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Colomesus asellus
Amazon Pufferfish, Zebra Puffer, Asell's Puffer, South American/Brazilian/Peruvian Puffer

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Amazon Pufferfish - Colomesus asellus

Photos & Comments

Colomesus_asellus_1.jpg (18kb)
Photo Credit: Kate Claxton

Name: Colomesus asellus
Origin: Amazon Basin

Size Tank pH Temp
15 cm 100 L 7.2 26C


I have a group of six Colomesus asellus in a 120 L planted freshwater tank. They are relatively peaceful amongst themselves - except at feeding time! I would not personally keep them as community fish. They are extremely active and entertaining little fish. They are a true freshwater puffer, although some people occasionally keep them in mild brackish conditions. As with all puffers, snails need to comprise a major part of the diet to keep their teeth trimmed - mine readily accept Malaysian trumpet snails! Small snails should be fed, approximately the size of the puffer's eye or slightly larger. Overgrowth teeth is a common problem with Colomesus asellus as their teeth grow rapidly compared with other puffers. They like a little current in the water as they inhabit freshwater streams and rivers in the wild. One of the more peaceful puffers available. Can be kept in small groups - or larger communities with care!

Contributed by Kate Claxton

I have kept one amazon puffer in a 57 litre aquarium and planned on upgrading the tank when he got a bit bigger, he was only around 5 cm long. The tank was his dominion and he shared the tank with 2 kuhli loaches. He quickly learned that they weren't food, but seemed facinated by them. I fed him a diet of live blood worms daily. To give him exercise because he always seemed to just float around and to also stimulate his mind, I would hold some blood worms between two fingers and drag them along the surface of the tank. He would eagerly chase after them. A very cute thing. Sadly my puffer met his demise because of my own error. The filter intake of the tank often got cloged, so I decided to completely take it off and he was soon found inside the intake tube. Great fish for someone who only has a small tank and wants an interesting and very cool fish. The tank temp was kept around 24-26C and the pH around 7.0.

Contributed by Andrew Brown

I bought two Colomesus asellus 4 months ago with my Christmas money, and they have been a joy to have! They constantly follow their reflection up and down the front of the tank. As I am new to the hobby, and am only 13 years old, I am not sure if this is normal. I keep them in a 120 litre community tank, and have not experienced any problems so far. They have cleared my tank of snails, and I feed them red bloodorms three times a week. They are still young and are about 4 cm long, but are growing fast!

Contributed by Charlie Auer

I keep 1 Colomesus asellus in a 57 L freshwater tank (recommended minimum for 1 SAP) with a cleanup crew. It has all but stopped growing at 7 cm (he is still young though, and may grow more). I have kept it for just over a year. I filter excessively with two Aquaclear 50's (aka 200's). I keep the temperature at 27C. The tank is decorated with plants, mopani drift wood, and rocks over a sand/gravel mixture. The over-filtration is recommended as these fish are messy eaters and big poopers! Maintenance I also recommend to be a weekly 50% water change. A complex setup from the fish's perspective is important for these fish. They need a lot of places to hunt, hide, and patrol. This is why I use the wood, rocks and live plants. Another biggy with these fish that they require a very crunchy and hard diet to keep their teeth in check; which I have not been able to accomplish despite my best efforts! This results in them requiring dentistry, which is a foreign thing to most aquarists. I have done this three times, and it is fairly scary for both subjects involved. I first tranquilize with clove oil (being careful not to euthanize! So use 1 drop/cup), and then I hold the puffer through a net so as to not touch their delicate skin while I clip both their upper and lower front teeth with nail or cuticle clippers. I also make sure not to let it puff in the air, which is an instinctive fear response, but can be deadly out of the water. I do this about once every 4 months. Overgrown teeth will lead to starvation. These puffers will school in the wild, and when kept on their own they follow their reflection around the glass. They are one of the less aggressive puffer varieties, but will make quick work of most tankmates anyway! If you can master the unique needs of these wonderful fish then you will be rewarded with a very playful and interesting companion!

Contributed by Brian Sutton-Quaid

I have 4 C. asellus in a 120 L tank with a lot of driftwood and plants. I clip their teeth every 4 months, but I just hold them in my hand. So far it has been a sucsess! Three are about 15 months and 5 cm, and one is 2 years and 7 cm. With these four I've got a Tetraodon biocellatus, whose attitude is peaceful against the gang of four. And of course, I also have a cleanup-crew.

Contributed by heidsaun

I would just like to respond to these fish following their own reflections! We refer to that as dancing and it's not always a positive thing, they do it when stressed. Because puffers have extremely good eyesight, and can move both eyes independently, they can get quite confused by their reflections and all the visual input. The trick is to break up their line of sight in a tank: place a high object right in the middle of the tank, and plant along each side of the aquarium. Just thin plants are fine, but something that will distract them from their own reflections. A good puffer tank should look like a mini jungle! Using drifting plants with long roots is also a great way to accomplish this - I use Limnobium laevigatum as the roots go almost to the bottom of the tank. Enjoy your puffers, they are fascinating fish :)

Contributed by Matt

Of course, everyone with C. asellus needs to remember that they should be fed crunchy foods like snails, shell-on shrimp, mussels, etc. Often times with the South American puffer (whose teeth grow very quickly, faster than all other puffers) you will have to trim their teeth down, or else they will grow too long and your puffer will not be able to eat. Teeth trimming will most likely be neccesary around every 4-6 months. Information on puffer dentistry is fairly easy to find, so you can Google it.

Contributed by Colin

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