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FAQs about Figure Eight Puffers, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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 Compatibility, Figure-Eight Puffer Selection, Figure-Eight Puffer Systems, 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,

Not feeding? Check your water quality for nitrogenous compounds, salinity... Try whole-small or small bits of meaty foods...

F8 Puffers and <eating> snails <and such>     1/18/12
Hi Crew -
<Hello John,>
I have a couple relatively simply questions about my Figure 8 puffers. We have three of them. They are all doing great. All water parameters are as they should be (Ammo =0, Nitrite =0, Nitrate < 5ppm). I keep my SG at 1.004. Temp is a constant 78 F. Tank is planted (mostly Wisteria) and has drift wood and rocks providing plenty of hiding/exploring places. Substrate is a white silica sand.
<Sounds nice.>
I feed them snails, shrimp (frozen, raw in the shell from the store), blood worms and occasionally live shrimp (ghost shrimp and hopefully soon red cherry shrimp). Is it possible to feed them the hard shelled food (snails, shrimp) too often?
Could they grind their beaks/teeth down too much?
<Not really. Much like us, they use their jaws sensibly, and won't damage themselves deliberately. Accidents surely do happen, just as they do with us when we chip a tooth on a candy bar, but such events are rare. Don't fret. Some aquarists worry that they can chip their beaks on Melanoides spp. snails ("Malaysian Trumpet Snails") but that doesn't seem to happen much, if at all, and even if it did happen, the teeth would grow back. Do remember Puffers bite corals and oysters, and have evolved to crunch things and presumably know how to bite without damaging themselves.>
They don't have any symptoms that gives me concern, just curious?
I have been feeding them once a day, until their bellies are rounded out just a little bit.
We have, for all intents and purposes, an unlimited supply of snails.
A local fish store always has an infestation of pond snails we can pick out of their tanks for free, as well as apple snails in another one of our tanks that breed like crazy. I got to thinking and wondered if it is possible to feed them snails too often? I give them blood worms once or twice a week and either shrimp or snails the rest of the time, and occasionally peas.
How varied does their diet need to be? Are the aforementioned foods enough variation in their diet or am I lacking?
<The variety you suggest perfect. Because snails eat algae, they're effectively "gut loaded" with vitamins and fibre. Feel free to give them flake food or algae wafers to eat before using them.>
Also, unrelated to diet, is it possible to tell their relative age by their size? Ours are about an inch and a half (tip of the beak to the end of the tail).
<Sounds like a yearling. Should get to 8 cm/3 inches within about 2-3 years.>
I have tired to find a chart or comparison of what their growth stages are like and have found nothing.
I appreciate the time you are taking to read through this, and always appreciate the good information from your website.
John D
<Glad to help, Neale.>

Emergency  6/19/10
I am in the Nashville, TN area and I am having a major problem with one of my figure 8 puffers that I have never had before.
<Tetraodon biocellatus, a brackish water species; if maintained in freshwater, it never exhibits good health for long. I trust you're keeping him in brackish water?>
His teeth have become over grown.
<Related to diet.>
My other one is fine. I feed them Krill, snails, occasional Tubifex worms, and some types of shell fish.
<Does need more crunchy, less soft food -- or this wouldn't be happening!>
I have called all the vets and LFS's around this area and they are telling me the same thing. He needs to be euthanized.
From fooling around on ya'lls site I know there are people out there that do this and I need to find some one to do it or he will die.
<All you need to do is use some cuticle clipper to trim the ends of the beak off. Not too difficult. Use some Clove Oil at a dose of about 2 drops per litre of aquarium water in a small container. Net the fish out, dip him in there until he calms down. Then using wet hands, hold the fish with one hand, and use the clippers to trim away the beak. You can peel the lips back very gently if you need to, but really, all you need to cut off is the bit that sticks out beyond the lips. Cuticle clippers are the only tool suitable for this -- don't try with scissors, nail clippers, etc! You need
the shape of cuticle clippers to do the job.>
Any advice?
<Cheers, Neale.>
<PS. Forgot to say. Once you're done with the clipping of his teeth, put him in the net, return him to the aquarium, and when he wakes up (after a minute or so) let him loose. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Emergency
yes I keep them in brackish water. wouldn't have it any other way. in my late mail you seen some of the things I was feeding my puffers....what else should I add to their diet?
<If it crunches, it's good! Snails are obviously good, but so are woodlice (I believe Americans call these "rolypolys" or something). Non-live foods include unshelled shrimps (particularly their legs), crayfish, and mussels
that have been smashed so the meat and shell is mixed. Some aquarium shops sell wet-frozen foods such as krill, Gammarus and whole lancefish -- these are also good, though I have to admit my puffers never cared much for
Gammarus. Realistically though, if you have a puffer predisposed to overgrown teeth, then you may as well get used to doing the dental work once or twice a year. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Emergency
Thanks for the how to on dentistry for puffers. I have owned several over the past 5 or so years as I've upgraded to a 75 gallon tank and never once have I had this problem.
<Agreed; the Figure-8 puffer is not a species for which overgrown teeth are a common problem, unlike, say, South American puffers which have very fast-growing teeth.>
Maybe ''he'' is predisposed....I'm sure I can get some more crunch in there however. I really appreciate the speedy response. I want to keep my puffer alive and healthy.
<And you will. This certainly isn't "fatal" by any means.
Jeni's article linked above is detailed and relevant here, but I don't agree with her re: the use of nets to grip the puffer while working, and instead prefer to use wet hands, which are, I feel, less likely to abrade the skin.>
I have another figure 8 who is especially fond of him. :)
<Ah yes, puffers are very much individuals, and some get along rather better than others. 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.>

Figure 8 Puffer... fdg., hlth., stkg.   11/24/09
I have had 2 figure 8 puffers for about 4 yrs. They have been thriving in their 55 gallon tank with lots of aquatic wood and plants. The parameters in my tank are fine. pH-8.2 constant. Nitrate- 0. Nitrite-0. Ammonium-0.
Specific Gravity/salinity- 1.06.
<Sounds a lovely aquarium with plenty of space. If you have live plants, you might nudge the salinity down a wee bit, to 1.005, as that'll suit a wider variety of plants without causing any harm at all to the puffers.>
Which leads me to my story. I had a puffer die the other day due to my own fault. I was cleaning all the mechanical stuff in my tank as I always do.
The last thing I cleaned was the cap on my canister filter inlet. I obviously forgot to turn it off (i know how horrible I can't believe I did that)
<We've all done stuff like this, so don't feel too bad. You learned your lesson.>
and he/she got wedge in there a little and by the time I realized he was dead. The question is about my other puffer. Since the ones death the other hasn't eaten (2 days) is this normal behavior?
<No, not normal at all.>
I haven't seen any spots on his skin that could suggest disease. His belly is nice and white other than where you see that their spikes can come out.
I am completely baffled, but I don't want him to starve to death (although he is nice and plump). I have been changing my water more than normal to combat whatever it is just in case it is disease. They were never sick a day in their life here with me! Can you offer any advice as to what to do?
<He should start eating soon, but you might consider buying two (not one) new Figure-8s to keep him company. While usually described as solitary fish, Figure-8s do seem to enjoy being kept in tanks where there are other members of their kind. Perhaps it's a social thing, or maybe they feel secure knowing other members of their species are in the same environment.
I'd get two rather than one so there's less chance of bullying. Indeed, your tank is very large given the maximum size of Figure-8s (around 8 cm/3 inches) so you could comfortably keep five or six specimens if you wanted.
That might even be the ideal. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Figure 8 Puffer, comp.  11/24/09
Thanks for you help.
<My pleasure.>
This figure 8 was never aggressive towards my other it was quite the other way around.
<Often the case. Possibly a gender difference? It's the males that guard the eggs, so may well be the more territorial.>
I was planning on getting 2 more.
I just didn't want to ge them until I knew everything in my tank was okay.
I never added new ones with the old two for fear of bullying, but the puffer that is left is quite docile considering the species.
<Figure-8s are variable, but they're rarely as out-and-out nasty as things like Tetraodon fluviatilis.>
I hand feed him and when I stick my hands in the tank to rearrange things he comes up to me and rubs his side on my hands.
<Sounds like he (or she) is a happy little puff.>
I try to not let him do that seeing since they do not have scales, but this puffer is something special.
<Puffers actually have quite tough skin, and while they don't have normal scales, they have evolved to resist abrasions. Their whole defence system works around the animal not being damaged if bitten or grabbed by a predator. So within reason, and so long as your hands are wet, petting a puffer isn't something to be too afraid of. One of the two puffer species I own, the South American puffers, need to have their teeth trimmed periodically, and that involves some fairly firm handling. As yet, no harm done!>
Not much like his other figure 8 friends.
<Oh. As they say, every puffer is unique.>
Anyways to draw a long story to a close he did finally eat today and your help is much appreciated by us all!!!
