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FAQs about Green Spotted Puffer Systems

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Related FAQs: GSPs 1, GSPs 2, GSP Identification, GSP Behavior, GSP Compatibility, GSP Selection, 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

1) Know your species

2) Know its requirements

3) Provide them

Green spotted puffer     1/28/19
I have a 13 year old green spotted puffer. The last week he is refusing to eat looks massively bloated and is spending his time either hiding at back of tank or vertical next to the filter.
Water parameters are the same as his usual Ph7.8 nitrate 7.5 nitrite 0 ammonia 0 temp 24 degrees
<No salt?>
He’s in a 180 litre tank with about 8 ghost shrimps ( originally put in as food about 2 months ago- But he seems to prefer the company!!)
No changes to food/tank/ inhabitants etc
I am very attached to him and it’s heartbreaking to see him like this.
Do you have any idea what I can try? I know he’s old now but I’ve had him longer than my kids! :-(
<Hah! He's a fair age for a GSP, but with that said, the species isn't really a freshwater fish, and the bloating you describe could easily be caused by some sort of osmoregulation problem. Adding marine aquarium salt, even at a relatively low dose (say, 5 grams per litre; SG 1.002) will probably help enormously. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Green spotted puffer     1/28/19
Thank you so much for replying. I’m so stressed. :-(
<Oh dear.>
I’ve always added Interpet aqualibrium salt ( 1tsp per 10litre)
<Much too little, and the wrong kind of salt. 1 teaspoon is around 6 gram, so that's 0.6 gram per 1 litre, which isn't nearly enough to register as 'brackish'.>
I’ll get some Marine salt tomorrow.
<Ah, much better.>
Tonight he looks like he has a load of tiny white spikes.
<Those are his spines.>
Sent from my iPhone
<Useful to know, I guess? Cheers, Neale.>

Green spotted puffer help! Sys., nutr.       4/26/18
I hope all is well,
<And likewise to you.>
I saw some articles about puffers and was hoping you could help. I am looking to set up a green spotted puffer aquascape/bioscope and have a few questions:
- what substrate would be the best/most natural in comparison to their natural habitat?
<Estuarine and coastal marine environments are very varied. But an 'idealised' environment might include a mix of sand and broken seashells on the substrate, perhaps with a bit of gravel mixed in. Rocks are often encrusted with bivalves such as oysters and mussels, so either of those, perhaps siliconed onto the rocks before use, could help to recreate an oyster reef of the sort you see around estuaries and harbours. I'd tend to leave out corals and large, obviously marine seashells like conches, as these tend to favour fully marine environments, so wouldn't be quite so authentic.>
- what plants are found in their natural habitat?
<Primarily seagrasses and mangroves, neither of which are easy. Seagrasses need strong lighting, while mangroves are trees that have only their roots underwater, so while relatively widely traded, they aren't really equivalent to the plants we grow in freshwater tanks. At low salinities, you can use Vallisneria species to mimic seagrasses, but above around 1.003, these won't do well in the long term. Unfortunately for the aquarist, there really aren't any obvious mid to high salinity brackish water plants because such habitats are frequently silty in the wild, so any plants there grow above the waterline. At low salinities though, pretty much anything that thrives in hard water will do well at SG 1.001-1.003, including Amazon Swords, Vallisneria, Java Ferns, hardy Cryptocoryne species, and so on.>
- are the brackish/salt requirements different as juveniles than to adults? What is the ideal level of salt?
<A very complex question! In practice, the salinity isn't critical, so long as it's not freshwater. So if you wanted to keep a GSP at 1.005 indefinitely, it'd be fine. It'd probably thrive in water at SG 1.003 for that matter! But a lot of aquarist find these fish do well in marine tanks, and that opens up a few useful options, including the use of live rock, protein skimmers, and even tankmates like Damsels that are punchy enough to do well alongside puffers.>
-my local shop has some in stock and put aside for me. They are currently in freshwater. How best to introduce the salt to the water? Presumably slowly over regular water changes as opposed to adding loads on day 1?
<Either. GSPs, like most brackish fish, are extremely hardy. In the wild they presumably have to be able to cope with changes in salinity as the tide moves in and out. So while I would set the tank up to match the shop simply to minimise stress, and only change the salinity across several weeks for the sake of the filter, people can and do acclimate them to brackish water immediately after purchase.>
- the ones in the shop are currently juveniles, 1-2 inches, can I fit 6 to 8 in 120 litre tank if I intend to rehouse them into a big tank as they grow?
<Yes, at that size they should coexist, assuming water quality was good and all were feeding well. A singleton can easily fill a tank around the 180 litre mark though, and you'd probably need to allow a good 80-100 litres for each extra specimen. I have seen GSPs kept in twos without bother, but other specimens are notoriously cranky and aggressive. You really do need to keep an eye open for the tell-tale circular bite marks on the flanks -- a good sign of aggression>
-what is the best diet (i know pure meat with some shell fish for their teeth but wondering about regularity/variety). Would frozen bloodworm once a day with shell fish/snails 1-2 times a week be OK? What would be optimum?
<I'm not a huge fan of gorge-feeding predators, even if it is 'more natural'. Let's be clear, GSPs in the wild will be constantly foraging on low-protein foods including algae, organic detritus, and of course various small invertebrates. This is why they seem hungry all the time -- they're programmed, if you like, to constantly feed because what they'd be eating in the wild wouldn't be particularly nutritious. On top of that, predators have a tendency to consume a large amount, digest relatively little, and pass out a lot of organic waste the filter has to process. Regurgitation is a common problem as well. While you'll have to observe your fish and see what works for you, I always preferred to offer small, regular meals that kept the puffers active, rather than filling their bellies to such a degree they'd settle down, curl up, and sleep off their meal for a few hours!>
The shop have put them aside till the weekend so hoping to buy them then.
I have a freshwater tank already set up and fully cycled (was being used to raise fry) and therefore able to ‘adjust’ it to the scope in a short time frame. Though obviously it is something I want to get right and not rush.
<Understood. GSPs will thrive in freshwater for weeks if not months, particularly if you have hard water. So by all means get the fish home, feeding, and maybe do a small (~20%) water change with water at SG 1.003, so that the resulting aquarium salinity will be barely SG 1.001. That'll be enough to keep the fish in tip-top health, while not stressing the filter bacteria. From there on in, weekly water changes with water at SG 1.003 will nudge the overall salinity up to SG 1.003 after a few weeks. That's still 15% seawater, and more than enough for GSPs in the medium term. You can plan what to do next as they grow.>
Thank you in advance for your help!!
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!      4/27/18

Hi Neale
Thank you very much for your detailed reply, I feel in a much more
knowledgeable/informed position to set up the tank
<Glad to help, and good luck! Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!     4/30/18

Hi Neale,
Firstly - I got my GSP's - they are awesome!
<Yes, they are. And a good size too, when mature. Big enough to impress your mates, but not so big you need a mortgage to house them properly.>
The tank has a good internal filter, however I just remembered I have a spare external filter and all new filter sponges for it. I was thinking as the puffers are messy - I should add the external filter as I have it anyway.
<Maybe. While pufferfish are messy, you also keep fewer of them in an aquarium than, say, Guppies. I'd be aiming for a water turnover rate around 6 to 8 times the volume of the tank per hour while small, and above around
8 cm/3 inches, I'd kick that up to the 8-10 times per hour. In other words, if your tank had a capacity of 200 litres, you'd choose filters that collectively provide a turnover rate around 1200-1600 litres/hour while they fish were little, and up to 2000 litres/hour for subadult and older specimens. Make sense?>
Is there any issues to having 2 filters?
<None at all. But avoid over filtering while the fish are small, so as not to tire them out. You also don't want so much air/water turbulence that the water becomes supersaturated with oxygen, as that can cause problems. But
other than that, nope, multiple filters is fine.>
Is there any issues to putting on a filter with entirely new sponges?
<Nope. If one filter is mature, and the other entirely new, the new one will be matured within a very short span of time. Alternatively, you can dedicate the new one to mechanical filtration, cleaning out the filter media aggressively, ensuring nice clear water.>
I know normally a 'new' filter would mean cycling the tank - but I assume if there is already a filter on and working and the tank is well cycled then this wouldn't be an issue?
Kind regards,
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!     5/1/18

Apologies for the bombardment of questions - if it is too many please feel free to tell me to stop!
<Will do.>
I have been feeding frozen bloodworms and that has gone down well. In order to vary the diet I wanted to try introduce something else, ideally something with a hard shell in order to help their teeth.
<Yes; I'm skeptical about such foods ever being a 100% solution to the 'overgrowing teeth' problem, but it does help, and some pufferfish species are more prone to the problem than others. Do bear in mind crunching algae from rocks is probably a significant part of their diet in the wild, so it's not just whole invertebrates. You can also take a hammer to mussels and cockles to break their shells a bit, and allow the pufferfish to wear away their teeth as they feed on such food items that might be too big to crunch open whole. Whole frozen cockles are sold in marine aquarium stores, while mussels and cockles are sold in some grocery stores.>
I was thinking of trying live red cherry shrimp at some point. At 1-2 inches are the puffers too small for live shrimp?
<They'll certainly have a good go at them, but this is a crazy expensive way to try and feed them. Red Cherry Shrimps aren't all that crunchy, so their impact on the puffer's teeth will, individually, be minimal. You may as well just collect woodlice from somewhere in your back garden you know is free of pesticides. Much the same amount of crunchiness, readily consumed, and zero cost.>
I was thinking of getting say 10 shrimp and my thoughts were as follows:
Either I could keep them in a breeding trap in the tank and release a few to see if they get eaten and then a few days later a few more.
Alternatively, if the puffers are not interested then I could release all 10, they may breed and increase and eventually the puffers may eat them?
<The Red Cherry Shrimps will be dead in hours, whether harassed or eaten outright.>
I'm not really sure how best to go about this as I've never used feeder shrimp before.
<Some marine aquarium shops sell native shrimps from the Thames Estuary and elsewhere called 'river shrimp' and these make good food for brackish water puffers. They can be gut-loaded before use, and will survive many days, even weeks, in anything from SG 1.005 upwards. They'll survive some hours even in low-end brackish to freshwater conditions.>
If not shrimp - any alternative ideas?
<See above. I'd honestly be less given to live foods for now. You can get good frozen foods that'll be better value, such as Krill, while cockles and white fish fillet provide better nutrients than shrimps do (shrimps contain thiaminase, which we don't want). Whole lancefish are good for bigger GSPs, as are live or cooked crayfish, cooked brown shrimps (expensive, but delicious in potted shrimp!), even things like king prawns like you'd buy in Asian supermarkets. You can also find dried whole shrimps in Asian supermarkets, and these are a good value, if occasional, treat. As mentioned already, crustaceans (and mussels) should be a small part of their diet, with cockles, white fish fillet, lancefish, squid, and insects being generally better all around when it comes to nutrients. Some source of greenery needs to be considered too, whether Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp, gut-loaded worms or shrimps, or even cooked peas and algae wafers, if your puffer takes them.>
I have followed your advice in not overfeeding them ��
<Glad to hear it!>
Thanks again in advance - I really appreciate all of your help ��
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help!  And 8's    5/10/18

Hi Neale,
How are you?,
<All good.>
As an update - I started adding salt at my last water change and all seems to be going well!
Quick question - A local shop I noticed have figure 8's in (about 2 inches). My GSP's are 1.5-2 inches. From my research - they both like Brackish and come from similar environments - could I put a few in there?
Or best not to?
<While young, yes, they will cohabit reasonably well. GSPs tend to be a bit more snappy, while Figure-8s are perhaps a bit more active. But there's not much in it either way. As they get older though, GSPs do become substantially bigger and potentially more dangerous. Also remember that they're somewhat different in optimal salinity. Figure-8s are freshwater to low-end brackish, doing best at a low salinity, maybe SG 1.002-1.005; your GSPs, on the other hand, while perfectly fine at SG 1.003-1.005 for long
periods, perhaps indefinitely, are often kept in higher salinities, even full marine conditions.>
I know ultimately the GSP's will outgrow them, but the intention is anyway in 12-18 months to get a bigger tank.
<Ah, yes!>
At which point I'll possibly put the GSP's in the bigger tank and keep the F8's in the existing tank?
From my understanding it takes easily 2-3 years for GSP's to grow anywhere near full size anyway?
<Something like that, yes. Many specimens never get particularly big, though well-kept ones should comfortably reach 10 cm/4 inches, and be stocky with it.>
Even as juveniles can it be done? Or best to keep species only?
<See above. Yes, but with caution, and likely not indefinitely.>
<You're welcome, Neale.>

GSPs For My Nano (11/14/2015)
Hi, <Afternoon!>
I've got a six gallon tank with an AquaClear 20 loaded with three layers of Poly Filter and a little power head (73 gpm). <Ok. What kind of lighting?>
Both of these are turned up all the way providing the tank with good filtration, turnover and gas exchange. Now I'd like to add some green star polyps but don't know if I should stick with a specific species. I would normally just go ahead and get the type that looks the best but I'm being a little cautious because I've got a small colony of Xenia elongata in this tank and I don't want to lose it.
<Just provide decent water quality and maintenance (like keeping those filter pads clean; but don't replace all 3 at once when you do decide to swap them out for new). It is hard to go wrong with xenia as a rule and they all have basically the same requirements. They are more likely to spread out of control than they are to do poorly.>
No other corals in the tank though and the Xenia is up high and I plan to put the green star polyps towards the bottom or directly on the sand.
<Should be no problemo and is about an easy a setup as a reef could be.>
My questions: Is there a significant difference between Pachyclavularia and Briareum? These are two distinct and separate genera, correct?
<Not for any practical purpose.>
I'm not worried about the Xenia or GSPs physically crowding each other but am trying to avoid chemical incompatibility.
<Both are relatively harmless in this regard, will grow quite close to each other until they physically touch. Simply leave a little space and prune as needed.>
Could you please recommend a specific species of GSP that would most likely not cause harm to the Xenia in my tank and vice versa?
<I'd be more worried about the inverse, honestly, although again, I would not sweat this at all. This is one of the very few times I'd be inclined to say what every aquarist wants to hear: just get what looks cool, provide reef-standard conditions, and enjoy. I'd personally put some mushrooms or Zoas in there as well if you like, these are all basic "softies" that are about as simple as growing a houseplant, cheap, beautiful, plentiful and easy to care for. I also think they are interesting, and they are
aquacultured extremely extensively (even to some people's dismay when they decide to go crazy with growth!). Nothing is more common or as easily propagated/fragged as Xenia, mushrooms, and star polyps. In fact I'd check around with local aquarium clubs, most likely you can snag some gratis.
Hope this helps- Earl>
Re: GSPs For My Nano (11/14/2015)        11/17/15

Thanks Earl! I feel a lot better now about adding the ''better looking''
bright green GSPs to my tank and am excited to hear that you think it would be safe to even add some mushrooms and Zoas. I forgot to mention but there's also three masked gobies (personatus) and one hermit crab (digueti) in there as well.
<Could stand to have some more "cleanup crew". They are interesting in their own right imo, avoid sea stars.>
You asked about the light: it's a TMC Mini 500 Tile connected to an AquaRay controller turned up to only 25% of it's full output. This reminds me of another question I have: I'd like to get a light meter and was wondering if there's any brands or models that I should stay away from? Who makes the better quality meters?
Thanks again for the peace of mind,
<These species are photosynthetic and having programmable lights should be very useful for hitting the sweet spot. I would stay where you are with them and increase them until you are getting acceptable growth. There is a definite too much/too little light here of course and getting there will be trial and error. To my shame I do not own a par meter and cannot advise you here :) I would simply ask around, reliable people you can talk to in person, or read reviews on different ones inside your budget. Discount extremely low or high review ratings unless there is a "preponderance of evidence" as they say. A 4 star reviewed item with 300 reviewer is more reliable than a 5 star item with 10 reviews generally. Pretty generic advice but a great default.>

Two GSPs; no rdg.       9/3/15
I have 2 green spotted puffer fish, one is find but the other is sick I think. It has a grey belly, almost black even, they are in freshwater but I need to make their tank a salt water tank but I don't know how exactly.
What can I do for both issues I'm having?
<.... by reading here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner who urges you to learn how to/use WWM>

GSP, sys.     5/6/12
<Hello Jordan,>
I couldn't find a clear answer to this, so I was just wondering if I could keep a Green Spotted Puffer in a brackish water aquarium with a specific gravity of 1.008 it's whole life.
Or do I have to increase the salinity as it matures?
<No. Many people do keep them in marine-salinity aquaria for various reasons. GSPs seem to get along with robust Damselfish, for example. But this is strictly an optional thing, and not essential. They can and will live healthy lives from SG 1.005 upwards provided water quality is good (0 ammonia and nitrite, <20 mg/l nitrate) and the water chemistry is correct (15+ degrees dH, pH 7.5-8).>
Thank you :)
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer Question... teeth, sys/sal.    12/22/10
My Green Spotted Puffer has been really sluggish lately. He has not been eating much lately either. I knew that their teeth can grow if not feed properly. I cannot constantly give him snails as he is a big eater. I
watched several videos on the internet about trimming puffer teeth. I got all the supplies and tried to perform the trimming myself. I used Clove Oil (even though some people said not to) to knock him out.
<Not really "knock him out". The idea is that 3-4 drops per litre of water is enough to make him sluggish. Once that happens, he can be handled more easily.>
Everywhere I went they said it should take about 1 min. I left him in there for 3 min.s and he was still not fully out. I pulled him out a couple of times and would try to look at his teeth and he would squirm around a little. Would you have any idea what I was doing wrong? I put 3 cups of tank water in a bowl and 3 drops of Clove Oil. I finally gave up and put him in the fresh bowl of water and woke him all the way up. His teeth did not look bad but they could probably have been trimmed a little. When their teeth grow will it grow to a point (kind of like a mountain) or will it be strait across?
<They grow to little points, normally. After trimming they should have the tips trimmed off, nothing more serious than that.>
His teeth were strait across. I have had him for about 2.5 years and is about 3" long and has never been real active. I tried putting some ghost shrimp in the tank and he will not touch them. I tried Guppy fry and he seems to be scared of them.
<Not a fish-eating species, and in fact would be better served with a mixed diet of snails, cockles, squid, mussels, prawns and tilapia fillet. Some GSPs enjoy algae wafers and cooked peas. Live crayfish and snails make good treats.>
I have seen videos of other peoples puffers and they chase down almost anything in the tank and eat them. He spends most of his time laying on the bottom of the tank.
<They do vary in personality.>
He will move if you walk up to the tank and after his weekly bath
he will be really active for a few hours and that's it. When I put snails in the tank he becomes very excited but after he eats them he goes back to his cave and lays on the bottom. Any ideas are appreciated.
30 Gal Tank
Ammonia = 0
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = 5
PH = 6.8 - 7
<This is far too low. I don 't believe you're adding enough salt for a salinity of 1.017, despite your statement below. One reason your GSP is acting odd could very easily be improper salinity. If we aim for 25% normal seawater salinity, SG 1.005 at 25 C/77 F, that's about 9 grammes marine salt mix per litre, or 1.2 oz per US gallon. Weigh out these amounts of marine salt mix -- not "tonic" or "aquarium" salt used to treat freshwater tanks -- and you should not only get a specific gravity of 1.005, but also a pH around 7.5.>
Specific Gravity = 1.0173
<I don't believe you! 1.017 at 25 C/77 F would be 24.8 grammes of marine salt mix per litre, or 3.3 oz per US gallon. Do make sure you understand how to use a hydrometer or refractometer.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Green Spotted Puffer Question   12/22/10
WOW! Thanks for the fast response. I thought I knew how to mix the salt water. I am new to the aquarium trade so I may be doing it wrong. I am currently using the "Pinpoint Salinity Meter"
(http://www.americanmarineusa.com/) to measure the salinity. The Meter reads 37.7 Salinity mS and using their conversion chart that equals about 1.0173 "True Specific Gravity." (http://www.americanmarineusa.com/salinityconversion.html)
<Well, whatever. Make sure you are [a] using the thing right and [b] have estimated the salt by weight beforehand to get an sensible answer. The problem with meters is they need calibrating, and if you aren't using a meter properly, or don't have it calibrated, you'll get stupid results. The reasons I'm skeptical are [a] that Java Fern would be D-E-A-D at SG 1.017, and [b] with that much marine salt mix the pH should be far higher, 7.5 to 8.0.>
I mix new water using Instant Ocean Sea Salt and mix it slightly less than what the tank reads due to evaporation. According to www.wetwebmedia.com when they are 2"-4" they should be kept in a SG of 1.010-1.015. I am a little high'¦ Does this need to be lowered or am I just doing this all wrong?
<The salinity actually doesn't matter at all, and anything from SG 1.005 to 1.015 will suit GSPs throughout their life cycle. Yes, people like to move them to marine conditions as they mature, but this is more for practical purposes than anything else -- at high salinities you can use skimmers, and at full marine salinity you can use live rock as well. Plus, marine Damselfish become an option, and these can make great GSP companions.>
Reading the WWM website again it says that it takes about 1 cup of salt for 5 Gal of water to raise the salinity .005. I am currently putting in about 1 cup of salt in to 5 gal and the PinPoint Meter is ready a SG of around 1.014.
<I disagree strongly with any talk of using spoons or cups to measure out salt. First WEIGH your salt, with the knowledge than 35 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water creates one litre of normal seawater. Use the application Brack Calc on my website to understand the connections between salinity, specific gravity, temperature and weight.>
Going by WWM I would need about 3 cups of salt to get 1.015. Either this meter is way, way off or I am doing something really wrong. I just calibrated the meter 2 weeks ago but I will double check everything again. May be these meters just don't work correctly or I got a bad one?
<More likely not used correctly. Make up some normal seawater, 35 g/l, and test your meter. You should get close to 100% normal salinity.>
As for the "Bath" that is what I call it when I clean the tank and do a water change.
<I see.>
Again, Thanks for all your help
<Glad to help, and Merry Christmas. Neale.>
Re: Green Spotted Puffer Question 12/24/10

Sorry to keep bothering you but I want to try to make sure my puffer is being taken care of properly... I checked the calibration of the pinpoint meter and it was off by 0.1 so I went out and purchased a hydrometer to double check the Pinpoint Meter. The hydrometer is showing 1.018 (picture attached.)
<Yes, I agree.>
I would like to get a refractometer since I read they are far more accurate.
<Not true at all. In theory, an electronic salinity meter can be very accurate.>
So is it safe to assume my Salinity is about where it needs to be?
<If this is what your hydrometer says, then yes, this is okay for GSPs. A bit high in my opinion, insofar as its expensive without any real benefits to keep the water this saline. Anything from 1.005 to 1.015 is ideal, and up to 1.025 fine.>
May be the Test Strips are inaccurately reporting the PH or since you line the colors up may be I am off a little? Is there a better more accurate way to test the PH?
<Again, there are pH meters, but these depend on calibration and correct usage. Test strips can be variable in accuracy. Do have your retailer run a test on a sample of water.>
I do not have any Java Fern in my tank... Tonight I will mix some salt water by weighing the salt and run tests on that and see what the PH and stuff is.
Also with trimming the puffers teeth do you trim them really low or just cut the points off?
<Just the tips.>
As I have stated my puffers teeth were strait across but I was not sure if they need to be trimmed low or not. Also you said that the clove oil does not completely knock them out. So they will move around a bit while you are trimming their teeth?
<Not really move around, no, but their gills should be working.>
Again Thanks and have a great Christmas and New Years
<Cheers, Neale.>

green spotted puffer help soon -- 10/11/10
Hello, I hope you can help me. I received a green spotted puffer as a gift. He came in a fish bowl. I am a college student in a dorm with limited space so I ordered him a 5gal Hex tank. I rinsed it well with hot
water. Friday afternoon I put the tank together. I put in gravel, a few plastic plants, a small cave all which had been cycled in a 5 gal bucket for 72 hours using 25 ml Nutrafin cycle, 1 tablespoon aquarium salt all
per pet store advice. In addition I added some small snails, also per petstore advise. I also put in his old rocks from his bowl and 3/4 of the water (1.4 of it I put in a baggie with him and floated in the take for 15
minutes first). Also put in a small heater. Before he went in the take water etc was temp 72 degrees, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, total alkalinity 180, ph 7.8, ammonia between 0 and .5. He loved the snails but his color seemed to fade except for the top of his head. He calmed down and sat at the bottom of the tank. I tried to feed him some frozen bloodworms which he didn't want. I later gave him some tetra flakes (which came with the gift) he ate a few. He was swimming up and down the sides last night. Seemed okay but color still not as bright. Still has a white belly. Yesterday, Sunday, I noticed his eyes are cloudy and he doesn't have his spunky personality he had in his bowl. I read some posts and feeds and decided to do a 25 percent water (using tap water and 2.5ml of Aquasafe plus ) his water status is before change nitrite 0, nitrate 0, total alkalinity 180- 300, ph 7.8, ammonia between 0 and .5. Now after the 25percent change it is nitrite 0, nitrate 0, total alkalinity 180, ph 7.8, ammonia 0, temp is 79 degrees. This morning he is just sitting at the bottom of his tank.
Puff Daddy is not happy and his eyes are still cloudy. His sides where his white belly meets the green he's getting some little dark blotchy spots. I don't know if I should give him antibiotics or what. If so what kind,
should I put them in the tank or do a dip. He is the only fish in the tank. Please help, I love this little guy and he has a great personality when he's feeling good.
Thank you,
<Hello Sumaiyah. Unfortunately, you can't keep this fish in a 5-gallon freshwater aquarium. Green Spotted Puffers are brackish to saltwater fish.
They cannot be kept in freshwater tanks. The addition of "aquarium salt" isn't enough to help. Medicine isn't what he needs either. At minimum, a specimen up to 3 inches/8 cm long can be kept in an aquarium 20-30 gallons in size, but larger specimens need 55 gallons. They need excellent water quality, and that means zero ammonia and zero nitrite. The reason his colours are fading is that he is stressed. He will die in this aquarium.
The sad thing about life is that love is not all you need! The fact you love this new pet isn't enough to keep him alive. Please read here:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: green spotted puffer help soon -- 10/11/10
Thank you Neale,
<You are most welcome.>
he is only an inch and a half now. I was hoping he could stay in here until xmas break
and I could take him home and get him a bigger tank.
<Needs one NOW.>
I really wish the gift giver had researched him prior.
<As do I.>
I showed up to swim practice one day and he was waiting there for me.
Thanks again, I appreciate your help, Sumaiyah
<Do see if your city has a fish club -- many do. There may well be someone at the fish club who can home this fish. Your 5-gallon tank -- with a heater -- could be a fine home for a Betta, some Cherry Shrimps, or perhaps a couple of Dwarf African Frogs. Not really viable for anything else.
Cheers, Neale.>

Pufferfish/Brackish water questions     9/19/10
Hello all!
I'm back again with more questions, and if they've already been asked by others, I apologize. Okay so, for my 2 green spotted puffers, I am using fine sand. I've read elsewhere on Neale's forms to mix sand gravel/rocks in to help create more of the natural environment. I have some 'calcium sand' (shells, coral, rocks, etc) that I used before, should I mix some of that in with the fine sand?
<Yes; should be all right to do so. Do vacuum, or stir regularly... as part of your regular partial water change routine>
I also have shells from the ocean that I've had for years (collected in Newfoundland while I lived there,) would those be okay to add as well?
<Should be>
As I said before, I use 1 medium rock (to keep my bubble thingy down,) and one large rock (to keep my log down.) I found all three along the river, and boiled & scrubbed once I got home, with an extra rinse and scrub to be safe. My only concern with these is that the water hardness here (Dawson Creek, British Columbia,) is very high to start with. I now alternate decor, so the log and large rock aren't always used, but I just love seeing the log. It's very abstract :) Should I be concerned that the log and rocks will make my water too hard?
<Mmm, no. See below>
I have a stick on pH tag and the pH level is always A-OK; I've also had the water tested at my LFS and the water hardness is high (7.5-8.5).
<This is a fine range for this species>
My other questions involve the salt. I have Instant Ocean salt, and a hydrometer, but I'm not sure how big exactly my tank is.
<Can be measured close enough in a few ways... there are about 231 cubic inches in a gallon... so, multiplying the three dimensions of your tank in inches, dividing by 231... Or you can guesstimate by taking out a given, known gallonage, approximating what percentage of the tank height/volume this is... Or just add "some" salt, measure the specific gravity...>
It's about 15-25 gallons, but I'm thinking it's more likely to be 15 gallons as it looks to about 1/4 of my 55 gallon tank.
<There you go>
Since I just take pails of water out of the tank and add the pails back in after, where should I add the Instant Ocean?
<In, with the new water is best... easier to dissolve>
In the last pail, or the tank itself before I add the new water?
<In the pail>
Neale also told me before to wait about 20 min.s for all the salt to dissolve, but than what should I do with my puffers in the meantime?
<Best to always pre-mix and store new water... for a few days, a week if you can>
Will they be okay out of their tank that long with oxygen and heat? Or should I leave them in the tank?
<In the tank>
And right now I use a AquaClear 70 gallon filter, will that still be okay to use once the salinity levels get higher?
The tank water is still freshwater, I'm only just starting to increase the level.
<Do so slowly... a thousandth or two per day maximum>
I think that's all the questions I have for now, I'll be back if I have more. Thanks again, Selena.
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Re: Pufferfish/Brackish water questions
Thanks Bob! Will do. I have another question; is mussels, clams, shrimp, etc. from the grocery store okay to use for food?
<Indeed they are; particularly if cut up in smallish sized pieces>
My LFS has nothing for food besides frozen cubes, dried krill and snails. I also saw that a girl on here earlier soaks her puffers food in vitamin C, garlic, VitaChem and Selcon. Should I be doing that for my puffers?
<I would do this, at least on a punctuated (once in a while, weekly) basis. BobF>

Hoping to add GSP... incomp., sys.... reading   3/9/10
Hello and thank you in advance for your time,
<Happy to help.>
I have a 39 gallon freshwater aquarium set up right now with about 20 guppies (correct ratio of male to females for breeding), a Pleco, bamboo shrimp, Ramshorn snails, and some failing gold Inca and black mystery snails.
<None of which are suitable for life alongside a GSP. Green Spotted Puffers are *brackish* water fish that need to be maintained at around SG 1.005 when small, and anything from SG 1.010 to full marine conditions once adult. They are omnivores that eat shrimps and snails, and wild fish at least include fish fins on their diet, so anything kept alongside them is likely to be nipped. These are very much personality fish you buy expressly for maintenance on their own. That said, some success has been had mixing them in marine tanks with feisty Damselfish and the like.>
I have learned since the purchase that apple snails are not necessarily the best to keep because of the hibernation period they need, and I will be returning them to the LFS. Anyway, in a few days I would like to add some GSP's, 2-3 depending on your recommendations.
<Not with the livestock you have.>
I am hoping to be able to breed the guppies and snails quick enough to sustain the puffers and maintain my breeding stock of guppies and Ramshorn snails.
<Won't work. Unless you have a pond, you'll never produce enough live food for a Pufferfish. Be under NO illusions here: in an aquarium as small as this, any shrimps and snails will be eaten (or at least damaged). As for the Guppies, they'll probably be nipped and eventually eaten, but this sort of behaviour does seem to vary from Puffer to Puffer.>
I will be supplementing with additional food sources, frozen brine shrimp most likely,
<A treat, not a staple; contains almost no nutrition at all.>
and I am ok with adding in as many snails as I need to (I work at a Pet Store, so they are free), and hopefully only a few guppies a week.
<What's with the feeder guppy mentality? Puffers don't need to eat fish, and any Guppies cheap enough to use like popcorn will be maintained under fairly dismal conditions.>
I am aware that the bamboo shrimp is not going to last to long with the puffer, but I will be giving him the best life I can until this point.
<Won't work this way. The poor Atyopsis will be pecked, worried, subject to amputations by the puffer for weeks if not months before finally being killed.>
Do you think that this would be possible.
<Not a snowball's chance in Hell.>
Right now a separate feeder tank is not an option.
<Least of your worries.>
Another question I have is, can the Pleco be slowly moved into brackish, as I will be switching to brackish once the puffers are in the tank (waiting because I know that no store keeps them in the correct, brackish, conditions and they will be coming from freshwater.)
<No. Plecs can't be kept at the brackish water salinities Green Spotted Puffers require.>
Looking forward to some insight.
<Certainly provided. A terrible idea you have here. Back to the drawing board with you!>
Teach me well, because as I said I work at a Pet Store, and unfortunately I often have to do a lot of studying outside of the training that I get at work to get the knowledge that I feel I need to pass on to customers.
<A laudable intention.>
I think it goes without saying that I am fairly new to aquatics as a whole, but I am a sponge for knowledge, so teach away.
<Have done so.>
Studying the rest of your site as you read,
<You would do much better thinking along the lines of a freshwater puffer species. A small group of South American Puffers could coexist with a Plec (I have mine with Panaque nigrolineatus) though Guppies will certainly be nipped. As for snails and shrimps, these are mere pufferfish food, so any combination of the three is doomed, like keeping pigs with truffles.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Hoping to add GSP, foods, live fish as foods,  3/10/10
Thank You so much for the speedy reply, was not expecting that. Wow, where to begin. I completely agree, back to the drawing board it is.
<Indeed! But happy to help.>
Just to verify, it is an moral question when it comes to feeding live fish, is it not?
<Both. In terms of morals, it's certainly cruel and unfair on the prey. In the wild prey animals have space enough to avoid predators most of the time, something that doesn't happen in an aquarium. Also, wild versions of Goldfish and Guppies are not deformed, so they have subdued colours for camouflage, and the right shape for swimming, neither of which holds true for the farmed versions of these fish. Finally, we don't really know whether death by ingestion is painless or not, and there's science either way when it comes to whether fish can feel pain or not. Almost no predatory fish in the hobby needs live fish as food. So all things considered, it's morally difficult to justify feeding live fish to most predators.>
Or do you advise against it for some other reason?
<Yes. There are several practical issues. Firstly, cheap "feeders" commonly introduce parasites. Anything cheap enough to be a feeder won't have received much in terms of healthcare or water quality. Secondly, certain feeders (specifically Goldfish and Minnows) contain thiaminase and large amounts of fat. Thiaminase leads to Vitamin B1 deficiency, and there's ample evidence now that this is a major problem for predators in the wild and in captivity. Bob Fenner has established that *the* major cause of premature mortality among Lionfish is the use of Goldfish as feeders, with all the specimens he's autopsied having unnatural amounts of fat around the internal organs. Finally, there seems to be a link between aggression and the use of live food, with the predators that settle best into community systems being the ones fed fresh or frozen foods instead. In short, if you can get a predator onto non-live foods, you're not only going to save massive amounts of time and money, but you'll also be providing a better, healthier diet. To the folks who think they're losing half the fun, let them instead concentrate on teaching their predators to become hand tame.
My Ctenolucius gar for example feed from forceps, and that way I can show off what a good fishkeeper I am whenever people come to visit!>
I guess it makes sense that even once the puffer has had its fill he would bother the ones that weren't lunch.
<Actually, animals, especially puffers (and of course humans too!) will eat much more in one sitting than they need to. Overfed puffers put a tremendous strain on the filtration system, with issues such as nitrate levels and background acidification coming into play. It's best to feed modestly, small amounts, perhaps daily, perhaps less often when the fish is mature.>
It seems that I'll be needing another tank.
<For GSPs, yes. They're best kept alone, with their own kind, or in a tank that might ultimately be converted to a marine system so you can add Damselfish.>
My thoughts were, to escape the issues involved with the commercially sold feeders, rosy reds, comet goldfish, etc, such as diseased unhealthy fish, that I would try to breed my own.
<Almost never worth bothering with. By all means have a tank of snails in the yard, and use these as often as you want. But don't go out of your way here. You can maintain pufferfish perfectly well on foods from the grocery store. Unshelled shrimp, squid, cockles, tilapia fillet and so on all make good staples. Do read Marco Lichtenberger's excellent piece of thiaminase though, so you can choose the right seafood:
You want to limit thiaminase-containing foods to the minority portion of the diet.>
Guppies because of the quick reproduction and hardiness of the fish, as well as their tolerance of salt when introduced gradually to their existing freshwater tank, and their ability to live in brackish water.
<This is true, but fancy Guppies are less productive than wild Guppies, and neither matches Mosquitofish. In any case, you won't be able to produce these in anything like the numbers you're imagining.>
I am willing to do what it takes to keep all of my fish happy and healthy, including the ones intended as feeders, however short or long they would be living in my tank. And as you said, the one cheap enough to feed are kept in dismal conditions.
My guppies were kept in our community tanks under prime conditions, not the feeder tanks, which is why I would feel safer feeding them to the puffers than the feeder tank fish, which unfortunately are kept under fairly dismal conditions, mainly massive overcrowding =(. I didn't design the store, I just work there. I thought maybe the guppies outnumbering the puffers would make it possible for them to still breed, but I thought wrong lol.
<I fear so, unless the tank was 1000 gallons! I've seen Guppies kept with Piranhas in zoos, but beyond that sort of scale, this just doesn't work.
It's been tried many, many times.>
What would you recommend for feeding puffers than if not live fish.
<For juveniles, wet-frozen krill, Mysis, chopped cockle and mussel, and things like the legs from unshelled shrimps are all ideal. Woodlice (what Americans call Roly-polys I believe) also go down well, and of course any snails of suitable size, such as Physa spp. Adults will eat much the same thing, but for economy's sake you'll probably want to scale up to chunky fish and seafood: cockles, mussels, squid, crab legs, whole shrimp, tilapia fillet, etc. Again, snails of suitable size are good. There are some puffers that take dried foods like algae wafers and marine fish chips, so you might try these, but generally flake and pellets are ignored (though two of my six puffers enjoy Hikari Cichlid Gold).>
I've seen it all over the web that brine shrimp are appropriate (explanation, not defence of the issue),
<Baby brine shrimp (nauplii) are excellent, but adult brine shrimp contain very little in terms of vitamins. You can buy wet-frozen fortified brine shrimp that have vitamins added, and these would be a good addition to the diet of any fish.>
as well as thousands of videos of puffers eating live food, but obviously you can't trust everything you see. As I said I get all the Ramshorn snails that I want for free.
<Well they're excellent, so long as they're from a fish-free pond. Anything collected from a pond with fish runs the risk of introducing internal parasites.>
As to why GSP, we had some come into the store for adoption and I fell in love.
<They are lovely fish, to be sure.>
They were used to freshwater, coming from Wal**rt, but didn't seem to be doing to well in our tanks, low ph I think.
<Likely so, or something similar.>
I was planning on bringing them home but unfortunately they didn't make it at the store. I don't know about where you are, but here they are always sold acclimated to freshwater, and I wanted to give them a chance to thrive by slowly moving them over to brackish.
<Sometimes sold as "freshwater" fish here too, but thankfully not by the better shops.>
As you said these fish are full of personality, and they stuck in my head from the moment I saw them.
I am dreadfully sorry about the small amount of knowledge that I have coming from the LFS. I am new there, but I wouldn't say that anyone has any more knowledge than myself at the store.
<I'm glad you've established your niche and you're willing to work at it. I hope you'll be able to share your knowledge with your colleagues and your customers.>
What would be some good staples to read so that I can educate myself and my coworkers in the fish we sell (all freshwater, mollies, platys, guoramis, goldfish, Plecos, swords, etc. as well as African, Oscar, blood parrot, and just recently flame mouth cichlids.)
<We do have a listing of books that those of us here at WWM have found useful and recommend to others, here:
Unfortunately the store has a habit of hiring folks off the street with very little experience and then training them, but I feel our training should be much more extensive.
<I agree.>
I will be speaking to my GM about possibly requiring some sort of outside training beyond what corporate sends us.
<There *are* courses for tropical fish shop specialists out there, at least here in the UK, and the shops often display certificates to show that their staff have completed these courses and "raised their game" to the next level. That's something I think reflects well on any store.>
Thanks again, cruising your site as you read,
<Glad to help. Enjoy your fishkeeping and your work! Cheers, Neale.>

Green spotted puffer... in FW, sys., hlth.    1/13/10
I've had a FW green spotted puffer for a year and a half almost.
<There is no such thing as a "freshwater" Green Spotted Puffer. Only brackish water Green Spotted Puffers sold as freshwater fish. Retailers aren't completely reliable when it comes to stating the needs of any fish, which is why reading about a species PRIOR to purchase is so critical. In this case, there is ample information available about Tetraodon nigroviridis, and all books and magazines agree, this is a brackish water species.>
He has always been very active and curious up until three days ago. I noticed that he was not as active as he usually is.
<Health is never good when aquarists attempt to keep these fish in freshwater. This cannot be stated too strongly. While the precise salinity isn't important, you do need at least SG 1.005 (9 grammes marine salt mix per litre of water) for long term health. This is quite salty water, and it's important to understand that this isn't the same thing at all as regular freshwater with a spoonful of aquarium tonic salt added per gallon.>
Then the next day when I woke up I found him lying on the rocks. I turned on the light and he had a white, cloudy glaze over both of his eyes. Of course I freaked and did a semi water change.
<Don't freak; read. The information required to keep this species successfully has been understood and written down for at least 50 years -- so there are no surprises here.>
He's moving around more but I feel he could be blind. He's not moving around the tank as though he's aware of anything and the worst part, he's NOT eating. I have noticed the past week that he was not eating as much, but I did not really notice anything wrong until his eyes and that's when he has just fully stopped eating. His stomach is turning a grayish color and it breaks my heart to know that he could starve if I do not fix it. What could be wrong?? Please help me, I love my puffer.
<Contrary to what The Beatles sang, love is not all you need. You need information. In this case, the best hope for your puffer is to transfer it to a brackish water aquarium. If you want to use the aquarium you have, you need to be careful otherwise you could kill the biological filter. Do a 25% water change today, replacing the freshwater in the tank with water that has 9 grammes of marine salt mix (Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, etc.) per litre of water in the bucket added. In other words, for each 10 litre bucket of water you add, stir in 9 x 10 = 90 grammes of marine salt mix. Do the same thing a day or two later, and again, and again, until you've done four 25% water changes across about a week. This will raise the salinity of the water slowly. The pufferfish should immediately perk up. From now on, be sure to keep adding the right amount of marine salt mix to each bucket of water you add. Use a hydrometer to keep tabs on the specific gravity (the basic $5 floating glass models are fine, so long as they go down to 1.000). Top up evaporation with tap water, not brackish water, though.
That's it! Cheers, Neale.>

SG flux GSP tank  9/21/09
Good evening crew. I have a GSP tank that I normally keep at SG of 1.013 for well over a year now. After my last water change, I don't know if I was distracted or what, but I added a bit too much salt to the make up water and now I have a reading of 1.015 in the main tank. How bad is this going to be for the biological filter and should I do a partial water change of fresh to remedy this ASAP? The fish seem unaffected, but from what I have read you are supposed to do any increases very gradual and that even .002 jump should be over a week or so. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
<Hello Keith. It's very unlikely you've done any serious harm. Filter bacteria adapt to fairly big changes in salinity. Your fish, being brackish water fish, couldn't care less. In fact adult GSPs do perfectly well from
1.005 to 1.025. So if everyone seems happy, and there's no nitrite or ammonia in the system, you needn't worry. Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer, env., hlth.  -- 09/08/09
Hello, I need some advice.
I purchased a Green Spotted Puffer 3 weeks ago. After 2 weeks I found him dead. I returned him to the store and got another GSP. 1 week later he was dead. I just got another today and I do not want the same fate as the others.
<Hm... a pattern is emerging...>
However I am not sure what I am doing wrong. I have tested my water and so did the fish store... water quality was very good.
<Need numbers! Lots of folks have misconceptions of what "good" water quality and water chemistry might be. In the case of Green Spotted Puffers, ammonia and nitrite must both be 0, and nitrate should be as low as practically, ideally less than 20 mg/l.>
At this point they were still in fresh water.
<This never does this puffers much good. So apart from a pH around 7.5 to 8, and a hardness level 10 degrees dH or higher, you really should be adding some marine salt mix to the water. For juveniles, a least 6 grammes per litre (about SG 1.003 at 25 C) is fine, but once they get to above 8-10 cm/3-4 inches, you need to be adding about 9-16 grammes per litre (SG 1.005 to 1.010 at 25 C).>
I was going to change them to brackish water but never got the chance since they keep dying.
<Try doing things the other way around: set up a brackish water aquarium, and then add your puffer.>
I have been feeding them 2 times a day skipping 1 meal a week. Their menu consists of snails, frozen bloodworms and frozen brine shrimp. I try to give them at least 1 snail per feeding and either brine shrimp or
bloodworms. They would gobble them up with no hesitation.
<Diet sounds fine.>
I quit feeding them after the stomachs were rounded. Any ideas why they keep dying?
<Presumably environmental; review tank size, filtration, water circulation rate. Puffers have high oxygen demands, and a good, strong filter is essential. I'd be looking at something rated at 6-8 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So for a 30 gallon tank, 6 x 30 = 180 gallons/hour would be the minimum viable filter.>
Should I switch the tank to brackish water right now to see if that helps?
The tank is fully cycled and the temperature is kept at 75-78 degrees. I put a lunar light on the tank for night viewing. Will this hurt them in any way?
<Don't leave these lights on all night, just an hour or two. Whether they're "harm" the fish is debatable, but they aren't natural and may make it difficult for fish to sleep normally.>
I appreciate any help you can give me. I hate to keep losing fish for no reason.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer   9/9/09
Sorry... Numbers:
Ammonia = 0
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = about 5 -10
Hardness = 250
Alkalinity = 180
pH = 8
<All sounds fine.>
My filter cycles the tank about 9-10 times per hour. I am also running 2 sponge filters to help with bacteria growth and oxygen. I will switch it to brackish water tonight...
<Suspect this will help.>
<There's a nice review of the species, here:
In general, these are hardy fish, but if kept in freshwater for too long, do get sickly. Do watch for things like overfeeding, and ensure the tank has a good circulation, as puffers are invariably sensitive to low oxygen
concentrations. Cheers, Neale.>

Green spotted puffers, sys., comp.    8/29/2009
Hi I just recently set up a 45 gal freshwater aquarium and wanted to know if it were at all possible to keep the puffers as strictly freshwater fish
<No, not Green Spotted Puffers, no. Both Tetraodon nigroviridis and Tetraodon fluviatilis need to be kept in a brackish water aquarium.>
and if so can they be housed with chiclids.
<Generally, no, cichlids make poor companions for cichlids. I have kept both South American Puffers (Colomesus asellus) and the Red-tail Puffer (Carinotetraodon irrubesco) with certain cichlids in a large aquarium, but realistically, most people find the combination of cichlids (which are territorial) and puffers (which explore and bite everything) a bad idea.
Pufferfish are simply much better kept in their own quarters, perhaps singly, or if you have space, in groups. They are certainly very entertaining fish, and usually quickly become tame. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Novice Makes a Ton of Mistakes That May Kill Fish. Is the problem fungus?  8/12/09
Sorry I forgot to keep you up to date!? I guess I lost this email! Thank
you for your help!
<Happy to help.>
All of my fish survived.? Mostly I think I was overreacting (especially about the puffer, whom I baby more than anyone ever should baby a fish... it's almost a little creepy, but I admit to it!)? I used Melafix to treat the Popeye after all of the other treatments had been filtered out, and replaced the water with reverse osmosis water in 25% increments.?? No eyes were lost, no fish died, and I really learned a valuable lesson.
BUT! I have a question:? My Green Spotted Puffer had been staying in the tank, until I noticed some odd behavior.? She used to pick on EVERYBODY, even the Green Terror who is more than twice her size and another cichlid who chases the other fish so violently I'm on the verge of giving him to the pet store down the street (who swears they won't flush him), however, I think she may have suffered a little bit of a "beat down."?
<Green Spotted Puffers, widely called GSPs, aren't community fish. Period.
End of story. Adult males are territorial when mature, and both sexes view the fins of other fish as potential food. They are normally kept alone or with their own kind. 30 gallons is about right for one, 55 gallons for two.
Finally, GSPs need brackish water. They CANNOT be kept indefinitely in freshwater, whatever the guy in the pet store might have suggest. Indeed, there's some evidence they need marine conditions to breed.>
She had been swimming only in the top corner of the tank and avoiding the other fish (I at first assumed she'd go back to her old ways, and kick some tail but she didn't!) She was once so aggressive I had to fight to convince everyone she was worth it, but she began running away from even the feeder fish! Her colors even got very dark.
<What is the salinity of the water? When GSPs lose colour, it's often a sign that they're being kept in the wrong conditions. Juveniles need to be kept at around SG 1.005 at 25 degrees C, about 9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water. Adults will need about twice that salinity.>
I was scared, so I bagged her up (she usually stays at my 55 gallon that has no place in my house and therefore stays at my boyfriends') and took her home. Before I even got out of the car I noticed her colors had brightened and she was genuinely (and a little stupidly) exploring the bag (a normal fish store bag with about four inches of water in it.).
Anyhow, she seems fine, (she explores the tank and "herds the feeders," watches me type pretty intently, and hasn't really slept yet), but she's stuck in a tank that I know is too small for her, (I think it's only ten
<Do not feed this fish feeder fish. Indeed, don't feed ANY fish feeder fish. The only people who use store-bought feeder fish are people who haven't thought through what they're doing. I'm not against the use of live
fish _per se_, as it can be the only way to keep (a very few) difficult predatory fish species. But those feeders must, repeat MUST, be home-bred and gut-loaded. The most idiotic thing you can do is buy Goldfish or Minnows as feeder fish. At the price they're sold at, they're maintained in squalid (read: disease-ridden) conditions, and they're also filled with fat and thiaminase that cause MAJOR health problems. Luckily, here in the UK, feeder fish simply aren't sold any more, but in some parts of the world
they may still be on sale. Don't buy them. Read more, here:
She's only about an inch long, and the only other inhabitants are a couple of fiddlers, who are scared of her (she enjoys chasing them onto the land, or into the tunnel underneath it), and some feeders I got for her.
<Why...? Where did you read that GSPs eat small fish? What book? They don't. They eat invertebrates and some plant material, as well as the fins of larger fish. Do read here:
How long can/should she stay there??
<Few days, maybe weeks. GSPs need brackish water conditions.>
I'm a little short on the cash I would need to get a bigger tank, and before I borrow money from my parents (and persuade them it's necessary)
I'd like to know the time frame.
<Don't buy a fish until AFTER you have researched its needs. In this case, you've created an expensive problem, because you have a fish that gets big (15 cm/6 inches) and is so aggressive it can't normally be kept with other species. It grows quickly, and within a year will be at least half grown.
I'd like to be able to offer a cheap workaround, but you know what, there aren't always quick solutions. Hence, you research BEFORE you buy. I'd have told you this if you'd asked, and saved you some money.>
AND do you think she could go back into the big tank anytime?
Thank you for your input!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Use of Marine Buffer in Tropical Brackish Tank for Green Spotted Puffer   7/26/09
Hi Guys,
I am setting up a 46 Bow Front aquarium for a pufferfish (green spotted). I live in an area (St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada) where the water supply comes from fresh water rivers that drain into a peat bog/pond, so is soft (about 6.5-6.9 pH). I intend to use synthetic marine salt mix and measure it with a hydrometer to get it too 1.005 specific gravity. Here is my issue:
even with marine salt mix added to make the water brackish the pH and hardness seem too low to me. When I measure the pH with my test kit (Hagen Master Test Kit, or the Hagen mini masters test kit) I cannot get it to go over 7 to 7.3. I want it to be at 8.
<For juvenile Puffers at SG 1.005, this pH isn't all that bad, and if you add some carbonate hardness to the system, e.g., crushed coral in one of the canister filters, you should find the pH rises a bit anyway.>
If I add some SeaChem Marine Buffer will this work?
<Yes, though a half-dose might be all you need. Personally, I'd simply use
an Rift Cichlid salt mix, as here:
A half or full dose should be ample.>
The label advises that it will raise the pH to 8.3 and buffer it too. The water has low carbonate hardness as well. Also, when I set this aquarium up should I just add the salt, the marine buffer (if okay to use), set temperature and equipment, and then wait? I tried to set up a brackish water aquarium prior but couldn't get the Ammonia to go down to zero after about 2 months and just gave up knowing if I could raise the pH with the ammonia present everything would likely just die.
<Ammonia won't ever reach zero if you do any of the following: [a] Overstock the tank. [b] Provide inadequate filtration, or use inappropriate media for biological filtration. [c] Overfeed the fish dramatically.
Pufferfish need generous tanks, and while your tank should be adequate for an adult specimen, possibly two, this does depend upon well filtered the system is. At minimum, you want a filter rated at 6 times the volume of the tank, in this case 276 gallons per hour (i.e., 4 x 46). Personally, I'd up that a bit, and keep my puffers in systems 8-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. Filters should be predominantly biological in nature, with good quality sponges and ceramic media. These media should be cleaned every 4-6 weeks by rinsing them in a bucket of aquarium water.
Crushed coral in a media bag could be added to one compartment in a canister filter. There's little/no use for other media: carbon, nitrate remover, Zeolite, etc., and in fact using these "wastes" useful capacity of a filter, potentially allowing ammonia levels to stay high even when turnover levels are adequate. (Though admittedly, after a couple of weeks, carbon becomes a good medium for biological filtration bacteria, though at the same time stops doing any of the things carbon is assumed to perform.>
I am sure that I read that adding the synthetic marine salt mix would take care of the pH and the KH.
<It will at adequate levels; at SG 1.010 at 25 C, you should find pH and KH very stable and at ideal values. You certainly can keep juvenile GSPs at that level, though it's more normal to keep adults, upwards of 8 cm/3 inches, at such levels.>
Is this true, or do I have to do something else as well to "fix" the water so it is right for a green spotted pufferfish. I will do anything I can do or buy anything I can purchase to make the tank correct.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Salinity, T. nigroviridis 11/03/08 Hi! I'm setting up a brackish water tank for new Tetraodon nigroviridis. I'm planning just one in 130liters aquarium. I set up a tank with coral sand and some rocks and I have hydrometer already and marine salt but I'm little bit confused about SG. I was reading your page and there is advice 1.010? Is it right? And one more thing, how can I cycle the system? I mean bacterias. Thank you very much for your help and I'm very sorry for my poor English. :) Zuzka <Hello! Tetraodon nigroviridis will be fine at 1.005 when young (up to about 8 cm) and after that, slowly raise the salinity across a few months to around 1.010. Do this slowly so the bacteria can adjust. If you have a freshwater aquarium, move some mature media from that tank's filter into the filter in your Pufferfish tank. Leave the tank running at, say, SG 1.003. The bacteria will adjust instantly and provide perfect water quality. Over the next few months, slowly adjust the salinity upwards to SG 1.005. You will be fine at that salinity for the next 6-12 months. Cheers, Neale.>

Stressed Green Spotted Puffer... reading    11/18/08 Hello, I have had a Green Spotted Puffer for about a month now. He has been very healthy and seemingly happy, though occasionally he appears to be 'dirty.' <Stress...> Soon, I realized that he is not dirty, but the skin on his belly changes colors. From a fellow puffer owner, I learned that this is an indication of stress. I believe it, but I am unsure why my puffer would ever be stressed. His living conditions are optimal and he is 'an only child' being the only fish in a 10 gallon tank. <Mmm... are actually social animals... and ten gallons is too small to be stable, optimal> Initially I was unconcerned about these color changes, but now after adding a second fish to the tank, a male Dwarf Gourami (sp?) <Colisa? Not brackish water animals... but the Puffer is...> who is about 2 inches long, my puffer does not seem happy at all. He is a darker color all over, hides (which he has never done before), stays near the bottom of the tank, and seems listless and nervous. The fish man at the fish store assumed me that if anyone was intimidated, it should be the new guy. My puffer was aggressive when he lived in the packed tank at the Wal-mart <Thought this mass merchandiser had finally given up on killing livestock, mis-dis-informing the public...> he came from, but now he is quite cowardly. Both fish seem to be avoiding each other, there has been no aggression or attack so far. I'd love to keep both, but if my puffer is going to be stressed out, the new guy is going back to the store. Is there anything I can do to improve the situation? <Yep> Are these two able to live together? <Nope> Can my puffer die from stress?? <Yep> Oh, and tank specifics: 10 gal, brackish, 78 to 80 degrees, several plants and with gravel. Diet: mostly brine shrimp, snails, ghost shrimp, and he refuses to eat flakes.... <... don't eat such...> How do I de-stress my puffer? Please help!! Thanks, Lauren <All revealed here: http://wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm and the linked files above. These fishes are not compatible... the puffer needs brackish setting... Read on! Bob Fenner>

Re: Stressed Green Spotted Puffer  11/19/08 Bob, Thank you for your help so far! I do feel the need to give a bit more detail and an update. As of today, my two fish now seem to be totally fine and compatible and my puffer's color has improved, both swim around happily. <Green spotted puffers (Tetraodon nigroviridis) will tolerate freshwater conditions for some time, certainly months. They're not good "community" fish though, and as Bob said last time, they're best kept in groups of their own kind, or with other large brackish water puffers, such as Ceylon Puffers (Tetraodon fluviatilis).> But as you say, the Gourami will not tolerate the brackish water...I suppose I will not be keeping him (regretfully). <Best not to keep them together regardless of water chemistry issues: sooner or later, the Puffers will become aggressive and nip the poor Gourami.> And another question, is my puffer a juvenile or baby, and can age be determined? <Without knowing the size, it's difficult to say. But the 4-6 cm (1.5-2 inch) specimens you see in pet stores are less than a year old.> He's been with me a month since coming from the store. I know they can grow, but I've seen various adult sizes on the web, from just 3 inches or up to 6in?? <The average size of an adult Tetraodon nigroviridis is about 12-15 cm (5-6 inches).> I also read that as the puffers mature, they travel to salt water. <Not true.> Can he live out his life in brackish water? <Absolutely! Keep the specific gravity at 1.003-1.005 (6-9 grammes per litre) for the first year or two, and then gradually nudge the salinity up to around 1.010 (15.5 grammes per litre). The exact salinity actually doesn't matter all that much, so long as the water is hard, alkaline, and has some salt added. Marine salt mix takes care of all three issues at once. Many people do keep them in marine tanks as adults, though mostly for practical reasons. It's easier to use live rock for filtration, and you can mix them with saltwater fish like damsels.> And you mentioned that puffers are social, but with what type of fish will he be social, without the bullying, stress, or crowding? <These puffers are best kept with their own kind. While young specimens can be kept in smaller tanks, ultimately you'll want to allow 20-30 gallons per adult specimen.> THANK YOU again! Lauren <Cheers, Neale.>

GSP from brackish to marine  12/22/08 First of all I would like to thank WWM and Pufferpunk for all the information on GSPs that is available on this site. This has ended up being the only information I have been able to actually use that I have found on GSPs on the internet. <Jeni has her own web site too, called the Puffer Forum. A good place for pufferfish chit-chat and discussion.> I have had my GSP for about a year now, and he is growing and doing great. I originally had him in a 29 gallon tank with another GSP when they were small, about 1.5 inches each. I kept them in very light brackish water for a long time, hovering at about 1.008. <Hmm... this isn't "very light" brackish water at all, but more a middling level of salinity. You could comfortably keep Tetraodon nigroviridis at this level for its entire life.> I didn't raise the SG much for awhile because one of the puffers wasn't growing anymore, while the one I have now continued to grow normally. I set up a 55 gallon tank about 5 months ago when I moved, with a whole bunch of rock, some from the 29 that I had placed in there to seed it, aragonite sand at about 2" depth, and some java moss from the 29 gallon tank. The tank basically never cycled because of the rock from the 29, and an established filter I placed on the tank from the 29. I placed both fish in the tank and they were doing great until the small one jumped out of a 1"x16" gap in the glass covers, so now I only have the one healthy fish. I want to say he is at least 3" in length, very round, and very healthy. <Three inches? He's still a pup!> He survived all the mistakes I made as a first time GSP owner and never even looked stressed, although I'm sure he was. I have been raising the SG in the tank, which is now at I believe 1.014 or so. <Well above 50% seawater salinity. More than enough salt for this species. It's important to understand that this is a freshwater fish in the wild. Moreover, while juveniles do occur in brackish water, they migrate into freshwater habitats as adults. The idea they need increasing levels of salinity as they mature is not likely to be correct, and certainly doesn't match their biology in the wild. Jeni and I have argued this point more than once. In short, my argument is that they don't need high levels of salinity at all: why they do well in marine tanks is that problems with nitrate and pH variation tend to be less in such tanks because of the use of skimmers, live rock, and the carbonate hardness in the marine salt mix. Since protein skimmers work from SG 1.010 upwards, you can certainly use them in a brackish tank, and the carbonate hardness in brackish water made with marine salt mix should be sufficient as well. All the discussions about what GSP need in captivity contrast their success in saltwater tanks with their tendency to get sick in freshwater tanks; they appear to do equally well in middling brackish conditions and salt water tanks. So choose between these two according to your preferences and budget. Or put another way: if using less than half the marine salt mix means you can (will) do more than twice the amount of water changes per month, then middling brackish water will offer better (lower nitrate) water conditions than a saltwater tank.> I would really like to get the GSPs tank to full marine as soon as possible because of the ease of keeping the water clean, and the fact that I have much more experience with keeping a saltwater tank. In reading Pufferpunk's GSP article again I noticed that she would like to see an SG of 1.018-1.022 as the puffer reaches about 4". I wonder if I could continue to raise the SG of my fishes tank even though it is only about 3"? <This is something I am not certain about. The problem is that Tetraodon nigroviridis is a freshwater fish in the wild, and while it appears to do perfectly well in saltwater under the regime Jeni discusses, I'm aware of nothing to say it adapts well to seawater when much smaller. So I'd hold off.> I would really like to get live rock in there and a skimmer soon. <Skimmer will work already.> Would this cause stress to the fish if marine conditions are employed too soon in its development? <Unknown.> I also have been trying to find information on keeping this fish with other marine fish, and I am coming up short. <Can be treated like any other large, semi-aggressive member of the Tetraodontidae, and expected to work well with robust, fast-moving fish such as Sergeant Majors and some of the Dascyllus spp., assuming there is ample rockwork for the Pomacentrids to dive for cover. The main problem is that both Tetraodon nigroviridis and Tetraodon fluviatilis are known fin-eaters in the wild. They are not aggressive as such (another argument I have with Jeni) except when spawning, when the males guard the eggs. But they do bite other fish. It's a semantic difference not a practical one: whether a fish bites its tankmates for food or because it's angry hardly matters! In fact both these Tetraodon species are best kept in groups of their own kind.> I know that Pufferpunk keeps some other marine fish in her tanks, and of course the fish would be expendable, which is fine with me. <No fish should be expendable. Not only is it cruel and very bad karma, but it's also an avenue to practical problems. Stressed fish get sick, and sick fish need treating. Many copper-based treatments are bad for pufferfish, under some circumstances at least. Sick fish die, and when they die, water quality plummets. Fish that feed on live food, particularly live fish, become more aggressive. Any fish cheap enough to be viewed as "food" is unlikely to have been maintained under clean conditions, and so you have a (common) cause of bacterial and parasitic infections. Either add companion fishes that will work, or don't; there are no other options.> I would probably just get some chromis or something that are cheap and fast. Also, I would like to be able to place coral fragments out of my reef tank in there if I need to, and actually I would like to keep coral in the tank in the long run with the GSP. <Pufferfish generally view corals as food. Tetraodon nigroviridis is a grazer in the wild that consumes significant amounts of plant and algae material, something many fishkeepers ignore. It would very likely view corals as potential food, especially given that "genetically" it's not conditioned to know what a coral actually is.> I know that is not their natural habitat, but it would really make the tank look nice as I am not a fan of using fake decorations. <Why not actually create an authentic-looking brackish water habitat? There are some great 3-D backgrounds you can add to tanks that look like rocks or bricks, and these would make a realistic harbour wall. Add some fake seaweed, some of those ceramic chains, and clumps of oyster shells siliconed together and you'd complete the scene. Cheap, easy, and once the algae had taken root, authentic. Because lighting wouldn't be an issue, you could use halogen spot lights above the tank to create a dappled water effect similar to what you see in public aquaria.> I know GSPs nip things, but I would like to try some hardy corals and see if anything works. I kept plants with this fish and he didn't seem to bother them, I didn't see many hole punches in them. <Puffers vary in this habit. My two South Americans leave "punch outs" in everything green!> The fish seems very docile now, he is living with 3 or 4 Amano cleaner shrimps I have had for a long time and doesn't even look at them twice. <You might also try blue-legged hermit crabs, which do well from SG 1.010 upwards. But eventually (I expect) any shrimps or hermits will be eaten.> I know he is supposed to become more aggressive as he matures, but not eating the shrimp and the way he acted with the other GSP makes me wonder if he is just generally docile and might get along with possibly coral or other marine fish. <Fish, like people, vary. And sometimes new behaviours only develop with time. On the other hand, in the right tank and, dare I say it, with the right keeper, perhaps bad behaviours are sometimes less of a problem. Still, it's wise not to bank on a supposedly nippy fish remaining good all the time, just because he's good at the moment.> Thanks. Sorry this is so long, I tend to type a lot. Scott <Cheers, Neale.>

Green Spotted Puffer (RMF, comments on marine fish salinity?)    8/16/08 Hello, <Hello there!> I have a question about Green Spotted Puffers. From what I have read and compiled on average a GSP should be in medium to high brackish water, and that they will tolerate full marine. My question is, what is their optimum conditions SG wise if they are the main focus of the tank. <It couldn't matter less, they are fully euryhaline fish. Anything within the range SG 1.005-1.015 will do, though when the salinity is lower, you will need to watch the pH and carbonate hardness a bit more carefully. Being big and messy fish they tend to put a strain on the system, and that means acidification is more of a problem. Marine salt mix contains lots of carbonate hardness, but if you aren't using much marine salt mix, then the rate of acidification will increase.> I would like to have a few marine "friends" and possibly live rock, but only if they will be just as well off as they would be in a higher brackish setup. They are olive sized right now at SG of 1.008. They were purchased as freshwater several months ago when they were jellybean sized. <Live rock will almost certainly need to be kept at fully marine conditions if you want the small invertebrates to survive. The bacteria of course couldn't mind less and will adapt to lower salinity conditions, but why use prime live rock for that? Base rock would be adequate. Most marine fish need at least SG 1.018 to do well, though there are some somewhat euryhaline species in the trade that tolerate a broad range of salinities, for example some Lutjanus and Abudefduf species, so with a bit of research you will find suitable fish if you want to run the tank at SG 1.015-1.018.> I am a little fuzzy on allowable SG for marine life in general, I know of some people with non reef setups that have theirs at SG of 1.019. <Historically marine fish in fish-only systems were commonly maintained at reduced salinities because it (supposedly at least) reduced the workload on their physiology, allowing them to adapt more quickly to life in captivity. That said, when that was standard practise the selection of fish was somewhat smaller, and only relatively hardy species were commonly maintained successfully for any length of time. So there may well be a lot of species that are now traded that don't thrive at reduced salinities. In any event, mixing tankmates with Green Spotted Puffers is somewhat risky, and you would certainly be confining your choices to robust, potentially semi-aggressive species able to look after themselves. Sergeant Majors, for example, rather than Butterflyfish!> Any help would be greatly appreciated even so at what age/size I should be raising the salinity upwards. Thank you. Keith PS, the tank is a 55 gal with aragonite sugar sized sand (not live) and a Penguin 200 and a penguin 150 as filtration. Their tankmates right now are a ghost shrimp (which at their current size they don't bother, but I am sure they will), and a pair of black mollies. <The tank is probably a bit small for mixing too much stuff with your GSPs. If you had a bunch of rock in there, a Damselfish might be an option, but mixing, say, a Lionfish or Moray would overstock the tank anyway, and in small quarters the fish wouldn't be able to avoid each other, increasing the odds of trouble. Cheers, Neale.> <<Well done, as usual, Neale. RMF>>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer (RMF, comments on marine fish salinity?)   8/16/08 Thank you for the reply. <You're welcome.> So adult GSP's do not ever "need" to be full marine, but will do just as well? <Correct. They're actually freshwater fish in the wild, with only the juveniles (apparently) living in estuaries. But for various reasons, like a lot of other fish of this sort do better in brackish or salt water *under aquarium conditions*.> Base rock would probably be a better idea, thank you for the suggestion. I was thinking about going full marine salinity because I wanted to try gobies or a blenny or something like that would live in the little crevices made by the rocks that might be able to at least mimic a cleanup crew that would be hopefully a little less desirable for a puffer yo eat than shrimp, crabs and other traditional cleaner uppers... <You don't need a clean-up crew. Think about this. What's the job of the clean-up crew? To break down organic matter (e.g., dead animals, uneaten food) in a reef tank because you can't move the rock and corals to manually remove such stuff. In any other aquarium, it is ALWAYS better to do this manually: less ammonia, so less nitrate. Adding a clean-up crew increases the bioload, so while it prevents one sort of problem decay, it actually makes overall water quality *more difficult* to maintain at a high standard. In the Pufferfish aquarium, nitrate is a potential killer, so simply remove uneaten food by hand. I find a turkey baster great for this.> plus I like marine gobies and blennies quite a bit :-) <That's something else entirely. Whether or not such fish would be safe with large Tetraodon spp is debatable; puffers do tend to be at least somewhat aggressive and/or nippy, and a slow-moving fish like a goby or blenny is an easy target. If all the goby/blenny did was hide in the rocks... why bother? So think about this carefully before acting. There are much more sociable pufferfish in the marine scene worth investigating first, e.g., Arothron spp.; Canthigaster spp. Cheers, Neale.>

Good working environment for a few green spotted puffers (Tetraodon nigroviridis, I'm positive).  - 7/1/08 Hello wonderful and dedicated crew of WWM! <Hello,> I humbly ask for further assistance in creating a good working environment for a few green spotted puffers (Tetraodon nigroviridis, I'm positive). A while ago my boyfriend bought me a GSP on impulse which sadly didn't make it due to a number of conditions, most notably my lack of knowledge and proper housing. But I am determined to succeed with GSPs in the future (!). Currently I have a 75 gal tank (yay hand-me-downs) with aragonite substrate, as a suggestion from Neale previously but I could have just made that up. Can sand and the aragonite gravel be mixed together? <Yes. A mix of fine silica sand, coral sand, and broken sea shells actually makes a very authentic looking substrate for the brackish water aquarium.> My hardness test strip seems to read off the chart. Can the water be too hard? Ph reading is 8.2 if I remember right. <Don't worry about this. The hardness will be appreciated by the Puffers.> I cycled it (before I knew better, after it was too late I read that cycling with feeders is a bad idea) with feeder Rosey reds and a trapdoor snail. I don't think they were sick, but they did keep getting stuck to the filter intake and dying... <When fish get 'sucked up' by filters it almost always means that they were sick/dead anyway. Most healthy fish can EASILY swim stronger the filter sucks water.> My nitrate levels currently read 20ppm (what are 'normal' levels? and what can I do to lower them if they get too high... water change, right?). I've read that puffers like to eat snails so I bought a few Trumpet/ Malaysian snails that I've heard do well in BW. <Nitrate at 20 ppm is fine. Try to avoid constant exposure to levels above 50 ppm. In itself though Nitrate rarely causes problems. Weekly water changes of 25-50% normally do a good job of nitrate control. Yes, Melanoides snails THRIVE in brackish water up to about 50% seawater (SG 1.010).> I was hoping that the snails would breed faster than the puffers could eat them. <These snails usually do well in Puffer tanks; certainly in my tanks the Puffers rarely eat them all. Perhaps the odd baby, but beyond that the nocturnal/burrowing habits keep the snails mostly safely hidden. They are excellent scavengers, as well as quite pretty animals in their own right.> What about trapdoor snails? I have a home lined up if need be, but how well do they fair in BW? <Nope; will die in brackish water. Could be used as live food though!> I was hoping to have just 4 GSPs and those snails in that 75 gal tank... is that possible or too many? <Does depend on the GSP, though we normally recommend about 30 gallons per specimen. By all means try and see what happens. Males are likely the more aggressive since they're the ones that guard the fry. Buy them as small fish, rear them together, provide lots of hiding places, and look out for bite marks.> Possibility of other compatible fish? Mostly out of curiosity than desire. <GSPs usually make poor tankmates for other fish.> Also about live plants? Neale told me before that I can keep puffers in low SG (1.003-1.005) until they mature slightly. But I'd need to up the SG to ~1.010 later, will any plants survive that SG and puffers? <Large puffers usually demolish plants by biting them while hunting/out of curiosity. Moreover, GSPs are partly herbivorous. I'd honestly go with plastic plants; nice big seaweed or tape grass types would be ideal. Otherwise grab some oyster shells from the grocery store (eat the oysters or chop up and freeze as puffer food). Use silicone to glue to rocks. Make your own rocky reef! Very authentic, attractive decoration.> I've read about java ferns and moss, but sources I've looked at can be contradictory so I'm not sure what to believe. <Both do well to SG 1.005, perhaps slightly higher.> Will adding marine salt to my tank kill off my newly established bio filter? <Not if done carefully. Go to SG 1.002/1.003 first, and leave running for a few months. Then over a few weeks raise to SG 1.005 via water changes, a bit at a time. Use your nitrite test kit to check the filter is happy, but you will be fine, I'm sure.> Also I don't really know anything about regular filter stuff, I tried to research it several times but I felt overwhelmed by the information. Any links to beginner, easy to understand filter info? <Here's my summary at WWM; other articles linked therein: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfiltrmedart.htm > Any suggestions for a newbie would be greatly appreciated. I'd like to figure out everything I can before I have another disaster. Thanks! Jasmynn <Hope that covers everything! Neale.>

A sweet picture of a sweet puffer 6/2/08 Dear Wet Web Media (and most especially Pufferpunk, whose unflagging knowledge leaves me awed), <Awww... shucks, thanks Micah. What a wonderful compliment!> I'm just writing to send you a picture of the GSP whose life PP saved. He now happily patrols his sectioned-off 15 gallons (the other 30 gallons of the tank are shared by a few Malawi cichlids) and he readily partakes of common pond snails, thawed frozen blood worms, gut-loaded ghost shrimp and Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp. Next, we're going to try to introduce some cichlid pellets, though it's much harder to make those look even sort of lifelike... =) <I'm so glad he's doing well. Be sure to feed your puffer lots of meaty foods. Here are more ideas on foods for your puffer: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ How are the plans for his own tank? I'm sure the cichlids would like to have their tank back soon. For some reason, I can't download pics from this site but I'm hoping it will come out on our FAQs. An update on his happiness & health is a fantastic end to the wonderful birthday I'm having today! Thanks for keeping in touch. ~PP>

Re: A sweet picture of a sweet puffer  6/10/08 Pufferpunk, <Hi Micah> Today I transferred the puffer to his own tank (now detoxed of all the ammonia caused by the dead snails and bacteria... I changed out 90% of the water and vacuumed the gravel, though I didn't wash any of the gravel or decorations because I've had the filter running on that tank the whole time my puffer has been in the cichlid tank). I tested the levels in the tank, and they read: ammonia 0 ppm, nitrites 0 ppm, nitrates 40 ppm, <Best kept below 20.> pH 8.2. Temperature is between 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Specific gravity is negligible -- at least, it doesn't even register on my hygrometer. <Hydrometer> In a week I'll add a small amount of marine salt so I can start introducing him to the brackish water he should be living in. <Yes, I'd give him & the biological bacteria some time to settle in.> I do have one question, about feeding him. He's turned out to be an incredibly picky eater, though not in terms of frozen vs. live food. He readily accepts Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp and blood worms (both thawed shortly before being offered to him), but he hates more or less everything else. He won't eat ghost shrimp (I put a few in his tank, and a week later they were still all alive), he doesn't like plankton (he'll take a bite and then spit it out), he doesn't like krill (he seems to really enjoy tearing them up but not swallowing them), he won't accept cichlid pellets (those don't even make it into his mouth), and he's hit or miss when it comes to pond snails. I know he needs a more varied diet than he's getting, but he doesn't seem to want anything else I've been offering. Any ideas? I've heard soaking food in a garlic solution beforehand can whet the appetite. <Garlic should enhance his appetite. I don't know of any healthy puffer that would ever turn down live worms. ~PP> Cheers, Micah

Puffer help Please 5/29/08 I'm wanting to start an aquarium for some puffer fish (they're just so cute!) My boyfriend brought one home, I've been cooing over them for about 6 months now. But I didn't have anything to put him in but a *tiny* one gal tank. I hatched Triops a few times. One gal was fine for them, but not for little Vlad. <Indeed.> So I found a tank on Craigslist for $175. Huge 75 gal tank with all kinds of stuff... and fish. I've always wanted an aquarium, but my boyfriend freaked out. That was a good price for what I would get, I thought, so I went and got it. <Sounds a good deal to me!> So poor little Vlad went into the big tank with all these other big fish... It came with a kissing Gourami, a Columbian shark, and two frogs, African clawed I think. <Hmm... the frogs are a definite no-no with puffers; even putting aside differences in water chemistry requirements, sooner or later the puffer will nip at them.> I was worried about that but he didn't look to happy in the tiny one. I was sure to watch to make sure no one would eat him. They all seem to get along fine but I'm trying to find new homes for these other guys. Vlad is going to have a lot of room to himself for awhile until I get everything set up. Also I didn't want to take him back, all the fish at Wal-mart are sick. <!> I've read a lot but I'm having a hard time trying to integrate the info I've learned. I'd like some personal experience help if anyone doesn't mind... <Come to the right place for that...> First Vlad is very stressed out, I'm really worried about him but I just don't know how to correctly take care of him. Poor little guy looks like he has some kind of fungus growing on him. He has little dots on his back and a whitish grey puffy cottony ball on his eye. I moved him back to the tiny tank hoping to rehome the other fish and not wanting them to get sick as well. <Fungus looks like cotton wool. Very common when brackish water fish are kept in freshwater tanks. Since you've got a Kissing Gourami and some frogs, you clearly aren't maintaining this as a brackish water system. If you were adding enough salt for the Puffer to be happy (SG 1.005, about one-fifth normal seawater salinity; 9 grammes marine salt mix per litres, or 1.2 oz/US gal.) -- the Gourami and the frogs would be dead, or at least very, very unhappy!> I got some medicine for him and added it too the water (CopperSafe and Malachite (sp) green the only thing available to buy at 1 am). <The medication of choice here would be eSHa 2000 (in the UK) or Maracyn (in the US) or some equivalent drug that treats both Finrot and Fungus, just to be on the safe side. There's some reports Pufferfish react badly to some medications. I can't say I've experienced this myself, but I use eSHa 2000, a European product, and have never had problems with any of the puffers I keep.> I added some aquarium salt to the water (both tanks) also, not as much because of the frogs but I thought they would be okay for a bit until I found them a new home (I have a prospective new mommy already). <Good; long term this won't work.> Maybe 1/3 of what it says on the box for the big tank. I think the shark is BW too? <Yes. In fact Sciades seemanni, the catfish you have, is only a freshwater fish when young, and occurs in both brackish water and saltwater habitats once mature. For long term success, it should be kept in a group (ideally, a trio or more) at SG 1.005-1.015. The Puffer could be one of three species: Tetraodon biocellatus (the Figure-8 Puffer), Tetraodon fluviatilis or Tetraodon nigroviridis (this last two both traded as Green Spotted Puffers). Tetraodon biocellatus is happy at SG 1.005 to 1.010; Tetraodon fluviatilis or Tetraodon nigroviridis really need around SG 1.010 to do well once mature. All three puffers are extremely hardy and robust fish, but their success in *community tank* systems is variable, so I'd recommend you take a moment to confirm which species you have (doing a Google search using these Latin names should help). Tetraodon biocellatus is small (~8 cm) and *usually* tolerant of tankmates. Tetraodon fluviatilis or Tetraodon nigroviridis can be feisty and often end up being kept in single-species set-ups. By no means do they always turn "mean", but some, perhaps the males, do and both species have been observed to eat the fins/scales of large fish in the wild. Colombian Sharks are extremely docile (though predatory) fish that are utter pussy cats when it comes to temperament, so I like to keep them with midwater, schooling species that will leave them alone.> Did I do okay? <In terms of upgrading the tank? Yes. I suspect you will need to try alternate medications if the Fungus doesn't clear or the fish shows signs of being stressed by the medication you're using.> When I put Vlad in the little tank he seemed to be doing okay but today he just looks very sad and his poor belly is dark. And he's not eating anything. I've been feeding him bloodworms, he seems to like them. <Do treat the Fungus promptly. That's your first issue. Forget about food for now. Do also remove the Gourami and frogs ASAP; you *will* need to raise the salinity soon, certainly to at least SG 1.005.> Second, What is the difference between regular aquarium salt and marine salt like instant ocean? Shouldn't they be essentially the same, sodium chloride? <Very different things. Marine Salt Mix contains sodium chloride PLUS a bunch of chemicals that replicate seawater, including crucial carbonate hardness salts. Brackish water fish rely on these chemicals so that the water has a very steady, basic (alkaline) pH around 8.0. In addition, marine salt mix provides trace elements of various kinds. While we don't really know how fish use these, they do seem to be important. In the short term, brackish water fish will get buy with livebearer salt, so there's no need to chuck the stuff out. But once the box is done, upgrade. In fact large tubs of Marine Salt Mix should work out relatively inexpensive. Do yourself a favour and avoid overfeeding your fish, and that way you will keep the Nitrate level down and minimise water changes. In a lightly stocked aquarium that isn't overfed, a 25% water change weekly, or perhaps every other week, should be ample.> all the tests I have are coming back 'normal'. no nitrites, or ammonia and Ph around 7. <This pH is too low.> How do I test hardness? <With a hardness test kit! By preference, I'd recommend a carbonate hardness test kit, but there are some nice cheap-and-cheerful "dip strip" test kits out there that do nitrite, nitrate, pH, general hardness, carbonate hardness all at once. Slice 'em down the middle to double the number of tests per box.> I know the water in the area is about 8 though. I'm not sure what I should be doing to help that. <The marine salt mix will take of all this automatically.> Third, Oh, and my tank needs a serious makeover. All those poor guys had to look at was some rocks. Can I make my own decorations with fake flowers I bought from the store? <Unless sold expressly as aquarium safe, no. Salty water especially destroys stuff, and the chemicals in paints and dyes can be toxic to fish.> Aquarium decorations are a bit pricey for me and I would like to give these guys a lot. <I feel your pain. Here's my tip: visit a garden centre. Look for rocks and sand designed for use in ponds. These will be aquarium safe, too. Load the car with big boulders of granite or slate, and then create your very own "rocky reef" in the tank. Use some silica sand (silver sand) to create the substrate. Grab some seashells, give them a decent clean with hot water, and then decorate the tank. Mussels and oysters -- easily available from big food stores -- work great, being classic brackish water animals. Don't like seafood? No problem: shuck the meat out the shells, chop up small, arrange onto tin foil, and save in the freezer to feed your fish! Natural decor and cheap fish food, all from the food store.> And finally, I've read that Green Spotted Puffers are brackish water fish, so after I find new homes for the ones I have how do I make the switch from FW to BW without giving them a shock? <No shock at all. GSPs can be acclimated between freshwater and brackish water virtually instantly. In the wild they don't get much choice... when the tide is coming in, it's coming in! To be nice though, stick them in a half-filled bucket, and then over the next 30 minutes or so, add a cup of salt water every 5 minutes until the bucket is filled. Then life the puffer out and put them in their new home.> Thanks you so much for your help in advance! Jaz <Do review the Brackish Water section here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/BrackishSubWebIndex.htm Lots of beginners articles as well as detailed species reports and such. Your local bookstore or library may have my Brackish-Water Fishes book too, and that's something you'd doubtless find useful. Cheers, Neale.>

Raising SG for Green Spotted Puffers 5/28/08 Good evening, <Hi Keith, Pufferpunk here> I just purchased 2 peanut sized /small olive pit sized GSP's at my local Wal-mart a few days ago. They of course were in freshwater. I was wondering a few things in regards to the speed in which the salinity should be brought up in my tank at home. I had read at that size they really should be in SG of more like 1.005 and right now it's closer to 1.002. The tank (40 long) has been set up for quite some time housing some low end brackish tolerant fish (glass fish, X-ray tetras,) and a few mollies and a knight goby. I have since given the glassfish and the tetras a new tank. <Tetras are strictly FW fish.> Also at what age does the SG raise to mid-brackish and then again at what age to marine? Temp is 80F, Ph is 8.0 <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). For more info: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm & www.thepufferforum.com ~PP> Keith Ammonia and nitrite problems, with a GSP 4/16/08 Hello, <Hi Eric, Pufferpunk here> I started a 10 gallon tank about six months ago. I bought a spotted puffer and every thing went well. Two and half months ago I decided to buy a 50 gallon tank with a whisper power filter 300 gallons per hour, a submersible 200w heater. <Good move--adult GSPs need a minimum of 30g. He should be very happy in that large tank.> I made the mistake of putting my fish in before the tank cycled. Luckily he made it. <A single, young GSP in a 50g tank shouldn't prove to be too much of a problem, as his wastes will be diluted & will cycle within a month or two. As long as you do proper water changes, the puffer should be fine.> Three weeks ago I took my water and had it tested. <Best to have your own test kits: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH & a hydrometer to check the specific gravity for your brackish puffer.> My ammonia nitrate and nitrite levels had all dropped. I bought two more fish. What they called leaf fish and a wild card. <Hmmm... never heard of a fish called, "wild card".> I was going to get another fish so I had my water tested first. My pH had dropped to 6.2 and my ammonia level was up. <Good thing you didn't get another fish!> They suggested I buy pH test, pH up and Amquel. I treated the tank with the Amquel and the pH up. My pH didn't go up. I went to a different local fish store that had been around for a long time. I brought them some tank water. My ammonia was still up pH was down. They sold me some pH up buffer. My pH has gone back up. I also bought a freshwater test kit. My ammonia is still up. This was the point when I started doing the thing I should of done first research the web. <Definitely! While Amquel may put a Band-Aid on the problem, it is only a temporary fix & actually will hinder the cycle. pH buffers again, are only temporary & will cause the pH to fluctuate, which is more stressful than a low pH. The best way to solve your problem is with large, frequent water changes.> I was only changing 5 gallons of water a week. 5 days ago I changed 5 gallons of water. 3 days ago I changed 10 gallons. I'm still not testing good. My pH is 7.5. My ammonia is 1.5ppm. <Anything over 0 is very toxic to your fish, same with nitrite.> My nitrate is 15ppm. And now my nitrite is at 0.25ppm. I used a API liquid test kit. I was thinking about changing more water but afraid if I change to much I might mess up the biological filter. What should I do? <The biological bacteria necessary to establish a balanced system does not live in the water column. It is on surfaces: glass, decor, substrate, filter media. You can change as much water as necessary to keep the levels from being toxic. (I change 90% weekly on my discus tank.) You may want to start with 25%, 2x/day & then do 50% or more daily, until the water parameters are good.> Upon researching WWM I realized that my puffer should be in a brackish tank. <Correct> Had a couple of questions. My tank is a glass tank, will the salt corrode the silicone seals? Not at all. These are the same tanks used for keeping marine fish.> I have had my puffer for 6 months he is still doing fine. Do I need to change my tank to brackish soon to save my puffer? <The answer is yes. 6 months is a very short time for a fish that can live into it's teens. If not kept in brackish water (high-end BW as an adult), it will develop a stressed immune system, causing problems with disease & shortened lifespan.> I do realize that the other two fish will have to go into another tank. <You are right. They will not appreciate any salt at all (well, I can't say anything about the "wild card" fish...)> Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. <In case you didn't see this article on GSPs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm Another good site on puffers: www.thepufferforum.com. Enjoy your puffer! If fed & cared for correctly (eats crustaceans) you should have a darling pet for years to come. ~PP> WWM site has been helpful. Thanks Eric

Green Spotted Puffer.. Too small environment: 3-23-08 Good Day! <Hello. Yunachin here.> I have some questions about my green spotted puffer. I should have read your site long ago, but I read other sites first...alas. I bought this little guy about a week ago and I've been keeping him in a small 1.8 gallon hexagonal tank (I know! way too small!). <You are right. These fish need a 30 gallon minimum. I hope you plan on moving him soon.> I put in about 1tbs per gallon (I did the math) and thought it would be fine. <Marine salt I hope.> I realize now that it's not and yesterday I started to notice what appeared to be molting (?) skin on him/her. They looked like little nubs and they were clear, so he/she may have had it longer than I noticed. <Possibly burns from ammonia. Puffers put off incredible bio-loads and can suffer in their own waste quite quickly.> Anyway, this morning, I noticed that he/she was way worse off. It looked like one of his eyes had like a contact lens over it or something. <Definitely too much wastes. A thorough water change will help aid this.> So, I researched more and found your site (alas, I hope it's not too late!) and I brought out a 30 gallon with some good filters. <Excellent!> I have some sand that I have put in and I've also gone out and bought some aragonite...is it ok to mix the two? <Yes that would be just fine.> When I came back, it looked like it was too late; I thought he/she was dead. But then when I looked back, I noticed that the little guy had moved from one end of the tank to the other (still in the 1.8 gallon!!). <Probably very uncomfortable. The move to the new tank should be okay.> I am filling the big tank now and plan to put salt in it (I bought the hydrometer...to measure salinity) and I hope I am not too late. <Depending on how high you are making the specific gravity, you are going to have to acclimate him into the salinity. Just dropping him in will make him very sick. Check out this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm; > My brother is bringing me some fish de-stress from his house...is that okay to use? <Don't use any other chemicals as it will to make the situation any better and puffers are very sensitive to medications.> I can only hope I am not too late! What is this sickness that my puffer has and what causes it? How can I fix it? Thanks in advance! <This is caused by a very small environment, too much food in, not enough water out, etc. Get him into the 30 gallon as soon as possible and make sure to do frequent water changes until he gets himself back to normal. I would do at least 20% every week. Read more on the Green Spotted Puffer in the Brackish Section of the site here. Good Luck. --Yunachin>

Green Spotted Puffer Sickness Re: 3-26-08 Thank you for your reply! <You're welcome. Sorry I haven't replied faster, I have been a tad ill.> I did a water change the same day I emailed you after reading some more on the site. The puffer is still alive, but I've run into problems with the 30 gallon tank. Today, I am acclimating him to the tank. To answer your question, yes, I used marine salt. <Good to know.> I've run brackish tanks before, just never any puffers and not to 100% success. The puffer looks worse today, but still showing interest in food. I will be acclimating the puffer through most of the day, very slowly. I'm not sure what salinity the tank is at now, the hydrometer I bought is telling me there is NO salt in the water, yet I can see the salt "waves" in the water and I can see that some has dried along the top. <Hmm..I would consider getting a refractometer. They are more accurate than hydrometers, just make sure they are cleaned properly after each use.> Anyways, this is just to thank you for your help. I hope the little guy pulls through, I am doing my best to ensure that. I don't think the puffer can wait any longer, the tank is still kind of milky looking from the aragonite but I figure that the 30 gallon is better than a 1.8 gallon, so I will slowly acclimate and hope for the best. Thanks again, sorry for the rambling...it is Monday morning. <I understand. Is this tank a cycled tank? Is there any media in there from the old tank? Filter? Substrate? If the tank has not gone through a cycle then your little puffer will not be strong enough to make it through the spike and everything you do will be in vain. There is an article on fishless cycling at www.thepufferforum.com ; it will help you cycle the tank much faster but you will not be able to keep your puffer in the tank at the same time. I wish you good luck for you and your puffer. Keep me posted if you will. --Yunachin>

Green Spotted Puffer Mom Seeks Answers on Tank Size/Cycling  3/2/08 Hey guys, me again. <Hey, Micah> So, I'm utterly baffled. I was keeping my two juvenile (under 2") green spotted puffers in a 10 gallon tank. I tried to instant-cycle the tank with Bio-Spira but I think I messed it up by pouring it directly into the tank instead of into the filter. <If kept properly refrigerated from it's manufacturing to your tank, either way should work. The problem is, I've seen some shops keeping it out on their shelf & even at some warehouses, leaving it out in cases for weeks, unrefrigerated. Unfortunately, I am hearing of more & more cases of Bio-Spira not working & I blame it on that.> As such, the levels in the tank are higher than I'd like to be but I do daily 20% water changes to keep the levels down while I wait for the aquarium to finish cycling. <20% may not be enough in an overstocked/uncycled system. Please post exact, most recent ammonia, nitrite, nitrate & pH, whenever posting a question about this.> While the tank is freshwater, I have 1/2 tsp of freshwater aquarium salt for every gallon in there. <I would not suggest adding any salt at all, until the tank is totally cycled & parameters steady, for at least a week. Then you may use marine salt to raise the specific gravity, no more than .002/week. Less is fine too. You need to measure it with a hydrometer or refractometer.> The puffers are the only ones in the tank obviously and I thought that one was harassing the other (the slightly smaller one harassing the slightly larger one). <Very possible with puffers in too small a tank & not enough décor, blocking their lines of sight.> Nothing too intense but I did notice what looked like a nip on the end of his tail. The two puffers were very different in color--one the bright green with black spots and white belly that I see in all the online pictures (though he does have the beginnings of dark grey stress lines at the sides of his mouth) and the other so dark green that he was almost brown, though his belly was still a nice white. I thought maybe it was best to separate the two fish, so with my currently limited budget, I bought a 10 gallon tank, put three gallons of water from his old tank into the new one and treated the water new water, added salt and set it up with a heater and power filter (hoping that it would provide enough aeration). <There is nothing you have added that will cycle that tank. Even using water from a fully established tank has none of the beneficial bacteria needed to cycle your tank. It lives on surfaces; like the substrate, filtration media, plants, etc. Maybe a divider to keep the aggression down, until you can fishless cycle a much larger tank for them?> I scooped the darker-looking puffer out with a 3 cup measuring cup (never again will I let anyone use a net around my puffers) and put him into the new tank. <Great job, not using a net!> I fed him a ghost shrimp but he didn't seem interested in the other ones after he ate that one. I've noticed his appetite hasn't been very good lately, which is particularly evident in comparison to his fat buddy. About 30 minutes later I stopped by his tank and found him floating on the roots of an unanchored java fern, looking so dark brown he barely had spots (but oddly, still with a white belly). I panicked and removed him back to his former cramped quarters, and he perked up substantially, though he's still fairly listless and not nearly as brightly colored as his friend. <The fact that he perked up immediately after moving into another tank, is a sign that there is something wrong with the water in his tank.> I feed them a decently varied diet...cooked shrimp, <Raw is much more nutritious.> small pond snails, thawed blood worms and pellets (though only the brightly colored one will actually eat the pellets...the listless dark one spits them out and loses interest quickly) and I generally try not to feed them too much (never more than once per day and I always take out whatever they haven't eaten that I can find). <Lots of other good suggestions for feeding here & an article on how to get a picky puffer to eat: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/category/feeding/ > I don't know what's wrong with my puff...I know that he (okay, gender could be either, but I think of it as a him) is stressed but I just don't know how to unstress him. The other fish doesn't antagonize him extensively and he seems to be happier around him than alone. Could he be constipated? I can't find anything that seems like it would describe the problem... <If he was constipated, he would be bloated & not pooping.> Any ideas? The best I can do is as I suggested before. These puffers need a minimum of a 30g cycled tank together, for now or try to find a place that can take one of them but you'll eventually need a 30g for one adult. You now have 2 uncycled tanks & neither puffer will fare well in them together. ~PP> Micah

Re: green spotted puffer mom seeks answers...  3/2/08 Thanks Pufferpunk, <I'm trying'¦> In a last ditch attempt, last night I switched the filter cartridge from one of my established tanks to the puffer tank in the hopes that a "seeded" cartridge might make a bit of difference. <It should help.> This morning I tested the water again and using the API Freshwater test kit, my results are as follows: The pH reading is 7.4, Nitrite is 5.0 (good. lord.), Ammonia is .25 (not great but better than it was) and Nitrate is 10 (below 20, at least...). Temperature remains steady at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. <Just not enough bacteria in that filter to support 2 messy puffers.> What percentage water change would you suggest on a daily basis while the tank finishes cycling? <I recommend at least 80% at this point, using Prime as a dechlorinator.> I'm deducing from the fact that the ammonia levels are dropping that one of the two kinds (I get nitrosomer and Nitrobacter confused) of bacteria are beginning to establish themselves but the second kind has yet to really make a dent. I wish I had an available fully cycled tank to put them into but I fear disastrous consequences of putting them in my molly/dwarf Gourami tank (20 gallons, with 3 balloon body mollies, 3 Danios, and 5 dwarf Gouramis) or my guppy/Hatchetfish tank (10 gallons, 3 guppies, 2 Hatchetfish and 2 Otos)... <Can you possibly rearrange the fish so the puffers can go into the 20g alone?> The harassment does appear to have been all in my head and I think it's just the water conditions that are troubling the one puffer. <Possibly'¦ ammonia/nitrite isn't fun for a puffer to live in.> They do have several broken lines of sight, with 2 decent sized hole-riddled faux vases that I've seen them play in and around and a solid amount of live plant cover (4 java ferns, some water sprite and some micro sword grass--the first and last being plants that originate in brackish waters), so right now I'm more focused on how to best fix my water problems. Is the answer water changes, water changes and more water changes? <LOL, have you seen my signature somewhere?> I'm happy to do 90% water changes every day if you think it'll help... <Do as much as you can possibly do (even 2x/day, if necessary), to keep the ammonia & nitrite as close to 0 as possible at all times. Feed sparingly. ~PP> -Micah

Re: Green Spotted Puffer Mom Seeks Answers    3/5/08 Hey Pufferpunk...just an update. <Micah> With consistent water changes, I've gotten the ammonia to somewhere between 0 and .25 (my color match doesn't distinguish any further) and nitrite down to .50. <That will do it!> I'm not feeding them, though there are a couple of ghost shrimp wandering around the tank in case they do decide to eat (they've been there since Saturday). <Unless the ghost shrimp have eaten (gut-loaded), they are basically not nutritious--mostly water.> In a few days (i.e. Wednesday) I'll be getting the larger tank. Should I try to cycle it first or move the puffers into the new tank right away? <I would move the puffers, substrate, decor & filtration over to the larger tank, ASAP. How large?> I'm trying, really. I'm sure my constant queries are tiring, but I do appreciate all the help you've given. <What gets tiring, are the countless letters after folks' puffers are already dead. What is refreshing, is people that send letters of research, before purchasing. Not actually a scolding to you, just something good to do next time. ~PP> -Micah

Green Spotted Puffer Mom Learns, Finally. 3/6/08 Hey Pufferpunk! <Micah> Some good news and some sad news. I came home today with a 55 gallon tank (complete with hood and fluorescent light), ready to move my guys into their new home. Sadly, the puffer that hadn't been flourishing passed away between when I left for school this morning and when I came home from my LFS. <Awww... sorry for your loss. The single puffer will be thrilled with his nice big home.> On the up side, his compadre is still doing fairly well. I can tell by his coloring that he's still a little stressed but he's swimming around and exploring, as per usual. Nitrite and ammonia levels are down to .25 or less. I'll be transferring him to his new home, along with the substrate, plants and decor from his current tank, tonight. In addition, I'll be adding a large bag of crushed coral to the substrate. <Sounds good.> The filter I have on his current tank is for 20 gallons or less, so I don't know about transferring that to the larger tank (I bought a Penguin bio-wheel designed for 55 gallon tanks)...would you recommend transferring the BioWheel from his old tank to help with the bacteria development in the new one? It appears that the bio-wheels are similarly sized... <I'd hang both filters on the tank for at least a month. Puffers need a lot of filtration anyway.> Is there anything I'm missing that I should run out and get? I bought some instant ocean and Prime (the former obviously being for once the bacteria colonies get themselves established so that I can start killing them off and increasing the salinity). I did pick up a hydrometer. And I heard that puffers like playing in bubble walls, so I picked up one of those, as well (attached to an air pump, obviously). You've been so wonderful, coaching me through this. I can't thank you enough. In the future, I'll limit species occupying my small tanks to guppies and other bitsy fish. <Good luck to you & I hope your puffer lives a happy, healthy, long life! ~PP> Best, Micah

Green Spotted Puffer Questions, sys. mostly  2/24/08 Hi guys! <Hey Micah, Pufferpunk here.> Once again, I wanted to thank Merritt for his amazing advice. I added a thin layer (maybe a centimeter thick) of regular gravel on top of the fluorite to keep the dust out of the water column. It's made quite a difference (though, perfectionist that I am, it does still bug me that the water is a little dusty. <Glad to hear that is working out for you. I'm sure Merritt will read this.> Well, yesterday (after letting my tank run for about a week with a tiny amount of bacteria introduced from an established tank), <Sorry to say, that bacteria will probably have been dead in 24 hours, without any food source (ammonia).> my local fish store finally got some Marineland Bio-Spira in stock, so I went to the store and picked up the Bio-Spira and two puffers. Neither of them is longer than my thumb, so I'm guesstimating them at 2" or less. <What species?> One of them seems quite content and is swimming about, investigating. The other, I can't tell if he's sleeping or what. Sometimes he'll swim around but often he just lies on the bottom. <Did you observe his behavior in the store? I always try to pick puffers that are actively buzzing around & greet me at the glass. It's also good to ask the shop to feed them so you can be sure they are eating well.> When I come over and press my face near the glass, he'll perk up (I imagine he gets excited because he thinks I'm about to feed him) but before too long he goes back to lying on the bottom. I'm just a little worried because his buddy (no signs of aggression yet, fingers crossed...I tried to get two approximately the same size) is substantially more active. <If you buy them as juveniles at the same time, there is a good chance they will get along through adulthood, bearing they have a large enough tank with lots of broken lines of sight. Puffers are sensitive fish & they do not take to being moved easily into a new environment. He may just be sulking & need time to get used to his new surrounding. How big is the tank? 2 2" puffers should be in a minimum of a 30g tank.> Am I worrying for nothing? They both seem to be eating fine (last night I gleefully fed them some of the stupid pesky common pond snails that have been breeding like mad in my guppy tank). Really my concern is that their color seems off. The one is a darkish brown-green (think olive) with a neon green patch on the top of his head, with large spots all over. The other is much less spotted, very dark brown-green (much more brown than green). Both of their tummies are white as white can be, but I do worry about that dark coloring... <It's really hard to tell without knowing the species. I'm guessing, green spotted puffer (Tetraodon nigroviridis)?> Tonight they happily ate thawed blood worms just until I could see their bellies were nice and rounded. I also have some small "Cichlid Gold" pellets recommended by the guys at my fish store that I'm going to try tomorrow. Is this a varied enough diet or more variety if I can? I'm a vegetarian, so I don't have too much seafood around but I don't mind picking up some crab legs or something if they need more nutrition. <I'm glad to hear they have such a good appetite! Excellent feeding article here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ Finally, the guys at the fish store told me to use API's aquarium salt, to salt my water. I've been following the directions (half a rounded teaspoon per gallon) but from what I've seen in the forums, this salt simply won't provide enough minerals for my puffers and I'd be better off using Instant Ocean or something similar. Any thoughts on this? I don't want to be causing my puffer to get ill from lack of minerals. <If you indeed do have a couple of GSPs, then you need to make their water brackish, by using marine salt & measuring the salt content (specific gravity) with a hydrometer or refractometer. You should not raise the SG more than .002/weekly water change & you must be sure your tank is completely cycled before even considering messing with salt. Ammonia & nitrite should remain 0 & nitrate should be kept below 20. You mention in the beginning of your letter that you are using a substrate for live plants. I'm afraid you will find very few plants that will survive the levels of salt required to keep these fish happy. More info on the green spotted puffer can be found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> I know the moving and fish store experiences were probably super traumatic for them (one started puffing up in the fish net after he'd been pulled from the tank!), so should I just give them time to adjust? <Absolutely, they need some time. Puffers should never be lifted out of the water in a net & if they puff with air, it can prove deadly for them if they cannot expel the air. The puffer should be corralled into a container & lifted out of the water, when transferring it to a bag or other tank.> Also, how long can I wait before I need to transfer them to a larger tank? <I have no idea what size tank they are in now. The bigger the tank, the better for your puffers. Although a 55g will suffice for 2 adult 6' football-shaped puffers, I recommend a minimum of 30g for each fish. They are intelligent creatures & need a lot of décor to keep them busy investigating, which takes up a fair amount of swimming room. They are also messy eaters & high waste producers & they need the water volume to dilute the waste. Mine would have been happy to be a singleton in a 55g tank.> I'm planning on getting them a 55 gallon one in a few months and letting them grow into it. I'm too much of a softie to put mollies in there with them when I know they'll eventually bite the mollies' heads off. <You've got that one right!> Thank you all so much. You've been wonderful to hold my hand through this experience. If you'd like specific water parameters on the tank, I tested the ammonia levels this morning (I'd been adding a bit of food every day to the empty tank to help promote bacteria growth) <OK, good to hear. Did you do a good-sized water change, before adding the puffers & Bio-Spira?> and it read at .25 ppm. Nitrite is reading at .25 ppm as well, <Bad--both of those are toxic to fish & must remain 0 at all times--time to do water changes, until you fix that.> pH is 7.2, <Should remain steady around 8, for brackish fish. Best done with a substrate of crushed coral or aragonite. You can wait until the move to the larger tank, if you wish.> nitrate looks like it is reading somewhere between 5 and 10 ppm (though it's always confused me as to why the scale on my test strip goes from 0-160 ppm). <I've heard of nitrite testing as high as 200. Forget the test strips, they are not very accurate & get yourself a liquid test kit like the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Freshwater Master Test Kit. As your salt level goes up, you will have to use the SW test for ammonia.> I'll be doing a 20% water change tomorrow morning when I do my water changes for my other tanks, which should help with the levels of chemicals. <I'd bump it up to 50% weekly for puffers (I actually do a minimum of 50% weekly on all my tanks).> Any feedback you have is always welcome. The puffers are absolutely as adorable as I thought they'd be and even though I know they'll probably get more aggressive later, watching them swim around together is pretty darn cute. <I certainly can't argue with that! Good luck with your little friends. ~PP> Thanks again! Micah

Re: Green Spotted Puffer Questions 2/25/08 Thanks Pufferpunk, <Micah> I thought the species reference in the title of the e-mail would be informative enough but my puffers are GSPs. <Of course--I really must stop answering questions at 2am'¦> They are (for now) living in a 10 gallon tank, which I've planted densely with java ferns and micro sword grass. <I do suggest upgrading them ASAP. IMO, 10g isn't even large enough for a single 2' GSP.> I did my research beforehand and read that these species of plants tend to tolerate brackish water well. <For a while'¦ but not at the high salinity GSPs require. I don't suggest investing in a lot of plant-keeping products for them in the future. Eventually, you will want to think in terms of a marine environment for them, like live rock & a protein skimmer.> I plan on moving the plants and puffers to a 75 gallon tank in a few months (2 at most) -- this small tank is only going to be their home for a short period of time and I'll up the weekly water changes from 20 to 50%. <You may need to do those 2x/week. Keep a very close eye on the parameters & do water changes accordingly, keeping the nitrate below 20.> They do have a Penguin Bio-wheel filter designed for 20 gallon tanks, since I know that over filtration is beneficial here as they are such messy guys. Perhaps I missed it but I'm not sure you answered my question about API's Aquarium Salt vs. Instant Ocean...which is the one I want to increase the specific gravity of my aquarium? My LFS said the former was fine but then again, they also sell painted fish (booooooo), so I'm skeptical as to their knowledge base. I'll take your advice and hold off on messing with the salinity until the bacteria has gotten settled in doing its job. <Good choice. I did miss that question (again blaming the time of night, errr'¦morning). You must use marine salt to make water brackish & measure it with a hydrometer or refractometer. (That info was in my GSP article, though.)> Also, an update: the puffers both seem to be doing well (I even think one is getting to be a more neon shade of green, though I may be hallucinating) and even the one I was worried about (who was absolutely not as enticed by the pellets as by the blood worms or the snails) seems to be doing all right, though he's for sure not as active as his buddy. He's more of a lurker, swimming in and out of caves I've set up for them. I read in your article that you feed your guys gut-loaded shrimp. I have sinking algae wafers around that I feed to the Otocinclus I have in my guppy tank and I'm very interested in how to go about raising ghost shrimp and at what age I should start feeding my puffers the ghost shrimp. Can you recommend a good site on that? Or are ghost shrimp something I buy weekly and feed before putting in the puffer tank? <I don't see why you couldn't feed your puffers ghost shrimp right now. As far as gut-loading them--just let them sit in a bowl for a few hours with some food & then offer them to your puffers. Here is an article on ghost shrimp, by Robert T Ricketts (my puffer mentor): http://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1201559 As in the feeding article I linked to you earlier, there are many foods you can use to very the dies of your puffers. ~PP>> Thanks so much! Micah

Keeping a Brackish GSP in Freshwater 1/12/08 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I wanted to know if it was okay to keep 2 green spotted puffers with a couple a cichlids? I know they are brackish fishes. But can they still tolerate the freshwater? <Why would you want a fish to just "tolerate" it's living conditions?> I really want to get one and I don't want to buy another tank. Any suggestions? <Yes, wait until you can set up the proper environment for these high-end brackish fish, that do quite well in marine conditions as adults.> I also know they are messy eaters, so I will do 50 percent water changes every week. <That's a good thing.> Do you think it will be okay to keep it with freshwater fishes and aquarium? <Absolutely not. Keeping any fish in conditions other than what is best for it will lower it's immune system, causing stunted growth, disease & shorter lifespan. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm ~PP> Please write back. Thanks.

GSP Not Well (improper feeding, no heater)... Sys., hlth., fdg....  11/26/07 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have had my leopard skin puffer for about a year and a half now and just recently he is not doing so well. It started out as him not eating frozen brine shrimp after a year of eating them. <Very poor choice of food, especially if using as a staple. Adult brine shrimp are not nutritious, being made up of mostly water. Puffers need crunchy, meaty foods. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/ > So I switched to feeding him snails for most of the time and he loved them. <Much better choice.> Because I was leaving for the holidays I decided to leave a couple of feeder fish in his tank to see if he would eat them. The next day I found he ate three of them! I bought more and left for the holidays, after returning I found that he had eaten only one and was laying on the bottom of the tank. <Ooooh, even worse choice than before. Feeders are not only an unnatural food source for a puffer but they are a fatty food that lives in poor conditions, passing all kinds of pathogens onto your puffer. See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeders/ > I also found that I mistakenly left the window open that was right next to his tank so I figured that is why he was not doing so well. I filled his tank with warmer water and he seemed to be doing much better but the next day I found him laying on the tank bottom again. I rushed out and bought a heater and put it in the tank but after two hours his state has not changed. Is there anything more that I can do?! <All tropical fish need heaters to keep their tank temp steady, around 78. You don't mention the tank's water parameters--a must to list, whenever asking a query about a fish that is not well. You should always be aware of the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate pH & specific gravity levels of your tank. How much salt is in there? Are you using marine salt? What is your water change schedule (how often/how much)? What size tank is it? Tank mates? Knowing all of these factors can keep your puffer healthy & long-lived. My first suggestion to you would be to do a 25% water change right away & do another 25% later in the day, after removing the dead carcasses of the goldfish. Dechlorinate with Prime. Never feed them to your puffer again! Follow the suggestions in the feeding article linked above, after your puffer seems to be feeling better (an ill fish will not eat). Please write back when you have answers to my questions & I can help your puffer further. ~PP>

Re: leopard skin puffer Stunting a Puffer/Cleaning Tank 11/27/07 Thank you so much for your help. <I'm trying...> Ever since I bought him I have been feeding him the wrong thing and have never known it. <I hope you have read the article on feeding your puffer & will improve his diet.> I took out the fish immediately and he seems to be doing a lot better. He is swimming on his own now. When I do clean out his tank I put aquarium salt (about 1 tbsp for 5 gallons) along with dechlorinator. <That is not nearly enough salt for a year-old puffer & you must use marine salt to make brackish water. Have you read the GSP article I wrote? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > He is in a 5 gallon hexagon tank and seems to have plenty of room since he is by himself. <How large is he? If he has been living in a 5g all this time, I'm afraid he may be stunted. I don't like starting even a juvie in a tank smaller than 10g & eventually a 6" adult will require a minimum of 30g.> I clean out his tank about every two weeks, since it is by the window & seems to develop lots of algae. When I do clean out his tank I take out all the water (I know your not suppose to but I've been doing it ever since I have gotten him and it hasn't affected him) and replace it. Everything else in his tank seems to be correct (nitrate, nitrite levels, pH etc.) <"Correct" means nothing to me. I did inquire as to what those levels are & hoped for exact numbers. This manner if cleaning is extremely stressful for your fish. I recommend either moving your tank away from the window, covering the sides exposed to the window & doing your cleaning weekly, by doing a 50% water change, rather than the 100% bi-weekly you are doing now. Good luck with your puffer & his very soon upgrade to a larger, brackish water tank. ~PP>

Leopard Puffers: Brown algae problems and eating my plants 11/15/07 <Hi Gary, Pufferpunk here> I have 2 leopard puffers, which I have had for four years. They are 2+ inches long. <What size tank are they in? At 4 years they should be full grown--6" without their tail.> My problem is brown algae on the walls of my tank. <Brown "algae" is usually not algae at all but diatoms. What is your nitrate level?> I went to our local aquatic store and was told to put live plants in my tank and that would steal oxygen from the algae and they would not be able to grow. Is this true? <Are your puffers in brackish water? At 4 years old, they are actually best kept in high-end BW or even marine conditions.> However my puffers are now eating the plants. I read your suggestion about Pleco algae wafers and I have put a couple of pellets in. The puffers seem to like them. Will my puffers still eat the plants? <Since your puffers should be in brackish water by now & in at least a 60g tank (30g recommended for each adult "leopard" or green spotted puffer [Tetraodon nigroviridis]) I'd not really worry about plants at this time. For more info: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm & www.thepufferforum.com. ~PP> Thank you, Gary Canter (Bend, Oregon)

Re: Leopard Puffers: Brown algae problems and eating my plants Stunted Puffers & Diatoms 11/16/07 Hi Pufferpunk, <Gary> My tank is 30g they used to be in a 10g for almost 3 years. I just measured them and they are 3 inches each to the tail. <Your puffers are severely stunted. I'd get them into at least a 55g ASAP.> They are in 1.009 BW. <Should be closer to 1.018+ by now.> The nitrite is good, but I haven't tested for nitrate. I can have it tested today at the local store. <Let me know what that is please. It should be under 20.> Can the diatom be stopped, it is so annoying? <Not until you upgrade, I'm afraid. The dilution of wastes should help with that.> Both my puffers get along very well. I bought them at the same time. They are the greatest little yellow submarines I have ever seen, with great personalities. They are a joy to own. <I'm glad to hear you care so much for them! ~PP> Thanks, Gary

