The Pea Puffer, scientifically known as Carinotetraodon travancoricus, is a freshwater fish that originates from Southwest Asia. It is also known as pygmy pufferfish, dwarf pufferfish, or pea pufferfish. This species is commonly found in a series of rivers and lakes in this region. This species is among the gorgeous freshwater species in the world. 

Pea Puffer Fish
Michelle Jo, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In their natural home, this species has reduced in population as a result of overfishing which has made it harder to find them there. It is good to add this species to your tank, but there is a need to do proper research on the right place to buy them.               

This fish has, in the recent past, started gaining popularity among aquarists. This fish is not only popular due to its good appearance but also due to the ease of taking care of them as long as you know what you are doing. They are also fun to observe as a result of their active behavior.

You need to educate yourself before getting one because they need a lot of understanding to thrive in your aquarium. Therefore, this guide seeks to give you a complete understanding of what you need to know about Pea Puffer. It will cover basic care, the right diet, and other important issues.


Scientific NameCarinotetraodon travancoricus
Size1 inch
TemperamentSemi aggressive
Care levelIntermediate
Tank Size10 gallons
Lifespan4 to 5 Years
Temperature72 to 82 degrees F
Freshwater or saltwater Freshwater
CompatibilityTropical freshwater


Getting the ideal tank mates for this fish is one of the common challenges the owners find. This species is territorial and aggressive, and this means you cannot simply pair them with any similarly sized species. The best option is to get one Pea Puffer and keep them alone. This will ensure there is no fight in the tank, and it will allow you to use a small tank.

This species also likes shoaling, and this means they would be happier having some company. You, therefore, need to provide some tank mates, and the aquarium will be full of fun. If you decide to keep a species-only tank, there are two things that you need to keep in mind. The first is that you will need to give each of them enough space; and whereby you need to add an extra 5 gallons for every fish you add. The second is that you will have to add plenty of plants so as to provide plenty of hiding places.

By doing this, you will keep this fish from getting into the nerves of each other. They are likely to do a lot of damage if they are left unchecked despite their size. If you want to keep them with other fish species, there are some things you need to look for.

The tank mates should be of the same size and be able to get away whenever they are needed to. This is because this species are fin nippers and will pester slow fish, and you should obviously avoid large fish since they can hurt or eat the pufferfish with their tiny size. Below are some of the ideal tank mates;

  • Danios
  • Cherry shrimp
  • Kuhli Loach
  • Neon Tetras
  • Otocinclus
  • Ember tetras


This fish lacks good swimming ability, and therefore you need to avoid larger species that are predatory. This fish has the ability to suck water and increase its size, but doing this every other time can be very stressful. Also, ensure you do not put them in the same aquarium with fish with long fins or flowing fins. Below are some of the species that you should completely avoid keeping together with the Pea Puffer;

  • Cichlids
  • Beta
  • Predatory Catfish
  • Gourami


As indicated, this species is aggressive and territorial, and this means that pairing them is a bit challenging. The best fish to co-exist with this species is the peaceful and the bottom dwellers. This will ensure there is little encountering which might bring some confrontations.


Till Kresslein, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Generally, this fish species is gorgeous in appearance. This fish has a unique look, and that is where the name was derived from. They resemble a chunky swimming pea with thick and dense bodies. The front parts begin with a slightly pointed at the mouth, and at the middle section of the body, it gets thicker. When you reach the dorsal fin, things start to taper down significantly. The body of this fish thins out to about half of its maximum width and stays in the same size through the entire of their caudal panicle.

This species has very small and unassuming fins, and this is exaggerated further by the fact that they are translucent. This creates cute effects that make it seem as if their stocky bodies are being moved around by almost nonexistent fins. The dorsal fish of this species are about two-thirds of the body, and the pectoral fins are more found at the center of the main area of the mass. The fins are of the same size.

These species’ caudal fins are also interesting to look at. It can be quite hard to notice this fish if you are observing them since it’s quite clear and modest in size. This creates a funny look at first glance. Since it is difficult to see the fish of this fish and they also have a long caudal peduncle, it looks like they are swimming with nothing back there. This species sometimes looks like a small green droplet as they move around.

This species is yellowish-green in color, and it extends throughout their body. You will also find some dark spots that are evenly seized. These spots are not found on the underbelly. This species also has a classic face that has large eyes and an open rectangular-shaped mouth.


As said earlier, this species is tiny in size with an average size of 1 inch in length when fully grown. However, how you take care of this fish, it is rare to find them exceeding this size. There are only a few cases, but they are rare to find.


This fish originates from parts of India, and this is mainly in the Southern parts of Kerala and Karnataka. They are basically found in almost up to 13 rivers in the regions of Western Ghats. This species is naturally fresh water and cannot tolerate saltwater or brackish water. They prefer living in slow-moving waters. They are small-bodied, and this limits them from swimming in rivers with strong currents.

They also prefer living in a vegetated area since this will slow down the flow of water. This species also loves such an environment since it provides some hiding spots and enough shadows.


On average, this species lives for an average of 4 to 5 years. Just like any other fish, their lifespan depends on genetics and the quality of care. If you do not provide them with the quality of care they need, they are likely to have some diseases and have a short lifespan. However, if you provide optimal conditions and the right diet, they are likely to have a long and happy life.


This species is greatly misunderstood by most aquarists. Most of the potential owners think that this species is harmless due to the fact that they are tiny in size and adorable size. This is a wrong perception since this species is feisty and aggressive and has no issues fighting each other or other species. This explains why they need a good species to feel comfortable and stay.

Keeping them in an aquarium that they are too close to each other is a recipe for disaster since they are territorial. However, if you provide a spacious room with plenty of hiding spots, this species will regularly be found shoaling. These species are also rather active. They are generally curious and will often check out every part of their tank. You will sometimes find them investigating in the substrate, other fish, and even you. This experience is amazing and fun to watch. There is never a dull moment.


This species is small in size and therefore does not need a big tank. When choosing the tank, there are some of the things you need to put into consideration. They include;


The Pea Puffer is generally tiny in size, but that does not mean that they do not need enough space. They love moving around the aquarium, and therefore the tank should have enough space that will support their movements. In order to thrive, these species need an average of 10 gallons tank. The tank should be increased as you add more fish to the tank. For every fish you add of the same species, ensure you add at least 5 gallons.

  • LID

It is important to provide a lid for the aquarium, and it provides a wide range of advantages. The main advantage is protecting the water against being contaminated. Also, this fish is an active one, and therefore they love jumping. The lid helps to prevent them from jumping off the tank. There should, however, be a space between the lid and the level of water to avoid them from hitting the lid when jumping, which might get them injured. The lid acts as an extra layer of protection.


The quality of the water needs to be pristine, and the ideal choice of filter should be oversized but underpowered. In their natural home, the water is slow-moving, and their body shape cannot handle turbulence; therefore, this should be replicated in captivity. This fish has a body that is not so much streamlined and cannot handle strong currents. The right filter should spread any return flow to the tank over a wide area, minimizing any fast currents.

The filter should be big since this fish is a mess and has a high appetite, and this means they have a high bio load which pollutes the water so much. This filter will be helpful in filtering some of the waste from the tank. The filter should have some sponge so as to prevent the sucking of these tiny species, which might kill them.


This ideal choice of substrate for this species is coarse sand or small gravels stacked together. Since this species loves a planted tank, it is a good idea to add some aquarium soil on top since it will support the natural plant growth.


This species is an active s fish, and they love an aquarium with plenty of hiding spots. Besides plants, you can also provide some decorations such as caves or some driftwood. These are important in ensuring that the tank is lively and interesting, and it also mimics their natural environment.


