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FAQs about Burrfishes, Porcupinefishes Behavior

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

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

May be intimidated by tankmates... like Tangs

Burrfish... puffed up!      12/25/17
I added a spiny puffer Burrfish to my 210 gal softie reef tank about 4 weeks ago.
<Neat animals!>
He's seems very healthy and eating but his belly has gotten large. Could this fish be pregnant?
<Mmm; doubtful. More likely it has either over-eaten (very common) or has swallowed a good deal of water... also happens often). I would not panic; but just take a wait and see attitude. This issue should resolve itself within several days. Bob Fenner>

Web burr puffer mating behavior.      7/5/15
Thank you for taking the time to help me with my problem. I have a 700 gallon saltwater, fish only tank. I have a sailfin tang, yellow tang, blonde Naso tang, baby clown trigger,
<Yikes.... keep your eye on this fish... may turn very aggressive>

Fiji puffer, porcupine puffer, and web burr puffer. All parameters are healthy, ph 8.4, 76 deg Faren,
salinity 1.022.
<I'd raise this... see WWM Re>
For the last six months or so my web burr puffer has been acting aggressively towards the porcupine puffer.
<Happens; on an individual basis... puffers are like "Malawi" Cichlids in this regard... and like them, will often cease if crowded w/ more puffers>
He swims put to my porc, and places himself on top of the porc and appears to be trying to push him down. My porc gets angry, and they start fighting, and after the web burr gets bitten by my porc, he swims away. It is very unusual, and actually
seems like my web burr is trying to mate. My web burr does not do this with any other fish in the tank. I have had the porc for about 7 years, and the web burr for 4.5 years so they have lived happily together for many years.
I just do not know what to do or how to help.
<As stated, perhaps adding yet another Diodontid, Tetraodontid>
It happens regardless of whether they are hungry, the lights are on/off, salinity...I am really starting to worry because it is not getting any better, and I am afraid my porc is starting to get stressed and my web burr always has healing bite marks. Any suggestions or information would be very appreciated.
Thank you,
Mona Daneshi
<Do consider the addition; really; to diffuse aggression here. Bob Fenner>

Re: porcupine puffer. Using WWM       10/2/14
thank you for your response, also she curls her tail a lot when she's laying down is that normal and her eyes are kind of glazy like have an iridescent kind of film over them is it supposed to be like that?
<Yes; do just visit WWM's archived pages and images of Diodontids. BobF>

Rabbit fish getting aggressive with puffer fish. Beh. chg. w/ the addn. of Hippolytid cleaner    7/4/13
Hello WWM crew,
I have a 110 gallon tank with a 20 gallon refugium set up.  Nitrates nitrites and ammonia are not detectable.  Ph 8.4, dKh12 specific gravity is 1.023, I have an Eshopps skimmer, a Fluval 405 canister filter that has carbon and PhosBan media in it that is changed out on a regular basis .  I do  a 15 gallon water change once a week.
The tank has been up and running for 3 years.  The inhabitants of the tank are a scribbled rabbit fish that is about 6 inches in size and a porcupine puffer about the same size.  Both are about 3 years old.  I am saving for a bigger tank.  I have 3 mushroom corals and a Kenya tree coral. I have lots of live rock and plenty of hiding holes for the fish. All are doing well.
My question is this, about a month ago I added a skunk cleaner shrimp knowing full well he may end up a meal for my puffer.
 Since adding him Roger my Rabbit fish has become increasingly aggressive to Kirby the Puffer fish.  I believe he even invenomated him once on his back with how my puffer was swimming around the tank after incident, it was a bit frightening.  The puffer was a little lethargic after the incident. He is doing well now with no apparent after effects. It appears as if Roger is protecting the skunk shrimp. 
<Does happen... recognized as a help... cleaner>
If my puffer ventures near the shrimps hiding area while the tank lights are on  Roger is over there popping his spines at him and trying to nail him.  He will also block the puffer from getting near the shrimp with his body. He will then chase the puffer away from the area fins popping all the way.
Roger has also started to release small clouds of venom from his spines every once in awhile, he will then turn around and take them into his mouth and blow them in the direction of the puffer if he is nearby.  This behavior has happened 4 or 5 times now so I know it is not a one time thing.  However this is a new behavior since I added the shrimp.  I don't recall seeing this behavior before the shrimp was added.
When the moon lights come on in the tank and Roger is sleeping.  The puffer goes over and is cleaned by the shrimp.  I think there is a truce between the two.  The puffer will open his mouth and the shrimp cleans it for him.
<Ah yes>
Should I be setting up a separate tank for one of them? 
<Mmm, no; likely all will settle down...>
Or should I be getting a second cleaner shrimp since it would be harder for Roger to protect two shrimp at one time?  Or should I be adding another small fish so not all the attention or rather aggression is directed at Kirby?  They have shared the same tank for around 3 years.   The rabbit fish has never shown any aggression until now.   Do you think that the aggression is due to the addition of the shrimp or something else?
<Likely the shrimp>
  Do you thing Kirby would
be put in danger if he gets invenomated multiple times by Roger the Rabbit fish?
<Might die as a consequence if jabbed but good>
Any insight you could offer would be appreciated.   Thanks again for an amazing site.   I find myself reading on this site for hours sometimes.  
I have learned a ton and it has made me a better fish keeper.
<I'd leave all as is for now; keep planning on the new, larger system. Bob Fenner>

