Masked Puffer

From Microcosm Aquarium Explorer

Jump to: navigation , search
Arothron diadematus - (Rüppell, 1829)
Masked Puffer

A coveted Red Sea species. Photographed off Dahab, Egypt. Alan Slater/GNU


Like many Red Sea fishes collected from the wild, this is a species that is not commonplace and that is highly prized in the aquarium trade.

It is closely related to the Blackspotted Puffer, Arothron nigropunctatus. It attains a relatively modest size for its genus and has a generally placid disposition.

When first introduced into the aquarium this is a shy species, requiring a large tank with plenty of shelter, and tankmates that aren't too boisterous, at least initially.

Once fully adjusted to its new aquarium, it is a hardy fish that can do great in a large tank with fishes such as hawkfishes, triggers, groupers and larger wrasse.

Family: Tetraodontidae

Other common name(s):

  • Red Sea Masked Puffer
  • Panda Puffer

Native range:

Habitat: Provide rocky hiding places and caves, with ample open-water swimming space.

Maximum length: 30 cm (12 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 285 L (75 gal)

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: All levels.


Its natural diet includes benthic invertebrates of all sorts (crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, algae, sponges, and others). In the aquarium it will greedily eat most foods, but should be offered a varied diet of meaty foods, including chopped shrimp, squid, clams, enriched krill, and fish—as well as preparations designed for herbivores. Feeding crabs, shrimp, snails, clams, mussels in the shell will help keep a puffer's teeth from becoming overgrown. Feed no fewer than 3 times a day

Aquarium Compatibility

Not recommended for aquariums with reef invertebrates. Will eat sessile invertebrates and coralline algae.

Special Care

This and other puffers can be poisonous to eat, having the lethal tetrodotoxin in their internal organs. Dozens of poisonings and up to six human deaths a year in Japan are attributed to the consumption of pufferfishes. The skin of pufferfishes also contains the toxin, and hobbyists should only handle these fishes when wearing rubber gloves as a precaution. (This is a prudent approach when handling all fishes.)


The pufferfishes are demersal spawners, building a nest and guarding it. Larvae are planktonic and sometimes are carried long distances by currents before settling out.


See: A Puffer Primer.

Reference: A PocketExpert Guide to Marine Fishes
Text credit: SWM