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FAQs about Burrfishes, Porcupinefishes Systems

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 Selection, 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

Query: What kind of system do I need for a long spined porcupine puffer? Or better yet, a striped Burrfish? And other musings...     4/13/11
Hello WWM crew,
<Howdy Glenn>
This is my first writing, and while I did search and have read more pages of FAQs than I care to think about (pretty much the entire puffer related backlog) I know these new questions to you, there just doesn't appear to be any consensus on things. At very least, not all of them. I apologize in advance.
<No worries>
I have wanted a striped Burrfish -- Chilomycterus schoepfi -- since long before I knew anything about them apart from "that's a neat spiky fish" at age 4 or so. I'm now 26, and after keeping a Green Spotted Puffer in high brackish water for a couple of years and a 20 gallon fresh water community tank for many years before that I'm looking seriously in to what is involved in keeping these larger marine fish. If it isn't already obvious, I really enjoy puffers in general.
<I as well>
Sadly, much of what I've read suggests striped Burrfish are exceptionally difficult to keep and often die a month or less after introduction, even when dealing with very well established systems. I have no desire to kill anything, much less my "favorite" fish, and since this will be my first marine setup I'm more leery here than some. It also worries me that no local fish stores around here stock them (perhaps silent affirmation they're difficult to keep?)
<A factor, but also this species is quite rare in the wild (West Atlantic coast) where aquarium collection occurs commercially>
though I suspect a couple of them could order one in if I asked. I am located in Columbia, SC. Of course, if any of you have suggestions or recommendations that'd lead to a high probability of success I'd still love to go this route. The setup as detailed below would probably be much the same.
<A large, uncrowded volume (at least a hundred gallons), with copious quantity of local live rock, set up for at least a few months...>
While this will be my first marine tank it will not be my first aquarium --
I've had 10, 20, and 30 gallon setups before, everything from your fairly basic tropical community tank up to my current high brackish system with its sole (murderous) resident Green Spotted Puffer named Frumious Bandersnatch, or "Frumi" for short.
<Ahh, the combo Carrol's adverb used by the psych band of the 60's I take it>
My previous Green Spotted Puffer succumbed to internal parasites very early on, and while I blame my own lack of knowledge and late treatment for his loss I've learned a lot since then and Frumi has been going strong for about two years now.
<This Tetraodon should be in full marine by now>
Based on all I've learned the striped Burrfish seems to be out, though I'd love to be told I'm wrong here! My second choice (though not by much) is the long spined porcupine fish, Diodon holacanthus. These seem much hardier and easier to take care of (if also prone to occasional hunger strikes) and are much more common and readily available; my local fish stores regularly have one or two in stock. They also have the same 'dog like' personality and inquisitiveness / interactivity I've come to love in the striped Burrfish. Plus some have really pretty iridescent eyes!
<All that I've occasioned>
The primary downside is that they seem to get a lot bigger. Whereas the Burrfish supposedly tops out around the 9 to 10 inch mark and maybe half that in width I have seen many conflicting statements about the common maximum length of the porcupine fish. Here and elsewhere I've seen claims it gets to 10 to 12 inches regularly. Then again, I've also seen several claims it reaches 20+ inches! I have my doubts about the latter claim, as I've seen many and never one anywhere near that big in aquaria, but it still worries me.
<As it should>
Either way, should I end up with a Burrfish or the porcupine fish I'll be starting small in the 2 to 3 inch range so I figure a 'grow out' period of 2 years or so can be expected. Again, there is differing opinion on this point. I've seen some FAQ responses here saying a porcupine puffer will be fine in a 55 gallon for several years and just as many saying a 75 gallon is too small even to start with.
<I am of the latter opinion>
There seems to be no consensus. I do want to make it clear that with the possible exception of a blenny or goby or something eventually this will be the only fish in this tank, so its bio-load (while considerable) is all I'll have to deal with.
<There is more to be considered than the self-polluting/poisoning of ones livestock from their own waste accumulation>
Given I was able to maintain parameters perfectly in a heavily over-filtered 10 gallon with the Green Spotted for quite some time while waiting for a bigger tank (fish was about 2" at the time) I don't think a 3"-6" (accounting for grow-out over the period of time I intend to keep it in this tank) fish with similar eating habits in 5x-7x as much water volume (plus a 20 or 30 gallon sump) with a skimmer and even more filtration per gallon should present any issue so far as water parameters. Of course, this is my first full salt water setup; perhaps the rules are different somehow?
<Psychologically, yes>
I have limited space and funds, so a 200 gallon (or even a 120, really) is out of the question for now. In two or three years it's practically a certainty -- I plan to build my own 400+ gallon monster tank once I have the funds and space -- but for now, no. For the time being a 90 gallon is the biggest I could possibly go, with a 65 gallon far more likely. If I could get away with a 55 gallon for a year or two that'd be even better, since they are much more readily available around here and more reasonably priced, and I have sturdy furniture I could use as a stand that the deeper (front to back) 65 and 90 gallon would not fit on which would save me a good bit. Let's assume for the time being and for my budget and space a 55 is ideal and a 60 or 65 within the realm of possibility. The 90 gallon only comes in if it is determined the smaller tanks are not viable options but will set my plans back several months, if not more. If it is determined I need a 90 gallon or larger I will probably have to home-build it from/ plywood using the GARF plans or something similar, since around here people seem to believe their used tanks (with the exception of the occasional rather beat up 55 gallon) are worth every cent they paid for them new 10 years ago.
<I'd look for used... Craigslist, FB et al.>
I'd like to avoid plywood if possible only because I may have to move this thing in a year or two and a 100 gallon plywood tank would weigh a lot and be very large. I did find a 120 gallon with a stand for $200 locally, but it is not drilled and I'm fairly sure the bottom is tempered, so no getting it drilled after the fact. Also no hood, and I'd like to avoid the extra expense there of course. Lights are insanely overpriced. A 120 gallon is also much heavier than a 55 or 60 and I'd prefer to be able to move this thing on my own when the time comes.
<Mmm, if glass or ply and, I'd count on help in all stated sizes>
I've seen several places that the Green Spotted and a Porcupine "should" be okay together in a sufficiently large tank so long as they're introduced at about the same size. Given my Green Spotted is somewhere around 2.5 to 3 inches now, that'd be possible -- it doesn't appear difficult to get Porcupines around the 3" mark -- but would this be a good idea or should I just keep the Green Spotted in 'her' 20 gallon as usual?
<You could try putting these tog.>
She does seem 'bored' at times despite my occasionally rearranging the extensive decor. If anything this seems to piss her off -- she'll turn near black and 'sulk' for several hours, sometimes a day or two, if I move things around too much. Hard to please! She also has a history of attempting to murder anything and everything I've put in the tank with her.
I tried another Green Spotted the same size at one point, a Figure Eight another time, but both were returned to the local fish store for their own safety after she took a couple good sized nips out of their fins. It might've been okay if I'd let things run their course but I wasn't willing to risk it. Probably best she be kept alone, then? The only reason I'd consider mixing them is that it'd let me take the 20 gallon down or put some tropicals or something in it, and some activity / something to respond to other than ghost shrimp to chase might do her some good and help alleviate the boredom. I don't know. This is entirely optional -- I think Frumi is just fine where she is for now, and I'll probably move her to her own 30 gallon at some point.
Fairly sure I already have filtration for the proposed salt water setup covered by way or two big 250+ GPH (with media in place) canister filters and a Penguin 350B hang-on-back power filter for backup. I know filtration is very important for these big predatory fish, as puffers are messy eaters and represent a big bio-load. I plan to get a 20 gallon, or 29 if I can find a used one cheap, and convert it to a sump. I've worked with glass and acrylic in the past, so sticking some panels in is not a big deal.
Also planning to run an at least somewhat oversized skimmer (also used of course) rated for at least 125 gallons, and possibly an algae turf scrubber. Not sure about the scrubber, partly because they seem to be very high maintenance and there is a lot of debate about how effective / safe they are for long term use. What are your opinions on these?
<Mmm, posted: http://wetwebmedia.com/AlgTurfFiltF.htm
The 'new' hanging screen type, not the dump bucket style ones. Something like what's described here:
<Still not a fan in most all applications>
I plan to have at least some live rock and live sand to start with, but the cost of live rock at $5+ a pound locally and the limited water volume of the tanks I'm being forced to consider along with the fairly large adult size of the fish in question at 9 to 12" long and 5" wide leads me to think erring on the side of "less is more."
<Considering where you are, what you'd like to keep... I'd consider "collecting my own" off the coast>
Again I'm conflicted here since from my various readings and experience watching my Green Spotted Puffer I know these fish are really inquisitive and need lots of variation in their environment to search and hunt through or they'll just get "bored" and start pacing up and down the glass watching their own reflection. Of course I don't want that. I also know that live rock is a very important part of the biofilter in marine aquariums, so I'm not sure 'skimping' here is a good idea even with my two big canisters and a sump.
From what I understand lighting doesn't really matter that much in an unplanted / non-reef system as the fish "don't care." I'll probably start with a glass top and Home Depot special lights, with T5s or LED likely in the future. Not planning on corals ever, partly cause I just don't have interest in them and partly because I understand the fish are likely to eat them all anyway.
Anything else I've overlooked? I have tried to do my research but the question keeps coming up if a 55 or 60 / 65 gallon is big enough for these fish. No one seems able to agree. I don't want to overcrowd the fish, but I also don't want to wait 3+ years until I have the space and funds to get something gigantic. I suspect the answer is going to depend almost entirely on who this question is assigned to, even at WWM, but figured it was worth a try.
Thank you for your time and any advice you may have. I realize this is rather long but the guidelines said to include more not less. Sorry if I got long winded -- I eagerly await your reply; please let me know if you need any other information.
- Chris Glenn
<Thank you for sharing your ideas, experiences. Your mood, anticipation, enthusiasm is palpable. Bob Fenner>

Puffer stopped eating, env., nutr.    1/23/10
<Hello Jimmy>
I have a porcupine puffer that I've kept in my 55 gallon tank
<... much too small a world. Let me put it this way... this fish will (if it lives) grow to at least 6.5 inches long... twice the width of this tank. Would you do well in a space of twice your width in one of three dimensions?>
for about 1.5 years now. ph 8.2, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, and nitrate 20-40 (my tap water comes with around 20 nitrates).
<Needs to be treated ahead of use>
I've been reading the WWM website about puffers for two days now and am kind of confused as to actually what is wrong with him.
<... water chemistry, test results? Foods, feeding data? Other tankmates?>
For the past week he hasn't been himself. Most of the day he sits on the bottom of the tank, or finds a rock or leather coral to perch on and just sits there gasping. He almost looks depressed. I do know now that I need
to feed him other things other than krill,
<A very poor stock diet. This alone could be "it">
which I have feed him along with the occasional cricket I find (someone at my LFS told me they would be good
for his teeth and full of protein). He normally see's me, and starts dancing at the top of the water waiting for food. But for the last 5-7 days hasn't. I can see two small lumps that almost appear to be a jawbone underneath his
<Perhaps a goiter... see WWM re iodine/ide/ate and these>
I remember reading something about a parasite that makes small bumps under their skin. But what I'm confused about is the fact that all of a sudden he stopped being himself and now not eating. I looked into lockjaw and if is teeth were too long but just don't know because of the sudden decline.
Please Help!!
<Need to go back, do a bit more cursory reading. This fish is misplaced, mis-fed... Bob Fenner>

Need help with a puffer tank... 1/6/2010
We have a 60 gallon tank with a porcupine puffer fish and target mandarin (who sleeps on top of the puffer... it's adorable).
<For now, at least... not a textbook combination, though I admit every Porcupinefish seems to have its own personality. But the bottom line is that Diodon spp. can, will view bite-size fish as bite-size meals.>
We are constantly cleaning the tank because we have yet to find any invert/other bottom feeder capable of surviving along with the puffer without becoming a snack.
<If the tank is dirty, that's a good indication you don't have enough water movement. Adequate water turnover should push/pull detritus into the mechanical filter media where it can be easily removed. Of course, if you don't clean these media often enough, some silt will remain in the water, so that's another issue. You presumably realise Diodon spp. cannot be kept in 60 gallons long term?>
Having our mandarin in there makes it more complicated because we fear the "meaner" inverts would be potential dangerous to it.
Is there anything we could put in there to help maintain the tank's cleanliness that would survive our puffer without taking out our mandarin?
<No. Diodon view anything with shells or exoskeletons as food, simple as that. In any event, *adding* livestock won't magically make a tank cleaner, and by definition adding livestock always makes tanks messier. Yes, "clean up crew" help to speed up the decay of organic matter into chemicals and particles filters can remove more easily, but they don't actually make the tank "cleaner" in any meaningful way, they just shift the problem from the display aquarium into the filter.
Review the size of the tank, water turnover rates, and filter maintenance schedules, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

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

Puffer meets filter 3/12/2009 New Puffer Stuck to Fluval 404 Hi Crew <Hi Paul> I am very much a beginner in the terms of saltwater marine care. This is my first saltwater tank and the 2nd fish added was a Spiny Box Puffer. <Cyclichthys schoepfi a.k.a. Striped Burrfish> Last night I got him, fell in love immediately and carefully acclimated him to the tank. <No Quarantine?> He was swimming around quite blissfully and accepted his first feeding of krill with no problem. Everything was going great. Went to bed, woke up to disaster this morning. Somehow, the cute little guy got pulled into the filtration (a Fluval 404) and was firmly attached to the intake this morning (he could have been stuck for hours). <Was the screen\strainer on the intake pipe, and how big is this puffer?> I immediately turned off and cursed my Fluval filter (and myself/pet store for not knowing to watch out for such an obvious peril). He came off the filter and is/was swimming when I left for work. He did eat a krill this morning but he was really badly beaten up by the filter. <Good sign that he is eating - do be sure to offer more than krill> His left rear side was all stretched out, his rear fins seem to be pulled into the wrong place (they face up and down not on the sides anymore) his back looks a bit twisted and his tail fins do not move at all. He propels himself solely on his front fins. Also it looks like his skin (in the area of the suction) was pulled way out of place. <Pretty beaten up> Kills me to think this is my fault and that I was responsible for putting a little fish like this through so much trauma. <Provided the intake was screened, it wasn't your fault.> I think I will be lucky if he survives the day given his slow lumbering movement. I've heard these guys do have a very tough and highly resilient character but I don't see how anything could survive the damage this poor little fish endured. <You would be surprised how well fish can adapt\recover.> Assuming he survives, Is there anything I should do to nurse him back to good health? <Good water quality, proper feeding, time> Should I put him out of his misery if most likely he will die anyhow? <Not at this point.> Should I consider complaining to the fish store (they knew my tank setup/filters and I asked a million question, just not the one that would have saved him) for improper care instructions (so next time they warn people to be wary of filters when purchasing one of these fish)? <Not your fish store's fault either. Assuming your intake has a strainer on it, it strikes me as strange that a puffer would get stuck to the intake of the filter unless the fish is already in very poor health (which would have been ruled out in quarantine) or very small.> His tank mate is an adult Sgt. Major damsel, do i need to quarantine the puffer when I get home from work (he was leaving him alone this morning)? <I would not move or stress this fish for the moment, do watch closely for aggression> I did rotate the filter intake all the way to face the corner and put it deeper in the tank where the intake is protected behind the heater from another indecent. I don't think anything could get stuck in it now but I will purchase something (sponge or cover) assuming a pet store will have such a device tomorrow (i have to work late tonight or I would do it today). *Tank Info* 150 gallon (glass) Fluval 404 Aqua Clear 110 Remora (hang on) Skimmer Live Rock (30 or so lbs) Relatively Bare Open Tank (it is still pretty new) Live Gravel Floor Single Tube Fluorescent Hood/Lamp <Some more live rock would be beneficial, and you will need more water movement\filtration> Please do read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm and the linked pages on the top of that page.> <Mike>

Striped Burrfish, sys.  1-31-08 Hello, <How goes it, Mike here back after a few years out of the hobby> I have an established 55 gallon tank w/ 2 small Yellow Tailed Damsels (some say boring.. I like them) that has been setup for about 1 year with plenty of live rock. <To each his own!> This is only one of my tanks, and I consider myself to have an "at least intermediate" if not "close to advanced" level of keeping Marine Fish...I have two questions: First, how long will a 1 inch Striped Burrfish (Chilomycterus schoepfi) live in a 55gallon tank? <Depends on how fast it grows, which in turn depends on how much you feed it...should be ok until about 4-6", but be aware they attain just shy of a foot in length and will need much larger quarters eventually> (I know they're difficult to feed at first..) <Never had any problems with them, offer plenty of raw meaty foods with the shell still on, as well as snails, and other crunchy treats to keep the teeth worn> Second, (your opinion of course) what is the fish that has the most personality (besides the large puffers) to fit in a 55 gallon? <Sharp nosed puffers stay small enough for your 55. Clownfish can also have quite a (usually obnoxious) personality to them, especially Maroon clowns> Thank you, <Anytime> Ed <M. Maddox>

Striped Burrfish Part II... hlth?    2-8-08 Thank you for your response. <That's what we're here for :)> I will wait until the LFS has a suitable Burrfish, give the store a down payment, keep him (her) there for a week, make sure he looks great and is eating, then it will be home to my QT tank. <Sounds like a good plan. Shouldn't be too much trouble to get the fish eating...see FAQs regarding, but offer meaty/marine live/frozen foods> I have another tank that I'm looking to add one more fish. It's a 75 FOWLR. I am attempting to choose between 2 fish; the Kole Tang or the Half Black Dwarf Angel. I have researched and the decision is down to one last thing: How are they in terms of aggression with other similar fish (not tangs or angels) but of similar size, non aggressive fish? In other words, which would be the better choice if added last. <I'm not the world's largest expert on tangs/angelfish, but with plenty of rockwork, and keeping dissimilar fish, you should be okay either way - if territorial disputes arise, rearrange the rockwork> Thank you again, <Anytime> Ed <M. Maddox>

Chilomycterus antillarum & a dogface, 2 questions 10/31/07 Dear WWM Crew, <Mark> I have a 150 gal fish only tank. I have a 3 inch yellow tang, a 6 inch Sailfin tang, a 2 1/2 inch Koran angel, a 3 inch Pakistan butterfly, <I'd keep this fish in a small group... if you had more room> a 4 inch Picasso and a 7 inch dogface puffer. <Mmm...> Everyone seems to get along, I have had the tank for some 6+ years. <Okay> Now believe it or not, the puffer stopped eating a few months ago and I thought that was the end of him. I asked for some advice at Reef Central and someone said to try and put his food in garlic, that might get his appetite going again. So I soaked some frozen shrimp in it and using a stick I fed him and sure enough he started eating again but I soon realized, he was blind! If I didn't put the stick with the shrimp right in front of his face he didn't eat or would strike out totally missing the stick. <This is a not-uncommon situation> Now about two months later, the puffer spends most of his time either sitting at the bottom of the tank or on some rocks and I feed him with the stick almost every day a piece or two of a medium size shrimp or some mussel. Two Questions: 1. Anyone ever hear of a blind puffer? <Oh yes... please put the words in the search tool here: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm and look at the cached views...> Any ideas how I might remedy the situation or does it look like I am going to be feeding him with a stick for some time? <Mmm, again, please do the above exercise. I have nothing new to add to what is posted> 2. At my local store, they got in a 2-2 1/2 Chilomycterus antillarum. He seems to be very passive and I have seen him eat some frozen calamari and shrimp. <Your system is too small for this species and all else that is already there> I'd like to get him, question - big mistake? I was worried he may be too passive with all the other fish and then just waste away since he may not get any food. Correct assumption? <I would pass... Even w/o the current Tetraodont, this system will be very crowded psycho- and physio-logically in time> Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated. <Perhaps another or a larger tank...> You can respond to either of my email address, preferably, Thanks. Mark Jerusalem, Israel <Have sent to both. Shalom, Bob Fenner>

