Pea Puffer Fish (Dwarf Puffer Fish)

pea puffer fish

Last updated on September 6th, 2022 at 08:27 pm

The pea puffer fish (Carinotetraodon travancoricus), also known as dwarf puffer fish, is an extremely popular species of freshwater puffer fish that can be kept as a pet in an aquarium. It originates from the Pamba River in Kerala, India, and the Sholayar region of the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu, India, but it has since been introduced to other parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

Pea puffer fish are popular aquarium fish among hobbyists, but they also make excellent pets for more casual owners who want to add a dash of personality to their tanks. Although pea puffer fish are small and generally considered one of the easiest species to care for, they do require specific care and feeding in order to live long, healthy lives.

If you love having fish in your aquarium but want something more interesting than the standard goldfish, consider adding pea puffer fish to your tank. These small, colorful creatures are popular among aquarists and are relatively easy to care for as long as you make a few considerations beforehand.

Origin and descriptions

pea puffer fish

Pea puffer fish are small freshwater puffer fish from India, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. Their unique appearance and personality make them popular choices for aquariums, but they require careful attention to the conditions they need to thrive and avoid illness.

Pea puffers are native to Lake Tanganyika in Africa.  It’s also known as a dwarf puffer fish, due to its round, peapod-like shape. Dwarf puffers are very small—about 1.4 inches long—and can be kept in a 10-gallon tank or smaller. They generally will get along with other dwarf puffers, but they do not mix well with other species of fish.

Species profile

Pea puffer fish, also known as dwarf puffer fish, are freshwater fish, belonging to Tetraodontidae family. They are one of several species of dwarf puffers that are commonly kept in aquaria. Their spiky appearance, their amazing colors, and their nature make them very popular among aquarium hobbyists.

Porcupine Puffer Fish "Diodon Holocanthus"

They can be a bit difficult to keep due to their small size and sensitive care requirements. However, if you take good care of your pea puffer fish, they will reward you with years of enjoyment. In fact, they can live up to 20 years! Pea puffer fish are omnivorous; they eat both plants and animals in captivity but they prefer meaty foods such as bloodworms or brine shrimp nauplii over algae-based foods like spirulina flakes or blanched vegetables.

Scientific name

Pea puffer fish is scientifically known as Carinotetraodon travancoricus


These puffers are found only in the Western Ghats of Peninsular India, in Kerala and southern Karnataka. A dozen rivers (as well as estuaries) run through Kerala, including the Pamba, Chalakudy, Periyar, Bharathappuzha, Kabani, Achenkovil, Muvattupuzha, and Vamanapuram rivers.

Pea puffer size

pea puffer fish

These species of fish can grow to a maximum size of 1.4 inches (4 cm) in length.

Pea puffer tank size

These are active fish that like to swim and have rooms to hide, due to this, the minimum recommended tank size is 10 gallons (38 liters).

Tank requirements

In addition to maintaining these pea puffer fish, you’ll need an appropriately sized tank. A 10-gallon tank is fine for one or two dwarf puffers, but keep in mind that they tend to become territorial and don’t always get along with other species of fish; some experts recommend limiting them to a 5-gallon aquarium.

For reference, dwarf puffers grow to be about 1.4 inches long when fully grown. You’ll also want to make sure your tank has plenty of places for your fish to hide—dwarf puffers are very shy creatures who prefer dimly lit areas where they can feel safe from predators.

This means you should have lots of rocks and plants in your tank so your pea puffer fish can take shelter if it feels threatened. It’s also important to note that dwarf puffers need tanks with strong filtration systems; because they produce so much waste, their water quality will quickly deteriorate without proper filtration.

Heros notatus (Spotted Severum)

One final note: Keep in mind that while dwarf puffers can live peacefully alongside other fish, they may not do well with fish larger than themselves—and larger fish may try to eat them!

Pea puffer tank mates

Ember tetras, Neon tetras (both normal and green), Cherry shrimp, Kuhli loach, Danios, Otocinclus.