This species loves diffused lighting where it is inherent in intensity. It is important to expose them to natural lighting since that maintains the natural exposure. It is important to keep the light controlled.


The Pea Puffer thrives best in a planted tank with a lot of vegetation. You can provide some rooting plants since they are natural, or you can also provide some floating plants. The plants are crucial in providing hiding places and replicating their natural home.


As said earlier, this species has a high bio load which means they produce a lot of waste in the tank. It is therefore important to clean the tank on a regular basis to ensure all the waste is disposed of. You should also clean the substrate from time to time and every other equipment in the tank. This protects these freshwater fish against all the unwanted matter that will probably affect them.

However, when cleaning, ensure that you use Luke warm water and a piece of cloth. It is advisable not to use any soap-based or chemical-based products in cleaning since they may be harmful to the fish.


The water requirement for this fish is very crucial since they affect the fish directly. They will affect the health of the fish and, ultimately, their lifespan. The water profile is important in balancing the overall tank environment. It is therefore important to ensure they are well taken care of and all the requirements are followed. Below are some of the parameters that need to be observed;


The Pea Puffer is hardy, and they are capable of surviving in a wide range of parameters. It is important to provide the right temperature, which is between 72 to 82 degrees F. You should ensure that water remains consistent in temperatures and should not be outside the range.


This species prefers water that is slightly towards the soft side, but they can also live on a neutral side too. An alkaline range of between 4 to 10 KH is a good balance.


The ph. of the fish is directly linked to the health of the fish. The ideal ph should range from 6.5 to 7.0.


  • The first step is to clean the tank and place it on a piece of trimmed absorbent matting to balance out any irregularity between cabinet and glass. The filter and lighting are installed.
  • You can now add two pieces of lava rock to act as a foundation to build up the riverbank edge.
  • You can also other decorations such as driftwoods. These woods help in providing an intricate structure for the fish to explore.
  • Then you can add approximately 15 kgs of the thoroughly washed substrate at the bottom of the tank. You can use something to ensure the substrate is smoothened to shape.
  • You can then add some loose twigs and some other plants.
  • After adding the plants, you can then add a heater in the tank. This will be important in ensuring the water is always at the right temperature by warming it whenever it drops below the limit.


This species is carnivorous in nature, and this means their diet consists of fresh only. They have no problem hunting down their meals despite their small size. In the wild, this species mainly feed on live foods such as algae, insects, and larvae. In captivity, it is crucial to feed them on plenty of protein-rich foods since they cannot survive on feeding on flakes and pellets alone.

Some of the ideal food you should feed on this species include some live, frozen, or freeze-dried food such as bloodworms, brine shrimps, tubifex, and mosquito larvae. They also love small snails. These foods are rich in proteins and will provide your fish with plenty of it. This species has a high appetite, and therefore, they can easily overfeed. You, therefore, need to feed them twice a day, that is in the morning and during the evening.

This fish I generally intelligent and will easily learn the inside and outside environment of the tank. They will also recognize the feeding time in a short time. To avoid overfeeding them, ensure that you feed them for a maximum of three minutes. By feeding them for more than 3 minutes, you risk overfeeding them, which will have health effects.

Overfeeding your Pea Puffer is not only bad for the fish but also for your tank. Ensure that you remove any uneaten food in the tank to avoid rotting and polluting the tank. The uneaten food will increase the ammonia level in the tank, and that is why it should be cleaned before it starts to decompose.


Compared to other fish, breeding Pea Pufferfish is easy. Different breeders have different means when it comes to choosing the type of breeding tank. Some will prefer having a different tank that is dedicated to breeding, while others will just use the same tank the fish is housed in. If you decide to go for a separate breeding tank, you should go for one that is smaller than normal so that the fish will be forced to interact.

