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FAQs about Burrfishes, Porcupinefishes Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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

Related FAQs: Diodontids 1, Diodontids 2, Diodontids 3, Burrfish Identification, Burrfish Behavior, Burrfish Compatibility, Burrfish Selection, Burrfish Systems, Burrfish Disease, Burrfish Reproduction, Puffers in GeneralPuffer Selection, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, Puffer Reproduction, True Puffers, Freshwater to Brackish Puffers, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

Porcupine puffers What can/should you feed a Porcupine puffer? <<Most anything meaty that is discrete... that is, whole, likely to not "fall apart" when bitten and make a mess. Porcupines go especially wild for krill and other shrimp-like animals. Bob Fenner>>

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.
<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?
"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."
<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>

porcupine puffer; feeding while on week holiday     10/1/14
what should I do when I go away on vacation for a week or go out of town for 4 days with my porcupine puffer, will he eat my other fish, he gets along fine with them all now,
<I'd feed well (like twice as usual) and not worry... Not feed it, have it fed in your absence>
I have a 90 gallon with lots of hiding places in the live rock that the puffer cant get through. the other fish I have is a clown fish dark orange, bicolor angel, coral beauty angelfish, diamond watchman goby and an orange spotted blenny, thank you!
<Perhaps an automatic feeder for the others, stocked w/ a good pelleted food (Hikari, NLSpectrum); scheduled for three, four feedings per day. Bob Fenner>

Requesting help with porcupine puffer tooth/beak loss       04/14/13
I am writing as I have searched the web and your site and cannot find any information on a porcupine puffer with a missing beak, or I am not searching correctly.
<Can't tell>
We have had our puffer for about seven years, in general his appetite is good but over the last couple of weeks his eating has become sporadic. I had noticed that he has been preferring scallops (unshelled) over mussels which are usually his favorite.
<Both poor for steady diet...>
 I did not think to check his beak until this evening, and while I normally can see his beak, I cannot see anything in his mouth. I can look straight into his mouth back to a flap that opens and closes as he respires.  The floor of his mouth is smooth back to his throat. Also his lower lip/mouth area is discolored orange and looks a bit "stringy".
<Mmm, could, would you send along a well-resolved pic or two?>
Can a puffer regrow their teeth?
<Yes; their teeth are constantly regenerating... being worn down as well>
 If so what should I be doing in the meantime?
<Other foods... see WWM re Diodontids...>
What would be the underlying cause?
<Perhaps the Thiaminase aspect alluded to first here>
Please let me know what further information you require as I am not sure what to send in.
<Mmm, just search and read I believe>
Thank you in advance for your assistance!
Best regards,
Jason Peck
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer Health – 2/15/13
My Porcupine Puffer has very poor health, and I wonder if there are any measures I can take to help it improve.
I acquired it as a very health/active specimen 6 months ago. After full QT and introduction to my display, it developed a parasitic (?...as you know...) infection (which I had thought/hoped to be fully eradicated from my fallow tank at the time). Near death (slime coat sloughing off, spots/patches all over), I began hyposalinity treatment in my display tank.
This seemed to have fully alleviated the infection, although its likely already-poor health sustained water quality problems in addition to the prolonged osmotic shock until I exited hyposalinity months later (and at your admonishment - thank you!).
For months after the hyposalinity exit (and with still gradual rise to full salinity), it has been extremely lethargic. I have isolated it in my display as it was being relentlessly bullied by a Butterflyfish and an angel smith (both about half its size). It eats heartily for at least one of three feedings every day (krill soaked in Zoe/Zoecon),
<A poor constant diet... this alone can account for this fish's lethargy.
See WWM re Diodontids food/feeding/nutrition>
 and has grown to about 8" (from 4" at acquisition). However, it seems to get more lethargic and non-responsive as time goes. Perhaps its days are limited by all of the disease and hyposalinity entry/exit variables?
I recently read an article that discussed kidney damage incurred by marine fish in water that has salinity that is even slightly below their natural environment. In the last week, this lead me to begin the final elevation from about 1.017 to 1.024.
Otherwise, it is very lopsided - swollen/bulging on its right side. See the attached picture. Several months ago, when I removed it from the tank to get scraped/'scoped (yielding prognosis that slime coat was healthy and no pathogens noticed), it had an air pocket on the same side of its body that gradually alleviated. I can't imagine this could be air? Especially as it spends much of its days laying near-motionless on the sand? Do you have any thoughts on whether this bulge could be its primary scourge? Or other thoughts on its condition?
I may start up my 10G or 30G tank and transfer him there to "hospice" if you don't think there are other things I can do now. While these volumes are tiny for a fish this size, at this point its range of motion *really is* this limited.
Any thoughts are appreciated...Dave

Re: Porcupine Puffer Health – 2/16/13
Thanks Bob, I reread all.
<Ah, then you saw the bits re Thiaminase, Euphausiids>
Now I see it is at least possible that my feeding could otherwise causing discomfort. I have not been reconstituting the krill in water, as required per one WWM puffer article that discusses feeding. I will change foods (and try more variety). The last Porc puffer
I had would chomp anything I put in the tank (including tin foil that I accidentally dropped in from the cube tray, yikes).
<I'll say!>
This one has never taken to anything but krill...so skewers, krill withholding, substitutes I will try until he eats...
<Good. Even Spectrum... w/ conditioning/trial-mixing>
Now I wonder if the dried krill feeding could in fact be causing an air pocket within the puffer?
<Another possibility; yes. I'd use frozen/defrosted krill>
 I see he gulps/bubbles quite a bit (as can be expected with pieces of freeze dried kill floating on top of the water surface). I see an article on another site regarding puffer air bubbles (and also mention by Ananda in prior puffer FAQs) suggesting a procedure for holding and gently relieving such in a puffer. Dare I try?
<Not yet... IF the fish is able to submerse, I'd leave it alone. Too easy to traumatize, damage otherwise. BobF>

Burrfish feeding   4/12/11
Good morning all! Love the site and it has been extremely helpful in my knowledge of the hobby!
<Ah good>
I have a 90g FOWLR with 80lb LR, about an inch of sand, 3 b/g chromis, a flamefish, and a striped Burrfish. Attached I have a 20g sump with Chaeto and Caulerpa (sertularioides I believe, the fronds are pretty big).
Additionally I have a Dardanus megistos patrolling the sand of the main tank and some frogspawn.
<The Hermit may well be a meal in time... or eat your fishes even!>
My parameters are as follows:
Ph: 8.2 (night and day)
Ammonia: 0.0
Nitrite: 0.0
Nitrate: 0.0-0.05 (past 7 days)
KH: 9.4
Ca: 520
<Yikes! Too high...>
Im working on raising the KH/lowering Ca with b ionic 2 stage.
My questions are these:
Is my frogspawn safe? I have read that puffers eat stony corals, but have not observed any damage to the frogspawn.
<Safe enough. It's likely to suffer more for vacillating water quality from the metabolism of the puffer and hermit>
Is the d. Megistos safe? It's pretty big, about 4" wide. I like him in there because he cleans up after the Burrfish which is very messy.
<As mentioned, not in the long term, no. If/when it molts it will likely be consumed. While the fishes are "sleeping on the bottom" they might be attacked>
Will the d. Megistos eat Caulerpa?
<Not as far as I'm aware, no>
I was thinking about planting in my main tank, seeing as how it's a FOWLR, I don't think it will harm any of the fish (unless/until it goes sexual), and the frogspawn is pretty high, so I could manually remove if it encroaches on its light.
<Okay... you do know of the relative toxicity of this genus of Green Algae?>
And lastly, I have read much about lockjaw in puffers, and that it is mainly due to solely feeding krill. Is uncooked white shrimp different enough from krill?
<Mmm, not really in terms of Thiaminase, no. Read here:
and again re foods/feeding/nutrition of Diodontids on WWM>
I also have read it may be due to vitamin/iodine deficiencies, do I need to dose the food or can I just dose the tank?
<Either, both>
I'd have to get some more tests for iodine, but that's not a problem. Can I avoid the supplements by varying the food?
<As with your own nutrition, yes>
I have baby clams on a half shell, krill, brine shrimp, uncooked frozen white shrimp, frozen squid, and mysis shrimp at my disposal. Is this varied enough?
<Mmm, I'd sub in some fish here>
My wife really likes the little Burrfish, and we'd hate to see it suffer because of a deficiency. Any and all assistance would be greatly appreciated!
<Mmm, read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Puffer ID Please  6/21/10
<Hi Greg.>
This puffer was captured today on Isle Of Palms Beach in Charleston South Carolina. It's only about a quarter inch in length.
Any idea what species it is?
I looked online for pics/id of baby puffers but could only find info on adult puffers.
<Chilomycterus antillarum, not a puffer in the sense of the family Tetraodontidae, but a "spiky puffer" or Burrfish (family Diodontidae).>
Thank you, Greg
<Welcome. Marco.>

Baby Puffer ID 6/21/2010
This fish was captured yesterday on the Isle Of Palms Beach in Charleston, South Carolina. He (or she) is under half an inch in length. Any idea what species it is?
Your help is greatly appreciated as I've been searching online for awhile now with no luck.
Thank you,
http://webmail.aol.com/31888-111/aol-1/en-us/mail/get-attachment.aspx?uid=1.30452560&< http://webmail.aol.com/31888-111/aol-1/en-us/mail/get-attachment.aspx?uid=1.30452560&folder=Deleted&partId=5
<Was already answered today (you sent the question from a different email).
See here:>
<Hi Greg.>
This puffer was captured today on Isle Of Palms Beach in Charleston South Carolina. It's only about a quarter inch in length.
Any idea what species it is?
I looked online for pics/id of baby puffers but could only find info on adult puffers.
<Chilomycterus antillarum, not a puffer in the sense of the family
Tetraodontidae, but a "spiky puffer" or Burrfish (family Diodontidae).>
Thank you, Greg
<Welcome. Marco.>

Re: Baby Puffer ID 6/21/2010
Thank you for the quick response. Just one more quick question: What type of food should this little guy be fed? Frozen fish food from the pet shop?
<You can try frozen Mysis, Artemia (Brine Shrimp), Lobster eggs from the pet shop. However, it's possible at this size it still might need live zooplankton (live Mysis, Artemia, Copepods, Gammarids). It's not easy to get Diodontids at this small size to eat in captivity. Also, feed several times a day.>
<Welcome. Marco.> 

Puffer with lockjaw 4/20/10
Hi, I have some questions about my 4 in. porcupine puffer fish (1 clownfish tankmate). I posted on a different list but haven't had a lot of luck getting my questions answered. We've had this fish for about two years, and during that time, Herbie was fed pretty much exclusively frozen krill.
<A mistake, as you likely know now>
We thought he was just really picky since he refused everything that we tried to feed him. No excuses, but we didn't realize that this leads to nutritional deficiencies until one day he stopped eating and started doing the research. I've read extensively all of the posts on here and the posts by Puffer Queen on other sites regarding lockjaw and krill, and we decided to take on the tube feeding. We sedated using clove oil 2 nights on, 2 nights off, 1 night on, 1 night off, 1 night on. So, he's been fed a total of 4 nights (frozen shrimp, B12, garlic, Nori, scallops, VitaChem, Spirulina). My first question is: the past two times we have sedated him, he has been biting at the glass afterwards (have you heard of this?)
<Yes... residual effect of the anesthetic>
and taking longer and longer to come over and greet me once he is in the recovery tank. Maybe he's angry with me? I probably would be angry if I'd been sedated and tube fed too...or do you think it's having a neurological effect?
<This latter>
Tonight, I actually had trouble getting the tube in his mouth bc it almost felt like he was biting down on the tube a bit, despite being sedated. Kelly recommends MS222, not clove oil, so I am thinking about discontinuing the clove oil...
<IF you do use the MS222, DO wear gloves when handling, when it's present in the water, and DO pH balance with a bit of "baking soda"... the pH is quite low, can be dangerous otherwise>
do you think there could be a cumulative clove oil effect on the puffer?
<I do not>
My other question is, if this lockjaw corrects itself, how do I get him to eat foods that he has previously rejected and what would you offer first?
<Keep offering... perhaps mixed in with a minimum of ground up Krill>
We've been offering bits of frozen shrimp and fresh scallops, but he will take a little bit in and then spit it back out. He IS going after the food we put in this tank,
though, just not swallowing. Any suggestions?
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
He looks really healthy, he just can't-- or won't take the food down. The problem with giving him smaller bits of shrimp, etc. (if he can't chew), is that he doesn't really go after the smaller pieces. Sorry, longwinded...any advice would be so great. This website has been REALLY helpful to me! Thanks!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Puffer stopped eating, env., nutr.    1/23/10
<Hello Jimmy>
I have a porcupine puffer that I've kept in my 55 gallon tank
<... much too small a world. Let me put it this way... this fish will (if it lives) grow to at least 6.5 inches long... twice the width of this tank. Would you do well in a space of twice your width in one of three dimensions?>
for about 1.5 years now. ph 8.2, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, and nitrate 20-40 (my tap water comes with around 20 nitrates).
<Needs to be treated ahead of use>
I've been reading the WWM website about puffers for two days now and am kind of confused as to actually what is wrong with him.
<... water chemistry, test results? Foods, feeding data? Other tankmates?>
For the past week he hasn't been himself. Most of the day he sits on the bottom of the tank, or finds a rock or leather coral to perch on and just sits there gasping. He almost looks depressed. I do know now that I need
to feed him other things other than krill,
<A very poor stock diet. This alone could be "it">
which I have feed him along with the occasional cricket I find (someone at my LFS told me they would be good
for his teeth and full of protein). He normally see's me, and starts dancing at the top of the water waiting for food. But for the last 5-7 days hasn't. I can see two small lumps that almost appear to be a jawbone underneath his
<Perhaps a goiter... see WWM re iodine/ide/ate and these>
I remember reading something about a parasite that makes small bumps under their skin. But what I'm confused about is the fact that all of a sudden he stopped being himself and now not eating. I looked into lockjaw and if is teeth were too long but just don't know because of the sudden decline.
Please Help!!
<Need to go back, do a bit more cursory reading. This fish is misplaced, mis-fed... Bob Fenner>

Re: Porcupine Puffer, fdg.   1/3/09 Thanks for the quick response. I added the puffer to the 150 like you suggested, which has given me a better chance to look him over. He still has a humpback posture and isn't eating. He also seems to not be able to swim, when he tries his tail kind of drags in the sand, doesn't seem to be able to go up. He also has bloody streaks in his tail. <Dang... bad signs> I have offered him shrimp soaked in garlic but he won't accept it. He does start waving his fins and seems to be "blowing" at the food. Not sure what all this means, or if there is anything I can do for him. Thanks for the help. Jeremy <I'd consider force-feeding this specimen... See WWM re... all puffers... feeding, use the search tool... with the term string. Cached view from here: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm Bob Fenner>

Porcupine puffer, diet -- 09/17/08 I was wonder what good foods I can give my porcupine puffer to ensure his teeth do not over grow. <Porcupine puffers (family Diodontidae) typically don't get overgrown teeth like their true puffer relatives (family Tetraodontidae). You do not have to worry about that.> I know snails, but they are expensive food, are they able to eat the freshwater ones? <Yes, they are, but marine food items should be preferred.> Also as far as anything else clams, scallops, ...what else is there? <Shrimps of all kinds (frozen, not freeze dried), preferably with shell. Crabs are very good, too and also cephalopods like squid. Even a piece of fish from time to time is allowed.> Are the store bought ones okay? <As long as they are not seasoned and uncooked, they are fine.> I just have never seen scallops or clams in the shell at the store. <Asian markets or stores can have such things.> Thanks, Troy <Keep the diet as varied as possible to keep your porcupine puffer healthy. In addition, use vitamins at least once a week in order to avoid deficiency diseases from feeding mostly frozen food. Cheers, Marco.>

Re: Porcupine puffer, fdg.  -- 09/28/08 Thanks for the previous reply. <Quite welcome.> Is it normal behavior for a porcupine puffer to hide a lot, <They typically hide around half of the day, but come out when hungry and may stay out for hours if they believe they'll be fed.> Also he is not crazy about food like I have read in other responses on your website. <They often behave as if they were starving and eat as much as they can. Check your water quality. An inadequate environment can significantly decrease the feeding response.> I usually have to put more food than I like to in the tank for the puffer to become interested then he only takes a couple small bites. <Don't put more food into the tank than what is eaten.> I recently bought a variety of frozen food krill, blood worms, brine shrimp, and some kind of Spirulina mix with spinach. <Except the krill the other food items you list are likely too small for all but the tiniest porcupine puffers. Try some unseasoned seafood intended for human consumption like prawns, shrimps, scallops, mussels, clams.> I bought vitamins and garlic extreme to mix in <Vitamin addition is a very good step forward.> and I let it set over night trying to get the puffer to eat more. Any thoughts. <Check water quality (esp. pH and nitrates) and try larger food items. Good luck. Marco.>

Sick porcupine puffer -- 07/14/08 Hey guys, <Hi.> we set up a saltwater tank 2 months ago. <Size?> Our first fish was a porcupine puffer. <Size?> The fish was doing well, we fed her crayfish, crabs and sometimes feeder minnows. <The latter is a very unhealthy food item absolutely inappropriate for your porcupine fish. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fdgfdrartneale.htm.> We figured she was doing so well we decided to add a dragon wrasse. <Was the wrasse quarantined to avoid the introduction of diseases?> She was ok for the first few days now she is all over the tank bumping into rocks, breathing heavy and her colour is just not right. <Might be Amyloodinium (can you see most tiny white spots and a whitish change of coloration?) or a bacterial infection due to a weak immune system (growing discolorations on the body?). > The day before we gave her feeder minnows and noticed that in the tank where we were holding the minnows they had all died. <'¦> We don't know if its the feeder minnows, the dragon wrasse or a combination of the two. <All possible, especially the last. I recommend never to feed minnows to a porcupine puffer again.> Our ph is 8.2, we have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 20 nitrate. <Sounds okay.> We don't know what to do and we don't want to lose our puffer! Thanks. <Clarify which of the two is most likely and start a treatment in a hospital tank. Amyloodinium can kill very fast. Treatment options are found on WWM. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm and the linked FAQs on diseases and also the corresponding articles on marine velvet or bacterial infections. Good luck. Marco.>

Spiny Boxfish/Burrfish Wasting 5/11/08 Dear WWM crew: <Hi Dana, Pufferpunk here> I have a 75 gallon fish-only set up containing a Maroon clown, Naso tang, Niger trigger (small) and a Spiny boxfish. <Are you planning on upgrading eventually?> My question concerns the Spiny boxfish which stopped eating after approximately 6 months (diet consisted primarily of freeze-dried krill but also included various other frozen foods such as Formula One and Formula Two). <Krill is a very poor diet for a puffer/boxfish. They should be eating meaty foods like shrimp, crab, clams, oysters, mussels, etc, soaked in a good marine vitamin, like Selcon.> This fish failed to eat after transferring to a quarantine set-up but I was able to sustain the fish for 3 months with tube-feeding (variety of foods soaked in Vita-Chem or Selcon). <Great job, you're dedicated!> Surprisingly, the fish resumed eating on its own after this prolonged period of tube-feeding and now eats as vigorously as ever. The problem is that the fish continues to appear wasted after 2 months of eating on its own. <Perfect example of suffering from internal parasites.> I realize that regaining body weight could take some time but I'm wondering if the fish could have some form of internal parasite (was not treated for this when purchased) that is impairing nutrient absorption. <Burrfish are more commonly received by fish keepers plagued with IPs than any other species of puffer.> Do you recommend "prophylactic"/presumptive treatment for internal parasites before attempting to return the fish to the parent system? <Absolutely> If so, what form of treatment would you suggest (i.e., adding metronidazole to the food vs. an alternative agent added to the quarantine tank)? <If the fish is eating, your best course of treatment is soaking it's food in a dewormer, along with Selcon & feeding this to the fish 2x/day, for a week. Here is a great thread about bringing a starving burrfish back from the brink of death: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12427 It's pretty long but here's a shorter version: http://forum.marinedepot.com/Topic84787-10-1.aspx And an article on treating IPs: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/internal-parasites-prevention-and-treatment/ Good luck with your burrfish, I hope it's fat & happy soon! ~PP> Thanks for your help, Dana

Re: Spiny Boxfish/Burrfish and wasting 5/16/08 PP, <Dana> Thanks for your reply. I intend to treat the burrfish with a combination of Metronidazole and Prazipro via the oral route, though it's hard for me to believe that this fish had a heavy intestinal burden of parasites at the time of original purchase given its significant growth over the initial 6 months (before hunger strike). Is it possible it received this from another fish that was added later? The parasite grows as long as it's being fed. It could have started out small & grown larger in time. I have read that burrfish need to be dewormed several times sometimes. I have read the suggested links as well as the specification sheets for metro+ and Prazipro but could use some additional guidance on dosing. Assuming that it's OK to treat sequentially with these medications, I would add 100 mg of metro+ powder/5 cc water and soak the food prior to feeding (how many treatments?). For the Prazipro, my plan would be a single treatment of 23 mg/lb x 0.2 lbs.= 4.5-5 mg (0.1-0.15 cc) added directly to the food. Please advise whether this plan is feasible. <I am not as good with these numbers as Kelly Jedlicky, the Puffer Queen. Here is her info on this: http://forum.marinedepot.com/Topic22019-10-1.aspx Good luck with the treatment. ~PP> Thanks again, Dana

Ill/Malnourished Porcupine Puffer - 12/13/07 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have had a Porcupine puffer for almost a year now. Just recently he has just been sitting on the bottom of the tank only moving around when I come near the tank. I have feed him mysis shrimp, krill, squid and brine shrimp but now the only thing he will touch is the krill and even then he will chew it up and spit it out wasting more than he eats. <How are his teeth? Puffer's natural diet consists of crustaceans that are crunchy. I would bet his main staple is the easiest to feed: krill. Even the other foods you are feeding him should be soaked in a good quality vitamin like Selcon. Here is a good list of puffer foods: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ > He is housed in a 180 gallon aquarium. pH 7.8, ammonia .25, nitrite 0, nitrate 10. The lionfish he is housed with seems to be doing fine. Should I try feeding some live food, maybe ghost shrimp or live brine? <Neither have much nutrition, as they are mostly water unless gut-loaded with some kind of food. ANY ammonia at all is a problem & extremely toxic to your fish. You need to find the cause of ammonia. There should be none in an established tank. Whether it be uneaten food or an expired, smaller fish, you need to do a thorough cleaning under & around all decor with several water changes, to remedy the problem.> Also, what kind of snails would he eat? He is paler than normal and also is breathing a little harder than normal. <This could be because of the malnutrition from his present diet. My other concern would be if he got stung by your lionfish.> Would it be beneficial to move him to a quarantine tank? I have a 100 gallon that is cycled with nothing in it. <It might be a good idea to separate him from the lion & the ammonia.> Also, I have treated the tank with garlic, this seemed ineffective. <Try soaking the other kinds of foods listed in the link above in the garlic (and vitamins) to entice his eagerness to try something new.> Please help, I would be devastated if I were to loose him. I am going to get some salt and do a water change to try and bring down the ammonia and nitrate and bring up the pH. Could this be the problem? If it was, wouldn't the lionfish be affected too? <Maybe, I would think they would be as sensitive to ammonia problems as a puffer, which is why I have a concern for the puffer possibly having gotten stung. I hope he comes out of this a healthy, long-lived puffer! ~PP> Thanks Re: Ill/Malnourished Porcupine Puffer  11/13/07 <Hi there, I was hoping you might have noticed my corrections of your first letter. As written in a page on how to contact the WWM Crew: "PLEASE take the time to go over your messages to us...Common courtesy, a desire to serve as proper examples... should compel you to capitalize the beginnings of sentences, proper nouns, run your spell-checker... re-read your posts for clarity, completeness. Of the hours per day spent responding to, "moving around" "FAQs" this activity takes up the most time and is most onerous. Do help us help you here by reviewing, correcting your input as all content is answered, then posted on this website and read over MANY times by others." You sound like a nice person but his is the last one I will correct. The first letter took me almost 10 minutes.> Should I be feeding him every other day still or should I try feeding him every day to get the vitamins in him faster? <I suggest daily, until you see improvement.> I did 2 25% water changes over the last 2 days and seemed to help with the ammonia and nitrate. <That's great! Keep them up & do larger water changes if necessary, to keep the ammonia & nitrite at 0 & nitrate below 20 (below 10 is even better).> I have been doing 50% monthly water changes would I be better off doing smaller weekly water changes or even daily water changes? <Without a sump & refugium to keep your parameters steadier & lower, you need to do whatever water changes necessary to keep them from becoming toxic. I did 50% weeklies on my tank, until I added these extras to my system.> I tried to feed him some ghost shrimp that were soaked in vitamins but he totally ignored it but ate the krill. Also he is somewhat eating clams and squid. <Wonderful!> He seems to be getting skinny. How long will he be able to survive with these eating habits? He's been like this for about 5 days now. <Puffers can go quite some time without eating but it sounds like it's been a long time since this puffer has gotten proper nutrition. Keep trying to get him to eat healthy & soak his food in garlic in addition to the vitamin, to boost his appetite.> Also, his teeth look good to me but I really don't know what to look for but they seem fairly short. I appreciate any help. <Generally, the Diodon holacanthus species rarely have dentistry problems but I was concerned because of his previous diet. It doesn't seem to be a concern though. So keep up with the water changes & better diet & I think he'll pull through. ~PP>

Sick Porcupine Puffer??   12/9/07 I have had my Porcupine Puffer for about 8 months now and has been doing great up until 3 days ago he has become very inactive and seems to be breathing harder than normal and pale in color. He is still eating Krill and Mysis shrimp. <If this is all he is eating, it may well be the source of his apparent problem. Feeding a puffer only Krill and Mysis for a long time will assuredly result in deficiency diseases'¦ imagine exclusively eating rice crackers for half a year. Puffers should be fed a varied diet of mussels, clams, snails, shrimps, crabs etc. ('¦and squid from time to time). Also add vitamins to provide some nutrients that might have been lost during freezing/thawing. Anyway, it is a good sign he is still eating. > I have him housed in a 180 gallon tank with a 90 gallon sump. <Good system size for Diodon holocanthus.> Also, he is housed with a 8 inch lionfish and a 18 inch moray eel both of which seem to be fine. Should I be worried or is he just going threw <through?> a stage? <The elevated breathing and colour change would make me worried. Possibly his immune system is down and infections may gain a foothold now.> Water quality checks out to be good. <Numbers? Check the nitrates. If they are 20 or higher bring them down with adequate water changes.> I know my lionfish will sometimes go a week every now and then with out eating when he is "shedding" <'¦ to remove any hitchhikers'¦ sometimes triggered by a decline in water quality or by parasites'¦ check both if the 'shedding' occurs often.> Do puffers go through a stage when they are inactive like this? <No, this sounds more like a nutritional problem as described above.> There is about 75 pounds of rock in the tank. Any help would be appreciated. <Change the diet, add vitamins, check the nitrates and maybe your puffer will get well again. I wish you luck! Marco.>

Diodontid not feeding still, and owner not reading still   11/16/07 Hello Crew, <Jesse> I have a porcupine puffer who has not eaten in almost 3 weeks. I contacted you last week for help, but unfortunately, nothing has worked. My system is at 77-78 F, gravity 1.022, <I'd raise this to NSW strength> Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, <High...> and PH 8.3. I have been doing weekly water changes of 20% give or take. All my other fish eat great including a baby cat shark. <... incompatible... and a huge source of waste> They are is in a 250g tank currently with about 150 lbs of live rock and 250lbs of live sand.. I have tried squid octopus and prawns all with garlic and Vita Chem. supplements. I also put him into a 10-gallon tank for about 4 hours and tried to feed him ghost shrimp, clams and guppies to no avail. I added an appetite enhancement to the quarantine tank that was recommended by my LFS, <Good idea> but it did not work either. I do not look foreword to the idea of force-feeding him. I have had him for about 6 months and he has always eaten well, but now seems completely uninterested and almost afraid of any food that is offered to him. <Maybe the presence of the shark, or low SPG and/or NO3 concentration> Is there anything left I can do or is it out of my hands? Thank you for all of your help. Jesse <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm scroll down to the bottom, the orange tray on Puffers... Feeding... Systems... I'd be patient here, improve your water quality. Bob Fenner>

Very very sick porcupine puffer, needing to read re sys., fdg....    8/30/07 I have a 90 gallon salt water tank. <Too small...> My porcupine puffer ate alot <No such word> of krill <Insufficient diet> for about 8 months and was always in great shape. Over the last 6 weeks when he tries to eat he kind of spits the shrimp back out with alot of air bubbles and would try a few more times and give up. I started breaking it up in smaller pieces and once in a while would eat a little. He always wanted it but had trouble. Until today he was still swimming around the top of the tank. Tonight he is on the bottom, kind of curled up and breathing heavy. He also seems very pale with white undertones. I am afraid he wont make it through the night. what can I do? Thanks Dean <Read. Here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Puffer not eating, bunk env.    7/30/07 Thanks for a great web site. I've read all I could find on your site, and I've done my google searches, which mostly refer me right back to you. I've checked with our local aquarium experts, but I can't seem to solve my puffer problem. I don't want Fang to die, but I fear it is too late. Hopefully you have some ideas. He's a spiny puffer that we've had for about 5 years. He's living alone in a 55 gallon tank (I know, too small, I'm looking for larger). <Good> He was eating great until the day I got back from vacation about 2 weeks ago. The people feeding him said he ate well while I was gone. I arrived home to find him breathing rapidly, not eating, and he seemed to have a sunken area where his neck would be, as though he'd been wearing a collar that was tight and it left an indentation. I checked his water: temp 79, nitrite 0, ammonia 0, nitrate over 100, <A very real problem> pH 7.8. <And to a lesser extent...> I did water changes until the nitrate got down to 30 <Still too high> and the pH was 8.3. My local experts say that the nitrates won't get lower with our local tap water. <Need to find, make filtered then> I make my own water using tap with Instant Ocean and a commercial tap treatment to remove chlorine/chloramines. Fang's skin looks normal and I haven't introduced anything new to the tank, so I didn't think it was ick or marine velvet. Still, your answers to people with similar problems suggested velvet may be hard to notice and is rapidly fatal, so I tried a freshwater dip when he wasn't responding to the normal chemistry in the tank. He's hasn't been breathing as rapidly, but he's not getting better. Just sits at the bottom mostly and won't eat even if I put krill right in front of his mouth. Now his eyes are looking sunken in too. Your ideas would be greatly appreciated, as I fear he is not long for this world. Thanks in advance. David <Need the larger system, lower NO3... possibly to try force-feeding... Bob Fenner>

Bloated Puffer 7/5/07 Hi Guys, <Hi Chris, Pufferpunk here (I'm a gal).> I have been reading WWM for a few years now and found a ton of advice on this "obsession" of mine, but have never written, until now. <Aren't we all obsessed after a few years?> I have a 180 gallon FOWLR that includes a Blue Face Angel, Emperor Angel, Naso Tang, Hippo Tang, Porcupine Puffer and a Niger Trigger. All of the fish are at least 5" or bigger (in the case of the Angels). They have been happy in the tank for over 18 months and have not had any issues other than eat $1500 of my coral (hence the FOWLR he he). <Too bad...> My fish are literally pigs and will eat anything you put in the tank with them but the puffer will only eat frozen krill. <Really bad diet for a puffer. I have seen way too many incidents of puffers fed a main diet of krill, developing lockjaw & eventually starving to death. See here for better diet & methods of getting it to eat other foods: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/category/feeding/ > He has done this for the 3 years that I have had him and I feed him 1 time every other day or third day (basically feed him till he can't eat). <Letting a puffer gorge itself isn't good for him either. It results in a lot of non-digested food, causing a liver problems (fatty liver) & a polluted environment. Feed until a slightly rounded tummy.> He has been very normal till a day or two ago when I noticed that he was trying to poop and the Hippo tang was trying to eat the waste before it even came out (since it is pure krill). <Exactly> But at the same time, it wasn't allowing Puff to get out all his excess. He was picking so bad that when Puff tried to squeeze some out...the tang was attacking his "hole" and really aggravating the fish. <Poor puffer!> So I have been watching him and his belly is getting larger and hasn't eaten in 2 days. I am afraid that he is scared to poop now and will hold in the waste till it literally kills him. <It is possible but also it may just be constipated.> Have you seen or heard this before? Is there anything that I can do to help? <You could try to feed it vegetable matter, like peas or algae wafers (puffers usually won't eat these but some have). Otherwise, add Epsom salt, 1tbsp/5g. It would be best to quarantine the fish. This is one of the many reasons, it is suggested to keep a puffer in a tank by itself or with less aggressive tankmates it can't catch. ~PP> Sincerely, Chris

Spiny Box Puffer - won't eat, improper crowded mix...    6/16/07 Hello, <Hi there Erin> I purchased 2 days ago a Spiny Box Puffer to add to my 55gallon salt <Mmm, what species? This fish needs much larger quarters...> water aquarium that includes 2 clown fish, 1 tang fish, <Mmm, again, what species? Take a look on fishbase.org re the maximum size of these species> blenny and trigger fish. <... you don't have enough room for this fish, these fishes...> I have tried to feed him feeder guppies, frozen prawn and brine shrimp but he refuses to eat. <Not atypical... it's obvious you haven't read...> We have placed the food in the tank and in his face but as far as we can tell, he hasn't eaten at all. What he refuses to eat the trigger fish will eat so I don't believe he has eaten anything. Is there a particular time and way I should feed him to make sure he is actually eating? I'm worried, I don't want this beautiful fish to die from starvation. Thanks Erin <In addition to the assigned questions, reading, please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Problems Feeding My Lionfish (Puffer/Lionfish Incompatibility) -- 05/08/07 Dear Bob, <<Hello Jason...Eric here this A.M.>> I recently acquires a Lionfish and a Porcupine Puffer. <<Neat fishes...though not really compatible>> My problem comes in at feeding time. <<Indeed>> The Puffer eats everything I put into the tank so the Lionfish doesn't have a chance to eat. <<Just one of several reasons these two species do not do well together in typical home displays>> Any suggestions as to how I can distract the Puffer from taking everything away from the Lionfish?  At one point the Lionfish was ready to suck in a prawn  and the Puffer practically took it out of the Lionfish mouth.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. Best regards, Jason <<Obviously, the best solution is to have these fishes in separate systems.  Failing that, you can try fabricating/inserting some type of divider (a piece of acrylic sheet) at feeding times to 'corral' the Puffer away from the Lionfish to give the latter time enough to feed.  Do also keep an eye on these two, especially for signs of fin damage on the Lionfish as sooner or later the Puffer will likely begin to chew on its tankmate..  Regards, EricR>>

Porcupine Puffer only eats live feeder fish  -- 04/16/07 Hello crew! I want to thank you all for having this site it has been very helpful to me as a new aquarist! <<Gladly.>> My question is I recently purchased a small porcupine puffer. He/she is about 2 inches. I started feeding him frozen krill, clams, squid and shrimp and he never ate any of it. He would just watch it fall to the bottom. I tried using a thread and dragging the pieces around the tank to appear live and he would just watch me make a fool out of myself! My husband got some feeder fish (minnows) which I know aren't good for puffer but he seems to know if the food is live or not no matter how we try to tempt him. He went for the feeder fish immediately and ate it quickly. Can you please help me with any suggestions on how to get him to eat frozen krill or squid or anything else that is not live? <<Try live gut-loaded ghost or grass shrimp, live worms and live crickets (quarantined for a few weeks fist).  Begin offering non-live foods with the live.  Fish are not a suitable diet, so if he'll only eat live, at least make it nutritious/more appropriate offering.>> Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance for your support! You guys are great! I have the porcupine in a 75 gallon tank alone with live rock. The water quality is perfect  nitrites, 0 nitrates, 0 ammonia, temp 76. I believe at the fish store they were feeding him feeder fish but there is no way for me to know for sure. <<What are your plans for upgrading the tank? How was the tank cycled? Your puffer needs a tank twice that size to live permanently.>> Thanks again! <<Glad to help. Lisa Brown.>>

Diodon holocanthus puffer not eating  3/5/07 Hello, <<Hi Katja.>> I have a puffer - Diodon holocanthus - who stopped eating almost a month ago. She went on a few hunger strikes before, but always started eating after one week tops. Before she stopped eating this time, she had an incredible appetite. Now I try to get her to eat by offering her favourite food, but she shows absolutely no interest in it. <<What kind of foods have you been offering?>> I do my best to keep the water ok (nitrates < 20, nitrites and ammonia = 0). <<What is your water change schedule like?>> There are no physical signs that could lead me to think she is sick, apart from an abrasion in the corner of her mouth, which she has for some time now (I think she got it when cracking mussels) and seems to have deepened a bit. <<With pristine water quality, this should heal on its own.  Certainly keep an eye on it.>> She has also stopped swimming; not altogether, but she circles around the tank just a few times and then rests on the bottom in her usual corner, whereas when healthy she would swim around the entire night. As far as I can tell, she is not breathing heavily. The tank is 200 gallons and the other fish (cleaner, clown and bicolor blenny) are all fine. I don't know what I can do to help her get better (I am not too keen on force-feeding). Any advice would be very welcome. <<Is there any bullying going on?  You could try rearranging the tank, a garlic additive, or a live food, such as ghost or grass shrimp to stimulate her to eat (always quarantined to prevent pathogen introduction).  Force-feeding is scary, but I would be glad to walk you through it if she does not come around.  Lisa.>> Regards, Katja

Mmm... Porcupine Puffer fdg., Keeping a Batoid  2/18/07 Hello Gentlemen (and Ladies), <Heeee! Oh, you're not joking... Okay>   I have 10 years as a paid aquarist and have volunteered at several public aquariums across the country.  I would like to think that I have a pretty good amount of experience with marine fish and invertebrates, but I do have a few quick questions that I was hoping you could answer for me. <Will try>    I have a 3 inch porcupine puffer (Diodon holocanthus) in my large fish only tank with live rock.  I have had him for about 3 weeks and thus far I have not been able to get him to accept frozen or freeze dried foods. <Mmm, does happen... as you're likely aware... Puffers of all sorts, sizes... go on feeding strikes often when moved... sometimes for no apparent "reason"> I have fed him live feeder guppies once per week, and he has managed to catch and eat a few.  He is too slow to catch more than one or two per feeding, and my Humu Humu trigger will no doubt eat any live Ghost shrimp or clams that I offer before the puffer can make his move.   <The presence of this trigger may be a large part of the reason for not feeding here...> Any thoughts as to what I can do to get him to begin accepting thawed frozen food or freeze dried krill/plankton?   <An open shellfish... and either removal of the Balistid, or moving the puffer to better psychological setting>   My second question involves aquarium stingrays.  I am setting up a saltwater system for a friend, and he wants to keep a stingray.  I have informed him that they are by no means easy to keep, but he wants one nonetheless.  I am installing a deep, sugar-fine sand bed and minimal rockwork, to maximize space.  The tank is 240 gallons with a sizeable footprint.  There won't be any triggers or puffers in the tank, and the ray would be the last animal added.  Other than adding a few live crustaceans to the sand bed to aid in feeding (and thereby acclimation) is there anything else we can do to increase our chances of success? <Mmm... be careful when picking out species, a specimen...> We are looking at both the Blue Spotted Ray and the California Spotted Ray.   <Both exceedingly poor choices historically... The California will/would require a chiller... keeping only other cool-water species...>   Thank you for your time.  I very much enjoyed reading my copy of "Reef Invertebrates", and I love the work that you guys do. Best regards, Danny Riskam <Do have your friend look over a copy of Scott Michael's "Aquarium Sharks and Rays". Bob Fenner> Help!!! Porcupine puffer sick... Actually being killed by misfeeding   11/25/06 About a week ago our puffer ate about 10 Rosie minnows and goldfish, <... not smart> since then he will not eat anything. <...> He just sits at the bottom of the tank and looks like his breathing is a bit labored.  He is also bumping into the glass when he does get up.  We have been putting Ampicillin in the water for about 6 days. <... what for?>   He looks pale but his spots are darker then normal and he has one large discolored spot about the size of a quarter on his stomach.  We have tried different food but he has no interest in anything.  He is in a 90 gal. tank and we have had him about 4 years with no issues.  Please help! <You need... to read... understand what you're up to here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine puffer? Feeding, comp., sys.  11/12/06 I have a 75 gallon wet/dry w/sump have 3 damsels 2 purple tip anemones and 1 coral rock that comes to look like flowers moving then goes back into the rock  I have 45-50 lbs. of live rock in the tank also, I want to put a Porcupine puffer in there about 2-3 inches long, everyone tells me the porcupine puffer will kill my coral and 2 anemones, is this true? <Is a possibility, yes> I asked before I purchased them if I could put that with a porcupine puffer before I bought them and still now they tell me I can, can I ? also a pet store will not! sell me the porcupine puffer fish  they have had for 1 week now, they tell me they don't know if it ate or not, then they put live shrimp in there, the puffer looks at it , but he won't eat it, then he goes up and down  the side of the tank? is there a reason for the up and down up and down the tank? is it sick? or maybe wants a different food? <Might be reacting to its reflection... see WWM re Diodontids and marine puffer feeding...> my water is osmosis, the nitrates and ph and everything is good, but I want to add the porcupine without it having any problems. thanks, ICE <Will outgrow this size system as well... If it were me/mine, I'd look to other species. Bob Fenner> Puffer fish question. Fdg. Diodontids, using WWM   - 11/02/06 I just found your web site, and to be honest, I'm overwhelmed. The problem is not insufficient information, but rather too much information, and much of it not very well organized. <Mmm, other than complaints, do you have specific suggestions for how to improve this information's arrangement, searchability?>   Your "FAQs" are actually huge collections of emails, such as this one, often with verbal (but not linked) references to other information, information I am unable to find.  There are so many references to being unwilling to eat that searching for them is not helpful.  As much as I like and respect what you've done, I'm also frustrated and overwhelmed.  I wish I could have gleaned an answer to the following question from your site, but I was unable to do so.  That is, I wish I did not have to waste your time. That said, to the point. About six weeks ago, a large (fist sized) porcupine puffer appeared at my LFS, a gift from a customer who could no longer deal with it.  He was a active fish,  scampering about, begging, eating. At the time, I could not provide a home for him, even though I was asked to (I've been in this hobby for almost a decade, have a 180 gallon reef tank, a 75 gallon mantis shrimp tank, and have had numerous cephalopods (octopuses, cuttle fish).  I'm considered to be experienced, but it's all relative.) A few weeks later, I set up a 125 gallon tank, expecting to put three octopuses in it. <... not a good idea to mix...>   A few weeks after that, I noticed the puffer was still at the LFS.  He had been sold to someone, who had returned him within the day, because he "ate all of the fish" (even after being warned that he would do so). I wondered if he would be appropriate for my new 125. <... not with Cephalopods, no> A week or so later, he had stopped eating, and the LFS put him in the sump of their coral system, fearing that he had been subjected to bad water quality in the fish system.  He had been there for a few days when I walked in, and offered to take him.  They figured he was about to die.  I was trying to help. He's been in my 125 tank for almost a week.  The tank has only been up for about a month, but it was built out of live rock and live sand, and the water quality checks out OK both according to my tests and to those done by the LFS. He has shown no interest in food at all, even thought I've offered him fresh frozen/thawed shrimp and scallops, and defrosted krill.  I tried some Cyclop-eeze, hoping it would help his appetite, but no joy. I put six small damsel fish in the tank, hoping they would tempt him, but nothing (they are leaving him alone).  I have100 common shore shrimp on order, due in by the end of the week. There are no obvious signs of disease: no spots on his fins or skin, his eyes are clear.  He spends most of his time on the bottom, or wedged under rocks. He sometimes gets up and wanders around the tank, at which point he behaves almost normally (no problems swimming, no tilting to the side), albeit with less gusto than a month ago. Attempts to push food towards his mouth result in his avoiding the food, politely but firmly.  I have not tried to force feed him (a bit afraid of that procedure, to be honest).  When he's "resting", he often is so still as to make me check his gills to verify that he is not dead. I read about puffers refusing to eat many times on your web site, but never could find a detailed discussion about exactly what to try to do.   <Mainly patience... can/do go w/o feeding for a few months at times... for no "obvious/apparent reason/s"... and possibly force-feeding after a long wait...> He is not chasing food and then being unable to eat it, so I doubt that it is a tooth problem (although his mouth is always slightly open).  I would describe him as depressed. He has been through a lot: kicked out of his long-time home, then in the fish store, then in another tank, then the fish store, then here.   Perhaps he is bewildered.  Perhaps he picked up some bug in the other tank.  I'm concerned and feeling helpless. Any thoughts?   I'd love to read a [reasonably] short web page devoted solely to dealing with this kind (non-dental) of eating problem. Thanks! <Please consider writing, submitting this. At this juncture, I'd wait on the shrimp and not worry. Diodontids can and do go on quite long hunger strikes... particularly after having eaten a great deal. Bob Fenner> Jon

Re: puffer fish question...s   11/5/06 Bob: <Jon> Thanks for your helpful response. <Welcome> Yes, I was critical without being constructive, and I don't like that when others do it to me, so... <Ahh!> I would advocate that you have a few brief pages with bold headings such as 1) My puffer is listless, depressed, sleeping on the bottom, uninterested in food 2) My puffer chases after food but never actually eats it 3) My puffer eats food but then spits it out intact 4) My puffer has white spots on his fins 5) My puffer's eyes were clear, but now they are dull 6) My puffer never puffed up before, but now he's doing it every day <Great headings, idea> or some such.  Then, for each specific and distinct situation (not just "will not eat", but more specific than that), I would link to a summary of the wisdom that you have accumulated over the years, trying to be very specific.  After the summary, I would provide a series of links to the various emails that you now have in the FAQs, so that people can read case histories to their heart's content. <I do think this topic/theme would make for a very nice "article" for sale to print and e-zines... particularly if one had good graphics to go with... Are you interested, available, capable of generating such? I'm out a couple of years plus in writing projects...> You said "possibly force feeding after a long wait", but I have no idea what you might mean by "long". <A month or more> This was a problem I had initially with your site: the tooth grinding and force feeding procedures were mentioned in passing, but I was never able to find a single authoritative place where the antecedents to the procedures were defined, <Ahh! The articles (one on small... mainly brackish puffers, the other more general, mostly marine, were generated and posted post this time period...> and the procedures were described in detail.  For example, are there any puffer behaviors or symptoms which would say to me "you need to force feed it very soon"?  Are there any photos of puffers with the tooth problem? <Oh yes... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i1/puffer_dentistry/puffer2.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm Am wondering to beginning to worry re whether WWM has an insufficient instruction guide/set... perhaps a requisite tool path for folks to search and find what is posted and not...> You say "please consider writing/submitting this".  I thought I had.   <Mmm, actually... to be more specific, the suggestion was for you to do so> Again, there are many passing references about "thanks for being there" in the FAQs, but no indication of where "there" was. I had no idea how to actually contact you, from the FAQs. <This be the place... only have another (Hotmail) account/addy...> And I continue to have no idea what you mean by "submitting". <Oh, sorry re... After production, sending to us/WWM and the print zines... for consideration for pay/use. I'll gladly help you make these submissions>   I actually don't know what "this" is, either.  My problem situation?  I thought I had described it.  Is there something missing?  I'm confused. <Mmm, me too here... I think I was referring to the situation, the possibility/potential for expanding the inquiry into a series of declarative statements... an informative article... by yourself> On to your other comments.  I would never mix a puffer and an octopus, for both of their sakes.   <Ah, good... wasn't clear, but I wanted to make so> And I have kept 3 bimacs in a 75 gallon tank without any problems, so long as I keep them well fed, and so long as there are plenty of places for them to hide.  Given that one octopus costs $50, and the shipping is $50, I find it easier to buy three, just in case one dies because of shipping stress.  I actually had three fist sized cuttle fish in the same 75 gallon tank, which was not at all a good idea.  Hence the 125. Thanks for your help: the amount of information on your web site is astonishing.  I will recommend it to all of my friends who are in the hobby. Jon <Thank you my friend... and in passing, do you have time/desire to join us in responding to queries? Bob Fenner>

Feeding Your Puffer  10/11/06 Hi all, <Hi Bruce, Pufferpunk here> I have a question regarding my porc. puffer. He resides in a 130g. tank with 4 yellow tail damsels, 3 Mono's, 1 raccoon butterfly and a Foxface Rabbitfish. <I think you're going to need a bigger tank!  Those monos grow to a foot long, as does the puffer & Foxface.> Tank is about 3 years old and occupants first resided in a 55 before upgrade.  First question, when I attempt to feed my puffer, the Monos and  butterfly are so aggressive over food that they take the food right out of  the puffers mouth when he is trying to eat it. I have tried feeding the other fish first but this has not helped. The Monos are lightning fast and such pigs.  I have even tried feeding at night when the lights are out to no avail. I  am worried that the puffer will eventually become so frustrated that he may stop  eating. <That very may well happen.> The butterfly is the real bully of the tank.  I am  also  worried about the other fish being bitten by the puffer. I had lost a damsel  this way many months ago, so any suggestions are appreciated. <Your only solution is to house the puffer separately in at least a 100g tank.> Also, I would like to know if I can feed the  puffer freshwater snails?  I have a FW guppy tank with many small common cone shaped snails. Could I feed these to the puffer or would it be a waste?  Would he even see them?  Would they not be a proper food coming from FW?   <Not a natural diet for a SW puffer.  Oysters, clams, squid, scallops, shrimp & crab legs, in addition to live crabs & shrimp, are what I'd feed your puffer.> He is  about 7" long and his main diet is one shell on X-tra large pink or tiger shrimp every 2-3 days. Supplemented by 1 slice of zucchini once a week, when in season and pieces of squid, octopus, mussel and shell off shrimp (it shows up  here about once every 6 months as a mix in a bag. All my fish love this stuff).  I have tried lobster and crab legs. I don't feed them often because he can not  get through the shells even when I crack prior to feeding. Plus he doesn't seem  to like it anyways and spits it back out degrading the water. <Yes, puffers are extremely messy eaters!  Mine not only spits food out of his mouth but also out of his gills.  That's just the way they eat.>   He also gets  frozen krill every now and again. My main question is...is this enough diversity  to keep his teeth from being overgrown and is this nutritious enough? <He must get crunchy foods to eat or you will eventually be performing dentistry on him, for overgrown teeth.  Never mind his fouling the water-- a good skimmer, large tank & weekly water changes are in order for these messy fish>.   I have tried ghost shrimp but they are too fast for him and scurry under  the rocks out of his reach where I assume they die only to degrade my water. I  am apposed to buying SW snails and crabs as they are commonly $5 a piece here, so King Crab and Lobster unbelievably are better buys. Could I feed a frozen silver side every now and again? <I don't recommend feeding your fish frozen foods, without thawing.> Have you ever heard of anyone adding zebra mussels to their tank?   <He might eat them.> I know I have a lot of questions for you to answer, but our puffer is our aqua dog and I wouldn't want anything to happen to him on our account.   <A good article on feeding your puffer: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html  ~PP> Bruce N.

Puffer Question  9/25/06 Hi - You have been a great help before...  I recently purchased a spiny puffer fish for my 75 gallon aquarium. <Will need much more room...> He's been in for about 2 days and hides in the very top corner of the aquarium while the lights are on... <Not atypical... take a while... days, weeks to settle in> I've not seen any of the other fish bother him (just a couple of tangs and damsels).   <Can be harassing...> More disturbing is he does not seem to be eating.   <Also to be expected...> I purchased a dozen snails to give him something to munch if he didn't want frozen mussels...  After I turn the lights out, he swims around normally and seems to be checking out the snails and hermits, but I have not seen him eat, nor do I see any evidence of him eating.  Is this normal?  I'm worried that he won't eat and will not make it.  I had another one from the same store that did that... pH is 8.2, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite are all 0, sg is 1.022, temp is 79. Any suggestions???  Thanks! <Yes... to read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm and the linked files above. BobF>

Puffer not swallowing food   9/4/06 Hi Bob, <Justin with you today> I recently purchased a spiny box puffer and I'm having some trouble feeding him.  He is interested in the food and will take it into his mouth, but then he just kind of chomps on it for a minute and spits most or all of it out. I know that puffers are supposed to be messy eaters, but I'd expect him to actually swallow at least some of it. <this is common for puffers who don't realize its a food item, and or do not like the taste.> So far I've been feeding him frozen silversides and krill with Vita-Chem.  I've tried feeding him very small chunks and that doesn't really seem to make much of a difference.  He is currently in the QT with a case of ich, being treated with a half-dose of formalin and malachite green, if that makes any difference.  I've read through your site and found a few similar cases, and all I've been able to gather is that he might have some kind of blockage.  However, I saw him eating a guppy at the LFS when I bought him and he seemed to be able to swallow that.  Any ideas?  Thanks. <EWWWW a guppy?  That's not a proper meal at all.  Try going to your grocery store and buying uncooked shrimp, clams, mussels etc, and feeding it those.  If it still will not eat (Does happen when you are medicating it they tend to lose appetite), try using garlic juice on the food and waiting for a week on the feeding.  let it get good and hungry, and it'll quickly realize that its food.> <Justin>

Porcupine Puffer Problems, fdg., sys.  - 08/15/06 Hi Guys,        For the last year and a half we have had this great porcupine puffer in our FO+LR system. He is the only fish in this system because he doesn't play well with others. I know the system is too small (40 gallons and he is 4" beak to tail) but we plan to get him a larger home soon. The problem is that for the last few months his eating habits have decreased. <Happens> We normally feed him a small dried shrimp both morning and late afternoon. I know he's eaten most of the hermits in his home but it hasn't stopped him from eating his normal meal in the past. For the last few weeks he hasn't eaten a single thing I've supplied. His color is very pale and he swims with a "hunched" back. The system has great water parameters except for the temp. Since summer hit, it reaches up to 82 degrees. Can this be the problem? <Not likely... maybe too-long teeth... > The aquarium is loaded with tons of copepods and tiny shrimp along with a lot of little feather dusters on the live rock and sand. Lately he just hibernates in a cave in the rock. I was told once that the only really stupid question is the one everybody laughs at most, but I'll risk it here.......can he be surviving off of the small live shrimp? <Maybe... though puffers can go for very long times w/o food in some cases> Some are longer than a quarter inch. If a larger tank will make him better, should I give him to a LFS? Thanks for all the advice. You guys should get paid!      Charlie, Jen and Devon ( and Jeffrey the puffer ) <You should read, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Veggies for porcupine puffer - 5/19/2006 Hello all, <<Hi Sean.>> Having recently purchased a porcupine puffer (and many hours of reading up) I have not found any info on which easily found veggies I could feed him. I have just ordered some dried seaweed as it's full a vitamins. <<OK.>> He loves prawns, cockles, runner beans and sweet corn and I am wondering if these are ok for him in the long run as obviously runner beans and sweet corn are hard come by in the ocean! <<I would not feed him terrestrial vegetables.>> Should I stick to green veggies? <<I would keep to vegetable matter of marine origin as much as possible.  Be sure to vary his crunchy, meaty diet.>> Or count my blessings that he loves these so much? <<I would use them as occasional treats.  Check out this article: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html.>> Thanks in advance Sean p.s. he also loves fat bloodworms are these ok for a rare treat? <<Yes they are.  Glad to help. Lisa.>> -Porc in dire straits?-  - 02/27/06 Hi!  My name is Kim <Hello, Kim, you have the porc guy, Justin with you tonight.> and I have porcupine puffer named Squirt that I've had since October.  He is currently in a 55 gallon tank (I know he will need a much larger tank) <Probably needs a bigger tank now.  A 120 or bigger is needed so it can continue to grow>   The water levels in the tank are fine and there is no ammonia. <Please if you can, give us test reading numbers of your tank, some kits do not give that, but we need your salinity and tank temp as well to remove certain variables.> The problem is that Squirt will no longer eat.  It's been over 2 weeks now and he has a lump on his back, more on his  left side than in the middle.   I know puffers go on hunger strikes, he's done that before.  He won't eat anything.  Krill (his absolute favorite thing in the world), snails, crabs, squid have been tried. <Does he open his mouth and try to swallow or not?  If he doesn't seem to open his mouth, he probably has lockjaw, an iodine deficiency.  Add iodine to the water in a liquid supplement form, and over time he should start eating.  The lump is due to the tank size, when porcs cannot turn right they hunch over and can fit better.  Usually it's to get around rocks in the reef, but in tanks, it's usually a sign of being too cramped and needing a bigger tank.> I'm getting very concerned and the guys at the store I bought him at have no advice.  Is there anything I should do?  I don't know what to do about the lump or what it could be.  I'm really stumped.  I'm very attached to this little guy and want to do whatever I can.  He is the only fish in the tank.  Anything you can advise is most appreciated.  Thanks. Kim <Just get him a bigger home, and add that iodine supplement and he should be fine.  Krill really isn't very nutritious and I don't recommend feeding him that if at all possible, try other shrimps like Mysis or other mixed meat foods for predators.> <Justin (Jager)>

Painfully Thin Porcupine Puffer - 2/17/2006 I have a porcupine puffer that is always happy, however in the last few days, I have noticed a raw spot on the back of his neck and on his back fin.  He was in the tank with some seahorses, a cow fish, some peppermint shrimp and a very small emerald crab. <<What size tank is he in?  Seahorses are not suitable tank mates for this fish, at all.  They grow to 18" and need at least a 125 gallon tank.>> Also a coral beauty.  The two fish are small, and I have just noticed this problem since the cowfish was introduced into the tank. <<Did you quarantine the cow first?  Perhaps he is picking on your puffer, have you seen any aggression?>> I have moved the puffer to another docile tank.  He is eating, but doesn't seem to be able to use the back half of himself to swim, almost as if he is paralyzed.  Below are two pictures. Any info on this problem? <<Your puffer is painfully thin.  What are you feeding him? What size tank is he in now?  Are the tanks cycled? What are the readings for SG, Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate?  What's your water change schedule? Sorry so many questions, I just need a lot more info to help you save this poor guy.  Please respond ASAP, so I can help you set a course of action.  Lisa.>>

Re: Painfully Thin Porcupine Puffer - 2/20/2006 The puffer died last night. <<VERY sorry to hear this, poor thing.  Please do not add another puffer to this tank. You will want to get a larger tank for your cowfish.  Best of luck.  Lisa.>>

Re: Painfully Thin Porcupine Puffer - 2/20/2006 Why should I not add another puffer to the tank?  Because of the cowfish?  If so, I can move the cowfish to another tank. <<The cow needs a bigger tank anyway.>> The puffer seemed to enjoy life with the seahorses. <<I promise you this isn't true the other way around.  Please rethink.  Also, check out www.thepufferforum.com, it's the best puffer site around!  Lisa.>> Porc Puffer not eating, lack of info...  1/13/06 We need your help. <<I will try>>  My son has a saltwater fish tank in his house <<What size?>>...has had it for several years...all fish are healthy.<<A list of inhabitants would be helpful>>   Except--his porcupine puffer fish has suddenly stopped eating.   It comes to the top of the tank, all excited, wanting to eat and then just seems to "jab" at the food.   It has always had a good appetite.    He has been eating krill.   It's so heartbreaking.    At times it seems to head to the bottom corner of the tank and gasp a little.     Anything we can do? <<What are the readings for Ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes and pH in this tank? Your son's puffer, Diodon Holocanthus, can grow to 19" and will need a tank of at least 125 gallons at maturity.  Does he show signs of trying to open his mouth and is not able to?  An all krill diet has been linked to 'lock jaw'.  Essentially, your puffer needs a more varied diet, and probably larger quarters.  Often, an iodine supplement will ease the lock jaw enough to facilitate better feeding.  Please do get back to us regarding the questions above. Lisa>> Thank you!

Re: Puffer Help! 1/13/2006 Lisa, I can't thank you enough for responding to my email. <<You are quite welcome, thank you for caring enough to write.>> Just got home and found it and have called my son.    Here's more info: The puffer is about 5 inches...still small.<<How old is it?  I hope this is not indicative of stunting.>>   The tank is 55 gallons.  He always checks the water and the nitrates are the only thing that's ever "off".   It runs high and then he has to half change the water.<<Better to stay on top of this, correct the causes.>>  In the tank is an 18" eel (that may be causing the high nitrates?)<<A contributing factor, yes>>, a yellow tang, a Koran angel fish and 4 small damsels.<<This tank is far over-stocked.  The Diodon has no place in this tank.>>  All the fish are fairly small.   He said the puffer only wants krill, so that HAS been its main diet.  It won't eat the little ocean minnows or anything else.<<Do try market prawns, crab legs, anything but fish from the fish section in your supermarket. Selcon is a great HUFA supplement as well.>> Maybe it's the all-krill diet that has affected it.  You mentioned an iodine supplement.   How do you give it and how much?<<It is best to follow the directions on the bottle for this.>>   Does the puffer need to be in a hospital tank?<<For most treatments I would say yes, but in this instance, for iodine, I would say it is ok to treat the system here.  Unless your hospital tank is larger than the main tank.>>   It hasn't eaten for almost two weeks....still acts like it feels ok, but after a couple hours it goes to the bottom and kind of gasps.<<Doesn't sound like it feels ok to me.>>  Must be getting weak.   Can we save it?<<With quick action and a move to larger quarters, I would say your chances are good.  A larger system for this puffer is a must, and as soon as possible.>> Thank you and I hope I've answered the right questions. <<You're welcome.  Lisa>>

Re: Puffer Feeding Strike, Possible Lock-Jaw 1/31/2006 It's me again! <<Hi!>> Thank you for the "puffer forum" site. <<No problem, I hope to see you there!>> It  seems that puffer fish do go on these hunger strikes for some reason and that they can live a long time without eating. <<They can, but it's best to correct any possible causes to rule them out.>> Hopefully this little one of my sons will get hungry enough to eat again.   He has tried the garlic and everything else from soup to nuts to try to entice it to eat. It comes right up to us looking thrilled to have company.    The puffer is in a 37-gallon tank with two small damsels. <<Please do not forget the housing requirements of this puffer.  Your son's Diodon holocanthus needs 125 gallons.>> Don't know what else to do.  My son is doing the iodine treatment.  I'll let you know the outcome and again I really appreciate your helpful offerings and that you're so good about responding so quickly each time I write to you. Thanks again!>> <<You're very welcome. I appreciate your concern for your puffer friend! Lisa.

Porcupine puffer <Puffer in the can>   1/11/06 I have read many of the posted articles and hope you can help as my porcupine puffer seems to be starving himself to death.  He has been in our tank for 6 months, 30 gallon tall water tank, with sand and small shells on the bottom, no place for him to actually hide, however he does have a "corner" where he sleeps.  In error we have only fed him krill, he is in a tank with a small saddleback puffer and two triggers ( one Niger and one Picasso very small, size of a half dollar) .  They have all gotten along dandy until recently.  The puffer has just about completely quit eating...we are going on five weeks now .Three days ago we starting treating all of the food that went into the tank with garlic extreme.  He still will not eat.  The water has been fine except that the nitrates were off the chart for a while, we were instructed to change out the water 5 gallons of the 30 gallons every three days or so, which we have been doing for 2+ weeks now.  The nitrates seem to be coming back to where they belong and everything else is perfect, according to my local fish store.  Unfortunately I was never informed that I should be feeding him more than just krill so, I suppose we have created the problem.  Now how to fix it, I have looked at his teeth , they are the same as always and not long at all.  He seems to be able to open his mouth but is not as aggressive about feeding as he was before.  He would eat 10 krill a day hand fed.  And if I entered the room without acknowledging him, he would swim over to where I could see him and Puff up.  Now he does none of that.  After feeding the entire tank, he will swim into a corner and flail around as though he is very agitated.  He has eaten ghost shrimp when we put them in the tank recently, however out of 15 he might have gotten 3, which is a small meal for him.  It has been 5 weeks ago that he stopped eating normally, and I can notice that he is loosing bulk in his body although still swims around and other than at feeding time, he seems normal.  We have a difficult time getting live brine where we are so he has had some of that but certainly not enough to hold him at the rate he was eating before. Please help.  He is like a 'dog' to us and I can bear to watch him die. <Marcia, the 30 gallon tank is too small for just the porcupine puffer alone.  These fish can grow up to 1'6".  Then to make matters worse you have another puffer that grows to 5" and two triggers that grow quite large.  You are more than likely experiencing ammonia poisoning and I'm guessing very high nitrate levels.  Just for starters you need to find homes for all fish but the porcupine and then plan on getting a much larger tank, at least 120 gallons, preferably 180 if you plan on keeping all the fish. If you want to have any success with these fish you have to provide for their needs.  Please read here, and do read feeding requirements along with this.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm  James (Salty Dog)> Marcia Smith

Re: Porcupine puffer   1/11/06 Thank you for responding so quickly..<You're welcome> I have been reading the message boards on your site all morning.  Unfortunately, our local fish store sold us all of these fish and said they would all do just fine in this tank.  The ammonia levels have been great all along, and we test the nitrite every few days,<Nitrate has to be sky high> it is also fine.  Will try to get the puffer to start eating before deciding how to address the problem of the overcrowded tank.  We have been changing 5 gallons of the water out every three days <Good> or so but my husband tells me he doesn't check the temperature before adding the new water, although it "seems" to be room temperature , could this be adding to the puffers problem? <Yes, both temperature and ph need to be adjusted.  Curious what the ph is in the 30 gallon.> Will feeding him ghost shrimp help him? <Yes, puffers need to have food with shells.  Their teeth grow quite fast and this is one way of controlling this.> Also can I add Vitamin B and Iodine at the same time, also at the same time as using the Garlic Extreme? <Yes, careful on dosing iodine.>  Should I try the garlic extreme for more than 3-4 days before adding more supplements? vit B and iodine? <You can but might I suggest soaking the food in Selcon (excellent vitamin supplement).  James (Salty Dog)>

Another non-feeding Porcupine puffer problem  12/14/05 Hi!  My name is Kym and I have a porcupine puffer named Squirt.   My fiancée and I had Squirt in a 30 gallon tank for about 6 weeks (that's as long  as we had  him at the time). <Too small...> We got a 55 gallon tank and were told  that if we transferred all the water, live rock and sand there should not be a  problem putting Squirt right into the 55 gallon tank (I know that he will  eventually need a much larger tank). <Yes> However, the ammonia spiked pretty  high a day or so after we put him in -- anywhere between a 3 and a 6 on the test  strip, <Yikes! High> hard to tell exactly since the colors were pretty close to  the same color on the diagram. He was eating really well all through <Shouldn't feed if more than 1.0 ppm...> and this acting fine such as coming up to see me when I came home and wanting attention, taking his food from my fingers, etc. We've been doing 10% to  20% water changes almost every day and adding Cycle to the water, which  we were told to do by the store where we bought Squirt from (the AmmoLock  didn't work at all).  Now it's going on 2 weeks that he's been in the tank  and this past Friday he decided not to eat.  He hasn't eaten since. I know they go on hunger strikes for whatever reason, I've tried using the  enticers on his food (he loves krill).  He won't eat frozen Mysis shrimp. I  tried those when we first got him.  I even put peas in the tank to see if  he would try peas because I read that they sometimes like certain  vegetables.  No go.  He swims around if we turn off the lights in the tank, otherwise he stays in his cove.  I try to give him food anyway and  he seems like he wants to eat it and then changes his mind.  Have we  severely injured the poor little guy? <Hopefully not... and doubtful if irreparably> Is there anything I'm missing?   His color is good and his eyes seem fine and it doesn't seem to be a tooth  problem.  I really love this little guy and just don't know what to  do.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thanks for  listening. Kym <Just give this fish another few weeks... wait to try food if the ammonia is still detectable... All should be fine in time. Bob Fenner>

Re: Another puffer problem  12/14/05 Hi Bob!  Thanks for your quick reply.  We'll stop trying to get  him to eat and just keep an eye on the ammonia and doing the water changes  as needed.  We both feel better knowing that Squirt probably hasn't  suffered any serious damage! Kym and Jimmy <Real good. Do keep me/us informed re his/her status. Bob Fenner> Porcupine puffer  11/16/05 Mr. Fenner, <Harry> I have a 8-9 month old porcupine puffer, he has always eaten very well, all he would eat is frozen krill, we tried other foods but he wouldn't eat them. <Not a good idea...> The problem I'm having is a couple days ago he stopped eating, he acts like he wants to eat, comes to the front of the tank and begs for food, comes after it when I give it to him but it's almost like he cant open his mouth enough to eat it, <May be> but watching him his mouth opens as much as it always does my water chemistry is good ph-8.3 ammonia-0 nitrite-0 nitrate- >10 phospate-0 kdh-9 calcium-400 temp-78 degrees this is a reef tank, he doesn't bother any coral or any other tank inhabitants, I do use ro/di water with a U.V sterilizer, protein skimmer, wet/dry filter and a refugium, pc lighting, his behavior hasn't changed except for eating.  Any help or advice would be great!!! I've read your book 'The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, it's a great book and very helpful. Thank you, Harry Theopheles <Wish I could be more positive here. You must need get this fish to eat... and foods other than the krill... for nutrition and teeth-wearing purposes. If the fish does not take an opened shellfish within a few weeks, I would consider making a mash, force-feeding it... as you will find other folks have done. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm.  Scroll down to the "Puffer Feeding", "Diodontid Feeding" FAQs links and read. Bob Fenner> 