Yellow Spined Porcupine Puffer    2/3/12
Hey crew, here's a link to a picture taken today of my porcupine puffer. I've had him for about 15 months and he's 6+ inches from tip to tip. I started noticing his fins and spines going yellow about 6 months ago. It's only steadily gotten worse(?)
<Worse in what way? The colour? Not a problem>
 since then. There have been no changes in behavior or appetite.
I've tried every search for yellow fins/spines and jaundice in puffers, but to no avail. His diet consists primarily of Nori (a suspect in all of this), but with squid, shrimp, or oyster soaked in garlic extract and Selcon at least once a week.
If it's relevant, he's in a 135 mixed reef tank with a pair of Clowns, a trio of Yellow Tail Damsels, and a Niger Trigger.
<Tough neighborhood>
What are your thoughts? I really like the color, but don't like it being unique.
<Is fine... genetic and nutritionally related. I'd switch the last a bit.
Read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>


Puffer acting strange. Please help!   6/6/11
First of all thank you for taking the time to read this. I have a large Porcupine Puffer that I've had for several months. My tank is 200 gallons and has been running for many years. My tank parameters are'¦Ammonia and Nitrites=0 Nitrates =less than 5. This morning my puffer is bobbing face up at the surface and sometimes going upside down.
<Yikes. Not good>
There are no air bubbles stuck in him, he has been eating until now and shows no signs of illness. No
discoloration, spots or anything else. The only other fish I have are a dogface puffer, convict tang, and small Blueline trigger. They are all fine.
I am at a loss and don't know what to do. I am going to freshwater dip him and quarantine but any other help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!
<Don't think dipping or quarantine is an answer here. Perhaps a blitz of treatment (if this fish is still eating) via foods... w/ a mix of Antiprotozoal (Metronidazole) and Anthelminthic (Prazi- likely) along w/ a general vitamin et al. soaking... Reading the various Diodontid disease FAQs: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishdisfaqs.htm
and the linked files in the series (above), may grant you nothing of value, but on the other hand "Socios miseris habuisse dolorem dicit" if nothing else.
Bob Fenner>

Change in behaviour of Porcupine Puffer, nutr./fdg issue...    1/30/11
Dear all
We have a 5ft by 2ft tall by 1.5ft deep marine tank, currently stocked with 1 large snapper (6"), 1 regal tang (5"), 1 Volitans lionfish XL, 1 yellow belly puffer (4"), 1 stars and stripes puffer (3"), 1 valentine puffer (1") and our little star of the tank 1 porcupine puffer (4").
<All but the Toby are going to get very large... too big for this setting>
We've had our porcupine puffer (Twiddly) for nearly 1 year now and he's always been very happy, very playful, coming to the front of the tank, dancing for food. If you tap on the tank he'd come out from wherever he is hiding and come play at the front. We love him to bits. We've had white spot twice in the tank which he has survived and currently run the tank stripped back with no live rock just to be sure we are free of the dreaded spot.
We used to feed mussels
<Not exclusively I hope/trust>
and Twiddly would eat out of our hands, but then about a month ago we noticed he wasn't coming to the front of the tank anymore, he was swimming up and down the back of the tank, he wouldn't come and dance anymore and if he is at the front of the tank, if you walk up to it, he swims away. He's not interested in any food in the tank at all other than cockles in their shells which he eats.
<... imperative that you break this habit>
At one point he was bumping into things so we thought he may have gone blind, but his eyes are perfect, no clouding or damage and he's no longer banging into things.
<Could recur... permanently. IS related to the diet>
It's really sad because he was such a character, I'd do anything to help him. Is there anything we can do? We've changed the tank diet to a variety of raw seafood now such as squid, krill, and langoustine to see if variety helps but he'll only eat cockles.
Thanks very much
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>

