Pea puffer

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Last Updated on March 14, 2024 by Aftab Tariq

Pea puffer stands out as the most frequently kept pufferfish species, largely due to its small adult size, reaching just 2.5cm (0.98 inches). A little fish with a huge personality, the pea puffer is charming. They’re curious and smart and love to eat pest snails, making them great pets for new and experienced fish owners. Jane Doe says,

“Pea puffers are like tiny, inquisitive, and spunky underwater clowns, bringing endless delight to the aquarist’s world.” 

Pea puffer

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Pea puffer price is between $3 to $15. Pea puffers are cool because they can swim like helicopters, move their eyes separately, and even puff up like tiny balloons. In this guide, we’ll answer all your questions about caring for these awesome little fish. Whatever your reason for acquiring a pea puffer for your aquarium, we’ll cover pea puffer diet, tank setup, and compatible fish.

Pea Puffer History And Habitat

The pea puffer, known as the dwarf and pygmy pufferfish, is from India’s Western Ghats rivers, lakes, and estuaries. Fish tank lovers love them because they’re little, attractive, and smart.

Pea puffers like to live in shallow water that moves slowly. They prefer places with many plants floating on the water and thick vegetation. They often gather together in big groups for company and safety.

Overview Of Pea Puffer

Attribute Information
Scientific name Carinotetraodon travancoricus
Origin Western Ghats of India
Habitat Slow-moving, shallow waters with thick vegetation
Pea puffer size 1 inch
Temperament Aggressive
Diet Carnivore
Lifespan 4-5 years
Tank size 5 gallons
Water parameters pH: 6.5-8.5, dH: 4-10, Temperature: 74°-82°F
Care level Easy

Appearance Of Pea Pufferfish

Pea pufferfish are stunning to look at. They’re small and round, with a shiny golden-yellow body. If you look closely, you’ll see shimmering patches on their backs that can be dark green or brown-black.

Gender Difference Of Pea Pufferfish

Pea puffer

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Distinguishing between male and female pea pufferfish can be tricky because they look very similar, especially when young. However, males typically have brighter colors with darker patches and a more vibrant yellow belly.

Male pea puffers are thinner and may have a line. Under their eyes may be blue wrinkles. Pea puffers are the tiniest pufferfish, only growing to about 1 inch long. Females are bigger and more rounded compared to males.

Pea Puffer Lifespan

Pea puffers typically have a lifespan of between four and five years. Keeping their water clean, ensuring that their tank is the appropriate size and configuration, and providing them with a variety of foods are all things that can help them live longer.

Behavior Of Pea Puffer

Despite their adorable appearance, pea puffers are known to be rather combative. They have the propensity to use aggressive behavior, particularly males. The easiest way to handle them is to keep them alone or in groups with more females than males.

When they’re together, they might swim in circles around each other, which is their way of defending themselves. Sometimes, they do the same thing when checking out something new in their tank. Despite being a bit grumpy, pea puffers are smart and curious. They like exploring and quickly figuring out how to eat and keep their tank clean.

Like betta fish, they might jump out of their tank, so it’s a good idea to cover it tightly. Pea puffers who live alone might be shy initially, but they usually get used to their home and become more active over time.

Pea Puffer Care

Taking care of pea puffers is easy, which is good news for beginners in fishkeeping. They are tough little fish and can live in small tanks. They’re okay with water conditions, too. But here’s the thing – pea puffers really like live food. They might not eat pellets or flakes right away, so you might need to be patient while they get used to other types of food.

Pea Puffer Food

Pea puffers love meat! Feed them frozen foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp or live snacks like small snails or blackworms. They usually won’t eat dry food, but Hikari Vibra Bites can work well because they look and move like bloodworms. Pea puffers don’t need hard foods to grind down their teeth, so it’s okay if you can’t find live snails. Just make sure to give them a variety of frozen foods to keep them healthy.

Do Pea Puffers Need to Feed Every Day?

Pea puffers must be fed twice daily, in the morning and evening.  Eating different kinds of food regularly is important to keep their diet interesting and provide all the necessary nutrients.

Be careful not to feed them too much, though. Overfeeding can cause bloating and make the water quality in the tank worse.

Pea Puffer Tank Size

Pea puffer

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Pea puffers need at least a 5-gallon tank to be happy. Even though they’re small, they’re quite energetic, so it’s important to give them enough space. If you plan to have more than one pea puffer, you’ll need an even bigger tank to keep them from fighting over territory.

How many pea puffers should you keep?

If your aquarium is smaller than 20 gallons, having only one pea puffer is best because it can be quite territorial. But if your tank is bigger than that, you can keep more than six. Make sure to put only one male together if your tank is large enough.

However, we suggest having at least six of them in your tank. Even though you could keep up to three in a 10-gallon tank, having fewer can make them more aggressive, especially in smaller tanks.

How many pea puffers can a 20-gallon tank hold?