Pea puffer breeding

pea puffer fish

In general, breeding pea puffers isn’t difficult, and if kept at a certain temperature for extended periods and fed properly, they will breed on their own. Males usually chase females until she accepts their advances, and then they move toward a spot under the cover of plants.

The temperature of the water should be around 79°F. It is recommended to keep one male with one female in a 5-gallon breeding tank; a separate breeding tank, however, is not necessary, as the fish will breed in your main aquarium.

Having heavily planted tanks is important for breeding pea puffers since males will often chase females around the tank until they are ready to breed. As soon as the female is ready, the male will follow her to spawn amongst the plants. Java moss clumps provide a perfect habitat for spawning.

Additionally, bogwood will add a natural feel to the aquarium while providing the ideal habitat for bacteria, which are crucial to the growth of nitrifying bacteria.

Around 48 hours after spawning, the baby puffer fish will hatch from their eggs. The baby puffer fish should be fed infusoria and newly hatched brine shrimp once the pea puffer fry have absorbed the yolk (2-3 days after hatching).

It is important to install the sponge filter in such a way that there is little or no water flow – otherwise, the pea puffer fry could get sucked into the filter.

Are dwarf puffer fish aggressive or peaceful?

These little guys can actually be a bit aggressive toward one another, and they’re known for their territorial nature. Pea puffer fish prefer to live alone, so make sure you only have one in your tank at a time. They also need a lot of space, at least 10 gallons, and aren’t as active swimmers as other small tropical fish. Make sure there are lots of hiding places where your pet can go and feel safe.

Figure 8 Puffer Fish Care (Dichotomyctere ocellatus)

Pea puffer care

pea puffer fish

If you have dwarf puffer fish, you should set up an aquarium that’s a minimum of 10 gallons with an air pump and filter. Provide a few pieces of driftwood, rocks, or other decorations as hiding places. Live plants can be added but they may become homes for bacteria if they’re not properly cared for.

The tank should also include plants like java moss, java fern, and Anubias. These plants will provide shelter for your pea puffer fish and help keep your water clean. You should change about 20 percent of your water every week, removing any uneaten food from your tank in between water changes.

Test your water regularly to make sure it stays at optimal levels: pH 7.0-8.0; hardness less than 12 dH; ammonia 0 ppm; nitrite 0 ppm; nitrate less than 20 ppm.

Pea puffer food

Feed your dwarf puffer fish once a day with live foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and black worms. They can also eat freeze-dried foods, sinking pellets and algae wafers. To avoid overfeeding them, feed only what they can consume within five minutes.

Dwarf puffer fish lifespan

Pea puffer fish can live up to 4 or 5 years in captivity.

Parasites and diseases

The most common problems dwarf puffer fish faces are parasites and diseases, both of which can usually be solved with proper treatment. Fin rot is one such disease that affects dwarf puffers, but it’s typically curable with clean water changes.

Many pet stores sell medications like Melafix or Jungle Fungus Eliminator to treat fin rot. It’s important not to over-medicate your tank—if you use too much medication, you could kill off all your beneficial bacteria, leaving your tank susceptible to more serious infections in the future.


As with all types of puffer fish, dwarf puffers are very small in size and as such should be kept away from any larger or more aggressive fish. As a rule of thumb, never house them with fish that will see them as food. In addition, dwarf puffers prefer shallow water so you’ll want to watch out for deep holes or other large bottom-dwelling fish. Also, avoid housing them with tank mates that have long claws and spines which can scratch their skin.

Mekong Giant Catfish

Some common predators are plecostomus, loaches, and other bottom feeders. The dwarf puffer fish is also a very slow swimmer so it will be threatened by fast swimming fish such as tetras and barbs.

Do Pea puffer fish make good pets?

While dwarf puffer fish are considered some of the easiest freshwater fish to keep in an aquarium, that doesn’t mean they don’t require care. They will only thrive if you do your research and make sure you can provide them with proper conditions. If you’re thinking about getting a pea puffer fish, follow these guidelines before adding one to your home aquarium. They may not be as pretty as other tropical fish, but they are entertaining and affectionate!