be because of the slight difference in the water quality (I tried to match the water quality of the LFS as best as I could). The salinity they were kept in was about .004; I gradually raised it to .007 within a few days. After a few weeks their color turned brighter and they have come to know and "tolerate" me. Except for one of the puffers, he never ate food off my hand and would only eat the food when I dropped it. His odd behavior with the glass did not change till now, though no discoloration or irregular swimming has occurred. I have checked your site and others and have come to the conclusion that the 2 puffs that like me are t. fluviatilis, though the glass eating one is a t. nigroviridis. The nigroviridis has a much rounder face and mouth compared to the other 2, and the coloration on the other 2 puffs is much darker brown than the t. nigroviridis. I went to the LFS to check where these 3 puffs originally came from but he didn't know.  <Not surprising. These Puffers are wild-caught, and frequently mixed species... and as you know, not easily told apart> I was hopping I would be wrong so I was wondering if this can happen? Can LFS' retrieve two different breeds of puffs?  <Yes... you ought to see some of the "miscellaneous" mixes of Corydoras, small Tetras I've helped put away (from import) years back... hard to tell what was intended to be in which box/bag!> I really don't want to return any of them, nor do I want the nigroviridis to remain in an environment he cannot tolerate for long. Can I keep them in freshwater with a little salt or keep them in a salinity of about .003 - .004? Please help Thank You <I would keep your spg at near 1.005 here. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Black river puffer question Hi, I have been having some problems trying to identify my new puffer. The most common names I have found are: the black river puffer, humpback puffer or red dragon puffer. Puffernet identifies it as a common freshwater puffer. I do not know whether this fish is strictly freshwater or if it's brackish or what. I am also wondering about compatibility with other fish. I have noticed nocturnal behavior also and I was wondering if there are any special steps I should be taking to provide for a nocturnal species. thanks <Mmm, please take a look on WWM here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpuffers.htm and the FAQs files linked... and FishBase.org with your common names... or peruse the family Tetraodontidae there. Bob Fenner>

Re: black river puffer question I checked there, but none of those match. I am attaching a picture that is definitely the same species.  <Mmm, no pic attached> I believe the correct scientific name is Tetraodon palembangensis. The real problem I am having is identifying the behaviors and requirements of this fish. I have exhausted the sites I know of. thanks <Do keep searching the Net... with different search engines... for brackish water fishes as a search term. Bob Fenner>

Re: black river puffer question Ooo sorry about that, here it is! >I checked there, but none of those match. I am attaching a picture  >that is definitely the same species. ><Mmm, no pic attached> >I believe the correct scientific name is Tetraodon Palembangensis.  >The real problem I am having is identifying the behaviors and  >requirements of this fish. I have exhausted the sites I know of.  <Looks more like a Tetraodon leiurus to me... about same requirements for both. Bob Fenner> >thanks ><Do keep searching the Net... with different search engines... for  >brackish water fishes as a search term. Bob Fenner>

Query regarding my new Indian puffer fish Hi there <Howdy> I have recently bought four Indian puffer fish, which I have housed in their own new aquarium, and they seem quite happy and alert, they are also feeding well.  My question is this, two of them have white underbellies, and the other two have slightly reddish underbellies.....is this normal? <Mmm, not likely> They are only tiny, and I believe they only grow to about 4cm (ah bless), and I would hate them to become ill because of my incompetence.  I carry out water changes (about 20%) every two weeks, as the tank is custom built to fit in my last remaining space, and they are fed on frozen (defrosted) blood worm every day.  If it helps further, they are the green kind with black spots, sorry I don't know the scientific name! <Please do take a look through the family Tetraodontidae on fishbase.org for an identification. These may be more brackish species than freshwater... and hence the discoloration might be partly due to inappropriate water conditions. Are these fish in a small system (like twenty gallons or less?). If so they may well be negatively interacting with each other... Bob Fenner> Regards, Kim

Re: puffer question? Hello everyone at WWM, <Hi there> I was walking in a LFS that I usually buy my fish at and came across something very interesting.  I saw what appeared to be a green spotted puffer.  To my understanding these guys get no bigger than 6".  7" if you're lucky and you raised him in a big aquarium.  Now when I saw this magnificent specimen it was in brackish water and the label read "green spotted puffer".  It had the spots and the green on the top of its head but, the only difference was this was as big as a full size Mbu puffer.  Yes, that's right it was maybe 13" long and was pretty well fed.  I have kept puffers for a while and never have I seen a GS puffer this Huge.  Is there a species that looks exactly like a GS but grows to 13" long?  Any logical explanation for this would be great thanks <Likely a "Mbu" puffer specimen. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm Bob Fenner>

