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FAQs about Puffer Nutritional Disease

FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease: Marine Puffer Disease 1, Marine Puffer Disease 2, Marine Puffer Disease 3, Marine Puffer Disease 4, Marine Puffer Disease 5, Marine Puffer Disease 6, Marine Puffer Disease 7,
FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environment, Social, Trauma, Pathogenic, Treatments
<Plus see below re Disease by Category per Puffer Family>
FAQs on Marine Puffer Disease by Group: Marine Puffers & Kin, Velvet & Crypt, Boxfish Disease, Tetraodont Disease, FW Puffer Disease, BR Puffer Disease, Toby Disease, Burrfish Disease,

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

Related FAQs: Puffers in General 1, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Compatibility, Puffer Selection, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Reproduction, True (Tetraodont) Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes


In a word: VARIED


blind pufferfish care       12/8/15
hello all,
<Howdy Jude>
I work at a LFS. Last year, one of our display fish, a beautiful porcupine pufferfish, became permanently blind in both eyes due to an infection (exacerbated by bumping into sharp liverock). Now, the fish is still very healthy and active, and a very voracious eater. However, due to his blindness, he's had to be kept alone in an empty tank so as not to injure himself or others.
<Mmm; should be okay w/ a select group of other fish species>
Now to the issue: We're running very low on space in the store, and can't afford to continue keeping a single fish in a 75g aquarium. What would you say is the recommended minimum tank size a 6-inch-long blind porcupine puffer would need, considering that it can't see where it's going and the tank would be otherwise empty?
<Most all excepting fishes too likely mean to it (triggers, large angels, big morays....); or more aggressive feeders like some basses and wrasses...>
I'm honestly very attached to this puff, and if needed I plan to take him and his tank home with me. We're just not sure
what kind of setup would ensure a continued comfortable existence.
Cheers, JK
<Have seen blind puffers kept with others for many years. Bob Fenner>
Re: blind pufferfish care       12/8/15

I'll see about getting him moved into one of the more docile display tanks. Thank you for your quick response!
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

Bloated Puffer 7/5/07 Hi Guys, <Hi Chris, Pufferpunk here (I'm a gal).> I have been reading WWM for a few years now and found a ton of advice on this "obsession" of mine, but have never written, until now. <Aren't we all obsessed after a few years?> I have a 180 gallon FOWLR that includes a Blue Face Angel, Emperor Angel, Naso Tang, Hippo Tang, Porcupine Puffer and a Niger Trigger. All of the fish are at least 5" or bigger (in the case of the Angels). They have been happy in the tank for over 18 months and have not had any issues other than eat $1500 of my coral (hence the FOWLR he he). <Too bad...> My fish are literally pigs and will eat anything you put in the tank with them but the puffer will only eat frozen krill. <Really bad diet for a puffer. I have seen way too many incidents of puffers fed a main diet of krill, developing lockjaw & eventually starving to death. See here for better diet & methods of getting it to eat other foods: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/category/feeding/  > He has done this for the 3 years that I have had him and I feed him 1 time every other day or third day (basically feed him till he can't eat). <Letting a puffer gorge itself isn't good for him either. It results in a lot of non-digested food, causing a liver problems (fatty liver) & a polluted environment. Feed until a slightly rounded tummy.> He has been very normal till a day or two ago when I noticed that he was trying to poop and the Hippo tang was trying to eat the waste before it even came out (since it is pure krill). <Exactly> But at the same time, it wasn't allowing Puff to get out all his excess. He was picking so bad that when Puff tried to squeeze some out...the tang was attacking his "hole" and really aggravating the fish. <Poor puffer!> So I have been watching him and his belly is getting larger and hasn't eaten in 2 days. I am afraid that he is scared to poop now and will hold in the waste till it literally kills him. <It is possible but also it may just be constipated.> Have you seen or heard this before? Is there anything that I can do to help? <You could try to feed it vegetable matter, like peas or algae wafers (puffers usually won't eat these but some have). Otherwise, add Epsom salt, 1tbsp/5g. It would be best to quarantine the fish. This is one of the many reasons, it is suggested to keep a puffer in a tank by itself or with less aggressive tankmates it can't catch. ~PP> Sincerely, Chris
Re: Bloated Puffer 7/6/07
Hi PP, <Hey Chris> Thanks for the reply. I know that the krill only is not the best diet, so I actually tried silversides (didn't eat them) <Most puffers are not fish eaters.> and recently put in a cleaner crew of 100 Turbos and 100 blue-legged crabs. To my surprise he ate every single one! He would pick up the shell and crush them. So his diet isn't just krill really. <Yes puffers ware crustacean eaters & will generally eat your cleaner crews. This doesn't change the fact that up till now, his diet was mostly krill. He needs to get off that food immediately.> Is it possible that he ate something that he can't digest? Maybe ate one of the crab shells without crushing it first? <I really doubt it, since that is it's natural diet in the wild.> I read the link you sent and when he gets better I will definitely vary his diet. <I'd still try to offer him some veggies & see if he tries them.> Thanks for your help, <Of course! ~PP> Chris

