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FAQs about True Puffer Environmental Disease  

FAQs on: Tetraodont Disease 1, True Puffer Disease 2, True Puffer Health 3, Puffer Health 4, Puffer Health 5,
FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Nutrition, Social, Trauma, Pathogenic, Treatments

Related Articles: Puffers in General, Puffer Care and Information, A Saltwater Puffer Primer: Big Pufferfish! by Mike Maddox, True Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, Puffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: True Puffers 1, True Puffers 2, True Puffers 3, Tetraodont Identification, Tetraodont Behavior, Tetraodont Compatibility, Tetraodont Selection, Tetraodont Systems, Tetraodont Feeding, Tetraodont Reproduction, Puffers in General, Puffer Selection, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, Puffer Reproduction, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

For big, dirty fishes puffers need clean, metabolite scarce water quality...

Steady physical parameters... and LOTS of space, dearth of too-active tankmates.

Golden Puffer Sick?      2/7/18
Hello everyone. Hopefully you guys\gals can help me. I have a 155g tank, with a 40 breeder sump. I am running a Skimz Kone, Lifeguard Biopellets reactor, and a Vecton 25 watt uv. My water test 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 50ppm
<Mmm; I'd address this... see/READ on WWM re NO3; do what you need to keep it under 20ppm>
a ph of 7.7,
<Much too low... read on WWM re this as well... Keep at 8.2 at the lower end>

and my salinity is at 1.020.
<Is this a fish only system? I'd still raise this up to 1.022 min.>
I've had my Golden for 2 years. Last night I noticed he has two lumps on him. They look like boils under his skin. They are pretty good sized. I'm worried. I've heard these can be anything from air pockets, to Vibrio, to internal parasites. Any idea? Thanks in advance for any advice you may be able to give me.
<Likely is an environmental (at least mediated) issue here. You don't mention foods/feeding... Read on WWM.... Bob Fenner>

Re: Golden Puffer Sick?      2/7/18
Sorry. Yes, this is a fish only system. As for feeding. I give him whole clams, mussels, raw shrimp from the grocery store.
<I'd expand this diet. See WWM re FAQs on Tetraodont Nutritional Disease>

These are all before feeding, and thawed in a cup of tank water. I also feed him krill, an occasional crab leg, and he loves nori. All food is soaked in Kent Marine Zoa prior to feeding.
<Ah, good. BobF>
Re: Golden Puffer Sick?      2/7/18

I typically feed him clams, or mussels one to two times per week. The rest of the week is shrimp, nori, and krill. I do skip a day of feeding altogether at times. Once a week usually.
<Good idea. B>
Re: Golden Puffer Sick?      2/7/18
So get my ph, and nitrates under control, and feed a more varied diet?
I'm wondering what you think is a likely outcome provided I remedy these issues?
<.... resolution/solution>
Re: Golden Puffer Sick?      2/7/18

Thank you for all of your help\advice. I really appreciate it. I will work diligently to remedy my feeding variety, and water parameters. Wish me luck. Thanks again, and have a good rest of your evening.
<I do wish you and your puffer good fortune. >

Sick Dog face Puffer; new, uncycled sys., NH4OH, Clown Trigger...       2/6/14
HI everyone!! First let me say that it is AWESOME to have a knowledgeable resource for answers to my fish questions other than relying on the LFS for extremely biased advise. <advice> I have read some of your forums/threads on sick
puffers and have been putting together parts from each story but I decided to just give you my story and we can go from there.
Here's a snapshot of my tank thus far:
setup started on 1-15-14
<Less than a month ago. Is this system fully cycled?>
80 gallon

60 lbs live sand
70 lbs live rock ( cured or so i was told)
Octopus skimmer BH 1000 ( rated for 125 gallons)
Penguin Bio wheel 350 ( not running the bio wheels, it's just to agitate the surface and to house any filter media I may want to add in the future..carbon etc.)  Currently nothing is in it but it's on.
3 powerheads ( not sure exact gph right this second)
Water parameters: ( tested today with API liquid test kit)
pH: 8.1
NH3: almost up to 0.25 ( i know, I know..)

Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 10 ppm
salinity: 1.023
Tank inhabitants: Dog face puffer 3.5", Clown trigger juvenile 1.5", Coral Beauty 1.5".
<... the Trigger... will get too large, mean...>

All that said, i think that the ammonia went up because i added the dog face at the same time that I added 15 lbs of "live cured rock".  I put that in quotes because I think that it had enough die off to alter my levels.
<Very common>

  So my puffer ( added a week ago) was very active as were the others . Eating well, being active , no fights, no aggression.  Today my puffer isn't eating and he has changed color to that same dark gray almost black like he does
when he goes to sleep.  He's been hiding all day and hasn't come out at all.  I did a water change ( 15 gallons) and am using RODI water. I also noticed that today the clown trigger had white speckles on it's fins but was behaving normally.  Coral beauty however is in bad shape.  She has a cloudy eye and rough around the edges looking dorsal fin.  Eating and behaving normally though.
I freaked out and used a little prime to reduce the ammonia to the less toxic version.  I know that the test will still show it so i think that that's where Im reading 0.25 in ammonia.  I have no hospital tank and since at least one thing was wrong with all of them, I freaked out and wanted to treat the tank. here's what I've done so far besides the Prime...
Turned off skimmer
added Dr. Tim's First defense to reduce stress on fishes
added Dr. Tim's nitrifying bacteria because I figured that the live rock, live sand, and quick start bacteria that I initially used to start the tank, hadn't quite built up enough of a bio filter to handle the load that I put on the tank. I read up on his stuff and it is said to work fast and obviously couldn't hurt the situation.  Let me say too, that before i got my own test kit, that I was getting my water tested at the LFS every other day and saw my tank go through the nitrogen cycle BEFORE adding ANY of these fishes.  Lastly I was freaking out about the ICH potential and the cloudy eye of the Coral Beauty, but didn't want to copper my tank so I bought some stuff called Microbe-Lift by Herbtana that is supposed to be added to the DT to combat a host of diseases including Ich.  LFS and the bottle say that it's natural and that it won't affect what little bacteria that I have.
I know what I did wrong... ( hindsight is 20/20) I increased my load too fast too soon.  But now that Im in this mess, I need to know how to get out of it and is it too late to save my fishes?
Oh btw, I've increased the temp of my tank to 82 degrees F and am keeping the lights off too.  Is there hope or are my dog face and the others doomed
to die for my stupidity and hastiness?
<... Don't panic! And stop feeding period... allow this system to cycle out all ammonia. Don't change anything till.
Bob Fenner>

Unknown disease in puffer.... please help     1/11/14
Hello Wet Web Crew,
I am hoping you can shed some light on a very disturbing disease that we have been experiencing with some of our fish. This puffer is in an aquarium that has been stable for a few years, with no new fish coming or going. I have seen these lesions appear on some of our newly introduced fish in our quarantine systems, and despite freshwater dips with Methylene blue and an increased copper level in the system these fish always perish a very gruesome death within 24-48 hours of these lesions first appearing. It will attack puffers and angelfish specifically, and doesn’t seem to bother other fish. Please give me any insight as to what we are dealing with here and how to handle / stop its transmission. I have a microscope available, and if I manage to get to this fish I will try to get some skin scrapes.
Any affected fish stop feeding, appear lethargic, have these lesions of discolored skin, which in the angels progress to bloody open wounds, the puffers just have expanding patches of discoloration and rapid decline until dead in 24-48 hours.
Any help appreciated,
Wendy Amaral
<I have witnessed such rapid onset losses w/ this appearance; and have attributed (guessed) them to emphysematosis ("gas bubble disease")... Somewhere in your circulation system/s there is a site of air entrainment... the fine bubbles going into solution, getting into the fish/es and surfacing as these "lesions"... There are a few techniques for detecting these sites. Otherwise, perhaps a histological work-up of the areas mal-affected, thin sectioning, H & E staining will reveal something else. Bob Fenner> 

Dogface Puffer, hlth.    1/8/12
My Puffer has been a bit weird this week and not sure why.
Hope you can help.
Information as best i can.
Nothing has changed in my FOWLR tank in last 6 months. In or out.
!00 gallon. Oversized Tunze skimmer plus trickle filter.
5 small tankmates.
<Need to know what species>

 Puffer about 5 inches. Will be getting larger tank.
Weekly 10% water changes.
Instant Ocean , D&D or Royal nature salts used. (I change every 25kg to vary elements in my other (reef) tank).
Only 2 parameters not perfect are SPG 1.026. I am dropping to 1.024 over next few days.
Nitrates 15
Everything has been stable and fine till last weekend.
Coincidence maybe ?
<Reads like it>
But I went away for 2 days and decided not to feed fish.
<No problem>
 First time i have done this but read it`s not a problem.
Normally leave neighbour in charge.
Anyway Puffer instead of being very light grey has darker speckled grey spots. Skin looks a bit like when he has blown up and come down again...A bit wrinkled.
He is also staying in front of powerhead flow.
<... Mmm, a guess here... this fish might have gotten sucked up against the intake...>
Then he might hide away in a cave.
Just doesn't look or act the same.
He has flashed against rocks a few times. Not a lot though and no sign of itch.
He is eating as much as ever and looking for food every time i approach the tank.
No problems with other fish or any in my other tank.
Both tanks running 18 months ish.
I don`t run carbon in tank but i am going to start soon from what i have read this week.
Do you think there is a problem here ?
<Don't know for any certainty... But would ask that you read here:
and just try to be patient... Highly likely this issue will resolve of its own. Bob Fenner>
Re: Dogface Puffer   1/8/12