<Glad there's a happy ending.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Figure 8 puffer question, fdg. mostly     9/20/08 Hi. <Hello.> We have had a figure 8 puffer for about 3 months now. We have a 55 gal, brackish tank set up, crushed coral substrate, salinity is ~1.004-5 right now, pH ~8.0-8.2, nitrates and ammonia both 0, and we do ~25-30% water changes weekly. We have been varying the puffer's diet, giving him lots of seafood like clams, shell-on shrimp, frozen krill, frozen crab legs. I also always dose his food with Zoe Marine vitamins. He has quickly become my favorite fish in the tank! The other fish in the tank (which I know both are not brackish fish, but I have inherited taking care of this tank and doing the 'fish research' from my fiancé who had these fish in low-end brackish conditions for the past 5-6 years and never knew they weren't brackish) are one 4" clown loach (had this guy for about a year and is thriving and growing fast), one ~7" banded Leporinus and one ~8" red tail tinfoil barb. <Clown Loaches (according to Bob Fenner at least) are found in brackish water, and apparently will tolerate such conditions well; as for the other two species, I suspect in the long term they will need to be rehoused. To be fair, there are numerous barbs in slightly brackish water and you may be fine with the Tinfoil Barb, at least for a while, and if it keeps eating and swimming about normally I'd not worry overly much. But the Leporinus won't like the salinity at all. I'd strongly suggest lowering the SG to 1.003; that would be ample for the Pufferfish but not so high the other species would be stressed, at least not in the short- to medium-term.> My fiancé (three days ago) purchased a Columbian shark, which he did without doing research :( just knowing that he was a cute fish and brackish. <They are indeed lovely fish. But GREGARIOUS! And how! Singletons are never happy for long.> So, when he got home and I did the research, we realized how big this fish will get, so he is due to return this fish (under my demands!) to the LFS tomorrow. My question is: when we first got the puffer, he ate voraciously, every time I put food in the tank. It seems over the past week or so, he's 'gone off' his food... Because of the bigger fish, I usually hand feed him with forceps, or put his food into a large net and he swims right in and feeds by himself in the net. Could it be that the addition of the shark is causing him to go off his food. <Possible. But I'd not worry unduly. Once the Shark Catfish has gone, he should settle down. Shark Catfish do produce low frequency clicking sounds that sound to many other fish like threats. Have observed this when keeping them with Triggerfish, and trust me, mayhem ensued!> He's accepted none of the shrimp/ crab/ clam that I've offered him the past three nights, and has only pecked and eaten a little bit of some freeze dried krill I put in there as a last resort... his belly is still bright, bright white, and he has been acting normally, other than always keeping an eye on where the Columbian shark is. The only thing I've noticed is that he always did some flashing off the heater (he seems to love to rub his little body on it) but have seen no signs of any external parasites or ich... so he's still doing that flashing type behavior, but I always thought that that was normal in small doses for puffers. (Also, his beak looks great and doesn't look overgrown) <I'd not worry too much until the Catfish has gone; but I would be alert to Whitespot (Ick) or Velvet, both diseases that commonly appear after adding new fish. Neither is normally a problem in brackish water tanks, but I'd keep my eyes open anyway.> Any help? He used to zip right to the front of the tank whenever I went to feed the other fish, and I haven't seen this behavior in quite some time. I think hopefully that once we get the Columbian shark back to the LFS, he'll go back to feeding as normal. Is feeding him still once a day too much (he is ~2" long)... I have seen other people feed their puffers every other day? <The jury is out about the best way to feed predatory fish including puffers. I'm very much in the "small meals, but often" camp, though there's no question that in the wild infrequent big meals is much more typical. With puffers in community situations, I'd recommend keeping the puffer reasonably well fed so that it doesn't decide to nip the fins of its tankmates. Perhaps not the best way to keep them in terms of dietary behaviour in the wild, but a practical approach nonetheless. Cheers, Neale.>

Fw: Figure 8 puffer question Sorry, meant to include a 'thanks' in there! Sandy <No problems. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Figure 8 puffer question  9/23/08 Hi, <Hello!> I have monitored our puffer over the weekend, he still was not eating (only took some pecks at some bloodworms as a last ditch effort last night, he is rejecting all fleshy, meaty foods I've been offering him)... and I've now noticed a spot (white) that was always present on one of his pectoral fins appears larger maybe, he is doing a LOT more flashing, and is starting to clamp his fins...one fin, then the other. <The white spot could easily be Finrot, or the begins of, at least. Finrot is specifically blockages of blood vessels, and these cause tissue to bleed and die, and that's when you start seeing the red stuff. So I'd be treating for Finrot, using something suitable for pufferfish, such as Maracyn.> Starting to really think this may be gill flukes?!? <Never, ever encountered this. Certainly possible with wild-caught fish I suppose. Gill flukes are external parasites (despite seemingly inside the fish) and can usually be flushed out by changes of salinity. Given you have a euryhaline puffer species, I'd be doing daily saltwater dips (35 grammes salt per litre of water of equal temperature to the aquarium; cooking sea salt, tonic salt, marine mix all fine). Dip for at least 2 minutes and really anything up to 20 minutes. You're fine with the dip until the fish rolls over: then get the fish out! In theory this is shock to both the fish and gill parasite, but the fish being bigger (and euryhaline in this case) can tolerate the shock better than the tiny, stenohaline parasite. Do also see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwfshparasites.htm > I have done a little online research, and with the current fish we have in the tank, I don't want to drastically increase the salt... would something like Coppersafe be okay for all of my other fish? <Clown Loaches have a reputation for reacting badly to copper/formalin medications, so would tend to treat the pufferfish in a QT tank or via dips in another container of water.> (none of the other fish are exhibiting any symptoms). Thanks. Sandy <Fundamentally you may be hitting the wall here re: salinity; these Pufferfish just don't do well in freshwater conditions, and raising the salinity to what he needs will stress (likely kill) the Barbs and Loaches. This is often the problem with brackish water fish; it's not that they can't live in freshwater, they can, but they just become so much more sensitive to disease that it becomes a constant battle. In any case, would treat this fish with saltwater dips in the first instance, and secondly be reviewing conditions in the tank re: the preferences of this species. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Figure 8 puffer question  9/25/08 Hi, <Hello,> Thanks so much for your prior advice. I, too, think it's Finrot. Just a minor case though, I think. He has a little bit of signs of 'fraying' of his fins... plus I 'think' I noticed a little bit of reddening of under his tail area... but hard to tell. In any case, I really think it was induced not by poor water quality, but by stress of being in the 55 gallon tank with so many other fish. <Social stress is unlikely to cause Finrot, though aggressive behaviour between fish certainly can. Do keep an open mind about water quality. Even in big tanks with proper filters, you can have occasional problems with pH instability or high nitrate levels.> SO, our 20 gallon (which was a fairly newly cycled tank, only up for 3 weeks), which housed 4 platys only at the time, we have decided to use as a hospital tank/ permanent home for our puffer (if he makes it :!!) We got our pH up to 8.0, and I added ~ a cup of marine salt, just to slowly bring up the salinity. The platys are now transferred, and we drip acclimated our puffer, and have now put him into the 20 gallon. He is still obviously a little freaked out by the transfer, but doesn't look stressed. <Platies can, will adapt to moderate salinity, but I wouldn't take them above SG 1.005.> Question is, I bought some Maracyn plus tonight... should I dose the tank? I am worried that since the tank is so 'newly' cycled, that we may crash the tank and kill off all the good bacteria. <Maracyn -- used correctly -- has little to no effect on filter bacteria. Do review instructions on the packaging carefully, and don't forget to make a (say, 10%) deduction to the volume of the tank taken up with gravel and rocks.> But, I don't want to leave him untreated... I have all the original tank ornaments in there, same cycled filter media, and also added BioSpira (on the advice of my guy at the pet store)... plus, he is in a tank w/ aragonite.... should I worry about dosing with Maracyn plus, or go ahead with it.. thanks SO much. we love this guy!! <Go for it! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Figure 8 puffer question  9/25/08 Hi, Just as an update to my earlier question, he is in the 20 gallon tank, ph ~8.0, sal 1.002, nitrate/ ammonia both 0.... When I woke up a little while ago and checked on him, he seems okay, still not responsive to food, and I noticed some stingy white poo coming from him (never seen that before).... any ideas??? <Could be Hexamita; do see WWM re: Metronidazole/Flagyl for treatment. Hexamita parasites irritate the gut wall, causing excess production of mucous, and the faeces end up looking white and stringy. It's primarily observed (in freshwater tanks) among cichlids, but other fish can exhibit this or related diseases.> His white spot on his fin is no worse, no better.. but I still haven't added any medication to his tank yet?? I don't see any more flashing, just the white poo and also the small spot on his pectoral fin....and the 'weathered' fins (just his tail fin and pectoral fins look a bit 'weathered' like fin rot??? <A photo would help here, as these symptoms are a bit vague. Do treat promptly for Finrot in any event.> Thanks! <Cheers, Neale.>

