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FAQs about Green Spotted Puffer Behavior

Related Articles: Green Spotted Puffers, Alone But Not Lonely: The Importance of  Keeping Puffers Individually by Damien Wagaman, The Arrowhead Puffer, Tetraodon suvattii, miraculously malicious, Freshwater/Brackish PuffersTrue Puffers, Puffers in General, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes, Puffy & Mr. NastyPuffer Care and Information

Related FAQs: GSPs 1, GSPs 2, GSP Identification, GSP Compatibility, GSP Selection, GSP Systems, GSP Feeding, GSP Disease, GSP Reproduction, BR Puffers 1, BR Puffers 2, BR Puffers 3, BR Puffer Identification, BR Puffer Selection, BR Puffer Compatibility, BR Puffer Systems, BR Puffer Feeding, BR Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Reproduction, Brackish Water Fishes in General, Puffers in General, True Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes


Green Spotted Puffer... color change...      5/13/13
Hi, I have a 75 gal Brackish system with green spotted puffers. One of the fish I ordered from Aquabid.com and it arrived from Pet Zone San Diego with a large fungus behind its dorsal fin and was quarantined and treated. The fungus came off and after a few weeks I put him in the 75 gal. Now when Spot eats, his stomach ties black and the rest of his body gets very dark and his spots disappear. It seems that he is still sick. Ghost shrimp, snails and live red worms are his main diet. Any thoughts.
Sincerely: Steven
<It's not uncommon for GSPs to change colour somewhat, particularly to go darker than normal at times. If your GSP is otherwise normal, e.g., feeding properly, breathing normally, and shows no other signs of stress or damage, I'd not be overly concerned. You could, of course, try a Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone combo, as this is a pretty good approach for medicating fish with indistinct but definite signs of parasite infections, but if yours isn't obviously swollen, spotty, developing ulcers or defecating abnormally, then treatment may be a waste of money. Do try visiting the excellent ThePufferForum website. The guys and gals there are very helpful and knowledgeable. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Green Spotted Puffer     5/21/13

I tried what you suggested but unfortunately it was too late for spot. His stomach would turn as black as coal and his skin looked wrinkled like an old man. Not sure what he had but was shipped to me from Pet Zone of San Diego off Aquabid.com. Stay away from this store. The fish they sent me had a fungus and other internal problems and infected another fish before I
knew it had a fungus. I presume their store conditions are horrible and would not suggest shopping there!
Sincerely: Steven
<Sorry to hear about the bad ending to this tale. Does indeed sound like you've had a bad experience with this vendor; let's hope this isn't typical. Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotter Puffer antics   1/15/11
Hello this letter is directed to anyone with Green spotted Puffer experience.
<Fire away!>
I'm probably overreacting but better safe than sorry. I have one ~2.5 inches and he's in a 30 gallon tank filtered with a filter rated for 45 gallons, 200 gph. The heat is on 79 degrees. As of today (before his water change) the levels were as follows: Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate ~3-5ppm (I test at LEAST once a week if not 3 times for him and record the data on a spread sheet for all of my tanks so that I can monitor how taking fish out or adding them effects my levels as well as medications and such)
<No mention of salinity. Let's be crystal clear that maintaining GSPs in freshwater kills them, sooner or later. They really do need to be kept in brackish water, by which I mean at least SG 1.003, or at least 5 grammes marine aquarium salt mix per litre of water. Either use a hydrometer to measure specific gravity or else weigh out the salt carefully beforehand.
Schemes involve spoonfuls per gallon or whatever are inaccurate and generally provide far too little salt.>
I've been noticing something over the last few days that I want to check out. He's been (mostly in the mornings) his underbelly is turning black. I don't think he's sick. I feed him Beef heart once a week Blood worms 4 times a week and snails once on Mondays and then on Thursdays. He eats everything I put in there and eats it as soon as it hits the water (especially the snails). I feed enough that his belly is slightly rounded.
It seems though that when I first come into the room (the last couple of days) he'll be back at the back either chewing on the filter intake or chewing on his plastic plants (I found him buried in the sand this morning it's the cutest thing I think I've ever seen) and his belly is slightly black (less then 1/3 black I'd say a couple of splotches where his color meets the white of his belly on his side/underbelly). But when I've been in there a minute and he notices me he'll come up to the front and swim in the front of the tank near the glass and the color disappears. I then feed him and he seems as happy as can be for the rest of the day. But then it happened again this morning and more of him 1/3 or so was black. I watched him for a minute and fed him and the color disappeared. What's the deal?
<Black bellies on puffers tends to imply stress. Whether that's environmental or something else is hard to say. Because he's eating well and shows the normal colours when he's feeding, I wouldn't be overly worried that there's a disease aspect that needs dealing with quickly. Instead I'd focus on making sure that overall aquarium conditions are correct. Because you haven't said anything about maintaining this fish in brackish or marine conditions -- essential for proper, humane long-term care -- that's the aspect I'd recommend you review first.>
OH! and if it means anything at all when I was doing his water change today he was paying very close attention to the stuff being sucked up. If there was a speck of sand or plant or anything that was sucked up he tried to attack it through the tube. Then I guess my finger dipped into the water momentarily and he bit me... is that normal? I usually try to keep my hands out of his tank because I've seen what he can do to the plants and filter and even his rock decoration.
<Sounds normal.>
I looked through the puffer pages on this website and couldn't find anything that seemed to fit what mine is doing. I love my fish and I prefer to be proactive in their care to prevent stress and disease whenever possible instead of trying to fix problems after they occur. Thank you for your time and excellent advice. I look forward to a reply.
<Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Green Spotter Puffer antics   1/15/11
OH my goodness I left out salinity. That's on another chart since not all of my aquariums have salt. His salinity is maintained at 1.005.
<That's fine.>
It's tested 3 times a week with my hydrometer and then with a refractometer at my LFS on Fridays after I do water changes to make sure that I've put water back in the same salinity as it came out. It tested 1.005 after it went back in. I use Oceanic brand sea salt mix and plan to increase his salinity as he grows.
<Not strictly necessary, though many people do choose to do this, working their GSP up to fully marine conditions. Do note that this is more about keeping them in tanks with skimmers, live rock, and possibly marine companion fish such as Damsels. GSPs can remain perfectly healthy at a moderate salinity for their entire lives.>
He's 2.5 inches now and when he reaches three inches he'll be increased to 1.010 over a couple weeks and then at four inches to 1.20 and maintained that way. I have a little plastic cup I use to add salt to the tub labeled FISH ONLY (BRACKISH) so I don't accidentally introduce salt to my freshwater tanks.
<I wouldn't get paranoid about this. Even a whole teaspoon of salt would have zero impact on a freshwater aquarium. A few drops of brackish water? Even less!>
I make sure it's the same salinity as the water I'm adding it too and the same temp to keep from burning or freezing him since he likes to swim directly under the bucket as I'm pouring it in.
<Yes, they actively enjoy changing salinity. No need to be too precise about salinity of old and new water.>
The article you sent me was very informational and entertaining. I guess in my effort to ensure that I had everything in that letter I forgot the most important part! One final question: At what point does brackish become salt water?
<Well, marine fish can be kept at specific gravities as low as 1.018 in most cases, and keeping fish-only tanks at that low specific gravity was standard practise in the past. So that's perhaps the cut-off point.>
I know Brackish is at least 1.003 on the scale but what exactly does the lowest salinity salt water test? 1.020?
<I'd suggest 1.003 for planted brackish tanks, 1.005-1.010 for general brackish water communities. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Green Spotter Puffer antics   1/15/11
AH okay then! Thanks for the tip on salinity I'll raise him to 1.012 and keep it that way. Easier on my wallet anyhow. Especially since I'm starting a 50 gallon brackish tank for some Archer fish and a Violet Goby.
<Mixing these Gobies with GSPs can be risky, so do watch your little guy doesn't become too nippy.>
The separation of buckets is more about keeping freshwater out of my brackish tanks because of disease.
<A wise precaution, though most freshwater pathogens will quickly die in brackish water.>
Puffers are harder to treat so he gets his own set of stuff. I changed his surroundings and did a larger 35% water change and he's stopped becoming black in the mornings. I believe as he was growing so was his impact on the bioload as I've seen a rise in Nitrates from less 1ppm to 3-4 ppms
<Still very low; up to 20 mg/l shouldn't cause problems.>
so I increased to 35% and I haven't seen ammonia or nitrite and the nitrates are down where they should be again so I think his bioload was increasing and he didn't like the slightly dirty water. I don't think I
should do more than 40% water changes.
<I agree, keep water changes more manageable, 25% a week should be ample.
Better to cut back on feeding, and if necessary offer more low protein stuff such as peas and algae wafers (some puffers enjoy both of these).
From SG 1.010 at 25 C, you should find a skimmer works well enough to be useful, and a skimmer removes much protein from the water, reducing nitrate accumulation still further. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Green Spotter Puffer antics
I'll look into a protein skimmer because I can't get mine to eat anything but frozen foods and snails (that have been fed high quality algae wafers).
Do they get stressed when bored?
<Not really, but increasing the things for them to explore can be a plus.
In the wild puffers swim up and down vertical objects, so adding tall objects like big plastic plants and rocks can help a good deal. Also try hiding food inside easily-cleaned objects such as snails and bits of lava rock. But GSPs shouldn't get sick because they're bored, so do review other things, like water turnover rate (linked to oxygen concentration) and water chemistry.>
And my little killer kills the plastic plants and my pinky. The goby is going into a fifty gallon brackish I'm setting up. I'm afraid my blind dragon wouldn't last.
<GSPs can be nippy, so they're not obvious companions for Gobioides spp.
Cheers, Neale.>

