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FAQs about Puffer Food, Feeding, Nutrition 2

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

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

A finicky eating boxfish is a rare thing indeed. A female Whitley's shown. 

Puffer will not eat     11/18/17
Hi Bob and Team, as always thanks for the great advice you give. 15 days ago I got a 7.5" golden puffer. It was supposed to have been in someone's tank for 2 yrs, but I believe it has not been and am pretty sure it was wild caught Hawaiian and not eating so the person sold it to me.
<Mmm; not Hawaiian. I dive there frequently... had to look up on Fishbase.org though. Not found there>
It started in QT but didn't move and tucked it's fins in a ball so after a bit, I put it in my 180 predator display.
<Oh! Might be intimidated here>
Water parameters are good- 5 to 10 ppm nitrates, salinity 1.025. Large sump with a monster skimmer & water changes every 2 weeks of 25%.
It has no tankmates to bother him, just 2 lg eels that stay in their tunnel except every 3 days they come out to eat, a sm green spot puffer that eats and is full and doesn't do much. It's skin and appearance look good, it's thin and it's color is lighter that usual, it does swim around the tank a bit and sit on things.
I've read tons of your FAQ's on puffers not eating and have tried every food I can think of- live mussels/clams/oysters on half shell, silversides, algae wafers, krill, squid, shell on shrimp, live emerald crabs, hermits, small marine snails, fish chunks, scallops. Been to a couple stores to get ghost shrimp & peppermint shrimp but they've been out. Found some peppermint shrimp I'm picking up tomorrow to try live food. Spent a lot on food options and willing to do about anything to get the puffer eating. The puffer will look at food but not eat it at all. From reading FAQ's I have an idea of how to force feed.
<Mmm; I'd still keep offering the assortment you list for another few weeks. Really; these fish (Arothron puffers period) can go w/o food for a long time>
At this point should I force feed a mash of food, vitamins, and perhaps garlic guard that are recommended in FAQ's? Or anything else I can try?
Should I see if it eats the peppermint shrimp before force feeding, or try force feeding first?
<I'd hold off for now>
P.S. I wrote about an orange shoulder tang with an eye problem a while ago and followed your advice. The fish has recovered, is in my large reef system and is fat, healthy, gobbling food and begging for food! So thanks!
<Ah good. Please write back in 2-3 weeks w/ an update Flo. Do try the open bivalve/s, shrimps... w/ a food/stimulant product soaked in a few minutes ahead of offering. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Puffer will not eat      11/22/17
Hi Bob, I am happy to report that the golden puffer started eating!
<Ahh! What I like; good news>
He was really interested in the snails, hermits and peppermint shrimp and after he looked at those for a couple days he ate what I gave him. I kept offering foods as you suggested and he began nibbling bay scallops and progressed to eating large shrimp pieces. He didn't like the garlic guard but is eating the shrimp well without it.
<Heeee! Fussy>
I'll keep trying other foods too. He is now full and fed, which is great because I was so worried. Here's a funny picture of how the introduction of peppermint shrimp went a few days ago.
<Thank you for your note Flo. BobF>

One way to avoid predation...

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>

Question... puffers on sudden hunger strike    9/5/12
<Hi there Jay>
I've just brought home a new fish (Popeye Catalufa). He is in QT right now and doing great! For some reason my fish in my main display have virtually stopped eating. My Longhorn Cowfish and Dogface Puffer
<Mmm... you know both are capable of producing toxic release...?>

 in particular have gone on complete hunger strike for 3 days now. My QT tank is about 10 feet from the main display. Is it possible that the fish are stressed out by the Catalufa in QT?
<I don't think so>
 The Cowfish has always been a "slob" at feeding time but know nothing at all. I've had him for about a year and a 1/2 now.
Water parameters are perfect and I've changed nothing else.
For the time being I've put a divider in front of the QT tank so it cannot be seen by the main tanks inhabitants. Can this possibly be the cause?
<I suspect something else is at play here... Perhaps there was a physical injury, or something "spooked" your puffers... I would do nothing overt here... perhaps add a bit of activated carbon to the filter flow path...
All will solve itself in time if there was an incident (i.e., that there's nothing wrong w/ the system itself). >
Thank you,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
 Re: Question...    9/5/12

Thanks Bob,
<Welcome Jay>
I'm thinking it may be an internal parasite inside the Cowfish? I've read that they are common in Cowfish.
<Yes; actually in all vertebrates>
 There are no aggressive fish that could have bothered it, plus I've been watching the tank for hours to no avail.  It's been 3 days without food, and right now it's in the top right back corner with black "stress" markings on it.
<Mmm, there are a few larger possibilities as to cause, but I'd tell you that such feeding strikes, apparent stress are not a reason for over-reaction. I encourage you to take a longer-term view... be patient, not do anything overt>
 I'm quite sure it has been releasing toxins for 3 days as well.  The other fish seem to have less appetite but are behaving normally maybe because of the toxins.
<May be>
I only have one QT tank which is occupied right now and just don't know what to do about this.
<I wouldn't move any of the fishes just yet... maybe spiff up the skimmer, add Polyfilter, activated carbon in the water/filter flow path... when/where in doubt, change water. BobF>

Puffer fish... rdg. fdg.  – 05/13/12
Hello I have a Stars & Stripes puffer, and also a Niger both babies.
<... get much larger>
 Looking in to getting a Humu trigger and a Porc puffer to finish my tank.
I have two questions one can I start a separate tank for breeding rams head snails and common snails. Will these be alright for a marine puffer.
<Not of much food value... I wouldn't do this>

Second with empty shells , would I be able to take clams, mussels , shrimp, veggies, with some beneficial additives , in a sense blender them and fill hermit shells with all the combined foods, freeze them and feed them that.
<Nor this... see WWM re all these fish species, their food/feeding/nutrition FAQs files. Bob Fenner> 

Clams producing black hairy algae... Puffer foods...  11/05/09
I've had the weirdest puffer for a year now.
He will NOT eat the shrimp or snails in the tank.
<Second such message of the day.>
He will NOT even eat the clams unless I break a small hole for him to start with.
<Make sure the food offered is sensible. A pufferfish obviously can't crack open a clam the size of its head. In general, the puffer needs to be able to take the clam into its mouth more or less whole (imagine the difference between eating a cherry versus a watermelon). Pufferfish don't nibble away at shells to open them, as if they were peeling open a can of beans. Those whole clams 2-3 cm in diameter you buy from the grocery store would only be eaten whole by pufferfish measuring some 30 cm or so in length. So you really must be careful what you offer puffers. In most cases, pulverising the clam/snail and letting them simply wear down their teeth as they chew the piece of food works better.>
He loves flake food and pellets.
<Hunger makes the best sauce. Let the puffer go without food for a week or two, and that'll get him interested.>
I try to keep him away from that and encourage the clams for his teeth grinding but my problem is this: every time I put in a clam, the hairy black algae grows crazy.
<That's a water quality problem.>
I got 10 snails (turbo & i forget) to eat algae, but they couldn't keep up or didn't like it, and they did not multiply at all like I heard they do, and most are dead.
<Do read here:
Even if Turbo snails eat a given type of algae, in a pufferfish tank, they'll be pestered. While the puffer mightn't eat them whole, it certainly would peck at them, making it impossible for the snails to graze freely.
Ergo, dead snails.>
Any ideas? I'm thinking of breaking open snails to feed if they don't produce algae.
<Why would snails produce algae? Do you mean *eat* algae?>
I heard of feeding silverside or shrimp.
<A little of each is fine. Shrimp contains a lot of thiaminase, so has to be used sparingly. Once or twice a week is fine, especially if fortified with marine fish vitamin supplements. But certainly augment with foods lacking thiaminase, such as cockles. Do read here:
He will eat dead store shrimp, but the membrane on silversides & shrimp are not very hard if I could bite through without MY teeth grinding down.
<Correct. Largely useless for wearing down their beaks. Crayfish, crab legs, etc. much better. Pulverised mussels good too, but rich in thiaminase, so use sparingly.>
So My 2 Q's are this:
1) Is the thin skin of a shrimp really enough to grind down his beak?
<No. Do read here:
The authors of the first article suggest using a rotary saw with MS-222 to sedate your Puffer; in the second article, I describe using cuticle clippers and clove oil with freshwater puffers to sedate them. In either case, trimming beaks is not as difficult as you might think.>
2) What loves to eat black algae that is obviously from clams?
<Not obviously from the clams at all, but from the elevated nitrate/phosphate levels that result from overfeeding. Oh, and nothing much eats it, assuming it's some type of red algae or blue-green algae.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: clams producing black hairy algae - 11/07/09
thank you very much! I never received so much response.
<My pleasure.>
The only thing I disagree with is that my tank was algae free for well over 6 months, and 2 days after a clam, BOOM black hair algae.
<When the clams die and decay, they produce ammonia and other chemicals.
These "feed" the algae in your tank like a fertiliser, and as you say, BOOM, black hair algae everywhere. The relationship is quite well known.
It's called eutrophication.>
It even stopped when I used to put shrimp in a cleaned out clam shell, see:
<That's a big shell! I'm surprised this Arothron can even get at the food.
The idea isn't to crack the puffer's teeth open, but rather to have him wear them down gradually. Try using pulverised mussels and clams, crab legs, whole shrimp, and other such foods instead.>
then started again upon more clams. Thanks again!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Puffer Fish Feeding, SW gen.  9/30/09
Hello Crew!!
Hope all is well with you all. Well, I have another question that has cropped up regarding my porcupine puffer and my dog face puffer. I can't seem to get these guys to eat any hard stuff (i.e clams, mussels, snails) except for ghost shrimp.
<I'd split these open for now...>
I do worry about their teeth over-growing and I'm not sure if ghost shrimp will do the trick or even be a healthy enough meal for them. The porcupine is so slow that usually he doesn't get to the shrimp before my Hawkfish does and I can't seem to get him to eat anything other then mysis which I now soak in vitamins. He'll try krill and spit it back out, won't even look at the silversides. I ended up digging out the fresh oysters and scallops I tried. I crushed a fresh clam open (gross) and he wasn't interested in the least,
<Use a knife to slice open...>
the dog face investigated it but then left but the hermit crabs had a hay day.
The hermits are part of the family now as I originally got them to hopefully entice these guys to try some hard shelled foods.
I've even soaked everything in garlic but that hasn't worked either. Any ideas?
<A bag of mixed frozen seafood...>
Is mysis soaked in Selcon good enough?
<Not indefinitely, no>
Even when I mix foods, porcupine only picks out the mysis.
<Do look into Spectrum pelleted foods... these are completely nutritious and very palatable... See WWM:
I do have some Mystery/Apple snails at home that constantly lay eggs, should I try baby snails
after they hatch? I usually give them to my LFS.
Thanks again....Jill in Minnesota
<Not really worth trying. Keep reading Jill... WWM re feeding puffers... Bob Fenner>

Question about Puffer eating.  8/04/08 Hi I have a 150 GAL tank. In this tank, I have 1 Diodon holacanthus (Porcupine Puffer), 1 Cyclichthys schoepfi (Striped Burrfish or Spiny Box Puffer) and 2 Tobies that's all. I just got this Spiny Box Puffer about 1 month ago. He has no problem with eating, but with a little problem. When I fed them, Porcupine Puffer is the one eat all the big food ( such as Krill, Pawn .... ) Spiny Box Puffer is too slow to eat. He will swim around, and take a look. When he decides to eat, the food already taken by Porcupine Puffer. At the end, he ends up only eat a little. <Mmm> I tried to put Porcupine Puffer in a different area ( a breeding box) when I fed them. However, Porcupine Puffer seems don't like it, and I don't want to stress he out too. Is there any way I can fed them both at the same time, and also let Spiny Box Puffer has chance to enjoy some food too? Thank you. <It reads here that you may well need to separate the one fish... perhaps forever, to assure that it gets sufficient food... w/o psychological hassling from others... Perhaps a partition will work for now, but the fishes you list (will) need a much larger volume... Bob Fenner>

Training a Puffer to Eat "Dead" Food 10/04/07 Hi, <Hi Amy, Pufferpunk here.> I have a puffer related question: I'm having trouble getting my new puffer to eat cockle in it's shell. At the pet store he was given prawn once a day and he now refuses to eat any of his natural food. Is there a trick to get him to eat this? <Non-moving, dead foods are not a "natural" food for a fish that has been eating live foods in the wild. You will have to train your puffer to eat dead foods. "For the bigger puffers that feed on meatier foods such as mussel, prawn, and krill, the technique is movement. Once thawed the food can be placed on a skewer and can be twisted and bobbed in front of the puffer. Alternatively, the food can be tied to a piece of thread and dangled in front of the filter current. Tongs can also be used and it shouldn't be long before a puffer will readily accept these foods. Many puffers even come to recognize the implements used to feed them! Soaking the food in a garlic solution can also reportedly assist with stimulating the puffer to eat. Another important factor when feeding puffers is patience. Do not expect the food to be accepted on the first try. If it is accepted then kudos is due, but be prepared to try several times over." For more info, see: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/problems-feeding-your-puffer/ > Thanks, Amy <Please, next time you write us be sure to check your punctuation, capitalization & spelling before sending. This letter was short, so I corrected it for you. We can't post letters like the one you sent into our FAQs, in the way it was presented. Thank you, PP>

