8 Facts About The Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish


Indian Dwarf Puffers are also known as the Pea Puffer, Bumblebee Puffer, Malabar Puffer and the Pygmy Puffer. This unique little fish currently holds the title for the smallest puffer fish in the world! It is also one of only 27 currently known species of puffer fish that have adapted to freshwater. They are found in the south west tip of India in rivers, lakes and estuaries. In this blog post we are going to learn some interesting facts about this species including how to properly keep them as pets so that they live a long, healthy life.

Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish – image Source: Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine

How Big Do Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish Get?

When fully grown this species reaches a maximum length of 1 inch or a tiny bit more than an inch – not by much though.

Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish Lifespan

Their lifespan has been reported to be from 4 to 5 years. This species is commonly bred for the aquarium hobby. These tank bred Indian Dwarf Puffer fish are much hardier than their wild caught counterparts. So if you are looking into acquiring this species in order to keep it as a pet, it is recommended that you find tank bred Indian Dwarf Puffer fish.

Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish – Image Source: Prime Time Aquatics

Are Indian Dwarf Puffers Friendly?

This species is not known to be very friendly towards other fish, inverts, etc. nor towards even their own species. They are naturally a territorial fish, which is why their aquarium set up is extremely important in order to prevent aggression towards other tank mates as much as possible.

Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish Tank Mates

If you are going to keep multiple Indian Dwarf Puffer fish in the same tank, you will want to have the following combinations in order to reduce aggression:

  • 1 male and 1 female
  • 1 male with multiple females
  • All females

Tank size also has a lot to do with how many Indian Dwarf Puffer fish you can keep as well as their other tank mates. For example, a 10 gallon tank for a pair of Indian Puffer Fish will suffice with no other tank mates. If you have a larger tank and want to keep multiple Indian Dwarf Puffer fish, you should only have 1 male with multiple females or just females – keeping the 1 Indian Dwarf Puffer fish per 5 gallons rule (more on this in little bit).

Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish – Image Source: Practical Fishkeeping

As far as other species go for tankmates, you want to choose fish that are peaceful and on the smaller side. These fish should not be large enough to where they can fit the Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish into their mouths. You also want to choose species that are pretty fast swimmers so that if the puffer fish do try to attack them, they can get away quickly. Stay away from any species that have long fins, since these puffers are known to be fin nippers. Also stay away from inverts of any kind or any slow, bottom dwelling species. These will get either picked on or eaten or both by the puffer fish.

Flip Aquatics is known for having this species available for purchase as well as other nano fish that can be kept with the Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish – with the right sized tank. So feel free to check them out and ask them all of your Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish tank mate questions.

Indian Dwarf Puffer Aquarium Set Up

For a general rule of thumb, one Indian Dwarf Puffer per 5 gallons is a good guideline when choosing your aquarium size. For substrate, sand works really well for this species since they are messy eaters and they like a planted tank. Sand provides a much easier surface to remove snail shell debris, etc. from when they eat. It also can act as a top layer to planted tank soil so that the plants can easily grow through it.

Freshwater plants such as anubias, cryptocoryne wendtii, java moss and java fern are great plants for this species. Plants provide hiding places as well as help to break up the puffer fish’s line of sight in order to reduce aggression. Green Aqua on YouTube has an excellent video on how to nano aquascape for Indian Dwarf Puffer fish which you can watch below.

As you can see from this video, rocks and any additional structures like driftwood are great additions to the plants.

Are Indian Dwarf Puffers Hard to Keep?

With the right sized aquarium and set up, regular maintenance, suitable tankmates and the right food, these tiny puffers are not reported to be too difficult to keep. As long as the puffer fish’s needs are met and you are able to dedicate the time and resources to their needs, this species should not be too difficult for more advanced aquarium hobbyists. For a beginner, this species would not be a good fit, nor would it be easy to keep unfortunately.

If you are a beginner and you had your hopes set on this species, try out some easier to keep species first so that you can learn. Once you have the basics down and you have successfully kept a freshwater aquarium for 6 months to a year, the next step is to try out a planted tank. Once you have mastered that, you should be ready for some more advanced species like the Indian Dwarf Puffer fish.

What Do Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish Eat?

The Indian Dwarf Puffer fish eats live baby brine shrimp, ramshorn snails and common pond snails (super small or crushed up). They are algae grazers as well, so having a light amount of algae growth in your tank will be a good, renewable food source for them in addition to the meaty foods. They will also eat baby snails and bloodworms. Watch this puffer eat small snails right out from their shells in the video below.

These foods can be very messy and the Indian Puffer Fish is known to be a messy eater. With that said, regular water changes for this species’ tank are in order so that you can maintain proper water quality.

Indian Dwarf Puffer Water Parameters

In their natural habitat, the water parameters can differ greatly from one body of freshwater to another. This makes the Indian Dwarf Puffer fish’s water parameters range quite large. With that said, stability with any species is your friend. So based on the parameters below, choose a small range that works best for your puffers. Here are the water parameter ranges:

  • pH: 7.0 – 8.0
  • Temperature: 72° F – 82° F
  • KH: 5-15

And that’s 8 facts about the Indian Dwarf Puffer Fish. If you are interested in learning more about other species of marine life, be sure to check out the Fish Facts section of this website.

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