Pea Puffer 101: Behavior, Diet, Care, Breeding, & More

The pea puffer (also known as dwarf pufferfish) is one of the prettiest freshwater creatures on the globe. We adore the way these small animals seem! And we’re not the only ones.

More and more aquarists are thinking about purchasing a pea puffer. In recent years, their popularity has surged!

However, their adorable look isn’t the only reason to consider purchasing these fish. Caring for them is simple if you know what to do, and their active nature makes them entertaining to watch.

However, if you’re considering buying one, you should first educate yourself. If you want your pea puffer to thrive in your tank, you must first have a thorough understanding of the species.

With that in mind, in this article, Healthy Betta will provide you with everything you need to know about the dwarf pea puffer. You’ll learn about basic care, tank mates, the food they consume, and much more!

  • Common Name(s): Pea Puffer, Dwarf Puffer, Indian Dwarf Puffer
  • Scientific Name: Carinotetraodon Travancoricus
  • Origin: Western India
  • Temperature: 74-82°F (23-28°C)
  • Size: 1.5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Food & Diet: Carnivorous diet
  • Lifespan: 4 to 5 years
  • Water pH: 7.0-8.0
  • Tank Mates: Neon Tetras, Kuhli Loaches, and Adult Cherry Shrimp
  • Breeding: Breeding pair spawn in dense vegetation.
  • Disease: May be susceptible to ich.

Pea Puffer Origin

The dwarf pea puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) is a freshwater fish native to Southwest India’s Western Ghats. It is also known as the dwarf pufferfish, pea pufferfish, and pygmy pufferfish.

These fish may be found in a number of major rivers and lakes in this region, including the Chalakudy River and Lake Vembanad. This species is native to this region, and its number is declining owing to overfishing, making it increasingly difficult to view them in their natural environment.

While it is not too late to reverse this trend, it is unsettling. While we don’t advocate delaying getting one for yourself, we do recommend conducting some research on the company from whom you’re purchasing one.

Pea Puffers (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) are little fish that reach a maximum size of 1.5 inches at maturity. These dwarf pufferfish are the world’s tiniest puffers. They are yellow and green, with black markings on their bodies. Some of these black patches are little, while others are significant. In addition, their eyes are enormous in comparison to their little physique. Pea Puffers have a body form that distinguishes them from other puffers: a huge head and a body that grows smaller towards the tail.

Note: Because they are classified as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, you should be very certain that you are prepared to care for one before making a purchase. While you should do this with any fish you buy, buying a pea puffer you aren’t ready for has a direct influence on the species’ population collapse.

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Appearance Of Pea Puffers

Dwarf pufferfish appearance

While we more often call this fish “adorable” and leave it at that, we’ll delve into more detail for the sake of thoroughness. The pea puffer has a highly distinct appearance, which contributed to the genesis of its name. These small little fish that resembles a big swimming pea!

Their bodies appear to be thick and dense. The front begins somewhat pointed at the mouth and thickens towards the middle of their bodies.

When you get to their dorsal fin, things start to slow down dramatically. Their body thins out to approximately half their maximum width and remains around the same size throughout the caudal peduncle.

The fins of dwarf pea puffers are tiny and inconspicuous. This is heightened by the fact that they are largely transparent.

This generates a delightful appearance in which these stocky tiny bodies appear to be moved around by nonexistent fins! It looks like something from a cartoon.

Their dorsal fins are about two-thirds of the way back on their bodies, and their pectoral fins are almost exactly in the center of their primary bulk. These fins are all around the same size.

The caudal fin of a pea puffer is likewise rather intriguing. When examining these fish, it might be difficult to recognize since it is fairly transparent and little in size.

At first glance, this gives an amusing appearance.

Because the fin is difficult to discern and these fish have such a long and thin caudal peduncle, it appears as they are swimming with nothing behind them. Dwarf pea puffers might resemble a little green droplet as they move!

This species’ body color is yellowish-green and extends all the way around their body. On top of it, there are dark uniformly sized specks that are evenly spaced apart. These markings do not appear on the underbelly.

Pea puffers feature the traditional pufferfish face, with huge eyes and a rectangular-shaped mouth that is open.

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Behavior & Temperament

One of the most generally misunderstood parts of pea puffer care is this. Because of their small size and lovely look, many potential owners believe these fish are safe.


Pea puffers are feisty and aggressive fish that have no problem battling other species (or each other). This is why it’s critical to give them enough space to feel at ease and keep them away from other fish.

Because of their territorial instincts, cramming them in too close together is a formula for catastrophe. However, given enough space and hiding spots, this species can be spotted shoaling on a regular basis.

Pea puffers are also a very active species. These fish are naturally inquisitive and can’t stop inspecting different elements of their tank.

