Leopard Puffer Fish Care (Dichotomyctere nigroviridis)

Common Name(s)Leopard Puffer, Green Spotted Puffer, Burmese Puffer
Scientific NameDichotomyctere Nigroviridis, Tetraodon Nigroviridis
OriginSoutheast Asia, Southern Asia, Africa
Temperature74-82°F (23-28°C)
Size6.7 inches
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons
Food & DietOmnivores with a mostly carnivorous diet.
Lifespan15 years
Water pH7.5 to 8.5
Tank MatesNo tank mates recommended
BreedingSpawns in brackish water
DiseaseCommon health issues include ich, overgrown teeth, and internal parasites.
Leopard Puffer
Leopard Puffer (Dichotomyctere nigroviridis)

Leopard Puffers (Dichotomyctere nigroviridis) are pufferfish that inhabit a wide range of territories in the wild. This includes Southeast Asia, Southern Asia, and Africa. More specifically, they’ve been found in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and China. Within these various regions, they inhabit freshwater and brackish bodies of water, such as streams, rivers, and estuaries.

Leopard Puffers have a yellow-green body and a white-colored belly. Their body is covered in black spots of various size. Therefore, these fish are also known as Green Spotted Puffer. They become more brightly colored as they mature. They have a round body shape, large eyes, and a tiny mouth. The females tend to be more round than the males. The males also have darker black spots. The difference between males and females becomes more obvious as they mature.

As a defense mechanism, Leopard Puffers are able to puff up. They will inhale water and use it to puff up their bodies when they feel threatened. Physically becoming larger is an effective way of preventing them from getting eaten. This defense mechanism is useful for them since they aren’t particularly fast swimmers.

Leopard puffers contain a virulent toxin within their body, so they are poisonous fish. This is another defense mechanism of this fish. The toxin is a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin. This is the same poison found in the notorious blue-ringed octopus. Toxins accumulate in the Leopard Puffer in its skin, intestine, liver, and ovaries. While it is in a lower concentration, its flesh also contains the toxin.

Due to the difference in their diet, Leopard Puffers in captivity may be less poisonous than specimens in the wild. However, it should be assumed that captive-bred specimens are just as poisonous, and proper precautions should be taken when handling them. As an obvious, these fish should never be consumed.

Leopard Puffer Care

Keeping Leopard Puffers requires knowledge of these fish and how to properly care for them. They are unique fish with specific requirements, so they aren’t recommended for beginners. These fish are best reserved for experienced fishkeepers.

In addition to providing a proper tank setup and regular maintenance, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, these fish have sharp teeth that grow very quickly. This is because they eat crustaceans and other invertebrates with hard shells on a regular basis. They constantly use their teeth to hunt for food in the wild, so their teeth wear down. In an aquarium, it is important to feed clams and other hard-shell food that will help wear down their teeth as well. If the teeth become overgrown, it may require clipping the teeth.

Next, these fish must be handled carefully, especially when moving them. As pufferfish, they puff up when they feel threatened. Even if they puff up by taking in water, they will return to normal if left alone.

However, if they puff up by taking in air, the air can get trapped in their body. This can be very dangerous for the pufferfish. Therefore, it is important to keep these fish submerged at all times. Instead of using a fish net to move the fish, it is better to use a cup or bowl. This will allow the fish to stay submerged at all times.

In addition, they should be handled with care at all times since they have sharp teeth and possess a toxin in their body as well.

Tank Setup

Leopard Puffers require a minimum of 30 gallons for just one Leopard Pufferfish. If you want to put more Leopard Puffers together or planning on putting other species with Leopard Puffers, you will want a considerably larger tank that is heavily planted.

Leopard Puffers in the wild will occasionally inhabit freshwater as juveniles, but when setting up their tank, you will want to give them brackish water. They require a pH of 7.5 to 8.5 and a temperature range of 74F to 82F.

When setting up your tank for Leopard Puffers, you will want to include a fine gravel or sand substrate for them. They will also require lots of hiding places; you can provide this by placing rocks in caves and many plants.

When choosing tank decor, remember Leopard Puffers are aggressive fish that use their teeth to nip fins and rip off the scales of other fish in their aquarium. Especially if you want to house them with other fish, you will want to ensure that there are plenty of plants and places for your fish to hide in.