Feeding F8 puffers  4/1/08 Good Afternoon, I recently purchased a F8 Puffer and he shows great interest in the ghost shrimp I have in the tank, but won't eat frozen Mysis shrimp, Plankton or Krill. I gave him live blackworms which he really enjoyed but I would prefer if he would take interest in the frozen shellfish. <Puffers can be picky, that is true. Some brackish water fish go off their food if kept in freshwater conditions. But assuming your fish is in brackish water, I wouldn't worry too much.> Is there anything I can do to stimulate this interest short of denying him live food? <Nope.> The LFS I got him from said that they fed the tank frozen and had no problems so I am a bit stumped. <Don't get too concerned. Letting a puffer starve for a few days often gets their attention focused on things they'd otherwise reject. My Colomesus asellus have little to no interest in snails or krill when I give them bloodworms, so some days I skip feeding them bloodworms until they're sufficiently hungry to eat these other food items. Does them no harm at all. Almost all puffers eat algae as well as invertebrates, so provided there is algae in the aquarium to nibble on, they won't suffer.> Any help would be greatly appreciated. <Cheers, Neale.>

Snail/Puffer Eco System  11/6/07 Hello, I am cycling fishless, currently waiting to set up a Figure 8 puffer in a 30 gallon tank. <Very good.> I have done a good amount of research and one of the things I have noticed is that a lot of sites say F8s dont need snails to wear their beak down, but the ones that seem devoted to the brackish fish all say F8s needs snails, including this one. <It's one of those points where "your mileage may vary". Figure-8 puffers do NOT seem to be among the Pufferfish species prone to overgrown teeth. South American freshwater puffers (Colomesus spp.) and the Asian genera Auriglobus and Chonerhinos seem to be much more troubled by this issue. This likely reflects different rates of tooth-growth, presumably connected to different types of food in the wild. But that said, Tetraodon spp. can get overgrown teeth. So providing at least some shelly food is a good idea, and snails are very convenient.> I am a bit of a softy when it comes to live feeding but under the right conditions (one being I really really like the fish, second being tank sustainability of the live feeder) I will. <Indeed. Sticking live food into a tank adds a load to the filter, and in the case of Pufferfish, there are clear advantages to keeping water quality as a high as possible.> My questions: What would be the minimum to feed F8s keeping them happy and healthy. Say, a basic Feed snails every six months for a week response. <It all depends. If you're giving the Pufferfish just soft food, such as bloodworms, day in, day out, then you may find the teeth become overgrown. In this case, using snails once a week would be a good idea. But if you're feeding them unshelled prawns, frozen krill, live woodlice and other prey that have shells already, the teeth may wear down just fine by themselves. So rather than looking at snails as a "cure", take an holistic approach instead. Try and make sure most meals are "crunchy" so that the puffer's teeth wear down all by themselves. The grocery store and the back garden will both provide plenty of suitable fodder. Unshelled prawns can be taken apart easily enough. You eat the yummy meat, but give the legs and tail-fins to the puffers. My puffers love woodlice, and these make a very satisfying crunching sound, suggesting that they are plenty hard enough to wear down the teeth if used regularly. And so on. Use your own common sense and see what you have to hand.> Second question is, is there a snail that will out reproduce my puffer or out reproduce my puffer enough that I would only have to buy a new set of snails every few months or so? <The ideal in many people's opinion are the small pond snail Physa spp. These are the semi-transparent snails often seen in aquaria. They are easy to rear in ponds. But I have to admit my puffers eat them only grudgingly, and normally only if I crush them first. So again, your own experiences will have to colour your actions.> This site states that the Malaysian Trumpet Snails are okay for Brackish water but I have read elsewhere that they cant live in any salt water. <Melanoides tuberculata will thrive at anything up to around 50% seawater salinity. They are phenomenally durable animals.> I do know they breed very fast. <Indeed. But some aquarists have connected broken teeth on their puffers with the presence of Melanoides snails. I have to admit to being skeptical of this, having watched Pufferfish crack open oysters in the wild, but in the interest of fairness I will at least recount those observations. I have Melanoides snails in many of my tanks, and puffers will sometimes eat the tiny juveniles. But they seem to show no interest in the adults. Quite possibly their shells are too strong for the small Pufferfish I'm keeping to open. On the other hand, I don't have "plagues" of these Melanoides snails in my tanks, at least not in the tanks with Pufferfish. So the puffers presumably do kill enough of the juveniles to moderate population growth.> I know Olive Nerites ARE brackish snails but also read they are slow breeders. <Nerites don't really breed at all in aquaria. Their life cycle seems to be fairly tricky to accommodate in captivity. Some people have had success, but it seems more by luck than judgment. Be that as it may, Nerites are practically bullet-proof, and small puffers don't seem to be able to eat them.> Is there another snail that would fit my bill? <The pond snail Physa is likely the balance between size, ease of care, and willingness to breed. Apple snails could be reared separately, but they don't last long in brackish water so would have to be added "one meal at a time".> Basically my thoughts are, if I have to feed live, I want to do it as minimal as possible, or set up a system where, with other then a few interventions, is nature-like and the live food can benefit from being in the tank also. I am I crazy? <Not crazy at all. I've found Pufferfish teeth get worn down "automatically" in tanks with a combination of Melanoides snails and silica sand; one or the other doesn't seem to work by itself. Possibly foraging in the sand combines enough grit with the prey animal to do the trick. Others have experimented with "feeding stones". These are rough rocks such as Tufa and pumice into which suitable food (such as prawn) is smeared and then any loose food rinsed off. To get the food, the puffers need to work away at the rock -- just as they would do in the wild. Yet others simply get into the routine of doing the dental work as and when required. It's really not that difficult, though admittedly requires a steady hand! Cheers, Neale>

