Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Burrfishes, Porcupinefishes Disease 1

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

Related Articles: Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Puffers in General, Puffer Care and Information, A Saltwater Puffer Primer: Big Pufferfish! by Mike Maddox, Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo, True Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

Related FAQs: Diodontids 1, Diodontids 2, Diodontids 3, Burrfish Identification, Burrfish Behavior, Burrfish Compatibility, Burrfish Selection, Burrfish Systems, Burrfish Feeding, 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

Avoiding Thiaminase  9/7/17
Hello crew,
I read the article on Thiaminase and I found it very informative. I was left with a question, what am I supposed to feed my porcupine puffer? I see that there are some non-Thiaminase fish offerings, but puffers do not eat fish.
<Mmm; assuredly they do. Have seen several species of puffers consume fish in the wild and captivity>
It caused fatty liver disease over time.
<Do you have reference/s for this assertion? Your intuition, experience?>
It seems that everything I feed him is high in Thiaminase. Squid, scallops, clam, mussel, oyster, shrimp is always in the mix. I do add Boyd's Vita Chem to the food. Is this enough to counteract the effects of the Thiaminase.
<To some extent; yes. B vitamins can be added to foods, water...>
I used to use Selcon, but the Boyd's seems to be a more complete multi vitamin.
<I'd add in some whole (small) fishes or bits of fillet in this mix of invertebrate fare. Bob Fenner>
Re: Avoiding Thiaminase      9/8/17

Thank you for the response.
<Glad that we're sharing Jason>
This is a quote from an article by Kylyssa Shay. Do you think that this is not true in all cases? Maybe puffers cannot have fish as their main diet, but can have it as part of a diet?
"Balloonfish are not piscivores. That means that, in nature, they don't eat fish. Do not feed fish, live or dead, to them. Feeding fish to pork puffers may cause something called fatty liver disease, a usually fatal ailment.
Not only that but the nutrient balance found in fish is very different from that found in mollusks and crustaceans, their natural prey. Feeding fish, especially live feeder fish, to your porcupine puffer can also unnaturally
accustom him to eating fish, making him a danger to future tank mates.
Carefully read the ingredients of any prepared fish foods you give your pet.
Choose those with invertebrates such as shrimp, krill, squid, clams, or mussels listed as their first ingredient. Avoid all prepared fish foods with any type of grain or fish meal listed first in the ingredients."
<Mmm; well... will have to look further for input; but though I agree that Diodontids are principal feeders on hard-shelled invertebrates in the wild; have seen them eat Seastars, fishes... BobF>

Re: Avoiding Thiaminase    9/15/17
This is a snap of the ingredients of the main food I feed all my fish.
There is some whitefish and Pollock in it which is on the no-thiaminase list.
Maybe this food is better than I thought??
<I suspect you'll be fine here w/ this mix; as long as it isn't overfed, and you supplement with B vitamins. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer Problem  1/1/06   Yesterday I noticed that my porcupine puffer has developed a swollen grayish/purple area on the back of his body, <Good observation> and I don't know what to do. I've moved him to the QT, and treated with Molex (the research I did, led me to believe it could be a bacterial infection) <Mmm, secondarily perhaps> Please help.  What is this, and what do I do? Please Help <Something... sorry for the vagueness... internal. I would try to bolster this animal's immune system by soaking its food with a meaningful vitamin-plus supplement... Like Selcon, Microvit. Most such difficulties as you describe to resolve themselves... Bob Fenner>

Poor Planning/Husbandry and Puffer Health - 12/13/2005 Hello - <Hi Francesca.> I noticed very recently that my Porcupine Puffer has been gasping/ labored breathing and stays around the top, as if 1) there's too much ammonia or not enough oxygen in tank or 2) some parasitic problem, maybe gill flukes? <This doesn't bode well for your tank. Has your Puffer been puffing at all (or ever). They are usually very good first indicators of poor conditions.> Just for background, I have a 30 gallon tank with a Clown, the Puffer, small Damsel and Yellow Tang. <This demonstrates extremely poor planning or a lack there of. Neither the Puffer nor the Tang are suitable here. They should both be removed to larger systems. This inappropriate stocking is a good part of your problem. Both will have stunted growth and die prematurely if they remain. The choice however is ultimately yours.> The Puffer's about 4 inches. I checked water conditions, Ph, <pH> ammonia of course, etc, and everything's fine. <I can draw no such conclusion here.> I like keeping my salinity level lower (not a reef tank) at 1.020, also hear it's good for preventing Ich supposedly, not sure? <Do read up on hyposalinity on our site for more info.> They seem fine though. <Obviously not.> Just did a water change too. I do these every 2-3 weeks, about 20% or so. <Being this overstocked you should be doing these much more frequently. Skimmer?> Every week I put in calcium supplements to maintain Ph (in particular Kalkwasser mix, and All in One Salifert). <Do you know what your doing with these? How much calcium is lost in your tank weekly? If not testing/regulating accordingly, please stop. Increase water change frequency.> I'm usually <Usually!?> careful pouring the Kalkwasser mixed with freshwater in it (I hear you're supposed to pour in slowly), <Only go on what you know and understand thoroughly. Going on what you've heard can be deadly and doesn't often apply in such cases.> but last week I may have poured it in too fast and 'burned' a bit of the puffer tail fringes. I'm wondering whether I may have slightly affected his gills too, thus the labored breathing. <Do you know the effects of a sudden pH spike? The effect it would have on any measurable amount of ammonia?> But that was last Thursday and it's already Monday. Or is it gill flukes? I hear that's hard to diagnose. <I doubt it's more than inappropriate care.> What should I do? I love this guy - his name's Piggy (aptly named of course). Great personality, good color and weight (not too fat). Even though he's acting like this, he still eats like a pig and is relatively active when I'm ready to feed him. <You'll need to start frequent water changes (at least weekly), study more on additives and their use/need and either buy a larger (100 gal. at least) system for these or adopt them out.> Thanks for your help, sorry email so long! I'm just at a loss what to do. <I know this was not at all what you wanted to hear and understand your attachment to your livestock. You must however consider what is best for them and how to best help them here. Just think how it would feel to constantly try harder (which can also hurt things if misapplied) only to watch them fade and slowly waste away (or become brain damaged, neurotic, Etc.). Besides, a little well intentioned "tough love" is what we all need sometimes.> Francesca <Josh>

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>

Re: Hungry Puffer 8/17/05 OK.  I took the puffer back to the store.  When the clerk introduced the fish into their tank he tried to catch it in a bag and I noticed it puffed with some air.  Once inside their tank he had to a nickel size bubble near his tail. The puffer (about 5 in. in length) was upright but was swimming slightly off center and seemed to be being pulled to the top of the tank.  Please tell me he will be able to expel this amount of air. The last thing I want is to return my favorite fish just to have him die.  What are his chances? Chris <Good... that the fish will likely expel the air or resorb it. Bob Fenner>

Unasked /Unanswered Question @ porcupine puffer 8/14/05 Hi, Bob You are obviously very knowledgeable and have answered hundreds of questions regarding fish. I won't bore you with a duplicate query. I have conflicting information about the longevity of my porcupine puffer, and would like a definitive answer. The two sources of information are from our local saltwater fish store, Shear Heaven, in Allentown, PA, and the nationally renowned superstore/retailer/supply store "That Fish Place," located in Lancaster, PA. Our puffer is about 11" long. Maybe headed into the foot-long category. We purchased him from Shear Heaven, after he was put on consignment so his original owner could add to his reef/anemone-friendly tank, which interested him more than a fish-only tank. Shear Heaven estimated that he is currently around 5-6 years old, and had reached maximum length at 10 inches when we bought him (he grew. And, if it helps, we have a 90-gallon aquarium with five other puffer-compatible fish). They estimated that he would live to be around ten years old. The woman I spoke with at That Fish Place called him "just a baby," and informed me that he could, depending on maintenance and tank size, grow up to 2-3 feet and live 20-30 years. Who is right? I'm hoping the latter source. I love "Salty" and his personality and hope to have him around for more than 5 more years! Plus, my husband and I are upgrading soon to a much larger tank, and not many more fish. At your convenience, since I know you're busy, please let me know. I'm really curious to hear.  Sincerely, Jennifer Mack <Mmm, this is likely a Diodon holacanthus... and if you look re on fishbase.org: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=4659&genusname=Diodon&speciesname=holocanthus They give the maximum length as 50.0 cm... some twenty inches long or so... Am privileged to knowing of some public aquariums that have had this fish for more than twenty years in captivity. Bob Fenner>
Re: Unasked /Unanswered Question @ porcupine puffer 8/14/05
Thank you so much for your quick reply!!!! I will visit the site you indicated in your e-mail, and am hoping that Salty will continue to grow in his larger digs. Thanks again for your speedy !! Sincerely, Jen Mack <Welcome. BobF>

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>
Re: Porcupine puffer problem 7/19/05
How big of a tank do these 2 puffers need? <A few hundred gallons. Bob Fenner>
Re: puffers 7/19/05
Thanks for the info..... one more question. The larger of the two puffers for the last 2 weeks has a defined bump on the underbelly.. almost looks like its pregnant. What could it be? <Likely a growth semi-directly related to stress... Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer Problem My Porcupine Puffer has developed a swollen and discolored area at his left fin/gill area. The area is now a purplish color, resembling a large bruise.  <Might well be> I have noticed reduced activity in recent days, with the Puffer remaining among the coral until about an hour prior to feeding time, at which time it will swim throughout the tank like normal (It used to swim most of the day, resting at night). Eating (until yesterday) was normal - the fish is an aggressive eater of Krill and I have to feed it in a separate part of the 250 gallon tank to keep the puffer occupied while the other fish eat. <I do hope you are feeding it more than just Euphausiids> Yesterday the puffer did not appear for feeding and remained isolated in the coral. I also noticed at its last feeding that their appeared to be an extrusion in the rectum area, but this has since disappeared. <A prolapse in fancy jargon... happens> I am putting it in an hospital tank, but am unclear as to what/how to treat.  Any advice on what this might be would be helpful and how it can be treated.  The puffer shares the tank with nine other fishes (3 damsels, one dogface puffer, one wrasse, one fox face, one tang, one Heniochus, and one harlequin tusk fish). <If these other fishes appear otherwise non-affected, I would rule out other environmental causes here... the fish may have suffered a mechanical injury, compounded with nutritional deficiency... Please read over WWM re puffer health, nutrition... I would not move, keep the fish in a separate, small treatment system... Bob Fenner> 

