Pao Turgidus Pufferfish Care Sheet

Updated: Aug 30, 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 turgidus

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

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


Common names for this species include Cambodian Mekong Puffer, Spotted Target Puffer, Brown Puffer, Asian Spotted Puffer and Chameleon Puffer.


The specific name comes from the Latin word turgidus, meaning "swollen, inflated".

In the wild


By Canhbiengioi, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3681339

The P.turgidus has a distributional range throughout the Mekong river basin and many of its tributaries. It can be found in Xishuangbanna (China), Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.


It lurks within the dense submerged vegetation 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.

This species is collected commercially for the aquarium trade, but the number of individuals taken from the wild or the size of wild populations is not known.


The P.turgidus 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

The P.turgidus is not commonly seen in the aquarium hobby, but we are seeing a recent increase in their availability and subsequent popularity. Although this is a species that will breed in captivity, most specimens available for sale are wild-caught.


The P.turgidus is a relatively shy and primarily crepuscular species, so it will be most active in the hours of dawn and dusk.


It must be provided with subdued lighting and a scape that offers an abundance of spaces in which it can hide. Driftwood, caves and Redmoor branches and lots of soft-leaved aquatic plants are perfect for creating an aquarium that is reminiscent of its natural habitat. Such a scape, in which the fish can take cover quickly, will actually encourage more active behaviour.

Stem plants, such as Limnophila sessiliflora (Asian Marshweed), are ideal for creating a soft, shady and dense scape which this species prefers.