Care sheet for Fahaka puffer fish (Tetraodon lineatus)

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The Fahaka puffer fish is a smart fish that makes a wonderful pet and can even learn to take food out of hand. These creatures are one of the cutest in the hobby with their bright orange eyes, smiling expressions, and strange, unpredictable way of swimming. They are one of the few types of aquarium fish that can truly be viewed as an interactive pet.

Although these fish are friendly and curious about their keepers, they are extremely aggressive towards other fish and invertebrates, so they are only suitable for a single sample setup.

To find out how to care for the fahaka puffer fish, check out this detailed guide!

Origin and Distribution

The Fahaka puffer fish belongs to the Tetraodontidae fish family. The fish has the scientific name Tetraodon lineatus but is known by several common names, including:

  • Nile buffer
  • Striped buffer
  • Tape buffer
  • Globefish
  • Lineatus buffer

The Fahaka buffer was described by C. Linnaeus as early as 1758. These fish are found in parts of Africa where they live in the large rivers, open waters, densely vegetated areas, and weed beds of the Nile, Niger, Chad, Volta, Geba, Gambia, and Senegal rivers.

In nature, the carnivorous fahaka puffer is called a mollusk eater, which means that the fish feeds primarily on oysters, krill, cockles, and clams.

These fish are solitary in the wild and only come together for breeding purposes during the spawning season. When two buffers do not meet for breeding purposes, the usual result is a fight to the death. However, the species is not considered endangered and is currently not on the IUCN Red List.


Tetraodon lineatus is an elongated, stocky fish with surprising, bright orange-red eyes and a covering with short spines all over its body.

The fish is gray-brown at the top, shading a lighter belly that can be almost white. The fish has horizontal stripes of light or golden colors that extend from the pectoral fins to the tail of the fish, hence the buffer's other common name, band buffer.

Interestingly, the coloring and markings of each fish vary depending on the environment, age, and temperament of the creature. Teens are often more blotchy in color while adults are more intense in color, with the darker areas of the body sometimes being a deep red hue.

Boys or girls?

It is almost impossible to tell the difference between male and female fahaka buffers. However, women are generally rounder than men, especially if they are carrying eggs.

Defense Mechanism

These puffer fish can change color depending on their mood and bloat when threatened with air or water.

As the fish inflates, its spines protrude, effectively preventing predators from swallowing the fish. As another form of defense, the fahaka puffer fish can produce toxins in its meat that make it toxic when consumed.

How big do Fahaka pufferfish get?

These are extremely large puffer fish that can grow up to 18 inches long both in nature and in captivity. However, unless you have a large tank and have your heart set on holding one of these beautiful, enigmatic fish, you can keep a subspecies of these puffers called Tetraodon fahaka rudolfianus. These fish are smaller and only grow to be about three inches long.

How long do Fahaka buffers live?

The average lifespan of these fish is up to ten years, provided they are properly nourished and kept in the conditions they prefer. That's pretty long-lived for an aquarium fish, so you can develop a pretty good relationship with your pet during that time.

How to take care of a fahaka puffer fish

Fahaka buffer is pretty easy to maintain as long as you provide it with the right water conditions and nutritional needs.

The main problems with these fish are their aggressive temperament and size. Feeding the fish can also be expensive as they require a diet consisting primarily of human food. It should also be mentioned here that these fish should not be added to an entirely new setup if you are planning a fishless cycle.

Tank size

These fish can reach 18 inches in length when mature, so you'll need a tank of at least 125 gallons.

Although puffers are not known for their acrobatic skills, it is recommended that your tank have a lid or a tight-fitting lid in case the fish pops out. Buffers float in all areas of the tank, so shape is not critical, although a deep, rectangular aquarium offers plenty of space for swimming.


The Nilpuffer produces a significant amount of waste and they are messy eaters too. Therefore, you need a powerful canister filter or similar system that turns the tank water at least six to ten times an hour. You will need to adjust the flow so that the current is not too strong as these fish are not the strongest swimmers and will get stressed when tossed around by the water.

To keep the water clean and hygienic, you need to change the water by 35 to 50 percent weekly. Remember to thoroughly clean the substrate with an aquarium vacuum system to remove fish debris, uneaten food debris, plant debris, and general debris. You should also watch out for hotspots where litter builds up, e.g. B. under decorations, in the aquarium corners and at the base of plants.

Tank decoration

A sandy or fine gravel substrate is the best choice for fahaka buffers, and smooth stones and driftwood are good decorative items for the tank.

When it comes to planting, even though these fish aren't digging up or eating your plants, damage often occurs while the fish are eating. Therefore, it is best to choose sturdy and hardy plant species for a spherical tank, or go the silk plant path.

The illuminance in the tank should be normal to moderate.

Water parameters

Although the Fahaka buffer can tolerate a low salt content in the water, it is said to be freshwater fish. These buffers are very sensitive to ammonia and nitrites in the water. Therefore, you should not introduce your buffer into an immature tank that has not yet been completely traversed.

Fahaka buffers are tropical fish that require a water temperature of 75 ° F to 82 ° F.

This puffer fish is very sensitive to soft water, so the water hardness in your aquarium should be between 10 and 12 dKH with a pH value of almost 7.0.

What do Fahaka puffer fish eat?

The Nilbuffer is a carnivorous species known as a mollusk eater. In the wild, fish feed on mollusks, insects and crustaceans.

In captivity, the fish can be fed snails, crabs, shrimp, and crayfish, and sometimes they can get used to eating freeze-dried krill.

Frequency of feeding

As a teenager, buffers should be fed every other day. When the fish are grown up, they only need to be fed two to three times a week.

It is important to feed all puffer fish species hard-shelled foods to wear down the fish's teeth. So foods like shellfish, snails, and crustaceans are all good. If the fish's teeth get too long, the animal will not be able to eat and you will have to cut off the teeth.

The diet of the fahaka buffer changes as it matures and grows larger. Juvenile specimens do well on a krill, frozen and snail diet. Once they're over 6 inches, your fish will need lobster, crab legs, clams, clams, and shrimp. Pre-soaked jumbo krill is also great food for puffers.

Many people feed their predatory puffer fish with small food fish. However, we do not recommend doing this as there is a risk of inadvertently introducing parasites and diseases into your aquarium.

social behaviour

Fahaka puffer fish are very aggressive and will not tolerate other fish in their environment, including members of their own species. Because of this, you have to leave one of these bad guys alone.

Since these fish are carnivorous and feed on crustaceans and the like, you cannot of course keep shrimp, crabs or snails with the Nile puffer.

Although this species of puffer fish is antisocial with other fish, they are very friendly, interesting pets. You can expect to find a unique bond with your fish that you don't with other species, and you can even potentially train your buffer to take food out of your hand.

Breeding and reproduction

In nature, the Fahaka puffer breeds in open water to a depth of up to 50 feet. In addition, these fish tend to attack and kill each other straight away. For these reasons, it is extremely difficult to breed these fish commercially and in home aquariums.


Tetraodon lineatus spawns when the female fish produces an ovipositor. The male fish swims upside down under the female and grabs them to connect both sex organs. Eggs and sperm are released at the same time to achieve fertilization.

The eggs usually hatch in shallow water within three to four days to allow the fry to reach the surface. Initially, young buffers should be fed infusoria, which must be fed constantly to avoid hunger. At the age of two weeks, the young fish takes prawns.

Like their parents, young puffers are very aggressive, so it is recommended that young people be separated to avoid injury.

Health and diseases

Fahaka buffers have no scales or gill covers, and this makes these fish vulnerable to many of the most common fish diseases that affect tropical fish in the tank.

Also, Nile puffer are wildly caught and can sometimes carry internal parasites. For this reason, you should always check with your supplier or dealer to see if the fish you have purchased has been treated with a de-wormer. If you haven't already, treat the fish yourself and keep it in a quarantine tank for at least ten days before adding it to your main exhibition aquarium.

These fish respond very well to most over-the-counter treatments for fish diseases. However, you have to NEVER Use copper in a tank that has a fahaka buffer in it.

Is My Fahaka Buffer Healthy?

The Nilpuffer is a curious, friendly fish that is active during the day, swims in all areas of the tank, and comes towards the viewing window when someone approaches the aquarium.

If you notice any of the following signs, you may experience brewing problems:

  • Bad appetite
  • Lethargy and generally disinterested in life
  • Swelling, ulcers and red spots on the skin
  • Snapping or rubbing on tank surfaces, decorations and the ground

Common health problems


I am the most common disease affecting the Nilpuffer. White spot disease, as the condition is also known, is caused by a protozoal parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. Fish with Me begin to snap against objects in the tank. As the parasite's life cycle progresses, a rash of tiny white spots appears on the fish's body, fins, and gills.

Treat me by raising the water temperature to 82 ° F for several days and treating the water with an appropriate medication available at your local fish store.


Flukes are parasites that attach themselves to the fish, typically on its body and gills. Fish with leeches rub against solid surfaces in the tank and excrete excessive mucus.

Treat the aquarium with antiparasitic medication to kill the leeches.

Fungal infections

Fish with fungal infections develop white cotton growths on their heads and bodies. Quarantine the infected fish and dose the water with antifungal drugs.

Bacterial infections

If the buffer develops red patches on its skin or ulcers, a bacterial infection is likely to be the culprit. Quarantine the infected fish again and dose the water with antibacterial drugs. Puffer fish are particularly susceptible to an infection called heterobothrium, which attacks the fish's gills.


Because of its aggressive nature, you won't find Fahaka puffer for sale in fish stores often in general, although you can get it online. Prices vary based on the age, size, and color of the fish and usually start around $ 20.

Final thoughts

If you have a very large tank and love to take in an interesting, friendly fish with aggressive tendencies that has to live alone, a fahaka puffer might be a creature to consider.

These big fish have expensive tastes when it comes to food and you need to be prepared to spend time maintaining and cleaning their tank. However, it's worth just seeing that cute, expressive little face that is looking lovingly at you when you say good morning to your pet!

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