Green Spotted Pufferfish Care Guide | Fishinaquarium



Puffer is a breed that everyone cannot handle. And the gorgeous-looking green puffer is one of the most difficult-to-care species among them that attracts many hobbyists.

Due to their highly aggressive characteristics, these fishes are not much suitable for any beginner. But is this reason enough not to pet them? Undoubtedly not, with their amusing color and your hard work, you can easily make them a good friend of yours.

Green Spotted Puffer (GSP) has their native habitat in the estuaries and rivers of Southeast Asia. These fishes are highly aggressive, along with being prominent fin nippers. They are not easy to take care of and thus suggested to be kept alone with their own species.




Level of care



White underbelly with a green or metallic yellow top covered in black spots


Aggressive and Fin nippers

Life expectancy

15 years







Tank size

50-60 gallon

Tank Environment

Marine or brackish water with plants

Tank mates

Large and non-aggressive


Green Spotted PufferFish Overview


The Green spotted pufferfish is a freshwater fish mostly found in temperate and tropical regions worldwide. It belongs to the Tetraodontidae family – an ancient fish species that had emerged from coral dwelling fishes about 40 million years ago.


It has the unique ability to inflate the body with water or air when threatened. There are over 120 species. Green spotted pufferfish (Tetraodon nigroviridis) is a type of pufferfish with a peculiar appearance and behavior.


Natural Habitat


Green spotted pufferfish are mostly found in the coastal regions of Asia. The species of pufferfish are found in both freshwaters and brackish waters.


The fish is mostly found in lakes, rivers, and flooded areas. It is native to waters in South and Southeast Asia, including India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Thailand.


green spotted pufferfish Appearance


Green spotted pufferfish have large black color spots on a green that contrasts sharply with the white color belly. The spots on the pufferfish resemble the spots on the leopard. Its shape is also exquisite, with a strong jaw and protruding eyes.


The fish have four bony structures that are fused like a beak. The fish balloon gets more extensive when it senses danger, with spines jutting outwards, warning predators. Its body contains tetrodotoxin that is fatal to other fishes and humans.


Green Spotted Puffer Behavior: Are Green Spotted Puffer Aggressive?


Green spotted pufferfish are tolerant when young. But they become aggressive as they mature. The unpredictable behavior of the fish has surprised many aquarists. A seemingly well-behaved pufferfish can turn into a psychotic killer without being provoked.


Pufferfish can become aggressive due to many reasons. They mainly attack others when hungry. The fish scours rocky areas and plants looking for food. They may take an experimental bite out of everything. It has been known to take big chunks out of plastic tubes, plants, and other fishes.


The fish are also territorial and will attack other fishes, including their species, to defend their territories. They will attack other fishes not out of hunger but due to feeling threatened. The aggressive nature of the fish makes it difficult to keep with other fishes.


Puffers are intelligent and can become tame enough to be fed through the hand. The fish can recognize the owner and react in a particular manner. They are a delight to keep in the aquarium if you know how to care for the fish properly.


Safety Advice: Feeding the pufferfish with bare hands is not recommended. You must always wear a glove if feeding by hand. Clean the gloves after you have finished feeding the fish.


Green Spotted Puffer Tank Mates

Keeping their aggressive personalities in mind, it is difficult to pair them up with any other fish species without giving a second thought.

It is undoubtedly better to keep them with their own species, but they can also be kept with other large-sized, non-aggressive tank mates that they cannot attack. This non-schooling fish is not at all innocent, even when they are juveniles.


Also, these green spotted puffers possess a vicious streak inside them. It will take no minutes for them to sting you once their natural instinct is invoked.

Besides, always try to keep them away from slow swimmers having long fins; as such tank mates can become a treat for your GSP anytime.

So, the following are a few saltwater and freshwater fish that go well with green spotted puffers.

  • Scats
  • Bumblebee gobies
  • Monos
  • Mollies
  • Archerfish


Green Puffer Tank Requirement


Despite the puffer behavior, it is not very difficult to take care of them if you possess advanced level fish-keeping experience.