Spiny Box Fish I just purchased a Spiny Box fish on Sunday, today Monday I noticed that on his underside (belly) there is a white coating, it is isolated to the bottom of the fish. Is this normal for this type of fish? <Mmm, somewhat... that is to say they are "counter-shaded", lighter underneath than above> I am new to the game and have tried to do some online reading. I know it's not ICK there are no white spots just like a white flaky undercoating.. His upper body is fine no spots or anything.. Please let me know if you think this should be a concern, I don't want to infect my tank, he isn't eating also.. I think it's stress maybe? Thanks Frank <Umm, keep reading... I do hope this system is large, well-established... cycled. Bob Fenner>

Spike is sick I just found your website, hopefully in time to save my fish. I have a 6" Spiny Pufferfish who has contracted what I believe to be a parasite infection. He has what appears to be Ich, but the spots are larger, elongated, and even cover his eyes. <Mmm, not likely Ich> I even noticed it this evening on the flap right behind his teeth (the one that moves as he breathes). He has just started, within the last day or so, to swim erratically (as if he itches). His eating habits and behavior pattern hasn't changed much. He has had this for 1 week. When it first started, I believed it to be Ich, so I have medicated the tank with Kick-Ich and Melafix, as well as trying a freshwater dip. Nothing is helping, and he's steadily getting worse. He is in a 55 gal. tank with a Snowflake Eel, an Arrow Crab, 2 Olive Snails, 2 Narcissus Snails, and 3 Sand Fleas. I am running a wet-dry filter, a protein skimmer, a UV sterilizer, and a hanging filter. The specific gravity is set at 1.019. I perform a water change once a week of about 9 gal. All his tankmates seem to be in perfect condition (with the exception of the Arrow Crab, whom the puffer seems to consider his personal snack machine). I have been told that if I medicate the fish with copper, it will take care of pretty much anything. However, I have also been told that I cannot put a pufferfish in copper because he has no scales. Is there something I could use in place of copper? I don't expect you to know exactly what's wrong with my fish, but can you give me any ideas you might have? I would greatly appreciate it. I really don't want to lose this fish. Thanks for your time. Denise Logan <I encourage you to quickly read over our Puffer Disease archives: http://wetwebmedia.com/pufferdisfaqs.htm and linked above... if you have another system, I'd run this fish through a pH adjusted freshwater bath with formalin... all this is posted on WWM... and place it in another system. Bob Fenner>

Bridled Burrfish I have a full grown bridled Burrfish. In the past few days, his antenna and some of his spines/burrs seem to be deteriorating or eroding. The brown skin came off first and he now has white fleshy exposed parts on the tips. The tank levels are okay. I was wondering if this is natural to shed his antenna and burrs, like the longhorn cowfish does? Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated. <Not natural... and sorry this response is so late (have been away). Do immediately check your water quality, and if at all possible move this animal to a separate tank (quarantine, treatment)... For observation, isolation. It may have a parasitic infestation, a nutritional deficiency, or there may well be something anomalous about your water. If you can't move the animal, do make a substantial water change (25%), be ready to do others in succeeding days and watch for signs of stress on your other livestock. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Lauren

Sick puffer Hi, Thanks for responding.   <our pleasure> My puffer is a porcupine puffer and he has been ill for approx. 6 weeks. I tried to treat him with medicines in my tank, but nothing worked so I took him to my pet store where they kept him in a hospital tank for approx. 3 weeks treating him with Maracyn 2.  One eye cleared up some, but the other eye did not respond. <likely from natural healing... little or no help from the antibiotic> He is now back in my 125 gallon tank with a yellow tang and a blue damsel.  There are no other fish in there, only 100 lbs. of live rock.  He is eating okay, but it is difficult watching him run into everything.  Water quality and parameters are right on in both my tank and the hospital tank, as well as temperature. <good to hear> I am also concerned about the effectiveness of treating such a large tank or would it be necessary to remove him to another tank?   <agreed... almost never treat the display... does more harm than good. Best to remove to a quite QT tank> I hope you can help. Thanks for being there to ask questions about.  It is a great relief. Leanne <I am still very doubtful that this is pathogenic at all... it is clearly not a parasite, and most any bacteria would have waned or flourished  after such a long time. Compound that by the very sensitive nature of puffer eyes (our archives here are filled with puffer eye FAQs) and the nature of the ailment. With that said... if we are sure it is not water quality or parasite, I'm wondering if the fish has been held captive long enough to show this symptom as an expression of a dietary deficiency? Has this puffers diet been restricted to just 2 or 3 items? Less? Just a few months on silversides or feeder fish or krill almost to exclusion causes such symptoms and deficiencies. Hmmm... do consider and send us a clear picture if you can. What big city do you live near too? I'm wondering if we cannot put you in touch with specialists in a local aquarium club or friends of ours across the nation. Best regards, Anthony>

Mystery Disease (puffer) Hi Bob, <Hi Theresa, Ananda here... I often handle the puffer questions for the WetWebMedia crew.> This is Theresa Ulrich. I don't know if you remember me, but we spoke a few times in the past. <I recognize your name from the Cowfish site...> I was hoping you could guide me on how to get information for some people in my discussion group. These people are experiencing fast die-offs of balloon puffers. Here are the systems they quote and treatments thus far. <Okay... could you send me a link to the root post of the thread?> ------------------------------- I have an aquarium maintenance biz up in Portland. Porcupine (Balloon) Puffers are very popular so I order them frequently for clients. For the last month every single Puffer I order comes in looking fine but within 3-5 days they develop a blanched area around one or both eyes that spreads rapidly and they die within a day or two. <Are there photos of this? It might help.> YIKES! HELP! I never lose fish I hate this. I know it is not a water quality issue because I have several tanks on four different filtration systems. I have tested and tried quarantining in all of them with the same results. And my wholesaler, who also has a retail store says he has had the exact same thing happen....he can't keep them alive either. <I wonder where and how these fish are being collected.> He has suggested formaldehyde...nope, no help. The usual antibiotics don't help. I don't know what I am dealing with so I don't know what else to try. Furazone? I am relatively certain that this is not injury related. Here is what leads me to that conclusion. The puffers (8 in all) were purchased over a 2 month period from 2 different suppliers, both of them very very careful with the fish. <Who/where did the suppliers get them from?> The problem does not start in the eye, rather above the "eyebrow" area always. <Hmmm. Right about where the brain is. If this illness is something that attacks the brain, that might explain the very rapid demise.> Here is the clincher. I stopped purchasing puffers all together thinking something must be going on with the Puffers at a particular collection site and I did not want to contribute to the loss of any more. <Good idea.> Two weeks went by and I took in a Balloon to "baby sit" for a client while the floors in the house were being refinished to protect their fish from chemical aerosols being used. I placed the Puffer in a tank that had previously had one of the sick Puffers in it but had sat empty a full 14 days. I also placed all of their other fish of various species in the tank. This was a perfectly healthy Puffer. No injuries...I never net and only transported about 1 mile under optimal conditions. Within 3 days the Puffer began exhibiting the same blanching of color above the eye. Within 2 days the eye turned white and the Puffer was dead despite hospitalization and antibiotic treatment. The other fish were and are fine. Same in all the other cases...only the Puffer was affected when there were fish of various other species in the same tank. I think it is some type of contagion and I would think from the behavior bacterial in nature. I have never seen anything go so fast before from on-set to death though that was bacterial??? As far as treatment I tried what my supplier recommended with the first two which was Formaldehyde at a 37% solution 1 drop per gal daily for three days with the Puffers only getting worse. Next time I tried Erythromycin 1 capsule per gal with no results continuing treatment until the Puffers died. I also mixed Erythromycin into their food until they stopped feeding. Next shipment I tried Furazone Green and triple Sulfa. The last Puffer I went so far as to give 100mg Erythromycin injection 2 times per day until loss. In all cases there was no improvement in the fish at all before death. Yes, I do also keep a copper drip on all the quarantine tanks except the invert tanks so antiparasitic agent was also being employed throughout the treatment. <Okay. So we know the bacteria or parasite can live for more than two weeks without a host. It's also specific to the porcupine puffers. It did not respond to two medications normally used to combat gram-positive bacteria, nor to an anti-microbial medication. It didn't respond to two anti-parasitic treatments -- though I usually don't suggest copper for puffers. One thing that wasn't covered is a gram-negative bacteria.> Thanks so much for taking on the dilemma. I wish I had gotten a picture for you because in 20 years and a ton of Puffers this is a brand new one on me! I was just so frantic to try and save them. ---------------------- Another member posted this link to show the progression of the disease. http://platinum.yahoo.com <There must be more to this link....> -------------- The first person indicated that her balloon puffers progressed in the same manner as the fish on the link. ------- Theresa! this is it!!! look at the pictures forwarded with this posting Gabriel found. That is exactly what keeps happening to my Balloons. A bruised or blanched looking area starting just on one side behind the eye back. ------------- Bob, I know it is hard to hard to make an exact diagnosis with a sample viewed under a microscope, but can you offer some guidance here? <I'd like to see the original thread and see what else people have tried. I'm particularly curious to know the results of any treatments that target gram-negative bacteria.> I have tried contacting public aquariums with no luck. Although some of my references indicate some possible disease scenarios that are similar to this, it doesn't account for why the disease seems specific to only the balloon puffers. <I'm not a microbiologist, nor do I play one on TV, but I've heard of things specific to a single species before.> I appreciate whatever you can do. <This has been a stumper that I've been mulling over since it turned up in my inbox. Kelly the Puffer Queen is going to be at this Saturday's meeting of the Chicago Marine Aquarium Society (www.cmas.net), so I'm going to print this out and ask her about this, too.> Thanks, Theresa Ulrich www.cowfishes.com <You're welcome. And thanks for running the cowfishes site! --Ananda>

