Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Oh no! Sick fish?! Come here and see if someone can help!
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Read this before posting!!

Since this board has been up, we have found there are several questions that routinely get asked in order to help diagnose problems. If you can have that information to begin with in your post, we'll be able to help right away (if we can!) without having to wait for you to post the info we need.

1) Your water parameters - pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrates and salinity (if appropriate). This is by far the most important information you can provide! Do not answer this with "Fine" "Perfect" "ok", that tells us nothing. We need hard numbers.

2) Tank size and a list of ALL inhabitants. Include algae eaters, plecos, everything. We need to know what you have and how big the tank is.

3) Feeding, water change schedule and a list of all products you are using or have added to the tank (examples: Cycle, Amquel, salt, etc)

4) What changes you've made in the tank in the last week or so. Sometimes its the little things that make all the difference.

5) How long the aquarium has been set up, and how did you cycle it? If you don't know what cycling is read this: Fishless Cycling Article and familiarize yourself with all the information. Yes. All of it.

We want to help, and providing this information will go a LONG way to getting a diagnosis and hopeful cure that much faster.

While you wait for assistance:
One of the easiest and best ways to help your fish feel better is clean water! If you are already on a regular water change schedule (50% weekly is recommended) a good step to making your fish more comfortable while waiting for diagnosis/suggestions is to do a large water change immediately. Feel free to repeat daily or as often as you can, clean water is always a good thing! Use of Amquel or Prime as a dechlor may help with any ammonia or nitrite issues, and is highly recommended.

Note - if you do not normally do large water changes, doing a sudden, large water change could shock your fish by suddenly changing their established water chemistry. Clean water is still your first goal, so in this case, do several smaller (10%) water changes over the next day or two before starting any large ones.

Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Cool Reef on Sun May 13, 2012 10:55 am

4 year old Dogface Puffer, REEF,just moved in with us. He is between 4-5 inches.
He is not moving much and we are so scared for him, we have have never had a salt water tank, and with no experience we don't know what to expect from him. He has eaten, but we feel like not enough, but we don't know what enough is.
We need you puffer lovers with experience and skills to please read and HELP US! PLEASE!

Thanks,
Dana, Bill, Sarah, Alannah, Connor, Merrek, and REEF.

1.) PH- I don't know
Ammonia - I don't know
Nitrites- idk
Nitrates - idk
Salinity - 1.018 (but we have a floaty type to measure and the former owner said the level always reads 0.002 lower than it really is)
Temp - 76
We are going to bring a water sample to the aquatics store today.

2.) 80 gal tank
There is a domino Damsel and nothing else (about 7 lbs of live rock)
But the damsel and he have been living together for 4 years.
The Damsel seems as happy as can be.

3.) He was moved across town yesterday so we pumped out all the water, but saved every gallon and placed it back in with the exception of about 12 gallons. 10 gal of which we replaced with premixed water from petsmart, and about two gallons of fresh water. We added about a half cap of Seachem Prime to the sump after having the pump and filter going for 6 hours.

4.) the sump and corner flow area and pipes and hoses were covered in sludge, so we wiped and wrinsed all of that down, we were careful not to mess with the bio balls at all, and we used nothing but water and clean towels for cleaning.
We took out a massive (3 lbs) amount of old clam, mussel, and oyster shells. There were also about 6 or 7 large ornaments that we did not like so we did not reintroduce them.
We introduced about 7 lbs of live rock, and 30 lbs of lace rock and 8 lbs of lava rock. We wrinsed the rock very well and had no significant cloudiness in the water from them.

5.) the above pretty much covers the water cycling and changes. It wasn't really a cycle because we added about 90% of the same water back to the tank, and added the premix for the rest.

So the questions and concerns:
- he seems to not have a lot of color, and we don't know what is normal.
- do we need to be fearful about anything we have done so far?
- what is a puffer's personality? Our Reef seems really sluggish, he spent most of the morning curled up in a ball under a rock. see picture. Is this normal?
- how much do we feed him? And how do we feed him? We have put in three cubes of Marine Cuisine but I would say the Damsel has eaten 2 of the 3 cubes maybe even more. How can we make sure food gets to the slower puffer?
- we want to introduce live plants, any recommendations? There is one midsize plant on a piece of the live rock and it has been left alone so far (a whopping 8 hours :o) is there a waiting period we should have before adding anything?
- what have people found are the best corals or anemone to try? We know they might not make it with the puffer but want to try what has worked best for others.
- when can we add other fish? What are the best to try?

Anything and everything you can share or give insight into for us would be Soooo appreciated. We are worried about Reef.

THANK YOU for taking the time to read and help.
Thank you thank you thank you.
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby El Scorpio on Sun May 13, 2012 11:17 am

There's probably something about the water he doesn't like. You're absolutely going to have to get a test kit and keep an eye on water chemistry. Puffers are more sensitive to dissolved organic toxins like Ammonia and Nitrite because they don't have scales, and unacceptable levels *will* kill them. Also, the water does NOT cycle a tank; the nitrifying bacteria that eliminates these wastes is in the rock, biological filtration (like the bio balls) and substrate, to a lesser extent. This is why you're going to need a water test kit.

As far as their personalities go, puffers are the most personable fish in the trade. They will recognize their owners, and swim up to the front glass panel to greet them. They're like little puppies with fins - its why we devoted an entire forum to them. ;)

He's probably not going to eat very much right now, but you might be able to kick start his appetite with some live foods, like ghost shrimp. Keep in mind that the dental plate on a pufferfish is fused together to form a beak-like structure used for breaking open crustaceans, as this is what they eat in the wild. This beak grows constantly much like a rodent's teeth and will need to be worn down by eating hard shelled foods. Once he starts eating, you can feed him frozen mysis shrimp, frozen mussels and even squid. Stay away from freeze dried krill - these are known to cause lockjaw in pufferfish.

