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Had to make room for a new smiling guest

  • puffer-hdr

Last Saturday, the DFWMAS Frag Swap took place. I spent a few hours there selling various products from Melev's Reef since I'm a club sponsor.  And to my left was another club member, who had this adorable puffer for sale.  All day long, everyone gazed into the bucket and stared into its irridecent eyes, but when the event concluded, this Porcupine Puffer came home with me. 

The water in the bucket was getting cloudy which concerned me, but I added a shot of Prime to the water before the drive home. After about 45 minutes of acclimation to my own saltwater, it went through a two-bath system called Safety Stop. But where was I going to put it? Is it reef-safe?  What does it need?  Did I do my homework?

No! I didn't plan to buy a puffer. I've seen them many times, and I think they are adorable. The owner told me he was going to make me an offer I couldn't refuse, and gave it to me "because I know you'll give it a good home."  Ugh, how could I say no to that?  I knew the Anemone Cube was out, and the 400g reef - no way that would work.  The frag system is pretty much empty right now, with only a few frags, rocks and three fish.  Seemed like the best choice of the three systems.

I spent that night on the web learning more about their care.  They grow big. 12" to 18" is to be expected, and they live about 15 years or longer. They may nip the tails of their tank mates, and they may taste just about anything in the tank so some frags could be fine while others may not. I read that it's not easy to sex puffers, so observation with another puffer is usually the best way to figure it out.  If one chases the other, the chaser is usually the male.  If no chase at all, odds are they are the same sex.  If you only have one fish and you see eggs at some point, it's a female.  This is a scaleless fish, and while you often hear about ich and puffers it's apparently rather uncommon with Porcupine puffers. I read they are messy eaters, and that they need crunchy things to eat to keep their teeth filed down, so a steady diet of krill isn't going to cut it.  I have some Rod's Food predator-blend that I'm using now; one article stated it's not ideal to feed these puffers fish as it won't do well in their digestive tract, so I checked and learned the batch has perch in it.  I'll do more reading.

I've been hand feeding this fish daily, one krill at a time which 'he' (since I don't know yet) slurps up happily like a puppy. Tonight I chopped up something large from the Predator-Blend into what I considered bite sized pieces, and watched the puffer gobble up a big chunk, then kind of spit it out and bite down, repeatedly.  Now I see what they mean by messy.  Before, krill just evaporated quietly.  This fare tonight was shredded and ingested, and bits floated around the tank for the Yellow tang and the clownfish to chase down.

This tank isn't big enough for longterm care. It will work for now, but at some point I'll have to go big, or find it a better home.  It needs a name, and I've had people on facebook and Instagram offer suggestions. I'm leaning toward "Needles" at the moment. Already growing attached to the little guy, and love his orange coloration.

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