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FAQs about True Puffer Disease 1

FAQs on: True Puffer Disease 2, True Puffer Health 3, Puffer Health 4, Puffer Health 5, Puffer Health
FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environment, Nutrition, Social, Trauma, Pathogenic, Treatments

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

Related FAQs: True Puffers 1, True Puffers 2, True Puffers 3, Tetraodont Identification, Tetraodont Behavior, Tetraodont Compatibility, Tetraodont Selection, Tetraodont Systems, Tetraodont Feeding, Tetraodont Reproduction, Puffers in General, Puffer Selection, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, Puffer Reproduction, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

Dogface Puffer treatment Hi, I have a dogface puffer (3.5") or so. I bought him 10 days ago. He was at the LFS for one week prior to my purchasing him. He looked healthy and was eating well. <Let me guess, this is a lead in to "So, I did not quarantine him."> I placed him in a 200 FOWLR tank with a few other new fish. I started the hypo-salinity on the tank and got it down over a period of 4 days. <This would have not been my course of action with a Puffer.> I did notice some spots show up on him during this time. This morning I noticed he looked listless and had his mouth clamped shut. On it or coming out of it was kinda a stringing type of ??? about a inch long and covered in tiny air bubbles or white dots? I couldn't see them clear enough. I got a FW dip ready, matching my temperature and pH. Put a airstone in it and added some "quick cure" (ingredients are -tri-chelated formula of 99% formaldehyde and .75% malachite green). <I know the product. Again, that would not have been my choice.> I kept him in it for 13 minutes. After which I replaced him into the tank. Within a hour he was eating and looking better. My question to you is, would you know what that was on him? <No> and more importantly should I continue doing these dips? <They make me nervous for a Puffer.> or leave him if he continues to look and act well? <I would have quarantined him and all new fish for one month.> If I do more dips, how often and in what? Lynn <The best advise I can give you is to start here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm  and begin looking around. -Steven Pro>
Dog Face Puffer II
Hi thanks for getting back to me so quickly, I have been and looked in his tank and have found some lead weight in it (holding some plant down) and have taken it out. Hopefully this is the cause of it. <This is a saltwater tank, right? Lead weights are usually used for freshwater plants.> Thank for you help, Donna <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>
Re: dog face puffer
Yes this is a saltwater tank, but the man in Maidenhead Aquatics (Shepperton) said they use them all the time for there plants (in saltwater tanks) so I got some, this is where I got him from. As I said this is my first saltwater puffer and I'm still learning and am very grateful for your help. <No sweat. That is what we are here for. I would still double check all your water quality parameters to make sure nothing is off; pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, salinity, temperature, etc.> They also told me to feed him river shrimp, beef heart, and blood worms but I have given him winkels and mussels which I give to my Mbu puffer. Donna <I would stick to a diet of marine origin foods. Clams, mussels, whole shrimp, and even some formula foods. A good reference for the first time marine aquarist is Mike Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium." -Steven Pro>

Puffer injury Thank you, but this is coming from his insides... it is not on the flesh at all but something that comes from in the mouth or the intestines??  <wow... my apologies. I'm way off here. I misunderstood from your message and the picture was not clear enough to reveal this for me. Wow... this is highly unusual and I must say that my previous advice in retrospect is unlikely to help. I thought the growth was topical. We will post this again to see if any of the daily readers have had any experience like this they can share. Please do read the dailies (FAQ page) this weekend (Sat/Sun) for possible insight. I must say that I do feel helpless but indeed, a wormy mass coming from inside the throat/mouth is highly unusual. In the meantime, do try to take a clearer photograph if possible and we will send it around. Best regards, Anthony> Do I put this swab inside the mouth?? Thanks again, Lynn
Re: puffer with stringy growth and re-growth
Lynn... in the meantime, let me suggest for you to simply do a topical swab of the area. They are no fun for you, but very direct and helpful for many fishes. Net the puffer underwater in a large nylon (white not green) net and wrap him up tight to limit his movement. You will need a second person to help with this. Cover the eyes of the puffer with some of the bunched net or another clean towel wet with aquarium water. Keep the puffer submerged as much as possible, but don't freak out if you need to pull him out of the water and he suck in some air. They most always can purge it or can be burped later. We are working fast anyway. Have some dipped cotton swabs ready and waiting aside with mercurochrome/Merthiolate or iodine. I like Merthiolate best for this application. Expose the effected portion of the fish from the net and slip it slightly out of the water/ Pat the area dry and then stain it with the medicated swab. be generous but avoid getting the meds near the eyes or gills. It may be necessary to sink a small clean dish towel under water to wrap the fish and hold it well. One person will obviously be holding the fish and the other will do the "surgical" work. Rest assured that this is very worthwhile for your pains. Best regards, Anthony> Thanks for sending it to her. But I'm afraid she still hasn't answered back and I think time is running out. Lynn
Puffer troubles
Hey Guys <whassup?> got a mystery here on my end. I have a dog face that I just adore. Boyfriend owns a pet shop that specializes in fish ( been doing it for 35 yrs.) and he has never seen this before. All the level in my tank are right on the mark all the fish seem fine. Puffer eats great... he actually looks like the Pillsbury dough boy... But he get this rash once and a while.   <wow... so many jokes, so little time here> Its like an indention in his skin, odd shapes, different sizes and place with large white almost like pimples spot inside them. They are there one min. and gone the next. <the rapid appearance and disappearance of symptoms is strange. In fact, its strange enough that I would almost like to rule out a pathogenic organism (few if any can wax and wane so quickly). More likely something to do with the puffers ability to produce (sometimes copious) mucus. Still... if you are sure that this is not mucus/particle related... it may be the expression of a viral condition. Little tubercles (?)... pustules (?)... Bob, help me here... the water {among other things} is getting deep> <<I would have said about the same... not as well though. Likely viral>> My boyfriend the professional can't even figure it out. Any idea's, I love puff he the star of the tank don't know if I'm being a worry wart or not. <<Telling...>> Please get back to me if you've heard or know anything about this one.  Thank a MILLION and have a super day. <thank you for caring my friend. I will copy this to Bob and beg his input as well. Best regards, Anthony> <<Antoine, this is what I would have said... plus maybe some comment re viral mediated conditions... and their variable expression re environmental input... that maybe they could boost the animal's immune system with improved water quality, nutrition. Bob Fenner>

Puffer troubles Hey Guys <whassup?> Got a mystery here on my end. I have a dog face that I just adore. Boyfriend owns a pet shop that specializes in fish ( been doing it for 35 yrs.) and he has never seen this before. All the level in my tank are right on the mark all the fish seem fine. Puffer eats great... he actually looks like the Pillsbury dough boy... But he get this rash once and a while.   <wow... so many jokes, so little time here> Its like an indention in his skin, odd shapes, different sizes and place with large white almost like pimples spot inside them. They are there one min. and gone the next. <the rapid appearance and disappearance of symptoms is strange. In fact, its strange enough that I would almost like to rule out a pathogenic organism (few if any can wax and wane so quickly). More likely something to do with the puffers ability to produce (sometimes copious) mucus. Still... if you are sure that this is not mucus/particle related... it may be the expression of a viral condition. Little tubercles (?)... pustules (?)... Bob, help me here... the water {among other things} is getting deep> >My boyfriend the professional can't even figure it out. Any idea's, I love puff he the star of the tank don't know if I'm being a worry wart or not. Please get back to me if you've heard or know anything about this one.  Thank a MILLION and have a super day. <thank you for caring my friend. I will copy this to Bob and beg his input as well. Best regards, Anthony><<Transient issues here are almost invariably environmental in origin... or social... who else is in this system? RMF>>

