Pea Puffer Fish Care Guide: Tank Setup, Tank Mates, Diet, and Breeding, etc.

In the past few decades, aquarium culture has increased the number of different species originating from India. The fish species that we are going to talk about today is the Pea Puffer Fish, a native of India.

Pea puffer is small but considered intelligent for their size. They have a strange body structure and an exceptional appearance. But, their behavior and activity will add engagement to your tank.

In this article, we are going to learn about Pea Puffer’s appearance, behaviors, ideal tank size, care, and breeding process. Before jumping to details, let’s take a brief look at the table given below –

Category Rating
Family Tetraodontiformes
Scientific Name Carinotetraodon travancoricus
Care Level Intermediate
Size 1.4 inches
Color Form Yellow
Lifespan 4 Years
Temperament Territorial and aggressive
Diet Mainly carnivorous

Pea Puffer Overview

Pea Puffer can grow up to 1.4 inches only, and it makes them the smallest member of their family. They are known by many names, such as Mini Puffer Fish, Dwarf Pea Puffer, Pea Puffer Fish, Dwarf Pufferfish, Pygmy Pufferfish, and Malabar Pufferfish.

They are known for exhibiting unique features. They can change their color and also use each eye independently of one another.

Dwarf  Puffer Lifespan

Their small size, ease of care, and 4 years’ lifespan make them quite popular among the aquarists. But this popularity has harmed them. They are now on the verge of extinction because they are being caught from the wild.

So, try to purchase them from the store, which has a reputation for breeding the fishes in captivity. Purchasing them from the store will also allow you to select the healthier species for your tank.

These fishes are easily available in the stores, and you can purchase them for $4 per fish.

Typical Behavior

Given their small size, they are surprisingly aggressive and territorial, especially the male species. So, it is important to keep a single male in the tank, and also, there should be at least 2 females over a single male.

It will help in reducing their aggression while encouraging breeding. They are curious little fishes who pay close attention to whatever is happening inside the tank and outside. They will keep an eye on you as well.

Pea Puffer fishes are a social creature and can be seen moving in a shoal, whereas the other member of their family are loners. They can occupy the whole tank and swim in the upper, lower part, and scavenging for food among the plants.

Pea puffer

Pea Puffer Appearance

Pea Puffer Size

Pea Puffers are the smallest species when compared to other members of their family. They can grow up to 1.4 inches only and hence the name ‘Pea Puffer’.

Despite their small size, they show different behaviors and have an extraordinary appearance. Their appearance and colorations can easily distinguish males and females.

Both of them have a round body that narrows down, reaching their dorsal and anal fins. They have big bulging eyes on both sides of the head, which looks appealing to their appearance.

Males are distinguished by the dark golden-green coloration with a bright yellow belly. They also have a thick, dark-colored stripe on their belly running from the chins to the anus. They also have wrinkles around the eyes that resemble iridescent cracks on the skin.

In contrast, the females have lighter yellowish-green coloration with a faded yellow-white belly. The belly lines and wrinkles around the eyes are not present in the female Pea Puffers.

Both males and females have black spots on their bodies, which in males look more like blotchy stripes as they mature. In comparison, the spots on the females are usually in irregular and round confined shape.

The females are less shy as compared to males and spend most of their time scavenging for food.

Pea Puffer Tank Requirements and Habitat

The Pea Puffers are found in the lakes, rivers, and estuaries of South-Western parts of India. They are freshwater fishes but can be found living in the brackish waters of estuaries. But it reduces their life expectancy.

Pea Puffers prefer the low flowing or still water of rivers and lakes. These waters are rich in the heavy plantation, helping them find shelter from the heavy flow and become the prey of bigger fishes.

These waters are also a perfect habitat for them as they can get 10-12 hours of sunlight here, and the plants help them in feeding or breeding.

It is easy to replicate the environment of their natural habitat into your tank. You can easily make them feel at home by following the given water conditions.

Conditions Parameters
Minimum Tank Size 5 Gallons per fish
Pond Set-Up Heavily planted
Compatible Tropical freshwater
Temperature 77-79°F
pH 6.5-8.5

For substrate, you can use fine particle gravel or coarse sand for the plants to spread their roots effortlessly. You can add a variety of plants as more plants will give them a feel of their natural habitat.

Stargrass, Java Moss, Cabomba, and Anubias Nana are some of the great options of plants for Pea Puffer’s tank. These plants will oxygenate the water and help in maintaining the health of the aquarium.

These will also keep your fish healthy and encourage breeding. You can get pairs of long tweezers or scissors to maintain the plants and avoid getting nipped by the fish and avoid plants overcrowding the tank.

What Should be the Pea Puffer Tank Size?

Pea Puffers are small so that a single fish can be easily kept in the tank with a minimum capacity of 5 gallons. Whereas, you will need a tank with a minimum capacity of 20 gallons to store one male and 3 females for breeding.

Pea Puffer Diet and Feeding

Pea Puffer food

The Pea Puffers are mainly carnivores, and in their natural habitat, they feed on small amounts of microscopic algae, larvae, insects, water fleas, and copepods. In the tank, you can add variety by adding live or frozen food.

They will happily eat brine shrimp, bloodworms, small shrimps, cyclops, and snails. You can also add algae wafers sometimes, but there is less chance that the fish will feed on them.

Pea Puffer Diet

Pea Puffers are gastronomes and eat actively, so it is easy to overfeed them. Feed them twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, only the amount they can finish in 3 minutes.

