Tetraodon palembangensis Puffer Fish Lair

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T. palembangensis, is one of the species that has been the brunt of years of misidentification. A perpetuated mistake, this species name was placed with a photo of the Figure 8 (T. biocellatus), and years of confusion followed. I have seen this puffer sold under the common name of "Dragon Puffer" and "Black River Puffer". Upon seeing them available at a local fish store, I purchased the first specimen above in 2001. He was sickly, and did pass away.

When I was not able to find any photographic reference to identify the fish, I made an appointment at the Steinhart Aquarium's collection room, and took the preserved body with me. None of the available specimens there matched my fish. My helpful and kind guide found a number of books in their library, which we paged through. We finally found the accurate reference for this fish in Maurice Kottelat's book “Freshwater Fishes of Western Indonesia and Sulawesi”, with a perfect match on the photograph. He also provided me with a number of journals from Dr. Tyson Roberts. Some of the specimens we looked at were amazing, including some of the other fish from this puffer's habitat. T. abei, very large T. leiurus, T. suvattii, and T. baileyi were some we were able to view. The specimens of T. palembangensis were out on loan, so we were very happy to have the library at our disposal!

in August of 2002, I had the opportunity to purchase another individual from LFS that had him with about half a dozen T. suvatti. This is classic example of checking every tank for an individual that does not look like the others! They had no idea this puffer was a different species. Unfortunately, he had a large bite wound to the head region, right above the eye, about an inch square and to the bone. Part of the eye was also damaged, but he tracked my finger with the injured eye, so I felt certain he had not lost sight. I convinced the store to medicate the tank for a week with Kanacyn, so I could be sure he would survive if I brought him home. With a $30 USD price tag, it was important to me to not purchase a dying puffer. After a week, the mark had reduced to about a centimeter square, and the eye had cleared with only a small incision remaining. So he came home with me, and I named him Dave. One of his LFS tank mates is also with me, you can see him on the T. suvattii page.

This individual was quite large, about 7-8" total length, with a sizable girth, close to 3.5 inches across. He was fond of shrimp. The large mouth extends quite a bit when he sucks food in. The teeth are very pointed much like the T. suvattii. The large red eyes are expressive. Note the eye spots on the tail region, typically 4 to 5 of them for this species, which do not fade with maturity like the T. abei. The pattern extends over the whole under belly, and a large range of colour morphing is possible. Dave was housed on a rather light coloured substrate, so the lighter colours are predominately shown. The first photo of the individual I obtained in 2001 shows some of the darker colours possible.

He did not show interest in eating the large Ramshorn snails that were in his tank. They were about the size of a US quarter. He ate strips of fish we cleaned for dinner, as well as mussel meat and some squid. Shrimp was his favourite. Unfortunately he succumbed to velvet. I have had nothing but trouble with this species in captivity. Apparently they are quite prone to disease.