Under no circumstances is making a puffer
inflate with air advisable or responsible.
Simply put, it’s cruelty.
From time to time puffers will inflate
their bodies on their own. Perhaps they are
signaling to a specific tankmate, or perhaps
they are simply stretching their quills. We
just don’t know why they periodically
do this—but they do, and in the opinion
of most ethical marine hobbyists, it’s far
more rewarding to catch them doing it on
their own than to force them to inflate as if
they are some toy. Puffers are not toys!
Tankmates for any fish should be
selected carefully. Always be sure to crosscheck information found on the Internet
with a trusted source, either an aquarium
technician, or a good book or TFH article.
Porcupine puffers can be housed with
a large variety of other marine fishes.
The list of acceptable candidates is far
too long to be included here, but some
of the more popular species include
large surgeonfishes, large angelfishes,
hogfishes, groupers, lionfishes, moderately
aggressive triggers, and various types of
larger schooling species like snappers and
Porcupine puffers can very easily
become nasty toward their tankmates,
just as others can become nasty toward
the puffers. Therefore it is vital to always
monitor your fishes and be sure to check
for bites to the fins and body of all your
Diet & Feeding
Puffers are omnivores, and their diet
should contain both plant and animal
matter in it. Also, the foods offered to
your puffer should be of appropriate size,
smaller puffers need smaller foods just
as larger puffers should be offered larger
foods. All puffers should be fed to satiation
at least three times a week. Very small
specimens need to be fed more frequently.
In most cases, the best types of foods to
get your puffer to feed on are those that
are prepared (e.g., pellets, sticks, etc.).
Puffers tend to be messy feeders, and a lot
of the food they take in their mouth will
be gummed up and spit out, only to be
re-inhaled. Many times, large puffers will
swallow prepared food whole the first time
they take it in their mouths, thus causing
less mess compared to feeding them fresh
seafood and the like.
Live fishes are often part of the puffer’s
diet in nature, and certainly there are
benefits to feeding captive puffers live
fishes; however the same benefits can be
achieved by careful attention to detail in
regard to nutrition and the use of a variety
of prepared foods. In most cases live fishes
should not constitute a large percentage
of the diet of any saltwater fishes unless
A porcupine puffer Diodon hystrix.
there are few or no other options. Any
feeder fish should be marine species, as
freshwater fish are nutritionally deficient
for saltwater predators.
Since puffers are, by nature, not fussy
feeders they can be offered many types of
foodstuffs. In addition to a staple diet of
prepared foods, puffers will benefit from
occasional offerings of fresh pieces of