Dog-faced Puffer

Black-spotted Puffer ~ Hush Puppy Puffer

Family: Tetraodontidae Picture of a Dog-faced Puffer, Black-spotted Puffer, or Hush Puppy Puffer Arothron nigropunctatusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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OK so Boom! I have a 55 gallon salt water tank for about 9 months now! I have a trigger Niger, blue spotted Puffer,two clownfish, Yellow Tang and a star fish. My... (more)  Millie

   This is a favorite among the puffers, probably because the Dog-faced Puffer or Black-spotted Puffer looks like such a nice guy, look at that face!

   The Dog-faced Puffer or Black-spotted Puffer are often exported from asia as juveniles. They make a special pet that can recognize their care givers and become visibly excited when given attention. Make sure you have a fairly large aquarium if you plan on growing this one up, it can reach up to 16" (40 cm)!

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Tetraodontiformes
  • Family: Tetraodontidae
  • Genus: Arothron
  • Species: nigropunctatus
Dog-Faced Puffer, Juvenile normal color morph, Arothron nigropunctatus
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Scrappy my darlin' dogface baby puffer

This Dog-Faced Puffer is the epitome of "adorable," which is a term not often used with fish! They have an endearing face and act like dogs! They do need to be dewormed, tend to chew on cords and airlines, and like to spit water out of the tank to get your attention! These little puppies grow to just over 1 foot and need a 150 gallon tank. Dog-Faced Puffers also come in various colors such as black, yellow or orange! They are not recommended in a reef tank, however benefit from hard shelled crustaceans like hermit crabs to eat and help wear down their constantly growing teeth. Prone to Crypt, keep the tank at 82˚F to help keep this parasite from taking hold. They can be housed with other pufferfish that are not more aggressive than they are. Use a container to transfer it, not a net.

Dog-Faced Puffer, adult yellow morph, Arothron nigropunctatus
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Captive kept yellow adult

The yellow version of the Dog-Faced Puffer is not the easiest color morph to find! They have the same great personality as other large puffers and need a 150 gallon tank with lots of hard shelled prey to keep their "beak" or fused teeth from growing too long. They are a joy to keep and can be kept with other pufferfish that have the same or more mild temperament.

Trimming Pufferfish Teeth- Dogface Puffer
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Instructions on how to trim their teeth!

As seen in the additional comments, this beloved puffer is doing well after his procedure. They need to be sedated with 3 drops of clove oil per liter of water and behavior needs to be observed. This is the only time it had to be done in the 4 years she has owned her puffer and states that he is doing a better job of keeping his own teeth ground down these days!

Dog-Faced Puffer, jub-adult black, Arothron nigropunctatus
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Amazing black color!

This is one of the other rarer black color morphs of the Dog-Faced Puffer, Arothron nigropunctatus. The species name makes one wonder if the first one found was black from the latin root work nigro for black. No matter what color they come in, they are, well, cute fish! They have personalities like dogs and in many ways can be as challenging as dogs! Keep cords and airlines out of bite range, and cover your heaters to prevent them from biting and breaking it out of curiosity. Provide hard shelled prey to keep their teeth worn down, because having to trim them is not a walk in the park..... thats what you do with a real dog!

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Maintenance difficulty:    Although the Dog-faced Puffer or Black-spotted Puffer is easy to feed and generally hardy, they require special care and a special diet to stay healthy.

  Puffers have strong teeth that grow throughout their lives. They need to be offered hard shelled live food often to keep their teeth worn down. For a better explanation and links to the practice of puffer dentistry (if needed) please read here. Because they eat a meaty diet and are often messy eaters, puffers will produce a large bio load on the biological filter of your aquarium requiring frequent water changes and good maintenance practices.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:    Dog-faced Puffer or Black-spotted Puffer are found in the Indo-Pacific. Islands of Micronesia and Samoa to East Africa. This is a species found on or near coral reefs.