"Black River Puffer" again <Ananda here answering the puffer questions> I sent a message on a black river puffer (the name I got from the store ) and I finally got a decent pic. could you help me better identify it and tips on sexing them. <From your photo, I think I have narrowed it down to a couple of candidates: Tetraodon leiurus, or possibly Tetraodon cutcutia... the former is actually called the "black river puffer" on occasion. Puffernet has a good photo here: http://puffernet.tripod.com/leiurus.html (or for the T. cutcutia, here: http://puffernet.tripod.com/cutcutia.html). However, your puff is quite dark, in comparison with these photos, so I'm not 100% sure of this ID. Sexing either species is tricky at best.> also he never moves around much, he's only been in my tank for 2 days but even at the store where I got him from he didn't move much. <Hmmm. Generally, a puff that has darker-than-normal coloring is not a happy/healthy puff. Do feed him good I don't think he's sick because I been watching him at the store for about 2 weeks before I bought him and I asked if the were giving any medication and they said no. pat

A newly acquired cutcutia puffer (03/07/03) <Hello...Ananda here on the puffer patrol...> Hi, my name is Jessica and I've recently acquired what I believe is a common puffer.  (cutcutia)  The people I bought him from said he was a clown-nosed puffer but I've not found that name online.  I believe based on research that he is a cutcutia.   <Okay...> Right now I have him in a completely freshwater ten-gal aquarium with a filter, a underwater heater, a couple of fake plants, and some gravel.  I'd like to know everything about this fish if possible.   <Hmmm... My usual research about fish starts at www.fishbase.org, entering the species name... the search results should give you several possibilities. Check them, and you can get some information. Then check the list of common names and note those down. Next, hit Google and do a search using the genus and species and check out those results. Follow that up with a search using some of the common names. Do that and you'll know as much or more about this particular species than I do. :-)> In particular I want to know if this is an optimum set-up for him.  He is I believe around 3 1/2-4 inches long right now.  I'm feeding thawed frozen blood worms and am considering adding the occasional feeder goldfish and some possible small salad (for human consumption) shrimp.   <Skip the feeder goldfish -- they can be carriers of disease. Further, the scales aren't good for the puffers. Do feed him snails: the little roundish (not cone-shaped) snails, usually available free at the fish store, since they come in on the live plants. For a real treat, put a live ghost shrimp in his tank.> All I've really had experience is with bettas so this is a huge change for me.   <Yup. Puffers have very different requirements than bettas -- but both like bloodworms!> I am very excited about this fish and would love to know as much information about his care as possible.   <Search the web. You should find anecdotes from people who have kept this fish. Also check out the WetWebMedia chat forums ( http://wetwebfotos.com/talk); we have a bunch of puffer fans on the boards.> Also, I do not know how old he is but I was told he should mature at 5 inches in length.   <Fishbase agrees...well, in metric.> How old might he be and how old is the average lifespan of a cutcutia? <I am not sure. I have green-spotted puffers that are smaller than yours, and I think they are about 2 years old. I have read of some puffers living into their teens.> Also, will I need to increase the size of his tank?  (I'm a student with limited funds for tanks, etc.)   <I understand. I think he would be okay for a while in a 10 gallon. I would like to see him in at least a 15 gallon standard tank, which is a bit longer than a 10 gallon tank. Better yet, a 20 gallon long tank would give him more room to swim. (I've seen these for about $25 at the chain stores.) You might want to set up a small tank or other container -- a five-gallon bucket or even a new plastic trash can would be fine -- as a snail farm. When you change the water in your puffer's tank, put the old water into the snail farm.> Thanks so much, Jessica P.S.  Is there any way to tell whether my puffer is male or female?   <Not really.> Plus, any and all odd/interesting facts would be much appreciated. <Someone should write a book on puffers... meanwhile, search the web. --Ananda>

Dwarf Puffers 4/24/04  Hi there!  <Hi, Pufferpunk here>  I have two dwarf puffers (T. trav.) in a small tank (aprox 40 ltrs), which I actually bought especially for them. I took them off my local fish retailer as they couldn't sell them, not knowing anything about them. Obviously, being such a small tank its a little (approx 17"x12"x10") difficult to clean, so to help me along I bought 4 Bronze Corydoras. These cleaned the tank well, but were getting nipped by the puffers. I thought this might be a risk, and ended up transferring them to my large 96ltr.  <That makes your tank only about 3 1/2 gallons. Your puffers really require at least 2-3 gallons each. No wonder they were picking on the Corys!>  The question I have for you is this: is there a bottom feeder I can safely keep in the tank with the puffers that wont get its fins eaten that won't outgrow it?  <No way, in a tank that size. You really need a larger tank for those puffers. As you can see, the tank cannot support 2 messy eating, heavy waste producing fish (even for tiny guys) in a tank that small. That's why it's so hard to keep clean. If overfed slightly, the water would foul quickly enough to wipe out your puffers in a very short time. At least 5gal is necessary to support 2 dwarf puffers & that would be without any tank mates.> Also, I believe that both puffers are female, would introducing a male (as I intend) stop them being so anti-social? I know puffers are fin-nippers, but they chase each other about quite a lot. I've included photos of both, in case it helps. I was also wondering if you could just confirm the identification.  <I'm sorry, but to ID your puffers I would need a clear, bright photo of their tummies. Here's a great site on them & how to ID: http://www.rr.iij4u.or.jp/~kohda/en/en-dwarfpuffer.htm  & a site just for dwarves: www.dwarfpuffercom.>  Many thanks, Liam  <Good luck with your puffy friends! ~PP>

New FW Puffer Mystery species/husbandry... Hello, I just bought a fresh water puffer and have never heard of or scene this one it is about three inches long and on bottom it is white on top it has big stripes going back from black to goldish light green color the name they said it was is a Belem puffer but I see it nowhere on your site.  <Only know of one place to send you here. www.fishbase.org... search their under the genus Tetraodon for descriptions, images that match your specimen> I have this one in a 20 gallon long now do you know of any other fish that will go with it?  <Not without knowing the species...> He is very aggressive from what I have scene I have a Plecostomus in a different tank can I put him in their he is about 7 " long. Also I was thinking something like an Oscar or convict will any of these work with the puffer? <Maybe... would investigate the types of life this animal is found with in the wild... and NOT buy livestock ahead of such investigation in future... You know better. Bob Fenner>

My 3 Puffers Hello. I am hoping that you will be able to help me with my puffer fish. I have 3 of them, in a 6 gallon tank. They are pretty small still, and I think that they are MBU Puffers. <Yikes... a very small volume of water for this species... hard to maintain stably... and these can be very "mean" toward each other> They are the green one's with the black spots on them.  <Hmm, actually... this may be another species. Please see our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and in turn Fishbase.org for identification of this "freshwater puffer".> Lately I have noticed that their colors are changing. Sometimes the green is a deeper green and sometimes it is a more fluorescent green. But then sometimes there is some brown coloring between the white area and the green. What is this caused from?  <Could be simply "mood" changes, nutrition, water quality, even communication amongst them> I was reading some of the other people's problems with their puffers and one person said their puffers turned brown and then died. Are my fish sick?  <Maybe... most likely from "water quality" issues... may well be "brackish", needing some regular concentration of salts...> I feed them blood worms, and all 3 of them eat them aggressively, so I don't think that it's from lack of food. <Solely this one item? Their diet needs to be expanded my friend. How healthy would you be only consuming your one favorite food?> I have also noticed that one of them is always trying to jump out of the tank. Is the tank too small for them.  <Yes, for sure> I have heard that the puffers will do okay in either a large or medium size tank, and like I said before, they aren't very big. What does it mean when they don't have their tail flared compared to when they do have it flared?  <Once again, a number of possibilities: the beginning of a rapid flight/swimming due to... aggression, fear... communication?> I have also noticed lately that one of the fish is hanging out in the very top corner of the tank where he is cornered in behind the heater and the filter. Is there something wrong?  <Possibly... likely this is the more subdominant individual and it's finding solace in staying out of the way of its nippy conspecifics... do look into either a larger system, making it brackish, and/or trading in all but one of these fish.> Sorry for all of the questions, but I am new to this and I love my puffers and don't want them to die. Thanks - Kari <I appreciate this... extend your caring to investigating proper husbandry of your wet pets. Bob Fenner>

Unidentified puffer Hi, I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what puffer I have. None of the pics look quite right (juvi Fahaka, juvi MBU)....that is until I stumbled across your page. You have a fish at the top of http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpuffers.htm labeled as an unidentified puffer. Do you know what it is yet? I have that very same fish and I am not sure what species it is. Anyway, get back to me, I am rather interested to know what info you have on it. Clayton <Well, thanks for causing me to get off my duff re this photo/specimen... think this is a Tetraodon lineatus (see fishbase.org for another image, info.)... though not as distinctly "lineated" as some smaller individuals I have seen. Perhaps check out the other twenty one species of the genus on fishbase as well... Bob Fenner>

Puffer confusion!!! (brackish id) Dear Robert, First of all I'd like to thank you for a great website. I'm in the process of putting together my second website at the moment, and I'm running into some difficulty with classifying pufferfish. My confusion lies in the fact that there exists t. fluviatilis and t. nigroviridis. I have been researching and trying to differentiate the two the best I can, since I'm going to be profiling them in my website, "Puffernet". If I'm not mistaken, the two are from the same part of the world (southeast Asia) but are brackish and freshwater, respectfully. Is this correct? <Both these Tetraodons are brackish and fresher water... take a look at the coverage of nigroviridis (note spelling) and fluviatilis offered on the fishbase.org site> I don't seem to be the only one confused on this matter, as many genome sites (you'd hope they would know the difference) are calling them the same fish when there's two different species (as per you and fishbase). It would seem to me that t. fluviatilis has a more torpedo-like shape and is brackish, while t. nigroviridis exhibits a more club-like form and is freshwater. <Like, agree with your morphological assessment> If I am correct in my nomenclature, are there any other distinguishing characteristics for these two fish? I do realize that t. nigroviridis is an inhabitant of freshwater streams and rivers, and wish to pass that information onto the masses so these fish can be properly cared for. Once again, I was wondering if you could shed a little more light on differentiating the two fish. Thanks so much for your time. Fred <Both fishes do best in water with some consistent salt mix make-up... both pugnacious, nippy toward unwary tankmates, both require meaty foods in their diets... fluviatilis "shinier", more discrete, consistent, smaller dots... Bob Fenner>  

Interesting puffer observation Hi Bob, I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on something that has been puzzling me regarding the green spotted puffer. I have spoken to you before, I have a large tank with 15 puffers, a mixture of figure 8's (Tetraodon Biocellatus) and Green Spotted (Tetraodon nigroviridis.) I have been keeping puffers for a long time and have a keen interest in them. On observation of my puffers I notice that there is a distinct difference between the green spotteds and for some time I have been convinced that some of them may be a slightly different species. I have attached a picture (scanned for viruses-don't worry) for your to view. I find that some of them are rounder in the face with large spots and black eyes and a more 'cartoony' appearance. Others have a longer nose with very reflective blue eyes and a wiser look about their face and more erratically patterned spots (as in the top picture.) Do you think there could be a slight difference? I have looked up all the literature I could find and they all seem to be labeled as the same species. Only one of my specimens displays these blue eyes and it is very young, perhaps this goes with age? <Have noticed these differences at times as well... think they may be due mainly to size, geographic variation... perhaps developmental history (winners, alpha types versus not)... Worth investigating the root papers dealing with the morphometrics of the species. Could be searched through fishbase.org to start bibliography. Bob Fenner>

A Puffer by any other name would smell... Hi! <Hi, Trish... Anthony Calfo here answering Bob's mail while he is away on a fantasy fish collecting trip, as we are told, wearing nothing but a natural bikini made from the hide of a capybara that he caught himself, and armed only with a buck knife clenched between his teeth> I recently bought 4 baby puffers - the spotted green kind. <AKA: Green Puffer, Spotted Puffer, Leopard Puffer, etc.>  However, different websites seem to give it different Scientific names. Some say it's TETRAODON FLUVIATILIS, others say it's TETRAODON NIGROVIRIDIS. <I'm not certain...Bob can confirm, but it is my understanding that they are one in the same and that T. nigroviridis is the valid name> The pictures of both species on the internet look the same so I can't tell which species mine is. My puffers have an iridescent green background with round spots. What is the difference between Tetraodon fluviatilis and Tetraodon nigroviridis? Would really appreciate it if you can clear up my confusion...Thanks, Trish <I'll borrow your confusion and add it to my own cerebral clutter... best of luck to you, Anthony> <Are two, separate species... please see Fishbase.org re.

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