Safe Toys For Puffers In Salt Water?

AZL
Member
I'm encountering a need to work out some safe toys and to offset some hazards for my green spotted puffers. The little guys seem happy in their environment of live rock and macro algae but I'm seeing just how intelligent and playful they are and want to provide them with more stimulation. I can't find much in the way of 'fish toys' so looking at items for birds, rodents, and kittens. As they are only 1.5" most things are too big for them to engage with but I have a few ideas and when they grow a bit there is a lot of choice. The question I have is what materials are safe to put in a tank without concern for leaching chemicals into the water or the puffers biting off and swallowing bits? I'm looking at those tiny hedgehog balls made from nylon at the moment as well as some of the really small bird toys and replacing metal fixings with plastic ones. To be honest if I can work out which materials are safe I can make them toys, a friend has a 3-D printer so I can design pretty much anything provided I know what materials are safe in saltwater and can't be nibbled to create a choking hazard or blockage.

I'm realising I need to put as much thought into their tank as I do with the cats around the house, the naughtiness is on the same level. I caught one little guy sitting on top of a filter so he was just about under water and nibbling at the electric cord. I'm hoping they're too small now to get through that and shock themselves but I clearly need to work out some safety features as they grow. A HOB filter for when their tank is upgraded and a cage around the heater and its wire, etc. - probably a mesh barrier in the filter opening as well so they don't swim up into it! Lol they're little buggers, really impressed with their naughtiness and problem solving ability
 
Fisker
Member
I used to have a ValentinI Puffer, and I kept him in what was likely a borderline too small tank (custom-built 13 gallon - 24" long). Water parameters were fine, but he glass-surfed and looked pretty sad whenever I wasn't interacting with him. Here are a few things I did to try and keep him active:

1) Whenever I was around him, I was giving him some sort of attention. Slowly moving my fingers around the front glass of the tank, holding up an object for him to inspect, or even just rolling a ball back and forth in front of the tank. He'd chase after everything, and it seemed to brighten his color and really get him going.

2) I installed a Newton's Cradle next to his tank. Whenever I'd be gone for long spans of time, I'd set it in motion, and he'd sit there and just watch it go for hours. Not sure if it was the sound, the shine, or even just the movement, but he seemed to be occupied by them.

3) I set up a small saltwater ghost shrimp bowl next to his tank. He could see the shrimp, and would "hunt" them through the glass. Honestly, I didn't do this for long, because he ended up spending all of his time on that end of the tank, looking for food.

4) I constantly kept stuff in the tank for him to hunt. Ghost shrimp (either bought from a LFS and acclimated to saltwater, or bought from a saltwater source) are great for this, as they tend to be quick, a good hunt, and they kinda gutload themselves with algae from the tank. They're also super hardy, so they're not going to tend to die off before they get eaten. Cheap, too. Collonista snails, if you can get some, seemed to capture his attention as well.

5) The only in-tank toy I ever tried was a small, soft fishing lure. Looked like a shrimp, and was made from fish-safe materials. I put it in front of the filter flow, and he'd go insane.
 
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AZL
Member
Ah brilliant, all good ideas and I'll give them a try. We have their tank in the room in which we spend most of our time and give them a lot of attention (which they actively seek).
When you say fish safe materials do you know which ones in particular are ok in full salt without leaching chemicals and which can withstand their beaks?
 
Fisker
Member
I don't remember what the lure was made out of, but it felt like rubber. It couldn't be punctured though - at least not by my puffer. Valentini's are pretty small, so I'm not sure if a GSP would be much stronger. It said fish-safe on the package.
 

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