The Golden Puffer has an unusual shape and vibrant iridescent coloring, so looks more like it belongs in a saltwater environment!

The Golden Puffer Auriglobusmodestus is a freshwater puffer fish that has a sleek body rather than the more club-like appearance of most puffers. Its beautiful iridescent coloration, modulates between golden, green, and bronze hues. This is also an unusual characteristic more commonly seen in marine fish. Fortunately for the freshwater enthusiast, it will do fine in pure freshwater. With its variable coloration it can also be found under the common names Bronze Puffer and Avocado Puffer.

Puffers are generally known as being aggressive fins nippers and the Golden Puffer or Avocado Puffer is no exception. This puffer is more streamlined and quicker than most other puffer species which can cause problems when choosing tank mates. Fish that are slow or have long fins definitely won’t last long in a tank with Golden Puffers. Also, most invertebrates will quickly be attacked or eaten so snails and shrimp cannot be kept with this puffer (but they are great as food!).

The Golden Puffer is not a community fish. It is much faster than most puffers and can be extremely aggressive. Constant moving fish like schools of Giant Danios or other danio species are very fast fish, so usually fair pretty well. Do not try to introduce long-finned slow swimming fish like Angelfish or Gouramis. These fish will be targets for the puffers aggression.

These puffer fish do not get very large; usually around 4 inches and do not require a large tank. They do however require large canister filters and weekly water changes. With the proper care and aquarium setup these puffers can live for around ten years and make an interesting addition to your aquarium.

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Tetraodontiformes
  • Family: Tetraodontidae
  • Genus: Auriglobus
  • Species: modestus

Golden Puffer – Quick Aquarium Care

  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Size of fish – inches: 4.5 inches (11.43 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Temperature: 74.0 to 82.0° F (23.3 to 27.8&deg C)
Aquarist Experience Level:Intermediate
Aquarium Hardiness:Moderately hardy
Minimum Tank Size:20 gal (76 L)
Size of fish – inches3.9 inches (10.01 cm)
Temperature:74.0 to 81.0° F (23.3 to 27.2&deg C)

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Golden Puffer Auriglobus modestus was described by Bleeker, 1850. (Synonym: Chonerhinos modestus – invalid).They are native to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia where they are found in medium and large rivers. These puffers are normally found in swift moving currents, but also can be found in flood estuaries.

Other common names it is known by are Avocado Puffer and Bronze Puffer. As with so many of the common names for fishes, there can be a variety of species called the same thing. Consequently there are several other fish associated with the same common names as this fish.

The name ‘Avocado Puffer’ is also associated with the Green Pufferfish Tetraodon fluviatilis and the Ocellated Pufferfish Tetraodon cutcutia . Then there is a very similar looking fish, Xenopterus naritus , that is sometimes called the Bronze Puffer. In the saltwater area there are a couple puffers called ‘Golden’ or ‘Gold’ puffers. One is the Guineafowl Puffer Arothron meleagris and occasionally the Dog-faced Puffer or Blackspotted PufferArothron nigropunctatus.

  • Scientific Name: Auriglobus modestus
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: NE – Not Evaluated or not listed


The Golden Puffer or Avocado Puffer has an unusual shape for a puffer, sporting a sleeker body. It has an iridescent gold green coloration getting slightly lighter towards the belly. The fins and tail are translucent. These fish can grow up to about 4.5 inches (11cm).

Puffer fish have the ability to ‘puff’ themselves up with water or air if threatened. This apparently helps keep them from being eaten. Another defense of many puffer species is to produce toxic substances in their flesh that is poisonous if eaten. These Bronze Puffer fish can be quite long lived in the aquarium, many living for 10 or more years.

Because of the puffers habit of nipping, long-finned slow moving fish are not recommended. Most other fast moving community fish will do fine. Keep in mind that puffers need much more space then typical community fish so the 1 inch a gallon rule does not apply. Amazon Puffers will need 20 gallons per puffer, so keep that in mind when stocking your tank.

  • Size of fish – inches: 4.5 inches (11.43 cm)
  • Lifespan: 10 years

Fish Keeping Difficulty

As with all puffers there is a moderate difficulty associated with owning a Golden Puffer. These fish due to the lack of scales and gill covers are more prone to disease and more sensitive to changing water conditions. The Avocado Puffer fish are aggressive and will not be able to go in a community tank. They need weekly water changes and high output filters.

