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FAQs about Burrfishes, Porcupinefishes Disease 4

FAQs on Burrfish Disease: Burrfish Disease 1, Burrfish Disease 2, Burrfish Disease 3, Burrfish Disease 4, Burrfish Disease 5, Burrfish Disease ,
FAQs on Burrfish Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environment, Nutrition, Social, Trauma, Pathogenic, Treatments 

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

Related FAQs: Diodontids 1, Diodontids 2, Diodontids 3, Burrfish Identification, Burrfish Behavior, Burrfish Compatibility, Burrfish Selection, Burrfish Systems, Burrfish Feeding, Burrfish Reproduction, Puffers in General, Puffer Selection, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, Puffer Reproduction, True Puffers, Freshwater to Brackish Puffers, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes,

Porcupine puffer is ...poisoned? Another Siganid incident, incomp.     3/16/14
I have a porcupine puffer and a foxface Rabbitfish in a 110 gallon.
They both were doing great until last night. I heard a commotion of some sort in the corner of the tank.
By the time I got over there, whatever was going on was over, but my porcupine was puffed and sitting on the bottom of the tank. He is much paler than normal and now lays on his side on the bottom.
Did the Rabbitfish poison him? How can I fix it?
<Maybe... I'd separate these two of course... but really, just time going by, good care will see if the Diodontid recovers or no. Bob Fenner>
Please and thank you!

Sick Spiny Puffer... something... re hlth?    3/10/14
I have a fist sized spiny puffer in my 180 gallon tank.  About a month ago he developed overnight big ( dime to quarter size)  white patches all over.
<Have you searched re on WWM?>
 I thought he was a goner for sure. It actually looked like his skin was pealing off. I isolated him and treated him for Ich
<With what?>
and also did some Erythromycin baths and soaking his food in it for a week or two.
<What for?>
  He eats well, tail not bent but he is lazy now and sits on the sand bottom until it is feeding time.  The original patches healed only to be replaced with others.  The Ich treatment was non copper. 
<Ah good>
I treated him separately then then whole tank a week later.
He is a very tough fish and I've enjoyed him for years. I hate to lose him so I am willing to try anything you recommend.
<Even reading?>

 My LSG expert just says treat for Ich but I am pretty sure this is not Ich. Have not seen any small white dots on the puffer or any other of the many fish I have in this big tank.  Also no one else is sick and  I have not lost a fish in at least 6 months.
It is a fish and coral tank with 4 in Sand bed with a large 4 stage canister filter. I don't have a sump or refugium yet, but it is next and coming soon. I tested the water and it was not in bad condition but I did a 25% change at the beginning of his illness and am doing another one today along with servicing the filter canister with different media to remove nitrogen, ammonia, phos., , etc.  as well as carbon charcoal.
Appreciate any help you can give me. I just found your site, it looks awesome.
<Can't discern what this was/is w/ the information provided. Read here:
The linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Quick question!     1/11/14
Quick question about my porcupine puffer! Her name is Gizzy, (After Gizmo the gremlin of course) I have had her for 5 months. She has begun scratching against the sand substrate in her tank. Is that normal or should I be concerned?
<Some such glancing, scratching is "natural">
 She is about 7 inches, she is in a 55 gallon tank
<Really needs more room than this>

 with LR, she is eating normally, her other behavior (happy to see us, following us around the room in her tank, sleeping habits, etc..) are normal, the tanks water parameters are fine, her color is normal and she's not inflating any as if stressed. Can you tell me if "scratching" is normal??
Thanks in advance!!
Concerned Puffer Mommy!
<Unless there are other symptoms, I would not be concerned... Perhaps a cursory read through what is archived re this family on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Requesting help with porcupine puffer tooth/beak loss       04/14/13
I am writing as I have searched the web and your site and cannot find any information on a porcupine puffer with a missing beak, or I am not searching correctly.
<Can't tell>
We have had our puffer for about seven years, in general his appetite is good but over the last couple of weeks his eating has become sporadic. I had noticed that he has been preferring scallops (unshelled) over mussels which are usually his favorite.
<Both poor for steady diet...>
 I did not think to check his beak until this evening, and while I normally can see his beak, I cannot see anything in his mouth. I can look straight into his mouth back to a flap that opens and closes as he respires.  The floor of his mouth is smooth back to his throat. Also his lower lip/mouth area is discolored orange and looks a bit "stringy".
<Mmm, could, would you send along a well-resolved pic or two?>
Can a puffer regrow their teeth?
<Yes; their teeth are constantly regenerating... being worn down as well>
 If so what should I be doing in the meantime?
<Other foods... see WWM re Diodontids...>
What would be the underlying cause?
<Perhaps the Thiaminase aspect alluded to first here>
Please let me know what further information you require as I am not sure what to send in.
<Mmm, just search and read I believe>
Thank you in advance for your assistance!
Best regards,
Jason Peck
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Requesting help with porcupine puffer tooth/beak loss    4/14/13

<Hey Jas!>
Thank you for your response.
1.I read up on the Thiaminase issue, going to pick up vitamins today.
<Ah good>
2.I also read about lockjaw, however all the reports I was reading indicated the puffer could not open its mouth. In our case he does not close his mouth.(see attached picture) Is it possible for his mouth to be locked open?
<Have seen this... some sort of muscular paralysis... but don't think this is Lenny's do here>
3.If it is lockjaw will he need to be force fed? I also read varying advice on how long to wait before the last time he ate to attempt force feeding.
<I would hold off on this for now... a healthy Diodontid of size can go weeks w/o feeding. Too much trauma, poss. damage from handling to suggest it w/o real need>
4. Without a beak are they capable of eating?
<Should be>
5. Will try to get a clear picture of the inside of mouth to send as you requested as well.
<Okay... but the ones you've sent will do... Yowch! Does look/appear that this specimen IS missing its beak/teeth!>
6. In picture you can see his quills sticking up, seems that he can no longer lay them flat, could this be related to the Thiaminase issue?
<I think it may well be all related... Somehow this fish has "knocked out" and/or worn down its beak altogether... will regenerate in time... Let's hope the vitamins do the trick. DO try good pelleted foods (New Life/Spectrum, Hikari), of size pellets... this fish can/will take such if/when trained (mainly by other fish's behavior)>
<Cheers, BobF>

Re: Porcupine Puffer Health – 2/16/13
Thanks Bob, I reread all.
<Ah, then you saw the bits re Thiaminase, Euphausiids>
Now I see it is at least possible that my feeding could otherwise causing discomfort. I have not been reconstituting the krill in water, as required per one WWM puffer article that discusses feeding. I will change foods (and try more variety). The last Porc puffer
I had would chomp anything I put in the tank (including tin foil that I accidentally dropped in from the cube tray, yikes).
<I'll say!>
This one has never taken to anything but krill...so skewers, krill withholding, substitutes I will try until he eats...
<Good. Even Spectrum... w/ conditioning/trial-mixing>
Now I wonder if the dried krill feeding could in fact be causing an air pocket within the puffer?
<Another possibility; yes. I'd use frozen/defrosted krill>
 I see he gulps/bubbles quite a bit (as can be expected with pieces of freeze dried kill floating on top of the water surface). I see an article on another site regarding puffer air bubbles (and also mention by Ananda in prior puffer FAQs) suggesting a procedure for holding and gently relieving such in a puffer. Dare I try?
<Not yet... IF the fish is able to submerse, I'd leave it alone. Too easy to traumatize, damage otherwise. BobF>

Re: Porcupine Puffer Health    3/16/13
Hi Bob, a quick update on my porcupine puffer health.
I don't see any improvement in its activity level, it barely moves from the tank bottom. It mostly altogether skips feedings, although usually responds (heartily) to at least 1 of 3 feedings daily. It still has this large, lopsided bulge, protruding in the right back quadrant of its body. It seemed to respond to a large aquascape change, for one day becoming active again. Otherwise, the equally-sized volitans lionfish in the tank does seem to corner, intimidate, or hover over the puffer.
<These two species are incompatible. The puffer biting the Lion, depriving it of food; the Lion stinging the puffer>

I see it exhibiting threat response only rarely to this (i.e., color change, very slight puffing/arching); otherwise it seems to ignore or slowly hover away on occasion.
My water quality is now very good, all other fish seem to be thriving.
I was unable to wean it from freeze dried krill, having tried many different foods (shrimp, clam on the half shell, squid, plankton, pellets, Nori seaweed, etc). It would not give up a feeding strike for almost 3 weeks of offering non-krill options. However, I consistently soak the krill in Kent Zoe multivitamin (and have started re-hydrating in freshwater before feeding).
I continue to suspect this to be either Thiaminase, related to the bulge, or some other unknown (congenital?) affliction.
<Could be>
Do you think I should attempt another, longer (or never-ending) dietary change? Perhaps withhold all but pellets until it changes from krill...to see if this helps?
<I'd separate these fishes. B>

Porcupine Puffer Health – 2/15/13
My Porcupine Puffer has very poor health, and I wonder if there are any measures I can take to help it improve.
I acquired it as a very health/active specimen 6 months ago. After full QT and introduction to my display, it developed a parasitic (?...as you know...) infection (which I had thought/hoped to be fully eradicated from my fallow tank at the time). Near death (slime coat sloughing off, spots/patches all over), I began hyposalinity treatment in my display tank.
This seemed to have fully alleviated the infection, although its likely already-poor health sustained water quality problems in addition to the prolonged osmotic shock until I exited hyposalinity months later (and at your admonishment - thank you!).
For months after the hyposalinity exit (and with still gradual rise to full salinity), it has been extremely lethargic. I have isolated it in my display as it was being relentlessly bullied by a Butterflyfish and an angel smith (both about half its size). It eats heartily for at least one of three feedings every day (krill soaked in Zoe/Zoecon),
<A poor constant diet... this alone can account for this fish's lethargy.
See WWM re Diodontids food/feeding/nutrition>
 and has grown to about 8" (from 4" at acquisition). However, it seems to get more lethargic and non-responsive as time goes. Perhaps its days are limited by all of the disease and hyposalinity entry/exit variables?
I recently read an article that discussed kidney damage incurred by marine fish in water that has salinity that is even slightly below their natural environment. In the last week, this lead me to begin the final elevation from about 1.017 to 1.024.
Otherwise, it is very lopsided - swollen/bulging on its right side. See the attached picture. Several months ago, when I removed it from the tank to get scraped/'scoped (yielding prognosis that slime coat was healthy and no pathogens noticed), it had an air pocket on the same side of its body that gradually alleviated. I can't imagine this could be air? Especially as it spends much of its days laying near-motionless on the sand? Do you have any thoughts on whether this bulge could be its primary scourge? Or other thoughts on its condition?
I may start up my 10G or 30G tank and transfer him there to "hospice" if you don't think there are other things I can do now. While these volumes are tiny for a fish this size, at this point its range of motion *really is* this limited.
Any thoughts are appreciated...Dave

Porcupine Puffer     1/12/13
Hi Bob and Crew, I have a Porcupine Puffer and for about nine months He basically stays in his cave all day. He never swims unless he see his cup of food or when I am doing a water change. He tries to help. I bought him really small and he swim more when he was little. He swims all night and in the morning when lights or off he is normal, happy, and swimming. I have vho lighting and I don't think it is too bright for him. Nobody is picking on him. He is in a 180 eats Mysis, and krill everyday. Is he ok?
<Likely so; such lethargy, night time activity isn't uncommon>
 All parameters are good. Nitrate is 10. I don't think that enough to stress him do you?
<Are there other fishes present that might be bullying the puffer by day?>
Thank you!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer, hlth., comp.     1/10/13
What happened to my friend "Hap"? I am so sad! He lives in my son's tank.
<Mmm, something/one's been "after" it; of there's been a precipitous drop in water quality...>
Today his eyes started looking hazy. Tonight he was swimming along and all of a sudden seemed to struggle then floated to the top if the tank with this "bubble" attached! It looks like there is a hole in his side!
<Yes; physical trauma>

 He is normally in an 80 gallon tank with a lion fish, a grouper, a star fish, live rock and small corals. I don't think he is going to make it through the night.
Jenni Edwards
<Number one candidate is the grouper... next, a poke from the Lion... perhaps just a bad run-in w/ the corals... this system needs to be much larger... You need to move the puffer now to convalesce. Bob Fenner>

Re: Porcupine Puffer    1/10/13
Thanks Bob. We moved him last night, but he didn't make it. I grew up "going fishing" with my Daddy in the creeks and lakes for dinner. Never thought I would get so attached to a darn fish!
But here I am feeling like I lost a good friend. Your site is amazing. I will learn from it and maybe get my own tank just for a puffer.  ~ Jen
<Real good. BobF>

To Medicate or Not . . . - 12/28/2012
Dear WetWebMedia Crew:
<Hi Matthew!  Sabrina with you tonight.>
First, thank you for all of the time and effort you put into your site and advancing the hobby.  The website is a tremendous resource and I have consulted it countless times over the years. 
<Thank you for these very encouraging words.>

I am writing today--for the first time--for advice on how to treat my Porcupine Puffer's fin rot.
<Alright.  Let's see....>
Water Parameters / Aquarium Info
Aquarium Specs: 240 gal. FOWLR.
Ph: 8.0 (measured at the end of the day's light cycle)
Ammonia: Not detectable
Nitrite: Not detectable
Nitrate: Under 10 ppm
Phosphate: Not detectable
Salinity: 1.025
Temperature: Maintained between 76-78 with heater/chiller
Livestock: 1 Blue Tang, 1 Clownfish, 1 Porcupine Puffer, several dozen hermit crabs (the puffer--generally--leaves them alone), ~100 lbs live rock, live sand.  Most recent addition was the Clownfish, which was added at least 2 years ago.  There have not been any major changes to the aquarium's load (either up or down, other than due to the growth of the existing fish) since the arrival of the Clownfish.
<Sounds very good so far.>
About 6 days ago, my porcupine puffer became extremely lethargic and stopped eating. 
<You mentioned the clown is the newest addition, of at least two years ago, but not the age of the puffer.  This is worth considering.  They're not immortal, sadly.  Just like humans, fish get more susceptible to disease as they age - I actually work with a naturally short-lived fish at Stanford, where we are studying aging and longevity, and we do get to observe them actually "get old".>
His belly didn't look overly bloated, but did look about how it normally looks after he has eaten even though he had stopped eating.  Other than the full stomach, there were no other outward signs of any health problems. 
<The full stomach is telling....  With their impressive appetites, I do wonder if he perhaps ate something, or too much of something, which might have caused a bit of a gut blockage....>
I adopted a wait and see approach as I have seen him go on random one or two day "hunger-strikes" a couple of times in years past without any serious consequences.
<Yes, common.>
Unfortunately, he continued to get worse, and by the time I realized that he appeared to have a serious internal bug of some sort, the LFS was closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas, so I did not have access to any antibiotics.  At his worst point, he merely sat on the bottom of the aquarium breathing heavily.  He stopped responding to stimulation and may have even been temporarily blind as he showed no response to light or any other stimuli. 
<Interestingly, I've seen in a freshwater puffer very similar symptoms - including the apparent blindness - which we also thought might have been from a gut blockage or from overfeeding.  Fortunately, the critter recovered suddenly and on his own.>
I thought he appeared to be only a few hours from death.  On the morning of the 26th, Puffer started to swim around the aquarium slightly and I noticed that his feces was white and granular (still not eating at this time). 
<Perhaps finally passing something....?>
In the evening I purchased Maracyn Two on the advice of the LFS.  I setup a QT and added the Maracyn Two. 
<I would be hesitant - EXTREMELY hesitant - to somewhat randomly begin medicating, especially if the animal had "perked up" a bit....>
Unfortunately, after adding the Maracyn Two to the QT, I noticed that the packages I had just purchased had an expiration date of 4/11.  Further research indicated that Maracyn Two and similar medications actually turn toxic after their expiration dates.  Based on that, I did not move Puffer to the now-contaminated QT.
<Thank goodness!>
Today, the 27th, I purchased new--non expired Erythromycin from the LFS and planned on draining the QT and starting with new water from the display aquarium. 
<Erythromycin is effective mostly against gram-positive bacterial issues, if I recall properly.  Unless you know very surely what you're treating, and to what medications it is susceptible, this wouldn't be my personal first choice - though I know others who would disagree.  If I feel I have to "guess", I would probably resort to Kanamycin sulfate, IF I was sure I was dealing with an unknown bacterial complaint.>
When I got home, however, Puffer looked MUCH better--about 80% of his usual self--and even had an appetite again (what a relief). 
<Oh!  Very good!>
Because he was looking like he was on the road to recovery, I decided that a move to the QT along with the associated stress might cause more trouble than it was worth (thoughts?).
<This, in my very strong opinion, was certainly the right choice.  I would absolutely not stress (by moving or especially by medicating) this apparently recovering animal.>
Fin Rot
On the 26th--about the same time Puffer was starting to look a little better, I noticed the start of fin rot on his left pectoral fin.  In my opinion, the fin looks slightly worse today than it did yesterday (though my wife says it looks unchanged).  I imagine that the fin rot is a secondary infection picked up while Puffer was (and still slightly remains) in his weakened state. 
<Could be.  Or could be from an injury, perhaps from being lethargic; maybe he got scraped, or nipped by a tankmate, or....  Who knows.>
I can drain/refill the QT, move Puffer, and dose the Erythromycin (or any other antibiotic you suggest . . .),
<As above, Erythromycin isn't typically my first choice, but I do believe I've seen Bob suggesting it as one of his.  You will get differing opinions here.>
OR I can leave Puffer alone in the display to continue his recovery on his own. 
<This is what I would do, were it me/my fish.>
I am again afraid that the stress of a move will do more harm than good and may disrupt the progress he is clearly making with the internal infection. 
<I still would consider that it may have been a simple gut blockage.>
If I maintain good water chemistry and Puffer continues to beat the internal infection, can the fin rot clear up on its own,
or is an antibiotic going to be necessary?
<Possible, but not probable.>
To further complicate the decision, I am going out of town the next three days.  I have someone coming to feed the fish and they can dose any required antibiotic, but I worry that I won't be there to monitor the QT should any issues arise. 
<A wise worry.  I would not medicate or move this fish at this time.>
On the other hand, if the fin rot continues to advance, I will not be there to put Puffer in the QT and start treatment. 
<An understandable concern; however, unless this Finrot is definitely bacterial AND particularly virulent, three days will probably not spell doom, even if it worsens.>
Which option do you think presents the best odds for recovery over the next three days? 
<I, personally, would leave the animal alone.>
Say the fin rot continues and I delay treatment for three days, is this likely to cause irreversible damage/death?
<I certainly can't know - but this is a possibility.  It's one you should think about.  However, I think the "safest" risk to take is to leave the animal to his own devices and hope for the best.  I do think that, should he remain in appropriate water quality, he could recover on his own, and I think this is a safer risk to take than dropping him in unfamiliar surroundings with antibiotics that will possibly compromise his immune system and cause further stress to what was otherwise a healing critter.>
I was unable to get a picture of the fin, but have attached a sketch approximating the extent of the existing damage.
<Tough to say from a sketch, even though your sketch is very well made.>
Thank you so much for all of your help!  I apologize for the long email, but wanted to explain my current thought process.
<And a wise one it seems to me to be.>
Matthew H.
<Best wishes to you and your puffer,  -Sabrina>