Food and Diet

Leopard Pufferfish are omnivores, but they prefer a more meaty diet. This means that they will eat meat as well as plant material. The Leopard Puffer will feed on Mollusks, invertebrates, and crustaceans in the wild.

Size and Lifespan

Leopard Pufferfish can grow up to 6.7 inches at full maturity. They can live up to 15 years if they are cared for properly and in the appropriate setup with brackish water.

Leopard Puffer Salinity Level

Juvenile Puffers can inhabit freshwater and tolerate a salinity level of 1.005 to 1.008, but adult Leopard Puffers require more salinity at a level of 1.018 to 1.022 to keep them healthy.

Can Leopard Puffers Live in Saltwater?

Leopard Puffer fish inhabit brackish waters, but they have been known as juveniles to inhabit more freshwater areas during the rainy season. Leopard Puffers are often sold as freshwater fish, but their primary habitat is brackish water.

Can Leopard Puffers Live in Freshwater?

Leopard Puffer juveniles often migrate to freshwater during the rainy season, but their primary habitat is brackish water. When setting up a tank for your Leopard Puffer, you want to ensure the water is brackish.

Are Leopard Puffer Reef Safe?

Since Leopard Puffers live in freshwater or brackish water, they are usually not placed in reef aquariums. The salinity level for a reef aquarium has a specific gravity of approximately 1.026. The salinity level will be too high for a Leopard Puffer.

If Leopard Puffers were hypothetically placed in a reef tank, they would cause damage, so they aren’t considered reef safe. They will certainly eat the invertebrates in the tank. Their sharp teeth may damage the corals as well.

Leopard Puffer (Dichotomyctere nigroviridis) AKA Green Spotted Puffer Fish

Leopard Puffer Tank Mates

Leopard Puffers have been known to eat the fins and the scales of other fish, so they do not make for an ideal tank mate for other fish or in a community tank setup. There have been some reports of the success of keeping Leopard Puffers with other fish for a time, but once there is any sign of decline in the other fish, the Leopard Puffer will go after it to eat it.

Are Leopard Puffers Aggressive?

Leopard Puffers are extremely aggressive and will go after other fish in the aquarium and in the wild. They are fish that are fin-nipping and scale-tearing. They are not good fish to keep in a community tank setup as they will watch for signs of weakness and decline in other fish and go after them to eat them.

If you plan to keep more of these fish together in an aquarium, you should give them plenty of room and places to hide.

Leopard Puffer Breeding

Leopard Puffers will spawn only in brackish waters. When the female is ready to spawn, she will locate a male and lay her eggs on a flat surface or a hard substrate. The female Leopard Puffer can lay up to 200 eggs each spawning. Once the female lays the eggs, the male guards them.

The Leopard Puffer eggs should hatch in about 7 days. Once the eggs have hatched, the male Leopard Puffer will move the fry to a small pit-like area where he will continue guarding them. Once the fry has reached this stage, feeding them can become somewhat of a challenge. You will want to ensure you are offering them foods that are small enough to fit in their mouths. You will want to feed them baby brine shrimp and microworms.

Leopard Puffer Disease

Leopard Pufferfish have no gill covers or scales, and this makes them more susceptible to ailments. They do not have a disease named after them, but they can catch all the same ailments as other Puffers.

Common Health Problems:


A parasitic disease that can be treated if caught early on. It appears as white spots on the body of the fish.

Overgrown Teeth

You can help avoid this by feeding your Leopard Puffers shelled foods. Even though you feed them shelled foods, you will still need to perform regular teeth trimming for them.

Internal Parasites

If you purchase a Leopard Pufferfish from a pet store, it is most likely a wild-caught Leopard Puffer. Wild-caught fish can carry parasites and give them to other fish in your aquarium. If you are purchasing a Leopard Puffer, you will want to quarantine it from your other fish for a few weeks so that you know it is healthy.

Where Can I Find Leopard Puffer For Sale?

Leopard Puffers can be found online and in most pet stores that sell fish. The price of the Leopard Puffer will vary depending on the size, age, and markings.

Leopard Puffer Price

Leopard Puffers can be found online and in pet stores for around $15. The price of the Leopard Puffer will vary depending on its size, age, and markings. You will want to make sure that you are purchasing your fish from a reputable breeder or a store that you trust so that you do not end up with sickly fish.

It is also important to quarantine your fish for a few weeks so that you are not passing that on to the other fish in your aquarium in case they do have an ailment upon purchase.

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