Stars And Stripes Puffer Fish (Arothron hispidus)

Stars and Stripes puffer fish

The Stars and Stripes puffer fish, also known as Arothron hispidus or white-spotted puffer fish, is a small fish belonging to the Tetraodontidae family of fish that have the ability to inflate themselves with water or air when threatened by predators.

More commonly known as the white-spotted puffer fish in many parts of Asia, this species is widely distributed throughout the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from Africa to Australia and from Japan to New Zealand.

Arothron hispidus primarily feeds on crustaceans, mollusks, and worms which are located by smell and sight, captured with its tongue, and swallowed whole after the poisonous spines have been removed by passing them through its gills.

Stars and Stripes puffer typically live in waters along the west coast of Africa and thrives in coral reefs and sandy bottoms where the water temperature ranges from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

Origin and descriptions

The Stars and Stripes puffer fish is a species of tropical saltwater pufferfish that lives in the Indian Ocean. The name derives from the two alternating white and black patterns on its body. These markings make the fish look like it has a set of stars and stripes on it. They are rather slow-moving and don’t move much unless they feel threatened.

White dots (body) and stripes (belly) cover its brown-gray body, giving it its common name, stars and stripes puffer. In addition to yellow fins, the species has a very powerful beak with teeth that emerge from both the top and the bottom of the beak. They are suitable for cracking shells.

Their hovering manner of swimming makes puffer fish easily recognizable. Unless they’ve recently eaten, these fish are relatively slender in an undisturbed state. In response to threats, however, they puff themselves up by sucking in water.

Species profile

Stars and Stripes puffer fish

The Stars and Stripes Puffer fish is a pufferfish from the Family Tetraodontidae. This species gets its name from the white spots on its body that resemble the American Flag.

Sailfin Molly Care (Poecilia latipinna)

The Stars and Stripes Pufferfish is endemic to Hawaii and indo pacific regions, and can be found in coral reefs, tide pools, estuaries, and backwaters. The natural diet of this species includes various invertebrates such as crabs or shrimp.

Scientific name

The scientific name of Stars and Stripes puffer fish is Arothron hispidus


Stars And Stripes Puffer fish can be found in brackish estuaries as well as habitats with varying salinity levels. As a result, high-end brackish aquariums can also be used to keep this type of fish.

Stars and stripes puffer size

Adult puffer fish can grow up to 18 inches (45.7 cm) in length.

Stars and stripes puffer tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 200 gallons (757.08 liters), although, a bigger size, from 250 gallons (946.35 liters) upward is a much better option.

Tank mates

Stars And Stripes Puffer Fish can live all by themselves, but if you truly want to add tank mates, peaceful tank mates like blenny fish and snowflake eel are recommended. Larger Morays and Sergeant Majors (Abudefduf saxatilis) may also work well.

Batfish and spotted scat fish (Scatophagus argus) may also be doable. Green spotted puffer (GSP) and Wrasse should not be added as they can nip on the fins of your Stars and Stripes puffer fish.


Stars and Stripes puffer fish

Stars and Stripes Puffer fish have not been bred in captivity, just like their smaller brethren, the porcupine puffer fish. Their eggs cannot survive in smaller bodies of water due to their size.

Also, these puffers rarely lay eggs in captivity, making them very difficult to sex than other puffers.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Stars and stripes puffer fish can actually be shy and are not particularly aggressive, but they will still eat anything they can find. Including corals and small tankmates. It shouldn’t be a problem to have larger tankmates if they aren’t aggressive.

Datnioides microlepis (The Indo Datnoid)

Definitely one of the gentler puffer fish, the Stars & Stripes Puffer fish should only be paired with semi-aggressive fish. The introduction of this puffer fish to triggerfish would be a massive gamble that I would not recommend.

General care information
Stars and Stripes puffer fish

The Stars and Stripes puffer fish is a popular brackish tropical fish. They are usually kept in community tanks with other fish that can tolerate a pH from 6 to 8.

This species of pufferfish will do best in an aquarium with plenty of live plants to provide shelter as they spend most of their time on the bottom or near the substrate. They require a heater to keep the water temperature at 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stars And Stripes Puffer fish diet

Marine meat, specially prepared foods, and hard-shelled shrimp constitute a suitable diet for Stars And Stripes Puffer fish.

As the puffer fish grows, its teeth become stiffer, so it is necessary to use a variety of foods to keep it healthy. Hard-shelled shrimp are suitable for grinding down the puppies’ constantly growing teeth.

Their diet may also be supplemented with greens or herbivore meals. By doing this, they will be able to maintain a healthy immune system.

Tank requirements

Because it has a beak instead of lips, the Stars And Stripes Puffer Fish tends to eat messily. A powerful filtration system will be needed as the large body will produce quite a bit of waste. It will be possible to drastically reduce waste in the tank by installing a large protein skimmer.

It may be a smart idea to choose dry foods. It will be even more difficult to clean up a mess when you use wet foods, like frozen or chilled meats. This will need a very good filtration system.

Moreover, keep the water quality high by performing regular water changes.
It’s not reef-safe puffer fish or community-friendly in the same way as other puffer fish species.

Columbian Shark (Arius jordani)

In general, this is a fish that aquarists should consider if they plan on setting up a tank for one species of fish at a time. Create an interesting environment to explore by using plenty of live rock.


On average, they can live for more than 10 years with proper care.

Parasites and diseases

One parasite that is common in puffer fish is the intestinal worm, Anisakis simplex. This parasite is a nematode with a long, thin body and can be found in the anterior stomach or intestine of fish.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The infection can be treated with medication but if left untreated it can lead to anemia and death.

Puffer fish are also vulnerable to bacterial infections from Vibrio spp. which can cause shellfish poisoning. The flesh of the puffer fish contains toxins called tetrodotoxin which have no known antidote and is dangerous to humans if consumed.

These toxins can also be fatal to dogs who consume them so pet owners need to take care when handling these types of fish.

Predators (What animals prey on them)

Stars And Stripes Puffer fish are preyed on by sharks, rays, and larger predatory fishes like grouper and snapper. Although, they have an interesting defense mechanism that they inflate with water when they feel threatened to help protect them from predators.

They are also known to be poisonous, so it is very dangerous for animals to try and eat them as there is a possibility of death.

Do they make good pets?

Stars And Stripes Puffer fish are fascinating fish to have as a pet. They can be kept in an aquarium, with the right requirements. As they grow, they will need to be fed more often. They also need plenty of room to swim around and should not be kept with other small fish that may get eaten.

Pseudomugil signifer (Pacific Blue Eye Fish)

It is possible to build a powerful bond with the stars and stripes puffer because it is such an intelligent fish. Also, this is not a fish we recommend for beginners because it is very challenging to keep.