II. Problems feeding your puffer?

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 shouldn’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, don’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.

Published by

Ian Jefferies, AKA Rocker

I started out with my first fish tank quite by accident. I always used to pay interest in my mates tank when I went to his house. Well, one day he called me up saying he was splitting from his wife and the 2 foot tank had to go. That's how I started. Tank was in a mess so I gave it a thorough clean and replaced the fish and before I knew it the fish had died! Not knowing what had gone wrong I decided to try again but got help. Gradually I became hooked both on the aquarium hobby itself and the quest for knowledge surrounding the hobby. With that came an upgrade to a 5 foot tank. I ripped out the fireplace, plastered up the walls and made space for the tank. I learned about cycling and began to set up my community tank. A year or so later after the 5 foot was set up I purchased my first puffers. Two Colomesus asellus. They at the time seemed to do ok but before long they died. Again I needed answers so I started to trawl the Internet. That is when I found The Puffer Forum. I then decided to get some more puffers and make a Colomesus asellus species only tank. They lived well and it was seeing them thrive in their own tank that I was bitten by the puffer bug. I suppose the addiction really started when I saw my first tiny Tetraodon lineatus staring and following me around his tank. He was about an inch and a half long and was soon in his own tank at my home. I had problems for about a week with him not feeding so that's when I decided to actually join and post at The Puffer Forum. I got the help I needed so I decided to repay my gratitude by staying on. I am still here now in Admin status and my T. lineatus is a healthy 14" beast! Since then I have bought and been given many puffers. I have a very good friend in the aquarium trade which is always good to have. His shop has provided a few of my custom made tanks along with some of the equipment and decor. Over the years I have massed a fair collection of fresh water puffers. At the time of writing I have in my collection. Tetraodon lineatus x 1 Tetraodon baileyi x 1 Tetraodon abei x 1 Tetraodon cochinchinensis x 1 Tetraodon suvattii x 2 Tetraodon miurus x 2 Tetraodon palembangensis x 4 Carinotetraodon travancoricus x 14 Carintetraodon irrubesco x 2 Colomesus asellus x 2 I also have my 5 foot community tank and a snail breeding tank. I have 9 puffer display tanks. Over the years I have bred Angel fish for my friends shop and written a few articles for The Puffer Forum. I work full time and when I get the chance I work part time as a Rock Journalist reviewing CDs and gigs and a few interviews along the way. I love Rock music so if you want to chat to me about that then I will always welcome you.