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FAQs about Tetraodon mbu Puffers 2

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FAQs on: Mbu Puffers 1,
FAQs on: Mbu Puffer Identification, Mbu Puffer Behavior, Mbu Puffer Compatibility, Mbu Puffer Selection/Stocking, Mbu Puffer Systems, Mbu Puffer Feeding, Mbu Puffer Health, Mbu Puffer Reproduction, & FW Puffer FAQs 1, FAQs 2FAQs 3, FW Puffer Identification, FW Puffer Behavior, FW Puffer Selection, FW Puffer Compatibility, FW Puffer Systems, FW Puffer Feeding, FW Puffer Disease, FW Puffer Reproduction,


Mbu puffer     4/15/20
Good morning. I had emailed you guys a few weeks back when I had just purchased a Mbu puffer.
<I do recall, Sony.>
He/she is about 3-4 inches. Color is great, swimming a lot, eating everything. Frozen clams, cocked crawfish, freeze dried krill (all soaked it vita chem) and live ghost shrimp. About 4 days a go he stopped eating and he doesn't swim around as much.
<Eating comes naturally to pufferfish. If they refuse food, always assume it's environmental before you do anything else. As you probably know, puffers are more sensitive to medications than many fish, so you want to avoid medicating where possible. While not especially sensitive to water chemistry variation, puffers do require good water quality, in particular, the usual zero ammonia and nitrite, but also low nitrate (certainly below 40 mg/l, and ideally below 20 mg/l) as well as high oxygen levels.>
I put him in a box to see what his poops might be or if parasites came out I could see before another fish tried to eat it. Also it was meant to medicate his food and allow him to eat it before another fish tried to.
<Mbu aren't really sociable fish, so there's really no point keeping them with tankmates. Your life will be immeasurably easier if you keep them on their own. Reduces the risk of either infecting the other with parasites, obviously, but also makes treatment easier.>
I had asked you guys a few weeks back if I should medicate him/her with PraziPro even though there was no indication to. Well I started the treatment 3 days ago when the personality changed.
<Why are you assuming intestinal worms? Praziquantel treats worms. That's all. Signs of worms include loss of weight despite eating, evidence of worms or their eggs in the faeces, or even visible worms emerging from the vent. While worms are fairly common parasites, they rarely explain sudden changes in behaviour and/or rapid decline in health. Indeed, wild fish likely carry a few worms quite often, and the worms are normally kept in check by a healthy immune system, so don't cause any health issues.>
First I changed the water 60% and then started the treatment. In these 4 days he still hasn’t eaten.
<See above. You have provided no information on the environment. Let's recap. Tetraodon Mbu is a giant species from deep rivers and large lakes. While your juvenile is still relatively tiny, he looks a lot bigger than a Corydoras in your photographs, so I'm going to assume a standard length of at least 12 cm/5 inches. Aquarium size for such a specimen should be at least 250 litres (66 US gallons) and optimally at least 350 litres (100 US gallons). Water chemistry should be middling, between 5-15 degrees dH, and around pH 7. Water quality must be excellent, with no ammonia or nitrite, and the nitrate should be as low as practical. Water turnover rate should be very high because these puffers are highly sensitive to low oxygen levels -- I'd suggest a water turnover rate of at least 8, and preferably 10 times the volume of the tank per hour. In other words, if the tank is 66 US gallons, you'd need a filter with a pump rated at about 528 to 660 gallons/hour. If your aquarium doesn't match these criteria, that's the first thing to fix.>
I’ve tried works and frozen krill. I’ve tried garlic soaked clam. He won’t eat.
<Appetite returns when stress is removed. The fish doesn't look obviously sick, but he does look dark and stressed. Review the tank, and act accordingly.>
Stomach is slightly sunken in. Color is still great and only poop that was suspicious I’m including in this post. What should I do?
I’ve done water change. Salt and PraziPro. All 4 days ago. -Sony
<Hope this helps. Do, please, read about this extremely demanding species. Randomly medicating if you have no idea of the problem will achieve little, potentially do harm. A single course of Praziquantel isn't a bad idea, and shouldn't do any harm, but this isn't always the case with fish medications -- copper and formalin being especially toxic to puffers. Cheers, Neale.>

