Title says it all
I understand the need for live food (snail farm!), and was wondering what you guys' experiences were with them. Can a single one live happily in a 3 gallon NPT or would that be mean like keeping a betta in a bowl? Do they need heavy current or would a sponge filter be ok?
Tell me errything, I can't find much online about them :)
Greetings! I care for a dwarf/pea puffer for my husband (tank is on his desk but I tend plants and fish).
Dwarf/pea puffer aka Carinotetraodon travancoricus
Temp range: 72 – 82°F
Hardness: 5 – 25°H
info from this page (great site to source fish info)
My husband puffer lives in a 7.5 pH, 8 hardness, and 76F planted 12g long.
TANK AND FILTER
A single dwarf/pea puffer can live quite happily in a planted CYCLED 3g tank-they are very tiny fish and 3 gallons is not a cramped environment for them. They do not need a lot of current, the puffer in my husband's tank has a canister filter with a spray bar so it has some current but its only really noticeable near the spray-bar at the surface, the opposite end of the tank is calm waters and where he's more commonly at. A sponge filter (if cycled first) will work perfectly fine for a dwarf/pea puffer. They greatly appreciate a npt to forage in all day long (its fun to watch them explore).
I strongly recommend a fish-less pure ammonia cycle before adding the puffer, they do not tolerate ammonia or nitrite and cannot do a fish-in cycle like a betta can. I use Ace hardware janitor straighten ammonia for cycling my tanks. If you use a different product make sure it has no additives of other chemicals/cleaners/perfumes/dyes. I use a needle-les syrine for measuring doses and the calculator at the bottom of this page to know ho much ammonia to add (conversion calculator on the lower right par of the page):
Do a water change 1-2x a week (do ammonia dosing after a wc on a wc day). Use API Master liquid test kit (strips are useless) to test ammonia and eventual nitrite as it cycles. Doing the frequent water changes means nitrates won't be through the roof when you are done and ready to add a fish.
If you buy from http://msjinkzd.com/
she claims to train her puffers onto frozen foods (frozen blood worms and brine shrimp) before selling. I sadly could not get the one here from her as she was not selling at the time the tank was ready last year, so mine only eats live foods. I keep pond, bladder, ramshorn, and malaysain trumpet sanisl (MTS) on hand-he eats them all but MTS tend to burrow into the substrate fast to escape him so i don't feed them as often. Be mindful not to leave empty snail shells in the tank for too long, they do not suck all of the snail meat out of the shell and leaving several in for a long period can lead to an ammonia/nitrate spike. Simply remove dead snail shells every few days/week by hand or with tweezers/planting tongs.
If you run out you can ask in forums for pest snails or go to your lfs and ask for pest snails from thier fish tanks (if the tanks have a lot of dead/sick fish consider quarantining the snails for a month (feed algae wafer/veggie) to be on the safe side-I do this.).
It is good to have at least 2 TYPES OF FOOD for some variation. I don't mean 2 types of snails but snails + one other live food. I keep black worms-they're an aquatic worm that are easy to culture. You can also culture sevearl other types of small worms or dalphina.
If you'd like more info on black worm care let me know!
No a viable tank mate in a 3g, but in a 10g or larger you can keep otos (otocinlus) with dwarf puffers-the puffer does not harass otos....though it can sometimes be a real [censor] to any other species in a community tank 9they are prone to nipping and don't care how big or aggressive another fish is-puffers are MEAN). However there are a few cases where these puffers are peaceful in a community tank but don't put them with a betta- that's just asking for a shred finn disaster (I've also heard of a beta killing a puffer once). Otos must be kept in shoals (groups of 6 or more) to be comfortable and stress free, they do best in densely planted and well aged tanks 9several months old) to have plenty of the food they eat naturally growing in there. They also can be trained onto supplement foods like blanched:lettuce, spinach, cucumber, squash/zucchini, I've also seen people feed them carrots and a member on here recently gave their otos mushrooms. Otos don't eat algae wafers as most on the market have a meat based "___meal" as one of the first 3 ingredients and they don't eat that stuff.
Keeping shrimp or snails (even large species) with a puffer may just mean you gave the puffer a big buffet-they can peck them apart/to death. My husband's puffer is a rare exception-I tossed 5 cherry shrimp (dwarf species) in his tank as food but he refused to eat them and now I have a huge colony of shrimp.. but again this is an exception not the norm.
GET A LID. Dwarf puffers can be skittish especially when first introduced to a tank. My husband's dwarf puffer has been here nearly a year and only recently stopped breaking the water's surface when lights turn on/off for tank. Without a lid he might get out and dry up on the desk.
WHEN YOU GET THE FISH:
First off cycle the tank! Cannot emphasize that enough. Next most important thing: never take the puffer out of water! They will puff up if in air and stressed and sometimes cannot un-puff which can lead to death. Use a cup instead of a fish nest (or net fish and keep it in a cup of water as transporting) to keep it under water. Next thing to keep in mind: keep the room/tank dark when acclimating and first releasing the fish to reduce stress. If possible put a little towel/cloth over the acclimation container and keep tank lights off for at least the first several hours if not the whole first day.
When you bring you fish home I recommend a drip acclamation. You can use the store/shipping bag (or a clean bowl/large glass/tupperware container/etc). Get an airline tube and either knot it off to drip water out OR use the little black "T" that adjusts pressure through the airline, get a siphon going from the tank the fish is going in (by sucking the other end of the airline tube) and adjust it to 2-5 drips per a second then place it in the drip container/bag/whatever (this method is much more gradual and less stressful to the fish than floating a bag/cup and pouring in water). Keep an eye on it so it does not overflow, cup/pour out water as it gets full and allow to container dripping (or put fish and water in a larger container as it fills). Let the fish drip acclimate at least an hour (this lets it slowly adjust to different pH, nitrogen levels, and hardness). After its drip acclimation I usually use a clean bag (or store/shipping bag) and float the fish in a bit of its drip acclimation water in the tank for 30 minutes to make sure it is at proper temperature. After this I carefully release the puffer (either bu use of fishnet+cup, or open bag and let fish out through the water. If you choose the 2nd option for fish release try not pour all of the bag water into the tank-you don't know what could be in the water the fish came in. Top off tank water with new dechlorinated water to replace what was sucked out for acclimation. Make sure new water is the same pH and temp as tank water.
MALE VS FEMALE IDENTIFICATION
Dwarf/pea puffers are not as easy to id gender on when juvenile (typical selling age) but they do develop traits that distinguish males from females as they start to mature (within a few months of getting the fish)
This page is very helpful for determining gender:
The dwarf/pea puffer is a brackish fish: FALSE. This is a fresh water fish!
The dwarf/pea puffer has a beak and must eat snails to keep it from growing too much: FALSE. While they do love to eat snails this particular breed of puffer does not actually have a beak and could live on a diet void of snails (but you should get them some, they really do love to eat 'em.
If you have more questions feel free to ask! I did not add info about keeping multiple puffers as it sounds liek you want to just keep 1 in a 3g(which works out nicely).