Help with Dogface Puffer Hi Bob, Leslie here.  <Hi Leslie, Craig here> You helped me a while back with a tank that had unsuccessfully gone through treatment for Amyloodinium infestations on 3 successive occasions. I asked about microwaving the contents of the tank, my Dad's suggestion..... since I had tried everything else I could think of to kill the darn bug. <I can relate to the desperation!> Anyway...... I have had my Dogface Puffer for about 6 weeks. He is a real looker. Pitch Black with clear black speckled fins and a white caudal fin with black speckles. Several weeks ago he developed some of what I believe to be Ich spots on his pectoral and dorsal fins. I saw him flash a couple of times, nothing continuous. He developed an occasional spot on his body which have disappeared. This is a FO tank 50g. I know small for him, but he is only 4" at this time. I have plans for a bigger tank. The thought of investing in a huge tank for this fish, after all those tank crashes didn't seem to sensible. I figured I will get the BIG tank if I can keep him alive long enough to need one. I hope not a stupid mistake. At the suggestion of a highly respected published friend in the marine community I have been using something called OST....osmotic shock therapy. Are you familiar with this? If so what are your feelings about using it prophylactically in a Q tank as well as to treat parasites?  <Lowered SG in conjunction with copper and temp raised to 83F in a QT is the preferred treatment. This is fine if done over time....days.> The recommended specific gravity for FO tanks is 1.010. for 3 to 4 weeks. So I had this guy at that specific gravity for about 3 weeks, when I slowly slowly increased the specific gravity to 1.018 the spots began to appear. He otherwise looks and acts very healthy. The spots have been quite stubborn. I panicked at first because the Amyloodinium outbreaks started like this. I have since increased the temp of the tank....slowly to 80 to 81 degrees, fed garlic laced food and treated the tank with a product called Stop Parasites. The spots look about the same. One of the spots on the pectoral fin is a bit bigger, perhaps looking like 4 or 5 coalescing spots, but not as bright as the other spots. On that fin there is a tiny area at the fin tip directly in line with the bigger spot, that looks like it is worn away, just a very small area. I placed a 15w UV unit with a 90gph flow rate on the tank 3 days ago and FW dipped him last night for 15 min. He did very well......not even phased by it. They look a bit better today. Is it possible this is not Ich or perhaps something in conjunction with Ich? What else would you recommend I do for him. Thank you so much for your help :) Leslie <Yes, remove to quarantine tank and treat with copper @0.25 ppm free copper as above. For more on this go to WetWebMedia.com and enter "copper" into the google search. I wouldn't advise any of the stop parasite type treatments. Craig>

Dogface Tummy Ache? My dogface was sick and is still sick, think velvet ( little white spots, but been treating for ick with copper sulfate) and he did not eat for a month and a half . Finally he ate some lettuce and then  little fishes(10) and then two days later he ate some live brine. I was told that since he went for so long without eating that his stomach would deteriorate and if he did eat  after so long it would kill him. <Hooey> Well my puffer eats and now he seems to be lazy, turning dark, just sitting on a rock some them swim some, and just looking very ill. DO you think he will make it and what advice do you have for me?  
<<Copper exposure effects all... RMF>>
We gave him a few freshwater baths and in the bottom of the clear tub you could see little grains of yellowish color stuff about the size of grated pepper or large salt. <Much of your puffers problem is environmental. Given a proper environment and diet your puffer should improve. You don't mention your treatment length, copper levels, water parameters, etc. Please go to the google search at the bottom of WetWebMedia.com and type in "dog face puffer", "disease" and "quarantine". Follow all of the links and read the FAQs. All of the information you need is at your fingertips!  Craig>
Re: dogface puffer (please help)
I have nothing but problems with this puffer. OK, salinity is .20 <.20?  What unit of measure are we using?> and nitrite and ammonia are fine as well. Just added small a LIONFISH and was wandering if the lion could sting the puffer? <doubt it, although puffers are known to pick on/at lions.> The puffer has had white spots on his fins and cloudy eyes. First treated with copper then treated with antibacterial. Well he started eating again ( picky)  but came home today and found him w/ a large bump on his lower jaw. Kinda under on the side. He looks like he has a small pimple ( just one) on his upper belly. Did a water change about a 3 weeks ago and fixing to do one again . Would a fresh water dip help this problem? <possibly> And what is with that bump under his chin? When I put feeder fish in there he will go after them slowly but turns a dark color right of the bat. Is my fish on the verge of death, I hope not . I have invested a lot of money in fixing him but nothing seems to be working. When I first got him about 2 months ago he had a near death experience. Could this be the cause for his troubles? <stress in the past, never fully recovered? possible.> Sorry this is long , but the fish has got me aggro. <Imagine how he feels.> Thanks for the help! <This fish should be moved to quarantine and treated there.  Freshwater dips will help, try adding some Quick Cure or something similar (malachite & formalin) to the dip.  If you have any more questions please let us know, and please provide your water parameters, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph, etc, the more info the better. Best Regards, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferFAQs.htm  >
<<Copper poisoning and inappropriate stocking. RMF>>

Fin stuck in gill Hi, My gold puffer has his fin stuck in his gill.  Otherwise, he appears to be fine.  He is about 8".  I would appreciate any advice you can give.  Thanks Kelly <I would intervene here... by catching the fish, holding it tightly in the net with a wet towel between you, the net and it (to prevent thrashing, you getting bit)... and pulling the fin out of its gill opening. Bob Fenner>
Re: fin stuck in gill
Hi Bob (good to hear from you), Well, with my husbands help.  I managed to get the puffer out of the tank. <Yikes... would have been better to just do all in the tank... at the waters edge>   My husband had his finger in the wrong place (BIG OW!!!). <Yeeikes! This can really hurt!> While the puffer was on my husbands finger, I pulled out his gill--the puffers gill ;).  Puffer is fine now and my husband has a Band-Aid.  Thanks for your help Bob.  Do you have any idea what caused this to happen?  Kelly <Glad to hear all is well. Must have been some wild movements for all! Bob Fenner>

