Fahaka Puffer – Species Profile & Facts

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If you’re set to invest in a 100-gallon tank and looking for an exotic fish species, I have you covered. I present to you the Fahaka pufferfish, one of the most exhilarating large tank fish you can find.

This massive carnivorous fish is a treat to the house given its colorful behavior, exotic look with bulbous eyes and protruding teeth, and, more importantly, its feeding habits.

It’s a fact that many aquarists acquire the fahaka puffer simply because they want to see it feed.

But let’s find out more about the fish and how you can accommodate it in a home-crafted setting.

What is a Fahaka Puffer?

Simply put, the Fahaka puffer is a pufferfish, a species of fish that belong to the Tetraodontidae family. Other species that fall under the Tetraodontidae umbrella include balloonfish, bubble fish, toadfish, sugar toads, and many others.

While all species are different, there’s one feature that’s present in most of them, and the hint is in the name.

Tetraodontidae simply means four-toothed, which already speaks volumes about the fish’s appearance and feeding behavior.

The Fahaka puffer showcases 2 pairs of hardened and massive frontal teeth, 2 on the lower jaw and 2 on the upper one. These are very hard and, combined with the powerful jaws and the fish’s impressive size can quickly turn into deadly weapons.

Fahaka puffers use their powerful bite to annihilate large crustaceans, which they will chew and eat in record time.

Fahaka puffers are aggressive predators that thrive on a carnivorous diet and require specific environmental conditions to thrive. So, let’s jump into those!

Fahaka Puffer Requirements

While the Fahaka puffer ranks as moderate in terms of care requirements, keeping the fish healthy and in good condition may be more difficult than you think.

It all begins with setting up its habitat, so let’s get into that.

Tank Size & Setup

Many people recommend 75 gallons for one Fahaka puffer, but you’ll most likely need more than that.

I recommend going for a 100-gallon piece, given that this large and active fish requires a lot of space.

The setup itself is also important. Fahaka puffers come from plant-rich environments, although you shouldn’t necessarily consider them plant-friendly just because they’re carnivorous.

While Fahaka puffers don’t eat or attack plants, they can destroy them unintentionally during feeding.

That’s because these are messy and violent eaters, dragging and brutalizing their food all over the tank. It’s common for Fahaka puffers to bite into plants by mistake or simply break them by sheer physical force alone.

So, while plants are necessary, make sure you go for hardier species that can withstand the puffer’s presence. This includes options like Anubias and java fern, among others, that don’t mind some mild aggression occasionally.

Also, go for a sandy and fine substrate. The Fahaka puffer isn’t a bottom feeder, but it functions as one. The reason is the fish’s natural hunting behavior, given that its prey mainly lurks on the substrate.

It’s common to have the puffer chase and eat the food off the substrate, getting mouthfuls of sand in the process.

You should avoid gravel or other forms of rough substrate for this reason, as the puffer can choke with the larger particles in the process.

To summarize: sand substrate, hardy life plants, and a lot of swimming room.

Water Requirements

Fortunately, the Fahaka puffer is hardier than other fish species, so it doesn’t need pristine waters to thrive.

Go for temperatures of around 72-80 °F which is standard for most tropical tank fish. The pH should remain around 7.0 for the best aquatic experience.

While these are standard parameters, it’s important to note that these puffers can pollute the tank water fast. The reason is the fish’s feeding behavior.

Puffers use their frontal teeth to break and chew into any prey, causing a mess in the process.

They’re also quite aggressive with it, causing them to attack the live prey full force, especially if they’re hungry.

So, it’s common for puffers to stir the substrate and create a lot of food residues when feeding. This means you need to perform constant cleaning and maintenance to prevent the dangerous rise of nitrates in the water.

And most importantly, invest in at least a 100-gallon tank. The larger the tank is, the less maintenance job you need to keep the water clean.

Feeding and Diet

Fahaka puffers are carnivorous predators with a twist. They rank as molluscivores, meaning they feed primarily on molluscs but consume a variety of invertebrates.

