How to take care of Dwarf puffer Fish?

We will talk about  dwarf 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 dwarf puffer fish care will be briefly discussed.


In this blog

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

How to take care of Dwarf puffer Fish?

Daily care tips for dwarf puffers

  • Wipe the tank glass every day to watch their behavior.
  • Maintain male to female ratio in the tank.
  • Feed them twice a day and avoid overfeeding.
  • Remove uneaten food daily to avoid ammonia pollution.
  • They jump out of the aquarium if they are chased by other tank mates, so it is advised to cover their aquarium with a lid or hood.
  • Remove dead snails from the tank,as it can change the water chemistry by increasing ammonia spikes in the aquarium.
  • Monitor the vital parameters daily to maintain a stable aquarium condition.
  • Make sure all the tank equipment is in working conditions. Replace if not working properly.
  • Water monitoring should be done regularly with proper water testing kits to keep the levels of ammonia and nitrates down.

Bi-weekly care tips for dwarf puffers

  • 50 % water should be changed weekly once.
  • Gravels should be cleaned weekly using gravel pumps to remove all the uneaten food and other debris from the tank.
  • Tooth trimming should be done depending upon the growth.
  • Tank plants too need trimming from time to time to avoid unnecessary growth.
  • Quarantine live food for 2 weeks to avoid infections.
  • You can clean their tank weekly.Dont use soaps and detergents to clean the tank, as it could be toxic to your fish.
  • Clean all the decors weekly once.

Key specifications of dwarf puffer fish

Scientific name Carinotetraodon travancoricus
HabitatConservation statusSouthwestern ,India Vulnerable (overfishing)
Lifespan4-5 years
DietCarnivore in wildOmnivore in aquarium settings
Body sizeBody shapeColorSpecial trait0.98-1.4 inches in lengthRounded or slender bodiesYellow Inflation 
Another namesIndian dwarf pufferPea pufferMalabar pufferPygmy puffer
Optimum temperatureOptimum pHWater hardness74F-82F6.5-7.55-25 dGH
TemperamentBeginner or experienced Aggressive Intermediate fish keepers
Care levelIntermediate 
Tank size and set-upTank type (Prefered)5-20 gallonsDensely planted aquarium
Preferred plants/decorationsLive plants
CompatibilityNot suitable for community aquariums, choose wisely their tank mates.
Number of dwarf puffer fish species found Only 2
BreedingIt is easyFemales spawn everyday and produce 10 eggs.

Why is dwarf puffer fish care important?

Like any aquarium fish,dwarf puffers are also sensitive to poor water chemistry.The water conditions need to be checked and monitored on a regular basis to avoid nitrogenous waste accumulation in the tank.

Dwarf puffers are not difficult to care for but negligence can shorten their lifespan and they are already at the verge of extinction.So its very important to provide them proper care in home aquariums.

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

Dwarf puffers mostly like to live by themselves in aquariums. As a newcomer you can get them according to the tank size you are having and maintain male to female ratio in the tank.

If you are getting wild caught dwarf puffers then deworming is a must. In my opinion don’t get wild caught because they are already at the verge of extinction,so better you get captive breeds from a local breeder who is aware of their genetics.

Keep in mind:

  • Don’t purchase them online
  • Go in person to check the healthier line
  • Avoid getting wild-caught dwarf puffers

Habitat of dwarf puffer fish

  • Natural habitat-Endemic to Kerala & Southern Karnataka, India
  • Freshwater fish

Types of dwarf puffer fish

Only two varieties are found:

  • Carinotetraodon travancoricus
  • Carinotetraodon imitator/ malabar dwarf puffer

Different strains or colors of dwarf puffer fish

  • Yellowish green color along with spots on their body.
  • Male dwarf puffers get deeper colourations.
  • Males are more colorful than females.

General and physical attributes of dwarf puffer fish

  • Large eyes and small body
  • Female dwarf puffers are larger than males and have rounded plumpy bodies.
  • Male dwarf puffers have slender bodies and intense dark lines and have wrinkles around their eyes.
  • Used in controlling snail population.

Dwarf puffer fish lifespan

Dwarf puffer fish can live upto five years depending upon the right aquarium conditions.

Longevity depends on:

  • Genetics 
  • Right tank size and tank type
  • Suitable plants and decoration
  • Vital parameters
  • Tank-mates selection
  • Feeding habits 
  • Lots of hiding spaces

Dwarf puffer fish tank set-up

Tank sizeLight intensitySubstrateWater parametersTemperatureTank plantsTank mates

Tank size for dwarf puffer fish

Keeping dwarf puffers in the right size tanks will help them grow properly and will all increase their longevity.They do well in solitary tanks and community tanks with right male to female ratio.

Make sure you are providing them lots of hiding space to feel safe and secure in community tanks.

