Dwarf Pea Puffer: Care, Tank Mates, Size, And Diet

Dwarf pea puffers are small freshwater fish native to India and Southeast Asia.

They grow to about an inch and are popular among aquarium enthusiasts for their round shape and bright coloration.

However, caring for these little guys can be tricky despite their popularity.

This article covers everything you need to know about caring for dwarf pea puffers, including tank mates, diet, behavior, temperament, and breeding tips.

Natural Habitat & Basic Characteristics

These fish are native only to rivers, lakes, and estuaries in Kerala and southern Karnataka, located in the Western Ghats of India.

They are a species of migratory fish known as potamodromous.

These small fish have a distinctive round body shape and bright yellow to green coloring with black spots.

They typically grow to be around 1 inch in length.

Their lifespan can range from 3-5 years if cared for properly in the right environment.

In short, dwarf pea puffers are small, brightly colored fish with unique body shapes.

They have a relatively short lifespan but can live for several years if given proper care.


Their small size, round body, and pointed snout make them look like tiny torpedoes zooming around the tank.

Pea puffers come in various color variations, including green, yellow, brown, and black.

Some have spotted or striped patterns on their bodies that add to their uniqueness.

In addition to their overall appearance, dwarf pea puffers have notable markings that distinguish them from other types of fish.

They possess big, mischievous eyes that shine while they investigate their surroundings.

Male pea puffers have more vibrant coloring than females and may display brighter hues during the breeding season.

These little fish will make a charming addition to any aquarium setup!


Dwarf pea puffers have a relatively slow growth rate and usually reach their maximum size within 6-8 months.

They can grow up to 1 inch long, one of the smallest freshwater species kept as pets.

This makes them ideal for small aquariums or nano tanks.

It’s worth noting that dwarf pea puffers have some limitations regarding tank mates due to their small size.

They may become aggressive towards other fish if they feel threatened or perceive them as competition for food.

Therefore, keeping them with peaceful species such as snails or shrimp is best.

Additionally, there may be slight differences in size between male and female dwarf pea puffers, but this is not always easy to determine without close inspection.

Overall, understanding the size limitations and gender differences of these cute little fish is crucial for providing appropriate care and choosing suitable tank mates.


With proper care and attention, dwarf pea puffers can live up to five years or more.

Of course, like any living creature, their lifespan can be affected by breeding habits, environmental factors, health considerations, and genetic predispositions.

One of the biggest factors in determining a dwarf pea puffer’s lifespan is the quality of its environment.

These fish are quite sensitive to changes in water chemistry and temperature fluctuations.

To ensure they stay healthy and happy for as long as possible, it’s important to maintain a consistent tank environment with appropriate filtration and regular water changes.

Feeding them a varied diet that meets their nutritional needs will help keep them strong and disease-resistant.

Basic Care Guidelines


Keeping pea puffers healthy and happy is easy once you get the hang of it.

The biggest issue you must conquer is providing the right water and tank conditions.

It’s wise to research and ask questions if you’re unsure.

Having the right parameters for your pufferfish is essential for a thriving aquarium.

Tank Size Requirements

You’ll need to ensure your little buddy has plenty of room to swim and explore, so let’s talk about the ideal space requirements for their habitat.

A dwarf pea puffer requires a minimum of 10 gallons, but we recommend a tank size of at least 20 gallons to provide ample swimming space.

A sponge filter is ideal for filtration, providing gentle water flow without harming your puffer.

You can also add live plants as an excellent natural filtration method while providing hiding spots for your puffer.

Decorate the aquarium with soft sand or smooth gravel, and add some driftwood or rocks for them to hide in.

Regular maintenance is essential to keep your tank clean and healthy.

We recommend weekly partial water changes of around 20% and vacuuming the substrate during each change.

Taking care of your dwarf pea puffer’s home will keep them happy and healthy!

Tank Setup Recommendations

When setting up a tank for your dwarf pea puffer, there are several factors to consider.

First, aquascaping techniques can greatly enhance the visual appeal of your tank while also providing hiding places and territory markers for your puffer.

A sponge filter is recommended for filtration options as it provides a gentle flow that won’t stress out your puffer.

Additionally, lighting considerations should be taken into account, as too much light can cause algae growth which may not be beneficial for the overall health of your dwarf pea puffer.

As for substrate choices, sand or fine gravel is preferred as this species likes to dig and burrow.

To create an ideal habitat for your dwarf pea puffer, we recommend a heavily planted tank with plenty of hiding spaces using live plants such as Java moss or Hornwort.

Adding driftwood or rocks will provide additional structure and hiding places.

Filtration is important to maintain water quality in the tank, so weekly water changes are necessary, along with regular filter maintenance.

Proper lighting is also essential in promoting plant growth and allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of your aquarium.

Adding snails or shrimp can also entertain you and your dwarf pea puffer!

Water Parameters

Maintaining proper water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of your aquatic pets, including dwarf pea puffers.

These tiny fish require specific conditions to thrive, so monitoring their tank’s pH level, water hardness, filtration system, and temperature range is important.

Firstly, dwarf pea puffers prefer slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH between 7-8 and soft to moderately hard water with a dGH of 5-15.

It’s important to regularly test the water parameters using a reliable testing kit and make necessary adjustments.

Secondly, filtration is also essential for maintaining good quality water in the tank.

A moderate filter should be adequate for a small tank housing dwarf pea puffers as they don’t produce much waste but ensure that no strong current can stress them out or damage their delicate fins.

Finally, the temperature range should be kept between 72-82°F, which is relatively easy to achieve with a heater in most households but ensure that there are no sudden fluctuations in temperature as this can harm your fish.

Common Diseases

Regarding the dwarf pea puffer, don’t worry about any particular diseases.

Instead, practice the usual preventive measures for common freshwater illnesses.

Ich is one of the most common issues in the aquarium hobby, and you may have heard of it before if you’ve been in this hobby for a while.

White spots appear on your fish and can cause them to die if not treated promptly.

The best way to avoid Ich and many other diseases is to maintain healthy water quality in the tank.

This should be your goal anyway, but it’s especially important in this case due to the pea puffer’s sensitivity to changes in the water conditions.

If you plan on getting these fish, ensure you’re prepared to keep their habitat in the best shape possible!

Diet and Feeding

As a responsible owner, it’s important to understand the nutritional requirements of dwarf pea puffers.

These fish require a diet high in protein and low in fat.

Frozen or live foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, mosquito larvae, and black worms are excellent protein sources for these fish.

To ensure that your dwarf pea puffer remains healthy and happy, it’s essential to establish a feeding schedule that provides adequate food without overfeeding them.

Overfeeding risks include obesity which could lead to various diseases such as swim bladder disorder.

Food variety should also be considered when creating a feeding schedule because this will prevent boredom and encourage natural foraging behaviors in your dwarf pea puffer.

A varied diet provides essential nutrients and adds excitement during feeding time.

Remember to closely monitor your fish’s appetite; if they seem disinterested in their food or show signs of bloating or lethargy after eating, adjust their feeding schedule accordingly.

Behavior and Temperament


As a pet owner, you’ll notice that observing the behavior and temperament of your little dwarf pea puffer can be a rewarding experience.

Pea puffers are known to be quite feisty and aggressive, having no qualms with fighting.

These tiny fish can be a handful, but their vibrant personalities make them intriguing additions to your tank.

They can also sometimes be territorial towards other species or their kind.

Training techniques such as positive reinforcement can teach them simple tricks and behaviors, creating a fun interactive experience between owner and pet.

However, it’s important to remember that these fish are not like traditional pets such as dogs or cats – they require specific care and attention.

Aggression management is another important aspect of caring for dwarf pea puffers.

They are known to be territorial creatures, so providing enough space in their tank and limiting the number of tank mates is vital.

Social interaction is still possible, though – introducing live plants or another decor can provide stimulation while keeping aggression at bay.

Behavioral disorders may also occur if proper care isn’t taken – symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, or unusual swimming patterns.

It’s best to consult a veterinarian experienced in treating fish when dealing with these issues.

Overall, taking the time to understand your dwarf pea puffer’s behavior will lead to a happier life for both pet and owner alike!

Compatible Tank Mates

Speaking of behavior and temperament, it’s important to consider the fish compatibility of dwarf pea puffers when creating community tanks.

These small but feisty fish are known for being aggressive towards other species, so keeping them with non-fish tank mates or other peaceful fish is best.

Possible options for compatible tank mates include Kuhli loach,  Ember tetras, Cherry shrimp, Otocinclus, Neon tetras, and Danios.

When selecting tank mates for your dwarf pea puffer, it’s important to research the specific needs and behaviors of each species you’re considering.

Avoid adding overly aggressive species that could harm your puffer or disrupt its environment.

Additionally, ensure your tank is large enough to accommodate multiple inhabitants without overcrowding or causing territorial disputes comfortably.

Proper planning and careful selection can create a peaceful and harmonious community aquarium containing these fascinating little creatures.

Breeding Tips

If you’re looking to breed dwarf pea puffers, you must have the right equipment and know-how.

The tank requirements are the same as before, except you’ll want to keep your fish in slightly closer proximity and raise the water temperature.

Aim for 79°F to 80°F—it’ll replicate the conditions of their natural breeding grounds.

You may also get a dedicated breeding tank, though it’s not strictly necessary.

If you go for it, ensure it’s about half the size of a normal two-fish tank.

Once the male and female are ready to breed, the male will follow the female into a plant-filled area of the tank and fertilize her eggs.

From there, all you can do is wait—the eggs should be ready to hatch in a few days.

Once the fry is born, you’ll need to start feeding them. Brine shrimp is a great food source that’ll help them grow.


In conclusion, Dwarf Pea Puffers are full of personality and can live for years with proper care.

They thrive in a well-maintained tank with compatible tank mates and a varied diet.

Whether you’re an experienced aquarist or just starting, adding a Dwarf Pea Puffer to your collection can be a fun challenge that will pay off in endless entertainment and satisfaction.