Green Spotted Puffer/Brackish water  7/21/07 Hi, I apologize if this has been asked and answered on this site before but I searched and could not find anything regarding what I should do! I bought a Green Spotted Puffer about a month and a half ago not knowing anything about him except that he was cute. This was obviously REALLY bad but then I started to research what he needed. The store had him in a freshwater tank and said to feed him goldfish flakes. Obviously, through my research I found that one, he does not eat goldfish flakes and that two, he can survive in freshwater but his lifespan will be cut short. Rather then taking him back to the store where he would surely die I have done my best to keep him happy and healthy. I bought him a bigger tank and food that he will actually eat and he seems to be doing very well. I would like to transition my tank to BW but have read that it needs to be done slowly however I can't find out what that means exactly. How do I begin this process without throwing him into some kind of shock or possibly killing him? I've got aquarium salt and a hydrometer but I don't know where to start. I've really grown attached to Ralph and would appreciate any help!! Thanks. <Greetings. First things first. Buying an unusual fish before researching them is almost always an invitation for disaster. In this case, you either have Tetraodon fluviatilis or Tetraodon nigroviridis, both fairly large (~15 cm) species that tend to be somewhat difficult to keep. Not impossible to keep by any means, but certainly more difficult than, say, guppies. Now, in terms of water chemistry, you are indeed correct that these fish need brackish water. In the wild they seem to move freely between freshwater and brackish water parts of rivers, showing no particular preference for either. But in the aquarium, they do not do well kept in freshwater permanently. From the aquarists point of view, what they seem to need is hard (at least 20 degrees dH), alkaline (pH 7.5 upwards), salty (specific gravity 1.005-1.015) water. Now, here's where things get critical: aquarium salt isn't acceptable. You have to use marine salt mix (that's the stuff like Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, etc. used in marine aquaria). Only marine salt mix will raise the pH and hardness along with the salinity. If you have a box of aquarium salt, then using it in the short term won't do any harm. But certainly within a few months you should graduate to marine salt mix. Aquarium salt by itself is very much a "half a loaf" sort of option; better than nothing, but not really suitable in the long term. As far as raising the salinity in your aquarium goes, the fish couldn't care less. Most brackish water fish are extremely tolerant of rapid changes in salinity: they have to be! If they weren't, they'd die every time the tide changed! No, your problem here is not stressing the filter bacteria. As a very broad rule, raising the salinity from freshwater to SG 1.005 usually causes no problems, especially if done gradually over two or three weeks. For example, you could do a 25% water change, each time adding new water at SG 1.005. After a few weeks, the tank would have reached about SG 1.005 without any stress on the filter or fish. You could happily keep a juvenile pufferfish at SG 1.005 for six months to a year. Towards the end of that time, once the puffer has grown a bit and reached around 8 cm or so in length, you might want to raise the salinity a bit more. Again, you'd do this by doing water changes each week, adding higher salinity water. The problem here is that the filter bacteria need to adapt to this mid-strength brackish water. The process is very hazy, and it isn't at all clear (to me at least) whether the same bacteria become acclimatised to high salinity water, or whether marine filter bacteria start to colonise the filter, replacing freshwater bacteria that are dying off. Regardless, you need to go slowly, checking for nitrites each week to make sure the filter has adjusted properly. Usually, everything is fine. Just make sure the salinity only goes up less than two points on SG scale per week (i.e., SG 1.008 -> 1.010, then 1.010 -> 1.012, and so on). Going too slowly won't cause any harm to the pufferfish, so be cautious. Yes, being kept in freshwater is bad for GSPs, but so long as they're in some sort of brackish water, the salinity itself isn't critical, so you have literally years to make the adjustments if you want. In other words, go at your own pace, and don't feel obliged to make big, rapid changes simply because you have "heard" that these fish prefer some specific salinity. Brackish water fishkeeping simply doesn't work like that. Finally: how to use a hydrometer. There are many different kinds. The two most common are 'floating glass' and 'swing arm' types. The floating glass ones are cheap and sufficiently accurate for brackish water fishkeeping if used properly. The main thing is that you understand you can't put them in the aquarium and expect to get a good reading. Instead, put some aquarium (or water from the bucket) into a large jar, like a pickle jar. Then put the hydrometer in there. When everything goes still (which may take a minute) read off the specific gravity. Make sure you read the level of the water, and not the meniscus that "climbs up" the stem of the hydrometer. The floating arm type of hydrometer is perhaps the more favoured among marine aquarists because they are easier to use. All you do is pour water into the chamber, wait for the arm to stop moving, and read off the value. With brackish water you don't need to be too anally-retentive about being exactly spot-on with salinity because the fish actually prefer some variation. (In some cases, they will only breed when exposed to quite sudden salinity changes.) But still, you want to minimise variation to some degree because of the filter bacteria. Going from 1.010 to 1.012 is harmless, but going from 1.005 to 1.010 in one step would be a very bad idea. Just to give you a ball-park estimate of how much salt you need to use, water at 25C, SG 1.005 contains about 8.9 grammes of salt per litre, and at SG 1.010 about 15.5 grammes per litre. So you can make up these solutions in the kitchen easily enough, and then test out your hydrometer to see how it works. You can't rely on weights of salt per litre in the long term because an open box of salt absorbs water from the air, and so over time each apparent weight of salt actually contains a certain amount of water, making estimates of salinity obviously unreliable. Hope this helps, Neale>

Green Spotted Puffer Tank Size 9/12/07 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I am planning to get two Green Spotted Puffers. They are about two-three inches. I would want to know if a 10 gallon tank be okay for them? Would a 20 gallon long tank be better for them instead? <No to both. Puffers are messy eaters & high waste producers. This means they need a lot of water to dilute the waste or they will be constantly sick. At that size, I suggest a minimum of 30g each. Bigger is better. They also like a lot of swimming room.> How fast do GSPs grow? <From the size they are now, I'd expect them to be full grown (6+") within 1-1 1/2 years. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm ~PP> Thanks

Green Spotted Puffers are Brackish Fish 8/26/07 Dear WWM Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I recently purchased two small green spotted puffers. I was wondering if it was okay if we kept them in a tank with a catfish and a sucker fish. The catfish usually hides in a rock and the sucker fish is non-aggressive so I didn't know if they would nip at the sucker fishes fins or the catfishes whiskers. Thanks! <Green spotted puffers are brackish water fish. Neither of your catfish fish will fair well at all, in brackish conditions. Just because a fish is not aggressive, doesn't mean it won't get picked on--quite the opposite. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm ~PP>

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 Puffers, how to set up water? -- 07/18/07 Hello, <Hi Nicole , Pufferpunk here> About a week ago I bought four green spotted puffers from Wal-Mart. Unaware that they are brackish fish I put them in a FW tank, which is what they had been living in at Wal-Mart. <With 4 of those puffers, you're going to need quite a large tank. Did you cycle the tank?> I purchased the salt to put in their water but I am not sure how much to put in and how to go about doing so. Do I just start putting the salt in or do I gradually add it to the water? <You need marine salt & a hydrometer to measure the salinity. Find one that starts at 1.000. You can raise the specific gravity as much as .002/week or less. For a rough estimate, it will take about a cup of salt/5gallons of water to raise the SG by .005. You'll have to do some math here.> Also, while my puffers are eating well and appear to be healthy, they are developing a case of ick. <Are you sure it's ich? Are there spots on their fins or just their body. Many folks think their tiny spines look like ich.> I know that they are scaleless and the normal medication I would use to treat ick says do not use on scaleless species, so would it be okay for me to use Metranidazole? <See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/fwich/ > The tank that they are kept in is 10 gallons and they range from about 1 inch or less. <I would only put 1 of those puffers into a 10g tank, so you'll need a 40g tank for them now. Eventually, when they grow over 2" & into quite large-bodied 6" fish, they will require 30g each. You might want to rethink this...> I put some Melafix in the water and I am hoping that this will help, but I don't think that Melafix is a cure for ick. <No, it's not but it will sooth their skin, where the parasites are attacking them.> If you could give me some advise on what to do with them, it would be greatly appreciated. <Start by reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm More info can be found at www.thepufferforum.com . Please, please, please do your research before your purchase! These are wild-caught fish & their species is being depleted in the wild. ~PP> Thanks, Nicole

My Two Green Spotted Puffers... sys., fdg.... gen.  7/14/07 Hi, I have a few questions I hope you can answer me about my two GSP's. <Hello. Will certainly try!> I bought them yesterday and they are living in a 2.5 gallon tank. Is this to small for them? <Yes. Far too small. Even a tank 10 times that size would be too small for two GSPs. These are mutually antagonistic fish that will reach around 12-15 cm in length. A single specimen works well enough in a 30 gallon tank, but when you add a second specimen, life becomes a bit less predictable because some (perhaps males?) are rather aggressive. A 55 gallon tank is often recommended as a good size for two GSPs, and I don't see any reason to argue with that.> The lady at the store said that the tank should be a gallon a fish so that is why I bought a 2.5 gallon tank, but I am not sure if she is right. <No, she's wronger than a wrong thing on the wrongest day of the year. Use some logic. Why would a "gallon per fish" even be possible? A Great White Shark is "a" fish, and yet it obviously wouldn't even fit in one gallon of anything.> I was also wondering if one day one of the fish will eventually eat the other, since I would not want this to happen because I already love them dearly. <GSPs do not eat fish. They eat shelled invertebrates in the wild and should receive same in captivity. Shrimps, snails, clams, etc. are all good.> Is it also possible that one fish is more intelligent than the other and eat all the food? <Doesn't seem likely that intelligence would be the issue. But a *dominant* fish can certainly bully another fish and steal all the food. This is quite common among animals generally (ever seen dogs "share" food?).> About how many bloodworms should they eat a day? <Ideally, none. They need *shelled* food or their teeth become overgrown. Visit your local supermarket and check out the seafood counter to see what's there. Unshelled prawns are often good for the smaller specimens. Otherwise, pond snails are excellent and you can also buy frozen mini clams and krill from the tropical fish store. Really anything crunchy will do.> They look constantly hungry and looking for food and they eat when I feed them, but I don't want to give them more than they're supposed to eat. <They are hungry because pufferfish have evolved to fill themselves with low quality food. Most of what they eat in the wild is indigestible, so they eat a lot of it, passing out all the "ash" as its called (broken shells, mainly). If you give them just soft food, there's no bulk so they don't feel full. Just like humans when they eat candy bars and cakes. We don't feel full after eating them even if we've had plenty. But if its something we're meant to eat, like salad and grains, we feel more full because of the bulk.> Also one has blue eyes and the other has green. Does this differentiate them of being a male or female? <Nope.> Or how do I know if they are a male or female? <Only another GSP can tell...> Is there anything very important I should know? <Are you keeping them in brackish water yet? They do not do well in freshwater. And brackish water isn't "add a teaspoon of salt per gallon" or anything like that. You need marine salt mix and a hydrometer to measure a specific gravity around 1.010. Be sure and read this -- http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > Thank You for your time and consideration. <No problems. Enjoy your new pets. Cheers, Neale>

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

Caring for a Green Spotted Puffer 6/4/07 Hello, <Hi Zach, Pufferpunk here> Let me explain my situation to you guys. I had just purchased a GSP about two weeks ago and I am in a dilemma. I don't think that I'm in over my head but I do know that I need help. I have been endlessly searching the internet for the information that I need for the past week but the info that I have been acquiring is varied. You guys seem to know what you are talking about. <Thanks for your confidence!> So I come to you guys with many questions. For one, my puffer is almost 2" and I have him in a 10 gallon aquarium with brackish water of 1.004. Is this setup alright for now? <Time to upgrade to a larger (more permanent) home. 30g minimum. Also, I'd start raising the SG to around 1.010.> I am aware that the puffer can grow up to six inches, so I plan to get a 36 gallon aquarium to accommodate him in his maturity. <Good> Is there any way to tell if is male or female? <Nope, only the puffers know for sure.> Which, if any, corals or live plants can thrive along with my puffer? <Once your puffer is an adult living in marine conditions, you can add (cured) live rock & try some of the nastier-tasting corals, like mushrooms, leathers & xenia. Don't be surprised if the puffer picks at it anyway though. I'd forget about live plants for now. There really aren't any that will survive the transfer from high-brackish to SW.> My tank conditions are: nitrate 40, <Should be below 20> nitrite 0.8, <Keep 0 at all times> alkalinity 100, pH 7.6. <Should be closer to 8> Are these settings alright or healthy? If not, what are ideal conditions for my GSP? <No, they are not. Larger, more frequent water changes are necessary. I do 50% weekly. Crushed coral or aragonite sand is best for substrate. This will keep the pH steady, around 8.> I understand that I must feed my puffer snails to keep his beak worn down. How many must be fed per week? Is there a specific type of snail which would be best for feeding? Will I have to feed him these snails throughout his whole life? Would I be able to just feed him typical garden snails? <Here are several articles to read about feeding puffers: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/category/feeding/ > How often should I clean his water? <Answered above. Be sure to clean the substrate weekly too.> I have heard that puffers need very good quality water to thrive. His current diet consists of freeze-dried krill and blood worms that I reconstitute in some water that I get from his tank, is this diet adequate or should I change it? <See link above.> Do GSPs prefer sand, pebbles or gravel? If my puffer swims up and down the sides of his tank, does that mean he wants more room? <Yes. Also could be bored with it's surroundings.> Are there any crustaceans that will co-exist with my GSP without being eaten by him? <No> Will clams, krill, or ghost shrimp wear down his "beak?" <Yes, see above.> Well, that about sums it up. Thank you so much and I hope to hear from you guys soon with your advice. Sorry about the long letter and again, thank you. <Sorry this response took so long to reply to, I had trouble sending it. For more info on your GSP, please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm More info at the other website I linked you to above, too. ~PP>

Re: Caring for a Green Spotted Puffer 6/10/07 Well Pufferpunk, thank you for your answers. <No problem. Sorry this is so long getting back to you--busy week. > I have continued my research and learned a little more over the time that you have taken to e-mail me. For one, I am getting the Emperor 280 filter, which should filter up to 50 Gallons. Will this be enough overfiltration for my soon-to-be 36-gallon? <I am not familiar with that brand of filter. I prefer the Aquaclear filter, so I can stack it with what I want. I also don't like using that bio-wheel on brackish tanks, as they can spray salt--messy. > Also, I understand that it has a cartridge in which you can put your own media in. Which media would you recommend? <In my AquaClears, I use the sponge that comes with it (mechanical filtration), 1' of filter floss (to polish the water crystal clear and Bio-Max on top (for biological filtration). > Also, for clarity, would my GSP live a happy life in the 36-gallon bow front at a full 6" or would I need bigger aquarium? <As long as you don't add any tank mates, that tank should suffice. Bigger is always better though. > As for water changes, I do a 20% a week, so I'm assuming that I need to up it to 50%. <That's what I do. > Also, I was thinking that a java fern would do nicely in his tank, is this correct? <That should work, until you have the SG closer to marine. > I will be keeping him alone, I know that they are aggressive little guys but I can't help but think that he might get lonesome. Do you think he will? <Here's a great article on that subject: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/puffer-care/alone-but-not-lonely-the-importance-of-keeping-puffers-solo/ Well, that's it thanks for your time. <Good luck with your puffer. It sounds like it's in great care! ~PP>

Overcrowding a Puffer 5/31/07 <Hi Natalie, Pufferpunk here> I have spent hours on this website, thank you so much for your expertise in the matter of brackish water info. <We try our best!> I had a 33 g brackish aquarium that had 2 mono's, 1 F8 and a GSP. <Wow, that's a lot of fish! At adult size, your GSP will be happy in that tank alone. Have you researched the adult sizes of these fish? How about their requirements as far as whether they are schooling fish, like the mono? F8s prefer low-end brackish water, while the other species you have listed prefer high-end BW to marine conditions as adults.> After reading the FAQs, I realized that I was most likely keeping everyone content by pure chance. <Agreed> I moved countries, left them behind and they passed away. <So sad... Didn' you leave them in the care of someone responsible?> My question is this: I'm currently in the process of cycling a 46g and doing research on the GSP. 1. I was going to use normal aquarium gravel (since its' what I used before with success) but I'm reading from many sources that sand is better and even as far as play sand found at Home Depot-type stores. Is this correct? If not, what type of sand do you use? Crushed coral? <I prefer crushed coral for ease of cleaning & keeping the pH steady, around 8.> This would present a problem, since I was going to use the gravel used from a previous aquarium to help with the cycling process. <Unless the gravel is in a tank that has fish in it now, it will be useless. You can "seed" the new tank by putting a bag of gravel from a well-established tank, onto your sandbed & fishless cycle the tank (lots of good info on that subject at WWM).> I was also thinking that the sand would show much of the waste and since GSP don't like much current it would be difficult for the filter to pick it up without a power jet, which is the reasoning behind my going with simple aquarium gravel. Is this bad? <This is why I prefer crushed coral.> 2. I really want to focus on the GSP. However, in a 46g I think it would look kind of weird and empty only having one guy in there. <Not really, if you add the ton of decor they prefer, so they are kept busy investigating everything. Otherwise they get bored. I think mine would have been happy by itself in a 55g tank. You'd be surprised how much room these football-shaped fish can take up in a tank. They swim a lot. They are messy eaters & high waste producers & require a lot of dilution to that waste.> I know, I know, GSPs are best kept alone, however I was thinking of maybe putting him with a Silver Tipped Shark <Grows to 18". Much too large for your tank. Also they are a schooling species.> or two mono's (since they tend to be a quick and aggressive) <Grows to a foot & is also schooling.> or even a bumblebee that was suggested on some other website <Will be eaten.> as well as maybe a dragon fish. <Too sedentary & will be chewed up by the puffer.> Something to fill up the space aside from decorations. <Your puffer will be thrilled to be in that tank alone.> I know this must get monotonous but I really want to do this right and not go on my previous experience since apparently were completely wrong and apparently only managed to give me confidence that I could do this again, LOL. Thank you in advance for your help, time and most of all patience. <Please research adult sizes of fish you are interested in. Also Compatibility, tank size, salinity, etc. All the info is at your fingertips.> Yours, Natalie. PS: I hope the English is better this around. <Your English is perfect. I have corrected your punctuation & capitalization. ~PP>

Lighting for GSPs -- 05/21/07 I have a GSP who I've had for about a week now. I got my tank set-up for my birthday, and it came with a light. I wanted to know if I need to get a special light for her or will the standard aquarium light that came with the tank be sufficient? <Yes, most standard lights should be.> She doesn't seem to like the light, her colors go from bright green to a pale yellow and she begins to swim up and down for hours in the corner of the tank after I've turned the light on. <This could also be related to something else. Be sure to read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/green_spotted_puppies.htm > She does have a cave to go into, but rarely uses it. Also, how many hours of "daylight" and "night time" should I give her? <About 10-12 hours daylight.> Also... Vacation feeding. Is there anyway to vacation feed her if I go away for the weekend? I was thinking of putting like 5 ghost shrimp in and let her eat as she needs to while we're gone, but I'm not sure if this is good to do, or there was another way to do this. <Sounds fine. They do not starve in 2 or 3 days, but if you leave for longer, ask someone to feed them.> Please help :). <Hope I did. Cheers, Marco.>

Green Spotted Puffer Going Marine?  4/27/07 Ladies/Gentlemen, <Hi, Pufferpunk here today> Thank you all for your time, expertise and advice! <You're very welcome!> In the past I had a tank with a Green Spotted Puffer and absolutely loved this fish.  As time went on, I exchanged my brackish water tank for a saltwater reef tank and then also accumulated a FOWLR tank.  I was wondering if and how I might acclimate a Green Spotted Puffer in to this FOWLR tank.  The tank is 75 gallons, with 90lbs LR, Aqua C EV200 Protein Skimmer, 30gal sump/refugium.  Current livestock include:  (1) 5" Magnificent Foxface Rabbitfish, (1) 5" Bullet Goby, (1) 5" Harlequin Wrasse and (1) 4" Yellow Tang. ( I am considering transferring my Magnificent Foxface to my Reef tank though. <You can drip-acclimate the GSP, raising the SG in the bucket, no more than .002/hour, so it has time to adjust.  If it is going to take a long time, you might want to add a small heater to the bucket.  Keep your eye out for aggressiveness towards his tank mates, on the puffer's part (fin-nipping).  ~PP> Thanks again, Dustin

Red Dots... Over-cleaning a Puffer's Tank  2/28/07 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> On Feb 25th I wrote to Wet Web Media about a problem I was having in my GSP tank concerning tiny red/brown "dots" swimming in my puffer tank. <Sorry I didn't see that one.> I asked if they could be identified as something harmful to my fish or myself but received no answer to this question. <It may seem so but we are not all knowing. ;) > All I was told is that it could be a parasite introduced from the ghost shrimp that I had fed and to treat with Clout or Fluke Tabs. <Were they attacking your puffer?  Parasites would actually be on the puffer.> Having used Clout before, I was upset to know Clout specifically says "not to use on scaleless fish" so this was not an option for my puffer. <For future reference, here's an article on puffer safe anti-parasite meds: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13 Check out the rest of that site for more puffer info.> I felt lost and became desperate. I hope my reaction was not too desperate but I decided after reading the response I was given, that I was on my own. I strained out several gallons of water through a coffee filter into a separate container (hoping to save as much beneficial bacteria as possible) and noticed that numerous amounts of these "swimming dots" accumulated into the coffee filters. <Beneficial bacteria doesn't live in the water column.  Mostly on surfaces, i.e.: substrate, decor & filter material.> I removed the GSP in a small cup and placed him in this new container and proceeded to pull out all the ornaments and aragonite from the tank. All these were put into a sink of scalding hot water (hoping to kill as many "dots" as possible). I cleaned the pump and replaced the filter. I put the GSP and filtered water back into the tank, topped off the water level with treated water and added small amounts of marine salt to bring the salinity up to marine conditions hoping the extra salt would kill any dots that may have slipped through my efforts. <Might have been quite stressful on the puffer, if it wasn't at/near that salinity before.  Also, you killed off all the beneficial bacteria & the puffer is now living in an uncycled tank.  I suggest you get Bio-Spira & add to the filter ASAP.  DO NOT LET THE STORES TALK YOU INTO ANY OTHER PRODUCTS!!!  Bio-Spira is the ONLY product that contains the correct, live bacteria to instantly cycle a tank. (I can't tell you how many times I write this & a letter comes back saying they couldn't find Bio-Spira & the shop sold them something else.)> The tank temp has been raised up to 84. <Not necessary, IMO.> It has now been 24 hours. All the "dots" in the sink are motionless and my GSP still seems fine in the cleaned tank. He ate well at feeding time and his color is still beautiful and bright. <Keep a close eye on ammonia, nitrites & nitrates.  Do water changes accordingly, until the B-S is added (ammonia/nitrites should be 0 at all times, nitrates <20).> I have enjoyed his company for over 3 years now and have always gave him the best I could give. I can only hope that my actions will have benefited his future.   <Hopefully for at least another decade, as this species can live into their teens.> I can only wait to see if the "dots" come back, since I cannot trust the Clout to cure him. I will no longer feed him ghost shrimp. I have received such fantastic information from your website and will continue to look to your site for valuable info in the future. <Hopefully we can continue to offer it.> I feel that this time I had to rely on myself to help my fish but I still hope you can guide me as well as others on how to properly care for our finned companions. I still value your opinion and I'm curious if you think I made the right choice about treating my GSP "naturally" instead of with chemicals? <I'm all for natural over meds, unless absolutely necessary.> Is there anything else I can do for my little guy? <Keep an eye on the water parameters & search far & wide for Bio-Spira.  If not found locally, you can order it here: http://fishstoretn.com/bio_spira.html  (Hmmm... site seems to be down for the moment...). Unless this is a huge tank (hopefully at least 30g, since that is the minimum recommended size for an adult GSP), expect a system crash soon.  Good luck with your puffer!  ~PP>

Re: Red Dots Swimming in Puffer Tank  2/27/07 Thank You Puffer Punk!!! <You're very welcome!> I wish that you had been the one that had responded to my first e-mail. <Everyone tries their best here.> I probably would not have gone to such extremes otherwise. My GSP is in a 20 gal by himself and I will move him to a 30 gal as soon as all the red dot problem is gone. I will research the site you recommended extensively for a good treatment for the "dots". Hopefully I can solve the mystery as to what they are and I will contact you if I find the answer. <LOL, that's my website, so I'm sure I'll see you there.  I'm not really sure what they are but maybe someone at that site can figure it out.  I have seen little red bugs swimming in one of my FW tanks, like little mites.  Never bothered anything & I never did anything about them.> It may help someone else out one day. These "dots" do not seem to be affecting my puff at all but they act like new tank inhabitants, swimming around on their own. I'm just hoping I got rid of them by breaking down the tank since I was concerned they may be a larval stage of something worse. I will test the water as you suggested and will try to avoid a "crash" by using the Bio-Spira. You have truly been a blessing! I cannot thank you enough for your valuable information! <Happy to be of service.  ~PP> Sincerely,  Michelle in N.C.

Professor Pufferton in a Bowl???  2/26/07 Mr. Fenner, <Hi Eric, Pufferpunk here, to answer your puffer questions.> I purchased a GPS from my local Wal-Mart about 3 days ago. After finding your site i <Please use a capital I when referring to yourself.  We need to have this correct for our FAQs.  I will correct in this letter--very time consuming.> realize I am an idiot for buying this poor fish from them. I had no knowledge. It looked cute and the Moron... errr employee said it was easy to care for and every question I asked concerning its care she said would be fine. <Grrrr!!!  You wouldn't believe, how many letters I get about Wal-Mart puffers!> What was I thinking!!   <What you should have been thinking is, "Wow, what a cool fish!  I think I'll go home & thoroughly research the care & feeding of this exotic species, before I buy it."> Anyways Profesor <Professor> Pufferton is 1 1/2 inches long, is in a 1 GALLON tank..... <Oh no, not good at all!  Puffers don't belong in bowls.  Actually, no fish does.  I'm sure it's not cycled either...> I added some "Start Right" to the water according to the bottle. <A total waste.  Actually, you are adding more dead bacteria to an way too small "container" (I won't even justify calling it a tank) which already contains the puffer's waste.> Puffington was not happy.  I could tell right away!    <No kidding...> He would not eat the TROPICAL FLAKES the Wal-Mart employee assured me he would like.   <Puffers will rarely eat flakes. Read: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/feeding/feeding-your-puffers/  Check out the other feeding articles there too.> Was either laying on the bottom or swimming up and down the glass, which is how these poor guys act at the store...(4 -5 in a 5 gallon tank that I assume is freshwater).  Then about 2 days later he started to get like white bubbles on his sides looks like a fat pimple or something and his belly is getting black...I started to add small amounts of some aquarium salt to the water after I found your site. <If you read my GSP article or any info on brackish water, it says to use marine salt.>   Bought some freeze dried krill that he is all over and he is much happier and the bumps or bubbles look better but are still there and his stomach is looking better. <Your puffer is being poisoned by it's own ammonia & waste.> My girlfriend came home with a 20 gal tank but I am unsure what to do because I have read on your site they need at least 30. <20g is certainly better than 1 gal.  Get him in there ASAP!  Cycle the tank with Bio-Spira.  If you can't find it locally, order it here: http://fishstoretn.com/bio_spira.html   Read that page, about how it works.  You'll ned a good filter (I recommend a Hagen Aquaclear 110, which will work on your larger tank when you upgrade.  Use crushed coral for substrate.> Money is an option. Should i put him in the 20 gal or wait till i can afford a 40 - 50 gal? <Put him in the 20g & save up for a larger tank, as he grows.  Match the water temp of the bowl (you're going to need a heater/thermometer for the larger tank).  Dechlorinate the water with Prime.  Do not use any other products in there, other than the Bio-Spira.  If you need to mail-order it, you should do 50% water changes on the tank daily, until it comes in.> Will the added stress of moving him be worth it? <He will be dead in a day or 2 in that bowl.> Although your site is by FAR the best thing out there, I am still finding a lot of conflicting care instructions from the different people who respond to questions in the FAQ sections. <Stick with MY responses.  Read my GSP article:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > I guess my question is: what are those bumps, how do I make them go away and should I go with the 20 gal or try and make it another week till I get a larger one???  Oh and also is "Aquarium salt right or do I need "Marine Salt"?  Poor Pufferton... Help me save him please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!            <I'm not sure what those bumps are but they may go away after he is properly housed.  Sign up at www.thepufferforum.com, for further help with your puffer.  Next time you write, please use proper capitalization or I will have to return your letter, unanswered.  ~PP> Thank you, Eric

Re: Keeping a Puffer in a 1 Gallon Bowl... & I'm a Jerk???  2/27/07 <Hey there Eric> I came to you for help (actually it was Bob but I got you instead). Pufferpunk... yea that's about right. <If you had gotten Bob, he would have sent back your letter for correction, unanswered.   It is his rule that these letters be corrected, before sent to our FAQs.  Also, Bob knows very little about the brackish puffer species.  I am the foremost expert on the web, on this species.  My green spotted puffer article is printed in several different languages, world-wide.> I came here for answers NOT ATTITUDE.  I don't need you to correct my spelling and punctuation. I work hard and it was 3 in the morning. I didn't write you for a published response XXXX, just the FACTS. <No need for vulgarity.  I answered your letter at 2am, after all the questions on my pufferfish forum were answered.  I spend a great deal of my free time helping folks with their puffers.> I saw  on your site that other people have been offended with your responses to their questions. <So you were actually aware of our need for correctly capitalized letters & you still had the disrespect to send your letter that way?>   I hope your not getting PAID for this. It would be a shame if you are. <No, I do not get paid.  I do this strictly for the reward of saving people's fish.  It is Bob Fenner's site & he wants the letters corrected.  You need to take that up with him, not me.> <<Ah, yes. RMF>> First off, your info is not THAT consistent, so your not exactly as smart as you think you are. <???  I have repeated the same information on this species so often, I wrote an article on them so I could just link to it.  How is that not consistent?  I never claimed to be smart--I think I might know a little about the aquarium hobby though.  I've been keeping fish successfully for over 28 years.  I have several articles published & wrote all the pufferfish profiles for the TFH book, Encyclopedia of Exotic Tropical Fishes.> Second, anyone with some COMMON SENSE would know that these fish are widely available and it isn't going to do any good to be condescending to people.  (Yeah, that's probably spelled wrong too, please correct it for me.) The only thing I got from your response is discouraged. <I'm just trying to help your puffer.  Anyone with common sense would research a living creature, before purchasing it & putting it into a bowl.> Thanks for nothing JERK! I'm sorry, it's too bad everyone can't be an aquarium NERD like you. LMAOLMAOLMAOLMAOLMAOLMAOLMAOLMAOLMAOLMAOLMAOLMAOLMAOLMA! <I'm sorry you don't appreciate my help.  I spent a lot of time responding to you.  I hope your puffer gets into a larger tank soon & lives into it's teens, as most don't, due to lack of research & improper care.  I corrected your letter for you.  It would really be nice if folks would bother to read their letters & correct themselves before sending, out of respect for the readers.  It's just plain laziness.  ~PP> <<Militant stupidity ranks near the top of such self-imposed "crimes" IMO/E. BobF>>

