How to Keep an Indian Dwarf Puffer

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The tiny freshwater puffer fish Carinotetraodon travancoricus goes by a handful of common names, among them pea puffer, Malabar puffer, pygmy puffer, dwarf puffer and Indian dwarf. The Indian dwarf puffer originates in India's Pamba River.

Tank Setup

Indian dwarf puffers, less than an inch long at adulthood, do best in a smaller tank, 10 gallons at most. They can get lost and have a hard time finding their food in a larger tank. Limit water movement, as dwarf puffers are weak swimmers. Lost of dense aquarium plants and other hiding places help them feel safe. They thrive in a group with a ratio of one male to two females.

Water Conditions

Indian dwarf puffers are not super-picky about their water conditions. The tropical species need water temperatures in the 70s. Indian dwarf puffers do not require a specific pH; they have spawned in both slightly acidic and slightly alkaline water. Unlike some puffers that are sold as freshwater puffers, Indian dwarf puffers should not have any salt added to their water. Ensure constant conditions regardless of the conditions' specifics: Avoid big changes in pH and temperature. Regular maintenance, including water changes twice a month, helps.


Indian dwarf puffers require specialized feeding. It's not easy to get them to accept anything other than live food, even sometimes frozen meaty foods. They will readily accept live foods like Daphnia, mosquito larvae and bloodworms. Indian dwarf puffers readily eat live brine shrimp, but as occasional treats only since they have poor nutritional value. Most puffers' beaks grow continuously, so their diet should include some hard-shelled items, like grocery store shellfish or small aquarium snails. This helps them keep their beaks groomed.

Tank Mates

While they are usually not as aggressive as many species of puffer fish, Indian dwarfs may nip on the fins of other fish. At the same time, they may have trouble competing with fast-moving fish for food. Additionally, their tiny size makes them food for many larger fish. A single-species aquarium is the safest bet for Indian dwarf puffers.

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