The Ultimate Guide To Freshwater Puffer Fish (Top 5 Puffers)

Freshwater Puffer Fish

In today’s post, I will show you the top 5 Freshwater Puffer Fish you should get.

In Fact: Guide and facts around it.

Let’s dive right in.

Freshwater pufferfish are becoming more popular with aquarium owners because they look so cute with their ball-like bodies. They are also exciting because of their territorial behavior and unique ability to puff up air or water, which makes them very interesting. Do you like the idea of having pufferfish in your aquarium? It is essential to know which puffers live in freshwater and which ones need a tank with a lot of saltwater.

Freshwater Puffer Fish Overview

Pufferfish are tropical fish that may be found in marine, brackish, and freshwaters all over the world. They are all members of the Tetraodontidae family. There are about 150 species of pufferfish, but only around 30 of them exist in freshwater. Before you get one, make sure you’re skilled in fishkeeping, since this fish species will necessitate a high amount of attention.

Despite their cuteness, they may be highly violent! Due to their distinct feeding timings, care requirements, and hostility, they should be housed in a single specimen tank.

A special feature of this fish is their highly lethal neurotoxin known as Tetraderotoxin. This acts as a mechanism for their protection in the wild. But not all puffers are toxic. Instead of producing toxins directly from these fish, they add bacteria that produce Tetraderotoxins to them.

They collect these bacteria from the food they eat in the wild. Because your fish won’t be eating food in the aquarium, they won’t be exposed to toxins.

If properly cared for, freshwater pufferfish may live up to ten years in an aquarium.

How Does Big Do Freshwater Puffer Fish Get?

What do you think about freshwater puffer fish size? Let’s see.

Freshwater pufferfish is about 6inches long. Pufferfish are nocturnal predators, which means they are most active at night. As a result, they need a tank at least 35 inches long to live comfortably.

Freshwater Puffer Fish Tank Mates

These little dudes are anything but good community fish, but, if you simply MUST have tank mates and are willing to risk fin nipping and the odd chunk being taken out of a fish that’s careless, then you need to choose fish that swim fast and do not have long fins.

You must be prepared to treat any injuries and quite possibly give up the idea of tank mates for the good of the tank mates!

Their favorite food just may be small snails. Or maybe blood worms; along with brine shrimp, daphnia, copepods, etc. But technically, these guys are omnivores, not carnivores, so they may also nibble some algae.

Because of their tiny size, they can’t break snail shells like their larger cousins can, so they grab hold of the foot and suck them out, something like slurping up the end of a noodle. MTS snails, ramshorns, bladder snails, all make good live food for them.

Related article – How To Keep Your Aquarium Fish Healthy

Are Freshwater Puffers Poisonous?

Is Freshwater puffer fish a cute one? We can see them as cute fishes, but they are very aggressive. Freshwater puffers have a self-safety method. They are inflated with water as a protection mechanism. Puffers use this method to protect themselves from their Predators.

They also carry a lethal poison known as tetrodotoxin to protect themselves from predators. Special thing! Not all species of freshwater puffers are poisonous. Also, toxic puffer species do not directly produce these things. They accomplish that by collecting tetrodotoxin-producing bacteria from their foods.

Don’t worry! Puffers in aquariums are toxin-free since they don’t eat such items.

Are Freshwater Puffers Poisonous?

Natural Habit of Freshwater Puffer Fish

Freshwater puffers are tropical freshwater fish that live in rivers and lakes in tropical and temperate climates across the world. In order to make these tropical fishes feel more at ease and survive longer, you should strive to reproduce their original habitat as much as possible.

As well as another important thing is you should maintain the same water hardness, pH level, and current as in rivers in South Asia, South America, and Africa.

Because these fish are susceptible to viruses and parasites from the outside, you need to use strong filters in your tank to keep it clean while maintaining the same water conditions.

Breeding Puffers

Breeding puffer is very difficult. They need a lot of requirements, and we should provide them properly. Also, water factors and conditions vary depending on the species.

It isn’t easy to find a matching puffer pair. However, if you can find a pair, the most difficult part is raising the fry.

There are many facts to consider raising the fry. I’m going to show you something very important!