Feeding F8 Puffers 9/2/07 Hi, <Hi Meghan, Pufferpunk here> I have two figure eight puffers. One is a little bigger than the other but they are both ~1" and I cannot get either of them to eat any snails. I have a long pair of tweezers that I use to hold the snails in front of the puffers, they will come over and try to nibble but they quickly lose interest. Sometimes I use the tweezers to place the snails in a specific area, the puffers will follow the snails as I set them down but then they just swim away. I've also tried different sized snails....what can I do to get them to eat snails? <How large are the snails? Rule of thumb is: As large as their eye. You can try squashing the snails & see if that makes it easier for them to eat them. They'll still get the benefit of the crunchiness. Here is more info on feeding puffers: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/category/feeding/ Good luck keeping them happy & full! ~PP> Meghan

Figure 8 Puffers, overeating?!  8/16/07 I just recently got figure eight puffer fish. I have had them before, but this time before I got them I had the aquarium run for about a month. In this month, the few snails that I put in there took over. There are hundreds of tiny spiral snails everywhere. When I put the two new puffers in the started eating the snails immediately. The next morning their little stomachs are bulging, huge, and they don't seem to have stopped eating. I'm getting worried, should I take them out and try to clean out the snails? Help! K. B. D. <Greetings. While your pufferfish might seem overfed, a lot of what is filling out their stomachs will be indigestible snail shell. So in this instance, I'd leave things be. Obviously, don't add any extra food to the aquarium. The puffers will eat the snails when hungry, but because this is an unprocessed food with a lot of "fibre" (i.e., shell) you don't have to worry about water quality or constipation. More than likely the puffers hadn't eaten a proper meal in weeks, and so their arrival in your snail-filled aquarium was like taking a hungry boy to an "all you can eat" buffet. After a couple of days I'm sure the snail population will be much smaller, and this problem will go away. In the meantime, enjoy watching your Pufferfishes doing what comes natural! Cheers, Neale>

Feeding Figure 8 Puffers    4/2/07 Hi, <Hi Meg, Pufferpunk here> I have two baby figure eight puffers, they are about 0.5". I have been feeding them once in the morning and once at night. I switch their diet up with brine shrimp, mysis shrimp and blood worms. Sometimes they will nibble at a cocktail shrimp tail while I hold it.  They are in a 55 gallon tank with three scats and I typically feed all four fish about one cube of frozen food in the morning and one at night.   <Defrosted & juice drained off, I hope.  Otherwise it will raise your nitrates.  Here's an article for you on feeding your puffers: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ > I also hang veggies for the scats and haven't ever seen the puffers pick at it. <Generally, they won't eat veggies, they are meat-eaters.> Anyhow, I noticed that the puffers little bellies get bigger after they eat and I assume its because they are really small and there isn't much room for food. <Actually, a puffer's stomach is quite huge.  That's where they inhale water to puff.> But I just wanted to make sure that I'm not over feeding my puffers or under feeding the scats, because my little puffers are piglets and swim around to catch every last piece of food they can. <I would have thought the other way around.  Scats are known to be quite the pigs & produce huge bioloads.  That's why they will eventually need 50g each, as they can grow as large as a dinner plate!  They will also prefer a much higher specific gravity as adult--marine conditions.  F8s do best in low-end brackish water, around 1.005.  Here's a great article on them: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/puffers-in-focus/f8/ Be sure to check out other articles on the care & feeding of puffers in the Library there & post on the forum about your puffers.  ~PP> Thanks, Meg

Care & Feeding of Figure 8 Puffer  3/19/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I recently purchased a figure eight puffer at Wal-Mart for my son and I.  We  have another tank with an Oscar and Pleco. I bought our figure eight without doing the proper research. After bringing him home I started looking on the net and realized I didn't have the right foods for him. I have read some of your answers for what to feed, the problem is I don't know where to get the food.   <Appropriate Puffer Foods: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html> I live close to a river and see small snails all the time.  Will these be ok? <I wouldn't suggest feeding these directly to your puffer, although they would make excellent breeding stock.   Breeding Snails: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/basicsnail.html & http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/basicsnail.html > Also  I would like to buy fast breeding snails but don't know what type of snails they are. Please help Bubbles (that is what my son named him) or he is going to starve. <Figure 8 article: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/f8puffer.html   Also, check out the puffer forum those articles are in.  ~PP>

