Green Spotted Puffer Tank Help Help

Discussion in 'Puffers' started by ghostomelon, May 27, 2018.

  1. ghostomelon

    ghostomelonNew MemberMember

    I'm not exactly new to keeping fish, but I would consider myself a beginner
    I am having trouble with my newest tank set up. I will describe my conditions as best I can but I would greatly appreciate some advice.

    I recently had several ghost shrimp, three mollies and a dwarf gourami in a 10 gallon tank for quite a while. Suddenly, my gourami died and so did one of my mollies. Sensing something was wrong, I quickly did a water change (thinking that it could be an ammonia spike). While I was changing the water, I realized that the gravel was full of muck underneath. It was probably making the water disgusting.

    I recently came upon a larger tank. I think it's a 20 gallon tall [photo included]. I covered the bottom in pool filter sand, put in some of the water from the old 10 gallon, moved the filter to the new tank and filled it up the rest of the way. I conditioned the water, of course. There is a little bit if aquarium salt in the water as well.

    I now have a very small 1/2" green spotted puffer from Wal-Mart. I know that Walmart sells sick fish sometimes, but all of his tank mates were starving to death and I wanted him to have at least some chance at life. There is also a Wal-Mart violet goby in this tank. I plan on slowly changing the water to brackish after the puffer puts on some weight.

    As of yesterday, the mollies were visibly shimmying. My research says that this is a symptom of bad water quality. My puffer has been swimming the walls of his tank. He doesn't look frantic, but he has not eaten any frozen bloodworms today, like he was yesterday.

    In light of this, I went to Wal-Mart again and got test strips, along with Tetra SafeStart. The strips revealed that my nitrate and nitrite levels are safe, my water is soft, the alkalinity is "high" and my pH is.... 8.4! Alkaline!

    So I added the entire bottle of SafeStart to boost the ammonia eating bacteria in the tank. I figured that wasn't going to help the pH though, so I went back to Wal-Mart and got Tetra Easy Balance. I medicated the tank and waited a few hours. My black Molly is still visibly thrashing. The other two do it occasionally, but he is by far the most sensitive.

    Does anybody have further advice for me? I could really use it as I've never had a fish as advanced as a Puffer or Goby before. I am afraid that I might tip the water to the point of no return if I overfeed them bloodworms even a little bit.

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  2. bryangar

    bryangarWell Known MemberMember

    Hi there,

    To start off, the puffers they sell at walmart are still young so they can live in freshwater for another few months. They eventually will need a massive tank and full saltwater once they’re adults. The goby is brackish water and will most likely get picked on by the gsp. Puffers need snails in their diet to prevent their beak from growing too sharp and preventing them from being able to eat. I’d recommend getting a snail breeding tank. Feeding bloodworms as a staple diet is bad for the fish. It’s more than half protein and will cause most fish to become obese if feed everyday.

    Ideally, you’d want a 30 gallon to place the mollies in and although the puffer can live in the 20 gallon for a while it’ll eventually grow up to 6-7 inches so a 55 gallon would be needed to fit his needs.

    When you say the nitrates and nitrites were safe,what were they exactly? Nitrites over 0 is never safe. Also what is your ammonia? I’m guessing you didn’t cycled the tank? TTS only jump starts the cycle, you will still have an ammonia and nitrite spike unless you do daily water changes.
    Glass surfing is usually a sign of boredom, IME.
    Since puffers are really curious creatures, it’s recommended to have alot of foliage for him to explore and hide in.

    Your Ph is really high but most fish can adapt to lots of parameters. It’s best not to play with the parameters. It’s better to have a stable Ph than a Ph that is constantly fluctuating.

    As Thrashing do you mean darting? This is due to ammonia exposure. Do a 50% water change immediately and keep doing them daily until your tank reads Ammonia/Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 5-20
    You will eventually have to cycle your tank again because freshwater bacteria won’t be able to survive in brackish water.
  3. OP

    ghostomelonNew MemberMember

    I am aware of all of this... I have a 75 tank that the puffer will eventually go in. I will soon have a bladder/pond snail breeding tank because I do want him to have a healthy diet. I also plan on feeding him live brine shrimp and ghost shrimp, fiddled crabs and clam on the half shell when he is older.

    The nitrate level is 20 and the nitrite level is 0. I just learned that mollies actually prefer hard water. Mine is soft. Hmmm...

    No, I did not cycle the tank. I know I should have done that, but I got startle my several of my fish (three or four) dropping dead in the old tank. I didn't know that my gravel needed vaccumed at the time, so I figured that was the problem. I tried to make the water a little safer in the new tank by putting some of the old water in there, mixing it with new conditioned water and the jump start. I have also been doing daily water changes of about 10-20%

    As for the glass surfing, he has four different shelters to hide in. I showed pictures. You think I should put more decor inside?

    Yes, the fish are swimming normally and then suddenly seem to wiggle a bit, toss their heads and dart. I figured it's the shimmies. However, my nitrite already reads 0 and my nitrate is 5. I don't ha e ammonia strips. Should I still do a 50% water change or will that make the ph fluctuate? I was trying to avoid that since I just added the SafeStart and Easy Balance.

