Terrible Advice Tuesdays (T.A.Tues): Cheap Dental Care For Saltwater Fish


Terrible Advice Tuesdays: Gracilaria (a type of macro algae) is a great thing to feed puffer fish to help wear down their teeth.

The rest of the story: Oh boy. Someone really screwed up their food groups.

First, most puffers exclusively eat meat, so the idea that algae will be readily accepted by them is a bad one.

Second, algae isn’t tough so it won’t do anything to wear down the puffer’s teeth.

Third, puffer’s teeth can mostly be kept in check by feeding them tough shelled inverts. However, if the puffer’s teeth get too long, the fish can be anesthetized and the teeth filed down. NOTE: Call a vet if you think your puffer needs its teeth filed down. Even though you’re billy bad-ass, and you’re read everything on the internet, let the vet do the anesthetizing.

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Comments for this article (5)

  • Chris says:

    My puffer eats algea all the time!

  • Jake says:

    When i had my dog faced, hed never touch algae. I couldnt imagine another puffer eating algae.

  • Scott says:

    I’ll grab my trusty Craftsman precision files and go to work! I’m laughing right now because I have never even heard of having to file down a fishes teeth but there is always a first, especially in this hobby! I’ll have to ask my fellow reef hobbyist and friend if he had to keep his puffers teeth in check. My best regards to you Mark!! Always a pleasure!!

  • Marc says:

    Unlike us, puffers’ teeth continue to grow their entire lives. This is good in the wild where they (as Mark mentioned) eat mostly tough-shelled inverts or crabs. In captivity it becomes something that has to be managed. If the teeth get too long it can keep the fish from being able to chew and therefore can lead to starvation.

  • Pierre Bouic says:

    First time I ever heard of the puffer need to have their teeth filed was when I was only into freshwater fish, as some species are FW animals who have the same needs, although they aren’t fed on shell based food so their teeth are in need of filing fairly soon compared to SW species. A magazine I was subscribed to had a real how to article on the act of anesthetizing these fish, even telling what mixture proportions etc. still as mark said I’d never attempt this procedure, but these guys are so dog like and friendly that next FOWLR I set up will have one.

    I can’t understand how someone could write this, when associating algae food with abrasive abilities, no wonder Mark picked this one out.

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