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FAQs about True Puffer Nutritional Disease  

FAQs on: Tetraodont Disease 1, True Puffer Disease 2, True Puffer Health 3, Puffer Health 4, Puffer Health 5, Puffer Health
FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environment, 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

Lack of way-over and mis-feeding is likely a close second in causes of puffer losses.

NOT all Thiaminase loaded foods...

Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm

Avoiding Thiaminase  9/7/17
Hello crew,
I read the article on Thiaminase and I found it very informative. I was left with a question, what am I supposed to feed my porcupine puffer? I see that there are some non-Thiaminase fish offerings, but puffers do not eat fish.
<Mmm; assuredly they do. Have seen several species of puffers consume fish in the wild and captivity>
It caused fatty liver disease over time.
<Do you have reference/s for this assertion? Your intuition, experience?>
It seems that everything I feed him is high in Thiaminase. Squid, scallops, clam, mussel, oyster, shrimp is always in the mix. I do add Boyd's Vita Chem to the food. Is this enough to counteract the effects of the Thiaminase.
<To some extent; yes. B vitamins can be added to foods, water...>
I used to use Selcon, but the Boyd's seems to be a more complete multi vitamin.
Thanks,
Jason
<I'd add in some whole (small) fishes or bits of fillet in this mix of invertebrate fare. Bob Fenner>
Re: Avoiding Thiaminase      9/8/17

Thank you for the response.
<Glad that we're sharing Jason>
This is a quote from an article by Kylyssa Shay. Do you think that this is not true in all cases? Maybe puffers cannot have fish as their main diet, but can have it as part of a diet?
https://pethelpful.com/fish-aquariums/porcupine_puffer_basics
"Balloonfish are not piscivores. That means that, in nature, they don't eat fish. Do not feed fish, live or dead, to them. Feeding fish to pork puffers may cause something called fatty liver disease, a usually fatal ailment.
Not only that but the nutrient balance found in fish is very different from that found in mollusks and crustaceans, their natural prey. Feeding fish, especially live feeder fish, to your porcupine puffer can also unnaturally
accustom him to eating fish, making him a danger to future tank mates.
Carefully read the ingredients of any prepared fish foods you give your pet.
Choose those with invertebrates such as shrimp, krill, squid, clams, or mussels listed as their first ingredient. Avoid all prepared fish foods with any type of grain or fish meal listed first in the ingredients."
Jason
<Mmm; well... will have to look further for input; but though I agree that Diodontids are principal feeders on hard-shelled invertebrates in the wild; have seen them eat Seastars, fishes... BobF>

Re: Avoiding Thiaminase    9/15/17
This is a snap of the ingredients of the main food I feed all my fish.
There is some whitefish and Pollock in it which is on the no-thiaminase list.
Maybe this food is better than I thought??
<I suspect you'll be fine here w/ this mix; as long as it isn't overfed, and you supplement with B vitamins. Bob Fenner>
Jason

Dog face puffer question...  Nutr. dis.   6/17/16
Hello,
<Seven megs of uncropped pix; why?>
I have recently acquired a large dog-face puffer 9". He/ she seems very healthy except for the eyes, they seem almost swollen/ sunken in but very clear.
<.... if you had read>
I have only had it in my tank (125 gallon) for a few days. It hasn't begun eating yet but that is no surprise since he's still acclimating to his new home. I have however tried fresh clams, raw shrimp and squid. I know how important a fresh varied diet is for Puffers.
<Trouble.... vitamin B deficiency.... from this diet>

Attached are some pictures.
Also He did not inflate during transport or when being placed into the new tank and actually seemed to adjust quit nicely.
Any advise or insight would be very helpful.
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm
Thank You
Brad
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Dog face puffer question   6/17/16
Thank you Bob.
What would you recommend ? I can only assume this puffer was feed primarily frozen krill for a good amount of his captive life.
<Trouble... possibly reversible>

I thought feeding fresh raw food such as Clams and Shrimp were the answer until I read the article and the relationship between Thiaminase and B1.
<Ah yes>
Would this be advisable-
Vita Chem soaked food ( squid/shrimp Live snails ( marine) Cockles
<Sub much (at least half) of the shellfish with whole small fish (not silversides), nutritious pellet staple. BobF>

Puffer going crazy?   11/12/14
Hi guys
I have a Stars and Stripes puffer in my 187 gallon tank (60"x24"x30") I've had him for around four years now and he's around 9 inches head to tail, the last few days he has been very lethargic and swimming side ways,
<Bad...>

he seemed to be ok last night I got him to eat some shell food and some large krill
<I do hope/trust these are not the only foods you feed this fish... See WWM re Thiaminase>

which he picked at but he hasn't been his usual greedy self, at first I thought maybe it was swim bladder disease but he gradually started to hover about the tank but still very lethargic except when he goes crazy, he swims wildly around the tank crashing of the glass and breathing rapidly for around 20 seconds then he sinks to the bottom and doesn't move for a while,
<Perhaps blind...>

