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August 10, 2012

As many of you know, MonsterFishKeepers.com is being targeted by Monster Energy Drinks for having similar logos and for the use of the word “Monster”. So, with all this talk of “Monster” fish, I was inspired to write about some of the coolest “Monster” fish found in Africa, the genus known as Tetraodon. More commonly known as the freshwater puffers…

Remarkably, puffers are one of the few species that can blink, and can even close their eyes. This is just one of many adaptations that set them apart from the rest of the fish kingdom. Obviously, puffers get their name by having the ability to expand their body 2-3 times its normal size by ingesting water or air. This allows the animals to be to large to be eaten and even scare away its potential predator with its enlarged size. They also possess a beak-like jaw structure that is formed by two large teeth on both the upper and lower jaw. This allows the fish to eat their favorite foods, shelled invertebrates otherwise known as snails.

Setting up a puffer tank does not require much as far as decorations are concerned, but you will eventually need a large aquarium even if starting off with a smaller animal. Remember, some of them can grow to “Monster” size. Puffers generally are solitarily animals that like to bury themselves in the substrate, so sand is highly recommended as other substrates may damage their soft bodies. I would use smooth pieces of root-wood or large stones. Some puffers do like to hide under structures. If you are planning on building your pet a home make sure you securely place the decorations in the tank. It may be a good idea to silicone any decorations to where you want them to ensure the animal does not harm itself.

Our very own store mascot, Francis, is proof that Tetraodon lineatus “Nile/Fahaka Puffer” can turn into a real pet, rather than just some other aquarium “decoration”. She has repeatedly shown to interact with not only the employees at the store, but several “regular” customers. Nile Puffers are found throughout the lakes and rivers of northern Africa and can reach almost 18” in length in nature. Most of the water parameters are between 6.5-7.5 pH and the temps in the high 70’s.

Tetraodon lineatus

Francis has grown to nearly 15” in the last 6 or so years we’ve had her. She loves her diet of frozen brine shrimp, krill, and the occasional snail to keep her beak well-trimmed. Whenever it’s time to feed, she eagerly awaits for you to place the food her tank by meeting you at the surface!

Tetraodon lineatus "Francis"

Just like the Nile Puffer, Tetraodon mbu “Giant Puffer” will become accustomed to its owner. The Giant Puffer can be found in the rivers and lakes (including Lake Tanganyika) throughout the Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, Burundi, and the Cameroon. The water is generally hard, 7.0-8.0 pH and still fairly warm 75-79°. This fish can grow to nearly 30” in nature. Though they rarely exceed 24”, you will want to make sure you are going to be able to provide an aquarium large enough for the animal as it grows over the years. I would suggest starting with the largest aquarium possible, and moving the animal as little as possible as this is best for the health and wellbeing of a true “Monster” fish.

Tetraodon mbu

Tetraodon mbu

I know the last featured fish doesn’t grow to “Monster” size, but who can’t help but love Tetraodon miurus “Red/Brown Congo Puffer”. This fish is “Monster” in appearance, after all. It also likes to bury itself in the substrate. And with its upward pointed mouth and eyes almost on top of its head, it’s perfectly designed to wait for a freshwater prawn to drift by before it leaps out of the substrate to ambush the un-expecting prey. Where else can you find the Red/Brown Congo Puffer? Why the large rivers of both the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here these fish grow to around 6” in length, and can be found changing their color to blend in with their surroundings.

Tetraodon miurus

As I’ve already mentioned once before, these puffers of the Tetraodon family are generally solitarily animals that should be housed alone. They are very aggressive with one another, and keeping them together usually ends with one animal severely hurt, or even dead. They can also live for a very long time. You’ll want to really think about these things before taking on the “Monster” task of housing one of nature’s unique creatures.

As always, I hope you found this informative, as well as fun. If you have any further questions about puffers, or any of the fish that can be found on our list this week, please feel free to contact me.

See you folks back here next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager