Porcupine Puffer

Porcupinefish, Slender-spined porcupine fish

Family: Diodontidae Picture of a Porcupine Puffer or PorcupinefishDiodon nicthemerusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
Latest Reader Comment - See More
Easily the best fish to keep as a pet. During feeding they will swim to you and take food from your hand. Be careful not to be bitten by this one, it has very... (more)  craig warren

   This one is doing what most Porcupine Puffer or Porcupinefish do very well, (besides eating) it is puffing up! If threatened, they will fill themselves with air or water to become about 5 times their normal size! This one did it every time we moved it.

   The Porcupine Puffer or Porcupinefish will become accustomed to being fed and will eventually look to their owners for food and will take it from your hand. Many times this fish will become so large the owners will get a separate aquarium for it!

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


Geographic Distribution
Diodon nicthemerus
Data provided by FishBase.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Tetraodontiformes
  • Family: Diodontidae
  • Genus: Diodon
  • Species: nicthemerus
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Maintenance difficulty:    Although the porcupine puffer or porcupinefish is easy to feed and generally hardy, they require special care and a special diet to stay healthy.

Maintenance:   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:   Indo-Pacific: Southern Australia from central New South Wales to a similar latitude in Western Australia.

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:    Found commonly in shallow bays. Nocturnal. Occurs in small aggregations. In the aquarium, they can be aggressive among themselves, and any smaller fish may be eaten.

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:    Porcupine Puffer or Porcupinefish adults can grow to 28.0 cm (11 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 75 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.

Lastest Animal Stories on Porcupine Puffer

craig warren - 2004-07-14
Easily the best fish to keep as a pet. During feeding they will swim to you and take food from your hand. Be careful not to be bitten by this one, it has very powerful jaws. It will spit jets of water from the aquarium at you if you dont feed it quick enough. It will also come to the front of the tank and beg for food. The best fish I've ever kept. Recommended to any one who likes a fish with a good personality.

  • Ron - 2013-02-25
    I had a 6 incher not too long ago he was a great fish. Be careful with your water changes!! The puffer i have now is a baby Its doing very well. Its okay to have your water at 80 degrees for these fish. good luck guys.
Reply
Matt - 2008-05-26
Doug was a part of the family for four years. Just wanted to give you heads up as one other person did below. Doug's diet included only frozen shrimp and brine shrimp cubes and beefheart. The guys at my local trusted aquarium were always on me to feed him the frozen Krill. Finally thought I'd give it a try. Big mistake! I thawed 4 Krill and dropped them in Doug's tank. He ate them with the quickness as usual. Then went and layed in the sand like he does when he has finished eating. The problem is he never came back up. He was dead within 12 hours. The only thing that changed was that he ate some Krill. He lived 4 years without them. Bottom line, Puffers can do fine without Krill, and I would advise everyone not to try it! Just thought this could save your puffer!

Reply
mark - 2004-07-27
I had a porcupine puffer about 7 inches long when I introduced a Green Wolf Eel approx 5 inches long. The puffer is always curious about tank mates but has never shown aggression towards the wolf, they get along fine.

Reply
Adam - 2010-08-02
I have a porcup[ine puffer I bought a week ago now named mugsy. I have been trying to feed him a variety of foods from clam, brine, freeze dried krill, shrimp, and mussels. I haven't seen him eat the food yet. It's gone but I believe that is from my snowflake eel coming out and taking. Any suggestions on what I should try?

  • Jeremy Roche - 2013-01-16
    Try using tong and feed him directly.  Once they start eating its hard to slow them down.
Reply
Jerrad - 2012-09-09
I have a porcupine puffer he has been sitting at the bottom of the tank an looks like he is breathing hard and I am worried somethings wrong with him?

  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-09-10
    First check water levels.  Is it eating and going to the bathroom normally??
Reply

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