Puffer fish seem down in dumps.   9/14/10
Hello there!
<Hello Selena,>
Like many others, when I bought my two Green Spotted Puffers, I was told that they were fresh water fish that 'may occasionally be aggressive'.
<Ha, ha, ha!>
They attacked my other fish, so I moved them to my spare tank. (15-20 gallons, I've had it for awhile and sadly can't remember exact size.) I know the tank is too small for them; I am buying a 55 gallon tank within the year.
<Cool. A good size for two specimens, and they're bound to bring you much pleasure once they grow up and adopt their puppy-like behaviour. There is a reason people persist with these sometimes demanding animals, and it's their personality.>
The reason I am not doing so sooner, is that both my puffers are only about 1-1 1/2 inches long.
<On the contrary, at least slightly brackish water would be very beneficial all around. No need for seawater to be sure, but about 10-15% seawater, i.e., about 3-5 grammes of marine salt per litre of water, would be perfect. Economical too.>
I came across this site a few months back when I first got my puffers. Right now they have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, and 7.5-8 pH level. I was going to start introducing them to salt water using Marine Salt, but since they are still tiny, I'm going to hold off.
<Don't hold off.>
Unless of course I shouldn't be holding off, in which case I'll start to introduce it them.
I have a Hydrometer ready for whenever I need to begin the change.
<3-5 grammes per litre will give you a specific gravity of 1.002 to 1.003 at 25 C/77 F.>
For now I have a piece of driftwood, one large rock and a small rock in the tank, along with one fake plant and a cave. I use sand for the bottom of tank since they lay on the bottom sometimes and I figured sand is a lot more comfortable them the gravel I used before.
<Indeed so. Some folks like to create a sort of marine/mangrove hybrid look with some soft sand on the bottom with 10-25% coral sand stirred in; some bogwood to recreate roots; and then things like sea fans, barnacle clusters, shells and lumps of rock to make things more interesting. Done right, the results can be amazing. You aren't aiming for a pseudo-reef tank look -- though by all means use plastic corals and fake seaweed for that if you want! -- but something more like a harbour or beach, like what you'd see walking along the wall of a marine in Florida. In fact I mention that because that's where I last watched wild pufferfish!>
I do a 50% water change once a week, and clean the sides of the tank and the decor every month. They often camp out under the large rock (I have it propped against the log as a lean-to,) or in the cave.
<Yes, they do like rocky reefs rather than caves. Puffers don't "hide" as such because predators generally leave them alone, but they do appreciate corners where they can sleep without being pushed about by water currents. Look at photos of mangrove swamps, oyster reefs, rocky reefs, and other such communities to get ideas of what you're going for.>
My puffers used to swim up and down the glass for hours on end nearly everyday. It was adorable.
<The "pacing" is what they do when less than happy. Sometimes its boredom, sometimes begging for food, and sometimes because they want to escape. A happy puffer will be alert and watching you. If you look at them in the wild, they swim across solid surfaces scanning every inch. Unlike most other fish they hunt entirely by sight, and they use their fantastic eyes to spot well-hidden prey that other fish can't see. I've written elsewhere that they're like helicopters whereas most other fish are planes. They move slowly, but with great agility and diligence. It's your job to give them something to do. Building tall, complex structures in the tank is great, especially if you hide food inside barnacle clusters or snail shells from time to time. Some folks use a lump of tufa rock as a "feeding stone" into which they press bits of seafood. The puffers bite at the rock, and once they're done, you can remove the rock and clean out anything left behind. This also helps them wear down their teeth.>
After the first 2-3 weeks, Dotty and Splotchy established dominance. Dotty is the alpha and has gorged himself to remain larger than Splotchy.
Splotchy now turns his belly dark at feeding, which I now know is a sign of submission towards Dotty. (I was concerned about his dark belly, but my LFS told me he turned dark so he wouldn't look like a threat.)
<Well, better to say that stressed fish turn dark, and that indicates to the dominant fish that the weaker one is less of a threat.>
I feed them dried krill, 'garbage/freebie' snails, bloodworms and occasionally 2-4 White Clouds.
<Do not use live feeder fish. Minnows in particular contain thiaminase and fat, two things you want to keep out. If you want to give them live food, try woodlice, earthworms, river shrimp and/or crayfish depending on the size of your puffers. But mostly use thiaminase-free seafood, for example tilapia fillet and cockles. Snails are good too. Minimise the use of seafood that contains thiaminase to about 25% their diet, i.e., things like mussels, shrimp and prawns.>
I feed them once a day, usually at 6 ish as I was told they like to eat midday-night. Just three days ago I gave them a dried block of Tubifex worms for dinner. They wouldn't eat it all, so I took it out and gave them some krill instead. They barely took notice! I thought at first they may have been upset with me for them food they didn't like, but they have barely touched any food at all afterwards. They've been sitting under the log, rock or cave all day since, no longer swimming up and down the glass, barely moving and hardly eating. I was very upset and my grandparents are concerned that maybe they were allergic?
<No. Instead, don't feed them for a few days. Also check water quality and water chemistry. My bet is that if you do a 25% water change, replacing the old water with brackish water as described above, they'll pep up.>
I know other puffers eat Tubifex worms, so I decided to ask you guys for your advice. Is it an allergy or did they just really not like the worms?
<May not like them. It's completely normal for puffers to skip meals, and in fact many people recommend not feeding predatory fish every day. That may be overkill, but still, carnivorous fish can, do go without food for weeks at a time in the wild.>
I read on the site earlier that if they stop eating to feed them their favorite food, (bloodworms and plankton mix it is!) and just that not even half hour ago. They came out, and now both are white bellied and swimming again. Yay! I'm concerned though that they may go back to being depressed/sick
<As I say, most likely environmental.>
Any advice you have, or extra tid-bits of information would be greatly appreciated. I love Splotchy and Dotty very much and I look forward to having them for years to come.
Thank you so much,
<They are fantastic fish. I'm sure yours will do well. Cheers, Neale.><<Outstanding as usual. B>>
Re: Puffer fish seem down in dumps.   9/15/10