- Pernicious Puffer Problems - Hi wet web crew!! <Greetings, Tom, JasonC here...> I'm having problems with my puffer. I started off with 3 figure 8 puffers in a 55 litre tank. They were all fine for about a month, then the largest one attacked the smaller 2 and they both died. I kept it as just one puffer since then, but he has recently gone off his food and has started to swim at the top of the tank, head up. It looks like he is breathing in air, but he doesn't puff up. when I put some food in (brine shrimp is what he is on at the mo, I couldn't find any bloodworm) he looks at it very excited but doesn't eat it. He hasn't changed colour, still seems quite mobile and hasn't lost much weight. <Well... puffers sometime go on hunger strikes, why they do it is not easily revealed. They are also sensitive to water quality, so you might want to look there first. You should also read through all the FAQ's we've accumulated as we get a lot of questions about these fish. Here's a good place to start: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffaqs.htm > any advice you could give me would be very much appreciated! Thank you Tom Hird <Cheers, J -- >

Live foods for figure-8 puffer How do you feel about feeding a figure-8 puffer live earthworms, crayfish, bugs, frogs or other things from outside?  Is there really more risk then with live foods from the aquarium store?   <This is a brackish water species which requires marine type foods, not terrestrial foods like frogs, worms, etc. These fish are not generalists, they eat specific foods.> Also, is it possible to find live mosquito larvae outside? <In the summer months, but not for feeding puffers. Please read the information you need at WetWebMedia.com, just type "figure eight puffer" in the google search!  Craig>

Puffer can't/won't eat (03/11/03) <Hi! Ananda here on the puffer patrol today....> I'm really having a problem with a figure eight puffer fish I have. I've had him for the last two years and not run into a hitch. He lives with two other fish- another brackish figure eight and a brackish spotted puffer. <One of the few puffer combinations I know of that can be maintained for any length of time... I have both types in the same tank, too.> Right now he seems to be on a hunger strike - this is the first time but he hasn't been eating normally for a week now. He is looking really thin- the second half of his body is barely thicker then nickel and his upper half looks very bad too. He does seem to try to eat but most of it just drifts out of his mouth after a while. <Sounds like he may not be able to chew -- do check the length of his teeth. If they're too long, you may need to clip them. A pair of good-quality nail scissors can help.> I have seen him eat some food and he still acts very interested but he's still as thin as a before. I want to try to force feed him for now to try to keep him from wasting away the rest of the way but I don't know if that would be good to do since he looks like him might break if I try to touch him (that and I don't know how to force feed). <I'm not much of a fan of force-feeding. Try giving him some food that he doesn't need to chew -- frozen bloodworms and live blackworms are always a hit with my puffs -- and see if he can keep those down.> Also I would love to have a hospital tank but I don't have one and I doubt if it would be worth the time to cycle a new tank. <Since you typically medicate a hospital tank, you usually kill off any beneficial bacteria that may have established themselves in the cycle. So there's less need for cycling a hospital tank, more need for daily water changes. And any container that is big enough for the puff to swim around in and contain an airstone can be used as a hospital container in a pinch.> If u can help me keep this guy alive then your my hero and his hero too. I know I'm supposed to be trying to feed him more tempting foods (I looked through all the faq's u had for an answer and I'm still not sure of the answer) <Bloodworms, blackworms, snails, ghost shrimp, cocktail shrimp, krill; sometimes Mysis shrimp, squid, clams...check the saltwater Puffer Feeding FAQs for more ideas.> but he acts just as interested in any food as any other time- he just can't keep enough in to get a whole meal. <Try using a different approach: keep food in his tank at all times. The best way to do this would be in a separate tank. I'm thinking bloodworms or blackworms in a worm feeder, or live ghost shrimp, or snails would be the food to use with this approach.> if my answer is to force feed him I'm going to need a link to a site that can tell me how to do that for a puffer fish. <Eh, I'm not finding one that gives specifics... but here's what I'm inferring from posts about same: you would need to do is get a syringe (no needle necessary) and fill it with a slurry of food and a good vitamin supplement (Bob mentions Boyd's VitaChem as a favorite). Then catch and hold the puff underwater and put the end of the syringe into his mouth. Use the syringe to shoot the food into his stomach. More comments on force-feeding puffers here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferdisfaqs.htm> And thank you very much for your time. Please try to email me back as soon as you can. <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Little eating machine (09/17/03) Hi there, <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon.> My figure 8 puffer won't stop eating on his own. <That's not that unusual...> I've sent you a picture of him, but you can't really see how all the food bits make lumps on his belly in the picture. <Perhaps not, but I can imagine... My puffs will get lumpy-bellied, too, if I mis-count and give them too much krill (though mine do tend to stop on their own, fortunately).> It would take him several days to come down from this size.   <My goodness. I think you are probably overfeeding him. Mine would get back to normal by the next evening.> I don't see any pictures of puffers online that are this fat. Is this ok? I don't mind feeding him all day if it is good for him.  thanks, Dave <Feeding him twice a day should be sufficient...but I would cut down a bit on the amount you are giving him. --Ananda>


