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FAQs about Puffer Trauma

FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease: Marine Puffer Disease 1, Marine Puffer Disease 2, Marine Puffer Disease 3, Marine Puffer Disease 4, Marine Puffer Disease 5, Marine Puffer Disease 6, Marine Puffer Disease 7,
FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environment, Nutrition, Social, Pathogenic, Treatments
<Plus see below re Disease by Category per Puffer Family>
FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease by Group: Marine Puffers & Kin, Velvet & Crypt, Boxfish Disease, Tetraodont Disease, FW Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Disease, Toby Disease, Burrfish Disease,

Related Articles: Puffers in General, A Saltwater Puffer Primer: Big Pufferfish! by Mike Maddox, Puffer Care and Information, True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, (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: Puffers in General 1, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Compatibility, Puffer Selection, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Reproduction, True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes


Dropped; whacked by nets, stumbling into hard materials...

Sucked against pump and powerhead intakes...

Scratched, bitten, poked by other incompatible livestock.

Popeye in only one eye? A mechanical injury. Both eyes, likely water quality or medicine exposure.

Trapped air, water? Zapped by electricity? Yikes!


Puffer with fin trapped inside gill 1/9/2010
Somehow, my dog-faced puffers fin has been trapped inside his gill. There is no movement in the gill at all and he can only breath threw his other gill. It did eventually pop out but It did get me worried. Is this common among
<Not uncommon, and generally not fatal. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Fish Stress  11/21/09
Hey WWM,
While I was changing the water for my tank, I took out
<W/o lifting it into the air I hope... i.e. underwater the whole time>
the porcupine puffer with a separate container for about 20 minutes while the transfer of salinated water was being made. When we put him back in, he had a strange lump on his back (imagine him partially inflated but only in this one spot beside his rear fin -> looks like a tumor).
<Might be...>
I thought he may have partially inflated due to the stress and then was in the process of deflating but that really doesn't seem to be the case because the lump hasn't subsided in the past hour. If this continues, what do you think caused this and what course of action should I take with the little guy?
<You might need to "burp it"... catch, hold the fish head up vertical and massage the air bubble forward. Search WWM re puffers, air entrapment. Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer Fish Stress  11/21/09

Could the he require "burping" even if I didn't take it out of the water? I just scooped him up with a separate container when I took him out.
<Ah, not likely then... unless this fish "gulped air" at the surface (which does happen at times), this may be tumorous (also not uncommon). There is no direct treatment per se that is advised (some folks blanket medicate with antiprotozoals (e.g. Metronidazole) and/or Anthelminthics (e.g. Levamisole)... but I would search on WWM for "puffers, tumors" and read the cached views. Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer Fish Stress 11/21/09

I'm not sure if it's a tumor, I mean the whole thing appeared within a span of an hour. I just attempted to burp him and he did release a few bubbles and the bump subsided ever so slightly but it remains. It's
difficult to massage the area because when I grab him my thumb is on his stomach and the bump is on his back. Will a puffer ever burp themselves?
<Yes... often best to be patient. In time (weeks) often such gas is absorbed. BobF>

"Pufferfish Parasites" Update, beh. sore  12/07/08 Hello again, <Mmm... w/o the previous correspondence... we (there are several of us "here") can't tell whom you were chatting with before...> I'm not sure what to think now. In case you've forgotten, I have a puffer who had some unusual spots on his fin and forehead, which we determined were not ick. You said you thought the most likely cause was physical damage from the net or something similar. Anyway, the damage to the fin has slowly faded away, but one of the wounds on his head has gotten worse, and I know why. He is always pacing up and down in one corner of the tank, dragging his forehead (and thus the wound) against the glass, preventing healing from occurring. <Does happen... the pacing, rubbing behavior...> Something has to be stressing him out to cause this constant pacing. I mean, during the day I never see him rest. Ever. Usually he paces for at least part of the night too. It's not like he's pacing across the whole tank, either. He stays in one 12'' area of the tank going up and down. It's a 90g. <Too small a volume likely> Water parameters still seem fine (No ammonia/nitrite, sub 10 nitrate). I feed him a variety of frozen seafood including mussels, silversides and an occasional scallop. I've heard temperature can cause issues with puffers. During the day my tank runs about 78-9 and builds up to 82, and then drops back down at night. Is this a problem? <Mmm not likely... for what species?> The other inhabitant in the tank is a small volitans lionfish. If the puffer goes near the lion's cave he will get lashed at, but otherwise they get along. Also, per your advice, I've been administering Selcon and VitaChem in  their meals. I think it has been speeding up the healing, other than the head wound. <Good> Do you have any ideas as to what could be causing his pacing? <Could be a few things... one is "just" boredom... perhaps some "ditherfish" (small damsels, cardinals...) would help here... Another possibility is an internal reflection... that this animal is responding to... darkening a side panel usually stops this> I have tons of rockwork in the tank, lots of big enough caves, so it's not that he's without a hiding place. The wound on his head looks like a white circle about 1mm in diameter or so. Joe <Mmm, or... perhaps it's just the nervous temperament of this fish... I would not be overly concerned with a sore from rubbing of this size/type. Bob Fenner>
Re: "Pufferfish Parasites" Update 12/07/08
Bob, <Joe> Thanks for the response. The last person I spoke with was named Bob, so unless there is another one, it was probably you. <Heeeee! Am the only Bob here (as far as I know...), but have a diminishing memory...> I really doubt that the tank is too small. He's a young porcupine pufferfish, barely more than 3'' long currently. I know he'll need a larger tank in the future. <Ah, good> That's an interesting idea. I'll try fastening some construction paper along the sides of the tank so only the front panel is viewable. <This "behavioral phenomenon" is actually quite common too... Though we can't see the reflection from the inside (unless you stick your head in the tank!), many animals do see themselves, and act overtly> I also like the idea of adding some smaller fish. There is one yellow-tailed damsel in there now, which, surprisingly, has not been eaten by the lion. <Agree... but does happen> I think his mouth is a little too small still. But maybe I could pick up some more damsels, preferably larger ones. Would a clownfish serve a similar purpose? <It would indeed... again, if not consumed> I was interested in a tomato clown at the LFS... Thanks for the help. Joe <Thank you for the follow-up Joe. BobF>