Moving a Porcupine Puffer 8/1/07 Hey crew. I got my porcupine puffer a couple years ago at about 4" for my 50 gallon tall. <Too small...> The fish store employees told me this tank is big enough, I now understand it is not. The puffer has only grown 2 inches in this time. Could it be stunted? <Yes> Now here is the real question. I am heading off to my second year in college, a 10 hour drive away. I am thinking of getting a 100 gallon corner tank, is this big enough for him to get full grown? <Mmm, no... but much better> And I might only be living in that house for a year, would it be too much of a hassle to move the tank again or should I just leave the puffer at home in the 50 gallon? Thanks for your advice! <Up to you... it may well perish in the smaller tank... Bob Fenner>

Puffer vs. Power head... and the winner is... sys., dis.   5/31/07 HI crew, <Jesse> Last night I added two new power heads to my 220g tank that were rated for 400g/h. This morning I woke to find my Porcupine Puffer stuck in the intake of one of the power heads. <Not an uncommon occurrence> I am sick about it and quickly removed him while turning off the other power heads. He suffered a giant hickie around his front fin, but has been swimming around rather well. The color also began to return to the area within an hour of the event. My big worry is that he is not really using his gill on the affected side of his body. It is pretty swollen will he be able to heal from the wound? <Hopefully> Is there anything I can do for him other than maintain healthy water conditions and a good diet? <This is about "it"> My wife and I are both very upset. He is our favorite fish in the tank. I assume the color returning is a good sign, but please let us know if there is anything else, we can do to help him heal. Thank you, Jesse <Intake skimmer/s on all powerhead/s... Supplied or retrofitted. Bob Fenner>

Is a 90 gallon (5ft long) tank suitable for a porcupine puffer (Diodon holocanthus)  1/29/07 Hi, <Greeting!  Mich here.> I'm in the process of setting up my first saltwater aquarium and I've been wondering what fish to get when it is up and running, I have a 90 (UK) gallon tank which is 5 ft long and was wondering if this would be suitable for a puffer fish (if not the Diodon holocanthus species then would any other species be suitable), also what tank mates could be considered for this fish. <Yes, this tank should be suitable for this fish.  Typically recommend a tank of at least 75 gallons or more.  This fish is not reef friendly, so no corals.  There are lots of potential tank mates, you will need to research to see what you might like, but nothing too small or the puffer may try to eat it.  Also these fish really appreciate caves and ledges so a FOWLR (fish only with live rock) system is the way to go.  The live rock will be a huge aid in stabilizing the system.  Please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm > I have seen mixed views on this subject and have read success and failure stories regarding this fish so Im not too sure. <A really engaging fish, typically with lots of personality. Please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i3/Puffers/puffers.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffcareinfo.htm >   I'm new to saltwater fish so this is a learning curve, and I want to research all my options before making a decision as to avoid a disaster in the future. <You are wise to do this.  To be successful in this hobby you must  be committed to educating yourself, there is much to learn.> Thanks, any advice is much appreciated. <Welcome!  Please use proper capitalization and grammar and spell check any future queries.  Thanks!  -Mich> Re: formerly Dory the Bully  1/7/07 <In our previous correspondence, I commented that the size of your puffer will grow to 12" & require a minimum of 100g of room for himself. Adding more fish, would require a bigger tank.> Questions:  Diodon holocanthus will get that big in captivity?   <There is no reason a captive fish shouldn't match wild size or even exceed this, with enough room & proper care.  They don't need to hunt down foods, have no enemies & if cared for correctly, should not encounter disease.  It should certainly live longer & grow larger.  The problem is, most folks don't give them enough room to grow!> Why do they need that much room all to themselves? <Puffers are extremely messy eaters & high waste producers.  It will be difficult to maintain a healthy environment in a tank that is too small for a fish like this.  Remember: The solution to pollution is dilution!> I rearranged LR but Dory continued to be aggressive, so I exiled her to the QT.  Everyone seems to be more relaxed & happier (except Dory).  Will I need to find her a permanent new home or would she not be aggressive if reintroduced? <You could try rearranging the decor in the tank & reintroduce her in a week or so, after the puffer has adjusted.  Otherwise, for your puffer's well-being, Dory will have to swim elsewhere.> Lastly, puffer does eat squid, crab, shrimp, snails, etc along with krill.  Krill just happens to be his favorite & possibly the only thing he was fed at LFS.  Glad to hear your puffer is getting a varied diet.  Many puffers fed a diet of strictly krill wind up suffering from lock-jaw.  ~PP>

Porcupine puffer? Feeding, comp., sys.  11/12/06 I have a 75 gallon wet/dry w/sump have 3 damsels 2 purple tip anemones and 1 coral rock that comes to look like flowers moving then goes back into the rock  I have 45-50 lbs. of live rock in the tank also, I want to put a Porcupine puffer in there about 2-3 inches long, everyone tells me the porcupine puffer will kill my coral and 2 anemones, is this true? <Is a possibility, yes> I asked before I purchased them if I could put that with a porcupine puffer before I bought them and still now they tell me I can, can I ? also a pet store will not! sell me the porcupine puffer fish  they have had for 1 week now, they tell me they don't know if it ate or not, then they put live shrimp in there, the puffer looks at it , but he won't eat it, then he goes up and down  the side of the tank? is there a reason for the up and down up and down the tank? is it sick? or maybe wants a different food? <Might be reacting to its reflection... see WWM re Diodontids and marine puffer feeding...> my water is osmosis, the nitrates and ph and everything is good, but I want to add the porcupine without it having any problems. thanks, ICE <Will outgrow this size system as well... If it were me/mine, I'd look to other species. Bob Fenner> Porcupine Puffer fading fast ... killed through mis-over-stocking, trtmt.   8/24/06 I am afraid it may be too late... but I just came across your site and thought I would try once more. <?> I have a porcupine puffer in an 80 gal aquarium along with a powder blue tang, French angelfish, a lionfish and an eel. <... eighty gallons? Way too small...> When I first set up the tank... I noticed he swam constantly near the surface, but wouldn't eat a thing. I had a problem with nitrites for a week or so, but I removed the fish and fixed the problem. I left the puffer out for a bit longer in my local stores tank (they were nice enough to hold him for me)....they said he ate a little when he came in...but then quickly quit again. He mostly lays around on the bottom of the tank and hides... <...> He is now back in my aquarium for the last few weeks, but then I developed an ich problem (I wouldn't be surprised if he brought it back with him) which I have been treating with Prevent-Ich. The Tang and the Angelfish were the worst affected, but the problem seems to be almost completely under control as the ich spots have all but disappeared. (Darn Prevent -Ich seems to have stained my coral though)... Anyway...through all this, he still hasn't eaten that I have seen....and now he seems to "puff-up" involuntarily occasionally, which I know is not good for them... HELP! One last odd thing....i had my hand in the tank the other day cleaning something when he swam by me and pretty much swam into my hand.......I just held him lightly...open palm...basically letting him rest in my hand....but he didn't puff and made no effort to move....weird huh? Anyway...thanks for any help you can give! Tod Phoenix, Arizona <You... need... to... move... this livestock into much larger, more stable quarters. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer Problems, fdg., sys.  - 08/15/06 Hi Guys,        For the last year and a half we have had this great porcupine puffer in our FO+LR system. He is the only fish in this system because he doesn't play well with others. I know the system is too small (40 gallons and he is 4" beak to tail) but we plan to get him a larger home soon. The problem is that for the last few months his eating habits have decreased. <Happens> We normally feed him a small dried shrimp both morning and late afternoon. I know he's eaten most of the hermits in his home but it hasn't stopped him from eating his normal meal in the past. For the last few weeks he hasn't eaten a single thing I've supplied. His color is very pale and he swims with a "hunched" back. The system has great water parameters except for the temp. Since summer hit, it reaches up to 82 degrees. Can this be the problem? <Not likely... maybe too-long teeth... > The aquarium is loaded with tons of copepods and tiny shrimp along with a lot of little feather dusters on the live rock and sand. Lately he just hibernates in a cave in the rock. I was told once that the only really stupid question is the one everybody laughs at most, but I'll risk it here.......can he be surviving off of the small live shrimp? <Maybe... though puffers can go for very long times w/o food in some cases> Some are longer than a quarter inch. If a larger tank will make him better, should I give him to a LFS? Thanks for all the advice. You guys should get paid!      Charlie, Jen and Devon ( and Jeffrey the puffer ) <You should read, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pufferfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Keeping Porky Happy  7/11/06   7/12/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a porcupine puffer (4 inches) in a 55 gallon tank.  I now realize my tank is way too small.  Until I am able to upgrade to a larger tank I would like to keep him healthy.  Could you please describe for me a "perfect" system setup for handling such large bioloads?  Thank You- <A good skimmer is a MUST!  If you don't have a lot of $$$ go for the Coralife Super Skimmer 220.  You can't overskim, so I'd get the biggest one (especially since you will be upgrading tanks).  I found them to be the cheapest here: http://www.bigalsonline.com/catalog/product.xml?product_id=31845;category_id=2281 You will also need at least 50lbs of live rock.  Weekly water changes are a must!  You can use the cheapest brand of salt (I recommend buying buckets).  PetSmart will honor their online prices, if you bring in the add.  SG of 1.020 is good enough, if you're trying to save on salt.  Keep a close eye on water parameters--ammonia & nitrites (should always be 0), nitrates & pH (around 8-8.3).  If the nitrates go over 20, you'll have to start doing larger water changes.  Don't overfeed your puffer, they are adept at begging!  At that size, every other day is fine & as it gets to adult size, 1-2x/week is good.  Clean up all uneaten food.  Start saving for that bigger tank!  ~PP> Porc V. Powerhead - 05/05/2006 Hi <Hello> Last night we brought a porcupine puffer, he settled in well; just as we were about to go to bed he swan near a power head and got stuck. <Ouch> There now is a see through bubble coming out underneath him he is laying on the bottom of the tank now and is not moving.  Is he going to be ok? If his he dying, don't want to lose him. Yours sincerely, miss Kate Lamb <Well, I don't understand the end of your email, but i do believe that your puffer has a big bruise from being sucked into the powerhead.  Feed him well, and keep the tank clean.  All you can do at this point for him is keep his life stress free.  If the area wont heal in a week use an antibiotic like Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone to help.> <Justin (Jager)>

