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Pea Puffers. The grumpy old men of the fish tank.


Rick Bunn
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I've seen them in single, double and 6 setup.   In the single setup, they do tend to get bored, but your idea of keeping them occupied would definitely help (like throwing in a ghost shrimp or two).  Watching two together they just chase each other "off their lawns" all day.

In my 20g long with 6, they shoal together on occasion other times, they will be in small groups.  I find this same behavior with my ottos (in another tank).  However, on occasion one chases another off, but that's the way it goes in life I guess as grumpy old men LOL.

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I have 3 in a 12 gallon. They have snails and red cherry shrimp in with them, both intended as a food source, but hunting is clearly entertaining them also.  They are super happy, with two fatter (likely females) and one smaller grumpier loner (likely male). The probable females occasionally hang out together, but sporadically face off from opposite corners of the tank. The male has mostly claimed the prime hunting ground of the centerpiece bonsai. He is hard to see among the leaves and I spend a significant amount of time playing find the puffer. The tank seems balanced, but my greedy little heart wishes I had MORE! 🙂

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I had mine in a single tank for a while and he did seem bored. He seems much happier and more outgoing in the live bearer community tank. I have noticed he picks on things that have similar coloration to him though - one poor platy in particular is a hated nemesis. 
 

I bought three more but they’re about 1/4th the size, so they are growing up in another guppy tank. I’ve noticed they do shoal a bit, but they’re just as likely to be in their own corners minding their own business as they are to be congregating somewhere. Maybe 6 is a magical number at which they become a marauding gang but I am not seeing proof of it being bad to keep less than that. It will be interesting to see how introducing these three younger ones goes. 

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Mine are not always shoaling, but they will do multiple small groups and occasionally scatter separately.  They still chase at each other on occasion/etc, but then there's times they will group up all together like that.  Its not often, but it does happen.  I'm not sure if 6 is a magical number other than the standard recommended shoaling number.  I don't think fish can count, so 🙂

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Okay, I have a 7 gallon planted cube, with 6 pygmy cories, 1 juvenile pea puffer, and several snails, intentional and unintentional.  I was debating about whether I should have another pea puffer in there, because it is tiny and seems like there is room for more, but I was told by the place where I got her that I shouldn't put another one in there.  She spends a fair amount of time surfing in the outwash from the sponge filter, also some glass surfing, and I was worried that she is not having enough enrichment (can hunt all the snails she wants, ignores the corries.  I'm stuffing a few more plants in there for cover, but should I get another puffer to be social with?  It's a new tank, so I want to be careful about stocking, I did actually put more fish in it sooner than I would have liked, but it seems to have settled down now, no ammonia no nitrite.

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I have 3 peas in a 20g planted breeder, with otos, hillstream loaches and snails. I call them the 3 amigos, the 3 stooges or murder beans, depending on the day. They can usually be found together, hunting snails and morsels of whatever they think looks edible. No fighting so far but I do have lots of line of sight breaks and hidey holes just in case things get rowdy.

 

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On 12/1/2020 at 6:12 PM, Rick Bunn said:

So a very common subject, that many in various social media groups tend to feel very strongly about, is just how social Pea Puffers really are.

The most common thing I have read lately is that they are indeed a shoaling fish and ABSOLUTELY MUST, be kept is groups of at least 6. Though commonly enough among experienced keepers I hear of them being kept successfully in smaller groups or even on their own.

My own experience has led me to believe, that the actual numbers kept matter far less, than many think IF you keep them occupied. For they are the cantankerous old men of the fish world. One all alone in a five gallon tank with nothing to do, well he gets depressed, doesn't eat as well, sulks around a lot. Throw some dang hippy ghost shrimp in there, and suddenly he is busy all day long keeping those dang kids off his lawn! You put two together, and I guarantee, they will eventually be in opposing political parties, and quarrel nonstop. Unless once again you give them enough darn hippies to chase around and keep in line. You get 3 or more, and they form teams to argue amongst themselves like a group of old timers at the corner coffee shop on a Friday morning. Though these alliances are constantly shifting as the topic of the moment changes, so no single fish takes on more than they can handle, and once again they will drop whatever argument is going on at the moment to band together, and keep those dirty ghost shrimp off the java moss!

