Why Is My Puffer Fish Breathing Hard? 6 reasons explained

Why is my Puffer fish breathing hard

If you are searching to know why your Pufferfish is breathing hard or breathing heavily, then this article is for you.

Pufferfish are very adorable and funny fish, which makes them the ideal saltwater fish for many saltwater aquarists.

In the fish-keeping hobby, there could be some issues that could spring up from time to time and one of them is your fish breathing very heavily.

In this article you will learn why your Pufferfish is acting this way, no matter the type of Pufferfish involved, be it Porcupine Pufferfish, Potato Pufferfish, or Dwarf Pufferfish, etc.

Why Is My Puffer Fish Breathing Heavily?

There are some factors that could make your Pufferfish to be breathing hard or heavily and they are:

1. Low oxygen in the water: The commonest reason why they do this is when they have little oxygen to breath.

Just like every other animal, fish, in general, do consume oxygen too through their gills.

Oxygen flows in the water and even at the bottom of the water and that is what fish breath and without it, they will suffocate and die.

Your Pufferfish could be breathing very rapidly because it is lacking enough oxygen.

There are many factors that could deplete the oxygen level in a fish tank and they are, too many algae, dirt, and the source of the water.

Because of problems like this, this is why it is compulsory to have a filter or air stone.

I recommend a filter because it helps circulate oxygen in the water and also helps in keeping the tank clean through filtration of the water.

2. Bacteria infection: Another reason why your Pufferfish could be behaving this way is that it is suffering from bacteria and diseases.

There are many diseases and bacteria that could infect fish and cause the gills to malfunction, such as gill flukes, etc.

Once a fish’s Gill is not functioning properly due to one reason or another, the fish will have a hard time trying to breath properly and that could be why yours is breathing heavily or very hard.

Once you notice this, it is better to call the attention of a veterinarian doctor or a certified professional for possible medication or medical advice.

3. Stress: Stress could go a long way to impact the health of a fish negatively, and Puffers are not an exemption.

Despite that they are very friendly and hardy fish, keeping them in a tank full of aggressive tank mates or in a place where there is a lot of traffic, such as different people walking about or domestic animals such as Cats or Dogs walking in anytime.

When they are being disturbed and startled constantly, they may have problems trying to breath properly as a result of stress.

4. Toxins: The presence of toxins in the water in your fish tank could go a long way toward impacting the overall health of your fish, including the gills.

Toxins of any type are dangerous to any aquatic animal, be it fish, Snails, Crustaceans, etc, and could kill them if it is not resolved on time.

Despite that, some toxins are more dangerous than others, but all are very harmful to aquatic animals that Pufferfish fall into.

Some of these dangerous chemicals or toxins that could harm your fish are Ammonia, Nitrite, Chlorine, Copper, Nitrate, etc. So they should always be 0 in your aquarium.

As a fish keeper, it is compulsory to have water testing kits to be able to detect these dangerous chemicals and neutralize them by changing the water until the toxins are neutral.

These toxins could be caused by dirt, as a result of poops or decayed organisms being left in the tank.

Also, the source of the water could contribute to this, and that’s why it is recommendable to keep only treated saltwater for your saltwater fish like the Puffers.

Again, this is another reason why it is important to keep a filter in your fish tank, to help keep the level of dirt in the tank in check.

5. Use of Detergents and Deodorants: It has been proven that aquatic animals are prone to both detergents, perfumes, and many household cleaning substances and Deodorants.

Many people make the mistake of using some of these things near their fish tanks, such as using them to clean their fish tanks without proper cleaning off the detergents, and also, the application of perfumes near the tanks could be harmful to your animals.

If you do all these near your fish tank, it could affect their gills and could be the reason why your Pufferfish is breathing hard or heavily.

So, if you do all these, you need to stop! buy the recommended cleaning tools for fish tanks.

6. Wrong water parameters and Temperature: Another reason why this could happen is as a result of the type of water the Pufferfish is in.

Puffers are tropical fish, despite being marine fish.

Their ideal water temperature is 70°F to 78°F, so they need a heater to maintain their ideal water temperature.

Keeping a Heater for your tropical fish is compulsory, so get one for them.

Very cold water temperature will deplete the level of oxygen in water, so it could be the reason why your fish is finding it very hard to breath properly, hence it starts breathing heavily in order to get enough oxygen.

Also, water parameters such as pH, and salt level could affect the health of your fish when it is below or above their ideal quantity.

The average water pH of Puffers is 7.4 to 8.4.

How Fast Should Fish Be Breathing?

Discovering that your puffer is breathing heavily, you might also want to know how fast a fish could breath.

All fish does not breath at the same speed, some are way faster such as the Chinese algae eaters, and some breath slowly like the Coffinfish.


These are the reasons why Pufferfish could be breathing hard or heavily, so find out the main reason why such is happening and tackle is according.


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