Dwarf/pea Puffer Care

ystrout
  • #1
Hi,

I got 3 pea puffers yesterday to go in my new 14 gallon rimless tank. The tank isn't cycled since we just got it yesterday. I'm keeping them in my main tank with neon tetras and danios until it is cycled. It should cycle pretty fast because I'll seed it with a piece of my established filter.

Water is about 78F, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, anywhere from 5-20 nitrate since I never check.... I just know it's low.

I've did a lot of research but still have some questions since there's so much conflicting info about them:

1. Do you have to train them to eat snails or put the snails in a dish? I have a bunch in my tank but they haven't touched them. I did only get them last night so they were stressed from the move, but I though they would make quick work of the snails.
2. Why do people say they're aggressive and are territorial towards each other? They seemed super comfortable in the tank today before I left for work. Swimming all around, very healthy color, etc. They 'schooled' all night when they were scared of the new environment and still follow each other a little.
3. Are they poisonous like saltwater puffers? There's lots of conflicting info on this. I'm worried about touching them during a water change or when they die and I need to pick them out of the water... I don't want to get poisoned haha.

Thanks for the help!
 
Lorekeeper
  • #2
1. Mine always went after snails before they hit the sand. He was really aggressive with them. If I had to guess, they're just stressed, and aren't too hungry. No training needed. If they don't show any interest within a few days, try some bloodworms, brine shrimp, or even live blackworms. They should eat soon, though.

2. They are territorial, but I wouldn't call them super aggressive. In a species-only tank, they'll all claim a territory, and if there's enough plant cover and space in the tank, you should be good. In a 14 gallon, as long as you have some real/fake plants and maybe some caves, I wouldn't worry. As they grow, they will get more aggressive.

3. I don't think so, but I wouldn't worry. I doubt you'll ever touch one by accident, since they're quick and usually pretty shy once you're in the tank. I doubt just touching one would cause issues, unless you're hyper-sensitive or something like that. Even then, I wouldn't expect much more than a rash... as far as them dying, just run carbon in the tank. Get yourself a media bag, and run the appropriate dose. Change it out monthly. No problem.
 
ystrout
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
1. Mine always went after snails before they hit the sand. He was really aggressive with them. If I had to guess, they're just stressed, and aren't too hungry. No training needed. If they don't show any interest within a few days, try some bloodworms, brine shrimp, or even live blackworms. They should eat soon, though.

2. They are territorial, but I wouldn't call them super aggressive. In a species-only tank, they'll all claim a territory, and if there's enough plant cover and space in the tank, you should be good. In a 14 gallon, as long as you have some real/fake plants and maybe some caves, I wouldn't worry. As they grow, they will get more aggressive.

3. I don't think so, but I wouldn't worry. I doubt you'll ever touch one by accident, since they're quick and usually pretty shy once you're in the tank. I doubt just touching one would cause issues, unless you're hyper-sensitive or something like that. Even then, I wouldn't expect much more than a rash... as far as them dying, just run carbon in the tank. Get yourself a media bag, and run the appropriate dose. Change it out monthly. No problem.
Got it.

I should be able to tell if they ate based on whether or not they're fat or not when I get home. There's quite a few snails in there.

And yes, it will be a pretty heavily planted and decorate tank.

Thanks!
 
sloughdog
  • #4
It took mine almost 10 days before it ate. Now I can feed it from tweezers. I’ve yet to see her eat a snail but know she does cause I find empty shells.
As juveniles, pea puffers will school/shoal but as they mature they become territorial as mentioned.
 
tjander
  • #5
Disclaimer... I have not kept pea puffers, thought about but decided against it based on the fact that they must eat snails to keep their teeth from getting to large. If this was false info I would love to know as I like the idea of keeping them.
Also, from what I have read 3 in a 14 gal tank for a few months is more then likely ok. But they will require a much larger tank very soon. Lastly, I must encourage you to test for Nitrates as puffers need very very clean water or they will not make it. It always amazes me how fast nitrates can rise.
Ok one more point for consideration... if your ammonia and nitrites are 0 in your new tank. The media you put in has lost its B.B. please use caution as when you add your puffers you could potentially see a large and dangerous ammonia spike that will of course kill your puffers.

This is meant just as a cautionary note and not an attack. If they are good in your old tank then give yourself the time to setup your new tank correctly.
 
PatientStars
  • #6
Disclaimer... I have not kept pea puffers, thought about but decided against it based on the fact that they must eat snails to keep their teeth from getting to large. If this was false info I would love to know as I like the idea of keeping them.
Also, from what I have read 3 in a 14 gal tank for a few months is more then likely ok. But they will require a much larger tank very soon. Lastly, I must encourage you to test for Nitrates as puffers need very very clean water or they will not make it. It always amazes me how fast nitrates can rise.
Ok one more point for consideration... if your ammonia and nitrites are 0 in your new tank. The media you put in has lost its B.B. please use caution as when you add your puffers you could potentially see a large and dangerous ammonia spike that will of course kill your puffers.

This is meant just as a cautionary note and not an attack. If they are good in your old tank then give yourself the time to setup your new tank correctly.

Dwarf puffers actually don't need to file their breaks down like other puffers do. I have had 3 for several months now and absolutely love them! They are super easy to care for, and have fantastic personalities. I have trained mine to eat their frozen bloodworms and mysis shrimp from a small reptile food dish I buried halfway in the substrate. They now swim over it and stare at me when they want more. They're really smart!

