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FAQs about True Puffer Social 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, NutritionTrauma, 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

Often there are troubles w/ mixing puffers (esp. in too-small volumes), and w/ Lionfishes, Triggers, large angels and big wrasses...

Hard for them to compete for food and can/do bite each other.

May get poked by Rabbitfishes; eaten by large Morays

Porcupine Puffer disease or wound?     1/10/15
Hello WWM Crew,
I read all of the posts on puffers and disease and didn't see pictures that
looked like this.
I have a 125 gallon tank, spg 1.023, ammonia, nitrates and nitrites are 0,
<How is NO3 rendered thus?>
pH is 8.4, temp 79 degrees Fahrenheit
My porcupine puffer shares his tank with a bi color angel, a Siganus
<May have poked...>
rabbit fish and a rather Large Dardanus
<... pinched>

crab in a 6 inch Triton
Tonight when I got home I noticed a mark on my Porcupine puffer Kirby.
<All at once I take it>

is in front of his gill on his left side. It was Not there yesterday,
<Ah yes; an injury>
is whitish/pink area. It is about an 1/2 inch wide by a little under an inch long. I have attached a picture.
<A nice one>
It doesn't look like ich or velvet
or other diseases I have seen first hand. I am wondering it it looks fungal or bacterial in nature to you?
<Maybe secondary>
Or if it looks like a wound perhaps
inflicted by a rather large crab living in a triton shell. Any thoughts?
<Same as yours>
I can quarantine Kirby the puffer and medicate him if need be.
<I wouldn't>
I would
rather not medicate him if it is a wound that will heal on its own.
is 6 years old. He doesn't seem lethargic at all or breathing fast either. He is eating well. Are there bacteria's or fungus that move this quickly in less then 24 hours?
<Not w/o an opening>
Thanks for your help this is an amazing site.
Regards, Kellylynn
<There we have it; a mix of dangerous characters; the puffer cut, slashed open by one of them...
With good conditions, nutrition will heal in time (weeks). Bob Fenner>

Re: Porcupine Puffer disease or wound?        1/12/15
Hello Bob
"<how is NO3 rendered thus?>"
I have a refugium stuffed full of plants, a nitrate filter from Aquaripure and religious water changes because puffers are really messy.
Maybe how I should have phrased it is that the nitrates are undetectable with 2 different test kits. So I think it is a combination of all three things.
There must be a titch of NO3 as the plants are doing fine but I think the plants take up what is left by the puffers messy eating habits. The NO3 with 2 different tests it is not detectable.
I definitely think the puffer was wounded by Roger Rabbit fish or the Dardanus crab. I am kind of leaning toward the crab. Kirby the puffer seems to be giving the crab a wider leeway and to some degree avoiding the area where the crab is. I do not remember him doing that before.
Thanks again for this site. It is a treasure trove of knowledge.
<Thank you for adding to it. BobF>

Stressed Dog face puffer    2/26/14
Hello! My name is Kris. I have a 100 gallon tank that includes dogface puffer 3.5", niger trigger 2",  sail fin tang 3" and recently added a 2" Picasso trigger.
<These Balistids... are likely directly and not harassing the Arothron>

water parameters:
ammonia: 0
Ph: 8.2
salinity: 1.024
Okay so since the addition of the Picasso , the puffer has been very dark in color ( almost black) and hangs out in his cave most of the day ( which isn't terribly unusual) He's eating 100% like he always has and i use garlic on the food as an immune system booster/ prophylactic.
<Not much; better on pastas>
Here's what the scene looks like... the puffer hangs out in his little cave that he likes and for whatever reason, the Picasso ( Pablo) keeps coming over to where the puffer is and rubbing his body gently and slowly against the puffer.  There has been no biting, fighting or otherwise outward altercations.
What does that behavior mean?
<It doesn't like the Rhinecanthus... nor the Odonus>
Will it pass?
<The fish will... that is; die, if not relocated, or the triggers moved elsewhere>
Is it enough to stress the puffer out to death if it doesn't stop? Or will the puffer just get used to the presence/behavior of Pablo and "get over it"?
All other tank mates are just fine and Pablo does this to the sail fin tang as well and she doesn't seem to mind at all..... what's the deal?
P.S. I have a 180 gallon on order that should be here by Saturday.. ( today is Tuesday)
<Ah good>
Thank you in advance for your speedy and thorough response.  I don't have a problem selling Pablo back to the store if he isn't a good tank mate, but I don't want to be hasty in case the puffer is just being a "diva" as i have read that they can be particularly "emotional".
<Move it. Bob Fenner>

