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includes marine puffer species

Puffers are scaleless fish that can tolerate some variation in their environment. They sometimes have spines or burrs on their skin, but are most remarkable for their ability to double or triple in size by taking in air or water rapidly. Not recommended for reef aquariums.


Puffers Facts

Average Adult Size 3 to 25 inches long, depends on species
Average Life Span depends on species
Diet carnivore
Minimum Aquarium Size 50+ gallons, depending on species
Water Temperature: 72-78°F
Salinity Level: 1.020-1.025


A well-balanced puffer diet consists of:

  • Chopped squid, clams, shrimp and krill.
  • Carnivorous frozen food.
  • Vary diet to ensure proper nutritional balance.


Things to remember when feeding your puffer:

  • Feed 1 to 2 times a day, no more than fish will eat in 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding.


  • Keep in an appropriately sized aquarium; provide rock and décor for hiding places and plenty of room for movement.
  • Avoid unnecessarily scaring or teasing your puffer to get it to puff up as it is extremely stressful on the puffer.
  • Stable water quality and parameters are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, Petco provides free water testing.

Normal Behavior

  • Have fused teeth in beak-like jaws.
  • Inflate when they feel threatened; can be aggressive.
  • They may eat smaller fish and invertebrates.
  • Inhabit the middle levels of the aquarium.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Daily: check filter, water temperature, specific gravity and other equipment.
  • Weekly: check water quality at least once a week.
  • Monthly: change 10 to 25% of the total volume of water every 2 to 4 weeks, or as needed.
  • Introduce new inhabitants to the aquarium gradually.


  • Check Petco's Marine Compatibility Care Sheet for more information regarding your specific species.


Signs of a Healthy Puffer

  • Eats vigorously
  • Clear eyes
  • Active swimming
  • Regular respiration
  • Avoid overcrowded conditions, which are a major cause of stress and disease. Maintain good water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration.

Red Flags

  • Loss of color or appetite
  • Spots or fungus on body or mouth
  • Listlessness
  • Erratic swimming
  • Labored respiration
  • Weight loss
  • Cloudy eyes

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Fin rot Symptoms or Causes Frayed or disintegrating fins; the base of the fins usually reddens. Suggested Action Improve water quality; consult your aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health Issue Marine ich Symptoms or Causes Cysts on fins, gills and skin; labored respiration, excess skin mucus or pale skin. Suggested Action Treat entire aquarium with a commercial parasite remedy and improve water quality; freshwater dips can dislodge the parasites.


Ask a store partner about Petco's selection of books on marine crustaceans and the variety of private brand products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All private brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Atypical Mycobacterium and Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at for more information about aquatic life and disease.

This care sheet can cover the needs of other species.

Note: The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the sources on the following page or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.