Overfeeding can make the fish sick and also increase the Nitrate levels in the tank. This will also result in an increase in the number of algae growths. One of the easiest ways to avoid all this is by making a coconut feeder (can be purchased from the stores as well).

You can put the food inside it and hang or put it in the bottom of the tank using tweezers to avoid getting bitten by the fish.

As we mentioned earlier, these fishes are very intelligent. They will recognize your movement when you enter the room for feeding them.

Pea Puffer Tank Mates

These fishes are quite social and can be found living in a large shoal in their natural environment. Filament Barbs, Paral Fish, Long-finned Barbs, Orange Chromide, and Malabar Leaf Fish are some other wild companions.

Despite their social behavior, they are not considered a good companion for the other species of fishes. They are quite aggressive and can get territorial if other fishes invade in their area.

We will not recommend you keep them in the community tank, but if you want to experiment, add only the fishes who are fast swimmers and small in size.

Ember Tetras, Glowlight Tetra, Neon Tetras, Mosquito Rasbora, Harlequin Rasbora, Filament Barb, Zebra Danio, Leopard Danio, Siamese Algae Eaters, and Dwarf Otocinclus are some of the fishes whom you can keep with them.

Avoid keeping them with large predatory fishes like Catfishes or small long-tailed/fined and slow-moving fishes like Guppies, who will easily get attacked or nipped by the Pea Puffers.

You should also avoid non-fish varieties in Pea Puffer’s tank as they are likely to hunt down the small species of Shrimps. Small snails like Bladder Snails or Malaysian Trumpet Snails are also not safe from your Pea Puffers. So, avoid keeping them.

If you want to keep them in the community tank, keep an extra tank with the same setup. It is for emergencies when you have to separate any fish for the medication and other treatments.

Can Pea Puffers be Kept Together?

We highly recommend you to keep the Pea Puffer fishes in only a group and not in a community tank. Also, avoid keeping two males in the same tank. It will create tension, and they can be seen fighting over the territory.

But you can add females; normally, the ratio of 1:3 of male to female is better. They will create a calmer atmosphere as the females don’t show any signs of aggression when kept in a group.

This ratio also increases the chance of successful breeding.

Pea Puffer Care

Pea puffer fish

Dwarf Puffer Fish Care

Pea Puffer or Dwarf Puffer fishes are hardy, but they can also get infected from the common freshwater diseases. The injured fish is also prone to different infections, which can be fatal if left uncured.

This can become a common problem if you are keeping two males in the same tank. The males are aggressive towards each other and easily get into a fight. They can bite, nip the fin or take a chunk of flesh from other’s bodies.

Even a little scratch in their body can become a source of infection into their body, so avoid keeping the two males in the tank. If you do, you have to be prepared with another tank for the regular treatment of one of them or both.

As with other freshwater fishes, the temperature change can affect the health of your Pufferfish as well. It can weaken their immune system, further inviting different diseases, and Ich infection is common among them.

Ich infection or White Spot disease is hard to identify in the initial stages. This disease is caused by a parasite called Cryptocaryon irritans. It causes white spots all over the body, and the fish feels the urge to scratch itself to different surfaces.

The treatments of this disease are available in different pet stores. The best medication for this disease contains the base of copper sulfate and formalin.

This disease can be avoided by feeding healthy food to the fish and doing regular aquarium clean-ups. The Pea Puffers creates a lot of mess while eating. This food gets stuck into the substrate and gradually ruins the quality of water.

Doing the regular clean up of the substrate is important to remove any leftover food or parasitic spores. This can be done effortlessly by the gravel vacuum. You can also add foods to boost their immune system.

The products having garlic as an ingredient is best for this purpose. The garlic will also help in encourage feeding, especially in the newly purchased fish. But the wild-caught species will refuse to eat it.

Pea Puffer Breeding

Breeding Pea Puffer is quite easy in the captivity. But you have to make sure of the few things, such as the water temperature should be constant and around 79ºF. There should be a sponge filter in the tank.

It will reduce the flow and prevent the young ones from getting sucked into the filter. There should be a heavy plantation in the tank as well. The main tank is suitable for breeding, but if you want, you can create a separate breeding tank, as well.

You can also add bogwood into the tank as it will give them a more familiar look of their natural habitat.

A 5 gallons breeding tank will be enough for a male and female pair. The male usually chases around the female until she is ready to spawn. After this, the female takes the male into the hiding of plants to lay eggs.

A Java Moss clump is perfect for the process of spawning. After spawning, it may take around 48 hours for the eggs to hatch. The fries will stay, around 2-3 days, in the eggs to soak up the egg yolk entirely.

When the fries start separating from the eggs, you can feed them with a mix of newly hatched brine shrimps and live infusoria. This mix will encourage faster growth.

Pea Puffer Summary

The Pea Puffers are the small intelligent fishes who are infamous for their aggression and territorial behavior. This is the reason they are not compatible with mates in a community tank.

But they can be kept in the group as long as there is a 1:2 ratio of males to females. The male Pea Puffer fishes are the aggressive ones, but they have more appealing colorations than the females.

If kept in healthy water conditions, the fishes will be healthy and less prone to diseases. The healthy water conditions also make sure they have a healthy and long life.

The female fishes are more active and can be seen actively swimming around the tank, scavenging for food. It makes them a good hunter fish as well.

Do you have Pea Pufferfish in your tank? Did you try keeping them in the community tank? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments