Care Guide for Pea Puffers – The Smallest Pufferfish in the World
Pea puffers are one of the coolest oddball species you can keep in a smaller-sized aquarium. Pea puffers are known for their ability to inflate like tiny water balloons, have a helicopter-like maneuverability and independent eyes. This practical care guide answers the most frequently asked questions regarding these tiny, adorable creatures.
What is a Pea Puffer?
Carinotetraodon.travancoricus is also known by the names Indian dwarf puffer or Malabar puffer. This pufferfish comes from India’s southwestern tip and lives in freshwater. They can grow to just one inch in length and are available for purchase at your local fish shop. These fish are not usually sold at pet stores chains. Make sure you choose a healthy pet puffer that has a round belly. It also helps to ask the fish store employees what they feed the puffers since they can be picky eaters.
Nowadays most pea puffers are captive bred, but if they’re wild caught, they may need additional deworming medication. We’ve used our quarantine medication trio as a preventative treatment on thousands of pea puffers with no harmful effects.
These three medications have been proven safe for puffers, even though they are considered “scaleless” and are not recommended for them. Use the recommended dosages. Otherwise, pathogens might survive.
Do Pea Puffers Puff Up?
Yes. Although it is uncommon, you might catch pufferfish puffing up to practice or as a defense mechanism. Pufferfish puff up when they take in water to grow larger and deter predators. If left alone, the fish will return to its natural shape.
Do not stress your pet to make it inflate. Instead, you can find plenty of pictures and videos online to see what it looks like. It’s a good idea to transport your pea puffer in a small container or cup, rather than a net, so the fish doesn’t get sucked in to air.
How Many Pea Puffers can you keep in a 10-gallon Tank?
Given how territorial pea puffers can be, many people have a lot of success keeping just one pea puffer in a five-gallon aquarium by itself. The general rule is to give five gallons to the first puffer, and three gallons to each subsequent puffer. It is possible to keep three puffers per 10-gallon tank. You can also keep six to seven puffers each in a 20-gallon tank. However, your success rate will depend on how you set up the environment. If the tank is mostly bare without a lot of cover, expect to see a pufferfish battle zone. If you have a lush, densely planted aquarium, you might be able to handle three puffers in a 10-gallon space.
Of course, the larger the aquarium, the better. A larger aquarium will provide more water volume, which means less waste. This is important because poor water quality can cause health problems for puffers. It also gives the puffers more space to avoid each other. Plus, having a ratio of one male for every two to three females tends to decrease aggression, but most pea puffers are sold as juveniles, which are hard to sex. If you find yourself in a situation where you purchased three young puffers and ended up with one female and two males, you may need to rehome at least one male to minimize the fighting.
Up to six or seven pea puffers can be kept in a 20-gallon aquarium (with no other tank mates) if you provide lots of cover in the form of aquarium plants or decorations.
How do you distinguish between a male or female Pea Puffer?
Although it can be difficult to see, males are more likely to have darker coloration with a stripe of dot on the belly. Their bodies are on the slenderer side, and they exhibit more aggressive behavior in general. Females on the other side have a yellow stomach and tend to be slimmer.
Do Pea Puffers Need a Heater?
They do well in stable, tropical temperatures from 74 to 82degF, so if your room temperature is below this range or tends to fluctuate a lot, you need an aquarium heater. Find out the right size heater for you in our article.
People have maintained tanks at pH levels between 6.5 and 8.4. It’s best to maintain a pH range of 7.2 to 7.5, but it’s better to be consistent than to set a target number. Because they’re not the fastest swimmers, you should also use a gentle filter with a slower flow rate.
What do Pea Puffers eat?
These carnivores love frozen food (such as brine shrimps and frozen bloodworms) and live foods (such as little pest snails and blackworms). We’ve found that they don’t like dry food, but they do enjoy Hikari Vibra Bits. They look and move just like bloodworms when they sink.
Pea puffers, unlike larger pufferfish, don’t need to be fed hard, crunchy foods in order to reduce their growing teeth. If you are unable to get hold of live snails it is not an issue. Just make sure to feed a wide variety of frozen foods so that they get all the essential nutrients they need to live a long and healthy life.
Frozen bloodworms are a favorite food for pea puffers, but offer them a diverse assortment of foods to ensure they have a well-rounded diet.
Can Pea Puffers Live With Other Fish?
This is one of our most frequently asked questions about pea puffers. It’s not an easy question to answer. While some puffers are timid, others can be quite aggressive and territorial. Think of it like owning a dog that’s prone to fighting. Most dogs and pets you bring home are likely to be attacked. It’s fine if they do, but it may not be worth the effort to find your dog a roommate, as friendship is unlikely.
Therefore, if you want to keep pea puffers, buy them with the expectation of keeping them in a species-only aquarium with no other tank mates. This means that you won’t be able to add any algae eaters or clean-up crew, so you’ll have to do more tank maintenance yourself. Pea puffers can be a little messy, especially if they don’t catch every bit of food that falls in the water, so it would be beneficial to use live aquarium plants to help consume the toxic waste compounds. A well-balanced and densely planted tank will have very little algae growth. This creates a beautiful underwater jungle that your little helicopter fish can navigate.
Are Pea Puffers Good Pets?
This unusual species is more of a intermediate-level fish and we don’t recommend them for first-time fish keepers. They are very picky about food and can’t be savored by other community fish. Pea puffers can be very curious and have their own unique behaviors and looks. They are even able to recognize you as your owner. Pea puffers are a wonderful water pet that can be kept on your desk or counter.
Pea puffers are very curious fish with excellent eyesight, so you’ll often see them carefully examining everything in their aquarium.
To receive more care guides, sign up to our newsletter and receive a weekly e-mail with all our latest blog posts, videos, or live streams!