Care Guide for Pea Puffers – the Smallest Pufferfish in The World


Care Guide for Pea Puffers – The Smallest Pufferfish in the World

Pea puffers are one of the coolest oddball species you can keep in a smaller-sized aquarium. They’re known for their helicopter-like maneuverability, independently moving eyes, and of course, ability to inflate like a tiny water balloon. This practical care guide answers the most frequently asked questions regarding these tiny, adorable creatures.

What is a Pea Puffer?

Carinotetraodon.travancoricus is also known by the names Indian dwarf puffer or Malabar puffer. This pufferfish comes from India’s southwestern tip and lives in freshwater. Growing only to one inch long, they’re sold for anywhere from $3 to $15 at your local fish store (usually not available at pet store chains). Make sure you choose a healthy pet puffer that has a round belly. It also helps to ask the fish store employees what they feed the puffers since they can be picky eaters.

Nowadays most pea puffers are captive bred, but if they’re wild caught, they may need additional deworming medication. Our trio of quarantine medications has been used as a preventative treatment for thousands upon thousands of pea puffers. It does not have any harmful side effects.

These three medications have been proven safe for puffers, even though they are considered “scaleless” and are not recommended for them. Use the recommended dosages. Otherwise, pathogens might survive.

Do Pea Puffers Puff Up?

Yes. Yes. Although this is very rare, it is possible to catch your pufferfish puffing up for defensive purposes or simply to practice. To increase their size, pufferfish suck in water. This will discourage predators. If let alone, it will shrink back down to its normal shape in due time.

You should not try to stress your pet in an effort to cause it to inflate. You can view many pictures and videos online of the actual shape of your pet. Also, if you need to move or transport your pea puffer, it’s best to use a cup or small container (instead of a net) so that the fish remains submerged in water at all times and won’t accidentally suck in air.

How Many Pea Puffers Can You Have in a 10-Gallon Tank?

Given how territorial pea puffers can be, many people have a lot of success keeping just one pea puffer in a five-gallon aquarium by itself. The general rule is to give five gallons to the first puffer, and three gallons to each subsequent puffer. This means that you can keep up to three puffers in your 10-gallon tank and six or seven in your 20-gallon. But, their success rates will vary depending on how well they are set up. A tank that is completely empty and without much cover will likely be a battle zone for pufferfish. If you have a lush, densely planted aquarium, you might be able to handle three puffers in a 10-gallon space.

Of course, the larger the aquarium, the better. A larger aquarium will provide more water volume, which means less waste. This is important because poor water quality can cause health problems for puffers. It also gives the puffers more space to avoid each other. A ratio of one male to two to three females is a good way to reduce aggression. But most pea puffers are sold in juveniles which can be difficult to sex. You may have to rehome at most one male if you are in a situation where three young puffers were purchased and one female was left.

Up to six or seven pea puffers can be kept in a 20-gallon aquarium (with no other tank mates) if you provide lots of cover in the form of aquarium plants or decorations.

How Do You Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Pea Puffer?

Although it can be difficult to see, males are more likely to have darker coloration with a stripe of dot on the belly. Their bodies are on the slenderer side, and they exhibit more aggressive behavior in general. Females, on the other hand, have a yellow belly and tend to be plumper in shape.

Are Pea Puffers a Good Use for a Heater?

They do well in stable, tropical temperatures from 74 to 82degF, so if your room temperature is below this range or tends to fluctuate a lot, you need an aquarium heater. You can read the full article to find out which size heater is best for you.

Other parameters of the tank have been kept at pH levels between 6.5-7.8. A pH range between 7.2 to 7.5 is ideal, but it’s more important to keep the pH levels stable rather than aim for a specific number. You should use a gentle filter that has a slower flow rate, as they are not the fastest swimmers.

What Do Pea Puffers Eat?

These carnivores love frozen food (such as brine shrimps and frozen bloodworms) and live foods (such as little pest snails and blackworms). We’ve found that they don’t like dry food, but they do enjoy Hikari Vibra Bits. They look and move just like bloodworms when they sink.

Pea puffers, unlike larger pufferfish, don’t need to be fed hard, crunchy foods in order to reduce their growing teeth. Therefore, if you can’t get a hold of live snails, it’s not a dealbreaker. You should ensure they are fed a wide range of frozen foods to ensure they receive all the nutrients they need to live a long, healthy life.

Frozen bloodworms are a favorite food for pea puffers, but offer them a diverse assortment of foods to ensure they have a well-rounded diet.

Can Pea Puffers Live With Other Fish?

This is one of our most frequently asked questions about pea puffers. It’s not an easy question to answer. Although some puffers may be timid, most are aggressive and territorial. It’s like having a dog who is prone to fighting. In most cases, your other pet or dog will be attacked. If they don’t, that’s great, but it might not be worth the hassle of finding your dog a roommate when you know the odds of friendship are not likely.

Therefore, if you want to keep pea puffers, buy them with the expectation of keeping them in a species-only aquarium with no other tank mates. This means that they won’t be available to help with clean-up or to eat algae, so you’ll need to take care of the tank yourself. Pea puffers can be a little messy, especially if they don’t catch every bit of food that falls in the water, so it would be beneficial to use live aquarium plants to help consume the toxic waste compounds. Ideally, a well-balanced, densely planted tank has very little algae growth, and it provides a beautiful underwater jungle for your little helicopter fish to navigate.

Are Pea Puffers Good Pets?

This oddball species is more of an intermediate level fish, so we generally don’t recommend them to first-time fish keepers. They are very picky about food and can’t be savored by other community fish. That being said, pea puffers are very inquisitive, have unique looks and behaviors, and can even learn to recognize you as their owner. Pea puffers are a wonderful water pet that can be kept on your desk or counter.

Pea puffers are very curious fish with excellent eyesight, so you’ll often see them carefully examining everything in their aquarium.

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