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Hannahhhh

Reef safe puffers?

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Hannahhhh

I am looking to add a puffer to my tank. I know that none of them are guaranteed reef safe, but I would love to hear about any experiences you guys have had with them in a reef tank. 

I’m primary looking at a spotted puffer, a saddle puffer, a leopard puffer, or a blue spotted puffer (in that order). If any of you have kept any of these guys or any other puffers, could you let me know about your experiences, good or bad? I would appreciate any advice! Thanks so much!

 

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Amphrites

I mean, from freshwater puffer experience, they'll eat your cleanup crew, any and all they can find and very-quickly; shrimp, snails, clams, crabs, doesn't matter - they're also very good at eating other fish, but that varies from species to species and animal to animal.
They're extremely-intelligent and personable apex-predators for their size and are absurdly-enjoyable to have, watch, and even feed if you can get a breeding-setup going to keep food stores available (they eat ALLOT of food).

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Clown79

I know they all need to be fed food in shells, they need the shells for their teeth.

 

Often ppl buy snails for them but they will go after cuc.

 

Corals are open to nibbling too.

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Opotter

I kept freshwater and brackish puffers of all sizes over the years.  I second the above.  So much personality, more like a puppy than a fish.  So smart!  They live to snack on snails, clams and crabs.  Mine were all super destructive to the scape and would take bites out of any wood or plants I kept with them.  I’ve never kept marine puffers, but I can’t imagine it going well in a reef.

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Hannahhhh
15 minutes ago, Opotter said:

I kept freshwater and brackish puffers of all sizes over the years.  I second the above.  So much personality, more like a puppy than a fish.  So smart!  They live to snack on snails, clams and crabs.  Mine were all super destructive to the scape and would take bites out of any wood or plants I kept with them.  I’ve never kept marine puffers, but I can’t imagine it going well in a reef.

What makes them so personable? I always hear people describing them that way but I’m not sure why. 

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Hannahhhh
45 minutes ago, Clown79 said:

I know they all need to be fed food in shells, they need the shells for their teeth.

 

Often ppl buy snails for them but they will go after cuc.

 

Corals are open to nibbling too.

Have you had them before? If I regularly feed them snails, do you think they will more or less leave my CUC alone? I’m not particularly attached to any shrimp or snails in my tank, but I do want to maintain a clean up crew. 

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Opotter
20 minutes ago, Hannahhhh said:

What makes them so personable? I always hear people describing them that way but I’m not sure why. 

They are incredibly smart for fish.  My last tank before venturing into reefing was a 200g species only tank for a Fahaka puffer.  He would start begging anytime someone walked near the fridge.  He would get mad if you walked away without feeding him and run his tooth across the glass.  Came right up to the glass when you walked over to tank to say hello.  Very curious about everything you were doing.  He would come up to the surface and let you hold and pet him (in the water, FYI don’t ever intentionally do anything to make them puff up, very bad for them). They have this really funny way about them when you feed them.  Their eyes shoot forward and almost narrow.  Then they start circling the food like a helicopter before swooping in for the bite.  Really comical fish.  So worth the effort!  But man I re-planted and re-did the scapes on my puffer tanks so so so often.  They really can be very destructive fish.  Like a toddler.. everything goes in their mouths for a taste.  Never managed to get bit myself, but it’s certainly a possibility worth these fish.. lol.  Really cool fish, can’t imagine ever trying to put one in my reef though no matter how much I love them.  I’m currently in the process of planning a new planted tank for a freshie species only (not sure which one yet).  Just couldn’t stay away from them (I tried! Lol).  When my fahaka passed I said I was done,  coolest fish ever.

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Xanthine

I just got a Valentini a few weeks ago.

Literally the first thing she did when going into the tank was take a bite out of my Xenia.

I had GSP, Xenia, and a Devils hand in there - having heard that softies are typically a safer choice, but still knowing it was a risk. 

She ate the GSP and the Xenia but doesn't care about the leather.  She ate one hermit and some snails.

I bought a bunch of the little ceriths from reef cleaners (just like your thought process of them being 'sacrificial snails') and she's munched through most of them only after going through most of the rest of the CUC. This all was in the last couple of weeks. 

My algae is definitely worse now without my snails - however I do have a bicolor blenny that has been getting fat and happy with the increased film algae!

I just have to do more manual clean up myself now vs relying on the CUC. I'll probably try a large turbo snail at some point too. 

 

For me it's their eyes that makes them so personable - they really *look* at you! And their little silly fins! ❤️

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Hannahhhh
9 minutes ago, Xanthine said:

I just got a Valentini a few weeks ago.

Literally the first thing she did when going into the tank was take a bite out of my Xenia.

I had GSP, Xenia, and a Devils hand in there - having heard that softies are typically a safer choice, but still knowing it was a risk. 

She ate the GSP and the Xenia but doesn't care about the leather.  She ate one hermit and some snails.

I bought a bunch of the little ceriths from reef cleaners (just like your thought process of them being 'sacrificial snails') and she's munched through most of them only after going through most of the rest of the CUC. This all was in the last couple of weeks. 

My algae is definitely worse now without my snails - however I do have a bicolor blenny that has been getting fat and happy with the increased film algae!

I just have to do more manual clean up myself now vs relying on the CUC. I'll probably try a large turbo snail at some point too. 

 

For me it's their eyes that makes them so personable - they really *look* at you! And their little silly fins! ❤️

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Do you have any other types of corals in your tank? I don’t care if it nibbles my CUC, my leather corals, or some of my zoas, but I would rather it left my hammer and my torch alone. 

Hobestly the puffer is mainly for my dad, he’s always been in love with puffers and he was so excited when I upgraded my tank that I might be able to fit one in. 

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Amphrites

I think the euphyllia likely wouldn't survive, they're very sensitive to physical-trauma whereas softies don't much care if a chunk is taken out of them, some folks mount leathers and kenya trees by impaling them on skewers and gluing the stick to the rockwork. Too much waterflow for too long in the wrong direction will tear the flesh from a euphyllia's skeleton for comparison.

Puffers are best in FOWLR or predominately-species-only tanks when keeping fresh/brackish water animals. 

Saltwater fish have more personality than freshwater fish in general and are much more aware and interested in what's going on outside the tank, it's this quality that puffer's have in spades.

In addition they very quickly learn your habits, feeding times / motions, waterchange schedules, etc. and will have a solid read on your routine. They're also prone to very obvious pouting or other emotions which are more difficult to observe or simply not-present in other fish.

IMO it's their intelligence that makes them charming, long-detailed-memories, defined habits/personalities, obvious moods/emotions, and those curious and perceptive eyes disguise what brutally-efficient predators they are, in a manner similar to cats I suppose.

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Opotter
1 minute ago, Amphrites said:

I think the euphyllia likely wouldn't survive, they're very sensitive to physical-trauma whereas softies don't much care if a chunk is taken out of them, some folks mount leathers and kenya trees by impaling them on skewers and gluing the stick to the rockwork. Too much waterflow for too long in the wrong direction will tear the flesh from a euphyllia's skeleton for comparison.

I agree.  They really need a tank built around their needs to be really successful with them.  Again, there are some difference with marine puffers.  They can be more social than the freshies and brackish water versions, but everything in the tank with a puffer is fair game and has to be something you wouldn’t mind loosing if the puffer decided to munch on it.  You would need to add other tank mates always with the puffers aggression in mind (again no experience worth marine puffers and marine fish in general, so others would have to help you with compatibility issues with other fish you may have).   But yeah, if adding to a reef setting.. I would think you would need to realize that you are going to be replacing coral and inverts often.

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William

I believe someone on here had a leopard puffer in theirs 10 gal reef.... can’t remember who tho

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Opotter
16 minutes ago, William said:

I believe someone on here had a leopard puffer in theirs 10 gal reef.... can’t remember who tho

I think it was Teenyreef and it was only briefly, and that is not your average reefer by far 😉

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Xanthine
2 hours ago, Hannahhhh said:

Do you have any other types of corals in your tank? I don’t care if it nibbles my CUC, my leather corals, or some of my zoas, but I would rather it left my hammer and my torch alone. 