Help, our new Puffer has a problem >Hello, >>Good morning. >I have been looking through your FAQ's on pufferfish and have not found a resolution to our problem.    >>Glad to know that you're aware of the FAQ's, we also should have an article or two as well. >We just picked up a porcupine pufferfish about a week ago.   He/she is 5' long.   Our tank is 46G, and there are also two small clowns, a 1 ½' butterfly, and a blenny.   We also purchased a small lionfish at this time, knowing that a good portion of these pets would be moved to our new 72G reef that we are currently cycling.   >>Not the puffer, I hope.  It won't fare well in a 46 for long, either, and if the lion is a P. volitans neither will it. >Yesterday morning we noticed a white discoloration, about the size of a dime, between his eyes and just touching his nose.  It was not fuzzy, or a material on the surface.  The skin itself had changed colors.    >>Porkies do this. >Earlier today, it looked like it went away.   My wife and I went out for a couple of hours, and upon our return, the puffer was laying on the bottom of the tank and the discoloration has now spread over his entire face.   The color is no longer white, it is somewhat brown.   It is also on his belly as well.   I am not sure if it is a fungal or parasitic infection. >>I doubt it, though he does sound stressed.  Water quality issues, as you've added two new fish to a very small system at once.  This is not advisable practice, nor is it advisable to put fish into an established system without first quarantining for 30 days minimum. >We are considering getting him into a quarantine tank, and then giving him some Maracyn.   Is it possible, however, that he may have been stung by the lionfish?   What should we do?   We love your site and any assistance you could provide would be extremely appreciated.    Thanks. >>It is entirely possible he could have been stung, you have put both these fish into a small system.  Again, I advise *very* strongly against it.  ALL the fish should be being quarantined for 30 days minimum, and mixing a pugnacious fish like a porcupine puffer with a defensive eating machine like a lionfish in tight quarters isn't wise at all.  Separate them, get them into their *own* q/t's, and watch.  I would wait to use the Maracyn until AFTER you've tested the water the fish is being kept in to be certain the issue isn't water quality.  Good luck!  Marina Dave

Diodon holocanthus with white spots Hello. I am writing to you as I am rather desperate. For about three weeks my puffer has had white spots (only on the fins). They appeared about a week after I bought the fish. I tried different treatments (lowering salinity, administering various medicine, FW baths). I am avoiding copper as I read that it was not good for puffers. <Agreed> Currently the fish is in a quarantine tank, being treated by a mixture of formalin, Methylene blue and some other thing (I forgot which).<would make sure you figure out what this "thing" is> The problem is that as soon as it seems that she is getting better, the spots reoccur. They have never disappeared completely. I am not even sure that this is a case of Ich, as the spots seem semi-transparent. Otherwise the fish is great, she doesn't scratch and has a very healthy appetite. Any advice would very appreciated.<Well if he/she is eating and otherwise acting "normal" then I would stop the treatment of these somewhat toxic chemicals, BTW it doesn't sound to me like ICH. IanB> Thanks,

Porcupine puffer Hi there guys! <Hi! Ananda here today...> I have been researching for days over our Porcupine Puffer, "Molly" we call her. I find your articles so very helpful & seems to be the first place I turn to research. <Glad to be of service.> Anyway, I cannot seem to find info. on our particular problem.... we have had the puffer about one month & she is about 2" in size. She is in our 60 gallon tank with a Naso Tang, a Yellow-Tail Damsel, a tiny Picasso Trigger & a Mantis Shrimp that lives in our live rock (hitchhiker!), all water tests are fine as they should be, temp. at 78 & lots of copepods. <Yowza. Hope you have a much bigger tank planned; both the Naso and the puffer could use 240 or more gallons as adults.> We recently lost a Clown Trigger to some disease we didn't catch early enough (a deadly fungus?). Over the past week or so, the puffer is breathing very heavily as though she is always gasping for air. She used to be an active swimmer & is now sleeping 80% of the day. Swims a little more at night & is still eating well. One of her eyes is a little cloudy & a few of her fins are frayed.  <Water quality alert. Poor water quality is the biggest single cause of cloudy eyes. Get some saltwater ready for a water change and do one tomorrow.> No visible signs of Ich, etc. but some gray shading around her mouth that has always been evident. We had treated the tank with Green-Ex (Malachite Green) & recently found that it is harmful to scaleless fish. :(  <And to live rock, inverts of all sorts... your live rock is quite likely dead rock now. That would explain the poor water quality: your biological filtration is shot.> We are stumped as to what this could be & just want to treat correctly. <I would start with fresh activated carbon and several largish water changes. If you've got significantly measurable ammonia, a 40% water change is not unreasonable.> Also, have read several different articles about FW dips with Maracyn 2 & Formalin, can you tell which is better to use, or the diff. between the two? <They are two totally different medications. I've never heard of doing a freshwater dip with Maracyn 2. Formalin will probably not help the puffer any... and may make things worse.> Also, do all Porcupine Puffers have teeth? <Yup, the better to crush corals and crustaceans with! Hmmm... make that "crush-staceans", perhaps? ;-) > There is a porcupine puffer at the LFS with a huge set of teeth (look like dentures! ha!) and "Mollie's" teeth are almost invisible. <Sounds like the one at the store is not getting a sufficient quantity of hard-shelled foods.> Sorry for the LONG e-mail, <Truthfully, I would have preferred an even longer one: one including all of the water parameters of the tank.> We are at a loss as to what to do & we just adore her. Thanks so much again- The Gilmores <Repeat after me: The solution to pollution is dilution. Now go get that water mixing. :-) If pristine water quality does not improve the situation significantly, I would put the puffer in a hospital tank and treat her with a good, broad-spectrum antibiotic. My preference in this case would be Kanamycin. --Ananda> 
Porcupine Puffer II
Hi Ananda - thanks so much for the quick response! It was great to hear from you & get so much knowledge at the same time. <Hi, and thank you!> Came home for lunch today (after original e-mail) & our puffer was swimming about more than before. However, I did notice that the Picasso Trigger (who is much smaller than the puffer) was picking on her. She nipped him right back & they were fine. Thought this may be a cause of stress. <Sounds like a fairly typical dominance issue -- keep an eye on the trigger so it doesn't get too aggressive.> We had done a water change (about 30%) last night & just tested the water. Parameters are as follows as we speak: Temp still at 78, Nitrite 0ppm, pH 8.2, Nitrate 20ppm with liquid drop type test by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals & 0ppm with "Dry Tabs" (the pill style) and Ammonia 0ppm.  <You might want to invest in a higher-grade nitrate kit. SeaChem, Salifert, and LaMotte should give you more accurate results than either of the ones you have.> We also added carbon to our filters last night with the water change, this had been removed for medication treatments. (We have 2 Fluval 304 Canister Filters). <While I know many people who dislike using canister filters of any sort on marine tanks, I do realize they can be useful as carbon holders!> Sorry if I had confused you with the question of Maracyn 2 vs. Formalin - meant to say Methylene Blue. I apologize! <Ah. No problem. As I understand it, Methylene blue is used in freshwater dips in part to increase the oxygen saturation of the water. It's also an anti-fungal. Formalin is used for parasites on the skin and gills, but not if the fish has open sores on its skin.> What is Kanamycin & what does it treat for?  <Kanamycin is a wide-spectrum antibiotic, and is useful for treating fin rot when that is caused by bacteria. It can be used to treat a variety of things.> Also, we have Copepods in our tank that appear randomly. I also noticed that there are smaller (than copepods) white worm-like critters stuck on the sides of the acrylic with the copepods, they seem to be longer & move about more squirmishly than the copepods that sort of jump. They are grouped around what appear to be small eggs in groups of about 10-15 (again, small & white, but round little eggs). They are much smaller than the copepods as I have to look at them with a magnifying glass & they do not appear to have any sort of legs or "antennas" as I call them like the copepods. Any ideas? Wish I could get you a picture, but they are entirely too small. Have only noticed them on the sides of the tank & my fear is that this is some sort of parasite. <Hoo boy, I'm going to bail on this one.... will put this back in the queue for someone else to answer this part.> About the tank, we do have a larger tank planned, as the fish grow over time. We have been looking at 300+ gallon tanks. <I am delighted to hear that.> We have seen some large puffers! She tends to love guppies (gold fish) and krill occasionally. <Eh, skip the feeder fish, which are frequently diseased. Ghost shrimp are cheaper (or they should be) and carry fewer parasites that can be passed on to the fish that eat them. But do not get any ghost shrimp that has what looks like a white thread in its body; that's a parasite.? She will eat anything that moves <Wow. Some people get fussy puffers. You got lucky. Check the dailies, too, for a post about "Pig Boy" the Diodon histrix (the "big sibling" species to D. holocanthus!).> & we try to get her to eat a variety of foods like live brine shrimp, ghost shrimp, squid, etc. <Live brine are fish junk food -- I'd save them for an occasional treat, or for an appetizer if she decides to go on a fast.> Again, can't thank you enough, hope to hear from you soon! The Gilmores & Molly <Best wishes to both of you and Molly and your other fine finned friends. --Ananda> 
Porcupine Puffer III
Hello again Ananda- Thanks for your quick e-mail, so relieving to have such fast feedback! We will invest in a higher-grade test kit for nitrate. This morning the Trigger picked on the puffer a little more, so I divided the tank (our acrylic is a 60 with 2 tubes through the middle) to he couldn't get to her. She did not swim much at all this morning & when she did it seemed difficult for her. <Any toxins that may have gotten to the tank recently? Cleaners, insecticides, smoke, or anything chemical might well affect the puffer before the others...> She was still breathing heavily - I will go today & pick up some Kanamycin. Do you suggest we treat her in a tank with this, or with a dip? <In a hospital tank. If you don't have one already, you might want to pick up a 20 gallon "long" tank for the purpose.> We are sure hoping she pulls through. <Me, too!.> You have been such a great help. Thanks for putting the e-mail back into queue on the "critters". That will help a great deal. Have a wonderful day, The Gilmores. <Best wishes to you and your fishes.... --Ananda> 
Porcupine Puffer IV
Hello again. No chemicals, that we can think of. We don't smoke, so that's not a possibility. Not sure. We do have a 10 gallon QT tank, but water is not testing to be very high in quality. We can take water from the show tank to fill it. <Perhaps 3/4 from the show tank, 1/4 fresher stuff...> We keep a 60 gallon Rubbermaid in the garage with Pre-Mixed salt for water changes, etc. Could this be the culprit if the water were bad? It stays tightly sealed with a lid. <It's possible, especially if it isn't one of the food-safe colors. From one of the forum veterans: "The Rubbermaid Brute in gray, white, or yellow is USDA food safe. The red and dark blue are not. Anything else according to Rubbermaid can/will leach plastic nasties into the water after a week or two. The 32 gallon can and lid is P/N #2632 and #2631. They also have a 44 gallon version. Check out this link for the scoop. http://www.rcpworksmarter.com/rcp/products/detail.jsp?rcpNum=2632 http://www.rcpworksmarter.com/rcp/products/detail.jsp?rcpNum=2631 She was breathing a little better at lunch, just resting on the bottom of the tank. <Another possibility that has come to mind is how oxygen-saturated or oxygen-deprived your water might be. I'm hoping you have a good protein skimmer? Do you have anything else that aerates the water?> Have a great rest of your day! <You, too! --Ananda> 