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>

Puffer Accidentally Bitten   1/3/14
Hi Bob. I have an 8 inch dogface puffer and an 8 inch Harlequin Tusk in my 300 gallon FOWLR (along with other fish).  Today, during feeding, the 2 went for the same piece of food and the Tusk bit the puffer on the side of the face.  The puffer is acting normally and continued eating, but there is a pretty large cut on it's face.  Should I leave the puffer alone or remove him to QT? 
<I would leave it where it is. These animals ARE tough; will almost assuredly (self) repair>
I'm afraid of a bacterial infection.  Anything in particular I can do?
<Just the usual good maintenance and nutrition. Do you use (soak foods) HUFAs, vitamins, iodide-ate? I might double dose all for a week>
Thanks in advance,
<Ah, welcome. Bob Fenner>

Dogface puffer missing his tail    11/4/12
Hello WWM,
I have been searching your site of late but have not been able to identify exactly what is going on with my Dogface Puffer. The puffer is about 3.5 inches long and resides in a 180 gallon FOWLR aquarium. His tankmates are a Maculosus Angel, an Annularis Angel, a Lunare Wrasse, a Maroon Clown, a Flame Hawkfish, and a Coral Beauty. He is fat, active at feeding time and at night, eats just about everything I put in the tank, and seems to be pretty healthy with the exception of his tail.
My puffer looks like someone chewed off his tailfin.
<Might have... it wouldn't have disappeared on its own... The prime suspects are the large angels and Premnas>
From what I can tell he does not have fin rot, as his entire tailfin is gone. There appears to be rather extensive tissue damage (ragged, torn tissue), although I have never seen another fish biting or harassing him.
<Going on when you're not looking>
Does this sound like a bacterial infection/Finrot, or is it more likely the result of aggressive behavior from a tankmate?
<Almost assuredly the latter>
Should I be worried about a secondary infection from the tissue damage?
<Not if the animal is eating/healthy and there's no evidence otherwise; but it should be moved elsewhere, lest it be the recipient of further harassment>
The puffer's behavior seems very normal, but his tail really looks horrible. Is there anything I should be doing other than regular water changes and providing a proper diet?
<Move it; or the perpetrator/s>
Thanks for your help,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sick Puffer    10/25/12
Hi crew! I've been having a problem the last few weeks with my dogface puffer and some of my other inhabitants. We'll start with the tank. It is a 220 gallon FOWLR with a 40 gallon sump/refugium with miracle mud. It has been set up for three years. Temp is 79, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 20, ph 8.4. Inhabitants are a dogface puffer, passer angel,  and an Australian harlequin tusk. About a week or two ago, my puffer started lying around more and stopped eating.
<True puffers (Tetraodontids) "do this" (lethargy, feeding strikes) at times; sans known cause>

I checked water quality and nothing seemed out of order. So I just kept offering food with no luck.
<Mmm, what foods specifically? Some fed too much, too often, exclusively are trouble. Read here re:
 The only thing that seems out of order with his appearance is that his fins are a little tattered even though he is not getting "picked on" by any of the others.
<Mmm... then wherefore the tattered fins? I'd be watching the Passer...>
Around that same time, my angel started to do the same thing. Only it looks like he is getting hole in the head like I have seen on Oscars.
<See WWM re... vitamins, HUFAs, perhaps a cut-back on GAC use:
and the linked files above>
My last angel came down with HLLE and this looks nothing like it. The tusk is doing great. He eats like a pig and is always gliding around the tank.
I'm just worried about the other two. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for such a long email.
<Give us a write back if you have further questions, concerns. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Puffer 10/25/12

