Indian Dwarf Puffer (Tetraodon travancoricus)

Indian Dwarf Puffer (Tetraodon travancoricus).

Indian Dwarf Puffer (Tetraodon travancoricus).

The Indian Dwarf Puffer (Tetraodon travancoricus) is also known as the Bumblebee, Malabar, Pea or Pygmy Puffer by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.
The Indian Dwarf Puffer is the smallest freshwater pufferfish in the world and is unique to the River Pamba in Kerala, Southwest India. Although it is closely related to marine pufferfish, it is not found in salt or brackish water.

Indian Dwarf Puffers reach a maximum length of 1″ and are much smaller than other puffer species in the same family.

Female Indian Dwarf Puffer (Tetraodon travancoricus)

Female Indian Dwarf Puffer (Tetraodon travancoricus)

Overall they are yellow golden brown color, that blends into an off white underbelly. Black to dark green iridescent patches or “spots” cover most of the fish’s flanks and dorsal area.

Male Indian Dwarf Puffers have a pronounced black stripe running down the center of their pale belly from the tail to the pectoral fin and iridescent eye wrinkle patterns that females lack. Males are also smaller, leaner, and not as round as females of the species.

As juvenile Indian Dwarf Puffers mature, they will literally “choose” their own sex. As a puffer becomes a male, he will excrete hormones that prevent other puffers from becoming males. If two fish start maturing into males at the same time, one fish will quickly become the dominant male.

Indian Dwarf Puffers are mildly aggressive and should be housed in a densely planted aquarium of at least 30 gallons, with a sand or very fine gravel aggregate bottom and plenty of hiding places. They do not need salt in their tank like some other puffer fish.  Because they are so highly territorial, it is recommended that only one fish be housed in a tank.

In an aquarium environment Indian Dwarf Puffers should be fed a diet of  brine shrimp, small live snails, mollusks, krill and chopped earthworms. In the wild they are believed to feed on zooplankton, molluscs, and various crustaceans.

Indian Dwarf Puffers have been bred in an aquarium environment. They are plant spawners and will lay their eggs in Java Moss or other similar plants. They have been known to scatter their eggs in between vegetation on the substrate. Eggs are fertilized externally and will hatch after 5 days at 81 °F.  The fry should initially be fed infusoria until they grow larger, at which time brine shrimp and regular size food can be offered.

Dwarf Puffers do not guard their eggs or their fry.  When the eggs hatch, it is recommended that the fry be removed to a 10 gallon rearing tank until they are able to fend for themselves.

Indian Dwarf Puffers are not a common item in tropical fish shops but when available, they are sold at a size of 1/2″ to 1″.

Indian Dwarf Puffer (Tetraodon travancoricus)

Indian Dwarf Puffer (Tetraodon travancoricus)








Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-82° F, KH 5-15, pH 7.0-8.0
Max. Size: 1″
Color Form: Tan, Yellow
Diet: Carnivore
Origin: Southwest India
Family: Tetraodontidae
Lifespan: 5 – 6 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

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