Pufferfish are usually quite protective of their eggs, but the parents will most likely consume them after they hatch. It’s tough to feed the fry enough, and they’re quite sensitive to water quality. So, the breeding of puffer is a very strenuous activity, and we must be very careful while doing it.

Freshwater Puffer Fish Tank Size

The freshwater puffer fish tank is a very important thing when we raise the puffers. Let’s see how to do that!

The size of the tank will vary significantly depending on the type of pufferfish you get. The tank of a dwarf puffer, an imitator puffer, or a red-tailed dwarf puffer should hold at least 10 gallons of water. If you want to keep a South American puffer or a Congo pufferfish, you’ll need at least a 40-gallon tank.

A crested pufferfish will require 55 gallons of water, while a Golden puffer fish would already require 125 gallons. As well MBU pufferfish will need 500 gallons. For any variety of pufferfish, it’s recommended to purchase a larger tank than what they require.

Related article – The Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle – Best Beginner’s Guide

Water Requirements for Freshwater Puffers

Because freshwater puffer fish are highly sensitive to disease, you must provide them with the greatest possible habitat. Water with a pH of 7.0 to 7.6 and a temperature of 74 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit is best for freshwater puffer fish.

Use an Aqueon Aquarium Heater to maintain the proper water temperature if the aquarium is maintained in a room below 74°. Also, maintain good filtration. Pufferfish are very sensitive to changing water conditions and to high amounts of nitrate and ammonia in the water. Because they also create a lot of trash, you should change the water every week or every two weeks with an Aqueon Aquarium Water Changer or a Siphon Vacuum Gravel Cleaner.

Related article – How to Clean a Fish Tank – Best Tips

Can you Put 2 Puffer Fish Together?

When given the right conditions, these species may typically coexist peacefully. A special thing! The tank must be well-decorated, with plenty of hiding spots and plenty of space for them.


A minimum amount of ammonia or nitrite is not enough for pufferfish. Then they will die. Adequate ammonia or nitrite should be provided for them. These aren’t found in fully cycled aquariums, so to make sure you’re on the right track, we’ll explain what cycling is.

Bacteria will begin to convert ammonia to nitrite and eventually nitrate after you add an ammonia source, but this process might take up to a month. If you’re using pure ammonia, start by dosing at 4ppm until nitrites emerge, then reduce to 2ppm.

Other techniques for cycling the tank exist, but the ammonia approach is the most effective.


Related Article – The Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle – Best Guide

Types of Freshwater Puffer Fish

1. Dwarf Puffer

Dwarf Puffer

Many aquarists think that the Dwarf puffer is the best puffer to keep in a tank. Could you place them in a small tank? We should not put them in a community aquarium because they might bite the fins of slow-moving fish. Their small size also puts them at risk of being eaten by their more powerful friends.

Some parasites can be complex to get rid of in fish sold in stores. This could kill the fish, so you should be careful. It’s essential to be careful when you buy your first dwarf puffer because some of them might be sick. They might be lethargic or not want to interact with people.

2. Red Eye Puffer

Red Eye Puffer

The red-eye puffer is a fish with a big personality in the wild. Please keep it in a species-only habitat because it shows aggression towards other species alone. Unless you want to keep them with each other, it’s best to keep them alone. They aren’t friendly or kind. If you’re saving more than one red eye puffer in a tank, make sure it has enough plants. Make sure you also keep an eye on the puffers.

3. South American Puffer

South American Puffer
Picture by amazonasmagazine

The South American pufferfish is different from most pufferfish in the water. They don’t act like they’re fighting with each other or other species. When the South American puffer is alone, it gets nervous. People in South America puffer groups fight over food during the day, but they stay together at night or when they’re afraid.

4. Fahaka Puffer / Nile Puffer

Fahaka Puffer / Nile Puffer
Picture by aquariumadvocate

If you look at the Fahaka pufferfish, also called the Nile puffer, you’ll see it is an oversized puffer that can grow to 1.4 feet long. The Nile Puffer is a freshwater fish that looks very different from other pufferfish. They can also change color depending on their mood. They can hurt or kill other fish in the same tank.

The puffer has strong teeth to rip apart other animals in the same tank. There have been reports of fish keepers getting hurt when they do simple things like clean their tanks. Because of its nature, you need to keep the Fahaka puffer alone.

5. Target Puffer

Target Puffer

The target puffer is thought to be rare by tropical fish enthusiasts. The species that live in freshwater and saltwater can be identified by a colored spot near the tail that ranges from orange to purple. There is a steady growth in the puffer teeth that we want to find. This means that you need to feed them food with a hard shell, like snails and other mollusks, to keep their teeth from getting too big.

Small Freshwater Puffer Fish

The freshwater puffer aquarium should be well decorated and have caves, caverns, and overhangs to give the fish places to hide and shelter. This is because the size of your aquarium will depend on what kind of fish you want to keep. For example, C. travancoricus Dwarf Pea Puffers can live in aquariums that are only 5 gallons. Other species need at least 20 gallons for each fish. They don’t need as much space as you think because they don’t move very much.

Freshwater puffers can nip at fish fins, and some are aggressive and predatory. A few fish species can be kept together or other fast-moving fish, like danios. People who live on the Mekong, Nile, and Mbu Puffers have to be alone. When it comes to freshwater puffers, they should be kept in a species tank most of the time. Before buying puffer fish for your aquarium, talk to an aquarium expert.

Pet Pufferfish Species

These fish have strong “fighting instincts.” They will fight anyone they think is a threat. Usually, pufferfish live alone. They don’t usually share their home with other fish.

Poison spikes: One of the things that helps the pufferfish stay alive is that it can make a poison called tetrodotoxin. This toxin is located all over their bodies, causing puffers to be challenging to touch and even riskier to eat.

Adorable but scary: These fish might look cute when they’re big, but they’re trying to stay alive by being fearful. There aren’t many predators who will visit to eat a fish that looks like it has grown a lot.


Even though pufferfish are aggressive toward humans and other predators, they are very attached to their mates. By showing her through the moisture and stroking her side as she offers birth, the male helps the female lay her eggs.


How To Take Care of Your Freshwater Puffer Fish

So the most important thing is freshwater puffer fish care. Let’s see how!

The only thing left to do to ensure that your freshwater puffer fish is properly cared for is to feed it a balanced and healthy diet. These fish are omnivores so they can eat almost anything. But while there may be a preference for meat, maintaining some diversity is still beneficial.

In their native environment, freshwater puffer fish eat invertebrates like snails, mussels, and crabs. They don’t stop there, though. They also eat different types of fish. Therefore, invertebrates or other fish should not be kept in the tank.

How To Take Care of Your Freshwater Puffer Fish

Live, dry, or frozen meat can be given to them. Although they may live only on meat or fish, you should provide them with a well-balanced and diverse diet. So, it’s good to give some veggies once or twice a week is a smart idea.

Freshwater puffer fish have permanent teeth that develop throughout their lives. These can grow excessively long, making it difficult for them to eat, and you should clip them if this is the case.

Because freshwater puffer fish lack scales, they are particularly vulnerable to ectoparasites. Trichodina sp., Ichthyobodo sp., Oodinium sp., and Chilodonella sp. are the parasites that commonly bother freshwater puffer fish. By simply increasing the temperature of the fish tanks, these parasites may be removed and treated promptly.

Many difficulties may be avoided by investing in a proper filtering system.

Related Article – How To Keep Your Aquarium Fish Healthy

So in today’s article, we learned about many facts and a full guide to freshwater puffer fish. Then let’s see the most common problems about the puffer fish people can have.

FAQ – Freshwater Puffer Fish

1. What are the freshwater puffer fish tankmates?

  • Neon Tetras
  • Kuhli Loaches
  • Some Danios
  • Adult Cherry Shrimp

2. What is the smallest freshwater puffer fish?

Pea puffer

3. What is the freshwater puffer fish size?

Puffers can be between one to 24 inches.

4. Are freshwater puffer fish easy to take care of?

Not the easiest to care about. But if you are already comfortable with the fish-keeping industry, you can keep puffers. If you are new to the fish-keeping world, we are not recommended puffers.

5. Are freshwater puffers aggressive?

It depends. Some puffers can be aggressive.

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