Hi Bob. I forgot to add that I do not use carbon in my systems. In my experience that seems to cause more harm than good. I use no chemical filtration. I just use 100 micron filter socks and a sponge filters that get changed weekly. That in conjunction with my refugium and biological filter seems to work well for me.
<Ah good. B>
Re: Sick Puffer 10/25/12
Hi Bob, thanks for the speedy reply. I am offering krill, squid, pellets, prawns, and angel formula. I
<I'd cut back on the first two and fourth...... please don't write w/o reading where you've been referred to first>
 usually soak the food in Selcon or Lipovit.
I doubt the passer is the cause of the puffer's fin damage. He hasn't moved out from the live rock in  about 5-6 days now. Should I try to treat them with Melafix or anything?
<... no. BobF>

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...Stressed or Sick? -- 10/21/2009
Hi guys,
Thanks so much for the wonderful site!!
<... 9.7 meg pic files?...>
Having been in the hobby only a year or so, your site has proved invaluable in maintaining the health of my aquarium. I recently switched my 29 gallon marine FOWLR into a 55gallon mostly in order to put a little bit of space between my 4" Valentini Puffer and my 13" Snowflake Moray
<... still too crowded behaviorally. These animals are not compatible>

(the Valentini has a bad habit of teasing the eel until he tries to bite him), not to mention that they need more water volume to begin with Along with these guys there are 2 baby damselfish (less than 1/2" each), one Clarkii Clown (~2.5 inches), 15 assorted dwarf hermit crabs and 10 assorted snails.
<Your puffers will eat these last two>

Two days ago I couldn't resist and introduced an
unbelievably cute baby black-spotted dogface (~3 inches) to the mix.
<Also unsuitable here>
He's already the star of the tank and constantly begging for food (and trying to turn my hermit crabs into snacks). I feed the aquarium twice a day (1 cube of prime reef formula 2, 3-4 frozen prawn/krill/silverside)
Unfortunately I just do not have space for a QT before I put things into my display tank, but luckily my LFS keeps their marine fish in individually filtered tanks and tends to take immaculate care of them. After checking the rest of the tank in the store for any signs of sickness I broke down and decided to take the baby dog face home. Once I got him into the tank (after drip acclimating for over an hour) I noticed a couple of strange circular discolorations on him.
My water parameters: 0 Amm, 0 NO2, 1.0ppm NO3, 8.3 pH (I've been doing 20% water changes every other day for the past week since I upgraded tanks to help with the extra volume of new uncycled water)
These can only be seen when he's light, which he is almost always...if he gets startled by the eel or his reflection and flashes brown the discolorations are invisible. He doesn't seem to be displaying any other symptoms of any sort, but I cannot seem to figure out what these are for the life of me (even after reading the entire **** internets lol). My only thoughts are either bruising/burning of some sort, stress, or some disease that I just cannot diagnose...
I've attached a couple picture of the discolorations, maybe someone more experience than me has seen this before?
While I'm writing this email I do have one question about my Valentini Puffer, who I've had for about 3 months now. For about 6 weeks above his eyes there seems to be a little patch of skin missing, once every couple of days I see him scratch this spot on the rock. Again, he's eating fine (although I think that his beak was almost too long when I got him, I have to hold prawn to make sure that he gets a good bite out of it) and not displaying any symptoms other than a slightly elevated breathing rate.
This too I cannot find a similar or accurate diagnosis online, I will try to get a picture to explain better.
Thanks in advance for your help!
And again for the amazing website!
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/trupufdisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. You need a larger system ultimately, and to keep an eye on the Echidna for deadly bite marks, missing eyes. Bob Fenner>

Re: Dogface Puffer...Stressed or Sick? 10/21/09
Mr. Fenner,
Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly! I'm so sorry about the giant pictures, I attached the wrong copies (I keep the hires ones for printing).
For information's sake, I neglected to mention in my last email:
Fluval 305
2 HoB filters (one Aqueon, one Hagen)
48" Glo t5 (108 watts)
While I'm very aware that the tank is too small, I just do not have the money or space to upgrade to the 150 that I would like to (we are also probably moving within 6 months, a large contributing factor) .
<Well then Adam... you should now trade these fishes in, get something that can do well in this 55>
I read every puffer page before I decided to ask a question, I see people mention blotches from stress et cetera but I just wanted to be sure I was experiencing the same thing as my marine hobby quickly becomes an obsession..
<A good one I'll warrant>
You say the dogface is also unsuitable here, is this due to the snowflake?
<This and the size/volume of the system>
Or just the fact that my tanks too darn small.
I realize that the best solution for this tank is probably to remove the eel, I am only loathe to do this since I've raised him since he was only 5 inches or so but perhaps that's the only answer.
I'm sorry for bugging you with questions, but no one I know is knowledgeable enough to help me.
<Am very glad to share with you my young friend. BobF>

Dog Face Puffer questions, me too   1/30/09 Hi We have a 150 gallon tank with a stars and stripes puffer (6"), an undulated trigger (3"), a niger trigger (5"), a yellow tang (4") and a dog face puffer (4"). <Mmm... I'd be keeping a close watch twixt the puffers and these triggers... not compatible> Just checked nitrite, at 0. The dog face is laying on the bottom, mouth open and breathing heavy. He has a discoloration starting at his abdomen going to his tail. It almost looks like gangrene? <I see this... and the unusually larger body expanse toward the distal area of this fish...> Any idea what it is and what to do? I don't want to see him suffer. <Mmm, looks like either some sort of gut blockage or lumenal parasite possibility... How long have you had this fish? What do you feed it? Some sedentary behavior is common intermittently with Tetraodonts... You should read on WWM re the family, disease, the use of Anthelminthics, and possibly Metronidazole-laced foods if this fish is feeding. Bob Fenner>

puffer injury haiku attempt   1/29/09 5yo puffer approx 12in length scratched piece of coral last week scratch turned in to this photo any suggestions regarding treatment <Just good care, environment, feeding... time going by. Bob Fenner>

Re: puffer injury  1/30/09 lesion growing larger, approx 2-3cm diameter, white color, no erythema, additional loss of pigment to lesion today puffer wont eat today, sits in bottom corner of tank covered with <1mm white spots over body and eyes, breathing not labored <Bad news> have not had problem with tank for 4 years new fish ( bird wrasse )was introduced into tank after fresh water dip and 4 wk quarantine, caused some upset to tank causing puffer scratch <Mmmm> No other fish affected. <Not yet> Tank parameters: 180 gal FOWLR w/ some polyps 0 ammonia, nitrite <10 nitrate hardness 10 calcium 400 phosphate approx 0.1 pH 8.2 10% water changes weekly ?quarantine ? fresh water dip ? antibiotics <Not antibiotics> I understand patience in most circumstances and good water quality is key, however this is a radical change in past two days Thank you for your help. Russ Mongiovi <Do you have another place to put this puffer? I would move it... keep observing, reading for now... WWM, Puffer Disease articles and FAQs files. BobF> 

Re: puffer injury - new photo  1/30/09 did not transmit photo with reply e mail thank you <Mmm, the size, shape, "cleanliness" of this injury site... Lead me to suspect a heater burn, round-mouth fish bite (like a trigger), or....? B>

Re: Dog Face Puffer questions, injury   -- 02/01/09 Thank you for replying with useful information. I've been researching everything you've suggested. Unfortunately it's too late, but I'd like to keep myself informed so I can act quickly if something like this happens again. This puffer was the first marine fish we ever purchased. We had him for about 9 months. Some of the foods we feed all our fish are: Ocean Nutrition Silversides, San Francisco Bay Brand Emerald Entree, BioPure Krill, Hikari MegaMarine. All of these are frozen foods. <And a good mix> So far everyone gets along. Do you think this will be more of a problem between the triggers and the puffers when they become more mature? Thank you again!!! <Such troubles can, unfortunately, "spring" up w/o notice... the Triggers biting the puffers... There are many cases of species of both groups of fishes getting along interminably, but too many instances of dire results to not mention the potential. BobF>

Re: puffer injury   2/4/09 FYI - the white halo around the wound spread from tail to gills in about 24 hrs and eventually the fish died. Hope this helps others <Thank you for this... am wondering what exactly the "halo" was... some sort of adventitious microbe (bacterial, possibly mycelious)... Would be interesting histologically to examine the wound site. BobF> 

Hiding dog face puffer and ammonia -- 07/26/07 Thank you in advance for you time and expertise. <Hope I can help.> My tank is a 55 gallon FOWLR (planning to upgrade to 125 ASAP) <I hope so. Have you ever seen adult dog face puffers?> with a HOT Remora protein skimmer. Specific gravity 1.021 <I'd raise that.>, PH 8.4, Ammonia 10 <That's a serious problem if true, even 0.10 would be concerning.>, Nitrate 10, Nitrite 0, CA 460, KH 9. It is stocked with 1 Blue Damsel , a Foxface Rabbit Fish, and a Dog Faced Puffer. My problem (if in fact it is a problem) is after 4 weeks of constantly swimming out and about in the tank my Puffer is staying inside my old ship decoration except when he comes out to eat. Up until this week he has been very active and swimming along side the Rabbit Fish throughout the entire day. He did sit on the protein skimmer pump after eating but never stayed in the ship. I'm not sure if the Puffer and Rabbit fish are friends or just keeping an eye on each other <Likely the latter>. There does not seem to be any aggression. In fact the Rabbit Fish has started spending more time in the ship with the Puffer. Is it possible I'm reading this wrong and the Rabbit fish is irritating the Puffer? It just seems strange that after roaming the tank comfortably for a month he would take to hiding. I was feeding him a couple of pieces of krill every day but changed to every other day because of nitrate and ammonia numbers rising. Could the change in feeding cause this? <Ammonia is very toxic and must never be in a tank with fish. Possibly the reason for unusual behaviour (although some puffers may hide half of the day). See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nh3marfaqs.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm for solutions. Act as soon as possible.> What other foods do you suggest to give a bigger variety? <Krill is not sufficient as the only food item. Try mussels, clams, prawns, squid and other types of frozen sea food. Add some vitamins now and then.> Could that also be a problem? <Yes. Unvaried diet will probably lead to deficiency related diseases.> He did eat one of my crabs this week and up until now he had not paid them any attention. He looks great and has a great appetite. I love this fish and don't want anything to happen to him. Not only has he become the center point of my tank but it has caused the Rabbit Fish to be more visible and lively. Lamar. <Address your ammonia issue, change the diet and upgrade your tank and you will probably (and hopefully) have a happy puffer again. Cheers, Marco.>

Tetrodotoxin   4/19/07 Just a short note: While reading the daily FAQs (as usual) I recognized in a mail I answered the name of a puffer toxin has been changed from "Tetrodotoxin" to "Tetraodotoxin". I am aware that the name should be derived from Tetraodon (four teeth), which is the scientific name for a puffer genus, but the scientists, who discovered the toxin in 1909 named it "Tetraodotoxin" (they were Japanese and Tetrodon was used in that time just as often as Tetraodon). So, this is the official name of the substance used in toxicology internationally. When talking we use the abbreviation TTX anyway. Cheers, Marco. <Thank you for this Marco... Little doubt this error is of my origination, perpetuation... I likely accepted a mis-spelling into this computers spellchecker dictionary. Bob Fenner>

Sick Puffer or just odd behavior?   1/28/07 Hello Crew, <Lisa> Sorry to bother you with yet another Puffer question.  My Stars and Stripes about 3 1/2 inches) is doing this odd thing......He will start at the top of the water and dive (or "swoop") down to the bottom, rubbing his belly on the crushed coral below.  I have even seen him do it a few times on the live rock.  Does he have a skin condition or something internal that is disturbing him? <Mmm, not likely> Or is he acting out with some kind of discontentment related to his tank situation? <Possibly... but more likely this fish is reacting to its own reflection...> His appetite is great (in fact, I had to separate him from the others because he was eating ALL of my crustaceans and was about to go after my beloved cleaner shrimp, who he had, for several weeks, seemed to have some affection for (allowing them to massage his back and even taking afternoon naps with them - please excuse the run-on sentence!)  I also found out that he was nibbling (but not ingesting) my LTA which never recovered and died a horrible, messy death. <These animals are incompatible> I was told that he would not get any larger than 8 inches (like the dog-face), and then learned that this is not so.  True? <This is not so...> I am considering adopting him out to somebody with a bigger tank who can give him the life he deserves, but want to make sure he is totally healthy first. <Good> Thanks for all your help and support. Lisa Crugnola <Mmm, try taping a piece of paper or such to the outside panel where this behavior is occurring... Bob Fenner>

