Pao Suvattii Pufferfish Care Sheet

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

This care sheet is written with the aim of providing the optimal care for this species of fish.

Pufferfish Enthusiasts Worldwide endeavours to inspire and promote the highest standards of care - not basic or minimum care - using the best evidence available at the time.

Pao Suvattii Pufferfish
Pao Suvattii Pufferfish

The suvattii is a species of freshwater pufferfish belonging to the Pao genus.

The P.suvattii previously belonged to the Tetraodon and Monotrete genera until being reassigned in 2013 to Pao.

Common names for this species include Mekong Puffer, Pignosed Puffer, Hognosed Puffer and Arrowhead Puffer.

The specific name honours Chote Suvatti, ichthyologist and former professor of Kasetsart University who greatly contributed to the taxonomic work on fish in Thailand.

In the wild

By Allie_Caulfield - originally posted to Flickr as 2009-08-30 09-03 Luang Prabang 020 MekongUploaded using F2ComButton, CC BY 2.0,
The Mekong River in Laos

The P.suvattii is believed to be endemic to the lower Mekong mainstream and its larger tributaries of Thailand and Laos.

It lurks within dense submerged vegetation and wallows in the muddy substrate of its suitable habitats, ready to launch a surprise attack on any prey items that swim within striking distance. It feeds on smaller species of fish, freshwater crustaceans and benthic animals such as worms.

The P.suvattii populations in the wild are still healthy in suitable habitats and it is considered 'Least Concern' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

In the aquarium

Pao Suvattii Pufferfish
One of my Pao suvattii Pufferfish

The P.suvattii is a popular choice for ‘oddball’ enthusiasts and imports of wild-caught specimens are quite common.

This pufferfish requires highly oxygenated water with a medium to strong flow, but not overpowering.

A good strength of flow can be achieved with spray bars from a canister filter, angled towards the top of the water.

Powerheads with narrow gaps in the grill can also be used to create additional flow. We would advise that cages or guards (such as anemone guards) are used on powerheads to prevent entrapment/injury.

This species prefers a scape which includes an abundance of spaces in which it can hide, but the tank must also provided lots of areas of uncovered substrate to allow for wallowing (read substrate).

Water-logged driftwood and smooth boulders/rocks can be incorporated into the scape of the aquarium. Hardy epiphytes, such as Anubias and Java fern varieties, can be attached to the hardscape for decorative purposes and to provide additional areas of harbourage, but plants that need to be planted into the substrate should be avoided because the P.suvattii will disturb the roots.