13-year-old Puffer swallowed air-won't burp -10/31/08 Hi, I have had my Dog Faced Puffer for 13 years. <Wow! Pretty good going there.> He is alone in his tank because he ate all his friends years ago. He has had more expensive dinners than I have. <Oh, I know this story! Many is the time my fish got seafood dinners, and I had to make do with a soup and salad.> Two days ago I noticed he was vertical, nose to the ground, but didn't seem to be in distress as far as breathing. He had a hard time swimming, but would still eat. He would wedge himself under coral to keep from floating back to the top of the tank. He has an air pocket on his side. I think he got it from the freeze dried shrimp my husband has been feeding him, I just discovered he didn't soak them. <In itself this "mistake" shouldn't have caused anything worse than perhaps constipation. I'm not a real big fan of freeze dried foods for a variety of reasons, not least of all that they're very poor value for money. But they can also cause constipation as they absorb water from the gut while softening, reducing the "flow" through the alimentary canal. Long term should fix itself pretty quickly.> I tried burping him last night and again this morning. Holding him under water, head up, massaging his stomach and gently shaking him. I did this for about 5 minutes each time. I saw only 3 small air bubbles come out of his mouth and he still has the bubble on his stomach, but it has moved up closer towards his throat. After I burp him, he swims to the top of the tank and expels water like a whale. <He's spitting out the water he sucked in while trying to inflate.> I wish he would puff up and expel the air with the water, but he won't. He isn't afraid and acts like he likes being burped. I don't think he will do that on his own because I have only ever seen him puff up twice in 13 years. <Quite so; healthy, happy puffers hardly ever puff up.> My questions are these: Am I burping him correctly? <Here's the thing: you aren't squeezing out air, the aim here is to force the puffer to suck in water. As the water goes into the "inflatable" pocket, it forces out the air. Now, the recommended method for this is to hold the puffer involves holding the puffer with one hand, with the head upwards. Use the other hand to rub the belly with one finger (as if tickling). What should happen is he puffs up, sucking in water. Once he puffs up completely, let him go, and with luck when he deflates the water will force out the air. It may (likely will) take a few minutes for him to deflate. Repeat if needed.> How long should I try to burp him before it stresses him? He doesn't seem to care how long I hold him, he just looks at me. His skin is getting scraped from it because of the gloves I wear (he bites). Should I give him meds for the scrapes? <Not just yet.> He has never had to be medicated before and I don't know what to buy. <Puffers can react badly to medications, so choose with care. I'd recommend antibiotics like Maracyn before anything based on copper or formalin. Melafix may be useful as a preventative, but it's value once infections set in is questionable.> Appx. how many bubbles should I be looking for or I am looking for the bubble to disappear? <No idea; it's a question of when he can swim properly.> How long should I attempt to burp him? <Do as described, and it should work first time.> Can this resolve itself? <In theory yes, but in practice may need help.> Will he die from this? <Potentially, yes, the air causes parts of the skin to dry out, and that allows infections to develop.> Thank you in advance for any help you may offer. Jana <Cheers, Neale.>

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

Puffer Tooth Loss 2/28/2006 I have a blue spotted puffer with a tooth problem.  We have had 'puffet" for about 1 1/2 yrs.  Great eater, one of the best fish we have ever had.  Our problem is that she has lost one of her teeth. <<Aww>> The local fish stores that carry these fish have never heard of this.  They have heard of the teeth chipping away but never falling out.  Before the tooth fell out she had not been eating very much and really not very social.  Now that the tooth fell out she is almost 100% again, the eating is not what it use to be but at least she is eating.  What do you make of this?  We would love to know if anyone else has had this happen! <<I have seen this happen a few times.  So long as feeding is not affected, housing and water quality is up to par, and it is not a result of physical trauma, I would not worry too much.  Keep an eye on her to ensure no infection sets in, and that she is eating.  Also pay close attention to her other teeth, as they may over grow with this tooth missing.  Good luck. Lisa.>>

Intentionally Puffing a Puffer  8/24/05 Hola from Cozumel Mexico, <Hi, from Pufferpunk in Chicago> I am hoping you can help.  I am a SCUBA Instructor and dive shop owner in Cozumel, Mexico.  Our coral reefs are part of a protected marine environment.  We strictly enforce the no touch rule for ALL marine life, including coral, fish, sponges, etc. <I am also a diver & underwater photographer of 7 years.> There seems to be a controversy regarding the harmful effects of intentionally inflating a puffer fish/porcupine fish.    <Hmmm, what about the no touch rule?> Obviously this behavior is annoying, particularly when a diver or a dive guide intentionally inflates a porcupine or puffer fish for photo opportunities or just for the "entertainment" value.  My question is this:  Is this in fact harmful for the fish?  Many sources say they will die after so many inflations, others say they can die if overly stressed causing them to over inflate, and so on. <I think pictures of purposely inflated puffers are disgusting (especially if in someone's hands)!  It shows a severely frightened fish that is stressed out.  You are correct on your 2nd assumption.  The puffing in general is a defensive move so it can't be devoured by predators.  It is indeed stressful to frighten a fish unnecessarily, to cause it to puff up.  The repeated stress can eventually kill the fish.  What is definitely deadly, is for it to puff with air, as it cannot deflate itself or upright itself.> Your expert opinion/advice on this topic is greatly appreciated.  I look forward to your reply. <Thank you for posting this question for folks to read at our website.  I also this will hinder the unnecessary stressing of this wonderful species.  ~PP> Sincere regards, Christi Courtney Blue XT~Sea Diving Cozumel, Mexico

- Puffer Fish Problems - I have a Porcupine Puffer at my office and over the long weekend "he" developed bubbles around his fins. <Around or in?> We have a company who takes care of the tank and he was out yesterday and did not know what was wrong with him.  He was floating at the top of the tank and had very little movement due to the bubbles around his fins. His fins also look wilted in some areas.  What could have caused this to happen and how can we fix it. <Well... it depends. There is a condition known as gas bubble disease which is caused by air under high pressure entering the blood stream of the fish and then forming bubbles in the extremities (fin tips, scales, etc.). This isn't really a disease per se, but more of a syndrome caused most often by leaks in the plumbing of a tank which allow air to be drawn in by pumps and injected into the water under high pressure. As I said, it's not a very common problem and its just as likely that there are some small bubbles trapped in the slime on your puffer's fins. Mention the gas bubble problem to your maintenance people - if the tank actually has plumbing, it would pay to have them check it over. If it has a simple filtration system, then the problem probably isn't gas bubble disease. More on that here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/PdBblDisease.htm > Please help... the whole office loves this fish. Thanks Lisa <Cheers, J -- >

