Spotted Green Puffer – Species Profile & Facts

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Ah, the puffer, the always-famous cute-and-deadly fish that loves no one and attacks everyone. I can understand why you like puffers because I like puffers as well.

There’s nothing quite like a colorful, nerdy-looking carnivorous predator patrolling its aquatic territory and obliterating any crustacean unfortunate enough to cross paths with the voracious swimmer.

Today, we will discuss everything related to the spotted green puffer – a species much beloved in the aquarium trade.

So, let’s get it going!

What is a Spotted Green Puffer?

The spotted green puffer is a green puffer. And it’s spotted. Few fish are as cute and adorable yet as deceiving as the spotted green puffer.

This fish can reach 6 inches as a full-grown adult, but its overall size and growth rate depends on its diet and environmental conditions.

It’s important for the green puffer to be safe, comfortable, and, most importantly, regularly entertained to remain healthy and happy. So, feeding it live food is a must. Firstly, it nourishes both its body and its mind.

Secondly, puffers require hard-shelled animals to chew on so that they can grind their ever-growing frontal teeth.

You can easily distinguish the spotted green puffer from other pufferfish. This species comes with a thick and almost fat body with extra bulbous green/yellow eyes capable of both side and frontal sight.

The fish has a white belly and a light green, sometimes yellow, back. All green puffers are covered with black spots, providing them with a leopard-like pattern.

This pattern can make for a great camouflaging asset, allowing the fish to blend in a rocky environment filled with pebbles and vegetation.

The spotted green puffer’s natural habitat stretches from Africa to Asia and crosses over multiple different environments. This species can inhabit rivers, lagoons, and brackish streams and can thrive both solo and in larger groups.

It’s quite a hardy and adaptable species but notoriously difficult to keep in captivity. Let’s see why!

Spotted Green Puffer Requirements

Given that green puffers grow up to 6 inches, I recommend at least 30 gallons for one specimen. Many aquarists even recommend a minimum limit of 55 gallons due to the fish’s high activity levels and the need for swimming space.

This is an energetic and voracious predator that’s always on the lookout for potential prey.

Green puffers also rank as intelligent animals, as is the case with predators, that require constant stimulation; the extra space will scratch their exploratory itch.

Aim for a fine substrate, preferably sand or fine gravel. Many people use crushed corals as well for improved pH balance.

Live plants are also welcomed, providing the puffers with natural hiding places and making them feel at home.

The tank should have a lot of horizontal room since these fish like to patrol their habitat horizontally.

Water Requirements

Water conditions are important to the pufferfish, given that these fish are not only sensitive but extremely messy too. Just watch them feed on an unfortunate crustacean, and you’ll know what I mean.

Aim for a water temperature range of 76-82 °F, a pH range of 7.5-8.2, and a salinity level of 1.018-1.022. Moderate water flow is also necessary to replicate the fish’s natural habitat, so the presence of a filter is a must.

You also absolutely need to invest in a water tester kit. Green puffers demand clean and well-oxygenated waters, free of excess ammonia and nitrites.

This is important due to the fish’s messy eating behavior and the amount of organic waste it leaves behind.

Feeding and Diet

The spotted green pufferfish ranks as an omnivorous fish in the sense that it can consume some commercial fish foods, but I wouldn’t rely on that. This is a by-the-book carnivorous predator with a sweet tooth for a variety of live foods.

Hard-shelled animals are its favorites, including shrimp, snails, clams, and everything else that fits the category.

For more nutritional diversity, you should also provide your puffers with other food options like krill, bloodworms, and even earthworms.

The green puffer eats at least one meal per day, depending on its appetite. Some aquarists have reported their puffers eating once every couple of days, but I don’t buy that. This isn’t a healthy meal plan for your spotted green puffer.

Instead, provide the fish with daily meals and even supplement their diet plan with some occasional snacks, depending on the fish’s appetite.

Some fish can eat as many as 3-5 clams in one go, for instance.

Do Spotted Green Puffers Need a Heater?

Yes, a heater is necessary when housing a spotted green puffer. These fish require stable water temperatures for a healthy and stress-free lifestyle.

Do Spotted Green Puffers Need a Filter?

A good filtration system is even more necessary for green puffers for 2 reasons:

  1. Countering their messy habits – We’ve already discussed this point, but allow me to repeat it once more. Pufferfish are messy eaters and can produce a lot of residual organic matter. Both as a direct result of their eating and as a result of their digestive process, if you know what I mean. A good filtration system is essential to keep the environment clean and prevent ammonia and nitrite buildup.
  2. Satisfying their need for moderate water currents – These puffers feel more comfortable in moderate-moving waters, and the filter will produce just that.

How Much does Spotted Green Puffer Cost?

The fish’s price varies based on age and size more than anything else. You can find healthy specimens at prices varying between $5 and $20, depending on the fish and the seller.

You can also find them in batches, especially since green puffers can live in puffer-only communities. This should provide you with discounts, but be careful when acquiring your puffers this way.

Many fish shops keep puffers overcrowded and in suboptimal conditions. This can make the fish prone to parasites and various contagious diseases, which you don’t need or want.

What is the Lifespan of a Spotted Green Puffer?

This fish can reach 10 years in captivity in impeccable conditions. Some specimens even reach the 15-year mark, but such a feat is almost always closely linked to improved genetic baggage.

Even so, you can considerably improve your fish’s lifespan by providing it with a diverse diet and keeping its habitat in pristine conditions.

How Big do Spotted Green Puffers Get?

Expect your green puffer to reach 4-5 inches at most, although some specimens can also reach 6 inches.

The fish tends to grow slightly larger in the wild, but it can also develop quite nicely in captivity when given a nutritious diet, sufficient habitable space, and high-quality waters.

