shrimp and other seafood. Keep in mind
that porcupine puffers tend to be very
messy feeders, so the size of the fresh
seafood is very important.
In nature, porcupine puffers feed
extensively on mollusks and various
forms of shellfishes. Sea urchins, mussels,
clams, hermit crabs, and other creatures
are consumed with gusto. The same is
true for puffers in aquariums, so if you
intend to house shrimps, crabs, and other
invertebrates, then a puffer is not a good
choice for you.
and Treating Them
Porcupine puffers are very susceptible
to external parasitic infestations. In most
cases marine ich is the culprit, but there
are various other types that can break
out as well. Most external parasites react
to strong copper, malachite green, or
formalin medications. In addition to a
strong medication, hobbyists treating such
infestations should adjust the temperature
of the aquarium to around 82° to 84°F.
It is important to maintain a good,
balanced diet while treating sick fishes.
Porcupine puffers are no different. Also
be sure to eliminate any stressors, such
as aggressive tankmates, strong water
pumps, or anything else that may be
causing distress to your puffer. The best
scenario would be to remove the puffer
from the main display tank and place it
in a quarantine tank where treatments for
diseases are usually far more effective.
Quarantine tanks provide a platform
where any diseases can be effectively
identified and treated. Since external
infestations on all fishes can erupt into
Watch Those Spines!
orcupine puffers have incredibly sharp
spines covering nearly their whole body. These
moveable spines, which are actually modified
scales, make it very difficult for predators
to swallow them. Additionally, netting
these creatures becomes quite an interesting
experience as well—and removing them
unharmed from the net is quite a feat. Always use
extreme caution when handling these fishes. As
with piranhas, the most dangerous porcupine
puffer is one that’s not in an aquarium.
an epidemic among the tank’s entire
population, the removal of infected fishes
into a quarantine tank will often be the
difference between success and failure.
Quarantine tanks need not be large, nor
elaborate. In fact, smaller tanks, such as
those around 10 gallons in volume, work
best. Smaller tanks allow hobbyists to use
less medication and perform larger water
changes without the added cost of large
quantities of salt. Thus, small quarantine
tanks are more cost effective compared to
larger ones. Of course, if you keep large
fishes, the size of your quarantine tank
should be adjusted appropriately. Always
consult with a trusted aquarium expert
when treating any fish, as they will be able
to offer you tips and techniques to make
the situation go as smoothly as possible.
Puffers that have serious external
parasitic infestations often develop
secondary bacterial infections and even
fungal infections on rare occasions.
Bacterial infections are easily identified by
patches of reddish, inflamed skin between
the bristles. Typically, these infections are
merely superficial and may clear up on their
own if an aggressive treatment is applied.
Obviously it should go without saying
that any ill fish should be monitored for
other, sometimes potentially more serious,
problems that may arise.
Porcupine puffers are a favorite with
saltwater hobbyists and are interesting and
generally easy-to-care-for fishes. Attention
to their diet is essential if they are to be kept
long-term in aquariums. Porcupine puffers,
and all puffers really, are very susceptible
to external parasitic infestations. To help
combat this, a quarantine aquarium is
Additionally, it cannot be overstressed
that puffers of all kinds are not toys, and
should not be poked or prodded in an
attempt to get them to inflate. Puffers
that inflate with air, such as when they
are removed from the water, will often
have extreme difficulty in evacuating
all the air from their bodies. Likewise,
puffers that are tricked into inflating
too often, even underwater, may suffer
irreversible damage, which could be fatal.
Puffers can be enjoyed in aquariums for
many years, and make excellent choices
for marine aquarium enthusiasts that are
looking for something very different to
house and care for. D