How to take care of Dogface puffer Fish?

We will talk about dogface puffer fish care in this blog post.We will also discuss important factors such as their habitat, types, lifespan, tank set-up,water parameters and healthcare, etc.Everything you need to know about dogface puffer fish care will be briefly discussed.


In this blog

  • Key specifications of dogface puffer fish
  • Why is dogface puffer fish care important?
  • How many dogface puffer fish should you start with as a newcomer?
  • Habitat of dogface puffer fish
  • Types of dogface puffer fish
  • Different strains or colors of dogface puffer fish
  • General and physical attributes of dogface puffer fish
  • Dogface puffer fish lifespan
  • Dogface puffer fish tank set-up
  • Dogface puffer fish diet and feeding requirements
  • Dogface puffer fish healthcare and health conditions
  • Dogface puffer fish daily care and Bi-weekly care tips
  • Summary

How to take care of Dogface puffer Fish?

Daily care tips dogface puffer fish

  • Never ever use nets to catch these guys while cleaning the tank.This might stress them.
  • Good filtration practice is really important to remove bioload from the tank.
  • Replicate their natural diet since they have specialized eating habits.
  • Frozen food should be thawed before feeding.
  • Feeding should be done 2-3 times a day.
  • Hand feeding can be done.
  • Never over feed.   
  • Maintain all the vital tank parameters for their sound health.
  • Monitor their swimming patterns and if you find them or other tank mates inactive that means they are not keeping well, so please put them in a separate hospital tank until they recover.

Bi-weekly care tips dogface puffer fish

  • Water should be clean all the time.
  • Reef water conditions are suitable for them.
  • You can change water once a week or twice in a month.
  • Filters should be washed thoroughly to avoid bioaccumulation.
  • All the tank equipment should be in working conditions.
  • Teeth trimming should be because they have problems with overgrown teeth.
  • Water testing kits and pH testing kits should be used to maintain the water parameters.
  • Quarantine new tank mates at least for a week before adding them in the aquarium.

Key specifications of Dogface puffer fish

Scientific name Arothron nigropunctatus
FamilyTetraodontidae (puffer family)
HabitatConservation statusIndo-pacific ocean (reefs)Least concern
Lifespan5-10 years in aquarium settings
Body sizeBody shapeColorSpecial trait
Sexual dimorphism
About 12-13 inches (30.5-33cm)Oval shapeTan, Black, Gold, OrangeTetrodotoxin (Poison)Big teethEvident during mating
Another namesBlackspotted pufferArothron Dogface puffers
Optimum temperatureOptimum pHWater hardnessSpecific gravity74F-82F8.1-8.48-12 dKH1.019-1.025
TemperamentBeginner /experienced Semi-aggressiveIntermediate fish aquarists
Care levelModerate
Tank size and set-upTank type (Prefered)75-90 gallons per puffer fishCommunity saltwater aquarium
Preferred plants/decorationsDense plantation
CompatibilityOther non-aggressive puffers
Number of dogface puffer fish species found Huge variety both in shape and colors
BreedingBreeding doesn’t occur in aquarium setting They are oviparous

Why is dogface puffer fish care important?

Every aquarium fish needs proper care in aquarium conditions.In case of dogface fish also you need to be careful with the water parameters and the toxin they release as a defense mechanism.So you have to be careful while handling these cute aquatic puppies.

How many dogface puffer fish should you start with as a newcomer?

It is recommended to get 1-2 dogface puffer fish as a newcomer,since they get along quite well with other dog faced puffers.They grow a foot long and have inflating and deflating tendencies.

They definitely need a bigger tank with less aggressive tank mates.In my opinion you don’t need any other tank mate with these funky fish.Their puppy eyes will melt your heart.

Dogface puffers are best kept alone in big aquariums.

Habitat of dogface puffer fish

Dogface puffers are tropical saltwater species and are mainly found in the Indo-pacific ocean(reefs).Their distribution of these solitary fish is from south of japan to east africa and south wales.

Types of dogface puffer fish

  • Yellow belly dogface pufferfish
  • Black spotted dogface pufferfish (original)
  • Black and white dogface pufferfish
  • Golden belly dogface pufferfish
  • Striped dogface pufferfish
  • Golden pufferfish 

Different strains or colors of dogface puffer fish

Dogface fish come in various colourations:

  • Gray,light brown, bluish, dark bluish, bright yellow, orange yellow
  • Bi-colour -blue-yellow

General and physical attributes of dogface puffer fish

  • Dogface puffers come in various shapes and sizes.
  • Dogface puffers are small sized fish and grow upto one foot length.
  • Dogface puffers body shape- oval spherical and elongated
  • The outer layer of their skin is smooth and without scales.
  • They don’t have a pelvic fin and lateral lines.
  • Dorsal and anal fins are small and loacted at the end of their body.
  • Nostrils- Two pairs
  • Mouth shape- Upward mouth with 4 tough teeth.
  • Dogface puffers are named for their dog-like face and puppy eyes which acts as a stress buster.
  • Dogface fish can double their size when frightened.
  • They have an amazing ability to inflate i.e puff up by filling its body with water to avoid predators.

Dogface puffer fish lifespan

Any puffer fish can live upto 10 years in an aquarium setting if given the right environment and proper diet.