Are Spotted Green Puffers Aggressive?

If there’s one quality that follows puffers everywhere, that has to be their aggression.

These fish are notoriously violent towards their tankmates, whether they’re other pufferfish or not.

They also rank as fin-nippers and bullies, so finding the right tankmates for them isn’t exactly the easiest task in the world.

This being said, not all pufferfish are alike. These fish vary wildly in terms of temperament based on their species and even from one individual to the next.

Some pufferfish are more laid-back and tolerant, while others will even fight their reflection in the tank’s glass wall.

It all eventually boils down to luck, I guess. Just know that if your puffer is violent, there’s little you can do to tame it.

You can only work the habitat out to mask its behavior a bit. We’ll discuss this in the following section.

Spotted Green Puffer Tankmates

I would say that there are virtually no compatible tankmates for these violent aquatic demons.

You can try to pair your spotted green puffers with other members of their own species, but nothing is certain in that direction either.

Puffers can sometimes become outright murderous towards their companions or befriend them, only to turn up the violence suddenly at a later time.

Green puffers have different personalities and can change as they grow. In this sense, juvenile puffers are more tolerant and ‘peaceful,’ while adults have shorter fuses and can become extremely violent.

I would avoid any type of community setup for all of these reasons.

Spotted Green Puffer Tank Mates

You can try your luck with potential tankmates like other green puffers, mollies, bumblebee gobies, or even danios.

Although, I must mention that these don’t rank as compatible tankmates since no species fits that description.

They mostly rank as potential tankmates, depending on your pufferfish’s temperament and the overall tank layout.

Regarding the latter point, consider the following:

  • More space – If you’re creating a community setup, you need any extra space you can get. Increase the tank’s size as much as possible to minimize the risk of the fish crossing paths. Even if they do, they will, at least, have enough space to run to avoid violence.
  • More hiding spots – Green puffers aren’t the typical shy fish, but other fish species are. It’s always a smart move to add rocks, driftwood, plants, and a variety of other aquatic decorations for hiding spots. These will serve as refuge spaces for other fish when puffers decide to unleash violence.
  • Constant monitoring – Always monitor your fish dynamics to observe their interactions. It’s likely that the puffers will exhibit occasional violence, so there’s nothing you can do about that. Your goal should be to prevent extreme aggression, resulting in other fish getting hurt, killed, and even eaten.
  • Get disposable fish – If you simply want to create the impression of community, aim for disposable tankmates that won’t cost much to replace. That way, even if the puffers do kill or eat them, the financial burden of replacing them is minimal.

As a closing note, expect your puffers to deliver violence and death no matter the precautionary measures you have in place.

You simply cannot change the fish’s nature.

Are Spotted Green Puffers Good for Beginners?

No, they’re not. You shouldn’t take on the task of keeping spotted green puffers if you lack the necessary experience or qualifications.

There are several reasons that make puffers incompatible with inexperienced aquarists, such as:

  • Difficulty of care – These fish require precise water conditions and clean habitat to remain healthy over the years. You need to change approximately 30-50% of their water weekly, vacuum the substrate pretty much after every feeding session, and monitor water parameters constantly. Your goal is to prevent any accumulation of ammonia and nitrites to prevent health issues along the way. This is simply too much work for an inexperienced aquarist with minimal time to spare.
  • Feeding specifics – Although some people have reported feeding their green puffers commercial foods, I don’t recommend them. Aside from your puffers straight up refusing the food, they won’t get as many nutrients as they would from live foods. These fish need the thrill of hunting and dismembering their live prey to remain mentally and physically healthy. They also require hard-shelled animals to grind their teeth for proper oral hygiene and prowess.
  • Community incompatible – Many novice aquarists invest in a given fish species, get acquainted with the maintenance process, and then move on to a community setup once they’ve gained sufficient experience. You can’t do that with green puffers due to their intolerance for community-style setups.

How to Tell if Spotted Green Puffer is Male or Female?

There’s no way to distinguish between green puffer males and females reliably. You can try to go for standard measurements like the difference in body size and shape, with females being generally plumper, but this doesn’t always apply.

Males can be just as round as females, rendering any attempt to distinguish the fish’s gender useless.

This is one of the reasons why spotted green puffers are difficult to breed in captivity, and I don’t advise you to try it either.

I cannot understate the dangers of housing 2 or more puffer males in the same tank. You can only imagine the bloodbath.

How do Spotted Green Puffer Breed?

Say you managed to get yourself a pair of green puffers. The task ahead of you is still considerable if you plan to breed the 2. In essence, you can breed spotted green puffers, but that’s no easy endeavor.

Spotted green puffers only breed in brackish, clean waters and demand a specific tank layout even to consider mating.

Flat rocks are necessary in this sense to incentivize the female to lay its eggs. Once that’s achieved, the male will fertilize and guard the eggs for several days (usually 7) until they hatch.

They will even guard the fry for a while, so you must not have other fish around. I advise removing the female and any other fish from the tank once the eggs are out and the male has entered his guard duty.

The resulting fry are pretentious, given that they will refuse most fish food. They only feed on cyclops nauplii, which is a species of copepods that are relatively easy to culture.

So, prepare a culture of live copepods if you want to feed your puffer fry post-hatching.


Spotted green puffers are undoubtedly difficult fish to keep, but I understand if you don’t care about this aspect.

These bloody and colorful predators make for quite a great addition to your family, especially since they can live close to 10 or 15 years with good care.

Follow my tips and thoroughly inform yourself about the species to ensure you can handle it.

Oh yea, I almost forgot. Don’t touch the green pufferfish with your naked hand. These fish are poisonous. They won’t kill you, but you won’t like it either.


Author Image Fabian
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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