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. Their helicopter-like maneuverability, independent moving eyes and ability to inflate as a small water balloon are some of their most notable attributes. This practical care guide answers the most frequently asked questions regarding these tiny, adorable creatures.
What is a Pea Puffer and How Does It Work?
Carinotetraodon Travancoricus, also known as Indian dwarf puffer and Malabar puffer and pygmy puffer, is the smallest pufferfish on the planet. It comes from the southwest tip of India in completely freshwater environments. They can grow to just one inch in length and are available for purchase at your local fish shop. These fish are not usually sold at pet stores chains. Pick a healthy puffer with a well-rounded stomach when choosing your pet. Ask the staff at the fish shop what the puffers eat, as they can be fussy 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.
Although puffers are considered “scaleless”, these medications have been shown to be safe for them. Use the recommended dosages. Otherwise, pathogens might survive.
Do Pea Puffers Puff Up?
Yes. It is rare, but you may catch your pufferfish in act of puffing up as a defensive mechanism or just for practice. To increase their size, pufferfish suck in water. This will discourage predators. It will eventually return to its original shape if left alone.
Please do not deliberately stress out your pet to “make” it inflate. You can view many pictures and videos online of the actual shape of your pet. You can also transport your pea puffer by using a cup or small container instead of a net. This will ensure that the fish is always submerged in water and doesn’t accidentally get airborne.
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. If you want to keep more than one, the general rule of thumb is to provide five gallons of water for the first puffer and three gallons of water for each additional puffer. In other words, it is possible to keep three puffers in a 10-gallon tank and six to seven puffers in a 20-gallon tank, but your rate of success depends on how well you set up their environment. You will see a pufferfish battle area if the tank is bare and lacking cover. 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 distinguish between a male or female Pea Puffer?
It can be a little tricky, but males tend to have deeper coloration with a stripe or dot on their belly. Their bodies are on the slenderer side, and they exhibit more aggressive behavior in general. Females on the other side have a yellow stomach and tend to be slimmer.
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. Find out the right size heater for you in our article.
In terms of other tank parameters, people have kept them at pH levels of 6.5 to 8.4. 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. Because they’re not the fastest swimmers, you should also use a gentle filter with a slower flow rate.
What are Pea Puffers’ Favorite Foods?
These hardcore carnivores are best fed on a diet of frozen foods (like frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp) and live foods (like little pest snails or blackworms). Although they are not fond of dry foods, we have had great success with Hikari vibra bites. These little guys look and feel like bloodworms while they’re sinking.
Most larger pufferfish must be fed hard, crunchy foods to grind down their ever-growing teeth, but thankfully pea puffers don’t have this problem. Therefore, if you can’t get a hold of live snails, it’s not a dealbreaker. To ensure that your snails live a healthy and long life, make sure you give them a variety of frozen foods.
Frozen Bloodworms are a favourite food of pea puffers. However, they can be fed a variety of other foods to ensure a varied diet.
Pea Puffers Can Live with Other Fish
This is one the most frequent questions we receive about pea-puckers. And it’s not an easy answer. While some puffers are timid, others can be quite aggressive and territorial. It’s like having a dog who is prone to fighting. In most cases, any other dog or pet you bring home will probably get 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. Pea puffers have a unique diet and are not compatible with other fish in the community. That being said, pea puffers are very inquisitive, have unique looks and behaviors, and can even learn to recognize you as their owner. A pea puffer is a great water pet that will live on your desk or kitchen countertop.
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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