GSP out in the Cold  12/4/06 I don't know if I am contacting to right person or anything but I need to talk to some one because all the info I look up on green spotted is different. <Hi Katie, You definitely got the right person.  I wrote THE article on GSPs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > A couple weeks ago I purchased my puffer. At the time I wasn't told that it was a brackish water fish. <Quite correct.> When I got it home and had it in the aquarium (with a couple gold fish, because I was told by a friend that it should be large enough to eat them) I looked up info on it to see what kind of environment that it would prefer this is when I learned it was a brackish water fish. I haven't changed from fresh water yet because it seemed to be doing fine. <"Fine" for now.  If he's doing so fine, then why are you writing to me about him?  Keeping in FW doesn't ensure it's long-term survival.  GSPs can live into their teens.  For that matter, goldfish can live into their 20s!  GF are extremely poor food for your puffer (or any fish for that matter).   See: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?p=53  Look around that Library for other excellent articles.  Read as much as you can!> But yesterday I got home and one of the gold fish was dead. It looked as though it had gotten a fin caught in the filter so I figured that cause it to die. <Puffers are known for being mean, aggressive, fin-nippers, that will usually kill most tank mates.  I'm afraid the puffer was probably the culprit.  A healthy fish won't get caught in a filter strainer.> Then I noticed that my puffer was acting strange.  It had gotten itself in a location where a rock would hold him in place, when he finally came out he moved around very slowly and didn't react to me like he had previously (swimming away in fright). He had always been a calm puffer (he never once puffed up while being moved from tank to tank and even when I tried to just annoy him a little he didn't do much) so I figured he had gotten used to me but he  wouldn't eat. So I checked the temp and it was only 66 degrees (Fahrenheit) I don't have a heater so I raised the temp in the room and put a towel over part of the tank to keep some heat from escaping. I read online that the water should be 68 degrees to 75ish I think. <For goldfish, maybe. Certainly not for tropical fish.  They need temps of 78-80 degrees.  Get a heater!> Today when I got home the water was warmer (closer to 70 degrees I'd imagine) but my puffer was still using the landscape to keep him in place. When he finally exposed himself I saw white bumps that look like whiteheads on several locations on his body. <Goosebumps?  Just kidding.  Could just be it's tiny spines--all puffers have spines.  Could also be a parasite called ich, brought on from the cold.> Did the dead goldfish infect the water? All the other gold fish seem fine. I haven't had him for long but I've grown attached.  Is this going to kill him? <It could have caught some disease from it's immune system being compromised by the cold temps.  I'd get your puffer another tank (it will eventually require at least 30g as an adult) or find the GF another home, if that tank is big enough.  Go to the forums at that pufferfish website to talk to other puffer keepers about your new friend.  ~PP> Thank you so much for any help, Katie

GSP--Feeding, Tank Size?  11/23/06 Hey there, <Hi, Pufferpunk, here> I've been recently interested in green spotted puffer fish and I have a few questions. One is how many puffers a 55 gallon could have? I was thinking two or three knowing that they are  very territorial and can grow to 6 in+. <The recommended MINIMUM tank size for these larger brackish puffers is 30 gallons.  You can always add fast/moving tough fish like damselfish or a tomato clownfish, when it moves up to marine conditions.  I had more than one in a 55g & I think one would have been quite happy in there by itself.  Definitely no more than 2 but that is really pushing it & then, no other tank mates.> Another question is about how they need snails to keep their teeth from overgrowing.  How big should the  snails be? I read that they should be the size of the puffers eye, is this true? <Correct--smaller, they ignore them--larger, they just suck the meat out, not benefiting from the "crunch factor" of biting through the shell & keeping trimmed teeth.> If it is how can I get these and how many should be fed to each  puffer? <You should be able to find pond snails at most aquarium shops on live plants.  They are generally considered pests & should be gladly given for free.  You can start your own snail breeding tank.  Here are some articles on snail breeding & general puffer feeding info: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library.php?cat=7  > I'm planning on using reef sand. Is that a good idea? I read it's a good buffer for the water.  If it is, how much should I need for a 55 gallon long tank? <No more than 1" of sand, otherwise it will need thorough weekly stirring, to prevent anaerobic pockets of bacteria (toxic).  Quite difficult on a heavily decorated, large tank.  I prefer using crushed coral & cleaning around & under decor with a Python, during weekly water changes.> My next question is about the filtration.  I currently have a penguin 330.  Is this enough or do I need more  filtration? <I am not familiar with the Penguin but if it circulates 330g/hour, I don't think that's enough.  On tanks less than 50g, I use a HOB filter, like the Aquaclear 500 for mechanical & biological filtration.  Over 55g, I add a canister filter for extra biological filtration, like the Eheim 2213.> The last question is what kind of aquascape should I include in this tank? <Puffers are intelligent fish & need lots of decor to investigate.  Since I had no marine tanks at the time, I went the fake SW decor look. Here's my 55g GSP tank: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/Pufferpunk/Pufferpics/55gGSPTank.jpg  > If you have any more information I might need to know to keep my new friends healthy and to help them thrive, please let me know. <Check out the articles in the library I linked you to & the forum at: www.thepufferforum.com.  See ya there!  ~PP>

Raising SG for GSP  11/6/06 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> As most are people raising GSP's "Green Spotted Puffers" these days -  I too went to the LFS and fell in love with one, only to start my  research and realize I was in a bit over my head!   <Always research a fish you aren't sure of, before purchasing it.  Well, at least you're writing now...> With the prospect of having this adorable addition to our family for many years to come, I decided to keep him.  I have already ordered snails and prepared a small tank to raise them in and feel pretty confident about all the ins and outs of caring for my "Chester" but I can't find any time table for bringing the tank from FW - BW - SW.  He is now only a lil' over and inch if you measure all the way to the end of his tail.  I understand the process of going from FW to SW as it is always given in terms of the fishes size, but I am wondering when should I start this process and about how long should it take before this fish grows to his adult size?  I hope that all made sense and thank you in advance for your site... another puffer is safe thanks to your wealth of info!!!   ~Chester's Mom Check out this article, it should tell you everything you need to know: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm For more info, see: www.thepufferforum.com  ~PP>

Puffer Tank Size  9/7/06 Hi there, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> My puffer (I think he is a spotted 8??) is acting weird. <Hmmm... which is it, a spotted (green spotted puffer) or figure 8?  Those are 2 different puffers.  Look here for ID: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/Brackish/ > I bought two puffers about 6 months ago. One was just over an inch long and the other just smaller. Now the larger one is huge, just over 3 inches. <It grew 2" in 6 months?  Must be a GSP then.> The smaller one is still small and really cute. The bigger one is acting weird. When I turn off the light in the tank, he sits on the bottom and turns a darker color. When the light goes back on he changes back after a second but he lays on the bottom at least half the day. I just put them in a 10 gallon tank. (They were going crazy in the smaller 5 gallon tank.) I thought I had read somewhere that they don't grow very fast. He is so big and so cute. Please help me figure out if he is sick or if he is relaxing with more room. He is kinda scaring me... <Even if those are both F8 puffers, they would need at least a 20-30g tank, even at this size.  If one or both are GSPs, then 30g each is recommended.  Either way, that 10g is way too small.  I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did in the 5gal.  It sounds like your puffer could be stressed.  It also could just be napping.  I suggest reading over the profiles in the link I gave you.  There are also excellent articles on both those species in that forum's Library.  If they are 2 different species, then you will need to separate them.  ~PP> Thanks, and I hope I didn't ramble on too much. Substrate for GSP  8/21/06 Hi Again! I appreciated your input back in June when I had a question regarding my GSP's black belly. He is now living alone in the same setup as before with a salinity raised to 1.008. I would like to take your advice to transfer substrates from gravel to either aragonite or crushed coral. Do you have any advice on how to best do this to minimize stress to our GSP? <I would put your fish into a bucket or even better a large trash can that you could drain 1/2 the tank water into. Dump out the rest & then you have dry(ish) substrate to scoop out.> We have a gravel vac to clean up after messy face :) but how does this work with the finer substrate?   <If using crushed coral, it will clean up the same as gravel (I prefer CC).  Aragonite sand may have to be stirred by hand before skimming over w/the gravel cleaner.> Do you think having a light colored substrate does affect belly color at all? <Yes, fish generally try to blend in with their surroundings.> I think he'd prefer the softer substrate to lay on, although he's a comfortable sleeper and enjoys a little indent in the gravel to sleep in. We do have a log, fake log house and fake plants as far as decor. Are there any other styles of decor that GSPs favor? <Petsmart carries a fantastic selection of fake mangrove decor.  I have some in most of my tanks.> Thank you so much for your time and your input! It's much appreciated! Suzie <I'm happy to help!  ~PP>

Keeping a Puffer in an Uncycled 1G Bowl  8/16/06 Researching Puffers <Hi Steve, Pufferpunk here> I have a puffer that has been pretty cool. I did have to separate him from the rest of the fish due to his nipping. <No surprise there.  Did you do any research on this fish before buying it?> I put him into a small tank (1 Gal) and he was fine until lately he started to discolor. I am not sure if the tank had not cycled yet or maybe he has become sick. <Nothing belongs living in a 1g bowl.  You cannot cycle a tank with a puffer!  It will be poisoned by it's own waste.  In addition, even a small juvenile puffer (1") needs at LEAST a 10g tank & a 30g tank when a 6" adult.> He has now begun to look fuzzy and his color continues to darken. What will happen to him from being in a 1 gallon tank? <He will probably be dead within 24 hours.> Can he be brought back to health?? <You could buy him a larger tank TODAY (10g minimum but expect to upgrade to a 30g when he gets over 2").  You will need to add Bio-Spira to cycle the tank.  If you can't get a hold of that product, you could add into the new filter some of the filter media from your established tank to help the tank along w/a cycle.  Do 50% water changes on the tank DAILY (use a water conditioner, like Prime), while testing for ammonia, nitrites & nitrates, to see how the cycle is doing (ammonia & nitrites need to be at 0 at all times [highly toxic!], nitrates <20).  Here is an article on them: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm>  You can also go to www.thepufferforum.com & post there about your puffer.  I really hope you can save him!  ~PP> Thank You, Steve West Re: Dwarf Puffers Passing Away. "Leopard" Puffers (Tetraodon nigroviridis)  8/1/06 Pufferpunk (& crew), Thanks for the quick response.  Unfortunately I lost the last dwarf.   <Sorry to hear that.  Sounds like a bad batch--maybe with internal parasites.> I tested the water again with a new set of Seachem test and my Hagen kit, both confirmed 0 Ammonia, 0 nitrite and (now) 10 Nitrate.  The Cory is still fine and not exhibiting any problems.  I moved him out to my 10 gal Betta tank for a bit. I want to try my hand with a Leopard Puffers.  I have seen mixed information as to whether the are Freshwater or Brackish.   <These are BW fish that prefer marine conditions as adults.> Even some sites I have looked at recommend some aquarium salt but adding aquarium salt to freshwater doesn't make brackish water!  I would need to use marine salt...  Correct?   <Yup> My 20 long would not be a long term solution, I would be moving them to larger quarters. <30g minimum, per adult fish.  Mine would have been happy in a 55g by himself. I wouldn't keep more than 2 juvies in a 20g past 2".> I am also getting mixed messages about keeping them in groups.  I would try one or three (wouldn't attempt two)... what do your think? <Only if introduced as juveniles.  I kept 2 together without any problems.  With puffers, you never know when they may turn on each other.  See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm & www.thepufferforum.com  ~PP> Thanks, Roy

NitrItes in Brackish Tank  5/18/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have had my brackish GSP tank setup for more then 5 months now and they have been doing fine. I feed them a good diet of krill, snails, shrimp and other stuff. I keep the water ph at 8, ammonia at 0 along with the nitrite and the nitrates at 20 like suggested. Two days ago I did a water change just like I always do. The next day one of my 2 puffers were dead. First thing I did was check the water, the pH was fine and so was the ammonia, but the nitrite was at 5.0 ppm and the nitrate is at 160ppm. I have never had this problem before and don't know how to fix it, Can you give me advice. I don't trust the LPS and I don't want to lose my other baby too. <So sorry for the loss of your puffer!  You could test your tap water but I don't think there is a correlation with the death & water parameters, to your water change.  Are you cleaning the substrate, under & around all decor?  Sounds more like overfeeding or rotting food stuck somewhere.  Did you change the SG at all?  How large is your tank?  Water changes can only do good for your tank & are definitely in order here.  ~PP> Thanks, Saranne

Pufferfish for Dummies  5/14/06 Dear Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I am interested in purchasing a puffer fish. I know nothing about fish and I am actually kind of scared of fish but I saw a little yellow puffer fish I fell in love with at the store (Wal-Mart). <Certainly can't blame you for that!> The woman in the department knew NOTHING about the fish and have not been able to find anyone at any other pet stores who can tell me all I need to know. <Not surprised there either.  Puffers are the most misinformed fishes in the hobby.> The puffer fish I am interested in was about the size of a quarter, white belly, yellow in color with little black spots. <Green spotted puffer, Tetraodon nigroviridis.> Should I get more than one puffer so they will not get bored and lonely? <Not necessarily; puffers don't get lonely.  See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i6/lonely_puffer/lonely_puffer.htm You could keep several of these puffer together if you raise them up as juveniles.  Keep in mind they require at least 30 gallons each as adults.> What kind of food do they eat (I read brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, hard things to keep their teeth warn down, etc). <Feeding your Puffer Friend: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html > Do you suppose this was a dwarf puffer fish? Or another species? <I'm sure it's the GSP.  Wal-Mart's been selling tons of these lately.> How big of tank should I have? How often do I need to clean it or can I get a tank cleaning fish? <Everything you need to know about the care of a GSP: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > Also, would Wal-Mart be an okay place to buy a little fishy or should I try to find one at an actual pet store? <Personally, I have boycotted Wal-Mart for the care of their fish for over 10 years.> I need all the information to keep a happy, healthy puffer fish!!  Please share all your knowledge! THANK YOU!! <Then you should go over to www.thepufferforum.com & read, read, read!  PP> -Rosie

Green Spotted Puffer ... foods/feeding, sys.  - 04/14/2006 Help me Webcrew! <I'll give it my best shot, Mindy. Tom here> My roommates bought me a GSP. They have one in their saltwater aquarium and it is fascinating! It swims to you and almost "plays" with you. <Personality to spare with these guys/gals!> My husband is away in Iraq right now so my roommates thought it would be a good idea to give me something to take care of that wouldn't be too difficult but might become a little companion. I am in love! His name is Hootie. :) <You're secret is safe with us...until this gets posted to the FAQ's, of course. :)> I have some questions about him, though, and I haven't really found the answers anywhere else on the website. My Hootie is REALLY small. He's about the size of a quarter so I am wondering what I can feed him since he is so small. <There are a variety of foods that Hootie would be interested in either in the frozen or live form. One thought that comes immediately to my mind is live brine shrimp. My favorite LFS stocks these and most of my tropical fish go nuts over them. They shouldn't prove to be "intimidating" to Hootie since they tend to be itty-bitty themselves. Small snails might go over well, also. One of the most important things to remember with your Puffer is that he must have hard food to feed on to keep its teeth from growing too large. Like furry rodents, their teeth continue to grow throughout life and must be kept "worn down" to prevent serious feeding problems down the road. Also note that some Puffers can be fussy eaters with some only taking live food. Thrill of the "chase", I suppose. :)> The people where I bought the tank told me he would eat tropical fish flakes (I read on your site though that this is absurd) so we got some Sun Dried Gammarus also, but he doesn't seem interested in them either. Then we pulled out a frozen clam that my roommates feed their puffer and he doesn't seem to care about it either. The clam though is the size of him so maybe that's why? I'm just wondering what your thoughts are. <Although high quality flakes are an terrific source of nutrition for a lot of fish, your Puffer needs meaty foods. Please, stay away from feeder fish, as well. (Yes, Hootie would probably gladly dine on a Guppy.) All too often, though, these "feeder" fish can carry diseases and, frankly, aren't particularly nutritious at all. Why invite problems? As for the clam, maybe Hootie got bored waiting for it to "burp". :) (Seriously, if the clam is Hootie's size, he won't mess with it.)> Also, I read that they are sort of "affectionate" fish but mine seems to be a loner. If I put my face or my finger up to the tank, Hootie runs to the other side like he's afraid of it. What's up with that? <Hootie's a fish and you are a "people". He doesn't know what a "people" is quite yet. Once he realizes that you aren't a predator and, better yet, you bring him food, you'll have his undivided attention. Not to worry...> Despite his eating habits and lack of social skills he appears to be happy. He swims around a lot and his back fin is out and fanned and his belly is white so he's doing good right? <Sounds good to me...> My last question is about the water. Is my fish really a freshwater fish? Will I ever have to put him in a saltwater tank or can I keep him always in freshwater like he is? <He'll be fine for the time being in freshwater but you should plan on acclimating him slowly(!) to "brackish" water in the future. He might seem okay in a freshwater system but he won't thrive in one. In fact, you'll find yourself coming closer to marine (saltwater) conditions with Hootie than brackish conditions - salinity: 1.010 - 1.020. On the high end of "brackish" conditions.> I have Aquarium salt and we put a little of that in the tank because we weren't sure but the store he came from said he was totally freshwater. Their tanks at the store are freshwater and he had been there for two weeks already. So what do you suggest for my new friend? <At Hootie's stage of development, the fish store got away with a no-brainer. Many animals that need brackish conditions are sold as FW fish because, as juveniles, they ARE freshwater fish. What folks aren't told, in far too many instances, is that these fish won't last long in FW. Plain and simple. That said and, before I start "soapboxing", you'll need Marine salt as opposed to Aquarium salt. Aquarium salt is great for FW applications, when merited, but your Puffer will need Marine salt, ultimately, in his tank. Instant Ocean (Marineland) is a fine product for your application and contains the elements needed in your water. Please check WWM for acclimation procedures. Additionally, we've got an FAQ section specifically for brackish systems.> I know it sounds like a lot I just really like him and I want him to stick around to meet my husband when he comes back. I think they'd like each other. <I know I can speak for the entire WWM crew when I say that we all look forward to the day when your husband returns to you and, to Hootie.> Thankfully yours, huffmindy <Tom>

Re: Green Spotted Puffer ... foods/feeding, sys.  - 04/14/2006 Tom, Thank you so much for responding so promptly. Hootie says hello. <Please tell Hootie I said, "Hey!"> It's the strangest thing; After I got your response I noticed that Hootie is starting to stare at me. He still pulls away if I come too close too quick, but I think he's getting used to me. <Glad to hear that. Also an indicator, of sorts, of good health/well-being. If he were stressed or sick, he likely wouldn't be showing curiosity toward you.> Also a great thing happened. After days of seeing nothing I decided tomorrow I will go to the store and get shrimp to try. I turned off his aquarium light to go to bed and after I did that he swam up to the top and lunged at a dried baby shrimp I put in the tank earlier that day! Just to be sure I put in two more and he ate them both! I've figured him out; I guess he just likes to eat in the dark. How weird is that? I'm still going to get him some live food, but it's good to know how to feed him now. <A lot of fish naturally feed nocturnally so, in those cases, this wouldn't surprise me. I'd venture that Hootie will change this behavior once he's totally at ease with you. In fact, I practically guarantee it! Right now, though, he's probably feeling more comfortable foraging at night when he can give his full attention to food and not trying to figure out how you fit into the scheme of his life. He'll put two and two together rather quickly from here on.> Thank you so much for helping me and my new best friend. <More than happy to be of service.>   Sincerely thankful, Huffmindy and Hootie <Tom> New GSP Owner - 4/10/2006 Hi, <<Hello!>> I have just recently bought a puffer fish at Wal-Mart.  I think it is a leopard spotted puffer fish and of course they didn't know anything about the cute little guy.  I was wondering if he will be o.k. in a 37 gallon tank with a 4 inch kissing Gourami, a red tail shark, and a dragon fish. <<Your puffer needs at LEAST 30-gallons to himself, and will require full salt water as an adult.  Read here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html.  Also check out www.thepufferforum.com.>> I also have another question, is my puffer a brackish fish or freshwater? <<He is a high-end brackish to full salt water puffer.>> At Wal-Mart they had him in a freshwater tank. <<Stores often sell these in FW, but you need to slowly raise the SG, no more than .002/week.>> Will my other fish die if their in a brackish tank? <<None of the other fish will like full SW.  You need to re-house them, and research their adult sizes/water requirements.  All is posted on WWM.>> Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope to receive a reply, so I know what's best for my fish and take action.   <<Glad to help. Lisa.>> Moosebunny

KH hardness for a Tetraodon nigriviridis ... GSP    4/8/06 Dear Crew, <Catherine> Hello again, I have a GSP about an inch big in a 120 litre tank. just a quick one ! I have just tested the KH of my puffers water and it is 13dKH which is 232.7ppm KH do you know if this is suitable ? <Yes... as you likely are aware this is a brackish to (with size/age) marine species... and these values are in line with such water> Also, I cant seem to translate oz per gallon into specific gravity, <Ounces of? Salts? For mixing, actually pre-mixing, best to use a "given" volume of both/all... blend, circulate in a dedicated container and store for a week or more before use> apparently I'm aiming for about 3 oz per gallon (imperial), but to get to this I have to go up 1.002 a day but I don't know how much that would be in oz per gallon, math was never a strong point of mine. Thank you Cat <... Mix outside the system... Please see the Brackish subweb on WWM re this species, brackish water preparation: http://wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/BrackishSubWebIndex.htm Bob Fenner> "Snowflakes" on the glass in Pufferfish Tanks  3/29/06 <Hi Michelle, Pufferpunk here> I have done extensive searching with no results on a dilemma I am having with my puffer tanks. I purchased two green spotted puffers in July of 2005. They started out as freshwater and I gradually brought them up to brackish conditions with marine salt as they grew. <What SG are they at now?  Here's an article on them: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm > Knowing about their teeth, I have kept them on a diet of freeze dried baby shrimp in the morning and freeze dried krill in the evening. Once a week I give them frozen brine shrimp as a treat and then do a water change the next morning.   <Great article on Appropriate Puffer Foods: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/food.html > Three weeks ago I purchased two figure eight puffers that are in a separate tank with freshwater that I will gradually make brackish. <Excellent F8 article: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/f8puffer.html > They are fed the same diet as the green spotted puffers. I also have a third brackish tank that holds killifish and knight gobies that have a diet of flakes, frozen daphnia and freeze dried bloodworms. All three of these tanks have aragonite as substrate My problem is that within the past three months my green spotted puffer tank started developing "snowflakes" on the glass and ornaments and after a week of acquiring the figure eight puffers their tank also has the snowflakes. All three tanks have aragonite and the same water source from my tap. My two puffer tanks have snowflakes but my killifish/goby tank does not. The only culprit I can think of is the food I am feeding to the GSP and the F8P. Is there something in the shrimp and krill that would cause a residue in my puffer tanks? What are the snowflakes? <Have you looked at them with a magnifying glass?  My guess might be hydroids or some kind of creature, caused by overfeeding & improper water changes.  How often & how much water do you change?> At first I thought they were fungus but did not want to medicate until I was sure. <Good idea, since puffers are very sensitive to meds & most anti-fungal meds can ruin your biological filtration.> I am still at a loss as how to clear my puffers tanks from the mysterious snowflakes. <Stir substrate thoroughly & water changes, water changes, water changes!> The fish still behave normally with good color and behavior but I am afraid this will eventually start affecting them if I don't solve the problem soon. <Have you checked your nitrates?> I would be eternally grateful if you could help me with this dilemma, since I know my puffers are just babies and I plan on enjoying them being around for many years to come. <Sounds like they will!  Come on over to The Puffer Forum for more puffer talk!  ~PP> Thank you in advance, Michelle in N.C.

Green Spotted Puffer Problem  3/5/06 <Hi Debbie, Pufferpunk here> I have a 30 gallon with ocean sand bottom.  Using an emperor 400 with 2 bio wheels. Varied food for health diet: blood worms, krill, and live black worms. <Here is an excerpt from my article on GSPs about feeding: One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet. All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish. Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild. Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye). Snails are an essential food to a puffer's diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails. As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat. Larger GSPs will eat cut-up pieces of scallops, shrimp, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish. Mine love to chase live crayfish, fiddler crabs and gut-loaded ghost shrimp. I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies. I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed. Smaller puffers (under 2") need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week. Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded. Medium sized puffers (2-4") should be fed every other day. Larger puffers (4-6) should be fed every 3-4 days. You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food! Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness.> Water salinity is between 1.018 and 1.014. Water conditions are good according to LFS.   <I really need to know more than just "good".  Please post ammonia, nitrite, nitrate & pH results, for a better diagnosis.> Recently got 3 young green spotted puffs and kept in hospital tank for about 2 weeks to increase from fresh to brackish. I added these to the 30 gallon tank about 3 weeks ago and they seem happy and healthy. I also have one adult green spotted puffer about 2 inches long for about 1 year.   <Are you saying you now have 4 GSPs in a 30g tank?  That's 3 too many!> He was doing great until several days ago. <Not surprised.  Please read the whole article on GSPs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> He still has good color, glowing head, eating well but is suddenly acting strangely.  He seems to be "thrashing" occasionally and on purpose at the filter intake and staying in one area at top front of tank where the water jets flow. So, not so normal. Several times a day I have noticed the grey stress line from head to tail but it soon fades. He is not being bothered by the others and actually seems to like them... and again, they seem fine. He has no visible skin problems or visible parasites. He is not having trouble with  motor skills. But something is very wrong. Please help him if You can.  The pet store has no clue, they said add Melafix which did not help and helped to cloud the tank a bit... I guess killing off some bacteria? Anyway I added more today to see if that helps. Any info you can give me....Please. <Melafix can help with stress.  I think the cloudy water is from adding such a huge bioload of 3 more puffers into a tank that should only be housing 1.  As you will see in the GSP article, an adult GSP will need 30g each.  Either return the other 3 or get a much bigger tank for the 4 of them--eventually they will be needing at least a 120g tank.> I get VERY emotional when I lose  somebody...as I tried to explain to my husband... they depend on me, it's my responsibility and I love them... <I'm with you on that!  Try going to www.thepufferforum.com, for more puffer info.  ~PP> Thank you, Debbie   

Puff Daddy in a Crowded Tank  - 03/05/06 Thanks so much for answering. I have been so worried about him!   First, to answer your question on water conditions--I am really not sure if they told me and I have forgotten exact numbers or if they only said "good". I was really upset at the time.  I will be sure to ask and remember from now on. <Sounds like you need your own test kit.  You can get a nice Master Test Kit at www.bigalsonline.com, for a reasonable price.  Lots of other aquarium goodies too!> Second, I have read so much conflicting advice on these fish that it's overwhelming. I have come to realize, after reading all of your info, that I must not have an adult after all.  Puff Daddy is only around 2 inches. <Possibly stunted.> Guess maybe he needs a new name? ;) And I did forget to mention they do get little snails for their teeth free from the LFS. <That's good.> He was a birthday gift by the way, everything included. <Pets do not make good gifts.> Is the salinity alright for them at 1.012 to 1.014?  I just did a partial water change and that is what it is registering at now. And how do you know when to increase it to full salt or leave as is? I have not found anything on that. <All that info is in the GSP article I linked you to.> Truthfully, I have always been a cats (4 handsome boys and 1 beautiful girl) and dogs (2 really, really old Labs) person and I am very, very good at it. <I've been a cat & dog groomer for over 21 years.> But these little guys just really freak me out if things look wrong. That thrashing is strange behavior. Maybe I just never noticed before because I worked all the time, now I'm home all day every day. <Water changes are the 1st thing to do if you notice your fish are "off" at all.> I have a really hard time thinking that I may be responsible for them being uncomfortable or worse. <Yes, you probably shouldn't have gotten more puffers, until you had a larger tank.> But not to worry, they will be getting a new larger tank within a few days. Thanks so much for listening, Debbie <Be sure to add SW Bio-Spira to instantly cycle your new tank.  I'd go with the final size they'll need as adults (at least 120g).  It might look somewhat empty at 1st but they'll grow quickly.  In the meantime, I'd be doing daily water changes or test daily & do water changes accordingly.  ~PP>

Green Spotted Puffers - 2/28/2006 Dis? Sys? I recently purchased two green spotted puffers that were sold as fresh water.  My water was tested and everything was fine. <<Fine? How was the tank cycled?>> I keep the tank temperature at 80 degrees.  I know that puffers are brackish so I am slowly converting them to brackish conditions. <<Not all puffers are brackish.  GSP's require full SW as adults.  Be sure to raise the SG no more than 0.002/week, as to prevent die-off of nitrifying bacteria.>> After about two weeks, they have been sitting on the bottom and scratching a lot.  I can't see any spots on either of them, but today noticed their colour is lighter.  I've added a medicine to stop scratching for flukes but they are still scratching.  Any suggestions? <<Stop medicating your puffers without a sure diagnosis.  They are scaleless and very sensitive to medicine, and should never be exposed to copper.  How big is your tank?  Two Tetraodon nigroviridis puffers require a 60-gallon tank MINimum.  For more information and help with your puffers, visit www.thepufferforum.com.  Start by reading here: http://www.thepufferforum.com/articles/puffer/introtogsp.html.  Good luck, and hope to see you at TPF! Lisa.>> GSP... in a bowl? 1/16/06 Hello Puffer Pros, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I just bought 2 small little Green Puffers (that's what they called them in Wal-Mart)  Without knowing too much about fish I put them in a small 1 or 2 gallon bowl.   <Puffers are exotic fish & are not for novice fishkeepers.  I wouldn't keep any fish in a bowl, other than maybe a betta & even then, the minimum bowl size would be a 2g.> The Wal-Mart people don't know anything either. <Yeah, no kidding!> After I came home from work (about 24 hours after buying the fish), one of them die and one of them look really sick, swimming weakly at the top of the bowl and the body turn pale. I bought a 5 gallon tank with filter and also bought a heater after knowing that I need a heater to keep the water at the right temp for the fish.  I transferred the remaining fish over to the new tank.  The fish begin to gain its color back and becoming more active slowly over a few hours.  It seems to get better.  But it doesn't eat anything I fed.  I tried the tropical flakes, then the dried baby shrimp (sun dried gammarus), then the freeze dried blood worms.  It doesn't seem to eat anything so I decided to bring it back to Wal-Mart tomorrow and return the poor fish.  Hopefully, when I wake in the morning it will be alive. I think it's pretty hungry at this point.   <I have a feeling it is probably gone by now... Please don't ever buy another pet without doing lots on research on it's upkeep.  Puffers need a cycled tank & do not eat any of the foods you mentioned.  I suggest starting out with a few tougher/easier fish to care for & after keeping them alive for a few years & doing tons of research on them, maybe you can keep puffers.  You can go to www.thepufferforum.com to start researching.  ~PP> These are really cute looking but too bad, I seem to be a bad keeper and would like your suggestion on the reason for their not eating problem.  Also, it tends to bite on other things in the tank, like the heater or the thermometer.  Any feedbacks would be appreciated. Thanks, MN  

Green Spotted Puffer in a 5 Gallon? 1/14/2006 Hi guys <<Girls too>> I wanted to know if it was safe to keep a GSP in my 5 gallon tank.<<No.  An adult GSP needs 30 gallons and full SW as an adult>>. The tank is cycled and ready to go, with hiding places and live plants. The GSP I saw looked healthy and it was pretty small, about 1/2 an inch. I was wondering if it was ok to keep one in my tank.<<No.>> I am currently saving money for a new tank so the puffer can live happily after it outgrows its first tank.<<A GSP should never be housed in a 5 gallon tank.>> Thanks <<You're welcome>> Pufferfish Aggression  1/4/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk again> Our green spots are the most passive of the puffers we own... <They are juvies now... Just wait till they mature & one morning you wake up with maimed or dead fish.> We have the salinity levels between what the figure eights and greens spots need and there is a level which both can live in. We bought all the fish in 1.010 and that is what they are now in... <Figure 8s are best kept at 1.005 for life.  GSPs will eventually need marine conditions.  LFS rarely know what is best for puffers.> This particular green spot has gotten sick on several occasions where as the other green spot and the figure eights don't get sick. The red-eye and the dwarf are now in their own tank. <You're not worried about the red-eye killing the dwarf?  Puffers are best kept in species only tanks.  The species are not to be mixed.> The first time the green spot got sick he had gill disease and this time he had something that medications did not cure... So far I have found that the most aggressive of all is the red-eye, contrary to what every website I have read has said. <It is possible that your red-eye is the more aggressive lorteti. They are almost impossible to tell apart.  As you have already witnessed, puffers have their own personality & levels of aggression.  Hence keeping species & sometimes individuals separate.  I know of puffers that had previously gotten along with it's tank mates, only to wake up one morning to it being the only survivor of a massacre.  Have you read the profiles & articles I linked you to?  I highly suggest that you do.  They are written by the top puffer experts in the world!  ~PP> Pufferfish  6/3/05 Pufferfish Aggression  1/4/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk again>   (Hi, Person e-mailing you last time and this time is not the initial e-mailer) Our green spots are the most passive of the puffers we own... <They are juvies now... Just wait till they mature & one morning you wake up with maimed or dead fish.>   (The green spot is almost fully grown) <<Um, quote from the 1st post "I have in a 29 gallon, 2 green spots, 2 figure 8's, 1 dragon fish, and 1 dwarf puffer. All are juveniles except dwarf."  If your GSP is an adult 6" puffer, then that tank is definitely too crowded!>> We have the salinity levels between what the figure eights and green spots need and there is a level which both can live in. We bought all the fish in 1.010 and that is what they are now in... <Figure 8s are best kept at 1.005 for life.  GSPs will eventually need marine conditions.  LFS rarely know what is best for puffers.>   (Didn't get any info from any LFS's being they know nothing... Apparently neither do forum runners) This particular green spot has gotten sick on several occasions where as the other green spot and the figure eights don't get sick. The red-eye and the dwarf are now in their own tank. <You're not worried about the red-eye killing the dwarf?  Puffers are best kept in species only tanks.  The species are not to be mixed.>   (The red-eye only goes for BIGGER fish... He does not mess with dwarves or guppies) <<Yet...  Dwarves have been known to take "fin rides" on fish 10x their size!.>> The first time the green spot got sick he had gill disease and this time he had something that medications did not cure... So far I have found that the most aggressive of all is the red-eye, contrary to what every website I have read has said. <It is possible that your red-eye is the more aggressive lorteti. They are almost impossible to tell apart.   (It was sold as a Samphong... AKA Red-eye red-tail)   <<So now you trust your LFS to properly ID a puffer, after saying "Didn't get any info from any LFS's being they know nothing"?>> As you have already witnessed, puffers have their own personality & levels of aggression.  Hence keeping species & sometimes individuals separate.  I know of puffers that had previously gotten along with it's tank mates, only to wake up one morning to it being the only survivor of a massacre.  Have you read the profiles & articles I linked you to?  I highly suggest that you do.  They are written by the top puffer experts in the world!  ~PP>        http://www.pufferlist.com/pufferlist2.htm <<Great site.  The owner of that site is one of the Administrators of my puffer site, The Puffer Forum>>>        http://puffernet.tripod.com/ <<Absolutely worst website about puffers on the net!>>        http://boeing_dude.tripod.com/id194.htm <<Incorrect on a lot of info here too.  The GSP is Tetraodon nigroviridis, not T fluviatilis.   They do mention "aggressive and are territorial. Few other fish can be kept with them due to this temperament" & "notorious fin nippers and can be killers."  Very true. The T biocellatus (figure 8) does not grow to 8", nor do they need a 50g tank.  They probably have them confused with the true T fluviatilis, which does grow to 8".  They also recommend tank size for the T Mbu is 75g & I can guarantee you--minimum for these fish is 300+.  Same thing for the Fahaka puffer.  They recommend a 50g tank for a fish that grows to 18"!  Mine was moved into a 125g at 9".  Believe what you wish--it's your tank.  I have written the most commonly referred to Green Spotted Puffer article used today.  I have also written all the puffer profiles in the recently released, Encyclopedia of Exotic Tropical Fishes, published by TFH.  I own the #1 pufferfish website in the world.  You might want to check that out, before doubting my experience with these fish.  Like I said, your tank, your fish, do what you wish with them.  I guess you know something I don't.  ~PP>> GSP Tank & Mates  12/16/05 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> How does this sound for my 20 gallon long saltwater Green Spotted Puffer tank: <An adult (6") GSP is going to need at least a 30g tank.  I think mine would have been happy in a 55g.  I don't suggest putting a juvie GSP into saltwater.  They should be starting out in mid-range brackish water & slowly brought up to marine conditions as they mature.> 5lbs. Live rock <Not enough to support a 20g tank.  I'd use at least 20lbs.  Also, puffers need lots of intricate decor to investigate or they get bored.> Marineland Bio-Wheel 150 <Not necessary for a SW tank.  BioWheels cause messy salt spray.  The skimmer and live rock is your filtration.> Prizm Skimmer <Prizm skimmers are junk.  I suggest a Coralife 65g Super Skimmer for a tank that size.>   Bare-bottom tank <It will be easier to keep the pH & hardness at a more steady, high level with crushed coral or aragonite as substrate (or live sand).  Also, puffers are more comfortable/less stressed with a substrate.> This tank will just have 1 GSP that I have now, are there any  other fish that I can keep in this tank? <Certainly not in a tank that size.  If you go larger than 30g, then you could try some damselfish, or a tomato clownfish.  Only with a ton of hiding places.  The puffer may or may not allow tank mates. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm   Good luck with your puffer!  ~PP> Thanks, Mark

Tank Size for Green Spotted Puffer? 11/6/05 Hi Bob, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a <2 inch green spotted puffer in a 20 gallon brackish tank with a salinity of 1.007. I was wondering if this tank size was large enough for this puffer for the rest of its life and when I should start raising the salinity (eventually to full marine right?).  <Your puffer needs at least a 30g tank as it approaches it's adult size of 6". I think it would even be happy in a 55g, if you asked it! Here's an article that talks about when to raise the SG & lots of other good info about keeping this unique fish: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> I was wondering if I could keep any other fish in with her? Also she is all green but has one spot of really fluorescent green on her head-back, is this normal? <Totally> I am feeding her frozen brine, frozen clam, sun dried baby shrimp, live snail and a little flake now is there anything I should add or should I stay away from the flake? <If she'll eat flake, that's fine, just make sure she gets lots of crunchy, hard-shelled foods to keep her teeth trimmed. You should find all your answers in the article I linked you to. ~PP> Thanks, Mark 

1st Brackish Tank  1/20.05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> We have been getting ready for our new GSP's for some time now.  We did loads of research before we even set up the tank.  We set up an old 20g for breeding snails and holding ghost shrimp.  The new baby puffers are about 1" standard length and were kept in fresh water at the LFS.  They are now the sole inhabitants of a 30g that we cycled and seasoned for a few months.  It was fishless cycled and then held with about a half a dozen or so danios. So, we have them home and boy, are they cute.  Now I see why my fiancé fell in love with these little guys!  We haven't even had them a week.  For the questions: I plan on weekly water changes.  For the first, I used Instant Ocean for the salt and I mixed up a 4-5g batch and let it run with a powerhead overnight.  The SG was right at 1.015 in the morning.  Then I did a 10-12g water change and added the mixed water last.  I was thinking that 4-5g of 1.015 water would at least be measurable in the 30g, but it wasn't.  So is this slow enough of a change, too slow, or just right?  I plan on repeating this process weekly.  What little salt is in there sure did perk them right up. <You can raise the SG as much as .002/weekly water change.  I generally found that it takes roughly around a cup of marine salt/5 gallons, to raise the SG up .005> Second, I have seen conflicting information on the net.  Will bumblebee gobies be ok with the GSP's?  Say around 5-6 of these guys with lots of cover? <I've never been able to keep BBGs in with GSPs without them becoming food.  As the puffers approach marine conditions, you might be able to add damselfish.> I should also mention that I have a 75g waiting in the garage for when they start growing too big for the 30g and we move to the new house. <Glad to hear it!  Have you read the GSP article at WWM?  ~PP> Scott McNeill

Puffer Confusion  9/1/05 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I recently bought 1 BR water green spotted puffer fish from Wal-Mart. <They've been selling a lot of those to confused customers, like yourself.> I have a 10 gallon tank with plenty of live plants and hiding places. <That may last until your fish grows to 2" & then you will need to upgrade--eventually to a 30-40g for this fish, as it likes to swim & grows to 6".  Live plants will not survive in BW conditions.> <<Mmm, some do. RMF>> First, I read that for BR water you need to add salt, well I used Aquarium Pharmaceutical's freshwater aquarium salt. Will this work for my puffer? <No, you must use marine salt & measure it with a hydrometer.  Did you cycle that tank?  If not, get Bio-Spira & add it to your filter immediately.> Also, I am becoming confused about what other fish are compatible with it. I originally was going to put one of my three Bettas in, but I read they may nip the fins or eat it. <Absolutely!  No Bettas, or any other long-finned, or slow-moving fish with a puffer.  Bettas don't like salt anyway.> Other sites say that larger BR fish will work?  Is this true? A couple sites say that archerfish, scats and Monos. But none of the sites are consistent! I just don't want to end up with dead fish when I come home.   <Certainly not in a 10g tank.  You need a very large tank for most BW fish.  Archers & Monos (they school) grow to 1' & scats the size of your outstretched hand.> Lastly, will a striped Raphael catfish be safe with a puffer and visa versa. <No, catfish don't like salt.> <<Again, some do... even marine... RMF>> Please help, Thanks, I really appreciate it!! <Start with this article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  Then go here for more info: www.thepufferforum.org.  Good luck with your puffer, they make great pets!  ~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> Green Spotted Puffers from Wal-Mart  8/8/05 (and brackish set-up f') Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here to answer all your puffer questions.> I've looked over you website, and will have to admit that I'm completely illiterate to most of the terminology used here.  I am a total novice fish owner. Here is my story, and my problem. About 2 weeks ago I purchased (from Wal-Mart) two yellowish green, black polka dotted, white bellied fish about 1 inch in length that the department store had labeled puffer fish.   <That is the green spotted puffer (Tetraodon nigroviridis).> I also purchased a brand new 5 gallon tank, with filter and blood worms.   <As juvenile fish, a 10g tank may suffice for a short while, but after they have reached over 2", they will quickly grow to their adult 6" size & require 30g each.> I followed all directions given me by the tank, de-chlorinating the water, allowing it to filter over night, before adding the fish.  At this point there was no decorations in the tank.   <This is a very common newbie move.  You must cycle a tank before purchasing fish, especially puffers.  They are very sensitive to the toxins they produce.   In short: 1) Fish produce waste products.   2) Waste forms toxic ammonia. 3) Toxic ammonia burns fish's gills, eyes, fins, skin, etc. 4) Ammonia devouring bacteria that occur naturally all around us colonize in the tank and begin feeding on the ammonia, and multiplying. 5) Ammonia eating bacteria also has to relieve themselves, and its waste is what we call nitrItes.  Nitrites are toxic to fish as well (it decreases oxygen levels in the fish's blood, causing the fish to suffocate). 6) Other naturally occurring bacteria arrive and devour the nitrItes and multiply. 7) NitrIte eating bacteria also has to relieve themselves, and its waste is what we call nitrAtes. 8) Sometimes, live plants can be used remove parts of this final product of the nitrogen cycle. Not enough to keep nitrAte levels at an acceptable level, so we perform weekly water changes to get rid of the rest of the nitrAtes. This entire process can take up to 8 weeks. In the meantime, get a 20g tank & cycle it with Bio-Spira for an instant cycle.> I let the fish swim around for about 2 days before purchasing some aquarium gravel (light tannish in color) and a spongy looking rock (also light tan) with a hole through it that  local aquarium store had recommended.  I removed my fish, vacuumed out the tank, completely replenished it with fresh water (de-chlorinated), added the gravel and rock, allowed it to filter for about 12 hours, then added the fish.  I've been feeding my fish blood worms as was recommended by the aquarium store as well. Since then, one of my little buddies has gotten ill.  He has a dark grey discoloration that looks like a bread mold growing from his flanks down over his little belly, and now over his back.  His tank mate is starting to show some of the same symptoms now.  They both have a loss of appetite now, and are very lethargic.  I'm a complete beginner in this so I beg for patience if this is a subject already covered on your site.  To be honest with you, now that I've browsed your site and seen many of the pictures of the puffers there, I'm not even entirely sure that is what I have.  Please help though, I can't stand for the little guy to suffer. <Here is a good article on your puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm & a great forum about puffers: www.thepufferforum.net> Thank you very much for your time and patience, Morgan Kelsey <Puffers are not for the novice aquarium keeper.  Read all you can.  ~PP> Puffers--Filtration & Tank Size 7/15/05 Hi Pufferpunk, Can you tell me if a Wet/Dry trickle filter will do a better job of filtration than a emperor 400.  My tank size is a 55 gallon and I have 5 GSP puffers.  MY trickle filter fits under the cabinet not the kind that hooks on the back of the tank.  Thank you for such a quick response. <Overfiltration is recommended for these messy eaters & high waste producers.  You cannot overfilter a puffer tank.  You will however, need to upgrade to at least a 150g tank for all those puffers when they grow to their 6" adult size.  Even after they are 2" you'll need to upgrade larger than 55g. ~PP> Melody & Brandy

Green Spotted Puffer questions 10/31/04 Hi Pufferpunk (I'm assuming) <Got that right!> My brother just informed me we have a 30 gallon tank so that's going to be my puff's new home after it is cycled.  But for now I don't have a tank that is cycled so I was wondering if you have any recommendations on how I can keep my puff until the tank is ready.  Right now he's still in the 3 gallon one and he seems to be ok but the ammonia level is way too high :/ ... pH, nitrites, and nitrates are good. Salinity is .005 <You should also cycle your tank at the same SG.  See if you can get a hold of some Bio-Spira to instantly cycle the 30g.  I don't see how the puffer will last long in the tiny tank.> The reading for ammonia was 8ppm, which makes me wonder why my puff is still alive.   <Not for much longer, I'm afraid...> However, I did some reading and I know ammonium is non toxic while ammonia is toxic but the test will read high if either is present.  Do you recommend getting that Ammo Lock to convert the ammonia to ammonium?  The guy at the fish store said I shouldn't because it doesn't really fix the problem or something.  Although now I'm thinking even though it doesn't fix the problem with the ammonia/um at least it's not in a toxic form. <Non-toxic ammonia is definitely better for your fish, but you will still be testing positive for ammonia.  I think large daily or 2x daily water changes (80-90%) are in order here.> Anyways, I got the Stress Free and Stress Zyme (made by aquamarine pharmaceuticals) in hopes that it might help.  I just put it in tonight. <That's Aquarium Pharmaceuticals> The fish store guy told me a bunch of stuff but I wanna know from you guys what I should do because it seems like they don't really know what they're talking about. <Yeah, is that the same guy that sold you the puffer for an uncycled 3g tank?> I also bought the aquarium salt but I was reading and I noticed that marine salt is different from aquarium salt.  I was just wondering what the difference is (out of curiosity)?  I originally made the tank with Hawaiian rock salt, which is basically salt from the ocean (not sure if you're familiar).  So I guess I'll return the aquarium salt. <You must use marine salt for BW & SW fish.  Everything you ever wanted to know about salt: http://www.aaquaria.com/aquasource/salt.shtml> Last thing ... I noticed my puff has been spending a lot of time in the top corner of the tank.  I was wondering if he might be sick.  He only started doing that in the last 24 hours.  I put in some fake plants and he hung out in them for a while but now he's back in the corner.  I was reading that when a fish gets ich they go to the top of the tank ... but he doesn't have any white spots or films as far as I can see. Any recommendations? <Ammonia poisoning will make your poor puffer feel poorly.  NitrIte poisoning isn't far behind. Try adding an airstone, as 02 will get depleted in there.> As far as his belly, his belly is almost always white but his sides often go from white to black throughout the day.  Normally white in the morning and as the day goes on his sides start getting darker. Oh and what should I use to defrost frozen food?  I read something about vitamin water but how do I make the vitamin water?   <Buy any liquid vitamins you find for sale at the aquarium store & add a few drops into the water you defrost the food into.  Leave for at least a few hours, or even overnight in the refrigerator.  I suggest feeding extremely minimally, as not to add any extra waste products to that tiny tank.> Thanks a lot for all your help.   -Tersha <Get Bio-Spira in the larger tank, so you can get the puffer about of the 3 gal as soon as possible, or I'm afraid you will loose it. Try ordering Bio-Spira here http://www.fishstoretn.com/  ~PP>

Green Puffer impulse purchase--NOW what do I do? >I just couldn't help myself... I bought 3 "Green Puffers" and I'm ashamed to say that I have no knowledge of the care and diet they need. >>Admitting you have a problem is the first step...I *think*.. naw, now you want to know, I'll gently chide you to please refrain from doing this again, and we'll move on.  However, I, too, do not know very much about these fish. >The lady in the pet store gave me about 25 baby guppies to feed them. >>If I recollect, you're dealing with a freshwater or brackish water animal, and being puffers they'll need crunchy stuff to help wear their "teeth" down (in reality they have what is called a "fused jaw", and their "teeth" act more like melon-ballers).  Shrimps and such would be my suggestion, however, I'm going to more strongly suggest you search our site for information on green puffs.  Here is a link to get you started--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm >But she said she didn't know much about them either, so she gave your address. I'm hoping you can give me the low down on these really cool fish...Quick! I have them in a 30 gallon tank. I also have a Japanese something or another algae eater, & 1 Tetra. >>I'm not sure these other fish are safe with the puffers, and I know that neither is a brackish (part saltwater) fish. >I have lots of plants and a couple of rocks.  For the Puffers' sake, I hope to hear from you soon. >>Accept my apologies for the delay, I was irresponsible with my brand new computer and went online without installing antiviral software and promptly got infected.  Your message has been sitting in my inbox for a few days now because I've been afraid to infect anyone else via email.  I believe the puffers should be started on prepared foods ASAP, and I will also send this message on to our resident brackish/puffer expert, Ananda.  Also, please visit our forums at http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk and check the brackish forums!  Best of luck to you all, Marina

Puffer care shopping list (09/01/03) Hey, <Hey! Ananda back again...> Thanks for the quick reply. Well, the rocks are pretty big with algae growing on them but I already took them out of the tank. I got them from the same fish store that gave me the wrong information about my fish. <Urk. I would not want to put them back in the tank for a while yet.> Now I think my fish also has ich because it has white stuff growing on its tail. <Yep, sounds like ich. Salt will fix that.> I can't go to the fish store till tomorrow because its Labor Day today. Can you give me a list of everything I should buy so I don't have to make several runs to the store. <Sure! Hmmm...another thing to write up for the WWM site.> I know that I need to buy a different type of food, snails, some salt, and the SeaTest hydrometer. <That's really about it, but here are a few more details.... Food: frozen uncooked shrimp from the grocery store works; he might also like squid (grate it while it's frozen). (Only one of my five puffs likes squid, so don't get it unless you like it, too.) Also, pond snails, or baby Ramshorn snails, which *should* be free. Do not get him the cone-shaped snails. For a treat, he'd probably love frozen bloodworms (I prefer the Hikari brand); a "worm cone" makes it easier to feed those (drop a small chunk of the frozen stuff into the cone, and the worms won't make a beeline for the filter intake). For freeze-dried stuff, you can wait a bit and order from online; it's significantly cheaper that way. Salt: Instant Ocean is just fine for puffers. The garlic oil may also be available at the grocery store... you want to get the gel caps that are intended to be a human nutritional supplement. Check out this thread for another discussion on puffers, including a link to what I'm talking about when I say "garlic oil": http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=31&thread=12165&start=0&trange=15> I mean, I only have one fish in the tank so should I go out and try to find another one so it wouldn't be so lonely? <Not when he's got ich!!> Sorry if I sound dumb about this, its just this is the first time I'm taking care of fish. Thanks. -Kathy <You're welcome -- and you have a head start on many fishkeepers since you're doing research! :-) Also, do check out the WetWebMedia chat forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk -- we have several experienced and novice puffer keepers on board. --Ananda>

Puffer salt (09/01/03) Hey Ananda, <Hey there> Thanks so much for the fish advice. <Sure.> Well one more question, for the salt, can it be any kind of salt like sodium chloride? <You really want a marine salt for puffers that are from brackish waters. They include other minerals besides the sodium chloride. "Instant Ocean" is a commonly-available brand, is fairly inexpensive, and is the one used by most of the people I know for their brackish tanks. Here's a pic so you know the kind of thing I'm referring to: http://www.marineland.com/products/consumer/con_iosalts.asp > Thanks so much, Kathy      <You're welcome. --Ananda>

More on Puffer salt (09/01/03) <I forgot to mention... you don't want to put your puffer into full-strength saltwater right away. I would increase the specific gravity to about 1.004 over the course of a week or so. The best way to do that is with water changes. You take some of the water out and add a bit of half-strength saltwater in to replace it. --Ananda>

- Brackish Puffer Questions - Hello again I'm sorry I have one more question. <Good evening, JasonC here... hopefully with one more answer.> Just for the health and happiness of these little creatures :) I got my water salt to 0.010 ,will that make the pH the needed level for them???? <Salinity and pH are two different measurements - a specific gravity of 1.010 is fine for this puffer... for pH you need something between 7.6 and 7.8.> What should the level be? Or does the ph need to be higher even with the ocean salt at 0.010. Is that the right number for green spotted puffers??? 2 questions 1) do they need any more ph like coral gravel or is the ph already high from the salt another on look down below <Match to the numbers I listed.> 2)what number should it say on the sea test hydrometer for green spotted puffers? Should it be 0.08?????? <1.010> Thank you so much Please don't mind the few questions I'm sorry nobody helps me with them not many people know a thing about them :) <No worries. Cheers, J -- >

Green Spotted Puffer Mr. Fenner, Sorry to bother you yet again with one of my questions.  I've been reading over the FAQs re: brackish puffers.  I have a green spotted puffer about an inch long.  I got him at Petco from one of the marine tanks.  I knew he was a brackish puffer, but they had had him/her...it for about two weeks in the marine tank before I bought him.  I've had him for about 5 weeks now, and is doing great.  He actively swims, eats like there's no tomorrow, and before they died, harassed my domino damsels.  Is it OK to keep him in my marine aquarium.  I keep my SG about 1.023.  Like I said he seems to be doing fine (getting fat).  Once again, great website and thanks! <Please do take a look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm re a positive identification of your fish. I have seen brackish water species kept for good long periods in "straight" seawater with no apparent harm, HOWEVER they almost all "do south quickly" losing weight, setting at the bottom, perhaps dying of physiological difficulties within hours to a day or two... so, do keep a close eye on yours, and be ready to move it (in the hopes of its recovery) should you see it suffering, or dead. Bob Fenner> Vince Gibbens

GSP to SW? 2/24/04 I am planning on trying to get a salt water tank going. This is of course when I can get enough money. <I wouldn't put a GSP in SW, until it was at least 4".> What fish would you suggest I start off with?? <None. As your fish grows, you will be upping the SG, eventually raising it up to SW levels.  Aragonite or crushed coral substrates are used to help maintain a stable alkaline pH of around 8.  Then all you need is a protein skimmer. If you'll be starting up a new larger tank later, then fishless cycle the larger tank at whatever SG the puffers had been living in.> Do you know anything about the new salt water set-ups that supposedly do everything for you?? I was at the fish store last night and was told that they do everything except clean the glass. Any truth behind this? <I wouldn't trust anything that doesn't require the labor of cleaning & water changes.  Puffers are messy eaters & high waste producers.  ~PP>

Specific gravity for a green-spotted puffer? <Ananda here today fielding the puffer questions...> I bought what I think it a Tetraodon nigroviridis about 6 months ago.  The store had it in water with a specific gravity of 1.016, but because this did not correspond with most of the research I'd done, I took it down to about 1.005.  Do you agree with this, and is this puffer that specific as to what its salt level can be? <Actually, this puffer can go from fresh water as a baby to full marine water as an adult. One guy in Malaysia reported finding them in the wild in waters with the specific gravity ranging from 1.012 to 1.019. These were probably the larger fish, which would be more visible.> I ask for two reasons, which I hope you'll comment on.  First, the puffer is now much less colorful than it was when I first got it.  It went from a bright yellow with distinct spots to a dull grayish color with less distinguished spots.  I'd like the brightness, but I also want the fish to live. <I'd say he'd appreciate some more salt.> Secondly, I have two larger tanks.  My 55 gallon has two Brazilian puffers and three figure eights, and this tank has very little salt.  My 30 gallon houses this spotted puffer in 1.005 water.  My wife and I are thinking of turning the 30 gallon into a salt water system, and I'm wondering if this spotted puffer would do fine in the fresh system with the other puffs, or if it could even stay in the 30 and go to salt.  Or if neither would be a good thing. <How big is the puffer? If you gradually turn this into a saltwater system, your puffer should be fine. Do check out our puffer FAQs, starting with the links here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm > Thanks, Andy B <You're welcome. --Ananda>