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!>

Porcupine puffer injured? sick? <Anthony Calfo here in your service> Today I noticed a small roundish area on the side of my porcupine puffer's body that appears to be injured. It happened sometime today while I was gone, as he was just fine this morning. It is covered with what seems to be white dead skin that is peeling off. I'm thinking maybe he got a little too close to the heater and burned himself or maybe scraped on the live rock. <as unusual as that might be, I'm likely to agree. A pathogenic symptom would not manifest that quickly...definitely mechanical injury in nature> His skin is a little puffed out around the area but doesn't seem to be infected, and he is acting fairly normal. The only tankmates are a sergeant major damsel (about 1.5 inches) and a blue damsel (about 2 inches). The puffer is about 5.5 inches. The tank is 80 gallons with a skimmer and Fluval canister and about 45 pounds of live rock. Any ideas of what to do besides keep an eye on him? <agreed...mostly just keep an eye on him, maintain good water quality and feed well (but do not overfeed). Look for stabilization or improvement in three days...else be prepared with a quarantine tank and antibiotics. A normal reef dose of iodine in the tank may be mildly antiseptic and will at least raise RedOx. Please follow up promptly if you need more help, but I suspect it will be fine. Kindly, Anthony>

Sick spiny puffer I have a spiny puffer both of his eyes are white he can't see. What do I do? help! <Please read over the articles, FAQs files on puffers, and on to the links therein posted on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Sick fish needs help quick <Greetings, Anthony Calfo in your service> Hi I'm the guy who was telling you about the problem with my puffer breathing heavy. He is now doing okay he is eating pretty well now since I added the first treatment of Formulite in the system. But now my clown fish is breathing heavy and not eating or swimming around much. When he takes a crap its all white in color and it takes a while to fall off him. <sometimes an indication of internal parasites, but not usually. You can feed medicated antiparasitic food to help if you like> I had loss power for one day so my tank had no power.  <did the temperature drop much... a sure fire way to flare up external parasites> That night when the power was turned backed on I fed him and he ate very well. The next day I did a 10 gallon water change. Then I added the Formulite 2 to the system I only put a half dose.  <good for the scaleless puffer> The next day I found him breathing heavy as I described earlier. <perhaps brought on from the previous stress> My water is testing good.  <what are the readings specifically> What's going on with the clown? Is it Brooklynella disease? <can't say for sure yet... fast breathing can indicate water quality issues as well as pathogens. Brooklynella is unlikely and conspicuous> I even gave the clown a freshwater dip. <please continue daily for up to eight days... an excellent way to treat fish and avoid hostile meds> Please respond back soon. <best regards, Anthony>

Burping a Porcupine puffer I bought a porcupine puffer approximately a week and a half ago. He is a baby, only a little over an inch long.  <scary small indeed> I have a bubble wand in my tank and am concerned he has gotten air in him.  <never bubbles with puffers...they are curious and ingest them> At first, he loved the vitamin infused brine shrimp, but now the only thing he will consistently eat is frozen plankton.  < a much better food than brine even enriched> Yesterday, he was partially inflated and afterwards, his eyes became opaque and remain so.  <cloudy eyes have nothing to do with air bubbles or feeding... look for other signs of disease> He swims around and just checks things out. At times he will attempt to come to a rest on the substrate and he will just begin floating towards the surface. To sleep he gets under an overhang of live rock and floats up on it. He seems to have no abrasions and the other fish in the tank (a clown/fairy wrasse and a striated wrasse) don't bother him though they kind of crowd his space sometimes. I really like the little guy and want to ensure he is as healthy as possible. I greatly appreciate your quick response, as I am very concerned. <it may literally need burped if it looks like air is trapped. Use a soft nylon net to capture it and massage the creature through the net with its mouth pointed upward to see if bubbles can be burped out. Kind regards, Anthony>

Sick porcupine puffer Sorry to bother you, but I need some advice.  <no bother at all> I have a porky puffer who has cloudy eyes, and white spots on his back fins.  <pufferfish are quite prone to external parasites particularly due to fluctuations (especially down) in temperature. Be sure home tank is not fluctuating more than 2F daily. That explains the spots if they are like grains of salt, but not the cloudy eyes... could be bacterial or water quality...do test thoroughly> he also has a red "spine" either on his back tail, or protruding from his anus ( I can't tell which).  <unrelated to Ich...treat with antibiotics if it doesn't clear within three days> He is very young, only about 2-3 inches. I'm guessing he has ick, so I am going to put him in a quarantine tank.  <very wise move> What should I treat him with?  <Formalin and Furazolidone/Nitrofurazone (like in Jungle brand Fungus Eliminator) for 5 full days> My LFS recommended copper, but I wanted to ask you first.  <they are very mistaken... your puffer is a scaleless fish that could easily overdose on copper... works for some but is generally an irresponsible move> The puff is in a 45 gal, with some inverts, and a bi color blenny. Is my tank now infested with ick?  <in a manner of speaking, yes... but all fish carry something, so you cant expect the tank to be sterile. Not much to worry about with healthy fish and good immunity> Are there any "reef safe" treatments I could use?  <I have little faith in such products once an infection is fully expressed> I have been using coral-vital by marc Weiss because it says that Ich has trouble adhering to fish when it is being used. Needless to say, I don't think its working.  <please don't get me started talking about snake oil <wink>> Once again, I am sorry to bother you, but I love this little puffer and don't want to do anything to hurt him. Besides the white spots he isn't showing any other symptoms of Ick, like rapid respiration, or rubbing up against stuff. <all good to hear... once in QT, I suspect that your personable puffer will be just fine. Best regards, Anthony> Thank you, Laura Canney
Follow-up to Sick Porcupine Puffer I cannot find jungle brand fungus eliminator. Are there any other products which contain the active ingredients you mentioned? (formalin, Furazolidone/Nitrofurazone?) will these medications cure the ick or just the cloudy eyes? <These are two separate medications/recommendations. One is formalin, the second is Furazolidone/Nitrofurazone. Look for Furan-2 from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals as an alternative to Fungus Eliminator which also contains Furazolidone & Nitrofurazone. When you use both of these in conjunction, you should be able to effect a cure of both the Ich and cloudy eyes, given a good environment.  -Steven Pro>
Follow-up II to Sick Porcupine Puffer
Hello, well it seems like I jumped the gun: I started using copper on the puffer and the blenny in the Q tank yesterday. After reading your email today, I did an 80% water change to dilute the copper, which was at .15 . Will it still be okay to use the formalin/ Furazolidone etc..., or should I do a 100% change and/ or use some kind of copper remover first? <Try using Chemi-Pure and a Polyfilter for a day to remove residue copper. Then remove both and begin new treatment.> My second question: should I reduce the salinity in the main tank to 1.017, as you describe on wet web? <Not needed now, as I believe you removed all the fish to hospital/quarantine tank.> I know this will hurt my inverts (not to mention my mushrooms, live rock, etc..), so if you do recommend it, can I move the inverts to another tank? <No need to do anything. Without a host, the parasites will die in your main tank (go fallow) while your fish are in the other tank.> I have a 15 gal tank which just got done cycling, but if I move the inverts to that tank will it become infected as well? <No, there are separate diseases for inverts and fish.> Thanks for your help, Laura <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Porcupine with cloudy eyes My porcupine puffer has somewhat cloudy eyes. His vision does not appear to be affected. I am trying to decide whether to treat him with furan-2 or to just see if the condition can clear up on its own.  <With good water quality, most bacterial infections are slow... you can observe for another 1-3 days before medicating in a quarantine tank as above> Can he spontaneously recover from cloudy eyes, or does this require treatment? I can not find info on this condition anywhere on the net, and I am wary of treating him unless it is serious. Thank you, Laura <better safe than sorry if it progresses. Puffers are not sensitive to antibiotics as they are copper or organic dyes. Do be well read on their care and husbandry including diet and dental care (food for keeping teeth filed). Do study the extensive articles/FAQs on puffers on this site in the archives (begin with the home page). Kindly, Anthony>
Re: porky puffer- cloudy eyes
Are puffers sensitive to Methylene blue? <although they are very hardy fish, they should be treated as sensitive...they are scaleless and can overdose easily... no metals or organic dyes for these guys. Anthony Calfo>

