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FAQs about Figure Eight Puffers, Compatibility

Related Articles: Alone But Not Lonely: The Importance of  Keeping Puffers Individually by Damien Wagaman, Figure Eight Puffers, Freshwater/Brackish PuffersGreen Spotted Puffers (GSP's), The Arrowhead Puffer, Tetraodon suvattii, miraculously malicious, True Puffers, Puffers in General, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, Puffy & Mr. NastyPuffer Care and InformationPufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo,

Related FAQs: FAQs, FAQs 2, & FAQs on: Figure-Eight Puffer Identification, Figure-Eight Puffer Behavior, Figure-Eight Puffer Selection, Figure-Eight Puffer Systems, Figure-Eight Puffer Feeding, Figure-Eight Puffer Disease, Figure-Eight Puffer Reproduction, & BR Puffers 1, BR Puffers 2, BR Puffers 3, BR Puffer Identification, BR Puffer Compatibility, BR Puffer Selection, BR Puffer Systems, BR Puffer Feeding, BR Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Reproduction,

Larger, faster, meaner types... the best really are other brackish water species...  Monodactylus, scats, Chromides, archerfishes... Sometimes members of their own species.

figure 8 puffers with increased bite wounds     1/19/18
I have a group of six figure 8 puffers that's been together for over a year. Their tank is 65 gallons, 36" X 18" X 24" with an sg of 1.004. It also has bumblebee gobies, and livebearers (limia perugiae and swordtails.)
There's never been any problem with them attacking their non-puffer tankmates.
<Cool. Sometimes happens! They are unpredictable, as I'm sure you know from your reading.>
There was a seventh puffer that became aggressive when it anticipated feeding, and would then chase the other puffers. Introducing livebearers as dither mostly solved this, then they were all removed because of nitrate levels increasing too much.
<So there's no livebearers in there now?>
The seventh puffer got bit severely on its face in a feeding accident by another puffer and eventually died. It's been many months since that happened, and even when it still was none of the other fish showed bite wounds.
The remaining six have recently begun to show circular bite marks on their bodies (not on their fins), the two largest of them have the least, but they all have bites and they disappear and reappear daily.
<Classic pufferfish bite marks.>
(The smallest puffer of the group is probably recently mature, it's pattern has noticeably changed in the last few months.) I reintroduced livebearers as dither to solve this problem, but it hasn't worked. I virtually never see any aggression when I feed them or observe them, but the bites come and go so the only answer I can think of is a larger tank.
<Possibly. 65 gallons should be ample for a group of small pufferfish. I'd tend to recommend, say, 15 gallons for the first one, and 10 gallons for each additional specimen. Do you have a bunch of rocks (Texas holey rock for example) that divide up the tank and obstruct lines of sight? That can help. Rearranging rocks periodically to break up territories can often help. Tall plastic plants such as Vallisneria-type things are useful as well. But there's also a certain degree of accepting the fish bite each other periodically, especially if they're hungry. Provided the puffers aren't actually harmed, a certain amount of nippiness might be tolerated, provided they weren't attacking the other fish.>
What are the chances a 72" tank would significantly lower the level of biting among the group of six puffers I have? Would a 72" with 24" depth be much better than a 72 with 18" of depth?
<Doubt it'll make a difference. A bigger tank is always nice, but these fish operate more on bottom of the tank surface area than volume, and making the water a bit deeper won't create more real estate at the bottom of the tank.>
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Figure 8 puffer and sole; incomp.       2/23/16
Is a sole safe to keep with figure 8 puffers (ignoring the problem of food competition)?
<Not ideal, no. Figure-8s will nibble at anything. A flounder hiding under the sand with its eyes poking out might be an easy target for a pufferfish... with the result that the flounder could lose its eyes. I would be very wary about combining them. As a reminder, Puffers are best kept alone. They barely tolerate one another, and tend to view other fish as either a threat or potential prey. If you accept that, your pufferfish experience will be much better.>
I used to have a tank with dwarf puffers that ignored a pair of some fish sold as flounders. I don't know if figure 8 puffers are much more dangerous or if it's common for them to bite soles.
<Hard to say. Soles and flounders are mostly nocturnal, so feeding them is tricky, but since puffers are diurnal, you can work around the needs of both in the one tank. On the other hand, because the soles and flounders are inactive fish that rely on camouflage, they're easy targets for aggressive tankmates within the confines of the aquarium.>
Which common soles are best for 1.005 sg brackish, and is there any sole from Cynoglossidae that is best for this sg, or they're all unidentifiable and treated the same?
<It's incredibly hard to identify "freshwater" flounders and soles, with the exception, perhaps, of Brachirus harmandi. Let me direct you to some notes I wrote a few years ago that may be helpful.
To be clear, some of the names offered by wholesalers and retailers, such as Brachirus pan, are used so loosely as to be worthless. There are some very nice photos in the Aqualog brackish water fishes book, but even with these you'd be hard pressed to positively identify any "freshwater" sole or flounder. Much better to treat them all as low-end brackish, as they'll all thrive at, say, SG 1.005, even if that species should be marine or even freshwater. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Figure 8 puffer and sole; now stkg.      2/24/16

How many figure 8 puffers should be kept in a 36 x 18 x 24 65 gallon with heavy planting and strong flow?
<Oh, a fair few! Allow 15 gallons for the first one, then 5-10 gallons for each additional one. So at least six, perhaps a couple more. For some weird reason, this species cohabits well with Bumblebee Gobies, so if you must have a tankmate species, that might be worth thinking about. Tricky to feed though. Cheers, Neale.>

Toxotes microlepis and figure eight puffers, comp.?     1/11/12
Hey guys! Still trying to get a hold of a group of Toxotes microlepis at one time rather than increasing them one by one to my 65Gallon tank. Was thinking about tank mates and was wondering that if i kept the salinity in the low-end region, say 1.003sg would figure eight puffers be an appropriate tank mate? I was thinking "no" at first for a few reasons
-puffers being fin nippers, and possibly trying to nibble/take chinks of the archers
<Yes. A lot depends on the size of the tank and the relative sizes of the fish. Big Archers will view small Puffers as food. Archers are EXTREMELY efficient piscivores, far more predatory than many assume. On the other hand, in a really big aquarium a single adult Puffer may do little harm when kept alongside a school of adult Archers. Figure-8s aren't especially nasty fish, more experimental diners than dedicated fin-eaters.>
-Puffers being somewhat "mean" although I don't have experience with the figure eight puffer I know some of the freshwater species can be little boogers.
<Oh yes, but that holds true for most Puffers generally. Puffers view other fish as at least potential meals, and in the confines of the aquarium, that potential becomes more real. Sure, Puffers aren't built for speed, and in the wild, they mostly fail when attacking other fish and instead go for slow moving or sessile prey like clams, crabs, etc. But in an aquarium, especially a small one, it's hard for the other fish to "get away" so the Puffers have more opportunity to cause harm.>
-The archers eventually getting to about 6" and possibly seeing the 2-2 1/2 in puffers as food even thought the puffers seem to be more so rounded out.
however i thought it was worth asking for these reasons:
-Both can tolerate the salt, in this case the puffers requiring the salt, and the Toxotes microlepis being tolerant and not bothered by anything over 1.005sg i believe it was so it seems like a happy medium.
<Yes; SG 1.003 would be ideal, and allow potential for plants, which would break up lines of sight and provide distractions for the Puffer. In the wild Puffers swim across solid objects, scanning for prey. The more surfaces in the aquarium, the busier they'll be, and the less they'll be attracted to other fish. Plants provide lots of complex surfaces, and if you feed regularly, the Puffers will be nicely distracted.>
-I can still have most of my hardy lowlight plants and jungle Val (one strand is 4ft long haha its crazy how fast its growing in the harder water!) in this salinity.
<Quite so; Vallisneria loves hard water and thrives in low end brackish, SG 1.003 at 25 C/77 F.>
-If the two species do work out together its sure to be an awesome show tank as i am quite the oddball lover and friends keep telling me they want to see me get a puffer....lol of course not without proper research!
-Also it will give me some experience with keeping salinity levels stable for when i wish to travel into saltwater...eventually.
<Quite so. On the other hand, Green Spotted Puffers do well in marine aquaria and get along well with Damsels, so for "trying out", GSPs might make more sense. If you can get them, Chelonodon patoca might be a very beautiful alternative, another Puffer that enjoys brackish to marine conditions.>
So lend me some info in terms of compatibility of these two very different species, i have a hunch it wont work but it cant hurt to ask either!
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Toxotes microlepis and figure eight puffers   1/11/12