Lazy Porky: Puffers and Triggers in a small system. A recipe for problems. 11/13/2009
Hi Guys,
<Hi Tyler>
Thanks for all the help so far. You are all the best!!
<Thank you, happy to hear you find the website useful.>
I set up a 50 gallon tank FOWLR system quite awhile ago and let it cycle.
I recently added the tanks first and second addition a 1 inch Rectangular Trigger
<a 50 is too small for a trigger. This fish will get to be a foot long. Triggers do NOT like to be crowded>
And a Slightly bigger (maybe a inch and a quarter) Porcupine Puffer.
<Same thing here. Will get too large, and will be aggressive in this tank.>
They have both been very cute and playful.
<That will not last.>
They both eat incredibly well and were swimming seemingly normal up until this point.
<It didn't last.>
The last few days my porky has been hanging out in a "cave" low in the bottom of the tank for quite a bit of the day.
Instead of cruising around the tank. Just seems unusual.
<No, the trigger is beating up the puffer.>
I'm not sure but it seems like he is breathing harder than he normally would.
The trigger is being his normal self.
<No surprises there.>
<Do read here:

Sluggish Porcupine Puffer, new, env.
Hello, I have a porcupine puffer who is very sluggish. I have had him for 3 days now and he has not gotten more active.
<Often takes a week or more to become situated...>
When I purchased him from the local fish store he inflated with air during the transfer from the tank to the bag and then again from the bag into my tank. (The aquarium uses copper so I can't put their water into my tank). I checked the levels and everything was normal (pH was 8.3, NH4 was 0, NO2 was 0 and the NO3 was around 5). My salinity is 1.021
<Too low...>
with a temperature around 80 degrees. All the tank mates leave him alone.
When I got him home I noticed he was floating tail side up and immediately I called the fish store. I was told to massage his belly to expel the air that he had inflated with. This expelled a large bubble and he swam around for a bit after that. Since then though, he rests continually on the live rock or even the bottom of the tank. He eats krill when I put it in there, but after eating he resumes his state of rest.
<Mmm, they do this...>
Is this normal behavior?
Do I just have a lazy fish or could there be a bacterial infection?
He is currently residing in the 29 gallon tank
<Way too small>
awaiting transfer to the larger tank. He doesn't appear to have any spots or discoloration. This housing tank has a powerhead rated for 50 gallons, top filtration, and a protein skimmer so I don't think DO is a problem.
Any help you can pass along or just a good word telling me he is a lazy guy would be great.
Thank you,
Dan Graffam
<Please see WWM re... Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm 
and the linked files above.... Get moving on moving this fish to larger quarters. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer, beh.   12/13/08 I don't know what to do about the latest behavior of my porcupine puffer fish. He is doing well and healthy in every way I can tell but when I use the Magnafloat to clean the inside of the bow front of the tank it creates a vibration that he is now instantly drawn to and, umm.... for lack of a better term appears to be trying to hump it. <!> I generally stop cleaning and wait for him to be drawn to another area of the tank before resuming but he sits there and waits by the magnet for quite a while. This is a new behavior and I honestly don't know what to do! Thanks for any advice! <Mmm... if the puffer is not damaging itself, I would not be overly concerned... but would remove the magnet from the tank when not in use. Bob Fenner>

Weird activity from porcupine puffer & nitrate level question, reading  12/07/08 I have 2 questions, First, I have a 120 gallon tank with a Porcupine Puffer and a Starry Puffer (also 2 Damsels, an eel, Bird Wrasse and Bursa, Clown and Niger Trigger). <... these fishes need more room than this... some get very large indeed over time> Since last week the porcupine puffer (Spike) will not leave the other, starry puffer, (Chomp) alone! <A manifestation of the crowding here> Spike has always enjoyed swimming back and forth in the tank, while Chomp always hides under rocks. Lately Spike is huddled next to Chomp, and has even rammed him with his head! Chomp is getting really irritated. <Wouldn't you? I would> Second, the nitrate levels have been high in the tank, for a while, <"How high is high?" Cheech and Chong, 1975> but it has not seemed to affect even the Damsels. We have done a 100% water change within the past 2 weeks and the nitrate levels are still unaffected. We are using a RO/DI water for water changes. Any ideas? Best Regards, Marylee and Matt <Sure... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the linked files above... "many roads..." Bob Fenner>