I've never seen him act like this before and am worried something is seriously wrong, have any of you guys ever came across this strange behaviour in a puffer? I'd really appreciate and help guys.
Thanks
Steve
<Not an uncommon result from the feeding issue mentioned... Put the two words "Puffer blindness" in WWM's search tool (on every page) and read on.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer going crazy?
   11/13/14
Thanks for the reply bob il start looking into it right away, this might sound like a stupid question but will the puffer be ok and continue to survive as long as I put the good down right beside him?
<Some do; most don't>
Also apart from shell foods and krill what else would be good food for puffers and my other fish as well,
<... please use WWM; all of this is archived. We're not a bb>

I try and give my fish a variety of foods but my LFS is limited to the fish food it stocks, would a trip to the fish market be better?
<Likely so; see WWM re DIY foods>
Again thanks for the advice bob
Steve
<Only state what I might do given similar circumstances. BobF>

Help!!! My puffers teeth fell off... 11/9/09
I have owned my dog faced puffer for about 3 years now. Two weeks ago I noticed that he stopped eating.
<Happens w/ puffers...>
I checked your site for advice and that is when I found out I needed to trim his teeth (the aquarium store NEVER mentioned anything to me). He is about 5 inches and his teeth were huge, he was not able to open his mouth.
I went and bought all of the necessary tools to trim his teeth. I used clove oil to put him to sleep. I was able to trim the top teeth to what I think is suitable. I didn't want to go too short. When I got to the bottom teeth, they both fell completely off!!! I was VERY careful not to use too much force or go too low. I'm not sure if that was supposed to happen. What do I do now? He has a set of sort teeth on top and no teeth on bottom....
<Hopefully the lower two will regenerate... in the meanwhile, do feed suitably-sized meaty foods... that aren't too hard. Bob Fenner>

Dog Face Puffer in Potential Trouble   1/9/12
Hey,
<Hey? Greetings!>
I have been using your site since first purchasing my tank, its a great reference for advanced, and novice hobbyist alike. I currently am running a 75g Fowler, with a  Protein Skimmer in the sump. I have a 3 in. clown fish, 9in. snowflake eel, 4in Foxface Lo, and a 5 in dogface puffer.
<Mmm, these need more room... at least a 125 now, larger later>
 The puffer has been acting a little strange since purchased. He began eating immediately, but only live ghost shrimp, muscles and clams in the half shell.
<Spoiled... and likely Thiaminase poisoned. Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm
and on WWM re Tetraodont foods/feeding/nutrition. You need to widen the diet... Spectrum pellets are a fave>
He is very shy, usually hides, and only comes out for food. My water parameters last week were Ammonia = 0, Nitrites= 0 Nitrates = 40ppm (High),
<Too high by twice... due to crowding, foods/feeding and likely types of filtration employed and not. See WWM re NO3 control... Keep under 20 ppm.

THIS could be the issue here w/ non-feeding alone>
 salinity = 1.024, and Ph= 8.2. Due to the nitrates i did a 15 gallon water change, which lowered the nitrates to 10 ppm. Unfortunately, when i awoke, sweet potato ( dogface puffer ) looked unhealthy, and was acting stranger then normal. I see no physical signs of Ich, or problems, but he has occasionally been slamming his side into the tank wall. He stopped eating, looks to have thinned out, darkened in color, and now is literally hiding in a cave breathing heavily. I went to the LFS with a description and photos, and was told maybe he was stressed ( it seems to be something more).
<Good guess... but due to what influence? Some aspect of the new water?>
 They gave me two fiddler crabs to entice eating ( did not work) and told me to bring him to the store if the situation remained poor.
<An exceedingly poor idea to "take fishes in" to shops...>
I love this little guy, and want to take the best care of him as possible.
<Then apply yourself. READ here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tetraodontpuffers.htm
The "Related FAQs Files:" linked above>
 If these symptoms Don't go away, which i Don't believe stress to be the cause.
What are my options? What do i need or need not to treat him for, and how?
I am new to the hobby, and working hard to learn everything. Please let me know how to help my puff. Thanks for your site, and look forward to hearing the answer.
Sincerely,
Jon
<Read and get back w/ me after, should anything be unclear, incomplete in your mind in terms of possibilities here... You need to change the diet, add filtration, get the NO3 under control.... Bob Fenner>
Re: Dog Face Puffer in Potential Trouble  1/9/12

