Dwarf Pea Puffer Care: Best Detailed Guide (April 2023)

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: January 19, 2022

Dwarf Pea Puffer is an excellent species for beginners. It can’t harm even the most fragile invertebrates in the aquarium. Dwarf Pea Puffer is a friendly fish that can be kept with larger or smaller fishes together with other pufferfishes.

Dwarf Pea Puffer, also known as Pea Puffers, Blackspotted pufferfish, and Small spotted pufferfish. It was first discovered in West Africa by Pieter Bleeker in 1852.

Characteristics Of Dwarf Pea Puffer

Given below are the detailed characteristics of Drawf Pea Puffer.

How Do They Look?

Dwarf pea puffers look like a cross between a puffer and a betta. Round, flat, and compressed with large eyes and long fins. They can come in any number of colors, from reds, oranges, yellows to green/brown/grey, depending on the mood they’re in.

dwarf pea puffer

Dwarf Pea Puffer has golden, brown, or red spots on white background. There are round black spots between the eyes and head.

The color of the body is lighter than the upper part (back) of the body. Its body is covered with small white dots, which form like vertical lines on its body. Dwarf Pea Puffer has a moveable rear edge of the operculum (gill cover), which can be used as a finger.

There are four black spots on each side of the fish, two near the front and two behind them. The upper part of the fish may be covered with brown or gold speckles. A dark band runs horizontally across both eyes.

Their body is dark grey to black, and they can have red or yellowfins. Their dorsal fin is like that of puffers, as well as their anal fin. Their eyes are also wired, similar to bettas with an iris of the same color as their skin tone. A dwarf pea puffer can grow up to 1 inch long, and males tend to be smaller than females.

Males have a larger anal fin and a small tubercle on the top of their heads. Females have a larger dorsal fin and lack the tubercle on their heads.

How Do They Behave?

Dwarf pea pufferfish can be territorial and aggressive towards each other, especially during mating season; therefore, you must keep one male with two to three females.

Dwarf Pea puffer temprament

Their aggression level is somewhat low, but it can increase when not kept with similar-sized fish tank mates. If you have a larger aquarium, it is best to keep different species of puffers together instead of multiple specimens from the same species.

Dwarf Puffer lives in groups; therefore, it is recommended to keep at least six specimens together in the same aquarium.

Dwarf Puffers get along with other species of the same size or larger than they are. If a smaller fish interferes with a dwarf pea puffer, it will display its flamboyant colors and may try to eat the smaller fish; however, if a larger fish invades their territory, they become less aggressive.

Dwarf puffers are peaceful and will get along with the same size or larger of other fishes in their tank. They can be kept in groups of 6 or more, but males tend to fight for territory if there is not enough space for each puffer. They have been known to interbreed with other types of pufferfish.

Can You Breed Them?

Yes, you can. Dwarf Pea Puffers are not an easy species to breed. A 10-gallon aquarium is recommended with a small java moss ball as their nesting site.

dwarf Pea puffer Breeding

The male will build the nest and court the female by swimming around her in circles, as well as gently tapping her on her side with its pectoral fin. Once the mating is successful, the female will lay around 100-200 eggs.

When they hatch within the first 24 hours, there should be a 20% water change daily until they are free-swimming, after which you can remove the parents. The fry will have a dark brown to a black color and medium size fins. They should be fed microworms or brine shrimp nauplii.

How Much Do They Grow?

Adult Dwarf pea pufferfish can reach 6 - 7 cm (2.4- 2.8 inches) in length. The male is larger than the female and usually more colorful.

Dwarf Pea Puffer

The female is known to live longer because of the higher amount of nutrients she takes from the male during mating.

Where Do They Live?

Dwarf Puffers live in coastal waters and estuaries (the lower reaches of rivers). They inhabit shallow bays, tidal pools, mudflats, and mangrove swamps.

Dwarf Puffers are a nocturnal species and will spend the day buried in the muck with only their eyes showing. If frightened, they will retreat to cover. At night they rise from their hiding place to feed on small fish and crustaceans.

They live in the coastal rivers of Myanmar and Thailand as well as on some Indonesian Islands. They prefer slow-moving water with vegetation.

The dwarf pea puffer prefers shallow, slow-moving waters with areas that have dense growths of plants and algae for cover. In the wild, they can be found in ditches, creeks, rivers, and irrigation drains as long as the water is very still with a lot of vegetation.

What Are Their Special Needs?

Dwarf puffer species are known for their ability to blow themselves up with water or air, but it is not recommended in home aquariums because there have been fatalities when they have gotten stuck in the filtering mechanism.

It is possible to keep dwarf puffers with other fish species that can stand the slightly brackish water, but they should not be kept with large fish.

Dwarf pea puffers have a unique ability to inflate their stomachs with air or water when stressed or uncomfortable.

Aquarium owners need to monitor their activities and behavior carefully to avoid this from happening since they can get stuck in the filter or break a tank if it inflates too much.

Care Guide

A complete detailed care guide of Dwarf pea puffer is explained below.

Food & Diet

Dwarf pea puffers are omnivores and can be fed vegetables, algae wafers, and tropical flakes. Their main diet should consist of brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and bloodworms. They will accept frozen or freeze-dried foods.

dwarf Pea puffer Breeding

In the wild, they mostly feed on benthic crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic plants, while in captivity, they can be fed algae wafers, brine shrimp, freeze-dried bloodworms, and krill.

Their natural diet consists of crabs, snails, and dead fish that they find in muddy water. They are carnivorous fish that require meaty foods like prawns, mussels, clams, white fish fillet, squid, blood worm, and sea-worm to provide a balanced diet.

Their diet should be based on vegetable matter with some protein and fats. They will accept frozen and freeze-dried foods but prefer live feedings such as brine shrimp and bloodworms.

Tank Requirements

Dwarf pea puffers can live in freshwater or brackish water. They require at least a 10-gallon aquarium with an air pump, filter, and heater set around 79-80°F.

A small pool of water should be provided for them to wash themselves in as well as other decorations to break the line of sight between each other like bogwood, rocks, and roots.

The fish tank should be decorated with rocks and driftwood, cork bark, plants (Amazon Swords are recommended), and peat to make the water acidic. It must also have a tightly-fitting lid because dwarf pea puffers are great jumpers.

They will need a heater, filter, and air pump to keep the water clean and fresh. They should be kept in at least 10 gallons of water with plants that provide covers like Java Moss or floating plants for them to hide under. Lighting is not necessary because they come from muddy waters.

Lighting & Water Parameters

They prefer water that is fairly soft and acidic, with a specific gravity between 1.005 and 1.010, and a pH between 6.5 and 7.0 (all conditions can be adjusted with the use of peat).

Lighting should also be minimal since they live in muddy waters most of the time.


Dwarf Puffer can live in a community tank of peaceful and non-aggressive freshwater and brackish water fishes (temperature of 72 to 82 °F). It is recommended that they be kept with small Tetras like the Neon Tetra or White Cloud Mountain Minnow.

They can be kept with other fish species of similar size; however, they may pester smaller tank mates by nipping at their fins. They should never be kept in the same tank as Cichlids because they are natural predators of puffers.

Their tankmates must be peaceful and non-aggressive because Pisces can be aggressive towards each other. Their tank mates can be Tetras like the Neon Tetra, Ruby Tetra, or White Cloud Mountain Minnow.

They like their tank mates to be peaceful and non-aggressive because they can be aggressive towards each other.

Common Possible Diseases And Their Cures

Their semi-aggressive behavior and the ability to inflate their stomachs when stressed make Dwarf Puffers more likely to get sick than other species.

Their tank should be well planted, and they should only be kept with very peaceful species because Dwarf Puffers will pester or eat smaller fish in a community aquarium.

They can also easily damage their fins when stressed, so tank mates should be chosen carefully.

They are also susceptible to fungal infections if kept in dirty water, or the water is not changed frequently enough. The symptoms of this parasitic infection include cloudy eyes and skin, dark patches on the skin, red spots on the skin, and frayed fins.

Their semi-aggressive behavior and the ability to inflate their stomachs when stressed make Dwarf Puffers more likely to get sick than other species.

Their tank should be well planted, and they should only be kept with very peaceful species because Dwarf Puffers will pester or eat smaller fish in a community aquarium.

This fish can usually suffer from fungal infections if water is not changed frequently enough. If the aquarium is dirty or polluted, the fungal disease can be found on the eyes and skin of this fish.

Names of some common diseases they suffer from are:

Fin Rot: This is caused by poor water conditions. The best way to treat this is to increase the level of oxygen in the aquarium and change the water regularly.

Bacterial Infection: This is also a result of dirty aquariums; therefore, it can be treated with increasing levels of oxygen and changing the water frequently.

Velvet Disease: This is caused by parasites. The best way to treat this is to increase the level of oxygen in the aquarium and change the water regularly.

Dwarf Puffer is prone to infections if not maintained well. Fish disease treatments are widely available at pet shops to help prevent diseases or fight off any existing ones.

If your Dwarf Puffer has a fungal infection, the first thing you should do is minimize feeding and perform a partial water change that will remove some of the parasites.

Using an anti-fungal medicine that treats bacterial diseases as well as parasite infections should clear up the problem within a couple of weeks.

Is Dwarf Pea Puffer Dangerous?

Their sting is very painful and can cause swelling, but it rarely results in any long-term effects.
It is not deadly to humans or pets, although you should always be very careful with dwarf puffers because they will inflate their bodies as a defense mechanism if they feel threatened.

Are there any possible threats to Dwarf Pea Puffer population?

Their population is not in danger because they reproduce quickly, and they are fairly easy to breed. They are also common aquarium fish, so the demand for them is high.

How much do Dwarf Pea Puffer cost?

Dwarf Pea Pufferfish are inexpensive when compared to other saltwater or freshwater aquarium fish. They are readily available in local pet stores and online retailers.


Overall, Dwarf Puffer Fish are great additions to freshwater aquariums because they behave like brackish water fish without the hassle of changing different tanks.

They are small and relatively inexpensive, but their puffing ability makes them unique and interesting to watch.

They can be very aggressive towards tank mates if not introduced to an already established community aquarium or kept with other Dwarf Pea Puffers.

They are very hardy fish if kept in clean water with a proper diet, so they are great for beginners or experts who enjoy aquariums with unique species.

I hope you have learned something about Dwarf Pea Puffer Fish!


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