Dear Neale or whoever may be working tonight,
<It's Neale at 10AM, BST.>
I didn't know the pacing was boredom/unhappiness... Lots of other sites told me it was what they do when they are happy, but I trust you guys.
<Pufferfish are certainly active fish, and do swim about a lot when happy.
But there's a subtle difference between swimming at the front watching you and begging for food, compared to swimming back and forth along the front glass because they feel trapped.>
They do greet both me and my Gramma, which is a good sign.
<Indeed it is. These fish are quite intelligent, and the behaviours that allow them to spot hidden food on reefs and mangroves also enables them to identify potential sources of tasty treats, like you and your
grandmother.><<?! Heeee, "eats bushes and leaves". B>>
The thing with Splotchy and his dark belly; I know dark bellies mean they are stressed (or sick,) but Dotty never catches him around, and he only turns dark at feedings, afterwards he goes back to being pure white.
I've only given them White Clouds twice, but I won't anymore.
<Very good. Their natural diet includes invertebrates, fish fins and scales, and a certain amount of plant material. I'd try a variety of things: unshelled shrimp, mussels, clams, tilapia fillet, squid, krill,
algae wafers, cooked peas, earthworms and snails.>
I have a 70 gallon filter going atm, I know it is much to big,
<Not at all.>
but the LFS told me a tank can never be filtered much. Is this true? (I forgot to ask last time.)
<With pufferfish you want a turnover rate of at least 6 times the volume of the tank, and ideally 8 times. So for a 55 gallon tank, you're after a filter rated at 330 to 440 gallons per hour. This will be written on the
filter somewhere.>
I had the normal 20 gallon filter before, but it was old and crashed on me when I was on vacation. (Give my Gramma quite the fright!) So I had to buy a new filter but the only sizes they had were 10, 15, 20, & 70. I was shocked at how much they were missing, but got the 70 just because I was told by many sites to get a filter that cleans double the amount of water in the tank. E.g. 20 gallon tank, 40 gallon filter.
<Something like that. Puffers certainly need excellent water quality. When filters are sold as "suitable for 20 gallons" what they actually mean is "suitable for 20 gallons lightly stocked with small, neon tetra-sized
fishes". This is why the gallons per hour rating is useful; it gives you a much closer handle on what sort of filtration you need. Turnover rates of 4 times the volume of the tank per hour are fine for small fish, but you want 6 or 8 or even 10 times for bigger, messier, or more demanding fish species.>
I'm going to start swapping out decor and changing it up every couple weeks to give them new places to explore.
<Good plan.>
After reading a post last night about decor changes, I gave it a try and they seemed happier. (It wasn't a big one, but they liked it.)
<Certainly the more three-dimensional their habitat, the happier puffers will be. They like swimming over objects using their mobile eyes to hunt for prey.>
I also noticed that after the Tubifex worm event, both Puffers had fluff looking things on their bellies, but after closer inspection, it turned out to be just the sand they were laying on.
<Yes, sand often sticks to the mucous.>
Do you think that the sand staying on them is a bad thing?
<Not really. Fish produce mucous all the time, but if they produce a lot, e.g., you see grey patches on their bodies, that can imply they're irritated by something in the water, or they're infected with a "Slime Disease" parasite such as Costia. Fortunately, brackish water helps alleviate both these problems, so shouldn't be an issue in the long term.>
(It's only happened a few times so far, but I am paranoid about my dear puffers.)
<Don't be paranoid. These fish are really very hardy. But do be aware of the things that can go wrong, and keep an eye open for early-warning signs like odd colours, strange amounts of mucous, unnatural behaviour.>
I'm going to start increasing their salt water level, but gradually. I have a question about this; When is the best time do add the salt since I do the weekly water changes?
<Add the salt at least 20 minutes before you add the water to the tank.
Stir the salt in well and leave it sit. Just before you add it to the tank, stir it again. That's it! Easy-peasey.>
I'm guessing the same day as the water change, but our water here is really high in Chlorine and Ammonia, so I always add Prime to the water during a water change. Will the Prime effect the salt?
<Nope, it's perfectly safe to mix them.>
If so, should I wait a day before adding the salt?
<No need. Twenty minutes should do the trick.>
Both Splotchy and Dotty are still acting glum, so I will try not feeding then for a few days as you suggested.
<Should do the trick.>
I really appreciate all the pointers and advance! Pretty much every other site that I found besides this one has been telling me all the wrong things.
<I'm sorry to hear you've had some problems getting the facts. Glad you found us though!>
Like to feed them live food and to only have the bare minimum for decor.
<Do be careful with live food. Once fish get addicted to them, it can be hard switching them off. Plus, during vacations or when your budget is tight, there will be times when wet-frozen foods are best. Thiaminase-free wet-frozen foods make the best staples: tilapia, cockles, smelt.
Thiaminase-rich foods can be safely used a couple times per week: mussels, shrimps, prawns.>
(I was really bothered when I found out they love to explore the tank and need to have lots of plants and hiding places.) Also, the tip about draining the juices after defrosting frozen foods... Thank you guys soo
much for that one! The juice stank like crazy and bothered me to no ends.
I've found so much on this site that no others have told me, and for that I'm extremely grateful.
Thanks again,
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Green spotted puffer... beh., fdg., hlth... reading  8/14/10
About 3 months ago I purchased a green spotted puffer.
<Ah yes, a lovely brackish to marine species. Unfortunately sold as a freshwater fish by some retailers.>
He is in a 20 gal tank and has no tankmates at this time.
<Not a community fish anyway, and best kept alone or with its own kind.>
About a week ago I opened a new package of bloodworms and noticed he was not eating them. The store got in a different brand. I am not sure if that has anything to do with my issues or not?.
<Possibly; when puffers refuse food, it's a good sign they're stressed. Healthy specimens will eat most meaty foods with gusto!>
yesterday I noticed that he is as round as a basketball. I didn't think anything of it at the time and thought maybe he finally decided to eat. However today he seems to be a little bigger and I decided that it wasn't because he ate the bloodworms (looks more solid)...water checks out just fine and the temp is steady. He does swim some but also spends a lot of time laying on the bottom of the tank....I did put some small snails in his tanks a few days ago and I am not seeing them in there....up until a couple days ago he was very active and bright green and white now he is puffed up sluggish and slightly black.....could it be he just ate the snails and it takes longer for those to digest?.....Thank you for your help....Tammy D.
<The black colour is also alarming, as is the lethargy. My guess is you're keeping him in freshwater, or something close -- a "pinch" of salt per gallon doesn't count as brackish water! He will also need a bigger tank once more than a couple of inches long, I'd say 40 gallons for specimens 3-4 inches long, and 55 gallons for adults. Do understand this species needs brackish water, at least SG 1.005, i.e., about 9 grammes marine salt mix per litre of water, about 1.2 oz per US gallon. Tonic salt won't do, and his lifespan in freshwater will be short. Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Just a simple question. GSP growth  6/23/10
Hi there,
I've had my GSP for about 3 months now and I'm tired of reading through conflicting information available on the internet about the fish, and I'm told you might be able to help.
<Oh noes!>
So basically I'm wondering if you or any other site has ever published a link with information regarding the GSP growth cycle?
<In terms of growth rate or maximum size?>
I am after reading that the fish can grow to be anywhere between 4 to 8 inches depending on which site you read, and I'm after reading complaints from several people about stunted growth in their puffer.
<Ah, I see. The biggest specimens can be about 15 cm/6 inches long in terms of "standard length", that is, the distance between the nose and the end of the caudal peduncle. Some aquarists also include the tail fin in their
measurements of length, which scientists don't, so likely fish that are reported as being above 15 cm/6 inches in length are simply specimens that weren't measured in the same way. In any case, a big specimen will have a body about the size of a man's hand, with the tail fin on top of that. On the other hand, some specimens never get so big, and really anything between 10-15 cm/4-6 inches would be "normal".>
At this point, I haven't noticed any growth in my puffer really and I'm wondering if their just slow growers?
<Can easily be, though it does depend on how big your specimen is. If you bought a tiddler an inch long, he should be 2-3 inches within a year.
Growth slows down a lot after that, but should be about adult size within three years.>
I guess mostly what I'm looking for is to find out if theirs a way to age my fish and how big he's really going to get.
<You can age fish -- but it requires digging their ear bones out! So no, you really can't do this with pet fish.>
Everyone will say a number as the max size of the fish but no one says how long it takes for him to get that big.
<A lot will depend on temperature, salinity, the nature of its diet, and various other factors. Also, do be open minded about the fact you might not have a GSP! Figure-8 puffers and South American puffers can look very similar, but are much smaller.>
Any help you could possibly offer would be greatly appreciated.
Thankfully, Perry
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Just a simple question, ID 6/23/10
HI again,
Thanks Neale for the quick response.
<No problem.>
I appreciate the help it actually cleared quite a bit up for me.
I was fairly certain that my puffer is a GSP but I never heard of the South American puffer. I will definitely have to look that one up.
Any suggestions on how to tell for sure that my puffer is actually a GSP?
<Figure-8 puffers have two eye-spots on each flank (forget about trying to see the "figure 8" on the back as that's not always there, and some GSPs have this too!). One eye-spot is close to the base of the tail, and the other slightly forward and up, close to the base of the dorsal fin. The South American puffer has bee-like bands of green and black, as well as a distinctive black ring going around the base of the tail.>
From the pictures I have seen I am pretty sure that he is but I wouldn't say that I am 100% certain. Thanks again.
<By all means send along a photo, no larger than 500 KB please.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

GSP Issues, beh., comp.   7/16/09
Hi WWM Folks!
I have a Green Spotted Puffer issue. I have two GSPs (one is 2" and the other is 2.5") The have been together (alone, no other tank mates) peacefully in a 10g aquarium for the last 6 months.
<I see... they must be getting pretty big by now.>
Because I love my fish, 3 months ago, I began prepping a 150g marine tank for them as I knew from reading on this site that they would need lots of space.
<Indeed; 50-odd gallons for two specimens seems to be the going rate. Does depend on the fish, with some GSPs (perhaps mature males?) being more aggressive and intolerant than others.>
I have been cycling this big tank with a dozen or so 1-2" mollies (also doing very well) for a few months and the numbers look great. I gradually increased the GSP's 10g tank to 1.020 over months of water changes and the GSP seem to be thriving and getting along fine. No chasing, no tail bending, no dark colors, just peace and quiet.
So, two weeks ago I moved the little buggers over to their new 150g salt tank (1.020 also) to stretch out and enjoy their new vast playground, lovingly designed just for them, complete with lots of sand, crevices, holes, caves, and plastic plant hiding places, etc. To my complete shock, they can't stand each other now!
<Unfortunately, quite a normal reaction. There's a theory called "Dear Enemy" that says territory holding animals tolerate familiar neighbours because they are perceived as less of a threat, since everyone already has a territory, there's nothing worth fighting over. But an unfamiliar animal is worth being hostile towards because it might not have a territory and may well be more of a threat in terms of access to females or resources. This has been studied with various animals including fish, and seems to explain things like why cichlids in fish tanks tolerate one another when they're brought up together, but if a new fish of the same species is added, everyone attacks it. Just so in your case with the GSPs: In the 10 gallon tank, everyone matured together, and the size of the tank probably made it difficult for any one fish to establish its territory completely securely anyway. So a certain level of tolerance existed. In the bigger tank, the two GSPs were now "strangers in a strange land" and immediately set about staking their claims to territories. They were no longer Dear Enemies but rivals, and while you might hope they'd recognise one another, for territory-holding animals it is probably true that the individual and his territory are one and the same thing, so even if it's the same two fish, with two new territories in place, they're effectively strangers. Male GSPs defend the eggs and the fry until they're free swimming, so you can fully expect cichlid-like behaviours from them.>
Neither one of them seems to give a hoot about the herd of mollies zipping about. The larger puffer spends all day stocking the smaller puffer and the smaller puffer spends all day trying to elude the larger puffer, spending most of his day hiding in the rocks. The smaller puffer even tries to hide in the school of mollies only to be singled out and chased around mercilessly again and again. GSP seem to be a very visual hunter because the mean big guy can spot the shy little guy no matter where he hides. Will this work out??
<Wouldn't bank on it; you could try adding a third specimen to break the dynamic, and prevent any one fish from being bullied constantly.>
It has been two weeks with no change. Also, when he is not chasing the smaller puffer, the large puffer spends a lot of time swimming up and down back of tank as though bored or stressed even though there is a plethora of stimulating tank décor and no one bothering him. Both have great color and seem physically plump and healthy, in fact seem to be growing larger exponentially over just the last two weeks!
<Often happens when moved from a too-small tank to a good sized one.>
Could the higher salinity cause more aggressive behavior in these GSP?
<More to do with sexual maturity. I'm not a huge fan of keeping GSPs in fully marine conditions, though I admit many people do; realistically, anything around SG 1.010 is ample, and perhaps optimal, given that there really aren't *marine fish* as such.>
Is 150g too big?
Is it too small for 12 mollies and two small puffers??
<Plenty of space for them, and perhaps one or two more GSPs if you wanted to add them.>
Should I let them duke it out? May the best puffer prevail?? Please advise!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer - color change 8/20/08 Hello. <Hello!> About 1 month ago I bought 2 'GSP' from Wal-Mart. We had purchased from Pet Smart a dwarf puffer 3 months earlier and were under the assumption they were a younger version of the GSP. So we treated the 2 new GSP like we were treating our dwarf (which has now passed on). What I mean by this is that we thought they were freshwater fish. So for a month now they have been in freshwater without a hint of salt. I was not aware they needed it until tonight as I reviewed your site. (and a lovely site it is) <Thanks!> So, naturally, I was brought to your site to try to figure out what is going on with one of the GSP. They both were aggressive enough to demolish a 2" catfish" and a 13" plecostomus. But that was last week. This week they are not eating and one looks like its turning black but not on the center of its belly. Around the puffers belly and its back. He seems to be bumping into things. I've attached a picture to show the coloring. He has been this way for about 4 days, gradually getting worse. <Sounds like water parameters.> I've checked the water levels in my 55 gal tank- ph 8.0, Alk low-normal, ammonia 0, nitrite 0-0.05. I was unable to check nitrate since I was out of testing supplies. I moved the tank about 25 miles into our new home about 3 days ago. This gave a huge water change. Are you able to give me an idea of what is happening to this fish and if it is harmful to the other fish (well, the fish in question too). Any recommendations will be appreciated. <Since you have moved your tank the puffers are possibly suffering from stress. Puffers will change their colors depending on their moods, like a swimming moon ring. You water parameters are fine, but I do see a problem. As you mentioned these fish are brackish and require salt in their water. Juveniles (<2") should have a specific gravity of 1.005 - .008 while adults (<2-4") have a specific gravity of 1.010 - .015. Watch your puffers over a few days and if their color doesn't return, they are either suffering from not being in brackish water (which you will encounter if you do not eventually switch them) or the onset of disease. Here is a helpful link about brackish water tanks and GSP: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i6/lonely_puffer/lonely_puffer.htm , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracsystems.htm > Thank you! <You are welcome!> Ryann <Merritt A.>

Green Spotted Puffer, beh./hlth.  2-12-08 Hi <Yunachin here.> I am new to aquariums but on the advice of a local centre bought a green spotted puffer to go in my aquarium. <What size tank? Tankmates?> I have salted the water <What kind of salt? How much? Did you use a hydrometer or refractometer to check your specific gravity?> but have noticed that the white underside of the fish has become discolored ( grayish) especially after feeding. Is this something I should be concerned about? <This is a sign of stress indeed. Can you please send me the parameters of your tank (ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, ph, how long the tank has been running, along with the answers to the above questions I asked.> Blessings <Youre welcome, --Yunachin> Steve

GSP Question, beh.  10/29/07 I've mailed you before as seen in the conversation below. I have been told numerous times that you will rarely see your GSP puff. I've had mine for a few months now and he's been doing just fine. I keep him at my office, so over the weekend he's alone... I'll throw a crab or some ghost shrimp in before I leave to make sure he is set before I take off on Friday. This last Friday, I forgot to turn his light off. Unfortunately, that caused his normally clear tank to sprout algae where it never has before. When I came in this morning he took one look at me and blew up into a huge ball! After he deflated he just stared at me like he was pissed off... could he be just annoyed at the algae? There really isn't THAT much of it...but that's the only thing that's changed. Is that normal? Help? (Thank you!) -Ashley <Hello Ashley. Every Puffer fish is different. That's part of the fun of keeping them. Anyway, Puffer fish sometimes do puff up for no apparent reason. Some people think they need to "practice" to keep the skin and muscles involved working properly. Others think they puff up to convey feelings, such as annoyance or aggression. I have five puffers across two species, and the only one that ever puffs up is the male Carinotetraodon irrubesco, and he only partially puffs up, apparently trying to scare away his reflection in the glass. He can spend an hour at a time puffing himself up and slowly swimming up and down the back of the tank So the short answer is, don't read too much into your Puffer puffing. It's what Puffer fish sometimes do. Watch what happens and enjoy. And no, algae won't harm your Puffer fish, assuming the tank is otherwise clean and healthy. Cheers, Neale>

