Also known as blowfish, this Tetraodontidae family member is such an interesting species because of its ability to blow or inflate its body to protect itself from predators; something its clumsy swimming style is not able to provide.
Saltwater puffer fish, especially the one called “Fugu”, is considered a culinary delicacy in Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, and China. Although known to contain powerful toxins that are poisonous and lethal to humans, many from these countries still can’t resist getting a taste of it.
The semi-freshwater ones, on the other hand, are famous to pet enthusiasts because of their colorful scales and puffy cheeks. However, taking care of a puffer fish isn’t easy.
A live puffer fish or a blowfish can be bought from online pet stores. The price ranges from $17 to $60 depending on its rarity and on the pattern of its scales.
That Pet Place offers a wide variety of puffer fish for sale. The most expensive on its list is the Crowned Toby – Canthigaster coronata, which costs $59.99. Meanwhile, its Caribbean Sharpnose Toby – Canthigaster rostrata is the cheapest one at $16.99.
Apart from the actual cost of the puffer fish, you also have to take into consideration the following expenses:
- Fish Tank
Most puffer fish are solitary in nature. It is never recommended to maintain two or more of these in one tank. Nonetheless, a single blowfish still needs a large fish tank on its own.
For the small-sized, there should at least 20-30 gallons of tank space while the large ones need 100 gallons their area will cause stress and may lead to a decrease in their survivability.
The cost of an aquarium depends on its size and design. A 20-gallon tank is priced at around $169.99 to $379.49 while the cheapest for a 100-gallon is $669.99. Fish Tanks Direct has a wide range of containers for your puffer fish, the rate of which depends on how they are set up.
You can use either gravel or sand, but the latter is the ideal substrate for a blowfish. The average cost for this one is around $10-$20 for every 20lbs. bag. Pet Co. sells Imagitarium White Aquarium Sand ($12.99) and CaribSea Arag-Alive Hawaiian Black Aquarium Gravel ($16.99), both in a 20lbs. bag.
A puffer fish thrives in an optimal water temperature of 74 to 82 Degrees F (23 – 27.5 C). You will need an aquarium heater to maintain this. If it gets beyond the indicated range, it may cause stress to your pet and can even result to its untimely death.
This device will cost around $12 to $45. However, since your blowfish will need a large aquarium of about 50 gallons (for medium-sized), it is advisable to opt for a heater with a high wattage (150 W). Chewy offers one for $21.59.
An aquarium heater can malfunction especially if left unchecked for too long. You will need a thermometer to ensure that the temperature remains at a level that suits the needs of your puffer fish. The price range for this one is about $2.49 to $6.99.
Most puffers require brackish water (semi-saltwater). The young ones prefer a specific gravity of 1.006 while the adults like it at 1.020. A hydrometer will help you ensure that the water inside the tank is within the recommended salinity. Instant Ocean® Hydrometer costs $11.28 at Pet Smart.
- Air Pump and Filter
Lastly, you will need to purchase an air pump and a partner filter which are must-haves for any aquarium setup. The pump for a large fish tank will cost you around $65 while a power filter is sold at around $84.67 for 30-100-gallon tank.
Most online pet stores that sell a puffer fish also offer food suitable for your pet. These merchants may give you a small portion of it as a starter.
Upon the purchase of a puffer, the seller will most likely give you a small container or a plastic for the fish as a temporary vessel. The vendor might even provide you a sample food so you would know the proper diet for a blowfish, like mealworms.
Puffer Fish Maintenance Costs
Don’t bore your puffer fish with pellets and flakes. In the wild, puffers feed mostly on snails, shellfish, and other crustaceans. However, giving your pet something from the wild is not advisable as this prey may harbor parasites and other microorganisms that may harm your blowfish.
The ideal food for a puffer are mealworms and frozen bloodworms. These will provide your pet good enrichment and are proven safe. Chewy sells 28 oz. pack of Tetra Frozen Bloodworms for $2.99.
- Water Treatment Solutions
Water treatment solutions are used to prevent the growth of unwanted organisms inside an aquarium such as parasites and fungi. These pathogens can cause your blowfish to lose its natural color on top of the health problems that may arise.
You must select a treatment that can be used on both freshwater and saltwater setups. A16 oz. bottle of this solution costs around $7.89.
Factors Affecting the Puffer Fish Price
The prices for puffer fish differ based on its scale pattern, and location. Most of the time, puffers that have usual appearances are sold for a cheaper cost. For example, the Green-spotted puffer fish is one of the most common species on the US market and is therefore offered for a lower price.
If you live near the ocean, you may find locals who sell saltwater blowfish. It usually is cheaper in those areas because there is an ease of access. The same holds true for the case of the freshwater ones.
Additional Tips and Information
Taking care of a puffer is not an easy task. This type of fish is not recommended for beginners as it requires a tedious setup. You must first make sure that you are ready for such commitment.
It is advisable to keep only one blowfish in a tank. It is a solitary animal and having more than one in a single container may result in fighting and even lead to the death of one or more.
Feed your blowfish something hard such as shellfish once in a while. Its beak doesn’t stop growing. If your puffer fails to have its beak grinded, your pet may have a hard time eating with an oversized bill.
Finally, a puffer may have unique necessities but it still needs the same care as that of a common aquarium setup such as regular water replacement and other maintenance.