-Porc in dire straits?-  - 02/27/06 Hi!  My name is Kim <Hello, Kim, you have the porc guy, Justin with you tonight.> and I have porcupine puffer named Squirt that I've had since October.  He is currently in a 55 gallon tank (I know he will need a much larger tank) <Probably needs a bigger tank now.  A 120 or bigger is needed so it can continue to grow>   The water levels in the tank are fine and there is no ammonia. <Please if you can, give us test reading numbers of your tank, some kits do not give that, but we need your salinity and tank temp as well to remove certain variables.> The problem is that Squirt will no longer eat.  It's been over 2 weeks now and he has a lump on his back, more on his  left side than in the middle.   I know puffers go on hunger strikes, he's done that before.  He won't eat anything.  Krill (his absolute favorite thing in the world), snails, crabs, squid have been tried. <Does he open his mouth and try to swallow or not?  If he doesn't seem to open his mouth, he probably has lockjaw, an iodine deficiency.  Add iodine to the water in a liquid supplement form, and over time he should start eating.  The lump is due to the tank size, when porcs cannot turn right they hunch over and can fit better.  Usually it's to get around rocks in the reef, but in tanks, it's usually a sign of being too cramped and needing a bigger tank.> I'm getting very concerned and the guys at the store I bought him at have no advice.  Is there anything I should do?  I don't know what to do about the lump or what it could be.  I'm really stumped.  I'm very attached to this little guy and want to do whatever I can.  He is the only fish in the tank.  Anything you can advise is most appreciated.  Thanks. Kim <Just get him a bigger home, and add that iodine supplement and he should be fine.  Krill really isn't very nutritious and I don't recommend feeding him that if at all possible, try other shrimps like Mysis or other mixed meat foods for predators.> <Justin (Jager)>

Painfully Thin Porcupine Puffer - 2/17/2006 I have a porcupine puffer that is always happy, however in the last few days, I have noticed a raw spot on the back of his neck and on his back fin.  He was in the tank with some seahorses, a cow fish, some peppermint shrimp and a very small emerald crab. <<What size tank is he in?  Seahorses are not suitable tank mates for this fish, at all.  They grow to 18" and need at least a 125 gallon tank.>> Also a coral beauty.  The two fish are small, and I have just noticed this problem since the cowfish was introduced into the tank. <<Did you quarantine the cow first?  Perhaps he is picking on your puffer, have you seen any aggression?>> I have moved the puffer to another docile tank.  He is eating, but doesn't seem to be able to use the back half of himself to swim, almost as if he is paralyzed.  Below are two pictures. Any info on this problem? <<Your puffer is painfully thin.  What are you feeding him? What size tank is he in now?  Are the tanks cycled? What are the readings for SG, Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate?  What's your water change schedule? Sorry so many questions, I just need a lot more info to help you save this poor guy.  Please respond ASAP, so I can help you set a course of action.  Lisa.>>

Rescued Puffer...Well, Almost - 02/15/2006 Hello, Crew! <Hi there Jen. Sorry for the delay, I've been a bit off lately.> I have been trying to find a definitive answer for this question, and come up with different information every time I look--I hope I'm not repeating a question you get all the time. About a year ago, we bought a porcupine puffer from a local aquarium shop, where he had been "dumped" because his owners wanted to include more corals and anemones in their tank. <A classic case of failure to plan for the full life of the animals being purchased. Sad to say the least.> He was about 9 inches when we got him, and now he's nearly a foot. <And growing still most likely.> However, he's only in a 90 gallon tank, and having recently read that the minimum tank size for this fish should be 120 gallons, I'm worried that this lack of space may affect his health and/or lifespan. <Yes, it will. Your heart was in the right place, but you should have done that research before the purchase.> No one advised us of a minimum tank size when we bought him. <Never count on such.> Purchasing a larger tank is out of the question, economically, for now. He only has 5 tank mates: a yellow tang, a clownfish anemone, <You mean a clownfish, not anemone right?> two blue-jaw triggers, <Two!?> and a sergeant major damsel (about 25 inches of fish, total). <But for how long?> Is a 90 gallon tank acceptable for him? <No.> Is this a big problem and will it really have an impact on his health? <This will directly impact the mental/physical health of the fish, not to mention the crowding it will impose on your current charges.> He seems quite healthy and happy for now. I'm guessing he's about 4 years old. How long can I expect him to live in his current situation? <too many variables to say.> We are going to upgrade our tank eventually, but not for about 2 more years. Just concerned!! --Jen Mack   <I would return the fish if you can't make that upgrade sooner. Sorry to confirm your fears. - Josh> In love with a Porcupine Puffer   1/30/06 I have fallen in love with a fish!  Now how silly is that? <You do realize that you're addressing a group of very involved fishkeepers, right?> I was raised in a house filled with aquariums, but we never had salt water tanks.  Just lots of mouth breeders, guppies, mollies, and swordtails, ho hum you get the picture.   <I rather like guppies, mollies, swordtails, and other such "ho hum" fish.> It was fun as a kid but then I outgrew it, or left it behind. Now I'm much older and find wandering around in the local aquarium/fish stores.  I am very drawn to the salt water tanks but scared about all the technicalities of owning one - afraid I'll kill the fish. <Honestly, it's not much more difficult to maintain a fish-only saltwater aquarium then it is to maintain an average freshwater habitat.> But this weekend I discovered a beautiful little porcupine puffer that just stared at me with those inquisitive little eyes they have and so now I find myself reading everything I can find on them, salt tanks, live rock, etc.   <Wonderful little fish, aren't they?> Can I set up a "beginner" smaller salt tank, say a 30 gallon, as a home for my puffer and start out slowly, with just a few other fish?   <A puffer alone in a 30 gallon would be overcrowded, let alone a puffer and a few other fish. For the porcupine, which can get somewhere around 20 inches when fully grown, I'd recommend a bare minimum of a 100 gallon aquarium, larger if feasible.> How fast do they grow, and how long before I would need to invest in a larger home for him?   <It's never a wise idea to purchase a fish with the intent of upgrading the aquarium later on down the road. Life gets in the way, often, and sometimes that upgrade just never happens, a s other things take precedence. You should only purchase fish that would thrive in their intended setup when fully grown adults, regardless of how small or cute they are at the time of purchase.> Can you recommend a good book on puffers, their likes/dislikes, etc? <Not really very many dedicated puffer books at all - better just reading up in the WWM archives. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffcareinfo.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i1/puffer_dentistry/puffer2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontidfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfshfaq2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfshfaq3.htm *takes breath* http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishbehfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishcompfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishselfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishsysfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishdisfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishreprofaqs.htm Hope this helps.> Thanks. <Good luck!> Donna <Mike G> Porc Puffer not eating, lack of info...  1/13/06 We need your help. <<I will try>>  My son has a saltwater fish tank in his house <<What size?>>...has had it for several years...all fish are healthy.<<A list of inhabitants would be helpful>>   Except--his porcupine puffer fish has suddenly stopped eating.   It comes to the top of the tank, all excited, wanting to eat and then just seems to "jab" at the food.   It has always had a good appetite.    He has been eating krill.   It's so heartbreaking.    At times it seems to head to the bottom corner of the tank and gasp a little.     Anything we can do? <<What are the readings for Ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes and pH in this tank? Your son's puffer, Diodon Holocanthus, can grow to 19" and will need a tank of at least 125 gallons at maturity.  Does he show signs of trying to open his mouth and is not able to?  An all krill diet has been linked to 'lock jaw'.  Essentially, your puffer needs a more varied diet, and probably larger quarters.  Often, an iodine supplement will ease the lock jaw enough to facilitate better feeding.  Please do get back to us regarding the questions above. Lisa>> Thank you!

