Caring for Puffer Fish Teeth

Puffer fish have teeth that grow continuously and need to be continuously worn by proper hard food items found in their wild diet.  In captivity they will often have problems with overgrown teeth due to soft captive diets. 

They should have access to food items in the shell: mussels, small crabs, shrimp, snails, woodlice, crayfish and clams.  They will often show a preference for softer foods if those are available, so it is best to try to limit softer foods.  If softer foods are needed for tank mates, the puffer should be fed before tank mates.  Many of these foods also have enzymes call thiaminases that destroy B vitamins and can result in vitamin B deficiency if not supplemented.   Puffers may also chew on hard corals in efforts to wear down their teeth, so placing them in a reef tank can lead to undesired consequences.

If the teeth do not wear properly they may become overgrown to the point that the puffer cannot open its mouth wide enough to be able to eat.  This common problem of puffers in captivity requires that the teeth be filed down periodically for some.  Teeth filing should only be performed while they are sedated by someone qualified to properly administer sedation and file the teeth. 

We offer both in hospital and at home (via House calls) sedation and teeth filing for Puffer fish. Please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.