Silly burrfish -- 7/30/08 Hi crew !! <Chris> Just a quick one. I have a very healthy burrfish, he's about 8 inches long, and likes to smile. I recently changed the location of the TV in my living room, not pointing at the tank, but now if I go within 2 feet of the front of the tank, he attacks the side of the tank.......but only once its dark out. Could he be getting a reflection? <Yes> Maybe its a shadow or something.... if I stand at the side of the tank he just looks at me and smiles. Any ideas or suggestions? <Yes... try covering one end of the tank with dark paper> I don't like seeing him get all riled up. LOL. Silly pufferfish <Mmm... not likely silly... Bob Fenner>

Porcupine pufferfish question -- discoloration, lack of information -- 04/16/08 Hi Crew, <Hello Christopher.> I just purchased a Porcupine Pufferfish several days ago. He's a great addition to my tank and eats like crazy, love the big smile on their faces! Last night though, I noticed on his back he's turned a greyish color covering about 50% of him. I quickly checked various water conditions, all of which seem fine (my tank has been established for over a year). <What's fine? Numbers are needed here, esp. nitrates'¦tank size, if he was quarantined by you, other tank inhabitants'¦> I'm just wondering if this is a sign of stress, or sickness, or just something these puffers do to blend in? I've been feeding him a wide variety of food, but he'll only eat mysis and krill. Could you please let me know if you have heard of this before? Even his spikes have turned greyish. <Porcupine puffers can change their color to some degree depending on mood, but if you observed a specific, possibly growing area with grey color, while the rest of the fish remained the same, this is likely an external bacterial infection that needs to be treated if it's growing. A good picture would have been useful for diagnosis. See http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BurrfishDisFAQ2.htm, scroll down and you'll find a picture for comparison. Treatment advice/opinions are also found there (posts from 4/24/07 and 4/22/07, also see the other porcupine puffer FAQs linked on top of the page.> Thanks in advance, Christopher. <Good luck. Marco.>

Re: formerly Dory the Bully  1/7/07 <In our previous correspondence, I commented that the size of your puffer will grow to 12" & require a minimum of 100g of room for himself. Adding more fish, would require a bigger tank.> Questions:  Diodon holocanthus will get that big in captivity?   <There is no reason a captive fish shouldn't match wild size or even exceed this, with enough room & proper care.  They don't need to hunt down foods, have no enemies & if cared for correctly, should not encounter disease.  It should certainly live longer & grow larger.  The problem is, most folks don't give them enough room to grow!> Why do they need that much room all to themselves? <Puffers are extremely messy eaters & high waste producers.  It will be difficult to maintain a healthy environment in a tank that is too small for a fish like this.  Remember: The solution to pollution is dilution!> I rearranged LR but Dory continued to be aggressive, so I exiled her to the QT.  Everyone seems to be more relaxed & happier (except Dory).  Will I need to find her a permanent new home or would she not be aggressive if reintroduced? <You could try rearranging the decor in the tank & reintroduce her in a week or so, after the puffer has adjusted.  Otherwise, for your puffer's well-being, Dory will have to swim elsewhere.> Lastly, puffer does eat squid, crab, shrimp, snails, etc along with krill.  Krill just happens to be his favorite & possibly the only thing he was fed at LFS.  Glad to hear your puffer is getting a varied diet.  Many puffers fed a diet of strictly krill wind up suffering from lock-jaw.  ~PP>

New Porcupine Puffer, beh.  9/18/06 Hello Crew, <Ethan> It has been a while since my last question, I hope all is well. I recently added a porcupine puffer to my 120 gallon tank. I quarantined the puffer for 2 weeks and it ate well in my q-tank. Since adding it to my 120 it has been hiding and been very sedate. <Might be nothing, but perhaps someone is hassling it there> Staying hidden in the same spot for the last 48hrs.  I have a yellow tang, hippo, rainbow wrasse, 2 angels (flame and lemon peel) and a large tomato clown. <This last likely> None of the other fish seem to have been picking on him. He did eat the first day but not yesterday. Is this 'normal' for porcupines to do this the first few days during acclimation? Ethan <Not unusual at all... as fishes go, these "higher teleosts" and their kin (triggers, files... tetraodontiforms) are often on behavioral bents and tears... I would not be concerned until a few weeks go by... unless you see physical signs of harassment. Bob Fenner>

Inflated Porcupine puffer   7/25/06 I read the article and my puffer doesn't have any air trapped.  He is on the bottom of the tank partially inflated with water.  He doesn't have air trapped in him, because I burped him several times, if he does its very, very minimal.  The problem is, he seems he can't expel the remaining water.  He can inflate fully and can expel the water down to about half his size, but no further. Any other ideas? <<Puffers are built to inflate, and expel water with water with ease.  Does a little bit of air come out when you burp him?>> Thanks John

