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Are Puffer Fish Bottom Feeders?

Are Puffer Fish Bottom Feeders? But before we answer the question of your concern, let’s get to know what bottom feeders are. 

Bottom feeders are fish that eat from the bottom of the ocean floor. These kinds of fish species feed on a variety of organisms including dead plant material, detritus, and other fish.

It’s common for people to believe that puffer fish are bottom feeders, but it’s just not true. Puffer fish are not bottom feeders. They are omnivores and don’t have any real preference for where they find their food. 

They eat everything from plants like sea squirts and black corals, to a wide variety of small invertebrates such as snails, clams, crayfish, mussels, shellfish, and even other fish. 

Pufferfish also have an amazing appetite, and can consume up to 40% of their body weight in a single meal. 

That said, stick around to learn more about puffer fish and what type of feeder they are.

What Fish Eats Bottom Feeders?

Before we talk about what fish eats bottom feeders, let’s explain what bottom feeders are. Bottom feeders are those fish species that feed on the bottom or on the lowest level of food chain supply in the ecosystem. 

What this means is that, while bottom feeders eat or feed on smaller animals/insects; they are prey to other animals larger than them. 

Examples of bottom feeders are snapper, eel, catfish, cod, rays, carp, flounder, grouper, bass, halibut, etc. and they cut across both freshwater and saltwater habitat. 

Furthermore, it’s important to note that a bottom feeder of a particular ecosystem is determined by the food chain/supply of that ecosystem.

In a nutshell, bottom feeders are always the smallest/weakest animals in the food chain. 

That said, fish that eat bottom feeders include sharks, spiny dogfish, herons, raccoons, storks, crabs, king mackerel, shrimps,  barracuda, moray eels, and many others.

Corydoras is a fish eats bottom feeders
Corydoras is a fish eats bottom feeders

Are Puffer Fish Bottom Feeders?

No, puffer fish aren’t bottom feeders. They are omnivores with a huge appetite and they enjoy eating hard-shelled invertebrates such as snails, clams, crayfish, mussels, and shellfish. 

Nonetheless, pufferfish can be bottom feeders when they become prey/food for bigger fish in the food chain.

What Type of Feeder Is a Puffer Fish?

Pufferfish can be considered as both top and bottom feeders. Where they are bottom feeders, they got eaten by tiger sharks and other species of sharks. 

Other fish species such as piranha that can possibly prey on pufferfish cannot withstand the toxic poison in their bodies. Hence, they either spit it out immediately after taking a bite on a pufferfish or die as a result of the poison. 

On the contrary, as top feeders, pufferfish eat mainly invertebrates and algae. Fish in this category include shrimps, mollucs, clams, mussels, crabs, and shellfish.

In captivity, pufferfish are commonly fed carnivorous diets of pellets, frozen foods, and freeze-dried foods together with chopped squid, shrimps, clams, and krill.

Bigger or adult puffers are often fed shelled foods such as mussels, to keep down their continuously growing teeth.

What Are Considered Bottom Feeder Fish?

As stated earlier, bottom feeders are fish species that are found at the lowest level of the food chain, which means that they feed on smaller fishes and larvae

Examples of bottom feeders include halibut, sole, cod, snapper, haddock, flounder, bass, sardines, mackerel, octopus, squid, catfish, trout, shellfish, and many others. 

Some species of bottom feeders such as plecos and oto catfish have highly developed mouths that enable them to stick onto surfaces and eat algae or biofilm.

What Fish Is Not Considered a Bottom Feeder?

Fish species that are not considered bottom feeders in the food chain of their environment or ecosystem are predatory fish such as sharks, barracuda, walleye,salmon, and perch billfish.

Guppy, congo tetra, kissing gourami, pearl gourami, dwarf gourami, neon rainbowfish, pencil fish, and swordtails are some examples of top and middle-dwelling feeder fish.

Puffer Fish
Puffer Fish

Can PufferFish and Bottom Feeder Live Together?

Yes, pufferfish and bottom feeders can live together, but the type of bottom feeder you should get will depend on whether you pufferfish is freshwater, saltwater, or brackish water puffer.

Also, for your puffers not to end up eating the bottom feeders depend on the type or species of fish. 

Bottom feeders that can successfully live with puffers include Danios, cory cats, shrimps, coolie loaches, snails, and catfish such as spotted raphael catfish, banjo catfish, striped raphael catfish, and oto catfish.

These bottom feeders are very helpful scavengers. 

Just like the puffers, they will all eat anything that fits into their mouth. But your pufferfish may end up eating some of these bottom feeders, especially species with shells such as snails, mollocs, shrimps etc.

Key Takeaways

As we understand, pufferfish aren’t bottom feeders – which means that they are not found at the lowest level of the food chain. But at the same time, they are prey to some bigger fish species such as sharks. 

Due to the high toxicity in their bodies, puffers make terrible food for most fish species that may want to prey on them. An example is the piranha fish. 

Besides sharks that have been known to successfully eat puffers without dying from the poison, other fish species can’t withstand the amount of poison in the bodies of puffers.

Hence, they either die after biting puffers or they spit the flesh out. 

Nonetheless, if you want to add bottom feeders in your puffers tank, consider species that will go well with puffers without conflicts.

Examples are snails, catfish, shrimps, coolie loaches, and danios. Keep in mind that your puffer is likely to eat some of these bottom feeders.

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