Puffer's Nose Has Been 'Bitten' Off  12/13/05 Hey WWM Crew! <Neil> It seems like every couple of months I find a new reason to ask you guys a question.  Don't know what I would do without WWM! <Me neither... but I like to consider what I might do with all the extra time...> You might remember my last question.  I was the gentleman that had purchased a Humu Humu trigger that, strangely enough, caused my Blue Hippo Tang to start attacking my Porcupine Puffer.   <Displaced aggression... happens> Well, I followed your advice and the Blue Tang came out and got her own tank for a couple of months.  Problem was that every time I put her back in, she would start up with the tail nipping again.  Finally, I decided that the Trigger must go - which, might I add, was no small task.  I eventually ended up taking a whole piece of live rock to the LFS and waiting for them to call when he had decided to come out - six hours later! <Persistence pays> Once the Trigger was gone, I rearranged the live rock and put the Blue Tang back in, and all was peaceful.  I even discovered a few crabs and snails that had been in hiding!   <Neat> Now, here's my latest issue.  I feed a mixture (blender and some tank water to mix it) of tilapia filets, jumbo shrimp, cocktail shrimp (left mostly whole), mussels (sp?), real crab meat if I can get it, and Nori.  After blended, I put the nasty mix into a large Ziploc storage bad and spread it thin on a cookie sheet, which is then placed in the freezer. <Good technique> My puffer will grab the frozen hunk and, while trying to gulp it down, keep it partially sticking out of his mouth.   The other fish, naturally, are not deterred and go right ahead and eat off of the other end of the hunk. <Better to make two or more "sub-hunk" pieces>   Some days ago (5?) I noticed that the very tip of Puffy's nose (really the upper lip area that somewhat extends onto his face) had been bitten off.  I did not see it happen, so I can only assume that this is what happened.  Since then, his nose has progressively disappeared.  At this point, the wound area, where his flesh is exposed, is slightly larger than a hole punch.  I am curious, have you ever heard of such a thing? <Yes, have seen> Is it likely that the Tang has switched ends - from nipping his fin, to nipping his face?   <Maybe> Or, and this is my suspicion, did he likely get a small wound, and the 'begging act' of dragging his face across the acrylic 24 hours a day took its toll on the open wound?   <Much more likely, common> Is this something that I should treat, as its quite a good sized wound (he is only about 5 inches total length)?  I can see the skin 'flexing' as he pushes it across the acrylic.  What, if anything, should I do? <Nothing overt... not likely to help... nor the rubbing to be affected> Oh yeah, I have yet to witness the Tang nipping at the Puffer since I put her back in, and previously she did it constantly. <Good> As always your insight is so greatly appreciated that I fail to find the appropriate words. Thank You and Happy Holidays! Neil <And to you and yours as well. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Puffer Lockjaw - rough prognosis 1/30/05 I don't want to repeat what you have answered many times on the website already, but I'd was hoping you had an update on your research. Magnus has replied to a few people with Puffers with Lockjaw and said he, along with others, were doing some serious research in to the issue. <Anthony Calfo in your service> Mine is swimming and acting as normal. Goes to eat the food (gets excited as always) but seems to either not get quite close enough (like he's mis-judged it) or swims in to it, but doesn't open his mouth to eat, then spits the food away. I've also seem him "shake" as he tried to work open his mouth. I'm trying iodine and I've upped the vitamins I'm adding to the tank (I always add some vitamins to his food). <believe it or not... try thawed frozen peas too... many Tetraodontiformes love them> Water quality is generally very good and has been for 18 months upwards, with 0 Ammonia, 0 nitrite and nitrates varying from 20 to 40. Skimming all the time, varied diet of krill, Mysis, cockles, muscles, silver side and prawns. Tried other foods, but he's quite fussy ;-) I'm worried I'm going to have to force feed him, <this may be necessary> But I would like to know if you guys have come across any other treatment or husbandry that might help him (or if you think it may in fact be something else)? His teeth seem OK so I don't think it's this as a problem and he ate normally a few days ago. I'm going to do some water changes and cross all my fingers! Thanks in advance for any additional advice you may be able to offer. Best Regards, Andy <you did not mention much here my friend (puffer age/captivity, species, etc.) so I am going to have to make some inferences. After consulting with puffer "expert" and WWM friend Kelly Jedlicki, she stated what we have feared and hear of so commonly. Lockjaw has a very poor prognosis and is caused by an extended period of neglect in the diet (dietary deficiency... extremely common with Porcupine puffers allowed to eat krill as a majority of the staple - is this your species/situation too?). It takes many months of a limited diet to cause this (sometimes years), and is not something that can be corrected quickly. In fact, once puffers get to this point, few survive without drastic measures (force feeding). Do keep in mind too, that your puffer is not necessarily a picky feeder by preference... stress of inappropriate tankmates, worms/sickness on (new) imports, etc. can lead the fish to train you/us as aquarists into feeding only limited fave foods. But this is not acceptable... like children, my friend... they will play you <G>. To prevent this in the future, the easiest thing may be to make a prepared frozen food mix/slurry. Bob (Fenner) has recipes in his book/our archives and others abound on the web. Mix in a wide variety of meats, greens and vitamins... add B12 and fresh garlic juice (you squeeze) for an appetite stimulant, and include whatever favorite prey your fishy likes (often krill). Make it chunky enough for healthy feeders to eat without much mess... and blend some (puree) for force-feeding these next few weeks on the sick individual. Consult a local vet for force feeding advice and equipment (plunging syringe, soft tubing, etc). There may also be some other good puffer advice on www.lmas.org under articles. Please do update us with your results too. I wish you the very best of luck!>
Puffer lockjaw II 2/3/05
Hi again. Many thanks for your kind reply. <always welcome> I will attempt to give you more information and an update. It's a Diodon holacanthus - Long-Spined Porcupine Puffer. <this is the most common species (nearly always) with lock-jaw like symptom in captivity> He is about 4inches long, living alone in a 75US Gallon tank (until a larger one can be afforded). I've had him about 12 months. His main diet is frozen, cockles, muscles, prawns and Silverside, sprinkled with vitamins. He's always been a fussy eater. <its not a bad idea to de-worm (use Praziquantel like "Prazi-pro) from Drs Foster and Smith) and then hit them hard with B12 and garlic laced foods to jump start better feeding rather that get "trained" by them into feeding a limited diet> It took me several weeks before he would accept prawns and I've had a nightmare trying to get him to eat any shelled foods. He won't touch them unless I break them almost open for him first. I also get live Ghost Shrimp for him, when it's available in the LFS. In fact, I have 15 Hermit crabs in the tank which he has ignored for months and won't eat ;-) At the weekend I attempted a force-feeding. Quite stressful (more for me than him) I can tell you. We gently pulled his upper and lower lips back to see the teeth and they looked OK, (I'm no expert of course.) <have you read the article in this months CA e-zine on Fish Dentistry? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i1/puffer_dentistry/puffer2.htm> They appear to bite in the middle nicely and at least to my eyes, didn't appear to be overgrown. <understood... it is less common in Diodon by far... rather so in Arothron species> We tried to get the mouth open to put some food in and at on point, he snapped and clamped down on the small pliers (which had been sterilized), which looked promising. We then tried again, but with varying foods on the pliers but he would not open his mouth and we could not get his mouth open ourselves, so it was decided to leave him alone. (All this was done underwater, BTW). <wow... impressive!> Today, I tried him again on some food. He was excited that I was at the tank, as usual, but as soon as I offered him food, he swam away and would not come back to me. I dropped the food on a rock and stepped away from the tank. He wandered back to it, but acted as he has been, by attempting to bite it, but seemed to bite about 3/4 of an  inch too early. It's as if his depth perception is faulty, yet if I put the food on his mouth, he won't bite. <instead of lockjaw, I'm wondering if this isn't a different sort of deficiency from his picky diet... vitamin A/vision failure. Also common with restricted diets> As suggested by my LFS, I "teased" him with some food, always following him round with the food, until he got annoyed enough to bite out of anger at it, but he still failed to bite at it. On the rare occasion that he did, he still failed to take proper bites. So, at the end of the day. I'm still mystified as to the problem. <do some keyword searches on the Net for vitamin A deficiency in fishes, symptoms, etc> I will try the de-frosted peas and I'm attempting to locate some more live food to get his interest back. The fact he did bite the pliers means it can't be lockjaw after all, but due to the fact he bites too soon, or maybe not enough, I don't know if his teeth are in fact slightly too long and it hurts him to open his mouth or if he is just being awkward. He has now not eaten for 14 days and is looking slightly thinner than normal, but still has lots of energy. <yes... they can go months without feeding actually> Many Thanks, Andy <best of luck! Anthony>