Emperor Angel and Porcupine Puffer As always you guys are doing an AWESOME job! (I know it's cliche here, but its true) <awwwhhh, shucks! Thanks kindly <smile>> Anyway, two quick questions: 1. I recently purchased a young Emperor Angel and he was eating as soon as I got him home, aware of his surroundings, etc'¦ BUT he seems to swim slowly on one side or the other. Is this normal behavior for this species, or a sick fish? <hmmm... symptomatically called "listing"...indeed not normal or healthy but not indicative necessarily of a specific condition to treat. Continue to feed well until it improves or betrays an addressable symptom (spots, fin erosion, etc) 2. My Trigger and Puffer had an accident. While feeding they went for the same target, but the trigger missed and caught the puffer between his eyes. The trigger took my puffer (the first time I've seen him puff up) for a spin before realizing what he had done. When he let go the puffer had a mark on the side of his eye where he had been bitten. That mark has turned white like scar tissue over the last two days. Is that white possibly infection, or new skin?  <hmmm hard to say, but infections get ugly real fast. My guess is raw skin and healing. Do watch closely though and review disease section here on WWM for injury treatments and medicants if necessary> Will it heal and return normal color?  <very likely> Do I need to worry about infection, do anything to help it heal? <be prepared with a good QT tank if necessary for either fish> Thanks a million, Mark <best regards, Anthony>

Spiny Box Puffer Dear Mr. Fenner: <<Actually, not Mr. Fenner, but JasonC helping out...>> My spiny box puffer is in a 55 gallon tank with a maroon clownfish and a dragon wrasse. They all get along. The clown had a few blue spots on his face and the puffer has fins that look to be shredding at the end. Upon the advice of my local pet store, I added Greenex to the tank for 2 treatments which totally cleared up the clown. The wrasse has never had a problem. The puffer's fins appear to be healing, but this is the 4th day he has not eaten. <<Not really a surprise - the Greenex is actually a pretty potent medication, Malachite Green and Quinine Hydrochloride if I can recall, and scale-less fish like your puffer are often irritated by such strong therapies. I would consider firing this fish store in favor of some better advice - would have been much better to start with simple ph-adjusted freshwater dips, and perhaps quarantine for the clown. Torn fins aren't always a sign of disease.>> He usually gulps down the freeze dried krill 4 pieces daily. He even ate while the medicine was in the tank, but now even chasing him with the food doesn't help. He seems to look at it and smell it with interest, but still refuses to eat. <<I have a theory that I'm working on that these medications, and especially the stronger treatments like Greenex actually nuke the taste-buds or sense of smell or chemical sensors that fish have. Not all fish, mind you, but have seen something very similar in my own Tuskfish when he was in quarantine and on a similar med.>> How long is too long for him to refuse food? <<depending on its size, perhaps a week, no more than two.>> I tried a live ghost shrimp and even raw shrimp from the seafood market, but to no avail. Do I need to quarantine him and perhaps try another medication? <<Hold out for a little while, puffers are known to go into a funk for a while and choose not to eat, and then just as quickly return to normal. Certainly hunger-strikes are not uncommon among the puffers. The Greenex probably just made it grumpy.>> I hate to over treat him with chemicals if it can be avoided. <<and I concur...>> He otherwise seems very active and enjoys looking at his reflection. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for your time and patience in this matter. <<Ahh... it is you that will need to be patient, methinks ;-) >> Sincerely, Kelli <<Some helpful reading for you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/treatmen.htm Cheers, J -- >>

Porcupine Puffer Hi there! I have some problems with my new fish and was hoping you could help me on this regard. Currently I have a 55 gallon with 40 pounds Fiji LR and 20 pounds of aragonite and 20 pounds of crushed coral underneath it. My fish include a 3 inch Volitans a 2 inch dwarf lion a 2 inch long horned cowfish and a new 2 inch porcupine fish. <Awfully crowded for a 55, when/if they grow to adult size and live a full life.> The tank parameters are ammonia .25 ppm, <Should always be zero ammonia and nitrite.> nitrate 5 ppm, nitrite 0, pH 8.3. My question is this, I just introduced the porcupine a few days ago and all he does for the last 4-5 days is swim up and down on the back left corner of the tank. Also, he has a big white dot\spot on the top of the right eye. <Please tale a look here for general information on Puffers, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm  and here for disease information, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm , and continuing on through the other linked files.> Please let me know how to help this new fish of mine. P.S. He eats all the time though. <The best help I can give you is to point you in the right direction to educate yourself as to the proper care/husbandry of your animals. -Steven Pro>

Puffer crisis!! Need help ASAP Hi team.. <<Hello... fish team delta at your service.>> I've got a sick porcupine puffer on my hands and I'm not sure what to do. I've had him for 3 years and have rarely had any problems with diseases or eating problems (unless you count him wanting to eat too much haha). Tonight I noticed that he has a horrible white film covering his left eye. I'm almost positive that its a fungus because its circular and in the center there is a very small amount of tissue extending from they eye. (I don't really know how to describe it other than it looks like rotting flesh that is still attached to the eye.) But it's all white and I don't think that it is part of the eye itself that is hanging off. I tested the water quality ammonia is 0 nitrite 0 and nitrate 0, ph is at 8.2 (like I said, this is an established tank, its always that way.) The past week or so he was eating very little, he actually stopped eating the same day I brought home a new yellow tang. I assumed this was stress caused by a new tank mate, or even just a coincidence because he occasionally (like maybe twice a year or so) stops eating for a day or two and then starts right back up again. Well after a couple days went by of him eating only a small piece of shrimp (his favorite food), I thought perhaps the tang had brought some Ich with him (I noticed the tang scratching a little bit, although I didn't see any white spots). So I gave the puffer a freshwater bath and lowered the salinity in the tank a couple of points (from 1.022 to 1.020). The next day (2 days ago) he was back to his regular eating habits and all was well. Then tonight I noticed the white thing on his eye. The tang seems happy and well adjusted (he's done a great job with the algae in the tank). I've attached a pic of the puffer.. its not that great so I don't know how helpful it will be since he wouldn't stop moving for the camera. But it may give you some idea. I also shot a brief digital movie of him you can look at, just go to http://www.nearvanna.com/puffer.zip and you can download it. (it's probably not worth it unless you have high speed or need to see a better image of the disease.) <<A quick view of the image and movie makes me think it is more likely an injury than bacteria or fungus. Bacteria and fungus are rarely so selective as to infect one eye... an injury like a scratch seems more probable.>> A little bit on the puffer's surroundings. Its a 50 gallon tank, I have a fluidized bed filter, a wet/dry filter, a good protein skimmer and 2 powerheads for circulation. Along with the puffer I have a large snowflake eel and the new tang. Everyone seems healthy except for the puffer. <<Two things come to mind about this system: one, it's really a little small for the eel and puffer... which now has a tang in it. Do consider a potential tank upgrade if keeping the puffer long term is among your goals. Second, the fluidized bed while well-suited to the job of filtering for messy eaters is still a sketchy piece of equipment - a power failure could do more than leave you in the dark. You might want to consider some other options or perhaps doing without it given the wet/dry and skimmer.>> Ok, so on to the question. WHAT CAN I DO???? <<I'd leave it be, and give it some time.>> I've known my puffer long than I've known my girlfriend, and don't want to lose him! According to the article I read on your website about fungus, it is rare and usually mistaken for bacteria. Do you think that is the case here? <<no...>> It also says that most treatments don't work, so other than frequent water changes am I just doomed to see if he can overcome this himself? <<all other things being equal, the chances of healing are quite good I would think.>> Anything I can do to tip the odds in the puffer's favor? <<Make sure it's eating, and if you can, whole shrimp or krill keep the teeth trimmed and the puffer happy.>> Your quick response is very much appreciated. Thank you! <<Sorry, probably wasn't as quick as you might have liked, but hopefully all will be well given some time.>> Steve Weatherly
<<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: porcupine puffer I tried the Epsom salt Thursday night. (I found some info on it on another site) When I got home from work Friday the puffer looked very stressed and seemed worse, he died a few hours later. I would like to thank you for your quick response and for taking the time to answer my questions, Georgia. <alas, I am sorry we could not help in time. Thank you for your empathy though. The hobby needs such passionate aquarists. Best regards, Anthony>

Porcupine Puffer Hello WWM Crew: <cheers> Can you please help me. My porcupine puffer seems to have a white fungus all over his body (white cottony substance). How would you best treat this illness. Please help. <remove the fish to a bare bottomed quarantine tank, look here for protocol on running QT and identifying the disease that your fish has: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm Although the condition seems like "fungus" it would be VERY rare if it was. Most growths are parasitic in nature (some viral infections too)> Regards, Frank <If you'd like a good reference on hand consider Untergasser's Handbook of Fish Diseases for an easy ref, or Noga's new work for a technical and current ref. Best regards, Anthony>
Porcupine Puffer
Hi, <cheers> I am new to puffers in general. I love this fish so much. I've had him for about a month.  <they are incredibly personable fishes :)> He is eating fine, but over the last week, he has developed a white flaky substance on the top of his body and it seems to be getting worse. It doesn't look like ick.  <nevertheless, puffers, boxfish and cowfish are all VERY susceptible to various parasitic infections. Unfortunately... they are also sensitive to copper and organic dyes as medicants. Puffers underscore the need for having and using a proper quarantine tank. Please read through the archives about setting up and using a QT tank. This fish will likely need therapeutic treatment. Freshwater dips and perhaps Formalin dips or baths (because of puffer sensitivity). Daily FW dips for 5-10 days and QT for a minimum of 2 weeks... 4 weeks would be better. Know that you must always net and move puffers underwater.. there can be serious complications if the puffer inflates with air instead of water.>  Any help would be appreciated. BTW, this website is like a dream. <thanks kindly! please tell a friend> Thank you <with kind regards, Anthony> Frank
Photo Album from Frank: Porcupine Puffer-Photos
Anthony, I'm sorry for driving you nuts,  <no worries at all bud> but I really appreciate your help. I feel that with WWM's help, I should be able to save my puffy daddy.  <it would be a pleasure to help out> These pictures aren't the best, but hopefully good enough for you to see the problem. Regards, Frank <Frank... I recognize that neither of us are professional photographers, my friend... but the images again are completely illegible. I want to help you (!) but it would be unfair to make any specific recommendation when I cannot even see the symptoms. If you cannot recognize your puffers condition from the photos in our archives or elsewhere on the Net, I strongly recommend that you visit a Borders, B&N, LFS, etc to track down either of the two books that I first recommended. It is dangerous to medicate any fish on a guess (the wrong meds stress the fish while the pathogen continues to infect). The things that we do know here: the fish will need to be removed promptly to a hospital/quarantine tank (be sure from reading in the archives, recommended books or elsewhere that you understand all that is needed to set up this easy and inexpensive treatment tank). Also, do read through the FAQs on puffers specifically for further insight on their needs (copper sensitivity, etc). http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontidfaqs.htm  Alas, sight unseen with generic symptoms... my hands are tied here. Do consider how helpful it will be in the future to have a good disease picture book and QT tank ready (unfortunately many of us learn this way :( )Best regards, Anthony> You've been invited to view Frank's photos online at Ofoto! Just click on the link below to get started. http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?m=7827553303.67280835503&n=1163271429  These photos will be stored in your account for future viewing, and you can order Kodak prints of your favorites! You'll need to sign in to your Ofoto account to get started. If you don't currently have an Ofoto account, just join for free and you'll get free shipping on your first order (restrictions apply)! Questions? Visit http://help.ofoto.com.
Re: Porcupine Puffer
Anthony, Thanks a million for your reply. One thing that I didn't mention in the message was that I already treated the tank with copper (Mardel CopperSafe). The owner of my local marine fish store recommended that I use it  <Yowza... do be very cautious of future advice from this LFS. Puffer sensitivity is very basic and common knowledge for industry professionals. Applies to all scaleless and small scaled fishes> (I had no idea that puffers are sensitive to it, I just found out about your website). How bad is it for him?  <not the end of the world but do stop using the copper. And please tell me that you weren't advised to treat your main display with copper?! If so, all of your calcareous media has been ruined (stained chemically by copper). That includes sand, gravel, crushed coral, coral skeletons, rock (live and dry/dead), etc. Such rock will likely poison and possibly kill invertebrates in the future even after copper is out of water column (snails, starfish, anemones, etc). Most of which could never have been kept with the puffer... but still bad advice nonetheless. My further concern is that you weren't encouraged to use a copper test kit with the copper (which is the only effective/safe way to dose copper). Therapeutic copper is .2 - .25... anything over is easily fatal and anything under is likely a waste of time. Twice daily or more doses will be necessary if you are dosing the main display (absorbed by calcareous media)... the test kit will confirm this> Is he going to die?  <probably not if the dose wasn't too high for the tank... and almost certainly not if you tested and didn't exceed .25> I treated the tank about 4 days ago and he seems fine.  <please don't stop now... continue with FW dips and formalin if necessary. Cycle for these parasites is about 8 days. 11-14 day treatments are minimums> He's eating very nicely, and seems happy.  <he still would if fatally dosed. Excess medicants are stored in fat cells and fishes may overdose weeks later after disease symptoms have gone. Still... puffers are tough... I suspect you will be OK> The other fish seem good as well. He did have some ick that seems to have cleared up. What should I do? Please help. Any additional advice would be greatly appreciated. Regards, Frank <please get a small inexpensive QT tank ASAP and always be prepared. Could simply be a bare 10 gall, glass cover (no light), sponge filter, air pump heater and thermometer... that's it! It saves fishes lives. Best regards, Anthony>

Porcupine Puffer - Help Dear Mr. Fenner, I'm new to saltwater marine keeping and I purchased your book, "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". It is a very informative book! I like it very much! :-) I know in your book to specify not to lift puffers out of the water but to scoot them into a small container. I needed to move my puffer quickly without access to such a container. I thought if I netted it and let it inflate with water first there would be a problem with it swallowing any air.  Unfortunately it did swallow some air and now it has trouble getting rid of the air. You mentioned that it was stressful on the fish to swallow air but you never mentioned whether it was fatal or not or what to do about it.  What can I do to save my Puffy?  Please help! Thanks, Alec <<Arggghhhh, no container? What? Not even a jar you could give a quick wash and rinsing? If you and your puffer are fortunate it can/will discharge the air on its own... if not, you may be still lucky to be able to catch it (underwater) and tilting the fish up (be careful to not be bitten) gently squeeze the air from its stomach...Bob Fenner>>

Injured Fish Question I have a 110gal fish only. I purchased a 4-5 inch Spiny Box puffer from the LFS about three weeks ago. About a week ago I noticed he got ruffed up, probably by a 12 inch Banded Moray Eel. Of the three fins near his tail, one is down to flesh, and the other two are 80%gone. He also has a lot of trauma near his tail. He still eats like a pig. I soak his food of choice (raw shrimp) in Vita-Chem every day, and Iodine twice a week. Is this too much iodine? Is he going to be OK? Is there anything else I can do? He's a cool fish and I don't want to lose him. And thanks for the great column! <<Hmm, do you have another tank to move the puffer to? Is anything still chewing on it? I would only add some iodine to the food once a week. If the areas where the fins are growing back (they will if not chewed all the way to their bases) look reddened... do contact me and I'll tell you how to make an antibiotic laced food. Eating heartily is a good sign... and I've seen puffers recover from much worse injuries. Keep your water quality high and stable, and s/he should get better.  Bob Fenner>>

Eye Growth I have a small Porcupine fish (about 4 1/2") that has been doing well for 4 months. Now he looks like he has something around one eye. It looks like a growth, but it's not puffy. It's a major change in coloration, but it's localized around one eye. I never noticed this before. Please help! <From reading your missal here, I suspect this damage is due to a physical trauma... maybe the Puffer bumping into something in the night... and would not add to the animal's stress by handling, treating it per se... just keep it fed, happy in place and it should heal> I have a 90 gallon tank that has been set up for about 4 months. I let it cycle with damsels for about two months everything was great( although I had 15 damsels when I started and ended with 4). I have since added 2 yellow tangs (Zebrasoma flavescens), a clown fish ( Amphiprion ocellaris), and a Long-Spined Porcupine Puffer (Diodon holacanthus). I understand that the puffer is not good with invert's. I would like to start adding live rock and corals is this a good idea, if so how much rock should I add and how fast should it be added. <<Adding the live rock is a great idea on several counts... You won't regret it... better livestock health, easier maintenance, never ending fascination with what comes out of it. The Puffer will likely chew on bits of the live rock... and in all likelihood your corals, other invertebrates. Do start with a few hardy soft corals if you want to try your Puffer with the non-vertebrates. Maybe a leather, toadstool... Bob Fenner>>

Sick Puffer I have a porcupine puffer who has white spots on his fins, breathes heavy, doesn't move much, looks bloated, and is just floating against something or lying under the coral. My trigger and sweet lips show no signs of disease. What can I do? Is this a parasite? Will copper do the trick? Do I need to buy another tank to treat him? Ben Ventura <Much to say here... It may be that the spots are not parasitic... but if it were me, I'd start on environmental manipulation and likely copper treatments... and treat the other fishes at the same time. Do read over thoroughly the sections on marine parasitic disease, copper use, puffers and FAQ files on all these posted on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com  Bob Fenner, and soon!>

Porcupine Puffer question I have a porcupine puffer (about 7 in long) in a 35 gal long tank, shared with a small lion fish (about 5 in long)...nothing else in the tank except for a crab to clean up the substrate. My puffer has one eye that is the translucent blue coloring which is normal...the other eye does not. and reveals the large dark iris in the back of the eyeball. My water parameters are fine, from what I can tell (salinity good, no ammonia). Both fish eat well .... no hesitation. Behavior is fine (no change from when both eyes were blue). Any ideas on what would cause this...and how it can be corrected ? thanks... Jeff McFadyen <Hmm, could be nutritional in part... perhaps an internal parasite of some sort... maybe the result of a mechanical injury that didn't quite heal... Other than placing these fishes (and crab) into a larger system, I wouldn't do anything else to try and "cure" the one dark eye... As far as I know, there is little that COULD be done. One note re: I fully suspect that the Puffer is fine, "happy" otherwise, and will live a good time, even if the one eye should be inoperable. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Puffer Time! Hi Bob, I recently bought a 3-4 in. long-spine porcupine puffer to add to  my 55 gal. tank. I have a blue fin damsel, maroon clown, yellow tail damsel,  and a lawnmower blenny. when I first introduced him into my tank he was up  and swimming around., but the next day he way really shy and stayed in the  corner of my tank all day. he had more than enough swimming space, for there  is only about 30 lbs. o live rock. he also hasn't been eating anything, I  tried feeding it frozen brine shrimp, he didn't eat that, and also tried to  feed him beef heart (frozen) he didn't eat that. what is wrong with him?  please help! <<Actually probably nothing is wrong with your new Puffer... these intelligent animals just get sort of depressed at times... particularly when being moved about... Do have patience, and I'll bet it will be up and eating like a veritable pig in a week or so. In the meanwhile don't worry about it starving. These fishes often do go on feeding strikes, sometimes for weeks at a time. Try feeding it something like krill or an opened shellfish every few days. Bob Fenner>>