Baby Mbu puffer /RMF      3/14/20
Hey so I got a Mbu puffer 3-4 inches, he’s eating and pooping, swimming around the tank chasing ghost shrimp. Just getting to know more about this fish. I know they tend to carry parasites. So I can’t tell if the underside of him is food or parasites and I should start treating.
<Mmm; I personally would hold off on carte blanche treatment (for parasites) here. Rationale? It's too easy to do more damage with exposure to vermifuges, protozoacides than it's worth>
Also what’s your opinion on PimaFix & MelaFix? Is it good to use?
<These Melaleuca plant extracts have some bactericidal action (so does alcohol, soap...), but rarely treat anything effectively. In short, IMO/E, they are placebos at best. DO just search these API products by name on WWM>
If you want to see a better clearer video of the fish to get a better idea, you can click this link.
<Ah, thank you. Appears to be a fine, healthy specimen>
Thank you in advance.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Baby Mbu puffer /Neale       3/14/20

Hey so I got a Mbu puffer 3-4 inches, he’s eating and pooping, swimming around the tank chasing ghost shrimp. Just getting to know more about this fish.
<Uhh... you do realise they get gigantic? As in, the size of a small dog? Do read:
Unless you're a millionaire, the chances are you won't be able to afford the literally huge tank (1000 gallons) they need as an adult. While fabulous fish, and I applaud your excellent taste, these fish are very difficult to keep properly. Most end up being passed onto public aquaria. The dental work they require is just one of many challenges ahead of you.>
I know they tend to carry parasites.
<They can do, and deworming isn't a bad idea. Levamisole or Praziquantel are perhaps the ones most often used. But most parasite risk comes from people feeding them live foods, particularly feeder fish. Do not do this! Cannot be stressed how dumb the use of feeder fish is. It's an unnecessary risk for most pet fish. Live shrimp and crayfish should be safer, but neither is 100% safe, so if you can use marine fish and shellfish (which won't have parasites likely to survive in freshwater fish) you're doing the right thing. Gamma-irradiated frozen foods, as used for marines, are the ideal.>
So I can’t tell if the underside of him is food or parasites and I should start treating.
Also what’s your opinion on PimaFix & MelaFix?
<Unsuitable for a family audience.>
Is it good to use?
If you want to see a better clearer video of the fish to get a better idea, you can click this link.
<Does indeed look adorable.>
Thank you in advance.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Baby Mbu puffer      3/15/20

I just ordered an 9x3x3 tank. I should be good for a while I believe.
<For a good while, yes, but keep track of nitrate, as that's the useful benchmark here. Anything above 20 mg/l is bad for these fish, especially as they mature. Also observe behaviour. It's pretty clear when they're bored or swimming up and down at the same spot all the time.>
1000 gallons is ideal I’m a little shy but I might okay I think. Yeah I did a lot of research prior to buying him. Most places said 500 gallons so I went more than that to be safe.
I’m definitely not a millionaire not even close just a crazy person.
<Maybe a little fish crazy, eh? Not a bad thing: so am I!>
I would never feed feeder fish to my fish.
I’m currently buying human grade frozen clams, Snow crabs, crawfish, frozen mussels, and ghost shrimp (pet store)for him. I’m also trying to grow snails in a separate tank for him.
<All sounds good. Minimise mussels and crustaceans, unless you use a vitamin supplement. Both these are high in thiaminase. Squid, cockles, and most white fish fillet (including tilapia and Pollack) are thiaminase-free.>
I bought PraziPro to treat Incase it is parasites but I have no sign that he is infected yet.
Thank you for your response.
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Baby Mbu puffer (RMF, any further commentary on Melafix?)<<Done>>     3/15/20

I bought vita chem to soak the clams in, but I have access to syringes and will prob inject the food prior to feeding once he starts eating more shelled food to maintain his beak. For puffers it’s hard not to feed bivalves.
<And no reason to stop. It's specifically the Mussels, i.e., family Mytilidae, you need to avoid (Mytilus and Perna species are the ones on the food trade). Clams, on the other hand, are good, including the widely sold Asian Hard Clam, Meretrix lyrata, and the Cockle, Cerastoderma edule. Both of these are perfectly fine, as are most other clams you're likely to see in the food trade. Scallops and Oysters are also good, if rather expensive.>
What else are my options? Crawfish and snails?
<Pretty much. Bear in mind that wild Pufferfish will be consuming a wide range of animal and plant foods, with freshwater species likely to consume aquatic insects, worms, algae, and probably small fish and carrion when the opportunity arises. Certainly, whole lancefish (easily obtained frozen, for marine predatory fish) will be consumed readily. There's really no practical way to prevent the teeth from overgrowing, because feeding puffers nothing but crunchy foods quickly becomes expensive. Still, if you're using a vitamin supplement, then thiaminase-rich foods like whole frozen shrimp become a lot safer.>
Do you recommend any specific vitamin brand?
<Kent Marine Zoe Marine certainly contains Vitamin B1/Thiamine, so is a good pick if we're worried about thiaminase in certain foods.>
I was searching for vitamin b1 or thiamine bottles but it was vague. Even vita chem doesn't say those ingredients.
I did read the article about Thiaminase on WWM
<Cheers, Neale.>