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>

Crab Claw has Death Grip on Puffer! 7/13/07 Hello all, great website. <Hi, Pufferpunk here & thanks!> I researched as much as I could and could not find anything on my particular issue. I have a saltwater stars and stripes puffer. Today I just fed him his first feeder crab. Everything was fine until he went in for his 3rd or 4th strike and the crab pinched him on the face. When he backed away, the crab's claw broke off and stayed attached to his face. I resisted the urge to catch him and pull it off as I figured that would cause more damage. My questions are as follows: What should I do if anything?? <It should eventually release itself. If you feel the need to & you can actually hold the puffer down (in the water) long enough to remove the claw, you're welcome to try. I'm pretty sure this must happen in nature.> Will this cause any long term damage?? <I just fed my large freshwater Fahaka puffer a big crayfish & it pinched him several times. As soon as the puffer was able to shake off the Cray, he bit it's claws off. Puffers have quite a thick "hide". I don't see any damage on my puffer & no marks left at all.> Have you ever heard of this happening before?? <Yup, see above.> I appreciate any insight you can give me as I am pretty much a rookie with saltwater and all the knowledge I have has come from the web and friends. Oh and here is a little info about my setup: Fish with live rock (no corals) 125 gallon all glass, 2 canister filters (Fluval 405 and 403), Aquanetics 25 IL quartz UV filter, crushed coral substrate, undergravel with 2 big powerheads, Berlin protein skimmer and a powerhead running through the live rock. Currently I have 2 dual strip fluorescents with actinic and daylight bulbs, as well as moon lighting. I am actually leaving in a few to purchase a light with 4 96 watt power compacts as an upgrade. Also in the future I plan to move to an overflow/sump setup as I have heard canisters are not the best of options but I got the whole setup off of a friend for $100 and couldn't pass it up. <Great price! I'd get rid of that UG filter. I know it'll probably be difficult but it's not necessary in a SW set up. It will become a nitrate factory, unless you can do weekly gravel cleaning. As far as the substrate, live sand would have been better. Keep a very close eye on the nitrates & do water changes accordingly, to keep them below 20. You're right about the canisters--also nitrate factories. You could use them for chemical filtration, like bags of carbon, ChemiPure, Purigen, etc. A good skimmer & lots of live rock should be all the filtration you need. A sump/refugium is an added bonus.> Livestock: Yellow Tang, Blue Damsel, Green Chromis x2, blue face angel, flame angel, zebra eel (very small because I just got him) and the stars and stripes puffer. I do not plan on adding any more livestock at the present moment until I upgrade my equipment some... Thanks again for your help, I'm not overly concerned, just don't really want to put my puffer (Mr Sean Combs aka P diddy) in jeopardy. <It sounds like your puffer has a great home. Not to worry about him getting damaged by his "food". ~PP>

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

Re: Bloated Puffer 7/6/07 Hi PP, <Hey Chris> Thanks for the reply. I know that the krill only is not the best diet, so I actually tried silversides (didn't eat them) <Most puffers are not fish eaters.> and recently put in a cleaner crew of 100 Turbos and 100 blue-legged crabs. To my surprise he ate every single one! He would pick up the shell and crush them. So his diet isn't just krill really. <Yes puffers ware crustacean eaters & will generally eat your cleaner crews. This doesn't change the fact that up till now, his diet was mostly krill. He needs to get off that food immediately.> Is it possible that he ate something that he can't digest? Maybe ate one of the crab shells without crushing it first? <I really doubt it, since that is it's natural diet in the wild.> I read the link you sent and when he gets better I will definitely vary his diet. <I'd still try to offer him some veggies & see if he tries them.> Thanks for your help, <Of course! ~PP> Chris

Unknown puffer stopped eating; Reading needed - 06/03/07 Hello how you doing, <Hi Joe. Quite fine.> I purchased a puffer fish about a year ago. <What type of puffer? I can only guess from the symptoms it might be a porcupine puffer, which often show these symptoms, but it could be any other species.> My puffer was always eating anything I put in the tank and it would eat a lot. <A lot food means a lot input to your tank. Check your water to ensure there is no problem related to poor water quality. Nitrates should be at least below 30, if they are not, do water changes.> Recently about a week ago it just stopped eating, it would go up to the food (frozen krill) look at it and swim away, sometimes he would do circles in the tank. <If krill was the main or even the only type of food, your puffer may have a deficiency disease sometimes termed lock jaw. In that case search WWM for lock jaw to find more information.> I really don't see anything wrong with him except for a lump on the upper body. <This lump can be a serious bacterial problem. See e.g. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BurrfishDisFAQ2.htm for the post "Sick porcupine puffer 05/13/07" and act.> I tried dipping krill in some garlic, but still no response if you can please help I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you. Joe. <You are welcome. Good luck with your puffer. Marco.>

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.>>

Proper puffer food… raw of course II - 05/16/07 thanks very much! <No problem.> Just a stupid question... you can ignore this if you want?! Then why do us human have to cook it? <Most things can be eaten raw by humans, too. Some things have to be cooked to make them non-toxic for humans e.g. green beans. Little anecdote: In 1999 at the European Vegetarian Congress 40 people were poisoned by a salad of raw green beans. Cooking meat is also useful to get rid of diverse pathogens in the food and to make the uptake of proteins easier.> When all the nutrients are gone? I guess maybe our make up is different from a fish?? hehe <True, but we humans have the possibility to get vitamins from vegetables and fruits, things a puffer rarely would consume, if at all. The puffer needs the vitamins from his prey. After 100.000s years of cooking our digestive systems have adapted to this kind of nutrition. It's especially useful if lots of proteins are needed to develop a large brain. Cheers, Marco.>

Blind puffer - 04/13/07 My black puffer seems to be blind although he seems to be perfectly healthy. It started after a stressful event when I had to trim his teeth. He stressed out and got kinda sick looking so I put him in my hospital tank. <Did you anaesthetize him properly? Read the two WWM articles on trimming puffer teeth, if you have not yet. Did you accidentally touch his eyes or have you used to much force while trimming the teeth?> He looks great now, but isn't eating on his own. If I hand feed him and put it in his mouth he eats very enthusiastically. <Carry on feeding him that way. Provide a varied diet enriched with vitamins and hope the best.> I think he just can't see the food. His eyes look perfect and he moves them around. You'd never guess there was anything wrong with this fish. Ever heard of this kind of thing? <All blind puffers I have seen had cloudy or wounded eyes.> Do you think it might cure itself? <No, if he is really blind. I hope I am wrong.> Thanks for your help. <You are welcome. Good luck. Marco.> Greg.

Re: Puffer not eating  - 3/12/07 Hello, My puffer is still not eating (for about a month and a half). I guess that clam she ate was really a reflex reaction. Every day I offer her several types of food, but she ignores them completely. Are there any substances I could add to the water that would stimulate her appetite? I am getting desperate and out of ideas. I am considering force feeding, but from what I've read it is very stressful and more often than not useless. As for your question about: <<What type of cleaner?>> The cleaner fish in my tank is a cleaner wrasse, yes, and occasionally bothers the puffer when picking at her tail and fins. <This Labroides should be removed... may be THE problem here. RMF> What else can I do? Any advice would be very welcome. <<Are you not receiving my emails properly? I have suggested the same things numerous times.  Please try them. As I suggested in the previous two emails, you can 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).  The fishing-line trick tries to mimic the action of live food, so if that worked, my guess is something live will do the trick.  As I've also said, after you try these things, if she still will not eat, I'll walk you through the force-feeding process.  Please try the suggestions before writing back with the same questions. Lisa Brown>> Kind regards, Katja

Re: Puffer not eating  - 3/12/07 Hi, No, I received your e-mail. Sorry, I was not clear enough in my reply. I have tried all the suggestions, but nothing worked. She ignores the shrimp. <<Ah ok.>> The garlic and rearrangement did not help either. Is force feeding the only thing I have left? <<Is she thinning out? I do like to exhaust all other options; make sure it's not something environmental or social first.  If she is maintaining weight you can try not offering food for several days, then try the fishing line trick and live food again.  There must be something amiss here.  My concern with force-feeding is that generally this is used when a fish is too sick to feed on its own.  I fear this is a stress-induced hunger strike and that force-feeding will only worsen the situation.  Have you changed anything in the tank that she may not like? Are you able to easily capture the other fish and transfer them to a temporary qt tank?>> Regards, Katja <<Lisa Brown.>> Re: Puffer not eating  - 3/12/07 Hello, She is thinner, yes, but not too sick to feed on its own, I think. She actually swims around the tank more than in the previous week. I agree with you on force feeding. I hadn't changed anything in the tank before she stopped eating and I really can't think of anything that might trigger this strike. I could capture the other fish (not easily, though, particularly not the cleaner). Is there anything else I could do? <<I'm sorry I don't have a magic answer for you.  My previous suggestions, and possibly removing the other fish to see if they are the issue.>> Regards, Katja <<Best of Luck. Lisa Brown.>>

Re: puffer not eating  3-13-07 Hi, <This Labroides should be removed... may be THE problem here. RMF> Thanks for the advice. I will remove the cleaner and keep my fingers crossed. Regards, Katja <Ahh, very good. Life to you my friend. BobF>

Puffer Doesn't Like Cockles hi there, i recently purchased a porcupine puffer. He's a real superstar  &   gives us hours of entertainment. He is approx 3.5 inches long. I am trying to get him to eat cockles to keep his teeth down.( i  cannot find anything on the shell in the supermarket here in the  UK. ) unfortunately he does not show any interest at all in the  cockles! Have you any ideas how i can encourage him to eat them? <i feed mine cocktail shrimp and jumbo shrimp and keep live rock and other rocks in the aquarium so they can grind down their teeth. I have never had a problem with their teeth overgrowing> I have tried just opening the shell a little, and also opening it  the whole way.. Is he even big enough for all this or do i not have to worry about  teeth till he is bigger? <just keep live rock in the aquarium and feed him shrimp along with the cockles and he should be fine. thanks, IanB> thanks for your help. Matt Puffer Outcompeted for Food  10/23/06 Thanks for the reply. <Sorry this is late, just got back from a dive trip in the Caymans.> At this point I don't want to house the puffer separately. Before I  consider that, I would trade in the Monos and Raccoon for Banners and a few more yellow tail damsels. <That would work too. Whatever you need to do, to keep the puffer fed.> I must be doing something right with the puffer. In the 3 or so years I  have had him, he has tripled in size and as far as teeth, I still cannot even  see any. The plates look smooth and puffer opens mouth very wide. The foods you suggested are sometimes available to me but clams, mussels, scallops and things are never shell on. <Are you searching produce stores?> Crab legs and shrimp are the only things  I can find here that are in a shell. So if through the years I offer him a variety like I have been doing of shell off foods and use the crab legs and shrimp as main diet, should I expect to be OK as far as the teeth plates go? <Well, it seems to work so far...  I also feed my larger puffers live crabs too, as a treat.> What about 'occasional' silver sides and krill? <Krill is good.  Variety is important for puffers.> The zebra mussel I was thinking of adding would come from the Great Lakes and I would acclimate and convert back to SW before adding them to 130g. display. <As far as I know, these are FW mussels.> Do I have to be concerned with the mussels adding anything negative or bad to the water? <Yes, any live food like that, should be quarantined 1st or even better frozen, then thawed in warm water (I add vitamins to them when defrosting).> What do they eat? Would I have to add plankton/snow to the water or would they filter out the nutrients already present? <Yes, they are filter feeders.> I forgot to mention, this is a 130 gallon FOWLR tank with about 160# Caribbean live rock (with gorgeous deep red and white coralline encrusting  algae, customized Aqua C remora pro with Rio 7 pump and 2 Tetra tech 500  power filters and Jebo C.F. lights, about 260 watts.  Quick question on the Monos. Can't find any real useful info on them as a SW fish. Do you know if they are reef safe? <Monos are schooling fish that grow a foot long.  they are best kept in a huge tank.  They are reef safe, they do not eat corals.  In the wild, the Mono eats large amounts of vegetable matter. ~PP> Bruce Noss White spotted puffer  9/9/06    <A Canthigaster species?>   I bought a small white spotted puffer about a week ago.  He is in a 30 gal. tank <... too small> with a smack hawk eye fish and a small chromis damsel.  Today I noticed that the puffer is extremely thin in his stomach.  It looks as if all of his stomach and underside is sucked in. <Pretty common in the wild. Not necessarily trouble> I have been feeding the fish brine <Poor nutritionally...> every other day.  Today I added some krill to the tank but he would not eat this.  Do you have any suggestions?  The other fish in the tank look perfect.  Could he be sick or just not eating enough? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above... this will take a while... and be very... time consuming... yessssss. Bob Fenner> Hard beak...hard question   3/3/06 Hello Crew, <Daniel> This is a question about a dog-faced puffer. I have been to www. thepufferforum.com and I've read your site's article on puffer dentistry and finally I've searched a few pages on the puffer FAQ. Maybe if I had searched page number 15, ehh? <Perhaps> So my puffer is approx. six inches in length, is very healthy and seems to be content. He has learned to spit water at me to get an extra treat and that is part of my question. <Am spitting my coffee at the computer screen... Where's my treat?> My tank over one year ago was treated with chelated copper and sat dry for over six months. I've used Chemisorb (spelling?) <This is it> and Polyfilters to soak some of that up, but any invertebrate I drop into his tank to wear his beak down dies in 10 minutes or so. <Mmm, something else> I am attached to my puffer and don't want to risk taking him out to use the Dremel. Ideas? <Foods don't need to be live...> My second question is I have also read from www.thepufferforum.com's library that in the wild, most don't eat every or even every other day. <Very likely so. Have seen some quite thin ones in the wild> Would I be simulating a more natural environment by feeding him 3-4 times a week? <Or even less frequently, yes. Highly suggested. For large specimens, once, twice a week is about right. Bob Fenner> Overfeeding  - 02/25/06 Hi Crew, I have been reading about overfeeding and was wondering if you feed your fish three times a day with large portions and all the food is consumed is that overfeeding or is only overfeeding if they do not eat it all and food is left in the tank after feeding? <Need more specifics... there are some animals that need to be fed to satiation, and often, others like the puffer mentioned below, that can be in trouble if fed so> Also I am interested in purchasing a dog face puffer but I have been reading that they have to be fed hard shell foods to keep their teeth from growing too long. Is this true and if so what are the commercially prepared foods that are recommended? Thanks. <Mmm, Gamma Foods and others offer "shelled" bivalves and harder crustaceans in the shell... But I would "make my own" by buying such foodstuffs from the "seafood" section of the supermarket... offer these 2, 3 times per week. Bob Fenner> Re: Puffer ill  - 2/4/2006 James, We have now been force feeding Bubba for a week now. It is not as scary of a task as some might think, I am sorry now we hesitated getting started on it.  We are feeding 1 teaspoon (approx) defrosted frozen brine, a plunger of the marine plankton, 5 mil of Selcon. On a good day he keeps about 2/3 of it in, yesterday he didn't puff up hardly at all when we fed him, usually by the time we get the tube in his mouth he is completely inflated so therefore the food comes back out, or a good bit of it when he expels the water.  He is still not eating anything on his own, but we have only just started adding the iodine to the water on a daily basis.  <On a daily basis?  Not good.  Do test iodine and do not overdose.> I assume the iodine is not something we should be putting in his feeding tube. <Absolutely not.> If so please advise me of this.  At least now I know he is not going to starve himself to death.  Do you think he knows we are feeding him and is it curbing his hunger? <Probably thinks you are a threat more than anything.  I don't know if force feeding is a good idea.  I'll ask for Bob's comment here.> Thank you, Marcia  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Re: Puffer ill  02-05-06 James, now I  am confused.... all of the posting I read on the board talk about force feeding puffers if they completely quit eating.  He had not eaten in 2+ months. He has quit flailing himself around when we feed the other fish and seems much less agitated when he can't eat on his own. Is there a test kit especially for iodine? <Yes.> I will go seek one out today. I went back and re-read the instructions for the iodine and it said 8 drops per day or one teaspoon a week for 50 gallons, preferably treat everyday. <A diluted solution OK, follow instructions on bottle. I made the comment thinking you may possibly be using Lugol's which is very potent out of the bottle.> But I realize that my husband has been giving 1/2 teaspoon everyday for the first 4 days. <Yikes, don't and anymore till you test.> Will test the water and not treat again for a week or so, then treat only 4 drops per day. How is he getting the benefit from the iodine? <Gill intake, getting into the bloodstream.> Does he absorb it through his skin? <Little if any.> Thank You, Marcia <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Puffer ill  02-05-06 James, So is it the lack of nutrients that has likely caused his lockjaw? Will the iodine and the Selcon possibly reverse the lockjaw? He does seem to open his mouth more than before, especially when we open his mouth to push the flexible tubing through to his tummy. <Now we are getting into something I'm not familiar with.  I'll ask our puffer expert to look at this.  Maybe she can give some input here.  James (Salty Dog)>

