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FAQs about Tetraodon mbu Puffers Systems

Related Articles: Tetraodon mbu, T. suvattii, Green Spotted Puffers, Freshwater to Brackish Water Puffers, (Big) Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo Small Puffer Dentistry By Jeni Tyrell (aka Pufferpunk),

FAQs on: Mbu Puffers 1, Mbu Puffers 2,
FAQs on: Mbu Puffer Identification, Mbu Puffer Behavior, Mbu Puffer Compatibility, Mbu Puffer Selection/Stocking, 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 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.>

Puffer fish question! FW... S. Am.... stkg./sel, & T. mbu sys.     3/12/12
Hey y'all! First off, I love the site, and I'm pretty sure I have read through every puffer question at least twice! Alright, so I have fully cycled fifty five gallon that is currently empty. Its full of fake silk plants and rock, and has two sixty gallon filters in it. I have been researching South American Puffers for probably a month now, but finding solid information isn't easy. My question is, how many could fit in my tank?
<What, which species? Smaller ones, easily six...>
 I don't want to overstock at all, but do plan on doing weekly water changes and keeping up on maintenance. I'm aware they aren't community puffers, but what could I do in terms of tank mates?
<... read>
The puffers are my main priority, But I would like something else in the tank if possible. I'm setting up a snail breeding tank soon, and I'm hoping to order my puffers through my LFS, as I can't find them anywhere online.
One more thing, Mbu puffers are freshwater, correct?
My LFS has one for sale in a full salt water tank.
I assumed they had mislabeled, but after looking them up, it was no doubt an Mbu. I asked the store about it,        and apparently they can live in both fresh and salt.
<... no: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=10103&genusname=Tetraodon&speciesname=mbu&AT=tetraodon+mbu&lang=English
see Ecosystems... Tanganyika, Congo... rivers>
This store has given me wrong puffer info before, so this doesn't surprise me. Hopefully someone gets him out of there!
Thanks for all the help!
<Welcome... Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer fish question!
Thanks for the reply! As for which species, like I said above, South American, or Colomesus asellus. I have gotten such conflicting information on these little guys. Some say I could have six,
<This is the number I'd settle on>
 some say four, I have even been told I don't have enough room for them at all. When you say the smaller ones, I think you thought I was talking about dwarfs. Sorry if I didn't make myself clear! :)
<I see. Thank you, BobF>

Poorly Mbu Puffer Fish... env., nutr.     3/7/12
Hi, hope you can help!
<I as well>
I have a Mbu Puffer called Polo who is roughly 24" in size and it has not eaten anything for over half a month. It hasn't lost much weight yet (it was always fat looking even for a Mbu), but it's now starting to get thinner.
It has these quite large pink-ish lumps near it's top fin (see attached pics). From what i can make out it seems to be Lymphocystis, and as far as i know there's no way to treat this?
<Mmm, indirectly... improving water quality, nutrition...>
 But it's usually not fatal and can clear up itself? I think the Mbu has often had these lumps since i got him about 2 years 5 months ago, and they have almost completely disappeared at points in time, and then come back, but now it looks worse than usual.
I keep the Mbu in a 1150 Litre tank (252 UK Gallons), which has two large and powerful Fluval FX5 filters
<May need more...>

 and rubber air tubes that run the length of the tank. Nitrates and ammonia are the lowest colour on the colour chart i use to compare.
<NO3 needs to be under 20 ppm, and zip/nada/zilch for NH3>
 Temperature is 26c, and i do 30% water changes roughly every 10 days. It shares the tank with 2 common Plecs,
<Mmm, watch these... esp. at night>
a Siamese Tiger fish, and some smaller cichlids... probably not the best combination, but no other fish ever bothers the Mbu in any way, although I'm planning to remove the cichlids. And no other fish has ever had the lumps that the Mbu has.
The Mbu mostly eats Mussels and Prawns daily, and i know these contain Thiaminase,
<Yes... I'd switch these out for other foods>

but only discovered this lately so since then I've been trying to feed it other things like Tilapia and Cockles. But for 2 years it's mostly been eating Mussels and Prawns! Which I'm sure hasn't helped, wish i knew sooner.
<Me too>

Any food i put in the tank the Mbu will just completely ignore. It usually eats well, but at some points in time it's gone for up to 10 days without eating that much and then returns to normal, but apparently this is quite normal behaviour for Mbu's. Apart from now it's never gone for over 2 weeks without eating nothing at all. Apart from the lumps by the top fin i cant see anything else wrong.
<Externally, macroscopically>
 I've put some ESHa 2000 and salt in the tank but neither has helped so far.
<And will not>