Thanks Bob
<Welcome Gar>
Pathogen or parasite has been suggested.
<... I see in your pix that you have a Paracanthurus tang... It would be parasitized way ahead and worse than the Tetraodontid>
I am attaching a before and now photo to see if that could shed any light.
<I can... there is a disturbing amount of Blue Green Algae (reddish in this case) coating the back wall of this system. I would make moves to reduce this. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
and the linked files above... where you lead yourself>
If so would quarantine and Cuprazin work ?
<I would neither move this fish, nor expose the family to Copper compounds... please read where you were last referred>
Sorry for rushed reply but starting to worry.
Have read lots and will continue to do so where you have suggested.
<Ah, good. BobF>
Re: Dogface Puffer

Sorry Bob
Should have added , no actual intakes in tank .
All behind backboard.
Also puffers breathing seems to be getting faster.
<The steps to reduce BGA, improve water quality... B>

Re: Dogface Puffer, hlth. concern    1/8/12
Thanks Bob
Thought same about Regal myself.
Will read up on algae.
The red has been on tank wall since start up but hasn't increased in last 9 months say but have needed a real scrape to remove any so just decided to leave it. Thought no harm as not increasing.
<... not so. Toxic, at times very... ONLY scrape this off when you have a plan to make a very large water change, vacuuming as much out as you can, changing or cleaning all mechanical filter media>
As regards the green algae i have just increased water flow as i had one of my powerheads greatly reduced running a nitrate reactor.
<Oh! Of what sort of make up is this? Might be the or another source of poisoning. What in particular is the feed (chemically)>
The difference since yesterday is great.
Don`t know if this was the problem but will definitely take your advice and do some more reading.
Thanks a lot again Bob
Kind regards
<And you, B>
Re: Dogface Puffer   1/8/12

Hi Bob
<Big G>
Don`t know alot <no such word> about the reactor.
Just that the level of nitrates in tank is higher than what comes out of reactor.
<Mmm... what do you feed it with... the source of carbon? Is this a liquid prep.? Is it some sort of bead that's in the reactor itself?>
Company in England sells many different types.
This is a link to the one i have. http://www.cleartides.com/page20.htm.
Doesn`t actually say what the media is.
<Mmm, I see that they sell a few types... Sulfur, pellet... You should be able to tell which variety you have... Don't know that the reactor is a culprit... as other, just as sensitive fishes are reported as doing fine>
Read about the algae Bob and have increased water flow.
Think i need to up my lighting too. Only have 2x38w on a 100 gallon tank.
Been told on 3 forums this is fine on FOWLR but obviously not.
<Depends on what you're trying to do... For just barely lighting photosynthetic life on your rock this should be fine>
Hope my puffer recovers (still eating today). Do i just leave him and hope time (and water) heals ?
<Is what I would do yes>
And lastly how soon do i need to scrape algae from tank ?
<... better again for you to read, come to understand the several approaches to BGA control... develop and incorporate a several-approach plan>
Bit apprehensive about this job. Will it die off in time if left ?
<Mmm, more likely your livestock will die off first>
Thanks a lot for help Bob. Think you`ve hit nail on the head with water quality. Was being sent down a few wrong roads methinks.
<Review our prev. emails... READ... understand, then act. BobF>
Re: Dogface Puffer  1/10/12

Hi Bob
Just a quick update.
Puffer still eating as normal<ly> but flashing and blinking continues.
Probably a bit more lively too.
News on the nitrate reactor which i had stopped running before to increase flow and when started again there was a slight ammonia smell.
I had the outlet running outside of tank for a few pints then returned it.
Have just contacted the maker and he told me it should never be stopped and started again and to flush out the reactors and begin maturing again.
This i have done.
Could this have contributed to problems too ?
Cant see it being good
<Me neither. B>
Re: Dogface Puffer, now poss. BGA poisoning in earnest!    1/15/12

Evening Bob
<Geez... the time code above reads as the same time zone (PST) as here... am just ten minutes behind you Gar... 9:35 AM >
I decided to remove all blue green algae on Friday as i think i have improved water conditions re your information page and also think it mainly arrived a long time ago.
<I see>
Basically i scraped the whole back wall of the tank and changed about 20% of the water. Cleaned all filter media and left tank to run.
Another 10% change today and cleaned all filters again.
<Sounds good>
The amount of mess in the water was really bad and i am thinking the tank water has been poisoned.
I am continuing the water changing and filter cleaning regime as fast as i can.
Should i do anything Else ?
<Run a good deal of new activated carbon, and/or PolyFilter>
Add anything to water to treat fish ?
<Not I>
 I had a dead Damsel this morning and a small clown not eating along with puffer.
Regal Tang is perfect.
Would you add erythromycin at all now as algae has 95% gone (few very small patches left).
<I would not. Am not a fan in general of chemical algicides... for all the reasons posted on WWM>
Grateful for any advice.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Perhaps BGA poisoning    1/15/12

Thanks for quick reply Bob
Think we`re in agreement over chemicals.
Ran a new bag of Rowa carbon from Thursday but threw it away with today's changes as i thought this too could now be holding poisons in the sock.
Now the tank is clear of loose algae i will replace it tonight and carry on with water changes etc... till fish tell me otherwise.
Thanks again Bob.
Just hope the fish make it.
<Me too>
<And you, B>

Re: puffer /blue green algae problem  1/16/12
Hi Bob
The problems continue.
Regal tang and Yellow Dwarf Angel still showing no bad signs. That`s the good news.
The Puffer is now being bullied by these 2 fish..
<Needs to be isolated, better, moved elsewhere>

Will they be doing this as he is vulnerable like other wild animals do or could this have been the original problem with him and i hadn`t noticed ?.
<The former>
He is now just lying still and they are swimming over and nipping him all the time.
<Why is it still there? Move it!>
He is curled up and very dark due to stress. He has a few light red streaks on his body and fins too. Poisoning ?
<Slightly venomous if/when killed, decomposing>
Do i need to move him to another tank ?
<YES; now>
 Wondering if he looks so bad due to the bullying or if there is another problem. His teeth are showing all the time and his mouth is in an open position. Skin doesn`t look great either.
What is the smallest size tank i could  safely put him in for a few weeks just to see if he picks up. Would you suggest this ? He`s about 5-6".
<Thirty plus gallons>
Re: puffer /blue green algae problem  1/16/12
I have moved him Bob.
Straight after emailing you. Yes it was obvious really.
He is in my QT tank...20 gallon only .
<Be VERY careful of feeding, DO measure water quality, be ready to dump, replace (from your main tank) a good deal of the water... daily!>
Internal filter with sponge taken from one of my reef filters.
I think his problem now is lockjaw.
Been reading up today but he never eats krill so i am assuming water quality again or stress from the Regal Tang situation.
Does he HAVE to be force fed to cure ?
<Hopefully not>
Going to leave him in peace for a day or two first anyway.
<Welcome. B>

Help. Dogface puffer swimming issue/s...    7/4/11
Hello, I've read through a lot of questions trying to find a similar
issue, but can't seem to find one. I have a 60g FOWLR with a 4" dogface puffer,
<This is way too small a volume for this fish>
3 damsels, and a clam. I've had the puffer for about 3 years.
<"Dwarfed", "Bonsai'd"... made and kept small here from metabolic feedback (living in its own wastes so to speak). Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GrwLmtChems.htm
Just recently (about 2 weeks) he has been acting differently. On a side note, me and my wife just had a baby (2 months old), so for a bit some of the care I put on the tank was slipping. I checked my levels a week ago and found my pH was low, about 7.6-7.8.
<Whoa! This scale is base 10 (log)...>
I did a 20% change and added the pH buffer
<Needs to be done very gradually... from pre-mixed new saltwater additions, NOT added directly to the tank>
for 2 days after that and the levels went back to 8.2 - 8.3 within 2-3 days. Ammonia was 0, Nitrite was 0, and Nitrate was about 20. So back to my puffer, he seems to be swimming a little lopsided and recently was even upside down.
<Very bad>
He can't swim and stay up anymore either, he is always cruising the bottom of the tank and when he does force himself to swim up, he immediately drops down to the bottom. He used to always hover around the middle or close to the top swimming back and forth, now he just swims circle around the bottom. He still eats, but only if I physically put the food in front of his face with tongs. Before he used to come get anything I put in the tank. I feel him a variety of squid, silversides, krill, and clam.
<Not a good diet... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/trupuffdgfaqs.htm
I mix it up. I went to the LF store and asked what to do. The owner said I should QT the puffer for 3-4 days and gave me EM Erythromycin and Triple Sulfa,
<? Of no use here whatsoever>
which I medicated him with for 4 days. I just put him back in the regular tank and he is swimming around a lot more, but still looks the same, not able to go to the top. Anything you can tell me would help. Thank you.
<Only time and your good care will show/prove if this fish will revive...
It needs to be in a larger world, less vacillation in water quality and better nutrition. Bob Fenner>
re: Help. Dogface puffer swimming issue   7/4.5/11

