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FAQs about Fahaka, Fajaka, Nile Puffers, Tetraodon lineatus

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Tetraodon lineatus Linnaeus 1758, the Fahaka, Lined  Freshwater Puffer. Africa: Nile, Chad basin, Niger, Volta, Gambia, Geba and Sngal Rivers. Freshwater, brackish; pH range: 7.0; dH range: 10.0. Infrequently imported. To seventeen inches in length. 

Sick Fahaka Puffer Question     12/3/13
Hey Crew,
Long time reader, first time writer.  I have a sick puffer that neither myself nor my aquarium savvy circle of friends can figure out.  The setup is a single Fahaka puffer that I've had for just over a year (was under 1 inch when I first got him/her, so tiny!) living in a 55 gallon freshwater, lightly planted tank with a sand bottom that I perform roughly a 30% water change a week.  Nitrite is at 0, Nitrate is <20ppm, and Ammonia at 0 as well.  Diet is currently chopped squid, prawn, mussels, and clams (and the occasional peas when I can sneak them in) soaked in VitaChem.  The problem started a week ago when I noticed a loss of pigment at the base of the caudal fin on one side, but it looked kind of like a small scrape.  No redness or inflammation, just white tissue with seemingly no break in the skin (like just the pigment peeled off).  Two days later a small red stripe along the bottom of the caudal fin developed and the puffer stopped eating.
I ramped up water changes, doing 5 gallons a day, and the red stripe disappeared, but the white area remained and grew to both sides of the base of the caudal fin.  Over the weekend, the white spot turned more into only what I can describe as 'flesh eating bacteria.'  It now looks like a break in tissue and getting worse (and turning red).  Also, the caudal fin is undamaged and seemingly fine as he is still wagging it in the stream of water from the powerhead.  Oddly, the puffer is more active and swimming around this past weekend with it looking horrible than all of last week (though still not eating).  Attached are two pictures, one from mid last week with the beginnings of the white spot and the other from this morning.
It's getting worse and any advice you have for me would be much appreciated.  Nothing new has entered the tank other than frozen food in months so I can't pin point any sort of source.  I was planning on doing a Methylene blue dip this evening and take things from there.  Any guidance or hunches would be greatly appreciated!  You have a great website and set of experts here!
All the best,
<Hello Nick. Thanks for the kind words about WetWebMedia. I think your hunch about a bacterial infection being to blame is a good one, though a skin infection (such as Costia) might have been a triggering factor. Hard to say without doing appropriate examinations of skin and slime material under the microscope. A treatment of antibiotics (such as the classic Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 combination) would seem the best way forward. Don't worry about the lack of appetite; as/when the fish gets better, it's appetite will recover, and in the meantime this fish can go several weeks without food and not come to any harm. Do also visit ThePufferForum.com and post your pictures there. There are some very knowledgeable people there.
Do also review environment, diet, and so on critically. I would recommend more than 55 US gallons for this species, and while your water quality sounds good, I'd plan on a bigger tank and presumably a bigger filter too.
Cheers, Neale.>

Fahaka puffer, hlth., env. likely     2/16/13
Hi, I am a caregiver for someone who has a Fahaka puffer. The puffer was doing fine until over the weekend someone added water to his tank without treating the water with prime. Ever since he hasn't wanted to eat and started getting black blotches all over ever now and again. I tested his water and the nitrate no. 3 was high so we did a 30%water change and it lowered it to 80 then we did another water change the next day and it lowered it to 40.
<Ahh, this needs to be kept below 20 ppm. There are a few ways to accomplish. Read here:
and the linked files above>
He still doesn't want to eat, we've tried garlic guard
but still no results. What else can we do? Thank you Melissa
<Fix the environment... the NO3, and all should be well. Have you read here:
Bob Fenner> 

