Keeping a puffer fish as a pet can be a unique and rewarding experience for aquarists. These quirky and charismatic creatures are known for their fascinating behaviors and distinctive appearance.

However, owning a puffer fish comes with specific challenges and responsibilities that potential owners should be aware of.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into everything you need to know about puffer fish as pets, from species selection to specialized care, tank setup, and more.

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About Puffer Fish

Puffer fish, also known as Tetraodontidae, are a fascinating family of fish that have captivated aquarists and marine enthusiasts for generations.

These unique creatures are renowned for their distinctive appearance and captivating behaviors, making them a popular choice among exotic pet owners.

Puffer fish are characterized by their round bodies, beak-like mouths, and an intriguing ability to inflate themselves when they feel threatened. This defense mechanism not only deters potential predators but also adds to their charm and allure.

Puffer fish inhabit a variety of environments, including freshwater, brackish water, and marine ecosystems, with the majority of species found in warm tropical waters.

While they are often associated with brackish or marine setups, several smaller species can adapt to freshwater aquariums, making them more accessible to hobbyists.

Beyond their appearance, puffer fish are known for their playful and curious nature. They display a range of engaging behaviors, from exploring their tank to interacting with their environment and even recognizing their owners.

However, puffer fish ownership is not without its challenges. These fish have specific care requirements, including a proper diet, suitable tank conditions, and careful consideration of tankmates.

If you're looking for a comprehensive guide to keep puffer fish as pets, you can get all the information about this in this article.

Species Selection

Puffer fish come in various species, each with its own characteristics and care requirements. Here is some general information on selecting the right puffer fish for your aquarium

Most popular puffer fish species include:

Dwarf Puffer

Dwarf Puffers also known as “Carinotetraodon travancoricus” are tiny puffers suitable for smaller tanks and are known for their vibrant colors and active personalities.

Figure 8 Puffer

Figure 8 Puffer (Tetraodon biocellatus) is recognizable by their distinctive figure-eight pattern on their sides, these puffers are brackish water species.

Green Spotted Puffer

Green Spotted Puffers (Tetraodon nigroviridis) are brackish water puffers appreciated for their bright green spots and curious behavior.

Puffer Fish Diet

A crucial aspect of puffer fish care is their diet. Puffers are carnivores and require a diet that suits their nutritional needs. Puffer fish have strong beaks that they use to crush and eat their prey. Their diet primarily consists of live, frozen or dried foods.

Here are some common Puffer Fish foods:

  • Live or frozen snails
  • Live or frozen shrimp
  • Live or frozen mussels
  • Live or frozen small fish
  • Freeze-dried krill

Tank & Decorations for Puffer Fish

Creating the right environment is essential for puffer fish well-being. Puffer fish thrive in well-decorated tanks that mimic their natural habitats. Consider adding caves, plants and substrate to create a stimulating environment.

Tank Size

The tank size required depends on the species. Smaller species like Dwarf Puffers, Figure 8 Puffer or Green Spotted Puffers can thrive in a 10/20-gallon tank, while larger species like Mbu Puffers may need a tank of 100 gallons or more.


Decorations play an important role in creating a thriving aquarium environment for your puffer fish. Incorporate rocks, driftwood, and live plants to provide hiding spots and encourage natural behaviors.

Rocks not only serve as aesthetically pleasing elements but also help in maintaining stable water parameters.

Driftwood not only adds a rustic touch but also creates nooks and crannies for your puffer fish to explore and take shelter in.

Live plants not only enhance the visual appeal of your tank but also contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem by oxygenating the water and offering additional hiding spots.

By carefully selecting and arranging these elements, you can create a habitat that not only meets the practical needs of your fish but also enhances the beauty of your aquarium.

Specialized Care

Taking care of puffer fish as a pet involves addressing their unique needs and potential health issues. Puffer fish are susceptible to specific illnesses, including bacterial and parasitic infections. It's crucial to monitor their behavior and appearance for signs of illness.

Veterinary Care

Find a vet experienced with fish to consult if you suspect your puffer fish is unwell. Prompt treatment can make a significant difference in their recovery.

It is necessary to control water quality to avoid puffer fish illnesses.

Water Quality

Maintaining the right water quality is fundamental for puffer fish health. Puffer fish can inhabit freshwater or brackish water, depending on the species.

Average water parameters are:

  • Temperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C)
  • pH: 7.0-8.5
  • Hardness: 10-20 dGH (degrees of General Hardness)

Regular water changes are essential to keep ammonia and nitrite levels low and maintain a healthy environment for your puffer fish.

Puffer Fish Tankmates

Choosing suitable tankmates is crucial to prevent aggression and ensure a harmonious aquarium. Puffer fish can be territorial and aggressive, especially when housed with other puffers or fish with similar personalities.

Puffer fish that can be kept in community tank:

  • Figure 8 Puffer
  • Green Spotted Puffer
  • South American Puffer

Here are good tankmates for Puffer fish:

  • Corydoras catfish
  • Bristlenose plecos
  • Gouramis (in larger tanks)
  • Peaceful tetras (in larger tanks)

Puffer fish that should be kept alone:

  • Amazon Puffer
  • Red-eye Puffer
  • Dragon Puffer

Tank size! If you intend to keep Puffer fish in a community or species-only tank, it is absolutely crucial that the tank size is 150 gallons or more to avoid puffer fish aggression.

Puffer Fish Cost and Availability

Before committing to puffer fish ownership, consider the costs and availability. Puffer fish prices vary depending on the species, size, and rarity.

Here are average prices for popular Puffer fish species:

  • Dwarf Puffer: $5-$10
  • Figure 8 Puffer: $10-$20
  • Green Spotted Puffer: $10-$30
  • Mbu Puffer: $50-$100+

Availability may vary depending on your location and the season, so research local pet stores and breeders.


Puffer fish can make fantastic and entertaining pets for dedicated aquarists. However, they require specialized care, attention to water quality, and consideration of tankmates.

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can provide a safe and comfortable home for your puffer fish, ensuring they lead happy and healthy lives in your aquarium.

See you in the next article!