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Fahaka Puffer Care (Diet, Setup, Tank Size, & More)

Puffer Fish are some of the most sought after aquarium fish in the hobby. They are all very unusual, personable fish with huge appetites and curious natures. Unfortunately, they also have some bad habits that we will discuss below. But they are still worth the trouble!

Freshwater puffers range in size from the well-named Pea Puffer, which grows less than 1 inch long, to the gigantic Mbu Puffer, which grows nearly 3 feet long.

Fahaka Puffer Fish are one of the larger freshwater species commonly available. They regularly reach 15 inches in captivity and can likely grow even larger with time and space. 

Puffer fish are famous for their dual defensive abilities. First, they have the ability to suck in air or water. This bloats them up to several times their normal volume, making them impossible for most predators to swallow.

As tempting as it may be, never torment your Puffer into ballooning. It’s stressful to the fish – and they aren’t meant to inhale air. Sometimes air can get stuck in their system, which is fatal for the Puffer Fish.

Many Puffers, including the Fahaka, also have tissues full of tetradotoxin. This extremely potent neurotoxin acts in minutes to disable muscle function, including the heart and lungs. Assuming the Puffer escapes after being bitten, the predator often ends up disables or killed before finishing the job.

Chameleon-like, Fahaka Puffers can change the depth and patterns on their flanks and they can even learn to recognize their owners. But before you leap to purchase one, let’s discuss the fine points of Fahaka Puffer care!

  • Common Names: Fahaka Puffer, Nile Puffer, Banded Puffer
  • Scientific Name: Tetraodon lineatus
  • Origin: West, Northeast & East Africa
  • Aquarium Size: 75+ gallons
  • Size: 15 inches
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Fahaka Puffer Care

In this section we cover the details of Fahaka Puffer care:

Aquarium Size

The main barrier to Fahaka Puffer care is ensuring you provide them with enough space. You can expect your Fahaka Puffer to grow over 15 inches long. And considering their enourmous appetites and messy eating habits, this necessitates an aquarium of 75-90 gallons or more.

However, it’s worth mentioning that while a 75-90 gallon is acceptable in terms of volume, the dimensions (18 inches on the wide end) are far too cramped. Even standard 125 gallon tanks are only 18 inches wide. 24 inches in the wide end is an absolute minimum for such long fish.

You’re looking at a custom aquarium for an adult Fahaka Puffer. However any of these tanks are fine while your Puffer grows into its full adult size!

Water Quality

While large and in need of well designed speciality enclosures Fahaka Puffers are quite hardy and undemanding when it comes to water quality. They prefer a pH as close to neutral (pH 7.0) as possible but moderately acidic or alkaline parameters aren’t an issue.

Many “freshwater” puffers, including the popular Figure 8 and Greenspot Puffer Fish, are actually brackish animals. This means they require the addition of aquarium salt as they don’t thrive for long in pure freshwater.

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Fahakas are true freshwater puffers and don’t need any salt or mineral additions to their water. However, you need to regularly test their water for ammonia levels.

Like Stingrays and other messy invertebrate eaters, Fahakas create a lot of poop. Also, they leave scraps of food everywhere. You’ll need a top quality canister filter to stay on top of their waste as well as perform regular water changes.

Otherwise, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels can quickly reach toxic levels.

Temperature-wise, they do best in standard tropical conditions (72-80℉) neither too hot nor cold.

Plants and Substrate

Plants are a bit of a challenge in Fahaka Puffer fish aquariums. They are entirely carnivorous and don’t try to eat them. And unlike many large Cichlids and Catfish, they aren’t diggers.

However when it’s mealtime anything that stands between them and their food will be bitten. And all Puffer fish have immensely strong teeth designed to crush invertebrate shells.

Fahakas will eventually take chunks out of your plants while trying to get at pieces of food that have fallen within. If you want to try live plants, stick to especially tough-leaved species like Java Fern, Anubias, and African Water Fern. These plants also do well in low light tanks without specialized full-spectrum bulbs.

For this reason sand substrates are somewhat better for them as well. There’s always a chance of your Puffer ingesting bits of gravel alongside shells.

Considering their crunchy diet there’s very little chance of an intestinal blockage forming. But sand is still much easier for them to pass than gravel.

Tank Mates for Fahaka Puffers

Unfortunately, Fahaka Puffer fish are best kept solo. Puffer fish as a group are famous for being temperamental – probably a side effect of being so intelligent.

They may be shy one day and angry the next. But they are always curious. And if something catches their attention, they will interact with it in the only way they can – their mouths. Long fins, slow tank mates, and careless fingers are all possible bite targets.

And remember that these teeth are used to crunch up clams and crayfish. Even a curious play bite on a passing tank mate is a serious matter. I don’t recommend keeping a Puffer even with other aggressive fish like Cichlids because the Puffer will do far more damage if it decides to bite.

That said, some people do succeed keeping Fahaka Puffers with other fish. The best tank mates are those that are far too small to be of interest to the Puffer, like Guppies and Danios.

Assuming your Puffer is constantly well fed its likely to ignore these faster morsels. The fish in the above video is a Mbu Puffer (Tetraodon mbu) but the concept is the same!

Most of the faster dither fish are also worth trying in very lareg aquariums (150+ gallons). But remember they don’t ever have far to run if your Puffer decides to go on a rampage.

Good Tank Mates for Fahaka Puffers

  • Silver Dollars, Tinfoil Barbs, and othe large schooling fish
  • Guppies, Tetras, and other tiny fish

Poor Tank Mates for Fahaka Puffers

  • Most Aquarium Fish

Feeding Fahaka Puffers

Feeding Fahaka Puffers is a major part of the fun in keeping these freshwater monsters! Large Puffers have refined, rather expensive tastes but are always fascinating to watch.

Puffer fish are specialist invertebrate hunters. They feed on clams, crayfish, shrimp, insects, and other hard shelled prey. In fact, they absolutely must be fed crunchy fare because their teeth grow continuously over their lifetime. It’s not uncommon to see adult Puffer fish with overgrown teeth because they aren’t being worn down enough.

Storebought marine shellfish are just as nutritious as freshwater items for them, and cheaper to buy in bulk!

Puffers are extremely messy, greedy eaters. But if you prefer, you don’t have to feed your Fahaka Puffer live prey. They will dig into fresh and frozen hard-shelled foods just as readily.

Sexing and Breeding Fahaka Puffers

In this section we

Sexing Fahaka Puffers

As with the majority of Puffer fish, Fahakas are impossible to tell males from females. The fish can obviously tell and likely get their cues from behaioral, hormonal releases, or patterns not apparent in visible light.

Females will take on a noticeably rounder appearance if gravid. However they only begin producing eggs in the presence of several other mature Fahaka Puffers, which is a difficult setup to maintain.

Breeding Fahaka Puffers

Fahaka Puffer fish are seriously aggressive towards one another as well as their tank mates. Breeding them is very rare and has only occurred in captivity where several Puffers were raied together to adulthood in extremely large tanks.

Fahakas reach sexual maturity around a year in age and are very unpicky when it comes to choosing a mate. The male and female meet in the water column briefly to release their gametes (eggs and sperm) directly into the water column before departing.

As egg scattered Fahaka Puffer fish don’t care for their eggs or fry. The young eventually hatch and begin feeding on infusoria in the water column. As they grow, they acn eventually consume small invertebrates like brine shrimp nauplii and daphnia before graduating to bloodworms and larger prey!

Jason Roberts
About Jason Roberts
Jason is an aquarium fanatic that has been a fish hobbyist for almost three decades.

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