Green Spotted Puffer Profile

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Aquarium Advice Addict
Jun 21, 2011
Submitted by Terrance

Scientific Name: Tetraodon Nigroviridis

Common Names: Leopord Puffer, GSP

Category: Puffer species

Family: Tetraodontidae

Temperment: Very aggressive; all puffers have different personalities though, so you may get a shy or nice GSP (a very unlikely thought). A single puffer inside a tank by itself is strongly recommended. One active GSP inside a large tank will be very entertaining.

pH: ~8

Temperature: 75-83F

Potential size: 6.5-7.0inches; 2-3 years for a young GSP to reach full size if raised properly. The older they get, the more aggressive they will become.

Water Region: GSP swims at all levels of the tank

Activity: Very curious and swims all over the place; will exhibit territorial behaviors

Lifespan: >15 years if kept properly

Salinity: High-end brackish and full marine water, but full marine water recommended. Keeping high-end brackish water is costly since you will need to change 50% of the water EVERY WEEK. If you keep your GSP in full marine water, then you could get live rocks, refugium, and skimmer for MONTHLY 30-40% water changes. Salt cost a lot. Monthly water changes will be a lot cheaper than weekly if you end up keeping your GSP for over 15 years.

Color: white/yellow under belly; green back with black dots. A black underbelly could indicate stress from poor water quality, diet, or inadequate tank size. Ceylon puffers are often misidentified as GSPs.

Sexing: not possible to differentiate male and female with naked eye

Tank Size: 30min is the general consensus; however, it is too small for a full grown GSP. They grow at least 6inch long and are too active to keep in a 30min tank. Aim for a tank that is at least 3ft long and 40+ gallons for ONE puffer. The bigger tank will help make room for live rocks (if you decide to go full marine water), which helps with filtration. Remember that a bigger tank is always better for saltwater setups. Optimum tank size for a single specimen is better than the 40g minimum tank size.

Tank mate: Again, single puffer inside a tank is always recommended. Very few tankmates can be recommended since you are taking this fish from fw to bw/sw over the span of 1-2 years. GSPs are often said to accept tankmates if introduced at a young age since GSPs are less aggressive at a young age, so its another reason for owners to get marine water when the GSP is still small. A decent candidate would be a Ceylon puffer since they also go from freshwater to bw/sw; however, mixing species of puffers is never recommended. You can do live plants, but you will eventually have to take them out for the brackish and saltwater. Unless you have another fw tank, then I would completely skip live plants.

Tank Setup: so now you have the big tank for you gsp. now you need to always remember putting a lot of stuff inside your tank. From a bystander's view, the tank would look overcrowded which is perfect for the GSP to explore. But also keep open space around the top/front of the tank for swimming space. Again, GSP's are very active and curious.
Since GSPs are recommended for full marine water (and if want full marine water), you will need to plan to buy a skimmer and refugium in the future. Please do research about refugiums and skimmers. There's too much info about them to include in this post. Both of those items basically helps filter your water and keep it super clean, which is why you are able to keep water changes to once per month.

Filtration: should be at least 10x the volume of the tank. Most FW setups will have HOB filtration, but it will need to be replaced by a powehead and refugiums in the future saltwater setup. Saltwater with live rocks and reguium setups need filtration at least 15x the volume of the tank (including the water coming in/out of the refugium)

Acclimation: Match the aquarium water with the LFS water. If your GSP is being sold in brackish water, then try to match it. If its in freshwater, then start your tank in freshwater. Water condition for GSPs:
Less than 2inches - FW/BW
2inches to 4inches - moderately BW to high-end brackish
4 inches - ok for full marine water
Not much is known about keeping small GSPs in full marine water, but most of what I hear is that they do just fine. As long as you are moving toward high-end brackish water, then you will be ok.
Remember to slowly acclimate your tank water every week. I recommend raising the salinity level by 0.001 PER WEEK. This is where I think salt cost will start to climb because you need to do 50% water changes every week until you reach full marine water with live rocks, refugium, and skimmer.
Please use marine salt like Instant Ocean.

Diet: Carnivore and should be fed crustaceans only (worms are acceptable). Snails are good since they are easy to feed. Raw frozen shrimp, mussels, clams (any crustacean) at the grocery store is also good since they have NO CHEMICALS in them. Just thaw the shrimp with your GSP's aquarium water before feeding. If you buy live food at the grocery store, then freeze them for 1 week to kill the bacterias. Feed schedule:
3inches or smaller: feed once a day for 6 days out of a week
3inches to ~5inches: feed once a day for 3 days out of a week
bigger than 5 inches: feed once a day for 1-2 days out of a week
Puffers will constantly beg for food, but please do not feed them more than recommended. They can eat until their stomach explode. When feeding once a day, give them enough food until their belly is slightly rounded. If the GSP's stomach looks like half of a ball, then you have overfed your puffer.

Care: Proper feeding like described above. Keep the water clean with no ammonia/nitrIte and <20ppm nitrAtes. Do 50% water changes if you do not have live rocks, refugium, and skimmer. If your GSP is swimming up and down the glass tank, then it is either bored from their environment or don't have enough swimming room.

Breeding: University of Florida have been able to breed these species of puffers. Not very much is known at this point since I have not done more research about this topic.

Comments: I keep hearing about people buying/keeping GSP, but very few people know how to prolong their life up to 15+ years or even grow them to max size. Please post any additional helpful information.

Sources: The Puffer Forum • The Puffer Fish Care Community
It's time for an update. There is a ton of information to add about keeping these fish.

Green spotted puffers are high-end brackish water fish that are best kept in marine water. They are usually kept in freshwater or low-end brackish water tank in the store. This post will describe how to convert them from LFS water condition to marine water.

First, let’s get this topic out of the way: mixing brackish/marine water. I strongly recommend buying a large "Brute" trash bin, a cheap water pump (such as a pond pump), long tube, and heater. These supplies will help you premix water. All marine salt mix does not dissolve instantly as advertised. Even if they really do, I wouldn’t trust any of them to mix instantly. It’s not good for fish to swim around in undissolved salt. Before the water change, these are the steps to be taken:

1. Fill up trash bin with water, add marine salt mix, and set your heater to keep the water warm (match temp of the tank). Let it mix for a few hours.
2. Once water is mixed for a for several hours, siphon water out of the tank and into sewage
3. Connect the long tube to the pump. Turn on the pump and water transfer out of the trash bin and into the tank
4. Rinse the trash bin, pump, and long tube

This is assuming you already satisfied with the salinity level of your newly mixed salt by measuring with hydrometer or refractometer. Refractometer highly recommended over hydrometer.

Now let’s get to the meat of this subject. I strongly recommend setting up a marine tank from the start and then adding your GSP. This would really help you save money in resources and time (will discuss later). Having a freshwater/brackish tank vs marine tank requires different equipment. For example:

Freshwater/brackish - any substrate, live plants, fake decor or driftwood, HOB or canister
Marine water - live rocks, drilled hole in tank for sump/refugium, aragonite substrate

In my opinion they are two completely different setups. If you build a marine tank and cycle it, then you could just drip acclimate your newly acquired GSP into marine water. Please research “how to drip acclimate”. It takes less than a day to complete drip acclimation.

If you have already bought your GSP for your cycled freshwater tank, then we will have to take it slow to convert to marine water. This is done by raising salinity levels by no more than 0.002 per week (you get these numbers from hydrometer or refractometer). The slow conversion will allow your beneficial bacteria to adjust to the new higher salinity level. Salinity measures from 1.000 for freshwater, then goes up to approximately 1.020 for marine water. The quickest conversion would take at least 10 weeks.

The amount of time you take on the conversion is totally up to you. Some people want to get it done as fast as possible because the cost in doing 50% water changes in brackish water is very expensive due to salt mix cost (yes keep doing the 50% water changes until you get your GSP into marine water). I have heard of some people doing this over a few years. I’d rather save my money, do the fresh-to-marine conversion as quick as possible, and then use my saved money for an effective skimmer.

If you raise salinity too high or too fast, you risk killing all your beneficial bacteria which will require re-cycling your tank with your GSP in the tank. Again, try to be precise in measuring salinity level (refractometer will be a lot more exact than a hydrometer).

There is an article somewhere on this forum for fish-in cycle. Basically, you'll be doing water changes every day or every other day to keep ammonia levels down over the course of several weeks until your tank is cycled. If your tank is already in brackish water, then its gets VERY expensive doing the required water changes. There are bottle bacteria that can help you in these instances (Tetra’s Safestart and Dr. Tim’s One and Only are the two I recommend at the time of this writing). These bottled products do work in freshwater and marine, but I am not certain how effective they are in brackish water.

In summary, set up marine tank up first if possible. It saves you a lot of time and money. If you feel like marine tank is too overwhelming, then stick with at least low-end brackish water until you are comfortable and feel like you've researched enough to maintain a marine tank.

Message me if you have questions.

Side note, I went to the LFS today and got a really neat picture of a GSP sleeping with its tail curled up.

He's not sleeping, he is stressed out!! When all fins, including tail, are tucked under their beak in an open spot they are usually in need of a few drops of dissolved freshwater aquarium salts and some coral chips to chew on.

Oh, and my real reason for this is to tell this story-

My dog broke the hood on my puffer tank and the plastic door to open an feed got knocked into the tank and took a chunk out of the side of my puffer right behind his gill... It tore off his pectoral fin.

I was so upset, it looked so red and sore and ornery. I changed out his water with my refugium water (this skips the step of filling barrels and prepping) and added just a tiny bit of stress coat+, then waited and sulked and watched and cried... and 3 hours later he has fin again, and there is no sign that anything happened to him..... They may be difficult to raise (the freshwater to brackish to salt to marine is frustrating and anyone that can do this I give a big old thumbs up to, knowing then what I know now, well, I guess I wouldn't have my most entertaining little guy... If you need help with the transition so you don't stress the little guy too much is a 4- 6 month process, as is cycling a full marine tank, just let me know. I've been to heck and back with my puff puff, c'mon he was brought home from Walmart!! If ANYONE needs ANY HELP with green spotted puffers and the transitions, or want to know how I did it, feel free to pm me!!

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