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>

Puffer Fish I have a question for you. I just found out that I bought a Figure-eight puffer (even though he was sold to me as a green-spotted puffer).. anyways I did not do much research on these fish before the purchase and I am next to new at this. This is my question.. it's a pretty simple one actually. Is feeding him shrimp pellets ok? <If this puffer will eat them, sure. Do also offer some meatier fare daily... like frozen/defrosted krill, shrimps of different sorts, silversides... as it is best to keep these tetraodonts full... Please read over the "Brackish water Puffers" on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for much more> He seems to really enjoy them even though some people have said they have difficulty feeding puffers pellets.. <Once tried, these fish really enjoy pelleted meat-based dried foods>  the reason I am suspicious is a few web pages say I should feed him shrimp/snails to keep his teeth filed down. Is this true.. and will the pellets do that or do I need to buy the shrimp/snails?  <Hmm, well, they will/do "chew" on most any hard material in their environment to do the same... I wouldn't buy snails for this purpose, but neither would I "peel" other shelled foods> Do I need to do this when he is young.. guesstimating he is an inch in size. I rescued him from Wal-Mart and I'm sure he was fed primarily flakes in rancid water knowing them. He seems healthy in my opinion at this point but I do not have much experience with fish and disease. TTYL, James <As I say, please read over the BR puffer piece and FAQs posted on the WWM site... you need to know a few things about this animals desired water chemistry and temperament and... Bob Fenner>

Distressed Puffer  10/3/05 <Pufferpunk again> It's up and moving again now! <This does not necessarily mean it's ok.  I would still like you to answer the info I asked for in our previous correspondence.  Unless your puffer was just sleeping, it could be stressed by something off in your water.> We're feeding it frozen food such as brine shrimp, blood worms and Cyclops. <One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet. All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish. Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild. Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms, pieces of shrimp, scallops, etc. and small snails (the size of their eye). Snails are an essential food to a puffers diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails. I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies. I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed. Smaller puffers (under 2") need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week. Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded. Medium sized puffers (2-4") should be fed every other day. You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food! Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness.>   When we first got the F8 puffer, it got a milky white lining over its eye. This has cleared up but I'd like to find out what it is so we can avoid it in future. <This is called cloudy-eye, a bacterial infection of the eye, generally caused by poor water conditions.  Also, if your puffer isn't kept in brackish water, it will be prone to diseases.  Cloudy-eye can be quickly cleared up with water changes & Melafix.  50% weekly water changes are recommended for these messy eaters & high waste producers.  ~PP> Re: A few more questions, re F8 Puffer, adding FW fish 10/6/05 Hi again - I know I ask you guys a lot of questions, but I have a few more. Sorry. <That's what we're here for.> First off, my figure 8 puffer was healthy and eating two days ago. Last night, the power went off for a few hours and now he won't eat. His feces is pale, and the only thing I can think of is that maybe he got too cold. <I'd check to make sure his water quality is good.  Is he in a brackish tank?  Have you tried feeding him some yummy snails or shrimp?> Second, I have a 20 gal. housing a juvenile p.k. Gourami, 7 Neons, a baby platy and a mystery snail. I know the p.k. will get big, but he's small now.  Would you recommend getting any more fish, or would that be too much? I thought a gold Gourami or a Betta (my Gourami is peaceful) would be neat.  <I think you could put a few more fish in there, assuming your water quality is excellent now.  You're right.  The p.k. Gourami will need a bigger tank.  They grow pretty fast.  Gold Gouramis are often quite aggressive and will also need at least a 30 gallon tank; they can get to be about 5 inches.  Bettas are closely related to Gouramis and will almost inevitably fight with them.> Thank you for listening.  <Catherine>

Re: A few more puffer questions 10/7/05 Thank you for your advice. I've fed my puffer both foods you recommended, and he still refuses. I removed his light a day ago, and I'm going to try giving it back. He's gotten lighter in color, so I hope he snaps out of it.:(  <What is the salinity of his water?> I put a baby angel in my 20 today, and he's doing well. Everyone gets along.:)  <Angels are known to be aggressive. Most require more than 20 gallons when they get bigger.> Wish me luck. Yours, Ashley 

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