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FAQs about the Puffers Called Burrfishes, Porcupinefishes 3

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, Burrfish Identification, Burrfish Behavior, Burrfish Compatibility, Burrfish Selection, Burrfish Systems, Burrfish Feeding, Burrfish Disease, Burrfish Reproduction, Puffers in GeneralPuffer Selection, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, Puffer Reproduction, True Puffers, Freshwater to Brackish Puffers, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

Healthy puffers may go on feeding strikes, but should not be "skinny".

Moorish Idol; porc. puffer incomp.     7/5/18
I purchased 2 Moorish Idols after determining they seemed viable based on appearance and eating habits. After acclimation into the main tank, they were doing amazing.
<What are you feeding them, for how long have you keep them?>
After a short time, I witnessed my porcupine puffer bite directly onto the face/beak of one. By the time I ripped the lid off and grabbed something to interrupt, the puffer had caused a serious amount of physical damage to the Idol. His lips and such are missing. I separated the puffer last night as well as the injured Idol. I fully expected it to be dead this morning. To my surprise, it wasn't. Will the tissue regenerate?
<It will, in time>
Is it likely the porcupine puffer will strike again (attack the other healthy one) if released?
<Besides the fact that the Puffer is an aggressive fish and will “attack” again as soon as it is put back in the tank, I give you very few odds with your Idols as these are a very delicate species and in the best of the cases, will only live for a few months in captivity, even in the best of conditions. I am sorry to disappoint you but if you see these beauties for sale it’s because people buy them, not because they thrive.>
Thank you so much.
<You´re very welcome, Wilberth.>

Question about treating my porcupine puffer with possible food impaction... next gen. of folks not using WWM...    8/18/11
I have a porcupine puffer that I think has a food impaction or I suspect he may have ingested some of the gravel from the bottom of his tank and is now unable to pass it.
<Will, in time>
Let me start by saying or puffer named "Puffy" is approximately 10 years old and over the last years his eye sight is not what it used to be.
<Have you searched WWM re? Not uncommon>
He resides in a 90 gallon tank with only one other tank mate a yellow tang. I have checked all the levels and they appear to be within the normal levels. The temperature of the tank is kept at 78 degrees.
Approximately 2 weeks ago we noticed that Puffy was swimming side way and seemed to have problems with his buoyancy and his ability to swim straight.
I immediately went online and tried to diagnose what the issue may be. I originally found a site that described swim bladder disorders and I thought it was a parasitic infestation of his swim bladder.
<... ludicrous>
The web site recommended treating with Erythromycin.
<... no; dismal>
I did a 20% water change on the main tank and then treated the tank according to the directions on the web site and the package insert. I treated the tank for one week with periodic water changes as directed with no improvement. In fact he seemed to be getting worse and had stopped eating.
He was just lying on the bottom of his tank and not swimming. I moved him to a medicine tank and continued to treat him with the antibiotic. After 3 to 4 days of treating him in the Medicine tank I went to check on him and he was up and swimming like nothing was wrong. I fed him and he ate like he always had prior to becoming ill. I kept him in the medicine tank for 2 additional days and then moved him back to the main tank. He swam and ate normally for a little over a week and then I noticed he was swimming nose down and seemed to be having buoyancy issues again.
I again moved him back to the medicine tank and have been reading online about other possible reasons he could be having swim bladder/buoyancy issues. I read that buoyancy issues can also be caused by a food impaction. He has stopped eating again and is swimming only on the bottom of the tank.
He seems to be struggling to defecate. Obviously, I don't know for sure that this is what he is doing but he is wiggling back and forth on the bottom and will sometimes slightly inflate a small amount and then deflate.
We usually feed the fish a gel based food by Ocean Nutrition called Formula One and a small amount of Formula two mainly for the Tang. Puffy has eaten this for over 10 years with no issues. The food sinks to the bottom and he will grab the food and usually some gravel at the same time. He spits out the gravel and swallows the food. This has been the way he has dined for years. I will also buy snails to supplement his diet and it helps to grind down his cartilage/teeth.
I am concerned that he is possibly ingesting some gravel in his search for food and is now unable to pass it. I have read two possible remedies for an impaction in a fish. One is to feed them a smashed pea. The site said they don't know why but in many fish this works. He currently is not eating. I tried but can not get him to eat a pea. The other remedy was treating the water with Epsom Salts. I'm not sure how effective this treatment is with marine fish as they are already swimming in salt water. Do you think treating with Epsom salts could help if it is an impaction?
<Is your best action>
If so, do you know what dosage I should use for the 10 gallon medicine tank?
<Wouldn't treat t/here... too small a volume>
How often should I add the Epsom Salts?
<... posted on WWM>
Do I do a water change between treatments?
Do you have any other suggestions I could try?
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
and the linked files above; and where you lead yourself through embedded links...>
He is such a great pet and I am beside myself trying to make him well again any suggestions would be greatly How many times do I treat with the.
Thank you so much,
Kara D
<Please learn to/use the search tool and indices on WWM:
Bob Fenner>
Re: Question about treating my porcupine puffer with possible food impaction   8/18/11

Thank you very much for your response. I did try to navigate thru the numerous posts on your website and had researched many other forums and sites as well before I submitted a question.
<Ah, good>
I was trying to make sure I had proper grammar and punctuation as to not get scolded.
I will try harder next time to research further first.
How come I feel like this is something out of an old Seinfeld episode.
<Well, I do bear a close resemblance to Geo. Costanza... w/ a bit more hair!>
No soup for you! Just joking. Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to help me with my sick puffer. Its was my first time on your site hopefully after I navigate around a few times I will get more familiar with how to locate the answers to my questions.
<Welcome. BobF>

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

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

Porcupine puffer gone blind! No reading on WWM  4/4/2011
Hi, I have a Diodon Holocanthus, named "Fugu" that I've now had for about 6 years, I believe he is likely about 8 years old. My little buddy is one tough little fellow, having survived numerous turmoils and diseases, always to pop back. This time I'm really worried he may be beyond help. Up until a few days ago, everything was fine, he was swimming around the tank as normal, watching us move around the house, waiting for a handout. Then, out of nowhere, I noticed something wasn't right (you know how you just know it?). He was swimming oddly, and wasn't responding to approaching the tank. I noticed he was bumping into things as he swam. He wasn't responding to my presence, or light changes. His dark spots on his skin had gotten darker, more pronounced. He was swimming energetically, seemingly trying to figure out where he was. In the days since, nothing has changed, he still is swimming into things, not responding to any visual cues.
I can tell he has gone completely blind. His swimming is more careful, either because he has realized his predicament or he has burned out his energy. Today he's just lying on the ground in a corner. The one good sign is that through this I've stuck food in his mouth and he has eaten it every time. I'm really worried about him, and can't figure this one out.
I have performed two major water changes in four days. Initially, I thought I perhaps had an ammonia spike. My test results were high for ammonia, at about .3, however, Nitrite was reading zero. After a water change, something odd happened, my ammonia actually went up to .5.
<Toxic... in any concentration. You have inadequate filtration, likely circulation as well... Perhaps improper foods and too much of them>
Nitrites were still zero. I surmised that my test chemicals had either gone bad, or my source water (city water) had ammonia in it. But that wouldn't make sense, since I treat the water with chemical remover before using. After purchasing another test kit, the ammonia (after two water changes) was at .2, nitrite at zero, nitrate at 20. I also have a poly pad just put in the filter, and quality carbon. The pH has always remained at 8.0. I keep the salinity around 1.021. I also noticed the temp had spiked to 83, I always leave it around 79, not sure what happened, but I dropped the heater down, and it's back down to 78.6. But 83 shouldn't be a problem for a Holocanthus, right? They live in warmer waters around here in south florida!
<S/b fine temp. wise>
The tank is a 75, and has been up and running for about 8 months since I transferred him from another tank (and all the established rock and filtration). He's alone in the tank. I've been moving him up as he has grown, and have been setting up a 180 for his next jump up.
<Ah good. Much better>
I've spoke to my LFS, and they indicate that blindness is possibly a result of kidney problems,
<What? No>
and that the kidney impacts can come from ammonia, some other contaminant, or from old age. They suggested doing a 90% water change with RODI water from a shop, or seawater.
<Water changes are almost always a good default response to such...>
They indicate that they have seen in a few instances sight return once the kidneys have cleared. They also indicated that 8 years is an old Holocanthus, but I've read that they can live up to 15 years.
<Even longer>
I'm not sure if I've included everything here I'm supposed to, but if not will add if needed. I'm pretty upset, and we worry we are going to lose him before we ever even get him into the big home we've been dying for him to experience. If anyone can offer any suggestions as to what could be causing this,
<There are a few, and they are posted/archived over and over on WWM>
and what else could be done, we really would appreciate it.
Thanks so much.
Scott Goorland
West Palm Beach, FL
<Put your subject title: Porcupine puffer gone blind!
in the search tool here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
Read the cached views. Bob Fenner>

Puffer fish, hlth., no data or consideration  02/22/10
I have a Porcupine Puffer fish with red discoloration near the right eye. What could be wrong with him and what is the treatment?
<... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FishInd3.htm
the files at the bottom... on Puffer, Diodontid Health. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer with a strange bump on back, no reading before writing   11/20/09
I purchased a Porcupine Puffer a few months ago and is the best little guy ever (Gizmo), about 5" in length. Just the other day I noticed a bump on his back near his tail, it looks like if you broke your arm and the bone was pushing the skin up (make sense)?
<Mmm, yep>
Its about 1" in diameter and about ¼" - ½" tall. The last few days he has been mostly hanging out in one corner of the tank and doesn't move much, he stares at himself mostly in the reflection of the glass. His eyes are a bit glassy and purple speckled, I had feared he was going blind as he misses the food the first stab at it but I hear this is common among porcupines.
<Ones that are in or having troubles, yes>
He does still recognize us and the usual begging and following will ensue when he sees us. He will swim around but is not as active as he was a couple weeks ago. Maybe it is an air bubble in him?
<? no>
I have been scouring the sites looking for answers but not sure what it could be. I feed him 31/35 shrimp I thaw and chop myself and he does eat a few of the pellets I give some of the other fish.
<Need/ed a better diet. Some types of fish and human blindness are nutritional, deficiency syndromes>
The tank has been in operation about 4-5 months and he was my first fish besides the 10 damsels I cycled with
<... not advised>
(he ate all but 1 and now they swim happily together). I have not quarantined him at this point because it looks as if it's an internal/spinal/body issue and not an illness. I am just not sure how he would be capable of doing this to himself and certainly the other fish couldn't do this to him either.
Water levels are all fine, exceptional really (0 AM - 0 NI - 0-10 NA - PH 8.2 - SG .025). I still do 25% water changes every 2-3 weeks depending on quality. Everyone is happily co-existing, digging in the sand, begging for food, hiding in rocks etc..
My list of possible diagnosis is (I am no expert):
Air bubble?
Broken Spine/Tail?
Maybe stung by the Foxface Rabbitfish?
Or a more serious illness I am not qualified to diagnose
SW 210 gallon Oceanic FOWLR
50 lb live rock
75 lb sand
All added in increments of 2's over the last 3 months and are listed in order of acclimation
4 Stripe Damsel (2")
Porcupine Puffer (5")
Picasso Trigger (5")
Regal Tang (6")
Moorish idol (4")
Foxface Rabbit (6")
I will try to send pictures that meet your below 3 kb requirement. Any help would be much appreciated!
Gary Nash
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishdisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Please search before writing us. Bob Fenner>

