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Malabar Dwarf Puffer - Carinotetraodon travancoricus

9 Reviews


These puffers are generally small juveniles at the time of purchased and cannot be sexed. We cannot guarantee gender or offer specific gender requests on this fish. The puffers we receive are farm-raised and are not medicated or pretreated for disease or parasites until symptoms present.

The Malabar Dwarf Puffer is, as its name suggests, one of the smallest of puffer species. They are a freshwater species, but will tolerate very dilute brackish water. Like their larger relatives, these dwarf puffers are territorial fish, and will often nip the fins even of their larger tankmates. For this reason, they should only be kept with tankmates if they are larger and peaceful, and are hardy enough to withstand some fin-nipping. Males are particularly aggressive toward each other when mature, so it is best to keep these fish in pairs or one to a tank.

The Malabar Dwarf Puffer (Carinotetraodon travancoricus) is characterized by a brownish to green dorsal side with dark irregular spots and some yellow tint. The belly is whitish or yellowish. The fins are rounded, and are tinged with yellow toward the base, becoming clear at the ends. There is some evidence that mature male dwarf puffers can be identified by a horizontal stripe located from behind the pectoral fins to the tail, which darkens during mating. Male puffers are generally slimmer and less rounded in appearance.

Puffers are incredibly popular for aquariums. Many puffers are curious and outgoing and they may even seem to know when their keeper is near, swimming quickly to the aquarium glass or water's surface when someone approaches the tank. While endearing, puffers may not be the right choice for some aquariums.

Puffers are not too demanding in terms of care, but they need plenty of space and ample filtration to keep the water quality pristine. They're messy eaters, and the diet required for these fish can leave a lot of waste. Puffers have strong, ever-growing front teeth (beak) that they will need to wear down. They may chew on rockwork in the tank to aid in the process. Feeding hard-shelled items, such as whole clams or shellfish, can also help to keep the teeth worn. Their diet should consist of a variety of meaty items like crab, shrimp, scallops, squid, krill and similar items.

It is important to never provoke a puffer to see it inflate. Puffing is a stress or defense reaction, and it can cause health problems or even death for a puffer. The fish can swallow air or over-inflate with water, leading to even more stress as the fish attempted to recover and even death due to stress-related complications or internal injuries. If a puffer inflates, remove the source of the stress, lower the lighting on the tank and allow the fish to recover on its own. Avoid using a net or removing the puffer from the water and exposing it to air. Instead, transfer with rigid containers, which will minimize stress that can cause them to puff.

Some puffers are found in freshwater while others are from brackish environments and should not be kept in freshwater tanks. Brackish water is between freshwater and saltwater and has a Specific Gravity of around 1.005 to 1.015; most brackish water fish need increasing salinity as they grow and mature. They may live in brackish water as juveniles but need full saltwater as adult. Puffers are not community fish; they may prey on smaller fish or nip at the fins of passive fish their own size or larger. Even the tiny 1-inch-long Dwarf Puffers have been known to bully much larger tankmates!

Visit That Fish Blog for more information from our marine biologists on Pufferfish and other aquarium-related topics!


F90 0022 0552
That Fish Place
Common NameMalabar Dwarf Puffer
Scientific NameCarinotetraodon travancoricus
Max Size (in inches)1.25
Community SafeNo
pH Range7.5-8.3
Min Tank Size (in gallons)15
Temperature Range72-80
Internal Id

State Restrictions
Armed Forces Americas
Armed Forces Europe
Armed Forces Pacific
Puerto Rico


Ratings & Reviews

9 reviews

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Smartest and cutest fish ever


I have 2 of these guys they are pretty territorial but very smart, they beg for food all the time. how can I not feed them with their tiny faces being all cute? They follow the food container around the tank and their bellies grow when they are fed. As tank mates I keep them with shrimp and some algae eaters no problem :)

Awesome little guys


These guys are pretty tiny, but they make up for their small size with their great personality. They always beg for food and always want more. Just don't give into them every time :D.
<br>They will eat freeze dried blood worms... eventually, but their real appetite is for escargot. Don't expect any snail to live once these guys are around.
<br>Although they are friendly to humans they are not quite as nice towards fish. Tank mates include their own kind and perhaps some ghost shrimp and some Chinese algae eaters. Dont be fooled by throwing another agressive fish in and think that they will be alright, the existing beta in the tank had its tail and fins ripped off to attest to this situation.
<br>All in all 5 stars!!!!

Great Fish!


I just received these dwarf puffers yesterday, and they are already a charm to have! I've had many different tanks before, and wanted something to really grab my interest and get me more involved in the tank maintence. Great shipping methods, they came healthy and lively!



I like these!



My tiny puffer arrived on time in a huge beautifully packed and insulated container. She was in great shape and is a delight to watch.

Their 50/50


This company definitely knows what they are doing, they were nice and waited until the perfect weather to ship them. The came here perfectly but they are extremely shy, and surprisingly I have a hard time getting them to eat. But my two are no more extravagant then any of my other fish :(

Love these


I had two females in a heavily planted 10 gallon tank with five or six otocinclus cats. I wanted a male so hopefully I could get some fry (I've heard they're great parents). It can be tough to tell, particularly at the young age ThatPetPlace tends to sell them (which is a good thing), but they were able to successfully choose a male for me, despite not guaranteeing it, which was understandable.
<br>Unfortunately, when you choose a fish with a lot of personality, there's always the chance you'll get a jerk, lol. Well, this guy was. He was still a great pet and I loved him in the tank, but the females wanted nothing to do with him. Luckily, there was no violence and they could at least they could cohabit the same tank. (The plants likely helped.)
<br>Would definitely purchase from ThatPetPlace again. They're great to work with.



I just received mine in a large box with a hard cardboard covering and then inside a beautiful styrophone box. Inside the styrophone was bubble wrap and then the fish in the plastic bag. When I had first saw he bag I saw a live plant and I did not even order one and my puffer was so small that I could tell he was not even full grown yet which I like :) The water inside the bag was warm so the temprature acclimation was short and I could enjoy my new fish in my aquarium. I rate this 5 out of 5 stars and will definitely be buying from this fish dealer again. (I also like this place because they have a 14 day guarantee for most fish if they wind up belly up in the next 2 weeks.) Overall I got a live plant and a very healthy fish. Have fun with your puffer.

That Fish Place/That Pet Place is Awesome


I ordered my 3 Dwarf Puffers on Thursday 9/6/2018 after business hours so that meant they wouldn't ship until Monday 9/10/2018 but OMG I was so happy when they arrived at my doorstep on Wednesday 9/12/2018 @ 10:30 AM and was so greatful for all the packing precautions TFP/TPP had taken when sending my little babies because I think Fed-Ex had not adhered to the 24 hour Live Animal delivery policies but anyways my babies were quite alive and well in their very professionally packed Live Animal packaging, 2 thumbs up TFP/TPP, awesome.I ordered 3 in hopes of a male but received 2 males and 1 female, the 2 males scrap sometimes but have enough plants to run to and deter a lot of the fighting. I Love my Puffers and so much personality that they have in them, Great Shipping and Thank You very much TFP/TPP you came through when everyone else in the U.S. were sold out of Dwarf Puffers, I Love You Fish Place.