Due to the popularity of my An Introduction to Freshwater Puffers I decided to do one for saltwater because everyone should be able to experience the joy of having a puffer. So, lets quit messing around and bring on the puffers!
But, before I start introducing these amazing saltwater puffers I want to make a few points that every hobbyist should keep in mind before purchasing a puffer.
1. puffers are extremely messy fish = HUGE filtration system required
2. puffers are semi-aggressive to aggressive in behavior = keep only one puffer per tank and research tank-mates heavily (usually species only tanks)
3. puffers get big = very large tank required (no 10 gallons here)
Now that you have been educated on the key points to remember when looking at these adorable fish, lets learn about some amazing puffers!
The first puffers that I think saltwater hobbyist tend to forget are the sharpnose puffers (aka tobies). These puffers are in the same family of Tetraodontidae but in a subfamily of Canthigastrinae and do not get as large as the other members of Tetraodontidae.
1. Blue Spotted Puffer (Canthigaster solandri): These little puffers are great! The max size these little guys achieve is 5 inches making them perfect for tank of 50 gallons or more. They still act like the larger puffers though (semi-aggressive), so I would be wary about putting them in a reef tank. They are omnivores (meaty foods consisting of crustaceans and mollusks) and tend to pick on every rock in the aquarium. I would not recommend keeping them with slow moving fish or delicate fish like seahorses. pic from: godscreationsunderthesea.com
2. Saddle Valentini Puffer (Canthigaster valentini): These little guys only reach 4 inches and can be easily kept in a 30 gallon tank or larger. Once again, I would recommend caution with keeping these guys in a reef tank due to their destructive behavior. Their diet consists of meaty foods just like the Blue Spotted Puffer.
pic from: wetwebmedia.com
Lets move on to some other species of puffers which will be in the family Tetraodontidae, which means these puffers will be much larger and messier than the puffers in the subfamily Canthigastrinae.
3. Porcupine Puffer (Diodon holocanthus): These guys are gr eat for any hobbyist looking to own a large puffer. The porcupine puffers reach a size of 1 foot which means a large tank around 180 gallons or more. These guys have voracious appetites and can make huge messes in the aquarium thus requiring a large filtration system too. Porcupine puffer have great personalities and are very easy to care for. pic from:http://fishindex.blogspot.com
4. Dog face Puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus): Most puffers are very outgoing but the dog face puffers tend to be very shy with new owners and requires more aqua-scaping. It is not unusual for them to not eat for a few days when acclimating to a new environment. I would require watching the puffer eat before purchasing due to this. Even though these guys are shy they do warm up to their owners once they are established in their home.
pic from: http://susansternberg.wordpress.com
5. White spotted Puffer (Anthron hispidis): I love white spotted puffers and after having one for 5 years I can say that these guys are great! They are much less aggressive than other puffers that I have kept and they become really attach to their owner, but I all puffers become attached to their owners. White spotted puffers reach about 1.5 feet and will require a tank that is more than 180 gallons. Very easy to feed and are easy to find tank-mates for.
pic from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/boogieswithfish
These puffers are perfect for any hobbyist that are thinking of jumping into owning a puffer. There are many other species of puffers available but I highly recommend starting with the puffers on this list. Once you have realized you have a interest in puffers make sure you research which species you are wanting to own and make the aquarium around that puffer.