Tetraodon Schoutedeni Pufferfish Care Sheet

Updated: Nov 10, 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.

The Tetraodon schoutedeni is a species of freshwater pufferfish, from the Tetraodon genus, which is endemic to Africa’s Congo Basin.

This species is named in honour of the Belgian zoologist Henri Schouteden. The spotted pattern of this species has earned it the common name of “Spotted Congo Puffer”, which it is frequently advertised as.

Owing to the convenient size and mild temperament of this pufferfish it has become very popular with enthusiasts

across the world.

In the wild

The Spotted Congo Pufferfish is the smallest species of African pufferfish and is believed to be endemic to Pool Malebo (formerly Stanley Pool), a large opening that resembles a lake.

It is located in the lower reaches of the Congo River system, within the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It has a surface area of approximately 500km2 (22miles long, 14miles wide), with a varied depth between 3 and 10 meters.

T.schoutedeni naturally inhabits clean, fast-flowing waters where it can be found lurking in-between rocks and vegetation. Their waters are filled with tall grasses which grow in a substrate of silt and mud. This species feeds on benthic animals - such as snails and worms - and are in constant search for food.

In the aquarium

The Tetraodon schoutedeni was one of the most common species of pufferfish in the ornamental fish trade during the 1960s and the first instances of captive breeding took place around this time.

The captive breeding of this species was not prioritised and the fish almost completely disappeared from the hobby due to civil wars in the Congo; which made collectors of this fish reluctant to catch from the area in which it is found.

Imports of wild-caught T.schoutedeni from the Congo are still quite sporadic, but this pufferfish is now the subject of several modern captive breeding programmes, which has greatly increased its availability. The most successful of these being in Indonesia and Germany, where most of the world’s captive-bred specimens originate.

T.schoutedeni require a fair-sized, mature aquarium and prefer a densely scaped environment with lots of visual barriers, hiding spaces and a soft, sandy substrate.

Such a scape helps them feel secure and contained which will encourage natural behaviours and feeding. Providing an abundance of hiding spaces and visual barriers will allow the pufferfish to establish and claim their own territories which will help minimise aggression.

Thick leafed plants, water-logged mangrove roots, Mopani wood/roots and caves can be utilised in their aquarium for these purposes.

Bite marks on Anubias leaf.

T.schoutedeni are plant biters and plants with long, thin shoots, such as Tiger Lotus, Crinum calamistratum and Crypt balansae, will likely be decimated by the pufferfish within a short period of time, as they do seem to enjoy biting through them.

Even the toughest plants, such as Anubias, will suffer from the occasional bite wound so it is important to choose hardy species

which can withstand and recover from these bites.

Hardy plants like Anubias, Java Fern, Bolbitis and Amazon Sword are good choices for these fish.