Rescued A Mbu Puffer Today- My General Thoughts

Zach72202

I am going to preface this for all of you who will read this for about 20 seconds then comment something.
I currently own the following pufferfish, so I am aware of the care they need.
x1 Fahaka Puffer
x4 Schoutedeni Puffers
x1 Green Spotted Puffer
x6 Figure 8 Puffers
x7 Pea Puffers

How I came acrossed him:
Now for the story. About 1 am 12/18/2020 I was on Facebook, looking at the local aquarium group when I saw a Mbu Puffer and a few other fish that needed to be re-homed, all in the same image. The fish looked somewhat larger in the image, about 9" with the tail, actual body about 6". Given what I know about puffers, and how I know most people want one just because they are 'cool' and they can brag they have a Mbu, I decided to message the fellow. Keep in mind, I was going to get a Mbu several months ago, but I decided against it due to the care requirements- not that I could not do it, just I decided that rushing into it would be a bad idea, I wanted a tank that could potentially house one for at least two years prior to a purchase.

Where I picked him up:
Fast forward to today, once I described who I was, and how I have experience with puffers, they owner said he would really like me to have him. I was somewhat gunshy, but I am fairly versed on puffers and have done my research about Mbu's so I jumped in. I drive an hour and a half to this guys house and I go inside and look at the tank. Honestly, it was pretty clean, I was very impressed with that portion, but the rest I was a bit surprised at. He has him in a 90 gallon (48x18x25) with 2 10+" oscars, a 10" alligator gar, and a 14" Red-Tailed Catfish. I looked at the fish a bit, and he seemed to be doing alright, skinny, but not super skinny, about 7" Total length and a 5"-5.5" body, smaller than I thought. (Thank god) There was probably more, but I wasn't there to talk exactly, I just got the fish and left. I didn't really ask what he's been feeding him, but he bragged to me several times how he could eat a whole feeder goldfish himself. And from my knowledge, this is one of the worst foods you can feed a Mbu, as they are Molluscivorous. I wasn't exactly pleased with this, but I wasn't exactly shocked either.

Now for the ride home and getting him in the tank:

Disclaimer: All armchair research warrior Mbu Puffer fish experts, prepare your largest forehead and neck vein to pop out of your skin, its about to get tense.

Regardless of the current situation, I got him in a (5gal) bucket and made the two hour drive home. My plan was to QT him in one of my 40B tanks and then move him into the 120g (48x24 footprint) in about a month if all goes smoothly and he looks healthy. Here's the but: For me to do this, I would have to basically tear two tanks apart, move my 4 multis + however many fry are in there currently, into the 20H, but before I do that I have to move Two Million snails into other tanks. If I did not work today (11 am to 6pm then 3.5 hours round trip drive, and its currently 1 am), I would have definitely done this. Instead, I looked at my 29G, which had a betta and 7 corydoras in it, and I said "welp little fellers, you gon' be movin'." I did this so I could get him into a tank quickly and out of the bucket he has been in for 2.5 hours now. Yes I know this is very small for any length of time, but will be just for QT (with meds for deworming) and observation, he does have room to move, it is planted, and there is snails in there for him to graze on. As a note, due to the fact that he has really only eaten feeder fish, he doesn't really eat anything that doesn't move a lot, like I put some ramshorn snails in there, nope wouldn't touch them. I was shocked. For some reason when I take Malaysian Trumpet Snails and hold them by the tip with my tongs and let them slowly come out of the shell and start wiggling, he takes to that. It's a start I suppose. At this point, I have had the chance to take a look at him for a bit and I notice a few things. Of course his color is off and he looks fairly dull. His tail is a bit ragged up, not terrible, but not great. He also has some small white scars on his body where I can tell he has been bitten or attacked by his previous tankmates. Along with this, my general assessment of his health is fair. He is skinny, but not deathly skinny. He's active and looking around, no signs of infections or anything, just seems very stressed and disoriented, but in a few days I suspect I will have him doing much better. He is not very shy at all, although he doesn't like my hand in the tank, but he had no problems with the cats looking at him, he seemed quite intrigued.

My Future Plans:
I am going to be purchasing a shelf for my breeding rack, but now the current plan is to purchase a tank with a 72x24 footprint that will go on the bottom. This will be his tank for the next 2 years or so, until he gets very large, but in the interim I will be doing two things: Saving to build a plywood tank (96x48 footprint is the plan), or if by some miracle, a large custom aquarium come available for sale that I can afford, I will purchase that, looking to save about 2,000$ for this type of investment (Minimum). I will be purchasing some fishing worms tomorrow to get some food in him so he can bulk up a bit, along with some frozen clams that I can feed as well. Mystery Snail production is in full haul currently!

