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PU3612

CONGO PUFFER (Tetraodon schoutedeni)

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The Spotted Congo Puffer is known from Pool Malebo (formerly Stanley Pool), a lake-like widening in the lower reaches of the Congo River system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here it is found in rocky habitats amongst the swiftly flowing, highly oxygenated waters, where it is may be observed lurking between crevices in the rocks or riparian vegetation, ready to ambush any small fish or crustaceans that venture past. The Spotted Congo Puffer requires a good sized, mature aquarium with a soft, sandy substrate and plenty of caves and crevices to hide between. As these fish are voracious eaters and can create a fair amount of waste, decent filtration should be employed (an external canister is ideal). There should be areas of moderate water movement and a high level of oxygenation, perhaps achieved by a powerhead with flow diverter angled up towards the surface of the water, or by keeping a slightly dropped water line so that water returning from  the filter splashes down onto  the water's surface. This is the smallest species of African pufferfish and is much sought after by oddball enthusiasts, however, imports from this region tend to be quite sporadic so this is one of the rarest pufferfish in the trade. As such, there are only a handful of reports of this fish being kept in the home aquarium, and although most suggest that this particular pufferfish is relatively peaceful towards its own kind and other species, it would be prudent to be cautious and have a means of separating tankmates if necessary. Ensuring there is an abundance of visual barriers within the aquarium will provide the best chance of keeping a group (introduce simultaneously, and observe very carefully), and any possible companions should be short-finned and fast-swimming. Rocks, driftwood, and hardy current-tolerant plants can all be utilised in an aquascape for these puffers. As with other puffer species, this fish can inflate when frightened or cornered. It should never be provoked into doing so, and never above water where it can take on air, which can prove fatal. If moving a Spotted Congo Puffer to larger quarters, the fish should be herded into a solid container under the water so as to remove the necessity of netting and lifting it clear of the water. Spotted Congo Puffers are capable of colour change, depending on their surroundings or mood. As a scaleless species, be aware that these fish are very sensitive to medications. Lastly, please remember that pufferfish can vary in temperament, and there may be exceptions to the expected behaviour of the species - even a pair that has been deemed 'compatible'. It is always a good idea to have some sort of tank divider - or even a spare aquarium - handy, should circumstances necessitate their use. Spotted Congo Puffers are intolerant of poor water quality - as already mentioned above, make use of a decent filtration system and perform plenty of regular partial water changes.

Feeding

Meaty frozen foods such as Mysis shrimp, vitamin-enriched brineshrimp, bloodworm, white mosquito larvae, chopped cockle and mussel meat, chopped shell-on prawns, small snails, partially opened cockle-in-shell etc should be given. Hard-shelled foods MUST be offered on a regular basis to help keep the beak in check. Some aquarists breed small aquatic snails in a separate nano aquarium, where they reproduce rapidly and can be easily harvested for feeding times.

Breeding

This species has not been bred in the home aquarium. These fish have been observed spawning in the wild, with eggs being deposited onto leaves and defended by the male.