The Mbu i have is a lazy one, it lays around much of the time but used to get excited for food and would often swim around in the mornings or when the sun is out. Now it lays around almost 95% of the time but when it does swim it looks ok, the swimming isn't out of balance or anything but seems a little like it's not got much energy. Should i put the Mbu in another tank?
<I would not...>
I only have another spare tank that's about 200 Litres
<Too small>
 so it's extremely small, which is why I've not moved it. The other alternative would be my bath which is over 400 Litres. I don't know what else i can do? Should i take him out the tank for a quick salt bath?
<No; of no use. I would soak new foods, read here:
in a commercial vitamin and HUFAs product. Search on WWM re these terms and the brand: Selcon, Micro-Vit...>
Thanks for your time, i know you must get tons of emails.
<Thank goodness, that for the 30-40k users per day, only a small part of one percent... the site is intended (designed, engineered) to be a reference, not a bb. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

mbu puffer question, sys. mostly  8/17/09
Hello there!
<Hi Deanna>
I'm always going to your site and see what I can learn about the fish I take care of. I work at my local pet store and have started taking care of a mbu puffer that was forgotten about. The current care taker of him there was fired so I took the responsibly of this fish. Anyways I'm worried he is stunted he is about 9 inches in a 90 gallon bow front tank.
<Mmm, likely can/will resume growth with better maintenance... more water changes in particular>
Not only that but people are always feeding him like crazy. I've got people to cut down some but lately he has been laying down in the tank a lot only coming up when a person walks up but that's about well half the time.
<Not atypical behavior for the species>
His temperature is 82 degrees because of the heat in our fish room. He has zero ammonia and nitrIte his nitrate is 20 steady.
<I would attempt to keep the NO3 down below 10 ppm>
Oh and his ph is a 7.6. He is with a giraffe catfish about the same size.
He eats fine its just that he has been laying down like I said and he will start to get pale and breathing a bit heavy.
<Any way to lower the temperature a bit... to the mid 70's F.? By resetting the tank heater perhaps? This would reduce metabolic rates and increase gas solubility>
He will lay there the entire day and even when disturbed will return to his spot. He also seems to always have Ich I have treated with quick cure for three weeks and another time only a few days.
<Mmm, something amiss here and the formalin in the Quick Cure is very toxic...>
I did very small water changes every 3 days during that three weeks.
<I'd do massive water changes at this interval if the new water can be trusted... with gravel vacuuming...>
But it keeps coming back. Could it be the scrubbing pad I use to use it on other tanks he now has his own?
It's only one dot for a few days but then it just goes crazy. His diet is only shrimp and scallops soaked in garlic guard, Selcon, and freshwater VitaChem. He does get apple snails and trapdoor snails twice a week. He does eat the cat fishes pellets once in a while don't know if that matters.
Also I noticed his rectum may be hanging a bit lower then normal maybe. I will try to get a picture but someone over fed him a few weeks back. I came into work one morning and he was laying at the bottom with a full belly still (even fed a lot the next day his tummy is always flat) and a white almost clear poop. His rectum looked to be getting bigger so I figured he was having some trouble passing it. He finally passed it and was back to normal but it just does not look right. It looks like someone stuck a round weight inside now I guess. So now that I jabbered I hope I gave you all the information you needed. I tend to ramble a lot this fish lives up to his name and I want to do my best in taking care of him. I would happily get a 300 gallon for him if I could even that is to small though from what I read. Well thank you for any information you can give me for all of my jabbering. :)
Thanks again ,
<Please do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mbupuffer.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
ps also he does have a bubbler in his tank .