Sick Fahaka Puffer   1/28/13
Dear WWW,
<Hello Vinny,>
My Fahaka Pufferfish Clarice is very sick. I've been trying to help her get well by trying various things but so far she is not showing any signs of improvement. About 5 weeks ago she was fairly active and had a ravenous appetite for snails and frozen prawns. She is about 6 inches long and lived in a planted 40 gallon aquarium (soon to be relocated into a 150 gallon).
<Ah, would do this promptly; almost certainly part of the problem.>
About five weeks ago I fed her about 8 feeder goldfish. She massacred and consumed all of them in a single night.
<Why? Why? Just about the worst possible thing you can do to an expensive, treasured fish. There is no reason to ever, EVER use a store-bought feeder, and the only feeder you should ever use will be offspring of fish you keep and breed at home. But for puffers, feeder fish are not at all needed.>
The massacre was even after eating her daily prawn. I was away for about a week and if I recall, about a week after I returned she started to decline.
First she started to get really spooky and have these strange freak out sessions where she would get startled and slam into the glass and try to jump out of the aquarium even. She was still eating the frozen prawns, but not as eagerly.
<Stop feeding for a while if fish seem diffident. See what happens after a week. Also do lots of water changes to lower the nitrate level.>
Eventually she started to sleep on the bottom more often and over time she stopped wanting to eat a whole prawn. Now she has no appetite at all. She is very lazy and doesn't respond to my presence. I can easy handle her and she barely even notices. About a week ago I tested my water and discovered the nitrates were really high (160+ ppm). I did a couple water changes and brought them down to around 40 ppm. At the advice of the local pet store I also started treating Clarice's tank with Metronidazole and PraziPro because we suspected a parasite infection due to my possible poisoning of Clarice with feeder fish.
<Quite possible. Was this the pet store that sold the feeders? Nice little racket they have going on, eh?>
It's been about 5 days and I decided to move Clarice into a smaller hospital aquarium to focus the medication and water changes. I have noticed some opaque / transparent stringy (2-3 inches long) stuff that stays attached to her butt.
<Ah now, sounds very much like stringy mucous in the faeces, a possible sign of intestinal parasites such as Hexamita. Treat using Metronidazole, via food if at all possible (it's far, FAR less reliable added to the water). Consult a vet if possible as well.>
It breaks off eventually, but I have seen it come back about three times now. I'm wondering if this might be some type of worm parasite that is dying due to the medicine.
<Not worms directly, but mucous in the faeces.>
She is not acting any better so far. She is very tired, weak, slow, seems to be breathing heavy and doesn't seem very alert. She does perk up from time to time and swim around a little more deliberately for a while. At this point I am going to continue doing daily 50% water changes and continue with the medication. I'm swaying towards PraziPro being the most relevant one to use, but do you suggest me trying anything else, or a different strategy?
Thanks for any advice,
<Do visit ThePufferForum.com ; the folks there are a bit sharp at times, but they mean well, and their knowledge of pufferfish healthcare is considerable. Cheers, Neale.> 

Fahaka Puffer Tank Mate  3/12/10
Hi Crew,
I recently cycled my 120g tank and am planning on having one single Fahaka Puffer as I know they are generally intolerable of other tank mates,
<Not "generally". Think "never". These are fish that bite their OWNERS, let alone other fish!>
but am curious as to if he can be housed with a Striped Raphael Catfish.
I have owned one of these catfish in the past and know that it is nocturnal and is rarely seen during the day as it likes to hide out in caves and other small places. I also know they have spines on their sides that act as a defense mechanism.
<Snails and shrimps have spines and shells that act as defences, but these mean nothing to a pufferfish. See that beak? That's for snapping through anything that looks edible or annoying.>
They seem to be able to handle their own with other aggressive fish like cichlids.
<Totally different situation. Cichlids aren't viewing the catfish as anything more than a threat to their eggs, and their offensive capabilities are limited because of their small, relatively weak mouths. At best, a cichlid will push a catfish out of the way until the catfish is outside the territory of the cichlid. A pufferfish is a totally different proposition,
since it's armed with a beak that evolved to crunch through shells and skeletons.>
It seems like these two fish would not really cross each others path and I just wanted a second opinion before I do something I might regret.
<Pufferfish are essentially fish kept on their own, in their own tanks.
Accept that fact and you'll do fine. Very few pufferfish species are consistently safe with other types of fish, and certainly not Tetraodon lineatus. Cheers, Neale.>

Fahaka Puffer Fretting  3/19/07 Hey guys, <Hey yourself, Pufferpunk here.  Didn't they teach you to use capital letters at the beginnings of sentences in school (also when using I as a pronoun)?  Never mind the punctuation...  Kidding aside, we have to correct all that, before these letters are posted in our FAQs.  That sure is a big time waster for me.  Next time, please review your letter before sending.> <<Nuff' said? Yeah. RMF>> I have recently moved my Fahaka puffer from a 55 gallon with a 7 inch Ceylon and a 3 inch GSP, into a 36 gallon bow front by himself.   <Hmmm... you may find those two puffers left in the 55g to become quite crowded, when the GSP catches up with the Ceylon.  They should be in practically saltwater by now, too.  General minimum recommendations for those species is 30g (GSP) & 40g (Ceylon).> The thing is, he used to be very active in the slightly brackish 55 gallon tank and now that I moved him into the 36 gallon he stays in the same spot all day.  I see him move around sometimes but its only once a day maybe and I have him in just about complete  freshwater now. <When I moved my Fahaka from his 55g into his 125g tank, I thought he'd be happy but he moped around & wouldn't eat for 3 weeks!   It's just how they are--moody beasts.  He probably doesn't like the smaller tank, either.> As an experienced aquarist I first checked water conditions and everything is perfect and where it should be. No nitrates, nitrites or anything. <That's odd... an established, cycled tank should have some nitrates.  How was the tank cycled?> I'm wondering if there's anything wrong with him or is it just that he's not moving as much because he's by himself and there's no one for him to antagonize anymore? <Good thing you moved him.  I'm afraid as he matured, he probably would have killed the other two.  How big is he now?  You do realize they grow to 18" & require a 120g minimum tank?  They grow quite quickly too.  Mine grew into his 125g within 2 years, at 10" from a tiny 1" puffer. Your help would be greatly appreciated, losing this puffer is not an option for me as I will do anything possible to keep him going. <Start saving for a much larger tank for this giant, along with a ton of filtration for the bio-load he's going to produce.  Look at www.thepufferforum.com, for more discussion on puffers.  ~PP>
Re: Fahaka Puffer Fretting. Cycling a FW Puffer Tank & BW Puffers  3/20/07
Ok, so there are some nitrates in his tank but not enough to be afraid of. I also know about the size issue as I already own a 16  inch Fahaka that's currently kept in a 200 gallon. So the tank issue is not a  problem as I currently am waiting to move and put him into a 150 all by himself as his current tank will soon turn into a ghost shrimp tank, (I. E) puffer food.   <Great!> I didn't know that the Ceylon and GSP should be in saltwater by now though. <See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > The issue concerning how I cycled the tank was that I put water from the 55 tank and  put it into the 36 and let it cycle for about a week doing two water changes in between to get the salt content lower. <There is nothing in using water from an established tank that can cycle a new tank.  I don't see how his tank could possible be cycled in that way. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/water-filtration/fishless-cycling/ > If its his mood that's the problem that's not unexpected at all, as he had been sharing a tank with a 5 inch yellow peacock cichlid since day one and three months later I cant even find a scale from the darn thing. So my main concerns now after you telling me this is, what do I do with the freshwater fish that are in the Ceylon and GSP's tank <Either set up a separate FW tank or find another home for them.  That tank is going to be too small for the 2 (adult) puffers, never mind more tank mates.> and how long should I wait to seriously act on his disgruntled mood and further investigate the situation. <1st thing I'd do is add Bio-Spira to the tank to cycle it instantly.  Keep an eye on water parameters.  You didn't mention how large the puffer is, so I can't tell if tank size is the issue.  Is he eating?  ~PP>
Re: Fretting Fahaka  3/20/07   3/21/07
Ok, so if the tank is not cycled, what do I do with the fish in the mean  time? <I'm assuming you're speaking of the Fahaka tank?  Test the water daily, for ammonia, nitrites & nitrates & do huge daily water changes, if necessary, to keep them as low as possible (ammonia & nitrites should be 0 at all times).> To answer the question of him eating, he is eating and every ghost shrimp I put in there disappears within the day. <Ghost shrimp are basically non-nutritious, unless gut-loaded with food.> Also where do I get this Bio-Spira stuff, because I called three local fish stores and none of them have it and can this stuff be put in with the fish in it?   <Yes, you should do a large water change & add it to your filter. If you cannot find it locally, do a search, there are many online stores selling it.> I am somewhat perplexed on what to do, as I'm already starting to acclimate the other tank to a higher salt content. <I'd wait until your FW fish are out of there, before raising the SG.  Also, don't raise it more than .002/weekly water change or you will crash your system.> I have a divider that I could use but I don't want to short the other puffers of their well deserved space. <I doubt there'd be any way, short of Siliconing a piece of glass across the middle of the tank, that would prevent salt from mixing into the other side.> On the matter of size, I would say that he is about 3 inches. <Won't last in that 36g tank for long then, growing about 1/2" per month.> Also I'm not sure if the puffer that I think is a GSP, is actually a GSP, because his blotches are much larger than regular green spotted's and I thinking that it might be an ocellated puffer.   <Takifugu ocellatus are a metallic green with bright round orange spots on it's back.  They are much more torpedo-shaped & have a longer snout than a GSP.  They really don't resemble GSPs at all.   Look here for ID: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/?sid=25b4c1cb72b4f21631afc47bbbf1d7f4 > Another issue concerning that tank is ever since I moved the Fahaka, the so-called GSP, shall we say, has also began to bottom dwell with no fin movement and only perks up and goes belly white during the night or whenever I add salt to  the tank.  Never in my four years of keeping puffers have I ever experienced odd  situations like these and am very concerned, as every puffer owner is, when their little buddy goes ill or gets pissed.   <Check the water parameters in that tank too.   See: www.thepufferforum.com, for more info.  ~PP> Thank you so much for your help!