Hi Bob,
<Hey Tim>
Thanks for the reply. After reading your reply, I guess I haven't been treating my puffer well and I didn't even know it. I am going to do my best to make things right for my puffer.
<Ah good>
I have a 150g tank in my garage I have been building a stand for. I am almost finished and will set that up ASAP to give him a bigger home. As far as filtration, I have a Fluval FX5 I will use along with a Fluval 304.
I read I should be shooting for about 10 time water volume per hour with a puffer, so I'll do the math and add another canister if needed. I also have and will be using a skimmer.
<Very good>
As far as the pH, I did add the buffer to new water I had made, not directly in the tank and am maintaining the levels were they are now. Ph 8.2-8.3, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20.
After reading your response about his diet, I was shocked. I had never heard of Thiaminase and everything I always bought for him to eat was frozen and what I listed before, which apparently was all Thiaminase based food. My LF store had always told me it was a good diet for him.
<As you'll see/find, this practice is responsible for many indirect shortened lives>
I will go buy some vitamins to soak him food in, as well as change his diet to Tilapia (fresh from the food store, I'll freeze it as needed and soak it in vitamins, mussels (maybe a few times a week), and cockles. Once a week I will give him a silverside or some clam since he does like them, but again I'll soak them in vitamins.
Do you think this might get him better,
<I do>
any other suggestions as far as anything else I might be able to do?
<Mmm, no. The move to the new, larger quarters, more steady water quality, improved nutrition will likely bring your Tetraodont around>
Thanks for the information, I will keep you posted on my progress...
<Thank you. BobF>

Puffer problem, Tetraodontid, env.
Dear WWM.......
I have a Stars and Stripes Puffer........
Previously healthy, living for 4 years in 55 gallon tank with one other fish.
<Mmm, really, this puffer (should by now, through growth) needs a much larger volume>
Have not introduced ANYTHING new to tank, not even live rock or gravel for years.
Recently noticed Puffer rubbing on the live rock. Thought nothing of it because he's a bit of a "spaz", but now see a skin eruption on his jaw line about 3/4 of an inch from his mouth. The spit is a perfect dark ring with a dark center spot with five white speckles inside of that (definitely not Ich). I thought, at first it was an open wound, but under closer inspection see that it is completely smooth like the rest of his skin.
Eyes clear; appetite great, activity level is as usual.
What is this and what medicine can I apply to the water?
<... likely environmental stress as a term... Again, this fish has been 'bonsai'ed' by life conditions>
Thanks, in advance, for any guidance you might offer.
Best regards,
Lisa Crugnola
<... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/trupufsysfaqs.htm
and the linked files above; particularly nutrition/feeding, and disease. Bob Fenner>

Puffer with "skin growths" -- 02/05/11
Hey WWM crew,
I have a question that pertains to my yellow-belly dogface puffer. He has numerous small circular growths all over his body, they look almost like "freckles."
<I see these>
I have searched extensively and asked several forums without any pointers in the right direction. These growths don't appear to bother him at all. I have enclosed some pictures to see if you guys can identify what it is. Thank you!!!
<Some sort of skin irritation (not Neuromast/HLLE trouble)... likely something to do w/ water chemistry... which you proffer no data re. Could well be summat that there is no simple measure of. Do put the string
"puffer skin trouble" in the search tool here:
and read some of the cached views for the saltwater queries. Bob Fenner> 


Dogface puffer, hlth., sys., nutr.   -- 12/20/10
I recently moved from a 25 gallon to a 115 gallon tank.
and bought a dogface 2 weeks ago.
<Will do much better in a bigger tank than 115 Imperial gallons. Realistically, 200 gallons is nearer the mark. These fish do grow very big, very fast. They're also very active.>
Everything been fine until today. He looks really ill, not eating and keeps screwing his face up....and moping about behind the live rock.
<Indeed. While Arothron species are extremely hardy in many ways, they're easily stressed by the poor conditions they themselves create thanks to their large size and massive appetite. Review aquarium size relative to the Arothron specimen you have, with a fish bigger than, say, 15 cm/6 inches needing a much bigger tank than you have. Do please read here:
That's a thorough review of the genus and its specific requirements.>
Did water tests and my nitrites were up to 0.3
<Stop feeding! Check filtration is matured and working. Maintain filters as required, adding secondary filters if necessary. Let's say you're aiming for a turnover of 10 times the volume of the tank per hour, the minimum for this sort of puffer, you'd need a pump rated at 10 x 115 = 1,150 gallons/hour. A protein skimmer is essential because of all the nitrogenous material dumped into the tank whenever you feed your pufferfish.>
Realised my external filter which I moved over from last tank (while my trickle filter matures) had been unplugged.
Did water change and have filter running again now.
All other fish well.
<Other fish'¦?>
Thought it may be food as he eats prawns and dillies that others don't get.
<Hmm'¦ earthworms and prawns are reasonable foods, though Bob F. would probably warn you away from terrestrial protein sources on principle. As for prawns, while fine as a treat, they are rich in Thiaminase, and shouldn't be used more than once or twice per week. Gut-loaded live river shrimp are better. Otherwise, concentrate on Thiaminase-free foods: cockles, tilapia fillet, certain types of squid.>
Maybe a prawn was off ?
<Possibly, but usually fish reject rotten seafood.>
Any ideas of what it could be or any treatment I could use ?
<More likely environmental. Review the tank, tankmates, filtration. Check water chemistry, salinity is adequate. Oxygen is a key limiting factor, and external canister filters remove oxygen, so without sufficient circulation in the tank, you can easily end up with low oxygen conditions likely to stress your puffer. Their small gill openings mean they find it hard to breathe "deeply", yet their oxygen demands are very high because they're so active.>
Also is it true that if he died he can pollute the whole tank fatally ?
<Potentially, but any dead fish can do that. If you're asking if the poisons in a puffer's tissues leak out after death and kill the livestock, no, that doesn't normally happen. Boxfish can secrete toxins through their skins, but puffers don't.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dogface puffer -- 12/20/10
Thanks for the rapid response.
<You're welcome.>
I have a Tunze protein skimmer running and 2 2000 lph pumps and 1 2500.
<6500 litre/hour is about 1400 Imperial gal/hour; should work, but don't be overly trusting in what you've got going on here. Keep a close eye on oxygen concentration and nitrate level.>
He now seems to have gone a really dark colour and looking pretty grim in fact.
<Arothron hispidus will change colour dramatically when stressed. I bought my first specimen as a FRESHWATER fish, and while they were a very subdued colour under such conditions, once moved to a brackish water aquarium they perked right up. These are very hardy animals. What are its tankmates? How are they behaving? On paper at least, Arothron spp. are among the tougher marine fish, and some of the few species to be kept successfully for 5+ years in captivity back in the 70s and early 80s when marine fishkeeping was still in its infancy. If the other fish look happy, then yes, consider diet and/or poisoning as possible issue -- note than puffers tend to be acutely sensitive to copper, perhaps more so than most other commonly kept fish. On the other hand, if everyone is off their food, then something else
is likely going on.>
Has been fed almost exclusively on prawns....About 2 a day....not good.
<Indeed not. Tilapia fillet and cockles are the two ideal staples for bigger specimens. Very young ones enjoy bloodworms, but the degree to which these are healthy for marine fish is debatable, though it's worth stating that juvenile Arothron hispidus live in estuaries and rivers, so insects probably are part of their natural diet. They're also herbivorous, so some green foods, e.g., cooked peas, should be provided.>
Thanks anyway and I'll see how he goes but gone bad very quickly so not overly optimistic.
<Good luck. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dogface puffer -- 12/20/10
Yes all tankmates healthy and eating
<That's helpful to know.>
Scared to tell you what they are , as due to some bad advice I am overstocked. All very small now (1-2 inches) but will be doing some rehoming in the future.
<Ah, yes, it would indeed seem so.>
Dragon wrasse'¦.
<To about 20 cm; not a bad aquarium fish for rough-and-tumble systems alongside large puffers.>
Emperor Angel
<Not a great companion for the wrasse, but might work with the puffer, given space. Do bear in mind these angels are strongly herbivorous, and their diet needs contain lots of fresh greens as well as sponges, rather than generic fish foods.>
and Regal Tang,,,,
<A notoriously difficult species to maintain, and do be aware than both angels and tangs expect to be top dog in reef tanks, and I tend to recommend people keep one or the other, not both.>
with a sandwich goby.
<Do you mean Jam Sandwich Goby, Valenciennea helsdingenii?>
Do please read Bob F's pieces on these species, and follow the links for more information'¦
Actually left a small part of his prawn yesterday which I had to fish out. Maybe bit dodgy.
Surprised at the speed of illness though....Keep thinking he s dead then his eyes move....Nothing else at all and he s not changed position for a couple of hours.
<If he's eaten something bad, there's not much you can do beyond ensuring optimal environmental conditions. I'd expect him to recover, all things being equal, though it may take a day or two before be perks up again.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dogface puffer - 12/20/10

Cheers Neale thanks a lot.
<You're welcome.>
He has actually moved now so fingers crossed.
Yes jam sandwich goby. Only got him today as I cant have a clean up crew due to wrasse and puffer so thought this might help a bit.
<Redundant. Clean-up crews are specifically for use in reef tanks, where it's difficult or impossible to move rocks and siphon out detritus. In EVERY other type of aquarium, it's ALWAYS better to physically remove waste because that'll reduce the amount of nitrogenous material in the water.>
Do feed frozen tablet greens and also Nori on a clip.
Struggling a bit for Angel food but got some ocean nutrition formula 2 pellets which seem to be good.
<Yes; do look at specific Angelfish frozen food mixes. Sponges are an important component.>
All fish are eating variety of foods and well. Mysis brine shrimp krill Nori formula 1 and 2 plus live brine and a marine mix tablet. Will eat flake too but don't tend to use it.
<Flake can be good, but variety is often important in terms of greens, sponges, crunchy shells, and other components your fish require.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dogface puffer (RMF, anything you want to add on Pomacanthus diet?)<<no>>
Thanks again Neale
Puffer as normal this morning , Made up really thought he was a goner till I spoke to you.
<I see.>
Just fed him 2 dillies (all I have at the minute ), Snowed in now but think LFS does a frozen cockles.
<Good. So do many supermarkets; Waitrose for example has them regularly, and buying a batch from there will usually be cheaper than buying them at the pet shop. Ask for some that are still frozen, pop them into an airtight container in the freezer, and defrost as required! You could actually get everything you need from Waitrose: cockles, tilapia fillet, mussels, squid, prawns. Be sure the Thiaminase-containing foods are used sparingly, and that's a balanced diet right there!>
Prawns will become just an occasional treat. Tend to struggle a bit with selective food. Have seen an ocean nutrition one containing sponges on the net but cant get any in England.
<Ah, while sponges are nice to have in the diet of Pomacanthus species, it's the green component that's essential. Look at the marine fish foods like "Vegetarian Diet" from TMC that include cooked spinach and algae alongside various small invertebrates. Sushi Nori sheets can be picked up in British grocery stores very inexpensively, and if you happen to have an Asian supermarket nearby, 10 sheets will only set you back about £1-1.50 (supermarket prices tend to be slightly higher, £1 for 5 sheets being typical). Anyway, this stuff is readily accepted by Tangs and Angelfish. Asian supermarkets will also have other types of algae on sale, and these can be experimented with as you wish. Organically-grown lettuce and spinach may be useful foods, though their nutrient content are probably not very high. Bob is somewhat hostile to the use of terrestrial plants in the diet of marine herbivores, but my experience and observation is that used sensibly softened, organically-growing plants cause few problems; they do at least contain fibre and some vitamins, so while not a substitute for marine algae, they are useable supplements that helps to keep marine herbivores "regular", and avoiding constipation probably has a big impact on how well such fish absorb nutrients from their other meals. In other words, even in England, it should be possible to get ALL the foods your marine fish need from the supermarket, even if your local pet shop doesn't carry everything you need!>
<Do have a peruse of the WWM pages on Angelfish diet and P. imperator generally, here:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dogface puffer (RMF, anything you want to add on Pomacanthus diet?) - 12/20/10
Thanks for that. I am fine with the angel diet now anyway. Will pay a visit to the supermarket for puffer food once this snow and ice clears.
Merry Xmas.
<Glad to help, and happy holidays yourself. Cheers, Neale.>

Dogface Puffer and low PH - Warning! long email. Env. dis., mucho reading 10/25/10
Hi to WWM Crew. (25th October 2010)
<Hello Tina>
First of All this message is concerning a Dog faced puffer fish Juvenile (Arothron nigropunctatus). I have scoured the Puffer-fish disease pages and used the key-word highlighter with as many variations as possible.
Let me start at the beginning but as brief as possible.
Tank and Puffer History.
I started up a small 35L tropical tank in June 2009. My husband started up a Juwel80 110L Marine conversion a couple of weeks later. We jointly decided to invest in a custom made 450L marine set up with sand bed sump (originally a 60L but now the 110L). At the same time I acquired a 96L Juwel and a few months later shut down the 35L.
After a few months of watching the lovely dogface puffer in the local shop and seeing that he was healthy, apart from being a bit skinny. I grew attached and decided to buy him. So home he came, in January to the 450L where he grew in size and strength over the following couple of months. He struck up an amazing friendship with my Foxface and the two could never be parted. (Add also at this time that our RO unit broke due to the frost and we have been using the Local Fish Shop (LFS) mixed water)
In April we finally had perfect water conditions in the 450L and decided that it was time to start adding some corals. However as the Dogface wasn't satisfied with just eating the excessively large and varied diet we supplied him with, the corals became an expensive meal, even the decorative Algae became prey to the duo dog'n'fox.
<Ooh, I do like this>
So after long deliberation I chose to close down 96L tropical (after finding good homes for the fishes - especially my Plecs) and set about converting it into a temporary Marine home for the duo until
<Mmm, much too small a volume...>
I could save enough for a new larger system to house them sufficiently. They moved in there mid-July along with our fuzzy dwarf lion and white striped maroon (Premnas biaculeatus).
<?! In 25 or so gallons?>
Unfortunately a week later a tripped power supply during the night lost Doggy his best friend and the lionfish also perished. I was heart broken as foxy (aka Mad Max) was my baby. 'The Fuzz' was also a character. I got a couple of Humbug and Domino damsels (Dascyllus trimaculatus) to help keep the tank cycling
<Not advised and incompatible in small volumes>
and 'Doggy' came out of his sulk. However the humbugs didn't like the domino's and killed off two of them until I was left with just the two humbugs and one docile domino. I also acquired an Aiptasia eating filefish (Acreichthys tomentosus) out of the coral tank who had also taken a liking to the corals.
<Ah yes>
When the trouble began.
The tank remained stable until 8 weeks ago when I couldn't resist buying a beautiful, baby, trigger fish (Odonus niger).
<... this tank is still too small...>
I came home and checked it all out before going back several days later to pick him up. However when I introduced him to the tank the humbugs took approximately 20 minutes to completely strip him of his top fin. I dived straight in, unable to catch them I was left no alternative but to remove the rock in order to catch them. The bully's now removed and taken back to the shop I was left with the dilemma of a severely injured and extra stressed out 'Trig'. I left the tank to settle for the night, but next day -- lo and behold -- Ich. I treated this (after removing carbon) with a half dose of copper
<Half dosing is of no positive use here>
(Seachem Cupramine). Now 'Doggy' has been subjected to this treatment on a number of occasions while in the 450L while we battled Ich, velvet and clownfish disease that between them has pretty much wiped us out, not to mention the attack of the sea squirts
<? You found/find that Ascidians are deleterious?>
that saw us lose all but one of our rock dwellers. All the fish survived the treatment and all was well and good until '¦
The present problem.
As one of our local garden centre based shops was shutting down, they had a sale on to liquidate. The hubby got himself a great new set of lights for the coral tank, the parts to fix the RO unit and a batch of salt (AquaOne Sea Salt). So we began mixing our own water again. I started to notice that 'Doggy' was somewhat not normal -- scratching in the sand and on rocks and hiding more than usual. Doing the full water parameter tests I found that I had a low PH
<Not surprising at all in this small volume, with lots, too much fish life, likely food/processing>
and taking a closer look at Doggy revealed that his skin had developed a spotty complexion and that the main area of scratching had indeed been scratched to the point that he has grazed the top of his head and looked sore. I have been battling to work out why my PH was so low, reading 7.4
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm
and the linked files above>
and work out what is wrong with 'Doggy' for two weeks.
<The environment... stocking... are the root causes here>
The main conclusion for the low PH was the change in water source and salt. So I reverted back to using the lfs mixed water as they use a reef salt (Sera reef salt) that contains the natural buffers (also scouring the net I have seen only bad reviews for the AquaOne sea salt) and our tap water had always caused me to have a low ph in the tropical. I believe that this has also been the irritant that has caused the 'rash' on 'Doggy'. (The comparison being a similar rash my hubby developed at the same time due to change of wash powder -oops)
Although a couple of water changes bought the PH up, it still remains low at 7.8. I have added Seachem reef carbonate, which bought the KH up to between 10 and 12 temporarily.
<I agree with the adverb>
I tested the magnesium which was 1020 and have added Seachem reef magnesium which bought that up to a more adequate level. The calcium has remained stable. As I was getting so frustrated I opted to try Seachem reef buffer that bought up the PH to 8.2 on Friday evening but then dropped back to 7.8 by Saturday. I also decided to start treating 'Doggy' with Melafix.
<An exceedingly poor idea. Search WWM re>
It was suggested that I could be over filtrating
<... No>
so yesterday I performed a water change and swapped my filter media around. Originally I had a U3 Fluval running alongside the Juwel. The Juwel housed
A half bag of activated carbon, ceramic hoops and Polyfilter. The U3 housed Sponges, carbon sheet and Seachem Denitrate. I now have just the Juwel with half bag of ceramic hoops, bag of Denitrate and topped with filter wool (The activated carbon was removed for Melafix treatment).
This weekend
I noticed that despite my best efforts 'Doggy' has begun to decline. Something freaked him on Friday -- He puffed up to 5 times his size. Since then he has lost interest in his food, is hiding more and has developed Ich on his fins and eyes. The domino has also gone dull and the Maroon and Trig seem to have cloudy eyes. The filefish seems to be the only healthy fish.
Last night's (Sunday) water parameters showed -- (using API test kit)
Ammonia -- 0 (I expect a raise as I have removed biological filtration)
Nitrite -- 0 (as above) Nitrate -- 40 (This has dropped from 80+) PH -- 7.8
Salinity -- 1.025 Temp -- 25.5 oC KH - 18
Today's (Monday) water parameters show --
Ammonia -- Trace Nitrite -- Trace Nitrate -- 30 (a further drop) PH -- 7.8
Salinity -- 1.025 Temp -- 25 oC KH - 16 (high but dropping)
The Melafix won't cure the Ich,
<Actually, won't cure anything>
but I'd like to avoid using copper with 'Doggy' and his sores.
<Copper use is generally contraindicated with puffers... See/search WWM re... ahead of writing us>
I don't want to upset or stress any of the fish further by moving to quarantine. I feel like I'm running out of options and am in danger of the system crashing and causing a wipeout. I really don't want to loose my fish, especially 'Doggy' and 'Trig'. Please help!!
<Help yourself... what you/they need is to be moved to suitably large quarters that will provide (the water, substrate, likely other decor) sufficient biomineral and alkalinity reserve... You will understand this through reading the above citings>
FYI -- the spotty appearance shown/discussed re. 'Chomper', http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffdisfaq3.htm?h=chomper in the puffer disease pages seems to be the stretching of the pores of the skin during the inflation and deflation of a scared puffer (I noticed this when 'Doggy' freaked on Friday) -- I hope this info can help other puffer enthusiasts and that my PH problem will warn others not to change their water source or salt and cause the problems I've experienced. Always use a decent reef salt which contains the natural minerals and buffers.
<Mmm, yes; but these can only do so much... you've asked the salt mix to do what it cannot do here, given the poundage of livestock, foods...>
Photos attached are of Doggy, the sores on his head, and lumpy skin on his belly (this is all over his skin).
<Again, environmental... and possibly poisoning from the Cu++ and Mela-not-fix>
Many Thanks for such a great site, and for any suggestions you can give me that can help me battle to save 'Doggy'. Sorry for the length of this email ( 2 pages in word) , but I have tried to keep it to just relevant information while observing the contact rules -- spellchecked and read twice -- Main points in bold.
P.S. Upgrade ideas welcomed. E.g. AquaMarine900/Maris filter. I've got big fish that need a big home.
Tina. xx
<Do keep up the water changes for now, do NOT add anymore fishes, livestock period, and start looking for the space for a much larger system. Bob Fenner>

Re: Dogface Puffer and low pH - Warning! long email. 10/25/10
Hi again. Thanks ever so much for your speedy reply. Certainly noted re. Copper a Mela-not-fix. I will continue with the water changes and should be able to purchase their new tank by the end of November. Just to let you know that although these are considered large fish, they are all juveniles and not fully grown so the 96L actually seems quite empty.
<Mmm, assuredly this is not the case; metabolically/physiologically nor psychologically>
I have reduced the feed amounts so as to reduce the pollutants and forgot to mention that I have been adding Lipo-vit to the frozen food diet. I also feed Nori a couple of times a week. I will be registering on the BBforum so that I can ask opinions on an adequate system for the upgrade (As I'm sure you're busy answering emergency emails). I don't know exactly what I did right last night but the 5 fish are generally looking much brighter this afternoon, especially 'Trig' whom is free of cloudy eye. 'Doggy' was in his favourite corner squirting for food and nibbled happily at the Nori I offered (hand feeding is so satisfying). As regarding the see squirts - do not bring anything home from the beach!! - Whether this was the start or not - the hubby collected some snails (naughty boy) a week or so later we had an outbreak of sea squirts. Small amount not a problem - but they took over the rock - depleting the food supply that our rock dwellers need to survive.
<Ah, I see>
They were everywhere - the sand and the sump too!! We ended up pulling out the rock piece by piece and cooking it - yes you read/heard correctly - Into the oven!!. They hate light so blast them with intensity and give them the blow (heavy fast flow) and don't give them the food they want!! It's as good as starting over again!! This may not be the way I'd have dealt with the problem but the hubby is more in charge of the 450L tank and I generally have to go along with what he decides. But please don't think bad of him - WWM is always his first point of call when he encounters a problem. regards Tina xx
<And you. BobF>
To Bob - Dog'n'Fox 10/25/10
Hi Bob and team
Since you said you liked this, I thought I'd send you a pic. Please use as you see fit. Can I apologize though that I am unaware of the pic sizes as I'm absolutely incapable of doing anything that is the least bit technical. Now that the hubby has arrived home he wishes to say Hi and that it was honor you replying to me. Thanks ever so much. Tina and Glen
<Mmm, the raised unpaired fin spines on your Siganid are a sign of stress... Please learn to/use the search tool on WWM. B>

lost image...

Re: To Bob - Dog'n'Fox 10/25/10
Just to clarify - I sent this picture for amusement purposes. Dog'n'Fox.
This duo had an incredible symbiotic relationship where they would not leave each others sides. Sleeping together, Eating together and sharing food to the point where Fox would try to blow the sand and mimic the dogface.
<These symbiotic relationships, involving these species... are not uncommon>
The stress signs seen in the Fox at the time would have been due to the dislike of me taking his photograph and may possibly have been due to the close proximity of a pestering cleaner wrasse,
<... and a Labroides here? Incredible. B>
that finally annoyed the Dogface to the point of becoming a meal.

puffer with white plaques on eyes... Plethora of set up, stocking, treatment errors 3/29/2010
I have a 150 gal. 5 week new set up.
<... too soon to be adding fishes>
Cycled with 15 pounds live rock, few damsels, and crushed coral substrate. LFS checked water and OK'ed for fish. A large Blue Dogface Puffer, had been on hold for us for 5 weeks. They said all fish have to go in at same time since he's territorial. (big mistake). in went med. Lunar Wrasse, lg. Majestic Butterfly and lg. Garibaldi.
<This last is a cold water animal. Needs to be in a different environment>
All looked well so next day in excitement and worried about territorial aggression I added med. Powder Blue Tang,
<Mistake... this species requires very well-established settings>
med. Greenbird Wrasse, small Goby, Blenny, Black and white clown and med. Purple Tang.
Two days later added corals and two anemones.
<Is this a joke?>
Then all went downhill. White salty looking crystals on tang, butterfly, garibaldi and wrasse, but all were eating.
<Likely Cryptocaryon...>
The Puffer seemed ok still eating but was squinting his eyes. I thought the anemones may have stung his eyes. I did nothing that day (I didn't know it was a bad problem). Next day everything was worse and now the Puffer's eyes had a white coating on them making it difficult for him to see. He stopped eating that day. LFS said it was Ick add CU.
<Likely the first, but the second... deadly to the corals, anemones... too toxic for the tangs, puffers>
I did, but next morning Garibaldi and Greenbird Wrasse were dead.
I started lowering the salinity and added a uv sterilizer (36 watt)
<Can't be run with copper present...>
and increasing temp. Next AM the butterfly was dead and Lunar Wrasse died next AM. I then came across literature that read Puffers are to sensitive to CU.
<Ahh... yes>
His skin never appeared to have the white salty crystals on it but each day his eyes had another layer of white plaque added to them. Today is day three of it and he can't see and has not eaten in this many days. I bought
and moved him to a 40 gal hospital tank with external aqua clear filter.
Added penicillin and Bifuran plus (Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone).
<? What for?>
At first I thought his eye problem was from the ?Ick. But two days in the copper water yielded no improvement.
<Actually added to the opacity>
Perhaps its secondary bacterial?
All the smaller fish are still in main tank and showing no signs of stress and are still eating. We are so attached to
the puffer, (would visit him several times a week over the six weeks prior to getting him). I know it is my ignorance that has caused all of this.
<You are correct here>
We are desperate to heal the Puffer and prevent any further suffering.
What is on his eyes, I cant find any info. and have been searching for days non-stop. Picture attached is from day 1 of white eyes. They are much worse now.
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cryptpuffs.htm
and the linked files above... Till you understand your current position and options. As you will find, many others have made the same errors, been faced with similar challenges. What's that saying? "Look then/before you leap"... take your time going forward. Bob Fenner>
Ick in 150 gal tank
put him in 40 gal QT
his eyes have white plaques he cant see and won't eat
Did that happen to yours
<?... Keep reading. BobF>

Thank you. I have been reading the puffer crypt link you suggested. However I find a lot of conflicting advice. Yesterday moved the puffer to the 40 gal QT with the previously mentioned meds. that you questioned. I am doing a water change today on the QT and main tank with the smaller fishes (who by the way seem fine). The puffers eyes are the same (thick white plaques).
<Likely from the treatment and Crypt>
He still cant see. CU and Formalin are to toxic for him, Quinine may not even be a proven cure.
<Is your best bet here>
Today he has a slightly mucusy stringy film coming off his skin. I am continuing to read to seek a correct cure. But am still confused as to what to medicate him with in the QT or should I give him FW baths or FW baths with meds.
<See WWM re Quinine cpd.s>
OH please help. here is a pic today. The water is yellow even after the 50% water change today from the Bifuran plus med. I put in yesterday. By the way the Penicillin was in case the white on eyes was from a secondary
bacterial infection and the Bifuran in case it was secondary fungal.
<These are of no use here>
Since it is on his eyes I cannot get a sample of it to view under microscope or test in micro. lab. at local college.
<Nor this really. Please keep reading, cogitating... and order either CP or QS... B>
re: PUFFER WITH WHITE PLAQUES ON EYES... not reading 3/30/10
I don't know what CP or QS is...
<Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/quinmedfaqs.htm

dogface. Tetraodont hlth./env. 12/20/09
Hey guys,
I have searched your site for info and have found some but think I need more. I have a dogface puffer that I have had for a week now. I have already fallen in love with him (hubby has too). We have a 55 gallon tank,
<Needs more room than this>
wet/dry filter, and protein skimmer. I do realize after doing research on your site that this size tank is too small for him and we are actually in the process of purchasing a 180 gallon.
<Ah, good>
Our water param.s are ph 7.8,
<Mmm, low... I'd be reading re... bolstering... Start here:
and then on to the linked files above>
amm 0, nitrite 0, nitrate is 10, sg 1.021,
<Also too low... Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/spg_salinity.htm
and the...>
temp 78/80. Ok now for the problem...(did I mention I love this little guy?)
two days ago I noticed his eyes were getting hazy (read from your site that this is usually a water quality issue), but he was still eating. Today I noticed his eyes were the same but his jaw was rather swollen (like he was stung by a bee), and he is much darker in color than when we first got him. He is very lethargic and now is not eating.
<Bad signs>
He just lays at the bottom of the tank. We just set up a quarantine tank ( has the same param.s as mentioned above) and because I'm afraid he will not make it I started antibiotics in the qt tank (tri-sulfa).
<? Of no use here>
So I guess my question is...Am I doing the right things?
<Mmm... your care is genuine, but your actions belie ignorance. This fish is misplaced. Please read here:
should I be doing more or less?
<Yes. Reading first>
Any help would be appreciated. Thank you very much...Daneen.
<Very welcome. Bob Fenner>
More re: dogface... Puffer hlth. 12/20/2009
Hi Bob,
<G'day Neale>
> I read this message earlier today with interest. I've kept Arothron hispidus as a brackish water fish (sold as a freshwater fish!)
<Have also occasioned>
and while that's a different species to Arothron nigropunctatus, I do believe that the genus is more or less euryhaline. So the slightly lower than optimal salinity by the standards of stenohaline fish might not be the issue here.
The swollen mouth could be a clue. These animals may bite venomous or irritating animals out of ignorance: Bristleworms, lionfish fins, etc. so that's something the keeper might want to double check. I do agree with you
that cloudy eyes often go along with missed water changes and the resulting background water quality problems.
For what it's worth, when I rescued these Arothron hispidus they were very dark in colour and spent a lot of time sitting on the bottom, tails wrapped around their faces. No medication was necessary. Once moved to middling brackish water -- seemingly where baby Arothron hispidus are commonly found -- they pepped up extremely quickly. They seem to be extremely hardy and resilient fish. Admittedly, these two were in a 200 gallon tank with a big sump and a skimmer, and I agree wholeheartedly that 55 US gallons just isn't enough, whether in brackish or saltwater conditions.
Cheers, Neale
<Did you send this along to the original querior? BobF> <RMF did>
Re: dogface. Tetraodont hlth./env. 12/20/09

Before I forget, another issue might be the size of the puffer. Juveniles a couple of inches long are really quite easily bullied. If with a lionfish or moray say, might the puffer be swallowed, puff up, spat out safely, but ultimately traumatised?
<Could be; but in the U.S. it has been my experience that specimens under ten cm. are exceedingly rare. This one is doubtless larger... and in full strength seawater>
Anyway, enough for now. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Cheers, Neale
<Thank you, BobF>
Re: dogface. Tetraodont hlth./env. 12/20/09

Really? You see Arothron spp. around the 5 cm/2 inch mark all the time here. The attached photo isn't quite that small, but the size of the fake Acropora gives you some idea of its small size.
Cheers, Neale
<This IS a small specimen! Don't see them this tiny even in the wild often.
Re: dogface. Tetraodont hlth./env. 12/20/09

I wonder if the European suppliers are getting them as younger fish from estuaries, compared with the older saltwater specimens handled by American suppliers? Hence why they sometimes end up on the freshwater fish lists as well as the marine fish lists?
Cheers, Neale
<Interesting to speculate. BobF>

Sick Dog Face Puffer   -- 06/19/07 Hi, <Hello there> Been searching the site and am not sure of the next step. Details PH: 8.2, Nitrite:0, Ammonia:0, Nitrate: 60 ppm, <Way too high... toxic, debilitating... see WWM re> SG: 1.021. <Too low... See WWM...> Doing water changes to bring Nitrates down. <There are other, better means... See...> I have had a dogface puffer for about 5 years. She is the only inhabitant of my tank save for a few snails and crabs. Last new thing I added was snails. I also added them to my seahorse tank and reef tank without any problems. About 3 weeks ago, she stopped eating. I checked the parameters and Nitrates were a bit high so I did some water changes and figured it was the nitrates, constipation, swallowed a snail and it got stuck, her teeth need to be cut (one is chipped) or just a plain old hunger strike. <Good mix of possibilities> I have been watching her closely and ordered supplies to put her to sleep just in case I have to either tube feed or cut her teeth. She is still not eating. <These incidents do often take some time...> Yesterday, her eyes started to look bad. Not the usual bright and shiny, a little dull. <Good observation, bad sign> Today I noticed that she seemed to be trying to poop. Her anus was very large and it looked like possibly her intestines or something that she was trying to void. Nothing came out. I attempted to massage that area, but only made her puff up so I stopped. I have made gruel and attempted to tube feed her, but she did not eat any. <Mmmm, this mash needs to be injected/inserted by way of a plastic catheter of size... past the gullet, back of throat... While holding the animal gently near the surface, underwater...> Now I am thinking parasites. I have both Fenbendazole and Praziquantel in my fishy medicine cabinet. <Whoa... after five years in captivity... where would worms come from?> Do you think I should treat? Should I just treat the hospital tank water or put my puffer to sleep and tube feed her a gruel with a dewormer added? <Worth adding while you're at it...> If I put her under, is there a way I can tell if it is an intestinal blockage or prolapsed intestine/rectum? <Not likely... these animals have VERY distensible parts of their lumens, G.I. tracts... "this too shall pass"> Thanks for your site and all the excellent advice in your books. Jennifer <Thank you my friend. Life to you. Bob Fenner>

Dogface puffer with black Ich and a lump -- 04/11/07 Hi guys. <Hi Jill. Marco here trying to help.> Over the past year I have visited your site several times. I am an aquarium novice, and after visiting your site (it only took once) I realized I had been taken as such by one of my LFSs.  I had purchased a 38g tank, let it cycle for about three months, and fell in love with a five inch (tip to tail) dog face puffer. My LFS said/told me my tank was plenty big enough, so the dog face came home with me. Sucker! <100 gallons or more would be adequate in the long run.> After one month he started sucking his fin into his gill. Then I noticed the white spots. Got it. Ich. I QT him and treated him with Quick Ich and got him healthy again, or so I thought.  I fought it for several months until my reliable LFS told me about hyposalinity, and after about four months we seemed to be Ich free. I was given a 75g tank by my neighbour (working my way up now that I know better) and moved him into it a couple of months ago. Two weeks into it I noticed a small "nodule" on the top of his body between his gills. It doesn't look like he injured himself, because his skin didn't change - no scuff marks, tears, blood - nothing.  It's just a lump. It's about 1/2 cm long, 1/4 cm wide, 1/4 cm tall. I tried to take a picture, but because it's the same color as his body, you just can't see it. About the same time I noticed the lump, he got a pretty severe case of black Ich. <Both probably signs of a weak immune system.> I've put him and his tank mates back into the 38g for QT (2 percula clowns, 1 royal Gramma - all have been with him since the beginning) and have been treating them with CopperSafe for the last three weeks. I haven't seen any black spots on his tank mates, but the reliable LFS told me to treat everyone. I was pretty concerned about using CopperSafe because of everything I've read on your puffer forums, but they told me he would be fine. <There is no consensus about the use of copper for puffer diseases, yet.> Luckily, he is handling it like a champ, but the black Ich is still there. <Search WWM and the net for Paravortex to learn more about the black Ich parasite. You will probably find out that freshwater dips are quite effective against this Turbellarian. Your puffer can handle them if the freshwater is pH adjusted and aerated. I'd do daily at least half hour dips until it is gone and keep the display tank fallow for at least another 4-6 weeks.> The lump seems to be growing a little, and it's hard. <Provide a varied vitamin enriched diet and pristine water quality to support his immune system. Watch the lump. If it is growing, consider antibiotic baths or feeding antibiotics. For a definite diagnosis you would have to sample the lump and test it for gram negative and gram positive bacteria.> Could this be what is causing the Ich? <Read about Paravortex.> Have you ever heard of anything like this before? <Yes.> Water parameters for 75g are as follows: ammonia 0; nitrite 0; nitrate 5ppm; pH 8.2; phosphate 0; temp. 78.4.  QT parameters: ammonia 0; nitrite 0; nitrate 0; pH 8.2;  temp 78.8; phosphate 1ppm. LFS told me I could use tap water + Prime for QT, because there's no live rock in the tank. Is that right? <Read on WWM about tap water vs. RO water.> Please help me! I don't know what to do at this point, and I really want to do the right thing. Thanks, Jill. <I hope your puffer gets well again. To get additional advice you may also want to search http://www.thepufferforum.com. Good luck, Marco.>

