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Do Puffer Fish Need a Filter?

When keeping a pufferfish as a pet, it is essential that the tank replicates your pet’s natural ecosystem. Therefore, it is important to ask the question ‘do pufferfish need a filter?’

Pufferfish need a balanced environment and filtration forms an important part of that balance. Your pufferfish will only thrive in a balanced environment.

In this guide, we will answer the question ‘do pufferfish need a filter?’ and also review the top filters for a pufferfish tank.

Do Puffer Fish Need a Filter?

A puffer fish is swimming in the clean tank.
A puffer fish is swimming in the clean tank | Creidt: sueb4830 / Canva.com

Yes, pufferfish definitely need a filter. Whether you have a marine or a freshwater pufferfish, it needs a balanced environment. Pufferfish are extremely sensitive to poor water conditions and a filter can help restore that balance. Resultantly, they need a filter.

You most certainly need a filter if you do not have the time to make regular water changes to your fish tank every week.

Pufferfish are known to be very messy creatures. Their poop and other waste increase the ammonia levels in the water. If your tank contains aquatic plants, their dead leaves also contribute to ammonia in the water.

Ammonia should ideally be 0 ppm and anything over 5 ppm can be extremely harmful to your little fish. Your fish could get poisoned due to this excess ammonia. That is why pufferfish need a water filter for their tank.

Pros and Cons of Using a Filter in Your Fish Tank

There is little doubt that a filter is the best way to ensure clean and clear water for your pufferfish. However, having an aquarium filter comes with its share of downsides too. Here are the pros and cons of using a filter in your aquarium:


  • A filter reduces the hassles of weekly water changes. If you travel or are very busy, you might not remember to make water changes. A filter will take care of the filtration for you.
  • An aquarium filter moves the water and prevents it from becoming stagnant and dirty.
  • Filters also produce bubbles which improve the oxygenation of the water. Some pufferfish also love to play with the bubbles.
  • A good filter will keep the ammonia levels 0. This ensures a balanced nitrogen cycle which is extremely important for your fish’s health.
  • Without a filter, ammonia and other toxins can increase drastically and harm your fish.
  • Filters also keep the bad bacteria minimum and increase the good or healthy bacteria.
  • Good filters will reduce algae that can be very harmful to your fish.
A puffer fish is swimming near the surface of the tank.
A tank with a water filter keeps the puffer fish healthy | Credit: JillLang / Canva.com


  • Finding a good filter with a proper flow rate takes some trial and error. Some filters tend to have a very high flow rate which can stress your pufferfish. Some filters even produce eddies and fast torrents that could kill the fish.
  • You still need to test the water from time to time to ensure that the filtration mechanism is working. Water changes are reduced but not completely eliminated when you use a filter.
  • Some filters tend to be very noisy.
  • Good filters can be expensive. You pay for performance.
  • Many filters need regular maintenance which can be tedious. For example, canister filters require you to disassemble the whole filter when you want to clean the inside.
  • Power outages stop the filter from working.
A puffer fish is swimming
White-spotted puffer | Credit: steinphoto / Canva.com

Having said that, the benefits of using a filter far outweigh the drawbacks.

 Best Filters for Pufferfish

Now that you know the importance of using a filter, we have certain recommendations for you. Firstly, you need to know the right filter size for your tank. A good thumb rule to follow is to select a filter with a flow rate 6 times the volume of your tank. So, a 30-gallon tank would need a filter with a flow rate of 200 gph,

Here are three of the best filters for puffer fish:

AquaClear, Fish Tank FilterAvailable for tank sizes from 5 to 110 gallons; offers mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration1) Quick, easy installation
2) Easy to clean
3) Affordable
Not silent
Fluval 07 Series Performance Canister Filter for AquariumsErgonomic design, only vertical-pre-filter on the market, available for large tanks from 100 to 400 gallons, crafted in Italy, the latest generation canister filter. Fluval is the industry leader in filtration1)Flexible
2) 25% quieter than previous models from Fluval
3) Also more robust
4) and highly energy-efficient
AQQA Aquarium Electric Power Sponge FilterAvailable for 10 to 55-gallon tanks, physical + biochemical filtration, suitable for saltwater and freshwater fish1)Easy to clean
2) Affordable price
3) quiet operation
Lift tube is way too tall for small tanks.

Tips to Maintain a Pufferfish Tank Filter

Your pufferfish’s tank filter is one of the main accessories you will use for its care. Therefore proper care and regular maintenance of the filter are imperative.