Stubborn porcupine puffer  8/30/05 Hi I am patrick nikiel, <Patrick, your name is capitalized> I am 14, and have been using your site for reference a lot lately. I have sent you guys 2 messages already. I have been using my Moms email account because mines not up and running (I used her name with her permission of course, Laura Nikiel ring any bells?) Now to the point, as I have said before I have a 125 gallon saltwater tank. I have a porcupine puffer that's not doing too well. He has not been eating for a couple of weeks now, and from your site I know this is common. I have been feeding him nothing but frozen krill. <Not good...> He refuses to eat anything else other than live ghost shrimp (which he can barely catch) I always try to use vitamins in his food, VitaChem, garlic, the works. I have tried squid, bloodworms, and live brineshrimp. I will have my water tested soon. Maybe that will solve things. He is also in a tank with lots of movement and activity maybe he does not like this. I would love to keep this guy and any ideas would help alot Thanks again Patrick Nikiel <There is no such word as alot... Learn a bit by using your spell-checker... And do try some opened bivalves (clams, mussels) to see if your puffer will eat these. Bob Fenner> Porcupine puffer... diet and dentistry 6/18/05 I'm so worried! I have had my pp for about 3 months and he's always been extremely active and aggressive. The past 3 days he's been very pale in comparison to his normal color and he is very lazy. He normally swims around the tank to watch me wherever I go and whenever I open the top of the tank he swims to the top eagerly waiting for either food or a simple hello. I had been feeding him krill cubes when I first got him, but then he ate another fish! So I was told to feed him larger, full-size krill. <Be careful here... aquarists can get into the habit of feeding one food or a limited diet. After some months, fishes begin to show signs of dietary deficiency. Read about "lockjaw" and overgrown teeth in puffers such as yours. Navigate the website or do a search from the index page at wetwebmedia.com. Also... we have a recent article on dentistry for these fishes: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i1/puffer_dentistry/puffer2.htm> He seemed to love them at first but now he isn't eating much. When he does eat he stays either in the corner or lays in a plant. I've tested the water and everything is right on. I also did a water change, filter change, and gravel cleaning. I am out of ideas and haven't got any new ones from any of the aquariums employees where I've shopped from. I've read on your site that they sometimes have tooth aches. He does spit his food in and out a lot but I'm not sure if that's because he tries to eat it in one bite or if it could be his teeth? PLEASE HELP! Thank you for your time. <Do try different foods like quid tentacles from the grocery store... silversides... live crayfish if small... or large ghost/grass shrimp (feeder Palaemonids). Anthony> Porcupine fish feeding question Hello WWM Crew, I have a porcupine puffer 6 inches long and i am feeding him two medium size freeze-dried Tetra shrimp 3-4 times a day and a small frozen prawn every day. Do you think i am feeding him too much according to his size? <Sounds about right... Does the fish seem full, but still interested in food?> Sometimes he will sink to the bottom of the tank after eating, is this a sign of too much food which makes him feel sick? <Nope, or should I state, not necessarily. Just natural behavior> You mentioned Discomed medication for parasites, should i give him just as prevention once or twice every year to avoid him from having parasites? <A very poor idea> (since he is eating frozen live prawn) Also, (sorry for so many questions) I am giving him frozen prawn with shells off, if i give him with the shells on, is he going to spit out the shells himself? <Will likely ingest all... leave them on... good for nutrition, teeth> or he will swallow? what about clams? will he chew on the clam and spit out the shell? <If the shell isn't too tough...> thank you so much for your time and have a great day! regards, Pauline <Please read... on WWM... re puffer foods/feeding/nutrition. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine puffer - Lockjaw? Hello! I have been reading your site extensively and my otherwise seemingly healthy porcupine puffer in 125 gal tank has all the symptoms of lockjaw or teeth too long (although I can see inside its mouth and it is not blocked by anything I can surmise as teeth?). <Happens> There is also a Niger trigger, clown fish, butterfly and black cap damsel, as well as 2 hermit crabs and a newly arrived (as of 4/21) blue headed wrasse in the tank. The puffer hasn't eaten in approx 4 weeks, but, like others is otherwise his same old self. Diet was mainly frozen krill - <Bad practice> like others, didn't really like scallops, shrimp. Just tried a fresh clam, so far no go. Questions, please: what kind of vitamins do I start treating with and where do I get them? <The nutrition of lower vertebrates (fishes in this case) is remarkably (that must be why I'm making the stmt.) similar to ourselves... In other words, human vitamins can be utilized. In actual practice most folks buy "fish prep.s"... Like Zoe or Selcon...> can vitamins reverse this situation or start the puffer eating again? <Not likely at this point> I was reading in Puffer Disease I - have any solutions been found since then that can reverse this? <Dental surgery, pipetted "forced" feeding...> My "fish guy" has offered to quarantine and try to get him to eat (or check his teeth) - should this now be force feeding and, if so, with what food and how? We are so worried! thank you all! Nancy <Time for thought is fleeting here, action is called for. Bob Fenner>

Re: Porcupine puffer - lockjaw? Ok - I am off to purchase Zoe, assorted shellfish and Nori to make a blended food mixture that I will freeze for 12 hours, correct? <Can be> I don't know how to feed the puffer or how often. I don't know how to catch him, hold him, etc.  Is this something I should start today prior to freezing the mixture? <Best to feed through a plastic catheter or small baster... not frozen, or defrosted if so...> what do I need to get to feed him? I am willing!!!!! <Please see the piece on puffer dentistry, puffer nutrition FAQs archived on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Re: Porcupine puffer - lockjaw? Thanks! we have tried our first force feeding - not sure how much we got in  but used a plunge syringe with tubing attached - <Good... I take it then that the fish's teeth were not "locked" so tightly... that there is a gap to insert the feeding tube> he kept puffing at first (so we waited), but then calmed down and stayed normal - seemed quite a bit of  food came back out though - he is now breathing a bit heavy and staying at the bottom - stress? <Yes> So - 1. do we need to put the tube in further? <Yes, sorry for not mentioning earlier... all the way past the buccal cavity (past the gill openings outside approximately)... the fish has some rear facing structures (pyloric cecae) that disallow food items from "coming back up"... you want to insert the food, feeder past the beginning of these> 2. should NO food come back out? <Mmm, some, not much> 3. maybe depress plunger slower? <Perhaps, doesn't need to be fast> and finally! 4. should we try again today or wait until tomorrow? thank you! we are so hopeful! <Good questions. I'd wait, every other day. Bob Fenner>

Re: Porcupine puffer - lockjaw? Thank again! fed him again today and he didn't puff or stress! I think he's happy to have some food. Might as well ask a few more questions! 1. any idea on how long it takes to "cure" him, if it will? <A few weeks to months> and 2. can we feed twice a day for now or once or every other as you suggested? <... as suggested> don't want to over/under feed. But he hasn't eaten in so long. Really seemed more active yesterday after he ate! Chris, my husband, is going to make a mpeg movie to help others to feed - would you like us to send to you? <Yes, please> some food still coming out but I think we are getting better at it! thanks for your support! Nancy <Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Porcupine puffer - lockjaw? Forgot to answer you - yes, he has a lovely opening in his mouth that the tubing fits right in! he tries to bite it a bit as well. <Mmm, is there an apparent "overbite?"... If so, do you intent to Dremel the teeth down?> I almost thought he was going to eat without having to hold him - Chris had the tube just into his mouth before he swam off and he had to retrieve him! we are so hopeful and wouldn't be at this stage without you guys - my "fish guys" had never heard of any of this! thank you, Nancy <Great to hear/read of you and your fish's progress. Bob Fenner> 

Re: Porcupine puffer - lockjaw? HI again! no overbite - can see clearly into his mouth thru the opening. Any idea of how long recovery can take? <... weeks, months. Bob Fenner> I am not asking for guarantees - I know there are none - just wondered at anyone else's success rate, i.e., we'll feed him as long as it takes! Thanks! Nancy  

Puffer question This may be a silly question, but can porcupine puffers have no teeth? <Mmm, they definitely do have formidable teeth... the order the puffers are part of is Tetraodontiformes ("four teeth")... you can sometimes see these plates when they press their mouths against something> I have owned my puff for about 5 months now, and I cannot see any teeth in his mouth, nor will he eat anything that has any type of shell on it. no clam, definitely no snail, and his shrimp has to be peeled or no deal. are his teeth simply too small to see? is it even possible that his teeth are not there or could he be sick? I would appreciate any help or suggestions you could give me. thank you very much. <Do keep offering these hard foods... unless this fish is suffering from its teeth actually overgrowing (Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i1/puffer_dentistry/puffer2.htm) it can/should consume these foods in time. Bob Fenner>

Re: Spiny Box Fish The tank is a 46 gal. bow front.. The tank is well established I took it over from a friend that has had it for 8 years. The spiny box hasn't eaten anything since I got him on Sunday, I even tried live food, but he still hasn't eaten.  I went to the fish store and got medication.  I gave him a freshwater bath w/medicine and purchased tablets for the tank Maracyn.. Do you know what I should try next for food? And How long can a fish go without eating? Thanks Frank <All this is still posted on WWM... read. Bob Fenner>  Diodon holocanthus eating problem Hello, I think this question is for Bob Fenner: <Okay> I live in Boston and have a 55 gallon saltwater tank with a yellow tang, two white damsels and a pufferfish, Balloonfish, or whatever it should be called... it's a Diodon holocanthus. <All these names apply> About 5 days ago, the fish suddenly stopped being able to eat. I suspect it happened immediately after mortally wounding a third damsel which had been in the tank since before we got him, about 5 years ago. We had been told the damsels would get eaten immediately, but they didn't. It seems as if the puffer suddenly doesn't have any "suction" in his mouth to be able to bring in the food the way he always has.  "He" (ok, we don't know his sex) really wants to eat it, and will chase it, but gets very discouraged when he can't get it into his mouth. He normally eats frozen krill and silversides with occasional tuffies, maybe twice a month. I have checked the water temp, salinity and chemistry - all good. There isn't any unusual algae growth in the tank. One other unusual event has happened: about two or three weeks ago he appears to have eaten a leg off of a chocolate chip starfish who had lived in the tank at least two years. Starfish was isolated in our pet store, but subsequently died. <Puffers do eat seastars in the wild... A very large Diodon sp. bit the leg off a Blue Linckia in front of me once... I was impressed> I have read that sometimes these fish can have their teeth become overgrown. They look much the same as always to me. Could this problem become aggravated so suddenly? <No, not suddenly> He has never seemed to have a jaw problem before. Or could he have "popped" his jaw out of joint while chasing the fish? Maybe by hitting the glass too hard? He hasn't puffed in a long while but could this cause a jaw to pop back into joint? <These are possibilities... as is something getting "stuck" in its throat, alimentary canal.> I am extremely worried. I know he can fast for several weeks, but I don't see any good end to this. I have read about using an anesthetic, MS222, to drug him and then file down his teeth, which might be preventing him from biting his food. I am understandably concerned about doing this, as I have no experience in doing surgery on fish. Does this have to be done underwater? Could you write a more complete description of the process. <Could but would rather not... encourage you at this point. There is a very large chance/probability that your puffer will spontaneously recover... instead of the trauma, potential damage from handling.> I see that a few people have written in about a similar subject, but I haven't seen any follow-ups with their results - good or bad. Have you had feedback? <A good deal. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Alex Kates

Porcupine Puffer Hi there. I'm new here and will make my question quick. I have a brand new 3 inch (or so) puffer. He is not very aggressive with his food. Eventually finds the live ghost shrimp, tries to eat it and isn't fast enough. He then gives up. I'm only concerned because he is so skinny. Also, can you really hold a puffer fish and force feed it? Thanks, Alix :) <Hi Alix, Please go to this site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm and find your puffer and it's care, water conditions, feeding etc. Follow all of the links to narrow it down. Do make sure he is in the proper water.....this is a common problem. Everything you need to know is here! Craig>

Porcupine Puffer Hey Bob I would like to thank you add your staff on a great job you guys do there. I have purchased a porcupine puffer he's about 3 in now cool fish. <How big is your tank and how's your filtration? The smallest porcupine is 11"...> The guy at the LFS feed him silversides so Ii purchased them too I have read your faq page on them. I feed him once a day 2 silver sides thawed I feed him some scallops to change up his diet but only once a day sufficient for this fish? We have added 6 turbo snails to the tank I was hoping he would much some of them to keep his teeth worn shows no interest in them. I'm going to add some hermit crabs I just don't want those teeth to get too big. Are there foods we can offer to him that would aid in doing this? How about not thawing the silversides would that work? <VERY BAD idea. Can you eat frozen food?> Just looking for preventive maintenance so to say lol thank and keep up the good work guys. <Please go to this page for Puffer care and correct diet. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm Also, look up the fish you have, they range from 11" up to 36" or so, you may need to get a bigger tank..... Have you seen "A Little Shop of Horrors"? Craig>

Re: porcupine puffer Craig I have him in a 55 gallon tank with a wet/dry filter and a 150gallon tank on stand by which will be up and running in 4 months. Need to build stand and filter for it still. Could I feed him whole shrimp with the shells on them? Would those help keep them teeth worn down and if so how often?  <Please go to this page for Puffer care and *correct diet*. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm> Do you think I should purchase a cheap protein skimmer for that 55 tank, he is a messy eater. I'm going to buy a nautilus te for the 150 but don't have the money yet to put it in the 55 but could pick up a cheap 15 dollar one with airstone, or don't waste the money. Thanks for the quick reply. <I would get the bigger tank and skimmer together as you can and make water changes and stay after the loose food in the meantime. The web page above has more on feeding, how often, etc. I'm glad you have a 150 to move to, slow down on the feeding or you will need it sooner than later! Have fun! Craig>

Puffer teeth Hello Mr. Fenner. Well....seems my green puffer's teeth have grown too long. He can still eat, and I'm feeding him snails regularly, but they don't seem to stop the growth. I've looked through your website and can't find an actual description for grinding down your puffers teeth (I apologize if I somehow missed it).  How can I file down my puffers teeth. <I assume that you browsed the FAQ's on this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontidfaqs.htm... beyond that it is about as simple as it sounds. A rotary tool (Dremel tm, or the like), a gently handled fish wrapped in a towel wet with aquarium water, a helper or IV drip raining saltwater in the gills for the short time that it takes (be sure not to stress the puffer when caught for the procedure). I'll make sure Bob gets this message with a request for a possible referral to published info(?) from the puffer queen (Kelly J). Kindly, Anthony Calfo> Thank you, Mark Keusenkothen

Porcupine Puffer, not-eating, reading WWM Hello Bob, In one of the last emails I sent you I asked you about my porcupine puffer that is hungry and even goes for the food can not actually bite it. He gets up close to it but cant bite not really sure but his teeth couldn't be over grown because he doesn't even touch the food with his lips. You suggested me to your website but there wasn't any info about this there. This puffer hasn't eaten in at least 2 weeks and he is not to big? Do you think threes anything I can do or no? <Please read over the FAQs files on Puffers. Bob Fenner>

Why will my porcupine puffer not eat I have a porcupine puffer and for 3 days now all he does is chase his food around the tank. He's healthy and watches me go for the can and is all happy splashing what is the problem. I'm feeding him jumbo shrimp (freeze dried). Thank you Debbie <do experiment with other live and frozen forms of shrimp. The puffers behavior sounds otherwise reassuring. Anthony>

Porcupine puffer and feeding. HI  <Back atcha!> Spike and Magnum have been together for a more than a year.  <even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes> Spike is not chasing Magnum at all. Just with the feeding.  <toothy predators biting chunks and eyes out of each other is bad even if it is only at feeding time. And they get more aggressive with age. Having worked in the aquarium industry as a wholesaler and retailer for a decade, I have literally seen more than a thousand of these creatures run through holding tanks. They are what they are... intolerant of each other> Spike always did that but never too aggressive and Magnum always duck away. <a stressful way to live and it gets worse as they mature (sexual maturity, territorial aggression, etc)> Lately Spike seem pretty hungry....and aggressive towards food. He never seem to want to hurt Magnum,  <be careful, my friend <smile> this is anthropomorphism. I assure you that Spike has never given a thought as to whether or not he "wanted" to hurt Magnum. Magnum's goin' down if the mood suits Spike one day> he more seem to forget that Magnum is attached to the food he is eating..... <heehee... point made and taken. Please do separate or I assure you that you will be spending months or years nursing an eyeless puffer in an isolation tank. Kindly, Anthony>

Porcupine puffer and feeding. Hi Jason. <Anthony Calfo with the follow-up> Thanks for your help. We plan to feed the fish once a day now. The size of the clams are thumbnail size. Not very big. Lately we are seeing another problem. Spikey is getting more and more aggressive towards Magnum.  <yes...some puffers are quite intolerant of conspecifics as they mature> Spikey, fast eater will really attack Magnum, who is a very very slow eater. <its not going to get any better either. Pet stores cannot keep too many together otherwise they start biting the eyes out of each other!!!> Today I have been crying my eyes out because he really bit Magnum in the face when he had some food. It looked so sad, his mouth had a different shape completely. Luckily he patches up really fast. But we are worried now because we really have to keep Spike away from Magnum. We hope feeding them daily will ease Spikey down. <I'm sorry... they need to be separated> About the nitrate, we have even tried water changes weekly....just 30% of the water. It seems to be structural....we have had it for a year and tried a lot Now, if the daily feeding does not work, we consider to turn the sweetwater tank into a saltwater as well. And then we'd need to buy a smaller one for my other puffer (figure eight, schoutedeni and red eye puffers) Someone told me that these puffer could slowly adjust to a saltwater environment....is this true. <some species are full seawater as adults, but others are only brackish or even pure freshwater> Well...thanks again for your help Wendy <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Feeding Puffers Hi there. <<Hello, JasonC here...>> We have a porcupine puffer and a Humu Humu trigger and we were wondering if we are feeding them enough. <<if I were a trigger or a puffer, the word "enough" would not be part of my vocabulary.>> Unfortunately being in the Netherlands there are limited feeding options. So far we have been feeding them clams...(not the shell) And we feed them 3 times a week, let's say 4 clams for Spikey, and 2 for Magnum if he is lucky....... <<and I'd be a lucky trigger to be eating clams all the time, but depending on the size of the clam, you might be able to feed a half-clam or less per day and still meet the nutritional needs of the fish.>> This has been the advice since we bought them but recently we found out that this guy is a scam..... <<uh oh... well, no harm done by the clams - this is much better food by a factor of 100 [or more] than brine shrimp, which is what many people in the US are told they should feed. So really, you're not doing so badly.>> Can you help..  We once in a while feed them frozen sardines and shrimp (of course, defrosted ;-) <<ok - you might want to try chopping/blending/mixing those three things in a blender or food-processor into a chunky, lumpy goo, and then freeze into a sheet, ice cubes, or something similar. This would also be an excellent opportunity to add some vitamins to the mix. You could then thaw a half cube or so and use that to feed a more precise portion. Check out the reading at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm >> The reason why we don't feed so much is that we always have high nitrate... <<yes, good plan, although you may/might want to change the water a little more often if the nitrates are always on the rise.>> let me know? Thanks in advance Wendy <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Porcupine puffer Thank you for your quick response,  <always welcome> however when I got home yesterday he had a white spot on his head. I tried to call the fish store and they were already closed. He was sitting on the bottom and breathing laboriously. By morning he was dead. I assume he contracted a disease, but what?  <diseases don't work that fast... this fish was sick many days before hand.. tough to say what though> How can I prevent it and will my other fish be ok. <there's a chance that your other fish will be infected but that remains to be seen. This is one reason why it is so important to always quarantine your fish for 2-4 weeks in a hospital tank first. It gives you a better chance to save a new sick fish and prevents the established fishes from getting infected. Do get a hospital tank ready in case other fish fall ill> Thanks. <quite welcome my friend. Best regards, Anthony>

Puffer Fish I own a porcupine puffer in a 120 gallon tank. I've had him since Christmas. Since Christmas he has always ate at least 3 pieces of krill a day. For past 2 weeks he has not wanted to eat krill any more. He appears to be very healthy. The only thing he likes to eat is live food. So I've been feeding this 3 inch puffer 2 guppies every other day for the past 10 days. I work next to a fish market so I was thinking of bringing him home fresh shrimp and squid to eat. Would that be a good idea? <Yes, even whole shellfish (good for its teeth as well)> However I have experimented with him and I found out that he loves to eat bananas. Can bananas be part of his diet? <Yes. Have seen this done overseas> Please respond back soon and let me know what you think of my ideas. Thank you. <Please take a read through the "Puffer" areas on our site: starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers. tm, reading through the linked FAQs files. Many people have periodic problems with Puffer feeding strikes, nutritional imbalances, overgrown teeth problems... You will read about these here. Bob Fenner>

Re: Porcupine puffer and feeding. Hi Anthony. <cheers> Well, we have separated them....We now have 3 tanks.....! <cool...heehee> And the trigger seems happy but we still have a problem with him Just lately he seems to get stuck behind or to everything 2 weeks ago on Saturday - behind the pump of the skimmer.... injury - pressed in eye...and the white behind is eye came out recovered - 1 hour later 1 week ago - got himself stuck at the air pump...(power head) Injury - a red round spot on his cheek.... recovered - 2 days, and the spot was almost not visible anymore this morning in his new tank... Stuck at the air pump again! This time with his fin...and his lungs let's say (don't know how to translate that. sorry, I am just a blonde) Injury... Looks pretty bad this time....his fin is red and was pulled in the pump so now it is just straight...he does not seem to want to move it now...but I guess...you would not want to move a leg when it had been trapped My boyfriend says that the other side of his body seemed to have been somewhat sucked in...and that is just too much for me to handle...I could and did not look at that side... <hmmm... strange that this fish is so frightful that it is compelled to lodge itself so vigorously. While it is perfectly natural for a triggerfish to lodge itself in the rockscape or a soft head of living coral... to do so often indicates a very nervous Nelly. Do consider if the placement of the tank is not forgiving with regard for the human traffic patter. Is it near a door for example where the fish is frequently startled all day long by humans. Is there a cat or dog n the house that loves to jump up on the tank for a peek. Perhaps very bright light? In the meantime offer a large PVC segment of pipe of like attractive/safe bolt hole for this little bugger> But. this is killing me...I love all my animals so much...and I don't want them to hurt at all. <as we all agree> Has something like this happened to other people....???? <there certainly are fish that are notorious for being skittish... blue regal tangs, many wrasses, small damsels, etc> Is Magnum (trigger) trying to commit suicide???  <not sure.. do you play a lot of Muzac covers of 70's hits?> Hey, hey you really start to wonder now...) Did he injure his "brain" the first time when he got stuck.... <tough to say... small brain to be concerned about> We guess that we need to build something around the air pump...so it can still suck up the water....but this time without Magnum.... Please advise.....Plleeaaassseeeeeee <do try subdued lighting and patience for this fish to adjust and heal. Medicate if necessary but only on evidence of an infection. Best regards, Anthony> Inju

Re: Porcupine puffer and feeding. well, hi again well...update on our trigger he survived the first hours after the last air pump attack. he looks a lot better now. we bought something to put around the sucking area. to divide the water pressure.. it kind a like a plastic round box with gaps on the side (like a hamster wheel) so would he get stuck again, the air will be sucked from the other side... let's cross our fingers well. Magnum (the trigger) is eating well, so well that he managed to bite the leg of our small crab..... <a very natural food indeed> we put him with magnum thinking that he would be safer.....so I guess NOT!!! <correct> Will the crab survive with one leg?? <yes and even regenerate it in time (several molts)> gosh...I keep on going with my questions!! sowwy!!! <no worries. Kindly, Anthony>

Re: Porcupine puffer and feeding. Hi there again, Well your point seems to be clear. But, are you saying that Magnum (the Humu Humu trigger) will eat Spikey's (porcupine puffer) eyes out <heehee... point made and taken. Please do separate or I assure you that you will be spending months or years nursing an eyeless puffer in an isolation tank. Kindly, Anthony> I guess you mean the other way 'round right It is really strange, we were advised that the triggerfish would go well with the puffer and they did for more than a year. <yes...my apologies... I thought we were talking about two puffers. I misread> Watching them now, they look fine together...and watching them yesterday with feeding, went pretty okay too. But it seems that the puffer is indeed keeping an eye out for the trigger, if the latter seems to have found food...the puffer wants to be there first. <indeed puffers can be quite aggressive about food and have the teeth to back up any aggression> I would hate to separate them because, they seem attached to each other.....and I am wondering if spike would not be lonesome, alone. <I'm not so sure that fish in captivity if anywhere feel lonesome. The very small living space of even the largest aquarium is a drop in an ocean compared to what they came from. Tolerance of other fishes (even same species) is most always the problem!> Yep, I am a pretty sentimental person hahaahaha <awwww.. a lovely flaw if at all> but thanks for all your time and advice, I will definitely think about it! <Cheers, Anthony>

Puffer Not Eating Greetings, We have a porcupine puffer that stopped eating about 2 weeks ago after his tank companion, a blue tang, died. <Have you identified what killed the Tang? Very likely the two are related.> We noticed the tang having what looked like "age spots" on his head and sides for a month before he started to slow down and stop eating. <Sounds like HLLE. Much more written on the malady on WWM. Implicated causes are poor water quality and diet.> We assumed he was just getting old since we had him for about 4 years. <Should last a lot longer than that given the right conditions, 10-15 years is not impossible with these fish.> During the last week we treated the tank with Maroxy and Maracyn II but I'm sure this was done too late. When he stopped eating we also noticed his breathing was very fast. It was also during this time we noticed the puffer had what looked like a string of pearls coming out of his "back-side". He would eventually pass this only to have it happen again several days later. I'm not sure if these 2 illnesses are related or not. He has stopped doing this lately. This tank is a fish only tank (25 gallons.) <Way too small for either of these fish.> that was treated with copper about 5 years ago when some kind of fungus covered the puffers eyes that cleared up after a week. <Copper is a terrible medication to use on Puffers.> The puffer has been in this tank for 6+ years and he really doesn't seem to mind the small size since there are never more than 2 fish in there. All of the levels are in the normal range except the copper level is high now, around 25 ppm. I have done 4, 4 gallon water changes during the past week to try to get the copper level down in addition to adding some activated charcoal to the Bak Pak skimmer but the level remains high. I have ordered some of the poly filters and will add them when I get them. We have noticed on your website the mention of the puffer needing crunchy foods to keep his teeth in check. We must admit that we have been feeding him everything but crunchy food. I honestly wasn't aware he even had teeth let alone he needed to keep them filed down. Now the question....how do I know if it is a tooth problem or just a hunger strike that requires a little more patience? <I would bet neither. I think it a water quality issue; dissolved organics, low pH, or copper levels in particular.> I read all of the posts pertaining to overgrown teeth but I haven't read anything describing how long they are when they need to be trimmed. I can see the top row of teeth when he is up close to the glass but they don't look like they are causing a problem for him closing his mouth. This just seems too weird that he would stop eating practically on the day his buddy passed away. <I agree. The two are related, but not due to sadness or anything.> Thanks so much for your help. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Puffer I have a puffer for over a year now and he has always been a very picky eater which is not very common for most puffers. <<Yes.. quite odd. I've always found puffers to be like the cast of Oliver, "Food, glorious food, who cares what it looks like!">> I tried to feed him krill, frozen clams, brine shrimp, silversides, and mussels. The only thing he eats is formula 1 and 2 flakes I want to try to get him to eat more meaty types of food I'm sure the flakes do not satisfy his appetite. <<I would agree, which is why it is interesting that he won't touch the other foods.>> I haven't feed him flakes in two weeks I have however tried to feed him all the foods above with no success. <<Gahh! Took the words out of my mouth, was going to suggest a little starvation...>> Do you have any ideas on how I can get him to eat his regular diet. <<You might pique his interest with some live ghost/glass shrimp, a freshwater item but will live more than long enough to become puffer food. Have you tried the frozen forms of Formula One and Two? Good luck and keep trying. Cheers, J -- >>

Re: puffer Would grass shrimp work also. <<Yes, quite likely the same item but goes by many different names. Glass/Grass/Ghost shrimp - all the same. I would try these. Cheers, J -- >>

Spiny box puffer fish Dear Mr. Fenner, <<Actually, you got JasonC today...>> I have a spiny box pufferfish who has always been a big eater. He would eat up to four krill a day. He would go a day or two without eating, and then resume one per day. I am really worried because he hasn't eaten even one in since July 4th. I have tried all kinds of food: frozen brine shrimp, frozen krill, garlic additive, green peas, and VitaChem on flakes.  I used Greenex (which possibly curbed his appetite) and later Maracyn because his fins look like they are fraying. I would rather not use any further chemicals. <<I don't blame you and agree that the Greenex probably did-in his appetite.>> There are no new fish and my water quality is fine. However, I did have to put him in a new 55 gallon tank because the frame broke on my other one. <<Is this tank cycling? That might be making your puffer even more uncomfortable.>> I have noticed a flap in his mouth where his teeth used to shine like dentures. Is it possible he is going through a growing stage? He seems to want to eat but has trouble since I have noticed this flap. <<If this is what I think it is similar to the epiglottis in humans, a flap of skin that prevents food from going into the trachea, in the case of your puffer, I think it stops unwanted water-borne debris from entering the digestive system. No worries, probably just the first time you noticed it.>> Any advice would be greatly appreciated. <<Be patient. Puffers are well known for getting bummed out and going on hunger strikes, although the causes are more cryptic. Certainly the Greenex is a good possibility. I'd continue to try different things, and perhaps move to something else like clams or squid. Keep at it.>> Sincerely, Kelli <<Cheers, J -- >>

Long Spined Porcupine Fish Bob, I have a long-spined porcupinefish (Diodon holacanthus), approx. 4" long,  that I've had for 8 months. He stopped eating about 7 weeks ago. Before  this he ate nothing but frozen krill and had a great appetite (four  krill/day). He still looks fine and seems to get around all right. The  only odd thing I've noticed is that he does a funny thing with his lower  lip, he keeps moving it in and out. How can he be surviving without eating?  I've heard that sometimes they will go on fasts, but 7 weeks without a  thing! The water parameters (ammonia=0ppm, nitrite=0ppm, nitrate=5ppm,  O2=7ppm, copper=0ppm, Redox=300mV, pH=8.2, dKH=7, SG=1.021,  temp=78F,PO4=.1ppm) are all excellent. The other fish in the tank are doing  great (One 4" Naso Tang, one 3" Yellow Tang, one 4" Regal Tang, one 2" Flame Angel, two 2" Clowns and one 3" Picasso Trigger). The tank specs are: 110  gallon, Red Sea Berlin Skimmer, Wet/Dry filter, Eheim 3 stage filter, 75 lbs  LR, 220W florescent lighting. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks, CB <<Hmmm, well appearances can be deceiving, but I'd bet your Puffer is probably eating something when you're not looking... and even if not I wouldn't give up hope that s/he will resume feeding... The longest I have heard of such feeding strikes of Diodontid puffers is three plus months... I would occasionally offer that same krill, maybe with a bit of vitamin mix on it (Multi-vit, Selcon...). And be even more patient. The lip movement is nothing to be concerned about, IMO. Bob Fenner>>

Starving puffer Thank you so much for your rapid response. We will try the vitamin soaked shrimp and see what happens. My only concern is getting the syringe into his mouth, past the teeth plates, they seem to prevent the syringe from getting past. If we try the garlic, what would be the dosage? We will let you know the results. thank you again Mike & Rena <<A few folks of good standing stand by the "garlic treatment" for internal, digestive matters (I am dubious about ectoparasitic treatment claims however)... Kelly Jedlicki, nurse and general good pet-fish friend, even uses a Dremel (tm) tool to trim her Diodontid (blowing up types of puffers family) "buck teeth" and swears by garlic... for ceasing feeding strikes and as an all around cathartic... Don't be bitten!, but the animal will "gasp" and this is your opportunity to use a turkey baster... or similar to (no dosage prescribed) get some of the Onion family member down the hatch... Have no fear, this will work. Bob Fenner>>

Porcupine Puffer Not Eating! Help! We have a Porcupine puffer who has not been able to eat in over a month.  After reading about puffers in "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist", it seems to me that his teeth plates have overgrown so that he is not able to get food into his mouth.  I am trying to feed brine shrimp with a syringe. He allows me to do it but when I put the syringe in his mouth, I hit something hard. I can't get past it. I think it is his plates and I can't tell if the brine shrimp are getting past and into his mouth.  Is there anything we can do for him? Please advise.  <<The overgrown tooth plate problem is generally very obvious from viewing the animal head-on... the teeth appear "buck-like"... not an internal problem... These fishes can/do go on lengthy food strikes so don't give up... Instead, try offering a "human" cocktail shrimp every other day, soaked in a vitamin preparation. You can buy the latter specified for pet-fish use, or just use a "baby formula" liquid product... Otherwise, and I am serious here, do consider administering (watch your fingers) one of the aqueous garlic remedies offered on the market to your puffer... need to net it and hold in a wet towel and "force feed" the material as in a plastic syringe, into its back throat (buccal) region. Bob Fenner>>

Porcupine Puffer Hello. I found your wonderful website while searching for an answer to my porcupine puffer dilemma and thought I might e-mail you to ask your advice... <Okay> We have had our porcupine puffer for about 2 ½ -3 years. In this time, he's been happy and (presumably) healthy, eating vigorously (but we try not to overfeed him).  <Ah, good> He's in the tank with a yellow tang, coral beauty and algae blenny - our tank also has live rock and a good amount of well-established corals. Water quality is consistently fine. So. Here's the problem. Four days ago, I was going to feed puff (freeze-dried krill, soaked to rehydrate) & he seemed to have his usual interest in the food, struck at the krill, but couldn't seem to eat it. So then I tried a krill soaked with a little brine shrimp & he wouldn't eat... then I tried a little piece of frozen mussel with no luck. Today we tried breaking the krill into small pieces, but still no luck. He sees the food, strikes at it, but it doesn't go into his mouth. I have read your advice regarding hunger strikes, but this doesn't seem like a hunger strike to me because he's going after the food & he's his usual bright-eyed & perky self. He just can't physically seem to eat the food. It's almost as though he can't open his jaw wide enough to get the food in... <Not good... maybe it's teeth are too large, need some trimming... or worse, a deficiency disorder may be manifesting itself as this inability to open the jaws> I have your book & have looked at puff's teeth & they don't seem to me to be overgrown (but what do I know?). To be honest, puff has been receiving a diet primarily composed of krill (with an occasional smattering of something else). Therefore, it's very possible that the teeth (or something else?) haven't been worn down the way they should... When we previously provided food with shells (e.g., crabs) he wasn't too interested - hence, the krill diet. <Yes> Here are the questions: Could his teeth, etc. be so overgrown that he physically cannot eat?  <Yes, this does happen> If so, would this have manifested itself overnight? <No, would have been more gradual...> ...or could his inability to eat be the result of a nutritional deficiency from years of eating a diet primarily based on krill?  <Oh! Yes> ...or is there something else that you can suggest? Based on your information regarding hunger strikes, it appears that puffers can go for quite a while without food - so I'm not concerned that he'll starve this week, I'd just like to rectify this problem if possible. <I understand, and agree.> Wow. Sorry to be so long winded. Any information you can provide to me would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance for your help! -Stefanie <At this juncture I would wait, see if this animals jaws, eating do resume within a couple of weeks. If not, do have another "Puffer proficient" aquarist take a look at this specimen, consider grinding its teeth down. In the meanwhile do try applying liquid vitamin preparation to the fish's water. It will be getting this into itself via drinking. Bob Fenner>

Spiny puffer I have recently (meaning within the last few months) conformed  <Like this choice of word> to saltwater fish keeping. I currently have in my 37 gallon an undulated trigger as well as a yellow tailed damsel. I've had two spiny puffer which I regret to inform I could not keep and they died.  <This system is too small for this species, ultimately even for the Trigger you now have> I read all of your faq's on them and it was saying that they can go on food strikes for up to and possibly past 3 months.. So I took that into consideration and kept food available to them.. but it did not help .. the first one slept a lot.. (whatever you consider sleeping for fish)  <Hmm, resting on the bottom for this species.> always laying at the bottom. The second one was active didn't seem to have any problems but it would not eat either.. I have had no problems at all with the trigger or the damsel.. and from other things I've read the puffers are just as hardy as the triggers. <Some> I'm trying to figure out what's wrong. the trigger is an active participant in feeding time as well as the other fish. and they both seem to be fine. You think I might have just gotten bad fish from the store?  <A distinct possibility. Did you ask the shop to feed them in front of you?> This has happened with a snowflake eel as well.. I would appreciate any information or recommendations you could give me...thanks, Chris <Please read through the "Livestock Selection" parts on the Marine part of our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for many insights into how to go about getting the "right" species, specimens for your set-up. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer Robert, We just purchased a porcupine puffer for our 75 gallon aquarium. Where I purchased him they suggested I feed him only 3 times a week. I have read on the internet that he should be fed twice a day. How much should I feed him? Also, what other things should I feed him besides krill? <Three times a week is about right (unless this specimen is very small, let's say just 2-3 inches total length). All sorts of meaty foods should be welcome. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks, Crissy

Porcupine puffers I've been reading some of your FAQs. I realize now the store I purchased by porcupine puffer at didn't know a whole lot about them. He caught him in a net and brought him out of the water where the puffer immediately puffed up. I casually mentioned that I didn't think he was supposed to do that and he put him back in the water. It took about twenty minutes for him to expel the air.  <Quite stressful, as you understand> I thought he was a goner. Well I own him now but I have questions. Some I answered while reading your letters, but one... His belly has been very dark almost black since I got him. I never thought anything about it, but while I was looking for answers as to why he's not eating. I found this mentioned. What does a dark belly mean? <Perhaps nothing... but if I hazarded some sort of guess, maybe the equivalent of broken blood vessels, a bruise> He hasn't eaten since September 11th. When he was eating, I fed him frozen krill. He would eat like it was his last meal. After he stopped eating (he's still interested in food he just can't seem to open his mouth) I tried feeding him frozen clams and freshwater snails. Thank you in advance for any help you can offer. Patty  <September eleventh is getting to be too long for me. I advise force feeding this specimen (with it held in a wet towel, underwater) with a plastic turkey baster, meaty food and vitamins (liquid)... with the help of another friend to hold/feed. Please write back if this is unclear, incomplete. Bob Fenner>

Fred from Puffernet--help needed ASAP! Hi Bob, I'm writing you on behalf of many aquarists who seem to be having similar troubles with puffers and green water in their saltwater tanks. After experiencing an algal bloom (green), their puffers are unable to open their mouths to eat. Their fish seem hungry and attempt to eat, but can't. I have never encountered this problem before when coupled with an algae bloom. <Mmm, me neither. Mysterious> The only experience I had that was similar is a friend's fish whose teeth had overgrown. We trimmed the teeth and that fish is doing fine. This doesn't sound the same, and it doesn't sound like their fish have much time. I've pasted two of the emails below: Hello, We have had a saltwater set-up for over 5 years and are currently experiencing "green water" for about 4 weeks. We have been told that what we have is an "algae bloom". After many, many water changes, we just can't get rid of the unsightly and stinky water! (I thought Aiptasia was bad!) Now our porcupine puffer, that we have had for about 7 months, is not feeding. He seems to put his mouth by the food but doesn't open it. Is his behavior from the poor water conditions? I have ordered a product called, Algone from Algone.com. Have you ever heard of it? It is suppose to clear up the water from an algae bloom. I'm very hesitant to put anything into the water, but I'm at the end of my rope! If you need more information on our set-up let me know. Or if you are to busy I understand! Thanks! Lisa Desmond   Our dog faced puffer from work cannot open his mouth to eat. He seems hungry and tries to, but can't. The tank he has been in has been green for about a month. Everything has been tried. Water has been changed numerous times, filters, etc. We have had our local fish store people here twice. They can't figure it out. The green water hasn't seemed to bother him at all, except in the last few days. Can you help? Anita <Don't know what the link between the puffer not eating and the algal bloom itself might be... But I do have numerous suggestions re controlling pest algae on our (WetWebMedia.com) site. Perhaps starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm and the links beyond. It may be that by improving water quality your puffer will resume feeding. Feeding strikes with these fishes are commonplace: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontidfaqs.htm Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer Problem. Kelly, any input? Hi! I have a problem that I noticed some of your other readers have had with their Porcupine Puffer. That is, he has suddenly stopped eating and hasn't in about a month. Like the other stories, he used to eagerly eat , but now, he tries to get the food in his mouth and can't. I guess this is common and I tried your advice which was to force-feed him. but I have a couple questions regarding this. When I hold him, he starts to inflate and ends up expelling the food back out when he begins to deflate. So am I supposed to hold him tight enough that he cannot inflate? <No... actually more gently, underwater... so it doesn't want to inflate> If so, how will I know if I am squeezing too tight. If this does not work, is there a chance that he may just start eating normal again? <Yes, for sure> How long can a puffer go without eating?  <Some for weeks, others, a few months> Thanks for the help. Take Care, Eric <Good luck, life my friend. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Foods <Hi, Nico. Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob is away> Are silver sides a good choice of frozen food to feed a porcupine puffer? <they can be a small part of a puffer's diet, but other foods are more appropriate. Hard shelled crustaceans are a necessary part of a puffers diet. In part they help to wear down their naturally fast growing teeth. Without it the teeth may overgrow and cause a fatal complication. Frozen whole cocktail shrimp (raw, with legs, head, guts if possible) and krill are good choices . Live ghost/grass shrimp for small puffers or crayfish for larger specimens are also good. However, no whole prey item is a complete food. A homemade food recipe designed for your fishes needs is best, inexpensive to make and incomparable in nutritive quality. Bob describes how to make such food in his most excellent marine aquarium reference, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Many other similar recipes can be found on the Net. Get cooking! Anthony

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