Can A Dwarf Puffer Live With An Adf? Pet of the Month
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Sep 17, 2006
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Pittsburgh, PA
Hi all,

I'm currently setting up a small (5.5 gallon) planted tank. The only planned inhabitants are Dwarf African Frogs, Cherry Shrimp, and maybe a few of my Nerites or Malaysian Trumpets (unless I go through with the plan below).

I've recently had a population explosion of Ramshorn snails in my tanks. While they don't hurt the plants, and don't look unsightly, they're really making the sand totally filthy.

So, from what I've read about Dwarf Puffers, they actually do fine with cherry shrimp, and work well on controling a snail population. Dwarf Puffers can be fed blood worms, which is the main diet of my ADFs as well.

While I understand on the whole Dwarf Puffers are uber-aggressive fish, and could certainly take out a ADF, I wonder if they are pretty similar to Bettas where ADFs are sufficiently "un-fishlike" to warrant any sort of response?

Any experience people have here would be welcome.
Detailed at the top of the forum is a sticky on what can really be kept with DP's, and small shrimp, and motionless frogs with big eyes are definitely not choices I'd make.
The safest tankmates for pufferfish are rocks and plants. Everything else is a gamble.

The nerites and Malayan snails should be fine though. Both are very heavily armoured and too large for a DP to eat whole. Shrimps seem to be 50:50 thing with DPs; some people have good luck, others carnage. Otocinclus spp. are another sometimes option for viable tankmates, though these are difficult enough at the best of times and need a mature, clean aquarium with plenty of green algae.

The trouble with comparing the "aggression" of bettas with the nippiness of puffers is that one is a social behaviour, the other a foraging behaviour. Male bettas attack things they perceive as rival males or females invading their territory but not willing to breed. This includes different species of Betta as well as some of the smaller gouramis.

Puffers certainly can be territorial, but a lot of their nippiness is a case of have a nibble and see if it is edible. In the wild they will take a bite out of anything that sits still long enough. Things like slow-moving fish, frogs, shrimps, snails, and even plants are all fair game if the puffer is in curious (and hungry) mood.

So, bank on keeping the DPs alone, and add nothing that you can't write off as "live food" if it all goes terribly wrong. If you want puffers you can mix with tankmates, then other species are (perhaps) a better bet, particularly South American and red-tailed puffers in freshwater and figure-8s in brackish water. None of these are lock-down, 100% secure community fish, but they're an order of magnitude more reliable that DPs.


Ahh well, seems like I'm out of luck then.

I don't have the tank space for a South American Puffer (certainly not in that nano anyway). I do have a 40 gallon, but it's fully stocked, and I have other plans for the 20 gallons I'm taking apart. I was mainly hoping for a small alternative to clown loaches, but I'd need to spend around an extra $100 (once the plant lights are figured in) to build a second planted nano for a Dwarf Puffer. . I'm not sure it's worth it just to have a method of controlling my snail population.

Is a betta tank divider a possiblity?

Finally, any other ideas on a snail-killer?
Finally, any other ideas on a snail-killer?

Many loaches are snail lovers. I'm not too familiar with the specifics, but one species in particular I've heard can whipe out snail populations at an impressive rate....


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