Re: Mbu sys., fdg., worms...  1/2/09 Hello everyone, <Hello again!> Thanks a ton for all the answers Neale! <Most welcome.> My MBU seems so much happier in his 200 gallon than his 100. <'Tis the nature of the beast.> His Ick is all gone and the water is nice and stable. It appears that using the one established Eheim 2050 along with the other 2050 and the FX5 made the cycle as short as about a week. <Sounds about right.> My ammonia and nitrite went there way to a max of 1 ppm now 0 and then my Nitrate is at 10. I have found that Mr. MBU has a crazy appetite now, It seems so evident now that the puffer really likes his hiding space! I covered both ends of the tank and only the front open and he seems very at home. <A healthy puffer is a hungry puffer, so if he's always greedy, that's a very good sign. Wild fish do spend most of their time close to hiding places, and despite being able to "puff up" and equipped with deadly poisons, puffers don't normally go about looking to be bitten! They're slow swimmers and generally keep an eye open for trouble, ready to dart away into their chosen refuge.> I wanted to mention to anyone interested that I found a bag of seafood melody at a local Sam's store with shrimp, muscle, clam, octopus, squid and some stuff I have no clue and tossed but otherwise he loves the food for $10 for a couple pounds. <Ah yes, often recommend precisely this type of "seafood mix". Economical and healthful. It's entirely possible to maintain large carnivores like puffers entirely on foods sold for humans, significantly reducing costs.> My question is I have seen 2 worms in his cage at about 8mm long hair thickness wiggling around in the water column. I searched and did a good vacuum job. Is this nothing to be worried about like I have read? <Likely just nematodes, and all they're doing is eating detritus. Nothing to worry about unduly. Helminth parasites (i.e., worms) don't generally go from their free-living stage to infecting fish within aquaria, though they may do so in ponds. Usually when aquarists observe worm parasites -- almost always Camallanus -- the fish has been infected at somewhere outdoors like a fish farm or the wild. By all means siphon out the worms if you object, but otherwise, I wouldn't worry too much. Most aquaria contain thousands if not millions of non-parasitic nematodes, they're just usually too small to see. Cheers, Neale.>

MBU's next cage  12/22/08 Hello everyone, I wanted to see how my setup sounds for my 7-8 inch MBU puffer. He is in a 100 gallon tank now and doing great.( thanks for the advice with the Ick he had, it is now gone) The new aquarium is 200 gallons, with 2 Theo 400 watt heaters, 2 Eheim 2250's, 1 Fluval x5 and an 18 inch air stone. There is about 2 inches of small to med. gravel, plants and lots of drift wood and 2 nice size rock made caves. <Sounds nice. There is of course the problem than Tetraodon mbu get ridiculously large. Maximum size in the wild is said to be over 60 cm, and in even in captivity they comfortably reach 45 cm or so. That's "standard length", and therefore excludes the rather big tail! It's a sad truth that rather few specimens get to full size though because most seem to die in captivity, often under mysterious circumstances.> I am letting this tank cycle, one of the 2250's was on the 100 gal. tank for a month to add some bacteria to the mix. <If you move mature filters from one tank to another -- assuming water chemistry/temperature are similar -- the new tank will be instantly cycled. I do this all the time. The bacteria don't "know" where the water is coming from. In any case, if you're cycling a new tank with a mature filter, it's important to keep a source of ammonia in that new tank, or the bacteria in the mature filter will die back.> Obviously I only have some ammonia after 3 days, 1 PPM. How is this sounding? <Sounds all wrong. If the mature filter was not "upset" in some way by being switched off for too long, and the water chemistry/temperature in the new tank was the same as the old tank, this filter should be fully functional. So where you're getting the ammonia from eludes me. Are you adding ammonia? If so, quite possibly far too much. A 200 gallon tank for this pufferfish will need 6 x 200 = 1200 gallons per hour filter turnover.> Any recommendations? I only have 2 small eels and 2 Corys to put in this set up with the MBU. Thanks Ed <What "eels"? Spiny eels? I'd honestly not mix anything with Tetraodon mbu. Best kept alone. It is, in part, a piscivore as well as taking the usual algae/invertebrates common to puffers generally. Cheers, Neale.>

My MBU puffer -10/31/08
Thanks for such a great site! Several months ago my wife gave me a MBU puffer about 3 inches long for a anniversary gift to go in my 30 gallon aquarium.
<Oh boy...>
(we all know this story) So after reading about them on your site I have him in a 100 gallon tank with med. size natural gravel, 2 Fluval 405's and an Eheim eco 2236 with bio material and the floss pads. 2 150 watt heaters, temp at 80 deg., ammonia 0,-nitrite-0, nitrate 20, ph-7.6. There is a 3 inch Pleco, 2 Cory's and a Tire track eel with him.
<While that's a fine tank for now, do understand these Mbu Puffers are ridiculously large when mature and annoyingly sensitive to poor water conditions as well. So you end up needing a gigantic aquarium with a massive filter just to keep it alive. Not recommended for home aquaria at all.>
And even though he bit me <!!!> when I was doing a water change I am still in the process of getting a 265 gal. or larger cage for him. Is this over filtered?
<Not even close to being over-filtered... Seriously, these fish need swimming pool-sized tanks.>
And Do you have recommendations for the next cage.
<As a baseline, we're talking some hundreds of gallons, and there's a good argument to be made for tanks around the 1000 gallon mark. A lot depends on the quality of your water supply, because it's the nitrate that's the killer. If you have zero nitrate right out the tap, then tanks around 250-500 gallons may be viable, if coupled with generous filtration and large scale water changes. But if you're in area where the nitrate level in your tap water is 50 mg/l, as is the case where I live, your margins for error are much reduced. Do see Stuart Morse's article on this fish, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/mbupuffer.htm>
As of now I have to fix the house to support the weight of anything larger than the 100 gal. and locally 265 gal. is the largest I have found but I am happy to go bigger.
<If this was me, and I liked the idea of a big puffer, I'd try to rehome him in favour of getting myself something a notch down the size scale, maybe Tetraodon lineatus. It's about half the length, and therefore one-eighth the mass, and consequently a heck of a lot easier to look after.>
And lastly, is it safe to feed him the $2.00 snails ( mystery, yellow assorted ) from the LFS, and there crayfish. Thanks again Ed
<Well, they're probably "safe", but why bother? Most any frozen seafood sold for humans will be readily taken and a combination of mussels, prawns, and squid will cover all the major dietary needs for this species. Unshelled seafood like frozen crayfish, crab legs, whole prawns, and live mussels can be offered as required to wear down the teeth. Much cheaper than live snails or crayfish, and certainly much safer. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: My MBU puffer -10/31/08