Puffer Problem - 10/22/2006 Hello, Mr. Fenner and/or WWM crew: <Hi Mikel, MacL here with you today. Hope its good for you. Sorry for the slowness of the answer, for some reason this just showed up.> Love your site; it is an inspiration to all of us who love this hobby. <Very kind of you to say.> I've been at this wonderful obsession of Marine Aquaria Keeping for nearly 2 decades, but was away from it for the last ten years.  I'm amazed at how far the hobby has come while I was on hiatus.  However most of my 17 year experience before was with natural seawater and natural substrates living in the Florida Keys collecting my own specimens.   So in many ways I am a newbie once again trying to learn all about this 'New School' in Keepin Marine aquaria.   <You'll be fine, basics still apply. Do it slow, research as much as you can, watch your tank.> My situation deals here with a new Dog faced Puffer I've recently acquired.  I have the 3' puffer in a 50 gallon holding tank at the moment.  My QT or holding tank, as we call it, has a HOT Magnum power filter, a Remora C HOB skimmer, power head with 20 pounds of live sand and twenty pounds of live rock under 130 watts of PC lighting. I run the power filter with carbon switching off every four or five days with the micron cylinder.  I clean the skimmer cup and filter media daily.  Parameters are as follows: SG: 1.022 Temp: 79 PH: 8.2 Ammonia 0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates <10 ppm KH 11dkh I always hold all new livestock 6 weeks before introducing any item to either my reef tank or my semi aggressive FOWLR tank.  We also have another 20 gallon bare bottom QT tank (Empty) I reserve this for medication and/or hypo salinity treatments.  But for the moment Fideux, our new waterdog is in the 50 gallon with the following tankmates: One 4' Aussie Harlequin Tusk One 3' Bursa Trigger One 3' Dragon Wrasse (Hit the sand like a drill haven't seen him in a week) One 4' Ember Blenny (Boss of the Tank) So our 3' Water Pup is serving time with these four very swimmy, but so far mild mannered cellmates.  Everyone seems to be getting along peacefully in the small tank. The Tusk's sentence is nearly up, as well as the other wrasse.  One more week and they will be paroled into our FOWLR, followed a week later by the blenny, the trigger and last but not least, Fideux, the Wonder Dog.   <I would be a bit concerned here. I love that you have quarantine tanks and you are doing this so thoroughly but every time you add a new fish your quarantine should start over. The idea in my mind of a quarantine is to keep the fish isolated so that anything he has come in with can manifest himself. When you add new fish into the quarantine station you expose him to potentially catching something that one of the other fish came with.  I know lots of people quarantine with multiple fishes but it is an area for concern. Also, I really recommend spreading out the introduction of the fish to longer than a week at a time simply because the fish needs time to adapt to their new environment.> However, we may hold the trigger a week and introduce him as the Last Fish.  So far he has been real chummy with the puffer, but this may change.  These will be the last five fish to go into our two display tanks. Everything has been going well with the quarantine of these final fish.  All five were eating like pigs, Fideux eating from my hand already:  I'm feeding all of them fresh chopped squid, shrimp, krill and baby clams in the shell, all foods soaked heavily in fresh crushed garlic and Selcon. <I love puffers, in my mind they are an amazing fish. I currently have a mappa puffer that has grown from less than an inch and a stars and stripes puffer.  What you are feeding them sounds great, and they will thrive on it. I want to caution you with letting them eat out of your hand, as they grow they get more and more enthusiastic about food and can get you instead of the fish.> I hang the strips of meaty foods on lettuce clips tied to a string for easy withdrawal to keep trites and trates under control. (No cleaning crew allowed in this tank) I feed the Krill to the puffer by hand.  I never put free floating food into this crewless tank.   <I use mixed bits and pieces of lobster and crab and other meaty seafoods as well.> Last night, our wonderful little puffer, somehow managed to get himself stuck between the power head and the filter intake.  He had not puffed up before this, not even during acclimation.  But when I found him stuck, he was severely puffed.  I immediately unplugged the power and freed him from his predicament.  Although he was stuck, for God knows how long up high in the tank, fortunately he was wedged in there head down, so I don't think he inflated with air.  However, there was an airstone in that corner of the tank showering him in a shroud of bubbles, so he may have ingested a bit of air from that.  At first he appeared to have a bit of trouble completely deflating, but finally after nearly 24 hours seems to be completely deflated.  But he is cowering in a little LR cave in one corner of the tank and won't come out, and won't eat, not even when I lower krill on a feeding stick right in front of his nose.  He just sits there sulking looking out.  His eyes are clear, and follow me around the tank.  He looks at the food, sniffs it, but will not take it. <Puffers sulk. Do you see signs of damage on him? Bruising where he was stuck or something similar? My puffer blocks the overflow in my tank when he doesn't get fed enough or when he's being rotten and makes bubbles come into the tank. At first we were tremendously concerned that he kept doing that but now we just move him out from in front of it. He responds to the attention and splashes us and moves on and lets the water flow again.  Also, watch out. . . puffers spit water at you.> Here is my concern.  I can't see him well enough for a good examination, but from what I can see, using a magnifying glass, his skin looks kind of stretched out of shape, like it is kind of baggy.  It looks rough just under his muzzle and he has broken out in some sort of white specs.  It doesn't look like Ich to me, because the specs are rather large, but it may be Ich.  We'll hope for the best, but consider the worse.  The spots look kind of raised under the big M. Glass.  Perhaps the stress of the ordeal has given him Ich, although none of the other fish show any signs of it.  But all are acting differently, just a little more lethargic, hiding more, whereas they were always swimming in the water column before.  Well, the Tusk has not slowed down, but the Blenny is staying still more and the trigger stays in the cave with the puffer now, only coming out for food.  Everyone is eating well except the puffer. <My guess is that his skin is pulled a bit loose. Nothing to worry about unless he does come down with some type of bacterial infection or indeed it is Ich. But in my experience, Ich on a puffer is difficult to see unless you see spots on the fin.> Of course, my first fear was a toxic event from the stressed, inflated puffer.  Right after the incident I did an immediate 25% water change.  Then another 25% about 12 hours later, trying to maintain the same temp and PH, however, SG has come up a little to just under 1.023  I also replaced the micron filter with fresh carbon and hung a basket of Poly filter under the outlet of the skimmer.  I am getting a lot of skimmate and the water smelled a little fishy right after the event, but smells fresh now.  If there was a tetradotoxins release, I think the tank is clear of it now, although I may keep doing water changes daily until normal behavior return to the other fish. What I'm wondering is, if this event caused enough stress to the puffer to break out in Ich, should I hold the Tusk and trigger longer now rather than putting them into the display and exposing my FOWLR to the parasite, if in fact that is what it is?  Also, if I have to treat the puffer for Ich, I'll have to cycle the BB tank and trying to get the puffer out of his cave which will probably stress him even more.  Or should I leave everyone where they are and just observe.  Please forgive the long winded post.  I'm a writer, and we do tend to get a little wordy. <I'm so sorry for the delay.  I would love to know his condition. If you have to treat the puffer for Ich be extremely cautious because puffers have problems with some of the medications used to treat Ich.  I think adding the carbon was a good idea.  I do have a suggestion for you as well. A lot of people who use quarantine tanks keep sponge filters in their other tanks to constantly be cycled so if they have to do a quick set up they have a tank that is quickly set up.  The skin should go back to normal and he should start eating within a couple of days, if not you do have a problem because they have such a high metabolism, especially in my experience when they are small and they need lots of food. Or they start to fade away.  Please let me know how he is doing. MacL> Thanks,  Mikel Stevenson

