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Are Puffer Fish Reef Safe? Important Facts You Should Know

“Are Puffer Fish Reef Safe?” When it comes to the topic of whether or not your fish is reef safe, it’s important you know in detail if your species of pet is at risk or risk free.

Keeping fish as a hobby has evolved greatly during the last two decades, and there is an increase in cohabiting fish in a tank. Many modern hobbyists do not worry much about the general tank set up and care, and they focus more on creating an ecosystem that will continue to develop and expand.

This is why many hobbyists do not want to buy an organism that will kill or harm other organisms in the tank. Before I answer the question of whether pufferfish are reef safe, we need to know what is the meaning of reef safe.

Reef Safe: What Is The Meaning? Are Puffer Fish Reef Safe?

Depending on what species and size of fish you intend to keep in your aquarium, puffer fish make great reef aquarium fish and can cohabit excellently with other fish species such as polyps and corals without eating them up or being eaten.

However, if you include small invertebrates or clams in the same tank, those can be a quick meal for many pufferfish.

Many people have a different meaning for reefs safe, and you will get different answers from different people.

Some people may say that all fishes and invertebrates that are eating the reef are not reef safe while some have the opinion that most things on a reef are not reef safe.

Readmore: Gourami and Paradise fish to keep as pet

Varity hobbyists also believe that all the reef fishes and invertebrates that are part of the reef are reef safe. Some of the things that you can consider before you determine if a fish is reef safe or not are stated below:

Puffer fish is living in the coral
Puffer fish is living in the coral

Fishes that Eat Coral

Many people have a different opinion regarding whether the fish that eat coral are reef safe.

However, many aquarists have opined that animals that eat coral are not reef safe and should not be kept in the aquarium. Aquarist avoids such species, and they are not imported heavily since there is a lack of market for the item.

Fishes that Nip at Coral

Many people usually categorize this species of fish with fish that eat coral.

Many aquarists believed they are reef safe as it is a natural part of keeping fish in a marine tank.

However, some aquarists believe they are not reef safe and will do anything to remove it from the tank.

This phenomenon is usually caused because of too much competition in the tank for limited food resources, and some fish result in looking for other food sources.

Puffer fish is eating coral
Puffer fish is eating coral

Fishes that Eat Fishes

Home aquarium owners do not usually discuss this because they bought the community fish. Which means they can cohabitate with other fish species. If you buy an aggressive fish, it is best to keep them in aquaria with other large and aggressive fishes. This means aggressive fish are not reef safe.

Fish that Feed on Invertebrates

Most marine fish feed on invertebrates, and it is difficult to assess fish in this category. This means that you can keep mobile invertebrates like worms, crabs, snails, and shrimps in a reef aquarium. Fish that feed on invertebrates are reef safe, and you can keep them with invertebrates with no worry.

Fish that Feed on Algae

All the fishes that feed on algae are style of reef safe fish. Many aquarists usually recommend and talk about the uses in reef aquaria. This shows how suitable they are for home aquaria. It would help if you avoided overgrazing as there is a lack of macroalgae in home aquaria.

Puffer fish and coral
Puffer fish and coral

Pufferfish that are Reef Safe

In the Indo-Pacific region, you will find map puffers in reef habitats. They are usually solitary animals and feed on invertebrates, algae, and sponges. Map puffers have an oval shape, and you can easily spot them with their distinctive pattern.

Another pufferfish in the reef are the guineafowl puffers also appear in coral reefs all around the Indo-Pacific region.

Guineafowl puffers are omnivores and will feed on tips of branching corals, mollusks, sponges, tunicates, algae, bryozoans, and detritus.

Another stunning saltwater puffer in the reef is narrow lined puffers.

You can keep them in a tank with live rock as they love searching the rock for what to feed on.

Although they are mild to other fish, they are not reef safe as they will readily feed on the invertebrates that are in the reef. They are also territorial, and you cannot keep another narrow lined puffer in the same tank.


Is there a reef safe puffer fish?

All species of puffer fish can and will eat small invertebrates such as shrimps, crabs and snails. This is to imply that no matter the size, no puffer fish is truly reef safe.

However, these species “Saddled, Canthigaster valentini, or a Blue spotted, Canthigaster solandri” seems to be reef safe because they don’t feed on corals.

Is a dog face puffer fish reef safe?

The dogface puffer fish is a shell-cracking, invertebrate-eating machine. What this means is that it IS NOT completely reef-safe. Animals such as shrimps, snails or crabs are its major diet.

They sometimes will nip at coral fish although corals aren’t really their main diet. Nonetheless, if you have a large tank where you can keep aggressive or semi-aggressive fish, the dogface puffer fish could be a cool choice. 

Are leopard puffers reef safe?

No! Leopard puffers aren’t reef safe. They have a semi-aggressive temperament and if kept together with small invertebrates such as clams, shrimps, and hard shelled shrimps, they can eat them. Leopard puffers prefer eating meaty foods, frozen foods, and herbivorous foods.

What saltwater fish are not reef safe?

Many species of fish make the best tank mates. Fish species such as  engineer gobies, tangs, angels, eels, foxfish, and squirrelfish all make good tank mates for the puffer fish.

Conclusion for the question “Are Puffer Fish Reef Safe?”

From the points made above, pufferfish are reef safe if they are in their natural habitat. However, it is advisable not to keep them in your home tank because they are aggressive and can feed on the smaller organism.

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