Know when to clean it

Different filters need different schedules for maintenance. Here are some filter types and how often you should clean them:

  • Hang-on-back filters – Also known as HOB filters, these need to be cleaned at least once a month.
  • Sponge filters – Clean and replace the sponges every 2 weeks.
  • Canister filters – These need the least maintenance – about once every 3 months.
  • Under-the-gravel-filter – these are rather tedious to maintain. You will need to vacuum the gravel regularly.

Maintain water changes

Using an aquarium filter does not absolve you of the duty of making regular water changes. Water changes are still necessary to keep the filter functioning properly.

Use a canister filter for maintaining the flow rate

A canister filter is very important for large tanks as they help circulate the water. Water circulation is essential for maintaining the oxygenation of your pufferfish’s tank water. 

Pufferfish are slow swimmers and, as such, do not need a very rapid flow rate. However, it is still important to ensure that the water is circulated 6-10 times an hour. If needed, use a buffer for the outflow to provide a moderate flow rate for your fish’s safety.

Service it regularly

Irrespective of the kind of filter you use, make sure to service it every few months so it functions efficiently.

Puffer Fish Tank Setup – What do Pufferfish Like in their Tanks?

In addition to a filter, your pufferfish needs the following features in its tank:

A well-planted aquarium – Plants help with the tank’s nitrogen cycle and also reduce the growth of harmful algae. Choose a wide selection of living plants.

Proper water parameters – Different species of puffers need different levels of salinity and currents. So, research your species well. Most puffers need water temperature between 74 and 82 F and water pH between 7 and 7.6.

Maintain ammonia levels of 0 ppm with a filter and regular water changes. Use water testing kits to check the parameters like ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. You must also invest in a heater if you live in an area with a cold climate or if the temperature fluctuates. Also, set up a thermometer for the tank to measure water temperature. Use water conditioner if needed.

Marina Standing Thermometer, Fahrenheit and Celsius Aquarium Thermometer

Marina Standing Thermometer, Fahrenheit and Celsius Aquarium Thermometer, 11202
  • Fish tank thermometer designed to sink to the bottom
  • Remains standing in a vertical position
  • Accurate and easy-to-read thermometer
  • Provides readings in Fahrenheit and Celsius
  • Includes safety zone indicator appropriate for most tropical fish

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Tank mates – Most species of pufferfish prefer being alone as they tend to be territorial and aggressive. If you want, you could keep two puffers of the same species or add docile tankmates like Danios and Tetras that will stay out of the pufferfish’s way.

Substrate – This can be fine sand or crushed coral.

Lights – Pufferfish prefer dim LED lights. Avoid bright lights.

Hiding areas – Provide your pet with crevices, pipes, cave-like structures, rocky overhangs, driftwood, etc. to rest and hide.

Penn-Plax Hideaway Pipes Aquarium Decoration Realistic Look

Penn-Plax Hideaway Pipes Aquarium Decoration Realistic Look with Green Moss Like Texture | Fun for Fish and adds a to The Tank, Large (RR1096)
  • Three stacked hideaway pipes with realistic looking moss add color and texture to your aquarium. Bright green moss adds a unique look to your tank and mimics the color seen in nature.
  • This aquarium decoration provides visual interest for you and your fish. Holes provide a space to pass through, to rest, or hide reducing stress and aggression.
  • This pipe hideaway is perfect for cichlid tanks since this fish is territorial and must create their own space. This aquarium ornament mimics what is found in an oceanic environment.
  • Made of safe durable resin, this aquarium decoration is safe for use in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Pipes measure 3 inches long by 3 inches wide and 2.8 inches high.
  • Age range description: All Life Stages

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Do pea puffers need a bubbler?

Many pea puffers are known to play with the bubbles in the water. So, you can choose to add a bubbler, although it isn’t a necessity.

Do dwarf pufferfish need a filter?

Yes, a good quality filter can help keep your dwarf puffer’s water clean and clear. Puffers produce a lot of waste so a filter is a must-have accessory in your fish tank.

What does a pufferfish need to survive?

In addition to clean water with the optimum parameters, your pufferfish need live and crunchy foods like snails and shellfish to thrive. 

Final Verdict – Do Puffer Fish Need a Filter?

Pufferfish definitely need a filter. A good-quality filter reduces the waste in the water and keeps the ammonia levels low. A filter also circulates the water and increases good bacteria while reducing algae.

We hope this guide helps you choose the best filter for your pufferfish’s tank.

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