These include crabs, snails, shrimp, fish, crayfish, insects; pretty much whatever contains animal protein.

Their diet should replicate their instinctive preferences to fulfill their daily nutritional needs. Provide the Fahaka puffers with frozen shelled foods designed specifically for them, and make sure you feed them some live food regularly.

Live shrimps, crabs, and snails are necessary to keep your fish well-nourished and mentally and physically active.

Also, keep in mind that the fish’s teeth keep growing throughout the fish’s life. This means that the puffer requires hard meals to grind its teeth and stop them from growing too much.

Do Fahaka Puffer Need a Heater?

Yes, a heater is necessary, even if the Fahaka puffer doesn’t need excessively warm waters. The purpose of the heater isn’t only to increase the water temperature but to prevent sudden temperature fluctuations as well.

These can cause your puffer to experience temperature stress, leading to poor appetite, increased violence or apathy, and even problems with the immune system.

Do Fahaka Puffer Need a Filter?

Yes, the filter is absolutely necessary, especially since the puffer is an extremely messy fish. The filter will eliminate some of the food residues, keeping the environment reasonably clean until the maintenance day comes.

Get a good filtration unit with sufficient power to ensure optimal mechanical cleansing.

Activated carbon may also be necessary since you will feed your puffers many live foods. Combine these with the puffer’s messy eating, and you’ll get a lot of organic matter decaying in the water.

The activated carbon will dilute the dangerous chemicals that could quickly poison the fish’s habitat.

How Much do Fahaka Puffer Cost?

The price of a juvenile Fahaka puffer falls in the $20-30 range. These aren’t expensive fish, but they’re clearly more expensive than your standard livebearers.

The reason for that is the fish’s size, as these puffers can get quite big. The fish’s cost is also influenced by factors like subspecies, size, age, coloring, etc.

Get a healthy juvenile puffer, preferably no larger than 4-5 inches, for the best cost-to-gain ratio.

Juvenile puffers are easier to train in eating different foods and will accommodate faster in their new setting.

What is the Lifespan of a Fahaka Puffer?

Fahaka puffers can easily live up to 10 years in captivity when kept in optimal conditions.

You can prolong your fish’s lifespan by:

  • Providing a healthy and nutritious diet with the necessary occasional live food treats
  • Investing in sufficient space, preferably at least 100 gallons
  • Keeping one puffer per tank to prevent tensions between the fish
  • Cleaning the fish’s habitat regularly and removing food residues to prevent ammonia buildup

Additionally, add plants and get a sandy substrate to prevent choking if the puffer ingests sand during feeding, and you’re good.

Plus, make sure you assess your puffer’s physical condition visually every day, if possible. These fish lack any scales or body coating, so they’re pretty vulnerable to physical wounds and parasites.

Avoid hard plants and pointy or rugged decorations or rocks that could hurt the fish. Even minor skin lesions can get infected and become deadly shortly.

How Big do Fahaka Puffer Get?

Fahaka puffers can grow up to 15 inches, but many reports have suggested 18 inches in many cases.

Several aspects can influence the fish’s growth rate and overall size, including the fish’s diet, general health, care and maintenance, and even the tank’s size.

If your puffer lacks the necessary space, it won’t grow as large.

This is why you should always house your Fahaka puffer in at least 100 gallons, even if the juvenile puffer is too small for the tank. Don’t worry, it will grow big fast, especially if it has sufficient room and a well-rounded diet.

Are Fahaka Puffers Aggressive?

Yes, Fahaka puffers are aggressive and territorial. I don’t recommend pairing them with any other fish species because tensions are bound to arise.

Also, don’t pet or attempt to play with the fish, however cute the puffer might seem.

Set aside the fact that the puffer’s bite can easily separate your fingers from your hand. This is the least of your worries.

