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Starry Puffer

(Arothron stellatus)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Semi-aggressive   • Maximum Size: 28"
• Minimum Tank Size: 300 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-79° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Indo-Pacific
• Family: Tetraodontidae   • Species: Puffers   • Aquarium Type: Fish Only

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Starry Puffer native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Starry Puffer (Arothron stellatus) is a very large box-shaped Pufferfish capable of reaching sizes over 3 feet in length in the wild. While wild specimens grow to be one of the largest puffers in the world at over 3 feet, aquarium specimens rarely grow larger than about 2 to 2 1/2 feet in length. Despite their large size, Starry Puffers are slow swimmers that can do well in large aquariums of 300 gallons or more.

Like many puffer species, the Starry Puffer is quite popular based on its interactive personality and unique appearance. They do best in very large FOWLR aquariums that can provide both open swimming areas and areas of live rock to simulate the reef slopes and lagoons that the Starry Puffer inhabits in the wild. Juvenile specimens have large block spots on an orange body, with adult specimens exhibiting smaller black spots over a white body.

Starry Puffers defend themselves both by puffing up their bodies to increase their overall size and through toxins (tetrodotoxin) that are contained in their skins and organs.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Starry Puffer in the home aquarium.

Hobbyists looking to keep Starry Puffers will need a large aquarium of 300 gallons or more in size. Very strong filtration is also required due to the quantity of food and the messy way in which puffers eat. Provide plenty of internal water flow to suspend particulates in the water so that they can skimmed from the aquarium into a wet/dry or canister filter with strong mechanical filtration.

Both a strong biological filter and protein skimmer should be employed to deal with the high bio load of a large species like the Starry Puffer. It is recommended that either partial water changes or de-nitrification products like an algae scrubber or bio-pellet reaction chamber are employed to keep nitrates at a manageable level.

Tank mates should include other large semi-aggressive fish species like groupers, large angelfish, triggers, large tangs and other similar fish species. Starry Puffers will prey on many invertebrates and corals, thus they should only be kept in fish-only of FOWLR aquariums. The ideal aquarium setup for this species will emulate the lagoons and reef slopes of their natural habitat, with areas of open sand punctuated with rocky formations or rock piles.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Starry Puffer.

Starry Puffers should be fed a varied diet consisting of different marine based meaty foods including: squid, clams, shelled shrimp, mussels, krill, sea urchins and crustaceans. It is important to give them plenty of hard shelled foods in order to wear down their ever growing teeth.

The Starry Puffer will see many corals and ornamental invertebrates as a food source, thus this species is not suited for the reef aquarium environment. They should be fed 1 to 2 times per day an amount of food that they will consume within a few minutes.

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