Puffer Pathology: Stress table

Listed below are some of the more obvious signs of stress.  Please take into consideration that some fish are different than others behavior-wise, even when of the same species.  Let's face it, puffers can be rather peculiar at times!  If you've been around fish long enough, you may share my opinion that some actually have a sort of "personality".

Some signs of stress in pufferfish
Constantly swimming up and down the sides of the tank
The puffer may be trying to flee an unfavorable water condition.  Check all water parameters. 
  The puffer may feel threatened due to predation or lack of cover.  Check interaction with the other fish, or provide appropriate cover.
  The puffer may simply be exhibiting a "caged animal" response to the tank.  No need to worry if it is still eating and otherwise healthy.
  The puffer may be ill.  Check for signs of ick or other disease.
Dull or otherwise uncharacteristic colors for its species
Check the water quality.  Dull color usually indicates a lack of salt* (esp. in T. fluviatilis and T. nigroviridis).  *only in species that tolerate salt.
  This may be due to poor nutrition.  Find out what your puffer eats and vary its diet accordingly. Be certain of the quality of its food. 
  The puffer may be ill.  Check for signs of ick or other disease.
  In T. fluviatilis and T. nigroviridis, dull dorsal coloration is often an indicator of the need for increased salinity.
Stomach discoloration (such as spots, rings, or graying)
*this is usually only applicable in species with white stomach regions.
Some puffers exhibit a grey "line" between their dorsal coloration and white underbelly.  This is a stress line and may be temporary.  If it persists, or turns into spots or rings for a long period of time (a day ), then it becomes significant.  Check all water parameters, as this is usually an indicator of undesirable conditions.  Rings on the belly are especially bad.  Salinity is usually the cause of rings.  Check for disease
Acting timid or hiding
This is a very general behavior and should you suspect this is the case, monitor your fish for a few days.  It could be that your puffer is just taking an egress in the cover you've provided it.  If this continues, and it's not the normal behavior for your fish, check the water parameters and possible disease.  Puffers who hide constantly (that never did before) are feeling weak or threatened.  You may want to observe the respiration of the puff to make sure its gills are working properly.

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