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Pea Puffer aquarium

Up North

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I love pea puffers! I currently have four and adore their little personalities. I've only had mine for a year, but I've learned a few things in that time that I can share.

In a perfect world, a group of six should be kept in at least a 20 gallon long tank. 

They are known to burrow when they feel unsafe, so sand substrate is preferred, although I've never seen mine do that. 

They love having a lot of nooks and crannies to explore so driftwood that can provide that is a great option and offers lots of places to attach epiphytes like anubias, bucephalandra and java ferns. They also love moss and I've found mine love susswassertang as well. As far as plants go, the more the merrier! 

Hope that helps a little! 🐡

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On 2/16/2022 at 8:54 PM, Up North said:

What would the perfect set up look like for 6 pea puffers?  Size? Shape? Rock? Driftwood? Plants?

Also what would the minimum size be


A perfect size and shape has not really been established.  I’ve had peas in 6 gallon (very large, solitary, aggressive male), 10 gallon (the solitary male as a young adult with a harem of 3 girls [didn’t work out well for the girls which is why he became a solo pea]), 8 in a 20 long (theoretically OK, didn’t really work out for everybody), and the same 8 in a 29.  Seems to be working out but I haven’t had a full head count in weeks since I seem to have hit on a good amount of snails in the cultures that I started in the tank well before peas ever went in it.  They show up for feeding (if they bother showing up) with already full bellies.  Even when I’m feeding their very favorite live whiteworms or blackworms only about half show up.  Maybe I only have 4, oh, wait, there’s another one, so 5, oh, wait, there’s another one, so 6, oh, wait, is that another one or one of the same ones again?  Very heavily planted tank (clearly too heavy for an accurate count of pea puffers).  🤷🏻‍♀️ 🤦🏻‍♀️ 🤷🏻‍♀️ 

If you search for “pea puffers” you’ll find lots of discussions but there is no consensus.  I don’t think my solitary boy was completely happy alone, he hid too much.  But he was such a jerk, I couldn’t keep him with anybody else.  Read about him in the link below in my “6 G Buce” tank.  You can read about the other peas in my “29 G Pea Puffers” tank (warning, not a happy ending).

They are fascinating and sometimes infuriating.  Plan to get good at culturing live foods.  Many peas will not eat frozen foods and very rarely will they eat any dried or freeze dried foods.  Mine ignore freeze dried bloodworms, Daphnia, and mysis shrimp.  Will barely touch frozen bloodworms, spit out frozen Daphnia and brine shrimp.  You will almost certainly need multiple cultures.

Since getting pea puffers I now culture: 1. Whiteworms, 2. Blackworms, 3. Grindal worms, 4. Daphnia (I’m bad at keeping these going), 5. Microworms, 6. Vinegar eels, 7. 3 types of “pest” snails (bladder, pond, MTS), 8. Scuds/amphipods.  Adult peas can’t possibly be bothered with vinegar eels, microworms, +/- Grindal worms depending on their mood.  🙄  Babies will take them right away for microworms and vinegar eels, very soon for Grindal worms and scuds, and can tackle adult whiteworms at a much smaller size than you might think.

I tried fruit flies.  The peas were as disdainful as it gets (didn’t even bother to taste them) and the wingless flies got into my whiteworm and Grindal worm cultures.  I had to literally wash/rinse worms and start over with different containers after months of trying various ways to get rid of the flies.

Definitely not beginner fish.  Fascinating behavior, but also can be mean as Cruella DeVille.  They are often called “murder beans” for very good reason.

Edited by Odd Duck
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My 6 puffers did well in a heavily planted 20g long. I feed them black worms (love them because they will survive in the gravel for quite  awhile and the puffers always a food source), snails and frozen bloodworms. 

There were aggression issues once I increased their number from 6 to 8, so I moved them to a 40g breeder. I think having a ton of plants to break up line of sight and establish territories really helps.

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