20 Gallon Tank want puffers- need help!

  • #1
I am new to this website and am hoping I can get good info. the more people I speak to or articles I read, the more confusing! I have a 20 gallon tank with only snails, 2 crabs and a few ghost shrimp. bought 3 freshwatr puffers 1 month ago and they came down with ick immediately and my other fish developed it. everyone died. now, I realize it was way overcrowded! anyway, heater is on 80 degrees and I have done 2 30-40% water changes, ick clear etc. I want to get fish now! I am very worried. I have aquarium salt that was purchased for brackish puffers, but now I was told it has to be marine salt? haven't set up the brackish tank yet.
I would like to know which puffer is the easiest to maintain! how many can I have in a 20 gallon? can I have a couplle pea puffers with a couple other fish? if so do I leave the tank freshwater? or should I make it brackish and just get 1 or 2 puffers? I am so afraid of them dying again. also, should I lower temp and gradually raise to 80 degrees over a couple of hours/days after getting them?
  • #2
Hello and Welcome to Fish Lore!

A couple of links that may help you:

Brackish water:

Marine salt should be used and not salt for freshwater aquariums.


Hold on for more responses. I haven't kept Puffers personally.

Too, if you'll do a Search Fish Lore, located right above post #1, left hand side for Puffers, you'll find more information.

I hope you enjoy the site!



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  • #3
If you want to keep a simple puffer without going brackish/salt then a dwarf pea puffer is what you want. They are the only true freshwater puffer out there. The other puffers while you will be told can live in fresh really isn't good for them and shortens their lifespan.

A good site for dwarf puffers is

The site will tell you how many you can have and lots more.
  • #4
There are other freshwater puffers out there like the South American puffer, but they need to be kept in a shoal, need more room, and require a specific diet of crustaceans. There is also red eye puffers and avocado/bronze puffers but they are a bit rare to find and are extremely aggressive to any other fish and need to be kept as singletons. Dwarfs are excellent fish and full of personality but the drawback is their small size. I successfully keep DPs with oto catfish and kuhlI loaches. Just keep in mind that otos need a very established and stable tank with mature algae growth and consistent PH.

You could go low end brackish (1.003-1.008 Goal-1.005) and keep a F8 with a few bumble gobies. But you need to be consistent with the specific gravity at water changes or you'll crash your biofilter. The best way to do this is with a brackish water mixing vessel and a hydrometer...Mixing your water well ahead of water changes. F8s also need crustaceans in their diet and many of us breed snails because of this because their teeth may over grow without it.

Also at water change time, with every fish, consistent temp is very important. I'm only bringing this up because of the ich. This may not be why your fish came down with it, IDK. But I use an ifrared thermometer or a simple cooking probe thermometer for this. Just try to keep the water within a degree or two. If you do and know this then don't take it the wrong way.

I hope this helps.

Also, this is the best puffer specific site out their. They usually have a library full of specific puffer species care, but it is down right now. But the info is on the forum if you do a search.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
thank you to all who replied. good suggestions! what are bumble gobies? I don't hav e a hydrometer nor do I watch my water temp at change times that carefully. I usually just try to make it the same temp by touch. but, I haven't ever had ick until I brought the puffers home. I think the problem was I put a new thermometer in the tank the next day and I am sure it takes hours to heat up properly. there is a local store that has pea puffers right now. if they are freshwater, that would surely be easier to take care of. although I really would love a f8 puffer. are there any bottom or algae feeders that can go brackish? I don't like the idea of not having a "cleaner" fish in the tank. realistically, I have 3 kids and can't commit to cleaning the tank weekly.
  • #6
although I really would love a f8 puffer. are there any bottom or algae feeders that can go brackish?
I have nerite snails but not in my brackish tank, though when I find some more I am gonna try them. Many people have success keeping nerites with F8s with no problem and nerites are cleaning machines...And very pretty to boot.

Bumblebee gobies...

BBGs are neat little fish that only get 1-1.5 inches. They don't have swim bladders so their motions is very unique.

Vid of my BBGs and F8 when they were in their 29 gallon about a year ago.

Also, pea puffers (DPs) won't eat flake food and require a diet of frozen bloodworms (not freeze dried).

Like this.

They are actually kept in the freezer.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
beautiful aquarium! I actually have a couple of those snails. I thought the puffers needed snails and I couldn't resist the patterns! so I have a 20 g tank. so are you saying the snails should be fine in a brackish tank with an f8 and a few gobbies? or the snails in freshwater with gobbies and an f8? I thought the f8 puffers are brackish?

I am a bit nervous about brackish water now. I don't have tools to check everything nor do I want to do it weekly! can I put gobbies in with pea puffers? and maybe an oto?

also I have stocked up on frozen brine shrimp and blood worms. I understand you mix some tank water in a cup with the frozen block for about 5 min before pouring in?
  • #8
From what I've read many people have luck with nerites and F8s.

Also if you don't want to go brackish then DPs might be best. Most of what I've researches say that BBGs should be kept in brackish water and mine have done well in it. You might want to stick with kuhlI loaches and otos with DPs. But again remember that otos need a very established tank.
  • #9
You would require at least a hydrometer to go brackish, you need to be able to measure the salt content of the water. Also, marine salt is needed to make the tank brackish, not aquarium salt. Sounds like you'd be better of with pea puffers. Good luck!
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
so I bought an f8 puffer and 3 bumblebee gobbies. also nerite snails. they are all doing great!!!!! but, I am not sure how often to feed the puffer? I have frozen brine shrimp. I thought every other day, but he seems hungry!!
  • #11
I feed juveniles every day. Frozen brine shrimp are low in nutrition and aren't a good choice to feed your F8 and BBGs all the time. Go with frozen bloodworms as a staple and the F8 will also need crustaceans at least several times a week or can be fed as every meal. Many of us breed snails for this reason. Fresh seafood is also a good choice.

Here are a few articles on F8s and BBGs. They are a bit long but they are extremely accurate and well worth being read a few times.

This one is from the creator of The Puffer Forum.

The author is regarded as the God of figure 8 puffer care.

Scroll down to the BBG section.

Another good BBG page.

Hope this helps and good luck.

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