Figure 8 Puffer: Tropical Fish for Brackish Aquariums (2024)

Figure 8 Puffer: Tropical Fish for Brackish Aquariums (1)

Brackish Fish, Marine Fish

Latin name:

(Tetraodon biocellatus)

Preferred Conditions

Avg. Max Size


Minimum Tank Size

30 gallons



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Figure 8 Puffer: Tropical Fish for Brackish Aquariums (2)

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Are you fascinated by the captivating Figure 8 Puffer fish? With their distinct appearance and intriguing behaviors, these creatures have captured the hearts of many aquarium enthusiasts. However, before you embark on the journey of owning one, it’s essential to understand their unique needs and how to provide them with the best possible care.

Figure 8 Puffer: An Overview

The Figure 8 Puffer, scientifically known as Tetraodon biocellatus, is a species of pufferfish native to the brackish waters of Southeast Asia. They are characterized by their distinctive figure-eight-shaped pattern on their backs, which gives them their common name. These fish are relatively small, typically reaching a maximum size of around 6 inches in length.

Physical Characteristics

  • Body Shape: The Figure 8 Puffer has a compact, oval-shaped body with a rounded belly.
  • Coloration: Their coloration can vary, but they typically have a greenish-brown base with a striking figure-eight-shaped pattern on their backs. Some individuals may also have spots or stripes.
  • Eyes: They possess large, expressive eyes that can rotate independently, allowing them to have a wide field of vision.
  • Teeth: Like other pufferfish, they have four strong, fused teeth that form a beak-like structure used for crushing prey.

Behavior and Temperament

  • Activity Level: Figure 8 Puffers are generally active and playful fish that enjoy swimming and exploring their environment.
  • Temperament: They can be territorial and aggressive towards other fish, especially those of similar size or appearance. Therefore, it’s best to keep them in a species-only tank.
  • Intelligence: These fish are considered to be intelligent and can recognize their owners and even learn tricks.

Caring for Your Figure 8 Puffer

Providing proper care for your Figure 8 Puffer is essential for their well-being and longevity. Here are some key aspects to consider:

Habitat Requirements

  • Tank Size: A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for a single Figure 8 Puffer. However, a larger tank is always better, as it provides more swimming space and reduces the risk of aggression.
  • Water Parameters: They prefer brackish water conditions, with a specific gravity of around 1.005 to 1.010. The pH should be between 7.5 and 8.5, and the temperature should be maintained between 78°F and 82°F.
  • Filtration and Water Changes: A powerful filtration system is crucial to maintain water quality. Regular water changes of around 10-15% every week are also necessary to remove waste and replenish essential minerals.
  • Substrate: A soft, sandy substrate is ideal for Figure 8 Puffers, as they like to burrow and sift through the sand.
  • Decorations: Provide plenty of hiding places, such as rocks, caves, and driftwood, to help reduce stress and provide a sense of security.

Diet and Nutrition

  • Food Type: Figure 8 Puffers are carnivorous and require a varied diet consisting of live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and chopped seafood. Occasional treats of freeze-dried or pellet foods can also be offered.
  • Feeding Schedule: Feed your Figure 8 Puffer small amounts several times a day, rather than one large meal. This helps prevent overeating and digestive issues.
  • Variety: Offering a variety of foods is essential to ensure your puffer is getting all the nutrients it needs.

Tank Mates

Due to their aggressive nature, Figure 8 Puffers are best kept in a species-only tank. However, if you want to introduce tank mates, choose peaceful and non-aggressive species that are significantly smaller in size to avoid any potential conflicts.

Common Health Issues

Figure 8 Puffers are generally hardy fish, but they can be susceptible to certain health issues, including:

  • Ich: A common parasitic infection that causes white spots on the body and fins.
  • Fin Rot: A bacterial infection that causes the fins to become ragged and deteriorate.
  • Dropsy: A condition that causes the body to swell with fluid.

Regular monitoring of your puffer’s health and prompt treatment of any signs of illness are essential for their well-being.

FAQs About Figure 8 Puffers

  1. Q: How long do Figure 8 Puffers live?
    A: With proper care, Figure 8 Puffers can live for up to 10 years in captivity.
  2. Q: Can Figure 8 Puffers be kept with other fish?
    A: Due to their aggressive nature, it’s best to keep Figure 8 Puffers in a species-only tank. However, if you want to introduce tank mates, choose peaceful and non-aggressive species that are significantly smaller in size.
  3. Q: What is the best diet for Figure 8 Puffers?
    A: Figure 8 Puffers are carnivorous and require a varied diet consisting of live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and chopped seafood. Occasional treats of freeze-dried or pellet foods can also be offered.


Figure 8 Puffers are fascinating and unique creatures that can make captivating additions to any aquarium. However, their specific care requirements and aggressive nature make them suitable only for experienced aquarists. By providing them with the proper habitat, diet, and tank mates, you can ensure that your Figure 8 Puffer thrives and brings you years of enjoyment.

Figure 8 Puffer: Tropical Fish for Brackish Aquariums (2024)


Do figure 8 puffers need brackish water? ›

They originate in the fresh waters of Southeast Asia, and although they tolerate brackish or even full saltwater, they may fare better in freshwater. Others have reported the opposite, stating that salinity in the Specific Gravity range of 1.005 to 1.008 will significantly extend the lifespan of the figure-8 puffer.

How many figure 8 puffers in a tank? ›

Figure 8's are a better choice for most aquarists than the GSP because their requirements are easier to meet. These puffers will only grow to about half the size of a GSP, thus they need only half the space. 15 gallons is sufficient for one puffer, with 10 gallons more for each additional puffer.

Can figure 8 puffers live in salt water? ›

Figure 8 puffers are fully brackish fish. Yes they have been caught outside brackish waters in full salt or fresh, but records show they only venture their for a short time. The salinity they live in is 1.004-1.016 anything lower or higher for long and you will kill their kidneys.

Can you keep multiple figure 8 puffers together? ›

If keeping multiple figure 8 puffers together, it would be best to start them out together as juveniles and let them grow up together. Older puffers may not tolerate the addition of new puffer tankmates.

How do you make brackish water for Figure 8 puffer fish? ›

If you want brackish water from the start, fill 80% of the tank with fresh water and scoop in 2 tablespoons (Tbsp) of reef salt per gallon of water. Let the filter or powerhead circulation dissolve the salt, and then check the specific gravity after approximately 8 hours.

What is the best substrate for Figure 8 puffer? ›

Puffers are highly active fish, but like all fish they are prone to stress related illness, so they need to feel secure in their new environment. The best environment is a sand or gravel substrate with lots of live or plastic plants for them to hide in.

How big of a tank does a Figure 8 puffer need? ›

I'd do 20-30 gallons.

How long do Figure 8 puffer fish live? ›

With a salinity of between 1.005 and 1.008 specific gravity (S.G.), the lifespan of this species has been as long as 15 years. As with all puffer fish, they require a complex aquarium set up consisting of many nooks and crannies. This helps figure 8 puffers to behave as they would in nature, and reduce boredom.

Are figure 8 puffers aggressive? ›

The figure of 8 pufferfish is a peaceful member of the often aggressive puffer family (Tetraodontidae). They are able to inflate themselves with water or air when under stress or threatened, This can be intimidating to predators as they struggle to eat the inflated fish.

How often do you feed Figure 8 puffer fish? ›

Re: How frequently to feed baby Figure 8

You should feed once a day until the belly is nice and round... But, instead of one large meal you could to two medium/small meals. Remember to feed 6 days and then 1 fast day... over feeding a puffer is easy to do and very harmful.

What are the water conditions for Figure 8 puffer fish? ›

The main requirement for a Figure 8 Puffer tank is, of course, that it be brackish water. Aside from that, keep in mind that this species if a warm-water tropical fish so you should plan to maintain a tank temperature around 78°F.

What is the easiest saltwater puffer fish to keep? ›

Toby puffers from the genus Canthigaster, like the Valentini puffer, would be a great choice. Also known as the saddled puffer or sharpnose puffer, this species only reaches about 4.5” in length, making it a lot more manageable than many other pufferfish. Your Valentini puffer will need an aquarium of 30 gallons or up.

Can you touch a Figure 8 puffer? ›

Can I touch a puffer fish? Yes. There is no poison unless you eat pufferfish.

How hardy are figure 8 puffers? ›

This puffer is moderately hardy. They are are prone to ich in dirty water and can deal well in a range of temperatures.

What water parameters do Figure 8 puffers need? ›

Brackish. Hard & alkaline. pH: 7.2-8.2, dH: 12-25 degrees.

Do puffer fish need brackish water? ›

Brackish water puffers can be adapted to freshwater, but when kept this way, they tend to be more susceptible to diseases, especially ecto-parasites like Ich and Oodinium. If the aquarium is kept in a room below 74°, use an Aqueon Aquarium Heater to maintain the correct water temperature.

Do freshwater puffer fish need brackish water? ›

Care Guide for Amazon Puffers – Freshwater Puffer for Community Tanks. Puffers are fascinating fish in the aquarium hobby because of their unusual, globelike shape and intelligent personalities, but many species grow incredibly large, require brackish water, or are too aggressive to be kept with other tankmates.

Can puffer fish survive in freshwater? ›

Pufferfish are well-known for their ability to “puff up” into a round, sometimes spiky ball. Some people also know them for the poison their bodies hold. These unique fish are usually found in shallow ocean water, but a few species are found in freshwater.


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