So are they truly a shoaling species? I don't know. What I do know from my own experience, is that they are born into retirement, and are just overly intelligent to be left with nothing to do all day. So keeping them occupied is like having a checker board at a retirement home, it goes a long way to keeping the peace.

 

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I have 5 pea puffers. They are alone in a 20 long. 2 guys, 3 gals. They spar and that’s about it. They have such great personalities. I also own Amazon puffers and spotted Congo Puffers. I a total nerm..... so I would like eventually like to have just puffers, frogs, turtles and cichlids. I have all of them already . My fish room always changes everyday. Since I do own 3 types of puffers, I’d say the peas are the easiest and not as shy as the others. I’m a sucka for a puffer ya

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11 hours ago, Jdogtrainer said:

14 gallon heavily planted cube with 4 pea puffers, 2 male endlers, 2 kuhli loaches, 3 otos, and a bunch of cherry shrimp. As happy as can be.

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Is that the Aqueon cube?  I'm trying to convince my son to add a couple more yet :).  I like it.

 

11 hours ago, Deegkeepsfishers said:

Does anyone keep more than 6?  I would be interested to know what a larger group behaved like and also tank size they are in. I am trying to do all the research I can. I would definately like to keep them soon!

I dont see why one couldn't.  Many people recommend 6 at a 20g long - However, based on my observation, probably could do 8.  I see huge groups of them at the fish store (and no planted areas) so they really dont get a chance to claim a space.  I've thought about my 40gallon I have just getting tons of them in to watch LOL.

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My husband and I are fascinated by Pea Puffers but don't own any yet. We're new to fish keeping since February this year and wondering if a pea puffer can be kept in a community tank with Gourami, cory's, bristlenose pleco, guppies, and platy's? If so, would you recommend just one or more? It's a planted 75 G with a sump.

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 I have a single pea puffer in a 20L (looking to add more but i only know of one store near me that carries them and they dont get many on stocking day) and its is in with a group and neon tetras and cherry shrimp and seems to enjoy hanging out with the neons. (itll sit in the neon school) and then sometimes itll go zooming through them. I have a lone cherry shrimp in the tank but now i feel i need to get more "hippies" for it to chase. There is probably like 300 ramshorn and bladder snails in the tank for it but it would rather hunt the water fleas flitting around the tank. 

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6 hours ago, A Payne said:

My husband and I are fascinated by Pea Puffers but don't own any yet. We're new to fish keeping since February this year and wondering if a pea puffer can be kept in a community tank with Gourami, cory's, bristlenose pleco, guppies, and platy's? If so, would you recommend just one or more? It's a planted 75 G with a sump.

Is it possible for them to thrive in a community tank? Yes, aaaannnnd No. It really depends on many variables. In a 75 G I would rather see you get a few , as that gives them plenty of room to spread out, and yet they can still gang together and compete with the more active of those tankmates, OR they could possibly be a total terror to everything else in there.  My recommendation would be to do what you feel comfortable with, but have a back up plan. Maybe get one, and see what happens, if it goes well get another couple and see how it goes. BUT....I would have a backup tank to move them to if things get violent.

If you get some I would love to hear how it goes. Either way welcome to the hobby and I hope you have great success, and never let set backs drive you away. Every tank is a brand new experiment, no matter how long you have been keeping them.

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6 hours ago, H.K.Luterman said:

I have a lone one in a 5 gal, but I've often wondered if he'd be happier in my 29 gal guppy tank. There's a bajillion snails he could eat and tons of nooks and crannies he could explore. I just wasn't sure if he'd get along with the guppies. 

It would probably nip at the guppies, and would eat guppy fry. I wouldn't recommend it personally. Though it sounds like you have a good supply of snails to feed to him. 

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