Figure 8 Puffers are hardy, peaceful (once settled in), and long lived. Their intelligence, small size (up to 7 cm) and not needing salt, makes them a popular fish for small tanks (20 litres min). A great fish for beginners and expert fish keepers.
The Figure 8 puffer originates in the brackish (partial salinity) streams and estuaries of Southeast Asia, including Borneo, the Malaysian peninsula, Sumatra, and Thailand. Although these fish do not breed in captivity, they have not as yet been overfished for the trade and are not considered to be a threatened species. Figure 8 puffers in home aquariums have all been wild-caught, which means it’s important for them to be quarantined when they first arrive.
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Even when not startled, all Figure 8 puffers have a roly-poly appearance; you can easily spot a well-fed puffer by its rounded belly. Puffers have two pairs of teeth, each of which is fused together, giving it a beak-like appearance. This unusual arrangement of teeth gives it the ability to crush hard materials such as the shells of crustaceans. These teeth grow throughout the life of the fish and must get ground down to keep them from being too long. For this reason, they need hard-shelled foods to help keep their teeth the proper length.
Unlike most fish, Figure 8 puffers are able to recognize and respond to their owners.
They occupy all regions of the tank and can be found in and amongst plant life as well as out in the open scavenging for food.
These fish can get bored and listless. As a result, they require ample open space to swim, but they also need places to both hide in and explore. They can be hard on plants, due to aggressively attacking their foods; pieces of food rain down on plants and other aquarium décor. Decorate the tank with sturdy plants, and be aware that you may need to replace them from time to time.
Filtration should be robust, as Figure 8 puffers tend to create a lot of debris when eating.
The minimum size of aquarium recommended for a Dwarf Puffer is a 20 litre tank.
Puffers are not well suited to a community tank because they tend to be aggressive. Ideally, Figure 8 puffers should be kept alone or in a large aquarium with only a few other fish that thrive in the same partial-salinity habitat. Owners who have kept them in brackish water find that bumblebee gobies, knight gobies, and mollies are suitable companions. Owners keeping them in freshwater aquariums have reported keeping them with fish such as barbs, “sharks,” and tetras. As a rule of thumb, don’t expect to successfully keep them in a typical freshwater community tank.
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The dietary needs of Figure 8 puffers are perhaps one of the more demanding aspects of keeping this fish. In nature, they typically eat crustaceans and mollusks. Flake or dried foods do not meet their dietary needs. Instead, they must be fed on meaty and hard-shelled foods such as clams, crayfish, crickets, daphnia, krill, oysters, plankton, scallops, snails, shrimp, and worms.
Because the nutcracker-like beak of the Figure 8 puffer can become overgrown, it is important to include plenty of very hard-shelled foods in their diet to keep the teeth ground down. Tetraodon snails or pond snails are terrific for this purpose. Although live foods are ideal, some owners have had success training their puffer to eat some frozen foods.
Clean water is important. Keep the dissolved organics and nitrates low by doing large regular water changes. Filtration should be robust, as Figure 8 puffers tend to create a lot of debris when eating. They are sensitive to ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, and will not do well in a tank that is still going through the start-up cycle.
Due to the messy feeding habits and sensitivity to organic pollutants, powerful filtration should be used and a regular maintenance regime carried out. High levels of oxygenation are advised.
With a salinity of between 1.005 and 1.008 specific gravity (S.G.), the lifespan of this species has been as long as 15 years.
See Fish Disease Diagnosis and Treatment at Rebel Pets for help with diagnosing and treating diseases.
|Adult Size:||7 cm|
|Aquarist Experience Level:||Intermediate|
|Minimum Tank Size:||70 litres, +40 litres/add. fish|
|Tank Level:||Mid to lower|
|Diet:||Live snails and crustaceans|
|Lifespan:||up to 15 Years|
|Water Flow:||Moderate to High|
|Temperature:||22 to 26°C|
|pH:||7.0 – 7.5|
|Hardness:||5 to 12 dGH|