Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

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Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby Silk » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:52 am

Ok, i've read lots of sites small descriptions on these little beauties, all of which state they are quite agressive and terratorial. I'm also interested in their behaviour, this sounds incredibly noobish, but do freshwater/tropical puffers puff?, i mean i understand they can grow quite large, but i'm curious if they actually puff. (not that it makes a difference, and i suppose if they did it would be a bad sign for their temprement/happiness).

Also to add a little more info, i'm hoping to not get any massive agressive fish, so unless i'm wrong the puffers will be the most agressive species, (possibly the Ghost Knifefish, which also seem to be moderatley aggressive following the LFS' guide.) and more or less smaller, schooling fish to make up the majority of the tanks population, various tetra and guppies with a pleco or two, hopefully snowball ones if i can find them :S

So yeah, any advice for noobs is welcome, i'm not really bothered about breed in so far as looks are concerned, i just like the look of the fish! :D
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Re: Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby Carylnz » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:22 pm

What sort of puffer are you referring to?
Have a look here for some information.
You will also find out about freshwater puffers here
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Re: Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby Silk » Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:44 am

Both really good links Carylnz, Thank you.

With regards to what i'm looking for i can't honestly tell you as a) i'm not really experienced enough to ''know'' whats best to get, and b) I probably don't know half of the species available. (hopefully something your links will remedy).

And yeah it'll be freshwater ones, my tank isnt Marine, don't think i could handle the added stress of that for a beginner tank. All i'm really looking for is a cutesy one of these little things that isnt going to attack and murder anything i house it with :(
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Re: Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby Carylnz » Sat Dec 24, 2011 4:03 am

I can't be more specific either as I am in another country and suspect my choice of puffers to be a lot more limited than yours :roll:
Hopefully someone who has some can offer an opinion 8)

As far as I know (and I did have some once but can't remember which ones) they are best on their own due to their territorial habits. They also eat snails and need them to keep their 'beak' trim.
I think you will find the 'dangerous' puffers are the marine varieties.
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Re: Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby brayshaw_17 » Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:17 pm

My partner keeps a figure 8 puffer and it is a fantastic personality. But having said that, it needs to be kept on it's own from other puffer (including that of it's own species) as I kept 2 in the same tank a couple years back and they practically killed eachother...massive learning curve :shock: They can be kept with other species of fish and should be ok, but each fish has it's own unique personality. As I say they are great fish and almost interact with the owner! Having said this, at the moment it is in a tropical freshwater setup, but I have read in many places that they will need to be in Brackish water as they develop and get bigger.

She also kept 2 dwarf puffer fish. They were only less than an inch and wouldn't grow any bigger, but still quite a cool little fish. They will be fine with other fish and that of their own species (just be wary of individual personalities). They can also be kept in freshwater for the duration of their lives.

Hope this helps :D
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Re: Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby Silk » Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:25 am

Cheers Brayshaw, i saw your other post and i hope your figure 8 gets better soon!. On topic though, do you keep it with any other fish?, if so what?.

My main aim really is to have a large tank filled with a lot of small fish, mainly for the shoaling (spelling) effect i'm hoping to see. So i'm thinking mainly tetras with some other similar sized fish, would a puffer (spotted or figure 8 i think.) be lethal to these types of fish?, it would be a single puffer, i've no real interest in a scrap between two of them, but my concern is that the puffer given their nature would just murder the tetra, or would their shoaling offer them some protection?.

Once again, any advice welcome.
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Re: Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby brayshaw_17 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:39 pm

Not a problem, we have kept a few fish with it, ranging from platys to corys, But all seem to be fine with it, it really isn't that aggressive. We did have 2 dwarf puffers, but they were much more aggressive and nipped everything in there!! I think they will be fine with the shoaling fish, but I would recommend going for cardinal tetras if any as they shoal better than most, and make sure you get a small puffer so he/she grows with them.

Hope this helps. :D
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Re: Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby Silk » Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:21 pm

More than helpfull, Thanks loads Bray :). I'd have been really sad if i couldnt get a puffer in there. they just look so unique.
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Re: Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby That_FishLady » Wed May 16, 2012 6:28 am

Silk wrote:Cheers Brayshaw, i saw your other post and i hope your figure 8 gets better soon!. On topic though, do you keep it with any other fish?, if so what?.

My main aim really is to have a large tank filled with a lot of small fish, mainly for the shoaling (spelling) effect i'm hoping to see. So i'm thinking mainly tetras with some other similar sized fish, would a puffer (spotted or figure 8 i think.) be lethal to these types of fish?, it would be a single puffer, i've no real interest in a scrap between two of them, but my concern is that the puffer given their nature would just murder the tetra, or would their shoaling offer them some protection?.

Once again, any advice welcome.


I know that this is kind of an older thread, but since my website was mentioned (thanks, btw!), I wanted to chime in and make sure all your puffer questions were answered :) Freshwater puffers do indeed puff, but like you pointed out, it's often out of stress. A few days ago I was kind of lazy and didn't crack the mussel into two pieces, I just dropped it in with the shell completely open, and our puffer got its head stuck for a moment (not even long enough for me to intervene) - he got so spooked he puffed up slightly and then finally went back to take some bites out of it. Although, that being said, I have watched a few of ours puff up for no good reason, too.

Contrary to a lot of info put out on the Internet, the figure 8 (T. biocellatus) is a brackish water puffer (1.003 - 1.005 SG), so if you haven't already purchased one, I would probably rethink your choice. The other spotted puffer fish that most people refer to is the green spotted puffer (Tetraodon nigroviridis), and that's a high-end brackish fish. I personally don't think that your overall goal for your tank syncs up with keeping a puffer. They really don't do well in a community setting once they mature. They are, however, a very rewarding fish to keep when they're kept in their own tank - very full of personality.
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Re: Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby thermalthong » Mon Jul 02, 2012 4:41 pm

There is also this little fella to consider...


http://www.thinkfish.co.uk/fish/Amazon_Puffer.html
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Re: Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby TheLostprophet » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:50 pm

I can confirm Amazon puffers make a great addition to a community tank so ignore people saying you have to keep puffers on their own.

I have owned two species which do particularly well in a community tank.

The Amazon puffer and the red eyed red tailed puffer, both can make great centrepieces to a tank and i've never had any issues with them being aggressive. Note I do advise you only house them with fast moving fish such as tetras, danios etc and none with trailing fins as they will still be partial to having a nibble if tempted.

Also I would go with a small shoal of ottos over a plec.
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Re: Puffer fish, just how dangerous?

Postby greatwhitegoldfish » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:57 pm

Freshwater puffers are aggressive. The fish store I go to has to box them of from the other fish in the aquarium for the other fish's safety.
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