Puffer fish are cute and unique-looking pet fish. They have a large round body which is covered with spines, but the spines are not always evident. But, when this fish puffs up the spines look very prominent. This fish have their fins sticking out, their heads are large, and with widely-spaced and usually mobile eyes. These fish have no scales and the gills are soft openings which are located close to the pectoral fins. Also, you will observe these fish have four teeth which are fused in the jaw. These fish mostly use the pectoral fins for moving, and sometimes the tail fin will be used when the puffer fish wants to move quickly when being chased around or in search of food.
These fish are not for the novice as a lot of maintenance is required to keep them. One needs to see that the water is changed regularly, the tank environment is kept clean, and the right amount and type of food is provided to the fish. Other things the owner needs to keep in mind is to keep an eye on is the saltwater fish disease, which this fish is prone to.
Tank & Water Requirements
The size of this fish can change from species to species. Also, you need to keep in mind the size of the fish when it grows up. Hence, buying the size of tank accordingly is a good idea. The species that you can consider are the green-spotted, dwarf, golden, pignose, and the amazon puffer.
After you have selected the species, you can take the right size of the tank. For a fish which is 12 inches the minimum requirement is 100 gallon tank. A standard is to change 50% of water every week.
Puffers love to eat, and they like a variety of foods too. They like to eat crustaceans so frozen meaty marine cubes and small pieces of fresh shrimp can also be provided. Once a week give the fish frozen herbivore foods. You can also give them snails, shellfish, and other small fish. Their teeth sometimes grow very long and giving them hard food will help to maintain good teeth health. However, if the teeth grow too long you will need to file them manually.
These fish tend to beg for tidbits, however to maintain good health avoid overfeeding the fish. Puffers which are under 2 inches should be fed daily, while mid-sized fish under 2 - 4 inches should be provided food every other day, and large fish over 4 inches should be given food 2 - 3 times a week. These fish are messy eaters, so you will have to clean the water frequently, a powerful filtration system will further help.
Avoid introducing any tank mates. However, keeping the same species in the tank is advisable. Puffers should be kept alone in a tank, as these fish can be quite aggressive. If you keep smaller fish, then they will become its dinner. However, if you keep larger fish, then the fish will nibble at their fins, so not keeping any tank mates is advisable.
These fish are famous for their puffing nature, especially the porcupine puffer fish which inflates and displays its long spines. However, the puffing up of the fish should be avoided at all costs. As the fish tend to puff up when they are in extreme stress, or when they are threatened by the predators. Having a puffer puffing can be very damaging to its health.
Hence, avoid puffing up of the fish. Also, when you are changing the tank water avoid using the net to transfer the fish. Use a plastic bag filled with little water and transfer the fish in it. When these fish are maintained well, you will love to have these fish as they recognize the owner and look forward to looking at their owners just like a puppy does!