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FAQs about True Puffers 2

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

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

Mbu Puffer Dear Bob I have attached a brief history of my puffer and a picture of him. <Have gone over all> I hope very much that you can help. Incidentally, the latest treatment I have given him, administered 14/10 and again yesterday was a quarter of a cat worming tablet called Drontal, this was recommended by a chemist based at a company called Waterlife. I have seen no improvement. <Reading through the history and reviewing the image provided... I don't think what you have/had is parasitic or even infectious... could be a viral involvement... but am curious as to your not-stating what you do, have done in the way of water quality changes, modification to suit this animal... As you likely know Tetraodon Mbu is found widely in Lake Tanganyika and the Congo Basin... in waters that are remarkably hard, alkaline... and have at times, quite a mix of salt content... This and nutrition are the "angles" I would work to aid this animal's health. (Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm And respond back to me re what you add to your fish's water... and feed it. In the meanwhile, I would cease "treating it chemically"... This is of little likely benefit, and may well be causing it harm.  A note re the species, fish pathology... do try using other search engines (like Google) and the terms "Mbu Puffer", "Tetraodon Mbu", "Freshwater Puffers"... scan the same on fishbase.org... Thank you for providing such excellent materials, and care... it might be the this animal just has a genetic disposition that is resulting in such a papillomatose condition... Bob Fenner> Many thanks

Urgent help needed I have a Mbu Puffer fish that has not been very well for some time now. Whatever he is suffering from, it has been ongoing on & off for approximately 18months and at his worst stage (picture attached) with red sores at the top, he was blowing up in the tank; but this also coincided with him consuming a food that was incorrect, the food was stopped and after about 2-3days he stopped blowing up. About 5 months ago, still at a bad stage, I moved him to bigger tank and after about 2 months the sores virtually disappeared and the puffer seemed very happy, swimming great and very alert. Three weeks ago they came back, the sores are still at a worm like stage protruding from his skin, mostly on his back and moving down to his fin but from experience, I am sure they will turn into the red sores in the picture in time. The difference in his behaviour with this latest attack his alarming. He appears to have great trouble heaving himself up and start swimming to the middle/top of the tank, when he does, the effort is so tiring he sinks to the bottom with a bang (co-ordination very bad) and is left panting very heavily. As I'm not entirely sure how much information you need to know, I'll stop here and just list some details about his environment. If there is anything you need to know please don't hesitate to contact me and I will get back to you immediately. As the puffer seems to be deteriorating at a rapid rate I am now very worried and desperately do not want to lose him so believe time is of the essence. Mbu size Approx 20inch long Tank 187gallons Filter 2260 Eheim U.V unit fitted 30watt Air Pump L.G.E Water analyzed continually - No2 + Ammonia constantly ok. I have been told by someone who specializes in 'marine fish' that this disease looks to him like marine Oodinium, but not quite, as my puffer's eyes and fins are not affected, only down his back and sometimes a few scattered underneath on his tummy. I have tried most treatments including Sterazin, Octozin, Perazin and treatments for white spot, although I've since been told Mbu puffers to not get white spot?. I have also found it very difficult to obtain information on Mbu Puffers over the three years since I have had mine, hence, I have had to use the 'tried and tested' method with regard to some foods, but mostly he his on a diet of hard shells cockles to keep his teeth down and mussels, sometimes river shrimp, although the last batch I put in, about 3 weeks ago was when he started getting sick again, I don't know if that's relevant. I very much look forward to hearing from you with any help or advice you can give as soon as you possible can. Many thanks, Sara
RE: Mbu Puffer Dear Bob, Thanks for your prompt reply. As I understand it, I think you mean for me to try and get him back to his own environment, of sorts. <Yes, exactly... a major component of overall health, "self-curing"> I have to say, I haven't thought of that and feel somewhat ignorant that I haven't. I've always just thought it enough that I 'love him to bits'! and have provided enough space for him to swim, some things in his tank to stimulate him maybe shells and the like) and I give him hard shell cockles and mussels.  <All very good> On the whole I have never really experimented with his food as I have an underlying suspicion that on the odd occasion when I did, got it totally wrong and now think this may be the cause of his illness. Although I'm probably grabbing at straws as I really have no idea. <Methinks you're grasping some of those "straws"> As regards to his water, I've always just kept it Ammonia/Nitrite free, do regular water changes adding water conditioner and a little salt (I was told that he may like it). <Please read through the Net, books, articles concerning the water of Lake Tanganyika... there is considerable salt content... of certain nature> I was so hoping for a quick solution to his problem as I don't know how much more he can take, he is getting red veins in his fins, no doubt from the stress of being ill. He can no longer swim, I think I mentioned that?  <Yes, in a word, "stress"... but might only take a few weeks of water re-conditioning to rectify his condition. There are products (my fave by Mardel Laboratories) made for making "mains water" more like some of the Great Lakes of Africa... look for this> He can only shuffle along the bottom of the tank now, the effort of him trying to raise himself leaves him panting. I am reading your site, it's very informative and I will endeavor to make his environment 'more like home' but I just feel like I'm running out of time and it maybe too late anyway. But you think no more treatments? <No, no more... some of these are tremendously toxic... akin to treating yourself unnecessarily with antiprotozoal compounds... no need, no help for what is ailing this fish> I apologies for going on, but just very anxious now. Many thanks Sara <I understand. No worries. It is for concern, desire to help the life in your care. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Problem I think I may of messed up when selecting my fish. I have a 46 gallon bowed tank with 40 pounds of live rock etc. My ammonia is 0, nitrate is .2, ph is 8.2, and salinity is 1.021 with temperature a stable 79. I have had in the tank for about a month, a dwarf lionfish, and 2 green spotted puffers. Now I realize that the salinity may be a bit high, but I don't want it too low because of the lionfish, is this correct? The lionfish seems fine (he's just lazy), and the puffers seem to be getting a little lazier as time goes by. I have noticed that the puffers stomachs can turn brown almost daily now, but can clear up at any given time. I do feel the puffers have been overeating. I feed them a variety of food twice a day, and every second day, they feast on ghost shrimp, because I put enough in the tank to ensure the lionfish gets enough. (I can't trick him into non-living foods as of yet). So I guess I have many many problems, and my LFS gives me the worst advice in the world. So I guess I'm down to these questions: Is the salinity of 1.021 wayyyy too high?......Are the brown bellies the puffers get a sign of disease or stress?..... I'm sorry to bother you, <no bother at all. Salinity should be somewhere between 1.021 to 1.025. I have seen green spotted puffers in freshwater, salt water, and everywhere in between. I personally like to see them in brackish water. If they were acclimated slowly to full-blown salt water they should be ok. The color change is normal, as long as they are not showing any other signs of sickness. Does not sound like too much to worry about, just keep an eye on water quality and let us know if they are showing any other symptoms. Best Regards, Gage> Thank You, Brandon Roth

Arothron nigropunctatus Hello! Per your suggestion I have decided to turn my aquarium into a marine setup. The 3 Mono Sebae I have already are taking it very well and almost seem to enjoy all the new things to pick at!  <excellent!> What I wanted to ask about was inverts...are there any inverts that the Dogface Puffer (A. nigropunctatus plan to get won't make quick work of? Also, I've seen some sites that say that this guy is reef-safe and just as many that say he is not.  <not really... it is likely an undue risk. All crustacea are at risk and this toothy predator will much many macros and some soft invertebrates out of curiosity/search for tasty tidbits. Not reef safe by my definition> I don't plan on trying to maintain a full reef setup, but I have always kind of liked open brain corals, would this be a one-or-the-other situation?  <yes... not safe with most sessile invertebrates> I certainly don't want to wake up some morning only to find my puffer has efficiently cleaned the aquarium out of everything! I have had brackish puffers in the past and know they are quite able (and inclined) to eat everything in sight, but is there any possibility dogface puffers are different?  <nope... thanks for asking :) > I haven't placed an order for the puffer yet, I'm still letting the Monos settle in so if you have any pointers on puffer-safe inverts and hardy corals that would be awesome!  <for what its worth... the monos aren't fully reef safe either. Keep an eye on them. But do enjoy all with lovely live rock and plants. And to solve your coral compatibility problem... what of plumbing a fishless refugium inline (upstream perhaps) to keep corals in?> Thank for all the great support! You guys are awesome! Rachael <best regards, Anthony>

Unexplained Puffer Death Hello WWM Crew, <<And hello to you. JasonC here...>> So you don't feel too bad, I live in Austin and wont be able to make it to MACNA in Dallas. <<Just got back, you missed a good show.>> Here is my question(s). I have a 125 gallon FOWLR more of the FO than the Live Rock. My main concern is my striped puffer that just passed. He was the excitement of the tank. He was about 6 inches long and had been in the tank for 1 year. This morning I noticed that he was "bloated". He looked larger than usual but nowhere near inflated. I thought nothing of it. Today was LIVE food day for the tank which consist of ghost shrimp and crayfish. When I dumped the food in he didn't go after anything (very strange behavior). I then noticed him swimming into the glass and bumping into the rocks in the tank. It was about one hour later that I found him breathing but upside down on the bottom of the tank. I then went to move him to the 10 gal hospital tank, but before I even opened the lid, he had a convulsion and that was the end. <<Sorry to hear of your loss.>> I still moved him just in case he released any toxin. <<Good plan.>> During this convulsion he inflated but not completely, and never deflated. Upon a closer exam in the hosp tank, I found his eyes had blood in them. My wife said that he looked as if something was caught in his throat by the way he was breathing not rapid but struggled. Any thoughts???? <<Yes... my guess would be that your puffer had a chance encounter with one of the spines on the Volitans. As you probably know, these fish are venomous and while it probably didn't do this on purpose, still has these weapons out in the open all the time. Do I have any proof? No, but I honestly can't think of another reason for a fish kept for one year to just spiral down so quickly. I have heard from other aquarists about similar problems with their livestock when housed with Rabbitfish which are similarly venomous and all a fish needs to do is to bump into the wrong thing and that could be it.>> Specs on the tank: 125 FOWLR Eheim 2217 40 Gal wet/dry built in dual skimmers 8 watt UV Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 40 pH: 8.3 Temp: 81.5 F SG: 1.022 Water Source: Well with RO Tank Fishes: Zebra Moray 2.5ft Volitans Lion 9in Niger Trigger 4in Tomato Clown 1in - came with zebra. He swims in and out of the eels mouth. If the lion gets to close he darts for the eel. All fishes appear normal and ate like normal. No signs of toxin released or anything else. <<Good deal.>> Would it be okay to start the intro phase of another puffer (quarantine for a month)? <<I think so.>> Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. <<I would reconsider keeping the Volitans... I know these are beautiful fish but they get even larger than what it is now, and the possibility is always there for another fish to have a chance encounter, and even you... and let me tell you, it's quite painful.>> OH, by the way I love y'alls website, and looking forward to the new book!! <<Glad you enjoy the website.>> Chris <<Cheers, J -- >>

Dogface puffer Hello all.... (four days till MACNA, woo hoo!!!!!) At what size do you suggest that a dogface puffer has outgrown it's 72-gallon tank? <IMO, at about 6".> Lately, it seems that he has been getting larger by the day (and not just more round either!) and I am concerned for his future well being. I think I know of a home he can go to if I ask, but not sure how dire it is for him to be adopted right away. He is about 7 inches in length.  <I would begin inquiring about a larger home.> Your advice would be appreciated. Thanks bunches, Kim <You are welcome. See you at MACNA. -Steven Pro>

Puffer problem... Hello Mr. Fenner, how's it going? <<Hello, you got JasonC today - things are going well so far.>> Good I hope, I am hoping you can assist and/or advice me with a problem I'm having, I believe my new porcupine puffer has an air bubble inside him that he's not been able to spit up. I've had him for 2 days now, he's 4", no visible trauma or infections. I converted my brackish tank of 1 year a few days ago to full saltwater and removed all the old decor, added sand and live rock, and an Emperor filter. The nitrites, ammonia, all zero basically, pH 8.1, salinity 1.022, temp 78F. I removed all the old fish and he is alone but stressed I believe. I had fed him about 15 little guppies today so he's eaten, however he hangs out at the top corner, bottom, or behind the filter lip or heater, 9 years of keeping tropical fish tells me instinctively something's wrong when I see this behavior. <<Well... two days isn't a very long time when it comes to a fish feeling like it is well at home... need more like a couple weeks to a month before it will settle in. Any stress-related behaviors before then are just that, stress from the capture and transport.>> I admit this is only my second venture into saltwater however I feel I've acquired enough experience to keep it simple and successful. I tried a method I saw online to grab him inside the water and face his mouth upwards and his wiggling should release the bubble, well I got scared when them spikes started coming out so I tried the second method listed at the same forum which was to bring him slightly out of the water to let him take in some air and put him back. <<Oh my... you really shouldn't allow your puffer to gulp any air as this will likely exacerbate the problem.>> This made sense since I know I can take a bigger burp if I take in more air, so I tried it, twice in a minute and it SEEMED to work, however that little air bubble looking bump in his back under his skin has come back and I'm afraid I'm doing more harm than good. <<Yeah, not so wise to compare puffer physiology with human physiology... just not even close.>> I'm slowly losing confidence in myself all-together, maybe I chose the wrong fish to start with :( Can you tell me what could be going on please? <<No need to lose confidence. As long as the fish is eating - and I would consider some other type of food besides live feeders - you are doing alright, and there is a good chance the puffer will resolve this problem on its own, in time.>> I'm confident you've got a very clear idea of what's going on and how to remedy it. With my daughter to be born any day now and school full time and working full time I've just not got as much time as I would like to work on this, however I won't give up! From what I've heard you're the man to see for help! I greatly appreciate any help in advance, thanks so much Adam & Katie Bewley & baby <<Give it some time. Cheers, J -- >>

Arothron nigropunctatus  Hi Guys....Bob, Anthony, Steve <<Actually, JasonC this time...>> I just got back from the LFS......mistake #1 Thankfully I did not make mistake #2. They have a Black Dogface Puffer.... Arothron nigropunctatus is the species name listed on the stock list from their LA wholesaler. Don't worry I did not buy him and put him into a 25 gal tank or any other tank for that matter. I would like to put a hold on him though and set up a tank. <<If I can, I'd like to discourage you from this plan. It's going to take a month or better to produce a system suitable for housing this fish.>> He is GORGEOUS.....about 3 inches, velvety black with black speckled white fins, white speckles around his mouth and on his belly and white splotches around his gills. His eyes are golden. He looks very healthy. He is alert and active. They have had him 2 weeks. There is not a spot other than his markings on him and he is eating frozen krill. I fell in love. <<They are certainly cute.>> They suggested a 160g tank. Is this true? <<In the long haul, yes... these can get at least as big as your shoe.>> Most of what I have found says about 75g, if he is indeed the rarer black color morph of Arothron nigropunctatus. What is the smallest tank he could comfortably live in? <<Hmm... hard to say because I'm not a puffer. What would make you comfortable - living in a spacious house or a closet?>> Could I keep him in a smaller tank for a while and if so what would be the minimum size and for about how long? <<I'd start with the 75g.>> I have a garage full. What sized tank would be appropriate for quarantine right now while I set up and cycle a tank for him. <<You could quarantine in a 20-long but you'd need to be right on top of the water changes.>> How quickly do they grow? <<Depends on how much you feed.>> Do they usually reach the max size listed in the literature (11") in captivity? <<Not as often, but it is possible given the right conditions.>> What fish would make suitable tankmates? <<Other puffers or similarly tough-minded and friendly fish like a Huma trigger.>> Thanks as always for your help :), Leslie <<Cheers, J -- >>

Coldwater (Atlantic) Arothron Dear Bob. As you are supposed to be an expert in Tetraodontidae may I ask you if you can tell me something about the Arothron spp that a fisherman brought to us last day at our Aquarium Finsiterrae Spain. <Mmm, I know a little... more about the Balistidae (triggerfishes) of the same order> It was collect in Atlantic water 16?C . We presume that it is a tropical animal unlikely realized but we still don't know the species. I will appreciate your help on that mater. <Wow, this is cold (brrrr!), and yes, some Arothron species are found in cool, non-tropical waters. Generally, these do adapt to more warm water conditions (mid-20's C.) but should be thermally acclimated to such slowly (like a degree C. per week), otherwise kept at lower temp.s with a chilling mechanism. Will refer your question to our "Puffer Queen" Kelly Jedlicki for her input. Bob Fenner> Antonio Vilar <antonio@casaciencias.org> Aquarium Finisterrae - Casa de las Ciencias <http://www.casaciencias.org/>

Re: Coldwater (Atlantic) Arothron (right family, other genus) Dear Robert I thank you very much your quick answer I tried to send you the pictures of it but the line could not with it. Here it is again. What do you think about <Ahh, yes... this is almost certainly a Sphoeroides pachygaster (family Tetraodontidae). Please see fishbase.org here: http://www.fishbase.org/Country/CountrySpeciesSummary.cfm?Country= United%20Kingdom&Genus=Sphoeroides&Species=pachygaster Bob Fenner>

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

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

Ich Relapse/Puffer Emergency Hi, <cheers> A couple weeks ago you asked me to treat my porcupine puffer with a freshwater dip to treat parasites which I did. The treatments seemed to help a lot, but he got a new case a parasites a couple days ago. <alas... relapses are common with such Ich prone fishes as puffers tangs and angels> This time when I treated him, he blew up pretty big and it totally tore up his belly. He now has two flaps of skin hanging from him. Is there anything I can do to save my poor fish. Please help me ASAP <Yikes... just from a dip? I don't see how this was possible? There must have been something that we missed. At any rate, the situation sounds dire. Keep the fish isolated in QT and use only a mild antibiotic and water changes for the next week. We should re-evaluate after 5 days assuming the fish is still living. I'm sorry... I cannot explain the rupture... they simply are not "designed" to do that. It honestly doesn't sound good. However, rest assured that a normal freshwater dip had absolutely nothing to do with it. This fish has unseen problems> Thanks! Frank <kindly, Anthony>

Re: Puffer Emergency Anthony, <greetings> Thanks for your quick reply. I am so sad because I feel like I'm to blame.  <I am quite sure you couldn't have done this. It is a bizarre symptom of something else very wrong and even incurable. You could have left the fish in freshwater for a day and still not have "blown him up" Pufferfish simply do not work that way so to speak. No fault of yours, my friend> Do you think that it can heal? (I don't see how it can).  <I agree that euthanasia may be an issue (freezer in a bag of aquarium water... very gentle> Do you think he is suffering?  <cannot say> I would rather just put him out of his misery if he is and don't have much of a chance of surviving. I can't believe this happened. My son is going to be devastated. <you would know best by looking at the fish. Are you quite sure the air bladder ruptured? If so... I suspect death may be imminent> have you every seen this before? <not in 10 years> If you have any extreme professional advice, please let me know. Frank <as per above... I am sorry my friend. Anthony>

Re: Puffer Emergency Anthony, Just to clarify, the air bladder is definitely intact; it's the skin that surrounded it that ruptured. (The skin with the spines is broken in two pieces one attached to the front, the other to the back. Does this make my situation less dire? <yes... less dire, no less bizarre> The fish is basically just floating around, the same way as he was before this happened, but a little unresponsive. (Doesn't respond to my finger being in the water) Thanks! Frank <we might observe another day or two... but without a response to presence or feeding and given the nature of the injury... it is dreadful and not terribly hopeful. I'm sorry, my friend>