Just like any other puffer, the green spotted puffer fish is also susceptible to water changes. Generally, they are sold as freshwater puffers in shops. But they live in freshwater conditions only when they are juveniles.   

The adult freshwater puffers typically require a marine or brackish water environment to thrive well. However, you need to introduce them very slowly while shifting them to a salty tank environment.

This tetraodon nigroviridis fish is very active and loves to swim and jump. It is why a large size aquarium is a must for these puffers, where they can swim about freely and jump without disturbing other fishes.

Along with that, you also need to take care of the salinity, pH, hardness, and temperature range of the water. The tank water also should be slightly alkaline if you want to keep the adult fish happy.

Since these green spotted puffers are highly messy when it comes to eating, proper canister filtration is preferable.

While selecting the substrate for your aquarium, go for sand and gravel mixed one, with compounds like aragonite, etc.

To render the best comfort, the aquarium of your green spotted puffer must contain specific assortments. These species of puffers prefer moderate water flow along with dense vegetation.

You can incorporate both artificial and live plants, along with rockwork, into your tank for a better appearance. Since they are fond of plants and love to play around them, it would be an excellent addition to the aquarium to keep them happy and healthy.   


Green Puffer Fish


Green Puffer Tank Set-Up


Since green spotted puffer fish is very sensitive to water changes, you need to set up their tank as per their specific water requirements. As the environment they reside in determines their ability to live, the following are certain things that you need to consider.

  • To keep your puffer free and happy, you require a water tank of almost 50-60 gallons. However, if you are keeping them alone, a 20-gallon aquarium will suffice.
  • You can facilitate moderate or normal lighting to enhance their green color and increase your tank’s aestheticism. Remember to avoid over-lighting as your fish may not like it.
  • Maintain an alkaline-based water pH range of 7.5-8.5, as the green puffer fish is quite sensitive to ammonia and nitrates.
  • Try to keep the water temperature of the tank between 74-82℉.
  • Also, maintain the salinity levels of water as it differs for adults and juveniles. Keep it 1.018-1.022 for the adult fish and 1.005-1.008 for juveniles.
  • Add marine salt formula in the aquarium water and monitor the salt level; use an advanced water testing kit of hydrometer for ensuring their health and maximized life.
  • Along with that, remember to manage the water hardness level between 9-19 dGH.
  • Also, add large filters that can turn the tank water over 6-10 times per hour.
  • Put a tight covering lid on top of the aquarium to prevent your green spotted puffer fishes from jumping out.
  • To make your aquarium more exciting for your little friends, you can add many caves, rocks, plants with twisted roots, and other tank decors.


What Does Green Spotted Puffer Eat?


Generally, green spotted puffer fish is a carnivore by nature and prefers to eat invertebrates, molluscs, crustaceans, and other small fishes in their wild habitat areas. But they will eat some commercial fish food and vegetable matter while kept in an aquarium. And that is why they got to follow an omnivorous diet in captivity.

However, one easy thing about taking care of these puffer fish is that feeding them is not at all a difficult job. They can be easily provided with live, frozen, and flake food, including various shrimps, such as ghost shrimp and brine shrimp. Also, include bloodworms, crabs, snails, and freeze-dried krill in their diet.

Besides, adult green puffers can be fed with whole mussels, scallops, oysters, clams, crab legs, crayfish, and shelled shrimp. 

Along with these, green spotted puffer can occasionally be fed with pellet, vegetable, and meaty foods.  


Care for Green Spotted Puffer


Caring for a leopard puffer fish is undoubtedly a hectic task. Only advanced level aquarists would be able to handle them properly.

However, to take proper care of your green spotted puffer, you need to change 30-50% of water weekly. Besides, a huge canister filter is a must due to their clumsy eating habit.

Also, since these tetraodon nigroviridis fishes don’t have scales or gill covers, they are more prone to infections. And that is why it is of utmost importance to keep their tank water clean. Thus, avoid using copper in the tank, check the amount of salt in the water, and do not expose them to air much.