Puffer using one gill  - 04/15/06 Hello WWM, <Irene> I have read on your web site that sometimes when a fish is using one gill, that this is normal behavior;  it will go away in time.  I have also read that this could be a sign of gill flukes.  This is my situation: <Yes, it can be either or....> I have an 80 gallon tank.  Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0, pH is 8.3, temp is 78 and Nitrate is 10.  I have a 4" Porcupine Puffer, a 12" Snowflake Eel and a 4" Sailfin Tang.  I purposely keep the stock low to maximize growing space for each fish and I know in time the puffer will need a larger tank of her own. <This is probably too much now, I would begin the 125 or larger tank search and saving now.> For the past day, my porcupine puffer breathes with one gill about 95% of the time.  She uses the left gill only rarely.  She does not breath heavily and there is no sign of scratching.  She swims mainly within the bottom third of the tank and seems active enough, especially in the morning and at night. <Eating fine and no other issues?> Please tell me that my fish is just exhibiting normal behavior.  Is this one gill thing common among puffers?  I plan to watch her carefully for any improvements and hope that she is just doing something funny but normal. <Not normal, but does happen sometimes.  may be a sign of aggression on the tangs part and or stress related.  Keep watching the puffer to see if it improves or degrades.> Thanks, Irene <Justin (Jager)> Webb burr puffer... beh., dis.    3/27/06 Hi,      If you are able to answer any questions or help us with our dilemma we really appreciate it. Thank you in advance.      We have a Webb Burr Puffer that we have had for about 4 weeks now.  He has been incredibly healthy and active up until recently. He has started to act very tired and spend more and more time at the bottom of the tank ~ not like he was usually. <Not unusual for puffers of all sorts to go through this sort of "phase" on arrival...>   He, before, the last couple of days was always very active, eating well and towards the top of the tank.  Now he doesn't really seem to want to eat, though he does come to the top once he knows it is feeding time, but eats very little.      We also have a yellow tang, a couple little damsels and a Achilles Surgeonfish ~ which was just added a couple of days ago.  We have a 46 gallon tank.  The puffer is a juvenile and about 2 inches long. <Quite small>      We were told by our pet store to add Life Bearer/parasite treatment to our tank to try and cure him.  We also have copper levels of approx .10 in our tank.    <Uhh, no... these compounds are toxic... adding to the puffer's troubles, not alleviating them>   I also am a little concerned about a couple of newer white/clear spikes he has on his back.      Can you please tell us what we should be doing and what we can do to try and help him?  Thank you. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/pufferdisfaqs.htm and the many linked files above... And cease the "medicating". Bob Fenner>

Re: Webb burr puffer... still not reading...    3/27/06 Thank you so much for your quick response.  He looks even worse today.  Looks like he has some sort of blister on his chin and one of the white/clear spikes looks as if the casing around it is coming up and around it.        So ~ I should cease the parasite med AND the copper?      <Please see prev. corr....>   We were told by the pet shop to keep the copper level up around .10 to help with ick on the other fish.      <No... this amount of free cupric ion is not of sufficient strength to be therapeutic... See WWM re...>   What levels should we have any type of meds, if at all?    <.........................>   What else can we do to try and help him?      Thank you,   Bridgette and Mike <............ Read where you've been referred. Bob Fenner> Diodon hystrix stroking - 10/2/06 One of the LFS's near me recently set up a saltwater pond (2,000 gallons) in the front room of their store.  In it they have a few small sharks, a few large rays, <a *few*? Yikes.> but the gem of the tank in my mind is a 2-spotted Burrfish, or Diodon hystrix.  Amazing specimen, I am a puffer fan so I am obviously a little biased (I currently have a GSP in a brackish tank and am in the plumbing stage of a 90 gallon marine setup for a striped Burrfish). <Me too.. GSPs in a marine tank here.>   The fish even allowed the store owner to stroke its back and even seemed to enjoy it.  It was the first of this species I have seen so I was excited, and since y'all are fish people I just thought I would share my excitement with you.  Next time I go I will take my digital camera and send you some pics. <Thanks for sharing.. a beautiful fish, I'm sure. Us puffer nuts also hang out at www.thepufferforum.com. Do be sure to check it out! Best regards, John.> Jonathan

