The Fahaka Puffer Tetraodon lineatus is a large puffer fish with a robust comical appearance. Although its color pattern can be quite variable, this puffer can be very striking. Juveniles are often rather mottled in appearance, but as they mature an overlay of golden bands develop and darker areas become a deep red. LIke all puffer fish, the Fahaka also has the ability to change color depending on its mood.
Some common names describing this handsome fish, based on its overall appearance, include the Lined Freshwater Puffer, Striped Puffer, and Band Puffer. It's a freshwater puffer fish originating from the Nile River, so is also known as the Nile Puffer. And of course being a puffer it can inflate into a ball, so the Fahaka Puffer is further called a Globe Fish.
The Fahaka Puffer has an intelligent and curious nature and can become a very friendly pet, but can also be incredibly aggressive toward tank mates. They will most likely damage or kill any other fish that is kept with them. All puffers have a sharp beak in their mouths and the Fahaka Puffer will use it to remove pieces from just about any living thing that is in the tank with them. They are a type of carnivore called a molluscivore, meaning they eat all sorts of benthic organisms like oysters, mussels, scallops, clams, and krill. In the aquarium they will love to chase fiddler crabs, gut-loaded ghost shrimp, and crayfish.
If you want a wonderful single specimen aquarium, don't let the aggressive nature of the Fahaka Puffer dissuade you from keeping one. If kept by themselves, they can really be a wonderful pet and can be easily trained to take food from your hand. This Nile Puffer fish does grow quite large, reaching up to about 18 inches (45 cm). So it will require a tank with enough room to accommodate its size, 100 gallons or more for a single specimen.
The Fahaka Puffer Tetraodon lineatus was described by C. Linnaeus in 1758. They are found in the Nile, Chad basin, Niger, Volta, Gambia, Geba and Senegal Rivers in Africa. They inhabit large rivers and open water, as well as weed beds and vegetated areas. Other Common names it is known by are Striped Puffer, Nile Puffer, Band Puffer, Lineatus puffer, and Globe Fish.
Several sub-species of the Nile Puffer Tetraodon lineatus have been described. One sub-species called Tetraodon fahaka rudolfianus was described by Deraniyagala in 1948. It would be well-suited for the aquarium as it only grows to around 3 inches.
In the wild the Nile Puffer is considered a molluscivore. It mainly consumes benthic organisms like oysters, cockles, krill, and mussels. In its natural habitat these Nile Puffers usually breed at a water depth of 50 feet. This makes it difficult to breed in captivity, but breeding has been successfully documented.
Scientific Name: Tetraodon lineatus
Social Grouping: Solitary
IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed
The Fahaka Puffer is a stocky elongated fish covered with short prickles and has bright orange/red eyes. Its body is brownish-gray on the back, gradually becoming lighter towards the under parts, ending with a whitish belly. There are a series of light, often golden colored, horizontal stripes running from the pectoral fins back across the tail. Hence its common name of "Band Puffer".
Like many of the puffer fish, the coloring of the Fahaka Puffer fish can vary with age, disposition, and environment. While a juvenile may have a more mottled appearance, the adult will become more intensified, with the dark areas taking on a deep red coloring. These puffer are known to change color depending on mood.
Puffer fish have the ability to 'puff' themselves up with water or air if threatened. When they inflate, their spines protrude outward and this apparently helps keep them from being eaten. Another defense of many puffer species, including this one, is to produce toxic substances in their flesh that is poisonous if eaten.
These are very large puffers and have been known to grow up to 18 inches (45 cm). Puffer fish can be quite long lived in the aquarium, many living for 10 or more years. A sub-species called Tetraodon fahaka rudolfianus would be well-suited for the aquarium as it only grows to around 3 inches.
Size of fish - inches: 18.0 inches (45.72 cm) - Can reach at least 18" (45 cm) in length, and possibly larger.
Lifespan: 10 years
Fish Keeping Difficulty
The Nile Puffer is not a very difficult fish to keep if you are able to meet all their requirements. They are extremely aggressive fish so are not normally able to keep others in the same tank. Their space requirement for a mature puffer is around 125 gallons. They require big powerful filters the will turn the tank over 6 to 10 times an hour and weekly water changes. The food costs for these big fish can be pricey as their need for human quality seafood is necessary.
If you are up for all of that; this Striped Puffer will make an entertaining and almost human like expressive pet!
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
Foods and Feeding
The Fahaka Puffer or Globe Fish are a type of carnivore known as a molluscivore. Their natural diet consists of insects, mollusks, and crustaceans; so snails, crabs, crayfish and shrimp would be good choices as food. In an aquarium they will also eat small fish and can sometimes be trained to eat freeze dried krill. This puffer should be fed every other day while small, decreasing this to just two or three times per week as an adult.
Puffers have strong teeth that grow throughout their lives. They need to be offered hard shelled live food often to keep their teeth worn down. Acceptable foods include shellfish, crustaceans and hard shelled foods such as snails will help wear down the teeth. If the teeth get too long, they will be unable to eat, requiring the owner to clip the teeth.
Feeding requirements will change as these puffers age and grow. If you start off with a young small Nile Puffer a diet of snails, krill, and frozen foods will work. Once your puffer reaches 6 plus inches the grocery store or fish market will now be the source of their foods. A diet should include shrimp, lobster and crab legs, mussels and clams can also can some presoaked jumbo krill. As with any predatory fish the thought of feeding feeder fish seems like a good idea. Do not do this, feeder fish can introduce disease to your tank.
Diet Type: Carnivore
Flake Food: No
Tablet Pellet: No
Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet - Be careful with feeder fish as they can pass disease when introduced to your tank.
Meaty Food: All of Diet - For a young small puffer a diet of snails, krill, and frozen foods will work. Once your puffer reaches 6 plus inches Offer shrimp, lobster and crab legs, mussels and clams, and presoaked jumbo krill found at the grocery store or fish market.
Feeding Frequency: Daily
Fahaka Puffers are not particularly fast growing so smaller specimens can be kept for some time in a relatively small tank. Eventually you'll need a minimum 125+ gallons to give your pet the best environment.
Since puffers do not have gill covers or scales, they are thought to be more susceptible to diseases, nitrite, nitrate and ammonia levels. Consequently they are not a good fish to cycle an aquarium with. Also because they usually don't eat all of their food (messy eaters!), these fish will usually put more load on the aquarium filtration requiring more frequent water changes and better maintenance in general.
A generous weekly water change of 30% to 50% is the standard recommendation for a puffer aquarium. A canister filter that will turn the tank over 6-10 times per hour is recommended.
Water Changes: Weekly - Water change should be 30 - 50% weekly.
The adult Fahaka Puffer needs a lot of space, and a tank at least 125 gallons in recommended. These puffers need to be able to completely turn around in the tank unobstructed. A sand substrate is the best choice for these puffers. There is no need to add any salt to their tanks but will tolerate low amounts. If you want to decorate the tank use smooth rocks and drift wood for your decor. Plants can be added but the puffer will likely chew them up during feeding.
Tetraodon lineatus are sensitive to nitrites and ammonia and should only be introduced into a fully cycled aquariums. Furthermore these puffers are messy eaters and produce a lot of waste, requiring large canister filters that can turn the tank over 6-10 times per hour. This puffer fish is predominantly a freshwater species, though it can be kept in lightly brackish conditions. Provide water parameters of Temp: 75° - 82° F (24 - 29°C), pH of around 7.0, and Hardness: 10 -12 dH. Never put this puffer in soft water.
Minimum Tank Size: 125 gal (473 L)
Suitable for Nano Tank: No
Substrate Type: Sand/Gravel Mix
Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
Temperature: 75.0 to 82.0° F (23.9 to 27.8° C)
Hardness Range: 10 - 12 dGH
Brackish: Sometimes - Although it is a freshwater fish, it can be kept in lightly brackish conditions.
Water Movement: Weak
Water Region: All
The Fahaka Puffer is extremely aggressive and intolerant of other fish and should be housed alone. They have been successfully housed in very large tanks with fast moving fish that they can not catch. It can only be kept with its own species in a tank that is large enough that they each have their own area and rarely cross paths. Expect fights every time they see each other.
However the Fahaka Puffers make very friendly, personable pets. They will bond with their owners and seem to almost communicate with their unique facial expressions.
Venomous: Yes - The Fahaka Puffer can be venomous if it is consumed as puffer fish are known to harbor toxic substances in their flesh.
Temperament: Large Aggressive - Predatory
Same species - conspecifics: Sometimes - Only if the aquarium is extremely large, providing each with its own area and their paths seldom cross. They will fish if they see each other.
Peaceful fish (): Threat
Semi-Aggressive (): Threat - Only fast moving fish that it cannot catch can be kept with this puffer fish.
Aggressive (): Threat
Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Threat
Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Threat - is aggressive - These puffer fish feed on benthic organisms.
Sex: Sexual differences
Sexual differences are unknown though females may be distinguished when spawning as their bellies get rounder while males will remain more slender.
Breeding / Reproduction
The Fahaka Puffer has not been bred commercially in captivity, but there are reports of successful breeding by hobbyists. The difficulty with breeding these fish is that they will normally kill each other on sight and when they do breed it is normally at 50 feet or deeper in nature.
The Tetraodon lineatus breeds when the female produces an ovipositor organ and will mate with any male that is willing. The male puffer will swim upside down under the female and will grip the female so that both sexual organs connect and eggs and sperm are released several times, fertilizing thousands of eggs.
Once the eggs sink remove the eggs to a separate tank. The eggs will hatch in 3 to 4 days, at this time the water level will have to be lower so the young fish can have access to the surface. After a week you will see the babies starting to swim freely and need to be fed infusoria. These babies need constant feeding to prevent starvation. Into their 2nd week they will start to take brine shrimp. Like their parents they grow very fast and become aggressive, so it is wise to segregate the larger more aggressive ones.
Ease of Breeding: Difficult
The Fahaka Puffer does not have gill covers or scales which make it more prone to disease. Puffers are normally the first fish in a tank to show signs of ick and will twitch and rub around the tank. They respond well to most medication and normally heal quickly. NEVER use copper in an Fahaka Puffer tank.
Nile Puffers are wild caught and can carry internal parasites, a de-worming should be done if it hasn't been done yet. Heterobothrium Infection is also common, it is an infection of the gills. A Formaldehyde bath can help cure this. For more information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.
The Fahaka Puffer or Globe Fish are commonly available, but due to their aggressive nature you may have a hard time finding them in most retail store.
joe - 2014-06-22 Hi Guys I've got a fahaka puffer myself and yes he is the coolest and I have him in a comunity tank he's in a 110 gallon since I've gotten hum @3'orso and now seven months later he's around 8' I've only lost two garumies and he will only eat raw shrimp&crayfish, but what I'd like to k.ow is when should I begin to transition him over brackish water do to all of my research I've found that the fahaka will start to migrate towards brackish then saltwater in the wild with age if anyone could answer this please lmk.thanks joe
Clarice Brough - 2014-06-27 In nature these fish will inhabit both freshwater and brackish waters of the river systems, but they tend to do best in freshwater in the home aquarium. There is no need to add salt, and if you do, keep it to a minimum. See the 'Aquarium Setup' section above for more info on their tank requirements.
katty - 2009-04-27 I have to say that I disagree with the "coolest comments." A Fahaka needs much more space than a 10 gallon tank can provide. Essentially, a minimum tank size of 125 gallons is required. At 9 months, a healthy Fahaka should be around 7 to 10 inches, depending on the size it was when you first purchased it. They should grow approximately 1 inch per month. At this point, it is likely that the fish is stunted which will later on lead to health problems and a shortened life. Do your fish a favor and get it a bigger tank. Keeping it in a 10 gallon tank is just cruel.
Chelsea Dawn Woltring - 2011-04-10 For a fahaka. that is way cruel. 10 gallons ! omg. I put my spotted puffer in a ten gallon tank when I first got him but that only lasted a week. I went and bought ANOTHER tank for him. I could tell he was not happy at all. I have a Fahaka now I just got him yesterday and so far he is awesome. No tank mates though, he is pretty aggresive and stalks his prey. I will wait till I can see he has calmed down some. But ten gal. is WAY WAY WAY too small, even for a spotted puffer, and those dont get very big at all puffers get huge. Ten gal. is animal cruelty dude..
Anonymous - 2012-07-06 He said 55 gal
David Owen - 2014-06-08 My Fahaka Puffer fish is about 11 inchs in length, I've had him about an year, he was about 5 inchs when I got it, he is doing well the fish shop I got it says he won't ever get to 18 inchs in captivity but more to the size off 12-16 inchs and they recommended me getting an 48x18x26 tank whick is about 370 litres UK size, I got an feeling it stll won't be big enough, but can't tell the wife.lol. The fish shop also said I won't be able to keep any tank mates in with him but I've had an Ruby Shark with the puffer for the last 6 months, but what might off helped is that I always had other fish in with him
Anne - 2009-03-14 I have a striped puffer for about two years, he/she is awsome! Very docile so far, actually I have a hard time keeping things in the tank with him/her, but not because he bothers anyone, it's the other way around! We call him "lil man" he's been so awesome. He stopped eating live food a year ago, I got worried something was wrong as he was keeping a couple guppies as buddies. But I got him eating a variety of frozen foods. He's about 7" long, plump, beautiful blue eyes. He shares his tank with two small clowns, anemone, blue damsel, and an engineer goby that's huge. oh yea, Patrick, the chocolate chip star, he gets hand fed too. They are smart, people tend to think fish don't have much brain other than instinct, but I beg to differ!
Anonymous - 2013-03-20 this is a freshwater fish.... why do u have it in a salt water tank?
Anonymous - 2014-03-11 Need to change your tank to freshwater!
Adriane West - 2013-07-13 I just purchased my fahaka puffer, was told he is very agressive and grows 5'' but if raised with other baby fish it may do fine with all of them growing together! I have a 125 gallon tank includding my globe puffer, 2 peacock cichlids, tire track eel, 2 african cichlids, 3 tiger barbs, electric blue jack dempsey, 2 feather fin catfish, jeweled cichlid, 1' plecostomus, blood red parrot, they all get along beautifully! No problems at all! We will be upgradeing to a tank twice the size eventually ;) p.s researched when I got home to realize he grows 18''.
Daniel h - 2013-09-02 Adriane, just get a separate tank for your puffer. As he gets bigger it's very likely your other fish will randomly become victims of nasty bites or viscous predatory attacks. I love my fahakas but only put fish with them that I would be ok with losing.