To Medicate or Not . . . Porc pine puffer    12/29/12
Thank you!
<Very welcome.  Best wishes,  -Sabrina>

Puffer Disease - fin "spots"?     11/20/12
Bob, help!
Since I last emailed you, I had him in Quarantine while letting time pass in my 200G tank for a newly placed Blueline Rabbitfish (joining a resident Bluehead Wrasse). I observed distinctive white spots come and go on the rabbitfish's fins (i.e., separate to the raised under-skin bumps that I corresponded with you about). I wondered if the prior Ich strain had survived my Cupramine/Quinine runs and several months of no one in the tank except the Wrasse who exhibited high resistance to the Ich.
I placed the porcupine puffer (from LA Diver's Den site) after 2 weeks of my own QT. He had a FW dip before being placed. It seems he did not bring any pathogens to the tank, but clearly is now exhibiting symptoms.
From the attached picture, hopefully you can see the spotting/clouding on his fins. There almost seems to be a fluke-type raised "dot" with a tail on some of the spots. This is present on his other fins. Otherwise, I see some slime coat shedding this morning, and the fin spotting has become far more pronounced. He likes to hover in the return flow, and for the first time last night he retreated to the rocks at night, but otherwise still eats vigorously.
<Mmm, could be just reaction sites from bent fin spines... might be a worm parasite of some sort, but doubtful>
I also see the Rabbitfish stays hidden with its night coloring during much of the day.
 I wonder if this is a disease symptom, or if he's just trying to keep cover from tankmates. I also see the wrasse scratching (gill area) against substrate/rock occasionally.
<I personally wouldn't treat any for anything. B>

Re: Puffer Disease - fin "spots"?     11/20/12
Thanks Bob. Here is a second pic of the puffer, with the anal fin in focus.
This shows the clouding, and if it were 3D you would be able to see the trailing tail at the darker white center of some of the spots. All other fins have this level of spotting.
Regarding a wait-and-see approach, I'm just worried that the Puffer seems to have had heavy progression on spots on all fins, and a first-time slime coat sloughing, since yesterday. Having wondered if the display tank still had problems, I ordered 2L of Paraguard (should arrive today), and thought I'd start administering main tank doses to keep the pathogen down while the Puffer and Rabbitfish increase resistance. Seems it couldn't hurt to try?
<Could hurt, damage the fishes health, kill off beneficial bacteria, much else>

I just again looked at the tank, and see a similar cloudy patch (versus distinctive spotting) on the Rabbit fin. No "tails" on the spots.
The other challenge I have is timing of this development. I leave town tomorrow. I can easily leave the neighbor instructions to add a dose of Paraguard when they come to feed, but probably would scare them off if I asked them to observe/document any further progression and offer a crash course on fish disease. Hm.
<... one last time: I would do nothing here. B>
Re: Puffer Disease - fin "spots"?     11/20/12
Bob: OK! Sorry you needed to repeat yourself! Can you imagine how much fun my wife has doing the same. Happy Thanksgiving, Dave
<Heeeeee! You too!>

Re: Puffer Disease - fin "spots"?    11/26/12
Bob: Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. Quick updated, the puffer is still eating, but seems very lethargic, breathing heavily, and his coloration is much darker. I do see a few (2-3) distinctive new white spots on the Rabbitfish as well.
This is a game of tough calls - what would you do?
<Get out one of my microscopes... have a cheapy old fashioned one and a QX 3 USB type two arms lengths away... and take a smear sample of the skin mucus and look/see what this is. BobF>

Continue to watch and leave as-is? Or, transfer the puffer to a hospital setting so he can fight and build immunity in a non-infested tank?
I have two other fish that have been in QT for an extended period. Seems at this point I should wait for a period of time before introducing them into the display, and continuing to inoculate them with display tank water.
They are generally hardy specimens with regard to parasites (Chinese Hawkfish / C. Pinnulatus, Engineer goby). How many weeks would you wait until after seeing the last display tank spot before introduction?
<See WWM re>
Thank you, Dave
Re: Puffer Disease - fin "spots"?    1/3/12

Bob, continuation of questioning on puffer disease as per the previous emails below...
I see these spots beginning to return to the porcupine puffer,
<... review my previous writings to you re hyposalinity... Am hunting for an appropriate axiomatic statement: "Oh, if I only had a dollar for every...">
now that I have exited hyposalinity. If you will recall from the pics and descriptions previously provided (I can recap if this would help) - these are not spots, but larger splotches on the fins.
<... can't tell w/o sampling, microscopic examination>
 I began the hyposalinity treatment when the puffer seemed to be almost overwhelmed by this affliction (stopped feeding for days, labored breathing, clearly near death). He made a complete recovery during hypo, with splotches responding to this treatment and completely disappearing (although there was a curious eye splotch that occurred at one point). As of now, there is clear progression but no other visible symptoms. I am afraid to wait/observe as the last round of this battle didn't go very well...
I just did a 4 minute freshwater dip, to see if evidence of flukes/worms may be seen. I saw no effect from this dip.
Honestly, I don't see how I could get a scrape from the puffer without causing damage to its delicate fins and/or significant distress.
<Some damage, stress... worth it... Think on "going to the doctor or dentist" yourself... procedures...>
I do not see any other fish developing any such external problems.
<So? What you going to do?>
Any thoughts on what I could be missing in terms of possible disease here?
This is frustrating, I'm tempted to re-establish perfect water quality then return to the <1.010 hyposalinity level and attempt a full 6-8 week treatment. I maintained this level initially (despite the system distress) for a full 2-3 weeks after observing the last splotches on the puffer, but clearly that duration did not eliminate this pathogen. When he was first placed in the tank, water conditions were near perfect (Am/NO3/NO4, pH/temp, etc).
<Just the usual; for you to keep reading... WWM is not a complete, direct, nor well-organized compilation re fish disease... as yet. There are works that are, and these are cited on WWM. Did we discuss Ed Noga's "Fish Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment" tome? Am given to understand an e- version of the second ed. can be downloaded for about ten dollars. I'd be "casting your net" a bit further than simple e- chatting on the Net... Bob Fenner> 

Re: Puffer Disease - fin "spots"?     1/3/13
Bob, thanks for whacking me with the idiot stick. I find that a whack a day keeps me on track, although probably more annoying for those who need to administer than it is painful for me...
<Uhh, well, happy to help>
I (of course) decided I needed to proceed exactly as you prescribed, but also that I couldn't stomach a smear without first observing, so I loaded the puffer in the car and took a long drive to the well-known "fish doc" in the area (at an LFS...not a biologist but well versed in disease ID and, as I understand, is consulted by the Denver Aquarium on issues)...
He did several smears, which I was able to observe. His diagnosis was that no evidence of pathogens and a generally healthy slime coat seemed apparent. Hmmm.

So I am still left with some questions, but at this point will continue the march to normal SG, observations, and continued reading (as you have prescribed)...Keep the stick handy in case I get off course again...
<I'd be moving this fish to the permanent display. BobF>

Spiny Box Puffer Problem    7/13/12
Hey Bob,
I'm currently a marine biology student at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA and I just started volunteering at the Baton Rouge Zoo.  They have a small aquarium there and today I was working with some of the animals.  One is a Spiny Box Puffer and she's a beautiful lady.  However, there has been a development or build up of gases in one of her eyes. It doesn't seem to affect her activity, or at least of what I have seen. 
<Likely a physical trauma result. Quite common>

But it is raising concern in me.  The zoo doesn't seem to be so concerned about it themselves,
<I wouldn't be either>
which has kind of dampened my spirits.  So, I did a little research and I came across the condition exophthalmia, or PopEye.
<Yes; unilateral>
  After looking at many images of the condition, it seems very similar to what our lady here has.  That's also when I found you on wetwebmedia.com. 
Is there any remedy for this that you know of?
<Just what is posted on WWM, elsewhere in my, others writings>
It looks like there are gases in her eye. Tell me what you think, and if you want images or anything else, let me know.  I want to say the team is using Baytril to treat it.
<I wouldn't... just time going by, good care; no treatment/s called for, advisable>
  Let me know your thoughts on that as well.
<You have them. Bob Fenner>
Thank you.

porcupine puffer  6/27/12
Hi Crew, I got new porcupine puffer in the mail today. He is about 6". I did not use a net to get him out of the bag. Because they always puff up. I opened the bad as wide as I could get it.  He puffed up and floated out of the bag. I noticed that he has a lump by his tail, and he is skinny. I guess that's risk you take when you order online. I was just wondering if the lump is just something from puffing up or if its a tumor? Thanks, Jim
<... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BurrfishDisF4.htm
and the linked files above. B>

Re: porcupine puffer, hlth., comp.    6/28/12
Hi Bob, I should of did my homework on this fish before buying.  I think he had a air pocket from puffing up. It went away after a few hours. He tried killing my snow flake eel,  and 5" Humu Picasso Trigger that were in my quarantine tank. There is now a divider in there.

 I fed him krill hoping that will cool his jets. No more porcupines for me.
I have always had a stars and stripes puffer with no problems with being overly aggressive. I think he belongs with groupers and large triggers.
<Some variability in such species. B>

Porcupine Puffer Problem   6/21/12
Good Afternoon, Crew, thanks for all your hard work yet again!
<Hello Christin; sorry for the delayed resp.>
I am writing about what appears to be a particularly resistant strain of crypt that I have been battling with in my quarantine tank. I have a 180 gallon tank up and running with a sump, 57w UV, Cone Skimmer and 2 large powerheads. In this tank, I keep my predators: a Lunare wrasse, a Humu Humu Trigger, a Snowflake eel, and a Niger trigger.
About a month ago, I purchased a large Melanopus clown (4 inches) and a medium-ish Porcupine puffer (5 1/2 inches), and into the 30 gallon bare bottom quarantine tank they went. I am running an Eheim 2217 and a Penguin BioWheel 350 as filtration, with no skimmer or UV as I have used Cupramine in the tank previously and am prepared to do so again if needed.
Initially, they both appeared to break out with some fin spots that looked like a little crypt, so I began dosing with quinine sulfate as I have read on WWM that Cupramine can be very hard on puffers. After about 5 days, all was well. They continued to eat and be feisty, so I replaced the carbon and let them continue their time in the QT medication free.
About 4 days ago, I woke up to find my porcupine puffer COMPLETELY coated in crypt. Body, eyes, fins, it's everywhere. Literally overnight. The clown isn't showing spots, he looks more... fuzzy I suppose, for lack of a better
word. I immediately started dosing the quinine again, 1/8 teaspoon per 10 gallons after 25 percent water change daily, and my puffer seems to be going down hard. Yesterday he stopped eating. I freshwater dipped him (he didn't puff at all) with a little QuickCure additive, and he still refused to eat.
<This could likely be from the med. exposure, handling>
This morning, he was wrapped around a filter intake (not stuck to it, just laying around it) and his eyes are appearing cloudy. He is barely moving, breathing rapidly and definitely not showing any interest in food.
<I'd remove the quinine; and actually treat w/ (chelated) copper... the fish may well not feed for the duration, but this will not be problematical>
In a panic that perhaps I had overdosed the quinine, I did a 40% water change with no medication, put in Polyfilter and carbon, and freshwater dipped the poor little guy with just water and buffer, no QC.
I have never seen crypt come on like this and ravage little bodies so fast, and I am starting to wonder if this could be Amyloodinium.
<Rapid breathing? Do you have a 'scope of a few hundred power magnification?>
If it is, is it best to begin Cupramine?
<Yes; this is what I'd do>
Should I continue to dip the puffer?
<Only if being moved in turn to a non-infested setting>
The clown is eating and "playing", nibbling on my fingers, seemingly unaffected by his white fuzz. I have no experience with Oodinium,
<See WWM re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/amylloodiniumart.htm
and the linked files above>
 and I have NO idea how to treat at this point.
Thank you again for your advice,
<Hang in there. Bob Fenner>
Porcupine Puffer Problem Addtl.   6/21/12
Oh, I suppose it would be helpful if I mentioned:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
PH: 8.2
Nitrate: 30~
<I'd keep this under 20 ppm>
Temp: Stable at 81 degrees F
<And this in the mid 70s>
- in quarantine tank.
Thanks again,
<Welcome. BobF>
Porcupine Puffer Problem Addtl.
Perfect, will do.
Porcupine Puffer Problem Photos   6/21/12
Hi, Crew,
I have attached some photos of the puffer in question to help illustrate the problem.
<Markings could be from exposure to med.s... w/o sampling and microscopic exam... B>
After 2 days of not eating, he moved around a little this morning and ate a half of a clam strip. He has not had any treatment since I removed the quinine and did the water change yesterday morning. Any thoughts as to what this could be or how I can treat it?

Re: Porcupine Puffer Problem 6/21/12
Thanks, Bob, I appreciate the info!
Do you recommend Cupramine or Pointex at this point to treat?
<Both copper based... the former is my choice. B>
I sent you a couple of photos this morning so you can see what I'm seeing, let me know what you think of those.
Re: Porcupine Puffer Problem
Great, thank you, I so appreciate all your time. I will start the Cupramine today. Or, do you think I should let him ride a day or two to get over the quinine?

Re: Porcupine Puffer Problem - Follow Up    7/2/12
Good afternoon Mr. Fenner,
I am writing to follow up on this porcupine puffer I have been diligently treating in quarantine since our last discussion.
I started dosing Cupramine as directed on June 20. After the dose, wait 48 hours, dose again scene, the little guy cleared up pretty dramatically. I have left the copper concentration in the tank, no major water changes other than those to de-silt some food mess from the bottom, less than 1/2 gallon. After 10 days, my little buddy began taking food from my hands again (he has been eyeing me warily since the dip I gave him on the 19th...) and seemed quite well. Yesterday evening, as I was feeding him, I was looking over his fins to see ACK!!!! NEW white spots!! How is this happening?
<These white spots may well not be the same, not parasitic... Just accumulated body mucus from the copper exposure... perhaps HLLE/neuromast destruction/stress (symmetrical) from the same...>
 Temperature had been brought down to 77.8 degrees after we last talked, water parameters are still stable, and after now 12 days of Cupramine in his tank, he is breaking out again?
<Possible, but doubtful. The only way to be sure: microscopic
examination... See WWM re>
Technically if there is nothing to pull out the copper, the concentration should remain stable, correct?
<Mmm, no, not. Copper in any format will "fall out of solution" in time... hence the need for testing, reapplication>

Should I just do a large water change and re-dose for the amount of water removed, starting the 12 day cycle over again?
<One approach; but I would just do the water change (sans Cu++) and wait>
I am at a loss. The white spots do not seem to be very bad at this point, but they are all over all his fins and some on his body. He also turbo-puffed himself with no stimulus whatsoever this morning, as I was seeing my husband out the door. I looked over to the tank and there he was - stretched tight like a prickly little basketball... When I approached his tank, he deflated, looked at me, and swam away.
I cannot, for the life of me, understand what it is that is happening in this quarantine tank.
Thank you for your advice,
P.S. The clownfish cleared right up and is showing no signs of recurrence currently.
<Again, more "fuel to the fire", I'd wait and observe. BobF> 
Re: Porcupine Puffer Problem - Follow Up    7/2/12

Thank you for the speedy response! Excellent, I will do the water change and not add copper. Do you suggest replacing carbon and adding some poly filter to clean up? Do you feel a 35-40% change is appropriate?
<Yes; these actions are all worthwhile. B>

Re: porcupine puffer-something is going wrong...    5/19/12
in the two first pictures i think that you can clearly notice that his right side is bigger than his left one.
in the last two pictures though his two sides look even.
what makes me think that it might not be a tumor is the fact that both of his sides are kinda swollen in comparison to other porc. puffers.
but still the right side is a bit more swollen than his left one...
<...? Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BurrfishDisF4.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine puffer-something is going wrong - 05/11/2012
Hello! I have a porcupine puffer, Porky Law, for the last 8 months and I feed him mussels and pellets
WWM: I'd expand this diet... and due to grammar errors in your msg. and that you obviously have not searched WWM ahead of writing, am sending this note back to you... for you to fix your English and read
. I used to have a black belly triggerfish
WWM: Not compatible
as well, but it starved itself to death(two months ago) and now pork doesn't have tank mates .Porky is 8cm
WWM: Too small
(I'm SO sorry but I cant remember how big the aquarium is, I know its an essential information, but I can assure you that its big enough for him) .he had Ich 6 months ago, but I treated him with a copper based medicine-yes, I know that I shouldn't but the pet store guy told me so and I didn't do my research, my fault. Thankfully the copper didn't have any side effects on him and he got well really soon-.The thing is that lately he has been inflating frequently, almost every week, without having an obvious reason. He's a fish that hardly ever gets stressed and he used to inflate once in two months...he has a scratch near his eye but I'm pretty sure that its not from an external parasite because its healing quickly and he doesn't have more than this one. Other than that he seems extremely healthy. However I've noticed a bump at his right side that is getting bigger and bigger but it still isn't easily noticeable. I'm worried that he has something more serious than just air trapped inside him(I haven't burped him yet because I'm afraid that whatever that is that he has, ill make it worse and I'm really afraid of hurting him by accident)..Moreover, his appetite has gotten REALLY huge and whenever I'm about to feed him he gets more crazy than usual. Last but not least, I've noticed that when he gets excited, small pieces of food come out from his gills. I haven't noticed anything else abnormal, the nitrates are a bit high-but not too high-and I'm working on that, I'm also trying to enhance his meals as much as possible. I hope you can help me with that, because I've read a lot of things online about diseases and stuff and I can't seem to find anything similar to this. I know that something is going wrong and I don't want him to die :( Thank you for your time M.
WWM: Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/BurrfishDisF4.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner

Re: porcupine puffer-something is going wrong' – 05/12/12
> I'm sorry for my grammar mistakes but I'm from Greece, so i have yet to perfect my English...
<<Ahh! No worries. Your English is MUCH better than my Greek>>
I've read every single answered question at the diseases section, and i could not find anything similar to what I'm trying to describe you. what I'm trying to say is that porky doesn't have air trapped inside him, but a swollen area, without discoloration, at his right side between his tail and his gills.
<Mmmm, I wonder what from?>
the area is not pink, nor of any other colour so i suspect that it might be a tumor because it has been growing slowly for months.
<Likely some sort of growth, as you surmise/guess>
i guess that in the case that its a tumor i cant really do anything but is there a chance that it might be something else?
<Not likely; no>
as i said in the previous message, he is eating normally, his behaviour hasn't changed and he is swimming normally  but he has been puffing up frequently. the pet store guy doesn't know a thing about fish-he gave me an incompatible tankmate as you said, he gave me copper as Ich treatment and he assured me that my puffer would be extremely healthy if fed pellets for the rest of his life-so i cant really trust him with that.
I'm really sorry for bothering you and i would really appreciate it if you could answer(again)to my question
<Best to try treating from "the inside out" by adding food supplements to this fish's food. I would soak all that you find useful here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
in a preparation (commercial or put together by shopping at your human apothecary/φαρμακοποιός ) in the way of a concentrated vitamin mix (liquid) and HUFA blend. Do write back if this isn't clear, complete. Bob Fenner>
Re: porcupine puffer-something is going wrong'
– 05/12/12

i hope this picture might help-i promise that the last time I'm bothering you-
<Not a bother... and please send along a bigger, more-resolved image or two when you can. BobF>

Puffer air bubble?     4/23/12
Hi, Based on scouring your FAQs on puffers, I think my puffer fish (who I've had for six years now) has an air bubble.
<Mmm, much more wrong here... the "crew cut tang" as well show signs of poor environmental stress and mal-nutrition>

I'm not sure though since most of the FAQs suggest that a puffer can't survive very long with an air bubble, and mine has endured this problem for about 3-4 months now. My puffer has trouble swimming upright, and often sits on the ground upside down now.  I've tried gently rubbing his belly but he always puffs immediately. Based on looking at the attached pics, what do you think?  Is it an air bubble?  Any remedies you would recommend?
Thanks, Ethan from Massachusetts
<... re-read re Burrfish and Zebrasoma diseases... these fishes are doomed otherwise. Bob Fenner>

porcupine puffer, env., fdg./rdg.       3/14/12
I have a porcupine puffer for about year now.  We recently went on a trip for three days and two nights.  While gone we had some complications with our nitrate levels

 because of the care givers.  The fish tank light was on for the whole time and we run a t8 six bulbs.  We have lost four of our fish

 and the puffer is not eating any food.  This has never been a problem for him before we feed him shrimp nightly. 
<Very poor...>

The puffer is now running into the side of glass, puffing up when turn the lights on or off, swims in circles, and drags his tail or mouth on the gravel.  Do you have any suggestions on what this could be and how to treat him.
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Yellow Spined Porcupine Puffer 2/3/12
Hey crew, here's a link to a picture taken today of my porcupine puffer. I've had him for about 15 months and he's 6+ inches from tip to tip. I started noticing his fins and spines going yellow about 6 months ago. It's only steadily gotten worse(?)
<Worse in what way? The colour? Not a problem>
since then. There have been no changes in behavior or appetite.
I've tried every search for yellow fins/spines and jaundice in puffers, but to no avail. His diet consists primarily of Nori (a suspect in all of this), but with squid, shrimp, or oyster soaked in garlic extract and Selcon at least once a week.
If it's relevant, he's in a 135 mixed reef tank with a pair of Clowns, a trio of Yellow Tail Damsels, and a Niger Trigger.
<Tough neighborhood>

What are your thoughts? I really like the color, but don't like it being unique.
<Is fine... genetic and nutritionally related. I'd switch the last a bit.
Read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>


Burrfish, bitten? 5/31/11
Hey guys! First time asking a question about the millionth time on your site! I have a emergency... Well I think.. First tank details 125 gallon fish only tank 175 P live rock, HOB CPR refugium, AquaC remora protein skimmer, Aquatic life 4 lamp T5s. Livestock 6 inch Porcupine Puffer I have had for about a year, 2 foot gold spot moray eel in take 3 years, and 2 small damsels in tank 3 years. parameters all normal. tank has been going for about 4 years. I noticed today my puffer was resting in middle of day very unusual. I went to take closer inspection I noticed what looked like to be tears in his skin behind his left fin. 3 or 4 small maybe half inch or smaller tears. Also there seams to be around 10 of his spines that have protruded threw skin. This morning when I awoke I looked for puffer but I could not see him. I looked in rock work, he had gotten deep inside small crevice in rocks. I have never seen him down in the rock work like this. I
am thinking he may have torn skin while in rock work? Any help would be greatly appreciated I really love this little guy and don't want anything to happen to him. I can send pictures if needed.
<Do please send along the pix... I suspect the Moray... Bob Fenner>

Sick Porcupine Burrfish 5/5/11
We have an ill porcupine Burrfish and I'm looking for advice. I'll describe the symptoms, then the tank, and lastly what we've been trying thus far to treat him. I am concerned that this may be an instance where there is simply nothing more we can do, but wish to ask for ideas.
The fish in question is a porcupine puffer that we've had for about 7-8 months. He's around 7 inches in length, continues to eat voraciously, and (when offered food) will still come to the top of the tank to enable easy capture, treatment, or transfer. About 5 days ago we noticed a grayish to purple area behind one eye.
<Mmmm, have seen this before. Put these words in the search tool on WWM and the word puffer, read the cached views>
If anything, it looked as though perhaps he'd gotten a spine injured and the discoloration had spread from that area. The area has slowly been spreading and now covers ~ 10-15% of his total surface, including the area around one eye (which has become cloudy). The effected area also appears slightly swollen relative to the rest of him. The color looks exactly like the photo at the top of the Burrfish disease FAQ. The response in that entry mentions vitamin supplementation as a course of action. While we'll certainly give it a try, this particular fish eats quite a varied diet already and I at least wouldn't expect him to be overly deficient of anything. In addition to the normal puffer fare, this guy has long been willing to greedily consume tablets, pellets, and even algae sheets and mashed veggies. The food he gets varies from day to day and regularly includes the "vitamin fortified" variety. His behavior suggests he is not feeling well, but he is still curious about food and will come out to eat.
He is kept in a 210G tank with a large amount of live rock (and even a few leather corals propagated from our reef tank). He is housed with a huma-huma and niger trigger, a pair of maroon clowns, 2 fox face rabbits, a sohal tang, a majestic angle, yellow bar wrasse and a blue tang. The tank has ~ 100G of additional filtration from a very large conventional sump, a 30G refugium, and a 30G deep sand bed. There's a large red-sea skimmer, 2 UV filters rated for 120G tanks, and large primary pump, coupled with several power heads (forgive me for not getting the exact models) . The tank itself is around 11 months old, though much of the rock, sand, and occupants came from a 90G that was a year older). The most recent addition is the adult blue tang which was re-homed from another person. The blue tang developed Ich shortly after the transfer, but has fully recovered and no one else seems to have contracted anything (adult, came from an established home of several years, spent 10 days in QT, then went in main tank where he developed white spots, those came and went after a few cycles). Otherwise things have been relatively unchanged for several months prior. Tank parameters are as follows:
Ammonia : 0
Nitrite : 0
Nitrate ~ 20 (historically it varies from less than 20 up to 30-35 depending upon how on top of water changes we are)
SG : 1.022

