We’ve been very interested in specimen tanks lately. It started with a beta, then some zebra danios, a cory catfish, plants, snails, and finally…dwarf puffer fish.
They’re the size of the last knuckle of my pinkie, they swim to the front of the tank when my fiancé walks in the bedroom, their eyes move in different directions! They are curious and aware, at first glance they appear bland and brownish in color. Upon further inspection the deep greens and bright yellows appear, their spots are as varied as their personalities and we’ve watched their colors darken and brighten depending on their mood.
Dwarf puffer fish can be found wild near shores in India and they are endangered because they are collected to sell as pets. In the pet store, you can ask if they were caught in the wild or bred in captivity.
The puffer fish has a big personality, think Napoleon Complex, and can be a bully with their tank mates. For this reason they are often kept in a separate species tank, but please note we have had success with keeping a cory catfish in the tank, they actually snuggle!
Their diet consists of small animals like copepods, krill, and especially snails; we use rams horn, pond, and Malaysian trumpet. All of these snails are considered pests, you can go to the pet store and ask for some “pest snails”, they’ll often give you them for free.
We set up a snail breeding tank and haven’t had to worry about our puffers eating (they can be picky and can easily starve). Some say that flakes and pellets are fine but these guys are hunters and if you want healthy puffers, give them something to chase!
Pictured below are some rams horn snail eggs, we noticed one of our larger snails clinging to one spot for much longer than they usually do (you’d be surprised how much these snails move). After a while it had disappeared and left behind the eggs pictured on the left. On the right is about a week later, almost ready to hatch!
Our puffers have become our hobby, all four of our tanks stemmed from the purchase of these two, trying to get their tank mates just right (none but the cory catfish worked for us), water changes at least once a week.
While it’s difficult setting up their initial habitat, once you have your tank ready puffers are quite simple to take care of.