Care Guide for Amazon Puffers Freshwater Puffer For Community Tanks
Puffers are fascinating fish in the aquarium hobby because of their unusual, globelike shape and intelligent personalities, but many species grow incredibly large, require brackish water, or are too aggressive to be kept with other tankmates. Fortunately, the Amazon puffer is one of the few freshwater “community puffers” that only grows to 3 inches (7.6 cm) long and can live with other fish. Find out how to care for this amazing oddball and see if it’s the right pufferfish for you.
What is the Amazon Puffer exactly?
Colomesus asellus is known by many common names, including the Amazon puffer and South American puffer (SAP). Its golden yellow body is covered with splotchy, dark bands that look like a bumblebee pattern, and it has a white underbelly with a black spot near the base of its tail. The SAP can be found in the Amazon basin and nearby areas in many habitat types, from floodplain lakes to rushing riverbeds.
South American puffers are very curious and like to closely examine every nook and cranny of their surroundings.
Fish farms have not found the secret to profitably breeding Amazon puffers in captivity yet, so all of the ones sold at your fish store are caught from the wild. Many of them may come in extremely skinny with parasitic infections. Therefore, do not buy a puffer that has a concave abdomen or is covered in white spots. Even if your specimens are in good health, you should quarantine them in separate tanks to prevent them spreading disease to other aquariums. We recommend that you proactively treat them with a combination of three quarantine medications in order to eliminate any parasitic, fungal or bacterial diseases they might have. (This process is similar to the vaccination of pet dogs and cats that you bring home.)
How do you deworm a puffer? Pufferfish are especially prone to internal parasites like tapeworms, but the dewormers only get rid of adult worms and do not affect unhatched eggs. To ensure that all eggs hatch and are removed, you will need to use multiple deworming treatments. For our personal puffers, we treat them with the quarantine medication trio and then wait two weeks. Next we follow up with a 5-day treatment of Fritz ParaCleanse (using the instructions on the box) and then wait a month. Afterwards, we use a 7-day treatment of PraziPro as our final deworming step. For more information on how to treat fish parasites, read the full article here.
Can Amazon puffers puff up. You can view pictures online that show them in an inflated state. If you need to transport them, consider using a small plastic tub or catch cup instead of a fish net to prevent them from sucking in air.
How long do Amazon pufferfish live? Hobbyists have reported owning their South American puffers for up to 8-10 years and sometimes even longer.
How to Set up an Aquarium for Amazon Puffers
Because these puffers are fairly active swimmers, we recommend keeping them in at least a 30-gallon aquarium, but 55 gallons would be even better. Because they live in such a wide variety of habitats in the wild, they are quite hardy and can be kept in pH levels of 6.0-8.0, soft or hard water, and 72-82degF (22-28degC).
How many Amazon puffers can you keep in a tank? They are best kept either as an individual or in a group of six or more. You should not keep them with more than one. They could become territorially disputed and start fighting if they are in a group. You can add decorations, aquarium plants and hardscape to block their sight lines and give them new areas to explore.
Use tall background plants like vallisneria as moving obstacles for the pufferfish to swim around, thus providing greater enrichment in their environment.
Can Amazon puffers live with other fish? Yes, we consider them to be “community fish” compared to other puffers, but they still have a bit of attitude and sometimes can nip at slower, long-finned fish. Also, they are prone to eating invertebrates like snails and shrimp. Instead, keep them other similar-sized, peaceful fish that are equally as energetic, such mollies, swordtails, larger tetras and rasboras, and dwarf cichlids.
Why do my Amazon puffers keep glass surfing? “Glass surfing” is when a fish repeatedly swims up and down along the tank walls, and it could be caused by stress, boredom, defense of territory, and other reasons. Although there are no cures for glass surfing, hobbyists have tried many things to help their fish. They’ve added black paint to reduce reflections, increased flow with a powerhead and blocked their favorite corner with tall decorations.
What do Amazon Puffers eat?
Like many puffers, SAPs have four, continually growing teeth in the front of their mouths that form a “beak,” enabling them to chomp through the hard shells of crustaceans and mollusks. In order to prevent their teeth becoming too long, grind them with all kinds of crunchy foods such as bladder snails or ramshorns. While it may take a bit of training, some hobbyists have successfully fed Repashy gel food mixed with crushed oyster shells (sold as chicken feed) or they have dipped rocks in Repashy so that the Amazon puffers scrape their teeth against hard surfaces. Frozen bloodworms or live blackworms are great options if you have trouble getting your puffers to weigh in. These foods won’t help your teeth get straighter, but they are very popular with puffers.
Frozen Bloodworms are a great treat for new Amazon puffers to gain weight and then transition to harder, crunchier foods to reduce their teeth.
How do you clip a pufferfish’s teeth? If the hard foods are not filing down their beaks enough, your puffer’s teeth may become so overgrown that they can no longer properly eat. To prevent them from starving, you need to clip the tips of their teeth using a pair of sharp cuticle trimmers. You can do your research to determine which method is best for you. However, a common technique to use is to add 2 to 4 drops of clove oil to 1 liter (4.25 cups) of warm water. In a mild anesthetic, add the puffer to the solution. The puffer should feel sedated within a matter of minutes. Hold the drowsy puffer gently in your fist; if the puffer is too slippery, use surgical gloves or a fish net (wrapped like a blanket around the puffer) to get a better grip. As needed, trim the tip of the lower and upper teeth with the cuticle scissors. Place the fish back into fresh water and it should wake up again within a few minutes. This process may need to repeated depending on how often the fish eats.
If the thought of fish dentistry is not appealing to you, consider one of their smaller relatives, the pea puffer or Indian dwarf puffer. They only grow to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, can be kept in smaller fish tanks, and do not have a problem with overgrown teeth.