Temp : 78-80F (it's spring finally and the temperature of our house changes a bit the past few weeks)
ph : ~ 8.2 to 8.3
kH : ~ 200ppm
Our treatment thus far has been daily water changes of 10-20%, food spiked with Metra+, and a dip in BiFuran+ once every couple days. For water changes we have about half the volume pre-mixed, but the rest is only mixed for 15-30 minutes before being used. The metranitozal in the food has been an old "stand by" for a few years now for a wide variety of fish ailments Our puffer thankfully is still eating and comes to the top of the tank to beg (thus enabling easy capture for dips). The Bifuran dips are usually done with ~ 2G of freshwater in a bucket, mixed with the medication, and he spends about 2 minutes in the bucket before going back in the main tank.
Thus far we've seen no improvement. The discoloration continues to spread slowly and his behavior clearly shows him to be not feeling well.
In the past I've not had much luck with a QT in terms of treatment, only as a preventative measure to stop further infections. In this case I'm concerned that confining him to one would be too much stress. As it is, we are able to capture him as needed for treatments and no other fish seem to have an issue at all (particularly as it appears to have started from wound).
So, are there other medications that might be effective or should we continue with our current strategy?
<I would continue as you're doing... though I don't know what the root cause is here, nor obviously its cure>
It doesn't seem like something the blue tang brought with him, but I could be mistaken. I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have. I realize sometimes despite our best efforts there's nothing we can do (or that we do too much).
thank you,
<Maybe someone else who reads our words will chime in w/ suggestions. I do hope so. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Porcupine Burrfish 5/9/11

I appreciate your response and wanted to follow up.
<Thank you>
We unfortunately lost our puffer and understandably quite sad. He was a favorite fish. However, in the hopes that something can be learned from our experience I'll try to give you a good report. The original message and your response are attached below.
We continued the Bifuran freshwater dips and Metra soaked food during the course of the illness with no apparent effect. The last couple of days we performed the medication dips with 50:50 ratio of tank water and freshwater to reduce the stress to some extent. The water changes have left the nitrate ~ 10 with the other water parameters unchanged. Full course from the first noticeable symptom was 7 days. None of the other fish in the tank show any signs of illness's
As best as I can tell from examination it seemed to start from a wound at the base of a spine which then probably became infected and spread. Areas that were unaffected appeared normal, while those over which the infection had spread appear dull gray with a slight purple tint. Just at the boundary of the effected area there appeared to be a slightly whitish line. As the boundary advanced, the whitish line also advanced. As it crossed an eye, the eye became cloudy for a few days, then becoming completely white and opaque. The affected areas (dead tissue by this point?) were slightly swollen relative to the rest of his body, raised perhaps 1-2mm His behavior continued to be quite reasonable through the last day. While obviously not feeling well and being a bit disoriented, he continued to come out to feed, coming all the way to the top of the tank (thus permitting relative ease of capture for dips). As an aside, if you can teach a fish to come all the way to the top of the tank and into a corner to feed, then it really does become quite straight forward to get something even as big as a puffer into a small container to be removed from the tank for treatment.
Given a repetition of the same situation perhaps medications other than Bifuran and/or Metra should be tried. That said, I have no idea how many different things could produce the same symptoms and what treatments those might respond to.
<Ahh, me neither>
Perhaps the best advice is to try to keep the water quality as high as possible so that when a wound does occur, there is perhaps a smaller chance of an infection developing (or the fish is perhaps slightly better able to fight off such an infection). Nitrate in that tank has typically varied between 20-30, which while extremely high for corals, has not been, in my experience, terrible for robust fish that otherwise are healthy. However, perhaps a better range for such a tank would be around 10 (well, less is better, but difficult to maintain with large adult fish).
I expect we will try another puffer in the future. He had such personality. I'm expecting to wait 3-4 weeks before attempting to add a new one.
best wishes,
<And you. Bob Fenner>

Spiny Burr skin advice 1/21/11
Hello crew.
Thanks for taking the time to answer questions and provide a fantastic (free) service. It is well received.
<Ahh, well met>
I will start will my tank stats.
5"x2"x2" tank with a 3"x18"x18" sump.
80 Kilo of Live rock.
Current livestock.
Spiny Burrfish (Chilomycterus schoepfi)
Magnificent Foxface (Siganus magnificus)
Flame Angel (Centropyge loricula)
Fu Manchu Lionfish (Dendrochirus biocellatus)

The Burrfish was my latest and final addition. It had been QT for four weeks and then introduced to the main tank after not showing any signs of illness. In QT it was eating Prawn, Squid, Whole Cockle, Mussel, Dillies and Mysis Shrimp, Which it continues to eat now (stick fed) in the main tank.
<Do minimize the shellfish component here... issues over time>

He doesn't really move around a lot, but also doesn't shy away and hide.
Just seems to hover at one side 3/4 of the way up. He isn't rubbing against the rocks and I have not witnessed any aggression from, or to him. He has however, become covered in white spots which "flake" away which looks like loose skin (please see attached photos. Sorry about quality).
<I see this irritation>
I have searched your site and learnt that they can shed skin and this may be the case although it has been like this for two weeks and I'm not sure what to do. Any advice would be gratefully received.
Thanks for taking the time to read/answer this.
<If, as this is the only fish thus malaffected, I would "do nothing" here... will very likely clear up in time. Likely some aspect of water quality is irritating this fish... almost always corrects over time. Bob Fenner>

Re: Spiny Burr skin advice, and now comp. 1/21/11
Thank you for the response which had made me feel easier about the health of my fish and hopefully help others who may find themselves in a similar situation.
<Welcome, and thanks>
In regards to the shellfish, I am offering this once weekly.
<Ahh, this is fine>
I stated in the previous email that the Burrfish was "my latest and final addition" but after a visit to my LFS I saw a Niger Trigger and a Dogface Puffer, which got my brain ticking. I have looked over the compatibility pages within your site and both fish appear to be compatible with my current residents, given appropriate space.
Do you think adding one of the said fish could work?
<The Dogface more likely than the Odonus>
or would space be an issue due to the forthcoming adult size my fish will reach?
<More likely temperament rather>
I also would not be adding to the tank until the Burrfish was back to full health.
Thanks again for your time.
<IF you get the Niger, do add it last. Bob Fenner>
Re: Spiny Burr skin advice 1/23/11

Thanks again Bob. You certainly know your stuff, I am pleased to report the Burrfish has improved dramatically with it's skin now almost fully healed, but I will give it a few week to keep an eye on it before I look for a suitable Dogface specimen. Hopefully I wont be bothering you again in the near future.
In your debt
<Glad to have helped you. BobF>

Puffer Emergency 1/4/11
I have a puffer emergency!
My puffer has been refusing food the last few days.

<Mmm, happens...>
Today he was acting rather lethargic, so I removed him from the main tank (a 72 gallon he shares with a clown) and placed him in a small quarantine tank in case I had to administer meds or force feed him.
<Mmm, I would not do either at this point>

His clown friend is absolutely fine - swimming about in her normal caddywompous manor.
<Manner likely or this is a VERY nice system>
This evening, when trying to feed him, he became agitated and he puffed.
After he returned to normal size, it was apparent that his skin actually tore across his belly and is literally hanging off of him.

You can see a thin layer of either thin skin or fascia along his belly, and his skin is hanging off of his body (spines and all.) He doesn't seem to be in any more distress than he was before, but I immediately put Furan (the only meds I had on hand) into his water to prevent infection in the gaping hole that will likely kill him by morning.
<Not likely to kill this fish... but I would place it back in the main display>
I have no idea what to do for him to at least keep him comfortable. I have never in my life heard of a puffer blowing a hole in himself by puffing. I feel absolutely awful. . .
Thank you for your help!
<And do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>
Puffer Emergency 1/4/11
I just realized I didn't even tell you what kind of puffer he is! I'm so beside myself over here, I'm not making much sense. He's a porcupine puffer, about 5 inches in length (still a little guy).
<Ahh, you did mention spines... figured it was a Burrfish of some sort. BobF>
Puffer Popped 1/4/11
My friend has a puffer fish, and tonight it got nervous and, well, puffed.
<Is his name (not the puffer) Aron? I've just responded to him>
It actually tore a hole in itself when it expanded. It is still alive and she was wondering if there is anything that can be done. I have searched everywhere on the internet and can find nothing on this topic. Have you
ever heard of this before and if so how common is it?
<Not common, but not unheard of. Part of the reason that folks who know, try to dissuade people from doing what they do that results in these fishes "puffing up". I've asked Aron to return this fish to the main display, where it will be happier by far, and to be patient, read... Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer Emergency 1/5/11
Thank you for your reply Bob! My little guy passed away last night.
In a twist of terrible coincidence, I also lost a yellow wrasse last night in a completely separate system. He was in the reef tank, also with a clown, and he dropped dead.. He was old though, but terrible timing. Maybe my clowns are just full of murderous rage and are killing off their tank mates! :-/
<I do hope/trust not>
Someone from thepufferforum.com suggested skin cancer - poor little guy.
Thanks for the reply!
<Welcome my friend. BobF>

Porcupine Puffer black belly -- 12/08/10
Good Evening Crew,
Thank you all for your hard work and expert advice, and I apologize in advance for the long read.
I have searched all over the web for the past two days, but I have not been able to get a lot of information. I have a 4inch porcupine puffer in a 100 gallon FOWLR tank. He is currently in there alone. A week ago he had a false percula clownfish with him, but I noticed that the clown was a bit too small (about an inch) and without risking the clown turning into a snack, I decided to return him. The porcupine puffer was quarantined in a 10 gallon hospital tank for about 3 weeks, as I treated him for Ich.
<With what medication, treatment?>

