Green Spotted Puffer Fish – Tetraodon nigroviridis

Last updated on July 21st, 2022 at 08:58 pm

A green spotted puffer fish (Tetraodon nigroviridis) or the leopard puffer fish, spotted blowfish, Burmese Puffer, leopard puffers, green eyespot puffer fish, dichotomyctere nigroviridis, or the green spotted blowfish, is a tropical saltwater or brackish water fish native to the waters of Micronesia and northern Australia.

It is common in the lagoon and seaward reefs with coral rubble bases, where it can sometimes be seen swimming over reef drop-offs or sand flats.

Green spotted puffer fish are nocturnal and spend the day hiding in caves or under mangrove roots, only emerging to hunt at night. In the evening, they will form small schools and swim in shallow waters looking for crustaceans, which make up the majority of their diet. In the wild, green spotted puffer fish grow to about 3–4 inches (7–10 cm) in length, although they can reach over 6 inches (15 cm) if they are raised in captivity by humans.

Origin and descriptions

Green spotted puffer fish

Green spotted puffer fish (Tetraodon nigroviridis) are native to Southeast Asia and live in burrows along riverbanks. They are catadromous, meaning they spawn in freshwater but live most of their lives in saltwater. They use burrows as a defense mechanism against larger predators like crocodiles.

Green spotted puffer fish can inflate themselves with water or air when threatened by predators, making them appear much bigger than they actually are. They feed on crustaceans, mollusks, worms, and insects found on river bottoms or near shorelines.

Species profile

Green spotted puffer fish belong to the family Tetraodontidae. They are also known as common puffers, green puffers, black-spotted puffers, and black-spotted pufferfish. The species was first described by Valenciennes in 1835.

The body of green puffers is compressed from side to side and oblong from front to back. They have a small head with a pointed snout, and their eyes are located on top of their head.

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Their anal fin is located close to their tail, but before it reaches it; it also has two spines, unlike most other puffers that only have one spine in each fin.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the green spotted puffer fish is Tetraodon nigroviridis

Common name

Green spotted puffers go by many names, some of which are leopard puffer fish, spotted green puffer, leopard puffers, green eyespot puffer fish, Burmese Puffer, spotted blowfish, green blowfish, or dichotomyctere nigroviridis.

Green spotted puffer fish size

Green spotted puffer fish

These species of fish only grow to around 6 inches (15 cm) in length.

Green spotted puffer fish tank size

Due to their size, the minimum recommended tank size for leopard puffers is 30 gallons (114 liters).

Tank requirements

The Green spotted pufferfish can be kept in a variety of setups as long as there is enough open space for swimming. A minimum of 30 gallons per fish is recommended, but 50 gallons or more may be needed depending on their size and water quality.

An under-gravel filter is ideal for biological filtration with a small hang-on back filter for mechanical filtration. They do best in slightly acidic to neutral water between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH should be around 7.0 to 8.0, hardness from 5-20 dH, and carbonate hardness from 2-10 dKH.

They are an omnivore so will eat flakes, freeze-dried foods, veggies, and algae wafers. They need high protein foods such as shrimp pellets (they love shrimp), bloodworms, and brine shrimp along with spirulina flakes or tablets to keep them healthy.

Live blackworms and snails are also good treats. Due to their aggressive nature, they must be kept alone unless you have a very large tank with plenty of room for each fish to have its own territory. Otherwise, they will attack other tank mates.

Green spotted puffer tank mates

The green spotted puffer fish is solitary and should be kept by itself. Only keep one in a tank unless you have a species tank with lots of live rock for it to hide in. Do not put two male green spotted puffer fish together, as they will fight and possibly kill each other. It’s best to keep them in a male/female pair, but if you plan on keeping them with some fish species, some good ones are scats, archerfish, mollies, Monos, other green spotted puffers (GSPs), and bumblebee gobies.

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Green spotted puffer fish

You can almost guarantee that these fish won’t breed in your aquarium. We know nothing about their breeding conditions, and it is impossible to sex them. Generally, Green Spotted Puffers bought from stores are wild-caught, and thus often have internal parasites.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Green Spotted Puffers tend to be peaceful as juveniles, but they become territorial and aggressive as they mature. Spotted puffers have a reputation for being aggressive toward their own species and others of the same kind, even at a young age. Keeping Spotted Puffers alone or in pairs is best due to their aggressive nature as adults.

Green spotted puffer fish care

Green spotted puffer fish

Since your Green Spotted Puffer will spend all of its time inside an aquarium, it is essential that you maintain water quality. This species does best when kept in water with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.8, and a temperature between 68-76 degrees Fahrenheit (20-24 degrees Celsius).

An ammonia level of 0 ppm is ideal for puffer fish, as they are very sensitive to chemicals in their environment. If ammonia levels rise above 0.25 ppm, immediate action should be taken to reduce them. It is also important to keep nitrates below 20 ppm and phosphates below 1ppm.

If the levels rise above these numbers, immediate action should be taken to reduce them as well. All water changes should include dechlorinator, and carbon filtration is highly recommended. Water changes should be done weekly or biweekly depending on how many fish are in your tank.

For example, if there are only 2-3 small-sized pufferfish, then water changes can be done every other week but if there are 4 or more, then weekly would be best. Another good idea would be to use a liquid test kit so you can check each day to make sure everything stays at safe levels.

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Green spotted puffer food

They are carnivores, so when young, green spotted puffer fish feed on zooplankton and small crustaceans. As they grow larger, their diet is made up of a variety of mollusks, fish, and benthic invertebrates such as crabs and sea urchins. Due to their unique digestive system that allows them to obtain nutrients from animals, they are able to survive on an all-meat diet.


Dichotomyctere nigroviridis can live up to 15 years in captivity if properly taken care of.

Parasites and diseases

Green spotted puffer fish are prone to a variety of parasitic infections and diseases, including internal parasites such as nematodes, and external parasites such as copepods, monogenetic trematodes, and digeneans. They may also be affected by viral and bacterial infections.

When kept in an aquarium, they can be treated for the disease with common anti-parasitic medications such as Metronidazole or Salt. In some cases, where a particular infection is present in high numbers within their environment, it is possible that treatment will have no effect at all.

One of the most common causes of death amongst green spotted puffers is dropsy (or ascites), which has been linked to various different factors including poor water quality and stress caused by overcrowding.


The puffer fish has very few predators; however, one of their biggest threats is humans. Humans not only kill them for food but also for sport. Their meat is considered a delicacy in Japan and China and they have been hunted to near extinction in these countries.

Green spotted puffer poison

They are an incredibly poisonous fish with some species containing lethal amounts of tetrodotoxin (TTX). Just eating a small amount of their internal organs can be fatal.

This makes it nearly impossible for animals to prey on them as they will die before ingesting enough TTX to make it worth their while. Other than humans, there are no natural predators that pose a threat to green spotted puffer fish populations.

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Do they make good pets?

Puffer fish are known for their toxicity. Their bodies contain tetrodotoxin, which gives them protection from being eaten by other animals and helps them hunt prey. The toxin is so strong that it can be deadly to humans. Because of their toxic nature, puffer fish can make good pets; however, you have to know how to care for them in order to do so.

They require a large tank with a lid because they can jump out of the water if startled. They also need to be fed live food, such as brine shrimp or bloodworms. If you don’t feed your puffer live food on a regular basis, they will likely die due to starvation or malnutrition. You also need to watch out for diseases like fin rot and ensure they get enough oxygen by adding an air stone into their tank.