Puffer Ill ... ongoing mislabeled...   2/6/06 Amanda, here is some info I received from our resident puffer expert. OMG!  She has enough for an eventual 200+g tank!  I scanned the thread several time, but I can't find how large the puffer is.  I think her diet is extremely poor & as you have said, overstocked.  I feel the nitrates & nitrites are what is bothering the puffer, in addition to having nowhere to call "home".  I'm afraid it is doomed, unless she gets another tank for it w/a skimmer.  Copper is deadly to a puffer (no scales or gill covers & some puffers may never recover from a dose (certainly will weaken immune system). If not dosing iodine properly (not sure if lockjaw is even the real prob here), as you know, she will kill all her fish.  To reduce those nitrates/nitrites, I would suggest a large (50%) water change.  All your advice is good, but unless she gets a larger tank for that puffer with lots of places for it to hide out. it is doomed. You are welcome to use any or all that I have written. Hi James, I have been thinking... even in my 55g w/2 6" & 1 5" puffers, I was doing 50% weekly water changes, until I got a skimmer & LR in there.  She should be testing the water daily & doing water changes accordingly.  If she has to do 50% daily, so be it.  I don't think that puffer has lockjaw at all & she should stop w/the iodine. ~Jeni/PP James (Salty Dog)

Puffer Not Eating  2/5/06 ...Ah, much better  2/6/06 James, <Hi, Pufferpunk here.  James has asked for my help with your puffer.> So is it the lack of nutrients that has likely caused his lockjaw? <If your puffer is able to eat at all, it doesn't have lockjaw.  I have read through all your emails & there are many problems here.  You haven't mentioned how large your puffer is now but it can grow to a foot & needs at least a 100g tank for itself. If you are planning tankmates, then you need an even larger tank.  Even if all the fish in your tank are juveniles, the 30g would be good enough for your puffer (only) until it reaches 6"--then it would need to be upgraded.  Your tank is drastically overstocked!  If something isn't done soon, your fish's immune systems are going to be stressed & you're going to have even more problems.  Since puffers are so sensitive, it is the 1st to show stress--i.e. not eating.  If your were to keep all those fish to adulthood, I'd suggest a 200+g tank.  Please look up the adult sizes of all your fish.  I think you may be shocked. Your puffer's diet is poor. One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet. All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish. Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild. Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye). As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat. Larger puffers will eat cut-up pieces of scallops, shrimp, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish. Mine love to chase live crayfish, fiddler crabs and gut-loaded ghost shrimp. I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies. I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed. Smaller puffers (under 2") need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week. Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded. Medium sized puffers (2-4") should be fed every other day. Larger puffers (4-6) should be fed every 3-4 days. Puffers >6 can be fed 1-2x/week.  You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food! Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness.> Will the iodine and the Selcon possibly reverse the lockjaw? He does seem to open his mouth more than before, especially when we open his mouth to push the flexible tubing through to his tummy. <I don't think you should continue with the iodine, especially if you can't test for an overdose.  You will definately do more harm than good.  Using Selcon or any other vitamins to soak your puffer's food in, is always a good idea.  Soaking in garlic solution can help with their appetite too.  Puffers can go on food strikes for many reasons & can go without eating for a long time, without dying.  Mine went on strike for over 2 weeks after I moved him to a larger tank. Puffers are messy eaters and high waste producers. Extra filtration is necessary for these dirty fish. Immaculate aquarium upkeep is a must. Perfect water parameters are necessary for puffers. This means 0 ammonia, 0 nitrItes and nitrAtes below 20. PH should remain steady at around 8-8.3.  I do 50% weekly water changes on all my freshwater & brackish water puffer tanks & until I finally broke down & added a skimmer to my SW puffer tank.  You should vacuumed under d?or to remove all uneaten food. I highly recommend a skimmer for all SW tanks  Liverock can help with water parameters also.   Puffers are scaleless fish and are without gill covers. Therefore, these fish are very sensitive to most meds and this is why keeping perfect water conditions are so important for them. The best way to keep them healthy is not to let them get sick. Quarantine any new fish added to your puffer's tank 7 make sure the tank is large enough for the puffer & the tank mate at it's adult size.  Puffers are especially sensitive to copper.  IMO, if you have ever used copper in a tank, it is us utterly useless as a main tank & should only be used as a hospital/QT tank.   If the puffer is your favorite fish, I suggest returning all the others. Discontinue the use of the 30g tank with copper residue (there is no way to remove this from the tank (as James said, it's in the silicone).  If you don't want to upgrade countless times (my large puffer was upgraded from a 20g-40-55-125g) then consider the adult size of your fish & buy the proper size for that fish--it'll be in puffer heaven!  Give your puffer lots of decor to investigate.  Puffers like caves & are intelligent creatures--they need something to do.  In the meantime--water changes, water changes, water changes!  ~PP

Re: Puffer not Eating  2/6/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk again> I will try to address some of your questions so you can better help me with  Bubba.  He is about 3.5-4 inches long.  He stopped eating for approx 5+ weeks before I found your website.  My local pet stores were little help.  We do plan on getting a larger tank and yes, the puffer is my favorite fish of them all.  He still is not eating anything, his teeth are not too long, I have looked at them thoroughly and they look fine.  We are force feeding him daily now and changing 10 gallons out every 2-3 days.   <Doing 5 10% water changes is not the same as doing 1 50% water change.  See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/water/waterchangemath.html> I wish someone had told me earlier that the copper would stay in the tank forever, although the hunger strike came months after treating the tank with the copper.  Again--only had the local fish stores to coach me and some of the books we picked  up.  Anyway, right now my main concern is finding a new aquarium for all the fish to live in, we are looking for a 125 gallon tank and will bring it to the office.   <Have you researched the adult sizes of all your fish?  125g is not large enough for all the fish you have.  Unless you can purchase a larger tank & move the fish in the next week, I'm afraid your puffer is doomed.  I again suggest returning all your other fish, except the puffer. Concentrate on him. > The tank we have has a canister filter as well as the eclipse system, which prevents me from having a protein skimmer.  Next tank will have one.   <Then your only recourse is water changes.  50% weekly for 1 puffer only in a 30g tank.> My main question is: will us force feeding the frozen brine, Selcon, and plankton reverse the lockjaw?   <I'm not 100% sure your puffer has lockjaw.  Can it move it's mouth at all or just refuses to eat?  Brine shrimp is basically 90% water--not very nutritious.  Find shellfish in the fish dept of your grocery store, add vit.s & puree in the blender.  I think you are just putting a Band-Aid on the problem though.> Bubba did not seem to just go on a hunger strike, he quit eating for 5 + weeks before we started trying to help him eat.  He seems to keep most of it in but the amount of brine that he blows back out seems to be quickly cleaned up by the other fish.  The  triggers are smaller than a half dollar and the engineer goby does a fine job of cleaning the bottom of the tank. He is about 4 inches long. How often do you think we should be force feeding him? <I know I sound like a broken record but I don't think this would be necessary (& I'm sure quite stressful), if you housed this fish properly, with appropriate decor & water parameters.> He is getting about a teaspoon of mixed food in, allowing for the amount that he blows back out. <If he seems to be starving to death, you can feed daily or more often.  ~PP>

Force-Feeding Puffer  2/27/06 <Hi Marcia, Pufferpunk again>   Thank you for all of your help in the past.  We finally have the water chemistry perfect.  We bought a (temporary) 50 gallon tank and moved everyone except the puffer and the engineer goby into the 50 gallon tank. This leaves the puffer and goby in a 30 gallon tank.  I know this is not big enough but for the time being it is going to have to work.   <I would have moved the puffer into the larger tank.  Part of your problem is the tank size he's in now.> The water has been perfect for about a week now. Any idea how long it could take with the perfect conditions for him to want to eat again?   <"Perfect conditions" would include a larger tank, so I can't say whether he'll ever eat on his own in the 30g tank.> We are still force feeding him with a syringe every third day. He is not expelling much of it at all and what he does not keep in, the goby cleans up immediately.  He is not active and sits on the bottom of the tank, much like a lot of the puffers we see in pet stores who seem to be depressed.  We have put some tiny snails in the tank and some small ghost shrimp in hopes that he will go after them but everyday I take count and they are all still there.  So now we are waiting.  My question to you is do you have any ideas as to how long it could take with perfect water conditions for him to 'come around' if he is going to? <Have you tried adding garlic solutions, like Garlic Guard, to his food/tank, to enhance appetite?  ~PP> Thank You, Marcia

Puffer not Doing Well  2/27/06 Yes, have tried garlic extreme, doesn't seem to help, although will try it again.  Our reasoning for leaving him in the 30 gallon tank and putting the triggers in the 50 gallon tank, is that the 50 gallon tank needs to cycle and we thought the triggers are very healthy and would tolerate the 'spike' much better than he would. I am not opposed to trading the fish, putting the puffer in the larger tank after the 50 gallon has cycled.   <You can "instant cycle" a tank with SW Bio-Spira.   http://fishstoretn.com/bio_spira.html Also by adding cured live rock & live sand.>   He seems to be going down hill -- Thank you <Sorry to hear that--I hope he makes it...  ~PP>

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> 

Puffer NOT eating? 10/29/05 Dear Crew @ WWM...I know this sounds crazy but I have recently acquire a porcupine puffer who REFUSES to eat! <Uhh, no... if you would have read the FAQs, including the request that you do so before writing, you would find that puffer feeding strikes are common> I've never met a puffer that wasn't a porker, so I don't know what's wrong with this one. I've had him for 2 weeks now and he hasn't had a single bite to eat. He seems healthy and happy, swimming up and down, pacing around the glass mostly at the back of the aquarium. He doesn't appear to be stressed or frightened and haven't had any confrontation with the other fish. We've tried holding food in front of face, dropping it near him or following him around with it, but just NO interest at all! Nor is there any interest while food is floating by him during regular feedings (mysis, krill, brine shrimp, blood worms) In the meantime, my other puffer (green spotted) is always trying to go after the food himself and steals it. So much so, I sometimes have to hold him back with a net while trying to feed the porcupine.  I finally went out and bought some raw frozen prawns today and gave that a try (thinking the other stuff was too small?) but NO luck. Don't know what to do to get him to eat. He's starting to show signs of getting skinnier each day. I'm worried that if he doesn't eat soon, he won't make it. Any ideas? <Yes... read on WWM re Puffer feeding... in general, by the family (Diodontidae)... Bob Fenner> Tank: 55 gal, well established, all perimeters good....I even have a live cleaner shrimp in there that he hasn't even noticed!  Thanks, Wasabi 

Re: Puffer NOT eating? 10/29/05 Thanks Bob, I have read through many of the FAQs before emailing you. but never really found much that explained what to do. It seems for most people it was puffer teeth getting too long, or feeding them too much of the same stuff. I'm assuming your suggestion here is just to wait it out and see what happens... <Yes, mostly> How long do these feeding strikes last and when should I really start to worry? After 3 weeks? A month? <Till the animal appears very sunken-bellied... Force feeding can be tried (with a plastic catheter) as this approaches> If there is anything you can suggest to entice this new puffer to eat, I would really appreciated it. I really don't want to see him waste away. Thanks! Wasabi <An opened shellfish is likely the best choice here. Bob Fenner> 