Stunted GSPs 8/16/16 <Hi Samantha, Pufferpunk here> I have 6 GSPs. 2 of them are huge, about 5 in or more, the others grew a bit but they are tiny and never grew anymore! I have had them for almost 4 years now (I rescued them all from neglectful pet stores around here). <Rescuing fish is not always the best idea. They'll just see how well they are selling & take more of them from the wild to restock & kill. Sometimes it's better to have a few die in a shop, so they realize it isn't a profitable fish to sell & they will discontinue stocking them.> Do you think the lack of proper care stunted there growth that much? <Possibly but I'd need to know the size tank they are in, what you have been feeding them, what are the water parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH & SG), what is their water change schedule?> The largest of the 4 small ones is 2 1/2in. He has been that size for 2 years. The others are smaller and have also not grown, while the other 2 continue to grow still. They all look like GSPs. Could they be different, not GSPs? <If they all look the same, then they are all, most likely, GSPs.> Let me know when you get a chance. I know you are probly bombed with questions all the time. <No problem! Please answer all the above questions & look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm ~PP> Ty Samantha

Green Spotted Pufferfish Dentistry 8/10/07 Hi, <Hi Samantha, Pufferpunk here> I have a dwarf green spotted puffer his teeth are grown together, it has gotten to the point he can no longer eat! <What do you mean by "dwarf"? GSPs aren't a dwarf species. They actually grow quite large--6" not including their tail.> I feed snails, oysters, blood worms, crab, shell on shrimp and lobster sometimes. <All good, crunchy foods.> I am to the point of catching him and filing his teeth down but I am afraid the shock would kill him. is there anything I can do ?? <See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/smpufferdentistry.htm Also: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm and: www.thepufferforum.com Good luck! ~PP> Thanks, Samantha

New Puffer Owner... GSP... beh., sys  6/17/07 Hi, <Hi Maria, Pufferpunk here> I'm a beginning aquarist (freshwater) and I just bought a Green Spotted Puffer (from Wal-Mart, unfortunately). He's been acting curious and just exploring the tank for the last few days, but he's just started sort of resting on one of the rocks. <Are you aware he isn't a freshwater puffer? I hope you didn't add him in with your other fish! They can be quite aggressive, nipping fins & ripping flesh off the bodies of it's tank mates.> The tank was jolted yesterday and he became lodged in a cave. I gently freed him but he does seem to have a scrape near his tail. If anything gets near him, he does swim around but mostly stays on top of the rock. Is it normal for him to rest that way? He seems healthy otherwise. <GSPs are fairly active fish, although they do rest at times too. It would help to know the stats of the tank. Size, tank mates, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH & if there is any salt in there, how much & what kind.> Thank you, and I hope the news isn't too bad. (He's adorable and I love him.) <Aren't puffers the cutest?! Check out this article on them for more info: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm Also, check out www.thepufferfourm.com. ~PP> Maria

Projectile Puffer  4/11/07 Hello, <Hi Kat, Pufferpunk here> As a random background note, I work at PetSmart (yes, I know, but I mostly know my stuff). Today, I did exactly what I tell every customer I get not to do. I bought a fish without doing my research first. He/She/It was sold to me as a figure eight puffer, but I'm pretty sure he is in fact a green spotted sort. Here's my issue. I acclimated him and got him settled into my 125g tank and went on my way to work, and 5ish hours later, I get home and can find not a single sign that he ever existed in my tank! Do they have a habit of jumping out? (I forgot to put the top glass on my tank before I left) <Puffers are adept jumpers.  I'm pretty sure he's on the floor somewhere.> Could he have burrowed into the gravel? <Nope, GSPs are not burrowers.> There are some plants but I haven't acquired all of my decor yet. If he's in there, I'm kind of desperate to find him so I can relocate him ASAP (I have a spare 47 gallon corner tank that I can create as a BW environment for him if I need to but I don't want to waste the money if he's gone). I got parasite snails and ghost shrimp and shrimp pellets and frozen brine shrimp to see what he liked best to eat but not even food seems to be able to tempt him out of [possible] hiding. What do you think? <Look around, it may not be too late to save him.  If he's damp, try swishing him back & forth in the water to get oxygen over his gills. Go to www.thepufferforum.com for more info, especially in their Library.  ~PP> Thanks, Kat

GSP Growth Rate  11/7/06 Thanks for getting  back to me, I actually have read that article   over many times... "I suggest keeping GSPs at low-end BW when juvenile <2", (in a   specific gravity, or SG of 1.005-08), at 2-4", medium BW (SG   1.010-15) and adult >4" SW (SG 1.018-22). You must use marine salt. You will need a hydrometer to measure the salinity. It takes a cup of salt/5 gal of water to raise the SG .005. If the puffer you purchase is in FW at the store, then you should start out your tank in FW and raise the SG .002/week," I am pretty sure that I do understand the process but I am just needing to know exactly how long it will take for my lil' puff to grow to his 6" adult size? <I can only tell you from the experience I've had with mine--they grew from 2-6" within 2 years.  It really isn't an exact science, as these fish swim up & down the brackish streams, back & forth between different SGs, eventually ending up in the ocean.  You might want to go to www.thepufferforum.com & search threads there, for more opinions on growth.  Also, please keep in mind, that "cup of salt/5 gal" is just a rough estimate.>   I'm sure you're constantly being bogged down with questions considering there's 100's of LFS's selling these fish as "easy to care for freshwater fish".   <Yes, especially Wal-Mart!  Ugggghhh!!!> I just want to make sure that I know what to expect time wise... Your further help would be appreciated.  Oh also I am currently setting up a 39 gallon tank for him and I want to use Black Tahitian Moon Sand... how would this effect my pH level?  Thank you so much for your informative articles! <That sand is fine but I'm not sure you'll really be happy about how dark your puffer will be, trying to match it's surroundings.  Since I've never used it, another good question for The Puffer Forum.  I believe some folks there do use the black sand you're interested in.  ~PP> ~ChestersMom

Dark GSP  10/12/06 Howdy, dear WWM crew~~ <Hi Linda , Pufferpunk here> I have read and re-read your posts on this issue with GSPs but after checking on all possible problematic causes for dark blotches on my GSP, I still can't come up with the culprit.  Help!!  I'll try to be as detailed as possible. First, the background:  I am the owner of a beloved GSP (Puffy) who is presently about an inch and a half in length.  My LFS sold him to me as a 'leopard puffer' about a month and a half ago and until about two weeks ago he was a very healthy fellow.  His colors were fairly light olive with very dark spots (on his back) when I purchased him but he has started showing dark grey/black blotches along his tummy where the white meets the color of his sides, with an occasional tiny black spot where a belly button might be in the middle of his underbelly and his overall coloration has turned a dull muddy brown on his back, still with a bright green spot on his 'forehead', his sides are whitening/bleaching out and his spots fade in and out during the day. Puffy is presently in a 10 gal. tank awaiting his impending move to a 55 gal. brackish water tank I am setting up for him as quickly as I can manage it.  He is housed with 4 platies I have had only for a couple of days who will also make a move with him to the BW tank.  The platies are healthy and all doing fine in the tank, and there is no competition/aggression.   <If you value the platies lives at all, you will remove them.  The puffer will kill them, no doubt.  Also they will not appreciate the higher salinity needed for the puffer.> As Puffy was sold to me in FW, I have kept him in FW until last week (before platies arrived), when I began to acclimate him to a low specific gravity of 1.004-1.007 (presently at 1.004, using Ocean Marine Salt), thinking that perhaps the FW was the reason he was darkening.   <Could be.  They are best kept at mid-range BW (1.008-12) when young & brought up towards marine conditions as adults.  I wouldn't raise the SG more than .002 weekly, as not to disturb biological filtration.> I have had a terrible time keeping the 10 gal. tank gravel clean but have been performing water changes of 50-75%, while vacuuming the gravel once or twice weekly as necessary, to keep the grunge down.  (I am considering logging into some forums for good advice on how to clean it better since I cannot get out the floaties in the water that re-settle on the gravel after I have vacuumed!   I feel I am already changing out as much of the water as I dare to get the grunge!)   <A better filter/larger tank will help.  Are you possibly overfeeding?> I know I have too many nutrients in the tank because I have had some difficulties with hair algae and brown algae growing and I am trying to limit the lighting.  I also upped my 20-30 gal. filter to a 50 gal. filter for extra filtration.  Puffy is only being fed 1 time a day and he gets either a defrosted square of bloodworms, a small amount of dried krill, defrosted square of brine shrimp or a pond snail whenever I can get one (I'm also having trouble finding them for sale, and my LFS is stingy on freebies, so I have 2 common pond snails in a 2 gal. tank and am hoping to breed my own). <Are you dumping out the water you are defrosting the cubes in through a brine shrimp net?  The "juice" that they are packed in aren't good for your water & can cause problems.   Here's a better diet for your puffer: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html > Water parameters are okay as far as I can tell:  Ammonia is at .5 (I've never been able to get it to drop to 0, no matter what and I started cycling this tank in July according to exact instructions!), <Again, maybe from overfeeding.  Test your tap water to be sure.  Any ammonia is not "OK" as far as parameters go.  Another cause of your puffer's dark coloration.> Nitrite 0; Nitrate <20; Hardness 150; Total Alkalinity 100; Ph 7.8 and am not using any additives other than Ammo-Lock to neutralize ammonia in water changes, along with Stress Coat for the chlorine/chloramines neutralizer. <Better, would be to use Prime.>    Now the question:  What else can I do to help this poor GSP?  He has been continuing to eat, but doesn't seem to be very happy - he runs up and down the tank sides (probably because he is bored or the tank is too small) <Correct on both.> or just mulls around the bottom of his tank and his tail fin isn't opened up.  I have tried to be careful not to ruin my tank's biological base when doing the water changes/change of equipment, and I honestly don't think it's the water quality but if not, what is it?  If it is the size of his 10 gal. tank, well then, all I have to do is paint the wall behind his 55 gal. tank before finalizing set-up.  I have it outfitted with marine sand (shell) as a base, with two 50 gal. BioWheel filters, two heaters, heavily planted with plastic plants and as soon as I can fill it, I'll use live sand to kick start the cycling, with seeded filters from my other 55 gal FW tank, and a couple of live rocks.  Am I missing anything?  Would I be better off using Bio-Spira?  Any advice from you is extremely welcome, as I revere your expertise! <Bio-Spira is always helpful when cycling but you could also just move the filter over from your present tank for a month, while the new ones mature (along with the fish).  With just 1 small puffer in a 55g tank, that should be enough bacteria in that filter to support the fish.   More GSP info: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm Also visit: http://www.thepufferforum.com    Good luck with Puffy, he will love that big tank!  Don't be in a hurry to stock it with a lot of other fish.  ~PP> Thanks~~ Linda W.

Bored Puffer  9/29/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a green spotted pufferfish (about 2") in a 55 gallon reef tank.  He constantly swims up and down on one side of the tank, rubbing his face along the side.  The rubbing is causing a lesion under his mouth.  His color is bright, his belly is white and he's eating well and active.  I recently put a mirror in his tank to entertain him because I thought he might be bored.  Is there another reason for this behavior or are there any other tricks I can try?  Also, how should I feed him snails?  I drop them in the tank but he doesn't see them.  Is there a trick to that too? <Has this started since you added the mirror?  If yes, then take it out.  Does the puffer have any tank mates?  Are they bothering him?  Puffers really don't need other fish to keep them company.  I think he could be bored. How heavily decorated is his tank?  They need a ton of decor to explore to keep themselves occupied.   Here is my 55g GSP tank: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/Pufferpunk/Pufferpics/55gGSPTank.jpg   Here is an excellent article on feeding your puffer: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html Check out that website for more info on your puffer.  I think the lesion will heal on it's own, as soon as he stops pacing the glass but if you turn off you skimmer for a week & add Melafix, it will heal faster.  ~PP>

-GSP Floating-   9/4/06 <Justin with you tonight> I just bought a Green Spotted Puffer.  I have him in a small tank with a Dalmatian molly and an upside-down catfish.  This is a temporary set-up.  I have been making daily water changes and I am trying to keep this as a brackish tank.   <Ok, but what kind of water was the puffer in when you bought him,  Rapidly converting it to BW from FW can be deadly, and most fish stores keep these puffers in fresh water (FW).> The puffer was active at the pet store.  He did fine in the bag on the ride home.  When I put him in the tank, he checked out the molly and chased the catfish.  Now he is floating at the top of the tank and there is no movement.   When I lightly touch him on the head, he starts moving and swims around for a while.  I watched him again while he is in this floating state.  I see no gills moving, no mouth movement, then the eyes moved. <Sounds like a bad acclimation, and or something really off in your tank.  Please find out what salinity the puffer was in at the store, and also have your water tested and reply back with both as well as the size of the tank etc.  I cannot really help you that much other than to say keep doing water changes and give it time, it will either live or die, by how stressed it is, and how clean the water is.> Being new to this fish, I do not know if this is normal behavior or if there is something wrong that needs to be corrected.  I have tried looking through your site, but had not found any similar questions. ~Stacy <Please answer the questions above and reply back, will be glad to help more as this is NOT normal behavior for a puffer.  very active and aggressive hunter/seekers whom always explore the tank etc.> <Justin>

GSP question regarding black belly coloration  6/19/06 <Hi Suzie, Pufferpunk here> A 1 1/2" Green Spotted Pufferfish came to live with us a month ago. <How fun!> The 10 gallon, 2 15 watt compact fluorescent bulbs, cycled tank that he lives in was originally freshwater. After research we have acclimated it to a brackish tank (increasing specific gravity by 0.002 over three separate 25% water changes in the last three weeks to 1.006). Original values: 20 Nitrate, 0 Nitrite, 75 GH, 80 kH, 7.8 pH, 80 deg F, 0 Ammonia. Current values since the increased salinity: 20-40 Nitrate (water changes done when 40 to bring down to 20), 0 Nitrite, 300 GH, 120 kH, 7.8 pH, 0 Ammonia. The GSP lives with 1 Black Synodontis catfish and three zebra danios- no current aggression between species. There is one live plant, a few fake plants, a driftwood piece, a fake hidey log for the catfish, an airstone, and gravel in the tank (do you recommend sandy bottoms for GSPs?) <The live plants will not fair well in BW, especially as you bring the puffer towards marine conditions as it gets older.  By then he will need a 30g tank minimum, as he grows to 6" & likes lots of swimming room.  The catfish will really hate even the amount of salt you have in there now & danios aren't BW fish either.  I recommend a substrate of aragonite or crushed coral, to maintain the pH around a steady 8.> The GSP eats well (ghost shrimp, mussels, and bloodworms- soon young snails) and rests after a meal but is otherwise active and curious. He does get the "light area" on his "forehead" that I have read on this site to be attributed with a "happy"/non-stressed pufferfish. The other fish do not have any new coloration or exhibit any unusual behavior. I am concerned because the sides of his belly turn dark black during the day. These black areas have tiny black spots encroaching on his white belly.  It is primarily complete areas that are black, not just spotty. They go from under his chin to his tail but do not cover his belly entirely. I have read about stress lines, black chin, black spot disease (which I don't believe it is), and nitrate toxicity. He doesn't act stressed, as he is inquisitive and doesn't swim up and down the glass. He eats well and he interacts well with other fish (so far...  I understand their aggressive nature). I initially believed that this black area did not get lighter, but in the past couple of days I have noticed that once lights are out in the tank his belly appears entirely white, including on sides.  In other words, the black disappears. Sometimes the belly sides are light grey at this time. How is this coloration change related to night? Is the black coloration from him blending in with the black tank lid? Is he more stressed during the day? If so, from what? Should I be concerned about this coloration? Should I change anything about the current water parameters or water changes?  I have looked on many sites for information regarding this and the care of GSPs but I respect your opinion and hope to hear from you soon. Thank you for your insight!!! <You're puffer sounds perfectly healthy.  Many change colors often.  As long as it goes back to white at night (even some healthy puffers appear black all the time), the water parameters are good, it's swimming & eating, I wouldn't worry.  Check out this article on them at WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  & other articles in the Library at www.thepufferforum.com.  Feel free to post there too!  ~PP> Suzie

Green Spotted Puffers in Trouble - 3/6/2006 I currently have two Leopard Puffer fish. <<I am assuming you mean Tetraodon nigroviridis; green spotted puffer.  Go to www.pufferlist.com to verify.  If so, it is a high-end brackish to SW fish at maturity, and needs at least 30-gallons per fish.  It is often sold as freshwater.>> One of them I purchased at Petco in the beginning of January. It was the happiest fish I have ever seen; swimming rapidly and so excited to see me to feed him his dried shrimp. <<This diet must be far more varied.  How did you cycle your tank?>> Then about a couple weeks ago, he started turning a dark color and became sluggish and not eating well. I didn't change any of my routines. I feed him the same, change the water frequently, etc. I asked a Petco employee and he said I needed a bubbler. <<Likely is a water quality issue, not dissolved oxygen problem.  What are your water parameters (nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, pH)?>> I purchased one and started using it in his tank and my Puffer was thrilled; swimming in and out of the bubbles and started eating like he used to and his color came back. But after a day of that, he went back to his sluggish self and dark color and not eating. What do you think his problem is? I've told all of this to the people who work in the fish dept. at Petco and they weren't exactly helpful besides telling me about the bubbler. Secondly, I thought maybe my Puffer was lonely, so thats when I purchased another one. <<Puffers do not get lonely.>> When I put the new one in with the other, my Puffer was thrilled and turned back to his bright color. Then, after about 10 minutes, my Puffer went back to being lazy, etc. and the new one kept going to the surface, gulping water or something, and then staying afloat at the top. <<There is definitely something wrong with your water.>> He did this several times and it worried me. He has been swimming around but he's starting to act like my other one by lying at the bottom. Do you think there is something wrong with the water? <<Yes>> I don't understand what is happening to them. Help?!? -Melanie <<Start by reading here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html, and checking the levels of toxins in your water.  Talk to you soon. Lisa.>>

Green Spotted Puffer Hanging Out  2/23/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a green spotted puffer. He lays around at the bottom of the tank a lot until he sees me & then he will start swimming again. Yesterday it looked like his spots were disappearing (fading).  When I fed him his shrimp he couldn't find it.  He was pecking at everything, when usually he has no problems finding it.  I'm not sure of the salt content.  I've added 2 tablespoons of marine salt.  It's a 10 gallon tank with a couple of fake plants and a big rock decor in the middle.  The temp stays at around 80F. The store where I bought the fish has tested the water for me twice and both times its been fine. I thought he might have had flukes so I treated for that. Hopefully you can help, if not thanks anyway. <A 10g tank, won't hold your puffer for long.  They grow to 6" & will eventually require at least a 30g minimum sized tank.   See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm.  Why did you think it had gill flukes?  Puffers are very sensitive to meds.  You should never treat a fish for something without a positive diagnosis.  The fading spots & laying around could mean he's resting/sleeping.  Everything you need to know about him is in the article I linked you to.  In the future, please use proper punctuation & capitalization in your letter.  Thanks, ~PP> Depressed Puffer  1/26/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have two green spotted puffers and two other puffers all around 1.5 inches. I bought the two green spotted puffers about one month ago and the other two about two weeks ago. All of the puffers are fine but one of the green spotted puffers has turned a little gray and wont swim as much. I checked the water and it's fine. <What exactly does "fine" mean?  Ammonia & nitrites should be 0, nitrates <20, pH around a steady 8.  What are they eating?  Any other tank mates?> These puffers are in a 55 gallon aquarium with brackish water. <Again, "brackish" can also be kind of vague.  What's the SG?  Are you using marine salt?  How are you adding it to your tank?  Premixed?  Are you aware that these puffers, as 6" adults, will need at least 30g ea (that's a 120g minimum for all 4) & marine conditions as adults?> What should I do? <Please answer all my questions so I can better help you.  Also read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  ~PP>

Leopard puffer question  12/26/05 I got a leopard puffer and two upside-down catfish; the puffer was nipping at the catfish and the LFS gave us a cichlid to curb his temper. The problem is that the cichlid rules the tank now and the puffer seems to be more black and moody than when we got him. We have them in a three gallon tank. How retarded are we?  <Very!  This fish alone needs at least 30g to himself!> How can we liven up our tank and have harmonious fish?<You need to get two new tanks or trade in some fish.  Your leopard puffer is a brackish to marine fish that needs salt!  The others are all freshwater and are not compatible with your puff.  Now, you also have WAY too much fish in 3 gallons, not a single one of those fish are compatible with such a small tank.  I recommend returning everyone to the LFS and purchasing a couple dwarf frogs and a Betta if you insist on that size tank.  Otherwise you will need to purchase a new 30-55g for the puffer and it will need to be brackish and another 30-55g for the others and it will need to be freshwater.> Thank you, Jason  <You're welcome and good luck!  ~Heather AKA LinearChaos)

"Spotted" Puffer Questions  10/3/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a question for you that no one else has been able to answer. My two spotted puffers have begun to lie on the bottom of the tank, or in plants or decorations with their tails wrapped around their body. However, after awhile they get up and swim around for awhile. Is this a sign of illness or is this typical of spotted puffers? Thanks So Much!!   Holly <If your water parameters are good (ammonia & nitrIte 0, nitrAte <20, pH around a steady 8, SG 1.010-1.015) & they are eating well, then they may just be sleeping. Check out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm and www.thepufferforum,org.  ~PP>

GSPs Turning Black  8-19-05 Hello Mr. Fenner; <Pufferpunk here> I read all info on the site for Green Spotted Puffers. I have been converting them to brackish according to your recommended article's specifications. I have noticed that since the day I began to add Instant Ocean that they are turning black on their bellies, rubbing (flashing) against the rocks like they would with a parasite and a few are getting sunken bellies. <Are they eating?  It is common for a wild-caught fish that have been in captivity for months, to suddenly show the effects of internal parasites.  Probably not caused by the addition of marine salt.> I've had them for a few months in freshwater with 1Tbs per 3gal of regular Sodium Chloride. They flourished. Now, after starting to convert to brackish water, they are acting thusly. I've lost two already. The SG is still so low I can't even obtain a reading on my hydrometer yet; so I'm not hastily converting - I don't think anyway. My water here is naturally close to a  PH = 6.4, KH approx= 36ppm. GH approx= 108ppm. They were in this relatively acidic freshwater environment and doing fine. They came from freshwater also, btw. Now I have them up to PH= 7.8, and am concerned that this change been too much. Or that these puffers were raised in Fresh and thus maybe taking them into Brackish conditions is simply not worth it. I often wonder if these "parameters" for certain species really apply when they are raised in opposing conditions and are not used to (or have never actually experienced) their natural water conditions. <A jump from 6.4-7.8 is a huge one!  This could very well be stressing out your fish.  How much salt have you added?  What else have you done to raise the pH?  Although a pH of 8 is recommended, it should be raised very slowly & kept STEADY. What are your other water parameters (ammonia, nitrIte, nitrAte)?  What kind of hydrometer are you using?  Can you have the SG tested at your LFS (preferably with a refractometer)?  All GSPs start out in FW, but should be slowly converted to BW & then high-end BW, or even SW as adults.> I could use some advice quick. In the meantime I've decided to simply remove about 25% of the water and replace with fresh. Any help greatly needed and appreciated. Scott K <Let me know how they are doing.  ~PP>

Puffer is a Killer!  6/14/05 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> My name is Nichole, and I recently purchased a puffer fish from a very stupid store. I know, I should have researched them a bit before just buying him, I know it's all my fault but the fact remains that they really shouldn't tell you that he's freshwater and nicely tempered when he's brackish water (I think?) and quite um...well let's just say murderous. <unfortunately, a common occurrence with these fishes.> Now that he's the only one left in the tank (sorry, Molly, R.I.P. Slim and Tiger, all in one night!) <Not surprised there either.> I converted to brackish because I think he's a green puff and I think that's what they need. He seems quite happy most of the time but when I feed him, his belly turns grey. I read that that's a sign of stress, but it only happens when he's eating. I feed him frozen cubes of brine shrimp.  Should I be thawing them or something? <Yes, you should never throw in frozen food to your fish.  In addition to their body temp dropping from eating frozen food, there is a lot of "juice" that you don't want to add to your tank.  Always rinse frozen foods thoroughly, in a brine shrimp net.  Brine shrimp though, is not a nutritious food to feed to your fish (mostly water).  Read this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  There is a link there to a great puffer forum you can go to also.> His belly is all snowy white the rest of the day, and usually turns white again before he even finishes eating. He never did that before I went brackish and it would be really sad if my one remaining fish died. Any help that you feel like giving would be appreciated, cuz I keep getting in trouble at work for looking up my fish on the internet. You know, instead of working...  Please help save Shredder the Puff. <What a great name (considering his rep with you already)!  I wouldn't be too concerned about it temporarily turning dark--mine do the same when they eat.  It's when they are dark & sulking all the time (& not eating) that it may be a sign of trouble.> Thanks for reading, anyways. --Nich <Of course!  Good luck with your "killer"!  ~PP>

Puffers Hi, I have 5 Green Spotted Puffers, 2 1/2" long. and 1 Figure 8 Puffer, 3/4" How long do these kinds of Puffer live? <Years if/when kept under properly maintained conditions> and how big can they get? <Please see the coverage on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwpuffers.htm and the FAQs files beyond> I have them in a 77gal. I also read that they should be in 6.5 -7.0 Ph. water, Is that right? <Mmm, no... should be higher... see the brackish set-up, maintenance sections on WWM> I have kept mine in Brackish water at 81*F Ph: 8.0 for 2 years and they're doing great. Please e-mail me back, Thanks. <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

A question about my puffer <<JasonC here, giving Bob time to pack for his dive trip.>> Hi! I have a problem with my puffer and was hoping you could offer some advice I have a green spotted puffer who is running himself to death we are watching our poor friend slowly kill himself. He is in a 20 gallon tank, salt level is 1.010 ph 8.2 temp 78-80 degrees, two filters one of them a Biowheel. Abe's behavior started when he began to get adult markings, he goes in an almost constant routine of up and down in the rear corner of the tank, hides when approached, and is now refusing to eat he will go up to the food and check it out and then turns away sometimes he does manage a few bites before retreating back to the corner. We offer a large variety of food: fresh crab, ghost shrimp are plentiful, frozen brine shrimp and blood worms. His tank companions consist of (ghost shrimp) two bumblebee gobies. We have done water changes, small scenery changes (which he used to love) and nothing seems to snap him out of the behavior. Before the markings started to change he would happily gobble down anything offered and would hunt down ghost shrimp simply for the joy of the hunt and seemed rather proud of showing of his round belly. now he is looking like a refugee of Wal-mart and I am afraid he isn't going to be a part of our family much longer.  Are there any suggestions you could offer to help my little Abe out?  Thanks in advance Cindy Ivie <<Gosh, it would seem that you are doing all the right things, and while I don't keep any brackish puffers myself, I do know that ANY ghost shrimp around my Porcupine Puffer would just... well, they wouldn't be ghost shrimp anymore. A couple of things come to mind - one is that some new, biological imperative or hormonal change have washed over your puffer as it has come of age - and these things work themselves out most of the time. Doesn't mean the puffer won't scare you a bit on the way, but time will tell. The other thing I would look for is perhaps other water issues that you didn't mentioned here - how are your Nitrates? How often are you changing the water? Seems like you ran the list of puffer-favorite-foods - is there a food your puffer loves that you haven't tried - if so, try it now. Best of luck, J -- >>

Puffer's a Chameleon!  3/21/04 OK, thanks. When I'd raised the salinity it went to 1.004, so I removed some and started at 1.003. I will raise it to 1.004/1.005 next week. <Sounds like a plan!> My puffer seems a little weirded out, normal? But, the thing is, he has been changing colors like crazy! My girlfriend was like, "he is all whitish, he doesn't look too good, what's up?!" so I go over, and he comes up to me and before me eyes he changes back to his yellowish with spots?!?!?! I saw him, he had almost no spots and was an off white color, white, but more an eggshell or so, different than the white of his belly. But when he saw me and came over, he straight changed in front of my eyes! Never seen that before! What's up with that?! <It's totally normal for a puffer to change colors & spots.  They are masters at disguise & will try to blend in w/their surroundings.  Do you have light-colored gravel?  That may make them paler.  Also puffers are extremely sensitive & moody, which also shows in their coloration.  Don't worry, unless it's tummy stays black all the time & they stop eating.  ~PP>

Puffer Doing Great!  3/22/04 No he seems normal, just the crazy color change. He may be a little lazy because I left for the weekend and of 3 ghost shrimp, one ended up having babies, so I'm still pulling those suckers out. I only feed GSP 4 or 5 times a week, he gets lazy otherwise. So the color change is normal? Awesome. And yeah, I read that if their belly starts to turn dark, not good.... his/hers/its is pure white... probably due to my 3 a week emails since I got it,... Thanks PP....   <No problem, that's what I'm here for--puffers are my passion!  ~PP>

Feeder fish became friends with predator? I have had my brackish tank, home to my two green-spotted puffers, for a little over a year.  Until three months ago, my puffers were the only occupants.  I threw a guppies in the tank as a little treat and to my surprise, the guppy was there days later.  Not only has that guppy survived in brackish water surrounded by predators, there are now a total of four baby guppies living in this tank.  The first of the young appeared about four or five weeks ago and has grown considerably.  The other three have appeared in the last three days.  I introduced a new puffer to the tank yesterday and figured it would probably make a meal out of my unusual little friends, but he doesn't show any interest.  I do not understand.  Is this normal or as bizarre as it seems? <Does seem odd, but this is not unprecedented. Fishes to varying degrees are what humans label as "autistic", and if the "food" was in the tank ahead of the predator... it/they might well not be recognized as food items... Consider as an example the sacred cows of Hindu India... Bob Fenner>

Green Spotted Puffer 4/16/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here. For future reference, please try searching our site & FAQs for answers before coming here. Not that we don't want to help, it's just that the answers are there, if you look. Also, please use proper capitalization & punctuation, as I have to correct all of that, before it can be posted into our FAQs, thanks.> I have a 55 gallon and I purchased a green spotted puffer last week. I have him with a cichlid and other tropical fish. For some reason no one harms him. Anyway my question is, why did his color go away? He looked yellow/green with spots now he looks brown w/spots. The guy told me to add A+ aquarium salt. Also to the Texas cichlid his color became brown. What's wrong? Please help! <Start out by reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm. If you have more questions after that, you can write back & I'll be happy to answer them. ~PP> 

New GSP Owner 3/19/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have read lots of things on the web about GSPs and the set up of their tanks. I have two in separate tanks, 1 - 10 gal & 1 - 20 gal. and I just love them. I have been all over your website and have gained lots of information. I thank you. I know have a better idea of how to control the levels in the tank and keep my little guys happy. My question is just how big will they grow? I have seen 3" to 6". Does this depend on the size of the tank? Or do they have a max growth? My last question is how long do they usually live?  <Their growth & lifespan will be greatly reduced in a smaller tank. They grow to 6" & live into their teens, with the proper housing & care. It looks like you must have missed the most important info we have on these puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  ~PP> 

Spotted puffer Hi I have a question about Pufferfish. I bought a spotted puffer about 2 months ago and he acts and looks really healthy. The other day I noticed something strange , he turned a different shade. He was laying near an ornament I have and was really dark. When I looked in the tank he came swimming over to me like always and his color went back to his normal shade. A friend of mine has a spotted and a figure 8 and he said he noticed the same thing only one of his turns lighter. Is this normal?  <Yes, normal> Do they do this for camouflage? Or is it a mood thing? <Both as far as I'm concerned. Bob Fenner>

Green Puffer  Hi Bob!  My husband and I have 4 Green Puffers. Two adults, and 2 babies. One of the adult puffers fades really bad in color. Going from his beautiful bright green, to a pale green to where you can barely see his black spots, and then back to his beautiful green again. Is this a sign of stress? He isn't acting any different and is eating like the fat boy he is. I am hoping that you have the answer!  Thanks!  Stephanie and Doug <Thanks for writing. Likely there is nothing wrong with the "flashing" adult puffer. These fish do shift brightness and markings with their moods... this one is likely just communicating with its kin. Do take a read over the freshwater puffer section and FAQs on the www.wetwebmedia.com site for more input on their care. Bob Fenner>

Puffer fish behavior Hi, my name is Caroline, and I just bought a green spotted puffer fish, and I have been searching the web trying to find information on their antics, to see what is normal and not. My fish bobs up and down along the corner of his tank, and I think it is a little odd. It would be greatly appreciated if you could tell me if this is normal or not. I just got him yesterday, so it might be adjustment, I would just like to make sure. Thanks in advance for your reply, Caroline <Yes, Caroline, these small puffers do go up and down the sides of their aquariums... perhaps in response to their own reflection... and will "sit on the bottom" as well... all normal/natural behavior. You might find more on these fishes by using the "Google Search Tool" on the bottom of the homepage, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ Insert the word freshwater (or) brackish puffer. Bob Fenner>

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