  4. OP

    ghostomelonNew MemberMember

    Thank you for the response, by the way. It seems that nobody else has the knowledge or perhaps time to explain this to me.
  5. bryangar

    bryangarWell Known MemberMember

    Is that tank going to be a species only tank? because he’ll shred any other fish in there with him.

    Mollies do prefer hard but they can survive in soft water. They are brackish fish but survive in freshwater, not for long though.

    Well your probably caused an ammonia spike from adding so many fish at the same time.
    Adding water from the old tank probably didn’t help anything, if anything hurt them.
    The water you added was probably full of ammonia from all the fish dying. Old tank water has little to no beneficial bacteria so there was no point in adding the water.

    Try adding some floating plants. What fish is that on the bottom left?
    I’d do a water change just in case. It wouldn’t hurt the fish.
  6. RonJ

    RonJWell Known MemberMember

    What is your ammonia level? You only mentioned about Nitrite and Nitrate. Also strips are not recommended. Please get yourself a liquid test kit such as API Master Test kit.

    And puffer will nip and eventually eat mollies.
  7. OP

    ghostomelonNew MemberMember

    Okay, then I'll do a water change now. I am at the tank currently and will be all day to make sure nothing goes too horribly wrong, if I can help it.

    What floating plants would you recommend? I have heard that most plants can't survive salty water, and I plan on making it brackish. (Not now, obviously, but the mollies and goby will be in brackish water eventually and the puff will need it in his new tank.) As for the long gray fish in the corner, that is the violet goby (or dragon fish is what it's marketed as). Behind him is the silver molly and above him to the right is the puffer (albeit blurry).

    I would have absolutely no problem giving him his own tank. I don't think he needs it right now though, considering he is 1/2", currently fresh water and seemingly ignoring all other tank mates for the time being. All of the other fish with him are much bigger than him, but they are not bullying him or anything like that. About when do you think I should start adding marine salt to the tank? Like how big should he be. And how would I go about it?
  8. OP

    ghostomelonNew MemberMember

    Thank you for the advice, I will attempt to get an API test kit when I leave town. I will try to go tomorrow. I also want to get some of those pest snails from my local fish store, and some live brine shrimp.

    Yes, the mollies will be removed at some point. However, right now they are all twice the puffers size and he hasn't shown the slightest interest in them. I know he is a baby and will become awfully aggressive, though, and when he gets just a bit bigger they will be removed.
  9. bryangar

    bryangarWell Known MemberMember

    well seeing as you have fake plants, you can just float any plastic plant you have. Plants like java fern can survive in brackish water. I have never tried it but I have read about success with it. It’s not a floating plant though.
    Oh, I didn’t recognize that fish. Lol! Is this it, right?  

    They get really aggressive no matter the size. I had 4 dwarf puffer in a 10 gallon, heavily planted and they ended up still killing each other until I only had one which I gave to a friend. They were the same size, half an inch.

    I’d move him when he gets to an inch or 2, the faster you move him then the more chance he’ll have of not being stunted.
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
  10. OP

    ghostomelonNew MemberMember

    This is a great idea, I think I am going to try and put a java fern in there for now. Maybe I'll even put in a mossball and rehome it once I start adding salt. I could even grab a couple floating live plants while I'm out at my local fish store. I honestly want to make his quality of life as good as possible.

    Yes, that is him! That is one of my favorite kinds of fish.

    I ended up giving them about a 40% water change today. The mollies are still shimmying, but the silver ones aren't nearly as bad. They are still very active. The black molly doesn't seem like he is in very good shape, though. He is shimmying very forcefully and his fins barely open at all anymore, although he is still active.
  11. OP

    ghostomelonNew MemberMember

    It seems as though my condition is getting worse instead of better, unfortunately. The black molly was laying on the sand on his stomach for a while when I got home. I ran out if town for a while to try and get some pond snails from my lfs (and I succeeded), but my GSP has shown absolutely no interest in them, even when I crushed one. :/ He hasn't eaten at all today, like he was yesterday. Any idea on how to get him to eat?
  12. bryangar

    bryangarWell Known MemberMember

    That 20 gallon is too small for the goby so I would definitely rehome him or get a bigger tank. The molly is probably the first one that is feeling the symptoms of ammonia poisoning. All fish that you have right now are not suited for a 20 gallon. Mollies create alot of waste and it builds up faster in a smaller tank.

    I would recommend a 55 for the goby, it gets over a foot. The puffer can go in a 30 or 40 breeder. The mollies ideally need a 30 gallon.

    If he isn’t eating then just leave the snail overnight and when the puffer goes scavenging during the night, it’ll probably eat the snail. There are other methods but this is the simplest.
  13. OP

    ghostomelonNew MemberMember

    Hello all. Unfortunately, my puffer succumbed to ammonia poisoning. Previous to his death, however, I noticed he had an injury on his back from another puffer he was housed with in the store. He was just too little to make it I suppose. I've definately learned my lesson about the importance of cycling though!

    In other news, I'm pretty certain thet Tetra Safe Start saved my mollies from dying. The other night, it looked as if two of my fish were going to pass from imminent ammonia poisoning. Today they are acting as if nothing is wrong, swimming around pleasantly. Even the black molly, which I assumed would go first, no longer has the shimmies!

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