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

Tetraodon Mbu Injury Question/FW Hi, <Hi! Ananda here this morning, digging out from under the pile of so big dirt...> Firstly I just spent a while reading through your greatly informative website - congratulations on creating a handy and friendly database. <Thanks -- credit goes to many people.> My question refers to my buddy, Uncle Remus, who is a two year old Tetraodon Mbu freshwater puffer approximately 280mm in length. <Big guy!> I've just returned from vacation to find that he has a small 'jelly-like' lump on his back, near his tail fin.  He is eating fine (he was fed every two days whilst I was away) and is his usual happy self - but it's hard to tell if the lump (approx. 8mm in diameter and maybe 3mm in height) is a growth or an injury. I'm thinking it's an injury from one of his food hunting missions around the tank, where he might have cut himself on a log we have in the tank.  If this is the case, is there anything I should do to speed up his recovery? <A few drops of tea tree oil, or something like Melafix, wouldn't hurt -- but I would like to see a photo of this before guessing what the cause is.> The last thing I want is for the injury to get infected or enlarged. <Agreed.> Also, his beak could maybe do with a 'clean and trim'!  He has a black mark between the 'teeth' and the beak is maybe a little long... Aside from giving him cockles in shell (which he has most days), is there anything else I can do to keep things in check here?   <If he is not being fed daily, I would do so... smaller portions, more frequently, may help. And make sure that everything he gets has some sort of shell, even if it means you take empty shells and fill them with food for him.> I can't see how I'd be able to get him to keep his mouth open for me to file the beak by hand - especially without him biting me!. <You would need to put him under anesthesia -- MS222 and clove oil are the ones I know of that have been used successfully. If you decide to do this, do let me know and I will dig up more info.> Any advice would be much appreciated.  Thanks again,  Chris (London, England) <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Puffer Problem/FW Hi -- I stumbled across your site looking for information about my golden Tonga puffer, Ralph.   <Hello, Sabrina with you today, hoping to help you and Ralph> I need some help with his breathing--I've had him a month short of two years and have treated him for gill flukes at least twice with Paragon with good success.  This time he's not responding at all, I've done four rounds and sometimes he will move it a bit but never really open it at all.   <By 'it' you mean his gills, right?  Well, gill flukes usually cause fish to gasp and have rather labored breathing due to the parasites causing damage to their gills, so the fish can't absorb oxygen from the water as well.  So far, this doesn't sound like flukes to me.> He's about ten inches long, six around and is in a fish only tank of 80 gallons with a pair of fire clowns, a squirrel fish and a coral beauty.  I'm running two emperor 400 hang on filters with activated carbon and a remora protein skimmer in addition there are two air pumps in his tank and I do at least a ten percent water change weekly.   <Sounds good, perhaps increase the amount of water that you change weekly, and be sure to check your water parameters, make sure everything checks out okay.  You're also going to want to consider going larger in tank size soon....> What would you suggest I do next for him?  He's just not a happy puffer--he no longer wiggles and splashes when I come home but is still eating his shrimp like a pig and some algae but not as much.  Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, he's my big yellow baby and I'm just desperate to maximize his life span.  When I travel I even have my family come over just to talk to him, he likes company!  Thanks so much, Janine <It may very well be that the very active squirrelfish is stressing your puffer out, and may be that your puff's just pouting about it, trying to let you know.  Keep us updated - hope Ralph perks up for ya!>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ich Relapse/Puffer Emergency Hi, <cheers> A couple weeks ago you asked me to treat my porcupine puffer with a freshwater dip to treat parasites which I did. The treatments seemed to help a lot, but he got a new case a parasites a couple days ago. <alas... relapses are common with such Ich prone fishes as puffers tangs and angels> This time when I treated him, he blew up pretty big and it totally tore up his belly. He now has two flaps of skin hanging from him. Is there anything I can do to save my poor fish. Please help me ASAP <Yikes... just from a dip? I don't see how this was possible? There must have been something that we missed. At any rate, the situation sounds dire. Keep the fish isolated in QT and use only a mild antibiotic and water changes for the next week. We should re-evaluate after 5 days assuming the fish is still living. I'm sorry... I cannot explain the rupture... they simply are not "designed" to do that. It honestly doesn't sound good. However, rest assured that a normal freshwater dip had absolutely nothing to do with it. This fish has unseen problems> Thanks! Frank <kindly, Anthony>
Re: Puffer Emergency
Anthony, <greetings> Thanks for your quick reply. I am so sad because I feel like I'm to blame.  <I am quite sure you couldn't have done this. It is a bizarre symptom of something else very wrong and even incurable. You could have left the fish in freshwater for a day and still not have "blown him up" Pufferfish simply do not work that way so to speak. No fault of yours, my friend> Do you think that it can heal? (I don't see how it can).  <I agree that euthanasia may be an issue (freezer in a bag of aquarium water... very gentle> Do you think he is suffering?  <cannot say> I would rather just put him out of his misery if he is and don't have much of a chance of surviving. I can't believe this happened. My son is going to be devastated. <you would know best by looking at the fish. Are you quite sure the air bladder ruptured? If so... I suspect death may be imminent> have you every seen this before? <not in 10 years> If you have any extreme professional advice, please let me know. Frank <as per above... I am sorry my friend. Anthony>
Re: Puffer Emergency
Anthony, Just to clarify, the air bladder is definitely intact; it's the skin that surrounded it that ruptured. (The skin with the spines is broken in two pieces one attached to the front, the other to the back. Does this make my situation less dire? <yes... less dire, no less bizarre> The fish is basically just floating around, the same way as he was before this happened, but a little unresponsive. (Doesn't respond to my finger being in the water) Thanks! Frank <we might observe another day or two... but without a response to presence or feeding and given the nature of the injury... it is dreadful and not terribly hopeful. I'm sorry, my friend>

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

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

Arothron Mappa Puffer puzzle Mr. Fenner Back in December I was in the market for a Puffer Fish and I was lucky enough to find a 11" Mappa Puffer at my LFS. He's been doing great except for one thing A few weeks ago I noticed that in his Left fin he had what appears to be a small white pimple this pimple appears to be in the bone structure part of the fin as oppose to the webbing between the bones. At first I thought that it was a sign of some sort of nutritional deficiency because he was at the LFS for around 8 weeks before I got him and IM not sure he was fed a varied diet. So to correct it I starting soaking his Freeze dried krill in a Multi Vitamin Called Multi Vit. A week or so ago I noticed that he has developed two more of these pimples on the same fin but none on his other fins. I observe him daily and he seems fine otherwise, he eats like a horse and uses his fin in a Normal fashion. Also I should probably mention that he is currently the only fish in the tank (125 Gal) and the rockwork is secured in a stable fashion and the heater is in the sump so I've ruled out rockwork injury, tankmate harassment and heater burn. IM STUMPED and I don't want to medicate him with anything until I find out if that's the best way to proceed. Any help you can offer or direct me too ( I live in Cleveland Ohio) would be appreciated. Also here is some info about his tank/ Diet that might be useful. Temp : 78.8 Degrees What I feed him pH : 8.1-8.2 Freeze dried Krill Ammonia : 0 Clams Nitrite 0 Shrimp Nitrate 40 PPM Oysters Scallops Mussels Crayfish (one a month as a treat) PS- I realize that you are a very busy person but If you would like any additional information Please feel free to call me Collect at 216-295-8309 at your convenience. Thanks you. Sincerely, Ricardo Nims >> Thank you for writing. This is one of my favorite (to photograph and keep) puffers... and have seen the spots you describe in wild and captive specimens... I suspect that they are due either to physical traumas (running into something while energetically wafting its fins trying to get your attention) or some sort of internal protozoan complaint... At any length, I think what you have done/are doing is fine... varying the diet, using the multi-vitamin, and keeping the tank in order. In other words, I would not worry about this "problem" as I don't think it will persist, or cause the Mappa puffer any harm. Bob Fenner

Injured Fish Question I have a 110gal fish only. I purchased a 4-5 inch Spiny Box puffer from the LFS about three weeks ago. About a week ago I noticed he got ruffed up, probably by a 12 inch Banded Moray Eel. Of the three fins near his tail, one is down to flesh, and the other two are 80%gone. He also has a lot of trauma near his tail. He still eats like a pig. I soak his food of choice (raw shrimp) in Vita-Chem every day, and Iodine twice a week. Is this too much iodine? Is he gonna be OK? Is there anything else I can do? He's a cool fish and I don't want to lose him. And thanks for the great column! >> Hmm, do you have another tank to move the puffer to? Is anything still chewing on it? I would only add some iodine to the food once a week. If the areas where the fins are growing back (they will if not chewed all the way to their bases) look reddened... do contact me and I'll tell you how to make an antibiotic laced food. Eating heartily is a good sign... and I've seen puffers recover from much worse injuries. Keep your water quality high and stable, and s/he should get better.  Bob Fenner

New puffer I have just gotten a dog-face puffer. he seems to be doing ok, but it seems  to have a sore of some kind on one of his sides. What could it be and what do  I do for it. >> Likely a wound from being caught, moved... a bump in the night.... And possibly secondarily infected by bacteria... but if it is showing signs (emargination) of curing I would leave the animal alone... Moving it, putting anti-microbials in the water, the food, is likely to do more harm than good.... If the animal is in good shape, the system optimized and stable, and the Puffer eating... leave it alone to self-cure. Bob Fenner

Puffer eye color change I have a small Porcupine fish (about 4 1/2") that has been doing well for 4 months. Now he looks like he has something around one eye. It looks like a growth, but it's not puffy. It's a major change in coloration, but it's localized around one eye. I never noticed this before. Please help! <From reading your missal here, I suspect this damage is due to a physical trauma... maybe the Puffer bumping into something in the night... and would not add to the animal's stress by handling, treating it per se... just keep it fed, happy in place and it should heal> Also, I have a 150 gallon FOWLR tank. I have a yellow tang, Tomato Clown, Niger Trigger, Grey Angel, Dog face puffer, porcupine puffer, Neon Goby, Lion fish, and a snow flake eel. Can you recommend any other fish to add to this assortment. I tried a Princess Parrot fish on Sunday, but he became dinner for the Eel, bit the head right off during the night. Any recommendations? >> Yes, read through the Fishwatcher's Guide and livestock survey pieces stored at www.wetwebmedia.com and come to an understanding of what your choices, preferences are... Bob Fenner