Mbu puffer tank      8/23/19
For the last 2 months I have been cycling a 2000 litre aquarium for a mbu puffer (7ft x 4ft).
<A good starting point, but be aware of how big these fish can become. Some would argue even 2000 litres is less than ideal.>
I am finally collecting the mbu next week and just tested my water :
Ammonia <0.05
Nitrite 0.025
<These two really need to be zero.>
Nitrate 5
I know sometimes the test kits aren’t exact but I’m worried about the nitrite of .025 but should that be fine?
<Hard to say without knowing the brand of test kit or even how good you are judging the colours. Dip strip test kits for example are generally regarded as imprecise, and while this margin of error would be adequate for bog standard community fish, it might be risky with sensitive species such as a Mbu Puffer. I would be tempted to try the nitrite kit at least against one or more alternative test kits. Your local retailer may well offer this service, especially if they deal with expensive fish such as marines. I'd also check your values against your tap water. For example if you have neutralised (via water conditioner) any chloramine in the tap water, a test kit can register that as ammonia, even though it is harmless.>
I do 30% water change 3 times a week
<Sounds good. If the Mbu Puffer is relatively small now, say, 10 cm long, and kept in a 2000 litre tank with regular water changes, any slight backlog in ammonia and nitrite processing by your biological filter should fix itself over the next couple of weeks. "Fish-less" cycling methods are a bit unreliable, so while the filter may be more or less mature, it might be a week or two before it really beds down properly. Given the size of the tank, and the frequency of water changes, you should be fine with a small fish, much as you can finish off the cycling process of a community tank with a few Danios and not expect any major problems. Still, keep an open mind, and regularly test the water for at least the first month, and thereafter, at least weekly until you're 100% sure everything is working as it should.>
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Mbu puffer tank      8/23/19

Thanks Neale,
<Most welcome.>
It is the JBL full master test kit.
<Should be decent.>
The ammonia of <0.05 is the lowest that is on the results pad.
<So can you assume it's zero?>
The nitrite is the second lowest, but it is very hard to tell the difference in colours.
<Indeed. I'd still compare and contrast with a second kit, even if just the once at your retailer.>
The tank itself has a large in built filter (it runs the whole way down the side of the tank, so 4 ft by 2ft by about 10 inches of bio media). It was not fishless cycling, it has had 3 baby giant gourami (about 3 inches) since week 2, though they are now about 5-6 inches. I plan to rehome them into my 1000 litre tank.
<Understood. Filter really should be mature then. Only things you might check are whether water current sufficient (remember, you want a filter turnover rate of something like 8 times the volume of the tank per hour) and whether the selection of media chosen are appropriate (i.e., more biological media, less chemical, especially carbon, which would probably be pointless here).>
The initial plan was to keep the gourami in the big tank until I found a mbu of a decent size, I didn't want to put a small mbu in as I hear they can be very unstable until a decent size.
<Possibly, but I think this is more to do with people tending to try and keeping juveniles in very small tanks, and keeping them in such small tanks for far too long, postponing the necessary upgrade. So net result is a juvenile in increasingly poor environmental conditions. In and of themselves, Puffers aren't delicate fish by any means, and it's notable that in marine fishkeeping, they're often regarded as among the toughest fish around. I certainly had far more trouble with Neon Tetras than any pufferfish species!>
I know it is hard to find MBU's of a decent size so wanted to make sure the tank was up and running, just happens that the opportunity to buy this one has come up.
<Correct. But even so, I'd tend to recommend the 40 cm Tetraodon species, such as Tetraodon lineatus, for people who want bigger puffers simply because their size demands are so much less. There are also some lovely marine species of similar size, like Arothron hispidus, that are lively, easy to keep, and quite peaceful. But if you're dead-set on Tetraodon mbu, you seem to be going around it in the right way, and have realistic expectations of what's needed. I'll direct you to an old article on this website from an experienced Tetraodon mbu owner, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mbupuffer.htm
While lovely fish, they aren't for the faint-hearted (or the financially challenged).>
The mbu is about 9-10 inches.
<And should get to well over twice that, aquarium specimens tending to level off around the 50-60 cm mark. Much bigger specimens have been reported in the wild, but I've never seen aquarium specimens bigger than 60 cm.>
Please can you advice whether you think it should be ok or best to avoid?
<See above. They are interesting pets, and if you have the space, time and money to set them up with the right tank from the get-go, they aren't difficult to keep. Your biggest challenge is keeping nitrate relatively low, especially if your tap water has high nitrate levels to start with.
Ideally, nitrate should be less than 20 mg/l, but certainly below 40 mg/l.
Other than running out of space, owners often run into the problem of over-long teeth. In the UK there's some debate about the legality of performing "tooth cutting" procedures on pufferfish. But certainly make yourself aware of how to try to keep your Puffer's teeth worn down as best you can, and if you can't find a vet capable of cutting the teeth, find out how to do it yourself. Obviously as the fish becomes so much larger than the average pufferfish, sedating and handling the fish becomes that much more complicated. I've used cuticle clippers on small pufferfish species, and clove oil to sedate them, but for the bigger species, power tools may be needed:
This sort of procedure is probably well outside what the British veterinary community would consider acceptable for untrained people, given the distress it will cause the fish. So realistically, while I'm happy to recommend cuticle clippers for the literally 10-second job of nipping off the ends of South American Pufferfish teeth, adult Tetraodon mbu will probably need a trip to the vet at some point if their teeth aren't kept worn down naturally.>
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Mbu puffer tank      8/30/19

