Care Guide for Amazon Puffers Freshwater Puffer For Community Tanks
Puffers are fascinating fish in the aquarium hobby because of their unusual, globelike shape and intelligent personalities, but many species grow incredibly large, require brackish water, or are too aggressive to be kept with other tankmates. Fortunately, the Amazon puffer is one of the few freshwater “community puffers” that only grows to 3 inches (7.6 cm) long and can live with other fish. Find out how to care for this amazing oddball and see if it’s the right pufferfish for you.
What is the Amazon Puffer exactly?
Colomesus asellus is known by many common names, including the Amazon puffer and South American puffer (SAP). It has a golden yellow body with dark bands that look like a bee pattern. Also, it has a white underbelly and a black spot near its tail. You can find the SAP in all parts of the Amazon basin and its surrounding areas, including in floodplain lakes and rushing rivers.
South American puffers are very curious and like to closely examine every nook and cranny of their surroundings.
Fish farms have not found the secret to profitably breeding Amazon puffers in captivity yet, so all of the ones sold at your fish store are caught from the wild. Many of them may come in extremely skinny with parasitic infections. Don’t buy a puffer if it has a concave abdomen, or is covered with white spots. Even if you purchase relatively healthy specimens, make sure to quarantine them in a separate tank first to ensure they do not spread diseases to your other aquariums. Due to the possibility of them contracting pathogens, it is a good idea to treat them immediately with a trio quarantine medication. (This process is similar to the vaccination of pet dogs and cats that you bring home.)
How do you deworm a puffer? Pufferfish are especially prone to internal parasites like tapeworms, but the dewormers only get rid of adult worms and do not affect unhatched eggs. Therefore, you must apply multiple deworming treatments to ensure all the eggs have hatched and are eliminated. We treat our puffers with the three-week-old quarantine medication trio, then wait two more weeks. Next we follow up with a 5-day treatment of Fritz ParaCleanse (using the instructions on the box) and then wait a month. Afterwards, we use a 7-day treatment of PraziPro as our final deworming step. For more information on how to treat fish parasites, read the full article here.
Are Amazon puffers puffy? They can take in water and air to defend themselves, but they are not stressed out for this purpose. Images of their inflated state can be found online. If you need to transport them, consider using a small plastic tub or catch cup instead of a fish net to prevent them from sucking in air.
How long do Amazon pufferfish live? Hobbyists have reported owning their South American puffers for up to 8-10 years and sometimes even longer.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Amazon Puffers
We recommend keeping these puffers in at most a 30-gallon aquarium. However, 55 gallons would work well. They can be kept in a pH level of 6.0-8.2, soft or hard water, 72-82degF, or 22-28degC, because they have lived in so many habitats.
How much Amazon puffers can one person keep in a tank? A group of six is best. If they start to fight and become territorially aggressive, you should consider keeping them in a group of at least six. To block their view and provide them with interesting areas to explore, add decorations, aquarium plants, or hardscape.
Use tall background plants like vallisneria as moving obstacles for the pufferfish to swim around, thus providing greater enrichment in their environment.
Can Amazon puffers live with other fish? Yes, we consider them to be “community fish” compared to other puffers, but they still have a bit of attitude and sometimes can nip at slower, long-finned fish. They are also prone to eating shrimp and invertebrates. Instead, keep them other similar-sized, peaceful fish that are equally as energetic, such mollies, swordtails, larger tetras and rasboras, and dwarf cichlids.
Why do my Amazon puffers keep glass surfing? “Glass surfing” is when a fish repeatedly swims up and down along the tank walls, and it could be caused by stress, boredom, defense of territory, and other reasons. Although there are no cures for glass surfing, hobbyists have tried many things to help their fish. They’ve added black paint to reduce reflections, increased flow with a powerhead and blocked their favorite corner with tall decorations.
What do Amazon Puffers eat?
SAPs, like many puffers have four teeth that are constantly growing in their fronts. This “beak” allows them to chew through hard shells of crustaceans or mollusks, just as other puffers. In order to prevent their teeth becoming too long, grind them with all kinds of crunchy foods such as bladder snails or ramshorns. While it may take a bit of training, some hobbyists have successfully fed Repashy gel food mixed with crushed oyster shells (sold as chicken feed) or they have dipped rocks in Repashy so that the Amazon puffers scrape their teeth against hard surfaces. If you are having a hard time putting weight on your newly purchased puffers, try frozen bloodworms and live blackworms at first. These foods won’t help your teeth get straighter, but they are very popular with puffers.
Frozen worms can be a tasty treat to help Amazon puffers gain weight. However, they can also be used to transition to hard foods to help them grind their teeth.
How do you clip a pufferfish’s teeth? If the hard foods are not filing down their beaks enough, your puffer’s teeth may become so overgrown that they can no longer properly eat. Use a pair of sharp cuticle scissors to trim the tips of their teeth. This will prevent them from becoming starving. Make sure to research the best method for you. A common technique is to add about 2-4 drops clove oil to 1 Liter (or 4.25 cups) water. In a mild anesthetic, add the puffer to the solution. The puffer should feel sedated within a matter of minutes. Hold the drowsy puffer gently in your fist; if the puffer is too slippery, use surgical gloves or a fish net (wrapped like a blanket around the puffer) to get a better grip. As needed, trim the tip of the lower and upper teeth with the cuticle scissors. Place the fish back into fresh water and it should wake up again within a few minutes. This process may need to repeated depending on how often the fish eats.
If the thought of fish dentistry is not appealing to you, consider one of their smaller relatives, the pea puffer or Indian dwarf puffer. They only grow to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, can be kept in smaller fish tanks, and do not have a problem with overgrown teeth.