Tetraodon Palustris Puffer Fish Care & Species Profile

Tetraodon palustris puffer, also known as Mekong River Puffer (Pao cf. palustris) is a stunning and unique freshwater puffer that comes from the Greater Mekong Basin in Thailand and Cambodia.

This is a mid-sized and smart freshwater species that is certain to be a wonderful addition to any aquarium.

The Mekong River Puffer is typically located in shallow water areas with a significant amount of vegetation.

As with most puffers, they utilise their sharp, strong beaks to hunt for and consume insects, molluscs, as well as crustaceans.

In the aquarium they are a tough species and are able to be kept together, however, like most species of puffers, having other tank mates could pose a risk.

When they are in the wild, they feed on snails, clams as well as other crustaceans. They require regular feedings using hard-shelled predators in the aquarium to prevent their teeth from growing too much.

The species is native to Thailand. The tetraodon palustris puffer is among the most distinctive pufferfish species in the world.

Because of their large size as well as the tendency to consume live snails, tetraodon palustris puffers have been well-known among aquarists and fishkeepers in recent times. But, their popularity has resulted in their designation as a threatened, vulnerable species since the majority of specimens are found from the wild.

Tetraodon Palustris Puffer Facts & Overview

Care Level:Intermediate
Temperament:Territorial and aggressive
Colour Form:Sexually Dimorphic. Males tend to be darker and feature white reticulated patterns on the belly. The belly of females has a white background, with small black spots.
Lifespan:7 years old
Adult Size:4 inches
Diet:Predators feed on insects, crustaceans, fish and other crustaceans when they are in a wild environment. In aquariums, they can eat various frozen food items.
Recommended Tank Size:30 gallons
Tank Set-Up:A lot of plants
Compatibility:Freshwater tropical. They are not as aggressive as other puffers. However, tankmates must be picked with caution.
Origin:Wild Thailand
Locale:Chao Phraya River drainage
Preferred Water Parameters
pH6.8 – 7.5

Tetraodon palustris is a species found in The middle Mekong basin located in Thailand. It is found in marshes and swamps that have crystal clear water that is stagnant and clear and is surrounded by numerous aquatic plants.

The Latin term palustris refers to the swamp or marsh and refers to the principal habitat of this species that lives in swamps, marshlands and floodplains.

It is among the smartest members of the family that can grow to the dimension of 4 inches.

Their tiny size and their longevity of up to seven years, among other things, have led to the popularity of this species to increase over the last several decades.

However, this has led to wild-caught specimens being taken and has led to this species being classified as susceptible to being extinct. This is the reason it’s crucial to source your fish from a reliable location that breeds them in captive conditions.

They can be bought at around $60 per fish.

We suggest buying from a local fish market because this will give you the opportunity to choose healthier fish.

These fish are truly captivating small creatures. In addition to being capable of changing colour, Tetraodon palustris Puffer Fish are also able to use their eyes in a way that is independent of each other.


Tetraodon Palustris puffers appear to be Sexually Dimorphic. Males are darker in general and sport white reticulated patterns on the belly of black. The female’s belly is white with tiny black spots.

They can grow to an average size of 4 inches. This is why they are among the most adorable and medium-sized Pufferfish species found on earth.

They are both round in the body and thin at the back of the dorsal and anterior fins. When you examine them, you will notice their big eyes for their size.

Typical Behaviour

Female Tetraodon Palustris Pufferfish are extremely territorial and aggressive toward one another, which is why it is essential to keep the fish that you keep just one male and a number of females.

This can reduce aggression and encourage breeding.

Contrary to numerous kinds of Tetraodontiformes that are solitary species of fish, Tetraodon Palustris are actually social species that can be present in huge groups.

They cover all the areas of the tank. They can be seen in and in the plants as well as outdoors, looking for food. They are curious and are attentive to the surroundings of the tank and the activities you do outside.

Within Kud Thing Marsh, it is located along with T. suvattii and about. 17 other fish species; i.e., Rasbora trilineata, Hampala dispar, Clupeichthys aesarnensis, Amblypharyngodon chulabhornae, Puntius brevis, Osteochilus vittatus, Trichopodus trichopterus, Parambassis siamensis, Mystus Mysticetus, Clarias macrocephalus, Neodontobutis aurarmus, Doryichthys contiguous, Indostomus spinosus, Nandus oxyrhynchus, Pristolepis fasciata, Oryzias mekongensis and Brachygobius mekongensis.

8 live species that belong to T. palustris, from Kud Thing Marsh, were kept in an aquarium to study their behaviour. They spent the majority of their time in the shade of roots or in dense clusters of submerged plants.

Tetraodon palustris, a brand new freshwater pufferfish species

Tetraodon palustris puffer is a novel species discovered by the Mekong basin in Thailand.

Tetraodon palustris is different from T. cochinchinensis and T. fangi in having no ocellus along the flank. It also has spinules that run dorsally from the interorbital area to the bottom of the dorsal fin’s base.

T. Etraodon cochinchinensis is distinct in comparison to T. fangi due to having an extended snout (43.5-49.2 per cent of HL in T. cochinchinensis vs. 37.9-41.1% within T. fangi) and is covered by spinules that run dorsally from to the nose’s front up to the end of the dorsal fin’s base (vs. between the anterior part of the eye towards at the top of the dorsal fin base, in T. fangi).

New species, Mekong basin Introduction to Studies on freshwater pufferfish of the Genus Tetraodon that are found in the Mekong Basin of Thailand are found in only a handful of papers that have been published.

Sontirat (1989) revealed two novel species Tetraodon baileyi as well as T. suvattii, and Roberts (1998) updated the Tetraodon genus. Tetraodon that is found in Tetraodon from the Mekong basin in Thailand and Laos with the first description of T. Abei as well as T. barbatus, as well as revising T. baileyi, T. leiurus, and T. suvattii.

Tetraodon abei is located throughout the Mekong and Chao Phraya basins while T. barbatus is only known as a species found in the Mekong basin.

An ichthyological study was conducted from the beginning of January 2011 until December 2012 within the Mekong basin, located in northern Thailand The researchers collected an unidentified freshwater pufferfish belonging to the Genus Tetraodon from swamps and marshes.

The shape and the colour patterns of the specimens are different from the earlier reports of Tetraodon of the Mekong basin. The newly discovered species will be described in the form of Tetraodon palustris.

The majority of the fishes used in the research came collected from the National Inland Fisheries Institute (NIFI), Kasetsart Museum of Fisheries (KUMF) as well as the ones that were collected by the authors between the years 2009-2012.

Only specimens that were neither or only slightly inflated were analysed. Measurements and counts of fin-rays were taken from one side of the specimens.

Measurements were recorded from point to point with dial dials and the information was stored to tenths of a millimetre.

Standard length, length total, dorsal fin base length, the length of the snout, head length, distance between the orbits the diameter of the eye, the mouth width, pectoral dorsal, anal and caudal fin ray measurements were done according to the Dekkers (1975).

Other measurements included internasal length and interopercular distance, head width and depth at preorbital, postorbital, and nape, interpectoral-fin length; the prepectoral, predorsal, and lengths of the preanal-fin; pectoral- dorsal and anal-fin base lengths; the width and depth of the body in the middle of the dorsal fin, and the size, depth and width.

Head subunits are listed as a percentage of the length of the head (%HL) and measure the length of the heading and the measurement of the head.

Habitat and Tank Requirements

Tetraodon Palustris is an attractive and rare freshwater puffer that comes from in the Greater Mekong Basin in Thailand and Cambodia.

The Mekong River Puffer is typically located in shallow water areas with a significant amount of vegetation.

As with most puffers, they make use of their sharp, powerful beaks to hunt for and consume insects, molluscs and crustaceans.

In the aquarium they are a robust species that can be kept in groups however, like most species of puffers, any others in the tank can be dangerous.

When they are in the wild, they eat on clams, snails, and other crustaceans. They require frequent feedings of prey that have a hard shell in the aquarium to prevent their teeth from gaining too much size.

It is believed that the Tetraodon palustris puffer is found in the Mekong river, lakes and estuaries of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. The water’s conditions vary for everybody of water with a pH range of 6.8 to 7.5 as well as an average temperature of 77 degrees. But, certain parts have been found to exceed 85 degrees F.

The fish can be seen in the somewhat brackish waters of estuaries in Thailand However, they aren’t brackish waters fish and shouldn’t be kept in these conditions in your aquarium in your home because this could lower their lifespan.

Their home area receives approximately 12 hours of sunshine during the summer season and decreased to 10.5 hours in the winter months.

They prefer waters that flow slowly and still lakes in banks with ample plant life to shield their bodies from the water and also predation.

In these densely established areas, these clever small hunters take care of their grazing as well as breeding.

Tank Setup

In your aquarium, strive to keep tetraodon palustris pufferfish in freshwater, with temperatures between 74 and 80F. the pH of your water should be kept between 6.8 to 7.5.

If you have the filter that has the ability to adjust the water outlet, put it toward the rear of the tank, keeping the flow of water to an absolute minimum.

The substrate must be coarse sand or small-sized gravel that allows room for the plant’s roots to grow.

In the case of plants the more you incorporate the better since it provides the impression of a natural environment for your fish and promotes breeding in addition to providing plenty of oxygen in the water to allow the fish to breathe.

Plants such as Anubias Nana, Stargrass, Cabomba along Java Moss are all great choices, but there are many other options to pick from.

It is possible to buy long aquascape tweezers as well as scissors to maintain and plant new plants once you have fish already inside the aquarium to avoid getting bitten by their razor-sharp beaks.

Tetraodon palustris Puffer Tank Size

The minimum size of the aquarium that is recommended for a tetraodon puffer is a 30-gallon tank.

A breeding set-up should be 120 gallons. This will give plenty of space for a male that is housed along with three females.

Each 30-gallon water in your aquarium should be able to house one puffer of tetraodon palustris.

Tank Mates

The wild habitat of the species can be seen in river systems that are populated by other freshwater fishes, such as Filament Barbs, long-finned Barbs, Paral Fish, Malabar Leaf Fish, and Orange Chromite.

While it is feasible for them to be kept in a group tank, we would recommend that they be kept in a separate species-only aquarium because of their territorial and aggressive behaviour toward other fish (which generally causes fin nipping).

If you decide to keep these in tanks for community use, make sure you keep them in a small, swift-swimming species such as Harlequin Rasbora, Ember Tetras, Neon Tetras, Filament Barb Mosquito Rasbora, Candy Cane Tetra, Zebra Danio, Leopard Danio, Rummy Nose Tetra, Dwarf Otocinclus, Glowlight Tetra, Siamese Algae Eaters.

We do not recommend you keep them in a different species, however, should you choose to do so, be certain to keep an additional tank in the event that they need to be separated from others for the treatment of wounds with antibiotics due to tiny nips.

Incorporating these predatory little creatures within your prized shrimp collection isn’t recommended, since these animals are avid hunters and will consume any small shrimp species like cherries, that they encounter.

Small snail species, such as the Bladder Snails and Malaysian Trumpet Snails are, for instance, susceptible to predation.

Do not keep these Tetraodon Palustris Puffer Fish with any predatory species, such as large Catfish or any other slow-moving fish with long-finned fins such as Guppies that are likely to be snipped by their fins.

Can You Keep Tetraodon Palustris Puffers Together?

It is strongly recommended that males be kept separate from one another as they may be territorial and aggressive toward one another, particularly when they are breeding.

One male must be placed with several females, which will not only give them an environment that is more comfortable but also improve your chances of mating successfully.


Tetraodon palustris puffer eats crustaceans, fish, and insects when they are in nature. In aquariums, they can eat various frozen food items.

In their natural habitats, they eat small amounts of micro-sized larvae, insects, algae as well copepods and water fleas.

In an aquarium, you can ensure that you feed your fish an ailment of frozen and live foods like bloodworms and brine shrimps, cyclops, small snails and shrimps. Sometimes, algae wafers may be included, however, they shouldn’t be consumed.

Its diet for Tetraodon Palustris in captivity was mostly juvenile fishes, which included Nile Tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus borborygmus gonionotus, cyprinids, Cirrhinus siamensis and Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Etymology.