Puffer (environmental) disease Help! Dear Mr. Fenner, I have been trying in vain to find an informed opinion about some sort of infectious infection affecting one of my saltwater tanks. About two weeks ago a relatively young (about 1yr.) porcupine puffer came down quite suddenly with a dark blotch on his side. At first I thought it was dropsy as the area was slightly swollen. I immediately treated the tank with Maracyn Two. Although the fish was eating well (kind of a pig) it unfortunately died. <The area was likely just a resultant mark from a physical trauma...> We removed the dead animal from the tank and did a partial change although the levels were all within spec. Tonight I noticed the same blotch on a very special dog face puffer; this time in the face area. It seems to spread rather quickly on the affected fish as it was fine this morning. The fish does uncharacteristically hang at the top of the tank by the water intake which appears to be giving it some relief. I have other fish and some relatively large hermit crabs in the tank that do not appear to be affected. <Yikes... this is starting to sound like a toxic situation from a stressed/dead/dissolving tetraodont...> It does not appear to be Septicemia as it is not streaky, nor does it appear to be parasitic in nature. It looks more like a grayish mass. This tank has been well established for almost two years. Since it is fish only (minus the two crabs) I keep the specific gravity at 1.020 which has worked well. Your book has provided a wealth of information for us and any ideas you may have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Terry Trippany <Thank you for your kind words. Your system sounds fine... except for the input of the one dying puffer which I believe is triggering the current blotch... If this were my system, I would immediately place a couple of "Units" of activated carbon in the filter flow path, and make up about as much synthetic salt mix as you can... and when you think this new water is ready for use, change out about half the water this week, and half next week... the Dog-Face should recover if you act quickly enough. Bob Fenner>
Re: Help!
Thank you. The gray spot is spreading to the other side of the fish so I will do a quick partial as well as put the other fish in isolation. I always have 55 gals of salt pre-mixed in the back so this should be a relatively easy task. Terry <Ah, great. Good planning. Best of results. Bob Fenner>

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

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

Blood Flukes of Tetraodonts Robert Fenner, I would like to draw on your extensive experience and ask if you are familiar with blood flukes (digenetic trematodes) in Arothron hispidus or other closely related fishes. <Yes... many digenetic parasites of fishes...> I am searching first, for parasite identification, and then any related information about the frequency or significance of infection. I am a veterinary pathology resident at The Ohio State University and examined one specimen of a 10cm A. hispidus which had massive numbers of flukes and fluke eggs with marked atrophy of the liver. I believe the flukes contributed to the death of the animal. <Directly or not... a very real possibility... Trematode loads of wild fishes are at times remarkable... and in necropsying even large sharks and rays (for public aquariums) a significant source of morbidity in captive marines... I am sure you're familiar with BIOSIS, particularly the Zoological Abstracts... and have the facilities for doing computer search bibliographic work... look for Yamaguti's references through this process. Bob Fenner>
Arothron hispidus blood flukes
Thanks for your quick reply! I'll keep searching the databases, but all the puffer fish trematode articles I find are either monogenetic trematodes or intestinal digenetic trematodes. In what range of years would you suggest looking for Yamaguti's references? My abstract databases start in 1980. I see Yamaguti has looked at the development of puffer fishes off the coast of Brazil in several papers recently published. <Hmm, don't have a ready answer for you here... would have to make it down to a college library myself (can't afford a BIOSIS hook-up at home... hopefully someday soon such tools won't be so costly...). The Zoological Abstracts goes back... far enough... before last century... I would start your search there... on-line and on the old analog years...> Thanks again for your help--I don't want to be a pest and ask more questions than I should. <Never a bother my friend. Bob Fenner>
RE: Arothron hispidus blood flukes
Robert Fenner, I found a nice review in 1997 Helminthological Abstracts, 66(7):255-294 and 66(8):329-344 which covers Sanguinicolidae and Spirorchidae blood flukes with comprehensive parasite-host and host-parasite lists for all known blood flukes of those families. The author was JW Smith. The flukes of Tetraodontidae are: Arothron hispidus: Paracardicola hawaiensis Cheilicthys annulatus: Psettarioides tropicum Sphoeroides borealis: Paradeontacylix odhneri Sphoeroides pardalis: Psettarium japonicum Sphoeroides rubripes: Psettarium japonicum A paper by WE Martin, 1960 J Parasitol 46:648-650 described Paracardicola hawaiensis in 10 of 10 Arothron hispidus captured near Hawaii, each having very high parasite egg burdens in the liver. This may cast some doubt as to the significance of the parasite in the death of my particular case, if all Arothron hispidus have similarly high burdens. <Perhaps... but the triggering disposition of "captive stress" should not be discounted here> While I realize that blood flukes are a certainly relatively small area of interest for you, if you are interested in the 1997 review article I can easily photocopy it and send it to an address you provide. <Thank you for your kind offer... can/will add your citation to my ever-growing list for using the fantastic resources of the SIO library in town (am visiting in Hawai'i currently) for my next visit.> Thanks for your willingness to help with this case. WRB <Very glad to be of assistance. Make it known if I may be able to aid your work... e.g. you are welcome to any/all image work I may provide you on Arothron. Bob Fenner>

Mappa puffer Hey bob my friend Mike from Atlantis fish store in Pittsburgh has a question he wants me to ask you so here it is. He has a mappa puffer at his store and it has an air bubble in it, or I should say it inflated with air not water. Anyhow he was hoping to get some advice as to how to remove the air and save the fish. They have tried to squeeze it out and it helped some but wanders if there is something better to do ? <If this has gone on for more than a day or two... I would try narcotizing the specimen... (with MS-222, tricaine, possibly "hypno" if you can find the old Jungle Brands product...) and shaking it semi-vigorously head-up to see if this will dislodge the gas... otherwise, possibly add three teaspoons of magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salts) to a separate tank (NOT the main tank) and enough of the water to keep the poor fish covered, aerate it greatly and leave it here for one hour> Thanks for any insight as always Rob Huss if you have any info please be long winded with it so I may help him as much as possible. <I understand. Please read this message over a few times... and get back to me if any of it is unclear. Bob Fenner>

Dogface Puffer Sick Hi there Bob, I am so sad that I did not find your site before. <But happier now!> I have had my dogface puffer for about 3 years. About 6 months ago I bought a 100 gallon tank to accommodate her and my stars and stripes, porcupine and wrasse. The puffer was getting brown blotches all over her body regularly even though I had treated the tank and I presumed that it was stress related. <Likely> (they say 10 gallons to every 1 inch of a puffer).  <A good approximation> When I took them out to do the transfer, the 100 gallon leaked so I had to leave them in buckets over night. Like the moron I am, I did not heat the buckets and the only 2 survivors were the dogface (by the skin of her teeth) and the stars and stripes. <Yikes> She was very distant for a long time, hid when I came near the tank. She eventually stopped eating and now she is in a very bad way. Her eye is filling with blood and she is shriveling away to nothing. Is there anything I can do to make her better.  <Perhaps... I would try force-feeding this specimen... with a mash of meaty food items (via a blender) and vitamin preparation (liquid) and a PLASTIC turkey baster (not your fingers)... Collecting the fish, holding it in a wet, detergent free towel underwater... Inserting the baster beyond the teeth, into the pinched area behind the buccal cavity (throat)... do this daily until the specimen starts accepting foods on its own> She still has the brown circle like blotches on her skin and looking very small. I am very disturbed over this bc/ it was my stupidity that put her in the state she is in now.  <Yet only your caring, actions that can save her> I really like this fish and don't want her to die. Please let me know if there is something I can do or is it too late?  <"It" is never too late my friend as long as there is life> I almost think it is bc/ her mouth is shriveled completely....Thank you, Jess <Do try the force-feeding, today. Bob Fenner>