Porcupine Puffer Question - 12/08/05 Hello - <<Howdy>> I'm very happy to have found your site! I have about a 3-4 inch porcupine puffer, large maroon yellow-striped clown, yellow tang and damsel. The puffer doesn't bother these fish nor they it. <<Very good>> However, I've noticed recently that the puffer has puffed up for no reason (noticed it 2x in about 1-2months). Any reason why? <<Mmm, not really. Maybe reacting to movement in the room...startled by the quick movements of the tang...>> Just testing the machinery? <<Maybe>> I've tested water conditions, and everything seems normal. Also, is it a good sign that the puffer's healthy if it has more yellow pigment? <<Not that I'm aware.>> Does that even matter? <<I doubt it.>> I feed it frozen krill and brine shrimp. <<The krill is fine, but you need to add more variety (the brine shrimp is pretty much useless...mostly water). Feed chopped table shrimp, clams, squid, along with frozen Mysis shrimp...will be appreciated by all your wet pets.>> Thanks for your help! Francesca <<Regards, EricR>>

Porcupine puffer problem... just crowding 7/18/05 Hello, I have 2 porcupine puffers they are between 5 and 6 inches long in a 50 gallon tank. I have had them since they were 2 inches long and now they are fighting a few times a week. Is this normal???? <Mmm, yes> Is it a feeding issue? I feed them frozen krill everyday. can you help? Thanks, Tony <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffersysfaqs.htm and on to and through the linked files at top where you lead yourself. Your animals need much more space... and to be separated... Bob Fenner> Diodon holocanthus behaving uncharacteristically 6/18/05 Hello, I have some problems with my puffer. I've had her (or him) for about 2 years. <Actually... there is sexually dichromatic differences. Females have a distinct and dark rosette pattern dorsally that bears strong contrast during courtship/breeding> She is now in a 200 gallon aquarium. She usually slept during the day in a cave and came out as the lights went off. But lately she swims around the tank all day long, and of course all night. This alone would not worry me much, but for about the past month or so, she no longer has the same healthy appetite. She used to love shrimps and mussels, but now eats only 1/5 of what she used to, and she prefers algae (algae tablets). <Hmmm... how large is she, and have you been feeding her well/heavily for many months? Many larger predators will go on fasts periodically for having been (over)fed more than "normal" (natural). Or... if she is sexually mature, she may release eggs soon (even without a male present to spawn with). Does she look quite bulbous in the rear third of the body?> The water parameters are more or less fine (calcium is a bit low) a <No worries> And the other fish (Apolemichthys trimaculatus, bicolor blenny, clown and cleaner fish) are all OK. The only thing that I noticed was that on one of her fins there are two white spots, about 2 mm x 2 mm, protruding about 1 mm from the fin. To me it seemed that these spots have grown a little bit, but I may be mistaken. I do not think this is Cryptocaryon and the fish does not scratch. Otherwise the fish looks fine. <Do be careful here. Diodon are notorious for parasite infestations of more than a few varieties. They are prone, and the lack of appetitive at the same time is more cause for concern. Do you have a QT ready if needed? If not, please get a sponge filter into your main display sump ASAP to be conditioned if/when a move is needed. Never underestimate the need for QT> I'm looking forward to your advice and thoughts. Katja <There is much writ in the wetwebmedia.com archives on these fishes... please do take the time to review our coverage on ich, parasites, Pufferfishes and more. Best of luck/life. Anthony>

Unusual question on a porcupine Puffer I have had puffers change body colors. I have had some of the Diodon holocanthus' eyes change from a greenish blue to a dark color without any reason.  I attribute it to age or trying to camouflage more into their surroundings. In my experience it has not been a sign or stress or disease. Hope this helps. Enjoy your puffer - they are great fish! Kelly aka Puffer Queen <Thanks Kelly. Bob F, who's turning color thinking of you.>

Puffer Eye Color Change The puffer question yesterday (9/16) seemed to have you stumped as to how a porcupinefish's eyes could change from blue to black. I've seen it happen...often porcupinefish have a natural "oil slick" over their eyes, that disperses light and makes it look like the eye is blue. But this can go away for no real reason and give the illusion of an eye color change. Nothing to worry about. You can see exactly what I mean on Bob's 2 photos of Diodon holacanthus at http://wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm. The fish on the right has the blue slick but the one on the left doesn't. HTH, Regards, Michael Krechmer <Michael... outstanding. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tidbit... further testimony to the wonder of the internet, modern communications and the kindness of others. This will be promptly posted and shared. Best regards, Anthony>

