10 gallon dwarf puffer biotiope-ish setup - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 13 Old 11-21-2012, 01:56 PM Thread Starter
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10 gallon dwarf puffer biotiope-ish setup

I say biotope-ish because I'm not going to be overly strict - am going for general geographic area for plants, will likely use oak leaves as bottom litter to make them feel like they're in something close to their natural habitat, and will probably try some cherry shrimp in with them, too. If the puffers go after the cherries I'll put them in my work tank.

So... my plans are:
- 10 gallon tank, low tech planted
- Aquaclear 30 filter with sponge or pantyhose around the intake to protect puffers. (I have heard good things and I can adjust the flow rate so the puffers don't get blown around but yet get good filtration.)
- Unsure about lighting - thinking 2-3 wpg. Open to recommendations. Right now just have the stock light, not sure what the specs are.
- Planned temp: 80 deg
- My water tends to run 6.5-6.8 pH, and very soft. I believe this is OK for the puffers.

Plants: I am going off a list on a dwarf puffer website - plants generally from India/Sri Lanka.
- Crypts - lutea, wendtii or willisii
- Java fern
- Java moss (good for shrimp, too)
- Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides (love the look of this, never used before)
- Hygros - difformis, polysperma, or corymbosa
- Vallisneria tortifolia (dwarf vals - will probably definitely use as foreground?)

And I would like a floating plant - puffers like dim light, and I've found that most of my fish are comforted by floating plants. I think my options are:
- Salvinia natans
- the Hygro difformis (wisteria)
- or use one of the lotus plants and let them go to the surface (Nymphaea lotus or stellata)

Anyone have opinions with these plants? What about the floaters? I've never used lotus before. Would that be a good or bad idea for surface cover? Or I could keep them trimmed short so they don't reach the surface.

I'm mostly concerned with finding plants that will look right in proportion to the small size of the tank.

I want to go with a darker substrate, for looks but also because that was recommended for the biotope. Dark with some red/clay mixed in was what was specifically recommended, but not sure if I need to go that crazy. If I could find something fairly easy that would work, great.
- Are there any dark brown / red (iron red, not fire engine red) substrates that work well with live plants?
- I am considering: Eco-complete (planted red?), Flourite black sand, or any other fine substrate that looks even more natural than black - I'm thinking a dark brown / red or even a mix of two different color sands?

- Puffers love live blackworms, frozen bloodworms, occasional brine shrimp treat, and snails. I have a LFS that has the DPS so I'll find out what they eat.
- What do your puffers eat? How often do you feed snails? Do you feed them every day or every other?
I actually don't have any pest snails now since I had that pair of Laetacara - they were snail assassins. I only have MTS in my tank now, and I think I read that the puffers can't really get these guys. I could get some pond/pest snails and put them in my main tank, I guess. I really don't want to have a dedicated snail tank if I can help it. If I had to feed them regularly I would work it out, but if it only needs to supplement their diet, I'm sure I could take them off the hands of my LFS and / or pick them out of my 65 gallon if I put some in there and let them go to town.

I think that's it. :) Thanks for reading my novel and I'd appreciate any insight!

OH - one more thing - 2 puffers for a 10 gallon? Or should I try 3? I have read both and would love to know what your first-hand experiences have been.

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post #2 of 13 Old 11-21-2012, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, and some people say they love caves, others say they don't use them. Do your dwarves use caves and if so, what kind of caves?
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post #3 of 13 Old 11-21-2012, 03:25 PM
Sounds awesome! Looking forward to seeing it.

An Aquaclear 20 will be plenty, unless you already have a 30 laying around.

I don't know who ever said not to use caves for dwarf puffers. If you have enough plants that they don't need caves, that might be fine. But little caves certainly don't hurt.

Mine haven't each staked out one as their own territory (I have 2 small cichild stones and 1 hollow log for caves in my 10 gallon planted pea puffer tank). But they do spend all their time exploring the tank and are in and out of the caves on a regular basis.

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post #4 of 13 Old 11-21-2012, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, AC 20 it is.

It wasn't that they said not to use caves, but more that they weren't used by their fish. It certainly can't hurt to have a couple cichlid stones. There will be lots of plants and some driftwood, too.

Thanks! How many puffers do you have in your 10 gallon?
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post #5 of 13 Old 11-21-2012, 05:01 PM
I have 3. Boredorm keeps 4 in a 29, he doesn't keep it topped up.

My amazon puffers never used the caves but my dwarves do. I suspect as they get larger they may get more territorial and each might lay claim to one. For now, though, it just gives them a place to look around. I think Bored's were so aggressive one was killed in the bag on the way home. Mine have shown none of that yet. So far I haven't actually needed the caves.

I still have established media in the 10 gallon from seeding from an existing tank. I can't wait to get it out so I can add some plants.

I can't get over how small they are.

You can see the blue sponge I put on my intake. It get great flow and I have never noticed them being pulled toward the sponge at all.

You can't go wrong with these little guys! But they're so fast and blend in to the plants so well, sometimes I have to stare at the tank for 5 minutes to see all 3 at the same time.
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post #6 of 13 Old 11-21-2012, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Are they too young to sex?

I'm definitely going to have to sponge the filter or I might use pantyhose, which I've used bbefore with baby kkuhlis. (After I found two in my Ehiem canister!
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post #7 of 13 Old 11-21-2012, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry for typos, I'm on the iPad and your moving photos make it freeak out!! ;)
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post #8 of 13 Old 11-21-2012, 05:18 PM
Oops. Sorry.

I have been unable to figure out their sex yet.

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post #9 of 13 Old 11-21-2012, 05:54 PM
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general rule with pea puffersl 5 gallons for the first one then 2.5 gallons for anymore you may have. So i wouldn't put more then 3 in a 10 gallon. I have heard of ppl putting 4 in one ...
Like Canadian said i have 4 well had now i 3 in a 29 gallon but its only filled half way. I don't have caves cause mine in the past never reallly paid attention to them. Your tank sound like it is going to be great.

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post #10 of 13 Old 11-21-2012, 07:52 PM
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Thickly planted, very thickly planted, as these fish don't swim lengths but just sort of float among plants. On the plants, I wold not use Nymphaea lotus as this plant gets large; I have two in my 90g. This is a tank where Wisteria works well, as with its ferny leaves the Puffers can cruise in and out around all those pinnate leaves. Crypts are fine; pygmy chain sword works too though not authentic, if that matters.

While many fish have difficulty with Malaysian Livebearing snails, puffers can crunch up the smaller snails so they will keep the population down. I got a dwarf puffer by accident, it came in the bag with some pygmy corys, so I put it in the planted 10g with the corys. This tank had been teeming with MLS. But within a couple weeks, not a snail in site. Eventually I moved the puffer out, and left the tank with other fish; it took several weeks but the MLS began to reappear. So the lone puffer did a good job on keeping them reduced.

On the substrate, not much difference but I would go with black rather than red simply to provide a better backdrop for the puffers. What light do you have, fluorescent (tube) or screw-in bulb? If the former, a single T8 tube will suffice; a daylight with 6500K, or if you want to go with the higher-end tubes, a Life-Glo (Hagen) or UltraSun (ZooMed), both are 6700K. If screw-in, two 10w Daylight CFL bulbs.

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Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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