Dwarf Puffer Fish – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding

There has been a sudden rise in the love for domesticating of puffer fish. Specifically, people have shown interest in acquiring the dwarf puffer fish.

Now, what people do not know is that loving the fish is one thing, but keeping it healthy and alive is another. That is why we are going to look at the dwarf puffer fish in great detail.


Dwarf puffer fish sizes rarely exceed 1.4 inches. It is because of this that it is regarded as one of the smallest puffer fish in the world. Dwarf puffers are also known to exhibit pretty astonishing features.

First and foremost, their eye color changes with respect to light. In essence, when the dwarf puffer is in light, the eye color is blue, but when it moves away, it becomes black.

Another great and vivid feature of the dwarf puffers is the color of the bodies. They are known to have various spots/patches on their bodies with different colors.

Some dwarf puffers have bluish-green patches while others have black patches. These patches also come in different shades on each dwarf puffer fish.

Of course, we cannot forget to mention the dwarf puffers’ tails. They move their tails in a certain way, when they are either moving or stopping.

They also use their tails to communicate with their owners. For instance, if the fish is ill or stressed, it would curl its tail. As the owner, you will notice that there is a problem and take the appropriate action to fix it.


Dwarf puffer fish are freshwater fish originating from India. Specifically, they are known to come from southern Karnataka and Kerala. Both of these places are in the Western Ghats of Peninsular India.

You will mostly find Dwarf puffer fish in rivers and estuaries. Some of the rivers they inhabit are Pamba and Chalakudy. They are also known to live in freshwater lakes like Lake Vembanad.


There are very few ways in which the behaviors of the dwarf puffers in the wild differ from those in tanks.

One of these ways is the feeding mode. Basically, the things that those in the wild eat slightly differ from the tank ones feed on.

In Aquariums

  • Blood worms
  • Shrimps
  • Snails
  • Cyclops

In their Natural Habitat (Wild)

  • Insects
  • Larvae
  • Microscopic Algae
  • Water fleas

Feeding Schedule

There are dwarf puffer fish feeding rules that need to be followed to the letter. These rules include;

  • Try to feed your dwarf puffer fish twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening.
  • Try as much as possible not to overfeed them. This is because overfeeding your dwarf puffer fish comes with dire consequences. One of the things that happen as a result of overfeeding is an increase in nitrate levels. When the nitrate levels increase, so do algae. This is because plants absorb nitrates as nutrients.
  • The best way to feed your dwarf puffer fish is by using a small coconut bowl and placing it at the bottom of the tank. During feeding time, you just use tweezers to place the food in the bowl. Using tweezers will save your hands and fingers from being nipped.

Water and Tank Requirements

The minimum size of a dwarf puffer fish aquarium is a 5-gallon tank. The rule here is for every 5 gallons of water; the tank should have one dwarf puffer fish.  If you want to account for breeding space, then you should use a 20-gallon tank. This will provide space for a male to be housed with three females.

The water temperature should be at least 77 °F and not exceed 79° F at any given time. The pH, on the other hand, should be between 6.5 and 7.0. Make sure that you have a substrate at the bottom that is made up of coarse sand. This is because it allows room for plant roots to spread. If coarse sand is not available, you can also use small particle gravel.

Adding plants to a dwarf puffer fish tank is one of the best things you can do. This is because it comes with numerous benefits. First of all, it provides plenty of dissolved oxygen necessary for the fish’s survival.

Another benefit is that it makes the fish feel like they are in their natural habitat. This plays a vital role in helping them breed. Plants like Star grass and Java Moss are great for this kind of thing.


The most compatible fish to put with dwarf puffers are the ones that swim fast. This is because it makes nipping by dwarf puffers a bit difficult when they move around quickly. Some examples of such fish are;

Non-Compatible Animals

  • Snails
  • Shrimps
  • Catfish


Distinguishing between male and female dwarf puffers is quite challenging. This is what makes breeding such species a tricky exercise. However, the fact that it is difficult does not mean that it is impossible.

Researchers have identified that sexually mature males are usually brighter in color. This is one way to identify a male dwarf puffer fish.  Females ready to lay eggs, on the other hand, are usually round in shape. This is because they usually fill up with eggs.

What happens is the males begin by securing territories within the plants in the tank. Thereafter, the male attracts the female by raising his keel. Once the female comes, spawning takes place.

As a result of this, the eggs end up being scattered everywhere. He then chases the female away and takes total responsibility for everything. The eggs then hatch after five days. After about a week, the young ones start swimming.


At this point, you should at least have a rough idea of the dwarf puffer fish. If you decide to acquire one, make sure that you take care of it, and its needs as dictated here.

You can also use other reference materials to supplement your knowledge. This can go a long way in giving you more guidance on keeping dwarf puffers at home.

Updated: March 2, 2020

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