Dogface Puffer's Injured Eye Hi There, <Hi back. MikeD here> Hope you can help us.<I'll gladly give it a try!>  Our dogface puffer, Scooby Doo seems to have an injured eye.<"Seems" IMO you just got 10 points extra for recognizing  this. Well done!>  One eye looks fine, it's clear and you can see the brown color around the pupil.  However, the other day we noticed a mark on the lens of rhea other eye.  It seems to be a small circle in a circle and is located on the lens on the upper part of his eye on the brown iris.  The rest of his eye looks clear and fine.<This may well be anything from a normal marking to a scar from a long since healed injury, and IMO, should be left alone.>  The only difference in behavior that I noticed is this evening he closed that eye a few times.<I've got to ask how you mean this as fish don't have eyelids and are incapable of "closing" an eye in the sense that we would.>  Scooby seems fine, he is swimming around (although he is not an early morning fish, he likes to 'get up' around noon)<This is very common as many dogfaces have nocturnal tendencies and sleep in just as would a teen-ager out partying until 3:00 am.>, his appetite is great<I've got to ask what you're feeding him. To do truly well these guys need meaty foods and will often thrive under the care of individuals willing to utilize a seafood market or section of their supermarket as the primary source of food.   As I've often stated in the past many to most LFS and the whole industry in general is almost criminally lax in not carrying foods required for many/most mid-sized and up omnivores and predators.> and he always comes over to say "Hi". We've been watching him closely and don't see any change in the eye. Could this be an injury (we do have some rock caves for him to hide in) or could it be an infection. I'd say, based upon your description that it's most likely either a scar form a very old injury or possibly even just a birth defect, the equivalent of a birthmark or "freckle" on the eye and should be left entirely alone.  The sea is a rough club, and relatively few specimens survive without a few battle scars. Keep in mind that in the wild, his favorite food would be waiting for him with both claws spread and ready to fight to the death.  While these are often "fish safe" they are very specialized predators that predate  very heavily on crabs, lobsters and other armored and often well armed crustaceans.  In effect, they are living anti-tank attack helicopters and are well equipped to survive in this role.>  His other tankmates are a Naso Tang, Maroon Clown and large green Chromis and they are all doing fine.<That sounds excellent as well.>  We do regular water changes, the PH is 8.2 and the ammonia, nitrate and nitrite are '0'.  Any help or information will be greatly appreciated.  We don't want to treat with meds without knowing what the problem is and if medication is necessary.<this is EXTREMELY wise and probably an area that I, at least, would suggest that you continue, with probably a full half of the medications sold in LFS being un-needed, unnecessary and often the source of the only real problem many people have. If you'll always use increased water changes as the first action to be taken when you notice an anomaly in your tanks and medications only when ABSOLUTELY needed and NEVER in your main tank itself, you'll likely have 95% better luck than the average hobbyist that CAUSES their own problems by knee jerk panic reactions over every little thing. There is nothing or no-one in the sea to treat injuries and the creatures that live there are almost always far healthier than those found in home aquariums which tells you a LOT if you truly think about it!>  Please help our Scooby Doo.<It sounds like YOU'RE helping your Scooby Doo just fine, and if you keep going on the track you're now taking you should be able to enjoy each other's company for years to come. Remember less is almost ALWAYS more in the end, when it comes to medication.> thanks<You're very welcome>, Carol
Dogface Puffer's Injured Eye (continued)
Hi Mike, <Hi Carol...welcome back!> Thanks for your help.  We are taking your advice and not doing anything, just watching him as we usually do and will continue to look for any new signs.  I do think it is new and not an old injury as I pay pretty close attention to him and spend time daily with Scooby.<That's outstanding. As I tell many people, fish communicate through body language and color changes, and once you learn to "listen" they often have much to say>  When I saw him close his eye, it was the first time I had seen him do that and he did it several times.  His eye just scrunched up and the top and bottom of the eye met and it was closed.<He's actually just rotating the eyeball in its socket, and as you suspect, likely because it was irritated.>  But that hasn't happened again. We are feeding him mostly squid soaked in Selcon.<Actually raw shrimp and crab would be better and release less liquid into the water as well, with the Selcon being an excellent idea. I've not seen anything written up about it, but I know that reptiles fed a diet of just frozen foods eventually developed a vitamin K deficiency and I predict that someday you'll see the same thing written about our finny friends>  He doesn't like Krill.<LMAO!! I've never seen ANYTHING that LIKES krill (except for whales, of course) and suspect that many fish eat it because that's the only choice they are given. the reaction to regular shrimp is dramatically different and they'll show you what "gusto" means when given the chance!>  After reading more of your PufferFaqs, I will increase the variety.  I will get him some shrimp and clams which I will wash and freeze as you suggested.  With the clams, does he pry the food out, should I open the clam slightly before freezing.<With shrimp, try to get WHOLE shrimp complete with shell, while with the clams, often a whack with a hammer to break one side is often the best method. Puffers are famous for their teeth overgrowing if fed a soft diet>  Is there anything else you would suggest we feed him.<Frozen crab legs are also excellent and not as expensive as it sounds. I use metal shears/cutters to cut them up into 1" pieces, complete with shell, and live crayfish are also often welcomed as a treat. The protein/fat problem doesn't seem to carry over into crustacean as it does with fish> It is a 100 gal tank and we have a Naso Tang, Maroon Clown and large green Chromis.  Would it be safe to put in another puffer, or would that be pushing the limit.<That's a tricky question.  Both the puffer and the tang get large, but they do it at a slow pace, meaning it should be 4-5 years before it becomes a problem. SOME LFS will gladly trade in large tangs and puffers as both are popular as large fish as well and they often make a tidy profit by giving you the wholesale credit for a small one or replacing the large fish with another small one>  Also, what puffer would be compatible with the dogface?<Most of the Arothron species get along well together as long as each is a different one, and they also get along famously with Porcupine puffers and Burrfish> thanks again for all your help carol

Trapped Air in Puffer?  6/20/04 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a striped puffer that looks like she has trapped air/water around her eyes and forehead.  I've tried holding her at the bottom of the tank (head up) and gently massaging trying to free the trapped air/water (not sure if it's water or air at this point).  I don't think it's an organism of any kind, because she's been like this for a couple of weeks (under close observation).  There are no signs of bruising or redness, I even changed foods for her to see if it's an allergic reaction, but still no luck.  Any ideas on what it could be or what I could do for her? <Puffers swallow air/water into their stomach.  There would be no connection for the air to get into their head from there.  I think this may be an internal bacterial problem.  I would quarantine the fish & treat for that.  Make sure the med you use is safe for scaleless fish.> Thanks again, Chris <If you need further assistance, put a title that doesn't include puffers, or I'll get it back in my box.  I'm not great with prescribing meds.  ~PP>

