Bringing Freshwater Dwarf Pea Puffers To The Australian Aquarium Industry
The freshwater dwarf pea pufferfish (Carinotetraodon Travancoricus), also known as the Malabar pufferfish or pygmy pufferfish, is a small, freshwater pufferfish endemic to Kerala and southern Karnataka in Southwest India. The pea puffer is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss and overharvesting for the aquarium trade, making captive bred pea puffers a better alternative. Overall, it has been estimated that the species declined by 30–40% from 2005 to 2015
The maximum documented size is 3.5 cm (1.4 in), making it one of the smallest pufferfish in the world. Although closely related to marine pufferfish, they are not found in salt water, they are only found in freshwater.
Unlike many pufferfish species that are solitary and fiercely territorial, the dwarf pufferfish is very social and occurs in shoals in the wild. For this reason they should never be kept alone but with females outnumbering males 2:1. When kept in groups consisting of at least six in the correct male to female ratio, they are much more confident, have a better feeding response, are more social and less aggressive to each other. Solitary pea puffers are likely to become shy, nervous and emaciated owing to a decreased appetite. A group of six should be housed in a 60-litre tank as a minimum, giving each fish 10 litres of water each. Regular water changes are a must. Only keep in a fully cycled tank, ammonia and nitrite should be 0. Puffers are messy eaters, so over filtration is highly recommended.
Like all puffers, Dwarf Puffers should not be considered community fish and should generally be kept in a single species set-up. They can be very aggressive and territorial, often nip fins, and have been known to kill other fish. There are however a few other fish species that have been found to be respectable tank mates, please remember that even after living peacefully with tank mates for years, no fish is guaranteed safe forever. Tank mates that some have found success with are Otocinclus, Khuli Loaches and shrimp. It is important to keep an eye on your tank and watch for any aggressive bahaviour.
Multiples of this species should be kept together in the tank, which is very well planted and big enough, so they are not constantly in sight of each other and well fed. This species develops a hierarchy when in a group, and one puffer (usually a male) will become the dominant one.
Known to be fearless and aggressive, they can and will take on fish larger than themselves. Very intelligent, dwarf puffers have been known to recognize their owners, and beg for food. Dwarf puffers will provide hours of entertainment to their owner as they relentlessly hunt for snails.