Thanks once again Neale! Your comments and info really helped!
<Glad to help.>
My tank is a 65 gallon tank 48"long 18 or 16" wide and about 20 "tall, although it seems the width is greater than the height.
<I see.>
I ordered some wood that branches off of a single branch and am going to flip it upside down to create a root likes structure for shelter from my relatively bright lighting and for a place to seek shelter.
As for the archers, my Lfs is trying to specifically get in the Toxotes microlepis for me as i helped describe the particular species markings with back up support from you when i sent in the "ID this archerfish" email, and have to say because of this, i really love my Lfs. They said the archers will get in at about 2" or so sometimes 3-4" as well.
<Yes. The really small ones can be delicate, but the size you're talking about here should be fine. Get them settled in and eating before you add the Puffers.>
As for the puffers i was getting a bit mixed up in your reply as to whether its just a problem with the archers viewing the puffers as food when young, or even when both species are at full size.
<Archers will view any fish small enough to swallow (about third their size) as food. That mouth of theirs is HUGE. But an adult Figure-8 should be safe enough with Toxotes microlepis, these archers only getting to about 12 cm/5 inches. So when it comes to the adults, the risk is whether the Puffs will nip the Archers. At a pinch, I'd risk this, but ONLY if I had a Plan B for rehousing one or other species if needs be.>
The sizes along with the temperament of the puffers (although seems like it could be curved by keeping their environment full of line of sight breaking decor and a full belly of food ) makes it seem as though it boils down to a no when it comes to housing these 2 species in a tank like mine being the 65 gallons.
<Yes, 65 US gallons would be a bit small for comfort. Possible, yes, but risky without a Plan B. Now, 100 gallons would be more sensible gamble.>
Or is it more of a case of keeping up with the needs of both fish to keep them happy? Will the archers be guaranteed to try and go after the puffers when at full size even if both are introduced to the system at a relatively same size and or time?
<Adult Archers will view a baby Puffer as food, no question. But provided the sizes of each species are similar, then predation by the Archer on the Puff shouldn't be a problem.>
Sorry for all the questions, i just really enjoy researching fish hahaha...sold my Xbox for aquarium plants, now tell me that's not dedication!
<I agree!>
<Best, Neale.>
Re: Toxotes microlepis <stkg. now> and figure eight puffers   1/11/12

So in terms of the archers, I've talked to you before on how many in a 65 gallon tank. Are groups of 5-6 necessarily better? <Yes.>
Is there a better sense of security between them when they are in groups, as i recall you informing me that a single archer alone will be fine alone.
<Singletons are easy to keep, but a bit shy and nervous. In groups they behave more confidentially and naturally, but they can be aggressive towards one another if you don't keep enough. From experience, 2 or 3 isn't a number I'd recommend, and the more, the better. Five should be fine.>
I assume the space issue is due to the 5-6 5 inch archers versus the smaller puffers even though the puffers are quite the messy eaters and producers of ammonia as well.
<Yes. Do also peruse today's FAQs; we had one message from someone who had a Figure-8 that dismembered her Mollies! These fish are NOT predictable.
Few are as nasty as that, but do understand the risks and have a Plan B if you see anything untoward happening.>
I also remember that if you keep them in groups of 3, more than likely one of the archers will get picked on. Anything you can enlighten me on in terms of the subject? Thanks again haha
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Toxotes microlepis and figure eight puffers   1/14/12

Ruling the puffer fish out. Was just curious about them more so. Can you recommend any other fish? Or are 5 Toxotes microlepis in a 65 gallon tank pretty full already?
i really like the African brown knife fish, and their smaller size compared to other  knife fish seems to make them a good choice for my size tank.
<Quite so. Excellent fish, and potentially viable with T. microlepis.>
So how about this
5x Toxotes microlepis
1x Brown African knifefish
and if its not too crowded and does not out compete for food with the Knifefish, possibly an active bottom dweller during daytime hours might be appropriate? Sorry for re stating old questions Neale, I'm just not so used to having a large tank...lol
<Cheers, Neale.>

Apple Snail Question; sys., comp. w/ Figure Eight Puffers    1/11/12
Hi WWM team
<Hello Erin,>
I picked up 2 apple snails today and I was wondering if it is possible to keep them in my brackish tank with my figure 8 puffers.
<No. Any salinity high enough to keep your Figure-8s happy will quickly kill Apple snails.>

I understand that they have a trap door which will inhibit the puffers from eating it and they're quite big, so the puffers probably won't be able to get their little mouths around it.
<Ah, by no means! The Puffers will eat the snail one bite at a time, starting with its tentacles. Apple Snails do badly with almost all fish except perhaps uber-peaceful species like Corydoras. Even Neons nip these poor snails!>
My salinity is roughly 0.004, no lower than 0.003 and no higher than 0.005.
 Can the apple snail survive in that level of brackish?
Will my puffers manage to eat it ?
Thanks a ton
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Apple Snail Question   1/11/12

Hi Neale
Thanks for quick response...I see I made a typo error, my brackish tank isn't 0.004...it's 1.004. Silly me.
<Indeed. But understood what you meant!>
Anyway, I forgot to ask another question about the apple snail.  I read online that they may even eat other snails.
<Seems improbable, but I'm sure they scavenge and will eat a dead/dying snail.>
I have them with my red ramshorns which are laying eggs like it's going out of fashion and I don't want the apple snails to now devour all my other baby snails I'm breeding as food for my puffs.  Would it be advisable to get rid of them all together and stick to the ramshorns?
<I honestly can't imagine Apple snails would make much difference. They are very much herbivores, and mine were very keen on lettuce leaves.>
Also, I had a situation where I decided to add a couple of mollies to the brackish tank with my f8's.  I came home one day to find one floating with it's head and fins chomped off and I swear all the puffs had a guilty look on their faces.
<Indeed. Figure-8s are extremely variable. Some specimens are entirely placid, others just occasionally nippy. But a few, as you've seen, can be very aggressive and nasty. That's pretty much Puffers across the board.>
Today, at the petstore, I was told by a very experienced fish keeper that if I want to add any other fish with f8's, I should remove the puffers, rearrange the tank, put the new fish in first and then add the puffers afterwards, to give them the idea that they are new and it's not their territory that a new fish has entered.
<That is one approach that works with territorial fish.>
Do you think this will work?
<Might. But absolutely no guarantees, and you need to have a Plan B for rehoming the Puffer or the new fish if the two don't get along.>
Or will the f8's just chomp anything?
<Potentially anything that looks edible and doesn't eat the Puffer first.>
I did however take one of the more aggressive f8's back to the pet store today, unfortunately.  I was told to remove one as I have a 29 gallon tank and I should only have 2 f8's in that size.
<Possibly, or else a group of 5 in a slightly bigger tank, so that none of them take ownership. Overcrowding brings its own problems though.>
Thanks in advance.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Apple Snail Question   1/12/12

Sorry bout this Neale
How long should I keep the puffers out the big tank to try the approach I mentioned previously?
A few hours, a day, a week?
<If using the "remove and rearrange" approach, taking the fish out for an hour or two should be ample.>
I think this will be the last msg from me for a while now.
Keep well, and happy new year.
<Glad to help and good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