He has been in the main tank for about 2 weeks now.
All water parameters are fine, salinity 1.023, ph is 8.0.
In the beginning he was fine, showing no signs of stress. The past 3-4 I noticed his belly was getting darker (as the article on your website by Justin Petrey states, a white belly is a happy belly, as a result of this I made it a habit of mine to check his belly every time I saw him). His belly went from all white to practically all black. His belly doesn't have any "spots" but rather, is a full grayish-black . The only white part of his belly is the spines, as they are white and I don't think they change color.
Is this simply a form of stress? from what?
<Likely so and from the treatment, quarantine... and possibly "loneliness" in the 100>
is it possible he still feels cramped in the 100 gallon, due to the formations of live rock in there? (as in if the rocks are too cramped together, I have 140 pounds of live rock in there).
<Not likely, no>
The tank is 6 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 3 feet high.
<Mmm, this is more than 100 gallons>
Maybe the tank isn't wide enough and he's feeling claustrophobic? Just mentioning this because other people have mentioned that simply changing the decor inside the tank has sometimes perked up their porcs.
In the beginning he was swimming everywhere, checking out the whole tank, but as soon as his belly started turning black, he seems to only stay on the left side of the tank. He comes to the top when I feed him, which is mainly shrimps.
<Do see WWM re these animals proper nutrition... and the need to avoid Thiaminase-loaded foods as sole feeds>

He does eat muscles, and clams, but that seems to depend on mood. Sometimes he'll happily eat whatever I feed him (I try to vary his diet), but most of the time he won't accept anything other than shrimp.
<Needs to be trained off these, onto other foods>
He is still eating, but lately right after eating, he seems to start breathing quite heavily, and tends to just settle on the substrate, tucking his fins in, almost "curled up". Could this be internal parasites?
<Is a possibility, yes>
Also, before adding him into the quarantine tank, I did a fresh water dip, Half-way through his treatment I did a freshwater dip, and before adding him to the main tank, I did a fresh water dip. If there were any
worms/flukes on him, they should have died from the freshwater dips right?
<Mmm, no... external ones perhaps, but internal, not. You may want to administer an antihelminthic in its food... Prazi likely>
It feels like he is getting worse and worse each day, and I'm not even quite sure what the problem is.
Thanks for your time, and your input.
<Do give the above items a read, and please re-contact us if you have further questions/concerns. Bob Fenner>

Puffer Disaster 10/8/10
I have a porcupine puffer that is in seriously bad condition. I recently bought an 80 gallon tank to move him into, but while I was away this week the tank he was in (which was too small for his size) turned to poison.
The filter quit working properly, not sure why, but water quality was horrible. I had to call in the guys from the local store to come move him

into the large tank to try and save him. This was 3 days ago. He has turned very dark and hanging on the bottom, breathing is labored and his right eye keeps rolling back into his head in convulsions. He seemed to be hanging on but now he is staying the same. I know he is dying, but I'm not sure if / when to euthanize him.
<I would hold off here... Tetraodontiform fishes of all kinds are very tough; this fish could rally>
Or even how to do it for that matter.
<... posted... on WWM>
I do not want him to suffer but is there any chance that he will recover?
He is about 8 inches long and we have had him for 4 years. I was planning his move upon my return...we are absolutely gutted.
The local guy suggested today that I put some antibiotics in the tank for him.
<Mmm, I wouldn't do this either... depending on the type used, might well do more harm than good... interrupt nitrification...>
As I write this I am assuming that he is still alive at home....
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...
Thank you
<Where, when in doubt, read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FishInd3.htm
scroll down... the puffer area, towards the bottom. Keep the faith! Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer Disaster 10/8/10
<Some Body>
Thank you for the encouragement. Last night the water quality in the Elos (80 gallon) had an Ammonia level of .25 with the pH down a notch. I performed a 20 gallon change, added a bottle of bio-Spira to help.
I also took off the canister for the skimmer
and added the Artemiss. But this morning the readings were the same. I performed the 20 gallon change again, put the skimmer back together, still found the ammonia had no change so performed another 20 gallon change for good measure. I have opted to keep the skimmer running and skip the antibiotics in favor of good solid water quality.
<Also good>
The puffer has moved some, but still lies at the bottom contorted to his right side, some white on the base of his tail and tip of tail fin has begun to shred some. He is fighting so I am giving him all I can....
<Patience is indeed a virtue. BobF>

Porcupine Puffer question, hlth. 9/27/2010
Dear WWM team,
I have posted here in the past and the advice I was given saved my fish. J I have been volunteering at my LFS
<Ah, outstanding>
and we recently acquired a porcupine puffer (our second one; the first did well and we sold him to a happy home). We placed him in one of our tanks a week ago and over the past 24-48 hours, he has moved to the bottom of the tank (actually, in a pile of rocks) and his once bright eyes are now clouded over (white) and you can just make out his pupils through the haze. I feel bad because we have tried removing all of the other fish from his tank so we can be certain nothing is bothering him, we always add "Garlic Guard" and "Marine C" to our tanks at feeding (twice per day) and have even gone out and purchased the puffer special food (Muscles and Squid). I have not noticed him eating anything in the past 24 hours and nothing seems to be helping his declining condition.
Should we move him to quarantine or will this add too much stress?
<I'd likely dip/bath this fish... pH-adjusted freshwater, w/ Formalin, per the protocol, info. on WWM and move to a different system... Nuke the existing (likely is infested), drain, rinse, and refill>
If we do move him, what should we do for him? All of the other fish in the store are healthy.
Thank you for your advice!
<Do the folks there have a microscope? I'd "do" a skin scraping and take a look first of all... Time IS of the essence. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer with breathing problems... Poor env., nutr... reading 5/23/10
Hi, I have a porcupine puffer, he's been with us for around a year, he lives alone in a 35 gallon tank.
<Too small a volume...>
He usually has seems to be fine, swimming around all day. We feed him with little fishes like mollies or similar.
<... insufficient nutritionally>
A couple of weeks ago, he started to get slow at catching his food and since a couple of days ago he's just lying in the bottom of the tank and it seems he has trouble breathing. When he finally catches his food, it took him some
time to swallow it, when normally it didn't.
All water parameters are perfect: ammonia 0, KH 12, PH 8, nitrite 0.
Also, his stomach appears to be sunken.
What can we have?
<A need to read: http://wetwebmedia.com/trupufsysfaqs.htm
and the linked files above on Feeding, Disease/Health... Bob Fenner>
Thanks in advance for your help!
Re: Porcupine Puffer with breathing problems - 5/23/10

Bob, thanks for your advice. To start we are tried to feed him with something from the sea, the problem is that he usually doesn't eats anything that is already dead, he likes to catch his food.
<... can be trained to accept most any foods>
We put a shrimp into a raw spaghetti and moved it into the water but he didn't buy it and didn't eat it... I have been reading and I think that we need to force feed him, but how can we do that?
<See WWM... the search tool... linked on all left shared borders with this question, read the cached views>
Is it safe for us to touch him? What if he gets puffed?
<I would try other foods first... these fishes can go for several weeks w/o feeding if in good shape initially... Again, keep reading. BobF>
We are very worried cause he's looking bad...
Re: Porcupine Puffer with breathing problems - 5/23/10

Bob, thanks for your comments and references to the website, it has been very useful. We force fed the fish and he's looking a lot better.
<Ah, good. Bueno>
We are planning to do this at least for this week, while he gets better and then start training him to eat dead food, we don't want to let him starve when he looks so weak.
Your website is wonderful, I haven't seen it before this weekend and I have learned a lot this last couple of days reading everything. Thank you so much for helping all of us with all your knowledge!
Greetings from Costa Rica to you and your colleagues at WWM!
<Ahh! Have been there... the capital, and up and down the Pacific coast... once to Limon... have friends living in the Guanacaste region>
<Nos vemos, BobF>