Food amount food for baby Nile puffer?  2/19/07
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:
Bob Fenner>

Nile/Fahaka Puffer, Tetraodon lineatus  11/14/06
<Hi Jo, Pufferpunk here.  I have corrected all your improperly capitalized words, so we can present this email to our FAQs.  Next time it will be sent back for you to correct!>
I bought a Nile puffer 3 days ago and was really badly informed by the shop. I wish I had looked on the internet first!
<Did they tell you it will grow as large as 18" & require a minimum of a 120g tank within 2 years?  They grow fast!>
They told me it would be fine to fill up the new tank with water from my other tank with various tropical fish and put the puffer in the tank the same evening. I now know the filter wouldn't have matured and now my puffer has a cloudy looking eye and isn't moving much. I've tested the water and the NO3 is on 0 and the NO2 the others seem fine too. I'm not too great on the technical side so if you could explain in a way I would understand I would be very grateful.
<For cloudy eye (due to poor water quality--fish don't get sick in healthy water), add Melafix.  The bacteria you need to cycle a tank does not live in the water.  It lives on the surfaces of the  tank.  Mostly in the filter material but also on gravel, glass, decor, etc.  You can squeeze the "dirt" from your older filters into your new filter to help the cycle along.  You should be doing 50-80% daily water changes, until your tank is cycled.  After the tank is cycled, do 50% weekly water changes.  My best suggestion would be to add BIO-SPIRA to your filter, to "instant cycle" your tank.  I highly recommend this.  It really is not a good idea to cycle a tank with a puffer at all!  They have no protective scales or gill covers.  Very sensitive to ammonia/nitrites.  How large is the puffer & what size tank is it in? 
For more info on your fish, go to: www.thepufferforum.com  ~PP>
Thank you, Jo

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