Green Spotted Puffer Confusion?

robhill1965

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Ok, so I purchased 2 Green Spotted Puffers not knowing they needed brackish water. First mistake not researching first.
They are in a 29 Gal tank with one Pleco (5" long) that has been set up for a few years.
When I first got them about 3 weeks ago, they were very happy little critters, recognized me (at feeding time), and would even chase my finger around the top of the water.
I feed them ghost shrimp, small snails, cubed tubiflex worms, freeze dried blood worms.
This tank had been empty except for the Pleco and a Loche for about a month.

The problem:
I noticed they were acting lethargic, barely eating, and their color on top seemed to be faded as well as the graying between the top color and their white belly. First thing, I tested the water. Nitrates were a bit high (70 ppm), Nitrites ok at (0.2 ppm), Chlorine and Ammonia at Zero, Kh and pH are both high as I am on well water although it doesn't seem to be an issue with any other fish in my other two tanks and the LFS is on well water as well. I did a 80% water change and cleaned the gravel well. Retested the water and both the Nitrites and Nitrates came way down.
They perked up a little but still basically the same symptoms. I called the woman at the pet store, (pretty knowledgeable usually), and she recommended a holistic approach first and start with a salt bath. I used 6 Tbspns of "kosher sea salt" in 1/2 gallon of water for 3 minutes. They really didn't like it but after about an hour of resting on the bottom of the tank afterwards, they had better color, brighter yellow around their eyes, whiter belly and would eat and swim around. The next day, they were back to the same symptoms, plus hiding. I tried another salt bath with the same results a few days later.
BTW: I "did" have a cichlid in there, (not sure what kind. looks like a gray five bar that is about 3 1/2") and 2 little ? (looks like a platy only longer, very fast and a bit agrressive... inherited from old roommate...), but as I was researching the puffers, I thought they might be stressing out the puffers and I want to start going to brackish water so I pulled those three out.
They are almost back to their old selves again but there is still a little fading in their yellow top and although the bellies are nice and white, that "stress line" between the top color and belly is still there and they aren't as "ravenous" at meal times.

Was the problem:
-Stressful tank mates?
-Slower recovery from the salt bath than anticipated?
-Maybe they are afraid of me for torturing them with the salt?
-Could it be worms or some other condition/disease that the salt just "band-aided"?

Ideas?
Also, I'd like to find out how to start changing them to "brackish" water. Will the Pleco tolerate it?
 

iloveengl

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You pleco will not survive brackish water. Your puffers will not survive long in freshwater. They not only need brackish water now, but they will need full marine water when they are adults.

They need marine/ocean salt in their water. (Not aquarium salt.)

You'll need a hydrometer that begins measuring at 1.000

Mix the salt with water in a bucket, then add to the tank. They will need to be acclimated rather slowly. Slowly increase the salinity over the course of a few weeks to low/medium level brackish. You can readily do this with your weekly water changes.

Great information in this link:
http://www.greenspottedpuffer.net/intro.htm
Click the different categories on the left to read about their needs.
 

Stang Man

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I would suggest that you get the puffers out as soon as possible and acclimate them slowly to a higher salinty to about 1.012 then you will save them at that level but will require that you get another tank for them!! Ughhh but if not going that route then they will need another home asap!! You will need to do this very slowly at fresh levels to a salinty that I mentioned, The bad thing is if you don't do this they will die and if you do do this then you will have to add bacterial supplements to get them through the cycle. I hope you have a good understanding of this so good luck!!!!
 

Borgey

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Alright first of all you're going to need to upgrade your tank ASAP. GSPs get very big and you'll need at least a 55 gallon tank for them not to be swimming in their own waste. They have a VERY big bioload. Plecos also have a very big bio load as well. 70 ppm Nitrate is very very high and even any trace amounts of nitrite is high. So I bet you they had nitrate/nitrite poison which is not good. You need to get some MARINE SALT and start rasing the specific gravity .002 each week or two so you can get these guys in the right conditions. The Pleco will not last in brackish conditions. Also the Pleco is most likely going to start getting bullied very soon. With 2 GSPs in such a small tank you'll also most certainly going to have issues with bullying. One of them will become the dominant one and will kill the weaker fish. I'm sorry but it sounds to be that you just can't provide these fish with the proper care they need at the moment. I HIGHLY suggest you think about returning them or getting a 55 gallon tank for them. www.thepufferforum.com has a lot of great info on puffers and you should start some threads over there asking questions. But yeah it def. sounds like they are stressing out very badly. Which is don't blame them, they're stuck in a tiny tank with a Pleco.

Edit - Since the majority of these Puffers are wild caught I highly suggest you treat for internal parasites. I do it to ALL my Puffers as soon as I get them.
 
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robhill1965

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Thanks for all the great advice. I'm giving the Pleco to my neighor, and taking one of the Puffers back to the LFS. I do have a 50 gal tank that's not set up yet so the remaining Puffer does have a place to go (he's only about an inch long right now). I've also added a little fake tree stump so they have a place to hide and feel safe. I already have the tank at 6 Tablespoons of salt for the 20 gallon tank but it's Aquarium salt.

@ iloveengl: I'll be getting a hydrometer this week and "what's the difference between "Marine" and "Aquarium" salt?

@Stang Man: "Get them out"? Within a few days, I will only have the one Puffer in that tank so I can acclimate him in there right? "Bacterial Suppliments".. will increasing the salinity slowly cause a cycle?

@Borgey: I have notice the "ever so faint" outline of some circles about 1/16th of an inch in diameter on their under bellies. Worms? What do I use to treat internal parasites?
 

Stang Man

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It may slow the cycle as the salinity rises due to some strains of bacteria will die off, Just keep using the recommended doses till cycle and salinity are at the right levels.
 

iloveengl

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@ iloveengl: I'll be getting a hydrometer this week and "what's the difference between "Marine" and "Aquarium" salt?
Marine salt has the necessary minerals that the fish would have in natural brackish settings when the oceans swells bring the salt water into the fw tributaries, marshes, etc.
 
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