Dog Faced Puffer Fish  10/21/05 Hello there, I have a problem with my puffer "Fat Albert"  He has been with us now about 4 months.  He lives in a 280gal tank with only another puffer - I believe he is a Stars & Stripes, lots of live rock and a piece of plate coral that was purchased  for him to pick at, which he loves to do.   When he came home it didn't take him long to own the tank. He seemed to be doing really well.  The only trouble was finding something that he would eat.  Will not touch pallets, <Too woody... Heeee!> bloodworm, crab. shrimp,  the only thing that he will eat is mussels which he devours within minutes.  "Fat Albert" and his little mate share the mussels. He also eats seaweed if I put it in the mussel shell. We do put bloodworm in because the smaller puffer does eat anything.  Everything seemed to be going fine.  He had even started to hand feed (still well under the water surface). Until four days ago, he has placed himself sideways on a rock ledge and does not move, except his eyes.   He has also stopped eating. When the lights go off he moves only to be front on to the tank instead of sideways, he might come off his ledge but only just. I have no idea whats happened.    All the water tests we have done are correct to the readings that you post on your site. Temp is constant. I have read that they do go on hunger strikes for what ever reasons but not to swim. <Both do occur> He looks quite strange he seems to be sucking his tummy in.  When he is sideways you can see what appears to be circles protruding through his sides.  Does that sound really strange,  Last night I was watching him and thought he looked like he had goose bumps. <Just internal parts...> Temp was perfect. Most confused and worried I have waited a long time for him. Hubby has a reef tank and wouldn't let me buy one for that tank (understand why after watching him smash his through is own coral) so had to start my own tank,  waiting waiting waiting for everything to be perfect before he could come home and now I don't know what I've done wrong or how to fix it for "Fat Albert". Please can you give me some advice.... Maz - "Fat Albert" <Mmm, perhaps a good idea to try appetite stimulants (vitamins) added to the food (soaked) and tank water... Chemical filtrants (my choice? Boyd's Chemipure) in the filter flow-path... raising the specific gravity (if not already at 1.025)... general clean-up, of skimmer, larger water change... and patience. May have an internal/parasitic complaint that you could/can treat with vermifuge, anti-protozoals... Bob Fenner> Puffers, Feeding, Quarantine, Reading.... 10/19/2005 Hi I <Please remember to capitalize your "I"s.  Takes time to correct these.> just recently received a dog face, porcupine, and spiny puffer from a mail order site on the internet. I have a 120 gallon tank with some damsels and 2 triggers. <Far too small for this much life; and, depending upon your triggers, perhaps VERY incompatible life....  Uh, and you seem to imply that you did not quarantine these animals??> The new puffers will not eat anything. I have tried freeze dried krill, frozen krill, shrimp, crawdads, frozen brine shrimp. Nothing seems to work. I just had one death after a week. The spiny puffer died. <Many possibilities aside from simply starving....  quarantine is more than essential with new livestock....> Please help, I would like to save my dogface and porcupine before it is too late. Is there anything I can do to get them to eat or any food they can't refuse? <Might try live ghost shrimp - though I must point out that, with established aggressive feeders (triggers) in the system, the puffers may simply be outcompeted for food.  I would urge you to immediately remove the puffs to a quarantine system for feeding, observation, recuperation....> Also I did just have my water checked they said it was good. <Never rely on what "they said"....  Your next investments should not be livestock, but your own test kits; this is as essential as quarantining new livestock.> Also I heard garlic drops might initiate feeding, is this true? <Possibly.  Soaking food in garlic and vitamin supplements is often a good idea with new additions, but it will not solve your root problems of overstocking and possible incompatibility.> Please help fast, they're getting skinny.  Jeff <Please do yourself and your livestock a huge favor and begin reading; most everything you ask is already archived:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm .  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Puffer nutrition, behavior, using the Google tool on WWM 8/1/05 Hi, I'm having a problem with my puffer I have a large dog puffer, I call him a dog puffer but not sure He looks exactly like a dog face other then color, he's brown and white spotted from head to tail He is a large puffer, have had him for about six months, apprx 12 inches long He was tank raised I was told and al he would eat was freeze dried krill, <Not good nutrition, nor behavioral...> I got him eating the frozen krill about a month ago, I give him the freeze dried as a treat once in a while during the day Anyway he loved to be hand feed and everything was fine until this week I noticed Monday and Tuesday he was not eating like he normally does ,seemed he was chewing and spitting out wasting more then he was eating Come Wednesday he's not eating at all, comes to the food/my hand like he is going to eat but then looks and acts turned off by the food Knowing that's all he ever ate and would eat I tried other food for the heck of it, still wont eat, even tried shrimp and squid Now when I come to the tank instead of being happy and rushing over tome he runs from me Water is fine, tested everything and then some, all other fish doing good, no one bothers him as he is the big boy of the tank, everything else is a quarter of his size ,he wont eat tank mates, I even had a 1 inch wrasse in there with him at one time Also I noticed a few things, not only has he not eaten in five days but he has not pooped in five days, I know this because he goes like a horse and I have to clean the tank twice a day sometimes, have not had to clean the tank all week Also his white spots use to be the size of a dime with a brown background, now his spots have changed to a small line, in other words they now look like sprinkles on an ice cream cone, weird that his design has changed Anyway someone suggested Epsom salt ,said maybe he is stopped up ,I added as a tea spoon per 10 gallons today Any idea whats wrong with him, he is clean, don't see anything on him, water is great ,cant figure it out, he swims around, still active just wont eat which is weird because this is a fish that demanded to be feed at 7 am and if I ran late boy he let me know by splashing and making all sorts of noise to get my attention <Please read here: http://www.google.com/custom?q=puffer+feeding%2C+disease&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com and the linked files where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner>

Dogfaced puffer.....help...... 07/01/05 Hi  there.. This is the first puffer I have kept and my fish shop neglected to tell me about the problem with  overgrown teeth. I have had the fish for about 18 months with no problems. I was  feeding him on a diet of cockles, krill, lancefish and my puffer absolutely  adored seaweed greens!!!!! Even to the point that he went crazy and soon as the  box came out!!!!!!... Swimming madly up and down and showing his teeth... this  is always how his behaviour has been when greeting me or at feeding  time. <Many large puffers become virtual "aqua dogs" in captivity. A great deal of fun> Then the problems  started... My boyfriend decided he wanted an eel, which I was not happy about but eventually I gave in, resulting in a quite large snowflake moray eel...  Everything was fine for a while and "dogboy" definitely ruled the tank. Then the  eel started to get quite large and one morning I noticed that it had had a go at my beloved puffers poor tail. I put in some MelaFix <Don't use this, please> but dogboy's temperament started to change. Instead of using the whole tank he started to hide behind the filter pipe while sleeping and keep to the top of the tank away from the eel in  the corners while awake. I think this has  resulted in him not picking up sand/coral etc. and his teeth becoming overgrown.  I also think his appetite diminished as a result of him quite rightly feeling  very sorry for himself also resulting in the overgrown teeth. I noticed he was having difficulty eating but was still taking food from my hand with some help.  Anyway while researching into to problem (dentists etc.) he went of his food altogether... After over a week of no food at all I took drastic action and  bought a Dremel drill and followed your instructions... His teeth are now nice  and filed and he has a nice new smile!    Unfortunately though he is  still not interested in his food and is still lurking in the top corners of the tank with his nose out the water..... Every now and again he will go for a  little swim and bump into things.   This is very unlike  him and is of course distressing for me to watch my favourite  fish slowly deteriorates.  I think maybe it might be too late..... Do   you have any other suggestions to what might be wrong with him.... shall I force feed him? <I would wait at least another week or two before trying force feeding... In the meanwhile do soak the puffers foods in Selcon or similar prep., leave an open bivalve on the bottom...> I have made a seafood paste in the blender in preparation. I Have a  syringe that I can use. How do I make sure that he does not just spit the food  out again. <This is posted...> What vitamins should I use? Why do you think he keeps his nose/mouth  popping out the top of the tank. And why does he bump into to things? <Perhaps stress alone...> I am  missing my sweet little fish that smiles and chases me every time I pass the  tank. All water checks have  been done and are fine and the eel is leaving him alone now. Even so I have arranged for the London aquarium to take him as the LFS say they don't want him  back as he is too big (15inchs). Typically they have gone back on their word  when I bought him of course we will take him back if things don't work out It is almost like my  best little friend has given up... Sorry for such a long  email but I am very concerned...any advice would be   appreciated Thanks so much  Georgia <Patience my friend. Try the clam/mussel, vitamin soaking... and time going by. This fish can go w/o feeding for a long time. Bob Fenner> Dog faced puffer not eating, querier not reading WWM My puffer has not eaten for a week. He has been treated for ick for 6 days and on antibiotics for 2 days. How long can a puffer go without eating? he is about 1 1/2 years old. Please help, we would be devastated if we lost him. Thank you, Brenda <Posted... on WWM... go read there. Bob Fenner>

Re: dog faced puffer not eating... now it is! Sorry if the question was a repeat. I am new to your website and still had   trouble finding the answer to my question. I am hoping that it will be a good   resource in the future. But, i am thrilled to share the good news that after 9  days of not eating my puffer looks great and had his a great meal today.   Enjoying your website, Brenda I Troche MD <Outstanding. Thank you for the good news. 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>

Force-Feeding Puffer 6/2/05   Good morning! <Hi, Pufferpunk here> We are continuing our effort to force feed our porcupine puffer that, to all intents, appears to have lockjaw. We put the tube in what seems a long way, trying to get past the gill openings as you counseled us.  However, it stills seems an inordinate amount is coming back out after we remove the tube? Still not going far enough in or we thought maybe fill the tube with a little salt water, then the food for a propulsion effect? We are, of course,  hoping some of the food is reaching its goal but have no way of knowing. Any  additional suggestions would be greatly appreciated!   Thanks! (been a week today and he is just as active, or even more so  than before - swims up and down tank, happy "puffer" attitude! just hope we are  doing some good!) <Push the tube in, until it hits bottom.  You may even see a protruding "bump" on it's side, from inside the stomach.  Even if he spits some out, (as most puffers do anyway), he should be keeping some food down.  Keep up the good work.  ~PP> PS Haven't filmed yet - want to make sure we get the procedure  correct for others!  Nancy <Pics would be great!>

Force-Feeding Puffer  6/10/05 Hello! <Hi, Pufferpunk again> We continue to force feed our puffer that we believe has lockjaw   (been about 2 weeks now). Last night we fed him and he actually chomped on the tube, holding it for a few seconds before releasing. First time he has bit that hard. <Good sign, he must be hungry!> However, he is still not interested in feeding himself - we feed the other fish first and even tried krill, still no interest. (in fact, none of the fish were interested in the krill, even the wrasse??? bad krill?) So - is this  progress? <Are you treating with iodine, for the lockjaw?  Are you adding vitamins to the food mix?> Should we get some - what are they called - frozen silversides? Those  small skinny fish - and see if he'll eat it if we put it down his throat or  just continue on as we are - thank you! <I do not suggest a diet of fish for your puffer.  What is in the mix you are feeding him?> Haven't forgotten to film for you - just  finally getting more proficient at the process!    <You might want to read this: http://forums.waterwolves.com/index.php?s=52c2ad92d42d0054deaac1bc3cba2f90&showtopic=84854  ~PP> Nancy

Puffer Lockjaw-Iodine Treatment  6/10/-5 Hi again! We are adding vitamins to the food, but no iodine.  What do  I do?  125 gallon tank.   <You should be able to find an iodine supplement at your LFS.  I believe Kent marine products makes one.> Thanks! Got the film - Chris will format and we'll get it to you.    <Looking forward to that!  ~PP> Nancy

Force Feeding Saga...   6/20/05 Not giving up! Question: he seems to have a slight "hump" on his back,  visible sometimes more than others - is this part of the disease or a result of our feeding incorrectly? <I'm not really sure what that is, is it still there?> Also, he hasn't seemed to "go to the bathroom" since  we've been feeding - is that normal? <Well, you can't watch every minute, so maybe he's more private about that.> Otherwise, he's still a happy, cute, fat dude! Swims around, looks around, but a little more cautious since "the hand" has entered his life!!!  Never has lost weight and quit eating sometime in   April.  Not sure how long it takes to show, though.  Really appreciate  your  ongoing help - it's all we have.   Thanks, Nancy <I'm glad this is going successfully!  ~PP>

Very strange eating practice (puffer)? Though you haven't responded to my last request I thought you might have more interest in the new results. I have separated my black dog face puffer and began attempting to feed him in isolation. Well I put food in his tank and he started swimming around. I had seen this behavior in the main tank but .... Well he seemed to accidentally run into a piece of krill and then with almost a look of shock he ate it. Then I put in a thawed clam and he swam around for quite a while 5min or more (this is a 10g hospital tank) he eventually found it. He kept coming back to the shell to look for more after he ate it. I moved the shell and he kept coming back to the same spot looking for more. I thought he might be blind however if I move my hand near the tank he will respond. Have you seen anything like this? Thank you, Paul Savage <Yes... this may be a not-uncommon case of simple unfamiliarity with these ready foodstuffs. Bob Fenner>

New Porc. Puffer Hi in advance to whoever gets this. Question. I have a 130g. set up and just added a 4" porcupine puffer to. I could not get him to eat anything but krill but followed the advice on the forum and after a small fast he is now eating king crab legs. <Put me in your tank!> My question is are the legs too tough for him to get through? <Mmm, no... if the animal can get its mouth around an end... it will gladly crack through...> I left both ends open with meat visible and a small crack on the underside and although it kept his interest for 1/2 hour or more, is it possible that the shells are too tough? I am having a hard time finding any type of shell on things the forum recommends in my area. Just frozen crab legs and frozen shell on shrimp. <Shellfish... clams, mussels... are all fine> Also in this tank are:  1 one spot Foxface rabbit fish (6")  4 blue/green Chromis 2 3 stripe humbug damsels 1 pink damsel about 120# Fiji and Caribbean rock crushed coral substrate 1 hairy? hermit & 10-15 bumble bee snails 1 very large turbo snail Am I at my limit? I would like to have 1 larger fish or 2 smaller ones yet. <Mmm, you could...> Tank is FO and has SeaClone 150, (I know not the best) a large Skilter filter, a Penguin 440/2 bio wheels, and 2 rotating power heads. If I can add a fish or two what do you recommend? Thanks in advance. Sherry <Please keep looking, visiting your LFS... no need to rush... and save up for a better skimmer... Bob Fenner> 

Puffer not-eating Hello, <Hi there> We had a 75 gallon tan that had been set up for over a year. We have a porcupine puffer which we bought about 8 months ago.  when we first bought him he was covered with ich and our intentions were to try and save his life as we knew the pet store would not.  He made it through the ich, it was touch and go for a while, but afterwards he thrived.  About a month ago his appetite decreased and now he is not eating anything.  There are no visible signs of any infections or parasites.  we test are water regularly and do weekly water changes and the parameters of the water are perfect.  We tried to force feed him but we were not sure how to do this.  Any help/advise you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Lisa <"This happens", quite often. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

What to feed my Puffer Hi again, Today I have a question about the puffer fish that I just recently purchased for my tank. At my LFS he was labeled as a Short Nosed Puffer, but in my research online I have found that it is sort of a subcategory of puffer fish, am I correct? <Do you mean... a Sharpnose puffer... as in the subfamily Canthigastrinae of the family Tetraodontidae?> Right now I have no way of getting a picture of it for you guys to help me identify it, but I'll describe it the best I can. It has the body shape of a Dog-Faced Puffer, but it is only about 2 inches in size. The LFS told me that he would only get to be about 4 to 5 inches long fully grown.  <Uhh, "bad form" to buy ahead of investigating... the species... its requirements/needs... We have most all aquarium available species listed... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm. Scroll down to the Puffer articles, related FAQs...> He is a light gray in color with dark gray horizontal stripes, and his tail is all black. My question is, what should I feed him. They told me at the local fish store that he should eat 3 to 5 feeder guppies a day... <Negative... see the above where you should read> ...but I have read that freshwater fish are not very nutritious. I also have a Spotted Hawkfish that is on the same diet, but only 2 to 3 a day. I think it would be easier to feed them something frozen, but I'm not sure what they would accept. Would frozen krill be a good choice, or should I try frozen silversides? Or is there another option that I should go with? I originally was feeding the Hawkfish 1 ghost shrimp a day, but they got to be a little expensive. I haven't tried feeding the puffer the shrimp, but I have read that he needs something with a somewhat hard shell from time to time to wear down his teeth. Thanks for the help, Daniel <Study my friend... the mistakes you're making are easily avoided. Bob Fenner> 

Food for Puffers 3/18/05 <Hi Tony, Pufferpunk here> How can I get mollusks and crustaceans in shell for my porcupine puffers. I have not been able to find anything like this for my fish. <I purchase mine at the local grocery/produce store in the fish dept. I freeze the food (to kill off any nasties) & then defrost in warm vitamin water. ~PP> 

Help with puffer Hello, Two days ago I purchased a 2" Valentini puffer from my LFS. They had him for a week and when I put him in my aquarium he was doing great. He was eating right away and looked very happy. The next day (about 4 hours ago) I came home from work and didn't see him anywhere. Finally I noticed his body bent in half and being sucked into the powerhead (AquaClear 50). <Not good... Canthigasters are smart, strong enough to avoid such intakes> I also have no idea how long he was stuck there. When I unplugged it he was very disoriented and his body was very crooked. He doesn't look so well and I'm afraid he might die. He is still slowly coasting around the aquarium but he is acting weird and won't eat. His body is still misshapen and bent. What do you think his chances are? Will his body turn back to normal? Should I be doing anything for his recovery? <Keeping an eye on the fish, putting it in a smaller system where you can do so...> Next, my tank is a 75 gallon, and has been running for about 2 months now with about 80 lbs of mixed types of live rock, and about 3 1/2 - 4 inches if special grade reef sand. Everything has been testing great for almost a month. I have a Remora Pro skimmer with upgraded Mag drive 3 and pre-flow box, a Fluval 404 canister filter, 265 watt pc lights, and 2 powerheads (an Aquaclear 50, and 70.) As for livestock right now, I have the Valentini puffer as mentioned above, 2 percula clowns 4 peppermint shrimp about 15 various snails, green star polyps, green candy cane coral, some mushrooms, and a couple feather dusters. As far as future plans, I want to add more fish, not positive on which ones yet, and only a few more corals. I guess this is pretty vague, but do you have any suggestions about anything. Also, my Fluval 404 is set up how the directions told me( from bottom-up... 1-carbon, 2-carbon, 3- prefilter rings, 4-prefilter rings.) For the type of tank I am going for, what would be the best setup I could do...(live rock rubble, more prefilter, more carbon , or maybe a different order). Thank you soooo much for your help, this is the most helpful sight out there. <Your system sounds fine... it appears you bought a "bunk" specimen... but I didn't see mention of quarantine... Hard to impossible to say what the root cause of your trouble is/was here... aquatic animals do not "show" signs of impending trouble (predators would detect this, eat them in the wild)... but you definitely would do well to develop and adhere to a quarantine protocol. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm and the MANY linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Toby (puffer) benthic feeding habits 2/9/05 I have a Canthigaster valentini that on occasion will pick at/eat sand. Is this natural? <Quite natural... they even rasp the mucous off the base of polyps and anemones> All water parameters/maintenance in perfect condition. No disease. No stress from other fish. <No worries> He eats well otherwise. Regards, Mike Rivera <Keep observing/enjoying my friend. Anthony>

Puffer lockjaw III I've read up on lots of Kelly (PufferQueen) articles and they have been a real eye-opener. After more investigation, I've ruled out the eyesight problem. I've checked him 'tracking' food around and he locks-on overtime. He got some interest back in food today and went to try to eat and failed. He just didn't open his mouth. After a few seconds, he swam away and shook violently and convulsed as if something was stuck in his mouth, then swam on normally again. I've caught him doing this quite a bit in the last few days, which leads me back to the lockjaw or teeth. <It is common and most likely with this species and the diet it was given> I'm not sure it is the teeth as he eat normally, then 3 days later, didn't feed again. If it was the teeth being too large, I'm sure you would see a more gradual decline in eat ability. And of course, when we tried to force-feed him a few days ago, he bit the pincers and managed to open his mouth/teeth enough to pump in water extremely quickly to puff up very fast. So the final conclusions are lock jaw (but is the symptoms of this that they can't open their mouth at all, or they can but only with very limited movement?) <Degrees of affliction indeed> OR, the teeth have grown a little more since then and he's decided it hurts to open his mouth wide-enough to take food on board (hence the shaking), bearing in mind he doesn't like shelled foods to help with the teeth. <Not likely the cause in such short time (weeks). Especially with poor eating... slow growth> It's looking less like a moody Puffer and more likely that there is something wrong. The thing now is, do I risk making the (somewhat weakened) little guy unconscious to take a real good look and possible action on the teeth, or simply let him continue in to his fourth week without food and the dosing of iodine and vitamins? <Repetitive force-feeding is in the future here> I really feel between a rock and a hard place. (sigh) Thanks again to Anthony, Leslie and Kelly for your advice. Andy <Sorry mate, best of luck. Anthony>

Puffer Dentistry Hi <Hey, Mike G here> We have a porcupine puffer that we have had about a year now in the same tank All of a sudden in the past few days it seems he is having a hard time eating almost like his lips have swelled up and he can not get the food in his mouth. At first I thought he was just board with the krill we have been feeding him but now today we tried rosy minnows and he is still having trouble. Note: He is very interested in eating just having trouble with it. <Sounds to me like your puffer's beak grew too large, as they are a constantly growing part of puffer fishes. Take a look at the following link for an excellent article on the subject: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i1/puffer_dentistry/puffer2.htm  Good luck, Mike G>

Skinny Puffer=Death 1/21/05 Hello Bob, <Hi, it's Pufferpunk here> I tried to search for answers to this on your website but I got exhausted after trying to read through many of the FAQ's. I apologize if this is posted somewhere else. I had a blue spotted puffer approximately 2" in size in my 90 gal tank. He did fine for over year always ate a lot. I'm probably not the best expert with dietary needs but I five flakes, krill, and fortified seaweed to feed my fish.  <Definitely not the best diet for a puffer. One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet. All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish. Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild. Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye). Snails are an essential food to a puffer's diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails. As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat. Larger puffers will eat cut-up pieces of scallops, shrimp, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish. Mine love to chase live crayfish, fiddler crabs and gut-loaded ghost shrimp. I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies. I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed.>  Anyway, for about a month I noticed that no matter how much he ate he kept getting skinnier and skinnier. Even up till the last day when he looked completely anorexic he was still eating until his stomach was extended. He finally passed away. Any clues. I'm guessing some internal parasite or something along those lines but I'm not sure why it happened after a year??  <Definitely the symptoms of internal parasites. No doubt about it! Sometimes they can tag along inside the fish to rear their ugly heads after you have had them for a while.> Maybe something tagged along with some live rock but the other fish in my tank are doing just fine. I really enjoyed the puffer and would like another one but I don't want to go through that episode again. <Many wild-caught fish come to us with internal parasites. This is very common with puffers. Just to be safe, I'd treat your new puffer & the rest of your tank's inhabitants with Discomed, by Aquatronics. It goes on their food.> Thanks for your help, John Edelen <Sorry for your loss--good luck with your next puffer! ~PP> 

Sphoeroides lobatus Feeding Suggestions, Pt. 2 1.13.05 To: Ryan, <Morning!> Thank You for replying to my email.  Yes and No about purchasing the Puffers on impulse. We did have our tanks well planned out (we have several) and we do not over crowd them (one pair of Cichlids per 55 gal) and we were looking for a Puffer when we came across these, the only difference was that the store did not know anything about them and they were in a 10 or 15 gal tank. I guess it's a case of I could not bear to see them in that tank where they had been for a few months, with no shelter to hide from all the preying eyes. <Everyone with a heart and an aquarium has been there!  The important part is that you're doing what you can now to learn about them!> I think they will do well, I have a good idea about feeding, and right now they are so small they are doing well in the 40 gal we put them into with lots and lots of hiding places. I will look for the Selcon.  I do have one more question, right now they seem to do well being in the same tank together, but should they be separated when they are older/bigger? <In a tank full of live rock, and plenty of cover, you may be able to house them together.  But, in a bare, open tank, the conditions aren't favorable for the weaker of the two.  Just monitor the behavior, and be aware that you may need to separate them at some point.> I have read that you cannot keep more then one puffer to a tank. Thank you for writing me back so quickly. It certainly has helped confirm some things for me. I am sure they will do just fine and I am looking forward to watching them grow, it is amazing to watch them do their "hummingbird" swim around the tank. <They're fascinating and personable creatures!  Enjoy them.  Ryan> Arlene Olson

I have an orange tailed Fiji Puffer.  <That common name isn't seen much in the pet trade, but typically this name is given to Canthigaster solandri, sometimes called spotted Sharpnose puffer.> He hasn't eaten in 2 weeks and seems lethargic.  I've read other postings but haven't found any similar to mine because my tank has never experienced infestations.   His tank mates are a Picasso Trigger and an Assorted Puffer.  Both fish are eating and responding normally in the 50 gallon tank. <Hard to tell what "Assorted Puffers" might be, if it's another Sharpnose puffer then it isn't good cause two Sharpnose variety of puffers in the same tank can be bad.  One will be more dominant, and the submissive one will eat less, and not be as outgoing.  Also, Triggers can be aggressive.  My Picasso wasn't bad, but a friend had one what would pick on tankmates constantly.   My biggest concern is that a 50 gallon tank is not large enough for these fish.   The bare minimum for a single Picasso (Huma Huma) trigger is 75, and with that and other messy fish such as puffers you run the risk of problems with such a small tank.>   Tank conditions are ideal, 78 degrees, salinity 1.023 - 1.025, Zero or minimal nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia.  All fish enjoy eating a varied diet of freeze dried krill, frozen brine shrimp, and live minnows.  <You should offer these fish other foods besides this.   Freeze dried Krill is good, my puffers love it, but it's not as nutritious as offering them fresh seafood.  I purchase shrimp, octopus, squid and clams and offer my puffers it to them once or twice a week.   You can purchase bags of seafood mixes at your local grocery story (food for people).  Plus you get to snack on it as well.   Frozen Brine Shrimp doesn't offer much of anything in the way of nutrition.  And Live minnows aren't a good source, since these are freshwater fish, they don't have the same nutrients and fats found in marine fish.  Plus, live fish still offer a way to bring parasites to the tank.> 25% of tank water and filters are change every 4 weeks or so. <This should be smaller water changes more frequently, and make sure that you premix the water a day or two before adding it to the tank.>   I've had the Fiji for almost 3 months.  The Fiji's behavior began to change after the last tank change.  I did move the live rock that he normally sleeps on. <"Tank Change" meaning that you literally changed the tank around, or that you changed the water in the tank.  If it was after a water change, then it could be that the new water might have had a difference in it's chemistry compared to what was in the tank.  I check alkalinity and other levels in my mixes before adding them to the tank.   If you changed the fish to a new tank, then it could be difficult for it to adjust.  Make sure that there is enough territory for these fish, that they all can claim a spot of the tank as their own.>   The fish get along.  The trigger nips once and a while at both fish but never breaks the skin or continues for a period of time.  <Chances are high that it might nip when you aren't around as well.  The fish doesn't have to break the skin to disturb the other fish enough to not eat.> Any thoughts on what could've caused the puffer to stop eating and become less responsive?  <Sounds as though he's being bullied.  I had a small dogface puffer that did the same thing, it turned out that one of the clown fish that shared a tank with it was constantly pestering it.  Once I removed the aggressor, all was fine.  I suggest you start setting up a quarantine tank and let it get ready just in case you need to move this puffer out.  perhaps once he is out he will start eating.. or you can move the aggressor there and see if the puffer improves.> He is relieving himself on a regular basis so I was thinking he might be eating something else.  <puffers pick at stuff on the live rock.  Mine love to eat almost everything possible.> He also does seem a bit more bloated but he does not have any spots or change in color that would indicate parasites, disease, or injury. Thanks! <My guess is he is being picked on by something. that is what it sounds like to me.   Separate them if you can and see if it improves.   Also another trick is to buy some live snails from your local reef shop and feed them some live foods.  I've "cured" many a depressed puffer by feeding them that. it's like giving chocolate to a 6 year old.  Good luck. -Magnus>

Puffer refuses to eat-afraid he will die Hi, We are getting desperate with regards to our porcupine puffer.  We have had him for about a year.  He currently shares a 55 gallon tank with a blue damsel (the damsel we have had a year too.) About four weeks ago, he started to refuse food.  While bodily he looks perfectly healthy (clear eyes, clear body, fins good) he is getting skinny, and simply refuses to eat.  We have tried everything we can think of from different frozen foods, to fresh seafood from the deli, to various sacrificial marine crustaceans from the fish store-nothing has worked.  Yesterday we were sure he would not make it to the end of the day, as he was just laying on the bottom of the tank, so my husband and I tried to force feed him a tiny silverside.  My husband caught him, and pried his mouth open and I put the food in.  After we released him in the tank he just swam around with the silverside hanging out of his mouth, but he refused to swallow it-eventually it just fell out.  Probably the oddest thing is that when we put food in the tank, he swims up to it, and even nips at it, but will not eat it.  We are desperate, as we love this little fish that used to be so full of personality.  Any help would be greatly appreciated! Sincerely, Kim Bruessel <It sounds as though you're puffer has lock jaw, this is a common occurrence in the porcupine puffer and unfortunately there is not much treatment for it.  It is thought to be caused by poor water quality or a thyroid condition.  There has been improvement reported when an iodine supplement is added to the water. Good Luck! LinearChaos>

Porcupine Puffer Hi Crew! Thanks for all your great help in the past.  I have a porcupine puffer that is not eating, or has not eaten for the past four days or so.  Usually it tries to eat all the food I put in the tank, but these days it seems disinterested, it doesn't even seem to look at the food falling around it. For this fish, it is very strange.  Nothing has changed in the tank.  I have a 90 gallon FOWLR with a home built wet dry refugium system and an Aqua C protein skimmer.  All waste levels are 0, specific gravity is about 1.024 with temperature of about 78.  The puffer is about 4" in length, living with two yellow tangs about the same size, a Niger trigger that is about 6" and a lion fish about 5".  There is about 80lbs of live rock in the tank.  Most of the day it usually "sleeps" at the bottom of the tank. Now I believe a few days ago I think it was in the corner of the tank kind of caught within the lion fish's fins and stuff, and it seems like after that "incident" it has started this behavior.  Is it able to really be stung by the lion fish and develop this type of adverse effect?  I am quite sure it can see because it rolls its eyes around like usual and when it is on the bottom of the tank and I approach it from behind, it does roll its eyes back to look at me. Any advice?  I thank you again for your continual assistance. <Your puffer sounds very unhappy due to the overstocked status of your tank, in a 90g that puffer should be alone or with one other companion.  I would suggest taking the lionfish out or the puffer out, these two fish are incompatible.  When your porky feels comfortable in his environment he will begin to eat again...they tend to be very temperamental, kind of like a child not eating until his mother gives into his wishes.  Good Luck, LinearChaos> My Puffer I have read several questions already asked about puffers & lockjaw, but as a novice I am still confused. My porcupine puffer is about 4-5" & had a great appetite, but the only thing he would eat was krill. About two weeks ago he started going for the food but then doesn't eat it. He's very excited when he sees me  but no matter what I put in the tank he starts to go for it but it floats right past him. Is there a medicine I can put in the tank to fix this? I have never "force fed" a fish & have no idea how to do this. Is there a safe method, where I won't kill him? If I don't do anything is there any way this will fix itself? Pals help!! Dale <Dale, unfortunately if you do nothing your puffers condition will not remedy itself.  Lock jaw is very common among porcupine puffers in captivity and it thought to be caused by the lack of particular minerals in their water, or improper water conditions.  There is some speculation that it is related to a thyroid condition.  Adding an iodine supplement to the water has been known to show improvement.  I would do this and also add Sea Lab No.28 trace element blocks.  Good Luck, LinearChaos>