Porcupine Puffer My name is Chris Paul and I have encountered a problem with my porcupine puffer and would appreciate any advice you have. He has developed a case of Ich and is not eating, to battle it we have been adding Kent's RxP and Poly ox and we are in the process of lowering the salinity and raising the temperature. We have also added a UV sterilizer to the system that is running 24-7 and have added cleaner shrimp on the assumption that he will either eat them or they will clean him, both positive outcomes. I have also freshwater dipped him in a bucket of pH adjusted freshwater and Aquatronics Dip A Way. He has not eaten any of the shrimp, but we have included some freshwater fiddler crabs (bright colored and crunchy) and they have been found missing limbs, but not anywhere near a full puffer meal. At this point, he hasn't eaten in about a month. <Doubt if this is "Ich", just some sort of manifestation of undesired water chemistry... Would stop (never have started) with the "medicines" you list... STOP using them if you haven't already... And puffers do go on feeding strikes... Give yours time, it will very likely "self-cure" and recommence feeding> At this point the Ich seems to be in remission (at least that which is on his body). He seems to be "less" visibly infected, although I know the Ich will remain a problem for a long time. Two questions: 1) In the question included below you mention catching the puffer and turkey basting "one of the aqueous garlic remedies offered on the market to your puffer," I know you are not a fan of the garlic oil, so what product are you speaking of?  <"Just" chopped garlic in water/aqueous solution... best made fresh (by you)> A brand name would be great. 2) Am I not doing something that could help/What would you do to try to remedy this situation? (I know about dip and quarantine, unfortunately I had to learn the hard way and I am paying for it now.) Thank you for any help you are able to give, Chris Paul <Only time needs to go by. Patience my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sick porcupine Hi Bob....Wonder if you could help with something. I have a Porcupine Puffer that I've had for about 4 months. He has always been healthy and happy. Suddenly last knight he would not come out of his "cave". This morning he is listless swimming around slowly, after I encouraged him to come out to take a look at him, and he will not eat. His coloring is darker than usual I think his belly is a little swollen and his underside that is usually white has turned brown as well. His eyes are also a little darker than usual. I can think of three factors that may have caused some reaction. 1. Despite repeated attempts he has never shown any interest in eating anything except feeder minnows. Recently I have gotten him to eating frozen "silversides" from the pet store. I noticed yesterday that he was sort of farting with a cloudy stringy discharge coming from his butt. (Sorry to let you in on this). Possibly indigestion due to the change in diet? <Maybe... or the whole situation due to a nutritional deficiency... just like a child only eating s/he's favorite food> 2. He got into an altercation with a piece of live rock (stupid fish) as he tried to squeeze his body into a two inch crack between two pieces and caused some damage to one of his fins. Possibly a opportunistic infection? <Very common and maybe> 3. I introduced a brain coral last knight. I know Puffers and coral don't usually mix but In his infancy since about two inches I watched him grow up in a tank at the LFS with a tank full of corals as well as hermit crabs ( he was sort of the pet stores pet and wouldn't sell him for the longest time ) and I Have both in the tank with him . He has never shown any interest. I was very careful about not dumping the transport water from the coral into the tank and it was almost 100% tank water when introduced. <Unlikely here...> So there you have it. Maybe with some of the symptoms described you could shed some light and advice on any action I might take. Thank you in advance. J. Currah <And thank you for writing... Actually suspect maybe some/all of the above may be/have contributed to your puffers retiring behavior... but having dealt with many such anomalies, I encourage you to "keep faith" that your fish will "change" of its own accord. For whatever "reasons" puffers just "do this", go on feeding strikes, hide out, sit on the bottom for days, weeks, occasionally months at a time... who can say why? Perhaps internal parasites? Maybe a mechanism to prevent starving in lean times? To fool potential predators? I don't know. But am aware that these situations almost always resolve/solve themselves... with the puffers/Burrfishes (see www.wetwebmedia.com  re more) just as quickly deciding to "join the living world". Just keep your eye on this specimen. Bob Fenner>
Re: sick puffer
Hi Bob, I was talking to you earlier about the porcupine that was sulking. Well when I got home from work I noticed that he is now convulsing, sort of the way a cat does when its about to throw up and at the same time puffing about half way. When he finished he did throw something up, a small white pebble looking thing. Any ideas? <Sounds like this animal may have swallowed something (or knowing these puffers, eaten something) that didn't entirely agree with it... Might even be a tumorous growth of some sort... but I suspect your Diodontid is even on a faster route on the road to recovery... Bob Fenner>
Re: sick puffer
Hi again Please excuse me if I'm being annoying! I deal with the public as well as a Horticulturalist and I know how annoying people can be but shouldn't the change of coloration on the under belly be a concern. I realize that they have the ability to change color but I think I read once that the color of the under belly can be a signal to the health of the fish and he's still just curled up at the very back of hid cave. One more thing, how long should I let him go without eating before I get concerned? I was hand feeding him every day. <Coloration and behavior are indeed indicative... but as a person with a great deal of personal and "other hand" experience with this group of fishes, I assure you, in almost all cases all that is required is patience at this point. I would continue to offer food daily... and have faith. Sometimes these fishes shun food for several weeks. Bob Fenner>
Re: sick puffer again
Hi again Bob!...My Puffer is still in the same condition. Sulking, sitting on the bottom at the back of the tank. I sort of encouraged him to come out yesterday and managed to get him to eat a couple of minnows. I know these are not the best food but its the only thing he'll show interest in and I did manage to get four small ones into him. However after he ate he just went to the back gain and sat on the bottom of his cave and his under side is still very dark. <To be expected... as I said, patience... you may well be causing more damage by manipulating this specimen...> I noticed on the FAQ's there is mention of a friend of yours that uses garlic as a purgative and for digestive problems for her puffers. I could see this since garlic in humans clean the blood. If I were to try this how might I prepare something? Might I mash some fresh cloves with some vitamin supplement and syringe it down his little throat? <Yes to this protocol. The garlic is best fresh (as in human applications). Use a plastic syringe, baster, catheter...Bob Fenner>
Sick Porcupine...again
Well...sorry to be on to this again but things don't seem to be getting any better. It's been a week now since my porcupine (Diodon Holocanthus) has gone in hiding and now I notice his eyes are getting very cloudy and his breathing is more labored. Water parameters are still O.K. and I hooked up a U.V unit this morning. I've read your book and reread the disease section over and over. He does not have Ich. I have experience with this and know what it looks like. Is there anything else I should look for? It very frustrating to just watch as he deteriorates. Thank you once again, Joe <Not much... a cathartic bath/dip in a two teaspoon per gallon magnesium sulfate and diluted seawater (from the system) in conjunction with the forced garlic feeding previously alluded to might help... but may do more harm, no good at all. Have you read through the archives on Diodontid, Tetraodontids puffers on the www.wetwebmedia.com site? Any similar experiences related by folks on the associated FAQs that offer solace, direction? Bob Fenner>

Parasite? Dear sir: I have a porcupine fish. I noticed a small flat translucent worm about 2/16 long and 1/16 wide crawling on my fish. When I came home from work I did a fresh water dip with Meth blue. I dipped for about ten minutes and brought him out and back into the tank. He had a lot of these that I hadn't noticed because the dye had turned them blue and they are falling off. My question if you would be so kind is, what are they and what is protocol to rid the fish of them. I'm hoping quarantine with copper will not be called for. Any info you could provide on life cycle, etc., would also be appreciated. <There are a few possibilities... likely these are some sort of "Fluke"... mono- or digenetic Trematode species...  and are likely best treated by way of a freshwater and formalin (ten drops per gallon of 37% solution) dip of about  five minutes duration... and then placed in a new setting... lest this is a worm with direct life cycle (the ones that entail  another one or two intermediates are likely to not have those other transient hosts in place...). See if this works...  and if you're so inclined, search about for "Fish Disease" works by "Yamaguti" or "Noga" for tremendously more detail... Or write me back for more if unclear... Bob Fenner>

Porcupine puffer with a swollen eye I wonder if you can help, I recently acquired a Porcupine puffer about 3 inches in length. he currently shares a 180L tank with a small Volitans, a 3 inch Clown Trigger fish, a 5 inch Pink tail trigger, a Powder Blue Tang, and an Imperator Angel. All the water parameters are in very good shape, but about 1 week after being added to my tank, he suddenly developed a very, very swollen eye. The eye enlarged in the space of an hour just after feeding. It's now about 3 weeks later and the situation has worsened, the swelling is massive and looks very uncomfortable, a significant amount of air is clearly visible behind the eye cover and in front of the eye itself. The poor creatures buoyancy is clearly affected yet he feeds enthusiastically. have you ever experienced anything like this before? <Yes... first hand and otherwise. Popeye, aka exophthalmia is a condition... that has several etymologies/causes... If it's one-sided typically this is resultant from a mechanical injury... a bump in the night or some other organism bruising the animal... likely one of your triggers or the Angel...> do you know of any treatments? <For advanced cases like this? Best to just "wait, hope, see" what happens... Please see the "Popeye" and related sections on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for more here> Thanks in advance for your help, I've been very impressed with the words of wisdom you have offered others. Regards, Ian <Thank you for your kind words... don't know about wisdom, but collective experience, yes. Bob Fenner>
Re: Porcupine puffer with a swollen eye
Thanks for the speedy reply Bob, just a quick update, last night the eye deflated substantially.  <Ah, good> It's now about the same size as the good eye but looks a real mess (very opaque and the eye cover surface is rough and flaky). As for the porky himself, well he seems very busy and active (getting on the nerves of the Pink Tail seems to be his favorite pass time!!!) <Also good> Thanks again for the help, I'm just about to move all my guys into a 190 gallon (UK gallons) system and build a 90 gallon reef system, so I'm sure I'll be in touch again if that's ok <Absolutely my friend. Bob Fenner> Cheers from the UK, Ian