Neale, Thank you for the fast response. I live in Northern Virginia, can you give me any pointers as to were I might want to look for Aquariums around 1000 gal.. And what type of filtration would you recommend for 1000 plus gallons. Ed
<Hello Ed. Since I'm in England and not really very familiar with American retailers, this isn't a question I can easily answer. If you can wait a couple weeks until Bob Fenner gets back, he's the guy to ask about such things. In the meantime, do browse some of the FAQs on large tank design/purchasing; there are some links and comments that may be of interest. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lgsystks.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lgsysdes.htm There's no real rush, as Mbu Puffers doesn't grow especially fast, so you've got lots of time to research things carefully. Mbu Puffers are widely and successfully kept, so spending a bit of time e-mailing other keepers or visiting forums would probably pay dividends. They're fantastic fish, but also incredibly challenging: a bit like getting a wolf cub as someone's first pet dog. For the right person, a Mbu is a superb pet that is smarter than any ten fish stuck together, and frankly smarter than most dogs and cats. But Mbu puffers are unquestionably hard work, so while centerpiece fish at zoos and aquarium shops, they're strictly for the ambitious fishkeeper. As for filtration, it's hard to fault a reverse-flow undergravel filter for systems where sensitive fish are being kept. This is basically one or more large canister filters with outflows that push water into an undergravel filter plate and up through the gravel. This system is fantastic in terms of biological filtration, and also keeps the substrate extremely clean, since it's constantly being rinsed with filtered water. So the only maintenance is cleaning out the canisters every month or so; the gravel itself shouldn't need anything more than the occasional sift and siphon. The old "pros" of the hobby do swear by filters like the larger Eheim canister filters, and these certainly are extremely reliable and well worth their slightly higher initial cost. But I'm hearing good things about the big Fluval FX5 as well. It doesn't much matter what filter (or filters) you use provided it's [a] reliable; and [b] offering upwards of 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. Cheers, Neale.>

Mbu Puffer, fdg... sys.      7/17/07 Hello Crew, my name is Kevin. <Hi Kevin, Pufferpunk here> I have a Mbu puffer fish that measures about 7 inches, in a 100 gal tank with several species of cichlids. <You are aware of this fish's potential size & that he will need a MUCH larger tank (1,000 gallons is recommended)?> He has not eaten in at least 6 weeks. I have done everything, water changes, <How large, how often?> adding salt, offering crayfish, crabs, snails, shrimp, to no avail! Before he stopped eating I tried to feed him some dead crayfish that I had frozen that he was very hesitant to eat, so I think that may have something to do with it. Please let me know what I can do to fix this before he dies. <Have you checked his teeth to see if they might be overgrown?> I have also treated the water with Melafix since, it has worked with so many other problems. <Can't hurt... I really can't give you any kind of diagnosis, without knowing the exact ammonia, nitrite, nitrate & pH levels. In the meantime, check this Mbu profile: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/ug.php/v/PufferPedia/Freshwater/T_Mbu/ and please read: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=150 Your input will be much appreciated! <Please write back with more info. ~PP>