Dwarf Lionfish, Porcupine Puffer and Inverts (11-11-04) Hello to all at WWM! You all provide a wealth of much needed information to many beginning aquarists like myself and are worthy of commendation many times over. thanks, thanks, and triple thanks! <You are most welcome and thank you :)!>  I've read over other's questions regarding lionfish/puffer compatibility, but did not find any info regarding my specific circumstance.  I recently added a juvenile 2 1/2 inch puffer to my 90 gallon fish and invertebrate tank. <Utto! Puffers and inverts are not compatible.> He's already fully acclimated, feeding on frozen foods (krill, bloodworms, brine, etc.) and swimming along happily with everyone else in the tank... < Please review the information on feeding marine fish, puffers in particular.> Brine shrimp is essentially void of nutrients and blood worms are not a marine protein.  Marine fish need marine sourced proteins.  He will need lots of meaty seafood including some with the shell to help keep his teeth plates from over growing.>   1 small white/green bubble tip anemone 1 large rose anemone colonial hairy and regular mushrooms 1 large feather duster 2 inch gold stripe maroon clown bi-color blenny 3 inch Foxface lo 2 1/2 inch yellow tang 3 scarlet hermit crabs 1 large hermit crab 1 turbo snail 2 cleaner shrimp       I guess I got lucky because he even lets the cleaner shrimp hop on and clean him (I was told to watch out for them because he may make them lunch), and I have yet to catch him nibbling on my invertebrates (I read in Bob's Conscientious Marine Aquarist that a puffer's taste for invertebrates may be a concern) <Your inverts are at risk including the shrimp. IME it will only be  a matter of time before your Puffer begins to sample the goodies in your tank. My advice to you would be to move the Puffers or the inverts. You need to decide whether you want a invert/reef tank or a FO tank, you cannot mix the two. >   Judging by his friendly demeanor, do you think my porcupine puffer will get along with a dwarf fuzzy lionfish that is the same size as hopelessly inevitable?  < It's hard to say....puffers and lionfish are generally not recommended as tankmates. There is the risk that with time, size and comfort in your tank, your Puffer will nip at the spines and fins of the Lionfish, not a risk I would want to take. It is best to research your tankmate choices prior to purchasing the fish to be sure the mix is appropriate and you can provide all the tank inhabitants with an environment that is safe and conducive to health, well-being and thriving rather than surviving. > Cheers! Jacqueline from California   < Cheers to you as well Leslie also from California >

New Porcupine Puffer not Eating (11/11/04) Hi guys (and girls)! <Hi Leslie here this morning.> We need some help! <Sure I will certainly try> We recently bought a Porcupine  Puffer (2"-3") at our LFS. <Very endearing fish> It has been 6 days now and he STILL refuses to eat. When we went to get him, the store had just received their shipment so the puffer was still in the transport bag (he was the only one). We took him directly home and have him in a QT tank, however, he has NEVER eaten!  The puffer is very healthy, clear eyes, good coloring, breathes slowly, etc. and our water parameters are great. We have tried the following foods: scallops, mussels, shrimp, dried shrimp soaked in garlic, guppies, shrimp pellets, krill, brine shrimp, frozen and live blood worms, squid, Mysis shrimp, and there is currently a green Chromis (who was meant to be food & is now his friend) and (2) hermit crabs living in the tank with him. The little guy looks fine, but has NO appetite whatsoever. He is completely nocturnal & will "freeze & hide" when he knows you're looking at him..... we are so concerned! Do you have any suggestions? <Sounds like you are doing an excellent job. Just keep offering him a variety of foods. Try a moon light and feeding him at night. He seems to be afraid and perhaps he will eat if you are not near the tank watching him. Ghost shrimp and a small fiddler crab or a small crayfish may tempt him. You can also place a small piece of shrimp or other food item on some clear fishing line and let it dangle and float in the water. Another trick I have found that works well is feeding from a clear turkey baster. You can get the food right in front of him that way. My Porcupine Puffer would only eat from the tip of the turkey baster for the longest time.> How long can they go without eating? <It depends but typically they can go a while without eating It is really best to observe most fish eating in the LFS. You will save yourself quite a bit of extra effort and worry.> Thanks so much for your helpful website, it's the only site we use for research! Thanks again, The Gilmores & "Oliver" <Your most welcome. Best of luck with Oliver, Leslie>

New Porcupine Puffer not Eating #2 (11/11/04) Thanks for your help Leslie - while I was typing another message to the "crew" I received your response. I wasn't sure that you had received the first. < Oh dear, so sorry I answered it right away.  Sometimes the queries move around from folder to folder. I hope you did not have to wait 4 days for a response. > We will try some other foods, please disregard  the message I just sent, basically the same description only now it's been 9 days!! < I have not seen it yet, it may be in another folder in which case you may get a reply from one of the other crew members as well I will be on the look out for it. >  We will continue to try & hope this little guy will like SOMETHING!! Thanks again & have a great day! The Gilmores-  ;) < Your welcome and best of luck with Oliver,  Leslie :) > Sick Diodon hystrix Hi there, I have been looking everywhere for answers to what might be wrong with my pufferfish. He/She usually eats frozen prawn shrimp every day/ to every other day. He is in a 55 gallon tank with a yellow tang. I have been having some frequent problems with my ammonia since the beginning before I bought these two fishes. The puffer has always been healthy, happy, and eating until yesterday. He seems to struggle with eating ( swallowing and then spitting it out and then swallowing and spitting) over and over until he eats it or lets it go. He doesn't seem as friendly lately either. He also hangs around the top of the tank all of the time and he looks like he has overeaten (although he hasn't overeaten). His belly is very full/swollen looking. His eyes and color looks good. Do you have any idea what this could be? The tang is eating and acting normal. Please help. <Mmm, though puffers do very often go through bouts of non-feeding, seemingly pouting... when they do so, it is a good time to look at ones gear, investigate other foodstuffs and execute a good-sized water change (like 25%). If all water quality checks out, all equipment functioning, and the fish doesn't seem to improve after a few weeks... do write us back for further ideas. Bob Fenner>

Dogface Puffer w/Internal Parasites? 9/25/04 Greeting all! <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a possible problem I'm hoping you can offer advice on. I recently purchased a dogface puffer who was very skinny. It was a rescue from a chain store - I know I shouldn't have as it just encourages them to buy more, but the poor thing was in a 10g tank (its nearly 6 inches long) looking at me with sad eyes begging "please, please get me out of here!" Anyway, they said they had trouble feeding it, but were only offering it frozen brine shrimp. Upon getting it home, I discovered he was more than happy to eat Krill, Clam, Ghost and Mysis shrimp, as I suspected. <Brine shrimp for a 6" puffer?  Poor thing.  Brine shrimp is mostly water & not very nutritious at all.  He's lucky to be in your home, eating the "right" foods.  Try whatever you can find in the fish dept of your grocery store (except fish).  I buy a lot of assorted goodies & freeze.  Then I thaw in warm vitamin water, as needed.> Mr. Puff has now been in quarantine for about three weeks with lots of meaty food daily, but isn't getting as fat as I had hoped. He's not nearly as emaciated as he was when I first got him, but is still rather streamlined for a puffer, especially after he poos. I'm wondering if he may have internal parasites, or if I'm not giving him enough time to recover the lost body mass. Would it be advisable to treat for parasites? If so, any suggested medication? <It certainly couldn't hurt.  I have had great success using Discomed, by Aquatronics.  Unfortunately, that company has gone out of business, but there are still some boxes around for sale.  Here's a guy that has some to sell: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=lounge&action=display&num=1095291341 & a thread on alternatives to that med: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1093270673.> I have heard adding Fenbendazole to the food is good, and it is available at the local farm supply store, (though figuring out small enough dosages could be a problem). However, I'd rather not treat unless necessary. <You are correct that the med has to be added to it's food.  Some folks have had some success with garlic, but I think that will just enhance appetite, not rid the fish of internal parasites.> I also had a question related to damsel compatibility. When he's out of quarantine, he will be making his home in a 75g aquarium. I was thinking I would like to add blue damsels for color. I realize it might not work because the puffer might decide to eat the damsels, but that isn't much of a concern for me. Not that I want them to get eaten, but if they do, its really not much different than offering feeder fish. <I don't see any problems with adding damsels with your puffer.  they are quick & can hide out in places the puffer can't reach.  I have had damsels for quite some time with much more aggressive puffers, without any problems.>   What I am more concerned about is after reading about damsels going after divers, that they might turn on the puffer. Is this a reasonable fear? Or would they likely leave their potential predator alone? <I have been "bitten" by many a damselfish while diving.  There is no way those little teeth would be able to do any harm to a puffer's leathery, spiny skin.  Not to worry!> I was thinking of adding five or six blue devil or yellow tail damsels, or even doing three of each to keep their battles for territory occupied with each other and not the puffer. If this sounds reasonably safe, what would the best order to introduce them be? The puffer and the damsels at the same time, or one before the other? <I don't really think it matters, but if you are concerned, add the damsels first.> Thanks so much again for your assistance! <Sure & enjoy your puffer!  ~PP> Take Care, Tami

Porcupine puffer I have a porcupine puffer that I have had for over a year. 95% of the time eats krill. Starting about 2 weeks ago he would chase after the food and bite at it when he did he would spit it back out and do this twitching like he has a tooth ache and then go after it again and he would do it again. <Okay bear with me on this but I believe they do get toothaches and as I understand it they need to have their teeth filed down if they aren't given very hard things to keep them chewed down.  Take a look at this article about Kelly Jedlicki from KY.   http://www.petsforum.com/cmas/cmas0403.pdf>  Now he will follow the food but not eat it. <take a look at this as well http://www.lmas.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=19&page=1> I have tried to feed it beef heart, krill, brine, bloodworms, salad shrimp, tiger shrimp, guppies and ghost shrimp. He wants none of it. <Maybe something smaller? Mysis or brine soaked in vitamins.> Now when it is feeding time he will come out of his hole that he sleeps in all day and will start to move his mouth when he does he starts to do flips and turn overs then will start to puff up. He will deflate and then try the same thing again. I had a smaller puffer (could never figure out what kind) that was doing the same thing a couple of months ago and he died. Do you have any idea what this could be? <The other option is that he's got some type of infection are you seeing any other signs?  It doesn't sound good that you've gone through this once before. good luck, MacL> Any help or info would be great. Thanks Jake

Sick Porcupine Puffers?  9/20/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hi, I have 3 porcupine puffers and I was feeding them frozen shrimp and live boxer shrimp.  The other day I decided to give them a change and bought live glass shrimp and frozen marine food. I gave them some last night and now this morning the 3 of them are on the floor of the tank panting for air and they are not swimming, just laying there breathing heavy, like they are struggling to breathe. What could I do? Please help! Thank you Candy <It sounds to me like your system may have crashed, due to over feeding.  Test your water for ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes & pH,  then do a 50% water change.  How large is the tank?  How long has it been set up?  How big is the tank & puffers?  Any tank mates?  Get back with all this info & we'll see if we can help.  ~PP>

Help! Dogface Puffer swallowed shrimp shell Hi Crew, <Hey Carol, MacL here with you this evening.> You've helped us so much already, and now I'm not sure if I'm just worrying for nothing or if our Dogface Puffer (Scooby Doo) will have a problem.  Our tank is 100 gal and we have the Dogface Puffer, Maroon Clown, Naso Tang and Chromis.   We did as you suggested, and have added whole shrimp and crab legs (frozen first for 1 week and cut into 1 inch pieces) in addition to frozen squid, all soaked in Selcon or VitaChem to Scooby's diet.  Scooby's about 5" and our Maroon Clown is about 3".  Actually, I think Scooby's gotten a bit lazy because when I initially fed him the crab and shrimp, he really didn't want to work for his food.  However, our Maroon Clown really liked it and would grab it and swim away.  Scooby would track it down and continue eating.  Last night, I gave Scooby some shrimp, and this time the Clown grabbed the food and swam away, Scooby went after and got it back and they went back and forth a few times grabbing the food from each other and then finally Scooby just swallowed the rest of it entirely, INCLUDING THE SHELL! <That's actually not a bad thing.  They need the crunchy stuff to keep their teeth trimmed down. And they eat shrimp in the wild so he should be quite fine.>  He seemed fine and was looking around for more food.  However, today his belly still has that rounded full look and he is not swimming around or coming out to see me as much as usual. <Probably with that big mean he's not as hungry. Do keep a close eye on him as you know your fish and their behavior but my guess is that he's just still full.>  At first I figured this must happen in their natural habitat, but I am worried that he won't be able to expel the shell.  Please let me know if this is normal or what do I need to do to help Scooby Doo. <Let us know again if things don't change Carol. Good luck, MacL> Thanks for all your help, Carol     

Internal Parasites & Trimming Puffer's Teeth Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Sorry to bug you guys again.  If my puffers teeth plates have overgrown is there anything I can do for him?  Also is there medicine to kill intestinal worms?  Thank you for your help. <If their teeth are too long (from not feeding enough hard-shelled foods), you will need to do some puffer dentistry yourself.  Here is a link to info on that: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1085932782  Read through the whole thing, there is also info on larger puffers in there too.  There is also a thread on Discomed (the preferred int. parasite cure, but the company has gone out of business) in that same Hospital forum & the available alternatives.  There is a guy that is offering Discomed for sale there too. --Trent Cupoli <Good luck with your puffer.  ~PP> Cooked foods Hi WWM crew! <Hi Jonathan> I feed my porcupine puffer a variety of meaty foods (krill, shelled shrimp, octopus, squid, scallops, mussels and clams) and would like to feed him some crab legs to ensure his teeth are getting a good grinding.  My grocery store only sells pre-cooked crab legs and I was wondering if this is ok to feed him, or if I should go to an Asian market and get live crabs.  I also noticed in the FAQs that some people were feeding their puffers canned seafood.  Aren't canned foods cooked? <The biggest problem is what they are cooked with. So you need to check the ingredients closely, I don't think they need things like butter etc.>  My main concern is if feeding cooked foods can cause health problems. <Just check for what they are cooked with and make sure they are pretty much clean. Rinse them if necessary. Good luck, MacL> Thanks, Jonathan