Quick ich question Hi Bob, the hairstylist again. <Do need to get up and see you... my "do" needs a re-do... badly!> I have a quick question regarding my quarantine tank. I have a few fish in there, 20g tank and slowly since my new tank was about to be ready a few weeks ago prepared their move, then ich hit them as I had to move the tank out of my office. So I treated them with copper (Cupramine) for a week,  <Oh, oh... should've run it for two weeks... I'm almost afraid to read below> and they looked great so I turned everything back on and put carbon back in the filter, but I know it was a bit soon, so it came back. I added copper again this time for 2 weeks, in the meanwhile I took some fish out and transferred them, after about 11 and 13 days and they are loving the new big tank. today was the 15th day off copper use and I wanted to transfer my last 2 puffers (dogface and stellate) but when I came home from work they both had a few specks of ich again. I am running out of ideas here, I don't want to keep them in copper too long either. <Best not to, of course> I lowered the spg a bit(1.015) and raised the temp (84F). 0.3 ppm copper, buffered the water and did everything I read on this web site. I want to transfer my puffies because it is harder to keep up water quality in that little tank especially with the use of copper. By the way, they take more freshwater dips then me................................. <Ha! I do agree with the direction you hint at here... I would pH-adjusted freshwater dip/bathe and move these puffers to their new home. Bob Fenner> thank you again SASCHA
Re: quick ich question
> thanks for your response, are you saying to move them now or still wait a bit until the white spots are gone . <Now... these "white spots" may never be gone... Worth the risk in my estimation to dip, move these fishes now> they eat like pigs and are real fun, not sick at all, I just don't want to infest the new tank because of the 150# of live rock in there, otherwise they'd be in there already. <More a matter of "balance" than absolute infestation yes/no... Likely there are residual spores in the new system now... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/tanktroubleshting.htm Bob Fenner> take care Sascha

Sick dogface puffer Dr. Fenner, (I hope!) <Hmm, just Bob> I am writing about a dog face puffer that has been in our tank for almost 6 years. I work in a restaurant that has a 118 gallon tank which is professional serviced on a weekly basis. I have been reading through the letters on your web site, and hope our puffer is just on a hunger strike, but afraid it may be more than that. "Puff Daddy" has survived at least 2 major illnesses in our tank, where we lost many other fish, but after not eating for extended periods of time, he bounced back. During this past year, he stopped filing his own teeth on the coral, and stopped eating again. We began having his teeth dremmeled, and he again returned to normal health. However, during the last dental visit, he puffed up & took in some air.  <Yikes, not good> It appears as if the little black "flapper?" in his mouth has been ruptured, because it is protruding outwardly, and the area around his mouth looks slightly bloody. He hasn't eaten in almost 3 weeks, and has lost a great deal of weight. In addition, he has always shown a lot of affection towards the owner of the restaurant, acting very excited when he is around, letting him put his hand in the tank to pet him, and hold him while he gets his teeth dremmeled. <Wow, quite an attachment... these are intelligent fishes (the smooth puffers)> However, now he acts afraid of him, and puffs up every time he tries to lift him out of the tank. The little black flap, not only protrudes but flaps around when the puffer breathes in & out of his mouth. Is there anything that can be done to invert the protruding flap, or any other suggestions to help this situation. We are all very attached, customers included, to our little puffer guy. Thank you for any information you may have for us! Amy <I appreciate your concern... It might be worth trying to "push" the flap back inward... with a blunt implement... otherwise, really the best thing to do is wait and hope. Good luck my friend. Bob Fenner>
Re: sick dogface puffer
Just Bob! Thanks for your quick reply. We'll keep our fingers crossed! <Ah, good. I wish you life my friend. Bob Fenner>

Pouty Puffer <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a starry puffer which I bought three days ago. He has lost his color and has slime on his body and gills. <not a specific symptom, although does indicate irritation of the skin by water quality or parasite most likely. In the future, please use a quarantine tank for all new livestock. It saves money and fishes lives. Chances are that you could be looking at an impending parasite infection but it can't be determined without more information. Please do not knee-jerk and (over) medicate on an educated guess. Look for tiny spots or dots on the skin, scratching or glancing, or any other unusually behavior or symptoms to share.> He has stopped eating and is very sluggish in his movements. <no worries just yet. Did it eat at all in your tank and if so what?> I have taken a sample of the water to a marine shop and it tested fine. <Please report the exact water quality readings that you got. "Fine" is a relative description of water quality... partly dependant on the competency of a LFS store employee that may have sold you the fish (if you get what I mean)> I have a porcupine puffer in the same tank and he is OK. <means little... different fishes have different tolerances for toxins and disease> Can you offer any advice please. Regards, Dan <aside from the above requests... please read a good book or two like the Conscientious Marine Aquarist to become better informed about selecting fish, quarantine and many other aspects of good aquarium husbandry. Anthony>

Re: stars and stripes puffer problem Bob, From the information provided it sounds as if the puffer is stressed or something is picking on him when no one is looking as evident by the "flip-flop" when something touches him. Another possibility would be the start of either a parasitic or bacterial infection. With a tank this crowded with no protein skimmer, UV sterilizer, there is such a potential for disease secondary to stress, increased bacterial and parasitic load, decreased oxygen available, the list goes on................. <Yes> It is so hard to say what the exact problem is when trying to base it on the information provided. I would first get the puffer out of the crowded tank and into a quieter tank where he will not be as stressed and can eat without a crowd. Then observe for any signs of infection or parasites and then proceed as necessary. Puffers can be like humans and pout or go on hunger strikes when they are not happy or something is wrong and if there is an observed change in behavior - something IS wrong. Hope this helps. Kelly aka Puffer Queen <Yes, thank you for your help Kel. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer problem
Dear Bob, I emailed you yesterday about my stars and stripes puffer. He seems to be worse off today then yesterday. He seems to be suffocating and very lethargic. I don't see any white or black infestation, in fact I see nothing other than his strange behavior. The other fish are fine, but he is definitely dying. He was floating and staying near the water reservoir and was having his skin sucked in slightly. Now he sits on the sand, seeming to cough horribly. What should I do to help him? <Move this fish to other quarters, "stat" as the saying goes. NOW> Is it bad to leave him in the tank? <Yes... bad for this specimen, bad for the other livestock... bad for you> I remember having these shrimp-like creatures in the back of the tank in a water receptacle for the BioFiltration system, but I don't see them anymore, could they have caused this? <No... Please see the response below from yesterday. I am sending this one on our "Puffer Queen" as well. Bob Fenner> Regards, Filipe S. P.S - Thanks much for the help! <Did you read this response from Kelly?>
Re: Puffer problem
Thanks, but alas, my poor puffer died... And now I guess I may be a bit paranoid because I see small clusters of white on my porcupine puffer. No other fish have any strange symptoms. So I presume I need to buy a protein skimmer A.S.A.P. What else can I do to fix this, and what type of infection do you think this is?  <Improve water quality... the "infection" is very secondary in cause, problems here> The porcupine is not acting strangely, rather it is going up and down the corner of the tank as always. I definitely see white spots on his fins, and I do not remember seeing them on him before. Is this an ich? Thanks Bob and the Puffer Queen, Regards, Filipe S. <Please read through the marine puffer materials archived on WetWebMedia.com and the various sections on troubleshooting, water quality. Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer problem
I agree water quality should be at the top of the list for further prevention of problems. But as for the porcupine puffer, he needs to be put in a quarantine tank and treated for the "white clusters". He may not show symptoms at the present but the "clusters" are causing the puffer stress and this will weaken his immune system so he may not be able to fight off the parasites or any opportunistic bacteria. Also if there is a weak or sick fish in the tank, the stronger ones may pick on it - "Survival of the fittest" and cause further stress and disease. Good Luck. Hope this helps. Kelly - "Puffer Queen" <Thank you again Kelly. Will post for others benefit. Bob Fenner>

Pufferfish follow-up The puffers and scooter blenny have been together in the tank for approximately 9 months . Neither species bother with each other (for now). <I'm glad... but it is an unnecessary risk> The narrow lined puffer did get bit by the dog face, first time in a year. <no worries... happens once in a while, but they are tough!> While examining the narrow lined puffer I noticed a yellow tint (like the color of your water when the charcoal filter stops working) to the otherwise lighter grayish colored areas of his body. Is this normal? <could be...very high degree of color variation among "dogface" puffer species> I also noticed that the narrow lined anal and dorsal fin were edged in black, with no fraying. Is he sick?  <not a symptom of a specific pathogen... but admittedly odd if it is not a color change. At times I've seen something similar on harassed fish. Is this one the low man on the totem pole?> I attempted to get pictures with digital camera, not very good clarity. <please call again. Anthony>

Puffer problems Hello, gentlemen.  <Cheers, dear... Anthony Calfo in your service> Alas, I have to call on you yet again for advice. <our pleasure to try to help> I've had my dogface puffer for several weeks now, but he's just not quite acting right. He has a voracious appetite  <lots of hard shelled foods, right? Shell on shrimp, crabs, crayfish... all a must for nutrition and tooth wear> and loves to pick at my live rock, but occasionally he gets all splotchy and 'curls up' and rests under one of the powerheads or the return. He also occasionally closes one of his gills for a few minutes at a time.  <yes... easily could be evidence of a parasitic attack> At one point, before he ate all the Caulerpa, he would approach a 'root' of Caulerpa and deliberately lodge it in his gill and then just sit there for a few minutes. <hmmmm?> Obviously, something is bothering him, but he has no spots and has been acting like this for quite a while.  <no spots needed if gill fluke or tiny protozoans...> I feed him Garlic Elixir on a daily basis <hmmm... a lot of people standing in line behind me to tell you that garlic is weakly effective or entirely useless for fishes...> and have given him several freshwater dips for 10-15 minutes at a time,  <now that was an excellent idea!> but he has not improved -- not gotten any worse, though, either. I really don't want to copper him, and I've read conflicting info on using copper and metallic dyes on scaleless fish.  <no contest... can't and should not use on this puffer> Is there anything else I can try without resorting to medicating him in a quarantine tank?  <it is my advice alas since the long FW dips have not helped... this parasite is deep in the flesh> Perhaps an extended freshwater dip or a medicated dip?  <you may try medicating more baths (5-7 in 7 days) with Formalin... double strength as per manufacturers recommendation for a tank dose> Thanks in advance for your help. By the way, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate are all at 0, pH is 8.2, temp is 78, sg is 1.023. My three other fish in the tank are doing great. <all reasonably good. You may wish to lower the salinity slightly (increased O2 if nothing else) and raise the pH slightly 8.3+> Karen <best regards, Anthony>
Puffer problems
Thanks so much, Anthony! How long should I leave my puffer in the Formalin dip?  <simply for the duration of your normal FW dip... 10-15 minutes is long but recommended in this case (I agree with your decision)> Also, can you tell me why Bob's book recommends copper for puffers? <indeed... as aquarists we all have different perspectives and often a recommendation must be made at times on a case by case basis. I would agree that puffers are VERY hardy among scaleless fishes and for a common white spot infection (Crypt) copper may be short and sweet and tolerable. However, since you have not mentioned clear white spots and have informed us that you are seeing blotches and resistance to long FW baths... that tells me that the possible parasite is deep enough in the flesh (to resist FW alone) that to get enough copper in the system to kill the fish might very well kill the puffer first.> Karen <Ultimately, my best advice dear is to put the puffer in a bare bottomed QT tank for 4 weeks with more FW dips and short and long Formalin baths. Best regards, Anthony>

Sick as a Dog(face puffer) Hi Bob! I've sent two emails then noticed to try this address if I haven't gotten a response.  <you've made it through! Anthony Calfo in your service> I hope you can help me. I have an Arothron Meleagris Golden puffer that I believe has come down with marine velvet due to a recent power outage.  <yes... temperature drops commonly flare such parasitic infection> I have a 55 gallon live rock and sand tank with two cleaner shrimp plus the puffer.  <wow. the cleaner shrimp really are risky with most any puffer. May work for months.. but not years. Fish behave differently in strange captive environments. Such shrimp would never wag their tails in a puffers face 24hrs daily in the wild. Confines and time will tell. I'd recommend sparing the shrimp to another tank. Much better tankmates to be had> this is my only fish. After the power outage I changed my water immediately.  <very wise!> My puffer was stressed. Now I have a battery backup. Over the course of a few days my puffer acted peculiarly. He floated in front of my power head with his fins clamped to his sides. The next day he was covered in a cottony film including his eyes. Over a period of three days I lowered the specific gravity to 1.016 and raised the temp to 82-84. He didn't appear to get better so I proceeded to freshwater dip him for two-three minutes.  <all good moves except the dip was not long enough. FW dips less than 3 minutes have been demonstrated to be useless on even the weakest parasites (Crypt) and Velvet is so deep in the flesh (Oodinium). 5 minutes minimum... 7-15 minutes as the fish allows would be better. Calm in dip bucket or laying down on the bottom would be fine... ride it out. Spitting water at the surface is undue stress and remove anytime after 5 minutes if so> I've done this three times. The cotton has diminished but he still has a thin layer from his neck up and on his eyes and fins. My question is how often do I dip him and how long do I leave my tank at its current conditions?  <yes...as above to be effective and 5 times in 7 days would be nice. Make sure water is aerated, temperature and pH adjusted properly> My puffer was eating until three days ago. He seems uninterested now or maybe cannot see it.  <ahh... no worries. Typical for sick puffers. They can go weeks. Offer live ghost shrimp or small live crayfish in a week if necessary> Could he have a secondary infection and will the dipping help without medication or antibiotics?  <yes... the dipping will help tremendously> His skin appears to be a little reddened and drawn in a few areas and I would hate to irritate it further. He mostly lays on the bottom of the tank and periodically will squint his eyes tightly shut as if in pain. This is my prize fish and I hate to see him like this. Is there anything else I can do?  >yep... this fish needs to be in a bare bottomed QT as well with a broad spectrum antibiotic as well. 4 weeks while the display runs fallow. Else the fish keeps getting reinfested by parasites festering in the gravel/sand> He has been like this for a week now. Bob I have called a lot of pet stores and aquarium suppliers to ask questions since I cant get a hold of you and you wouldn't believe the things they tell me to do.  <if they suggested copper or an organic dye (green/blue meds) fire them> I will wait to hear from you since you have helped me tremendously in the past. And I love your website. I've been on it every night since my puffers been sick. It may have saved his life so far, but I still need to know I cant do anything else. Help Help! Thank you <I have faith in this fishes hardiness and your empathetic care. Do follow-up with a success story in a couple of weeks! Kindly Anthony>
Re: sick puffer
I believe my tank is infested because my clown trigger died from parasites and so did my tang both within two months, my puffer has also had them before.  <I still cannot help you much my friend without a description of the symptoms to verify the nature of the parasite infection> I don't know if he is not eating now because he has parasites I'm just figuring. if treated him with Maracyn 2 (for internal bacterial infections). <Maracyn is a synthetic tetracycline and marginally useful (an outdated med) for bacterial infections and really not much help with parasites> he hasn't eaten in 17 days. any recommendations? <I'm honestly thinking that another factor is at work here... too high or too low salinity, stray pH or other aspect of water chemistry, etc> also should I get a new fish? <if you have a separate quarantine tank you could buy a new fish. I of course would not recommend adding any fish to a tank that is suspected of being "infected"> can I put the new fish new water or do I have to use my display tank water for the QT? <a little of both would be a good idea. Raw seawater is a bit rough at first> thanks BRYAN <best regards, Anthony>

Sick puffer I had a question before and you seemed to help....once again I need some help. I have a orange tail puffer, he hasn't eaten in 15 days (3 days in main tank, 12 days in hospital tank) I've treated twice with marcyn2 and Piperazine (anti parasite/ dewormer) still not eating I've tried all kinds of food, he swims by it but wont eat it what can I do, will he die????? <have you tried small live shrimps? Even live brine temporarily to jump start the stomach?> I'm getting hopeless, I only have one other fish, a clown and today he has a whitish film in a circle on his lower jaw (should I worry) <hmm... possibly and ectoparasite/protozoan... why the range of sickness over so many weeks? Are there temperature fluctuations of more than a couple of degrees between night and day... do check for such swings (not just the temp at the same time every day)> My two other fish in the tank died, so should I get new fish this soon? they all seem to get parasites. I don't know about the puffer or the clown? <hmmm... do invest in a 10 or 20 gallon hospital tank (read about quarantine tanks in the WWM archives on this site). It is really critical that all new and sick fish be quarantined to avoid problems such as this> 55 gal fish only Fluval 304 ph 8.3 sal. 1.019 dual flour. strip please any help on what to do? Bryan <any medication necessary can/should be done in QT. Do check to see if the recent meds have not wreaked havoc on your biological filter (test for pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate) Best regards, Anthony>
Re: sick dogface puffer?
Anthony, Yesterday morning I woke up and noticed that there was one little white dot on his dorsal fin. I thought to just watch it and see what happens. <yes... wise to see if air bubble(s) or not> Throughout the day he started to develop them scattered throughout his body, including one gill and one eye. He is eating well and his eyes are clear. The Huma trigger also started to get white dots on his dorsal fin as well.  <common Ich (crypt)... do review archives on treatments and especially freshwater dips. Just know that the puffer cannot take copper well or organic dyes... hence, FW dips are best... but do bag and release under water for fear of him gulping air> I called the fish store and they told me to raise my temp to 82 degrees and drop my salinity to 1.018,  <both must be done VERY slowly! temp 2F daily... salinity .oo2 daily> and treat the tank with CopperSafe and Maracyn-Two.  <that is not the best advice you could have been given... the puffer is scaleless and copper sensitive. CopperSafe is also weakly effective and must be dosed and tested for 1-2 times daily (did they sell you a test kit at least?!?!) and the Maracyn 2 is a synthetic tetracycline... and antiquated and arguably useless drug IMO> so I did last night. this morning, he had a few more white dots scattered and tonight when I came home he now has clusters or patches of white dots mainly on his rear end region on the side with a few more on his fins near his gills. The Huma looks clean. I did a freshwater dip for 5 minutes with the puffer tonight hoping this will help him. HELP!!!!! <you are doing fine... FW dips daily of 5-10 minutes each for 5-7 times in next week may effect cure without any meds. A bare-bottomed QT tank would be best though> Jason <best regards, Anthony>
Re: sick dogface puffer?
Anthony, the puffer is getting better, the dots are really only concentrated to the cluster patches, all the scattered dots are almost gone.  <ahhh, very good to hear!> Can all fish get fresh water dips?  <almost every marine fish in our hobby can be FW dipped with rare exceptions. FW dips can be used more safely than any other therapeutic treatment including and especially copper. Some known sensitive fishes include Firefish, jacknives, hi-hats, drumfish, cowfish. Also, wrasses try to jump a lot when FW dipped but rest assured that they can tolerate it well> should I dip the Huma as well? <yes, please... and triggers are VERY tolerant of FW dips!> thanks, Jay <best regards, Anthony>
Too late, he is gone. I brought him and a water sample to the local salt water aquarium shop and they tested the water and all seemed good, even the phosphates were back to normal. The guy said that he had symptoms of a bacterial infection and that I just waited too long to get him medicated. I purchased a new piece of poly filter just in case the one I already have is too old and have put it in there. I don't have a skimmer but will go and get one this weekend. This tank has been fine for over a year with these fish in there, this being my first problem with it, and just going on vacation sent it plummeting. I miss him already. Do I have to leave the tank empty (with the exception of the eel) for a while? <Sorry to read of your loss... and yes, best to wait a few weeks. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine puffer sick? Is it normal for a porcupine puffer to lay on the bottom of the tank? <for brief periods of time, but not for long> I have a 55 gal. tank and he's only been in there for about 3 days. <this fish is stressed, sick or both> The first day he was swimming around enjoying himself and now he just lays in the corner and barely moves. I was wondering if you had any ideas as to why he's been doing this. <they are known for being susceptible to parasites... please review the FAQs on this species: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontidfaqs.htm  and especially the disease sections:http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm  I also suspect that you did not quarantine this ich prone species first. Please also review quarantine procedure in the archives:http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm > Thanks, Jaci <best regards, Anthony>

Re: sick dogface puffer? Anthony, My filtration system consists of: *Emperor 400 with two bio wheels with carbon cartridges as well as carbon filters and *vortex DIATOM Model "D-1" Filter. *undergravel filter with two powerheads <in a short time, you will realize that neither the bio-wheel filters nor the undergravel filter are well suited for handling the gross particulate matter from the puffer (waste and sloppy feeding habits). Quite frankly, in less than a year you will likely have serious problems with biological stability (ammonia spikes and the like) from these filters. Although the undergravel is seriously outdated and quite difficult to use successfully with cnidarians (coal/anemone inverts)... it could actually work fine for a small to mid sized community fish tank assuming you did not overfeed or overstock and conducted regular partial water changes. In this cases, I would strongly advise that you look at buying or building a wet/dry trickle filter (check out DIY plans at www.orzreef.org) in the near future> Today, the dogface is back to himself, flying around the tank and eating like a pig! <excellent... a fascinating fish indeed> I called the fish store where I purchased him and they said the same thing about mucus being on his body. They said that stress causes him to secrete it and it can go on his body. <yes... common> Thanks for all your help, it is greatly appreciated! Jay <my pleasure, Anthony Calfo>
Re: sick dogface puffer?
Anthony, Thank you for such a fast reply!  <my pleasure!> This morning @ 6AM and noticed that the white string was now what looked to be fluffy cotton and appears to be coming out of his mouth. He also had some on his back. I came home tonight @ 8PM and looked at him and now he appears fine! No white fluffy crap what so ever and no white spots on his body?  <likely mucus, or at least no pathogenic. such creatures do not wax or wane so quickly> I fed him and he ate very well and is swimming around the tank like the first day I got him. I am feeding him frozen krill. Can this be what I am seeing coming out of his mouth?  <not likely... but you do feed other foods, yes? Any fish would die of attrition/dietary deficiency on any one food after some months. Do offer a variety of fresh/frozen meats of marine origin. Also love crayfish of appropriate size on occasion> Can this also be a fungal infection? Can my two other fish contract it? <very unlikely on both counts with good water quality> Does my filtration system seem to be sufficient or am I going to need to upgrade to a wet/dry with a UV sanitizer?  <my apologies... I need a refresher on you filtration setup. We get a lot of mail, my friend. Nonetheless... wet dry is possible, UV unlikely with proper quarantine protocol for all new entries> If so, which wet/dry system do you recommend?<quite frankly... I like DIY systems best... can be made more efficient and always less expensive for those so inclined. Do reference DIY plans on www.ozreef.org and beyond on the 'Net> Thanks, Jay <kindly, Anthony>

