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Bullseye Puffer (Sphoeroides annulatus)

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Hello all,

My wife just got me a Bullseye Puffer (Sphoeroides annulatus) for my birthday, his(?) eyes are absolutely gorgeous blue, red, and yellow.

I was hoping someone here had experience with them and could answer a few questions. As usual most of the general internet stuff is either obvious bosh, conflicting or just plain vague. 

I believe they are one of the larger species and get between 12 and 16 inches in length and mature at 4-6 inches in size.  They are also listed as freshwater brackish water and saltwater they migrate to saltier conditions as they mature. My main question is whether or not the move to a more saline environment is necessary and if so how and when to make the transition. I have found answers that say they can be kept entirely in fresh water, that brackish water is a must but good enough, and also that they must be in full salt water as adults.  Most of the trustworthy information i have found considers them to be an estuarine species and capable of tolerating the obvious wide swings in salinity that entails.  My guess is that for this reason they can thrive in any of the three water types with some staying in the fresh water wile others migrate all the way to full ocean salt.

I was full on cichlid guy until i got a batch of murder beans last year (they are some of the least aggressive fish i have ever seen, the chili Rasboras i have with them are actually the ones that are chasing them) and i am becoming a puffer fan. I think my ideal tank right now would have my Oscar Gramps, (my grandfather was Oscar) and a school of 5 or 6 Amazon puffers together.  







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Well this is a rather rare specimen! Very cute!


Unfortunately all I can find for proper rearing protocol is aquaculture so take that with a grain of salt but here are some articles:


As for the tolerance of freshwater for euryhaline species, science is still kind of *shrugs* not 100% confident in how to properly rear them in captivity. I’d say providing this puffer with some salt with the intention to go full marine in adulthood would be suitable. Or low end marine high end brackish: 1.024. Knowing that unlike saltwater puffers you can kinda neglect the salt ratio in the tank. Euryhaline fish posses remarkable gill structures that allow them to adapt very quickly (~30 minutes) to changing salinity measures. 

How and when: gradually increase the salinity or when it needs a new bigger tank adjust the salinity there and have it cycled and ready to go. Use marine bacteria starts to get the cycle going. Saltwater is a bit slower paced than freshwater so be patient. Doesn’t really seem to matter at what age they incrementally go up. So do it in your own time


What cannot be neglected is water quality and since these are a large puffer they will likely be dining on clam, crabs, octopus. Id leave crab and clam bits in the shell. With help from one good thwack from a shell hammer to allow the puffer to grind its teeth and also give it very much needed enrichment. As babies they are okay on brine shrimp and other smaller crustacea. Frozen foods will likely be your best bet.


Vacuum up any bits left over afterwards.  Enrichment is the key to a happy puffer. As you may be well aware. Give it attention, toys, and things to do or they will throw temper tantrums.


I think that’s all I got good luck!

Edited by Biotope Biologist
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