It is common to have to trim their teeth 3-4 times per year which can be an extremely nerve racking job. To do this, add 3 drops of clove oil per liter of water; this will temporarily sedate the puffer so you can hold the puffer in your hand more easily. You will need cuticle clippers; use these to clip bottom and top teeth. Once done put puffer in a container or net that will have the current flowing over them. Once awake release back into tank.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Foods and Feeding

The Golden Puffers or Avocado Puffers are omnivores. In their natural environment they will eat shrimps, terrestrial insects, whole fish (only occasionally), and surprisingly enough, seeds. They prefer live or frozen foods such as shrimp, ghost shrimp (gut-loaded), bloodworms, and snails. Sometimes they can be trained to eat freeze dried foods such as krill.

Puffers have strong teeth that grow throughout their lives. This Bronze Puffer is prone to overgrown teeth and will need to be offered hard shelled live food often to keep their teeth worn down. Feeding snails and other shelled foods daily will help to wear down the teeth. If the teeth get too long, they will be unable to eat, requiring the owner to clip the teeth. If you do not feed these puffers shelled foods daily expect to trim their teeth 3-4 times per per.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Occasionally
  • Tablet / Pellet: Occasionally
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet – seeds
  • Meaty Food: Most of Diet – Feed Live and frozen foods, snails, freeze dried krill, frozen shrimp, bloodworms- live or frozen, gut loaded live ghoast shrimp.
  • Feeding Frequency: Daily

Aquarium Care

Since puffers do not have gill covers or scales, they are thought to be more susceptible to diseases, nitrite, nitrate and ammonia levels. The Golden Puffer is especially sensitive to nitrites and ammonia. Consequently, like all puffers, they are not a good fish to cycle an aquarium with.

This puffer fish is a freshwater species and does not require salt. 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.

The Golden Puffer doesn’t require a large aquarium. But if you want to keep more than one or some other species with them, a well planted 50+ gallon tank is recommended. This will give the other fish plenty of room to escape in case they get chased by the puffer(s).

  • Water Changes: Weekly – Water change should be 30-50% weekly.

Aquarium Setup

The Golden Puffer fish requires a tank capacity of at least 20 gallons. As with all puffers Golden Puffer is extremely sensitive to nitrates and ammonia. They have very messy eating habits, therefore, the tank needs large canister filters that turn the tank over 6-10 times per hour. Rotating powerheads are needed to simulate the currents of the rivers they come from.

These are very intelligent fish and need a well decorated tank to engage their curiosity. The substrate should be sand as puffers like to root around. There should be driftwood and caves for the Golden puffer to hide. The tank should have floating vegetation to break up the light and offer shelter. Vegetation and hiding places are also essential if housed with other fish who might have to flee from these aggressive fish.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L) – The Golden Puffer does not require a large tank for itself, but to keep more than one or some other species with them, a well planted 50+ gallon tank is recommended.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes – A Nano tank is fine as long as it meets the size requirements and has proper filtration.
  • Substrate Type: Sand
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate – normal lighting
  • Temperature: 74.0 to 82.0° F (23.3 to 27.8&deg C)
  • Range ph: 6.0-7.8
  • Hardness Range: 4 – 18 dGH
  • Brackish: Yes – Although it is a freshwater fish, it will be healthier in slightly brackish conditions.
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All

Social Behaviors

These puffer fish are quick and aggressive so tank mates need to be fast to survive. Community fish will not fair well with the Golden Puffer because of its aggressive nipping behavior. However very fast fish like larger Danios or other danio-like fish would be good choices.

The Golden Puffer can be housed with its same species. Other puffers that have reportedly been kept successfully with them as well are the Malabar Puffer or Dwarf Puffer FishCarinotetraodon travancoricus and the Amazon puffer or South American PufferfishCarinotetraodon asellus . Do not try to house slow swimming long-finned fish with them, like angelfish or gouramis.

  • Venomous: Yes – Puffer fish harbor toxic substances in their flesh, and the Golden Puffer may be venomous if it is consumed.
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Yes
    • Peaceful fish (): Monitor – It is a fin-nipper so can only be kept with very fast moving peaceful fish, like larger Danios or other danio-like fishes.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Threat – Golden Puffers will nip fins and tails of any slow-moving fish.
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Threat – is aggressive – These puffer fish feed on benthic organisms in the wild, like shrimps.
    • Plants: Safe

Sexual differences

Sexual differences are unknown.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Golden Puffer fish has not been bred in captivity.

  • Ease of Breeding: Unknown

Fish Diseases

The Golden 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 Amazon Puffer tank.

These Avocado or Bronze 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 Golden Puffer, also called Avocado Puffer or Bronze Puffer, are commonly available from pet stores and online.

Featured Image Credit: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock