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Hairy Puffer Tank Setup | Everything In Nut-Shell |

Since hairy puffers are rare and unusual, they require a dedicated setup with specific conditions that must be met. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about hairy puffer tank setup.

Hairy puffer can be the right fish for those who love rarity and adventure at home. They are not as common as other pufferfish species, and their care requires a bit more effort. Still, these unusual creatures will definitely add an extra dimension to your aquarium.

hairy puffer tank setup

Why hairy puffers as pet fish?

Why not? Hairy puffers are not as attractive as most other aquarium fish because they have a rather dull coloration. They are also not as social since they spend most of their time hiding in caves or other secluded places.

However, their unique appearance and behavior can be quite entertaining to watch. They are also very intelligent fish and can learn tricks and tasks.

Hairy puffers are popular in the aquarium trade for their cirri, which are long, thin, hair-like growths on their bodies. These cirri help the fish camouflage in their environment and protect them from predators.

These fish often disguises themselves as plants or other objects in their tanks. When startled, they will often puff up their bodies to make themselves look bigger and more intimidating. This is how they got their name!

Hairy puffers are not recommended for beginner aquarists because they are susceptible to environmental changes. They are also known to be escape artists, so their tanks must be well-sealed.


Hairy puffers are native to brackish and freshwater habitats in Southeast Asia. In the wild, you can find them in rivers, estuaries, and mangrove forests. They are often found in the main Mekong River and its tributaries.

In the wild, they prefer slow-moving waters with plenty of hiding places. However, they prefer well-oxygenated waters with medium to strong flow in captivity. They often hide among rocks, roots, and plants in the wild.

In captivity, hairy puffers should be kept in good-sized mature tanks with plenty of hiding places. They are timid fish and will often spend most of their time hiding if they feel exposed.

The aquarium must have a tight-fitting lid to prevent the fish from escaping. Hairy puffers are known as escape artists and will often try to jump out of their tanks if given the opportunity.

Water Conditions

Hairy puffers are very hardy fish and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. However, hairy puffers prefer slightly brackish water with a salinity of below 1ppt. They can also tolerate fully freshwater conditions, but this is not ideal.

The water should be well-oxygenated with a medium to high flow. You should keep the temperature between 23-26 degrees Celsius.

The ideal pH range is between 6.5 – 7.5. However, somewhere in the middle is fine. dGH should be between 5 to 12.

Hairy puffers are sensitive to poor water quality. Therefore, the water should be kept clean and free of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Below are ideal nutrient levels,

  • NH3/NH4+: 0ppm
  • N03: below 15ppm
  • N02: 0ppm

How Big Do Hairy Puffers Get?

Hairy puffers grow to an average size of around 10-15 cm. However, they have been known to reach sizes of up to 20 cm in the wild.

Further, these fish are known to inflate themselves when they feel threatened. When they do this, they can double or triple in size.

How Long Do Hairy Puffers Live?

In captivity, hairy puffers can live for up to 5+ years with proper care. However, hairy puffers have been known to live for much longer in the wild.

Are Puffer Fish Hard To Keep?

Pufferfish are hardy fish. Hence they are relatively easy to keep. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Pufferfish are very sensitive to changes in their environment. Therefore, it is important to maintain stable water conditions in their tank.
  • They are also known to be escape artists and will often try to jump out of their tanks if given the opportunity. Therefore, their tanks must have a tight-fitting lid to prevent them from jumping out.
  • Pufferfish are also known to be toxic. Therefore, it is important to avoid handling them with your bare hands. If you must handle them, it is important to wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
  • Pufferfish are also known to be aggressive towards other tank mates. Therefore, they will only suit in a species only tank.

Pufferfish are not recommended for beginner aquarists because of their sensitive nature and potential toxicity. However, they can make great pets for experienced aquarists who are willing to provide them with the proper care.

How Big Of A Tank Do I Need For A Puffer? (Hairy Puffer Tank Size)

Although this is a medium-sized fish, it requires a minimum of 30 gallons due to its nature. If you want to keep more hairy puffers, a 55-gallon or larger aquarium is recommended as they are known to be aggressive towards other fish.

For one hairy puffer, the tank should be 80cm (31.5 inches) long by 35cm (13.78 inches) wide, with a height of 40cm (15.75 inches).

Can You Put 2 Puffer Fish Together?

You can not keep two hairy puffers together, especially if it is a small tank. They might not have enough space to swim and explore, which will lead to aggression.

You might be able to keep two puffers of different genders together in a very large tank. Still, it is not recommended as they are known to be very aggressive towards each other (even with different species).

Hairy Puffer Tank Setup

These fish often stay near the substrate disguised in the sand or gravel. Therefore, the tank should have a sandy substrate with some rocks and driftwood for them to hide in.

The best type of aquarium for hairy puffer is a biotope aquarium with plenty of hiding places.

Providing them with plenty of hiding places is critical because bright lighting and sudden movements can easily stress them out.


Hairy puffers are a wallowing species. So, their substrate should be very soft. You can use a soft sandy substrate for the bottom.

You can add some smooth, water-worn rocks to give it a more natural look. Avoid any sharp or coarse objects at all costs because hairy puffers can easily get hurt as they have a scaleless bodies.

As with substrate depth, you should aim for a layer that is at least 2-3 inches deep. This will give them enough room to wallow and play without being bothered by the bright light.


These fish require lots of hiding places in their surroundings. Add plenty of rocks, caves, crevices, or other decorations for them to hide in. If you wish, you can add some live or fake plants to the tank. Hairy puffers will not bother live plants and will appreciate them.

Driftwood is also a good addition to the tank as it provides hiding places for the fish and helps lower the water’s pH.


Hairy puffers do not require special lighting. A standard aquarium light will suffice. However, it is important to avoid bright lights as they can be stressful for the fish.


Due to the sensitive nature of hairy puffers, it is important to use a good filter that will provide them with clean and stable water conditions.

A canister filter or a hang-on-back filter will work well for this purpose.

The water flow of your tank should not be too strong as hairy puffers are not a fan of fast-moving water. A moderate water flow is ideal.

Tank lid

The tank must have a tight-fitting lid to keep them from jumping out of the tank.

What Do Hairy Puffers Eat?

Hairy puffers are carnivores and will typically eat live food such as earthworms, brine shrimp, and krill.

They are also opportunistic feeders and eat just about anything they can find in their tank. This includes snails, fish, and even other puffers. Luckily, these fish will accept both live and frozen foods.

It is important to feed hairy puffers various foods to ensure they get all the necessary nutrients. Further, you should often feed them with unshelled shellfish like crabs and mussels to keep their teeth sharp and strong.

How Often Should I Feed My Hairy Puffer?

Hairy puffers should be fed 2-3 times per week. They should only be given as much food as they can eat in a few minutes.

Overfeeding your fish can lead to obesity and other health problems.

Hairy Puffer Tank Mates

Due to their aggressive nature, hairy puffers are not recommended for community tanks.

Hairy puffers are best kept alone or with other aggressive fish. Still, the safety of other fish is not guaranteed as these fish can rip the other fish off with their beak-like mouths.

Hairy puffers may cohabit as a mated pair with fish of the same species. Still, it is not advisable to place two together unless the tank is very large (at least 55 gallons). If you keep a mated pair, be prepared to remove one of the fish if they start fighting.

Hairy Puffer Care Tips

Hairy puffers are a rare and expensive addition to an aquarium. Therefore, these fish require a bit of care and attention. Here are a few pieces of advice to keep your hairy puffer healthy and happy:

Keep the water clean and well-filtered.

Since hairy puffers are scaleless fish, they are very sensitive to water conditions. Therefore, it is important to keep the water clean and well-filtered at all times.

A good filter will go a long way in keeping the water clean and ensuring the health of your fish.

Avoid sudden changes in temperature or pH.

Hairy puffers are also sensitive to changes in temperature and pH. Therefore, it is important to avoid sudden changes in these water parameters.

If you need to make a change, do so slowly and carefully to avoid stressing or harming your fish.

Feed them a variety of foods.

As mentioned earlier, it is important to feed your hairy puffer various foods to ensure they get all the nutrients they need. A diet that consists of live, frozen, and dry foods is ideal.

You should also feed them unshelled shellfish often to keep their teeth sharp and strong.

Avoid keeping them with other fish due to their aggressive nature.

Hairy puffers are very aggressive and intolerant fish that can massacre tank mates. Therefore, it is best to avoid keeping them with other fish.

If you do keep them with other fish, be prepared to lose them soon as these fish are known to predate and rip other fish apart.

If you keep a mated pair, keep some sort of tank divider handy in case they start fighting.

Provide hiding spots.

Since hairy puffers are shy fish, it is important to provide them with plenty of hiding spots in their tank. This will help your fish feel safe and secure and reduce their stress levels.

You can create hiding spots with rocks, plants, and other aquarium décor.

Be careful while handling these fish.

Hairy puffers have a toxin in their skin that can irritate if it comes into contact with your skin. Therefore, it is vital to be careful while handling these fish.

It is best to use gloves or a net when handling these fish. If your skin comes into contact with their skin, cleanse the area as quickly as possible with soap and water.

Monitor closely for signs of stress or illness.

Since hairy puffers are sensitive fish, they are prone to stress and illness. Therefore, monitoring them closely for any signs of stress or illness is important.

Some common signs of stress or illness include lethargy, lack of appetite, and abnormal swimming behavior.

If you notice any odd signs and symptoms, please consult a licensed aquarium professional or veterinarian as soon as possible.

Hairy Puffers Interesting Facts

  • Hairy puffers can inflate their stomach with water or air when startled. This is usually done to scare away predators or to make themselves look bigger.
  • Hairy puffers can camouflage themselves by changing their skin color.
  • Hairy puffers are also known as blowfish, balloon fish, and bubble fish.
  • Hairy puffers are known to contain the deadly toxin tetrodotoxin. When consumed in sufficient quantities, this toxin can cause paralysis and even death in humans. Therefore, it is vital to be careful while handling these fish.


Hairy puffers are a unique and interesting addition to an aquarium. However, they require a bit of care and attention due to their sensitive nature. By following this article on “hairy puffer tank setup”, you can help ensure your hairy puffer stays healthy and happy for many years to come.

Credit to : Steenfott Aquatics
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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.