Pea puffer

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Success in keeping six pea puffers depends on the fish’s nature and the aquarium’s design. If you want your fish to be less aggressive, giving them about two or three gallons of room is best.

What Makes Tank Pea Puffers Happy?

The pea puffer is a fish native to placid, plant-rich waterways. Therefore, to ensure their happiness and safety, it is essential to provide them with a tank that is abundant with flora.

Frogbit, duckweed, and water lettuce are some great floating plants to choose from. The fish will feel more at ease and have more places to hide in thick, bushy plants such as Anubis, java moss, and fern.

Having lots of plants in your tank is helpful if you want to keep more than one pea puffer because it helps to prevent arguments over territory by blocking their view of each other.

1: Substrate

You can use any substrate in a pea puffer tank, but it’s a good idea to go for aqua soil or gravel full of nutrients to help your plants grow.

2: Filter

Pea puffers prefer slow-moving water, so using a gentle sponge or hang-on-back filter is best. Since smaller tanks usually only have one pea puffer, you don’t need a strong filter because there will be little waste.

3: Lighting

When it comes to a pea puffer tank, you do not require a specialized light. You can maintain the brightness of your tank with a simple fluorescent or LED light, which will also provide your fish with a natural day and night cycle. However, if you have many plants, consider purchasing a light specifically made for planted tanks to improve the growth of your plants.

Tank Mates For Pea Puffer Fish

Pea puffer

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Pea puffers are unsuitable for community tanks due to their aggressive behavior and penchant for preying on snails and shrimp. Invertebrates are also not recommended tank mates. If you choose to keep pea puffers with other fish, a 20-gallon tank is advised to provide ample space.

Bottom-dwelling species such as kuhli loaches, otocinclus, and corydoras catfish are compatible as they generally keep to themselves. Though fin nipping is possible, danios and Neons can live.

It’s important to note that pea puffers may exhibit unpredictable behavior towards tank mates, potentially causing harm or even fatalities despite initial compatibility.

Pea Puffer Tank Setup

Even though pea puffers are hardy tiny fish, they require certain water conditions to maintain their health and happiness. Keeping the pH of your aquarium between 6.5 and 8.5 is ideal for their well-being. The ideal range for the water’s general hardness is 4 to 10 dH. Keep your aquarium comfortable at 74 to 82°F for pea puffers, as they originate from warmer climates.

Could A Pea Puffer Swallow A Snail?

Pea puffers will consume snails. They delight in devouring aquatic snails, even the most pesky ones like bladder and pond snails. Because pea puffers devour snails quickly, they are an excellent option for aquarium owners struggling with a snail infestation.

Pea Puffer Breeding

Pea puffer

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Breeding pea puffers is relatively easy with the right conditions and food. Here’s how you can do it:

Step 1: Get a male and female fish in their breeding tank. This allows the puffers to mate undisturbed, stopping other fish from devouring their eggs.

Step 2: Maintain a breeding tank temperature of about 79°F and fill it with moss or thick vegetation. Pea puffer nesting sites are popular with the females of the species.

Step 3: Look for evidence that the puffers are ready to mate. In preparation for her egg-laying on the moss, the male will follow the female as she swims around the aquarium.

Step 4: To stop the parents from devouring the eggs laid by the female, take them out of the tank as soon as they deposit them. Without a dedicated incubator, the male may watch the eggs until they reach their head.

Step 5: The typical incubation period for pea puffer eggs is 48 hours. For a few days, the yolk sacs will be the only source of nutrition for the young puffers. Infusoria, baby brine shrimp, and a special fry meal can be offered afterward.

It would help if you waited a few weeks before transferring newborn pea puffers to a bigger tank because they are still tiny. They will have ample time to mature into an adequate size to manage the more challenging environment.


Despite its small size, the pea pufferfish is an excellent addition to any aquarium, boasting vibrant colors, intelligence, and playful behavior. With minimal maintenance requirements, such as regular feeding and water changes, pea puffers offer enjoyment and practical benefits, including assisting in managing pest snail populations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Difficult To Maintain Pea Puffers?

Pea puffers are adaptable but need good water conditions. Aim for a 50% water change every week.

Do Pea Puffers Have A Hostile Nature?

Yes, despite their cuteness, they can be aggressive. Males are usually more so, but telling them apart can be tricky until adulthood.

Can Pea Puffers Coexist With Other Species Of Fish?

Pea puffers do well with other pea puffers. Set up their tank with plenty of plants, hiding spots, and open swimming areas. Siamese algae eaters with driftwood and rocks also do well in this setup.


Pea Puffer Care Sheet

Care Guide for Pea Puffers

Aftab Tariq

I am a dedicated content writer with more than five years of experience, particularly skilled in the art of storytelling. My writing journey commenced during my college years, where I pursued journalism and unearthed my talent for creating captivating narratives. Protection Status