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This is my T. mbu, that I adopted from Tetraodon.
This year, he passed away. A bacteria or parasite infested the gill area
unknown to me. He showed no symptoms of distress until one evening with
a rapid demise. Puffer's gills are inside the gill opercules, with a thin
membrane flap over the opening. It is difficult to check the condition of
the gills as a result, preventing us keepers from seeing certain types of
problems until it is too late. Slides revealed some monogenic flukes, but
we could not get a good sample from the gill area, and I feel certain one
of the bacteri groups was responsible.
A true part of my family, I miss him and grieve
his passing. Following is a little about the species.
T. mbu is from the Congo River in Africa.
The largest true fresh water puffer, specimens of 30" have been recorded.
A huge appetite goes with this huge puffer. Shrimp, krill, slices of fish,
mussels, cockles, clams, crayfish, crabs, lobster, squid, cuttlefish and
really any type of shellfish was readily accepted. Snails are also a huge
favourite. Often seen blowing away the sand substrate with bursts of water
to find the snails. A large specimen as this requires a huge aquarium. Small
tanks will severely shorten the life span and quality. Recommend at least
a 200 gallon, and more if you can get it. An active swimming species, making
sure the tank is deep and wide enough for the fish to make turns without
beating up that magnificent tail fin is critical.
Formidable teeth are present, so watch those
fingers when feeding and cleaning the tank. I found that keeping the fingers
close to each other, or not extended at all made tank cleaning less hazardous,
as they look remarkably like shrimp to them!
A soft sandy substrate is best, as partially
burying in the sand seems to be normal. Also, the snail and food hunting
technique can be witnessed with a soft substrate. Plus it must feel better
on that soft belly. I also found that having a natural light source nearby
was appreciated by the fish. Eating habits and general swimming around and
exploring were improved with a natural light source available.
Large filtration is required, and frequent
water changes. This species produces huge waste. Using a dedicated net to
scoop out feces, or a vacuum powered by an air pump is highly recommended.
Temperature seems more critical than hardness of the water. Maintaining
80°F goes a long way towards a happy Mbu.
Recently I viewed a skull of a T. mbu at the
Steinhart Aquarium's Skulls exhibit that was massive. The beak was almost
two inches from the skull to the edge. Nearly 1/4 inch thick, the process
of layering was visible, showing that wear on the beak was solely to the
points. I can only hazard a guess that it came from full grown specimen
due to the sheer size.