Try feeding you Tetraodon palustris pufferfish two times a day, with the best timing being at dawn and at night. They are extremely intelligent fish that will quickly recognize when you enter the room. This will signal to them they’re ready to be fed.

They may appear hungry but stay within the amount of food that they can consume within 3 minutes after being put into the tank so that they don’t overfeed them.

In excess, feeding can result in an increase in the levels of nitrate in your aquarium, which could create unwanted algae within your tank. Plants are able to absorb nitrates because they are one of the numerous vital nutrients.

An effective method of keeping the tank tidy is to purchase or build small coconut bowls for feeding. It can be put in the bottom of the tank and you can make use of long tweezers to put food items inside to keep your fingers and hands cut.


Tetraodon Palustris puffers have been famous for nipping, and for being aggressive toward one another, and it’s just a matter of time before injuries do occur.

This is why it is important to keep your males separated.

The mistake of placing more than one male fish in your aquarium may result in fights and tiny pieces of flesh getting removed from them, which makes the ideal habitat for fungal or bacterial illnesses.

First, you must avoid this scenario from happening by conducting your research regarding how to sexually sex the fish (read the section about appearance). Fish that are injured should be put in a separate tank to receive the proper antifungal and antibacterial treatment.

As with all species of tropical fish, if temperature levels drop in the aquarium and your fish’s immunity decreases, making them more susceptible to ailments such as the Ich disease (more frequently called white spot illness).

The signs of infection can be quite difficult to detect initially.

White spot treatments are sold in a majority of local fish stores and can be bought on the internet. The most effective treatments for Ich are those that include copper sulphate as well as a formalin-based base.

Due to the fact that Tetraodon palustris pufferfish are dirty eaters, it’s important to conduct regular cleaning of the gravel to eliminate any leftover food particles or parasite spores by using a gravel vacuum.

Garlic-infused foods can also be added to aquariums as they not only help to promote the health of your immune system but will also promote eating.

This is crucial when purchasing a new pufferfish. Wild-caught specimens tend to refuse to eat after being put in a tank because of their lengthy and difficult journey.

However, as previously stated it is best to avoid buying wild-caught seafood for the sake of this species.


The breeding process for Tetraodon Palustris Puffer Fish is fairly simple, provided you keep the temperatures between 74 and 80F. A 30-gallon tank for breeding can be used for one male that is shared with a female However, a separate breeding tank isn’t required since they breed in the main aquarium.

A large area of planted plants is essential as males frequently chase females through the aquarium until the female can breed. The female will guide the male among the plants to produce spawn. Java moss clumps are the ideal place to spawn.

It is also possible to use the bogwood piece to give the aquarium the appearance of being more natural, and also make the perfect environment for beneficial bacteria to the Nitrifying bacteria to thrive on.

After the spawning process, the fry will emerge from their eggs in about 48 hours. When the fry have fully consumed their yolks (2-3 days post-hatching) it is recommended to begin feeding them the fry a mixture of live infusoria and brine shrimp that have just hatched to stimulate a rapid growth rate.

A filter made of sponges should be installed in the tank to ensure that there is no water flow. Otherwise, the fry might be pulled in the filter.

Is the Tetraodon Palustris Puffer Right For Your Aquarium?

These fish are excellent fish for novices and experienced fish keepers.

Tetraodon Palustris Pufferfish are an intelligent species of omnivores that are active in search of food and hunting throughout the entire aquarium.

In order to avoid their territorial and aggressive behaviour, Males shouldn’t be kept in a single house. Instead, single males are best kept in a group with several females.

We don’t recommend keeping other fish alongside them since they are well-known fin nippers.

They can be easily bred if you have the right parameters for water and you fill your tank with plenty of plants, like Java Fern.

Do you have Tetraodon Palustris Puffer Fish on your wish list of fish? Let us know in the comments section down below…


Dibyajyoti Bordoloi is the creator and author of FishCampRehab.com, a third-generation experienced fish keeper and owner of a successful pet breeding farm. He is also a member of the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation And Conservation (Assam), the Marine Aquarium Societies of North East India, and the Kaziranga Nature Conservancy of Assam.