Hi Neale
By way of update, the mbu is now in and doing great.
I have invested in an automatic water change system that is being installed next week. That way he will have 30% water changes 365 days a year.
<Wow! Luxury, indeed.>
I plan to set it to do 5% every 4 hours, that way the Mbu will barely even notice the change taking place so will keep stress to an absolute minimum.
<Every 5 hours sounds overkill, but certainly being able to do 5% even daily should ensure really good water quality. Use a test kit: so long as nitrate stays below 20 mg/l, you're doing great. Doing excessive water changes is a waste of water, unless of course that water is being put to good use, e.g., to maintain a pond or water meadow. If it's just going down the drain it's expensive and wasteful, in my opinion.>
I have so far put in 30 guppies in but intend to increase that number significantly as the filter catches up. The guppies will be his only tank mates.
<For a while, at least!>
From my research these are the best tank mates for a mbu as he is peaceful enough to not eat him and move slowly so adds a calming presence to the tank so as to help keep him chilled.
<Indeed; and often Guppies are used for exactly this in public aquaria.
Very small fish are often ignored by big fish, but do provide that useful "dither fish" effect.>
My question is, male guppies do look better than females, but I am aware it is usually advised to keep a 2:1 ratio female to male. In a tank of 2000 litre with a 30 sq ft foot print + a group of 100+ guppies, is 2:1
necessary? Would 50:50 work?
<Academic, to be honest. After a couple generations you'll have hundreds of immature Guppies (some of the adults will likely get eaten) and likely a more or less 50/50 ratio because of that. Colouration will be difficult to ensure, because unless you can guarantee the females are virgin females of a specific variety, they'll likely revert to more or less wild Guppy colouration after a couple generations of cross-breeding.>
Thanks as always.
<No problem. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Mbu puffer tank      8/30/19

<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Mbu puffer tank

Hi Neale,
<Hello Nate,>
By way of update,
The MBU arrived and is settled and was doing really well. Eating well and water quality is going well ( I followed your advice to use the automatic water change system to only a little bit each day).
<Glad he's happy.>
I have been feeding just a few clams on the half shell each day to ensure he is not overfed. On Tuesday this week I was away and asked my wife to feed him. Without guidance she kept feeding him until he stopped (I understand she fed around 10-15 clams!!). He has not been right since.
<Indeed. This is more common than you'd expect. When they overeat, Puffers struggle to swim and will sit at the bottom until the food has been passed through.>
He has been sitting on the bottom not swimming much at all. He has shown some interest in food but not like he was doing and he seems to have a bit of poo constantly hanging out. (it looks like normal poo not like internal worms related, I am not concerned re worms as the person I bought him off had done multiple rounds of different worming medications and he shows now obvious signs).
I thought he'd be alright after a few days but he's still sulking a lot.
<First thing is do a decent water change. Overfeeding will spike ammonia and nitrite, and longer term, raise nitrate. Tetraodon mbu is fairly sensitive to nitrate, so ensure good clean water first. Next up, kick up aeration and oxygenation, if nothing else, by lowering the waterline an inch or two so there's more splashing. This will drive out CO2 and increase dissolved O2. Finally, don't feed him!>
Any advice? will he just ride it out?
<Eventually, yes. Meantime, remind your wife that fish don't eat a lot, and little fish can go two weeks, easy, without food, and large fish (like an adult Mbu) probably a month or more.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

hi I have a mbu puffer   11/13/10
<... run your msg.s through a spell and grammar checker if you're not familiar w/ proper English>
and I've had him about 3 months been fine but did not feed him one night the next day he's on his side gone really dark and breathing really slow can you help me please thanks john.
<... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mbupuffer.htm

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