Sick Stars and Stripes Puffer, in a mis-stocked, mis-treated, poorly filtered system   7/26/06 I have a small, approx 3" Stars & Stripes along with a dogface and a Niger Trigger in a 40 gallon. <Danger Will Robbins! Too much incompatible life in too tiny a world...>   Last night I noticed my stars & stripes was lying on the bottom of the tank panting or breathing heavy, and his color had darkened.  This morning nothing had changed except for now it looks as though he broke out with Ich, again. <Again?> Somehow he appears to have gotten stressed out.  Is there anything I can do? <Uh... less stress... move to appropriate setting... larger, no trigger...> Also, in regards to Ich, it seems as though it keeps coming back or never fully goes away.   <Common...> I've been treating the entire tank with Quick Cure per the instructions on the package.  Do I need to isolate the fish?   <Maybe> I also have 2 long spined urchins in the tank.  I've been told the Quick Cure will kill them, but they seem to be Okay. <Mmm... not really treated sufficiently...>   Am I killing them slowly by using Quick Cure? <Very likely so> One last thing.  I've heard mixed reviews about my filtration so I'd like to get your opinion.  I was advised by a local tropical fish store and this is what I have: Fluval 304 canister filter and an under gravel filter powered by 2 powerheads.  Do I have adequate filtration?? <Mmm, not likely. Please see WWM re Crypt treatments, these three, four species Systems needs, Compatibility... formulate a plan for a much larger, better set-up/filtration, and a plan (maybe with the spare forty) for treating the Crypt appropriately... the trigger really can't be kept with these Tetraodont puffers unless the tank is very large... hundreds of gallons. Bob Fenner> Mike Irion