The real danger is the fish’s venomous content. Fahaka puffers are venomous as they contain the infamous tetrodotoxin, which is a very potent neurotoxin. The fish doesn’t have specific glands that excrete the toxin.

Instead, it secretes it through its skin, so don’t touch the fish with your bare hands.

The fish’s flesh is also imbued with the deadly toxin, so you might want to avoid eating the Fahaka puffer. You know, in case it crossed your mind.

Tetrodotoxin is 1,000 times more toxic than cyanide and has no antidote.

So, don’t be fooled by the fish’s charming behavior, given that Fahaka puffers often develop close bonds with their handlers.

These are intelligent fish that will learn to recognize you with time and even become joyful and jittery when spotting you bringing their meal. Just show them a live crab through the tank glass, and you’ll see what I mean.

Fahaka Puffer Tank Mates

Adult Fahaka puffers are not compatible with any fish, small or large. That’s because it will eat all the small fish and attack, hurt, and kill the larger ones.

Pairing the Fahaka with more aggressive species that could hold their ground isn’t a better option either. Any attacker that dares to nip or bite the Fahaka will experience a slow and agonizing death due to a swift tetrodotoxin infusion.

It’s best to have one Fahaka puffer per tank and avoid any tankmate whatsoever.

Fahaka puffers can’t even share space with their own kind since they’re always ready to fight and compete over food and space. This makes breeding them nearly impossible.

Are Fahaka Puffers Good for Beginners?

No, Fahaka puffers are not good for beginners. You should only take on the fish if you’re already experienced in the aquarium business.

This fish isn’t a good choice for novice aquarists for several reasons:

  • They need too much space, and you can’t invest in a 100-gallon tank without any prior experience in the field
  • The fish is sensitive to water parameters and needs intensive care and maintenance
  • The fish is prone to Ich, flukes, and various bacterial and fungal infections due to its lack of scales
  • You will have a tough time dealing with the fish’s over-energetic and often violent temperament
  • The fish’s messy eating habits will cause a lot of headaches, etc.

However, if you do have some experience with puffers or other similar fish, the Fahaka puffer is a great choice.

Provide this fish with stable water conditions, a clean habitat, and a nutritious diet, and will stay with you for years to come.

How to Tell if Fahaka Puffer is Male or Female?

Let me know if you ever find the answer to this question.

How do Fahaka Puffer Breed?

The Fahaka’s breeding process is a bit different than what you may be accustomed to. The female will grow a visible ovipositor which the male will seek and attach to upside-down. This allows the puffer male to fertilize the eggs while still inside the female.

The female will then eliminate the eggs and the male’s sperm at the same time, at which point the breeding process ends.

The eggs can incubate for 72-96 hours, depending on the environmental conditions, and the resulting fry requires special care to survive.

This means you should either remove the parents from the setting or relocate the fry to a different tank. Also, the fry require a lot more food than you would expect.

You should feed them multiple meals per day for proper nutrient intake.

Finally, if breeding the Fahaka puffers sounds too easy, that’s because it’s not. It only sounds easy for someone who’s bred Fahaka puffers before, and the breeding process is challenging even for them.

In reality, nobody really breeds these puffers but buys them instead.

The main reason is that Fahaka puffers are difficult to sex. So, you’ll only know for sure if your 2 Fahaka puffers are male and female or the same sex when the mating season comes. Secondly, you need to consider the fish’s aggression levels.

If Fahaka puffers lack the necessary space, they will fight to the death whether they’re sexually compatible or not.

This is why most people avoid breeding them altogether and purchase their desired Fahaka puffers instead. I recommend you do the same.

Conclusion

Fahaka puffers are a treat for carnivorous lovers who enjoy watching their fish eviscerate their prey. These are large and greedy animals with a lot of personality and presence.

Just remember that they’re rather difficult to grow, they’re aggressive, almost impossible to breed, and poisonous to the touch.

They’re also extremely lovable, so I won’t judge you if you choose to ignore all the downsides.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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