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Valentini Puffer – Complete Care Guide

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valentini puffer

Valentini Puffer Facts

The Valentini Puffer sometimes called the Saddle Valentini, or Blacksaddled Toby is a small species of pufferfish often kept in saltwater aquariums. It has beautiful black, white, and yellow colorations on its body. They also have spots running horizontally throughout their body. Valentini Puffers are known to have great personalities and become a highlight in a fish tank. They normally keep to themselves but are known to nip on fins from time to time.

Valentini Puffer fish puff up when they are threatened or in danger. It is important to avoid having them puff because it is stressful on their body. Also, part of the Saddle Valentini holds a toxin. It should generally not be dangerous to humans unless you decide to consume the puffer. This guide will cover Saddle Valentini aquarium requirements, food & diet, tank mates, breeding, and more!

Aquarium Requirements

The Blacksaddled Toby should be introduced into well-established saltwater fish tanks. It is recommended to add them into an aquarium using a container instead of a net if possible. They become more stressed when netted and will be more prone to puffing up.

The Black Saddle Puffer’s max length is about 4 inches. It will do well in an aquarium that is 30 gallons or larger. I would personally recommend keeping them in 40-gallon fish tanks or larger due to their diet and sensitivity to fluctuations in water parameters. More water volume will help prevent large swings in water parameters. Also, I recommend adding a lot of live rock with different sized caves to provide refuge for your pufferfish during times of stress.

Water Parameters

Water parameters for saltwater fish is generally the same. However, there are some outliers that have unique parameter requirements. Luckily the Valentini Pufferfish has fairly standard water parameter needs.

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

Is The Valentini Puffer Reef Safe?

Valentini Pufferfish do best in fish-only with live rock (FOWLR) aquariums. They may seek out invertebrates in your fish tank and make them a quick meal. I have heard mixed opinions about keeping Blacksaddled Tobys with coral. Some reef keepers claim theirs are model citizens while others observed Valentini Pufferfish nipping their coral. The personality of the individual fish will determine whether they are safe with coral or not. I would personally only keep this species in fish-only aquariums, to avoid losing coral and invertebrates to a hungry Black Saddle Puffer.

Food & Diet

Valentini Pufferfish have a beak that grows throughout their lifespan. They require foods that are hard-shelled to help grind down their beak. They will happily munch on live snails, hermit crabs, and shrimp. Providing them with live saltwater invertebrates can become incredibly expensive over time. Luckily, some foods are good replacements for live inverts. Frozen foods such as clams, krill, and squid are great to help grind down this puffer’s beak. Although they may not help grind their beak down, I would also recommend feeding Valentini Puffers Mysis Shrimp and Brine Shrimp.

Tank Mates

Black saddled Puffers are fairly peaceful in fish tanks. If plenty of live rock and hiding spaces are provided, they should keep to themselves. They will do best with similarly sized fish such as Clownfish, Damsels, Wrasses, and Dwarf Angels. In appropriately sized fish tanks, they will likely get along with a few larger fish like Tangs and Foxfaces. There are many other fish Valentini Puffers can get along with, but I just wanted to give you a general idea.

I would not recommend keeping this puffer fish with another Valentini Puffer because they will likely become territorial and aggressive toward one another. To play it safe, I would not recommend mixing Valentini Pufferfish with other puffer species.


Due to their potentially territorial nature, I would not keep more than one Valentini Pufferfish in an aquarium. This makes breeding impossible.

Final Notes

Valentini Pufferfish are gorgeous fish with incredible personalities. If you decide to pick one up, it’ll likely become the centerpiece of your fish tank. It is important to keep up with this fish’s need to grind its beak down, but that will come naturally with the provided food. Check out the Saltwater Pufferfish page for information on different species of puffer!

Image by Rickard Zerpe on wikiMedia