Stars & Stripes Puffer...bloated with difficult locomotion 9-30-04 Help!! <I will certainly try> I have had my stars and stripe for over 9 months now. He is 6 inches long, 4 inches round. My tank is 135 gallons. With him are a dog face, cat shark, porcupine puffer, Dorrie, damsels and small eel. All have done great together. <That tank is small for 3 Puffers, a shark and an eel. The Puffers are big fish and both the Puffers and eel produce quite a bit of waste. > I run know copper of course and always stay up on my water changes. Stars and Stripe seems to be acting strange. He seems to look bloated and stays very still on the bottom of the tank under rocks. Almost as to hold him down. Throughout the day, his size seems to get larger, and he bobs around. Swimming looks difficult, as though he is heavy. It takes him awhile to surface, then goes back down very quickly. He looks like a beached whale. < I have seen Puffers do this after over eating. Mine worked it out on his own in 24 hours or so. If this has been going on for a few days I would hold off on feeding for a couple of days and give his GI system a chance to rest.  Epsom Salt contains Mag sulfate which is a laxative but also helps osmotic regulation in fishes... It is used to relieve some types of bloating in fishes, the fluid behind "pop-eye", and blockage from greedy fishes gulping dry foods.  It is a  very good tonic and harmless if not helpful.  Place him into a 10g tank hospital or quarantine set up with a  either a small power filter or a pump for circulation and a few pieces of live rock from your main tank.  Be generous, add 1 heaping tablespoon per 5g, so 2 Tbsp and observe him for a couple of days. If the problem persists you can add another 2 Tbsp dose. This usually works well.  If the problem persists after this there is some other more serious problem. > Although, he will rise for feeding. <Good sign, but as I mentioned please do not feed him for a couple of days. > Normal meal is frozen krill. <Your Puffer needs a much more varied diet, as do all fish and creatures. Please see the articles on feeding..... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaq2.htm I did try to fresh water dip him in hopes that he would puff all the way up, but didn't seem to help. < I don't think in this case a FW dip or Puffing up would be beneficial. > He looks very unhappy. What do I do? <Try the above mentioned tonic. HTH and best of luck with your Puffer, Leslie>

Dog-Face Puffer is Looking "Waif-ish"  5/3/04 <Hi Alan, Pufferpunk here> My dog-faced puffer was doing fine for a while but now looks skinny, his eyes are sunken in, and he tries to eat once in a while but won't work hard enough to actually eat his food. My water conditions are fine with the exception of temperature.. lately (in LA) it's been VERY hot and I don't have an air conditioner.. I've been able to keep the water at 85 degrees but no lower than that.. I'm planning to get a small air conditioner soon but it's an investment I have to shop around for. Could this temperature be causing his problems or should I look for something else? Thanks in advance! <What foods are you offering it?  Water parameters?  How long have you had him?  My 1st thought would be to treat him for internal parasites.  Try to find Discomed, by Aquatronics (they've recently gone out of business, so you may have to look around a bit).  This product works best for me.  You may also try Hex-a-Mit, by the same company, or whatever you can find with Levamisol in it.  You must soak his food in the med, to treat your fish internally.>   --Alan <I hope he's back to his zaftig waistline soon!  ~PP>

Constipated Puffer (1/21/04) Hi, <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I was hoping you can help me solve a problem that I don't know how to solve.  I have a saltwater puffer fish that has a bulge in his side.  He appears to be constipated can you recommend any methods or foods,  medications I can try to relieve him of his pressure?   <I would suggest getting him into a quarantine tank, which can be dosed with Epsom salts (from the drugstore) at 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons of tank volume. You might also try feeding him something with more bulk than his usual diet. Things to try include frozen/thawed peas and other greens. You can try soaking them in clam juice to make them smell/taste more appetizing to him.> He still has an appetite even though I have not fed him in two days. <Some bulk might help him pass the blockage. Do check out the WWM site, searching for "constipation" and other forms of the word, for more info.> Thank you in advance,  Melissa <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Dosing Iodine 12/26/03 Hi again, hope all your holidays were well.   <Pufferpunk again--same to you!> Just got back from the LFS, and picked up some Kent Zoe Marine (Ananda suggested lack of vitamin B) and a bottle of Kent Iodine (Pufferpunk recommended Iodine).    I dosed the tank with both of these per the instructions.   Should I follow up and dose them both weekly?    <I soak my foods at every feeding in vitamins.  I believe you need to dose the iodine daily, for 2-4 weeks.> Anything else you can think of that may help his situation?  No one I talk to has ever heard of a fish not being able to open its mouth. <I have actually heard of this in puffers several times now.> Thanks, Mark <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Porcupine Puffer with Difficulty Eating (12/24/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> My 5" Diodon holacanthus can't seem to eat.   He ate great a few nights ago, and had been for a month or 2 since I got him.   <The fact that he has been eating is good.> He's in a QT still, 75gal bare bottom, PVC, and a large sponge filter with an air pump, and a MaxiJet 1000 with a spray bar moving water.   <So far so good, if you have the water quality up to par (zero ammonia and nitrites, nitrates 20 or less).> He looks 100% healthy, he even chases down the food, he tries to eat it...but he can't open his mouth. <Sounds like what might be a bit of lockjaw, caused by a dietary deficiency, which in turn can be caused by keeping the fish on a limited diet. You may need to give him some B vitamins -- with saltwater fish, it's possible to dose the tank; alternately, research and consider giving vitamins via a syringe inserted into the stomach.> 0 He just chased a piece of krill across the bottom of the tank trying to eat it.  I took the krill back out so it wouldn't tease him. <This does indeed sound like he wants to eat, but cannot. If you are concerned, soak some food in a vitamin-rich supplement, puree it, and feed via syringe.>   Is this a strike?  I would think he would not look anxious to eat if that was that case... Thanks, Mark <It doesn't sound like an eating strike. You might also check the discussion boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk. --Ananda>

Puffer Ails 7/10/03 Our Mbu Puffer about (12 inches in length) has decided he does not want to eat shrimp anymore. We were always supplementing snails, crawfish. He just will not eat the shrimp. He has been doing something funny with his mouth, after he has bit into something, He opens up his mouth very wide like he is trying to push something out but nothing comes out, its gives us the impression that something is stuck in his gums??? Does that make sense?? <have you checked for overgrowth on the teeth?> He has been eating the snails even though he goes through this ritual. He is not as eager to eat as he once was. We have ordered him Ghost Shrimp, Brown Snails and crab. What else do you suggest? <some Selcon to supplement the diet... also gut-loading the prey with nutritious dry foods and frozen fare that the puffer would not eat alone> My husband pet him yesterday, when he was cleaning the tank. The Mbu "Andy" started to color up and move his fins like this made him happy. I thought he would puff up and act mad but he seemed to like the contact. Cute.   He has tank mates that he has had from the very beginning. A Bala Shark "Cedric"  and 30 small Tetras. When he is finished with his food they all come over and he lets them eat what ever he was having. I don't know how long this will last but it is really cool. I'll take a picture for you guys... We were rinsing the shrimp in filtered water, we should use a little water out of his tank I guess in a cup that belongs to him do you think he may not like his food rinsed in the filtered water?? Could there be too much Chlorine?? <no worries here> We research and read and talk to people we just want to do the right things for our Mbu Puffer Friend. He has become quite the family member. We are getting him that 300 gallon tank so that he can grow very old in it.  Thanks, Vivian   <many FAQs in our archives on puffers... do browse as well http://www.wetwebmedia.com  Anthony>

Porcupine puffer having problems (04/01/03) Thanks for your site.   <You're welcome...Ananda here tonight...> I have a porcupine puffer.  He was born with only one eye.  I have had him/her for about a year, and it has been doing great.  However, last night he would not eat for the first time ever, and this morning he appeared to be near death...sitting at the bottom of the tank, breathing rapidly.  He was barely able to swim against the current.   There are no visible signs of disease, and all the other fish in the tank are acting normal (and look good too).  I have no idea what is going on.  Could it be something genetic being that he/she has only one eye?  It seems like a stretch, but I am at a loss. I did a 20% water change right away.  Any further suggestions, advice, and comments will be greatly appreciated. <Have you tested your tank water parameters? Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate? Another possibility, since you say the other fish in the tank look okay, might be copper. Puffers cannot tolerate copper at all, while many other fish can. Have you treated the tank for anything lately? Have you added any new decorations to the tank lately -- especially anything green or blue? (Copper is used in both green and blue colorants.) I would run a copper test on the main tank to check; if you find any, get some Polyfilter tomorrow to get it out of the tank. Meanwhile, your puffer should go into the hospital tank. (No hospital tank? Don't panic -- go to the main WetWebMedia site and use the Google search tool with the term "hospital tank" to see some of the things people have used in a pinch.) Also, get another batch of fresh saltwater ready for another water change for the main tank.> Thanks in advance, Eric <Let me know what you find out... --Ananda>
Re: Porcupine puffer having problems (04/02/03)
<Ananda here again...> I am sorry that I neglected to mention that all water parameters were checked and came back good.  No treatments.  No decorations except for live rock, and that has been there for over a year.  I only use RO water for changes, so I hope I didn't get any copper from that, but I will check. <Keep an eye peeled for Ich or any other parasites. It may be that the puffer is showing signs of something before it causes stress in the other fish. Another possibility I thought of is stress caused by aggressive tankmates -- what other fish do you have in the tank? And how big is the tank?> Thanks so much for your quick response. Eric <You're welcome. --Ananda>
Re: Puffer with Swallowing Difficulty? 04/03/03
Ananda, thanks for getting back to me on this. <You're welcome> I should probably explain something first.  Since I wrote that first email.  The porcupine only wants to eat shrimp (from the market).  He can pack this away like nobody's business.  He beats up the smaller spotted puffer to eat his share.  He no longer wants to eat the freeze-dried krill (used to go nuts over the stuff). <Ah. My puffers sometimes get tired of their food. Quite possibly the same thing is happening here.> Whenever I give it to him, he brings it into his mouth, chews it up and spits it out.  He goes after the little pieces, but doesn't swallow them. Usually the little puffer cleans these up. <Thank goodness for small favors...and small puffers...> Neither puffer will eat the squid, octopus, or scallops.   <I'm not that surprised. Out of five puffers, only one will eat squid.> They did eat a fresh clam and a cleaner shrimp, that sucked.   <Yep, that bites. (sorry... PUNishment will now be administered via slapping with wet noodle...)> About the vent issue, I think the porcupine was just too skinny.   <Whew> Since I've got him, back in December, he never filled himself like the spotted puffer does, until recently, with the Shrimp.  Since he's been eating it so well, I've been feeding it to him soaked in Selcon and/or Garlic.   <The Selcon is definitely a good idea; the garlic can't hurt.> His body has filled out nicely.  I can no longer see his jaw bones under his mouth.  It's a nice rounded look.  And since he's gained weight what I thought was a distended vent, now blends nicely with the rest of his body.  He has a tapered look from head to tail.  He also doesn't swim around "hunchbacked" like he used to.  I guess I just wasn't feeding him properly. <Live and learn... good to hear that he's doing better.> I am very new to the hobby and the LFS told me that they do great on freeze-dried krill. <Which, presumably, they want you to buy at their store... yes, puffers usually love freeze-dried krill, but it should not be the only thing in their diet.> Out of curiosity, a few days ago, I took a shrimp tail and threw it into the tank.  The shrimp was about 1/3 the size of the porcupine and went down very easily.  He looked ridiculous. <I can imagine... a nice shrimp-shaped bulge in the belly...> He did not eat the next day.   <If I ate something that was 1/3 my size, I wouldn't, either!> I'm trying not to overfeed or let them (puffers) stuff themselves, but also don't want to underfeed.  Also, I've tried to get them to eat other things, but they just starve themselves until I give in (I'm weak).   <Heh. Maybe try some small in-shell clams? You might want to check through the Puffer Feeding FAQs for more ideas: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm> Anyway, sorry to ramble on like this.   Thanks again for answering my paranoid email.  You "guys" are doing a wonderful service to all of us. Vince <The reward for doing this is the letters like yours, with the good news about the fish we try to help... thanks for the update. --Ananda>