Hey
Thanks for your response. Two follow up questions, I took a picture of him to my LFS store, and they said he might have a fungal disease and to QT him and give him anti-fungal meds. I hope this helps, if not and its this Thiaminase poisoned. How do i correct this if he will not eat?
<Read where you've been referred. B>

Reticulated pufferfish is constipated?    10/3/11
Hi, I have a reticulated pufferfish in a 100g tank with an eel.
<Mmm, what species? You realize how large this puffer can/does grow?>
Water levels are normal but nitrate/nitrite/ammonia could be present, since I haven't done a water change in 3 weeks. So my pufferfish rectum is actually out and exposed, and you can see the waste in his rectum. It is like a lump where his anus is. This has been going on for 2 days now. His stomach doesn't seem bloated and I didn't feed him the day before this happen, so would it still be constipation?
<More like a prolapsed anus... Put this term and the word Puffer in the WWM search tool... located on every page>
He only eat mussels and shrimps,
<A poor diet... See WWM re Thiaminase issues>
and for the last month I've been feeding him 2 mussels a day(sometimes he would go a day without eating, because I didn't get a chance to feed him).
What is wrong with him, and how can I fix it.
<... see your statements above. You know naught re water quality... poor nutrition... needs more room...>
I've had him since he was a baby and he's over a foot long now. Losing it would suck, its the best fish I've ever owned.
I appreciate the help.
<See the above, search, read. Bob Fenner>
Re: Reticulated pufferfish is constipated?
   10/4/11
Hey, thanks for the info, the pufferfish just pooped out the waste that was stuck in his rectum. The waste was a solid piece (not usual) and it was kinda hard. Does this mean that his illness is starting to alleviate? Also about his diet, what should I feed him? My pufferfish would only eat shrimp or mussels. I've tried squid, fish, and other stuff but he refuse to eat anything besides live crab/crawfishes or frozen mussels and shrimp.
Thanks for the help. WWM is the best place to look up info on puffer fishes btw, kudos to you guys =D
<Do please read where you've been referred. BobF>

My panda puffer has swallowed a rounded piece of dead coral  3/1/11
Hi crew,
I am concerned for my panda puffer; it has swallowed a rounded piece of dead coral that fortunately was polished. I hope that it will not make him internal injuries. How can I help my fish?
<Really only being patient, time going by>
Do you think that it will expel naturally. The piece was large enough to pass by his mouth! Yesterday, the fish has eaten normally but today it is a little lethargic. Today it has done a little poo.
Thank you for your support
Lorenzo
<This too should pass in time... I've seen puffer species eat a bunch of hard, unusual materials in the wild... Bob Fenner> 

Dogface Puffer won't eat   1/21/11
Hey crew
I recently purchased (almost 24 hours ago) a Dogface puffer. He/she's about 3" long including the tail and is in with a harlequin Tuskfish (4.5"), niger trigger(4"),
<May not "get along" with this fish>
Goldbar wrasse(5") and a yellow tang who is 6"
<Nor this>

in a 150 gallon tank(US) with protein skimming. The yellow tang threatens the puffer when he/she(the puffer) goes near the tang's territory with his acanthus. Also the puffer won't eat anything. I know he/she probably won't eat anything in the next 24 hours when you acclimate them but also seems to have slightly overgrown teeth. The reason I assume this is because he/she goes to the side of the tank and seems to be "biting" the glass or his/her reflection.
<Likely interacting w/ its reflection... but perhaps trying to escape>
The others don't bother him/her. Also when the yellow tang threatens him/her, his/her tail goes to the side of the body, like a submissive gesture I suppose.
Thanks a bunch!
<... this fish really needs to be put elsewhere... At least for now. See WWM re the family, en toto.
Bob Fenner> 

Dogface puffer, hlth., sys., nutr.   -- 12/20/10
Hi,
<Salve,>
I recently moved from a 25 gallon to a 115 gallon tank.
<Cool.>
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:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/puffers.htm
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.
<Yikes!>
Did water change and have filter running again now.
<Cool.>
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.>
Thanks
Gary
<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.
Gary
<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'¦
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rockmover.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/pomacanthus/imperator.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/paracant.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/valenciennea.htm
>
Actually left a small part of his prawn yesterday which I had to fish out. Maybe bit dodgy.
<Hmm'¦>
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.>
Gary
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dogface puffer - 12/20/10

Cheers Neale thanks a lot.
<You're welcome.>
He has actually moved now so fingers crossed.
<Cool.>
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.
<Cool.>
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.>
Gary
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dogface puffer (RMF, anything you want to add on Pomacanthus diet?)<<no>>
Thanks again Neale
<Gary,>
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!>
Regards
Gary
<Do have a peruse of the WWM pages on Angelfish diet and P. imperator generally, here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/pomacanthus/imperator.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/feeding.htm
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.
Gary
<Glad to help, and happy holidays yourself. Cheers, Neale.>

Blind Dog Face Puffer  11/14/10
Hello!
I have a problem with my dogface puffer. He seems to be blind.
<Does happen in captivity. Perhaps nutrition-related>
He has never had a problem seeing anything before. Every time I fed him he rushed right to the food. Now, it seems like he knows I'm there but when I drop the food he has no clue! Every time I feed him now, I have to feed him by hand. It seems he can not see or smell it! I have to rub the food on his nose, then he swallows it whole! I feel awful! He was perfectly fine before!
Any advice???? I love my puffer! Do I have a Hellan Keller on my hands?
~Shara Gardner~
<I'd be read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/trupuffdgfaqs.htm
expanding the diet, likely soaking foods in a vitamin/HUFA prep. Bob

Inverted puffer gill -- 04/21/08 Hello, <Hi.> My dog face puffer is having issues, her gill keeps getting inverted back into her breathing hole, in front of her side fins. <You usually cannot see the gills at all, puffers only have these small slits (gill openings) in front of the pectoral fins, the gills are inside. I'm suspecting a physical injury (pump, other fishes) here based on what you describe, but I fail to visualize it, even with a puffer in front of me.> Like when a dogs ear flips backwards, it's like that. <Something wrong with the gill opening (is its skin being sucked inside?) or something coming out of it? A picture would help with diagnosis!> When it happens, she can't breathe that well, as it doesn't open. I keep finding it like this over and over again. If I show her the can of food she gets all excited and will snap it back out but next time I look, its back inverted. This seems to be happening all the time. She has stopped eating entirely now. She doesn't swim around either. <Both no good signs'¦> Any suggestions? <Amyloodinium and Cryptocaryon parasites on the gills can result in problems with breathing like breathing with one gill, do you see a velvet like white layer on the skin or small white spots? Flukes can result in similar problems (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fshwrmdisfaqs.htm and search this link for gills). If something is coming out of the gill slits or if the slits themselves are hurt, there is not much you will be able to do yourself, except for providing a good water quality and varied diet (I hope it will eat again), and hope for the best. Maybe a veterinarian could solve the problem by fixing whatever tissue was hurt or torn apart, depends on the size of the puffer and skill of the vet. Good luck, I hope your puffer's conditions improves again. Marco.>

Re: inverted puffer gill  -04/22/08 Thanks for responding, <No problem, Allison.> No injuries at all and not sick as far as I can tell. She hasn't eaten in a long time but she can do that once in a while for long periods of time. She didn't look like she was losing weight yet until just recently. <Thanks for sending pictures. Very nice specimen. Still looks very well fed, on picture 2, the right side is bulging out, is the other side looking the same?> I didn't think I'd be able to get such a good pic. The little flap gets stuck shut. but its tucked in, not just shut. <Now that I see it, I no longer suppose something is hurt/ripped apart here. Rather gill related problems with breathing than problems with the gill slits themselves. I'd check water quality (ammonia=0, nitrates below 25 ppm?) and act if necessary. Partial water changes will not hurt anyway, but may improve the situation if it's induced by the environment. I'd also ensure that the current at the surface of the tank is sufficient so enough oxygen is in the water. Was this puffer fed a varied diet (and not only krill or shrimps)? If the water quality is okay and its breathing condition does become worse, I'd see a vet or if that's not possible treat for flukes on suspicion. The problem is that bacteria can also affect the gills.> Her gills look healthy and nothing else appears to be wrong. <Gill flukes are not necessarily seen by the naked eye on a living and moving fish. When the flaps remain inside, the puffer is only using the other gill. While some fishes do that from time to time and return to normal breathing mode when disturbed (by you with the food can), an infection of the gills cannot be excluded if he is always breathing laboured. If that's true, its breathing will become worse. In this case I'd treat as indicated on WWM.> I had this happen once in a blue moon with another puffer of mine, but this is happening too often and its definitely making her breathing very labored. If its stuck shut. I have to go thru this huge ordeal to get it open again. <I don't think that's necessary. The puffer can apparently return to normal breathing when confronted with its food can.> When you say a vet, like a regular vet? Sorry to sound so ignorant but is there a special aquatic vet or any vet? <Not every vet can treat fishes, but even one, who can't him/herself may be able to refer you to a vet, who can.> Thanks again for any help, Allison <I hope your puffer gets well again. Marco.>

Re: Inverted puffer gill -- 04/24/08 Marco, again thank you so much. <You are welcome.> She is just a porker, lol, that's what that bulge is. She's very round. She likes to wedge herself in the rocks to rest, which is creating that bulge you see. she can wedge herself in very odd shapes like that. <Ah, okay.> (She is so round, every time my little nieces come over, they scream to me that she is puffing up, no that's not her puffing up, that's just her!!!) <Don't overfeed her.> I feed her primarily krill, I soak it in garlic sometimes and I feed them clams and a little frozen variety. but her main staple of choice is krill. <Would change that if possible. Although final proof is not available yet, there are suspicions by many puffer keepers that krill (especially dried) is not the best diet and may lead to deficiency related diseases.> The water is good, and has been stable for the entire time. Everything is 0. <Very good.> I did however just eliminate a power head that I was using, which may be taking away some of the surface oxygen she was used to, so I will put that back in. <Yes.> I also think I'm going to treat for flukes. <If the situation does not improve, especially when adding the power head.> A while back, maybe two months ago, she had what looked like a tiny white string coming out of her skin, right behind these fins. I did some fresh water dips for a week and they went away, but I will start those again too. Thank you much for your suggestions. I'll keep you posted how it turns out. <Please do. Good luck and all the best, Marco.>

Re: Inverted puffer gill -- 04/25/08 Marco, <Hello Allison!> You solved the mystery and I feel horrible. <We both solved it, you should feel happy not horrible.> wow. It was the lack of air, I guess. I put the powerhead back in and within one day she is lack to her old self. Breathing much better, moving, swimming everything. <Very good.> I guess her breathing was so labored it was causing it to malfunction of a sorts. I had replaced a single 3100 powerhead with a strip of air instead. I thought the strip of air was creating more surface movement so I eliminated the powerhead. Apparently she needs to be MOVED!!! She seems much happier and is actually smiling again. <I'm very glad to hear that.> I would of never put this simple solution together. Its always those obvious things that I miss. Thanks again for your help!! Rudderbug appreciates it too. <I hope Rudderbug stays healthy. Cheers, Marco.>

Puffer, Tetraodont... feeding, hlth.   11/13/07 I have had a Guinea Fowl Puffer that is about 10" long. I bought him from a shop that took him from one of their maintenance jobs when the tank owner moved out of town. I have had him about a 1 1/2 months. He was tank established 4 years in that tank before I got him. I normally feed him krill, cocktail shrimp, crab, squid, clams, and octopus. <Mmm, not complete nutritionally> I believe the crab being such a hard meat caused the problem I am having which is a possible blow out. <?> He has a large lump pinkish in color with some chunks of something in side a sack, about the thickness of a pinky about 1/4" long. He looks as if he was trying to poop and pushing out his intestines because there is no exit or opening on the sack or whatever it is. I am wondering if I should pull on the little sack or push it in I really don't want him to die. Please help me with my puffer problem. thanks tony <Mmm, I urge patience here... Puffers do consume almost everything in time in the wild... All will/does pass... What you are seeing is likely a prolapsed colon... Just wait... may take weeks, even months with a specimen of this size... Read here for something to pass the time: http://wetwebmedia.com/trupuffdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Bloated Puffer  1/8/07 <Hi Emmett, Pufferpunk here> I have a Mappa puffer and he is bloated and not due to overeating.  His belly was kinda little and it has progressed to where now it's visible on both sides when he's laying down. My pet store initially said just give him some time since he's eating ok but today he is laying on the very bottom of the tank and expressed no interest in eating.  He was not breathing fast but breaths were harder than usual and visible.  I use freeze dried krill to feed him.  Any suggestions for meds or treatments would be appreciated.   <It would be helpful when you post a Q about an ailing fish, to include water parameters--ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH.  Also, tank size, fish size, water change schedule, how long you've had the fish.  Has it pooped lately?  You could try treating for constipation with 1 tbsp Epsom salt/5g.  Puffers need a varied diet, other than just krill. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?p=53   Look into the Hospital Forum at that website for info on treating for internal parasites.  ~PP> Thanks in advance, ES

Puffer death/strange symptoms   11/19/06 I am hoping that you might have some advice or information about our puffer. About two weeks ago, I introduced a dog faced puffer (purchased from a very reputable local store) into our tank (well-established tank, 2 years old). It was a wonderful specimen, and we fell in love with him immediately. He thrived in the environment, got along with tank mates, and ate like crazy (krill, bloodworms, mussels, etc).  About ten days after getting him, he began to act lethargic (although still eating), and very quickly (less than a day's time) developed two very large, darkly discolored areas (one on his left side, about 1.5x1 inches; another on his right side/ventral area, about 1x1 inches). They seemed to bother him quite a bit, as he often tried to slam himself (not rub, but slam) against the live rock in the tank. The spots quickly grew over a one day period, became edematous and wrinkled in appearance, he began to act as if he felt miserable, and he perished very soon thereafter (the next day). We were not able to consult an 'expert' until afterwards, but were then told that puffers can often become constipated due to stress from being transported, and if the problem is not alleviated, they will develop an internal fungus (which presents itself as these very large, darkened areas) that is terminal. <Mmmmmm? Is the animal still available for necropsy? Did you freeze the body? Am dubious (to a great extent) re this speculation/etiology> We were also told that a primary way to treat this, should we notice no defecation, is to briefly place it in a container with some aquarium water and a bit of baking soda, which would immediately cause them to defecate. <... No. More likely to kill the specimen... Perhaps a soak/bath with a good bit of Epsom/Magnesium Sulfate dissolved in it>> My question is if this was our puffer's problem (there is absolutely NOTHING on the internet about this), and if the supposed treatment is legitimate. <The former I don't the latter I do doubt> Also, if not, what the heck went wrong with the poor guy? <W/o examination, no way to really tell... Does sound/read like some sort of internal triggered complaint... perhaps parasitic (worm, protozoan...?), maybe tumorous...> I never want this to happen to another one of our puffers again-- it was adorable, friendly, and it was awful to witness his pain without being able to do anything for  it. Many, many thanks for any advice you can provide. I look forward to hearing from you!! Best regards, Susan <Thank you for writing, sharing... I strongly suggest having this fish dissected if you still have its body on hand... to discern the make-up of these growths. Bob Fenner>

Sick dog face puffer - please help!  - 09/14/06 Dear crew, <Lana> Our female dogface puffer has not been eating for almost 3 weeks, is very inactive and seems to be getting worse every day. There are no visible parasites, Ich or anything unusual on the skin, eyes or gills. She is passing something that looks like white clusters.   <Perhaps indicative of internal parasitic situation> This is not the first time the puffer stopped eating - in the past, once a year or so, she had periods lasting between a few days to 1 week of not eating. <Not uncommon as am sure you're aware> Usually a little Epsom salt would solve the problem. Last year during a period like that she got very big - we thought she was constipated; after we added some Epsom salt she started passing the white clusters and after that she laid eggs. It looked like bright yellow ribbons were coming out of her. It happened twice in the same day, with maybe one-hour interval. After this she started eating again and went back to normal. <Perhaps time to try a vermifuge... see WWM re> This time she is not eating for 3 weeks - we don't know how long she can last without food. Also, if she is trying to lay eggs again and has a problem with that, what can we do to help her? We would very much appreciate any advise you can give us. Here is a little background info: The puffer is about 5.5 years old; we've had her since she was a baby. Water Parameters: PH 8.3 sal 1.023 temp approx 80 degrees ammonia 0 nitrates/nitrite - untraceable System: 55 gallon tank <Too small> live rock/crashed coral Eheim professional 2 Fluval FX 5 Hang on refugium with mud and algae <Good> Tankmates: 3 damsels 1 cowfish <This fish could easily be having an ill-effect on the Tetraodontid> Nothing has been changes/added in years Feeding - frozen, 2-3 cubes a day of the following: Formula One Squid Special Formula VHP Spirulina Thank you very much for your help, Best regards, Art and Lana <I'd try Praziquantel... otherwise patience, a larger system. Bob Fenner>

Dog Face Puffer... beh., fdg., dis.   8/12/06 Hello - I have a 7 year old Dog Face Puffer (Rover).  About a week ago he became bloated and would not eat.  This has happened one other time (about two months ago) and he seemed to work himself through it.  I'm guessing he was constipated.  This time, after a few days of his being bloated, I called the vet to come and check him out.  He was scheduled to come out the next afternoon.  I had to call and ask him to come earlier because he had built up so much air that it was blocking a small piece of one of his eyes. He also is generally lethargic. <Periodic, common behavior in Tetraodonts>   He rests against different items in the aquarium as well as on the bottom.  If I open the lid, he will start swimming around. The vet came out, trimmed his teeth (they were very long and Rover had no interest in snails or live rock) and squeezed his midsection to help encourage him to go to the bathroom. <Good techniques>   I need to mention that I have noticed in the past weeks that when he does go to the bathroom, it is whole pieces of krill.  While Rover is not as puffy now, he is still puffy and still has no desire to eat. <Give this fish time>   I have tested the water and the readings are as follows:  PH - 8.6; NO2 < 0.3 mg/l; and NH3/NH4 - 0 mg. None of the other fish (Tang, Clown Fish, Trigger and Damsels) seem to be having any issues.  Because my vet is not an expert, he has a call into a doctor in one of the Carolina's.  That doctor is out of town and will not be back until the 08/15.  His associate has not returned his call and my vet will be out of town for two weeks starting Monday.  I am at a loss and I hate seeing him miserable.  I would appreciate any input and/or suggestions. Kristine <Best to try to be patient here. Puffers are tough... and yours will likely be fine in time. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Unable to Open Mouth Good Evening WWM Crew, <Leslie> Leslie here.  Your very knowledgeable and dedicated crew has helped me out many times before. I need help with a Dogface Puffer tonight. I wrote not to long ago about this fish, a smallish one 4" or so. He didn't eat in the LFS for the first few days, but he ate while I was in front of the tank 2 days in a row, in the LFS, so I thought he might be OK.......silly me. He is in a 25g Q tank. He got a touch of ich which I successfully treated with a few FW dips, elevated temps and hyposalinity. I have had him about 5 weeks. I was hoping that eating in the LFS, after a few days of not, was a good sign. He has only picked and nibbled at his meals since I have had him. I have tried all the tricks,  as well as every food item recommended on your site.  I even resorted to the creepiest of all.......a  live crayfish, which btw will not die. He nipped at it a few times, but that is about it.  He has been a bit on the thin side all along but far from emaciated. He seemed to be maintaining his weight, just not putting any on, up until a couple of nights ago when he started eating even less and to appear thinner.  I was using Chem Vit in the tank once a week, because he would not touch any food item that had any sort of supplement on it. The last 3 days he has eaten less than he usually would nibble at. Tonight when I fed I noticed he was not eating at all and that he will not/or cannot open his mouth. His beak has never appeared overgrown. He is active, has good color, clear eyes and gets excited when I come into the room and appears to be hungry because he gets even more excited as soon as the food is placed into the tank. What causes this inability to open the mouth, if it is not related to overgrowth of the beak and is there anything I can do for him. Could the Crayfish have injured his jaw, or mouth. This is really very sad. I feel horrible about this poor fish and would like to something to help him. <Have witnessed this a few times... perhaps a trauma in collection, being moved about... Maybe a deficiency syndrome, something/s missing in the animal's recent diet...> Thank you so much for your help, Leslie <I would try "force feeding" this specimen at this point, with ground up (to hamburger consistency) meaty foods, holding the animal underwater with a damp towel (after netting it), using a plastic turkey baster type of tool. Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer Unable to Open Mouth
Hi Again Bob, So sorry to keep bugging you :/ <No worries> Re: the force feeding of this very beautiful and stubborn DF Puffer, who is taxing and my patience and frozen training skills like no seahorse ever has.......I have a few more questions.  At least Puffers are heartier than WC seahorses!!!! We both have that in our favor!! <Yes> Gullet?.....? Not sure what/where you mean......if this guy is say  3.5 to 4", excluding his caudal fin,  how far into his oral cavity should I shoot for, just a rough estimate? <Just until the tip of the plastic feeding tube is inserted... the animal has rear-facing projections, a muscular sphincter to prevent egestion> I would like to get a general idea about how much volume he can accommodate at one feeding. Any idea how big his stomach might be or what volume it would comfortably hold? I am guessing based on what my other 2(about the same size) eat about 2 to 3ccs perhaps, 4 max? <Actually, these animal's have enormously distensible fundi... no worries re overstuffing. In the wild I suspect that they only come upon large amounts of food on occasion... and when they do, engorge themselves> I read somewhere many moons ago that a fish's stomach is about as big as their eye. Now I have a feeling this is not true in the DF Puffers case. I have 2 others and I see what they consume and how their bellies bulge after a good meal. <Yes> If I am going to get past my trepidation and squeamishness to actually do this I want to be sure I do it right and feed him enough. I certainly don't want to waste my efforts and stress him out just to under feed the poor guy. <I understand. As you've stated, if the specimen is eating now, I would not attempt to force it...> How many days would you recommend I do it for and should I continue to offer him live and/or frozen foods simultaneously 2 times a day as I have been. <Continue offering the frozen/defrosted foods, any live as you have been... if the animal goes off feeding, appears dangerously thin, I'd commence force-feeding it... daily till it takes food on its own> Just how nasty is a bite from one of those beaks? Have you ever been bitten by one this guy's size? I am a tad nervous. <Have been bitten... painful... though not as bad as a dog or psittacine (parrot-like) bird> When I tube fed the seahorses I had a really clear picture of their anatomy in my mind? Hehehe,  by the way it is not all that hard if you have the right size tube, a pair of magnifying reading glasses and a helper....that long straight snout is an easy target :). I feel a bit blinded in this situation, as this is a new species for me and although I have done a lot of research I am no where near done. The seahorse's GI tract is quite simple and from my understanding and observation LOL, a bit different than most other fish, would you say these guys (puffers) have a more typical anatomy? <Puffers are very similarly arrayed... a short, straight tube more or less, for fast processing> Do you have any recommendations for appetite stimulants........I have the following which have been recommended to me.......Vita Chem, Kent Marine Garlic Extreme and Kent Marine C.? Would any of these be appropriate, or do you have a product you have had good experience using? <The Boyd Product (VitaChem) and Selcon are my favorites> OK one more sort of dumb question......they can't aspirate like a human could, can they? Is there any harm I can cause him or is there anything I need to be careful/aware of during this procedure. <Not to worry> I will let you know how it goes if you like. Thank you and have a great day!!! <Real good. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner> Leslie

Stars and Stripes puffer Hi - I just bought a stars and stripes puffer and for the first couple days he looked very healthy although I could tell he was not interested in the food I was feeding him (flakes).  <flake food is entirely inappropriate for this fish. The is much information that you may need to learn about this fish... including how very large it gets! They need regular feedings of prey with hard shells (crayfish, hermit crabs, frozen krill) to keep their fast growing teeth filed or a fatally compromising condition can develop in less than a year. Do browse www.wetwebmedia.com for articles and FAQs starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm  Please notice and explore all of the links at the top of this page> So I contacted the store and they told me they fed him Freeze Dried Krill so I went and bought some yesterday.  <just a small part of the diet... needs many more foods to service long term.> He ate it and seemed to love it but then later last night I found him just laying on the bottom of the tank (which I've never seen him do before). Normally he's always swimming around - not fast or anything - but constantly moving around. And then later I found him laying on a rock. So at first I thought I fed him too much so I waited till this morning and he was ready to eat again this morning and actually looked better (swimming around again) and ate good. But after I fed him I found him laying in a plant. I was just wondering if this is normal behavior for puffers?  <sometimes... but hey are also prone to parasitic infections... do read about the need for quarantining these fishes> He looks healthy in color and I don't see any dots on him (ich) but I've never seen him lay on things so much. If you have any suggestions I would really appreciate it. I want to help him before he gets sick (or more sick if that's the case). Thanks, Amy <best regards, Anthony>

Now Empty Tank  Bob, First, thanks for all the help and for the great site. To refresh your memory, I have a 120 Gallon Fish Only tank. I had a 14 inch Reticulated Puffer (for about 5 years) as the only inhabitant. He was just sitting on the bottom of the tank and not eating. You thought he was probably on a feeding strike. He had actually started to eat some when I used a prong feeder placing the food in front of his mouth. Well, last night he died. He showed no signs of illness other than sitting on the bottom. My question is since I have no idea what happened to him do you think I should drain the tank "bleach" it out and start over from scratch or would a major water change of 50-75% work best? I've had the tank setup of 3 years in it's current location. The tank currently has 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite, ph 8.2 and nitrates of about 80 ppm (was up to 100 ppm now dropping due to some good advice from you and the site). I have approximately 100 lbs of Live rock in the tank and another 20 in the sump along with some macro algae. I'd hate to start over from scratch, but if you think it's best to do so, I will. Thanks, Bryan <So sorry to hear of the loss of your long time aquatic companion.  Did send the following cut/pasted response (to be found in tetraodont FAQ archives on www.wetwebmedia.com): If it were me, I would likely give this tank a "once over" infusion of live rock (a box or so...) to re-center, add biomass, diversity, and do your water changes consequent to it settling in for a month or so... The new look will help as well. Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Fish Question - Please Help Hello, I received your name from someone who said you might be able to help with a problem I'm having with a sick fish. <I will try> I have a 120 gallon salt tank with only one fish a large dog face puffer who I've had for about 5 years. For about 2 months he's just been sitting on the bottom of the tank and not swimming unless I come near the tank, then he appears to struggle to swim. Almost like a balance problem. He barely gets any food and I'd like to try to save him. I have basically no readings for ammonia or nitrites in the tank, but do have nitrates. I have a Berlin skimmer and a UV sterilizer on the tank. When I do water changes I use RO water and Reef Crystals Salt. The temperature is kept at about 80 degrees and there is about 80 lbs of live rock in the tank. Do you have any ideas as to what may be causing the problem or know anyone who may be able to assist? I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks, Bryan <Likely this is a "feeding strike" of anomalous cause... And in all likelihood your Puffer will resume feeding just as mysteriously as it ceased. Do give a read over the Puffer pieces and FAQs stored on my site: www.wetwebmedia.com for much more, others similar experiences. Re the nitrates (and probable other concurrent metabolite buildup), you would do well to place some live rock in your system along with a bit of hardy macro-algae (much more about this on the WWM site), to improve water quality. Other than this, I would keep offering your puffer meaty foods daily, monitor water quality, make those water changes (along with gravel vacuuming)... and all should resolve itself. Bob Fenner>

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