Dark growing spot on porcupine puffer!! 5/19/10
I spent HOURS reading through your site today and could not find anything about this, I do apologize if you have addressed this elsewhere but I could not find anything.
<Let's see...>
Yesterday I purchased a porcupine puffer from a local pet store. I have had my tank set up and ready for him for several months now. I have my water tested several time by a few different fish stores and informed them that I was planning to purchase a porcupine puffer and they all said that my water looked perfect for one ( I'm sorry I do not know exactly what the reading were)
<You'd do well to start, keep an archive/journal of your experiences here>
I finally found a store that had a few porcupine puffers (none of which were very active) and one of the workers at the store went around and tried to get them to move around by putting some brine Mysis in their tanks, but they still had no response. I figured maybe they were just stressed but he said they had been in for about a week. Finally one of them started moving around and was interacting and even playing with some thing he had found on bottom of tank. I noticed a small black spot on his back, and this was my only concern about getting him since I have never seen any coloring or markings like that on one before. I asked the employee about it and he said it was just a unique mark that he had. I took him home with no problems,(water was tested again this day before purchasing him) he actually seemed much happier and active the moment he was taken out of the tank at store. Got him home and acclimated him in a bucket with air stone for 2 hours and when he finally got in my tank he seemed happy as can be and quickly spent hours investigating everything, he bit the thermometer and filter and nipped at the hermit crabs we bought for him. He seemed very active. This morning he was the same way, I tried to feed him some of the Mysis shrimp <Mmm, unless this fish is very small, it will not take such small foods... see WWM re foods/feeding of Burrfishes>
I had bought for him and he seemed somewhat entertained by it as he was watching it go all over tank, but he wasn't very interested in eating it.
The couple pieces he did eat he spit right back out. I thought maybe it was too soon and was also told that by fish store. I was gone for a good amount of the day and when I returned home he seemed a little less active but I thought possibly because his light is not on during the day. Then I noticed a little later that he has his face up against the filter intake area, he wasn't stuck, was just hanging out there, and again later he had to top of his head/back pressed against it. Then he started hanging out around the top of the water and not moving around to much except once on a while when he would do a real quick sprint type of movement. I thought he was being a little weird and turned his light on to see him better and noticed that the little dark spot on his back was now covering the majority
of his back!! He is just hanging out around the top of water and once saw him kind of curled around the filter, between filter and back glass of tank, his tailed has curled around his side and his fins not moving. I'm VERY worried and am afraid that he is not going to make it to the morning!!
Please help!! any advice would be greatly appreciated!!
<Well... I would at least call, contact the store where you bought this fish re your concern... Inquire as to their replacement, return policy. It reads that this fish may have been damaged in collection, handling... and the dark spot/bruise showing more now... There is nothing specifically to do to "treat" such traumas, other than good care, time going by. Bob Fenner>
FW: Dark growing spot on porcupine puffer!! please help!!

He made it through the night but it has spread even more!!
<... insert: "Porcupine injury" here:
read the cached views... BobF>
FW: puffer

there are two pictures you will notice that he looks alot
<... no such word>
healthier with normal coloring and in one of those you can kind of see the spot as it was when it first started. Those 2 were taken Monday night. I have noticed last night and just now that he seems to act much worse when
the light is on, if that helps at all. please let me know asap, I don't think he has long! :(
<You should siphon out the decomposing Mysis/food... B>

Re: puffer... no reading... 5/19/10
After speaking to the fish store that I normally go to for everything, except the fish because they were having a hard time getting porcupine puffers, he knew right away what it was. He said it is a type of bacterial infection that is actually quite common among puffers.
It usually spreads fast and kills them within 3-4 days if not treated. It does not spread to other fish, just seems to attack the puffers. He has me using Furan-2 anti-bacterial medicine.
<... not in your main tank I hope/trust>
It is not looking good right now since it has spread so far, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed and I will not give up on him.
<... take the time to search... at least WWM, before writing us. This treatment is an exceedingly poor idea... Will likely result in a cessation of nitrification, discoloration of your substrate... loss of life. B>

Re: puffer, hlth. 5/19/10
He is in a 10gal hospital tank...
<... too small>
and I did do research!! I was up ALL night trying to find out ANYTHING about it and I felt that I had looked in all areas and in all ways that I could on your site. Maybe it is in big words that I don't understand like the ones you used in your last response to me, I have no idea what that means...
<Please, don't write... instead, read... Re Nitrofuranace and biological filtration... in particular nitrification... Furan compounds kill necessary bacteria.... BobF>

Porcupine Puffer, hlth., nutritionally mediated 5/18/10
I have a porcupine puffer, just about a year old, with one swollen, cloudy eye. He can't see well, he won't eat much, but he's not lethargic; would this still account for cloudy eye?
<Could very likely be involved>
The causation of this "condition," whatever it might be, is most likely attributed to his diet (he will eat NOTHING but shrimp, not even ghost shrimp, pellets, flakes, NOTHING).
<This also is a/the factor... you can/need to starve, wean this fish onto a better diet... or else it will surely perish>
The water quality is excellent and always has been- we've had a Niger Trigger and a Blue Tang for almost 20 years now; also, it's my Dad's fish tank and I don't know the specifics, to be honest.
Extra info:
Tank size: >120 g.
Ave temp: 78F
Other fish: 2 dominos, 2 damsels, 1 yellow tang, 1 blue tang, 1 niger trigger, 1 coral beauty (which I JUST discovered has a swollen eye- pop eye?), 1 rock beauty, a snail, and a butterfly something or other; all but the coral beauty is perfectly fine.
I don't know if I should force feed him vitamins or antibiotics. Please help!
<Please read, and have your father read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer Pop Eye? 08/02/10
I frantically need help!!! My fish have had Ich for about 2 weeks. They were in a 30 gallon tank, but are now in 2 10 gallon tanks. I have already lost one Blue Jaw Female Trigger, Dragon goby and my other Male Blue Jaw
trigger is right behind them. He prob wont make the night. I have done everything I can think of. I was treating with Kich-Ich,
<A waste of time... had you read...>
but now I'm treating with Rid Ich.
<Are you joking and/or just trying to waste our time? Please! In matters as dire as this, READ... don't wait for asking questions! Rid-Ich is too toxic for treating Puffers... See WWM (try the search tool) re these products, Cryptocaryon and Diodontids...>
Kick-Ich wasn't working. But now I fear my Porcupine Puffer has pop eye.
<Induced by the treatment, doubtless>
There was a large particle of Ich on her eye 2 days ago, but now it has taken over here eye and its very clouded. It also now looks like the skin is peeling off the center of her eye. I'm suppose to dose the second treatment of Rid Ich tonight. I heard that it also works on infections.
<... the formalin is a biocide. It can/does kill all life>
But is this actually Popeye or just her eye trying to heal itself? Please I need your help. I love the hobby, but if I loose
all my fish, I don't want to get back into it. I attached a photo of the puffer.
Thanks so much for all of your amazing Wet Web Media staff. I really appreciate the help.
<... Then use the site... as tens of thousands do every day. BobF, bummed for the life in your care>

Re: Porcupine Puffer Pop Eye? 2/10/10
I have tried to read your site and its not always easy trying to find what your looking for on your site.
<How would you improve, remedy this?>
This is why I asked.
<But w/o looking first...>
I know you are experts and that is why I always come to your site first.
But when I ask for help I don't want to be treated like I'm wasting your time.
I was still trying to check your site for the answers last night before I got your response, and I'm still lost.
Thanks so much for the help
<Lost re what? Please start reading here:
Do you see/get the types of data/information we're looking for to help folks? Systems, history, water quality tests, foods/feeding...?

Puffer stopped eating, env., nutr. 1/23/10
<Hello Jimmy>
I have a porcupine puffer that I've kept in my 55 gallon tank
<... much too small a world. Let me put it this way... this fish will (if it lives) grow to at least 6.5 inches long... twice the width of this tank. Would you do well in a space of twice your width in one of three dimensions?>
for about 1.5 years now. ph 8.2, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, and nitrate 20-40 (my tap water comes with around 20 nitrates).
<Needs to be treated ahead of use>
I've been reading the WWM website about puffers for two days now and am kind of confused as to actually what is wrong with him.
<... water chemistry, test results? Foods, feeding data? Other tankmates?>
For the past week he hasn't been himself. Most of the day he sits on the bottom of the tank, or finds a rock or leather coral to perch on and just sits there gasping. He almost looks depressed. I do know now that I need to feed him other things other than krill,
<A very poor stock diet. This alone could be "it">
which I have feed him along with the occasional cricket I find (someone at my LFS told me they would be good
for his teeth and full of protein). He normally see's me, and starts dancing at the top of the water waiting for food. But for the last 5-7 days hasn't. I can see two small lumps that almost appear to be a jawbone underneath his mouth.
<Perhaps a goiter... see WWM re iodine/ide/ate and these>
I remember reading something about a parasite that makes small bumps under their skin. But what I'm confused about is the fact that all of a sudden he stopped being himself and now not eating. I looked into lockjaw and if is teeth were too long but just don't know because of the sudden decline.
Please Help!!
<Need to go back, do a bit more cursory reading. This fish is misplaced, mis-fed... Bob Fenner>

Puffer Injury from Filtration -- 01/12/2010
My Porcupine Puffer had a serious encounter with my filter intake. Some how the grill came off while I was working, and I came home to find my fish close to death.
<I'm very sorry to hear this -- have you determined how the grill came off (and subsequently, how to prevent it from occurring again in the future)?>
Its left fin and gill appears to be seriously injured, not to mention it is also missing a good amount of skin between the eye and gill.
The eye looks fine, and he is using it.
<This is good.>
I moved him to a hospitable tank, and now on day 2 he seems to be moving much better but still wont eat.
<Excellent, keep up with due diligence>
Does my fish have a chance on living, and is there anything I can do to help him?
<Absolutely -- if he's still swimming, there's more than a good chance he'll pull through. Just keep the water parameters in check in the quarantine, and keep an eye on the damaged areas. Likely the feeding strike is due to
the stress of the situation -- just give it some time and I'm sure he'll be back to his normal piggy self. Good luck! -JustinN>

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