Mbu Puffer in Non-Cycled Tank  11/16/06 Hey, <Hey yourself, it's Pufferpunk here.> I own a 4 inch (not including tail) MBU Puffer and I've had it for a week so far.  He had been introduced to a tank that had been matured for a month and he has a very healthy appetite, eating everything from cockles, mussels, shrimp, bloodworm but the ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels in the tank sky rocket so high that I have to do a 50% water change every 2 days to stop him from dying! <I'd raise that to 80% daily, until you can get that tank cycled or your puffer will definitely not make it.  They are extremely sensitive to those toxins, because they are scaleless & have no gill covers.  What do you mean by, "matured for a month"?  If you just let the tank run for a month, that's not cycling the tank.  Or were there other fish that would equal the bioload of that puffer in there for that month & the water parameters were perfect (0 ammonia & nitrItes, <20 nitrAtes), then removed, when you placed the Mbu in there?  How big is the tank?  That puffer will grow VERY quickly, needing at least a 300g tank in 2 years, upgrading even larger after that.  If you don't understand the facts of cycling a tank, you may not be ready to house such an exotic fish like the Mbu.  Please do a search for "fishless cycling".  If you insist on keeping this fish & are prepared to buy it much larger tanks & huge filtration systems (including veggie refugiums, to keep the nitrates down), in the very near future, then you can instant cycle the tank with Bio-Spira.  Do an 80% water change, before adding it to your filter.> I have a fully functioning filter and I regulate the amount of food he eats (around 2 cockles or 1 mussel a day) but the water gets dirty so quickly that I'm worried about his health. What can I do to keep the levels stabilized so I don't have to change the water so often and why is this happening?  I use Amquel to reduce the levels when I don't have time for a water change. <You're going to have to MAKE time for this!  Eventually, plan on a 1,000 gallon tank for this beautiful, 30" tank-buster.  Forget about Amquel, it is just inhibiting the cycle.  Bio-Spira is the only way you're going to save this fish.  You may have to search around for it but more shops seem to be carrying it.  To dechlorinate, use Prime.   Please read this Mbu story, written by a puffer keeper of over 50 years: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=150   I know it sounds like I'm being really hard on you but personally, I think these fish only belong in public aquariums or in the wild, where they have room to grow & swim.  ~PP> Thanks, M

Tetraodon Mbu Hi, 1.What tank size for Tetraodon Mbu? <Starting size of the fish? How long do you want to keep it... happy, healthy? A twenty to a two hundred gallon...> 2.How much swimming space? <About the same as specified by tank dimensions above> 3.What tank mates? <Only very aware, and or tough, mean, fast fishes... perhaps some live plants. Doubtful any invertebrates...> 4.What filter? <Outside power and internal powerheads for added circulation, aeration> 5.Any other important information? <Frequent partial water changes with pre-made water of high alkalinity, some salt... see here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=10103&g Cut and paste URL. A very mean fish species... best kept either in a "species tank" or a biotopic presentation with other fishes from the region (Lake Tanganyika, Congo...> Thank you <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

MBU Puffer 8/4/05 I hope you can help. There are so many conflicting issues on the net and from my LFS. My tank is approximately 5ft(long) x 2ft(high) x (just under) 2ft(depth) Its currently running at ammonia=0 nitrite=0 and nitrate=5ppm My PH is about 7.6 I am trying to create perfect conditions for a MBU puffer.  My LFS has said that he needs soft water, which I have since found to be incorrect.  I actually bought an RO unit so that I could soften my water, a complete waste I know, but I thought perhaps by adding more minerals I could control the water levels more...any comments? Really what I would like to know is what are the perfect water conditions for a MBU puffer including GH and KH.  Bearing in mind that I also have 2 Pictus cats and am planning on getting 2 clown loach. (As long as this does not overcrowd the tank). I hope you can help. >> Certainly your Mbu will eventually eat the Pictus cats, or damage their sensitive whiskers, clown loaches are fast and should be able to live with him long term. Most Mbu puffers are caught in the Stanley Pool area of the Congo River. pH 6-7, GH 5-10, KH 0-8 sounds right, but for puffer species like the Mbu the water chemistry is not so important. More important is a varied diet and strong filtration and frequent water changes. This fish will get big, and it will have an even bigger appetite. You should try and see how the fish will do in your tap water, because altering the tap water every time you do a water change may become a hassle, and is usually not needed for this species. Good Luck, Oliver Mbu Puffer--Tank Size  6/29/05 <Pufferpunk again> Yeah, I actually have some nitrates but the tank has been set up for over a year, <So why did you say nitrates were 0?> the tank is only about 65 litres (17 gallons), although he will go in something like a 400 (105g) when bigger. <Hmmm, that's going to be a problem.  Did you read the article I linked you to?  400l is no where near large enough for that puffer!  Even at 2", it should be in a larger tank, due to its messy eating habits & large bioload.  If you aren't prepared to house that fish in a MUCH larger tank, please return it for a more suitable fish.> The only food I have given him are mussels and cockles. <Puffers need a large variety of foods.  Look through The Puffer Forum for more diet ideas.  ~PP>

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