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FAQs about Burrfishes, Porcupinefishes Stocking, Selection

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

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

Puffer tank sizes       2/11/16
Hi Mr. Bob and crew, I am doing a lot of research on my next acquisition.
<Really? Searching or re-searching?>
I have a lot of time due to setting up a qt, cycling a new tank for the geriatric fin friends and redoing the 150g for a puffer. (new skimmer, added a 29g refugium, rearranging rock, new power heads..etc)I am finding so many different tank requirements for the different species.
<There are many such requirements as INDEED there are different species.
Some fresh, some variably brackish, others entirely marine!>
Give me a suggestion :)I want one of the personable species that can live its life in a 150 gallon.
<All posted, archived on WWM, elsewhere>
I read the porcupine gets too large.
<There are other Diodontids; most all could/would live for years in a 150 if started small-ish>
But even the others seem to get huge. Is there one that can live in my tank happy. I read they can live 10-20 years.
<Yes; tis so>
It will be the only fish in the tank. I will not be upgrading tank size.
I am also reading on feeding etc to take care of my fish. I know you are going to tell me to keep reading ;-)
<Is a fave response>
I will. But a suggestion in species would be appreciated. Have a great day! Stace
<A re-reading then: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm
similarly for other puffer families.
IF you're set on having a Burrfish species... Note that the "maximum size" listed on WWM (and many other places, like FishBase.org) IS the biggest any specimen has been acceptably recorded. Max. aquarium size will likely be no more than half this in standard length. Bob Fenner>

Spiny box puffer... gen.    7/22/11
So I am here now after giving my Maculosus angel back and I am considering the spiny box puffer. There is a very limited amount of info on this particular genus, what do you think about them?
<Hard to come by Chilomycterus in the trade, most places in the wild>
He has been in the store for 2 weeks and is eating well. I've read on the web that these are difficult to keep...I wanted your opinion.
<Not difficult; similar to the family. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
My LFS has one....I'm gone buy him, they've had him for 2 weeks he is eating good and active. Thanks for the quick reply, enjoy your weekend!
re: Spiny box puffer   7/25/11

Well Bob, I must say....this striped Burrfish is now my favorite fish.
He's really cool and extremely intelligent and highly interesting to watch.
What a great investment. He's eating like a champ....out of my hand nonetheless
(on day 2)! I'm investing into a Reef Octopus Skimmer for my 90g to go along with the fluvial FX5 and a power head. I feel like its a must!
Especially now....that I have the puffer. Just following up with ya Bob, figured I'd let you know.
<Thank you. BobF>

Porcupine Puffer or/and Long Horn Cowfish, sel., sys.   4/23/10
When I was a teenager I worked at a pet store (with a very large fish area) for 4 years. They had a very large porcupine puffer (about a foot long) that was a store pet and not for sale. I couldn't walk by his tank without stopping and playing with him.
<Are very intelligent and interactive.>
He had a very fun personality and would follow your finger or you back and forth, fast and slow, all day, and he was soooo cute!! He was always very curious and wanted attention.
<Often the case.>
I decided I had to have one, one day! Ten years later and I finally have my 40 gal high salt water tank set up and ready to go.
<This tank way too small to house a large messy puffer, perhaps a Toby or Sharpnose puffer, but I'm not sure that is what you are looking for. There are also some fresh and brackish water puffers that may fit what you are looking for more closely, but have their own pluses and minuses. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FishInd3.htm and perhaps check out
http://www.thepufferforum.com .>
But, I'm having a very hard time finding them and when I do they don't seem very playful.
<When properly housed they can be very interactive, when stressed much less so.>
The whole reason I want this fish is because of its personality and curiosity and its cuteness is an added bonus! I have been noticing the Long Horned Cowfish a lot though...they seem to be quite curious and playful as
well...The people at the fish store said that I couldn't put them together, even if it was only them in the tank.
<The most common offered, Lactoria cornuta grows far too large for your tank.>
I've looked into both fish quite a bit and it seems like they both have good and bad qualities/habits.
<Like all creatures.>
I do plan on getting a larger tank down the road when they/it start to out grow my current tank.
<Stock for what you have now, tank upgrades rarely actually happen, and often too late after the fish has already suffered irreparable harm.>
I want a playful, fun fish, that has a personality and doesn't act like a fish, if you know what I mean.
<Hopefully you have realistic expectations here.>
I don't want anything that is going to be super difficult to maintain or work with since this is my first salt water tank. Any suggestions, advice, or general info would be greatly appreciated!!
<While puffers are not terribly difficult in many ways they do require quite a bit of maintenance and some specialized care, I'm not sure I would recommend them for a beginner in the hobby.>
Thank you,
Re: Porcupine Puffer or/and Long Horn Cowfish, 4/23/10