Sad Puffer....possible electrical problem (6/15/04) Hi Phil, Leslie  here this morning. I am very sorry to hear about your troubles. Puffers are one of my favorites!!. Your scenario reminds me of something very similar that happened to a tank of mine once. My first thought is stray electrical current in the tank.  It took one nasty electric shock for me to figure out,  after a sub standard lighting upgrade done for me by a LFS.  I was quite surprised that the fish were not in worse shape. I had an out break of Ich in what was a healthy and stable tank with no new critters added as well as fish acting erratically and jumping near the surface.     If you do not have a ground probe on your tank you should consider placing one immediately, but that is just a Band-Aid and finding the source of the problem would be warranted as well. I called an electrician to come and test my tanks as well as install GFIs in all my water related electrical outlets. This could be done without an electrician if one was handy but since I am challenged in that area I got some help from a pro. These articles on electricity and FAQs should be helpful.... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/elecmar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/elecmarfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/elecmarfaqs2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gfcimarfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pumptrouble.htm Hope this helps and best of luck with your Puffer! Leslie

Puffer Injured by Powerhead 5/4/04 Please help!   <Hi Jill, Leslie at your service this evening. That's what I am here for and I will do my best!> I have a porcupine puffer. <Love them!!> Yesterday I found him stuck to the bottom of the power head.   <Utto,  I can relate. I made that mistake once. That must have been scary for both of you.  It's hard to believe that these big tough looking fish can actually get stuck to an intake, but they do> Actually his eye/head was stuck.   <Awwwww poor little guy I'm so sorry> As soon as I found him I unplugged the power head <Perfect> and he swam off. <That's a good sign> Where his head was stuck was swollen but appears to have gone down.> <OK that's good news> His eye is another story.  It has a bubble on it now.  His eye looks normal under the bubble though.  I don't think he can see out of the one eye.   Hmmmmm, he might not be able to.  If it was actually the eye itself that was involved rather than the surrounding tissue that is a good possibility. Hopefully the eye itself was not injured. This will be easier to assess once the swelling resolves a bit more. If it was just the surrounding tissue once the swelling goes down his eye and vision may be fine. > He was pretty stressed (as you can imagine) <Yes,  I bet he was>  and wouldn't eat last night. < Understandably so> (He usually eats everything) <I can relate and I bet he does>    He seems to be swimming normally today and he will eat.   <This is a good sign> I am wondering if there is anything I should be doing for him. We called the LFS and they said that there was nothing we could do except wait and see.  They said there was nothing we could do for him and to leave him alone.  Is this correct?   < Hmmmmm I guess that would be a matter of opinion. I am not so sure I agree with that.  I like to take the pro active approach. There are several interventions you can take to minimize the risk of infection and maximize the healing process: 1) For starters keep a very close eye on his eye and the surrounding tissue for any signs of secondary infection..... increased swelling, pink or reddened tissue.    2) Keep his tank very CLEAN. I like to do daily water changes when I have an injured fish and I am trying to prevent an infection. 3) Do what ever you can to keep his environment stress free. 4) Dim the lights or use ambient light only, maybe some sunglasses:).   5) You can certainly add some vitamins to his food. An easy way to do this is to pierce the food and soak it in a multi vitamin solution for about 15 min prior to feeding. Selcon and VitaChem are a good combo or a few drops of baby vitamins daily to food or directly to the water once a week. 6) Be sure to feeding nutritious foods 7) It maybe a good idea to have an broad spectrum antibiotic on hand should the eye or surrounding tissue begin to appear infected. Dr. Edward J. Noga in his book Fish Disease and Treatment recommends aggressively treating ophthalmic wounds to avert blindness.  Once the swelling has gone down a bit get a better look at that eye.  If the integrity of eye itself has been compromised then  I would be in favor of treating.  National Fish Pharmaceuticals   http://www.fishyfarmacy.com is an excellent source for aquarium medications as well as information. 8) Last but not least .....Puffer proof all powerheads and intakes with strainers at least or sponges. These will need to be rinsed clean frequently. > He made it through the night so I am hopeful.   <I'm glad to hear that good news. They are pretty tough resilient fish> This is my favorite fish <They are pretty special and quite endearing! > and I really want him to be ok. <Of course you do> Any advice would be helpful.  Thank you so much!  Jill <You're most welcome best of luck with your Puffer, Leslie>
Puffer Injured by Powerhead, Continued 5/9/04
Thank you for the quick response.   <Hi Jill, Leslie here with you again today. Your very welcome> Sorry for bothering you again. <Not a bother at all. Glad to help> The puffer is still alive.  He is swimming and eating normally. <That's great news!! They are pretty tough fish> The skin, on the place he was caught, has now turned white.  The horns where he was caught are almost clear...they are really a milky white.  It seems like his skin might be sloughing off. <It may be and probably to be expected. If the tissue is sloughing off it will look like flaking or peeling and may even be a good sign. The old dead tissue has to come off before the new tissue can regenerate . There is a topical disinfectant  called Wound Control by Aquatronics this can be applied once daily. You will have to partially remove him from the water to apply this. Have the Wound Control ready. Apply a couple of drops on to a cotton swab....not to wet so that it will drip when applied.  Corral him into a small container, without removing him from the water. Leave just enough water in the container to keep him mostly covered, with the wounds exposed, but not his gills or mouth so that he does not take in any air. These guys are like puppies and very trainable in my opinion and experience. Offer him a little bit of his favorite food in the container. Pat the area dry with a clean paper towel and dab the Wound Control on with the cotton swab being careful not to let it drip into his gills or eyes. If the wounds are to close to his eyes or gills and you are nervous instead of the Wound Control get some Neosporin antibiotic ointment  or even better a triple antibiotic ointment. Apply this with a cotton swab after blotting the area dry. Give him another little treat and then place the container back into the tank, let it fill gently with water and then let him swim out. The wound control can be applied once a day or the antibiotic ointment three times a day. > His eye is white also, so I think he is blind. That is certainly possible. We can hope for the best, perhaps it will heal. > Nothing seems to be bothering him though. <That's good> I am still worried. <Understandably so> I don't know much (really anything) about fish. <We are all learning all the time> My fiancĂ©? is the one that knows about fish.  They are actually his fish. < Interesting.....Sounds like you have adopted this one. Can you enlist his help treating this fish> I am just so worried about the puffer.  I have gotten really attached to him <Very easy to do they are quite endearing creatures> and I really want him to be OK. <Sure you do > I am just wondering if this is normal for the type of injury he has. Yes probably to be expected depending on the strength of the pump and how long he was stuck to it.>   Should I be worried? <Worrying, in my experience won't really help, just wear you out> Should I prepare myself for the worst?   <I prefer to hope for the best and focus on the positive.> Thanks again and sorry for bothering you. Worried Puffer Parent      < It is no bother my dear. You are most welcome Please let us know how he does. <Best of luck to you and your special friend> Leslie>
Puffer Injured by Powerhead, Continued 5/12/04
Hi! It's me again. <Hi me again :)! Leslie here again as well> I just wanted to say thank you for all your help. <Your most welcome. I am sorry it was under such unfortunate circumstances. > I really appreciate your quick responses to my questions and your understanding with my fishy problems. <That's what we are here for.> The puffer fish died today though.  <Awwww I am so sorry to hear of your loss my friend. I know how difficult that can be. They are very endearing creatures.> I will keep reading fishy facts on your website. Excellent. There is a wealth of information here on the site.> I think ya'll are great there.  <Thank you for the kind words. Take care, my thoughts are with you. Leslie> 

Puffer didn't unpuff (1/4/04) Hello--I got up this morning to find my beautiful Golden Tonga Puffer floating on his side.  It appears one of his compartments didn't downsize when he shape shifted this morning during his morning elimination---since then he's puffed and only made the problem worse. He can't really swim as the section keeps him from being able to locomote right.  Is there anything I can do to help him? <If he has not yet un-puffed, do consider helping him with that: hold him underwater with his nose up and "burp" him by stroking upwards on his belly. If it's the intestinal gas that seems a problem, do consider feeding him something with a good amount of bulk to work the problem out.>   His breathing is already labored.  He eats crab, shrimp and lobster and copious quantities of dried seaweed.  Any suggestions you have are much appreciated. Janine <Try to keep other tank disturbances to a minimum. Hopefully un-puffing will help. If he can make it through until his next elimination, that may solve the problem. --Ananda>
Re: Puffer didn't unpuff (1/5/04)
Thanks for the quick reply Ananda--in the meantime he's gotten rid of the "goiter" as I named it but is just listless, exhausted and laying with his head on the water pump.   <Good to hear his body took care of it... now, he needs time to recover from the stress, though I'm a bit surprised he's got his head on the pump. Sort of a puffer massage, maybe?> I've got his lights off and the room dim.  I just keep coming in and out to check on  him and he still makes good eye contact with me but doesn't swim to me in response to his name as he usually does. <Making eye contact is a good sign. The fact that he isn't swimming over to you is not surprising if he's really worn out, which is what it sounds like.> It's clear this has taken a great deal of his energy.  I'm also going to stay home from work tomorrow to keep an eye on him. The people I work with know how important my fish are, esp. Ralph. <Thank goodness for that... many people would say "it's just a fish"... my thanks to them.> Thanks for the info that I can help him, I had tried stroking that area but he was on his side but he didn't seem to like it--- thanks again and I'll keep you posted.  You might remember Ralph, you helped me with him many months ago when he had gill flukes.   <Ah, I thought your name looked familiar. :) > What would you suggest for bulk?  He's very spoiled and literally will only eat crab, shrimp, lobster and dried seaweed.  I've tried him on broccoli and cauliflower which I freeze to get rid of the collagen and then shred for my tangs and dwarf angles.  He won't touch it.  He'll put other food in his mouth and spit it right back out---- <Spoiled puff. :) Take some shells from the crab, shrimp, & lobster, and boil them for a while. It'll smell something fierce, but the idea is to make a good, highly-flavorful broth. You might try soaking some shredded broccoli or peas in it and try those. Or perhaps he'd go for the fresh version of whatever dried seaweed you're using? Worth a shot if you have a good Asian grocery store nearby. --Ananda>
Puffer didn't unpuff III (1/5/04)
<Hi! Ananda back again...> Ah----I'll try boiling up some broth for him and soaking things. Anything for Ralph!!  He is VERY spoiled.   <He, and many, many other puffers across the land...> He's so much better this morning, I caught him eating the hair algae off the back of his tank and he ate some dried seaweed for me.   <Your puffer eats hair algae?!? That's a new one for me.> I'll have to try and find some seaweed locally.  There's no Asian food store around but perhaps in a town about 30 miles away. I do get fresh seaweed at the fish store for my tangs but hadn't given him any for a while because he won't touch it. Perhaps if I boil it in the broth. <Or maybe a different type of seaweed? I know the big Asian store near me has a couple of different types.> I also just started using lobster chunks rather than buying the tails and cracking them and read the ingredients and they seem to have a lot of salt in them. <Yuck.> I also use salad shrimp that's already cook so no doubt it has salt too.  I think I better go back to the natural food stuffs for him. <Sounds like a plan. But do check the label on the salad shrimp -- it might not have salt added. Alternately, you could buy frozen, shell-on shrimp to give his teeth a bit more of a workout.> I'm pretty luck that my co-workers understand about my fish.  They know all of their names pretty much and I have three tanks--I have pictures of all of them posted at my desk. <That's cool. I bet they feel like fish-aunts and fish-uncles. :) .> Ralph just bit his equipment so I'm sure he's back to normal. <LOL! Sounds like a puffer.> He does lay beneath one of the power heads and lets the jet massage him--he's just such a character!! thanks again Janine <Good to hear he's doing better. --Ananda>

Helping a puffer recover from a powerhead encounter (08/07/03) I have a stars and stripe puffer fish that was introduced into my main tank about a week ago. He seemed fine the first day, eating well. When I checked the tank in the morning I found him upside down stuck in the inlet of my powerhead. <Ack!> I turned the powerhead off and pulled him out (I have since put pre-filters in so that this will never happen again). <Other suggestions I've heard include putting a bio-ball in the intake...> His skin on his chin was stretched and was drooping. Almost a week has past. His skin on his chin is falling off and peeling. There still seems to be a sack hanging down from his chin and he has some black marks around his gills. Unfortunately he has not eaten anything since the accident. <It probably hurts to eat.> I have tried live crayfish, fresh shrimp, krill, snails. He doesn't seem interested. What should I do for: a) his skin abrasion b) not eating? <I would put him in a hospital tank and treat with a general antibiotic, like Spectrogram (Nitrofurazone & Kanacyn). Be very, very careful not to touch his chin when you move him -- catch him in a smooth plastic container. For food, maybe try something he can eat without chewing much -- frozen (& thawed) bloodworms soaked in Selcon, perhaps, with live brine for an appetizer. Do gut-load the live brine with something like crushed Pepso food, an enriched flake food, or a good Artemia food.> Thanks <Hope this helps. --Ananda>
Re: Helping a puffer recover from a powerhead encounter (08/07/03)
<Hi! Ananda back again today...> Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately he didn't make it. The trauma to his chin was too much. <I was afraid of that.> He hung on in distress for longer than I would of expected. Do fish experience pain and suffering like we do? <Recent research seems to indicate that fish do experience pain, but whether or not they experience "suffering" depends on how you define the term. Most connotations of that word involve emotions, which fish don't have -- though some of their actions might seem to indicate otherwise.> I can't help but think I should of intervened and euthanized him. <That is always a difficult choice. It is human nature to hope that things will get better. I have euthanized fish, and it is never an easy task. When you can, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasiafaqs.htm ... also check out the WetWebMedia forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk and search for "clove oil" to find my experiences with using that for fast euthanasia. --Ananda>

Powerheads Hi, <Hello! Ryan with you today!> I have a 50G marine tank and use 2 opposing power heads to create adequate circulation in addition to my filter and skimmer inflows.  I decided to experiment with 2 different brands, an Aquaclear 3000 and Eheim 1000 compact. Over the course of about 6 months since I "plugged" the power heads in I keep getting inverts and fish sucked up through each one. In total I have lost about 5 Turbos, 3 Nassarius Snail and finally my 1 inch Honeycomb Puffer last night. They are all sucked up alive, trapped then die. I have managed to pull a few away that I have noticed but I was really surprised about the puffer. Is this a common occurrence with power heads? do you have any tips to prevent this occurring? <Yes, it is a common occurrence if you don't cover the intake somehow.  My favorite method is to use a bio-ball to cover the opening for the intake.  Sponge covers are also available.  Best of luck! Ryan> Thanks in advance for helping John

Puffer swallowed air? I need help.   <Ananda here tonight to try to help...> I have a dogface puffer, we did a tank change today, all levels look good however I think Puffy (my dogface) sucked in some air causing an air pocket in his cheek.   <Uh-oh.> He swimming in circles at the top of the tank as if he were trying to release the air pocket but has been unable to do so.  It has been approximately 6 hours now with no change.  His normal behavior is to hang out at the bottom of the tank, he is very docile.  I am sure on top of the air pocket he is now extremely stressed.  Is there anything I can do to help him, or will he have to release the air pocket himself.   <Get your aquatic gloves on, if you've got them, and carefully catch your puffer. You may want to use a large plastic bowl to move him so you can catch him. Hold him underwater, nose up, and try to stroke the bubble up and out through his mouth.> Is this fatal?   <If your puffer has puffed up with air, it can be. But if you or the puffer can get the air out, the puffer should be okay.> I am desperate and extremely attached to my fish.   <Understandable! Puffers are very personable fish...> Please give me some advice.  Thanks.   <For more tales of puffers gulping air, check the WetWebMedia site... try http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferFAQs.htm and do a page search for "burp". Hope this helps! --Ananda>

Puffer In Peril? I have a porcupine puffer fish who has been in our 55 gallon salt water tank for about 2 weeks. 2 Days ago, I noticed that one is it's eye has a cloudy cover over it.  At first he stayed on the bottom of the tank and only came to the top to eat.  Now it seems that he is all over the tank, swimming around randomly. Running into things and not eating. <Not a good sign...> At this moment he is puffed up at the bottom of the tank and seems not to be able to move at all.  The temperature of the tank is 80 degrees, and the salt is right on.  What can I do to help him?  To me, he seems to be in need of help.  There is only the cloudy spot on his one eye, and nothing on his body.  He did eat 3-4 guppies the first couple of days and we change out to dried mini shrimp or frozen food. <I'd stick with foods of "marine" origin" here, such as krill, Mysis, etc. A much better bet nutritionally, for the fish> What are we doing wrong, I would like help him to survive.  Please advise me. Thank you, Mary Martinez <Well, Mary- it's hard to say what you're dealing with here. I think that you need to monitor more parameters, such as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Inflation in these fishes is usually a reaction to stress of some sort, possibly caused by measurable quantities of these compounds. The symptoms that you are describing could be caused by environmental lapses...Often, these types of maladies can be mitigated by improving and maintaining excellent water conditions. Utilize very aggressive protein skimming, chemical filtration media (activated carbon/Poly Filter, etc.), coupled with an enhanced water change schedule (like 5% of tank volume twice weekly), and scrupulous attention to feeding habits can make a difference. If you are looking at a possible parasitic disease, it may be necessary to treat the fish in a separate tank with acceptable medications (avoid copper with these guys) or other methodologies, such as freshwater dips, etc. I'd attack the water quality issue first, then see if there is still a possibility of parasitic problems. Observe carefully, and go from there. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

- Cowfish Corral - Hullo Crew! <And hello to you, JasonC here...> And a very special but hurried hullo! to whoever is responding today (Bob?  Anthony?)  because we are hoping that you can give us some very good advice very quickly- <I will do my best.> Our juvenile ( about 2") longhorn cowfish got caught in the intake of our powerhead this morning; his head from the eyes up was caught.  We don't know for how long he was in there, except that the tank had been checked about two hours previously, and he was fine then. We immediately turned the powerhead OFF and freed him; he is currently slowly wavering about the tank, fins flicking fairly rapidly.  The only obvious damage is a cloudiness/swelling over and around his eyes, and a somewhat 'bloodied' appearance over the back of his head between his horns.  I'd guess I'd call it a bruise if he was human; there are thin red lines tracing the spaces between his bony skin-plates, he's not actually 'bleeding' from exposed tissues. <Is actually more like a hickey - blood being pulled through the skin.> I'll include a couple of pictures - blurry, but I think you can see what's going on with his swollen eyes; and a 'before' shot for comparison. http://www.deepdarksea.com/pics/trumpybefore.jpg http://www.deepdarksea.com/pics/trumpy1.jpg http://www.deepdarksea.com/pics/trumpy2.jpg http://www.deepdarksea.com/pics/trumpy3.jpg <Ouch...> As of right now, about 20 minutes after we rescued him, the other inhabitants of the tank are acting perfectly normal (no toxin release, thus far), and he is moving up and down the water column a little bit more, and ate a little food. <Ahh good... I've done similar in an attempt to let the fish know, "Everything is cool." Have no clue if it works or not, but good thing that Trumpy ate.> Still mostly hovering in one place, though, and not reacting normally to visual stimuli. <I'm not surprised... could very well lose that eye.> So - what should we do? <Hmmm...> Watch and wait? <Good place to start... you could also add some Epsom salts to help work on the swelling a bit - about one teaspoon per gallon would do.> And if so - what are definite signs that he's going downhill, and should be removed from the tank? <I'd look for it to stop eating for starters.> Add more carbon to the filter? <Yes.> Medicate him? <Not at the moment - might want to do something about that power head so you don't have an instant replay. Peace and quiet would be best at this point.> Any advice here would be helpful - we don't have a quarantine tank, and thus far we've meticulously purchased only healthy fish, so this is our first experience with an invalid. <I think it will be fine in the long haul although things may look worse before they get better. Again, most important to make sure it doesn't get re-injured or hassled by anyone in the tank.> A quick rundown on our tank specs: 29G FOWLR  (YES, we are getting a bigger tank ASAP for the cowfish!  Saving up, saving up.. 8) ) CPR BakPak protein skimmer Eheim canister filter (has a little carbon in right now) 2x55w PC hood Nitrates and Nitrites, 0 Ammonia, 0 SG 1.023 pH 8.1 Thank you thank you, Dustin and Ramie <Cheers, J -- >

Porcupine Puffer Broken Spike? Greetings.   <Hi! Ananda here tonight....> I stumbled across your site while frantically searching for the answer to my problem.   <Yup, that's the way I found it...> I am very impressed with the answers you provide to the huge spectrum of questions posed (particularly about puffers).   <Thanks-- we do our best> So -I reckon if anyone know what is going on with my fish it is probably you guys.  As you may have guessed, I have a porcupine puffer, who is the star of my tank.  He is in there with a black tip grouper and a yellow tang.  All of the fish get along just dandy.  I hand feed the puffer until the grouper decides to get in on it (he splashes a lot taking the food from my hand) but he is well fed. The water quality is kept pristine and I even remove the waste he leaves on an almost daily basis. <Ah, excellent> At first when I noticed the problem and after searching, read the symptoms of Anchor Worms (Lernaea) and Argulus and thought it was one or the other.  However, after more searching and finding some pictures of the diseases -ruled them out.  I donned on my rubber glove captured my puffer to get a closer look at the area in question (he almost seemed to enjoy being held).   <Some puffers do seem to enjoy such interaction with the hands that feed them -- and I am glad you were using a glove!> Holding him a few inches under the water and looking at the top of him -he decided he was no longer having fun and inflated.  I grimaced (I have only seen him inflate one other time and know it really stresses him out) and noticed that the small, thin, non-removable, white, almost egg like growth appears to be coming out of one of his quills.  Upon further inspection (extra 1/2 second before I let the distressed guy go) I noticed the spine looked just a bit shorter than the rest.  I thus concluded that he broke a spine.  Unless he was inflated, the small white "growth" appears to be just coming out of his body.  I have no earthly idea how he managed to do this.   <My guess is that he puffed up and hit something, or that perhaps the trigger was acting the bad boy...> So...  Have you all ever heard of a porcupine puffer breaking a spike?   <Well, not a porcupine puffer, but a Burrfish... look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferdisfaqs.htm and do a page search for "spine".> If so, will it ever heal?    <With good water quality, perhaps.> He is behaving in his peculiar "normal" manner and doesn't seem to be irritated by his problem (until I messed with him). I put two pictures of him in this e-mail and also attached them if they don't show.  Granted they are pictures of him deflated (for I refuse to intentionally make him puff) but I hope it helps. <One possibility is that the whitish area is effectively a scab- or scar-equivalent. In that case, it may come off by itself, eventually. Do keep feeding him vitamin-enriched foods.> Thank you for your advice and keep up the excellent work. Regards, Dan <Hope this helped. --Ananda>

Swollen jaw Hi Ananda, Thank you for the quick reply. <Bob Fenner here>   Puffer is still sick- his condition is getting worse. Before getting sick he ate krill, snails and seaweed among other things, but over the course of the past month, his appetite has crashed and he finally stopped eating completely 6 days ago, though he hadn't been eating much before that. <Not a good sign, but not necessarily the "end of the world". Have known of puffers that didn't eat for months that recovered fully> I am now treating him with Maracyn and Maracyn 2, (Maracyn 2 for 7 days-- I will stop at 10; and Maracyn for just 2 days so far).  The Maracyn was added yesterday for the first time and seems to have helped the swelling  on his chin, though it is still pretty swollen.  I force fed him for the first time yesterday with a little success. He perked up after and came to the top as if looking for food, but showed no interest in eating. He is very thin and this morning his eyes are deeply sunken in and I can see white around them. There does not seem to be redness or other discoloration around them. One other thing I've noticed since he first got sick, is that he tends to orient mouth down, so that his chin is touching the floor, but his tail is up an inch or two. I checked the pH and found that it was low- around 7, so I've slowly increased it to around 8 so far. <Yikes... this is quite a large difference... pH scales are in base ten... a whole point difference is ten times hydrogen/hydroxyl concentration> I'm making daily water changes, I also added aeration yesterday (which also seemed to help a little), but I don't know what has caused the sunken eyes. Everything I force fed him today he was able to spit back out. <You need to force the food down further in the throat, into the stomach> I soaked it in Kent marine Zoe vitamins "heavy Spirulina formula"- does this product sound ok? <Yes> He's still in the 10 gal which is outfitted with an Aquaclear 150 filter made for a 30 gal tank (the carbon is removed now for treatment). I like the idea of a plant refugium and will set that up to control nitrates, but also keep up with the daily water changes until nitrates settle down. <Good> Is there anything else I can do? He has been a beloved pet for at least 6 years, I got him 2 years ago. Any suggestions for keeping the food down? <Yes, place it further into the body. There is much less likelihood of it being regurgitated... this will not hurt your fish> I put it in pretty far, about an inch past his teeth, but he is able to spit it out. Does it sound like he could still recover? <Yes> He is a very hardy fish, but I'm worried he is too weak to get better. Thanks again for all your help! <You are welcome. Bob Fenner>
Puffer with swollen jaw cont'd (03/05/03)
Hi Ananda, Thank you for the quick reply.   <You're welcome> Puffer is still sick- his condition is getting worse. Before getting sick he ate krill, snails and seaweed among other things, but over the course of the past month, his appetite has crashed and he finally stopped eating completely 6 days ago, though he hadn't been eating much before that. <Not a good sign - have you tempted him with live ghost shrimp?> I am now treating him with Maracyn and Maracyn 2, (Maracyn 2 for 7 days-- I will stop at 10; and Maracyn for just 2 days so far).  The Maracyn was added yesterday for the first time and seems to have helped the swelling on his chin, though it is still pretty swollen.   <If it helps, keep using it.> I force fed him for the first time yesterday with a little success. He perked up after and came to the top as if looking for food, but showed no interest in eating. He is very thin and this morning his eyes are deeply sunken in and I can see white around them. There does not seem to be redness or other discoloration around them. One other thing I've noticed since he first got sick, is that he tends to orient mouth down, so that his chin is touching the floor, but his tail is up an inch or two. <Odd. This is not a behavior I've seen in puffers.> I checked the pH and found that it was low- around 7, so I've slowly increased it to around 8 so far. I'm making daily water changes, I also added aeration yesterday (which also seemed to help a little), but I don't know what has caused the sunken eyes. Everything I force fed him today he was able to spit back out. I soaked it in Kent marine Zoe vitamins "heavy Spirulina formula"- does this product sound ok? <I have not used this particular additive, but it can't hurt and may help. If you try ghost shrimp, first feed the shrimp something you have soaked in this so the puffer gets some added nutrition.> He's still in the 10 gal which is outfitted with an Aquaclear 150 filter made for a 30 gal tank (the carbon is removed now for treatment). I like the idea of a plant refugium and will set that up to control nitrates, but also keep up with the daily water changes until nitrates settle down. <Sounds good. Keep me posted on how the plant refugium works out - due to space constraints, I've not been able to try that myself.> Is there anything else I can do? He has been a beloved pet for at least 6 years, I got him 2 years ago. Any suggestions for keeping the food down? <Try soaking it in garlic juice (from the spice aisle at the grocery store) - some fish go nuts over food soaked in the stuff. You could also try clam juice, which might be more enticing for the puffer.> I put it in pretty far, about an inch past his teeth, but he is able to spit it out. Does it sound like he could still recover? <If the Maracyn is reducing the swelling, there is a chance… but I am not sure.> He is a very hardy fish, but I'm worried he is too weak to get better. Thanks again for all your help! <You're welcome. I wish I could do more. -Ananda>

Puffer Problem I will try and make this brief.  Yet still give you all the facts.  I have a spiny box puffer, I guess also known as striped Burrfish.  When I purchased him from LFS he had what appeared to be an injured spine right behind his eye.  It looked like a old injury that was healing, the spine was a little different color, and shorter like it was growing back.  This was 2 months ago.  All seemed well.. weeks have passed, although spine never seemed to get any bigger or better looking, it was like a scar, and didn't seem to effect him. Until now. Now it's like the injury or whatever it is came back.  In just a short time it has swollen up around the spine turned light in color and today when I check him, the spine is completely gone, in the area it's quite swollen like possible infection.  The whole area is light in color, not exactly white, but very pale as in compared to his color. I have had someone with a lot of experience tell me what to do, but his treatment scares me.  It's like, if the treatment don't kill him, it will work!  He told me to move him and start treatment with copper, and then on 4th or 5th day add in formalin (spelling?).   <Copper sulphate and Formalin are generally used for parasitic maladies, such as Ich. It sounds to me like this is the result of some sort of trauma (possibly an injury). The swelling could possibly be an infection, so do keep an eye on this fish. The fact that he's eating and behaving normally is a very good sign. Rather than dose him with powerful medications back to back, which may not be appropriate for the condition which he has, I'd try something more simple: Remove the fish to a separate aquarium and use some ordinary Epsom salts in the water (about 1 teaspoon per gallon). Epsom salts have proven effective for swollen eyes caused by injury, so maybe this will do the trick. If his condition worsens after a few days, I'd do a small water change, and use a commercial antibiotic preparation, such as Maracyn. After about a week, I'd discontinue treatment. If no improvement is seen in the condition, but no further deterioration of the fish's condition is observed, I'd return him to his regular tank. Perhaps the injury will heal on its own. Do be sure that you maintain excellent water conditions and feeding at all time> The treatment seemed drastic, but then I don't know. <I like copper and formalin, but I think that they should be used specifically with parasitic infections. If the condition were definitely parasitic in nature, I'd give the copper a try (in the separate tank).> So far, he does seem okay, but the area has grown in size, so I believe without some sort of treatment he will not get better, but I just don't know what to do.  I have spent all morning sifting through your FAQ but can't seem to find or have missed a situation like mine concerning my Burrfish. <Well, I'd start with simple treatments, as outlined above, at least to start>   By the way, by looking through all these facts I know I have been feeding the little guy wrong, he has only been getting fresh cooked shrimp to eat. (LFS told me that's what they eat) Could it be that from lack of nutrition the injury or sore had chance to become infected? <Do provide a varied diet, by all means. I doubt that the diet that you're feeding caused the condition to appear or worsen on this fish. Do check your water chemistry in his tank to make sure that your water quality is up to par> Please if you could help me in what direction to go in for treatment?  I don't know whether to feed medication or dip, or treat with copper..  I am so confused as to what to do.  I don't know whether to move him to another tank.. <Well, I'd only medicate in a separate tank.> Thank you so very much. Kerrie. <Hang in there, Kerrie. The fact that this guy is eating and behaving normally at this point is a good sign. Just keep observing this fish, take simple, not drastic, treatments, and let us know if you need more assistance. Regards, Scott F>

PLEASE HELP I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH MY SPOTTED PUFFER I have a large spotted puffer fish and today when I came home from work I saw that he has a air pocket on his side near his tail. He is now floating on top of the water.  I do not no what to do.  I think he is stressing out. Please if you could tell me what I can do. Thank you for your time. <Sounds like your puffer has swallowed air (from the surface). Hopefully it will expel same. Not much you can do directly. Bob Fenner>

Puffer fish problem Hello, I have a 75 gallon FOWLR. My porcupine puffer knocked loose the foam block I had situated over the intake of a powerhead in my tank, and got sucked to the intake (on his back) <Yikes> Now, about a week later, the skin around the spot that was stuck to the powerhead has separated from his body and floated off. He has white fleshy looking tissue underneath it... with a few red spots. Is there ANYTHING I can do to help him recover? <If the area appeared infected (elevated, with an emargination) I might see that the balance between catching, manipulating, applying a dab of antimicrobial matter might be worth the trauma, stress... I wouldn't move this animal at this point. I take it it is eating? I would apply a vitamin complex to its foods daily, and the tank water weekly> Will he most likely recover?  <Yes> Should he be in a quarantine tank? (I don't have one, but could purchase one) <Not worth doing, moving at this point. Better to leave in place> The poor guy has only eaten once or twice in the week since it's happened, and he normally begs a LOT more than that. Thanks in advance, (Norman the puffer says thanks too) Bill <Do just keep a sharp eye on Norman for now... Puffers have amazing "powers" of regeneration. That yours has lived to this point, is eating, albeit only on occasion, are strong indications that it will fully recover. Do make/buy a better intake screen for that powerhead. Bob Fenner>
Re: puffer fish problem
Got the aqua clear intake with a grill that keeps the intake from being such a strong current tonight. <Ah, good> Thanks again, will inform you when/hopefully if he is all better. Applied stress coat tonight at suggestion of LFS <Good idea as well> Bill Hammond <Bob Fenner>

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