Hairy Puffers only grow to around 5” (12.5cm) and therefore do not need a very large aquarium. A 20-gallon (75 liters) tank is large enough for a single Hairy Puffer. The aquarium should be set up with some large rocks, a cave, and a sandy substrate so the Hairy Puffer can bury itself.
I have been keeping freshwater pufferfish for over a decade, and they never fail to fascinate me. I currently keep 5 or 6 different species of freshwater puffer, and my Hairy Puffer is a real character.
If you are looking for general care advice for Hairy Puffers, why not check out this article I wrote titled Hairy Puffer Ultimate Care Guide.
Hairy Puffer Tank Size
Hairy Puffers are not large fish. They only grow to around 5” (12.5 cm) and therefore they do not require a very large aquarium. I wrote an article titled How Big Do Hairy Puffers Get which you might be interested in.
I keep my Hairy Puffer in a 20 gallon (75 liters) aquarium which I have had set up for about a year. In my experience, Hairy Puffers are not especially active swimmers and mine spend most of his time either sitting in ambush, waiting for prey to swim by, or slowly swimming around the tank looking for snails.
There is no major advantage to giving a Hairy Puffer a larger tank. Providing you can keep the water quality good by regularly changing around 25% of the water, your Hairy Puffer will be perfectly happy in a 20-gallon.
Hairy Puffer Tank Setup
Hairy Puffers want to spend the majority of their time hunkered down out of sight waiting in ambush to catch prey (more about what do Hairy Puffers eat in this article). They want to be invisible! Bearing this in mind it is important to set up a Hairy Puffer aquarium with lots of rocks and ideally with a cave.
My own Hairy Puffer never uses his cave, but I have spoken with other fish keepers who find their Hairy Puffers like to hide in a cave.
The rocks should be spread out so the Hairy Puffer can get behind them and in between them. The Hairy Puffer might like to move from spot to spot to find a place they feel hidden.
Wondering what Hairy Puffers eat? Check out this article I wrote titled What do Hairy Puffers Eat?
Hairy Puffer Tank Substrate
Some Hairy Puffers like to bury themselves, and others don’t. In my own Hairy Puffer tank, I use coarse sand as the substrate. My Hairy Puffer will occasionally bury himself, but he prefers to spend time hidden behind rocks rather than buried.
Filtering A Hairy Puffer Aquarium
Like so many freshwater pufferfish, Hairy Puffers do not like any ammonia or nitrite in their water and nitrates should be kept as low as possible.
It is important that a Hairy Puffer tank has sufficient filtration to cope with the way the puffer eats, or rather the way it poops!
A large Hairy Puffer may only eat twice a week, which means it probably only poops twice a week, but when it does poop, it poops a surprising amount. I use a Fluval 406 canister filter on my Hairy Puffer tank (more about Fluval filters in this article I wrote titled Are Fluval Filters Good?.
A Fluval 406 is a large filter for a 20-gallon aquarium, however Hairy Puffers like a lot of flow in their tanks. In the wild, they can be found in fast-flowing waters, even sometimes in whitewater.
A canister filter will really turn the aquarium over and give the Hairy Puffer the flow it desires.
Heating And Lighting A Hairy Puffer Tank
Hairy Puffers come from tropical regions, and as such need their aquarium water to be heated. They do however accept a fairly wide range of temperatures. A good quality aquarium heater should be used to keep the water temperature between 74°F to 81°F (23°C – 27°C).
Lighting levels are not especially important to Hairy Puffers. If you are keeping live plants in the tank with your Hairy Puffer you will want to make sure you have a good quality, full-spectrum light. If you don’t have live plants, any light will be fine.
I currently use a number of Fluval Aquasky lights in my puffer tanks.
Hairy Puffers can be kept in aquariums with live plants. They are not known to eat plants at all. Do however bear in mind that they may blunder through a patch of live plants if they are in pursuit of a live crab or if they are chasing live fish.
Hairy Puffers do not need a large aquarium. They are not especially active swimmers. A 20-gallon (75 liters) tank is an ideal choice for a single Hairy Puffer. Provide the puffer with plenty of rocks and a cave so the Hairy Puffer can find a suitable place to set up an ambush and consider using a sandy substrate in case your Hairy Puffer wants to bury itself.