Banded Puffer (Colomesus psittacus)

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Banded Puffer
Colomesus psittacus
Banded Puffer (Colomesus psittacus)
Name Banded Puffer
Name Lat. Colomesus psittacus
Family Puffers
Family lat. Tetraodontidae
Order Puffers & Filefishes
Order lat. Tetraodontiformes
Origin Brazil
Habitat Estuaries, mangrove swamps
Diet Carnivore
pH 6.8-8.5
Behavior Semi-aggressive
Keeping Individual, group
Care Level Difficult
Reproduction Egg scatterer
Breeding None reported
Life Span 8-10 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 15 cm
Temperature 22-28 °C
Hardness 7-20 °dH
Aquarium ~ 350 l
US Units
Size 6"
Temperature 72-82 °F
Hardness 125-356 ppm
Aquarium ~ 90 gal

Distribution and habitat

Parrot pufferfishes are common in the nearshore waters of northeastern South America, from the Gulf of Paria to northern Brazil. There they live in mangrove streams and marshes and in the intertidal zone of estuaries, where they usually stay in shallow water in shady places with dense, overhanging riparian vegetation. Only occasionally do they venture into freshwater areas.


The aquarium should have a dense border and background planting, with many hiding places (stones, roots) and provide sufficient swimming space. A dark, fine sandy substrate covered with some foliage (e.g. sea almond leaves), some shaded light (floating plants) and brackish water with a weak current is ideal.

No ammonia, ammonium and nitrite should be detectable, the nitrate value should not exceed 100 mg/l. To ensure the water quality and oxygen content, a filter and heater adapted to the aquarium size is required, as well as lighting for the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals.


They are food specialists that eat almost exclusively crustaceans. The food supply consists of snails (e.g. bubble snails, or apple snails) supplemented with live or frozen food, such as shrimp, mosquito larvae, artemia, mysis, etc., as well as mussel and crab meat or a frozen special food mixture. Rarely flake or granulated food is accepted

It is recommended to feed small portions several times a day, which are eaten within a few minutes. A regular and varied diet promotes health and increases resistance.

Behaviour and compatibility

It is recommended to keep these relatively peaceful puffer fish individually or in a group of 3-4. For group keeping, a larger, richly structured tank is recommended. They are considered fin twitchers and should not be kept with long-finned fish

Generally, only compatible fish species with similar water condition and water temperature requirements should be socialized.

Sex dimorphism

The sexes are difficult to distinguish. The males remain slightly smaller than the more plump females.

Reproduction and breeding

There are no known reports of successful breeding in the aquarium.


Permanent keeping of parrot pufferfish is possible only in brackish water (5-30 ‰ salinity).

They need the hard shells of snails, or the shells of shrimps, crabs and crayfish to wear their teeth, which are constantly growing back. Teeth that are too long make feeding impossible and they would starve to death.

The parrot pufferfishes are very similar to the isopod pufferfishes (Colomesus asellus). The isopod puffers, which are found exclusively in freshwater, have only 5 setae (body spots) unlike the parrot puffers which have 6 setae.

Pufferfish can inflate to twice their size by filling their expandable stomach with air or water

A cup filled with aquarium water, not a catch net, should be used for transferring or transferring puffers to prevent them from becoming airborne.

The well-being of the fish should be checked regularly. Temperature should be checked daily, pH, hardness and nitrate levels at least every 14 days. Regular partial water changes are recommended, even if the pollutant level has not yet reached the upper limit. Sudden changes in water quality should be avoided. Newly introduced fish must be accustomed slowly to the water in the aquarium.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: petdata; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: BMEL (1998): Tierschutzgutachten - Haltung von Zierfischen (Süßwasser); BAENSCH & RIEHL (2004): Aquarien Atlas Bd. 2, Mergus Verlag; ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF