Not sure how often to feed?
While problems with “picky puffers” often arise from the fish’s reluctance to eat dead foods, a lack of patience on the part of the aquarist may also be at fault.
Most puffers will readily accept live food whether it is bloodworms, an earthworm, snails or shrimp. The movement of the live food is too much of a temptation for the puffer to ignore. This movement is the key to adapting puffers to readily accept dead foods in their diet.
For smaller puffers, foods such as frozen bloodworm, should be readily accepted. To simulate live food, current can be used to give the appearance of movement and therefore life from the food. This current can either be from the filter outlet or an air stone which will bounce and float the food around the aquarium. In fry tanks I have had success by squeezing a pipette of water into the food, again to create some movement. Before long, the puffers will be readily accepting prepared food without the accompanying simulation.
For the bigger puffers that feed on meatier foods such as mussel, prawn, and krill, again the technique is movement. Once thawed the food can be placed on a skewer and can be twisted and bobbed in front of the puffer. Alternatively, the food can be tied to a piece of thread and dangled in front of the filter current. Tongs can also be used and it shouldnâ€™t be long before a puffer will readily accept these foods. Many puffers even come to recognise the implements used to feed them! Soaking the food in a garlic solution can also reportedly assist with stimulating the puffer to eat.
Due to my success with the above methods, I haven’t yet had to employ this method, although I have heard promising reports.
Another important factor when feeding puffers is patience. Do not expect the food to be accepted on the first try. If it is accepted then kudos is due, but be prepared to try several times over.
I find the “lurker” puffers slightly more difficult to convince to take prepared foods than the “hunters”. One reason I believe for this is that they often feed less and may simply not be hungry when you try.
If the jump from live foods to dead is too great, then with foods such as bloodworm, “live” and “dead” can be mixed together to encourage the puffers to take both. While again, the key is patience, I have used this method with Suvatti fry, and had excellent results. Again, donâ€™t expect a newly-acquired puffer, freshly home from the shop to immediately start eating. Many puffers are moody and may not eat during the first week — even the first month. This is not unusual. If they are not interested in eating then this is when many owners lose patience and resort to feeding live foods. Give the puffer some time and they will accept the food when they are ready. Just make sure that food is offered but then removed if not eaten to prevent it decaying.
Once you find that your puffer will readily accept dead foods then a routine can be set up for feeding times. Their diet needs to be as mixed and varied as possible and there are some suggestions here for a varied diet.
Smaller active puffers such as the Carinotetraodon group (e.g. C. asellus), and many juvenile of a species, require daily feedings. I usually feed these fish once every day with one day off during a week.
With the exception of the smaller species as mentioned, as juvenile puffers grow, the frequency of feeding can be reduced daily to every other day. And as the puffer grows bigger the frequency can be dropped to every three days. Feeding routines can carry on with this frequency until the puffer reaches maturity. At this stage I normally cut back to two meals a week which is enough for a grown predator or lurker — especially puffers.