Healing puffer I think I had mentioned this fellow to you before, asking questions about resilience, etc. Anyway, he [Holocanthus] had a tank mate at the LFS who chewed his tail fin, pretty much down to the base. He had been separated for a week or so when I bought him and was definitely on the mend from times previous. Anyway, now that he's "under observation" the tail had always a thin filament of [what I assumed to be] bone around which tissue is growing back. Now after a week, that filament, which was at one point bleach white (like the tissue around it) is now red-ish brown... the other tissue looks the same as before, and is still growing. <Okay> My question(s): is the redness blood supply or infection? What can be done to stave off infections? Vitamins? <A good idea... more likely re-growth than infection> Tank finished cycling about two weeks ago and since then have had a small ammonia spike due to chunk of live rock bailing out, but things are now as normal as they can be, but I was concerned that an antibiotic or similar treatment would behave like copper and wipe all cultures without discrimination.  <Hmm... depends on antibiotic type... and more> Silly me, don't have a quarantine tank yet [got to your site after the tank was going] but will have one completed by tomorrow evening. <Now you're getting smarter> Could treat in there I suppose, or should I just keep observing. Fish is quite healthy otherwise, and is quite active/animated. <Don't move it> TIA. <You're welcome as quickly. Bob Fenner> J --

Porcupine Puffer with swollen spot... I've had my porcupine puffer for about a month, and he has been doing great. This morning when I got up and turned the light on for the tank I noticed he had a swollen part on his left side ... up towards his back. It has made it so that he can't use his top fin. I'm wondering if he may have swallowed some air during the night or something. <Perhaps... but much more likely a resultant symptom from the collection, handling processes from the wild...> Yesterday at feeding he had an altercation with an eel over some food but I don't think he got bit. He seemed fine after the feeding. <Hmm> What should I do with him??? <Really "nothing" other than the "usual" of providing consistent, high quality water, a stable environment, food... These fishes (puffers in general) are quite "changeable", "adaptable" but do go through marked changes in behavior (feeding, sitting about, swimming...). Please read over the various "Puffer FAQs" posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for much more here... that will inform you, place your mind at rest. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help, Nathan Best
Re: Porcupine Puffer with swollen spot...
Thanks for the quick reply. I've looked over the FAQ, but didn't see anything quite like this. I just got finished feeding everyone, and he ate fine ... but it looks like the swollen part got a little bigger ... could it be food???  <No, very unlikely.> His color and everything seems ok ... he's just struggling to keep from floating to the top of the tank. <Not uncommon... resultant as previously stated...> Thanks, Nathan Best <Bob Fenner>

Porcupine puffer sick? hi bob, I've recently introduced my porcupine puffer (3 inches) into my 125 FOWLR system one week ago after a two-week quarantine. now I've noticed that it has a speckled white coat on the upper half of both eyes. what is this and how do I treat it? the puffer is otherwise healthy, very active and eats well. <Hmm, just on the "upper half of both eyes"... I would likely not treat it... Do read over the entire section on "Marine Fish Disease" posted on our site (www.WetWebMedia.com) however> tank conditions: temp 81 1.022 nh4 0.25 (doing partial h20 exchanges weekly) nitrite 0 nitrate 0 thanks again, Knef <I would "wait and see" at this point... the spotting may very well likely not be parasitic, infectious per se, but environmental/stress markings. Bob Fenner>

Question about puffer fish Hi Bob, I've got a porcupine puffer fish who I have had for almost 2 years now! But I noticed a strange marking on his belly recently. It looks like green algae. Its green and splotchy all over his white belly.. I never noticed it until today.. I'm wondering if it could be algae?  <Actually, yes. It could be> Or is it more likely some other kind of disease? In any case is it dangerous? How would you recommend curing it?  <Improved water quality, change of foods/feeding, addition of vitamins and iodide to the food, water...> BTW, my tank does have some algae growth but I try to keep it under control so its not THAT bad. Your help is appreciated, thanks! Steve Weatherly <Perhaps related issue (algae in tank, on puffer) in that water quality, conditions dictate both... Do you have live rock? Macro-algae growing in the system or sump? These would help indirectly to vastly improve conditions, health. Bob Fenner>

Lifespan of Diodon holacanthus Hi Mr. Fenner, <Hello> I have been a longtime reader of your material, and your knowledge has helped me tremendously throughout the years. Thanks a lot for that! <Glad to share> My girlfriend and I had a porcupine puffer for about 5 years. He had his battles with illness here and there, but he always recovered brilliantly. He was a remarkably healthy fish. I recently tried adding a new fish into his tank (100g), and unfortunately I did not quarantine this fish previous to adding it to the system. The new fish (Kole Tang) did not show any symptoms of illness other than heavy breathing. One morning I looked at the tank and saw a dead tang, with much of its rear body bitten off. I have no doubt it was the Pufferfish that did this, while the tang was still alive. I saw the tang swimming happily the night before. <Mmm, just as likely that the Tang perished and was partly consumed thereafter> The next day the Pufferfish started acting ill, his eyes looked a bit cloudy and he was showing white spots on his fins. Instead of removing him and hospitalizing him right away, I figured he'd recover much like he always did. That was my biggest mistake ever, as 3 days later he died. My girlfriend is devastated, and I feel completely responsible. I am surprised this fish did not recover to tell you the truth, considering how well he's done with illness in the past. I attributed the illness of the puffer to the introduction of the tang, since there had been no disease in this particular tank for over 2 years. <Mmm... a likely possibility... would like to know "what else" is alive in the system... could well be that whatever the root cause/s of mortality are/were that they might have been environmental> This is my question: Is this considered an "old" Pufferfish for tank life?  <Well, not really... members of this species have been kept in captivity for more than twenty years (Public Aquariums keep records)> Was his immune system weak perhaps due to old age? I can't find reference on the internet about the natural lifespan of this particular fish, although my best guess would be about 10-12 years in the wild, and about 7-8 in captivity? Thanks a lot for your time, I really appreciate it. Sincerely, Chris George <Take a look on WetWebMedia.com's links pages to Public Aquariums. Some list longevity records for the animals in their care. Bob Fenner>
Re: Lifespan of Diodon holacanthus
Bob, Thanks for the speedy reply. As far as the tang perishing first.....I'm not so sure about that. This puffer had a history of eating tankmates that were smaller than him. This tang was pretty large though, so I thought I was safe. I believe I was wrong though, and the puffer bit off a portion of him and then the tang died. The tang was eating and swimming the night before. <I see> One thing I didn't mention was how old the puffer was before I purchased him. Maybe you can help me out with this. He was 2.5 to 3 inches when purchased, presumably straight from the wild. How old would you guess a porcupine of this size to be? <A few to several months.> Thanks again for your time, Chris George <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Please help w/porcupine puffer- swollen spot I have found a treasure trove on info on your site- Thanks! I bought a Porcupine puffer Saturday. I was extremely careful handling him, but we did feed him two large dried shrimp before he was bagged. <Before? Oof!> I poured him into my net and then placed him in the tank. He has a swollen spot on his right side about 2/3 way back. It obviously makes it hard for him to swim as it causes him to be very buoyant. I was misinformed by the LFS that this transfer method would be ok. I think he has swallowed some air. He has come out a few times briefly, but mainly is under a ledge of rock, probably to keep from floating up. Is there any way to tell for sure or anything I can do- I really want to help this little guy make it. I tried to offer some food down to him but he puffed up so I left him alone. I have noticed that my clown is hovering by him, like he is guarding him or something. He also rubs his back fin on the puffer. Have you ever heard of such behavior? <Yes> He is in a 29 gallon (I have a 50 just for him, long term, haven't set it up yet), with a clarkii clown, yellowtail damsel, coral beauty. I have a flower anemone, cold water anemone, curlicue, and Sebae have 4 or 5 snail, equal # hermits, couple of emerald crabs. Thanks Pete Schmitz <Please try to be patient here... the absorption or expulsion of the trapped gas will take a few days to weeks... but should work out over time. In the meanwhile not much to do but wait. Don't be discouraged if this specimen doesn't feed for the duration. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer Skin Tags Bob, I recently set up my first Marine Aquarium and just finished reading The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, awesome book. I was just admiring your website when I thought of my own question. I have a 75 gal tank and have only stocked a Yellow Tang and a Porcupine Puffer to date. My Porcupine has little white skin tags (for lack of a better description) mixed in among his spines.  <A good description> The 7 or 8 "tags" seem to be normal, but do cause a little concern. They seem to be mostly on the lower half of his body (below his eyes) and they are not real long, NOT as long as the spines at least. I looked at the pictures you had posted and thought that I could also see them, but I'm not sure. Are these normal, will they grow, go away, gain more, and what are they?  I appreciate you insightfulness and willingness to help. -Mark <As I do your participation. These tags of skin are what the terms define... and do occur in the wild and on captive Diodontids, especially ones that are growing quickly as young. Nothing to worry about. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Sick Puffer? <Greetings Puffer Person... Positively Pleased to Peruse your Post. Anthony> I've had a porcupine puffer for over a month now. For the past two weeks he's been breathing heavier than he should. He's been eating good during this whole period of time of breathing heavy. However during the past couple days he has not been eating as good as he's usually does. Instead of eating 4 silversides a day he only goes for one. When I try adding other silver sides he will grab it chew on it then spit it out and not return for it. He does this to krill too. Why is he not wanting to eat as much? <check water chemistry (low pH, high Ammonia, etc.) and look for signs of disease (scratching/glancing, closing one gill while pumping the other, excess slime/mucus, spots> I have him in a 120 with a 4 inch Percula and 3 damsels. The puffer is only three inches long. The water is testing good. <what is it specifically?> I have a lot of filtration. What's causing him to breath heavy when he doesn't have any visible signs of disease? I check through your site and I haven't found the answer to this problem. So please I beg help me. Thank you. < if not a biological water quality issue, that leaves toxin in water (unlikely) or the pre-cursor of a disease not showing symptoms yet. Review the above and post again if necessary. Anthony>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: