Two puffers and a moray?

  • #1
First off, I have a 30 gallon tank with 20 pounds of gravel [which I plan on doubling pretty soon.] The average range of tank temp is about.. 72-80. It is moderately planted and has large non-live rocks. It's brackish water. I have not tested the salinity in the last few days so I'm not sure how it fairs. I've got about... 2 tbs of salt per 5 gallons of water.

Second, My first fish was actually not a fish. I bought a Snowflake Moray eel. His name is Unagi. [I wonder how many people will get that. Any sushI lovers in here?] Obviously I'm asssuming he's a boy. I have no way of knowing. He hides almost constantly. My fiance and I grew tired of having an apparently empty tank. He always oogled over the adorable little puffers at the store while I got feeders. [I buy feeder guppies. Less diseases than goldfish and they don't eat as much.] After searching and searching for something compatable with a Moray, I decided to get a GSP. Apparently they are less territorial than dwarfs and the out of sight, out of mind facto was perfect for my eel. His name is now Fugu. [We're still hungry after the UnagI right?]

I've had the first puffer for 2 days now. We have been noticing that he is getting less and less active and always a dark brown color. After going to the pet store today, they told my it was "lonely". Anything to sell fish right? Well, according to my reading I should take the second one back right?

The pet store I bought him/her from has a three day from purchase return rule on fish. I need to know if two puffers and a 14 in moray can survive and thrive in a 30 gallon tank.
  • #2
First of all, Welcome to Fishlore.
Second, the pleco will not survive for any length of time in a brackish tank. Plecos are strictly freshwater fish, and, being scaleless, have no defense against osmosis drawing too much water out of their cells.
Third, the snowflake eels are reef fish. I'm not positive about this, but I don't believe that they like to be in brackish water. In general, they would prefer to live in pure Saltwater tank (50g+) with a lot of live rock and corals. It will also likely attempt to eat the puffers, given time.

Lastly, feeder fish from the store are all pretty much nutrient-free. Because they live in such horrible conditions, their bodies use up vitamins/minerals/calories in a desperate attempt to keep themselves alive. A better choice would be to feed it bits of raw sea fish from the grocery store. Trade off between fatty and less-fatty fishes, and change the selection out constantly, to maintain a healthy variety. The bonus about this (if you like fish) is that you can buy a tuna steak, cut off a little chunk for the eel, and then cook the rest for yourself. Shrimp would also be good (they like eating crustaceans).
Edit: One more note about moray eels. If you don't have a tight-fitting cover, it will eventually be found on the floor. They like exploring, and will explore the outside of their aquarium.
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  • #3
I appriciate your comments. But it's very depressing.

From all the researching I've done on my Eel, Unagi, he is a brackish fish, just like the Puffers. His tank is kept at a high lvl of salinity. Snowflake's, from all the reading I've done, are delta eels. They are freshwater to brackish fish that can survive in saltwater. As for his food, I do feed him guppies, but not straight from the store. I keep a second tank [same temp and salinity as the 30gl] with nothing but my feeder guppies. They eat rather well and even have been breeding. I feed them trop flakes and freeze dried atl. plankton. I've also bought new ones now and then too keep the gene pool going. Needless to say, they are healthy and happy up until their final hours. I will treat him to some tuna now and again though. Do they like all types of fish? Salmon? Flounder?

I was hoping with the size of my tank, they would stay far enough away from each other not to cause any problems. On the first day I got the Puffer, Fugu, UnagI attacked him, but quickly let go when Fugu puffed up. They've been peacable toward each other since then. [BTW-I read in one thread that GSP don't puff up, which is wrong. I witnesed it. They do.]

Sir Jeramiah Pike will go back to the store as well. He really is beautiful and enormous. I'm tempted to get a second tank just for him. I am still wondering about those stretch marks however. And, did you say scaleless? Cause I'm pretty sure he has scales of some sort... and I know he's a placo...

"Like their bigger relatives, their body is covered with plates except for the belly region, and they have spines in their dorsal and pectoral fins which they will spread when feeling threatened."

Are plates not scales?
I can not take him back till at least tomorrow. Will he last that long?

Oh, and as for the other puffer. He is back at the pet store after a rough morning being bullied by Fugu. Hopefully he will find a nice home.
  • #4
Nope, plates and scales are two different things. Scales overlap, and in fish, are nearly water-tight. Plates do not. Plates might also have their own blood supply.
I'm not positive that a pleco will survive until tomorrow, but the best that you can do is all the creature can ask.

Did a little more research on diet, and have found that freshwater feeders have a tendency to cause liver illness. Not sure if this is because of some chemical that doesn't hurt freshwater fish but hurts the eel or what, but I'd think carefully about that. They usually eat crustaceans, so shrimp, crab, and lobster meat are going to be the best choices for the little guy (seems like they're expensive eaters. Good news is that you can get frozen krill, which would make a good base for his diet) Nothing wrong, I'm sure, with using the guppies as a treat.

As far as where they live, check out
and click on the map. When in the map, click on the "suitable habitat" button, and you can see that their habitat is in reefs, not in deltas.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of false information about some fish (like goldfish and bettas being okay in bowls, glassfish needing brackish water, etc...) out there.

I'm sorry about the bad news, but I would prefer to offer bad news and save both you and your fish some grief than not say anything. Sorry again.

On the plus side, dwarf puffers need precisely what you're offering, so at least you've got two excellent members of your tank.
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  • #5
But i've had him for almost two months now. He's very active and a good color. He is, as far as I can tell, doing quite well. I honestly don't know what I can do with him if I can't keep him. I'm well beyond my 3 day return polilcy.

I've been feeding him ghost shrI'm as well... Are those ok? I just thought the guppies were better for him since he eats them more. I still have live shrimp in my tank that he hasn't eaten from 3 weeks ago. I thought maybe he couldn't find them or catch them. Maybe I should be breeding shrimp instaed huh?

Or maybe I should just stick with Pacu's and Oscars like I've always had. =] This is most trouble I've ever had with any type of pet, and I've had everything. You name it, I've had it. [I'm exaderating a bit... but I've had a wide variety of pets, fishy and non.]
  • #6
I should state that I'm not saying that this won't work. Rather, it shouldn't work. Of course, there's always the statement that "surviving is not thriving", but if he seems to be doing well, snowflake morays may be a very hardy fish, or you may just have a particularly hardy example.
Ghost shrimp are often fed to snowflakes in aquaria. However, if he's not eating the shrimp in the tank, he might not like them. Don't know why that would be, though. If you can get him to eat shrimp, I would suggest raising shrimp, instead. Find something hardy that breeds like rabbits, and set up a tank for them.

You might also want to consider setting up a "simple" FOWLR tank within the next six months or so. Nothing extreme, just set up for your friend. Slowly acclimate him to a higher salinity, then move him to the new tank.

Edit: I found a site saying that snowflakes are very tolerant of ranging salinities, but prefer "near salt water" which is just barely under "true" Saltwater conditions. So your friend could likely do well in a heavily brackish tank.
  • #7
there is actually a 'freshwater' version of a snowflake eel as well... though you'd have to discover which it is that you have.
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  • #8
Hmm... I called my pet store and told them about what you've been telling me and they said that if I don't think it's best to keep UnagI to bring him back and it will be no problem.

They also said that my pleco should be ok is mildly brackish water since that is what they have at their pet store and it was doing fine there. I've taken some of the salt out of the tank [i.e. putting potatoe pieces in the tank to absorbe the salt] so hopefully he will be ok until tomorrow when I take him back.]

As for the shrimp... I've got two left that seem to be remarkably good at hiding. I also think that maybe Unagi's not being searching for them since there's been a much easier food available. Now the only problem I have left to solve is what to do with all the guppies I have... =[

I am going to get more plants for the Puffer to stay in, and I was wondering what kind of plants he would like. I thought maybe broad leaved ones that would provide cover but not give the shrimp too many more places to hide. [They have quite enough as it is.] I was also thinking taller plants that reach up to the surface since my puffer seems to spend so much time toward to top of the tank, looking at his reflection in the glass... =]

Again, thank you so much for all your help.

there is actually a 'freshwater' version of a snowflake eel as well... though you'd have to discover which it is that you have.

When I bought him, I was told he was a freshwater snowflake moray... but even the freshwater eels are actually brackish eels that swim upstream [like Salmon] to reproduce.

His spotting is not like the one pictured in my avatar. I thought that the differance was that mine is still juvinile. Are they really two separate species?
  • #9
AHA! Take a look at the first picture on this page. Gymnothorax Tile seems to be the species in question. It's a different genus entirely from the snowflake, if that is, indeed what you've got.
The gymnothorax tile is, as you said, called a "freshwater eel" but prefers brackish.
You should probably contemplate getting a larger tank in the future, as these guys get to over half a meter in length, and need space to swim (and lots of hiding spaces).
Read the feeding info on this page, too. It's pretty much what I suggested. However, it seems that fatty fish is generally a bad idea (though I would give it as a periodic treat).
Personally, I would kind of have fun playing tug of war with a moray. Just do it with a pair of forceps or tongs, as morays have a mildly toxic slime coating and their bites can easily get infected.

An interesting side note:
Scientists recently discovered groupers recruiting moray eels to aid in the hunting process. Not this species of moray (it was a reef fish, possibly the true snowflake), but still interesting, as inter-species aid in hunting is pretty odd, and nearly unheard of in the ocean.
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  • #10
THAT'S definitely my Unagi! =D

Thank you! That was probably the most helpful article I've found so far. Especially the feeding guide. I'm planning on making most of my tank decorations from fired clay [aquarium safe I assure you] and I have been trying to figure out what shapes and layouts to use. You're the bomb SirDarkSol! =D

Also, I do have a 50 gallon tank that is sitting empty right now. I will move him into that when he out grows this one. When he's too big for them both, I'll sell them for a larger one. A 150gl maybe?

I have just returned from an expidition to my LFS and got a chinese algae eater [pocostumus or pleco or something entirely different?] He's only about... 1 in long but his color was healthy and he was kept in the brackish tanks at my pet store so I know he can handle the salinity. I was told that he will get about 6 1/2 inches long. I also got a dozen ghost shrimp and another snail for breeding feeders for my puffer.

Tank 1 [30gl]- 1 Freshwater Moray Eel, 1 GSP, 1 Chinese Algea Eater, feeder shrimp
Tank 2 [5gl]- ~10 baby guppies, 2 snails [for now 0.0]

Both are filtered and have gravel and plants. Both have lids securely fastened.

Is there anything I'm missing?

PS-I returned Sir Jeramiah Pike to my LFS after he spent a night in my guppy tank.
  • #11
Good to hear that things are getting sorted out. Sorry about the earlier confusion.

If it weren't for the fact that your eel is likely to eat the CAE, I would be concerned. CAEs like sucking the mucous coating off of larger fish, which often kills them. This only happens when they get older, and doesn't always happen. If he survives to the point that he's old enough to become a problem, he might have learned to stay away from the eel. I didn't know that they were brackish adaptable, but once I found out about their tendency to harass the types of fish that I keep, I stopped researching them.

Sounds like you've got a good setup. 150 gallon sounds like an excellent future setup for your eel and his companions.
  • #12
From what I have read I would say no. Two puffers in a 30 gallon tank that is heavily planted can sometimes work but will most of the time not since they are so territorial and a single one should have about 30 gallons once fully grown.

Now the other problem is the ell. A real Snowflake Moray eel will not live in a brackish tank for long. If you really have a Snowflake Moray eel, I don't know. But they are completely saltwater. Do you have a picture of it? If it really is a moray eel, it will get to 3 feet long which will need at least a 75 gallon tank from what I have read.

Here is a good article:

Hope this was not too late.

I see you have been getting help in another forum. Glad it was not a real snowflake.
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  • #13
Luckily, after a night watching my little guys in almost complete darkness, [the only time I can really veiw UnagI in what I consider full action] little Chiyo [as I've decided to call her] has learned that big eels are good things to stay away from. She has taken a liking to the cave that IS Unagi's space, but I'm in the process of creating [with fire-glazed clay and elaborate tunnels and caves and love and devotion :;a] a new rock-ish habbitat for my little friends and included a nice little bridge-like cave toward the top of the "pile" [hopefully being at the top will keep it from being quite so interesting to my eel buddy.] I'll post so designs that I've made and eventually photos.

I plan on making it a nice dark grey color that UnagI and Chiyo will blend in nicely with. It's also a textured glaze, so it will feel most natural than a glassy finished glaze. [Can you tell that I love making pottery?]

I'm also going to put in fixtures for artificial plants to be placed in and I have a question. What kind of glues are aqarium safe. I was thinking hotglue since it will stick to the glaze and after all, it is just melted rubber, just like the seals of the tank, right?

Anyway, any suggestions will be greatly appriciated. I'll probably post a thread asking for suggestions in the Members Fish Tanks forum as well.

Again, thanks for all your help.:;hurryb
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  • #14
Thanks GreenMan. My eel, UnagI is a freshwater moray eel. The fish store that I bought him from advertises him as a snowflake moray eel... hence my confusion. I've already taken one of the puffers back. I'm left with a Moray, and one puffer. [I came home today and my little Chinese Algea eater was dead. =[ I did a 50% water change and hopefully that will keep any problems in check.]

As it is, I've got most of issues in check. Read my thread about the Eel mountain I'm making for my little guys.

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