Fish <<Hello Debra, JasonC here doing a cameo while visiting with Bob in sunny San Diego.>> Hi I own a 120 gallon saltwater aquarium. In the aquarium I have a four inch long percula clown and two small domino damsels and a three inch long porcupine puffer. I have excellent filtration. My water is reading perfect PH- 8.3 AMMONIA- 0.0 NITRITE- 0.0 NITRATE-0.15 I do a 10 gallon water change every two weeks. Over the past two weeks my porcupine puffer has been breathing a bit heavy. <<in what way? like deep breaths or [very] rapid gill movement?>> However during this time he has been eating like a pig. But during the past few days he hasn't been really wanting to eat too much at all. He doesn't show the interest like he use to. IM worrying that his heavy breathing has caught up to him, He still is very active but he doesn't want to eat he just wants put the food in his mouth and spit it out. <<hmmm>> Do think he has a gill parasite? <<is certainly a possibility>> If so I want to know If Formulite a copper base formula will cure his problem? <<if he has a gill parasite, this will aid the situation.>> Will it? Its a five day treatment. Can I just add this medicine to my main system since its only copper and because I don't have any invertebrates present in my tank? Please respond back soon. Thank you. <<Well, here it comes... if you haven't already do read up on the WWM site about puffers, there's some good stuff there: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm As non-mammalian fish go, these are among the smartest ones around. With that said, sometimes they can go into a funk, for no particular reason that you and I can determine. Luckily enough, they often come back just as quickly. I would attempt to feed this fella some whole krill [frozen, no freeze-dried] as this is a favorite puffer treat. It also serves to keep their teeth from overgrowing and causing other problems. Now for the copper and formalin - this is a fairly toxic mix, which can be useful if you need a broad-spectrum thing-killer. Most often, copper treatments can also cause problems with your biological filtration. Best use of copper is in a separate system, bare of substrate and decoration. Here's another page on WWM to see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm You best bet is to keep an eye on the puffer, do some reading and hold off on the copper for the moment. Best of luck. Cheers, J -- >>

Puffer Question Hi Bob, it's been a long time since I have written you and I am glad to see that your website is doing so well. <<Well... the site is doing so well that Bob is letting me answer your email. How's them apples?>> I have a couple questions for you regarding my 3 year old Porcupine Puffer fish. My first question, and I know it sounds weird but, he looks bored all the time (except during feeding time when he gets VERY excited.) At the moment his only other tankmate is a Snowflake Eel (who ate my two juvenile tangs!!). Anyway, like I said he seems bored, he goes over to the eel's cave and will just rest at an opening watching the eel. Sometimes he'll swim to the other end of the tank and then back to the cave to do some more eel watching. I guess my question is, #1 can fish even get bored? <<I think so, yes. How big is this tank - perhaps he has been there and done that. You could rearrange the live rock every so often to mix things up. Puffers are about as smart as it gets for a non-mammalian fish so they are quite aware of their environments. Additionally, some puffers can be nocturnal and spend most of the day resting. This 'resting' may be the behavior you are observing.>> #2 are there any tankmates that are more entertaining to a puffer fish than an eel that hides in his cave all day? <<Who knows what entertains a puffer, and to that end, what would entertain a puffer that wouldn't get eaten by it. Perhaps a trigger fish like a Huma, depending on the size of the tank.>> Of course any tank mates would have to be small enough not to fit in my eel's big mouth (btw, I thought they were strictly non-fish eaters????). <<I thought so too, but perhaps they were just to small - did you see the eel kill them or was the eel just taking advantage of an otherwise ailing fish?>> My other question is a much simpler one.. how long do Diodon holacanthus Linnaeus (long spined puffer fish) live? Like I said earlier I've had him for three years and he seems to be very healthy still. <<That's a simple question? I have to offer you another 'who knows'... there's probably been a couple in public/private aquaria that have lived to 20+ years but there are so many variables that there are no guarantees. For certain, in the wild they can live much longer.>> Thanks for your advice. Steve <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J - >>

