Dog-faced Puffer

Black-spotted Puffer ~ Hush Puppy Puffer

Family: Tetraodontidae Picture of a Dog-faced Puffer, Black-spotted Puffer, or Hush Puppy Puffer Arothron nigropunctatusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
Latest Reader Comment - See More
Please help me with infomation on these things. My 'Arothron nigropunctatus' was spawning. She lives alone in a water tank. Female of 'Arothron nigropunctatus' was... (more)  Matt

   This is a favorite among the puffers, probably because the Dog-faced Puffer or Black-spotted Puffer looks like such a nice guy, look at that face!

   The Dog-faced Puffer or Black-spotted Puffer are often exported from asia as juveniles. They make a special pet that can recognize their care givers and become visibly excited when given attention. Make sure you have a fairly large aquarium if you plan on growing this one up, it can reach up to 16" (40 cm)!

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Arothron nigropunctatus
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Tetraodontiformes
  • Family: Tetraodontidae
  • Genus: Arothron
  • Species: nigropunctatus
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Maintenance difficulty:    Although the Dog-faced Puffer or Black-spotted Puffer is easy to feed and generally hardy, they require special care and a special diet to stay healthy.

  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. For a better explanation and links to the practice of puffer dentistry (if needed) please read here. Because they eat a meaty diet and are often messy eaters, puffers will produce a large bio load on the biological filter of your aquarium requiring frequent water changes and good maintenance practices.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:    Dog-faced Puffer or Black-spotted Puffer are found in the Indo-Pacific. Islands of Micronesia and Samoa to East Africa. This is a species found on or near coral reefs.

Foods:  Puffers are primarily predatory fish in the wild, though they do graze on algae as well. Acceptable foods include shellfish, crustaceans and hard shelled foods such as snails. A large variety of all kinds of live and frozen meaty foods are best. It is best to feed small amounts several times a day. Some of the suggested frozen foods include prawn, crabs/crabs legs, bloodworms (live or frozen), blackworms (live or frozen), silversides, and mussels. Be sure to wash these foods thoroughly before feeding. Live foods can include snails, crabs, crayfish, shrimp (these are good for keeping their teeth trimmed), and earthworms. Live fish will also be eaten but it is thought it may cause problems such as 'fatty" liver and so should be fed sparingly or not at all.. Puffers are not picky eaters and will quickly become adapted to a variety of prepared aquarium foods and an occasional algae wafer. Flake food is not recommended. Even though they may eat it, puffers will not thrive on it.

Social Behaviors:    Generally this fish is not aggressive. Just make sure he doesn't think any other fish are meant to be dinner.

Sex: Sexual differences:    Unknown.

Light: Recommended light levels:    No special requirements.

Temperature:    No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 74 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Dog-faced Puffer or Black-spotted Puffer adults can grow to 40.0 cm (16 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 100 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong    No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom    No special requirements.

Availability:    This fish is available from time to time.

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Lastest Animal Stories on Dog-faced Puffer

Matt - 2014-06-24
Please help me with infomation on these things. My 'Arothron nigropunctatus' was spawning. She lives alone in a water tank. Female of 'Arothron nigropunctatus' was dying after spawning? Please tell me who knows these things?

corry - 2005-10-10
Definitely not a reef-safe fish. He will eat any and all soft corals from my experience.

This fish has a huge personality. Frequently he will swim up to the glass and "beg" for food. My dog-faced puffer will not except anything but flake food. He used to eat supermarket shrimp and that was a cheap way to feed him. Now he wants flake food only. Variety in the diet is important to prevent this from happening.

This fish should not be fed flake food as an only food. They have teeth and those teeth need to be ground down. Otherwise over time the teeth will outgrow the mouth and need to be clipped with a nail trimmer much like gerbils teeth. Not a fun task. Food for this fish to keep its teeth filed would be shelled things like shrimp. If its teeth outgrow its mouth the fish will die and starve.

This fish has not attacked any fish in my tank. These include smaller fish like a cleaner wrasse and green chromis. Actually, my tomato clowns are meaner than the puffer. The puffer is mostly a peaceful fish in my experience.

This fish is generally nocturnal. On the reef during the day, they can be found hiding under coral branches. By night they are out looking for food. Although this fish ignores this nocturnal activitity in captivity.

They do not seem to grow very fast. I have seen 1" growth after one year in my tank.

Blasting powerheads tend to push this fish around. They are poor swimmers.

I recommend a tank size of 125 gallons minimum. Due to the feeding habits of this fish, a large skimmer to remove waste is paramaount.

Rusty Shackleford - 2006-03-21
We've had our Puffer for some time now. It is not a good idea to keep them in a tank with invertebrates. Our chocolate chip starfish fell victim to our puffer within a week. Other than that, they are very personable.

Daniel Kishen - 2014-03-18
I am thinking of getting a dog face puffer, what other fish do well with it and what should I feed it?

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-03-20
    The Dog Face Puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus) are large carnivorous predators that can reach up to 14'  and need a tank of at least 100 gallons. They are considered Semi-aggressive, because they will eat snack sized fish as well as any crustaceans (not good for a reef tank!), but they are not scrappers. So look for tankmates that are too large to be eaten and of similar habits, like lionfish or frogfish. They may also do fine with larger angelfish or tangs, and possibly more passive triggers. But their diet preference rules out small fish like damsels and clownfish.
seatzy - 2012-07-15
I have recently purchased a 200 gallon fish tank, it is something special. I have plenty of live rock and have started to put my fish in (once tank has matured). I have Valentini puffer, two lion fish, a wrasse, granddad blenny, convict blenny and I have just today got myself a dog-face puffer today. He has fitted in like he has been there since the beginning. He allows the wrasse to clean him and has accepted the other fish, as they have them. I am wondering if he will end up eating my clean up crew. I have a few nice orange legged hermits and the like. I also have a sand sifting star fish, he won't attack that will he? thanks

  • Daniel Kishen - 2014-03-18
    I am afraid it isn't a very good idea to keep him with a starfish as they tend to attack invertabrates. He will be fine with the other fish and crustaceans.

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