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Home Lifestyle Freshwater Puffer Fish: Facts, Caring, Tankmates & More

Freshwater Puffer Fish: Facts, Caring, Tankmates & More

Did you know that there are 120 known pufferfish species in the world?

While many of these fantastic creatures reside in salty ocean waters, quite a number live in freshwater. The freshwater pufferfish are the focus of this article.

Once you set up an aquarium at home, you can search for some freshwater pufferfish species to add to it. They are exciting pets but require some care to thrive. One aspect that stands out is how the fish can inflate its whole body.

Not to mention, the freshwater pufferfish are impressionable. After some time, pufferfish can recognize you as an owner. You can notice excitement among them as you approach the tank.

What is Freshwater Puffer Fish?

Almost all the waters in the world are home to one or various species of pufferfish. However, the best ones you can have as pets are freshwater pufferfish. The fish are pretty appealing to look at and have a chubby body.

Since there are numerous species, expect to see a plethora of colors and patterns on their bodies. Not to mention, each species has a different way of hunting which is interesting to observe. Additionally, it’s worth noting that freshwater pufferfish can be highly poisonous and deadly.

Commonly, there are 30 freshwater pufferfish that you can choose among for your fish tank. Remember, once you settle on getting the species as pets, you can’t add any other fish species. Pufferfish can get territorial and aggressive, so they don’t play too well with others.

A common concern among pet owners is the poisonous trait of freshwater pufferfish. Luckily, not all are poisonous, and the venom only works in the wild. The fish doesn’t manufacture it but generates the poison due to bacteria it gathers in the wild.

Usually, the bacteria are from all the different items in their diet. That’s why it’s safe to feed them by hand when you keep the fish in a tank. The food they eat in captivity is different, which means your fish are free of toxins.

Types of Freshwater Puffer Fish You Can Keep as Pets

Now that you have a basic understanding of what freshwater pufferfish are, you can learn the main species.

Not all pufferfish species can be pets. The few that you can have in your fish tank include:

1. Amazon Puffer

The fish originates from the Amazon River and enjoys living in a group. You can keep a few in your fish tank but be ready for a challenge. It’s better to keep this freshwater pufferfish after you master how to care for them effectively.

Be sure to get a large aquarium since the species loves swimming around.

2. Nile Puffer

Imagine a freshwater puffer that can grow to 150cm. That’s the Nile puffer which requires a large fish tank. As it grows, it can learn to recognize you as the owner. But, ensure you have experience caring for puffers before you keep one at home.

3. Dwarf Puffer

As a beginner, try out the Dwarf freshwater pufferfish first. It’s by far the easiest to keep and care for in your fish tank. The species is relatively small. Adults only grow to 2.5cm and aren’t as aggressive.

Their calm demeanor means you can add other fish in the tank but watch how they relate first.

4. Red-eye Puffer

Red-eye freshwater pufferfish are available in 4 different species. While they share similarities with a dwarf puffer, they have distinctive red eyes. Another difference is the red-eye puffers are aggressive and better kept alone in a fish tank.

How to Keep Freshwater Puffer Fish as Pets

When you want to keep freshwater pufferfish at home, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, every pufferfish species need a specific fish tank size. You must know the species you want to get before setting up an aquarium.

Is the species small or large? A sizeable freshwater pufferfish like Nile puffer needs a giant aquarium. But, smaller ones like dwarf puffer can enjoy medium-sized aquariums.

The second point to note is the water salinity level. One of the most challenging facts about keeping freshwater pufferfish is getting the water right. Ensure the water doesn’t have salt in it before placing the fish. That means you need to test it first.

Third, check the temperament of each freshwater pufferfish before deciding on the type to keep. As a beginner, milder puffers like dwarf are suitable. They can co-exist with specific fish species and thrive. But, more aggressive ones like red-eye puffer need a tank of their own.

Once you master the three essential points above, you can proceed to set up your fish tank. Next, get some freshwater pufferfish and begin your hobby.

Only Buy Freshwater Puffer Fish from a Reputable Pet Store

Wild freshwater pufferfish can be unpredictable as they are not familiar with human contact. Find out more about reputable pet stores near you before you buy some. If possible, go to the store and have a look around.

Typically, the best stores have happy fish and other animals around. From the moment you enter, you can tell plenty about the store. Are there any fish floating dead in the tanks? That’s a sign of a negligent store owner. Also, the size and conditions of the fish tanks can be an eye-opening experience.

Not to mention how much knowledge the pet owner has about keeping freshwater pufferfish. As a beginner, find a store that can train you about the basics of caring for the fish. You can do some research online and see which store offers some classes.

After a few lessons, you can take home some dwarf freshwater pufferfish. Avoid stores that only want to sell the fish but don’t offer you any guidance. Also, note the pricing. Freshwater pufferfish are pricey so any store selling them cheap isn’t the best.

Inspect the Freshwater Puffer Fish for Saltwater Fish Disease

Saltwater fish disease (ICK) is a condition that affects many species of puffers. Signs of an infected fish include white spots on its fins. If you notice this, don’t buy it. Better yet, leave the store and search for another one near you.

Though the condition can be fatal, it’s possible to treat a sick freshwater pufferfish. Just make sure you don’t buy one with ICK since the stress of traveling can cause it to get worse.

Once you buy a pufferfish free from ICK, you can take it home. Just be sure you have some experience to help you give it the best care. Freshwater pufferfish are high-maintenance pets that can take up much of your time.

Setting Up the Best Freshwater Puffer Fish Tank

What size of freshwater pufferfish do you want to keep at home? The size of the fish plus their density determines the kind of aquarium you need. For smaller fish, you can start with a medium tank then upgrade it as they multiply.

But, for species like the Nile puffer, you need a large tank. Even when you want to keep members of the same species, space is crucial. The bigger freshwater Puffer Fish tend to be territorial. However, as a beginner, you can keep the gentler dwarf puffer as you gain more experience.

Therefore, inquire from your reputable pet store about the species they have and different tanks. The attendants can help you decide on the best one to buy.

Once you purchase a suitable fish tank, you need to set it up. At the bottom of the tank, you must place some gravel or pebbles.

After that, fill the tank with purified freshwater. Avoid tap water if you can, but you can use cleansers to remove impurities, ammonia, and other harmful particles in it. Ask for the cleansers from the fish tank distributor or pet store.

The third step is installing a filtration system. Remember, freshwater puffers need clean water to thrive. Moreover, you want to clear all the ammonia from the tank each day. The system brings in good bacteria to clean the water and even remove nitrogen.

Another essential filtration system that you need for the tank is to remove larger particles from the water. It’s placed outside the tank and keeps the water clean for your lovely puffers. Ask the pet store for the best brands and even do some research online. Most have reviews which can be an eye-opener.

Next, add lots of ornaments, plants, and large rocks to the tank. Small freshwater pufferfish want lots of places to hide in the tank. If they feel secure enough, they can spend lots of time in the open. Therefore, avoid leaving the tank bare.

Once more, the reputable pet store is your source for ornaments, plants, and other items to place in the tank. Be sure to consider the size of the tank before making a purchase. Freshwater pufferfish do love hiding spots but also need lots of room to swim around.

Succeeding the tank setup is choosing the correct location. Freshwater puffer fish want the water temperature to remain between 720F and 840F. Anything higher or lower than that can lead to fatalities. So you need to pick the right spot in the house and have a thermometer to check the temperature.

Finally, after setting up the tank, head back to the store and buy your freshwater pufferfish. Always avoid purchasing the fish before setting up a suitable habitat. The longer they stay in a bag, the more stress they endure.

So start by setting up the tank, then buy the fish. When you get home, check the water temperature. Afterward, place the bag on the water before releasing the freshwater pufferfish. It gives the fish ample time to acclimatize to the water in the tank. Release the fish after 20 minutes to their new home.

Feeding Routine for Your Freshwater Puffer Fish

Freshwater puffer fish require a specific diet to survive. These are omnivorous creatures that enjoy eating plants and smaller animals. Therefore, you can feed them a wide variety of foods.

The excellent news is freshwater pufferfish aren’t fussy eaters. They’ll chow down anything you put in the tank. So you can try out frozen or live feed. For instance, some live worms can be quite a delicacy. Also, you can throw in some frozen shrimp after its thaws.

One reason freshwater pufferfish require lots of care is that you must feed them three times a day. That means someone must be present to feed them at home. Consider this before purchasing some for your fish tank.

Moreover, they don’t like eating fish pellets or flakes. They only go for live or frozen foods. However, be sure only to feed it the amount it needs to avoid waste. Also, include some hard shells or foods to keep their teeth in tip-top shape.

Care Routine for the Freshwater Puffer Fish Tank

It would be best if you cleaned the freshwater pufferfish tank regularly. Each time, take out about 25% of the water every two weeks. Replace the water with purified or cleansed tap water.

Regular water change helps keep it free of nitrogen and ammonia that can harm the pufferfish. Also, you can see the fish better in clean water.

Summing Up

Freshwater pufferfish are great pets to keep at home. They have an endearing nature and can even communicate with you after some time. There are numerous species of freshwater pufferfish you can keep at home, but the best for beginners is the dwarf.

Before you buy some from a reputable pet store, do some research and get basic skills. After that, you can buy a fish tank and set it up. Make sure it’s the right size for the freshwater pufferfish.

Once you bring the fish home, you can feed them frozen and live feed. Also, ensure you clean the tank often to prevent the accumulation of nitrogen and ammonia.



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