- Parasite Problems - Hello guys/gals I have a problem with one of my tanks and wanted to see if you guys could help me. I have a 75 gallon tank in the garage with about 80 lbs of live rock with a blue dot puffer, a clown trigger and a Hawkfish that is my holding tank until my 375 gets in. Well everybody was doing fine for the longest time then about a month ago I noticed that my blue dot puffer was getting very skinny but he would still eat a lot therefore I went from feeding every other day like I've always done to feeding every day even though the other 2 guys were very fat. Well even with me feeding every day the puffer kept getting skinnier and skinnier until he died a few days ago and now my Clown Trigger is starting to look skinny. Is there some sort of disease or parasite that could cause this or am I just not feeding them enough. <Yes, I'm afraid so... nematodes and Cestodes are the most common culprit - like tapeworms, they can out-compete for nutrients.> I had the blue dot puffer for over a year and he was a nice size for the longest time. I feed them all sorts of stuff such as Mysis Shrimp, Blood Worms and Squid. Thanks for your help. <Do try to get a hold of some Fenbendazole from your local veterinarian. Your best bet is to put this fish in quarantine for about three weeks and treat the quarantine tank directly with the Fenbendazole for that entire time. The Noga book of Fish Disease recommends 2mg/liter or 7.6mg/gallon of tank water. This should give your fish the upper hand against these parasites. Cheers, J -- >

Puffer with Swallowing Difficulty? Hello again crew, I have a question re: my porcupine puffer.   <Hi! Ananda here -- sorry to take so long in answering; I've been out of commission for a while...> I recently had an outbreak of either Ich or velvet.  I'm leaning toward velvet because the spots were pretty tiny and the puffer had them everywhere.  I have two puffers: a porcupine puffer and a green spotted puffer (brackish).  The spotted puffer has never had any problems.  He never showed any signs of Ich/velvet and has never had any problems eating.  The porcupine is a different story.  When we first got him he ate fine and never spit anything out.  We've had him for about 3 months now.  Two months ago he started with what seemed to be a hunger strike.   <I've heard of these puffers doing this before...usually, they start eating on their own. Sometimes a bit of vitamin B12 or garlic helps.> He would take food into his mouth chew it up and spit it out.  He did this for about 3 days.  We went on vacation, and the person watching him said that he no problems feeding him.  I normally feed him freeze dried krill and shrimp.  I've recently tried scallops, octopus, clams, and squid.   <Many of those are puffer favorites....> Anyway, six weeks ago i put the two puffers and my late O. Clowns into a QT for Ich/Velvet treatment.  Since the fish were in a much smaller environment I could observe them better.  Towards the end of the QT the puffer started spitting out his food again.  It looks like he is having trouble swallowing.  I can see the lump of food start down, but then it goes right back up into his mouth, he chews it up and then spits it out.   <Almost sounds like a blockage in the digestive tract... perhaps a too-large piece of something?> My spotted puffer seems to be able to swallow anything he can stretch his mouth around, and his body looks distorted afterwards. <Sounds familiar!> The porcupine doesn't seem to be able to do this.  Also, I recently noticed that his vent seems to maybe be a little distended.  Could you please give me a couple of clues as to what could be wrong with him/her.   <Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot you can do for a distended vent -- but the problem may solve itself. I would keep the porcupine puffer separated from the green spotted puffer to make sure the spotted doesn't cause any stress. And continue trying a variety of foods.> Also, there has been no signs of Ich/velvet since they were reintroduced about two weeks ago.  The fallow method seems to have worked, thanks. <Ah, good to hear. --Ananda>

Sick porcupine puffer: Hold the shells for this one, please... <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> We have a 72 gallon tank with just 1 damsel and 1 porcupine puffer.  The puffer was doing well, until I read on your website that it is not healthy to feed them goldfish.  I have tried everything from frozen mussel, to frozen krill, to shrimp, to silversides - but he will only eat live foods (live goldfish or crawfish).  Today, I purchased some mussel on the shell for him from the grocer.  He actually went for it and begin nibbling...shell and all!  Only afterward, he appeared sick and sat on the bottom.  Now he is not looking good or moving around.  Please help me!  We are new to the saltwater aquarium hobby - but I truly enjoy this fish and do not want to lose him! <This one's another case of "I saw it on the forum first and answered it there"... with this one, the forum worked better, as we were both online and I was able to get questions answered more quickly via forum than through email! Here's the thread in the 911 forum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?nav=false&forum=31&thread=9403 --Ananda>

Re: sick porcupine puffer Thank you for your quick response. I have some new information to add.  After reading your response and the FAQs, I was thinking it was just a "hunger strike".  I added a small molly to the tank who at times was swimming right in front of his face, and nothing.  Then I tried a drop of Kent garlic extreme on freeze dried krill and still no result.  His behavior has changed to make me wonder if he isn't sick.  When he first stopped eating he was swimming around like his normal self.  Then it went to periods of sitting on the bottom and then periods at the top staring into the corner with he occasional lap around the tank.  At this point his swimming was still normal.  Now he mostly lays on the bottom with labored breathing. Whenever he does swim around, he appears to have a vertical buoyancy problem. He sometimes will bump into things and will always come crashing down to the bottom when he stops swimming.  Sorry to bother you again, but I thought the new symptoms might be a good indicator of something else. <As odd as the non-normal behavior seems, it is not atypical. If indeed there is something internally amiss, this will either correct itself (most likely)... other than doing your best at general husbandry there is nothing more to do... or that I would do. Do try to be patient, positive. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Paul
Re: sick porcupine puffer
So just ride it out? No meds or anything that I can add to he tank to help? <No med.s or anything to add. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Paul
Re: Puffer Unable to Open Mouth
Hi Again Bob, So sorry to keep bugging you :/ <No worries> Re: the force feeding of this very beautiful and stubborn DF Puffer, who is taxing and my patience and frozen training skills like no seahorse ever has.......I have a few more questions.  At least Puffers are heartier than WC seahorses!!!! We both have that in our favor!! <Yes> Gullet?.....? Not sure what/where you mean......if this guy is say  3.5 to 4", excluding his caudal fin,  how far into his oral cavity should I shoot for, just a rough estimate? <Just until the tip of the plastic feeding tube is inserted... the animal has rear-facing projections, a muscular sphincter to prevent egestion> I would like to get a general idea about how much volume he can accommodate at one feeding. Any idea how big his stomach might be or what volume it would comfortably hold? I am guessing based on what my other 2(about the same size) eat about 2 to 3ccs perhaps, 4 max? <Actually, these animal's have enormously distensible fundi... no worries re overstuffing. In the wild I suspect that they only come upon large amounts of food on occasion... and when they do, engorge themselves> I read somewhere many moons ago that a fish's stomach is about as big as their eye. Now I have a feeling this is not true in the DF Puffers case. I have 2 others and I see what they consume and how their bellies bulge after a good meal. <Yes> If I am going to get past my trepidation and squeamishness to actually do this I want to be sure I do it right and feed him enough. I certainly don't want to waste my efforts and stress him out just to under feed the poor guy. <I understand. As you've stated, if the specimen is eating now, I would not attempt to force it...> How many days would you recommend I do it for and should I continue to offer him live and/or frozen foods simultaneously 2 times a day as I have been. <Continue offering the frozen/defrosted foods, any live as you have been... if the animal goes off feeding, appears dangerously thin, I'd commence force-feeding it... daily till it takes food on its own> Just how nasty is a bite from one of those beaks? Have you ever been bitten by one this guy's size? I am a tad nervous. <Have been bitten... painful... though not as bad as a dog or Psittacine (parrot-like) bird> When I tube fed the seahorses I had a really clear picture of their anatomy in my mind? Hehehe,  by the way it is not all that hard if you have the right size tube, a pair of magnifying reading glasses and a helper....that long straight snout is an easy target :). I feel a bit blinded in this situation, as this is a new species for me and although I have done a lot of research I am no where near done. The seahorse's GI tract is quite simple and from my understanding and observation LOL, a bit different than most other fish, would you say these guys (puffers) have a more typical anatomy? <Puffers are very similarly arrayed... a short, straight tube more or less, for fast processing> Do you have any recommendations for appetite stimulants........I have the following which have been recommended to me.......Vita Chem, Kent Marine Garlic Extreme and Kent Marine C.? Would any of these be appropriate, or do you have a product you have had good experience using? <The Boyd Product (VitaChem) and Selcon are my favorites> OK one more sort of dumb question......they can't aspirate like a human could, can they? Is there any harm I can cause him or is there anything I need to be careful/aware of during this procedure. <Not to worry> I will let you know how it goes if you like. Thank you and have a great day!!! <Real good. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner> Leslie

Puffer Diet/Ich Bob, Steven, Anthony: <Anthony Calfo at your service> I just received a Blue Guinea Fowl Puffer as well as a Juv. emperor angel that I am quarantining in my 20 gal. tank.  <magnificent fishes!> I am aware of the veg. diet for the angel, I was told that the puffer likes meaty items. How do I feed the new addition? By hand, drop food in, leave a closed clam for him to chomp on? Any help would be appreciated. <do read through the articles and FAQ's archived on this site, please. Extensive info on this subject is available here. In a nutshell though... this puffer needs a lot of shell on crustaceans like frozen krill and live crayfish for example. There is concern about getting overgrown teeth among other things> I also have lowered my salinity down to 1.019. The place where I picked up the fish indicated that he keeps his salinity even lower. I was told Ich can not live in salinity lower than 1.014. I informed him that I felt very uncomfortable lowering it that much and would go down to 1.019. I initially had my at 1.021, but I lowered before I acclimated the new arrivals to the tank. I am aware you lower the salinity when there is an outbreak of Ich, however he indicated that he rarely has problem with Ich due to the lower salinity.  <while some fishes will take the extremely low salinity, many will not. 1.017-1.019 is a nicely safe low end for most fishes> He is running a UV sterilizer as well. Is the combination doing the job, or one will not work without the other?  <fine for temporary holding (like a LFS) but unnatural to most and stressful to some fishes long-term> The subject is debatable, but I value your recommendations and if you feel that he is correct, I will lower even further. Thank you again for your assistance on this subject. Regards, Mendy1220 <you've got fine instincts. A little lower is OK, but do your water changes, feed well and simply be ready to medicate if necessary. Kindly, Anthony>

Puffer "Lock-Jaw" Hello again, Bob you keep referring me to your website and all it says is to use b12 as a stimulant what can I do about the lock jaw? I could see just prying it open but wouldn't it just break his jaw or would this be possible on only a 2-3 inch fish? Is there any chance to fix him or what? <What can you do about "lock-jaw" as in a fish? Depends on the root cause... am sure that in some cases these unfoldings are principally genetically disposed (have seen such deformities in the wild)... others are nutritionally mediated, resultant from traumas... What species, history do you have on this animal? Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer "Lock-Jaw"
The fish I have is a porcupine puffer I would say it is from nutritional because when we first got him he would only eat 2or 3 different types of food but now he just cant open his mouth more than about 2 mm if we used the fish anesthetic would I be able to pry his mouth open or would this break his jaw. The reason we couldn't feed him other stuff because he wouldn't eat anything else. <Mmm, to its apparent detriment. I would do the extreme here, Dremel tool (tm) the puffers teeth down (not painful to the animal) and force feed it a slurry of animal based material and vitamin mix (perhaps Selcon (tm) as well) via a plastic syringe. This is about the only path I know of to try to restore the health of this fish. Bob Fenner>
Re: Puffer "Lock-Jaw"
How would you be able to fit a Dremel tool in to his mouth when his mouth won't open enough to bite a piece of flake food or shredded up krill? <The tool certainly should not go into its mouth. Puffers have lips and eyelids unlike most fishes. Your assistant will gently pull back the lips with a blunt plastic utensil (plastic ware, credit card, etc). If the teeth are overgrown enough to be a problem, they will be quite visible and accessible from an exterior angle. And you're not being asked to put a 2" sanding drum on the tool!!!<smile> There are hundreds of attachments and tens of them are actually dental just like your dentist uses on some patients (tiny tips and wheels even less than 1/4 inch in size). Anthony>
Puffer Advice from the Puffer Queen
Hi Bob, I used to experience the same problem but have not had the problem in at least 6 years. I have heard many people attribute it to puffers eating too much freeze dried krill and developing "lock jaw". I do not believe excessive krill causes lock jaw. I do believe that the problem may be linked to a lack of some nutrient, mineral or vitamin. Since I have faithfully followed a varied diet supplemented with vitamins and weekly garlic, I have not lost a puffer to this ailment. I feed my puffers (my other fish and sharks as well) squid, shrimp, krill, prawn, tuna, red snapper, tilapia, swordfish, opah, marlin, mahi, scallops, crawfish, perch, mussels, commercially prepared frozen foods - shark and trigger formula, prime reef, as well as store bought frozen peas and Nori/seaweed.  <Wow, I want to be a puffer in your tanks...> I think many people t may tend to feed only krill as it is easy and the puffers love it but they forget that in the wild their diet is varied and they DO EAT GREEN/Vegetable material. All of my guys get peas weekly and seaweed at least every 2 - 3 days with their "main course" It is hard to say what one element has kept my puffers as well as some of my friends' puffers from suffering this ailment - but if I had to guess it is diet based - greens, vitamins, garlic and Variety. <Agreed> Vitamin B12 is a good appetite stimulant. I have successfully reversed some hunger strikes with B12 either given per feeding tube or injected. Unless the puffer is extremely weak or lethargic, it is often difficult to pass a feeding tube without him inflating or biting the tube in half. I find using MS222, to be far less stressful on me not to mention the puffer............. <For browsers, MS222 is a fish anesthetic, a controlled substance you might be able to procure through a veterinarian> and as you know stress can kill a fish or cause further disease/illness. This also helps prevent injury to the fish not to mention me! I have also successfully been able to get the large (14-20 inches) Chilomycterus antiga to eat within 36 -48 hours of transport from Florida by using heavy doses of Leng's Fish Solution. In the past, I have often had to jump start them with a tube feeding with B12 after 2-3 weeks of starvation............and believe me they were offered EVERYTHING under the sun. I often find trying to hold a puffer under the water and shove something in their mouth is unsuccessful and stressful - not to say that I have not had an occasion success doing this with my larger (14 plus inches) puffers. I have used a clear feeding stick with a whole shrimp and have stuck it in their mouths and they occasionally will then eat it - but like I have said it is not that often. <Yes> I think the longer the puffer goes without food, the greater the chance of succumbing to an opportunistic parasite or bacteria. Now I usually only wait 10 days at the most before I intervene...call me impatient but I tend to apply human medicine with some input from a friend who is a vet (mammals only) to my fish husbandry.  <I am of the same school of thought> Hope you are still awake and hope this helps. Let me know if I can elaborate, clarify or help in any other way. Kelly aka Puffer Queen <Thank you my friend. Will forward, post. Bob Fenner>

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