Aquarium Encyclopedia, Ramshorst Puffer Fish Lair

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Aquarium Encyclopedia of Tropical Freshwater Fish
Managing Editor: Dr. J.D. Van Ramshorst
Photography: A. Van Den Nieuwenhuizen
Copyright 1981, Published by H.P. Books

The Family Tetraodontidae, The genus Tetraodon
The genus Tetraodon is by far the largest genus in the family and contains species found over very wide areas, from Africa to Southeast Asia. Among these are some of the most common and popular aquarium Pufferfish: moreover some of these species have been bred successfully by amateurs. Three of these species are described below.

TETRAODON CUTCUTIA
Family: Tetraodontidae
Genus: Tetraodon
English name: Common Pufferfish

Origin: India, the Far East
Size: Approximately 15 cm
Habitat: Found in both fresh and brackish waters.

SHAPE, COLOURING AND MARKINGS:
The body is cone-shaped: the skin is leathery and devoid of scales. Sometimes the nostrils are elongated and tubular, but they are unforked. The back is a dark or olive green: the flanks are yellowish or grey: the belly is off-white. A large, round black mark with a light edge lies on the back in front of the dorsal fin: a similar mark lies just behind the pectoral fins. The whole of the rest of the body is covered with dark brown marbling, of a pattern which varies from specimen to specimen. The fins are yellowish to olive green. The caudal fin has a light green edge and the upper and lower rays are brownish or brick red.
Females are slightly smaller, with less vivid colours, being predominantly yellowish.
Males are as described above.

GENERAL CARE:
T. cutcutia is very aggressive and attacks the fins of other fish. Accordingly it is unsuitable for the normal domestic community tank. In a species tank the composition of water is not critical although soft water should be avoided: temperature 21°-27° C. Fresh tapwater
may be used for the frequent changes of water that are necessary. Sturdy bog plants, rocks and bogwood may be put in the tank. The preferred diet is snails: all kinds of aquatic insects and larvae will also be eaten but T. cutcutia will eat Tubifex only with reluctance and dried food is unsuitable.

BREEDING:
Temperature 28° C or thereabouts. T. cutcutia lays its eggs on flat shaded stones or in the cavities between stones and arrangements of rocks. The mating pattern somewhat resembles that of some Cichlids. The female lays the eggs while calmly swimming & twisting from side to side and the male follows her immediately, fertilising the eggs. The 200-300 eggs are usually glassy but may be light brown. The male alone tends the eggs, guarding them by settling on top of them. Fresh water is fanned round them by his moving his pectoral fins. The eggs hatch in six to eight days. For the first few days after they have hatched and while they consume their large yolk sac, the fry are guarded by the male in a hollow he excavates in the bed. Breeders have found great difficulties in providing the right food for the fry. Some have succeeded by feeding them successively in pond infusoria
, Cyclops, and Artemia nauplii, Daphnia, and mosquito larvae: others have succeeded with snails’ eggs: the breeder must make judicious experiments.

TETRAODON MBU
Family: Tetraodontidae
Genus: Tetraodon
English name: none

Origin: The Congo basin
Size: Approximately 75 cm in the wild but remains considerably smaller in captivity.

Habitat: Found only in fresh waters.

SHAPE, COLOURING AND MARKINGS:
The body is cone-shaped and slightly more slender than in related species. The skin is leathery, with small spines except on the snout and lower part of the caudal peduncle. The two nostrils on either side of the head are elongated, tubular and forked. The basic colouration is yellow or yellowish-orange, with prominent brownish or bluish black wavy marks on the back and flanks which contrast sharply with the lighter background. The lower half of the body is a bright yellow. The translucent fins are a pale yellow to orange. The caudal fin often bears dark marks running parallel to the fin rays. The colouring and markings of young specimens are very variable, but the body is always covered with irregular dark patches with one or more horizontal lines on the caudal peduncle. There are no known external sexual differences.

GENERAL CARE:
As for T. cutcutia but temperature 23° - 28° C and no salt should be added to the water.

BREEDING:
Nothing is known about the reproductive behaviour of this species.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Although first identified in 1899, T. mbu has remained almost unknown to aquarist, no doubt partly because of its size.

TETRAODON PALEMBANGENSIS

Family: Tetraodontidae
Genus: Tetraodon
English name: none

Origin: Southeast Asia
Size: Approximately 20 cm in the wild but remains considerably smaller in captivity.
Habitat: Found only in fresh waters.

SHAPE, COLOURING AND MARKINGS:
The body is cone-shaped: the leathery skin is covered with small but prominent spines. The single nostril on either side of the head is elongated and tubular. The basic colouration varies from lemon yellow to an iridescent green, becoming a pale yellow or silvery white towards the belly. A number of wide dark brown or brownish-black bands on the head and back contrast sharply with the lighter background. Prominent wavy lines lie on the head and flanks the areas between showing up as almost circular patches, below the dorsal fin and on the caudal peduncle. No dark marks appear on the lower half of the body. There are no known external sexual characteristics.

GENERAL CARE:
As for T. mbu, but if given the opportunity to establish its own territory in a tank, T. palembangensis becomes less aggressive. It will, after a time, accept both Tubifex and lean beef if other foods are not available.

BREEDING:
No information is available on the reproductive behaviour of this species.

Avocado Puffer, & many other names as well.
Don’t forget to dechlorinate and treat tap water as necessary!

There has been mention of some infusoria and paramecium that are bad for puffer fish fry. There can be aggressive organisms that can kill the fry. Suggestion has been made to acquire African paramecium, local breeders may be a good source for a starter culture.
Gold-Ringed Puffer is sometimes seen as a common name.
They still reach a considerable size, and it is important to plan for the needs of this fish before acquiring one. Some people consider 200 gallons (US) to be too small for a full grown. Filtration also will be critical for this fish as it is a messy eater and the leftovers can quickly accumulate in the tank and severely pollute.
This section is describing T. biocellatus the Figure Eight Puffer. Unfortunately T. palembangensis is the species name for a completely different fish. Common names for the actual T. palembangensis are: Dragon Puffer, and occasionally sold as Black River Puffer, though some times that will be a tank of T. leiurus.
Beefheart and other mammal proteins are in debate. There is some research pointing to fish not being able to use this type of protein, and therefore weakening from malnutrition. Parasites can readily use it and thus it may encourage infestation. There are plenty of foods available for puffer fish, see the Raid the Fridge section.

 

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