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Green Spotted Pufferfish Overview, Care & Breeding

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 fish are not 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 fish 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.

Species Overview

Level of CareDifficult
AppearanceWhite underbelly with a green or metallic yellow top covered in black spots
TemperamentAggressive and fin nippers
Life Expectancy15 years
Tank Size50-60 gallons
Tank EnvironmentMarine or brackish water with plants
Tank MatesLarge and non-aggressive

It 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 fish 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. These 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 have large black color spots on a green that contrasts sharply with the white color belly. The spots on them 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 fish and humans.


Green spotted puffer is comparatively larger than many other aquarium fish. They can grow up to 6.7-inches if taken proper care of.

Behavior & Temperament

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.

They 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 fish.

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

These 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 green spotted 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 pufferfish smiling


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.

Tank Mates

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

Besides, always try to keep them away from slow swimmers having long fins; 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 them:

  • Scats
  • Bumblebee gobies
  • Monos
  • Mollies
  • Archerfish

Tank Requirements

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

Just like any other puffer, these 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 adults 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 fish.

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 must contain specific assortments. These 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 spotted puffer in a tank

Tank Setup

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 them 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 to 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 them 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 décors.

Food & Diet

Generally, green spotted puffer fish is a carnivore by nature and prefers to eat invertebrates, mollusks, crustaceans, and other small fish 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 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.

They can occasionally be fed with pellet, vegetable, and meaty foods.

How to Breed Snails for Green Puffers?

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 pufferfish eye. They 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 is essential as the food bits will pollute the tank which will be harmful.

Avoid overfeeding them. When it comes to eating, these do not know when to stop eating. Their 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 Pufferfish Care

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 fish 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.

Breeding Guidelines

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

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

Green Puffers have not yet been bred commercially while kept 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, females lay approximately 200 eggs. The female usually finds a protected and smooth surface to lay her clear eggs.

After successful natural breeding, the parent fish, especially the male ones, guard the nest wholeheartedly. These male fish 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

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

  • Each one 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 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.

Common Diseases

Green Puffers 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 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, these are sensitive to copper and can die. It would help if you considered turning up the temperature to 86 °F (30 °C) 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 which 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 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.

Where to Buy?

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 they have a grey-colored bellies due to a poor diet or improper water conditions. Make sure that you treat a diseased fish before introducing it to the aquarium.

Wrapping Up

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 fish can easily handle them.

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 adults, they tend to switch to more marine and brackish water for their survival.

Apart from that, you need to make the 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.