How to Breed Snails for Puffer Fish?


You can breed snails instead of buying them from the pet store. It will be much less costly to produce the snails at home. You would need a small 10-gallon tank with essential substrate and filtration. Just add a few snails to the tank and let them do the work.


Snails will eat almost anything. You can feed them fruits and vegetables. Cucumbers and tomatoes. 

Also, you can feed them algae wafers bought from the store occasionally.


It would help if you cared for the snail tank, similar to any other tank. Change the water weekly and ensure that the filter is in good condition.


You should pick snails that are the size of the puffer fish eye. Your pufferfish will have difficulty cracking the shells of giant snails. While the fish may wrestle out the snail from the shell, it won’t benefit from breaking the shell using the mouth.


You should remove shells and uneaten dead snails from the tank every week. It’s is essential as the food bits will pollute the tank that will be harmful to the pufferfish.


Avoid overfeeding your pufferfish. When it comes to eating, pufferfish do not know when to stop eating. Puffer bodies will look like small balloons when they overeat. The behavior will lead to health issues leading to the premature death of the fish. Consider feeding the alternate fish days two to three times a day.



Green Spotted Puffer Breeding Guidelines



green spotted pufferfish



If you want to add some baby green spotted puffer in your tank, then mind it; breeding them is not a piece of cake.

An appropriate tank set-up, especially for spawning purposes, increases the chances of getting better breeding results.

Green Puffers have not yet been bred commercially while keeping in captivity but can be reproduced by any hobbyist successfully. However, if you are lucky enough to get both male and female specimens together, there might be chances of active breeding even in captivity.  

Now, coming to its breeding procedure, female green spotted puffer fishes lay approximately 200 eggs. The female usually finds a protected and smooth surface to lay her clear eggs.

After successful natural breeding, the parent fishes, especially the male ones, guard the nest wholeheartedly. These male fishes then protect the eggs until they hatch. Usually, they began hatching within a week.

Also, one thing to take extra care of is that the fries undergo a high mortality rate, and most of them even get lost due to negligence. So, be careful about it!

To understand if the hatching went successfully, you can try feeding the fries with a mixed diet of young microworms and brine shrimp. As they continue growing, you can change their diet habits and feed tiny snails for better nourishment.


Interesting Facts About Green Spotted Puffer


So, are you excited to know some more interesting facts about green spotted puffer fish? Well, then check out the information given below.

  • Each green spotted puffer fish requires a maximum of 30 gallons of tank space, including frequent water changes and a bigger filter.
  • Unlike many other aquarium fish, they prefer the water to be moderately hard.
  • These puffers have strong teeth that keep growing till they remain alive.
  • This saltwater cum freshwater fish can even eat themselves up if their food is not served correctly.
  • They require to be fed quite frequently in a day.
  • Also, this species is very jumpy and can often jump out of its tanks in search of food.


Dangers and Diseases You Should Know


Puffer fishes don’t have scales, so they are vulnerable to various diseases. Most diseases are caused due to dirty water conditions. It would help if you kept the tank spotlessly clean at all times.

The common pufferfish disease includes the ich and fin rot. Ich is a parasitic disease that is caused when parasites attach to the fish body. The ich’s symptoms include cysts on the skin, gills, fills labored breathing, and excessive breathing.

The ich disease is generally treated using copper. However, pufferfish are sensitive to copper and can die. It would help if you considered turning up the temperature to 860F (300C) to treat the disease. Another option is to treat the fish using commercial medication for parasites that you can buy from the local pet store.

Fin rot is a bacterial disease whose symptoms include disintegrating fins and reddened fins. The disease starts at the edge of the fins and grows until it reaches the base. At this point, the fish won’t be able to regenerate the lost tissue that will result in its death.

You can treat the condition by improving the water quality and using antibiotics medication for treating the infection. You should add about 30 mg of antibiotics per liter of water. Also, you can add antibiotics to flake food. The fish will devour the mixture if it’s hungry before the antibiotics dissipate in the water.

Regular changing of water is recommended to avoid pufferfish diseases. You should also feed the fish properly and ensure that the fish does not become stressed due to being scared or any other reason.


Related Questions about Green Spotted Puffer


Do Green Spotted Puffer Fish Puff Up?


Pufferfish are adorable creatures that have the curious ability to puff up their body. The fish can gulp water and air until they appear like a round ball. It is done to ward off any prey that wants to make the poor fish a meal.

The fish will inflate the body up to 3 times the standard size. It makes the fish seem imposing to the prey. 

They will think twice about biting the dangerous-looking puffed-up fish.

Apart from physically morphing the body, the fish has another defense mechanism in the form of deadly poison. The poison found in the puff fish is about 1000 times more toxic than cyanide. A prey that eats the fish will become paralyzed and unconscious.


What is the Difference Between Green Spotted Puffer, Green Puffer, and Spotted Congo Puffer?



Green spotted puffers (Tetraodon nigroviridis) are different than similar-looking relatives, including the Green Puffer (Tetraodon fluviatilis) and Green Congo Puffer (Tetraodon Schoutedeni).

Can distinguish it from the other two fishes due to the more rounded shape than the green puffer and a lack of spine present in the Green Congo Puffer.

Green spotted pufferfish also have large dark blotches as opposed to evenly scatted spots on the green puffer. Apart from these differences, the different pufferfish species display similar characteristics and personality styles.


How Big Do Green Puffer Get?


Green spotted puffer is comparatively large in size compared to many other aquarium fish. They can grow up to 6.7-inches if taken proper care of.


How Long Does Green Puffer Live?


Every puffer species lives a long life, among which green spotted puffer survive for about 15 years in marine or brackish water tanks. However, they can get an even longer lifespan when subjected to proper maintenance.


What are Puffer Fish Care Tips?


Pufferfish can become stressed when you net the fish when cleaning the tank. A good practice is to herd the fish in a large-sized container. You can then scoop it out of the aquarium along with the water.

Another care tip for pufferfish is that you should provide some stimulation to the fish. The fish is intelligent and requires some motivation.

You can give live snails to the fish to hunt, providing lots of stimulation to the fish. Another piece of advice is to arrange the aquarium with various decorations that the fish will explore.

Lastly, it would help if you never tried to trigger the pufferfish to puff up. While it does look amusing, the fish will usually die when it inflates the body. A pufferfish will inflate the body when it is highly stressed.

It would help if you were careful not to cause stress when transporting the fish from the store to your home. Consider directing them in a small size container rather than netting the fish.


Where to Buy Green Spotted Puffer Fish?


You can buy green spotted pufferfish from online stores. Most pet stores don’t keep putter fish in the aquarium

They are rare and generally sold at a high price. The green spotted fish that are sold in most stores are wild-caught.

You should quarantine the fish purchased from the store before adding it to your aquarium. It would help if you closely inspected the fish to see signs of diseases.

A healthy fish will have a rounded stomach, while a sick fish will have a hollow one. The belly of healthy fish is also white instead of grey. They must be actively swimming inside the tank and acknowledge people when they lean in to look at the fish.

Sometimes a pufferfish has a grey-colored belly due to a poor diet or improper water conditions. Make sure that you treat a diseased fish before introducing it to the aquarium.


Is Green Puffer Suitable for Aquariums?


Well, beginner and intermediary level aquarists might find green puffers pretty difficult to keep in their home aquariums. But someone who is an expert in taking care of aggressive fishes can easily handle these puffers.

Generally, this fish is not suitable for residing in one type of tank water condition throughout their life.

They need to be shifted into different water conditions during their growth period. Initially, when young, these tetraodon nigroviridis fish dwell in freshwater, but later after turning into adult puffers, they tend to switch to more marine and brackish water for their survival.

Apart from that, you need to make your puffer fishes’ aquarium a reflection of their natural habitat areas of estuaries with lots of plants and rocks. The more they feel homely and comfortable, the more their life expectancy increases.


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