Can Dwarf Puffers Live In A Community Tank? (Experts Opinion)

I am frequently asked Can Dwarf Puffers live in a community tank and the answer is, sometimes! Some Dwarf Puffers are shy and peaceful and will fit in fine in a community tank whereas others are downright aggressive and territorial. The best advice is to try adding them to a community tank and then see how they get on. However, have a backup plan just in case things don’t work out!

Eating Daphnia
Eating Daphnia

In recent years it seems freshwater pufferfish have become more and more popular. We now regularly see 8 to 10 different species available for sale in local fish stores. From the tiny Dwarf Puffer that reaches about an inch to the massive Mbu Puffer which can approach 3’ (90cm) in length, there is freshwater pufferfish to suit every tank size.

I have been keeping and researching freshwater pufferfish for around a decade and I have a number of different species in my fish room. The Dwarf Puffer holds a special place in my heart and I love watching them zip around their aquarium. They are always on the go.



What Other Fish Can Live With Dwarf Puffers?

If you have decided to try to keep your Dwarf Puffers in a community tank, you will need to choose tank mates that are fast and agile. If your Dwarf Puffers are aggressive to tank mates, those tank mates will need to be able to get away before the Dwarf Puffer nips at their fins.

The fish I would recommend trying include;

  • Neon Tetras
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Ember Tetras
  • Leopard or Zebra Danios
  • Khuli Loach
  • Bristlenose Plecostomus
  • Penguin Tetras
  • Black Mollies

All these fish have one thing in common, they can swim quickly when they need to. If your Dwarf Puffers turn out to be territorial and aggressive, you don’t want them eating your other fish.

I would recommend AVOIDING all of the following;

  • Guppies
  • Fancy Goldfish
  • Angelfish
  • Gouramis
  • Congo Tetras
  • Any species of small species shrimp

I read an article recently which recommended keeping Red Cherry Shrimp with Dwarf Puffers. That article was clearly written by someone who has never kept Dwarf Puffers. If you keep Red Cherry Shrimp with Dwarf Puffers the shrimp will quickly be devoured or just killed!



Can Dwarf Puffers Live With Guppies?

I would definitely say DO NOT keep guppies with Dwarf Puffers. We have spent years growing guppies with long, flowing, colorful tails, which look amazing, but these long tails have really slowed down how fast the guppies can swim.

Any fish being kept with a Dwarf Puffer needs to be fast and agile to avoid the Dwarf Puffers’ aggression.

Can Dwarf Puffers Live Alone?

A single Dwarf Puffer will be quite happy living in a 5-gallon aquarium alone. Dwarf Puffers are not an especially sociable fish and they don’t need to be kept in a school.

If you decide you want to keep a group of Dwarf Puffers together in a species only tank, the generally accepted rule is one Dwarf Puffer for the first 5 gallons (19 liters) of water, then one additional Dwarf Puffer for every 3 gallons (11 liters) of water from then on.

Dwarf Puffers should be kept either alone, as a single specimen, or in groups of 3 or more. Never keep a pair of Dwarf Puffers as there is a chance one puffer could dominate the other and potentially bully it to death.

I keep my Dwarf Puffers in a group in a 20 gallon (75 liters) planted aquarium. They can be aggressive towards one another from time to time, but as they are in a good-sized group, that aggression is spread out and no one fish gets bullied.

In Conclusion

In theory, it is possible to keep Dwarf Puffers in a community tank with other fish, but the success of that tank will largely depend on the temperament of your individual Dwarf Puffers. If you are going to try it, have a backup plan. Set up a spare aquarium that you can move the Dwarf Puffers to if they prove too aggressive for your community tank.

Personally, I have found Dwarf Puffers are best kept in a species-only aquarium with no other fish.


About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James
Editor