Porcupine Puffer Refusing to Eat (09/04/04) Hello, <Good morning....> I have had my porcupine puffer for about 6 months now and he has been doing great. I keep him in a 65 gallon tank with a protein skimmer and a XP2 filter.   <Small for this fish long term, but if he is small should be OK for a while. > Every other day I will feed him 2-3 pieces of krill and he is just fine.   <Krill is OK but it is best to vary nutrition for long term health and well being. > 3 days ago when I went to feed him he wouldn't even acknowledge the food.  At first I thought that maybe he wasn't hungry (which he has been known to ever turn down food).  I went to feed him again tonight and again I am having the same problem.   < Puffers do occasionally go on hunger strikes. > He will now come up to the food, but turn away and start jerking around causing his spikes to come out. <Sounds like my dog who is quite fussy about her food these days...... Maybe he's bored.> I also noticed tonight that his bottom jaw is starting to sink in.  His body also seems to be shrinking. <Well  he may have lost a little weight from not eating for a few days. These guys can usually go a while without eating, sounds like he is in need of a good meal. > I have no idea what to do. < I can relate I have been in that place before that's why we are here......Has he grown in the 6 months you have had him? These guys are fast growers. If not you might consider the possibility that he has intestinal worms which these fish are known to come to us with.  Take a good look at his teeth.......if his teeth plates have overgrown he may not be able to open his mouth wide enough to take food in and could be frustrated.  For starters I  always like to do a water change when ever anything is off even if it is only one fish. Then I would try varying the food......I like to buy fresh and frozen shell fish at the grocery store, Trader Joe's, Costco and/or the local fish market........squid, calamari, scallops, clams, mussels, various types of shrimp, crab, imitation crab meat, lobster, octopus, langoustines.... anything as long as it is raw and not precooked. They love the stuff and it is  much less expensive than commercially prepared fish food from the LFS. TJ's has various 12 to 16 oz bags of frozen seafood for $3.99 to $9.99. I get the 16 oz bag called Seafood Medley it is mixed seafood some with shells, including crab legs and lobster for $4.99.  Gosh even the local health food market has a fish and meat dept and I get small 4 oz packages of fresh seafood sometimes already chopped for $1.00. My guys LOVE.......TJ's  rock shrimp and lobster.  A good vitamin supplement will also go a long way towards the health of your fish. They also need greens.....algae sheets from the LFS or the same can be obtained for much less from a local oriental market.  I feed uncooked thawed frozen peas, broccoli and other green veggies. > I also have a humu Huma trigger, yellow tank, and a clown fish and they are all doing great. <That's always good to hear!> Spike is the only one acting strange.  When I am not trying to feed him, he spends his time swimming around the tank like nothing is wrong.  He seems to be full of energy and his eyes are still sparkling their pretty blue color. <All very good signs !!> Do you have any idea what is wrong with him?   < I think he may be bored and is in need of a varied diet. I do think you should try some different foods.....> I have looked on your site and haven't found anything similar to this. <Take a look at these links related to feeding.... Frozen Foods & Feeding for Marine Aquarists http://www.wetwebmedia.com/frozenfds.htm Related FAQs Foods/Feeding/Nutrition 1 http://www.wetwebmedia.com/frzfdfaqs.htm FAQs on Algae as food   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algfoodfaqs.htm FAQs about Puffer Food, Feeding   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm If you are still having trouble getting him to eat then try some live food.....a fiddler crab,  crayfish or other small marine crab or marine snails.....just to jump start his appetite again if the other foods do not do the trick.> Thank you for your time, Trent < Your most welcome, HTH and best of luck with your Puffer, Leslie>

Feeding Questions <Hi, MikeD here> Thanks for all your help in the past, but of course the questions keep coming!<THAT'S often what keeps us hooked on the hobby for decades as it's an ongoing learning process that's always a challenge to improve.> In reading your PufferFaqs, it says we should freeze shrimp, clams, etc for 1 week to get rid of any bacteria.<There is a huge danger in generalizing, but basically this is correct, and often freezing can kill things far more detrimental than bacteria, such as true parasitic worms, flukes, etc.>  You also state that Puffers, mine is a dogface puffer, love live crawfish.  Is there any danger of bacteria if I feed Scooby Doo (my puffer) the live crawfish?<Here the answer is close to a definitive no. By being a freshwater crustacean, the odds of harboring a parasitic organism that can make the switch is almost nil, thus actually safer.  With many marine fish there is a real danger in feeding them freshwater foods due to a difference at the molecular level in fats, lipids and proteins, but this doesn't appear to be anywhere as severe in crustaceans as in fish. An added benefit is that a puffer's teeth grow non-stop, like those of a rat, hamster or other rodent and actually NEED to be constantly worn to prevent them from overgrowing and causing eventual starvation. In short, a good basic diet of frozen marine shrimp, crab, squid and mollusks with live treats such as the crayfish will keep the animal healthier and probably even happier.> Also, our Naso Tang will only eat seaweed and we've been giving her Seaweed Selects (adding additional Selcon).  You have mentioned using Nori Seaweed and I was wondering if one was better than the other.<Actually, this is a yes and a no.  As much variety as possible is usually the key to the greatest success as in nature these fish browse on literally hundreds of different foodstuffs and we, as hobbyists, are trying to provided a suitable substitute.  A good flake would likely also be in order and I'd suggest trying so angel formula cubes w/sponge occasionally as well. In general tangs belonging to the genus Naso seem to include a much higher percentage of plankton than some of the others, thus need additional protein.>  Also, just as an FYI, when I originally started giving our Naso the seaweed, I was not putting Selcon on it.  She seemed to start losing some color and was developing white blotches.  It did not look like any illness and she was eating fine.  I think these were different than the spots Nasos get when stressed, since they were always there.   However, once I started adding the Selcon, her color came back and I believe the little white she has is just part of her coloring.<All of the Nasos are capable of some rather startling color changes, and in the wild it's been noticed that they often turn white or at least drastically lighten when approaching a "cleaning station" to be serviced by parasite removing animals like cleaner wrasses, gobies and shrimp. It's also just possible that you were seeing early warning signs of HLLE or "hole in the head/lateral line erosion" which is a condition resulting from improper diet rather than a true disease and you "nipped it in the bud"> Thanks for all your help.  I think I've become a WetWebMedia addict.<It also sounds like you're becoming an accomplished fish keeper and developing very nice powers of observation as well. Something many never learn is that there is a HUGE difference between looking at your charges and actually "seeing" them.   While it may sound corny, I feel that fish communicate  through both body language and coloration and once you start "listening" with your eyes they'll have quite a lot to tell you.> Carol Dogface Puffer Not Eating <Hi, Mike D here>     need some help,<we'll give it a try> I have a gray dog faced puffer who all of the sudden has stopped eating.<This is actually very common >  I have tried krill (his usual) scallops, clams, blood worms and live ghost shrimp and feeder fish.<Sometimes it is something as simple as boredom with a diet, while it can be internal parasites (very common with puffers) or many other things. Most Dogfaces DO NOT EAT feeder fish, so this isn't surprising in the least, with their being crustacean specialists.>  He has barely moved from his rock hideout and I am concerned water quality is good had him for over  18 months all other fish are fine. I did pull him from the tank to inspect his jaw,<You're lucky here...allowing puffers to ingest air ranks high as a leading death cause> it seems to be functioning fine and has no apparent signs of disease or lock jaw I saw the jaw open and close and he did spit at me several times.  I added some Maracyn and copper to the water for about 10 minutes while checking him or her out.<This is VERY disturbing. WHY do people feel they have to add SOMETHING or ANYTHING to the water indiscriminately and think this is a good thing? Many puffers are copper sensitive, and I fail to see where poisoning it is likely to help.>  What can I do?<I'd suggest nothing, for starts, before your "help" kills it. A good place to start might be to try introducing a live crayfish and watch for reaction. Raw food shrimp, crab, and squid are perfect foods. You didn't mention the size of your fish, but frequent problems are obesity and internal parasites>  He has not eaten to my knowledge for over a week<While not good, this isn't life threatening. Medicated food specifically for internal worms is available and one of the few things done regularly. Use extreme caution in removing this fish from the water.>

Cowfish safe corals and diet 8/1/04 Hi. I have a cow fish in a tank that I want to add some corals to. The tank already has a Goniopora and some kind of stony honeycomb brain coral which the cow leaves alone. I also had a Sarcophyton which died due to a temperature spike and the cow also left that alone. However, I replaced the Sarcophyton with a Lobophytum and the cow has started to nibble on it. <These fishes are known to be risky, but mostly with crustaceans.> I know cowfish are not considered to be reef safe, and I've already discounted any coral that needs to be fed meaty chunks as the cow knows all about that and takes the food straight out of their stomachs, but I was wondering if there are any corals that would be unlikely to end up in the cow's stomach? Would I have a better chance with stony corals? <So called "SPS corals are probably safe, and meaty large polyp stonies are probably at the greatest risk.> Another question I have relates to an answer on the Q&A a few days ago that said that cowfish need greens as well as meaty foods and most die due to malnutrition. I feed mine a variety of meaty foods as well as fish pellets that contain algae and I occasionally give him a sheet of Nori. I've had him for many months and his condition is good but I don't want to slowly starve him. I feed enough for him to eat in a few minutes, twice a day. Does the diet I have described sound sufficient to you? Thanks for your help. <Variety, variety, variety!  Quality, quality, quality!  Frozen Mysis, frozen foods containing algae, high quality pellet foods (look for few or no non-marine ingredients).  Best Regards!  AdamC> Porcupine Puffer pond snails?  7/11/-4 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I took your advice and inoculated my 90 gallon with Marine Bio-Spira and live rock. <Great job!> I acquired a small 2 1/2" Porc. puffer for the tank. Other than paying $240 for 4 rocks (5.99 lb) things look good. <Those must be some rocks!> What kind of clean up critters do I need for the tank? I have seen reference to common freshwater pond snails but don't know if they are for cleaning or food for the puffer? <Pond snails may be ok for food, but if your puffer doesn't eat them right away, you must remove them or they will die & foul the water (they'll die soon after hitting the salt water).  Try: frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye). Snails are an essential food to a puffer's diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails. As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat. You can also try: puffers will eat cut-up pieces of scallops, shrimp, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish. Mine love to chase live crayfish, fiddler crabs and gut-loaded ghost shrimp. I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies. I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed. Smaller puffers (under 2") need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week. Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded. Medium sized puffers (2-4") should be fed every other day. Larger puffers (4-6) should be fed every 3-4 days. You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food! Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness.  Buy the clams, etc that are closed, they are fresh.  I crack them open a bit, so the puffer can get at the meat.  Their teeth will scrape the shells as they are eating out of it.> I have also heard Hermit Crabs work? What do you recommend? <It all depends on your budget & how much you care about their live tank mates as becoming food.  It's a total crapshoot.  I kept a large red legged hermit crab for the past 6 months in with puffers & just noticed it "missing" this week.  I can't afford to try starfish or cleaner shrimp, but other folks have had success with them.  I have never had any luck with SW snails. It's totally up to the personality of the puffer.  You can't just keep feeding it, just so it won't eat it's "tank mates".> I was also wondering how big a puffer needs to be before they can have a live clam in the shell from the grocery store? and is it the open or closed clams that are alive? Thanks a lot!! <Enjoy your new puffer friend!  ~PP>


Puffer's Messy eating Habits!  7/12/04 Thanks for all the great advice!! When I drop in Krill or Mysis shrimp, my puffer grabs them eagerly but then spits them out all over the tank, is he eating or playing? He is very aggressive towards any food offered, but most of it ends up stuck to the intakes!!! Is this normal? Thanks again!!! <Puffers are extremely messy eaters!  This is why extra filtration & water changes, while vacuuming the substrate, filter intake cleaning, etc. is a must.  ~PP>

Toby feeding questions I've had a valentini puffer in QT for 4 weeks now, over 3 weeks ich-free. I'm planning on introducing the puffer in the 90 gal. display tank this week (which also houses a flame angel, neon goby and inverts). When I first got him, he was a really fussy eater (he was sick after all). Now he eats almost anything. I recently stocked my tank with various macro algae-Ulva, Sargassum and Gracilaria to provide greenery, get rid of diatom algae, as well as providing food for my fish. I am now wondering if the puffer will gorge himself on the algae in the display tank. He gobbles up the bits that I have been placing in the QT. <Perhaps> Do these little guys know when to stop eating? I don't want to inadvertently be overfeeding him by keeping the plants in the main tank. I do however, want him well-fed so he won't be as tempted to nibble on my inverts (turbo snails, Strombus grazers, micro-hermits, bristle worms). I know they might get eaten (I'm sad about this but I love my puffer more). I'm trying to be careful about over-feeding him. I usually feed him twice a day (a shrimp tail or ghost shrimp/Mysis or piece of clam in the morning), then some greens at night. Is this too much food? Lately, he's seems to have a larger appetite and is always begging for more food. <Your Sharpnose Puffer will not likely eat itself to death... or even to illness> Maybe I'll wind up taking the algae out of the main tank (I don't have a refugium, but I could put them in the QT once the puffer's out). As it is, the flame angel doesn't really eat any of them, but the snails seem too! Now I know why I never see SW tanks with live plants... thanks much -Angela <Keep looking. Bob Fenner>

