Dwarf puffer fish, or dwarf puffers as they are commonly known, from India’s Pamba River make diminutive and charming pets. Measuring just under an inch in size, these freshwater puffers are known for their intelligence and their insatiable, varied appetites. Dwarf puffers enjoy a wide range of live and frozen foods including snails, shrimp and krill. Some dwarf puffers will eat prepared food products, but success with these foods is limited.
Mike Hellweg of Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine finds that puffers often beg for food when you are near, leading to a potential for overfeeding. Dwarf puffers should be fed daily and given a varied diet that can include live or frozen foods. Try an assortment of food to determine what your pet accepts and prefers.
Live foods for dwarf puffers include black worms, white worms, brine shrimp and young snails, all in sizes that are appropriate to this tiny fish. Hellweg feeds freshly hatched brine shrimp, for example, but finds that his puffers will accept adult brine shrimp as well. DwarfPuffers.com points out, however, that brine shrimp have little nutritional value and are better as treats rather than a dietary staple.
Many dwarf puffer owners prefer to provide a frozen diet, especially frozen midge fly larvae. Appropriately sized shrimp, worms, larvae and krill provide a range of acceptable frozen options.
When providing a frozen diet for your dwarf puffer, the food must be thawed. DwarfPuffers.com suggests doing so in a shot glass with water from the tank that you can then pour into the tank for feeding. You can pour the thawed food through a mesh net to filter out any particulate that would unnecessarily pollute the tank.
Snails for Tooth Care
Dwarf puffers have small, sharp teeth. Their teeth grow continuously and can be ground down by regularly feeding small snails with the shell on. Most owners of dwarf puffers have not found tooth length to be problematic, but do still provide small snails as part of the fish’s diet for tooth care, nutrition and enjoyment. Simply drop snails in the tank for your dwarf puffers to hunt.
Prepared and Freeze-dried Foods
Prepared flakes and pellets are available for purchase, but dwarf puffer fish rarely accept these foods. Freeze-dried foods make a more nutritious and acceptable option over prepared foods, though live or frozen options are best. You can add ground and freeze-dried brine shrimp and krill directly to the tank or feed them to the fish with a baster after reconstituting for about 20 minutes in water.
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E. Anne Hunter has more than a decade of experience in education, with a focus on visual design and instructional technology. She holds a master's degree in education. Hunter has contributed to several professional publications, covering education, design, music and fitness, among other topics.