Originally Posted by fishluver06
do they have any special requirements such as food?
Absolutely. Food is a requirement. They will starve if you don't feed them.
I don't keep puffers, but I have done some research preparatory to keeping them before going with something else in each case. While I do not know all the requirements, the following are pretty certain:
1) Utterly pristine and completely cycled water - they will quickly kick the bucket in even slightly dirty water and are very sensitive to ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, as well as medications and metals (like other scale less fish). They are also horrifically messy eaters, so cleaning up after feeding is a must as are frequent water changes.
2) Hard Shelled meaty food. Puffers have four teeth which form a beak. They are adapted to eating molluscs and crustaceans, and these teeth grow constantly to be worn down by their food's shells. Snails the size of the puffers' eyes offered several times weekly is generally the prescription to prevent the teeth from growing so much that the mouth ceases to close properly and the puffer starves. The teeth can be trimmed by an exotic animal vet or with nail clippers if you know what you are doing. I don't. Also, it is unlikely you will ever get them to eat prepared foods, so it's live, frozen, or fresh all the way. I recommend setting up tanks to breed ghost shrimp and snails if you are serious about keeping puffers.
3) They must never be netted or held out of water. Alway capture them in a plastic or glass bag or jar. When frightened, they inhale and puff, but if they do this by inhaling air, they can kill themselves.
4) Research - Get a Book. Read it twice before you get the puffers. Then, read as much as you can lay eyes on on the net and in the library.
5) A varied environment - Puffers are among the most intelligent fish, and are susceptible to boredom if their environment isn't stimulating. Plant the tank well and aquascape to break up sight lines and provide hard and soft cover in various places. Visual and textural cues will be important to the fish.
6) Not too much current. Puffers are not strong swimmers. Mild current is OK, but you're going to need a ton of filtration to get the water quality you need, so be wise about how the water comes back into the tank so you're not bouncing the puffers around.
7) Soft substrate and smooth decor - They're scale less and hard to medicate. Try not to let them get nicked up.
OK, thats about it. I am not trying to scare you off of this, but consider well and long if you can provide what these fish need.