Maybe mistake... Diodontid hlth.    10/1/2009
Hi I am new to the hobby. I have purchased a already set up 75 FOWLR. Has bet set up since 2005. I got a spiny box puffer about 2' yesterday.
<Wow, small!>
Plan to put him in that after QT(do plan on getting him a big tank when bigger.) I have him in a 20g QT tank. I did put sand in it and it wasn't cycled. (mMISTAKE I think) But I did buy the salt water to go in the tank from LFS. Which tested great. 8.2 ph 0ppm ammonia, nitrate and nitrite.(maybe did something right) They told me that fish could go straight in the tank after I acclimate him. (not sure if they knew sand was
in it or not) He has ate great yesterday and today. Is very active when we are by the tank, when not, he kinda hangs out in corners toward the top.
Doesn't look stressed. I came home today and tested water all the same except ammonia of course 0.25ppm, prob due to feeding and waste.
<Of a certainty>
So I did a small water change. 2-4q. All seems fine with him. I just don't want something to happen.
<Already has>
He also does have a something by his fin really look like a spot, but a light area by his natural black spot. Almost around it. Praying not ick.
Going to continue to watch him. So please help me?? Any suggestions?? What I should do?
Want to make sure I do everything right for the little guy. He really seem fine but don't want anything to go wrong... Thank you so much
<Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishdisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. I wouldn't be (overly) concerned re the "spot", but would be re the ammonia et al. in your current QT practice... and look into establishing cycling ASAP... and moving this fish to the larger
system; perhaps through a pH adjusted FW bath. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine puffer, feeding  3/2/09 Hello guys thanks for all the help on your site one quick question. I am new to the hobby this is my first real tank at 75g has been up for 3 months it is a FO tank. I recently got a porcupine puffer that is about 2 inches long she looks great and has a lot of energy eating fine the only problem is I cant get her to eat anything but dried krill. <Needs to be trained onto other foods... perhaps with the use of a feeding stimulant additive> I have tried snails, half shelled clams, and blood worms. I soak the krill in Kent marine brand vitamin, minerals, and amino acid supplement and some garlic guard to make sure she is getting some type of nutrients and protect from parasites. My question is there anything I can do to encourage her to eat the snails or half shelled clams for her teeth. <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sick puffer fish... no spell check, data of use, or reading    1/7/09 hello...i have a sick porcupine puffer fish! we have had him for a couple of years now and has seen him go through what we call these hibernation stages (no eating chillin @ the bottom of the tank) which last for a couple of days to a couple of weeks but this time its different. our puffer hasn't ate in @ least a week, sits @ the bottom of the tank and sometimes acts like he's going to puff swims crazy in circles whips back and forth (i don't really know how 2 describe it..) then ive noticed he has a spot on his back..looks as if his skin is peeled away and also on his back tail...is this the ich! <Highly unlikely> after noticing the spot i immediately isolated him in a tank by himself and have been using the ich-x <A poor idea> for about 3 days now..(change 1/3 water before administering again and so on like the directions say) but nothing has changed! i checked all the levels in the old and isolation tank and everything seems 2 be within normal range..no other fish look sick or act weird!? this is quite puzzling but i know something is not right w/ our puffer! can u please help or give suggestions its our favorite fish! thx! <Please... fix your English before sending... and read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishdisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. You have supplied no information on which an intelligent response can be made... Bob Fenner>

Burrfish sick!!! No info. of use, reading   1/5/09 hello, Can I first say well done on a great web site, Your wealth of knowledge is excellent and I often look through just to try and learn as much as I can. I recently bought a small Striped Burrfish from my LFS which is approx 2" long. He is currently in my quarantine tank as I know these can be full of parasites and other illness so did not want to add him to my main tank until I know he's 100% healthy. Anyway over the last few days he has had a swelling in his stomach area. At first I thought air which unless he came to the surface and swallowed it there is no way he could have got it as I did not take him out of the water at all, Also the large swelling seems to pull him down so if it was air it would try and pull him up surely?? <Likely so> My only thought is its some sort of constipation maybe?? <Perhaps> I really don't know what's for the best for the little guy as I've never seen or heard of anything like this?? Have you ever come across this before?? Many thanks for your time. <Can't say with the lack of data provided... no pix, water quality/system info... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer,    12/31/09 Hello from Alabama, Thanks for the great site and all of the info. I do aquarium maintenance for several people as a side job <Ahh! I did this for nineteen years myself> and took a 5" porcupine puffer from a customer today. He said it hadn't eaten in a couple of weeks, and it just sits on the bottom. It was in an overstocked 210 FOWLR (I can't get the customer to not buy too many fish) with high nitrates, all other parameters stay in good shape. <The crowding and/or nitrates alone could account for the lack of feeding> So since it was in a very aggressive environment and not doing well I decided to see if I could help it any. I put it in a 24 gallon Aquapod <... too small> with liverock and a few small corals (actually polyps, Kenya trees, and mushrooms) until I can hopefully get it to recover and put it in my 150. <I would place directly> Anyway, just wondering if you had any ideas as to what could be ailing it. It doesn't have any "signs" of disease. <"Stress" period> It does have a kind of humpback posture. Wondering if it could have swallowed air or something like that. I have heard of feeding them peas but if they won't eat what do you do? Thanks for all of your help and hopefully advice. Roll Tide, Jeremy <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Chilomycterus antennatus, Antenna Burrfish 9/5/07 I have an Antenna Burrfish. <Chilomycterus antennatus?> It's my first cowfish/puffer. I'm not a very experienced reef keeper, and have read some very intriguing information about pufferfish poisoning, and how very deadly it can be. What I need to know is, is the type I have poisonous, and if so, how do I avoid getting poisoned? Also, last but not least, how many inches will this fish achieve? Is a 75 gallon aquarium sufficient for it? Thank you, Renee PS- Please notify me when you answer this so I can read it. <Most all Puffers/cowfish/Burrfish are quite toxic, however this is only an issue if you consume their flesh or drink the tank water after they die. It is more of a problem for their tankmates and a dead Diodontidae can quickly wipe out a tank. See here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm for details on size and requirement, which really should be done before purchasing a fish.> <Chris>

Strange lump on my Porcupine Puffer Fish, no useful info.   7/28/06 My porcupine puffer has a strange lump on his back. It seems to be on his right side. He has also been acting very melancholy, and when he swims it is fairly spastically. I've checked the water conditions, and all seem to be perfect. I thought it might be an air bubble, but there was no result when I stroked his stomach in the tank. He has little or no appetite. I would greatly appreciate any advice that you could give me, as he is a very special friend. Thank you in advance, Rachel <Mmm, something is amiss here... with the environment, nutrition, perhaps an internal complaint... There is insufficient information presented to render more specific help. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishdisfaqs.htm and the linked files above on Disease, Systems, Compatibility... Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer in gen.  6/15/2006 Hi everyone, <<Hi Angela.>> Fabulous job you’re all doing here, great to be able to come somewhere and read all about the marine fish - great! <<I’m glad you like it!>> I have spent approx 3 hours a day trailing through all the information in here since starting up my marine tank a few months back.  I have read many things but can't seem to locate an answer to my specific query so I thought I'd drop you an email. <<OK.>> I have a 50g marine tank (have ordered a 150g tank, should be here in 2 weeks - great) with lots of live rock, sand, various corals (that so far E.T., my porcupine puffer, hasn't touched), sand sifting star fish, <<These guys quickly deplete DSB’s of available food, and starve in all but the largest systems :(.>> boxing shrimp, large snails and large hermits.  I have a power head and skimmer etc. which I have been told is more than ample for my set up (sorry can't be more specific, it's my partner who deals with the equipment of the tank).  I bought a velvet damsel (approx 4 months ago) he was fine, then a maroon clown (approx 3 months ago, he is just fabulous) and I now have E.T. a porcupine puffer (had him 3 weeks). <<I’m glad you order the 150-gallon; it will be a bare minimum.>> All are eating very well, get along great, E.T. sometimes follows the maroon around but he never attacks him and they are all living in perfect harmony.  Twice now the maroon has had small tears in his fins (prior to E.T. going in, both healed within a few days) and the damsel has never had anything wrong with him at all.  This morning I came downstairs and E.T. was blown up (no marks on him, he's eating, very very healthy fish, visited him at pet shop for 8 months before I finally purchased him and I know owner very well so he is definitely a healthy fish).  I took great precautions when adding him to tank not to make him puff up and am quite upset that he has now done this, further more the damsel has a nip out of his tail fin and the maroon has a tiny nip out of his tail.  I am totally confused.  What has scared E.T.?  Do these fish sometimes puff up for no reason? <<They have been known to puff to get attention, more specifically, food.  Perhaps a room or tank light going on too quickly, or being bugged by another fish.>> Nitrite fluctuates between 0 and 0.1, <<Should be 0 at ALL times.>> Nitrate is 7, PH 8.2, Temp is 24 degrees, Ammonia is 0, salt is fine so all the water parameters are ok. <<What does fine mean? What’s the SG?>> My theory is that I have something nasty in the tank like a mantis shrimp or something (not that I have heard one and I have been listening) and it spooked E.T. and it has had a go at my maroon and damsel. <<A better bet is that E.T. is fine, and that the Maroon and Damsel are at each other.>> My partner thinks I've lost the plot and that E.T. has nipped the other 2. <<Could be.>> But I read on the web pages that the puffer would leave round holes?  The puffer is approx. 5-6 inches, maroon & clown approx. 3 inches.  I also noticed yesterday that the puffer would swim and then sort of twitch, the damsel also did this once or twice and I have noticed they do this every now and again.  Is this normal, do you think I have healthy fish? <<Did you quarantine them all before introduction?>> Did E.T. puff up just for the fun of it? <<Possibly. The fact of the matter is that you have a horribly under housed puffer and damsels.  I wouldn’t worry too much at this point.  Be sure to QT them before you introduce them to the 150-gallon, in which they will be much happier.>> I have a blue nighttime tube that I put on and I did notice a really long brown coloured bristle worm, could this be the culprit? <<Another possibility.>> Everyone is eating well and showing no signs of stress; they all have good colour no marks except the above and happily cruise around the tank.  The maroon has taken to a nice long polyp coral, damsel has claimed the large leather as his favourite hang out place and E.T. just cruises around looking for critters in the rocks. I am feeding the maroon and damsel on flakes soaked in garlic although they do steal scraps from the puffer.  E.T. gets cooked mussels, squid, prawns, peas, frozen shrimp and some kind of small frozen silver fish from the FS soaked in garlic and vitamins. <<Silversides.  I would limit these.>>   Do I need to worry about his jaw?  I can't find anything to feed him on that's crunchy. <<Try to only pry the shellfish open slightly, so he has to crack them.>> How much should I feed him? <<Until his belly is slightly rounded.>> He currently gets 1/2 a fish and 2 shrimp or 1 large cooked mussel and 2 peas every other day.  Is this enough? This is what the guy at the FS has been feeding him on for 8 months (minus the peas, I added them after reading your archives lol). Any knowledge you can share would be hugely appreciated, am I just being neurotic and fish just get damaged fins once in a while and I should stop worrying? Many thanks Angela <<Glad to help. 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> Porcupine Puffers Deaths  12/18/05 <Hi Brian, If you could do us a favor , should you write in again please do not use caps lock when typing. All caps are difficult to read.> I HAVE A 175 GALLON TANK AND HAVE A VARIETY OF FISH AND ALL IN ALL HAVE HAD GOOD LUCK KEEPING THEM HAPPY AND HEALTHY. MY ONLY PROBLEM IS I HAVE GONE THROUGH 4 PORCUPINE PUFFERS. <Oh what a bummer, I am so sorry.> NO MATTER WHAT I DO THEY ONLY LAST BETWEEN 2 AND 5 WEEKS. I'VE BOUGHT 2 JUVENILES AND 2 MEDIUM SIZED ONES ALL ON SEPARATE OCCASIONS AND ONLY KEEPING ONE AT A TIME. I HAVE READ THESE FISH ARE A FISH THAT ARE SUPPOSE TO LAST A LONG TIME, BUT I CAN'T BELIEVE IT WITH MY LUCK. I HAVE HAD MY WATER TESTED AT THE LFS AND IT ALWAYS COMES BACK NORMAL. IS THIS JUST A SPRING OF BAD LUCK? UNHEALTHY FISH FROM THE STORE, OR IS THERE SOMETHING SPECIAL I NEED TO DO TO KEEP THESE FISH GOING? <Sounds like some bad luck coupled with unhealthy fish, fish that suffered some stress during transit or perhaps poor conditions at the LFS. They are typically a hearty fish. It would, in the future be helpful to know what other fish you have in the tank as well as the numerical values of your water parameters and maybe what you are feeding.> I BOUGHT ANOTHER PUFFER FROM A DIFFERENT STORE TODAY AND I AM HOPING THIS ONE WILL SURVIVE. <I hope so as well. Trying a different shop was a good idea.> IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN SUGGEST TO ENSURE THE SURVIVAL OF MY PUFFER. <Make sure you have plenty of safe places like caves or appropriately sized nooks and crannies for your new Puffer to seek refuge until he is comfortable in his new environment, be sure none of the other established fish are picking on or pestering him, feed a nutritious diet and maintain a stable environment.  If you are not successful with this 5th puffer I would suggest you take a break from trying to add this particular species for a while. Perhaps there is some sort of a problem with the import of this species right now. Should you decide to try this fish again in the future be sure you choose a healthy specimen, one that is active and eating well at the LFS, without any obvious signs of disease.> THANKS, BRIAN <You're welcome and best of luck with this newest puffer, Leslie>

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

Re: Unasked /Unanswered Question @ porcupine puffer 8/14/05 Thank you so much for your quick reply!!!! I will visit the site you indicated in your e-mail, and am hoping that Salty will continue to grow in his larger digs. Thanks again for your speedy !! Sincerely, Jen Mack <Welcome. BobF>

New Porcupine Puffer Help - Snatch the Pebble From my Hand I have a concern for my new porcupine puffer fish I recently received.  After acclimation, and for the first two days, the puffer fish seemed happy, floating and swimming near the top of the water, looking very active and mobile. But he seemed not to want to eat any of the dry or cubed food products.  After the third day, I got him some guppies and white shrimp. He devoured the shrimp like there was no tomorrow.  In fact, I worry he over ate since he is just a baby (about 2 1/2 inches) and he ate at least 9 shrimps. His back got plotted (a bump on it) and I swear I saw him throw up once. <Surprised?> He has been laying on the bottom of the tank since, breathing very slowly, and looking lethargic. <Still surprised?> After a day, the bump as gone down a little, and I think I also saw him spit out a rock (the day after he ate). He is still laying on the bottom and moving around very little. Did he just over eat and maybe he will get better? <What do you think?> Is there something seriously wrong with him? <Unlikely> How long until I try to feed him again, and with what? <Please read on WWM re...> Please help with any advise, I really don/t want to loose this fish. <Loose or lose?> Thank you, Santos P. <Study Santos, study... all is revealed... on WWM. Bob Fenner> 

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

Puffer Lockjaw - rough prognosis 1/30/05 I don't want to repeat what you have answered many times on the website already, but I'd was hoping you had an update on your research. Magnus has replied to a few people with Puffers with Lockjaw and said he, along with others, were doing some serious research in to the issue. <Anthony Calfo in your service> Mine is swimming and acting as normal. Goes to eat the food (gets excited as always) but seems to either not get quite close enough (like he's mis-judged it) or swims in to it, but doesn't open his mouth to eat, then spits the food away. I've also seem him "shake" as he tried to work open his mouth. I'm trying iodine and I've upped the vitamins I'm adding to the tank (I always add some vitamins to his food). <believe it or not... try thawed frozen peas too... many Tetraodontiformes love them> Water quality is generally very good and has been for 18 months upwards, with 0 Ammonia, 0 nitrite and nitrates varying from 20 to 40. Skimming all the time, varied diet of krill, Mysis, cockles, muscles, silver side and prawns. Tried other foods, but he's quite fussy ;-) I'm worried I'm going to have to force feed him, <this may be necessary> But I would like to know if you guys have come across any other treatment or husbandry that might help him (or if you think it may in fact be something else)? His teeth seem OK so I don't think it's this as a problem and he ate normally a few days ago. I'm going to do some water changes and cross all my fingers! Thanks in advance for any additional advice you may be able to offer. Best Regards, Andy <you did not mention much here my friend (puffer age/captivity, species, etc.) so I am going to have to make some inferences. After consulting with puffer "expert" and WWM friend Kelly Jedlicki, she stated what we have feared and hear of so commonly. Lockjaw has a very poor prognosis and is caused by an extended period of neglect in the diet (dietary deficiency... extremely common with Porcupine puffers allowed to eat krill as a majority of the staple - is this your species/situation too?). It takes many months of a limited diet to cause this (sometimes years), and is not something that can be corrected quickly. In fact, once puffers get to this point, few survive without drastic measures (force feeding). Do keep in mind too, that your puffer is not necessarily a picky feeder by preference... stress of inappropriate tankmates, worms/sickness on (new) imports, etc. can lead the fish to train you/us as aquarists into feeding only limited fave foods. But this is not acceptable... like children, my friend... they will play you <G>. To prevent this in the future, the easiest thing may be to make a prepared frozen food mix/slurry. Bob (Fenner) has recipes in his book/our archives and others abound on the web. Mix in a wide variety of meats, greens and vitamins... add B12 and fresh garlic juice (you squeeze) for an appetite stimulant, and include whatever favorite prey your fishy likes (often krill). Make it chunky enough for healthy feeders to eat without much mess... and blend some (puree) for force-feeding these next few weeks on the sick individual. Consult a local vet for force feeding advice and equipment (plunging syringe, soft tubing, etc). There may also be some other good puffer advice on www.lmas.org under articles. Please do update us with your results too. I wish you the very best of luck!>

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> Porcupine puffer Hi there guys! <Hi! Ananda here today...> I have been researching for days over our Porcupine Puffer, "Molly" we call her. I find your articles so very helpful & seems to be the first place I turn to research. <Glad to be of service.> Anyway, I cannot seem to find info. on our particular problem.... we have had the puffer about one month & she is about 2" in size. She is in our 60 gallon tank with a Naso Tang, a Yellow-Tail Damsel, a tiny Picasso Trigger & a Mantis Shrimp that lives in our live rock (hitchhiker!), all water tests are fine as they should be, temp. at 78 & lots of copepods. <Yowza. Hope you have a much bigger tank planned; both the Naso and the puffer could use 240 or more gallons as adults.> We recently lost a Clown Trigger to some disease we didn't catch early enough (a deadly fungus?). Over the past week or so, the puffer is breathing very heavily as though she is always gasping for air. She used to be an active swimmer & is now sleeping 80% of the day. Swims a little more at night & is still eating well. One of her eyes is a little cloudy & a few of her fins are frayed.  <Water quality alert. Poor water quality is the biggest single cause of cloudy eyes. Get some saltwater ready for a water change and do one tomorrow.> No visible signs of Ich, etc. but some gray shading around her mouth that has always been evident. We had treated the tank with Green-Ex (Malachite Green) & recently found that it is harmful to scaleless fish. :(  <And to live rock, inverts of all sorts... your live rock is quite likely dead rock now. That would explain the poor water quality: your biological filtration is shot.> We are stumped as to what this could be & just want to treat correctly. <I would start with fresh activated carbon and several largish water changes. If you've got significantly measurable ammonia, a 40% water change is not unreasonable.> Also, have read several different articles about FW dips with Maracyn 2 & Formalin, can you tell which is better to use, or the diff. between the two? <They are two totally different medications. I've never heard of doing a freshwater dip with Maracyn 2. Formalin will probably not help the puffer any... and may make things worse.> Also, do all Porcupine Puffers have teeth? <Yup, the better to crush corals and crustaceans with! Hmmm... make that "crush-staceans", perhaps? ;-) > There is a porcupine puffer at the LFS with a huge set of teeth (look like dentures! ha!) and "Mollie's" teeth are almost invisible. <Sounds like the one at the store is not getting a sufficient quantity of hard-shelled foods.> Sorry for the LONG e-mail, <Truthfully, I would have preferred an even longer one: one including all of the water parameters of the tank.> We are at a loss as to what to do & we just adore her. Thanks so much again- The Gilmores <Repeat after me: The solution to pollution is dilution. Now go get that water mixing. :-) If pristine water quality does not improve the situation significantly, I would put the puffer in a hospital tank and treat her with a good, broad-spectrum antibiotic. My preference in this case would be Kanamycin. --Ananda> 

Porcupine Puffer II Hi Ananda - thanks so much for the quick response! It was great to hear from you & get so much knowledge at the same time. <Hi, and thank you!> Came home for lunch today (after original e-mail) & our puffer was swimming about more than before. However, I did notice that the Picasso Trigger (who is much smaller than the puffer) was picking on her. She nipped him right back & they were fine. Thought this may be a cause of stress. <Sounds like a fairly typical dominance issue -- keep an eye on the trigger so it doesn't get too aggressive.> We had done a water change (about 30%) last night & just tested the water. Parameters are as follows as we speak: Temp still at 78, Nitrite 0ppm, pH 8.2, Nitrate 20ppm with liquid drop type test by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals & 0ppm with "Dry Tabs" (the pill style) and Ammonia 0ppm.  <You might want to invest in a higher-grade nitrate kit. SeaChem, Salifert, and LaMotte should give you more accurate results than either of the ones you have.> We also added carbon to our filters last night with the water change, this had been removed for medication treatments. (We have 2 Fluval 304 Canister Filters). <While I know many people who dislike using canister filters of any sort on marine tanks, I do realize they can be useful as carbon holders!> Sorry if I had confused you with the question of Maracyn 2 vs. Formalin - meant to say Methylene Blue. I apologize! <Ah. No problem. As I understand it, Methylene blue is used in freshwater dips in part to increase the oxygen saturation of the water. It's also an anti-fungal. Formalin is used for parasites on the skin and gills, but not if the fish has open sores on its skin.> What is Kanamycin & what does it treat for?  <Kanamycin is a wide-spectrum antibiotic, and is useful for treating fin rot when that is caused by bacteria. It can be used to treat a variety of things.> Also, we have Copepods in our tank that appear randomly. I also noticed that there are smaller (than copepods) white worm-like critters stuck on the sides of the acrylic with the copepods, they seem to be longer & move about more squirmishly than the copepods that sort of jump. They are grouped around what appear to be small eggs in groups of about 10-15 (again, small & white, but round little eggs). They are much smaller than the copepods as I have to look at them with a magnifying glass & they do not appear to have any sort of legs or "antennas" as I call them like the copepods. Any ideas? Wish I could get you a picture, but they are entirely too small. Have only noticed them on the sides of the tank & my fear is that this is some sort of parasite. <Hoo boy, I'm gonna bail on this one.... will put this back in the queue for someone else to answer this part.> About the tank, we do have a larger tank planned, as the fish grow over time. We have been looking at 300+ gallon tanks. <I am delighted to hear that.> We have seen some large puffers! She tends to love guppies (gold fish) and krill occasionally. <Eh, skip the feeder fish, which are frequently diseased. Ghost shrimp are cheaper (or they should be) and carry fewer parasites that can be passed on to the fish that eat them. But do not get any ghost shrimp that has what looks like a white thread in its body; that's a parasite.? She will eat anything that moves <Wow. Some people get fussy puffers. You got lucky. Check the dailies, too, for a post about "Pig Boy" the Diodon histrix (the "big sibling" species to D. holocanthus!).> & we try to get her to eat a variety of foods like live brine shrimp, ghost shrimp, squid, etc. <Live brine are fish junk food -- I'd save them for an occasional treat, or for an appetizer if she decides to go on a fast.> Again, can't thank you enough, hope to hear from you soon! The Gilmores & Molly <Best wishes to both of you and Molly and your other fine finned friends. --Ananda> 

Porcupine Puffer III Hello again Ananda- Thanks for your quick e-mail, so relieving to have such fast feedback! We will invest in a higher-grade test kit for nitrate. This morning the Trigger picked on the puffer a little more, so I divided the tank (our acrylic is a 60 with 2 tubes through the middle) to he couldn't get to her. She did not swim much at all this morning & when she did it seemed difficult for her. <Any toxins that may have gotten to the tank recently? Cleaners, insecticides, smoke, or anything chemical might well affect the puffer before the others...> She was still breathing heavily - I will go today & pick up some Kanamycin. Do you suggest we treat her in a tank with this, or with a dip? <In a hospital tank. If you don't have one already, you might want to pick up a 20 gallon "long" tank for the purpose.> We are sure hoping she pulls through. <Me, too!.> You have been such a great help. Thanks for putting the e-mail back into queue on the "critters". That will help a great deal. Have a wonderful day, The Gilmores. <Best wishes to you and your fishes.... --Ananda> 

Porcupine Puffer IV Hello again. No chemicals, that we can think of. We don't smoke, so that's not a possibility. Not sure. We do have a 10 gallon QT tank, but water is not testing to be very high in quality. We can take water from the show tank to fill it. <Perhaps 3/4 from the show tank, 1/4 fresher stuff...> We keep a 60 gallon Rubbermaid in the garage with Pre-Mixed salt for water changes, etc. Could this be the culprit if the water were bad? It stays tightly sealed with a lid. <It's possible, especially if it isn't one of the food-safe colors. From one of the forum veterans: "The Rubbermaid Brute in gray, white, or yellow is USDA food safe. The red and dark blue are not. Anything else according to Rubbermaid can/will leach plastic nasties into the water after a week or two. The 32 gallon can and lid is P/N #2632 and #2631. They also have a 44 gallon version. Check out this link for the scoop. http://www.rcpworksmarter.com/rcp/products/detail.jsp?rcpNum=2632 http://www.rcpworksmarter.com/rcp/products/detail.jsp?rcpNum=2631 She was breathing a little better at lunch, just resting on the bottom of the tank. <Another possibility that has come to mind is how oxygen-saturated or oxygen-deprived your water might be. I'm hoping you have a good protein skimmer? Do you have anything else that aerates the water?> Have a great rest of your day! <You, too! --Ananda> 

Puffer 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>

Masked Puffer  <These are very impressive fish. Their scientific name is Arothron diadematus. Sometimes the common dog-face puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus ) is sold as panda puffers due to some dog-faces having the black marking around their face. The Panda Puffer can get between 8-10 inches in the home aquaria depending on the diet and the tank provided. In the wild they get over a foot long. Very nice fish and a favorite of many people. Good luck with the puffer! -Magnus>

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>

Sex of Diodon holocanthus I just purchased a puffer fish (Diodon holocanthus) and he/she is about 4 inches. How can I tell what her/his gender is? <Hi Heather,  It's a question that is asked all the time, but sadly we don't have an answer for.  None of the experts in the Puffer Community have figured out a way to tell the sex of a holocanthus (Common Porcupine Puffer).  There are many rumors around it...  the spots on the body, the length of the spines on the forehead, the ratio of the size of the eyes to the body...  All of these ideas sound like it could be something... but sadly there really isn't any way to know for sure, outside of having it checked with blood sample at a lab.  Which I'm quite sure could be done, but the cost would be rather high.  out of the 150+ species of puffer around the world (from freshwater to Marine) there are only a handful of them that actually show Sexual Dimorphism (males females look different).  Almost all are found in the freshwater species.  Wish there was a way to tell exactly, but as it stands now it's just a guess.  Thanks -Magnus>

Porcupine Fish H.S. paper To Whom It May Concern: My name is Keith Tanaka and I am a sophomore at Calaveras High School.  I am researching the porcupine fish and would like to know more about them. <Hi Keith, Pufferpunk here.  Puffers are my favorite fish.  I hope to own a porky someday!> 1.  How many eggs does a porcupine fish lay? 2.  Is there any interesting facts about the porcupine fish? 3.  What is the life span of the porcupine fish? 4.  Is there an exact amount of spines on the porcupine fish? 5.  Are the spines on the porcupine fish hard? If so, how hard are they? 6.  How do porcupine fish kill their prey? <I think you will find this article helpful to your research: http://www.reefnut.com/Puffer%20Article.htm> Thank you in advance for your help with my research.  I can be reached by e-mail at XXXX@jps.net. Sincerely, Keith Tanaka <Good luck--Pufferpunk>

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

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

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>

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

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

Burrfish I.D. Your website is incredible-just love it. <Thank you! Ronni here today> I bought a Burrfish yesterday that was sold as a Webb Burr Puffer (further stirring the pot 'o confusion) and after looking and looking around the internet, I just cannot determine if it is a striped Burrfish or a Web Burrfish.  I keep seeing different pics on the web which are completely contradictory.  Hooty's stripes are vertical down the length of his body, not horizontal across his head and he does have the occasional yellow ringed, black circle and two (devil's) horns. He's quite sharp in tan and khaki.   <Hooty does indeed sound like a Web Burrfish. Go to http://www.fishbase.org and search for “Web Burrfish” to compare him to the photo there.> I have had him 24 hours now and we continue to be on a hunger strike even though water conditions are perfect and he was offered shrimp and zooplankton.....just a battle of the wits that I'm currently losing.   <Not uncommon at all for the first few days. I would assume that by now (3/26) he has begun to eat?> Being new at this I hope this question doesn't invoke a resounding belly laugh from the masses.  Thanks-Julie <Nope, no laughs! Some of the fishes look so similar that even the experts have trouble telling them apart! Have a great one! Ronni>

Re: Burrfish I.D. Thanks so much for your help and.......HE'S EATING!!!!  ...like a little pig.   <You’re very welcome. It seems like Puffers never want to quit eating!> He's lovin' the krill and takes it right from my fingertips!  Ummm, are they "supposed" to spit water??  He saw me standing by his tank this morning and I swear he spit water at me!   <Some fish will do this as a playful gesture. Sometimes it’s a sign of stress but not in this case, he was just saying “Hello, feed me now!”> Anyhoo, is it safe to put a porcupine puffer in with Hooty?   <Probably not. It’s best to only have one puffer to a tank.> And, what kind of cleaner upper can I put in his tank that he won't be tempted to consume?   <He’s probably going to eat most any shrimp or crab that you put in the tank. He might leave some of the starfish alone, particularly the brittle stars.> Thank you again!!!-Julie <You're welcome! Ronni>

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>

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

Diodon holocanthus eating problem Hello, I think this question is for Bob Fenner: <Okay> I live in Boston and have a 55 gallon saltwater tank with a yellow tang, two white damsels and a pufferfish, Balloonfish, or whatever it should be called... it's a Diodon holocanthus. <All these names apply> About 5 days ago, the fish suddenly stopped being able to eat. I suspect it happened immediately after mortally wounding a third damsel which had been in the tank since before we got him, about 5 years ago. We had been told the damsels would get eaten immediately, but they didn't. It seems as if the puffer suddenly doesn't have any "suction" in his mouth to be able to bring in the food the way he always has.  "He" (ok, we don't know his sex) really wants to eat it, and will chase it, but gets very discouraged when he can't get it into his mouth. He normally eats frozen krill and silversides with occasional tuffies, maybe twice a month. I have checked the water temp, salinity and chemistry - all good. There isn't any unusual algae growth in the tank. One other unusual event has happened: about two or three weeks ago he appears to have eaten a leg off of a chocolate chip starfish who had lived in the tank at least two years. Starfish was isolated in our pet store, but subsequently died. <Puffers do eat seastars in the wild... A very large Diodon sp. bit the leg off a Blue Linckia in front of me once... I was impressed> I have read that sometimes these fish can have their teeth become overgrown. They look much the same as always to me. Could this problem become aggravated so suddenly? <No, not suddenly> He has never seemed to have a jaw problem before. Or could he have "popped" his jaw out of joint while chasing the fish? Maybe by hitting the glass too hard? He hasn't puffed in a long while but could this cause a jaw to pop back into joint? <These are possibilities... as is something getting "stuck" in its throat, alimentary canal.> I am extremely worried. I know he can fast for several weeks, but I don't see any good end to this. I have read about using an anesthetic, MS222, to drug him and then file down his teeth, which might be preventing him from biting his food. I am understandably concerned about doing this, as I have no experience in doing surgery on fish. Does this have to be done underwater? Could you write a more complete description of the process. <Could but would rather not... encourage you at this point. There is a very large chance/probability that your puffer will spontaneously recover... instead of the trauma, potential damage from handling.> I see that a few people have written in about a similar subject, but I haven't seen any follow-ups with their results - good or bad. Have you had feedback? <A good deal. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Alex Kates

Porcupine Puffer Hi there. I'm new here and will make my question quick. I have a brand new 3 inch (or so) puffer. He is not very aggressive with his food. Eventually finds the live ghost shrimp, tries to eat it and isn't fast enough. He then gives up. I'm only concerned because he is so skinny. Also, can you really hold a puffer fish and force feed it? Thanks, Alix :) <Hi Alix, Please go to this site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm and find your puffer and it's care, water conditions, feeding etc. Follow all of the links to narrow it down. Do make sure he is in the proper water.....this is a common problem. Everything you need to know is here! Craig>

Porcupine Puffer Hey Bob I would like to thank you add your staff on a great job you guys do there. I have purchased a porcupine puffer he's about 3 in now cool fish. <How big is your tank and how's your filtration? The smallest porcupine is 11"...> The guy at the LFS feed him silversides so Ii purchased them too I have read your faq page on them. I feed him once a day 2 silver sides thawed I feed him some scallops to change up his diet but only once a day sufficient for this fish? We have added 6 turbo snails to the tank I was hoping he would much some of them to keep his teeth worn shows no interest in them. I'm going to add some hermit crabs I just don't want those teeth to get too big. Are there foods we can offer to him that would aid in doing this? How about not thawing the silversides would that work? <VERY BAD idea. Can you eat frozen food?> Just looking for preventive maintenance so to say lol thank and keep up the good work guys. <Please go to this page for Puffer care and correct diet. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm Also, look up the fish you have, they range from 11" up to 36" or so, you may need to get a bigger tank..... Have you seen "A Little Shop of Horrors"? Craig>

Re: porcupine puffer Craig I have him in a 55 gallon tank with a wet/dry filter and a 150gallon tank on stand by which will be up and running in 4 months. Need to build stand and filter for it still. Could I feed him whole shrimp with the shells on them? Would those help keep them teeth worn down and if so how often?  <Please go to this page for Puffer care and *correct diet*. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/puffers.htm> Do you think I should purchase a cheap protein skimmer for that 55 tank, he is a messy eater. I'm going to buy a nautilus te for the 150 but don't have the money yet to put it in the 55 but could pick up a cheap 15 dollar one with airstone, or don't waste the money. Thanks for the quick reply. <I would get the bigger tank and skimmer together as you can and make water changes and stay after the loose food in the meantime. The web page above has more on feeding, how often, etc. I'm glad you have a 150 to move to, slow down on the feeding or you will need it sooner than later! Have fun! Craig>

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

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

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

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>

Burrfish, Spiny Boxfish, etc. (Note: make corr.) Hello Bob; I read your Burrfish article in the September 2002 FAMA with interest. I have a question regarding the identifications attached to the photos. <Thank you for this> You identify photos 54 and 55 as Chilomycterus antillarum, the Web Burrfish. The photos so identified appear to me to actually be C. schoepfi, the Striped Burrfish. <I think you're right... just looked via fishbase, Google images...> I am very familiar with these fish, having collected hundreds of them over the past three decades here in New Jersey, during late summer and early fall. They are one of he more common Gulf Stream tropical strays, and make interesting aquarium inhabitants. I presently have a 30mm specimen that I collected last month, when it was about half this size. It shares a 50 gal. aquarium with a couple of Lookdowns and other locally collected fish. It's a great little fish, totally tame, and willing to eat almost anything.  <Good input> The fish that I know as the Webbed Burrfish, C antillarum, is not included in your article's photos. I have seen them often while collecting in seagrass beds in the Caribbean, but not up here. These fish have a much finer pattern of interlocking tiny hexagons, giving the appearance of a net, or web. I know taxonomy is a confusing area, with constantly shifting reclassifications. For example, I did not know that the Striped Burrfish (schoepfi) had been placed in a new genus. Nevertheless, I suspect that there may be a problem with the photo id in the article. <Indeed> I have enjoyed reading your many contributions over the years. I have been in this hobby since the 1960s, and have seen many changes. I look forward to hearing from you. Best regards, John  <Thank you for this correction and useful husbandry information John. Will update the id on the morrow. Bob Fenner>

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


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