Foods:  Puffers are primarily predatory fish in the wild, though they do graze on algae as well. Acceptable foods include shellfish, crustaceans and hard shelled foods such as snails. A large variety of all kinds of live and frozen meaty foods are best. It is best to feed small amounts several times a day. Some of the suggested frozen foods include prawn, crabs/crabs legs, bloodworms (live or frozen), blackworms (live or frozen), silversides, and mussels. Be sure to wash these foods thoroughly before feeding. Live foods can include snails, crabs, crayfish, shrimp (these are good for keeping their teeth trimmed), and earthworms. Live fish will also be eaten but it is thought it may cause problems such as 'fatty" liver and so should be fed sparingly or not at all.. Puffers are not picky eaters and will quickly become adapted to a variety of prepared aquarium foods and an occasional algae wafer. Flake food is not recommended. Even though they may eat it, puffers will not thrive on it.

Social Behaviors:    Generally this fish is not aggressive. Just make sure he doesn't think any other fish are meant to be dinner.

Sex: Sexual differences:    Unknown.

Light: Recommended light levels:    No special requirements.

Temperature:    No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 74 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Dog-faced Puffer or Black-spotted Puffer adults can grow to 40.0 cm (16 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 100 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong    No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom    No special requirements.

Availability:    This fish is available from time to time.

Lastest Animal Stories on Dog-faced Puffer

Millie - 2019-11-05
OK so Boom! I have a 55 gallon salt water tank for about 9 months now! I have a trigger Niger, blue spotted Puffer,two clownfish, Yellow Tang and a star fish. My favorite fish is my new addition the Dog faced Puffer, I love how cute, smart and social he is! When I leave the room sometimes, I turn on the tv when he looks bored. This fish watches tv 😭. He acts like a dog. Recently, I was cleaning my tank and he wanted me to pet him. I admire the fact that he isn’t scared! He is just wagging his fins and knowledging me while the other fish run and hide. I’ve been observing the tank and noticed even though he is a sweetheart he can has a temperament. He didn’t get a long with the smaller blue spotted puffer. 3 months later my blue spotted fish got bit by him and couldnt recover. Poor fella didn’t have a chance😕. He ate my star fish, yellow is back at the fish store in a quarantine being healed because he has a bump on his stomach. Also, I have noticed there is jealousy between trigger and dog face. I usually kiss the tank and show them all attention. I would put my hand in the water and trigger would swim by for me I touch his rough scaly body. They both share the left side of the tank. Never seen them be aggressive to each other only during feed time trigger is fast and quick to steal krill from dog face. Feeding time can be stressful because dog face is slow and you have to hand feed him and if you drop the krill in the tank by accident he won’t go after it. High maintenance for sure. 😂

kaysi powers - 2017-05-03
I love the dogface puffers. I had one but my tank got poisoned so it died. I had a rare gold one.

dana - 2006-03-09

  • jada - 2010-04-06
    Do you like animals? I do they are so much fun.
  • Caleb - 2016-03-28
    A 55 gallon is way to small for a dog face puffer.
Brendan Cox - 2012-02-19
I just bought a yellow bellied dog faced puffer. It is very active at night, but during the day it just lays under a rock until feeding time. It has a healthy appetite. Is this normal?

  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-02-20
    Very normal Brendan! They can be a bit shy when intoduced into a new tank. I use to hand feed mine krill with tongs to get them comfortable. Once comfortable they have amazing clownish personalities.
  • tom - 2012-08-16
    yes it is normal
  • Scoot Shoot - 2015-02-21
    It's normal, these guys seem to be nocturnal, least mine and obviously yours are.  I was getting worried with my days old Dog Faced Puffer chilling on the bottom as well.  However have noticed he is very very active at night when the lights are out.  Sometimes I'd wake up 4am, room in complete darkness only to turn the light on and there he is wide awake swimming around.  During day cycle he does become active just enough to get his daily meals, then he chills out again.  Obviously burns all those day calories at night, hah.