Dogface puffer fish tank set-up

Tank sizeLight intensitySubstrateWater parametersTemperatureTank plantsTank mates

Tank size for dogface puffer fish

It’s quite challenging to handle this fish in a home aquarium because they take time to adjust in the aquariums and also they need a bigger tank to accommodate its size.

  • Dogface puffer fish get a solid foot long, so a large sized open tank is recommended to house them.
  • They need a 75-90 gallon tank per puffer fish.
  • They are a bit shy and need numerous large hiding spaces to feel safe.
  • They are not compatible with reef aquariums.
  • Efficient biofilters should be there on the tank to remove all the unwanted accumulations from the tank.

Light intensity dogface puffer fish

  • Dogface puffers don’t need special lighting requirements as such.
  • Artificial lights can be used
  • Indirect sunlight 

Substrate and decorations dogface puffer fish

  • They are not so particular about substrates and decorations. 
  • They need a large swimming space so don’t include so many things in the tank unnecessarily.
  • You can include some live rocks and caves.
  • Avoid sharp and edgy decorative items.

Water parameters dogface puffer fish

Dogface puffers have specific water conditions.They adapt well in very clean water.Standard reef water conditions should be enough for these saltwater fish.

They eat a lot and this can increase water pollutants like ammonia, nitrates and nitrates in the tank.

Please make sure you are maintaining the water parameters properly. Cleaner the water, better is their health conditions and they can live longer in aquarium settings.

  • Optimum pH- 8.1-8.4
  • Salinity/specific gravity- 1.019-1.025
  • Nitrates- zero
  • They eat a lot and produce a lot of biomass in the tank, so a nice and efficient filter should be used in the aquarium to keep the tank pollution at bay.
  • Good filtration practice should be followed religiously.

Temperature dogface puffer fish

Dogface puffers are a tropical fish so a proper temperature range should be monitored in the tank.

Temperature plays an important role in their metabolism, sudden drop or increase in the temperature can make them sick.

  • Optimum temperature- 74F-82F
  • You can use thermometers for setting the temperatures.

Tank plants dogface puffer fish

Tank plants can be used as natural purifiers and hiding places for dogface puffers.

Lush green vegetation will keep the tank healthy and it’s basically good for their overall health.

  • Dense vegetation is recommended
  • Live plants or artificial plants both are fine in their tanks.

Tank mates dogface puffer fish

Dogface puffers are often misunderstood as aggressive aquarium fish, but are not aggressive species at all.They have specific requirements for their tank mates.

Like you can add large fish in their tank to avoid predation.Dogface puffers have the tendency to eat smaller fish in their tank.

They show destructive behavior towards invertebrates like corals ,snails and crabs.

Suitable tank-mates for dogface puffer fish:

  • Tangs
  • Niger triggerfish
  • Lagoon trigger
  • Larger angelfish
  • Lionfish
  • Snowflake eel
  • Foxface rabbitfish
  • Gobies
  • Other dog faced puffers

Dogface puffer fish diet and feeding requirements

Dogface puffers have specialized feeding requirements as they are picky eaters and have a different type of diet.They have powerful teeth so give them something hard that can press their teeth down.

Chewing is very important for them to keep the beak from overgrowing its mouth.Replicate their natural diet for their better health and growth. 

They can be hand-fed but with proper care.They need multiple feedings in small amounts 2-3 times a day.

List of their food:

  • Meat based food- Clams, krills,squid, mussels,raw shrimps
  • Frozen shrimps are their favorite.
  • Silversides.
  • Hard Shelled chewy invertebrates- stony corals and algae
  • Plant based diets can also be given.
  • Flake food is not recommended.
  • Saltwater fish food is available commercially especially.
  • Vitamin enriched diets are good for their dental as well as gut health.

Dogface puffer fish healthcare and health conditions

  • Include a lot of iodine in dogface puffers diet as they are prone to lockjaw disease.
  • Teeth trimming is very important-Dogface puffers have problems with overgrown teeth so its trimming is very important.
  • Get help from a vet if you are new to dogface puffers or you can watch some youtube tutorials related to dogface puffer fish teeth care.
  • If teeth trimming is not done from time to time they might die out of starvation.


  • Dog faced puffers have a very interactive personality.
  • Nocturnal predators.
  • They are super entertaining,stress busters,lovable and very friendly fish like land puppies.They love you back.But they come with a warning too, because they contain a lethal neurotoxin.
  • They are exported as juveniles to the aquarium trade so don’t get confused about their size.They require big tanks with more swimming areas.
  • Recommended for aquarists who are skilled with saltwater aquarium handling.

Frequently asked questions on dogface puffer fish care

Are Dogface puffers aggressive aquarium pets?

Dogface puffers are not aggressive fish,but show destruction towards invertebrates in the tanks.They are peaceful with their own kind.

Why do Dogface puffers change their colors?

Dogface puffers change their colors when stressed.

Can we feed flakes to dogface puffers?

Dogface puffers are picky eaters and have specialized diets.They like to chew hard shelled items and meaty food.They really don’t like to eat flakes.

Are dogface puffers lethal?

Dogface puffers are underwater puppies who take little bit of time to adjust with the surroundings,but once they are through with their owners and their surroundings they become super friendly and literally beg for food with their innocent puppy eyes.

They release a neurotoxin when stressed so be careful if you have included other tankmates with them, as it can kill them.