I also just throw snails in every other day or so. I have 5 breeding mystery snails that are laying hundreds of eggs. Between those and pest snails, my pea puffers are living large! I'm looking to add a few more to the tank now. The little guys are quite endearing. I highly recommend getting a few if you haven't yet!
 
ystrout
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
My new tank isn't cycled. I just set it up a few days ago and am doing a fishless cycle. I meant my CURRENT tank has 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. It is cycled and has been established for years.

I seeded my new tank with a small piece of my cycled tank's sponge so we'll see if it does anything.

The nitrate in my current tank (where the puffers are currently housed) is under 10 ppm. I don't think it has gotten over 20 ppm in 6 months. So it is definitely very good water quality.
 
ystrout
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Update: the puffers got aggressive. I noticed my other fish had bites out of their tails from the puffers fin nipping while the others were trying to sleep.

So I put the puffers in a breeding box (fish jail). I'll take them back if they get stressed, but right now, they seem fine. Luckily, my other fish just have minor wounds on their tails. I've been dosing with stress guard and they have started to all heal pretty well. Should be completely healed within a week.
 
PatientStars
  • #9
Update: the puffers got aggressive. I noticed my other fish had bites out of their tails from the puffers fin nipping while the others were trying to sleep.

So I put the puffers in a breeding box (fish jail). I'll take them back if they get stressed, but right now, they seem fine. Luckily, my other fish just have minor wounds on their tails. I've been dosing with stress guard and they have started to all heal pretty well. Should be completely healed within a week.

Good thing you caught it. I had two casualties in ny community tank before I learned the hard way that puffers are NOT community fish. They are less inclined to go after bottom dwellers, but you still have to be careful. Puffers definitely do better in species only tanks.

Have you thought about doing a fish in cycle? I had to do that with mine after realizing how aggressive they were getting, and all 3 made it through with no problems. They're hardy little fish.
 
ystrout
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
They don't mind each other at all. They just are aggressive towards other species. I'm honestly surprised they were able to bite my pearl danios and live to be put in jail! They're the ones in charge of the tank haha.

I'm considering it.... Especially because they probably hate living in the jail.

This aquarium is for my fiancé who absolutely loves puffers. Every tropical scuba vacation we take, she's always looking for the puffs. She really likes aquascaping and plans to set up a nice sand and heavily plant it.

But right now, the tank has nothing in it. No sand, rocks, plants, etc. Just kicking off the cycle because we're moving apartments on Friday. Maybe I'll have her set everything up next Monday after we're settled in. I figure the cycle should have some serious progress at that point. It will have been up and running almost 2 weeks. Plus, I seeded it with a piece of my filter.
 
PatientStars
  • #11
They don't mind each other at all. They just are aggressive towards other species. I'm honestly surprised they were able to bite my pearl danios and live to be put in jail! They're the ones in charge of the tank haha.

I'm considering it.... Especially because they probably hate living in the jail.

This aquarium is for my fiancé who absolutely loves puffers. Every tropical scuba vacation we take, she's always looking for the puffs. She really likes aquascaping and plans to set up a nice sand and heavily plant it.

But right now, the tank has nothing in it. No sand, rocks, plants, etc. Just kicking off the cycle because we're moving apartments on Friday. Maybe I'll have her set everything up next Monday after we're settled in. I figure the cycle should have some serious progress at that point. It will have been up and running almost 2 weeks. Plus, I seeded it with a piece of my filter.

Yeah, they don't care how much bigger the other fish are, the puffers are always the boss! Haha

Sounds like your set up should be ready soon enough, and even if it's not completely cycled, adding them will help finish it up. And they may be a bit grumpy, but they should be fine in jail for a few more days. And your danios will thank you!

I added 9 more baby puffers to my tank today for an even dozen. I was calling them the Three Puffkateers, but now I guess they need a new nickname.

Good luck with them! I totally get why your fiancee loves them, they are fun little fish.
 
PatientStars
  • #12
Here's a photo of my puffer tank, just for kicks.
20180716_214829.jpg
 
ystrout
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
PatientStars
  • #14
Oh I like that. What are those long viney plants? I've never seen those.

Thanks! They're banana plants. It's the first time I've ever had them, so I wasn't sure what to expect. In a matter of weeks, they went from tiny little root bunches with one or two leaves to these crazy things! I originally had 4, but moved two out to my pond when they started getting so big.

I definitely like them. They provide some visual interest, and the puffers are always weaving through the stems of the pads like it's an obstacle course. Haha

Here's a few closer shots.
 

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ystrout
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
Hahahah wow. I actually have a banana plant. I loved the 'bananas' look so I got it. Mine never grew such long stems like that though.

I wonder if my light is too bring or something.
 
PatientStars
  • #16
Hahahah wow. I actually have a banana plant. I loved the 'bananas' look so I got it. Mine never grew such long stems like that though.

I wonder if my light is too bring or something.

Haha so weird! I have no clue why mine did this. I don't use fertilizers or anything, and they are just sitting in sand. I have an led light, but seriously, I have no clue what difference that makes to plants. Fish I understand. Plants? I just stick them in and hope they don't die!
 

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