Thank you very much for your fast reply!!
How fast do the long horned cowfish grow? The one I was looking at is like an inch long.
<It won't stay that size for long, I would guess it will be 6+ inches if properly housed and fed within a year, and if allowed to grow to over 18+ inches long. It is not a good fish for a casual hobbyist.>
Would you say that their personality is comparable to the porcupine puffer?
<Similar, intelligent and inquisitive, which can me destructive if bored.>
Also, how big of a tank do you think I would want for each?
<Something at least 24" wide, probably 6 feet long, probably something around 200 gallons for it's total life, but bigger would be better for these messy fish.>
Would it be okay to put them together in a large enough tank?
<Most likely.>
And if so, how large of a tank?
<250-300 gallons in my opinion.>
...I hope that's not too many questions!
<No problem, better to know what you are getting into now rather than after purchasing your tank.>

Burrfish in a Predatory Fish-Only tank 2/19/10
Hi Wet Web Media.
My Dad has a 125-gallon tank with a Coral Catshark, a Snowflake Moray Eel, and a Bass of some sort that we caught at Jones Beach.
<This tank is already overstocked. You will need more room as these fishes, particularly the Shark, get larger>
The tank is run on 2 box filters, 1 Sand-Shark internal power filter, 1 Cascade 300 internal power filter, 1 Fluval 104 canister filter, 1 Fluval 105 canister filter, and 1 Fluval 304 canister filter. A large amount of Cherrystone and Little Neck clams serve as biological protein skimmers.
<Not skimmers, no>
There is only 2-3lbs of Live Rock, as using live rock is something new to us. There is small hermit crab shell with 3 feather-duster worms of 3 different species, and Monti Cap, and a blue Zoanthid.
<Wow, you must be on top of water quality, maintenance>
Since the tank has very little action, we plan on buying a Striped Burrfish for the tank.
<I would not>
We've had multiple puffers of the family Tetraodontidae, and none of them have ever harmed the corals, but  the
Striped Burrfish will be our first puffer from the Diodontidae family. I'm worried that it will have different habits-will it harm the corals?
<Possibly, yes; and chew/bite the two bottom dwelling fishes>
Even more concerned about-will it harm the feather-dusters? Oh and what is the best food for it?
The fish in the tank are fed with Silversides and occasionally marine flake food for the bass.
<It must be small currently>
I'm not worried about the eel-it hasn't touched another fish in 5 years. The shark has always eaten other fish, as he is nocturnal, but has launched at the bass even while the lights are on. Will the puffer get stressed easily and hurt itself by blowing up if the shark launches at it?
<Might well spell the end for both>
I have read somewhere that Burrfishes are nocturnal themselves, but I'm not sure. Please help me out.
<You've obviously done some reading here... I would be remiss to encourage this placement however small the present occupants are... Do you have plans for larger quarters? Bob Fenner>
Re: Burrfish in a Predatory Fish-Only tank -- 02/19/10

Hello Bob.
Thanks for the help.
Yes we do plan on shifting up to a new size soon. At least 300-gallons, for the home-built wrought-iron stand we have is actually built for a 300-gallon.
<Nice project>
The problem is its hard to find one for free-my Dad drops off motor boxes to the local eBay store, and when something pops up that my dad can use, he'll be able to get it for free. Its how we got the 125gallon. Recently he
tried to get a 300-gallon and found 1, but it's side shattered. The clams are temporary until we can find a skimmer rated for 300-gallons in the same fashion. My dad works a little differently-he mixes salt straight into the tank and uses untreated tap water that has run for a minute.
<Gosh; please tell your dad that this was also my practice in the aquarium service business many years ago>
The eel is at
least 7-years-old, the bass has been growing quite fast, he's about 4-1/2 inches instead of 2 inches when we caught him last summer, and the shark is 17-inches and was bought about 2-years ago. When we move up to 300-gallon,
my Dad has plans on getting another shark after we go to 300-gallons-he specifically wants a banded bamboo shark egg. My dad doesn't test water chemically-he smells the water for nitrites and nitrate, detects the ammonia
<Mmm, I can sometimes detect ammonia olfactorily, but I don't know about the others>
by the amount of bubbles on top of the tank, and has never done anything for pH testing, but has lots of calcareous rocks, crushed coral for the substrate, and a few seashells. The salt-level, though, is detected with both a floating hydrometer (which also does temperature, even though the heater also has a thermometer) and a swing-arm hydrometer. The most recent puffer, a Blackspot dog-face puffer, never harmed the shark or the eel, or the invertebrates. Is the Burrfish different than regular puffers in these habits?
<Not really... Diodontids are just as "unpredictable" though>
Or is my dad's tank reversing backwards and the invertebrates should have been long gone with the puffer?
<Am surprised they are doing well with the bioload you list>
My dad has plans on the puffer and he's already been talking to the pet stores that carry them. If there's anything
that can happen that's really bad please let me know before me buys a Burrfish!
Thank you,
<Nothing "all that bad", other than setting up a crash... they can/do release toxic substances into the water if very upset, or worse, die and decompose w/o prompt removal. Again, I'd wait, add more filtration, circulation... and keep your eyes peeled for that larger tank. BobF>

Lion or Puffer  12/22/2005 Hi Bob, <Chris>            thank you for your help.  I understand and do not want to put any fish in harms way.  Can you help guide me here, I have had lionfish in the past, even though they are beautiful, I want something with personality.  Do you think a porcupine fish is a better choice than most lion fish?   <I do... most Lions kind of just "hang around"... most Puffers have great intelligence and personality> And if I decided to got with the porcupine fish (Diodon holocanthus) Could I keep it with a zebra moray or Golden tail moray eel.  Any other good suggestions for a fish-only tank. <These are very good choices for marine aquarium eels... amongst many fishes. A bunch archived on WWM re such selection. Cheers, Bob Fenner>                          thank you for your help!                                                              Chris

Stocking A 90 Gallon FOWLR - 10/08/05 Hi, just found your site and it helped me determine that I can't have an Emperor Angel. <<ok>> But back to my question, I have a 90 gallon reef that is being converted to a FOWLR. The 90g has 90lbs of live sand and 85lbs of live rock. I also have a 13g sump and a 30g refugium filled with 20lbs of live sand and Chaetomorpha. My tank has been up for almost 2 years and I have recently decided that I just want a FOWLR and if I do so, I want different kinds of fish than the ones I presently have.  I was thinking of a Raccoon Butterfly, a Foxface lo, Niger Trigger or Clown Trigger or Humu Trigger (Please guide me which is the best choice in the long run as I did read that the clown can get very aggressive), 2 adult Maroon Clowns, Porcupine Puffer, and 1 Harlequin Tusk, and or if I can get any full size angel fish please make a recommendation. <<My...you have high expectations of a 90 gallon FOWLR. It is my opinion that this stock list will grossly overload this tank.>> The fish that I want 100% is the Porcupine Puffer, from my research it would appear that I can keep this fish. <<Mmm...possibly, if we're talking about Diodon eydouxii...but can still grow to 12 inches.>> If I can get all of these, cool. <<Not in my opinion...in this tank.>> Otherwise please tell me which fish I can get with the puffer and fit in my 90g. <<These are large, messy feeders...For the long-term health of your fish I would limit the stock list to the puffer, the foxface, and maybe a couple or three smaller fish of your choosing (I think the clownfish might become too territorial/aggressive in this tank). Whatever you choose, do look them up on fishbase.org for maximum sizes, gut content (tells you what they eat), etc..>> BTW, I have asked a question in the past and I have a problem finding where my answer is listed. Can you please email me the answer or email a link? <<Strange...replies are sent back to the sender, posted in the daily FAQs.>> Thanks, Mike <<Regards, EricR>>

- Porkin' Up! - I have a question regarding two species of Porkies. The holocanthus and the hystrix (spelling might be wrong). I've noticed from your site that the hystrix is  much larger of the two, but it is the most common one that I see in the pet trade. Is there a reason for this? <Interesting, I have yet to run across a D. hystrix while I see D. holacanthus EVERYWHERE. Go figure...> I'm setting up a 90 gallon FO tank and would like to add a porky. (my LFS has no problem with taking in trade in's) I have found a few dealers that supply holocanthus and owning a fish that's not going to reach three feet in length could be something I might work on trying to keep. <Good idea. Although last year I spotted what appeared to be a D. holocanthus on a night dive that was at least two and a half feet long...> There just seems to be more info on hystrix. What can you tell me? <I'd go with the holocanthus. They're cheap, exceptionally hardy, have gorgeous big blue eyes, will eat anything, and will squirt water at you when you go to feed them. What more can you ask for?> You guys are awesome by the way!!!!! <Awww shucks... -Kevin>