  • Cycle the tank completely before introducing dwarf puffers in the tank.
  • Make sure there are no traces of ammonia, nitrate and nitrites in the tank water.
  • 1 dwarf puffer fish- 5 gallons tank
  • For each additional  dwarf puffer-3 gallons of water 
  • 3 dwarf puffers -10 gallons
  • 6 dwarf puffers-20 gallons (4 females : 2males)
  • Male to female ratio in tank-1 male : 2 or 3 females

Light intensity for dwarf puffer fish

  • During summers – 12 hours of sunlight
  • During winters -10.5 hours of sunlight

Substrate/decoration for dwarf puffer fish

  • Dwarf puffer fish conceal themselves in the substrate when threatened.
  • Small sized gravels or fine sand of 1.5 cm along with a layer of aquarium soil will give a proper touch of their original habitat.
  • Aquascape consists of driftwood,mopani wood, red moor, dragon stone, lava rock works and caves live structures.
  • Avoid pointed substrate and decorations in the aquarium.It can hurt your pet.
  • Gravels and decors should be cleaned either weekly or monthly. They produce lots of waste so it would be better to clean gravel weekly.

Water parameters for dwarf puffer fish 

  • Dwarf puffer fish are hardy species and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.Being hardy doesn’t mean they can thrive in poor water conditions.
  • They are sensitive to poor water conditions and unstable water parameters.
  • Water flow  in the tank from slow to medium is fine.
  • Dwarf puffers are slow swimmers so filters should be gentle with slow flow rate, sponge filters could be a good idea for them.
  • Choose filters which can do both biological and mechanical filtrations.
  • Levels of nitrogenous waste products should be maintained
  • Ammonia – 0 ppm
  • Nitrite – 0 ppm
  • Nitrate – below 15 ppm

Temperature for dwarf puffer fish

Temperature plays a key role in fish metabolism. A sudden decrease in temperature can shock your fish and can even kill them.In order to avoid such situations,maintain ideal temperatures according to the room temperatures,colder regions or winter seasons.

Aquarium heaters are needed when the temperatures are too low below the ideal temperatures.A thermometer should be used to set the ideal temperatures in the tank. 

Make sure you are maintaining the temperature, because temperature fluctuations can weaken their immune system.

  • Ideal temperature – 74F-82F
  • Breeding temperature- 79F

Tank plants for dwarf puffer fish

They like heavily planted aquariums with lots of hiding spaces.Plants will provide proper oxygen in the tanks and keep them healthy.Both live plants and artificial plants can be added to their tanks:

  • Java Moss (different types of moss plants and they are best for breeding too)
  • Stargrass
  • Anubias 
  • Cabomba 
  • Stem plants
  • Amazon Swords 
  • Floating plants

Tank mates for dwarf puffer fish

Dwarf puffer fish usually don’t share their tanks with other species, but if you are planning to keep them in a community tank then make sure to have tank mates that are fast swimmers, peaceful,can thrive in similar water conditions,are short-finned and dont compete with them for food resources.

Tank mates which can coexist with dwarf puffers are:

  • Some tetras
  • Zebra danios 
  • Cherry shrimps
  • Kuhli loaches
  • Otocinclus  
  • Filament barb
  • Harlequin rasbora 

Dwarf puffer fish diet and feeding requirements

  • Carnivore-Include lots of protein in their diet.
  • Feeding frequency-Feed them small portions twice a day in a gap of 8 hours.
  • Avoid overfeeding and freeze dried food, flakes and pellets. Underfeeding is fine but overfeeding is not a good idea, as they produce lots of waste in the tank and this in turn increases the ammonia spikes which could change the water chemistry completely.
  • Frozen food- Brine shrimp, mini bloodworms,cyclops.
  • Live food-Blackworms,artemia,daphnia
  • Snails and hard shelled food items-Malaysian trumpet snails, pest snails,bladder snails and ramshorns snails.Don’t feed these food regularly.

Dwarf puffer fish healthcare and health conditions

Dwarf puffer fish can get common freshwater disease due to poor water conditions , diets and other factors:

Ich or white spot disease-Most common freshwater infection.Copper sulfate can be used as treatment.It is available in pet stores but consult vet before giving any kind of treatments to them.


  • Dwarf puffers are sensitive to water conditions so it’s advised to monitor and maintain water conditions everyday.
  • Dwarf puffer fish can recognise their owner’s voice and can differentiate them from strangers.
  • Inflation is caused due to stress or when they feel threatened.
  • Tooth trimming is very important.If you don’t know how to trim their tooth as a new owner then please consult a vet.
  • Feed them hard shelled food to avoid their teeth from overgrowing.
  • Don’t feed them flakes, pellets and freeze dried food.

Frequently asked questions on dwarf puffer fish care

Can you keep male dwarf puffers together?

Male dwarf puffers should not be kept together because they get aggressive towards each other especially during breeding time.So it is advised to maintain male to female ratio in the tank to avoid such situations.

Can you keep a wild caught dwarf puffer in your aquarium?

Dwarf puffers come under the vulnerable category and it won’t be easy to get a wide caught one,as of my knowledge you need to take permission about them to the concerned departments.