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Dogface Puffer – Complete Care Guide

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Dogface Puffer

Dogface Puffer Facts

Dogface Puffers also known as the Blackspotted Puffer get their name from having a physical resemblance to canines. Dogface Puffer fish also have gray, brown, and yellow colorations as well as black spots on their bodies. These semi-aggressive fish have a great personality and are a thrill to keep in a large saltwater fish tank. This guide will cover Dogface Puffer fish aquarium requirements, feeding habits, compatible tank mates, and more. Check out the Saltwater Pufferfish page for more information on different species of puffer.

Aquarium Requirements

Dogface Puffers get large. They will grow to be over a foot in length. It will be important to provide them with an aquarium that is 150 gallons or larger to keep them happy. Because of their size and their carnivorous diet, they will also create a lot of poop, which will lead to increased levels of nitrates and phosphates. A very good filtration system and water changing schedule will be crucial in keeping your water parameters in check. A sump system with a great protein skimmer such as the Reef Octopus 150INT Protein Skimmer will help keep your aquarium water parameters in check.

I would also recommend providing your Dogface Puffer with plenty of live rock with different sized caves to give it cover. If you can’t find live rock at your local fish store, check out the Carib Sea South Sea Base Rock on Amazon.

Water Parameters

The water parameters needed to keep a Dogface Puffer are similar to what most saltwater fish require which are:

  • Water Temperature: 72°-78° F
  • dKH: 8 – 12
  • pH: 8.1 – 8.4
  • Salinity: 1.020 – 1.025 sg

Regular water changes with a high-quality salt mix with help keep your pH, dKH, and salinity in check. You will need a properly calibrated refractometer to verify proper salinity levels. Refractometers can be purchased on Amazon by following this link. Also, you will need an aquarium water heater to keep your water temperature at the proper level. Take a look at the 6 Best Water Heaters For Fresh & Saltwater Fish Tanks to get an idea of the different water heaters available for purchase.

Are Dogface Puffers Reef Safe?

Dogface Puffer fish are not reef safe. In the wild, their primary food source is invertebrates. This includes snails, shrimp, crabs, hermit crabs, and more. Although they do not readily eat coral, they may nip and break off pieces of coral trying to grind down their ever-growing beak. I would not risk keeping this species of fish in a reef tank. They do best in Fish-Only with live rock (FOWLR) aquariums.

Food & Diet

Dogface Puffers are carnivores. As stated earlier, they eat shrimp, snails, crabs, and more meaty food in the wild. They will likely need to consume frozen food such as krill, clams, and hard-shelled shrimp in a fish tank. These foods will help them grind their beak down to size. Also, if you have any live shrimp, snails, crabs, or other invertebrate, they will likely become a meal for your Puffer.

Tank Mates

There are a lot of different species of fish that can be kept with a Dogface Puffer. They will do well with fish such as Triggers, Large Angelfish, Eels, Large Wrasses, and other large carnivorous fish. It will do best with fish that grow larger but that is not very aggressive. Dogface Pufferfish may also nip on the fins of fish.

They are known to get picked on by other Pufferfish species such as the Porcupine Puffer. I would be weary of keeping the Dogface Puffer with other Pufferfish. Sometimes they successfully inhabit a fish tank together. It all depends on the temperament of the individual fish.

Are Dogface Puffer Fish Aggressive?

As stated earlier, the Dogface Puffer can potentially nip on the fins of other fish. They are labeled as semi-aggressive but they are usually more docile compared to other large Puffer Fish species.


I would not recommend keeping more than one Dogface Puffer in a fish tank. This makes breeding this fish impossible.

Final Notes

Dogface Puffers are unique-looking fish that make a great addition to many large FOWLR aquariums. If you’re looking for a fish that will sort of act like an aquatic puppy, consider picking up a Dogface. Maintaining balanced water parameters may become a challenge but it is well worth it for this fish!