 

No way would I trust it with my euphyllia, like @Amphrites  mentioned they are so sensitive to physical injury. I've lost way too many euphyillia to simple things like a frag tipping over, which gives a tiny injury and then brown jelly takes over. I think even just an 'innocent' curious nip by a puffer could potentially lead to the death of a torch.  

 

The GSP/Xenia/leather were left in this tank as kind of an experiment to test just how reef safe the puffer was to see if I really had to go FOWLR with her. 

(She hasn't 100% killed the xenia yet, and at the rate it grows they may end up balancing each other out, but I'm not betting on it)

All my other coral was purposely consolidated into my main tank before the puffer was introduced - I used this tank specifically because I didn't want to risk my corals.

I wish I had taken a video when I first released her - seeing her make a beeline to nip the Xenia was confirmation that I made the right choice, lol

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William

You might be ok with SPS, especially something like encrusting monti 

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Tired

If you like the personality and body shape, look into the ORA filefish. They have a few small captive-bred species. Filefish may pick at corals a little bit, but shouldn't devour them, and are unlikely to bother your CUC. They have the same tiny, goofy fins, and are similarly intelligent. 

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William
9 hours ago, Tired said:

If you like the personality and body shape, look into the ORA filefish. They have a few small captive-bred species. Filefish may pick at corals a little bit, but shouldn't devour them, and are unlikely to bother your CUC. They have the same tiny, goofy fins, and are similarly intelligent. 

There is a mimic saddle puffer that looks like a saddle puffer, but is a filefish 

https://m.liveaquaria.com/product/1724/?pcatid=1724

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Ratvan
9 hours ago, Tired said:

If you like the personality and body shape, look into the ORA filefish. They have a few small captive-bred species. Filefish may pick at corals a little bit, but shouldn't devour them, and are unlikely to bother your CUC. They have the same tiny, goofy fins, and are similarly intelligent. 

I added one today to my RSM130. Pretty much for that reason. Looks like a puffer but potentially less damage

If it does eat Aiptasia that would be a bonus

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Clown79
17 hours ago, Hannahhhh said:

Have you had them before? If I regularly feed them snails, do you think they will more or less leave my CUC alone? I’m not particularly attached to any shrimp or snails in my tank, but I do want to maintain a clean up crew. 

I wanted one but opted out, trying to supply snails would get really expensive, snails here are $2.99 each.  I didn't want to risk corals either.

 

I don't think there is any way to prevent them going after your cuc, it's their food source, no way for them to differentiate the snails you feed to the ones you want to keep to clean.

 

 

Puffers are really smart and I have heard they are very personable.

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Tired

You could possibly add a sump/refugium, and keep a puffer in there. It would work like a proper fuge, the puffer wouldn't eat your pods, and you could keep crabs and whatnot away from it.

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Ratvan
5 hours ago, William said:

There is a mimic saddle puffer that looks like a saddle puffer, but is a filefish 

https://m.liveaquaria.com/product/1724/?pcatid=1724

Oh I wonder if I can trade up....

5 minutes ago, Tired said:

You could possibly add a sump/refugium, and keep a puffer in there. It would work like a proper fuge, the puffer wouldn't eat your pods, and you could keep crabs and whatnot away from it.

Have to be a decent size but great idea

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Tired

Now that I think about it more, a puffer would love a refugium. Put some macros in there, and he can pick and tug and play with them all he wants without hurting anything (macros often grow just fine in fragments), plus you can toss clams and snails down there. 

 

Check out reefcleaners.com for snails. They sell an introduced periwinkle species that would make great puffer treats/snacks. You can also put food into empty snail shells, and feed them clams to wear down the beaks. 

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Opotter

You guys have now got me reading about the Pygmy spotted filefish for my lagoon! 

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William
1 hour ago, Opotter said:

You guys have now got me reading about the Pygmy spotted filefish for my lagoon! 

I loved my pair of radial filefish 

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Tamberav

Leopard puffer is safe, doesn't seem to bother corals, but pretty shy and a bit difficult to feed/obtain a healthy one. You would still need to provide it food it can grind its beak down on. 

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