*Puffer w/ cloudy eye - 02/09/2007 Hello, <Hi.> I have 22" Stars and Stripes puffer with cloudy eyes.   He is in a 350 gallon fish only tank.  With him is a 7 inch Sailfin tang, 3 inch coral beauty, 5 inch bowtie damsel and 3 yellow fin damsel.  The pH is 8.3,  ammonia is 0, nitrite is 0 and the nitrate is 30 ppm.  For approx 2 years I had trouble keeping the nitrate level under 120ppm.  I added a refugium 4 months ago and now the nitrate level are under control.  There is 2 sources of water movement (1st) Quiet One 6000 return pump from the sump (2nd) Dolphin amp master 3000 on close loop system which is currently not working for the past 3 weeks, due to blown seal.  I got the puffer 3.5 years ago when he was on 6 inches long.  His diet started off with San Francisco Bay frozen krill and for the past couple of years he has been eating frozen cocktail shrimp.  It seems that he has lost his eye sight in the cloudier of the two eyes.  What can I due to help the cloudiness in his eyes? <Mmm..."cloudy" and "eye" usually point to something environmental.  My guess is that he is suffering from the long-term stress of high nutrient levels. How often do you change the water? What do you feed? This is also a large animal, what is the footprint of the tank? Read WWM re: environmental disease. Adam J.>
Re: Puffer with cloudy eye   2/11/07
Thanks for your input, the answers the questions that you posed are as follows: the water is change every 3-4 weeks <Why don't you try at least 10% every two weeks for a while.> we are feeding him frozen cocktail shrimp <Mmm...depending on the brand these are at times pre-cooked, I would prefer raw (freezing is okay but uncooked) market fish/clams...and leaving the shell on the bivalves would be a good idea as well.> and the foot print is 48" x 72" <So size is not a problem.> one other that I have notice is that he swim close to the edge of the tank and his eye are rubbing along the tank.  Could that also be contributing to the cloudy ness of his eyes? <No likely just a side effect of diminished sight.> thank for your input. <Of course, AJ.>

Sick Stars and Stripes Puffer... env., faux trtmt.s  12/5/06 Hi- I have a 55 gallon tank with a stars and stripes puffer he is around 4 inches long and will eventually be moved to a larger tank.) <Needs to go... now> Since earlier this year (when I purchased him from my LFS), he has been thriving. He has had a tremendous appetite and was always a pleasure to both watch and feed. However, around a month ago, he began to constantly sit on his nose. <... happens> While this did not over worry me, his appetite began to decline. <Also not unusual for Tetraodontids, other puffers> I also noticed that he was starting to have severe buoyancy problems. <A very bad sign> He could also not swim without bobbing up and down. This problem continued and has steadily worsened. I  also noticed that his fins( besides his large tail fin) have drastically decreased in size. From then to now, I, at different times, have treated this with Melanoma <...> and Rally (also used for treating parasites). <... worthless phony remedies> While there has been fin growth, other problems have developed. He now spends all of his tome floating on his back at the top of the tank. His eyes are active and he makes efforts to flip over- however, he has not been able to. Just in the past few days, I have noticed that he is bleeding from both the mouth and his fins. <.... environmental> During the time I have had him, regular water changes have been done ( and in accordance with the medicine.) The water has also recently been tested and is at near perfect salinity level (well in the safe zone.) The ammonia and nitrate are also at safe levels. Thanks for any help in trying to save my puffer. I love him dearly and hate to see him in the condition that he is in. Thanks for the help, Scott <The very best action here is to move this fish to new, larger quarters... the problems you list are likely environmental (and possibly nutritional) in origin... psychological and physiological "crowding" has led to your puffers near demise. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Problem 10/18/06 Never have had a salt water aquarium before, We dove in head first all because I fell in love with "Louie", a dogface puffer I just had to have. <Not the easiest fish to start with.> After endless BAD advice, we have brought him home and put him in our tank before it has cycled. <Not good.> We have high ammonia/nitrate levels and have reduced feedings along with daily water changes, we have also been putting in the good bacteria. <Most of these products are junk.> Also we bought a skimmer. <Going to need a good one with a messy fish like a puffer.> I wanted to know if we should put him in a different tank until the cycling process has completed, we haven't got a tank that is already established so we are at a loss. <Move him to a QT tank until the main has cycled.  Daily water changes should take care of ammonia/nitrite until the main tank is ready.> He is doing fine as far as we can tell, eats well and shows no signs of stress but not sure if this will continue until we can get this under control. <Not a good environment for him currently.> Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Kim <Chris>

Sick Dog Face Puffer   8/29/06 Hi, my name is Beth, my husband and I have a dog face puffer, and  I think he's really sick; but I don't know what the problem is. <Hi Beth, you have Justin with you tonight, one of the resident puffer people.> None of the two local fish stores that we go to can tell us what's wrong they just suggest to do water changes.  We have.  We have had  Pudge for about eight months with nothing else but a crab. Please Help Me!!!  I am really sorry if you have already answered a question like this, but I've done tons of research on your website and can't find any answers.  About ten days ago Pudge stopped eating and swimming on the third day I noticed he was breathing very heavy his left gill was opening very wide and when he did swim not aggressively at all he would bmp into the live rock and the glass as if he didn't even see it. <Signs of poor water quality generally> We did a water change and added bio-Spira that night at about 10:00 he was laying on his side and getting all these brown spots on him I thought he was dying.  With no suggestion from the fish store as a last resort  I told my husband to put the medication Rally in his tank, within 20 min. the spots were gone , the next day his breathing improved, the following day he was swimming around again still with no signs of hunger. <Brown spots?  can you get a photo?  do you mean that the puffer was turning blotchy, or that he was actually covered in small black/brown dots?>  The day before yesterday I noticed what seems to be mucus coming out of his mouth and his one left gill. Still not eating.  Yesterday I tried force feeding him but he wouldn't take it.  Today he just seems to be in the same position he was ten days ago.  This morning I put some more medication in but it doesn't seem to be working he is breathing heavy again with no energy at all. He is very dark brown but when I go over to the tank it seems that he is trying to turn that grayish white color he normally is but cant and he gets these white spots all over him almost like a leopard.  I don't know what to do I feel helpless. I hope you can help me.     Thank you so much for your time.           Beth <Beth, without knowing key things about your setup such as tank size, size of the puffer, water parameters (Take your water to be tested or if you have a test kit, use it  and reply back), and what type of blotches you are seeing, it is hard to tell you anything you can do.  your LFS is right that water changes (50%) will be very helpful, but I'm concerned with the adding medicine and spots disappearing, that sounds like black spot disease or black Ich, which is a parasite.  If it is black Ich, (small black spots all over the body/gills) fresh water dipping and gravel vacuuming your entire tank will help remove most of them, however please read on WWM about black spot disease to get a better feel for if that is what is actually happening.  At this point do the water changes, and try adding garlic juice to the puffers food to entice it to eat.  Answer the questions above and reply back and we can go from there.> <Justin>
Re: Sick Dog Face Puffer. Justin was right, bunk env.   8/29/06
The puffer is about 5-6 inches..   he is in a 30 gallon tank <Too small... unstable> and I have a 70 gallon aqua clear filter running.   I also have a powerhead.  the nitrates are really high <Also...> when the water was tested.   I did a water change but the nitrates are still very high.  He is breathing very heavy and has white blotches all over him not salt looking though. <"Fix the environment, cure the fish". Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/trupufsysfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Dog Face Puffer
  8/30/06 Hi Justin, <Beth> I believe my husband just e-mailed you back regarding tank size etc.  I'm not to knowledgeable about fish my husband is more the fish type than I am, but I do love my little Pudge.  I have tried soaking his food in garlic and still nothing.  The spots I'm seeing literally look like he's trying to change to that grayish white color, but instead of fully changing color he gets these white spots.  How  else can I make him eat I'm really concerned that he has gone this long w/o food.  I know that's not the key problem but I feel if I can get food in him it will build his strength and immune system. I feel like I need to do something immediately but  I don't know what.  I really hope you can help me Justin.  Thank you so much!! <I have not seen any email from him yet, until I do there isn't much more I can tell you. Please see if he can resend it or if another crew member tackled his email> <Justin>

Dogface Puffer, Environment - 05/05/2006 Hello, my name is Jerri and I'm very worried about my dog face puffer. <<Hi Jerry.>> I had my water tested this afternoon and made sure that it was all in excellent condition before buying him today. <<Numbers are helpful.  DO remember that a puffer adds a heavy bio-load capable of crashing many tanks.>> He was obviously very stressed for a while, but I did manage to get him out for a meal and he did fine for about an hour, but he is now hiding behind a rock and his breathing is causing me to be very worried. It is very rapid. <<You should check your water quality at this point.>> My LFS has had him for awhile and I've been watching him there for a month, and he had no problems there; he was a very curious guy that never shied away, but in my tank he's completely the opposite, he is now in a much bigger tank and he is in with other fish, but he is by far the biggest in the tank and I've seen absolutely no sign of aggression from the other fish. <<You should have had this guy in QT for a few weeks before introduction into your tank.  He is likely stressed from the move, and my guess is your water quality is now an issue.>> I'm deeply concerned that he is going to stress his self to death, please help! <<Your best bet is to get him into a quiet QT tank for a few weeks.  You don't mention tank size.  This puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus) grows to 10+ inches, and needs a large tank of 125+ gallons.  Visit www.thepufferforum.com  for more information/help with your new pet.>> Thank You Jerri Jackson <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>
Dogface Puffer, Environment - II- 05/05/2006
Thank you so much for the help, and yes this guy's bio-load did crash my tank! <<You're welcome, though I hate when I'm right about bad things :(.>> I lost several small fish, the tank size is a 110 gallon tank, I have moved the puffer to a qt tank, where he has puffed up and is upside down, and I am fixing to take him back to the LFS for more experienced care. <<Ugh, no good on the upside down bit.  Does he have air inside of him? If you have a good LFS, returning him is best.>> I have to admit my LFS has been great and have walked me through every transition on this tank but I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed that I was not given a warning on this guys bio-load I had no idea that one fish could crash an entire tank in a matter of hours. <<Never underestimate the power of a puffer!>> I now have a QT tank set up and will learn from this error. <<So glad to hear that.>> Again thank you so much for your help. <<Anytime my friend.  Best of luck.  Lisa.>>

I think my puffer might be sick. Hi Bob, <howdy> My name is Rob and I recently purchased a figure eight puffer. I can not tell you the salinity of the water or the PH for that matter for I am new to this.  <to be a responsible aquarist and successful you need the testing equipment for ph and salinity ASAP. I cannot fathom how some people are advised to buy a live animal without being told to buy the life support to keep it> What I can tell you is that I keep the temperature between 79 and 81, and I feed him once or twice a day. I have read on the internet that these fish are very curious and will sometimes do odd things to entertain themselves. However, in the past couple days I noticed that he has been acting kind of weird compared to when I got him. He swims around the tank at times, mainly against the glass and will throw his body around...To me it looks like he is having spasm attacks.  <it could easily be too much or too little salt for this brackish fish. You need a hydrometer immediately my friend> Also he tends to just sit at the bottom of the tank on top of the gravel for periods of time. There is no discoloration in the skin. His belly is still white and the design and spots on his back have remained unchanged since I got him. May you please email me back with any suggestions that you may have as to what you think this may be or what you think I should do. Thank you for your time! Rob Federici <Without knowing the water chemistry... I cannot begin to speculate if the condition is pathogenic or not. Please help yourself and read through our extensive archives on this subject: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm and  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpufffaqs.htm  and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpufffaqs2.htm  Best regards, Anthony>

Puffer (environmental) disease Help! Dear Mr. Fenner, I have been trying in vain to find an informed opinion about some sort of infectious infection affecting one of my saltwater tanks. About two weeks ago a relatively young (about 1yr.) porcupine puffer came down quite suddenly with a dark blotch on his side. At first I thought it was dropsy as the area was slightly swollen. I immediately treated the tank with Maracyn Two. Although the fish was eating well (kind of a pig) it unfortunately died. <The area was likely just a resultant mark from a physical trauma...> We removed the dead animal from the tank and did a partial change although the levels were all within spec. Tonight I noticed the same blotch on a very special dog face puffer; this time in the face area. It seems to spread rather quickly on the affected fish as it was fine this morning. The fish does uncharacteristically hang at the top of the tank by the water intake which appears to be giving it some relief. I have other fish and some relatively large hermit crabs in the tank that do not appear to be affected. <Yikes... this is starting to sound like a toxic situation from a stressed/dead/dissolving tetraodont...> It does not appear to be Septicemia as it is not streaky, nor does it appear to be parasitic in nature. It looks more like a grayish mass. This tank has been well established for almost two years. Since it is fish only (minus the two crabs) I keep the specific gravity at 1.020 which has worked well. Your book has provided a wealth of information for us and any ideas you may have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Terry Trippany <Thank you for your kind words. Your system sounds fine... except for the input of the one dying puffer which I believe is triggering the current blotch... If this were my system, I would immediately place a couple of "Units" of activated carbon in the filter flow path, and make up about as much synthetic salt mix as you can... and when you think this new water is ready for use, change out about half the water this week, and half next week... the Dog-Face should recover if you act quickly enough. Bob Fenner>
Re: Help!
Thank you. The gray spot is spreading to the other side of the fish so I will do a quick partial as well as put the other fish in isolation. I always have 55 gals of salt pre-mixed in the back so this should be a relatively easy task. Terry <Ah, great. Good planning. Best of results. Bob Fenner>

Dogface Puffer Sick Hi there Bob, I am so sad that I did not find your site before. <But happier now!> I have had my dogface puffer for about 3 years. About 6 months ago I bought a 100 gallon tank to accommodate her and my stars and stripes, porcupine and wrasse. The puffer was getting brown blotches all over her body regularly even though I had treated the tank and I presumed that it was stress related. <Likely> (they say 10 gallons to every 1 inch of a puffer).  <A good approximation> When I took them out to do the transfer, the 100 gallon leaked so I had to leave them in buckets over night. Like the moron I am, I did not heat the buckets and the only 2 survivors were the dogface (by the skin of her teeth) and the stars and stripes. <Yikes> She was very distant for a long time, hid when I came near the tank. She eventually stopped eating and now she is in a very bad way. Her eye is filling with blood and she is shriveling away to nothing. Is there anything I can do to make her better.  <Perhaps... I would try force-feeding this specimen... with a mash of meaty food items (via a blender) and vitamin preparation (liquid) and a PLASTIC turkey baster (not your fingers)... Collecting the fish, holding it in a wet, detergent free towel underwater... Inserting the baster beyond the teeth, into the pinched area behind the buccal cavity (throat)... do this daily until the specimen starts accepting foods on its own> She still has the brown circle like blotches on her skin and looking very small. I am very disturbed over this bc/ it was my stupidity that put her in the state she is in now.  <Yet only your caring, actions that can save her> I really like this fish and don't want her to die. Please let me know if there is something I can do or is it too late?  <"It" is never too late my friend as long as there is life> I almost think it is bc/ her mouth is shriveled completely....Thank you, Jess <Do try the force-feeding, today. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick dogface puffer? Anthony, My filtration system consists of: *Emperor 400 with two bio wheels with carbon cartridges as well as carbon filters and *vortex DIATOM Model "D-1" Filter. *undergravel filter with two powerheads <in a short time, you will realize that neither the bio-wheel filters nor the undergravel filter are well suited for handling the gross particulate matter from the puffer (waste and sloppy feeding habits). Quite frankly, in less than a year you will likely have serious problems with biological stability (ammonia spikes and the like) from these filters. Although the undergravel is seriously outdated and quite difficult to use successfully with cnidarians (coal/anemone inverts)... it could actually work fine for a small to mid sized community fish tank assuming you did not overfeed or overstock and conducted regular partial water changes. In this cases, I would strongly advise that you look at buying or building a wet/dry trickle filter (check out DIY plans at www.orzreef.org) in the near future> Today, the dogface is back to himself, flying around the tank and eating like a pig! <excellent... a fascinating fish indeed> I called the fish store where I purchased him and they said the same thing about mucus being on his body. They said that stress causes him to secrete it and it can go on his body. <yes... common> Thanks for all your help, it is greatly appreciated! Jay <my pleasure, Anthony Calfo>
Re: sick dogface puffer?
Anthony, Thank you for such a fast reply!  <my pleasure!> This morning @ 6AM and noticed that the white string was now what looked to be fluffy cotton and appears to be coming out of his mouth. He also had some on his back. I came home tonight @ 8PM and looked at him and now he appears fine! No white fluffy crap what so ever and no white spots on his body?  <likely mucus, or at least no pathogenic. such creatures do not wax or wane so quickly> I fed him and he ate very well and is swimming around the tank like the first day I got him. I am feeding him frozen krill. Can this be what I am seeing coming out of his mouth?  <not likely... but you do feed other foods, yes? Any fish would die of attrition/dietary deficiency on any one food after some months. Do offer a variety of fresh/frozen meats of marine origin. Also love crayfish of appropriate size on occasion> Can this also be a fungal infection? Can my two other fish contract it? <very unlikely on both counts with good water quality> Does my filtration system seem to be sufficient or am I going to need to upgrade to a wet/dry with a UV sanitizer?  <my apologies... I need a refresher on you filtration setup. We get a lot of mail, my friend. Nonetheless... wet dry is possible, UV unlikely with proper quarantine protocol for all new entries> If so, which wet/dry system do you recommend?<quite frankly... I like DIY systems best... can be made more efficient and always less expensive for those so inclined. Do reference DIY plans on www.ozreef.org and beyond on the 'Net> Thanks, Jay <kindly, Anthony>

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