Puffer On A Hunger Strike? I've had a 2" Valentini for 2 days now and he won't eat any of the frozen Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp or frozen greens that I've given him! He was in QT for a day-He was acting so wildly, pacing up and down the glass, rubbing his snout, and looked stressed out so against my better judgment (see more below) I released him into the main tank. He is much calmer now and is picking at the live rock and poking at the 2 huge snails I have in the tank (I'm aware he might eventually eat these, at this point I hope he does to keep up his strength). <Can you say "escargots, anyone?"> Hopefully my LFS should be getting live brine shrimp today, and I'll also pick up a live clam or mussel. Any other suggestions? He's still rubbing his snout back and forth on the glass, I'll keep on eye on it. On QT: When I bought the fish (Nippon San Francisco, LFS has been around for 95 years) <Been there before... Nice store.> Several of the people there thought the whole 'quarantine' idea was bunk-that a fish always had a ich on it and that even if a fish were quarantined for a month, just by moving it to the main tank it could potentially get sick. <Okay...So the store was nice, but this kind of "advice" is really not helpful. If you heed this advice, all fish are doomed, so why even bother keeping 'em? Sheesh! Even good stores have ignorant people working there once in a while.> They also swore by a reef safe product called Ruby Reef, Kick Ich and Rally, which don't kill nitrifying bacteria. They treat their reef tanks and have never had a problem. Any thoughts on using these? <Yep...don't use them.. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "...That's all I've got to say about that..."> Right now my limited quarantining experience has always gone awry (ammonia spikes, fish's health deteriorates), and I wind up putting the fish in the main tank (the LFS again recommended doing this when the Valentini wouldn't eat in QT) <Gosh...the QT process is really quite simple, and works so well for almost all fishes, with very, very few exceptions. Read this for more information on the process:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm > Thanks greatly for responding, I know you're a skeleton crew this month. I really appreciate it Angela <Well, Angela, my advice is to keep the fish in quarantine until he begins eating. In this instance, I suppose that we have to continue to tempt the fish with as many different foodstuffs as you can find (try some marine vegetable-based foods, too), including items like Mysis, krill, squid, etc. Do enrich these foods in products like Selcon or Vita Chem for maximum nutrition, given the circumstances. Keep trying! Don't give up! Regards, Scott F.>

/>Puffer Long in the Teeth  4/28/04 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Thanks for offering such an informative site! <Glad you appreciate it!> I have a question about my relatively new dog-face puffer. My puffer (Benji) has some teeth problems.. both his lower left tooth and his upper right tooth have relatively big chips in them, making it so that he can't get any real even biting surface. I think because of this he has problems eating since he doesn't seem to be able to really chew his food into pieces like I think he is supposed to. He is eating well, but only food that he can swallow without biting. I am feeding him a good amount of thawed krill to try to even out his teeth but I'm worried this will not wear it down enough. I have tried feeding him both saltwater 'margarita' snails and those long/cone like snails you see in many freshwater tanks but he wont eat either of them. He recognizes when I hand him food normally and takes it from me right away, but with the snails he'll just stare at my hand and look as if he's thinking 'so where's the food?' .. Okay, sorry now I'm blabbering like I normally do when I tell people about my fish, my question is, will the krill be enough to wear down his teeth? If not, what choices do I have since he cant seem to chew harder foods, and wont even try the snails? <Are the teeth too long, or just chipped?  Those cone-shaped snails (Malaysian trumpet snails) could have been the cause of the chipped teeth, as they are way to hard for them to chew & have been proven to chip puffer's teeth.  One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet. All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish. Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild. Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye). Snails are an essential food to a puffer's diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails. As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat. Larger puffers will eat cut-up pieces of scallops, shrimp, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish. Mine love to chase live crayfish, fiddler crabs and gut-loaded ghost shrimp. I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies. I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed. If the teeth are severely overgrown, no amount of hard/crunchy foods will help.  at that point dentistry is necessary.  Check out this thread: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=hospital&action=display&num=1057161492  The method you would need to use would be similar, but in larger proportions.  I figured about 1 drop of clove oil/1-2 cups of water.  Also, I would suggest using a Dremel tool for the quick trimming.  Large Tupperware containers work well for larger puffers.>   Thanks in advance for your help! --Alan <Good luck!  ~PP>

Diodon emergency My puffer is starting to look really thin now, he hasn't eaten in close to 3-4 weeks, and I'm afraid if he does not eat soon he'll lose his urge to fight.  <Hi Mark, I'm sorry to hear of the continuing health issues. > I just fed him a piece of krill the size of a brine shrimp, and he could not even open his mouth enough to eat that. I'm treating the tank with Iodine, again... <This is a problem that is popping up more and more, at an alarming rate I might add. And sadly not many people are researching the lock-jaw problem. I'm currently researching it with the help of other puffer experts in hopes of trying to figure out why it's happening, and more importantly how to fix the problem. We are currently looking into other additive in conjunction with Iodine. I have personally spoken to another person such as yourself that has added Bromide and is showing signs of improvement. But not enough for my taste. I'm not sure if you had been using Instant Ocean marine mix in your tanks, but we have been running tests on mixes to see if there should be a concern over elements. (and these are not scientific lab tests, merely done with marine test kits and such. So I do wish to point out to readers, and company owners that this is not lab proven findings! merely observations from hobbyists.) We have found that Instant Ocean does not test exactly the same, one instance found the alkalinity levels quite high in the mixtures. We have not tested all name brands thoroughly, but have seen a more stable tests coming from brands such as Red Sea. Sadly there have been quite a few people doing random treatments that I'm not quite sure why, do seem to have the fish no longer suffering from lockjaw. One has emailed me a couple times stating that his puffer once put into Hyposalinity, lowering the specific gravity by 15-20% seemed to help the puffer. Also he had been dousing with garlic. He did not say if he had been dousing with other chemicals. He says that he does monitor his calcium and alkalinity levels (more than most reef people I know.) As I had said before, I will post more when I find out. I'm currently writing an article and going to contact Bob F. on posting it here on WWM.> What do I need to do to force feed him? I'm afraid if I try and grab him he'll puff and get air if I do it at the surface... and even if I do get a hold of him, how do I feed him?  <force feeding a porc is exceedingly hard. Especially if the puffer is not used to you having your hands in the tank. First off, if you can place a divider in there it will make it easier for you to actually handle the fish. But the major concern is don't get the puffer near the surface when trying to feed him. I have force feed a large holacanthus puffer once, and it took two people to accomplish this. And the sad thing is that his puffer's jaw had been locked slightly Open... so it was easier to force the food into his mouth. Don't use your hands on the puffer, it can be dangerous for you and the puffer. We used a long piece of cotton cloth. (it had been taken from a sheet or pillow case). After the puffer had been in the smaller area thanks to the divider and calmed a bit we slowly worked the cloth around the body of the puffer. We worked from the head down and moved quickly enough not to scare the puffer to much but slow enough not to have extremely sudden movement that could get the puffer to puff up. it took 3-4 attempts of getting the cautiously getting the puffer in there without it puffing or flipping out. Eventually the puffer seemed to be okay with the cloth around it. It wasn't tight.. but more of a sling like rap holding it somewhat still. We then used rigid airline tubing and acrylic rod to push a piece of shrimp into his mouth. We only pushed it about an inch or so in and then the puffer seemed to suck it in. He spit it out twice, but it was more because he was startled. Like all puffers they seem to calm down once the realize what is going on. Eventually the puffer took another piece. It was quite an endeavor, and frankly I'm scared to try it on puffers, it can be very dangerous. But, the sad thing is that there really isn't an easy way of forcing food into a puffer. Depending on how the growth of teeth are you sometimes have to slide it in the side of their mouth, but for some reason going from the side makes them spit it out more often.> I'm afraid if he can't open his mouth I may hurt him forcing it open? Do I need to get the food into his stomach? <Try not to force the mouth open to much. I recently had a man right in and say how he slightly forced the puffers mouth open by using the handle end of a spoon (small spoon by the way). But the end in and slowly rotate it so it opens the mouth slowly.. then put the food in and close it.. the puffer supposedly ate okay. Haven't heard from him to see how the puffer is doing. I do wish your puffer improves. I feel bad that I can't offer any decisive info to help this poor fish!> I've never had to force feed a fish before and must say the idea kind of spooks me...in need of as much advice as I can get on this I think. Thanks as always <I hope things improve Mark, and I will do everything I can to figure out more on this topic. Best wish to you and your fish! -Magnus.>

Diet for a small puffer  Hello everyone,  <Hi! Ananda here today...>  Your FAQs page is one of the superb places I've seen on the net! Its been the creamer of my cappuccino during my coffee breaks.  <Glad to hear it! ...make mine a double mocha...>  The last info exchange I had was from Magnus. Its about my Valentini (Tamblot is the name) who murdered my clown.  < :-( >  Anyway, the heartaches of everyone at home are gone. And in fact, Tamblot has all their attention now.  <Puffers are very, very good at doing that.>  He is being fed alternately with Tetra Doro Marin and locally prepared fish pellets. He also have a weekly dose of liquid fish supplement. Right now, I am planning to introduce more varieties into his diet.  <Sounds like a plan.>  Fresh seafoods I should say.  <Ah...be wary. They can harbor disease or parasites that could be transmitted to your puffer.>  These are abundant around but I don't know how to prepare such.  <Freeze them for a few days, first, to kill any hitchhiking nasties.>  As what I've read from your FAQs, shrimps, shells, squids, and such others are good for him and for his teeth.  <Yup.>  But how could I make a 3-inch fresh and kicking shrimp be a food to my 1-inch Valentini?  <Blink. A 1" puffer? No wonder he's become the darling of the tank!>  Would I just quarantine the shrimp for a week or two and let it loose inside the main tank to let Tamblot do the slicing?  <I think I'd keep Tamblot on already-dead food: much easier to keep a quantity on hand, that way, and easier to control the amount he can eat.>  If that's the case, I'm afraid Tamblot would look like a broiled turkey on a saucepan  for the shrimp.  <Ah, you are giving me such odd mental images this morning....>  We also have green shells and squids (I mean the sizes of these are good for, say a fried calamari topped with mayo). These are fresh from catch but then again how?  <For the squid, once it's dead and cleaned, freeze it, then grate it into small shreds. I'm not familiar with green shells, but again, I would simply(?) kill, clean, freeze, and dice the meat before giving it to the puffer.>  Hope you could suggest a few ways to prepare these stuff as a food for my Valentini.  <Giving him the food while it's still hard-frozen can help keep his teeth worn down, too.>  Thanx a lot and more power to your team.  regards, Joebel J. Sorioso  <Thanks, and best of luck with you puffer. --Ananda>

Puffer Eating Woodlice  3/22/04 Hi, Pufferpunk here> Have you heard of puffer fish eating woodlice.  Mine eat one that got put into the tank (by mistake) along with earthworm.  The puffer made short work of it and so far seems OK.  What do you think.  Could it become a regular food source or should it remain a one off? <I don't see why they wouldn't like woodlice--mine love crickets.  Just make sure their staple diet is mad up of hard, crunchy foods for their teeth.  ~PP>

Snail Farm for puffer, low ph, toxins  3/10/04 Good Evening from Michigan. (Saltwater Tank setup - 55 gal., at 7.9, Nitrates, Nitrites, Ammonium is Zero. <NitrAtes 0?  Usually there are some kind of nitrates.> 59 lbs live rock, tankmates: 3 percula clowns, 3 striped damsels, 2 shrimp, 2 emerald crabs, Toby the Goby, 2 hermits crabs tiny, small anemone Bubbletip, snail) I have a porcupine puffer, about 3 1/2 to 4 inches long. He's been eating great. Seafood medley from Wal-mart seafood department, scallops, mollusks, squid, shrimp. He likes them all. We got 4-5 Ramshorn snails (1inch-1.25 inch) in a 5 gal tank, with 2 other golden or apple snails (can't tell these apples/golden apart). The Ramshorn snails are letting off cloudy/mucus stuff and it falls to the bottom, I see one or 2 black dots.) Want to have baby snails for puffer to eat. How long does the whole mucus stage last? When will I have baby snails to feed my puffer? I have search every where for the whole time period for this to happen and haven't found anything... Any help would be appreciated. <Try reading these:   http://www.pufferfish.co.uk/aquaria/foods/snails.htm  http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/snailsforpuffers.shtml   Personally, I don't bother with snails for my larger puffers.  There are plenty of other hard-shelled foods they will eat.> Also my ph as you notice is 7.9. I've read everyone else's is 8.2-8.4. My fish have been doing good since I got them (2 months), do I need to raise the ph? New live rock has been added and it remains the same. Is this normal? <What kind of substrate do you have?  Aragonite or crushed coral substrates are used to help maintain a stable alkaline pH of around 8.> So many questions, much thanks for reading my letter. Katherine <Sure, enjoy your fish!  ~PP>

Live food for puffers? (03/10/04) Hi, <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> Is there any risk of passing on disease to my puffer if I feed him scallops, shrimp, etc. purchased still alive from my local supermarket? <Unfortunately, yes. Kelly the Puffer Queen once mentioned she'd traced a puffer death to something transmitted via freshwater mussels she'd fed to the fish. You can't assume that any wild-caught food is safe for your puffer. If you do choose to buy the live food, I would suggest quarantining it for a month or so before you feed it to the puffer. Otherwise, freezing the food for a few days to a week should take care of most pathogens, protozoans, etc. that the critters might carry.> Thank you. <Thanks for asking -- I'm always glad to help prevent puffer illness! --Ananda>

Puffer: "I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing!" Hello, <Hi JeffyJeff, Pufferpunk here> I have a leopard puffer who seems a little uncomfortable. I just fed them and watched him eat, he didn't seem to over-eat but now is kind of swimming close to the bottom with his tail curled up next to him. Could he have over stuffed himself? Well, now since I've typed this he is swimming normally. What gives? <Well, as you may have noticed by the title of your Q, your puffer ate too much!  I thought you might be interested (as long as I have your undivided attention) in my take on feeding these guys.  One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet.  All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish.  Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild.  Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye).  Snails are an essential food to a puffer's diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails.  As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat.  Larger GSPs will eat cut-up pieces of scallops, shrimp, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish.  Mine love to chase live crayfish, fiddler crabs and gut-loaded ghost shrimp.  I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies.  I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed.  Smaller puffers (under 2") need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week.  Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded.  Medium sized puffers (2-4") should be fed every other day.  Larger puffers (4-6") should be fed every 3-4 days.  You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food!  Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness. I hope you are aware that your puffer needs high-end brackish water & prefers saltwater as an adult.  If you have any more Qs about your fish, GSPs are my specialty, so don't be afraid to write back!> Thanks, JJ <You're welcome ~PP>

Porcupine fish could not eat his meal tonight! I have read all about lockjaw and have tried to prevent it by offering a varied diet and adding vitamin supplements. <Lockjaw is not really understood yet.  There are many theories out there as to why it happens, but sadly most of them are just that... theories.  I have read quite a few articles on the subject and do believe that this condition is most likely do to a deficiency in the puffers body.  I believe that like many individuals do that it's thanks to the thyroid gland on the porcupine puffer, and have read many stories stating that adding iodine to the water does fix this.  When I received your email, I sent out emails to many experts to see what they thought.  And all of them came back with different ideas how to treat it.  So, I believe that your best course of action is to check out the Puffer Forum (http://puffer.proboards2.com/) There are many intelligent puffer people on that board.> This is the first time he would not eat. He is trying to eat.  He can't open his mouth to take it. What do I do?

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