Re: Puffer Question <<Greetings, Steve.>> Thanks for the quick reply. I have no doubt that the puffer is nocturnal and he does rest during the day. But his behavior now is different than it used to be.. he seriously looks bored. But rearranging the "decor" is a good idea thanks. I have a question about your suggestion of a Huma trigger. Actually, I was kind of excited to have you suggest a trigger because I have been wanting to get one. The reason I had dismissed it as a possibility is because according to the trigger article on this site it says that triggers will sometimes pick on eels and I don't want to subject my poor eel to that. But I also know that Huma's tend to be more easy going than certain others.. are they less likely to do exhibit this behavior? <<Well yes, that's why I suggested a Huma and not a Clown or Undulated Trigger ;-) Among triggers, Humas are not as mean as others but can still be pretty belligerent. Still your current mix is likely not a problem, and provided you have the room the trigger should be able to hold it's own. Likewise I doubt that a Huma would mix it up with an eel - especially one with an appetite.>> As far as your question about the eel yes I did see him (to my horror) kill the poor tang (who was about 1 1/2 inches or so) while the tang was sleeping. (I happened to get up early that day while the eel was still active, but the tang wasn't). I have a feeling it was because the fish store I got him from was feeding him goldfish! (I couldn't believe that was his diet when they suggested I buy some feeder fish for him! - I feed him shrimp & krill). <<Sounds reasonable - 1.5" is a little small and approaching bite-sized so eel was just probably taking advantage of an easy breakfast. Good plan with the shrimp and krill.>> Anyway thank you again. Steve <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Skipped the clown trigger and went with a small Holocanthus puffer instead... he's a funny one. Was kind of beat up at the LFS but on the mend and eating well. <Yes, very resilient fish> Am I to understand that [given reading all I can read from WetWeb] as long as this joker is eating well he/she is ok? It's been scooting around for days and chasing the damsels. This morning it was sulking on the bottom, but came out of the funk to eat rather energetically and then returned to the sit on the bottom mode. <Yes, par for the course> This is normal puffer behavior, all other things being equal, yes? <Yes, affirmative> How is their sensitivity to water anomalies? I might have had a live rock cure unsuspected and spiked the ammonia for a day but it's in decline today, and I could always do a water change to smooth things back out. Are they [the puffer] hearty - delicate? No one else in the tank seems to mind the ammonia and the pH is on the money so... <Not delicate at all... able to withstand pollution to about the limits of all fishes> Like I said, all is returning to normal tank-wise so I'm guessing this is just puffer-funk. <Actually just how these fishes are... Puffers, like the related Triggers are "very advanced" fishes of curiosity, intelligence... and playfulness. Bob Fenner> Cheers. Thanks in advance. J --

RE: skipped the clown trigger As suspected, it was taking a daytime nap. Up and about like normal. <Yes... Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer, why did it puff? While getting ready to do a water change on our porcupine puffer's tank a few minutes ago, I looked down and noticed it had puffed. We were quite frightened, as we have never seen it do this before. Why?  <Why did it "puff up?"... hard to say... either something startled it, it's practicing, or even (I swear) just having fun... Nothing to worry about unless it has difficulty "unpuffing"> It did it only for a few seconds (under a minute) and when un-puffing spit out some stringy white stuff (maybe part of the oyster it had for lunch?) <Perhaps> I was just wondering if you had any insight into what would make our fish puff. We have cleaned the tank before, and it has never reacted like this! <See this occasionally underwater (sans molestation of course) and in tanks. As I say, nothing to be alarmed over. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine puffer Good Day, I recently added a porcupine puffer to my 55 gallon aquarium, he was only the third fish in the tank with a small damsel and a small file fish. He seems to spend most of his time up by the outtake of my emperor filter system. He eats regularly and the water tested out fine. Is this typical for activity for this type of fish. Thank you for your advice. <Not atypical at all... Bob Fenner> Paul Cannariato

Did Puffy Huff or Puff? <Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob travels> We have a spiny box puffer fish. He is pretty small still and we had him about a month. He has been fine and eating fine but we have noticed that he is swimming weird lately. He seems to struggle to swim and swims at an angle with his tail fins upward. He can dive to the bottom of the tank but it looks like he is struggling. Does this mean that he has swallowed air? <possible but uncommon once established... usually occurs after netting out of water when sold/moved> Since this swimming problem has started he does not seem to eat anymore either. We also have some larger fish that are bothering him. The fish who are the villains are a Sailfin tang, blue tang and a Heniochus. What can we do to help puffy? <needs quarantine immediately. Ultimately may never work with current tank mates, but suffer and die if forced to do so> If it is air, how exactly do we help him release it without getting bit or hurting him? <gently net underwater with a soft nylon cloth net (not coarse green fabric). Securely grab the fish through the net and orient the fish tail-down/ mouth- upward. The struggle to get free will often massage a burp of air out if it exists. You should only need 5-10 seconds to complete if it will work at all. Quite frankly, it may not be air at all and the symptoms are general. Stressed by harassment from other fish, it could have a pathogenic infection... that is why quarantine for isolation, treatment and observation is critical to save its life>  Thanks for any help with our little guy. <please write back with a success story! Anthony>

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