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Puffer Fish Mania

My puffer fish has faced down a 12 inch eel, scared several fish to the point where they icked themselves to death and pulled the claws off of any crustacean I put in the tank, but last night, he finally met his match.

The powerhead.

I installed a new powerhead recently which has a pretty wide lower lip, where it has a significant amount of uptake associated with it. The puffer apparently wandered under it. End result: when I found him last night at 3 AM (and only because I couldn’t sleep), the right side of his face was stuck in the intake.

To his credit, he was pretty calm. His porcupine quills were somewhat erect, but he seemed pretty complacent overall. He does, after all, rule the tank. That’s what puffer’s do. His name is E.T., as he has the same face as the cute, smiling alien, and literature on puffers always start off with something along the lines of “They are popular due to their gentle appearance and dog-like playfulness”. They then conclude with “Don’t put other puffers in there with your puffer. Don’t put shrimp or crabs. Don’t put tangs or triggers. Don’t put any fish in smaller than the puffer. Don’t put in anemones.” Puffers, you see, are playful. They like to play with their food. Pulling off a crab’s legs and watching him try to run away is the sort of thing that E.T. does.

So he was feeling pretty cocky. He figured that there’d be a way out of this. At any rate, I thought I’d help him. I took my net, and tried to gently push him off of the intake. E.T. then decided that this problem was bad enough without this additional complication poking at his ass.

He puffed up to be the size of a grapefruit.

There are those who think that puffing is a stupid defense mechanism. Let me tell you that I, for one, almost shit myself when he did that. Of course, I also have the benefit of knowing that, if puffing fails, puffers will drop a load of poison, which is pretty much capable of killing everyone (including in a small, confined tank, the puffer himself). Someone set us up the bomb, indeed.

So I freaked out. I dropped the net, reached down, and unplugged the tank. The powerhead slowed, and then stopped, and a few minutes away, the puffer drifted away. He still had that happy, silly grin on his face, but some of his porcupine spikes had been pulled erect, and his eye was about half an inch out of place. On a four-inch fish, that can be quite considerable, a theory that was proven when ET attempted to eat food, not swim in circles and get close to the glass without bumping into it. The asymmetrical eye does add a special eerieness to an already somewhat creepy little fish. He now has that inbred, West Virginian look to him.

Fortunately, when I woke up this morning, everyone was still alive, meaning E.T. wasn’t fatally traumatized and he didn’t set us up the bomb. His face has also almost morphed back to normality. Somewhere, though, there are a whole lot of crustaceans laughing at him.


3 Responses to “Puffer Fish Mania”

  1. I found your story to be pretty cool. i recently bought a figure eight puffer and it looks so cool with that gentle “don’t mess with me face” its pretty small too. well when I added it to the tank it looked nice and swam all around not bothering anybody else. This is where the story gets cute… The next morning I wake up to the screems of my catfish…yes it makes this weird sound lol…so I take a closer look and i see the catfish swimming around like crazy and the puffer is attached to its tail! It finally let go and went on a biting frenzy. Eventually I had to quarrantine it in one of those fish separater things. well im glad E.T. is fine, he sounds like a true surviror. c-ya

  2. Your story is fab glad ET recovered!! I have been wanting to purchase a fish tank for about 5 years ever since i walked into our local pet shop and saw this puffa fish floating around in their tank,It was the most gorgeous thing i had ever seen staring back at me with his huge eyes and an angelic smile.i walked up to the counter and said i’d take him and to my disappointment they replied
    “not for sale”.Just wondering if you could help me out with what sort of tank,size of tank,things to place in tank(other fish,surroundings,etc.),and where i can purchase a puffa of my very own??

  3. I dunno. Here in the states, I just strolled into the pet store and got one. Most tropical stores tend to get them in from time to time here.

    If you pursue one, be sure to do your research. They’re somewhat fragile, and they limit what else can go in the tank quite a bit.

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