Fugu questions 8/18/05 <Hi there!  Heather (LinearChaos) here> At my LFS there are 4 3" Takifugu rubripes.  They are in horrible condition.  Instead of being green with neon orange they are silver and a dingy brick red. <The Takifugu rubripes is not a puffer that is sold in the trade, this is actually a species that is eaten as a delicacy in Japan.  The puffer you are describing is the Takifugu ocellatus.>  They are also ungodly cheap ($15 a piece).  <Wow! That is cheap!>  I was wondering for now would a 30 gallon tank be big enough for now.  I have no problem upgrading later.  I have no experience with these guys.  <No, this species is extremely aggressive toward their own and 4 in a 30g won't last but a week.  They'll nip each other to death almost immediately since they will not be able to get away from each other in that size tank and cannot establish territories.>  I am aware of how hard they are to keep in captivity.  Also there is very little information on these puffers.  Do you know what salinity, hardness, temperature, etc... they prefer.  Any help would be great.  <I have successfully kept 3 of these puffers in an established full marine environment for over a year, the salinity is 1.019 and the temp is 82*F.  The tank is 55g and is heavily stocked with live rock to break up the lines of sight as much as possible to reduce aggression.  Please, if you are unable to care for these puffers appropriately do not purchase them.  ~Heather> Logan

Porcupine Puffers I have a suggestion for an faq I had seen on a porcupine puffer that lays in the corner and doesn't move.  I had a problem with this as well I fixed it by getting another porcupine puffer and as soon as it came out of the bag the one in the corner came out right away and gave him a little love bite or two and they have been happy ever since and the two of them cruise around non stop never more than two or three inches away from each other all though not the biggest fish in the tank they are not afraid to go up and steal food from the bigger fish.  Before the single puffer would not come out to eat I had to dangle krill in front of its face in order to get it to eat. That was a while ago but the question I have for you is my puffers are now about 8 inches long and now they are the biggest fish in my tank and one is always smelling the rear of the other all the time and the one being smelled is getting mad.  Can puffers reach sexual maturity in captivity and how do you tell the diff.  between the sex <<They can reach sexual maturity in captivity, but there is no way to sex them externally.>> if they do breed will I be cleaning baby puffers out of my filter for a month. <<Only if you don't take other measures to prevent it.>> please contact me at XXXXXX if you have any clue as to what on earth they are doing and how to tell male from female . thank you <<I don't know why they follow each other around... perhaps they enjoy the company. Cheers, J -- >>

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