I'm just starting my homework on these and dont plan to get one until I've learnt enough on them. I have a 90l tank to spare for the puffer, would that be big enough? what type can I get for this tank? (i know nothing at this stage about puffers). is there any special filtration I would need? would I need a skimmer for the tank? is the tank heated? can I have plants in there with the fish? are puffers best kept on their own or do they need company? any info you have would be greatly appreciated
There are a few species suitable for that sized tank, figure of eight puffers, dwarf puffers etc,and choices do have to be made carefully, some puffers are true freshwater , some require brackish, and some graduate from brackish to full marine and those especially are woth avoiding. In addition theres a few other important things to take note of. First they are all predators -all of them, and all are horrific fin nippers though they dont always get to it immediately, and all are territorial to at least a degree, and often completely, usually the smallest are the least territorial. Ultimately they are never community fish. Most will need snails and whole shellfish in the diet or every 4 to 6 months youll end up clipping their teeth or they starve to death when they overgrow. Its not a nice procedure and takes a really deft touch to perform it successfully. Dwarf puffers are the exception, most dont need their teeth clipped, but nearly all the others will unless their diet is superbly catered for. Not easy when you consider many of them get food recognition issues.
Brackish setups can be run exactly as freshwater ones, except that attention has to be given in keeping the nitrate level lower, and of course salt has to be added, and filters should be marine rated (ie- no steel parts in contact with water on corrosion issues), but skimmers are not needed for brackish and freshwater puffers - just excellent filtratiion levels with decent sized amounts of bacterial media and while its desireable to overfilter, flow must be prevented from stressing the puffers , most are not strong swimmers and prefer almost still water. Also careful measuring of salts is pretty important.
For the first timer i'd recommend Carinotetraodon travancoricus, gives you a chance to get used to their ways in freshwater, with the advantages of plant cover and being able to have a trio or so in a 20 gal tank without the trauma of beak control and salt management.Even so, treat them as non-community fish, no matter what others recommend, before trying out the vastly more intelligent, and much harder to cope with larger species. Lots of the bigger ones get issues with stereotypical behaviour, ritualised swimming, eye abrasion, and of course the aggression level is usually much more severe.
Puffers are amazing fish, some of the most interesting aquarium fish around, but not really for the beginner. Only take on the larger brackish species if your up for a real challenge and have the available cash to solve problems, the first of which to look into are diet variety, water control, and life enrichment. Bored puffers tend to go completely mental, and suffer badly, often wane and get behavioural issues. Most puffers are antisocial, and even those that can live together must be given escape room. For a tiny dwarf puffer 20 gal has some escape room, so perhaps think about those. The larger species could kill each other in 20 gals easily.
That's super LHG - thank you No-one is going to be sharing with the puffers, the lads I have at the moment are shortly going to be moving into their 300l tank. I was thinking of leaving the setup as it is at the moment though (plenty of live plants and bogwood), would these be suitable in brackish water? would they even survive? I'm ideally after a puffer that looks nice and square like a puffer (sorry if that sounds a bit shallow ) would a fluval filter be suitable?(as the 205 is also going to be going spare shortly too)
i have had my f8 puff tank running for about 4 months now and its doing fairly well plants are doing well and only have had 1 die on me my f8s are fine with the b/b gobies and 3 mollies for the algea be care full what brackish puff u choose as lots will require going full marine when older
1 thing i will say is the importance off over filtration as the are mesy little buggers at feeding time and crap goes everywhere , u can have to much in my eyes in my 400l tank i have the stock internal running which has a 600l hour pump in it and an aqua 1 cf1200 which does 1200l hour
orca tl 550 ,18kg live rock FILTRATION : v2 nano skimmer , carbon/rowaphos/purigen , poly filter , nano power head and korralia 1 CuC : 5 turbo`s , red legged hermies , STOCK : 1 safron goby/pistol shr
I've been looking at photos of the f8 puffers online, they do have their own cute little personalities dont they? lol
Now a couple of dumb questions: if I use the fluval 205 filter, do I need to recycle the tank? and am I able to use the same media or media types? (if I need to recycle), and possibly the dumbest question is about the salt, is it aquarium salt or marine salt I need to use (is there any difference?) the shellfish they eat, does that need to be shell on and does it have to be purchased fresh or would frozen (and defrosted suffice)? also does it have to be pet grade or is human grade good enough (I wouldnt have a clue where to buy pet grade btw, so if you can let me know if it is)
Tank must be cycled, but not recycled especially unless it has uncycled. All you do is start adding salt and aim for less than half the level of salinity of marine water. Most brackish puffers wioll be subject to estarine lifestyles and you dont have to be massively precise about it, fluctuation is normal with tides, bores, and rains, and in actual fact you can get by with quite a low level of salt.1 tablespoon per 35l or less is usually near enough. Wouldnt go over 2 spoons. The salt used is marine salt, rather than treatment or conditioning salt.
The fluval 205 will do, its rated for 200l if memory serves, and as long as you have a spraybar it should be ok.
Preferably get them used to shellfish and shrimp with the shell on, and of course snails , whole and unshelled. You want that tooth erosion to be a constant factor in their lives, you can buy frozen packs in most stores that carry marines, and you can order them online. They will take shelled of course, and wormy foods too, but the sooner you get them cracking their own foods open the less trouble youll have. Now another thing to remember is that snails and shellfish when alive are probably one of the no1 vectors for parasite transmission, so frozen is actually better.They are often the first stage host and the puffer will be the second or third stage host, and many puffers do get heavily parasitised, so frozen and gamma irradiated foods will be safest, and the sooner you can wean puffers onto them the better, when they get used to live, its very hard to get them to take dead. Some take anything, but most puffers are prepared to go on hunger strike if not getting the livefoods they prefer, so I would always ask someone in the shop to feed the fish, and buy only fish that eat, and preferably are already taking dead food. Starvation is not an uncommon cause of death in puffer circles.
BTW you dont have to defrost food for puffers, sometimes taking them frozen is an advantage, crunchy food means more tooth wear and less problems. Watching a puffer crunch up a frozen cockle you couldnt break if you stamped on it is quite something.
Obviously when doing that, dont offer lots at a time, dont want a fish to get a chilled gut, not that its the major panic worthy problem that most keepers think it is, mine eat still frozen foods all the time, many species, hundreds of specimens, but one at a time over a few minutes is fine.
You can buy em in fresh and freeze em yourself, but it helps if they are a properly produced commercial fishfood deliberately made and stored in a way that kills most parasites.The diet doesnt have to be entirely shellfish, you can give them earthworms, tubifex and bloodworm when small, bits of prawn and sometimes bits of fish, but the sooner you get them used to crunching up the shells the less problems you get, and it counts as enrichment.
For treats you can even pop off to the supermarket and see what shellfish they have on the fish counter,mussels, clams, cockles,oysters,various crays and shrimp, to a puffer a shrimp leg makes a good crunchy meal, but id still freeze what I bought before giving it to the puffers in order to kill threadworms and others, though it might still not get all the worm eggs. Gammarus, and other amphipods will go down the hatch too, so if you know someone with a koi pond and a filter full of em, might well be worth a go. Some people breed their own amano and ghost shrimp to give to puffers too, though generally its not a great idea to buy in lots to give the puffers, again because of transmission issues. Its not worth keeping slive shellfish around unless you are capable of feeding them, they will start to lose their own calories nd become nutrient depleted. If you were to give you puffer live ones,(though personally I wouldnt unless it was really starving and seriously wouldnt accept dead food) youd still freeze the ones it didnt eat the same day.
Lot of puffers fed large amounts of mycid shrimp get nutritional problems, so watch for that. Keep the diet as varied as possible.
Suppose I should also mention that many puffers you will see in shops will be critically underweight, many is the time i've gone into shops of even good repute and seen a load of fish that are absolutely fine, but the puffers looking horrific. Now a puffer guru or your friendly neighbourhood disease advisor might be able to turn one of those poor unfortunates around, get them mentally stabilised, deparisitised, and ultimately still win the battle to get them onto dead foods , dont assume you can do the same trick. Dont take on a skinny puffer if its your first time.
Giving a stressed non feeding puffer the will to live again and undo all the malnutrition is a hell of a task, as hard as anything in the freshwater and brackish field, so do check they will feed in the shop, look for nice clear eyes,very scratched eyes are often a sign of some very bad stereotypical behaviour, and that the puffer usually desperately needs a massively larger aquarium and is in dire if not life threatening need of some life enrichment. No caved in bellies, no permanently clamped fins, and check that the teeth arent malformed into sharp vampire like points where the aperture wont open very wide ,and check that the puffer can actually close its lips. Not too many drift around looking like a gommo with their teeth hanging out without a reason.
Unless choosing one of the more sedentary species, avoid the ones that are very blanched showing poor pattern with clamped fins sitting on the bottom, they usually only do that when ill, or stressed to their limit. Its normal for puffers to rest on substrates, maybe even several times a day, but these little catnaps are usually short, when you see them all doing that for extended periods, you know something serious is up. Check the eyes are symmetrical and not swollen in proportion to the species norm.
All puffers in the brackish leagues are more susceptible to the slightest trace of poor water chemistry, and their eyes are the first place you see their water quality history, once your eye is in, its like reading a book. No strange lumps or bumps on the skin that may be enclosed metacarcaria of some truly serious parasites.
Half the battle is getting a puffer thats healthy in the first place, so familiarise yourself with the healthy look of your chosen species, and simply avoid any specimen that doesnt have it. In a couple of weeks a bad shop can basically kill a puffer, and leave you dealing with the legacy of that for months, feeling useless and getting nowhere. Specimen selection is everything.
Mood, feeding habits, condition, if any of the criteria is off, dont buy anything. If you see them in a group in an aquarium inevitably they will be taking the odd shot at each other, choose the dominant one, and the next one with least damage, preferably no damage. Not only will you probably get one of each sex, youll get the two most likely to achieve standoff, and give the ones in the shop a break.