Why is my Pufferfish not Eating?

Pufferfish are stout yet adorable fish that are found all over the world. You can find this fish in various colors and sizes. Many species have peculiar and unique hunting techniques that are mesmerizing to watch from outside the aquarium. Pufferfishes are mostly found in marine, brackish, and freshwaters across the world. There are over 150 species. Among them, only around 30 of them live in freshwaters. They are very aggressive despite their cute look. They do not allow other fish in their territory – particularly during mating seasons.

Try This Food to Help!

Pufferfish Overview

Pufferfish are famous for their inflatability because their slow, somewhat clumsy swimming style makes them vulnerable to predators. They are mainly small to medium size. The fish have long, tapered bodies with bulbous heads and prominent lips, and a large stomach. They are scaleless fish, and their skins are rough and spiky. Their teeth are fused to form a beak-like structure for the shearing of corals and invertebrates. They are carnivores. They mostly eat foods such as corals, sponges, sea urchins, and other echinoderms. The fish crush and grind up their prey with their heavy, fused teeth. They are well known for their dangerous venom, known as tetrodotoxin. They cannot produce it by themselves and therefore are mostly harmless in captivity.

If you think that a human being is the only living creature who has lots of mood swings and personalities, that means you have not seen or bought a pufferfish yet. Pufferfish wants its owner to make them feel special by giving them different kinds of food. They have special requirements for the food. They would plead to their owner for special treatment, and if not given the food, they would go angry, and they would go on hunger strike just like teenagers. Pufferfish has a wide range of food choices, from household food to seafood.

Pufferfish Diet

The fish loves to eat clams, cockles, and mussels. The favorite food for pufferfish is invertebrates and algae. Large species eat clams, mussels, and shellfish. The best food for pufferfish is mussels because mussels have thinner shells, which help puffer fish to crunch with the aid of their beaks. Whole mussels can be given by large pufferfish, and sliced ones are given to small ones.

It will be a happy hour meal for Pufferfish if you give them frozen and fresh fish. They will have fresh fish by shoving off the chunk of the frozen fish. Salmon fish provides high nutrients to the Pufferfish as it is highly rich in carotenoids and helps to maintain color in aquarium fish. If you choose frozen food for your fish, you should never miss bloodworms, though some pufferfish will also accept daphnia and brine shrimp.

Puffers require crunch foods in their diet as they cannot survive on fish only. Obtaining proper food for Pufferfish is not easy. Whatever the storekeeper tells you to sell their food, you have to keep in mind that Pufferfish do not accept oily food like herring and tuna as well as Pufferfish will not eat flake foods or pellets as they like hard food always. They may eat mollusks (snails), small invertebrates, and insects, but in the aquarium, their diet needs to be of their choice, or else they would go on hunger strike and sacrifice their lives. It is the best way to keep your Pufferfish happy and healthy by giving them small snails and frozen food.

Possible Reasons

Some people face problems in feeding their pufferfish as their puffer are not eating at all for some days. There are some reasons why pufferfish are not taking any foods. Following are the problems that hinder pufferfish from eating:

  • Water problem
  • Pufferfish has an internal parasite infection
  • Pufferfish is constipated.
  • Before feeding, nutritional deficiency shows up after a few yrs of eating poor quality foods.

Water Conditions

Pufferfish are tropical freshwater fish that live in the tropical and temperate regions of the world, such as in South East Asia, India, Bangladesh, South America, and Africa. They mostly live in riverside with highly dense vegetation.

Freshwater pufferfish are very prone to diseases, so you need to take good care of them and provide the best environment possible for them. These fishes do best when kept in waters with a pH of 7.0-7.6 and temperatures between 74°-78°F. Other water properties such as water hardness and flow rate depending on the particular species and their natural habitats.

A tank with a low water current will be best for most species of pufferfish and a dKH between 8-12. Pufferfish cannot survive in deteriorating water conditions, and they are very vulnerable to levels of nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia in the water. They produce a lot of waste. That is why a good filter is compulsory, and 50% of the water has to changes weekly. You should buy a double filtration system with heaters and a mesmerizing lighting system for your fish well being. 

Usually, freshwater pufferfish require a well-built aquarium with lots of crevices and hiding places. Ambush predators want soft substrates which can dig easily and hide inside it. Stealth predators need densely planted tanks with plenty of tree roots, plants, and crevices. 

Internal Parasite Infection

Generally, you do not think about the internal parasite that can affect your fish. But from now on, you should think about it as it can kill your fish, hamper their growth rate and the overall health of the fish. 

More or less, all fishes contain some internal parasites. It is safe when they are in limited quantity. If their amount increases in number, they start to harm your fish’s internal function causing them to lose their appetite as well as their weight loss, and they look ill and pale and excrete red or white pus from its anus. They also get internal parasites from the water sources. If the water contains some bacteria or parasites, then it is a much easy way for the pathogen to enter into the fish and harm them. It is advisable that if you bring a new fish to an aquarium, you should keep them in quarantine so that if it contains any kinds of pathogens, it is not transmitted to the other fishes through a water source.

Treatment for Internal Parasites

If your fish are having their food on their own, you can mix deworming medications. Medicines include Metronidazole, Praziquantel, Fenbendazole, and some natural medications such as garlic, pumpkin seeds with fish food. Make sure that the medications and food combine perfectly with each other while wetting. If your fish is not eating on its own, you should add the medicines into the water. This process takes a long time to treat your fish, or you can go for a separate short bath with medication for your fish.

If all these techniques do not please your fish to eat, then go for tube feeding. In tube feeding, you have to keep in mind that the puffer-fish has to be under anesthesia. While you are feeding the fish through a tube, you should keep in mind that fish food should be slurry, and some vitamins such as vitamin B12 and some baby vitamins should be added.

If you think that your fish contain a large number of internal parasites, it is better to lower the medication dosage and separate the fish for a long period. High doses can kill a large number of internal parasites, so it can cause harm to the fish.

Constipated Puffer

Pufferfish can get constipated if you have given improper food, manufactured food, and overfeeding them. You can easily understand that your puffer-fish has constipation when you find bloating on the body. Be careful when you see one of these bloating because it can kill your fish too! You should treat your fish by separating them from the main tank and give them another tank containing Epsom salts of 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons of tank volume. You should also add some fiber food to their diets, such as frozen/thawed peas and other greens. Add clam juice with their food to attract them to eat.

Nutritional Problems for the Puffer

Pufferfish requires a rich source of protein, micronutrients, and essential fatty acids. Often pufferfish do not eat their food as they find no taste in their regular food. They need different kinds of foods in their diet, or else they go on hunger strike unless they are treated with new, balanced foods. From now on, you should keep in mind that your pufferfish also like to be treated with new different delicious foods.

When you are facing trouble feeding your pufferfish as it insists not to eat anything, you can try frozen food mix with live food. They cannot resist this food at all. Nothing can trigger them more than this food to eat. You can also give them mosquito larvae or daphnia in summer and live blackworms in winter. They go crazy for snails though they avoid some large snails, small snails have no chance to survive. 

I hope this article helps you to know all the possible ways why your pufferfish is not eating, and you can treat them accordingly.