More on green-spotted puffers and specific gravity... Thanks for the response.  This puffer is about 2.5 inches.  Do you think it is too early to take it up to 1.019? <Probably not... but personally, at that size, I'd keep it lower -- maybe 1.010 or so.> By the way, I did look at the wetwebmedia puffer links, but on this particular puffer no salinity info is given.   <Hmm. Another thing to add to the to-fix list...> Thanks again. Andy b <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Species Tank for GSP 2/23/04 <Hi, PP again> We no longer buy painted fish for that reason. <I'm so glad to hear that!> The one that we have is 2 years old. He was a fish bought for my sister when we originally set up the first tank. I have an odd shaped tank about 15 gallons) that I am thinking about setting up for him. <Are you talking about the puffer?  That tank should do well for a while, but eventually at 6", it'll need a larger one.  Please make sure you  cycle the tank 1st.   Please do not cycle your tank with puffers in it, or any other fish for that matter.  Fishless cycling is quick and doesn't do harm to a living thing. You can also 'instant cycle' with Bio-Spira.  You need to add your fish immediately after adding these live bacteria to your tank. Aragonite or crushed coral substrates are used to help maintain a stable alkaline pH of around 8.  If you have any questions about making it brackish, let me know. ~PP>

Tap Water for Puffers? 3/1/04 The large puffers I feed every other day or so, as I read. The little guy eats once a day. They tend to sneak some of the food for the other fish but not much. After 5 minutes I clean out what I can with a net. <Try feeding less amounts, so none is left over.  Pieces can still float into plants & between decor.> Ill do the water changes and keep you posted. Do you have any advice for an easier way to filter our tap water? I've been using a regular tap filter, but it takes ages for the water to go through. <I fill my tanks directly from the tap (no filter).  I add drops of Dechlor directly to the tank before filling with 80 degree water.  ~PP>

Testing Water Parameters  for GSP 1/3/04 I am not sure what the water conditions are. We use regular tap water and treat it with Doc Wellfish's Stress Coat and water treatment stuff. He is about 2" maybe a little bigger. His color is very dark and his yellow spot has vanished. How exactly do I check the water conditions?? I was not told how to at the fish store. <Ammonia, NitrItes, NitrAtes & pH, are some of the most important tests to keep an eye on for an aquarium.  Puffers especially, are extremely sensitive to toxic ammonia & nitrItes.  Both levels should be 0 at all times.  Search through the WWM site to find out exactly what these things do & how to cycle a tank properly.  I am positive your puffer is suffering from some kind of bad water problems.  You should purchase a Master Test Kit, to keep an eye on your water parameters.  You should also be able to have these tests done at your LFS.  After a tank has cycled, Weekly 50% water changes usually help to keep your tank water healthy.  `PP>

Mopey Puffer 3/01/04 <Hi Tim, PP again> The salt that we are using is Doc Wellfish's Aquarium Salt for freshwater fish. This is what the fish store gave us to start off with. <Like I said, GSPs come from the streams between FW lakes & the Ocean.  You must use Marine salt to duplicate those conditions.  What is the SG?>He isn't looking to swift now. He looks worse than when I initially mailed you last night. I am going to let him swim around where he wants like you said but what should I look for?? Any signs that I should watch for?? And about how long does it usually take for them to digest the food? <I forgot how large you said your puffer was, but to repeat the article, it says: "Smaller puffers (under 2') need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week.  Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded.  Medium sized puffers (2-4') should be fed every other day.  Larger puffers (4-6') should be fed every 3-4 days.  You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food!  Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness."  I am still always concerned with water parameters, whenever a fish is acting poorly.  What are they (ammonia, nitrItes, NitrAtes, pH) exactly?  Are you doing regular water changes?  Try the marine salt & water change.  I forgot what size your puffer is?  Get back to me & I'll see how else I can help.  ~PP>

Puffers hanging out by the carbon <Ananda here answering puffer questions...> I have 2 spotted green puffers...  At least once a day (usually @ night w/ the lights on) they like to hang out right under the carbon cartridges at the top of my riser tubes...  why do they do that... <Not sure, but given the question below can hazard a guess... you may have water quality problems. The area of the tank near carbon cartridges may have the cleanest water in your tank. I would suggest a water change as soon as possible, with more frequent water changes in the future. I would also suggest you get additional filtration to supplement your undergravel filter. Puffers are messy fish, so you should "oversize" the filtration on your system, i.e., get filtration rated for a tank larger than the one the puffers are in.> Also, why to they get pale (grayish) in color from time to time? <Grey on a puffer belly is an indicator of stress. If you're referring to the colors on the back of the puffer getting pale, that can be caused by camouflage attempts, boredom, or even mood changes!> thank you!   Dionisi <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Maid Service for GSP Tank? 3/7/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk again> All right, everything so far has been right on point. Thanks man. <Hmmm, I'm a girl =o)> Got the snail business down. Got the brackish water in progress. Now, I have one GSP in a 20 gallon tank. <Great!> I would like to add just one more something or other that can take care of a little algae, but something that the puffer won't tear up. <Algae growth also needs to be removed by the fish keeper.  There are no BW algae eaters that can live with a GSP.  (Sorry, you'll have to do your own maid service!)  Because of their aggressiveness towards tank mates and the high amount of salt they prefer, there are not many fish that can live with them as companions in general, or for clean up. Any suggestions or do I have to scrape around like I hate doing (thank god for Plecos in my cichlid tank). I thought about adding a little pleco but they get so damn big. I want the puffer to have as much space as possible. <Only after my puffers were raised to SW, was I able to  'trick' them into letting me keep hermit crabs with them by scattering many empty shells around the substrate.  They just can't tell the hermit crabs are there.  (Have lost a few though)  Of course, it's in a very heavily decorated 55g tank.  Check out my tanks if you wish: http://wetwebfotos.com/Home?actionRequest=userview&userID=1918> I also thought about throwing some of my bigger snails in there, but I guessed their tentacles would be chomped over the first night. Thanks again ... <Yes, snails=puffer food!  ~PP>

GSP Problem? 2/29/04 <Pufferpunk again> Ok. I have a problem. I have started salting my tank for my puffer. <Are you using marine salt?  What SG is it at?> I also started feeding him shrimp from the grocery store, but now all he wants to do is lay on the bottom of the tank. I put him in a breeder net so that he isn't out of my sight so that I can make sure he is ok, but I am VERY concerned. <I'm afraid that may stress him out.  Leave him to swim where he wants.> I really love my puffer. His belly looks like it is very full and he doesn't want to eat, so I don't think he is starving again like when I first got him from the fish store. Do you know what might be wrong with him? <I don't understand.  Is he eating?  When puffers are extremely full, they can't swim very well & may sit on the bottom of the tank rolling back & forth on their full belly.  Maybe he's been overfed.> I would really appreciate your help with this. Thanks, Tim <Good luck, let me know if there's anything else I can do.  Have you read the article just posted on the website on GSPs?  ~PP>

Green Smelly Water        Hi, again. <Hi, Don here today. Just got done reading your earlier questions to get up to speed with the advice given by Jorie and Mike D.> Well, I didn't know that about being able to tell about how far along a fish is in pregnancy. As you probably can tell I am a beginner at all this. <As we are all/were> I just want to try to do things right, I am very much an animal lover and I don't want to hurt any animal (fish or otherwise) in any way. <Agreed>         To answer your question on the 2 green-spotted puffers I just got, no they have not killed each other yet. <"Yet" being an important part of that sentence. Some will get along fine then one day you wake up to only one puffer> Actually, they seem quite content with each other. The only time they show any slight irritation with each other is when they eat. All they do then is if one is going for food that the other one is trying to get, it will chase the other one off a little bit. Other than that they are always by each other. I do plan to move them to a bigger tank in the near future, but right now they are both small and have plenty of room to swim and play and eat. <They will grow to about 6" and need brackish to full salt to live a healthy, full life. Read here for more info from Pufferpunk, our keeper of all puffer knowledge. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm >        Thank you for the compliment on my persistence. I don't work and I always wanted to have an aquarium full of fish (and now I have 4 aquariums) and like I said before I love animals of all kinds. <An aquarium "full of fish" is not a good aquarium. Much better to have a few well kept "display quality" fish then a bunch that are small and unhealthy from overstocking> Oh, by the way still no babies, but that's ok she will eventually have them. <Yep, I assume you are referring to the guppies from the earlier post here>            Sorry, I do have another question. <No problem> I am looking to give a home to 11 different varieties of goldfish. I can't keep them, I am having trouble with my 55 gallon tank that I have them in. My water is always green and smells horrid, <If it smells bad to you, imagine what your fish are thinking> I was told that the goldfish are the reason the water is like that. <Yep, Too many of these large waste producers> I have to change the water at least 2 -3 times a week to keep the water from smelling so bad and to keep the ammonia levels down. I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both of my hands <Ouch, I understand the pain> and I just can't keep up with that tank. Do you know how I can try to find them a home? I am not looking to get any money off of them, I just want them to go where they will be taken good care of. I have tried calling a few local pet stores but they said they weren't interested. Again sorry for taking your time up, I just finally found someone who knows what they are talking about. Trust me I have gotten some really bad advice. <Wow, eleven goldfish in a 55 would be a challenge. Look into a Python siphon system. It hooks to your tap and will both drain and refill your tank. No more bucket lugging and lifting. Even has a gravel vac nozzle to get all the waste out. I'm sure it will save you a lot of pain in maintaining four tanks. But you still need to lower the number of fish in the 55. Just take them to the LFS, don't call ahead. I'm sure they get that call several times a week and have been told to say no. But if you just show up with some nice fancy goldfish, I bet they take them. As to the green, smelly and ammonia tainted water, you are under filtering and over feeding. Even if you are feeding the fish the perfect amount to thrive, it's too much for your filter to process into nitrite, and finally nitrate. Reducing the bio load, cleaning the gravel and adding more bio filtration will clear the tank. I like Marineland's Bio Wheel design. They take a little work to maintain, but do a great job of removing ammonia and nitrite. But even the best filter will not slow the water changes needed for this many goldfish. You'll still be doing 2 or 3 a week to control nitrates. Lowering the number of fish and removing waste via a gravel vac will help greatly. Don>     

How much salt for GSPs? Hey Pufferpunk! <Hey yourself!> I was using African Cichlid salt but I guess that isn't considered Marine salt?   <Nope> I went out and bought some Red Sea salt.  On the directions it says to use 1.4 lbs per 5 gallons.  What is the proper amount to use for my brackish tank?  I was going with a tablespoon per 5 gallons of the African mix. <1 tbsp/5 gallons probably won't even register on a hydrometer.  It takes around a cup of salt/5g to raise the SG by .005.> I also bought a hydrometer.  I tried using it but either there is almost no salinity in the water or I am not using the tool correctly.  I bought the Instant Ocean one and it starts at .001 .  My tank is registering at .004.  Is that correct?  I read the directions and I just filled the whole thing up till the whole thing is full.  HELP!! <I don't understand. You say it won't register (as I would expect, with the small amount of salt you are using), but you also say your tank is registering at .004 (do you mean 1.004?)?  Here's a great link for your puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  ~PP<

Thread-Like Worms 3/12/05 Dear Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a GSP in a 10 gallon brackish tank. The fish appears fine and is eating fine. His right gill slit is slightly opened (you can see a pocket of pink) compared to the left but he is not laboring to breathe. I think he was like that since I purchased him 1 month ago? No parasitic infestations are apparent on the fish. There are however wiggly 3 to 5mm thread-like worms swimming freely in the water and appear to be multiplying (not sure). The fish is fed frozen and dried krill, blood worms and brine shrimp and also live snails a few times per week. He is feed once a day six days a week. The GSP is uninterested in these creatures but are these worms parasites and potentially harmful to the puffer? They do not appear to be Planaria or leaches or insect larvae. They might have a head-really hard to make out however. Please advise or reference. <The white worms you speak of appears in tanks that are overfed and contain less than optimal water. They are harmless, but the fact that they're in the tank means you need to feed less & do more water changes (50% weekly is recommended). A 10g will not hold a GSP for long. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  ~PP>

Brackish Fish 3/3/05 Thanks PP <Sure!> However, if frontosa cichlids aren't brackish water fish, then someone ought to ring up Petco, who sells them with other African cichlids as brackish water fish!! <I wouldn't trust anything a chain store like that says & believe less than half of what most LFS tell you.> The frontosa's been doing extremely well in my brackish water tank... <For now--they are not BW fish & are not equipped to handle the salt, long-term. Especially the salinities GSPs require.> ...with the silver- tipped cat sharks either way, eating small pellets and guppies. So now I have four 4 silver- tipped catsharks, 4 African cichlids, and one frontosa. Again this is a brackish tank. I have been adding one whole box of sea salt for my 36 gallons of which I change the water every 2 1/2 weeks. <You really need a hydrometer to know the exact specific gravity of your water.> I want to return 3 African cichlids and add 2 BW figure 8 or spotted puffers. <Sorry to tell you, but that tank is only large enough for 1 GSP, as they grow to 6" as adults & need a minimum of 30g ea. Didn't I give you the link on their care? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm  The catfish will grow to 18" each, so I'd return them too.> Please advise, -Raulph <I feel you have some rethinking to do on your tank. ~PP> 

Puffers in Tight Quarters 3/3/05 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Hello, I've got 3 GSPs, 2 at about the same size and doing fine but I also have a little tiny one too (a pup) and it will swim around like a mad man but MOST of the time it just sits at the bottom of the tank like its almost afraid of the others or like its sick. Any suggestions on what's happening?  <The larger 2 most definitely could be picking on your little one, but I couldn't tell for sure, without your posting water parameters. Ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes, pH, SG?> Also I noticed my Mono had like a scratch on him near his dorsal fin but not actually on the fin. Do you think one of the puffers attacked him? They're in a 15 gallon tank but I'm getting a 36 gallon tank soon. Will this help? <A larger tank would help, but a 36g tank is not large enough, if you planning on keeping the puffers to maturity, as they grow to 6" & need at least 30g each. See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm.  The mono will get bitten by the puffers. They also are schooling fish that grow to 1 foot. I'd upgrade that tank as soon as possible! ~PP>

Specific gravity for a green-spotted puffer? <Ananda here today fielding the puffer questions...> I bought what I think it a Tetraodon nigroviridis about 6 months ago.  The store had it in water with a specific gravity of 1.016, but because this did not correspond with most of the research I'd done, I took it down to about 1.005.  Do you agree with this, and is this puffer that specific as to what its salt level can be? <Actually, this puffer can go from fresh water as a baby to full marine water as an adult. One guy in Malaysia reported finding them in the wild in waters with the specific gravity ranging from 1.012 to 1.019. These were probably the larger fish, which would be more visible.> I ask for two reasons, which I hope you'll comment on.  First, the puffer is now much less colorful than it was when I first got it.  It went from a bright yellow with distinct spots to a dull grayish color with less distinguished spots.  I'd like the brightness, but I also want the fish to live. <I'd say he'd appreciate some more salt.> Secondly, I have two larger tanks.  My 55 gallon has two Brazilian puffers and three figure eights, and this tank has very little salt.  My 30 gallon houses this spotted puffer in 1.005 water.  My wife and I are thinking of turning the 30 gallon into a salt water system, and I'm wondering if this spotted puffer would do fine in the fresh system with the other puffs, or if it could even stay in the 30 and go to salt.  Or if neither would be a good thing. <How big is the puffer? If you gradually turn this into a saltwater system, your puffer should be fine. Do check out our puffer FAQs, starting with the links here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm > Thanks, Andy B <You're welcome. --Ananda>

More on green-spotted puffers and specific gravity... Thanks for the response.  This puffer is about 2.5 inches.  Do you think it is too early to take it up to 1.019? <Probably not... but personally, at that size, I'd keep it lower -- maybe 1.010 or so.> By the way, I did look at the wetwebmedia puffer links, but on this particular puffer no salinity info is given.   <Hmm. Another thing to add to the to-fix list...> Thanks again. Andy b <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Juvenile Green Puffer I have two green spotted puffer, and two figure eight puffer's in a 30 gallon brackish aquarium. All have been living peacefully together (more or less :) for a couple weeks now. My question; one of the green spotted puffers developed a cloudy "film" over one eye last night while I slept. Do you have any idea what this could be? <A "sort of secondary" infection, likely bacterial, stress-related... likely from the system being so new... crowded puffer-wise... and likely will solve itself> None of the other fish have any evidence of this, and the one fish with the cloudy eye still seems to be swimming around healthy, and eating. Did he maybe get in a fight? Or do you think he is sick? Thanks for your AWESOME site, and priceless advice. Good-day! <Maybe a fight, and not really so "sick" as in treatable for a condition, agent. I'd just keep the system on an even keel and wait this out. And you're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Pufferfish (brackish...) Hi Bob, Thank you so much for all the information on this website. We recently (3 weeks ago) added a spotted green puffer fish to our established freshwater plant and fish tank (30 gallons). He seems to be doing very well. We feed him living and frozen brine shrimp. Just today, I noticed that he has two small white spots on his one side. I'm very worried about this.  <Are they "symmetrical", as in evenly placed on both sides of the body? If so, these may be nothing more than "tubercles"... natural structural parts of the puffers body... Otherwise, you may have cause for concern... as this isn't really a freshwater fish, as you likely know, but a brackish animal... that likely has too different water quality requirements than your plants, likely your fishes as well... As in a need for hard, alkaline water with ionic/salt content: http://wetwebmedia.com/fwpuffers.htm > From looking over your site, I think I should feed him a more well rounded diet (addition of blood worms?  <A good idea... a favorite food of this group, as are tubificid/black worms> I've tried dried plankton, he hates that), and maybe add some salt to our tank. But we do have some plants and other fish, including Corydoras julii, Siamensis, and albino shrimp, so I am worried about adding salt into the system.  <You should be... the Corydoras can take some salt, the shrimp, not much...> The fish store supposedly has acclimated their puffer fish to freshwater. <Though they cannot live permanently in "very" freshwater... this species migrates in/out of the sea...> I really love this Pufferfish, so I am willing to do what it takes to keep him healthy. Your help is greatly appreciated. <In any length of time (months) this animal will need different water conditions. I know this is hard to come to grips with... but I'd either trade it back in, or place it in a different type of system... There are other brackish livestock, including fishes, invertebrates and plants... but what you have cannot practically be kept together. We can/should chat this over if it's not clear. Your friend in fish, Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Carina Howell

My 3 Puffers Hello. I am hoping that you will be able to help me with my puffer fish. I have 3 of them, in a 6 gallon tank. They are pretty small still, and I think that they are MBU Puffers. <Yikes... a very small volume of water for this species... hard to maintain stably... and these can be very "mean" toward each other> They are the green one's with the black spots on them.  <Hmm, actually... this may be another species. Please see our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and in turn Fishbase.org for identification of this "freshwater puffer".> Lately I have noticed that their colors are changing. Sometimes the green is a deeper green and sometimes it is a more fluorescent green. But then sometimes there is some brown coloring between the white area and the green. What is this caused from?  <Could be simply "mood" changes, nutrition, water quality, even communication amongst them> I was reading some of the other people's problems with their puffers and one person said their puffers turned brown and then died. Are my fish sick?  <Maybe... most likely from "water quality" issues... may well be "brackish", needing some regular concentration of salts...> I feed them blood worms, and all 3 of them eat them aggressively, so I don't think that it's from lack of food. <Solely this one item? Their diet needs to be expanded my friend. How healthy would you be only consuming your one favorite food?> I have also noticed that one of them is always trying to jump out of the tank. Is the tank too small for them.  <Yes, for sure> I have heard that the puffers will do okay in either a large or medium size tank, and like I said before, they aren't very big. What does it mean when they don't have their tail flared compared to when they do have it flared?  <Once again, a number of possibilities: the beginning of a rapid flight/swimming due to... aggression, fear... communication?> I have also noticed lately that one of the fish is hanging out in the very top corner of the tank where he is cornered in behind the heater and the filter. Is there something wrong?  <Possibly... likely this is the more subdominant individual and it's finding solace in staying out of the way of its nippy conspecifics... do look into either a larger system, making it brackish, and/or trading in all but one of these fish.> Sorry for all of the questions, but I am new to this and I love my puffers and don't want them to die. Thanks - Kari <I appreciate this... extend your caring to investigating proper husbandry of your wet pets. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Info Hello again. Thank you very much for your advice before regarding my puffer fish. I had questions about my 3 green and black spotted puffers in a 6 gallon tank; one of them was starting to turn brown. Well, the one that was turning brown died the next morning, <Yes, sorry to learn of this loss> it was sad, but the other 2 are still ok for now. I put a couple of rocks in the tank and they seem to like that. But one is a lot bigger than the other, and is constantly starting to chase the little one around. The little one spends a lot of time hiding behind the rocks now. I am afraid that it will die. <All very typical... need larger quarters to get away from each other> It is still eating great and everything. Today I was in a pet store and I noticed that one of the tanks had little puffers the same as my small one with other bigger fish. Unfortunately I don't remember what kind of fish they were with. I was wondering if the little puffer would do okay in a 30 gallon tank that has about 5 mollies in it, a small guppy sized fish that has horizontal stripes on it, a Gourami, and 2 fish that look like bleeding hearts but they are darker shades of reddish orange. They are all pretty lively but docile in the sense that they don't nip at each other and pretty much leave each other alone. They are all bigger than the little puffer except for the one with the horizontal stripes on it. But it's an extremely fast little guy. Would the little puffer eat him? I would really like to get the little puffer out of the small tank with the mean big one in it. What do you think? Thanks! Kari <Well... the Puffer is not likely to be bothered too much by the fishes you list... in fact, the Puffer is much more likely to bite bits out of some of the new tankmates... You ought to check the physical/chemical requirements/ranges of these fishes to assure that they are mixable... maybe on fishbase.org... many of the fish species you list tolerate/enjoy hard alkaline, even brackish water, the "tetras" you tentatively identify do not... Bob Fenner>

Puffers and brackish water Dear Mr. Fenner, Thank you for making yourself available to us for questions! <An honor, privilege and pleasure my friend> I have two green puffers in a 5.5 gallon tank. How much ocean salt do I put in to make it brackish?  <Hmm, better to encourage you to purchase a simple "hydrometer" a tool for measuring specific gravity/density of liquids... and to "shoot for" about 1.010 or so... but not all at once. Get a good grade of "synthetic sea salt" like Instant Ocean, and add a tablespoon or so per day (over many days) till this is about so... and take care to learn about how much to add to pre-made "water change" water so it's about the same for your routine maintenance> And will doing this improve their appetites?  <Assuredly yes... and color... and health overall> I have read that they should be voracious eaters, but as yet they are not. <Try a variety of meaty foods... along with the salt additions> Thank you so much for your time!! Sincerely, Kathy Grove <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Puffers I was wondering if you could help me in figuring out what is on the bottom of my tank. I have two small green puffers and I feed them shrimp pellets and meal worms - as I was told by the people I bought them off of. I have been reading your web site and do plan on feeding them more of a variety. What my problem is that a cottony growth develops over the rocks and any leftover chewed up food they leave. It looks like a moldy fungus and I am afraid of what it is doing to my fish. I clean their tank once a week and this stuff appears almost right away. Do I need to stop feeding them what I have been immediately? What could be the cause of this growth and is their a way of preventing it? <Good descriptions... and yes, you are very likely correct about the "moldy fungus" here... this is probably a mix of decomposers that are having a "field day" due to the abundance of ready foodstuffs and lack of competitors for such... do look to changing your food offerings as you say, and increasing aeration, circulation and filtration here... and you will find less of this material as time goes by> Thank you so much for your time Nicole P.S. I also have a 45 gallon tank running with no fish in it because I plan on putting the puffers in their; the problem is it is very salty and I wasn't sure whether too much salt is as harmful as not enough salt?! <Yes... best to "aim for medium saltiness, and steady"... a specific gravity in the "teens" (1.011-1.018)... and pre-mix, store new water for changes... for a week or so ahead of using... and to acclimate your puffers for a day or more "per thousandth" ahead of moving them into a different system with a different specific gravity. Bob Fenner>

Figure of 8 puffer/green spotted puffer Please can you help me? <I will try my best!> I have 1 figure of 8 puffer and 1 spotted green puffer in s 250 litre approx. community tank with a mixture of both large and small fish including my 4 Discus which obviously means that the water is soft. They were previously together is their own tank but I thought it would be a good idea to put them in my larger tank.  The Aquatic place that I got them from said that it would be OK but I'm not so sure that it suits my dear little spotted Puffer.  He doesn't appear to be very well.  He's not eating anything anymore and one of his side fins has stopped moving or is not there at all, he is just floating around and bumping into everything.  They are both very placid fish and I don't want to lose this little guy.  Can you help?   <Were they happy and healthy in their old tank? I would move them back...pronto!> Is he in the right conditions or should I move them into their own tank again?   <Well, as sensitive as the discus are you certainly can't change their water conditions...right? If the puffers aren't going to adjust, and it sounds as if they aren't, then move them back and put something else in with the discus> What should I do to save him? <That is what I would do. David Dowless> Regards, Dena Richardson

Hurt puffer......... Hello! I have a spotted green puffer. He is in a freshwater tank with female swordtails and guppies. I feed the other fish tetra color and I feed him brine shrimp pellets. His tail is curled up and his left fin is starting to rot it looks like. Not like Ich but just deteriorating. I have only had this tank set up for a week and the day after I got the tank set up I had baby swordtails. My fish went through a lot of stress separating the babies from the tank so that is probably the cause of this. What could be wrong with him? Ich? Fin rot? Maybe just a fight with another fish? :(  I love my fish so much and I don't want to loose any! :) PLEASE help me?!?! Thanks so much! > <Likely the tail curling is nothing (this is what these puffers do) but pectoral fin is trouble... and likely due to being in a strictly freshwater environment (this species is actually more marine) and a too-limited diet... I would add "some" salt (a teaspoon per gallon ultimately... a teaspoon per day until you reach this amount... if you have no plants... or other livestock... the swords are fine... that are salt intolerant. And do look into other frozen, freeze-dried foods like Tubifex, mysids, krill, bloodworms... for your puffer. These two changes will reverse the current trend. Bob Fenner>

Figure 8 puffer Hello, I have a figure 8 puffer and had him in my African C. tank. He and my green spotted pufferfish did well in that tank for close to 6 months. They have gotten beat up quite a bit recently so I took them out. the Green spotted puffer I threw (adjusted the salinity for him in about 30 min before dumping him) into my salt water tank and he is doing great.  <Yikes... this is a quick (and dangerous) transition... likely damaging to your puffer internally... these changes need to be made over a period of a few weeks to months> I then weeks later tried the same thing to my figure 8 and he has not fared as well. His eyes got extremely cloudy and his color faded. He was only in the saltwater for a night. I then saw my poor fish in the morning and put him in my molly (brackish) breeding tank to recover. <Good move... you likely saved its life> I added some Melafix to the tank and his eyes are clearing up slightly. What should I do to further his recovery? I also thought the figure 8 could go to full saltwater. <Please read over the brackish water articles posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/BrackishSubWebIndex.htm The Figure Eight, Tetraodon biocellatus is actually a freshwater fish... not brackish or marine. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Chad

Puffer Problem I think I may of messed up when selecting my fish. I have a 46 gallon bowed tank with 40 pounds of live rock etc. My ammonia is 0, nitrate is .2, ph is 8.2, and salinity is 1.021 with temperature a stable 79. I have had in the tank for about a month, a dwarf lionfish, and 2 green spotted puffers. Now I realize that the salinity may be a bit high, but I don't want it too low because of the lionfish, is this correct? The lionfish seems fine (he's just lazy), and the puffers seem to be getting a little lazier as time goes by. I have noticed that the puffers stomachs can turn brown almost daily now, but can clear up at any given time. I do feel the puffers have been overeating. I feed them a variety of food twice a day, and every second day, they feast on ghost shrimp, because I put enough in the tank to ensure the lionfish gets enough. (I can't trick him into non-living foods as of yet). So I guess I have many many problems, and my LFS gives me the worst advice in the world. So I guess I'm down to these questions: Is the salinity of 1.021 wayyyy to high?......Are the brown bellies the puffers get a sign of disease or stress?..... I'm sorry to bother you, <no bother at all. Salinity should be somewhere between 1.021 to 1.025. I have seen green spotted puffers in freshwater, salt water, and everywhere in between. I personally like to see them in brackish water. If they were acclimated slowly to full-blown salt water they should be ok. The color change is normal, as long as they are not showing any other signs of sickness. Does not sound like too much to worry about, just keep an eye on water quality and let us know if they are showing any other symptoms. Best Regards, Gage> Thank You, Brandon Roth

Spotted puffers I just purchased 3 small spotted puffers for my 30 gallon hex tank. puffers are about 1" to 1 1/2" long. how many can my 30 gal hex accommodate and what is the preferred list of food for them? josh Nichols <these adorable little creatures are extremely aggressive to each other and to other fish as they mature!!! They will literally pick each others eyes out. I'll be surprised if you keep three in this 30 unscathed for more than a year. Much has been written in the FAQs and beyond on our WetWebMedia site. Please do peruse starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpuffers.htm Please be sure to explore the links for the FAQs near the top of the page. Best regards, Anthony> Spotted puffers I just purchased 3 small spotted puffers for my 30 gallon hex tank. The puffers are about 1" to 1 1/2" long. How many can my 30 gallon hex accommodate and what is the preferred list of food for them? Josh Nichols <Well Josh, shame on you for not asking those questions before you purchased them. Please see here regarding their care and growth http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/fwbracpuffers.htm -Steven Pro>

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