Pea Puffer: Care, Size, Food, Tank Mates & Tank Size


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Common Name(s)Pea Puffer, Dwarf Puffer, Indian Dwarf Puffer
Scientific NameCarinotetraodon Travancoricus
OriginWestern India
Temperature74-82°F (23-28°C)
Size1.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size10 gallons
Food & DietCarnivorous diet
Lifespan4 to 5 years
Water pH7.0-8.0
Tank MatesNeon Tetras, Kuhli Loaches, and Adult Cherry Shrimp
BreedingBreeding pair spawn in dense vegetation.
DiseaseMay be susceptible to ich.

Pea Puffer Facts

  • Pea Puffers are a very small species of Puffers that come from Western India.
  • Pea Puffers are aggressive and territorial, despite their small size.
  • In the wild, Pea Puffers survive on a diet of insects, larvae, and other small invertebrates.
  • Pea Puffers are sensitive to changes in water parameters, so regular maintenance and monitoring is necessary.
pea puffer
Pea Puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus)

Pea Puffer Care

Pea Puffers (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) are small fish that only grow up to 1.5 inches at full maturity. These dwarf puffer fish are the smallest puffers in the world. They have a yellow and green coloration, with black spots on their bodies. Some of these black spots are are small, while others are large. They also have large eyes in relation to their small body. Pea Puffers have the body shape that is unique to many puffers, which is a body shape characterized by a large head and body that gets smaller towards the tail.

Pea Puffer Male vs Female

Identifying the difference between male and female Pea Puffer can be a challenge, especially for juvenile specimens. However, once they mature, it can be done.

Male Pea Puffers have darker green patches, and more intensely colored yellow bellies. The males also have a bold line running across their body, and a brilliant blue coloration to their eyes.

Female Pea Puffers have body shape that is more round. Their body is not as colorful as the males.

Tank Setup

Pea Puffers can live in a tank as small as 10 gallons. Therefore, Pea Puffers are considered to be nano aquarium fish. Of course, they would do better in a larger tank, since it would give them more room to explore as they would do in their natural habitat. If you are planning on keeping additional Pea Puffers in the tank, you will want to have at least 5 gallons for every additional Pea Puffer you place in your aquarium.

Regarding water parameters, Pea Puffers are extremely sensitive to water changes. Therefore, you will want to make sure that you have reliable testing equipment and actually test the water regularly. Pea Puffers require a temperature of 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and a pH of 7.0 to 8.0. If there are any issues with the water parameter, it is important to identify and resolve them quickly.

In the wild, Pea Puffers live in areas with thick vegetation. In order to make them feel safe, it is important to add a lot of plants in their aquarium setup. In addition to plants, adding caves, rocks, and driftwood can be beneficial as well. These hardscape can provide a lot of hiding places, as well as areas to explore.

Best Substrate for Pea Puffer Tanks

When choosing substrate for your Pea Puffer tank, choose a substrate that will help the plants grow. Small gravel or coarse sand would be ideal. Adding a layer of aquarium soil may encourage plant growth as well.

Choosing the right substrate is important if you wish to grow healthy plants and create a great habitat for your Pea Puffer.

Aquarium Plants for Pea Puffer Tanks

Pea Puffers need lots of aquarium plants in their aquarium. It is crucial that they have places to hide in case they feel threatened. Plants such as Java Moss is great because it has large leaves that create a lot of shade. Floating aquarium plants are great as well for the same reason.

Pea Puffers | An Awesome Fish for Nano Tanks

Food & Diet

Pea Puffers are carnivorous fish, and in captivity they should be fed a diet of frozen foods such as bloodworms and brine shrimp. They can also be fed live fish foods such as snails and blackworms.

In the wild, Pea Puffer fish survive off of insects, larvae, and other small invertebrates.

Despite their small body, Pea Puffers have a rather large appetite. In order to prevent overfeeding, consider feeding smaller amounts more frequently. For example, you can feed a half portion twice a day, as opposed to a full portion once a day.

Pea Puffer Size & Lifespan

Pea Puffer fish can grow up to 1.5 inches at full maturity.

The average lifespan of Pea Puffers is 4-5 years. In order for the fish to live as long as possible, proper care is very important.

Pea Puffer Tank Mates

Pea Puffers are small fish, but they are territorial and can become aggressive towards other fish. Therefore, tank mates for Pea Puffers should be selected with careful consideration. If you are planning on keeping more than one Pea Puffer together, you will want to make sure that you have an aquarium that is big enough so that each Pea Puffer can have its own territory.

If you want to keep Pea Puffers with other species of fish, you will want to keep in mind that the Pea Puffers are fin nipping fish, and they may bother other fish that are slow moving. If your Pea Puffers are nipping at their fins, you will be able to see the torn or injured fins on the other fish. Pea Puffers should not be housed with other larger fish that will potentially harm or eat them.

Some tank mates to consider for your Pea Puffers are Neon Tetras, Kuhli Loaches, some Danios, and adult Cherry Shrimp. These tank mates should be able to get out of the way of the Pea Puffer, and also not stress out or injure them. Remember, the more fish you add, the more plants you will want to add so that your Pea Puffer can hide and feel comfortable.

Can Pea Puffers Be Added to a Community Tank?

It is possible to keep Pea Puffers in a community tank, but this can be difficult.

Pea Puffers are very small, and they may get harassed or eaten by larger fish. They aren’t fast swimmers either, so they may not be able to escape when they get attacked.

Pea Puffers aren’t peaceful fish either, so they may attack other fish as well. Slow moving fish with long fins may get attacked.

If the Pea Puffers are being added to a community tank, make sure the the tank mates are carefully selected and there’s enough space for all fish. There should be plenty of live plants for cover as well. This will allow the fish to hide whenever they feel threatened.

Are Pea Puffers Aggressive?

Pea Puffers are small, but they can be aggressive. These fish in the wild will seek out a territory to claim, and they will defend it. In an aquarium, they will do the same, and they may nip at other fish to defend their territory. They are recommended to be housed with their own species for this reason. If you are planning on placing other fish species in the same tank, you will want to make sure that you are monitoring their interaction so that there are no issues. If they do are nipping on the other’s fins, you should be able to see it. Keep in mind that aggressive behavior can be seen in a species only tank as well. Therefore, be sure to have an adequate tank size and plenty of plants for cover.

How Many Pea Puffers Should Be Kept together?

Pea Puffers can be kept alone, but they do better when placed in groups of at least 3 fish. While they are territorial, they do shoal as well. When keeping a group of fish, try to have 5 gallons of water for every additional fish.

Each fish has their own personality and some may get along, while others will not. However, keeping a lower number of males will help reduce aggressive behavior. For a group of 3 for example, keeping 1 male and 2 female would be ideal.

Pea Puffer and Shrimp

Pea Puffers and shrimp are often compatible as tank mates. This includes popular freshwater shrimp species such as Cherry Shrimp and Amano Shrimp.

However, Pea Puffers are carnivorous and they eat invertebrates. Full grown Cherry Shrimp and Amano Shrimp will most likely not get eaten, but very small juvenile shrimp may get attacked by the Pea Puffers. Therefore, if you intend to breed the shrimps, they shouldn’t be placed in the same tank.

Pea Puffer and Snails

Pea Puffers and snails are generally not compatible as tank mates. Pea puffers will consider snails as food, not tank mates. Small snails such as Bladder Snails will get eaten by Pea Puffers very quickly. Larger snail species, such as Nerite Snails, may survive attacks from Pea Puffers. However, there is a significant chance of them getting eaten. Pea Puffers are known to bite larger snails, resulting in injured snails. Sometimes, the snails do not recover from the injuries.

Pea Puffer and Betta Fish

Pea Puffers and Betta fish are generally not compatible as tank mates. They are are both territorial and aggressive fish. The Pea Puffers may nip at the long fins of the Betta fish. Since the Betta fish can be aggressive as well, it may very well fight back.

Pea Puffer Care and Breeding: A Tiny Fish with a BIG Attitude!

Can Pea Puffers Get Puffed Up?

Pea Puffers will puff up if threatened. By puffing up, they are trying to appear larger and deter predators. They may puff up occasionally even when they are not exposed to threat as well.

They are able to puff up by taking in water. If they are left alone, they will return to normal.

While it is interesting to see these fish puff up, intentionally disturbing the fish to make them puff up is not recommended. This can be stressful for the fish.

In addition, it is important to transport these fish in a cup, rather than a net. If the fish is pulled out of the water, it may suck in air to puff up. This can be dangerous for the fish, as it may have trouble releasing it. Therefore, Pea Puffers should be kept submerged at all times.

Pea Puffer Breeding

When kept in the right water parameters, Pea Puffers can breed in captivity. The male will chase the female around until she accepts his advances, and they will move under the cover of plants to spawn together. Once they are under the plants, the female Pea Puffers will lay the eggs. Eggs are usually laid in thick vegetation such as Java moss. The male will fertilize the eggs soon after.

After the eggs are laid, the parents should be removed. The eggs will hatch in 24-48 hours. The fry will eat infusoria and baby brine shrimp until they are able to eat larger foods.

Pea Puffer Disease

Pea Puffers are not prone to any specific disease. However, as with many tropical fish, lower temperatures can result in weakened immune system. This can increase the chance of getting Ich.

In addition, Pea Puffers are messy eaters. For example, if they feed on a snail, a lot of waste can be created. Therefore, cleaning the tank regularly is important in order to maintain good water quality. Poor water quality will increase the chance of infections and diseases.

Where to Find Pea Puffers for Sale?

Pea Puffers are a popular aquarium fish, so they are available in many local fish stores. They are available from many online retailers as well. Purchasing tank bred specimen is recommended, since wild-caught specimen are often very difficult to feed.

Pea Puffers are usually available for approximately $8 USD per fish.

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