While the tank size can be about 5 gallons, it is important to have a single male and a female in that tank, but if you want to increase the success chances, you can have one male and more than one female. To trigger breeding among these fish, you can increase the water temperatures to about 79 degrees. Ensure that your tank is heavily vegetated; else, the fish will not mate. If you do not have a lot of vegetation in the tank, you can put multiple driftwoods in such a way that you give your fish the privacy they need. The advantages of driftwoods are that they can provide space for beneficial bacteria to grow and help your tank.

When you are preparing your tank, it is crucial to choose the right kind of filter. It is advisable to choose a sponge filter since they have little to no water flow. If you choose a strong filter with a heavy to moderate flow of water, you will be risking the fish from being sucked into the filter. If you choose the right condition, the male species will chase around the female until she is ready to mate and breed.

After they have paired and agreed to mate, they will go to the plants to spawn. After they have laid eggs, it takes around 48 hours for the eggs to hatch. The fries will feed on the egg’s nutrients for the first 2 to 3 days, and thereafter they should be fed with a mixture of live infusoria and hatched brine shrimp. These supplement foods will help them develop faster.


The male and female Pea Puffers have some distinct features that you can use to differentiate between them. The males develop some color changes with the belly turning greenish-gold in the shade. They also develop a lateral line, and they start to show black ovals or stripes on their backs or sides. The males are slender compared to the females.

On the other hand, the female belly turns yellow or white with a yellow patch near the throat. The oval shape is much smaller than it is in males. The females have a plumber shape more so when they are ready to lay eggs.


These Pea Puffers are hardy fish, but despite that, they are prone to some diseases. Most of the diseases are common freshwater diseases. Below are some of the common diseases that affect this species;

  • Bacterial Diseases  

The changes that keep occurring to the environment of this freshwater fish not only lead to the birth of most microorganisms but it is equally responsible for the creation of pathogens. Some of these infections include tuberculosis, dropsy, fin rot, calumnies, and more. If the fish is not well-taken care of, they can get infected by these diseases more than you can imagine.


In the case of this disease, an unusual fluid is stored inside the tissues and the cavity of the fish body. This disease alone has the capability of indicating a number of underlying causes like the evident bacterial infection or liver damage.

  • ICH

This disease is originally known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. It has very severe effects on the general health of the fish. Some of the signs include missing scales, breathing difficulties, bruises, or even lethargy.


There are a few methods that can be used to cure these diseases, and they are as follows;

  • Keep an eye on the fish throughout so that you can be able to detect any infection immediately so that the remedy can be provided in time.
  • Also, you can treat and prevent these diseases by providing high-quality water in the aquarium. Ensure also the parameters are met all the time and with consistency.
  • When you notice that the fish has some infection, you should separate them from the others in the tank. Move them to a separate tank, and you can treat them from there until they have fully recovered. This prevents the spread of the disease to other species in the tank.
  • Once a sick fish has been identified in the tank, you should ensure that you change the entire water from the tank so as to remove any bacteria that might spread the infection o others. Ensure that you feed them on the right diet so they can have a strong immune system against these diseases.


Is the Pea Puffers Freshwater fish?

Yes. Pea Puffer is a freshwater fish that originates from Southwest Asia. This fish loves living in slow-moving streams and rivers.

Is the Pea Puffer aggressive?

Yes, this species is aggressive despite its size. They will attack other fish, and that is why they should be kept with bottom-dwelling fish so as to avoid any confrontations.

Do the Pea Puffers need a heater?

The water in the aquarium should be a bit warm, and therefore there is a need to have a heater installed in the tank. It should be used to heat the water whenever the water temperature drops below the recommended limit.


Taking care of this fish can be a challenge, but it is worth it. The whole process is rewarding. In the tank, they look immensely attractive with decently heavy and decorative vegetation. The temperament might be a bit complex, but it does not overshadow the interesting aspect of the fish.

This, therefore, will definitely make a good addition to your aquarium. It is our hope that this guide has given you a clear guide on how to take care of the Pea Puffers. With the information, you can now go ahead and get one for yourself. You will never regret the choice.

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