Porcupine Puffer Troubles Boogiechillin on Aquaria Central recommended I email you... <<Don't know Boogiechillin personally, but appreciate the recommendation... JasonC here.>> I have been having some troubles with my Porcupine Puffer. He *can't* eat.... He seems unable to suck the food into his mouth... I don't think it is the case, but I guess it is possible that he has beak overgrowth. <<It's the most likely explanation given the signs you describe.>> First, is there any way to determine this by physically looking at the fish?! <<Should be obvious that it really can't open its mouth.>> Or just guess that the reason he stopped eating. <<This is certainly possible - puffers are known to go into a funk and not eat for days to weeks for reasons only known to the puffers. As quickly as they stop, they start eating again.>> The real question here is, how would you correct beak overgrowth? Is there a way to file it down without harming the fish? <<There is a woman known as the Puffer Queen who routinely will anesthetize her puffers, remove them from the tank and then use a Dremel tool to file their teeth down. This is probably the best solution...>> My puffer does allow me to "pet" him, and "cup" him while he is in the water. So I would possibly be able to hold on to him and attempt to file down the beak....let me know your thoughts....you can see my thread on Aquaria Central: http://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/html/Forum5/HTML/004511.html <<There is a little more on the Dremel method here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/allpufferfaqs.htm >> Thanks for your time! <<Cheers, J -- >>

Puffer Inhaled Air Hi Bob, <<Actually, it's JasonC this time, how are you?>> I've been into saltwater aquariums for over 8 months now. I set up an old 29 gal I had for FOWLR and shortly after bought a fully established and full 50 gal reef setup. Earlier today I bought a porcupine puffer for the 29 that I had been watching in the pet store for over a month and a half now. <<Quick aside - these fish can grow to almost a foot long and can really mess up their tanks if you feed too much. Do consider a larger system for this fish soon.>> After equalizing, normalizing, or whatever you call the bag to tank period, I noticed the puffer has an air pocket in his puff sack back towards his tail keeping him at the top of the tank, face down at about a 20 degree angle. Him trying to swim is like trying to dive while wearing a life jacket. <<Good analogy.>> I feel very sorry for him. <<Yeah...>> As the store attendant (I refer to him this way as he clearly is not qualified to be anything else) was prepping the transfer I noted he got out a net. This did strike me as odd but having buyer euphoria, I did not even think to question it. The puffer was netted with little effort and stress. However, when the attendant was attempting to place the puffer into the bag/holding container, I noticed two loud grunts or gasps. I inquired, 'Was that the puffer?" to which the attendant said, "yeah, he's grinding his teeth." I'm quite positive I had an awkward look on my face when he said that. <<I think that was me grinding my teeth... you might want to mention something to the store owner or even place a call to mention the problem - if this fish passes on it really wouldn't be your fault, and in my opinion the store should replace it if that happens.>> It wasn't until I released him from the bag did I notice he was trying to dive and it wasn't working too well. Just then my roommate came in and asked 'Did he get air in him?' It was then that I realized that he was transferred incorrectly by the pet store. I called but the store had already closed for the evening. I plan to raise hell tomorrow, get my money back, and do my best to ensure that this attendant is never again allowed to sell fish. <<Don't raise too much hell, just explain politely that they should reconsider their capture techniques and get some insurance should you lose this fish.>> (by the way, this is not the first time I have had problems with this guy, or this store) <<Time to find a new store - after you get this puffer sorted out.>>  So now I'm stuck with a puffer that is mercifully bound to the top of my tank. Is there any way to remedy this situation, will he fix this himself, or is he bound to eventually die due to this incompetent person and my dimwitted attention? <<The odds are probably fifty/fifty - sometimes this works itself out, sometimes it doesn't. No easy way to predict.>> I've tried to gently hold the puffer in a way that his face/head is upward and might be able to let the air out but usually he just puffs up and tries to swim away. <<That's really about the best you can do.>> I don't want to stress him out anymore so I then abandon the attempt. <<Good plan for now.>> I was very excited to see this fish finally doing better and take him home. But now I have him and I am so upset. Please help!!! <<Be patient.>> Respectfully, Chris Bovia <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Puffer Inhaled Air I was looking through other FAQ's and I noticed the one about using a net underwater to try to massage the air out. I'm trying that now but he just keeps puffing up and the air pocket is still back there. I think I've stressed him out enough for tonight but still can't get the air out. <<Give it a little time to also acclimate to the new system... with any luck it might allow you to move that bubble around. Cheers, J -- >>

Help our Puffer (Mr. Spitzfinnley)...Please!!! We have had our puffer for 8 months now, unfortunately, being amateur marine owners we allowed the salt level to drop to .0145....for at least one week. Watching Spitz's abnormal behavior should have been our first clue.....we just didn't recognize.  <no worries... he's hanging in there and you have gained more insight to succeed> It's now a month and a half later.....we have read your book and been on your web sight......we are feeding him with a syringe 2 times a day....at first he would spit it out and now it seems like he his getting some. We do a water change, 1/4 about every 5 days do to the excess food. All tests are now normal, and have been for a week or two....  <all very fine> He has started to develop a large bubble in his rear area...beyond his right dorsal fin....I read how it could possibly attributed to air....what can we do to save our little fellow? We love him so....is he going to make it???? <he may have gulped air (you are sure the syringe is purged of air correct?)... and it often passes on its own. If it does not after a couple days (1-2) then net the fish in a soft white nylon net and grip the fishy gently under water through the net and orient its mouth pointing up to the surface: lets see if the massaging action of your grip does not "burp" the little bugger. Also... feed with a syringe no longer than you have to... its very stressful. Will the puffer eat any small live ghost or grass shrimp on its own? Best regards, Anthony>

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

Brown blotches on A. hispidus <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> Hello - I just found this site and read a bunch of the old Q&As. Also did some other research and I'm still confused about my sick stars & stripes puffer. I've had him a month, and he puffed up about 2 weeks ago when a bunch of people came by the house. Shortly after, I noticed some brown blotches on his face. They've grown slowly, and now there are some white blotches on his tail. Sometimes in the morning some stringy mucous stuff is hanging on his tail and body. <<These two things, the blotches and the mucus may not be related. Puffers change their color all the time, from light to dark and back again. The mucus may not be such a good sign... something in the tank perhaps stressing it. What else do you have for tank inhabitants?>> He's been eating all right, but this morning he was breathing really heavy so I moved him to a 10 gallon hospital tank. I added some copper because from what I had read it seemed he had a parasite. <<None of the signs you mentioned specifically mean parasites. Breathing heavy in puffers is not all that infrequent - they often take breaks and seem to "sigh", big deep breaths that make it look like they're having trouble when in fact they are just taking a break. Breathing very fast on the other hand, could be parasites in the gills. The copper is not necessarily your best, first choice when treating a puffer... their smooth skin and lack of scales make them especially sensitive to the condition of the tank water, and the copper is a major irritant for them.>> Now I'm not so sure what to do next. <<I would start with pH-adjusted, freshwater dips - http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm >> I'm at work and want to go home to make sure he's still alive! Thanks for any help. Your book "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" got me started - great work! Brian  <<Ahh, Bob will appreciate your kind words. Cheers, J -- >>

Puffer problems About four months ago my boyfriend and I bought a type of spotted puffer fish. I think it is called a moth puffer, but can't seem to find any info on it. Anyway, we have it in with a snowflake eel, they used to get along great, until I bought a blue ribbon eel.  <my goodness... what a passive and inappropriate fish for this tank with assertive tankmates. Please research your new fishes before buying them. There is an avalanche of information available everywhere detailing how delicate and difficult ribbon eels are> When I first got it they did great together, they even slept next to each other. but one day my puffer puffed up for no reason, it wasn't even scared (it usually turns solid black), and after that day she/he has been acting fairly odd, her belly sags, she nips at the ribbon's back, and has become more territorial than usual.  <ribbons are passive and can be killed/nipped by even tangs and angels. The puffer will undoubtedly kill the ribbon in time if the snowflake doesn't snap on it first>  also I tried buying store bought shrimp for them instead of their krill diet (cheaper and bigger) and now the puffer is really getting territorial.  <this has nothing to do with food> I used to feed it by hand and now she goes after me instead of the food. She chases the eels out of her turf and won't eat her krill. I stopped feeding them the store shrimp to see if it was that, but so for nothing has changed.  <tank size sounds like a mitigating factor> the eels hide in their underground cave and are quite content to never come out.  <they will suffer from attrition, stress or both in time... the puffer has to go> I was wondering if she might be laying eggs (if the happens) or if she/he is just an aggressive puffer?  <simply an aggressive puffer like most. Many species grow well over a foot long. If this is not a serious aquarium (300+ gallons then you may have even worse problems shortly> if you have any info please tell me. <do check out www.fishbase.org for speciation> -Danielle <best regards, Anthony>

DOG FACE PUFFER I HAVE A DOG FACE PUFFER ,THAT HAS WHITE SPOTS BEHIND HIS FRONT FINS, THIS COMING AFTER THE FIRST TIME HE PUFFED UP AND HAVE NEVER LEFT, IT HAS BEEN 5 MONTHS NOW THAT HE HAS HAD THE WHITE DOTS, TRIED MEDICATING WITH NO LUCK? WHAT CAN I DO? HOW DO I DO FRESH WATER DIPS? <after five months it simply does not sound like a disease... no worries> HE EATS GREAT AND ALWAYS ACTS THE SAME AS WHEN I GOT HIM.....AND SECONDLY WHY IS IT THAT ALL PET STORES SAY THAT YOU CAN'T PUT TWO DOG FACE PUFFERS IN THE SAME TANK? THEY HAVE TO MATE RIGHT? <they only mate briefly in the wide open ocean and are very territorial for the other 99.9% of their life. Your aquarium is not even remotely largely enough unless you have a 10,000 gallon pool that you didn't mention <VBG>> I AM A FIRST TIMER BUT HAVE HAD TWO TANKS FOR OVER 2 YEARS AND NEVER HAD A FISH DIE.....DON'T WANT TO BREAK THE LUCKY STREAK......THANKS FOR THE HELP SCOTT <keep reading and learning Scott. It sounds like you could use a few good books too. Try Untergasser's, "Handbook of Fish Diseases", and Fenner's, "Conscientious Marine Aquarist". Also, my friend... please know that it is very hard for most folks to read fully capitalized messages like the one you have typed. It is also an internet courtesy to not print that way unless you are trying to convey SHOUTING or emotion. No worries, my friend.. I trust that you are new and did not know this. Best regards to you in your endeavors. Anthony>

White patches on puffers Greetings all, thanks for your time. <cheers... and quite welcome> I'm an experienced aquarist, but this has me stumped. Our panther puffer recently developed white patches on his back, just to the rear and the right of the dorsal fin. The largest patch has grown. It has a white color, the best description I can give you is that it looks like someone put spackle on his back. Its contoured to his skin, and appears hard. <interesting> A brackish green spotted puffer was fine until this morning, he has now developed the same patch, same spot, and even larger in proportion to his size. Finally, our porcupine puffer has a small similar spot on his back. Before bothering anyone with this, I attempted treatment in the following manner. The fish were put in a plain bottom hospital tank that has been running for months. I treated first with Maracyn, for a full week, no improvement. I then tried Maracyn-Two, again, no results. I then tried a marine penicillin, and it has not helped either. <I'm very glad to hear of the applied QT tank, but the meds were ill advised. Such patches on puffers are generally parasitic (although the mucus response may look bacterial). Even if the pathogen is bacterial, the drugs used were almost useless (and are for most applications). Maracyn is Erythromycin and with Penicillin are gram-positive drugs. Gram positive infection are VERY rare in marine fishes and even if you had one, these two drugs are so weakly effective from decades of pathogen resistance. Maracyn 2 is a synthetic tetracycline and is also an outdated drug now resisted by many evolved bacteria. It is at least a broad-spectrum med. When using antibiotics... go for broad spectrum meds> Any ideas on what this is?  <parasite or protozoan> And if so, how to treat?  <formalin dips or long baths/treatments in QT. Merthiolate and/or Iodine swabs directly on the patches if you feel very frisky> The fish are all behaving normally, eating hungrily as always. NONE of the other fish these guys share habitat with (they're in 2 separate tanks normally) have developed this condition, including tangs, which seem to catch everything. <tough fish... they will likely be fine. Do consider Aquarium Products brand and dose of Formalin. Be careful of any brand that mixes an organic dye with the Formalin! Puffer are sensitive to dyes> I greatly appreciate your time. Thanks, Dave Schoen Long Beach, NY <BTW Dave... I'll be giving a presentation to the LA county marine society in October... perhaps you'd care to visit their club (unless you are already a member). MASLAC. Best regards, Anthony>

New Tank Hi, <<And hello to you.>> I am writing to you on behalf my friend who has recently set up (3 months ago) a 120 gallon tank in her office. She added a black dog faced puffer three weeks ago, previous occupants were one gold domino damsel and a cleaner wrasse. Unfortunately, she did not use a QT tank and the next morning before the lights came out noticed white spots on the puffer's stomach where the cleaner was picking; these spots quickly disappeared once the wrasse moved on. Within a week, there were a few spots on the fins, however, the puffer was allowing the wrasse to clean him so we were going to monitor. The few spots on fins have not become worse or better, however, I noticed within the last two days the puffer is only pumping one gill, so this morning we did a 10 minute FW water dip. The odd thing is when I put the puffer in the FW, very white spots came out on the back/stomach area again then went away. A bunch of stuff came off the puffer, and larger whitish things too, maybe it threw up?? <<perhaps... or something from the other end... ;-) >> The puffer really began to stress out at 10 minutes, so I removed from FW dip. The puffer is still not using his gill, and I can still see a few white spots on fins and one little spot of cloudiness on the fin. I never see any other spots on body, other than the two times mentioned that seem to disappear as fast as they appear. <<This is not really abnormal for puffers - their skin is sensitive so you see these things more often.>> Also, the little damsel, has no signs of anything, however, within a few days ago has began to breath heavier and twitch a little, she opens her gills for the wrasse, but the wrasse only cleans the outside body. <<Interesting, but keep the faith - damsels and puffers are quite resilient.>> We went out last night and purchased her a 20 gallon QT tank to get her through this and so she can QT her fish in for a few weeks before releasing into the 120 gallon. <<Good plan.>> I took 15 gallons of water out of my 72 gallon reef which has been set up for a year, and has not had any new additions from for 4 months. I added 5 new gallon mix as well. I tested the water this morning and there are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, nitrates 20, ph 8.3, alk 2.5. <<Sounds like it's ready to go.>> We are going to try and catch the damsel, (which will be hard as this is a FOWLR tank) and the puffer tonight. I thought of using copper in QT tank for the damsel, but, I know I cannot use that with the puffer's scaleless skin. <<Actually, you can, you just need to be cognizant of the fact that the copper will irritate the puffer and cause stress, but probably not more so than the disease already is. If you do choose to use copper, do stay within the recommended dose. If this concerns you, stick with the freshwater dips, perhaps one every other day. These fish are very hardy and should be able to tolerate this regimen.>> I will continue the FW dips daily, but, I feel we will need some medication either in FW dips, or placed in QT tank. <<You could also use formalin or a formalin/malachite green mix like Quickcure.>> Right now all fish are in main tank because, I needed to get water tested in QT tank first. <<I wouldn't be concerned about this if you are set on dosing medications in the QT tank. Reason being that a biological filter would be well-challenged to develop in this situation. Best to know you are in-line for water changes every day in quarantine - perhaps 10-25% daily.>> Please help me with a plan of action.. both fish are absolutely beautiful and we really want them to be ok and need help with treating both simultaneously. Also, please lend advice on the main tank. should we leave alone for 4 weeks with no host or will she need to do hypo salinity? <<I would go for six weeks, and dropping the salinity to 1.018 - 1.019 for a week or two during that time would help as would raising the temperature to about 82F or so.>> As always thanks, Nikki
<<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Hi Bob (thanks to WWM) Don't be fooled by new e-mail addy .. its my hubbys !! .. you can reply to XXXX please :) I just wanted to show my appreciation of all that your site has done for me. I was so desperate when I first found your site and have found nothing but kindness there Here is a pic of my Panda puffa AKA Chi Chi!! and my wonderful saved tank LOL ( oh and my Tang!! ) Take care thank you Bob
Gill xx
<Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Puffer fish-cloudy water Hello again. My mother emailed you last week in reference to my 12 yr old dog face puffer. We had to go out of town on a family emergency and we are back now. We did a water change b4 we went and his salt was low so we brought his salt back up to the proper level. He's doing much better. His color is back to normal but he's not eating still (6 days now without eating) <Don't give up hope. Have seen species like this go w/o apparent food for weeks> and he has labored breathing, he is also swimming again too. I've done a few water changes and just did a water test. All test look good except his nitrate is high. The test kit says to put in live plants. Not sure and was going to go to the fish store to ask what to do in the morning. Also the water is still cloudy. Any suggestions to help ease him through the night? Patrice <Work on reducing those nitrates. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: DOG FACE PUFFER Dog face puffer acting so strange, swims side ways, jittering and all over the place. now what he is spinning, go side ways <a move to a quiet hospital tank if there are other fishes in with him may proffer some relief. Else, time will tell...  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferFAQs.htm>

Re: DOG FACE PUFFER What is the usual life span of a dog face puffer. have one that is going on 12 years <This is a good long time. There are records of Tetraodont puffers in public aquarium settings for mid twenties of years> We just moved but he has done great, going on 3 weeks. but now he sits at the bottom of the tank, won't eat and is turning brown, his fins are all down also. <Mmm, the color change is problematical... am sure you have experienced bouts of non-feeding and sedentary behavior before though> he is eating the same food, just in a different shape. sorry about the caps. work in them and forget to change it back. <No worries. We like to keep all consistent for others use as well as our own. I would try some other foods, perhaps a large water change, a lowering of temperature (a few degrees over a few days time)... to see if this will "stir" your puffer. Bob Fenner> thanks so much for your quick response. <Do take a read through others experiences we have stored here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferFAQs.htm>

Parasite?  Hi guys... <<And hello to you.>> Quick question. I have a porcupine puffer that I've had for about a month. Water is fine, he eats well, and is very happy, but he has this white thing in his eye. <<Egads...>> The eye isn't cloudy, but has this solid white line that seems to be moving (not to look at it, more like in a few hours it will have moved to a different part in his eye). <<fascinating.>> At first I though he scratched it, but when I saw that it looked like it was in a different spot a little while later I knew it wasn't something that was an injury. Please let me know what this might be and how I can cure "Mohawk" my puffer. Thanks much guys...your site is great and has helped me a lot in the past. Keep up the great work!! <<Well, that is certainly interesting and disconcerting at the same time. I think I would tackle this with a pH-adjusted freshwater dip. The change in specific gravity will hopefully pop this odd creature. Your puffer should be able to tolerate a good long bath, perhaps 10 to 15 minutes should do it. Check out this URL for more information about dips: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm >> David <<Cheers, J -- >>

Dogface puffer Hi, I have a dogface puffer and I noticed his skin is discolored throughout his whole body. He appears to be blotchy and the blotchy areas are very light.  <hmmm... is the fish new? Often puffers secrete a lot of mucus and as such attract debris. Still... be observant in the near future/days for the chance of disease> He is eating well and is swimming around freely. I also noticed what appear to be very very tiny white things, about 200 in number, bunched together around my heater. I want to say they are some type of parasite but not exactly sure which one? They swim around the tank freely as well?  <definitely not a parasite... too large to be so. Most likely a wonderful and beneficial plankton from a piece of live rock> Can these guys be making my puffer look like crap?  <Certainly not> I did a 20% water change on Thursday and they haven't seem to go away. <you'll want to keep these creatures... likely copepods> My salinity is at 1.020 and my temp is 81 degrees F. I have an Amiracle PL2000 wet/dry system with a Polyfilter that I removed while treating my tank. I am on the second day of treating my tank with Oodinex as per the local fish store recommendation. Do you have any idea what the heck is going on?  <wow... not only are you targeting the wrong creatures (the plankton swarming by your heater, but the medication you have added to the display has likely contaminated your calcareous substrate (sand, gravel, live rock, coral decorations)... and puffers are scaleless fishes and VERY sensitive to medications like organic dyes. Your puffer is likely being poisoned/sickened by the meds. Do be sure to medicate all fishes in a bare bottomed quarantine tank only... never in a display tank> Will fresh water baths with Formalin 3 help? <FW dips are a very good idea and plain formalin would help... BUT any formalin product with an organic dye like malachite green or Methylene blue will again sicken the puffer>

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