Could you post a picture on here so we can see his coloration?
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Pufferpunk on Sun May 13, 2012 11:25 am

You need to get yourself a saltwater mixing system, ASAP. A big Brute 33g (got mine at Sam's Club), strong powerhead & an RODI system for water. Look at http://www.bulkreefsupply.com for that. Did you ri8nse the LR too? Buy an API test kit today at the store, so you can keep an eye on the parameters. I really wish you had done research before buying this system but we'll try to get you through this.
You are getting sleepy... you only hear the sound of my voice... you must do water changes... water changes... water changes... water changes...

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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby bertie 83 on Sun May 13, 2012 12:09 pm

Was the lr cured?
It's amazing how easy maintenance is. If done regularly and thoroughly
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Nuclear_Glitter on Sun May 13, 2012 12:14 pm

What did you rinse your liverock in?
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Cool Reef on Sun May 13, 2012 12:14 pm

Thanks!
We did a lot of reading online, and talked with some friends, and the woman who sold us Reef gave us a lot of help, but there is nothing that can replace doing.
Which is why we are so greatful to have you guys for the live feedback.

-We are leaving in a few to head to Tideline Aquatics with a water sample, and to pick up a water testing kit as well.
-Will start doing some research on "big brute" and an RO system as well.
(We are instantly "hooked" and are planning to make this a life long hobby so we don't want to cut any corners or spare any expense)
-We will pick up some live ghost fish today as well.
-What size on the mussels? should they be live or frozen? same question for the clams.
-We did not rinse the LR before we put it in. How bad was that?
-Can we add some hermet crabs today? the former owner said Reef never catches them, and they are fun to watch in the tank so we want to do that.

Pictures of Reef in following Post

THANK YOU SO MUCH! Please keep the help comming. We need it!
Dana, Bill, the gang, and REEF
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Cool Reef on Sun May 13, 2012 12:18 pm

the Live rock was taken right from another salt water tank at the aquatics store kept wrapped in wet paper towels, tied in plastic bags, and then just added to the tank. I am going to add a picture of each rock.

We have noticed there are a few live clams on the rocks.

Posting pics now.
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Nuclear_Glitter on Sun May 13, 2012 12:26 pm

You need 1.5-2 pounds PER gallon, the more, the better. You can purchase dry rock from here: http://www.marcorocks.com/ and then buy a bottle of Dr. Tims one and only (also known as biospira, sometimes) to cycle your liverock the rest of the way. You want a liquid test kit, not strips. Are you running a skimmer?
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Cool Reef on Sun May 13, 2012 12:38 pm

Pictures of everything.

Will the Damsel just eat the live Ghost shrip before REEF gets a shot?

Can we add hermet Crabs?
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Nuclear_Glitter on Sun May 13, 2012 12:42 pm

The damsel may or may not get to them first. Plus, you really need to QT (quarantine) them for a couple of weeks before feeding them, plus gut-load them. You should use other marine foods. Try some hermit crabs and snails. Again, they still need QT. Try saltwater shrimp from the grocery store that's frozen, uncooked and has no seasoning, at all.
Last edited by Nuclear_Glitter on Sun May 13, 2012 12:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Cool Reef on Sun May 13, 2012 12:44 pm

here are the pictures of the Live Rock we added.

I think it was deff cured. They said we could just add it at the store.
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Pufferpunk on Sun May 13, 2012 12:44 pm

Do NOT add any new inhabitants to that tank! You must get the water stable for at least a month before you consider adding anything. Don't let the shop convince you to buy anything but the product recommended by NG, above. Seeding dry rock is the cheapest way to go or look for more established LR on Craigslist.

Buying LR from a shop doesn't guarantee it is cured, as they may have just had it shipped into them. Which means it could have been out of water for days... Unless you get it out of their established display tanks where they keep their own livestock in there, assume it still needs curing elsewhere from your system.
You are getting sleepy... you only hear the sound of my voice... you must do water changes... water changes... water changes... water changes...

"The solution to pollution is dilution!"
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My Puffers: Filbert, the 12" T lineatus
Punkster, the 4" red T miurus
Mongo, the 4" A modestus
2 T biocellatus
C valentini
C coranata
C papuan
Also kept:
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Cool Reef on Sun May 13, 2012 1:32 pm

Thank you so much! We r out now gathering supplies and food.
We will follow all of NGs recommendations. We can put the frozen shrimp and mussels and clams right into the tank right?

We feel better about the liverock, it had living clams and living plants and corals (I think coral) on it and it came out of tanks that had other fish, and the store is very well respected across the whole state.
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UPDATE Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience

Postby Cool Reef on Sun May 13, 2012 1:38 pm

What is everyones take on the pictures?
Setup? Reefs color? The live rock? Where Reef has been hiding? Is that normal for him to hide?

Do you think he misses his former owner?

Update: Reef came out and was swimming around right before we left. We had turned the light off. Is he going to tend to hide when the light is on and comeout when it is dark? That would explain why he has been hiding all morning, because the light was on all morning too!
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Re: Dogface Puffer Emergency - we have No experience, need help

Postby Nuclear_Glitter on Sun May 13, 2012 1:41 pm

Cool Reef wrote:Thank you so much! We r out now gathering supplies and food.
We will follow all of NGs recommendations. We can put the frozen shrimp and mussels and clams right into the tank right?

We feel better about the liverock, it had living clams and living plants and corals (I think coral) on it and it came out of tanks that had other fish, and the store is very well respected across the whole state.


No, do not put frozen stuff directly into the tank. You get a small bowl fill it with some tank water and defrost it in the bowl first. Then, take the food and put it in the tank. Do NOT put the water back in the tank though.
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