General Information:
Max size is up to 3' (Maybe more?) - Also super chonky boy, bigger than a loaf of bread full grown
Needs a very large tank. Like some people day 1000 gallons, but realistically the bare minimum tank is like 84x36 (7'x3') footprint, which would be like you living your life in a 12'x6' room forever. Not exactly optimal.
Once they breach the 20" mark, you're basically feeding a small child, but imagine everytime you feed them, its like taking them out to eat and they chow 12$ of food. Every. Day. (Or every other day) Guess you could call him my first child?
I have heard from another person who has kept Mbu puffers that to get one to 5 years old, it is about a 10,000$ investment to do it well, accounting for food, water, tank size, etc.
Basically a 6 year old child in a fish tank.

My General Conclusion and Thoughts:

What do I think of Mbu Puffers? Personally I believe they are absolutely gorgeous and a fantastic fish, but not a pet. A lot of them are sold and unfortunately too many stories about too small tanks and poor feeding for these monster fish.

What if you want a Mbu? You're looking at getting a 300$~ fish. When budgeting for one, this is basically scratching the tip of the iceberg in how much it will cost. If you are dying to get a puffer with a fantastic personality but cannot afford the tank and fish, get a 40B or a 55g and Purchase a Spotted Congo Puffer, they run about 200$ each and cost of space, time, and money is small. They are basically the mini-mbu. I have had mine for about 10 days now and they already know me as the giver of life who presents snails and bloodworms daily. Its pretty amazing.

How do I feel about the current situation? Honestly, I am nervous. I know I have the ability to care for this fella with what I know, but its the idea of "what if I cannot give him the best life?" thought. As I get older (I am currently 20) I have developed empathy, especially in recent months, for a lot of things: People, fish, even the snails. I honestly feel somewhat bad when I have to feed snails to my puffers. My sole goal currently I to provide an excellent life for him, along with all of my other fish, but I feel he will be the biggest challenge. I just brought him home, and I honestly already feel attached to him. He isn't just a fish. He is my pet. A friend I can call mine, and what I want best is for him to have an excellent life, and I will do all I can for him.


If you made it this far, thanks for reading my rant/story.

Here is the picture: We named him Felix (Means happy in Latin)

FelixDay1.jpg
 

wishuponafish

Watch out, the armchair mbu warriors are getting ready for a crusade! Lol.

As a fellow puffer lover, I'm glad he's in the hands of someone who will really care for him instead of some guy's monster fish collection. It's a challenge but I wish you the best of luck! What's next, saltwater puffers?
 
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Aprilbeingbasic

I often had this dilemma when I worked for a dog rescue, peoples applications would never be accepted unless they were the most perfect home in existence, with ridiculous standards. It never takes into account someone who cares will do what is needed for that dog. This hobby is alot about patience, people get so upset about how a tank is setup in that moment but many things can change and fish do not grow to 2 feet instantly. Sometimes you need to have discretion between someone who is not perfect but responsible vs someone with all the money and equipment but doesnt really want to educate or spent time understanding the animal.
 
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Zach72202

Watch out, the armchair mbu warriors are getting ready for a crusade! Lol.

As a fellow puffer lover, I'm glad he's in the hands of someone who will really care for him instead of some guy's monster fish collection. It's a challenge but I wish you the best of luck! What's next, saltwater puffers?
Ha! With a green spot puffer and f8's thats enough salt for me! I don't care to do salt... Although a porcupine puffer is pretty cool...

I often had this dilemma when I worked for a dog rescue, peoples applications would never be accepted unless they were the most perfect home in existence, with ridiculous standards. It never takes into account someone who cares will do what is needed for that dog. This hobby is alot about patience, people get so upset about how a tank is setup in that moment but many things can change and fish do not grow to 2 feet instantly. Sometimes you need to have discretion between someone who is not perfect but responsible vs someone with all the money and equipment but doesnt really want to educate or spent time understanding the animal.
Oh yeah, trust me I know. My sister has two great danes. TWO. So I see some of the sacrifices that people make for dogs. And for me on the fish growth, I want him to grow as slow as possible so I have time and he doesn't feel cramped fast! If it takes him 3 years to reach 18" Great! My fahaka is actually a slow grower as he has gone from 1.5" to about 3.5" in about 7 months. Honestly at first I was a bit upset, but now after having him for a while I am pretty happy about it.
 
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Mhamilton0911

If you're doubting yourself for rescuing him, just remember his last tank. By far, in the short time you've had him, he's already living a better life.

Proud of you.
 
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Zach72202

Update: I picked up some earthworms from walmart (probably not the best source, but due to the season all I could really find) and he is chowing down on them! I am happy to see this, so hopefully I will be getting some frozen clams for him soon!
 
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