Sick fish/Puffer Blotchiness Yes, using Cupramine and testing twice a day. Holding it at 0.4, salinity at 1.015 just to make it easier.  <heavy on the copper IMO> I haven't continued the dips, but will look at seeing if I can do another one.  <that are FAR more effective than copper against a much wider scope of parasites... please dip more> Was hoping to determine what the pathogen is/was and then continue.  <I wish I could help, but sight unseen is difficult to diagnose> I haven't seen that Amyloodinium or Brooklynella was visible, but have heard that flukes are. But flukes are supposedly long and thin when they fall out of the gills and don't really affect the fins.  <you have much better vision that I do... most people could not easily spot a gill fluke (understatement)> So yes, I am a bit stumped as I plainly saw white little spots coming off of him. Literally just appearing out of nowhere and hanging off of his fins and skin until he moved a bit and shook them off. They were floating in and on top of the water in a quantity of 100-150. He did have a few spots on one of his eyes, and those fell off as well. Perhaps a crypto infection restricted to the gills - so not as visible ? But my understanding is that crypto doesn't really hit the gills until the last stages. . <Not always the case> May try another 5-10 minute dip.  <5 minutes minimum> He doesn't lazily swim around, but kind of turns his face a stressed out blue, and lies on the bottom and doesn't move.  <still doesn't sound bad to me... as a wholesaler, I have FW dipped many thousands of fishes in a decade> But yes, I know spitting out of the water is a very bad sign. <indeed> Jim <kind regards, Anthony>

Thank you Anthony (Golden Puffer) Hi Anthony! <cheers, friend> I wanted to give you my success story for helping me out with my Golden puffer. I know you get a lot of emails so I don't expect you to remember but I'm sure its nice to get to hear some of the success your fans have in the great advice you offer. <absolutely... thank you!> I had a puffer with I believe marine velvet. I put him in a hospital tank with Maracyn and freshwater dipped him five times for fifteen minutes, like you said.  <excellent... a durable fish that can benefit by these longer dips> Amazing, someone else told me to dip him for only one minute and thirty seconds and put copper in my tank.  <wow... it would have been hard to find less accurate advice short of "scrape the parasites off with a spoon!" Heehee...> I even saw some worms in the bucket after I dipped him. He is clean as a whistle now. He looks fantastic, not a speck on him. He ate a whole shrimp last night soaked in Selcon and garlic. He loved it!  <all well and good, he's on his way!> One thing. I'm not sure but he might have a slight air bubble. He spends a lot of time at the top of the tank when he rests. He is able to swim to the bottom and play around but he eventually floats to the top. It is not a noticeable bubble. I had this happen with a puffer once before that was noticeable and it rolled around but eventually resolved itself. <yes... exactly. Common and usually works itself out... but sometimes needs help> I assume even though I was careful this might have happened when dipping.  <yup> Poor puffer. He is very happy now though. But is there anything I can do about the bubble?  <yup... if you feel like it is not going to be purged easily, net the puffer (with a soft nylon cloth net... not course green mesh) and gently grip him through the net (watch your fingers!)... all done under water. Then orient the little bugger mouth upwards while it squirms. Often this will help a puffer to burp the air out. Else, you could let it out of water a bit to gulp a little more air to collect the small bubble for a bigger burp later <G>. Last ditch effort is a hypodermic needle. Do consult us further on this if all else fails. Likely not a big deal.> I cant tell you how much I appreciate your help, you saved his life, and we have bonded through this ordeal. He likes me to pet him now. My only resort to calming him while dipping. I'm letting my main tank stay at 84degrees and salinity at 1.016 and also the puffer in the hospital tank. Is this necessary and for how long? <Hmmm... after two weeks of disease free symptoms I would keep him another two weeks but I would definitely bring the temperature down very slowly to a more comfortable 78-80F. More oxygen, etc> Thanks again Anthony, You've helped me more than you know. <my pleasure! Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Puffer blotchiness I saw your response to someone else about puffer blotchiness and formalin dips. I have a black-spotted puffer (meleagris), and he frequently 'rests' during the day under a rock ledge and gets very splotchy. Sort of a night/fright mode that other fish have, but he does this periodically during the day.  <actually quite normal for many dogface puffers...agreed. And not a problem if not accompanied by the other symptoms mentioned in the previous post (closing one gill while pumping the other... and a splotchiness that really is mucous or turbid... not just a color change)> Is this something that should not happen ? It goes away once he swims out from under his ledge though, so I don't think its parasitic. I always thought it was a normal skin discoloration reaction when they were 'resting'. I've had him for 2.5 months now and he's always done this. <indeed... if you are only seeing a color change when the fish rests... it is quite normal. Do read through the disease FAQs and articles if you like to consider other parasite symptoms... but again, likely not a problem in your case.> Thanks Jim <best regards, Anthony>
Puffer blotchiness
I have also noticed that he does close one gill occasionally when swimming around and uses just one gill. It's not very often, every once in awhile when I notice. usually coming out of his sleeping/resting place. He appears normal, and is still nipping/chewing on the live rock all over the place, and I don't see any external pathogens present as of yet. . . Hmm, will have to watch the one gill thing, but it does happen often enough. <yes... very conspicuous sign of gill flukes. Not much else it can be. Larger fish invariably survive just fine with a few most of the time... smaller fish may suffer and all will suffer if a stress hits the tank and flares the pathogen count (water change with cooler water, power outage, new fish/aggression, etc). Do watch carefully and research in preparedness for treatment> Jim <best regards, Anthony>
Re: Puffer blotchiness
Not a problem, will do. However, if there are a few, shouldn't some sort of formalin dip be administered ?  <I do like short and long baths with formalin especially for scaleless fishes... it is a necessary evil> Aren't gill flukes highly contagious or something ?  <yes... contagious and hard/slow to cure> I have had gill flukes in the past (not I personally, but fish I have had :-), and usually you will see some scratching against the rocks if I remember correctly. I'll keep an eye out for sure. <heehee... yes, an eye open and your gills closed tightly> Another question though. I have an angel in quarantine right now. It's been fine for the last week or so. I have noticed that there was a white spot on its fin and attributed it to Lymphocystis. Anyway, in the last few days I've noticed the fins have become a bit more blotchy. Is this the first sign of crypto ?  <usually not... crypt is pretty conspicuously clear uniform sized grains of salt. Skin turbidity/mucus is a rather deeper burrowing parasite like Oodinium, Brooklynella, etc> I haven't seen any white spots on the body, but every time I usually have a crypto outbreak, I seem to remember some cloudy fins on the fish a week or so beforehand. Is this correct and I should start treatment sooner rather than later ? <not my experience... rather you'll notice closing one gill, pumping the other, scratching, and the like> Jim <best regards, Anthony>

Dogface puffer problems! Hi Anthony, I am sorry to keep bothering you about this puffer but I really don't know what to do.  <no worries> He had ich which I treated by using CopperSafe, Maracyn 2 and fresh water baths daily (6 days) for 7 minutes each.  <excellent on the FW dips> On the fifth day of treatment, he appeared to be fine, not a sign of ich on his body! The next day I noticed what appeared to be little pimples on his sides. The next day he developed ich again with 3 dots: one on his belly fin, one on his gill, and one on his eye. I immediately did a fresh water bath when I noticed these last night. I did another FW bath this afternoon, and now at about 8pm, it seems he is starting to develop more pinhead white dots. Now there are about 8 scattered throughout his body, but the one on his eye disappeared.  <indeed some are virulent. Lets add a product like Quick Cure (Aquarium Products brand) to FW dip at double dose (this is a malachite & formalin med)> He is eating like a pig and his eyes are clear.  <excellent and helpful> I don't know what to do? I purchased an Amiracle PL 2000 wet/dry system last night with a UV sterilizer and the wet/dry,  <do research the FAQs about making the most of your UV and know that it IS NOT likely to cure such Ich infections> after setup, started to leak. I will be getting the new one at the end of this week. What do you recommend I treat my tank with to get rid of this annoying problem?  <I apologize that I cannot remember the specifics of the tank, but if there is gravel in this tank that is large part of the problem (festering cysts/larvae) and the reason why we so strongly advocate bare bottomed QT tanks (reduces the rate of infection and re-infection)> Can I use OODINEX? <hmmm... do wait, this is a rather hostile med for a scaleless fish> Please HELP!!!!!!!!! thanks for everything, Jason<nest regards, Anthony >

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