Dwarf pea puffers are fascinating fish. They’ve got spunky attitudes and are intelligent to boot! Many owners are quick to bring up how their beloved puffers seem to beg for food or follow them around in the tank. What’s also great is that they’re fresh-water fish, so no need to set up a costly and large tank to have your pufferfish!
Of course, the main thing you’ll be asking yourself when setting up the tank is which tank mates can go with a dwarf puffer? Dwarf puffers are small, so will they get along with small animals like shrimps? Or will dwarf puffers eat shrimp?
Will Dwarf Puffers Eat Shrimp?
Dwarf pea puffers will eat shrimp if they get the chance. Before you decide to pick out some lovely cherry shrimp or ghost shrimp for your puffer tank, you should know that yes, your dwarf puffer will go after your shrimp regardless of how big or small they are. In India’s wilds, where you can find dwarf puffers, they feed mainly on smaller animals like copepods, rotifers, water fleas, and insects.
Any small will be viewed as food by your dwarf puffer, which includes any shrimp you would want to add to your tank.
Do Dwarf Puffers Raised In Captivity Less Likely To Eat Shrimp?
Even if you go through all the trouble of finding a dwarf puffer born and raised in captivity, which we highly recommend you to do because it’ll be much healthier and you’ll be assisting the species in the wild, this doesn’t make them any less likely to go after the cherry shrimps in your aquarium or eat their young.
While dwarf puffers are smart and curious fish, who are well aware of their surroundings but are still fish at the end of the day, they still get hungry and are always drawn to feed on small animals. With most fish, whatever fits in their mouth is food. That’s just their instinct, and you can’t blame them for attempting to go after something they would eat in the wild, even if they are bred in captivity.
Is A Well-Fed Dwarf Puffer Less Likely To Eat Shrimp?
Some aquarium owners have reported that as long as their dwarf puffers are well fed, they’ll avoid the shrimp in the tank. Dwarf puffers, like many fish, are opportunistic feeders. If something presenting itself as food is in the tank, they’ll go for it even if eaten already. Remember that in the wild, a dwarf puffer may not eat as much as in captivity. It’s instinct, after all.
So it varies. Some dwarf puffers will avoid shrimp if they’re well-fed, and others will still go after them.
Can Dwarf Puffers Live With Shrimp?
So we’ve discussed dwarf puffers eating shrimp, but let’s look at the big question of whether dwarf puffers can live with shrimp. Dwarf pea puffers can live with shrimp, although the dwarf puffer is still keen on attempting to go after shrimp. The largest size of dwarf puffers can reach 1.4 inches. Meanwhile, a full-grown cherry shrimp is around 1.6 inches, and a ghost/glass shrimp can reach an inch long.
They’re roughly the same size as one another, and you would think that a dwarf puffer would leave the same-sized shrimp along. Dwarf puffers are known to be fin nippers, so they are used to picking on things that are bigger than them or the same size. Even if a shrimp can fend for itself, which they will do, a dwarf puffer won’t resist the urge to take a nip at one.
Of course, smaller shrimp species, like bee shrimp, are a no-go as your dwarf puffer will eat them. But if you want to make a nano or small tank with both dwarf puffers and shrimp, here are some easy steps that might give you success in keeping them together.
- Make sure the shrimp are fully grown before introducing the dwarf puffer. If the shrimp are already used to the aquarium, it will make the shrimps less stressed, but they’ll also be big enough to fend for themselves. If you add young shrimp to a dwarf puffer aquarium, those shrimp will get eaten.
- If possible, introduce other fish to the tank. A school of Otocinclus will help clean your tank and provide enough distractions for your dwarf puffer not to pick on your shrimp. If you leave your dwarf puffer along with shrimp, they will pick on them even if they can’t eat them.
- Provide enough space and hiding spots for both the shrimp and dwarf puffer. Dwarf puffers are naturally curious fish, so providing enough plant cover, caves, and such will give them plenty of things to explore and time not spent going after your shrimp.
- Keep the stress level in the tank down. Clean your tank regularly, change the water and filter, and ensure the temperature and oxygen are in the safe zone. A stressed dwarf puffer is likely going to take out its frustration on the shrimp tank-mates.
- If you plan on breeding shrimp, remove the females when you see eggs or remove the eggs entirely to let them hatch in peace. As said before, dwarf puffers will go after the shrimp fry. You might have a few survive, but if you don’t want to take the risk, remove the young as soon as possible.
So despite the risks, dwarf puffers can live side-by-side with some of the larger shrimp species. There are no guarantees. There might still be nipping instances, but so long as the dwarf puffer and shrimp are roughly the same size, there is a chance they can live together.
Here I have a more in-depth article about Dwarf Puffer tank mates.
Will Dwarf Puffers Eat Snails?
Before we conclude, let’s look at one last common tank-mate; the humble snail. Your dwarf puffer will eat any snails in your tank, even larger ones. Dwarf puffers relish snails, and aquarium owners have reported that just one dwarf puffer can make short work of an aquarium that has dozens, if not hundreds, of snails. The way and the speed they go after snails makes them perfect fish if you have an explosion in snails in your tank.
Despite dwarf puffers wanting to eat your shrimp, dwarf puffers and shrimp can live side-by-side if they’re small enough. So long as both have enough room and places to explore, hide, and scavenge for food, conflict should be rare. However, if you don’t want your shrimp being harmed or want even to take that risk, it might be better to keep the dwarf puffers and the shrimp in separate tanks.