The tropical puffer fish sparks our imagination and fills us with dreams of having something really special in our aquarium. Before you run out and buy your first puffer you need to be aware of the challenges you will be facing.
The first thought which goes through most people’s minds when they picture owning tropical puffer fish is all the fun of watching their fish inflate. They envision being able to show off the fish by giving it a little scare and watching it puff up like a balloon for all their friends and visitors. What you are failing to realize is how dangerous this is to your puffer fish.
The process of inflating their bodies is the equivalent of you taking off at a full sprint with an overdose of adrenaline while you have high blood pressure. It is intense to their bodies and in the wild is done as a means of survival. It is highly stressful to the fish.
The second big issue with getting your puffer to blow-up in a tank is the high likelihood they may inflate with air and not water. They will have a very hard time getting rid of the air, which can often lead to the death of your tropical puffer fish.
The next expectation most owners have is placing their tropical puffer fish in the same tank with all their other fish. It does not work well at all. Most times puffer fish must be kept in a tank all to themselves which has the proper amount of salt added to make brackish water. This eliminates having them with a tank filled with freshwater tropical fish.
Puffers are carnivorous. They will eat other fish and have a mouth filled with teeth. They need to have a menu which includes crunchy snails or other crustaceans to help grind down their teeth and keep them healthy. For this reason, they are almost always kept in a separate tank to other fish.
Tropical puffer fish are beautiful fish and can be very rewarding to own, but most of the time the expectations new owners have do not match reality Before you run out and buy puffer fish to add to your aquarium think very carefully. Do you have an extra tank? Do you just want them to watch them puff up? Are you prepared to buy snails and other crustaceans as food? If you are not prepared for the extra upkeep for puffers, you probably want to avoid owning them.
The puffer is one of those fish which is almost always better left to hobbyists with extremely large tanks, vast experience, and a large budget. For the average hobbyist their high costs, difficult upkeep, and high demands are hard to justify. Instead of owning them yourself, go enjoy watching puffers in a large public aquarium where they can live in an environment closely mimicking their natural world. You will save yourself enough money to expand your collection with other exotic fish which are easier to keep, and easier to combine with your existing fish.