A pea puffer swims fast past the tank’s plants.

They will most likely be studying the substrate, plants, other fish, and even you! As an owner, this makes them a lot of fun to watch. There is never a dull time here!

Pea Puffer’s Food & Diet

Pea Puffer’s Food & Diet
Pea Puffer’s Food & Diet

Dwarf pea pufferfish are carnivorous and, despite their adorable look, have a voracious appetite! These fish mostly consume tiny insects, larvae, and algae in the wild.

In captivity, you’ll need to provide them with protein-rich food that’s varied. These aren’t the kind of fish that can be fed pellets and flakes.

Bloodworms, brine shrimp, tubifex, and mosquito larvae are excellent frozen and live meals. These will provide them with the nutrition and protein they require, as well as an excellent source of enrichment.

It’s critical to avoid overfeeding them for the sake of their health. Because of their voracious appetites, it is quite simple to overfeed these fish. Aim for a two-feeding plan every day.

Another reason why overfeeding your pea puffer is detrimental is the impact it might have on water quality. Uneaten food will settle in the tank and start to decompose. This process will gradually contaminate the water in your tank, causing an increase in nitrates and other contaminants.

Pea Puffers’ Breeding

Breeding Dwarf Puffer Fish is simple if you keep the water temperature at 79°F. A 5-gallon breeding tank sounds good for one male and one female, but a separate breeding tank is not required because they will breed in your main aquarium.

Males will frequently pursue females around the tank until she is ready to procreate, thus heavily planted tanks are essential. At this moment, the female will guide the male into the vegetation to spawn. A cluster of java moss is ideal for spawning.

A piece of bogwood may also be used to make the aquarium feel more natural while also providing an ideal home for bacteria that are helpful for the nitrifying bacteria to feed on.

The fry will hatch from their eggs 48 hours after spawning. To accelerate rapid growth, feed the fry a mixture of live infusoria and freshly born brine shrimp once they have completely swallowed their egg yolk (2-3 days after hatching).

A sponge filter should be placed in the tank with little to no water flow – otherwise, the fry may be pulled into the filter.

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Common Possible Diseases

There are no species-specific diseases to be concerned about with the dwarf pea puffer. Instead, you should follow the suggested rules for avoiding and detecting frequent freshwater infections.

Ich is the most frequent illness to be mindful of. If you’ve been around the aquarium scene for a while, you’ve probably heard of it.

While we won’t go into detail about the sickness, it’s not something you want to deal with. It appears as white spots on your fish and, if not handled correctly, can kill them.

Fortunately, if you take care of the water quality in your tank, you may substantially lower the risk of Ich (and many other diseases). A well-maintained habitat with ideal water is something you should strive for anyhow, but there is another reason to do so.

Because of the pea puffer’s sensitivity to changes in water parameters, it’s plausible to suppose that they may not tolerate poor water quality as well as other fish. If you plan on acquiring these animals, be sure you’re dedicated to preserving their environment!

Tank Setup For Pea Puffers

A minimum tank capacity of 10 gallons is required for Pea Puffers. Of course, they would do better in a larger tank since it would allow them to wander more freely, as they would in their native habitat. If you intend to maintain other Pea Puffers in the tank, you will need at least 5 gallons for each extra Pea Puffer you keep in your aquarium.

Pea Puffers are particularly sensitive to changes in water conditions. As a result, you should ensure that you have dependable testing equipment and that you test the water on a frequent basis. Pea Puffers prefer temperatures ranging from 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels ranging from 7.0 to 8.0. If there are any problems with the water parameter, they must be identified and resolved as soon as possible.

Pea Puffers dwell in densely forested places in the wild. It is critical to include a lot of plants to their aquarium arrangement in order to make them feel protected. Adding caves, boulders, and driftwood, in addition to vegetation, can be advantageous. This hardscape may offer a variety of hiding spots as well as locations to explore.
Lovely Pea Puffers

Pea Puffers’ Best Tank Mates

Pea Puffers are little fish, yet they are territorial and can become violent when confronted with other fish. As a result, tank mates for Pea Puffers should be chosen with caution. If you intend to keep more than one Pea Puffer together, make sure you have an aquarium large enough to allow each Pea Puffer to have its own zone.

If you wish to keep Pea Puffers with other fish, bear in mind that the Pea Puffers are fin nipping fish, and they may irritate slower-moving fish. If your Pea Puffers are nipping at their fins, you’ll be able to see the other fish’s damaged or wounded fins. Pea Puffers should not be kept in the same tank as larger fish that might hurt or consume them.

Neon Tetras, Kuhli Loaches, some Danios, and mature Cherry Shrimp are some tank mates to consider for your Pea Puffers. These tankmates should be able to get out of the path of the Pea Puffer without being stressed or injured. Remember that the more fish you add, the more plants you’ll want to add so your Pea Puffer can hide and feel at ease.

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FAQs About Pea Puffer

Can Pea Puffers Be Added to Community Tanks?

Pea Puffers can be kept in a communal tank, although it can be tough. Because Pea Puffers are so little, they may be harassed or eaten by larger fish. They aren’t quick swimmers, though, so they may be unable to flee if they are attacked.

Pea Puffers are not peaceful fish and may attack other fish as well. Slow-moving fish with lengthy fins are vulnerable to assault.

If you’re putting Pea Puffers in a communal tank, make sure the tank mates are carefully chosen and there’s adequate space for all of the fish. There should also be lots of living plants for shelter. The fish will be able to hide anytime they feel threatened as a result of this.

Are Pea Puffers Aggressive?

Pea Puffers are little, yet they are ferocious. These wild fish will seek out and protect a region to call their own. They will do the same in an aquarium, and they may nip at other fish to defend their area. For this reason, it is advised that they be kept with their own species. 

If you intend to keep different fish species in the same tank, make sure to keep an eye on their interactions to avoid problems. You should be able to observe if they are biting at each other’s fins. Remember that aggressive behavior can occur in a species-only aquarium as well. As a result, make sure you have a large enough tank and enough of plants for shelter.

How Many Pea Puffers Should Be Kept Together?

Pea Puffers can be kept alone, although they thrive in groups of at least three fish. While they are territorial, they also shoal. When maintaining a bunch of fish, allow 5 gallons of water for each extra fish.

Each fish has its own personality, and some will get along while others will not. Keeping fewer males, on the other hand, will assist lessen aggressive behavior. For a group of three, maintaining one male and two females would be excellent.

Are Pea Puffer and Shrimp Good Tank Mates?

Pea Puffers and shrimp are frequently good aquarium mates. Popular freshwater shrimp species include Cherry Shrimp and Amano Shrimp.

Pea Puffers, on the other hand, are carnivorous and feed on invertebrates. Full-grown Cherry and Amano Shrimp are unlikely to be eaten, although extremely small immature shrimp may be bitten by the Pea Puffers. As a result, if you plan to breed the shrimps, you should not keep them in the same tank.

Are Pea Puffer and Snails Good Tank Mates?

Snails and Pea Puffers are often incompatible tank mates. Snails will be considered food by pea puffers, not tank mates. Small snails, such as Bladder Snails, are easily devoured by Pea Puffers. Larger snail species may survive Pea Puffer attacks, but there is a good probability they will be consumed. Pea Puffers are known to attack larger snails, injuring them. Snails do not always heal from their injuries.

Are Pea Puffer and Betta Good Tank Mates?

Pea Puffers and Betta fish are not usually good tank mates. They are aggressive and territorial fish. The Pea Puffers may nibble on the Betta fish’s long fins. Because Betta fish may be aggressive as well, it may fight back.

Can Pea Puffers Get Puffed Up?

When threatened, Pea Puffers puff up. They puff out in order to seem bigger and repel predators. Even when they are not under threat, they may puff up on occasion.

They may inflate up by taking in water. They will revert to normal if left alone.

While it is fascinating to see these fish puff up, purposefully disrupting the fish to get them to puff up is not advised. The fish may become stressed as a result of this.

Furthermore, these fish should be transported in a cup rather than a net. If the fish is dragged from the water, it may suck in air to puff up. This can be hazardous to the fish, since it may have difficulty releasing it. As a result, Pea Puffers should always be submerged.

Where to Find Pea Puffers for Sale?

Pea Puffers are a popular aquarium fish, therefore they may be found at a variety of local fish stores. They are also available from a variety of internet stores. It is best to buy tank-bred individuals because wild-caught animals are sometimes difficult to feed.

Pea Puffers are often available for around $8 USD per fish.

Final Thoughts About Pea Puffer

Dwarf pea puffer maintenance is a tremendously gratifying and pleasurable experience. These fish are a joy to maintain, and many owners have told us that buying this species was one of the finest decisions they’ve ever made.

It’s a lot of joy to watch these fish, from their charming look to their energetic behavior. They are freshwater species that are distinct and distinct in the greatest way imaginable.

Anyone who takes the time to learn the essentials of pea puffer care will be able to raise these fish and provide them with a good existence. We owe it to them, given their dwindling numbers, to get this right!

To know more about other tropical fish and how to take care of them, you can visit our Tropical fish section. We provide all comprehensive guidance on taking care of popular freshwater fish such as plecos, tetras, and gouramis. Also, you can get some useful tips on creating a healthy fish tank community and much more!

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