- Diodon nicthemerus? - Source, habitat? I am looking into information about the Diodon nicthemerus. I have Googled it and found a few things online and on fishbase.org, but I was wondering if this puffer is sold in the aquarium trade. It seems to get to a max of 15 inches with most being around 11 inches which seems a great trade on a pufferfish that is smaller than the Holocanthus and the Histrix and even the Liturosus. Has anyone seen the so called slender- spined puffer in the aquarium trade?  <Nope.>  Is there a reason why its not seen?  <Given its distribution - south Australia - it's likely too remote an area from normal collection zones to be imported in any great quantities.>  I'm in a small town so Holocanthus is pretty much it for here.  <The Diodon holocanthus is circumtropical, so it's just easier to find, get a hold of.>  Fishbase does say that they are seen in groups instead of being loners on the reef, but there isn't much on them to really help me.  second question, does any of the divers have pictures or a greater idea for setups for a natural porcupine puffer habitat?  <They are reef fish... any reef habitat will do.>  I am sure my puffer is a holocanthus as the spines are longest on the head, but I do want to set things up as close as possible to a Caribbean reef where they are.  <Sure.>  I only have two overdriven NO fluorescents, over the 55 it is currently housed in while I'm building his permanent home (in a 120 to 160 depending on how much acrylic I mis-measure ) so I can't do a lot of corals or other high light items but I do want to give it a good setup. Thank you for your help in advance for any help you can offer.  Btw I Googled pics and ideas for their habitat but only came up with rocky habitats and a lot of cover. nothing really on plants and other things. <The Caribbean is mostly sponges and gorgonians. There are some corals, but being a frequent diver off the south east coast of Florida I can tell you, gorgonians outnumber just about everything by a large margin. Cheers, J -- >

Porcupine fish Hi Bob. I'm writing to ask you about the porcupine fish ( Diodon Holacanthus ), I have a 55g with four fishes, a damsel, royal Gramma, clown and a Heniochus butterfly, I have seen them and they look so cute that I would like to get one. What can you tell me about them, are they easy to keep ? Thank you for your help. Americo. <<This is a hardy puffer species. I would start with a small (3-4") specimen to give your three small fish species a better chance to "get to know" the Porcupine before it gets large enough to try eating them (a possibility in this stocking plan), and feed the puffer sparingly. Often, these intelligent fishes take a while to catch on to captive foods, and do go on the occasional feeding strike. Don't let either worry you. They almost always learn what's what within a few days to weeks. But don't overfeed the newbie, even on just good principles; you don't want to have that porker get too big too fast. Bob Fenner>>

Puffer Fish Hi Bob, I hope you can give me an answer to my question. I have gotten lots of conflicting answers in the last few weeks. I have a 46 gallon tank. Has been up since Nov. and all levels are perfect. In it is 50+ lbs of live rock, the substrate and 25 lbs of the rock were from my smaller tank that I put in the new one to jump start the cycling and add the micro inverts, etc. The rock is covered with coralline and macro algae, small sponges, and hard corals. A mantis shrimp hitched a ride with the new rock so I have a Niger Trigger in there right now to help get rid of the shrimp but I do not plan to keep him. I also have a small yellow damsel (also not keeping). I was thinking about a Porcupine Puffer for a centerpiece. Will he destroy my rock, etc? Will I be able to have other fish with him or will he kill them too? If he is not suitable will a Foxface be ok with a pearly Jawfish, a couple of Percula clowns, and maybe a Banggai (sorry, I can't spell) cardinal? Thank you in advance for any info you can offer. Olivia <Hmm, I would skip on the Puffer, as it is too messy and would likely eat too much of your live rock organisms... The "other" list should work out together> I loved the wetwebmedia.com site!!! It has such great advice and wonderful pics. Keep up the great work! <Thank you. Will endeavor to do so. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Diodontids/Burrfishes? Dear Mr. Fenner, I have a question for you concerning puffers: I would like to get a brackish-water puffer, and I have been told that there is a brackish-water Burrfish. Is this information true? <Hmm, not as far as my sources show... Joe Nelson, fishbase.org for instance states that all six genera, nineteen species of the family of Burr/Porcupine Pufferfishes (Diodontidae) none are fresh, or even brackish... all marine. Many brackish Tetraodontids ("smooth" puffers) are conditioned, otherwise sold as freshwater organisms... and there are indeed true freshwater members of that family... but Burrfish, no. Our Puffer coverage and pix archived on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com. Bob Fenner> Thanks. Ronald P. Jean 

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