Are F8 puffers and a Dragon goby ideal tank mates?... not.     4/17/11
I know you have had this question before.
I feel a bit dumb asking but I have had so many conflicting answers.
<I see.>
I have a Dragon goby he is about 8-9in long. I have had him for a little over a year. He was only about 3in when I got him. My LFS was selling them as aggressive FW fish (I know you have heard that a thousand times!)
He is in a 29gal brackish tank at the moment. Yes, I researched before buying him.
My husband actually makes jokes about how I research and write everything down planning my set-ups down to exactly what and where things will go. I keep a log of the water conditions as well lol. Anyway, I plan on moving him to a 55gal in about six months.
<Sounds ideal. Be sure to add some tubes or caves he can hide in. Ideally, use sand, not gravel.>
Right now he is all alone. He has been the whole time.
<Not especially social animals, though keeping them in groups can be fun, if each one has its own PVC tube.>
I have been wanting to add an F8 or two for a while and have not done it yet because of all of the conflicting things said about them during my research.
<Not a good choice of companion.>
So I am wanting to get your opinion on the subject. I have really wanted one or two puffers for over a year!
<The golden rule with puffers is this: Want a puffer? Then set up a pufferfish aquarium! They aren't sociable fish.>
I am at the point that I will set up another tank if need be! I would prefer to be able to have it/them in with my goby if possible.
<Well, Figure-8s do vary in personality, and some are quite peaceful. You might choose to try the combination out, and see what happens. Any signs of fin-nipping on the Violet Goby, and the puffer would need to be rehomed.
The risk is that Violet Gobies are big, slow-moving, and have tasty-looking fins. They're a sitting target for puffers!>
And I would also like to know if two figure eight puffers would be ok
together for a few months with the goby in his 29gal or if I should wait till I have the 55 established.
<Either has the potential to work, depending on their relative sizes. But as I say, it's a risk, likely a 50/50 sort of thing.>
I was also thinking about putting a small school (6-8) of Celebes Rainbow in the 55 once it's established.
<These don't really need brackish water, though they'll tolerate slightly brackish conditions to around SG 1.003, as will most of the hardier Australian Rainbowfish.>
The info I have on them is conflicted (as to whether or not they are brackish) as well though so I am at a loss and need you opinion.
<The idea Rainbowfish generally need brackish water goes back a few decades. As a group they're closely related to marine fish, and a combination of that and occasional reports of them in brackish water led people to believe they needed a little salt in the aquarium to survive. In fact Celebes Rainbows are happiest in moderately hard to hard, slightly basic water, i.e., 10+ degrees dH, pH 7-8. They do fine in slightly brackish water though. If you have a higher specific gravity than SG 1.003 at 25 C/77 F, then they wouldn't be on my list of fish to keep. There'd be much better choices such as Wrestling Halfbeaks, Guppies and Limia in small tanks, or Mollies, Monos and Scats in larger tanks.>
Thanks, Allie
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Are F8 puffers and a Dragon goby ideal tank mates?    4/17/11
I wanted to thank you for your quick response!
<You're welcome.>
Ok, I do have lots of ground cover for my DG. He has a hollow tree trunk, java fern, a couple of nicely shaped coral rocks he likes to hide under as well, and he does have sand. I did use playground sand though because it's cheap (I though it was pretty much the same and a lot cheaper than marine sand)
<Play sand is fine.>
It took a lot of bucket rinsing but I think it was worth it.
So, I think I will pass on the CRs neither of my aquariums are a good place for them.
<Would agree.>
I have another 55 but it is an Amazon type set up. Soft water, slightly acidic for my tetras. I have blue, green fire, and diamond tetras in there with 6 Cory cats. I am going to go ahead with the puffers but I am going to slowly turn my other 29gal sick tank into another brackish set up (ironically my DGs tank started out as a sick tank for my tetras but I changed it for him) incase the puffers decide to start in on my DG. I want to make sure I have a place for them just in case. I would cry if I lost my DG!
I have had this 29gal set up for the tetras but I have not had to use it at all in the two years that I have had the tetras. I haven't lost one of them yet!
<Well done. Your water chemistry has likely been an asset here -- many problems with South American tetras likely come down to keeping them in hard water.>
So, now my question is... How do I slowly raise the hardness and salinity without crashing the biological filter?
<Go slow! If you're keeping just the Violet/Dragon Goby, then a salinity of SG 1.005 is ample. For this, just doing your usual 20% water changes each week, swapping out lower salinity water for higher salinity water should adjust things slowly and safely.>
I have lots of experience with FW (tetras, African cichlids that sort of fish) but my DG is the first BW fish I have had.
<Is often the case. The same with Mollies, the other classic species for a first foray into brackish.>
With him he was sold in FW so I just put about a cup of Instant Ocean in every other week till his water was at 1.005-1.008.
I had some plants in there with him that just so happened to be salt tolerable.
<Few plants do well above SG 1.003 at 25 C/77 F, so I wouldn't bother above SG 1.003. Java ferns and a few other species will do okay up to SG 1.005 at 25 C/77 F. Do note that temperature and specific gravity should be tested together -- for any given salinity, the specific gravity (SG) will be lower in warm water and higher in cold. Most books assume 25 C/77 F when giving salinities in terms of SG numbers.>
I want to acclimate the sick tank before I get the puffers just in case.
Should I do it the same way or should I do it different?
<Sure. Shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks to do though. Up to SG 1.005, acclimation of bacteria from freshwater to brackish is usually easy and uneventful.>
I know the puffers need an established set up so I would also like to know of changing the hardness/salinity will make the aquarium unstable for a while?
<Shouldn't do.>
I didn't have and problems with Gimpy (my DG lol) but he started out in FW anyway.
I think I will pass on other tank mates at the moment as well. I am staring to think about maybe adding some Mollies to it once I have the 55 established.
<An excellent choice, especially if you can get true Giant Sailfin Mollies, which are massive (females 15 cm/6 inches!) beasts with beautiful colours.
Like the Gobies, these do well across any salinity up to marine conditions. Alternatively, Black Mollies make a great addition, offering a nice contrast to the silvery-purple colours of the Goby. Again, they're fine up to marine conditions. So at SG 1.018 upwards, you could even keep some hardy marines, like farmed Clownfish! One of the nice things about brackish tanks is being able to mix in marines.>
I was also wondering about BBGs.
<Nice fish, can be tricky to feed.>
Would they be compatible with my DG?
<Yes, but they might have problems getting enough to eat. A bigger goby species, like Knight Gobies or the wonderfully named Crazy Fish could work better. If you want some sort of character, look out for Dormitator maculatus, or even Neovespicula depressifrons, not a goby, but sold as the Butterfly Goby by some shops.>
Or the F8s?
<BBGs and Figure-8s have been combined, and they usually work well.>
Would they nip at the Mollies if I got some?
<I've never found BBGs nippy.>
My LFS also carries Knight Gobies. Would any of those be compatible with my DG or F8s?
<Knights would work extremely well. They're predators though, and will eat Molly fry.>
I can easily forget about the Mollies if I would be able to put one or two or more of these guys (BBGs or KGs) any thoughts?
<By all means try a selection, Mollies, Knights, and your Dragon Goby.>
Thank you so much for all of your help!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Are F8 puffers and a Dragon goby ideal tank mates?    4/17/11
Ok, I am going to go ahead with the KGs and Black Mollies.
What do the KGs need for a balanced diet? ( I am Googling it online but I would greatly appreciate your input )
<They're pretty adaptable, but leaning towards carnivory. So apart from baby Mollies, they're going to enjoy brine shrimp, daphnia, wet-frozen bloodworms, small chunks of tilapia fillet, squid, mussel and prawn. Most specimens will take flake after a while, especially good quality brands.>
The LFS I go to keeps both of these in BW already. I do find it strange though that he keeps GSP and F8 puffers, KG, BBG and live baring fish in BW (each group in their own tank with their required salinity) but not the DG he and I have argued about that a little.
<In the US the species almost always sold is Gobioides broussonnetii, and this definitely does better in brackish conditions than freshwater, and can be easily adapted to full marine conditions too. In the UK (and I presume Europe generally) a closely related species called Gobioides peruanus is traded more often than Gobioides broussonnetii. Now, Gobioides peruanus is a freshwater to brackish species and doesn't particularly enjoy high salinities (above, say, 50% seawater or SG 1.012) and may even do okay in plain freshwater if water quality is excellent (though I personally wouldn't recommend it). But because both species are traded, there are plenty of reports of "Violet Gobies" or "Dragon Gobies" doing okay in freshwater tanks. Doubtless some of the people who report success are keeping Gobioides peruanus, and whereas people (particularly in North America) who are keeping Gobioides broussonnetii will find maintenance in freshwater fraught with problems. Although Latin names can be annoying if you're not familiar with them, this is one of the those cases where knowing precisely which species you're keeping really does make a difference. FWIW, Gobioides broussonnetii has more of the violet bands along its flanks, whereas Gobioides peruanus has very faint bands and mostly only on its head.>
I know he should know better! He claims that the people he gets them from say that it's not true that they need brackish water.
<A common myth.>
Is there anything I can tell him to read to prove to him that they need BW?
<My book! Brackish-Water Fishes from TFH. Until then, my FAQ, here:
And of course WWM has pages on these fish, starting here:
I know he cares about the fish he sells he's just misinformed. (And unfortunately will not listen to me because he knows more than me in other areas. I have straight out told him that I am always open to new info and he should be as well. That when it comes to this I know more because I have done extensive research) What kind of cover should I get for the KGs?
<Something secure! These fish are NOTORIOUS jumpers. But otherwise floating plants are good. Hornwort and floating Indian Fern are both reliable in low-end brackish conditions, SG 1.003 or so. They don't so much use burrows
as swim in midwater, often underneath plant leaves. A big plastic plant
could work nicely. Otherwise a large Java fern or Anubias, or even better, Cryptocoryne ciliata, a Crypt that naturally inhabits brackish water! It's a big species, 30+ cm tall.>
My DG has his places but I want to add more for the KG. I also want to know how many of the KGs I can put in the 29 and how many more I could add once they are in the 55.
<Are territorial, but a half dozen shouldn't cause problems.>
Also, I don't have much in the way of taller cover for the mollies and the F8s I have a lot of ground cover just not anything above 6in except the java fern. And some Anacharis and Anubias (they are at/under 6in though).
Someone in the puffer forum suggested fake mangrove roots and I am going to check them out today at PetSmart (I am also going to see if my favorite LFS carries them) but I would also like some other options in case I don't like the way they look.
<Mangrove roots or similar are ideal. Do also consider gluing (with aquarium silicone) oyster shells to rocks and bogwood roots to create an oyster reef -- one of THE classic brackish water habitats. Oyster shells make great hide-outs for gobies and killifish (such as Florida Flagfish).>
I am going to wait until the other tank is ready before getting the F8s.
Again thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Are F8 puffers and a Dragon goby ideal tank mates?  4/17/11

Nice thanks! I will check out that crypt you mentioned and am currently looking into the hornwort. I am not sure which of the two species you mentioned are what Gimpy is. I am going to send you a pic if I can get a halfway decent one to send to see if you can tell.
<Likely Gobioides broussonnetii; this species has numerous violet chevrons from the head almost down to the tail. On Gobioides peruanus these are much weaker, often limited to simple purple spots along the lateral line, and even these may not be apparent. So far as I know, Gobioides broussonnetii is the standard species in the US, so if you live in North America, that's almost certainly the one you own.>
I don't have a background on his tank nor is it up against the wall. I have it so that it can be looked at from three sides. It makes it easier to see him.
I am assuming then that when you say 6 KGs together that it is for the 55.
Which is great! I was holding I could put 2 in the 29 for now and maybe 2 more when I get the 55 done. That way they have more room. I won't mind them eating Molly fry. Less population overload. A lot of what you are saying they eat I already have for Gimpy! All I need is the tilapia, squid, mussel and prawn! Everything else is already in my freezer lol.
<And those are easily obtained at, for example, an Asian food market. Buy them frozen or fresh as preferred; I like to buy the fresh stuff, slice into small strips, and then freeze that in a Tupperware for convenient use.>
Plus his algae wafers.
<Gobioides broussonnetii enjoys these too, along with brine shrimps and bloodworms.>
I don't usually feed live food. I don't want to have to worry about parasites. Do they eat ghost shrimp?
<Knights will eat anything small enough to swallow.>
I do have a few of those in with Gimpy. I don't really care if they do but I am curious. Thank you so much for those links! I am going to give them to the guy at my LFS so that hopefully he will take it upon himself to advance his knowledge. I have never understood why people are so strange when it comes to being corrected. How else you we supposed to learn anything otherwise?
<Oh, well, I guess we get to a certain age and decide we're full up with information and can't take any more!>
Anyway, would you be able to give me your opinion on which of the two species you think Gimpy is?
<Cheers, Neale.>

add Figure 8 Puffer to tank? 11/10/10
Hi, Crew,
I have a 90 gallon low-end brackish tank, sg fluctuates between 1.003 and 1.005. I inherited a disparate group of fish about a year ago that I've been trying to accommodate. In this particular tank, I have one archer (Toxotes jaculatrix), a tire track eel and a fire eel. The eels are both 8" long. The eels seem to tolerate the salinity--do you think this will be OK long-term? Conversely, do you think the archer will be happy in this level of salinity? The archer seems very happy at the moment (it's probably about 1 year old). I realize I'm compromising a bit from either side of the salinity scale with these fish. Next, I have a scourge of Malaysian trumpet snails in this tank. I am toying with getting a figure 8 puffer for the tank because 1) I love puffers and I understand figure 8's are low-end brackish and less aggressive than other puffers; 2) I don't see much in the tank at any given moment except for the archer because the eels hide; 3) I would like to control the snail population.
Is this a bad idea?
Thanks for your help in advance. I appreciate your time.
<Hello Laura. Tyre-track Eels will certainly do okay at up to SG 1.005 at 25 C, but Fire Eels I'm less certain on, and I'd tend to nudge the salinity down to about 1.003 at 25 C. The Archer shouldn't mind, and that'll still be salty enough for a wide range of species, both true brackish water fish and salt-tolerant freshwater fish such as Brown Hoplo Catfish, Horseface Loaches and virtually all of the livebearers. Now, as for Figure-8 puffers, while this might work, I think you'll be disappointed at the impact they'll have on Melanoides snails. You'd be much better off with Assassin Snails, Clea helena, which should acclimate to SG 1.003 without problems given they're members of a marine snail family, though I've never tried it
myself. They're cheap enough that trying them out won't be expensive. Allow 3-4 Assassin Snails per 10 gallons if you want them to exist in sufficient strength to depress Melanoides snail numbers. The thing with puffers in general is that they won't eat snails if softer, easier food is on offer -- and that can sometimes mean the fins of other fish. Plus, the small size of Figure-8 puffers makes them easy prey for adult Archer Fish, Tyre-track Eels and Fire Eels. Obviously an adult Fire Eel will need a tank bigger tan ninety gallons, so you may be planning to rehome him as/when he gets above a certain size. But an adult Archer fish could swallow a Figure-8 puffer in one gulp! Do not underestimate how predatory Archer fish -- sure, they enjoy eating insects, but they are dedicated fish-eaters as well. Finally, do understand that Melanoides snails are not in themselves harmful, but they are indicators of aquarium conditions rich in organic matter. It may well be that your tank is less clean than you think, and you're overfeeding your fish far more than you suppose, and if you have a lot of algae, then adding fast-growing plant species might make a difference. Treat snails as a symptom, not a problem, and it's much easier to effect a long term
solution. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: add Figure 8 Puffer to tank? 11/10/10

Thanks, Neale!
I sure wasn't thinking about the Archer going after the Puffer, so thanks for that! (I actually saw the Archer eat one of the snails the other day, but I figured that was an anomaly.)
I'll check out Assassin Snails. Luckily I don't have algae in this tank, but I am trying to find the right amount of food/feeding times for the eels.
I've probably been overfeeding the eels. They seem so temperamental and unpredictable. I understand they shouldn't eat every day and will sometimes go for a couple of weeks without eating, but this makes me nervous! I don't want them to starve. I probably just need to calm down about it!
By the way, I searched but couldn't find how long it takes for a fire eel to reach full size--do you know?
Thanks again,
<Hello Laura. Fire Eels growth rate varies with age, but specimens under a year old can add about an inch in length per month. Growth slows down a bit after that, but you can expect yours to be at least a couple of feet long within 18 months, and nearer three feet by the end of the second year. If the Fire Eel was stunted for whatever reason while it was younger, it will grow quite slowly, and may never reach its full size, fish growth rate being determined by age, not the need to reach a certain size. This is why some people find their Fire Eels get really big, really fast while others find their Fire Eels quite slow growing fish. A bigger problem will be aggression: all the Mastacembelus species are territorial, and Fire Eels and Tyre-track Eels are unlikely to coexist in a relatively small tank, Fire Eels in particular being notoriously grumpy fish. Look out for unusual white marks on their bodies indicative of fighting. Sometimes juveniles get
along well, even sharing caves, but do be aware than this situation may not persist. When feeding predators, the "art" is providing enough that their bellies are gently rounded, but not obviously swollen; if the latter is the case, you fed too much in one sitting! Earthworms are the best food for Spiny Eels, but they sometimes escape into the sand, and when they die there, you'll get lots of nitrate and phosphate in the water you don't want, as well as food for Melanoides snails. Best to feed little but often, rather than gorging the fish a few times per week. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: add Figure 8 Puffer to tank?  11/11/10

Thanks, Neale, this is very helpful indeed. I think I may start looking to re-home the fire eel now.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Flower Pattern eel - What kind of Spiny eel? Now: Tiger bumble bee gobies?   4/5/10
Thanks for the info on my spiny eel Neale, but I think Bob forwarded along this message because of the last part.
I'm wondering if you have ever heard of tiger bumble bee gobies?
<Nope. I'm reliably told that identifying Brachygobius species is extremely difficult and that virtually every photo in the hobby literature is misidentified. The safest thing to do is assume these are merely Brachygobius sp. of some sort, and treat them accordingly. There are two basic species group, the small Brachygobius (such as Brachygobius
aggregatus) and the large Brachygobius (such as Brachygobius doriae). Apart from size differences, care is remarkably uniform. Best kept in brackish water, and the prime source of mortality tends to be starvation, so don't
mix with other fish likely to consume the food they need.>
Are they any different than a regular bumble bee goby? The gobies are not going in with the eel, they will be housed in a 20G brackish tank most likely with a F8 puffer or two.
<I wouldn't keep two Tetraodon biocellatus in a tank as small as this. Apart from that, yes, the species should coexist, but have the gobies settled in and feeding before adding the puffer.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Now: Tetraodon biocellatus incomp. (RMF, second opinion?)<<>>   4/5/10
Sorry I must ask. Would you not keep two Tetraodon biocellatus for fear of them bullying one another?
<Largely, yes; puffers aren't social for the most part, the South American Puffer being the exception. So they're best kept singly (the ideal, and often the only approach) or in groups of three or more (which means the bully can't harass the same fish all the time).>
or because of possible waste production,
<Less of an issue, but always a factor with Tetraodon spp. because they have minimal tolerance for nitrate and no tolerance at all for nitrite/ammonia.>
I have it over filtered, the back fully fake planted, a very complex mangrove stump root deco, a ceramic cave and a ceramic small log all tucked in nicely so that there is still plenty of open ground.... substrate is aragonite sand. Also there is a good visual breakup from one side of the tank to the other. I looked into getting a 30G tank specifically for this application however on this very site it is said multiple times that a good rule of thumb for F8s is 10 gallon per fish.
<I think that's an under-estimate, and even if you went with that rule, you'd still keep either one or 3+ specimens. Keeping a single Tetraodon biocellatus in 10 gallons would be completely wrong, but three specimens in 30 gallons, or 5 in 40 gallons, would be eminently doable, and leave plenty of space for a swarm of Brachygobius, Redigobius or Chlamydogobius spp.>
I read and read and read some more but there is always differing opinions, apparently even between crew members. I guess I'll just do one, but beware that on the F8 FAQs it mentions the 10G/per fish rule quite often.
<I've only been here a couple of years, so older FAQ responses are nothing to do with me. But I can't ever imagine telling someone two Tetraodon biocellatus would be good in 20 gallons.><<Me neither>>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Tetraodon biocellatus incomp.    4/5/10

Also, I value everything I read and everything I get emailed on here very very much, the last email was not meant as a I'm right you're wrong email.
It's just a little frustration coming out since I thought I did everything right with this 20G brackish tank I set up. I had my little heart set on a pair of F8 puffers and I could have just as easily got a 30G tank before I set this tank up and started the fishless cycle. I mean I even read every puffer and bumble goby FAQ on here before I did ANYTHING.
<I'm sorry about this. But it's not my fault. Some folks might be fine with two Tetraodon biocellatus in 20 gallons. But if you're asking me if I'd do it, the honest answer is no.>
My last question is sincere though, would your main issue with two F8's in a 20G tank be waste or bullying?
<More "experience" than anything else. Keeping two pufferfish of uncertain gender in a tank this small is asking for trouble. Get two females and it'd be fine. But two males or a male and a female, and you'd have trouble. The males are territorial, and since these aren't a pair-forming species, the notion of a "pair" of Tetraodon biocellatus is meaningless.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Thank you for your input Neale.
<You are most welcome. Cheers, Neale.> f8 roomies & food   1/31/2010
I was wondering what fish can room with f8 in a 20g tank and what foods do f8 eat?
<Almost nothing lives happily with Figure-8 puffers. It is crucial to realise when buying pufferfish that these fish are kept on their own. When you buy one, you're buying a fish that will probably live its entire life in its own aquarium, either by itself or with other pufferfish of its own kind. Your species, Tetraodon biocellatus, can be kept in groups of three or more specimens, but your tank is too small for that, and just two specimens is risky, because bullying can occur. Good foods are snails, krill, Mysis, chopped cockles, and bloodworms. All these foods can be
bought wet-frozen. Avoid dried foods, and forget about flakes or pellets.>
is every single type of goby brackish? thanks!
<No, not every goby lives in brackish water. Most are marine fish. Some live in only freshwater. Of the species in the trade, the one type that reliably lives with Tetraodon biocellatus are the Bumblebee Gobies, Brachygobius spp. These do well in brackish water at SG 1.005 at 25 degrees C. They need lots of caves and shells to hide in. They are very difficult to feed, and most specimens end up starving to death, so do read up on their very specific needs. Cheers, Neale.>

I have a question about Figure 8 puffers? Comp., fdg.  1/24/10
I am thinking about starting a half brackish half fresh water fish tank
<Not sure what you mean here. You can certainly have a low-salinity (around SG 1.003) brackish water aquarium that contains undemanding brackish water fish alongside salt-tolerant freshwater fish such as livebearers and
certain killifish. But you can't mix freshwater fish with brackish water fish beyond that. Once you add enough marine salt mix to the water for your brackish water fish to be happy, you will be creating conditions hostile to
freshwater fish.>
with 1 figure 8 puffer (in a 20g tank I have), and I'm wondering if I could add some non fin nippers small-ish brackish fish to the tank that'll go great with the puffer.
<There are few reliable tankmates for Tetraodon biocellatus. Small gobies including Bumblebee Gobies work well, and in larger tanks, Orange Chromides can work well too. But that's about it. As with pufferfish generally, these are best kept on their own or in groups of their own kind.>
and if you could send me some feeding instructions?
<Tetraodon biocellatus is easy to feed, but like all carnivores, it's important to offer a variety of foods to avoid problems with vitamin deficiency. Squid, prawns and mussels bought from the grocery store are good foods to begin with, and can be used 2-3 times per week. They contain thiaminase though, so shouldn't be used too often. The rest of the week offer wet frozen bloodworms and krill, small pieces of white fish fillet such as tilapia, and chopped cockles.>
Thank you -Jordan
<Cheers, Neale.>

Neons Gone!!!!! In with a brackish puffer... eaten   10/13/09
Hi all. My name is Gerard.
<Hello Gerard,>
I really need some help here. I have a figure 8 puffer and had 10 Neons in the tank.
<You do realise these fish cannot be kept together? Figure-8 puffers (Tetraodon biocellatus) are BRACKISH water fish. They need to be maintained in a brackish water aquarium around SH 1.003 to SG 1.010.
For some years there was confusion over this, possibly because Figure-8 puffers were mistakenly identified as Tetraodon palembangensis, a truly freshwater fish. In any case, Figure-8 puffers need brackish water, whereas Neons need soft water, so there's no overlap. Pufferfish also tend to be non-social fish, at best they're territorial, at worst they're predatory.
Figure-8 puffers are nippy and somewhat territorial, and best kept either singly or in groups of 3+. Do read here about puffer behaviour:
I woke up yesterday morning and 8 of them had vanished. I mean not even a fin left. Now I thought that my wife took them out to give to her sister for her tank......but this is not so.
<Somewhat mysterious. Of course, a big Pufferfish will eat small Neons.>
Sorry wife. So this morning I wake up and I find that the other two are now also GONE!!! what is going on?? At the pet shop I was told to feed the fish every second day with flakes or pellets and bloodworm twice a week for the puffer. not more than that otherwise the tank water will go off because bloodworm is very high in protein, so the puffer would eat what the others eat (terrible spelling sorry).
<Pufferfish need crunchy foods, not flake.
Offer them things like unshelled prawns, woodlice, small snails, chopped squid, krill, and so on. Avoid freeze-dried foods (these seem to cause constipation). Focus on fresh or wet-frozen foods. Don't feed them live feeder fish!>
At another pet shop I was told that the puffer only eats bloodworm and to feed it once a day????
<Why are you relying on what pet stores tell you? Would you listen to what a car salesman said? Or someone selling clothes? Of course not; you'd do your own research and make your own decisions. There is plenty of
information on this puffer species here at WWM.
I'm 50 bucks down overnight and a very empty looking fish tank..... Please could someone tell me the truth. I don't know who to believe.
<Luckily for you I write about brackish water puffers, and even have a book about brackish water fishes that you might want to buy or borrow from a library. So you can trust me!>
When you go back and off load your frustration...... it's always something you have done... Eagerly waiting for a response Kind regards Gerard
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Neons Gone!!!!! 10/13/09
Hi Neale, yes thanks for the quick response. Please tell me, could that puffer have eaten all 8 and 2 the following night??
<Yes. Puffers will eat a lot of food! In the wild they eat "poor quality" food, meaning their food contains a lot of shells. So they have big stomachs, and need to eat a lot of food across the day to get all the energy they need. In an aquarium they are given soft, good quality food, so seem very greedy. Their instinct is to fill themselves up on whatever they can find; if that happens to be a bunch of small fish, particularly dead fish, then that's what happens. I should say that Figure-8 puffers do not normally eat fish, not in the wild and not in captivity.>
That really baffles me. oh and what is the difference between brack and soft water?
<Brackish water is what you have in an estuary. It is half seawater and half river water. In the aquarium, for the Figure 8 pufferfish, you would add 9 grammes of marine salt mix (like you'd use in a marine reef tank) per 1 litre of water. Do read in particular here:
Soft water is water with low levels of hardness. It was what you find in rivers hundreds of miles inland, like in the Amazon or the Congo. You *cannot* keep soft water fish and brackish water fish in the same
Thanks again.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish Tankmates 4-23-09
Hi, I have a 26 gallon brackish tank with 2 figure 8 puffers, a Pleco, a few snails, and tiny feeder fish.
<Hello! Merritt here!>
They have been together for about 3 months and seem to be doing good.  However I have had several people tell me the Pleco needs to be taken out because he wont live long in the water due to the salt content. Is this true?
<Plecos are found in freshwater mainly but also brackish water, so he should be fine.>
The Puffers don't seem to eat other fish like I was told when purchasing them.
<Puffers are not fish eaters.>
I feed them bloodworms and snails, is their anything else that would balance their diet better?
<You can feed them thawed shrimp and live ghost shrimp.>
Also I have wanted to get a Dragon Goby and the setup is made with the perfect hiding space for him, but wanted to know if he would eat my puffers or if they would bother him too much?
<Puffers love to pick on other fish, I am surprised your Pleco has made it this long. I would not advise in adding the dragon goby to your tank. Also, they will not eat your puffers, they are more like filter feeders. They may look mean, but certainly are not!>
I attached some photos of the puffers and tank.
<Great looking tank!>
Thank you so much!
<You are welcome! Merritt A.>

Figure Eight Puffer - new tank/tankmates 1/27/09 Hello, I have a 10g low salinity brackish tank with a year-old figure eight puffer and one bumblebee goby (I had two, but one recently died). My puffer is in need of a bigger tank, and I'm exploring new tank setups and new tankmates. I'm a college student and, when I'm not at home on breaks, my fish are in the capable care of my mom. With this in mind, I'm trying to figure out what filtration system would be the best balance of effectiveness and maintenance. I'm considering a tank size between 45g and 70g. What are your filtration suggestions for a tank like this, with fairly quick water turnover and 'mineral mud' or some sand-like equivalent? With a bump up in tank size, I'm also looking to add a few fish. I've been doing a bit of research on dusky panther gobies and knight gobies. Would these fish be compatible with my puffer (and with each other)? Aside from disc fish, which I'm not a big fan of, are there any other species that would live well with my puffer? It is fairly docile, showing no interest in the goby, and even allowed a fiddler crab to live in the tank unbothered for its lifespan. Thanks for your suggestions. With the sparse resources and controversy over brackish setups, all your help is greatly appreciated. -Ben <Hi Ben. Ten gallons is not a lot of space, and your decision to trade up is a wise one. Even switching to a 20 gallon system would make all the difference in the world! The bigger the tank, then the more stable the water chemistry and the less likely water quality problems will develop in between the times you're about to check on them. So having a bigger tank will make life easier for your mom during your absences. So whichever tank you get, I'd encourage you to under- rather than overstock it, so that its bigger size works in your favour. Beyond that, I don't really think it matters much what filtration system you use. Personally, I find canister filters require the least maintenance, and while external canister filters are certainly the best in terms of value, they're a hassle to maintain. On the plus side, if you're around every most weeks, and only gone for, say, 6-8 weeks at most, then a canister filter or two would surely be the best choice. Internal canisters are (by contrast) more expensive in terms of filtration capacity, but they're very easy to maintain, requiring little more than switching off, pulling out of the tank, and then the relevant media either replaced or rinsed. Otherwise, most any filter will do, provided you accept the pros and cons of each type and work around them. Now, "Dusky Panther Groupers" are, I assume, the Waspfish Neovespicula depressifrons. They're also sold as "Butterfly Gobies". Anyway, they're neither gobies nor groupers, but more closely related to things like stonefish and bullrouts. They are hardy and quite good community fish, provided they aren't kept with anything they can swallow. They are fine with Knight Gobies of equal size. Feeding them is a bit awkward though as they're a bit slow, but then so are the gobies. Both species are predators with a fondness for small invertebrates and fish. I wouldn't use feeder fish for either though, for all the usual reasons. River shrimp are readily taken though, and once settled, both take frozen foods. I wouldn't risk mixing either with Figure-8 puffers; puffers are just a bit too nippy, even this rather mild species. While the Knight goby might be active enough to avoid trouble, I can't help but feel the Waspfish would end up being bitten at some point. Figure-8s are best kept either alone or in groups of their own kind. They do mix quite well with Bumblebees as well as Orange Chromides, which seem to be punchy enough they avoid becoming targets. That's the problem with puffers. If your specimen happens to be mild, you might risk it, and see what happens. But certainly provide lots of hiding places for all concerned, in the form of empty oyster shells, barnacle clusters, plastic seaweed, and so on. There is quite a bit of stuff out there on brackish fish now. Besides the many resources on WWM, there's my own book from TFH as well as a book from Aqualog. Both books are entitled 'Brackish-Water Fishes'. They target somewhat different markets, the Aqualog book being smaller and more about identifying common and rare species and describing their basic needs, while my TFH book is a much bigger book that goes into a lot more detail, though primarily on species available in the US, Europe and Australia. Cheers, Neale.>

Biting fin... Figure Eight Puffer, incomp.    6/22/08 hi crew, I was just wondering, is there anything I can do to distract my fig. eight puffer from biting my other fishes fins? It's not serious, but I am really worried. Please help me. Thanks. <The short answer is 'No'. More specifically, several species of pufferfish view the fins of larger or slow moving fish as potential food. So biting is as instinctive for them as swimming and breathing, and nothing you can do will change that. There is variation within some species though, which means that sometimes a given species will be fine for one person, but trouble for another. For example, I keep a pair of Carinotetraodon irrubescos in a community tank where they behave absolutely perfectly, and have done so for years. Most people experience the same thing, but there are a few reports of this species being extremely vicious. So putting any puffer in a community is a gamble, and I'd always recommend you have a Plan B ready. Your species, Tetraodon biocellatus, is usually peaceful but as you've experienced some specimens can be biters. Such specimens are best kept alone or with their own species if you have sufficient space (puffers are often a bit territorial). I'd argue with your comment that the biting isn't serious, as it is undeniably stressful for the victim and wounds can of course become infected with Finrot bacteria. Given that Tetraodon biocellatus is a brackish water species, the marine salt mix you're adding to maintain the specific gravity at SG 1.003-1.010 will be helping here, as salty water appears to inhibit casual secondary infections. You could also ensure the tank is large enough for the "victims" to stay out of trouble, and add lots more plastic plants and rocks so they can hide away from the puffer is need be. Fin-nipping in puffers is often related to feeding behaviour, so if the puffer has other things to explore in terms of foraging, its tankmates may be ignored. Offering more filling foods (such as unshelled shrimps or krill) rather than processed or soft foods will make the puffer feel more satiated and therefore less likely to nip at tankmates. But realistically, if this puffer carries on attacking its tankmates, you can't in good conscience leave it in this system. Cheers, Neale.>

Figure 8 Puffer Compatibility  - 04/20/07 Hello PufferPunk, <Hi Mark> I have two questions, could a Figure 8 Puffer and a Red Eared Slider (1 1/2 in.) live together in the same tank.   <Absolutely not.  Turtles eat fish.  Puffers are poisonous.> Next Question: I am looking for an expert opinion on my idea of a Figure 8 Puffer tank (If it can't be with the slider): 10 Gallon glass tank with regular hood setup <Minimum tank size for 1 F8 is 15 gallons.> Lots of Lava rock <I like the mangrove roots at PetSmart.> Fake plants Substrate? <Crushed coral or a 1" layer of aragonite sand is best, to maintain a steady pH of 8.> Airstone <They love playing in the bubbles!> HOB Filter rated for 15-20 gallons <More like 30g.> 1 Figure 8 Puffer 3-5 Bumble Bee Gobies <15g is minimum tank size, without tank mates.  If you add more fish, you need more room--at least 20g.> Salinity= 1.005 <Perfect!  Fishless cycle the tank in the SG that the puffer is in at the shop.  If freshwater, then raise the SG no more than .002/week.> Thanks a lot, Mark <For more info, go to www.thepufferforum.com  ~PP>

Pufferfish Aggression  1/4/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk again> Our green spots are the most passive of the puffers we own... <They are juvies now... Just wait till they mature & one morning you wake up with maimed or dead fish.> We have the salinity levels between what the figure eights and greens spots need and there is a level which both can live in. We bought all the fish in 1.010 and that is what they are now in... <Figure 8s are best kept at 1.005 for life.  GSPs will eventually need marine conditions.  LFS rarely know what is best for puffers.> This particular green spot has gotten sick on several occasions where as the other green spot and the figure eights don't get sick. The red-eye and the dwarf are now in their own tank. <You're not worried about the red-eye killing the dwarf?  Puffers are best kept in species only tanks.  The species are not to be mixed.> The first time the green spot got sick he had gill disease and this time he had something that medications did not cure... So far I have found that the most aggressive of all is the red-eye, contrary to what every website I have read has said. <It is possible that your red-eye is the more aggressive lorteti. They are almost impossible to tell apart.  As you have already witnessed, puffers have their own personality & levels of aggression.  Hence keeping species & sometimes individuals separate.  I know of puffers that had previously gotten along with it's tank mates, only to wake up one morning to it being the only survivor of a massacre.  Have you read the profiles & articles I linked you to?  I highly suggest that you do.  They are written by the top puffer experts in the world!  ~PP> Figure 8 Puffer Question - 6/6/6 Dear WWM Crew, <<Hi Ronald.>> Thank you for this great source of help.  I recently moved the inhabitants of my 37 gallon hexagon tank into a 75 gallon tank.  I have the 37 gallon tank in my office and would like to restart it with something different, and I am considering a Figure 8 Puffer. <<Very cool puffer.>> I have read the articles on your site and it seems that they do best as the only Puffer in the tank. <<Figure 8s in general are better with their own kind than some other species.>> My question is, are there any other fish that I could add to the tank with the Figure 8, or would he need to be the only fish in the tank. <<Some recommend Bumblebee and Knight gobies, but it is really hit or miss.  Orange Chromides are my choice, but not for the tall style tank you have.>> I realize that they are a brackish fish, and I am looking forward to using some of the decorations from my old marine tank. <<In your tank, Id think two figure eights and perhaps some gobies will be fine.  Check out www.thepufferforum.com for more information on caring for your puffers.>> Thank you for your advice. Ronald Boudreau <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Blenny Aggression...And A Brackish Puffer In A Marine Tank - 01/10/07 Hi there! <<Hello!>> I have looked online and consulted with various people I work with (a large public aquarium) and cannot seem to find a solution to my problem so maybe you can help, or have a different perspective. <<Let's see what I can do...>> I have a bicolor blenny, a red firefish, and a figure-eight puffer in a 20 gallon, as well as a decorator crab but I doubt he figures into this equation. <<Something to mention here...Tetraodon biocellatus is a "slightly brackish water" species and will not fare well in the long-term in a full-strength marine environment.  This species is also best kept as single individuals (it will eventually bite/kill its tankmates), and though a small species (to less than three inches) it likes having some room to roam with minimum recommended tank size being 30-gallons.  You can find much more information re this species by perusing our articles and FAQs.  A good place to start is here, following the associated links in blue:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fig8pufffaqs.htm >> And yes, I know the figure eight is usually brackish... <Not usually...is>> All that considered here is my question.  The blenny is getting aggressive with my firefish.  It is not at feeding times, so I doubt the theory that he isn't getting enough to eat.  I thought it could be a territorial/spatial issue. <<Very likely this "is " the issue>> I had one big pile of live rock, so I split it into two piles thinking that maybe the blenny would pick one to call his own, but no luck. <<This tank is too small...does not afford enough "separation">> He swims between the two like he owns it all. :) <<Indeed...these blennies generally occupy relatively small territories on the reef (sometimes smaller than a square meter...but still larger than a 20-gallon tank) and will defend vigorously from perceived invaders>> I have thought about splitting it into three piles, but not sure if this would help. <<probably not>> Any suggestions would be appreciated. <<I'm afraid your best option is to remove one or the other>> And just as a side note, no one else in the tank is involved in this dispute. <<Not surprising...only the blenny and the firefish would compete for the same food items/occupy the same niche on the reef.  Nemateleotris magnifica is a peaceful (conspecifics aside) almost timid fish that can be difficult to keep under the best of conditions.  The continued aggression from the blenny will likely result in its demise>> Thanks a lot! Robin <<A pleasure to share, Eric Russell>>

Figure 8 Puffers Will figure 8 puffers get on well with these fish. If I get two fish, will they bother each other instead of the other fish? Sucking loach Red tailed black shark Dwarf Gourami Kuhli (Eel) loach Bronze Catfish Neon tetra Zebra Danio Guppies Flame tetra > > No... these fresh to brackish puffers are "nippy", and will outright eat the Neons and guppies... and bite the other fishes as they can approach them... Bob Fenner

Re: Figure 8 Puffers Are there any other types of freshwater puffer that will get along with these fish? Thanks Tim Jeffree > IMO not really... even the truly freshwater species from the Africa and South America are fin nippers... Best kept with other similarly "mean" fish livestock. Bob Fenner

Figure 8 Puffers--A Brackish Water Puffer  9/12/04 Dear Crew <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Over the past eight months, we had fish as pets, learning new stuff, and one day we finally found puffer fishes and we ended up setting up a new tank for them.  So far so good, but we have three of them and one I guess, is trying to setup dominance over the others, so I called Petco, where I got them and they suggested feeding them everyday so they will stop nipping each other, but it seems like the dominant one always nip the others after feeding... :( I do not want them to keep getting stressed and die, so please help! <1st of all read this wonderful article on F8s: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml This should answer all your questions on the care & feeding of these great pets.  I am concerned that you said you set-up a new tank for your fish.  Did you cycle it 1st?  How large is the tank?  F8 puffers require at least 10g/puffer.  Puffers personality vary from fish to fish.  Some may be very mild-mannered, while others may be killers.  If you have a killer, it must be kept singly, or it will kill their tank mates.  You just never know with puffers...  ~PP>

Bossy Puffer  10/26/04 <Pufferpunk here> I ignored you warning about my GSP "Pongo" being too aggressive for my F8, but now "Munk" (he has the scream face on his back) the F8 is pushing Pongo and eating almost everything I throw into the tank. I don't think this is that bad of a problem now I'm sure if the GSP was hungry he would push back but I though to cut down on hostility could I re-arrange the tank plants and drift wood? I'm sure this isn't the biggest case of civil disturbance you hear its more like sibling rivalry but any ideas would be nice. <You're GSP may be less aggressive as a juvenile & could possibly starve, if you don't give him a chance to eat.  Moving the decor around may help, but you might just have to separate the two.  You can also try feeding at opposite ends of the tank.  ~PP> Thanks

Mixing BW Puffers in a 20g Tank <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have started my 20 gal brackish puffer tank with a medium GSP and a figure 8.  I can already tell the GSP is a little more pushy than the figure 8. When I chose my next two puffer should I exclude getting another GSP or the less aggressive figure 8, and what would be the ideal choice to have a happy tank? Thanks for your website <1st of all I need to request that when writing your emails, please use proper capitalization & punctuation.  I have to correct this myself, before sending it on to the FAQs at our website.  I'm not sure I understand your question.  Are you adding 2 more puffers to your 20g tank?  As you have already noticed, the GSP is too aggressive to house with the milder F8 in such a small tank.   As the GSP gets larger & even more aggressive, it will only get worse for the poor little F8.  Also, a 20g tank really isn't big enough for an adult (6") GSP.  What I'd do is find a home or return the GSP & get 1 more F8.  Only 1 F8/10g.  Here's a great article on them: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/8puffer.shtml  ~PP> Figure 8 Pufferfish  6/23/04 Hey Again! <Hey again yourself!> Geez, that was a fast response! <I'm on the ball today!> I have one more quick question. Would it be alright to add one of those suckerfishes (I can't think of the name.. but they are the ones who swim around and suck up all of the algae and stuff in the tank) into the tank? <The "suckerfish" you are talking about is a freshwater fish & doesn't like salt.  It's called a Plecostomus.  If you plan to keep these puffers for any length of time, they are best kept in brackish water.> Or would a snail be better, since a suckerfish lacks the protection from the Puffer? <Puffers eat snails & they don't like salt either.> Oh, and you're right. Figure 8's are cute! And I've got somewhat bad news.. I think he died. He hasn't moved lately.. <Sorry to hear that.  Did you get the water tested?>   Well, thanks for the help for my next fish! <Make sure & read that article I linked you to.> Btw, how long has your Pufferfish lasted? Do you also have a Figure 8? <Yes, I have 3 figure 8 puffers.  I've only had them for about a year, but they can live 18+ years if cared for properly. I have a total of 14 puffers in all   ~PP> Mixing Puffer Species 5/30/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a 20 Gallon tall Hex tank, fully cycled, with a BioWheel filter. I have let it cycle over the past several weeks and in that time I have grown a nice amount of aquatic plants. <What do you mean by cycle? Are there fish in there or just plants? Without fish to produce ammonia or another source of ammonia, there is no nitrifying bacteria.> Now for my question. I was originally going to stock the tank with a few dwarf puffers (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) and an Otto. I have since fallen in love with both the South American (Colomesus asellus) and Figure Eight (Tetraodon biocellatus) Puffers. The tank is full freshwater right now. I was wondering if there is anyway to house 2 of these types of puffers together. I hear conflicting things about the required salinity for the figure 8, and just as often I see it listed as freshwater, hence my confusion! I have read that the South American and Dwarf Puffers can be housed together, and was wondering your what your recommendations for stocking ratios and such are.  <F8s are indeed BW fish, so those 2 species cannot be mixed. I would stick with a species only tank for a 20g. Either 2 F8s in a BW environment, or 2 SAPs in FW.  With F8s you could keep a few bumblebee gobies or w/SAPs you could keep faster moving fish, like danios & maybe some Corys.> Thanks so much for your time, you are truly an amazing resource! <That's what we're here for! ~PP>

Mixing Puffer Species 5/31/05 Pufferpunk, Thanks so much for the quick reply, <Sure!> By 'cycled' I mean that I allowed the nitrifying bacteria to build up by having my niece's goldfish in the tank for a few days several weeks ago.  I took her out, and now she's no worse for wear.  The ammonia, then nitrite spiked and has since leveled out (meaning both at 0, nitrate low).  <I'm sorry to say that if there have been no fish in there for over 24-48 hours, the tank has to be cycled again.  There has been no "food" by way of ammonia, to keep the bacteria alive in your tank.  You can always buy Bio-Spira at the same time as your fish, to "instant cycle" your tank.  Just do a 90% water change before hand.  I'm afraid cycling w/GF can also add certain diseases that other fish can't handle, to your tank.> I have decided to stick with a freshwater set-up, and I was wondering if mixing dwarf puffers and South American puffers would work.  <The vicious biting dwarves have caused problems for my SAPs, even in a much larger tank--I don't suggest it.> If not I think I'll stick to my original plan of dwarfs and an Oto.  Thanks again, I really appreciate it! <Good idea!  Should be a nice, interesting tank.  For info on DPs go to: www.dwarfpuffers.com  ~PP> Bad Advice about Puffers 3/16/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I was fooled by a pet store employee. I bought a figure 8 and a leopard puffer. They said that they would be fine in my 55 gallon together and with my Pleco, my 2 African frogs and a few barbs. The leopard bit the leg off my frog and keeps beating up on the figure 8. <No surprise there at all.> I have no more tanks to separate them. Could I just give the leopard a new home and keep the Figure 8? I really want to get more fish but I fear their lives with the leopard in there. But if I do that will the figure 8 just eat everyone in the tank?  ~*Tara*~  <The leopard, or green spotted puffer (Tetraodon nigriviridis), is an extremely aggressive fin biter. The F8 (T biocellatus) is a little more mellow, but has issues with the same. Both are actually brackish water fish. The nigroviridis, prefers high end BW & SW as an adult. You can read about them here: http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=brack.  Neither of those fish will work in your tank. ~PP>

Combining Puffers in One Tank  3/14/04 <Pufferpunk at your service> How will a GSP and a Figure 8 puffer get along? My GSP is real chill. <GSPs require at least 20g each.  I know it is probably small right now & looks dwarfed in a tank that size, but if you look at mine (the puffer photo in my article) you'll see how large they wind up growing.  Also, GSPs prefer SW as adults & are extremely aggressive, while F8s prefer low-end BW, they only grow to 3" & are mildly aggressive.  Not really a good match.> Also, there is a red eye puffer I want, how would he get along with my GSP?  The red eye is pretty big. <Puffers are best kept in species only tanks.  I have had success in keeping similar-mannered puffers together (GSPs W/Ceylons, or dwarves with South Americans) but in very large tanks with a heavy load of decor & many broken lines of sight.  As far as a red-eye puffer, there are many puffers w/red eyes that could be labeled as such by a LFS.  Common names are difficult to ID a fish with.  If you're still interested in this fish (in a separate tank) & you are concerned about it's care & temperament, you can look for an ID here: http://www.pufferfish.co.uk/aquaria/species/pufferfish/index.htm <Good luck with your puffer, I'm glad it's doing well!  ~PP>

Tank Mates for Figure 8 Puffers?  11/29/04 <It's me, Pufferpunk again!> Guess I'll get a bigger tank!! You are right - my fault for not looking deeper into these fish -- So can I put another fish in with the F8 puffer? What type?? I'm headed to the library after work today ... <I have a lovely 29 g tank with 3 F8s, 2 pairs of knight gobies & 6 bumblebee gobies.  A 30g long tank would be even better for that combo.  ~PP> Thanks Pufferpunk -- Looks like I will be getting a bigger tank!! <Come & join us over at www.thepufferforum.com!  ~PP>

Figure 8 Puffer Hi Bob, I was wondering what other "mean" fish will a figure 8 puffer get a long with. Thanks! <Larger, faster, meaner types... the best really are other brackish water species... the other not-so freshwater tetraodont puffers, Monodactylus, scats, Chromides, archerfishes... you can find a bunch about these possibilities, even brackish water plants through a read through past hobbyist magazines... and goosing me to get more of my brackish pieces on our WWM site... Bob Fenner>

Figure eight puffer Hello, <Cheerio, old sport! Anthony Calfo in your service> I have owned a freshwater fish tank of some form for many years. Whether it was 50 gallon, 20, or 10 (I have a 10 right now because of the convenience), I have never really paid attention to pH, ammonia, etc.  <like an ice pick in my ears...hehe> I use a water X and add a teaspoon of salt for every 10 gallons. <I like that part <wink>> Right now I have a 10 gallon tank that follows me pretty much everywhere.  <most people have cats and puppies for this but hey... enjoy> Today I bought a figure eight puffer, I have always wanted a puffer and finally I decided to get one, but not before asking the dealer a bunch of questions. He said that although he may get territorial, he is a good community fish.  <your dealer is a fibber <G>> He said the fish will eat flake food, which is what I normally feed my fish, but I often give brine shrimp.  <Puffers are cute, lovable and dedicated fin nippers. They also will suffer on a diet of flake and brine shrimp. As crustacean eaters, they need hard shelled foods to wear down their naturally growing teeth. Without it the teeth will become overgrown to the point where the animal cannot feed. As such flake food is too soft and brine-shrimp without enrichment (Selcon soaked and the like) is a useless fare that is essentially water made to look like shrimp. Too bad it is so well liked by fish... it is the lowest grade food. Add frozen Mysid, krill and plankton to the diet (freeze dried krill too). Some folks keep fast breeding live snails (the puffers love them!!!) to help with the teeth too> He said my salinity would be fine.  <probably although they could take and might enjoy a lot more salt to truly be brackish> Once I bought the fish and released him into the tank, everything at the moment appears to be fine. I haven't fed yet, so I don't know how that will go. I started looking things up on the net here and one guy has me really afraid. He seems to know what he is talking about, but he says that having all these conditions right is vital and puffers are very sensitive. Can you help me out a little here?  <some truth to it... they are scale less fish and as such are sensitive to water quality and medications> Also, since I have released my figure eight puffer into the tank, he has swam up and down the side wall non-stop. It appears normal, but I saw a comment somewhere saying this was a bad thing, is this true?  <common but not normal or healthy in the long run. A stress induced response to many factors (salinity, light, water quality, etc)> Please help me out, thanks. Dave <no problem my friend... much has been written on this topic. Do a search on this site (tag the bullet for WWM only under the keyword field at the bottom of the home page) and look through the archives of FAQs. Much information there. Also, look through the brackish articles by following the links from the WWM homepage as well. I suspect that you will be enlightened and able to enjoy your puffer very soon. Best regards, Anthony>

Freshwater Puffers? I found your address on the wet web media site. I seen a figure eight puffer and a green puffer at the pet store the other day. The worker was unable to help me. I was wondering if you could. I would like to know what kind of things they like to eat, are they aggressive, and where could I find more info about them? Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Jodi > Hi there. Yes these two (really marine, though somewhat adjustable to more freshwater conditions) Puffers are eager eaters of most anything meaty. Most folks feed them "human consumption" type shrimps, fish flesh... And, unfortunately they're both notoriously "nippy"... not necessarily aggressive, but do real damage to easier going tankmates (fish and invertebrates), and thus should be housed only with "tough, mean" types of livestock... best, really in a dedicated "brackish" setting with other rough and tumble fishes, plants that can/do tolerate some concentration of salts. More information? Hmm, try inserting the word for their genus, Tetraodon, in your search engines, directories. Be chatting, Bob Fenner

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