Porcupine Puffer in an acrylic tank 12-05-05 Hello! <Hi> We just set up a tank in our new house (150 gallon), cycled it and have put the first fish in (snowflake eel, banana wrasse and Kole tang). My wife would really like a porcupine puffer (that was her favorite fish in our previous tank) but we were told that the puffer will scratch the acrylic with his giant tooth. Is this true?  <In some cases yes. It can be a fish by fish issue.> My wife really liked the interaction with that fish (he would eat out of our hands, and seemed to really like playing with the people watching him). If we cannot have a puffer are there other fish that would tend to play like that? <The puffer will have to be at your personal discretion. If you really must try one, just be ready to pull him at the first sign of tank damage. Either that or learn to live with the scratches.> Thank you in advance for your help. <Always glad to help, Travis>

-Using WWM and TPF-  12/8/05 In my last email I didn't receive an answer, would appreciate one.  Thanks A lot "Porcupine puffer" Hello, What is the minimum tank size for a 1-2 inch porcupine puffer? Thanks  <You're welcome>" <I'm guessing it was an error of some sort.  <<Probably the usual mailserver mishap.  However, a tip for all those who get what this person did: Check the dailies!  Chances ARE that it's been posted there.. err.. here.  Marina>> But this information is readily available on WWM and on just about any Googled site about porcupine pufferfish (Diodon holocanthus). You need at least a 55 gallon to start and you need a 125 gallon at least by the time it is 6". So I would buy the 125 first, then get the puffer. Please read here www.thepufferforum.com for more information about this 18" fish.> <Justin>

Porcupine puffer  11/30/05 Hello, What is the minimum tank size for a 1-2 inch porcupine puffer?  <A 55 for starters, then something over a 90 gallon as they can reach well over a foot in captivity. They do require a meaty diet of squid, clam etc and hard shelled shrimp to help wear down their ever growing teeth. They can be aggressive at times also, ripping holes in fins of other tankmates so care should be taken in this regard. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks  <You're welcome> 

Porcupine Puffer Tank Size  11/30/05 Hello, How long can a 1-2 in. Porcupine Puffer stay comfortably in a 55 gallon tank? <Once it gets over the 4" range I would not keep it n thee quarters much longer.> And what would it need for its future because I would only like to buy one more tank. <At least 180 (U.S.) Gallons.> Also if I put it in a larger tank could I get away with a tank mate or a young 2-3 inch Green Spotted Puffer? <Maybe depends on the individuals some puffers can be quite aggressive and most are at least "nippers." But I would def. hold off until you get a larger tank.> <<Def?  Thinking you mean "definitely", which only has one "f", not two.  Better to spell things out for people (especially those who don't speak English!).  Marina>> Thanks Mark <Adam J.> 

Puffer???????? Selection, WWM 8/23/05 Hey I have a 44 gal aquarium, live sand, 25 plus lbs of live rock, a small pet store lion, not dwarf or fuzzy just the normal ones <A Volitans? Will get too big for this volume> and a few small hermits, We really really want a puffer, a porcupine one! <Ah, no... your tank is too small> I know he will eat the hermits :) Could we have a puffer with him in the 44 gal? If not a porcupine then any kind of puffer? what about a black faced puffer?  what about eels? we want one of those too! which species would you recommend? The lion is in the tank and not going any where, he is deciding what we get next, whether it be a puffer, eel or anything else! :) Thanks!! <... please learn to/use the indices, search tool on WWM... there are articles, FAQs files re these fishes, their systems... Bob Fenner> Hungry Puffer 8/15/05 Hi.  I have a 55 gallon FO tank.  I have a porcupine puffer (4-5 inches now) who has eaten my two damsels over the last week. <Happens...>   I also have a percula clown and a small yellow tang.  I added the puffer about 6 months ago and at the time of purchase was unaware how large it would get. <Pays to investigate...> I then figured I would keep it until it outgrew my tank. <... dismal> Maybe that time is now.  I really don't want to return him to the LFS but it may be in the best interest of the remaining fish. <Yes... and the puffers> I have been feeding the puffer more in hopes of keeping his mind off the clown.  Will this work? <To some extent... but all are likely mal-affected by declining water quality as a consequence...> What do you suggest?  Also if I do return the puffer could I replace him with a Niger trigger <Not a good choice, your system is too small, the fish too aggressive> or would he go after the clown too?  I hope to upgrade to a larger tank (125 I hope) in about a year. Would he be OK in a 55 until then. Thanks, Chris <No... Enjoy investigating your choices... Bob Fenner> 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 Dear Crew: <greetings friend> I purchased a porcupine puffer for my 60 FOWLR tank. I understand that the tank is too small but plan to grow with the fish.  <very good... but do be realistic. Marine fish do not recover from stunting like FW fishes... they simply die prematurely. This puffer should be permitted to grow over 12" in the first 2-4 years. If not it will not likely see 10 years old when it can very well approach 30!> I also have a powder blue tang that is doing great so far. (3 months)  <a beautiful fish... offer a widely varied diet and proffer long tanks and strong water flow for best success. This fish certainly doesn't need as large of a tank as a puffer does. A 150 would be fine for it as an adult> The puffer is very small, about 2 inches, the tang about 2.5. The puffer is in my QT tank currently (55 gallons). The QT tank was turning the water approximately 10 times an hour. I had the flow way down when I put the puffer in, and raised the flow (turned on power heads over two days). When I turned on the last power head (of 2) the puffer became stuck to it (for about 30 min.s),  <yikes! No cages or guards on the intake? A simple bio-ball or foam block will be fine.. cheap solutions> so I reduced flow to just the filter and he seems happy after the initial trauma. He turned half white! It has been about a week now, and the puffer eats mysids voraciously. My problem is that I have a flow rate of between 15 and 20 turns an hour in my display tank. In my research I did not find any info on whether a fish can stand a certain amount of flow.  <the Powder Blue and Puffer are quite incompatible in this regard... the blue needing more water flow than most any common fish and the puffer the opposite> Will this puffer ever be able to go in my display tank or do I need to start thinking about another tank,  <indeed another tank would be best> the live rock and Tang seem much happier with the high flow. <exactly, my friend> There is also a 10 inch yellow headed moray in the tank, how do you feel about bio-load assuming that when the fish double the tank will grow to 180.  <the eel would be a fine tankmate for the puffer instead> One more question. I have an Eheim Ecco for mechanical filtration, and I am having a nitrate problem, it is holding between 20 and 40 with weekly water changes, but this week it was a 60 after the 10% weekly change, and then 1 day later was down to 40, I did not test before the change as I normally do. The rock has been in the system for two to four weeks (I put it in over time), after I cured it in the QT to triple zero water quality. I clean the Ecco filter pads every 3 weeks. I am considering buying new filter pads and rotating the pads so there is no aerobic bacteria in the filter, but I am concerned that there will not be enough biological filtration in the system.  <indeed.. the man-made filters are nitrate machines. Necessary evils with some heavy fish loads> The tank has about 30 pounds of live Fiji rock and 20 pound of dead rock that has been in the tank for 6 months.  <almost double the live rock and you can do without the man-made media> The system also has a CPR skimmer with Bio-Bale, but I do not know how biologically active that item is,  <there are much better filter medias than bio-bale IMO> and it does not yet have a DSB.  <I certainly do appreciate deep sand beds for denitrification when possible. Do consider for the new big tank especially as the fishes grow larger and can fuel greater nitrates> If you have time to read all of this I would love your suggestions. Thank you, James <best regards, Anthony>

Porcupine puffer / Ozone question (really, quarantine, Redox,) Hey Bob, I have been reading through you FAQ and Puffer information but didn't see anything relevant. It may be nothing. 125Gallon acrylic tank, Sea Life 150 Wet/Dry, Sea Life 75 protein skimmer, a Rio 2500 as a return pump (is this to low for a 125?), <If it suits you, your livestock's needs, no> and as of 3 days ago a Red Sea 200mg Ozonator + Redox controller. ph 8.2 salt 1.022 <I'd raise to about 1.025 over a few weeks time> ammonia - 0 nitrite - 0 copper - 0-0.1 <Where is this residual copper from?> I'll go into detail a bit more after the initial question. I just bought a porcupine puffer (common one with the flat laying spines sorry I forget the sci. name) <Please see WetWebMedia.com re... most common species listed, illustrated> I let him float for about 10 min, and added him to the tank. Not wanting to add LFS water to my tank, I dumped him to a net and released him to the tank. (I know not the best way but no option really at the moment).  <Quarantine...> He didn't puff or anything, but after about 5 minutes in the tank, his spines on the top of his head only in the front, maybe 5-6 spines total, stood up on end, even thought he was not puffed, a few here an there around the rest of him did this too.  <This happens... sort of like our erector pili muscles and body hair...> The first thought was residual ozone in the water (I bought a chlorine test kit the other day to check for ozone (I read it acts the same) and it came up 0), so I immediately unplugged my Ozonator. Since then the tank lights have come on, and he's just kinda hanging out, laying on rocks and corals not moving much.  <Typical> (lol just went to look at him to check his breathing and when he saw me he held his breathe it looked like, anyway just turned the lights out). He looks healthy, no spots, nothing off, breathing normally as near as I can tell. What can cause the spines to stick up like that? <Perception of danger> Some tank history / etc. The tank had been setup for almost a year (using tap water), with a clown trigger, spotted dogface puffer, 3 green Chromis and a blue damsel.  <Yikes... maybe the Clown Trigger... they can/do sometimes eat puffers (and all else) in the wild> About 2 months ago I moved, got the tank setup again and livestock added back in in an hour or two. Everything was great, but I wanted a new fish....125 gallons with 2 fish and 4 damsels seems awfully light. So I added a yellow tang (whoops). The tang was scratching, but I ignored it, then one day I saw the spots on him. The clown trigger was the first to go. In the next 4 days (2 FW dips a day and copper added) all the fish in the tank were dead other then the damsels (I successfully offed them a few weeks later due to stupidity).  <...> So, tired of losing fish, I ordered an Ozonator (200mg) Red Sea with Redox probe and controller.  <An effective quarantine set-up and protocol would be cheaper, more effective.> I added it to my Sea Life 75 skimmer (venturi), and after 5 minutes could smell ozone in the house. DOH ! Forgot the carbon for the air!! So back to home depot and after an hour in the PVC isle, I find the pieces needed to get all my air lines to vent through carbon (I hope, don't smell it in the house now just under the stand). Then I read about running the water with ozone through the carbon, not over (as I had been doing), so back to Home Depot, I bought more PVC and glued together a canister with holes in the bottom and a bag of carbon in it, for the skimmer to dump over. I know I need a residual ozone test kit, no one local has them. Should I leave the Ozone off?  <Yes... or turn it down to about halfway... 100 mg./h should be no problem... you would likely see change in pH if there was excess...> Could these spines sticking up be from the ozone, or just the stress of acclimation? Return pump is good enough? <Could be just stress of handling, capture... I would check dissolved oxygen re pump adequacy... and if, when in doubt, add more circulation...> One more big question, the ozone has been on for about 3 days now, I've had it all the way to 125mg, but backed down to 50mg/hr now (actually off now cause of the puffers spines sticking up) So I know it takes a few days for Redox to get up there....When I put the probe in the sump, it read 150. It went up to about 160, and now is back down to about 130 (morning it should be a little lower) Will it get up to 300 eventually with the ozone on?  <Perhaps... due to feeding, other life, metabolism in the system... but maybe not...> Why is my Redox so low even without ozone or anything I would of expected it 200+!  <No... it is... what it is... and not surprising for captive systems.> I thought I had a healthy tank. It has been tap water, tho as of the last week I ordered replacement filters for my SpectraPure! So yesterday before I even bought the new fish (today) I did a 25 gallon change with the RO/DI water using R/O Right by Kent and Kent sea salt, and a little PH buffer (recommended amount for 25 gallons). Any useful info you have about this all would be great!  <We need to start... much further back in your history here and period in the hobby... Many factors go in to "proper set-up" and Redox potential is a measure of "charge potential" in a system... with all that has gone on (addition of medicants, dying livestock...) it's not surprising that you have low Redox potential...> I am kind of thinking the tap water has a very low dissolved oxygen potential, <What? This doesn't make sense... the water can only hold about 7 ppm. of oxygen... it can lose or gain this in minutes... by just being shaken in the air, turned over...> due to my 75 fresh community tank slowly kills fish (sort of really just my 9 Neons are now 2, but I caught a Cory at the surface for awhile breathing heavy) I guess I could put the Redox probe in the tap water?  <You could> What should tap water Redox at? <Whatever it is... likely 200-300 microSiemens per... Not important variable for potable consideration.> Side tank history/story...Due to the tang whipping me out, I since setup a 20Long as a QT.  <Oh... good idea> Using a Duetto 100 for a filter, and a small mini-jet powerhead (no air bubbles in the tank ugh salt creep ! and no skimmer, its just a QT temp tank). That's where I moved my damsels from the main tank (they always eat my puffers tails!), so a day or two after I set it up I decided to test the water...no ammonia or nitrite, but the pH is like 7. Ok that's why the fish are stressed, low ph!  <Definitely one aspect> I figured the am an no2 (nitrite?) were low due to the sponge an water from the main tank. So I buffered (way over buffered the PH) back to like 8.2. In an hour  <Too much, too fast...> the damsels were dead :( Being a new tank, I left the dead damsels in there for a few days before removing the remains, I tested the water in there yesterday and the ammonia and nitrite were both off the scales (good here comes my bacteria already!) Point of all that, was does my QT setup sound ok? <I would add an aerator... a bubbler... likely in the way of a sponge filter (or two)... that you could "culture" in part of your main system for immediate use...> What size fish can it handle for 20 days? I'd think it'd be ok as long as nothing is over 6-8" in size. <Depends on the species, their behavior... but about this size> The puffer is the first and only fish in the main tank since the whip out, tank sat empty for about a week (not empty just fishless) while ick died off. <Needs to sit like this for a month... w/o fish hosts, with elevated temp., lowered spg. per what we have posted on WWM> Really concerned about the Ozone and Redox. It was an expensive purchase, and I know it can really increase my water quality and Redox (135 now), <Please read what is posted on WetWebMedia.com re quarantine, Redox, ozone... use the Google Search tool posted on the homepage, indices... with these terms... what you need to know to understand more completely what you are doing, not doing, is posted there...> I just want to make sure I'm doing it right and all that. I bought a chlorine test kit the other day to check for ozone (I read it acts the same) and it came up 0. <Not the same...> Thanks in advance! going to read more of your site now!! <Good. Bob Fenner> Mark

Oh yah... The spines have since laid back down, I have not resumed the use of Ozone till I hear back from you or at least get a residual test kit. Spines laid back down about 20 min after turning off the ozone. (may or may not be related) <Not related. Bob Fenner> TIA again! Mark

Oh yah... (Puffer, ozone, Redox...) Thanks for the reply. The puffer seems fine today, and I turned the ozone back on at 55mg/hr last night after reading all of your ozone FAQ's. I must say, GREAT site, you guys have an amazing wealth of knowledge. <Glad to share> 125Gallon acrylic tank, Sea Life 150 Wet/Dry, Sea Life 75 protein skimmer, a Rio 2500 as a return pump (is this to low for a 125?), <If it suits you, your livestock's needs, no> I am would like to do maybe 4 fish total. The puffer, an angel of some sort eventually, probably a wrasse of some sort, and something else. Does this setup sound ok for the 4 fish or maybe even 5? I know the Angel and Puffer will get big eventually. <S/b fine... if they're small enough, compatible> The 0.1 copper level is residual. When I had the ich whip out my tank a few weeks ago I added copper for a week, since the fish died I didn't bother keeping the copper level up. <Look into Polyfilter, GAC use to extract it> Yes I have the QT tank setup, but its not ready for fish, the puffer being the first and only fish in the main tank, I didn't think the QT was a big deal for this first fish. <<Mmm, yes... you don't want to have a "parasitic tank"... the tank itself can become infested...>> <Yikes... maybe the Clown Trigger... they can/do sometimes eat puffers (and all else) in the wild> It was the green Chromis picking on the puffers tail (old dogface) near puffer is alone in the 125 gal. <<Okay>> <Could be just stress of handling, capture... I would check dissolved oxygen re pump adequacy... and if, when in doubt, add more circulation...> The only circulation in the main tank is the return from the RIO 2500 in the sump, which is a spray bar aimed at the surface, should I get another powerhead in the main tank to just turn over water? <<Yes... I'd get two>> Will it get up to 300 eventually with the ozone on? <Perhaps... due to feeding, other life, metabolism in the system... but maybe not...> Why is my Redox so low even without ozone or anything I would of expected it 200+! <No... it is... what it is... and not surprising for captive systems.> There's only the 1 fish, even with no fish it was only 150...was at 135 when I checked before work this morning. I'll let it be a week and see... <<Good>> <We need to start... much further back in your history here and period in the hobby... Many factors go in to "proper set-up"> Any specific info? Its a 125Gal tank, that started with live rock. The rock then sat in a bucket for 6 months with no circulation when we had house work done. During this time the tank was empty. I added the rock back in and let the tank cycle a month with 4 damsels. Then I added the clown trigger and dogface puffer, all was well for months, even till after I moved, just when I got the yellow tang without QT and got bad ich. I realize the rock is no longer live (especially after a copper treatment) but it should still be ok as rock for looks right? <<Yes, and will become repopulated... add a bit of "new live rock" over it>> The 125 Gal. tank has an overflow skim box, that drains to the SeaLife 150 wetdry. There is 1 heater in there (after reading your heating FAQ I will add another soon). There's also a mini-jet in the sump simply moving water to prevent the surface from getting 'stagnant'. The water then drains through a bulkhead with a ball valve, to another smaller sump. In this sump is the Sea Life 75 skimmer injected with ozone, and dumping over my homemade carbon container, and the RIO 2500 return pump next to it. The water is then returned to the tank via a spray bar that does a pretty nice job cutting up the surface on that side of the main tank. I had been in the industry about 6 years, and thought I had a pretty good idea on how to keep fish, albeit some stupid mistakes (like raising the ph in the QT so fast) and being out of it for a couple years I don't know now, also expense I know I could use a larger skimmer, but the Sea Life 75 has never really worked that hard and pulled that much nasty from the tank. I was thinking of going to a Sea Life 150, but these skimmers are difficult to incorporate with Ozone (due to the air coming out) Any suggestions on ozone friendly skimmers if I wanted to get a bigger one? In sump model. <<Look to the Aqua C or Euro Reef lines>> Anyways thanks again for all the help and support you've given the industry, some day if I can get my own fish to live I'm really thinking of trying a store/service shop, especially after seeing the immense store and what not Dallas North Aquarium has become over the last 6 years. <<The trade needs people with drive, curiosity, positive helpful natures... Bob Fenner> Thanks again! Mark

Porcupine puffer Hi <Greetings. Ronni here today standing in for our resident puffer expert.> I was wondering how long a Diodon holacanthus porcupine puffer would get in a 55 gal. aquarium with 18lbs of rock, a 1.5 inch clown fish, 1.5 inch blue devil, and 4 inch yellow tang. <He's going to get way too big for this tank. They can reach an adult size of around 20 inches and the width of this tank is going to make him horribly uncomfortable even if he's by himself. Your Yellow Tang is also going to get relatively large (8') so you're better off to concentrate on smaller fishes for now.> Thank you. <You're welcome! Ronni>

Pufferfish, How big do these guys get, anyway? (05/30/03) I am setting up a 90 gallon fish only tank and am very interested in adding a porcupine puffer to my collection. They have to be my favorite marine aquarium fish second to sharks. <Porcupines are nice but I don't know about the sharks> My biggest concern is the size. I have been given mixed opinions about whether or not to keep one in a 90 gallon setup. Do you think this size tank is sufficient? <These fish do grow large-over a foot and some to 18" plus!, As a juvenile it would be alright, but what happens when he grows to 12" do you have a 300 gallon aquarium to place him in? I would not purchase this fish unless I had a large enough aquarium to provide an adequate home for his entire life (and they live a long time 10-20 years-reports I have heard of). Many people say they will purchase a larger aquarium when the fish outgrows the older one, but this rarely materializes. It is your decision, you have the money, aquarium, final say, etc. Good Luck with the decision, IanB> James

How big do these guys get, anyway? (05/30/03) <Ananda the puffer nut here tonight...> I am setting up a 90 gallon fish only tank and am very interested in adding a porcupine puffer to my collection. They have to be my favorite marine aquarium fish second to sharks. <I'll pass on the sharks, but porcupine puffers are my favorites....> My biggest concern is the size. I have been given mixed opinions about whether or not to keep one in a 90 gallon setup. Do you think this size tank is sufficient? James <For maybe a few months or years, depending on the initial size of the puff. But these guys get BIG -- as in well over a foot long. For the long term, I would want at least a 300 gallon tank to give one of these guys some swimming room. --Ananda>

Puffer Problems (4/5/2003)  Hello,  Just this past week (4 days ago) I purchased a Porcupine Puffer, <Congrats! Very fun and personable fish> approximately 3" long, from my Local Fish Store. I have him in my newly set up (approximately 3 months ago) aquarium with 4 blue damsels (4 of 6 from original starters). The Aquarium specs are as follows:  Aquarium: Sea Clear II 100 Gallon But holds only approximately 65 gallons after gravel, rocks etc. Back integrated filter (bioball) Filter pad media (glove type over plastic frame) Activated Charcoal (Water runs over). <Almost identical to the system I had my porky in> One powerhead at top to move water. Gravel is coral approximately 3/4 to 1" thick. Rocks are LFS rocks with holes for fish to swim through. Some make pseudo caves.  Salinity: 1.021  Ph: 8.2  Ammonia: 0  Nitrite: 0  Nitrate: 5ppm  <Excellent water parameters>  My questions are as follows....  1/ What type/size protein skimmer do you recommend? He is a real pig when he eats! <You'll definitely want to invest in a skimmer, as they ARE pigs! I recommend an AquaC Remora skimmer, as I've had great luck with mine. www.marinedepot.com  has good prices on them - and get one with a MaxiJet, not a Rio>  2/ I am feeding my Puffer dried Krill. Is this an acceptable diet? My LFS says yes. Your FAQ seem to say no. He spits out the flake I feed the Damsels. <Dried kill is a fine supplement, but making a staple of one food is not recommended. Definitely vary the diet with snails, frozen shrimp, 'shellfish', diced fish, and other seafood, as well as the various frozen fish foods. Another dry food I've found porkys like is Tetra Jumbomin>  3/ My Puffer is active mostly only when he eats or is hungry. I presently feed him one small Krill (maybe 1/2 - 1" sized, broken in two) twice a day. Once in AM and once in PM. He has a good appetite. But the rest of the time he seems to sit on bottom 15% of the time or remains at top (very close to water intake to filter system) hardly swimming 80% of the time. Other 5% he is active. <Newly introduced pufferfish often behave this way, but keep an eye on him> He will perk up if you come to the glass for a short time. <"Feed me!"> Can you tell me if this is normal behavior. <I have seen similar behavior in all newly acquired pufferfish. Give him a week or two> I am especially concerned about the hanging at the top almost all of the time. He does not seem to be gulping air or anything. <Again, expected in a new puffer - allow him to adapt to new conditions, but do keep a watchful eye on his health>  4/ Can I add a couple of basic clowns to the mix of fish? I do not plan on having more then 6 or 7 fish total. What about a Yellow Tang? <With ~65 gallons of actual tank water, I would not add any other fish. Yellow tangs get quite large, and definitely wouldn't be recommended in a tank that size, especially with a porky - they can get 20", and might even end up outgrowing your current tank>  5/ Does my Puffer need a cave? If so, what kind do you recommend? He tends to stay in the open now.  <Once adapted to his new environment he won't want to hide>  I enjoy this Puffer very much and would really hate to lose him. <My favorite fish as well>  Thank you very much for your help!!  <Anytime> Jim Adolph  <M. Maddox>

Tank size for Porcupine Puffer 2/22/04 Hi! <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a porcupine puffer. She is 7 inches in a 70g tank with a flagfin angel. I am planning to set up a new tank in a couple of months. I probably won't add any more fish. The size would be about 210g. Is that enough for an adult puffer? I found some very different info on the web (from 80 to 300 gallons). What's your opinion? <It all depends on which species of porcupine puffer you have.  One species, (Diodon holocanthus) http://saltaquarium.about.com/library/photos/blpicfishmdemaiopuffer.htm, grows about 12" & needs at least 100g.  The giant pufferfish, (Diodon hystrix), http://tekipaki.jp/~puffer/puffer/diodon/hystrix/photo.htm, can grow as large as 3' & 1000g would be good for a fish that size.  Then you have the Burrfish, which grows on the average 10+".> Thanks, Katja <You're welcome!  ~PP>

Puffer lifespan? <Hi! Ananda here today...> Hello guys, looked all over for an answer to a specific question, but I've only found estimates for Diodon in general, not hystrix specifically. What is the lifespan of Diodon hystrix in captivity? Are there any recordings? Our is almost 10 years I believe. Thank you. -Elizabeth <There is very little data available for the lifespan of fish, either in captivity or in the wild. Most of the info I've seen indicates that puffers should be able to live into their teens, if not longer. Would you consider emailing the good folks at www.fishbase.org with your information? Their species listings have an item for "Max. age & size", but they have no info for this species (see http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=1022&genusname=Diodon&speciesname=hystrix  ). Congratulations on keeping yours so long! --Ananda> 

Puffer lifespan II <Hi! Ananda here again...> Thank you very much! This is actually a public aquarium, so that might be the key for longevity...lots of room! <No "might" about it, in my guesstimation. Could you tell me how many gallons is this monster puffer housed in, and how big the puffer is now?> Love your site, thanks again. <Thanks for this info -- any more info you can give us on the species would be welcome, as we do occasionally get an email from someone who wants to keep one. (In one case, someone ordered a Diodon holocanthus and received a Diodon histrix!) --Ananda>

Puffer lifespan III and more info <Ananda here again> Goodness, that IS a goof! Our monster is in a 1500 gallon, which is still not as large as the others I've seen them in where there's over 20,000 gallons, but he likes to stay under his rock ledge most the time. He eats a LOT (we have had to put him on a diet when he kept stealing the eel's squid and became constipated). All our animals are hand-fed to make sure they're getting their fill and the right vitamins but our monster (nicknamed "Pig Boy" for obvious reasons) will attempt to steal food from everyone. He was approx. 4 1/2 inches when he came to us. He is almost 3' long now and about the size of a basketball around towards his head.  <Wow. That's huge....> He was raised with a green moray eel which we received around the same time. Pig Boy deals very well with the green moray in it's "hole" but doesn't like too many others around it.  Our biologist conditioned Pig Boy to obey finger signals. This cuts down on the food-stealing. One raised finger underwater and the fish would immediately stop.  <Cool. I knew puffers were intelligent, but this is the first I've heard of actual puffer training/conditioning.> Like other puffers here, Pig Boy will spray our feeders with water when it's hungry. Unlike other puffers, because of its size, that means a complete soaking. I'd be happy to share any other behaviors we've seen. It's very well adjusted to the hundreds of people that come see it, but after too many crowds over a long period of time, it will become stressed and sometimes get ick. The puffer is very hardy, though so treatment is not a problem with perfect recovery. I would NEVER recommend this species for anything less than 300-500 gallons.  <Glad to hear that what I've suggested (the few times this question came up) was about right!> Even that can be small depending on the shape of the tank. They grow enormously, even with a 3x a week diet and they like to swim about at times and will develop hunch-back if they can't turn properly in a small tank.  <And the light bulb goes off. I bet cramped quarters would explain some cases of hunch-back in D. holocanthus, too.> Also, you'd need a larger filtration system because big size=big waste. Let me know if I can answer anything else. Thanks again! <Thank *you* for all of this info! --Ananda>

A puffer fish question Hi my name is Kevin, I was wondering if I can keep a porcupine puffer by itself in a 30 gallon tank? If I can't then please tell me the minimum tank size in which a porcupine puffer by itself live in.  <Kevin, the porcupine puffer (Diodon holocanthus) is a very active fish that grows to be a healthy 12-15 inches in captivity if properly taken care of.  This fish needs at least 100g of space due to it's adult size and large bio load...this fish is messy!  <Good Luck!  Heather> Spiny puffer I have recently (meaning within the last few months) conformed  <Like this choice of word> to saltwater fish keeping. I currently have in my 37 gallon an undulated trigger as well as a yellow tailed damsel. I've had two spiny puffer which I regret to inform I could not keep and they died.  <This system is too small for this species, ultimately even for the Trigger you now have> I read all of your faq's on them and it was saying that they can go on food strikes for up to and possibly past 3 months.. So I took that into consideration and kept food available to them.. but it did not help .. the first one slept a lot.. (whatever you consider sleeping for fish)  <Hmm, resting on the bottom for this species.> always laying at the bottom. The second one was active didn't seem to have any problems but it would not eat either.. I have had no problems at all with the trigger or the damsel.. and from other things I've read the puffers are just as hardy as the triggers. <Some> I'm trying to figure out what's wrong. the trigger is an active participant in feeding time as well as the other fish. and they both seem to be fine. You think I might have just gotten bad fish from the store?  <A distinct possibility. Did you ask the shop to feed them in front of you?> This has happened with a snowflake eel as well.. I would appreciate any information or recommendations you could give me...thanks, Chris <Please read through the "Livestock Selection" parts on the Marine part of our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for many insights into how to go about getting the "right" species, specimens for your set-up. Bob Fenner>

Max. size for Porcupine Puffer I've heard a lot of difference in the maximum size a porcupine puffer will grow in captivity. What is the largest you have seen one get? I've heard from 6 inches max to over 20, and I need to know what size of tank to get. <Hmm, depends on the setting (size of tank, foods/feeding...) and species... a large one in an aquarist's tank is probably under a foot. Take a look on this part of our site to identify yours, read about the maximum size in the wild: http://wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm Bob Fenner>

Puffers I figured I would give this a try since I couldn't find out how to post a message on wetwebmedia.com so here goes... I have 4 tanks in my room 2 are fresh 1 is brackish and one is marine, I have 3 puffers in my 10 gal brackish aquarium I have a spotted and 2 figure 8's they seem to be getting a long fine and aren't having any problems yet but I was wondering more about my 55 gal marine tank, it only has live rock in it, not coral but live rock, I was told that a porcupine puffer needs a 75 gal aquarium, but I was wondering if it was just about the only fish in a 55 if it would be ok, the other fish are just cleaners and hide in the rock all the time. thanks for any help you can give me, -Brandon <A nice mix of tanks... reminds me of my room years back. You should be able to have a Porcupine Puffer in your fifty five for a good long while, starting with one not too big (let's say three, four inches in length). It may well eat your "cleaners" if they're crustaceans. Bob Fenner>

Stars and stripes puffer problem HI, First off, just wanted to say that your website has the best info I could find around on the net! <Thank you for this. We try> Now to address the crisis at hand. I have a stars and stripes (green, white spotted) puffer fish and he exists in a 55 gallon tank with about 40 lbs of Fiji live rock. He exists with a porcupine puffer, striped damsel, blue damsel, tomato clown, panther grouper, yellow grouper, yellow angel, file fish, Singapore fish, and three hermit crabs. I read on this site that that is too many fish for a 55 gallon, <Yikes, yes!> however, they all exist peacefully. <Maybe not as "peacefully" as they seem... likely there is a great deal of "chemical" interaction amongst these animals... that is stressful> Prior to reading the info on this site, I made these purchases from recommendation of the salesperson at my local pet shop. <And your own determination> The problem with the puffer is that he seems to be quite inactive and I haven't seen him eat. When he moves sometimes, and he touches a surface (fish, rock, sand, whatever), he flip-flops around until sitting on either the sand or a rock. Prior to last week, he was fine, swimming up and down the tank. This behavior is strange and since I am new to salt-water fish, I have no idea what's going on. I heard you suggest cleaning shrimp or cleaning fish, but if I need them what should I get with the types of animals that exist in my tank? <... You don't need this sort of Cleaner/s here... the shrimps would be quickly consumed.> And what is a protein skimmer? <Yowzah! Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphysf.htm and get one of these tools quick!> I feed him frozen food mixed with shrimp, krill, etc. I feed the others dry tropical fish food, and I take care of the water. So far these two months, <This system has been up this short of time... and you have all this livestock? Please do consider trading some of it back in... or securing larger, much larger quarters for it. Am going to send your message to Kelly.J, the "Puffer Queen" for her further input.> the water has no nitrites and a perfect ph of 8.1 with salinity of 0.023. I appreciate your help in this matter as no one else seems to know what could be happening, and how to treat it. <Study, contemplate, plan and act my friend... you do need more volume, a skimmer... Bob Fenner>

Re: new setup (too brisk a current for a Diodon?) is it possible to have too strong currents for a porcupine puffer?  <Yes... but not practically... that is, I have never seen such a situation> he seems to be able to swim ok but when he's out in the open his little fins are going a mile a minute just to stay stable. other fish such as damsels have no problem. <Likely just doing what it does...> also this may be normal for the puffers but he always seems to kinda face down when swimming or resting on the bottom. is this normal? <Some downward orientation is natural. See pix here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm > I now have 2 power heads facing each other on a 46 gal. bow front, along with currents from mech./bio filter and skimmer. I'm trying to stay away from the tornado effect like you have discussed but I don't see any livestock being thrown around in circles so I assume it's ok. <I wouldn't be overly concerned... these puffers are "smart" animals (as fishes go)... can/will choose to "stay out of the current" if it pleases. Bob Fenner>

Tank Size For Porcupine And Lionfish? <Hi Pufferpunk here, answering the puffer portion of your question.><and Mike D here on the lionfish> Is 90 gallons sufficient for a fully grown Porcupine puffer (being the ONLY fish in the tank) with adequate filtration, skimming, etc? <It depends on what kind of porc puff you have.  If it is the Diodon holacanthus, they grow to 18", so you need a tank at least that wide.  If it is the Diodon hystrix , I've seen them as large as 3" in the wild.  Not for your average aquarist!  See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm  ~PP> Also wondering Tenecor 150gal (72"x24"x20") is sufficient for 2-3 adult Volitans Lionfish?<My first impulse is to say "NO", so I will.  While they MAY not get as large as they do in the wild, there's a very strong chance that they will.  I currently have 2 P. russellii and one P. Volitans in a 72" 125, where they've grown from the 3" size, with now all about 8"-9", and it's getting hazardous to maintain. In the very near future, all three will be going in the 300, which is much more appropriate.>  Thanks!!!! Tank Size for Porcupine Puffer  5/3/04 Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a 3 month old 80 gallon saltwater tank with an Emperor 400 filter and an undergravel filter with two power heads.  The substrate is about 2 inches of coral gravel.  There are two large volcanic rocks and two coral skeletons.  The livestock consist of one 5 inch Porcupine Puffer (just got him three days ago and he is doing fine so far) and two small 1 inch yellow tail blue damsels (they have lived in the tank for 2 and a half months.  They were the guinea pigs.) For the most part, the damsels have learned to live together...one lives in the middle of the tank and the other lives on the right.  The Porcupine Puffer has tried to eat one damsel but the damsel is quick and hides immediately.  I am sure the puffer has tried more than once to eat the damsels but I was a witness to this attack only once. My questions are: 1) Do I have room for more fish?  I want about two more fish. That's it.  If so, what type of fish would you recommend to be compatible with the puffer?  I am interested in getting a Naso Tang, a Blue Regal Tang or a Yellow Tang. <An 80g tank would be the very minimum for an adult porcupine puffer.  I usually like to see them in at least a 100g.  As you have already observed, your puffer is aggressive, even at a young age.  It won't get any better.  You could try some other small, quick fish, like more damselfish, that can get out of the way fast & hide.  I also suggest a more heavily decorated tank.  The bioload that your puffer will produce in a "small" tank as a 12" adult, will be enough to deal with.>   2) Should I get a protein skimmer and if so, which one? <Yes, you definitely need a protein skimmer!  Actually, on my 55g puffer tank, I have a HOB filter, a canister filter & a skimmer.  Look through the FAQs at WWM on skimmers.  Puffers are messy eaters and high waste producers. Extra filtration is necessary for these dirty fish. Immaculate aquarium upkeep is a must.> 3) What should I feed my puffer in addition to the krill I already feed it and how frequently should it be fed?  I have been told by my aquarium shop to feed the puffer 2 to 3 krill every three days.  He seems to be too hungry and seems to be  happy to be fed at least once per day, 2 shrimp each time. <One of the most difficult aspects of keeping these special fish is their diet. All puffers are predatory fish and need hard-shelled, meaty foods to keep their teeth trimmed. Like rabbits, their teeth grow constantly and can overgrow enough to cause starvation in the fish. Puffers eat crustaceans in the wild. Foods for smaller puffers are frozen/freeze-dried krill/plankton, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, glass worms, crickets, worms and small snails (the size of their eye). Snails are an essential food to a puffer's diet, especially when small. Many serious puffer keepers breed their own snails. As your puffer gets larger, there are many more crunchy foods for them to eat. Larger puffers will eat cut-up pieces of scallops, shrimp, crab legs, whole mussels, clams, oysters, squid, lobster and crayfish. Mine love to chase live crayfish, fiddler crabs and gut-loaded ghost shrimp. I gut-load (pre-feed) my live food with algae wafers, so my puffers get their veggies. I buy most of these foods at the fish department of my grocery store, freeze and later thaw in warm vitamin water as needed. Smaller puffers (under 2") need to eat every day, skipping one feeding/week. Feed them until their bellies are slightly rounded. Medium sized puffers (2-4") should be fed every other day. Larger puffers (4-6+") should be fed well every 3-4 days, with 1 smaller feeding in between. You may find this schedule difficult, as puffers are very adept at begging for food! Feeding puffers every time they beg will cause fat, lazy fish and eventually you will be killing them with kindness.> Thanks for any help and advice you can give me.  Irene <You're welcome!  Enjoy your puffer friend!  ~PP>

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