A freshwater pufferfish? Say it ain't so. There are almost 150 species of pufferfish living in freshwater, brackish, and marine. Of that 150, fewer than 30 are true freshwater puffers. Inhabiting the dense vegetation of Africa's rivers and lakes, you'll find the largest freshwater species of pufferfish, the rare and highly sought after Tetraodon MBU Puffer.
Mbu Puffers are thought to live longer in the wild, but their lifespan is about ten years in captivity. Its genetics and quality of care determine the lifespan of your MBU Puffer. This incredibly unique species can grow anywhere from 22-30"—the most important thing to think about when housing an MBU puffer is tank size. Don't let the little puffer you see at an aquarium store fool you that little guy will get big fast! As they get larger, 500 to 1,000 gallons is typically recommended for these massive puffers. Volume isn't as important as the actual swimmable space, so you want to keep your puffer in a longer and deeper aquarium rather than very tall. It is not easy to accommodate the exact aquarium needs for MBU Puffers, so it is common to see them on display at zoos, or many hobbyists look to custom built aquariums.
Once you've got your aquarium, you'll want to start by adding a soft substrate like sand and adding natural decor like stone, driftwood, and live plants to give them a place to hide. Just avoid anything sharp to prevent any possible injury to your puffer. When adding live plants to your MBU Puffers aquarium, keep the plants on the outer perimeter because your puffer may get too excited while eating a shred of some of the plant leaves as food falls onto them.
You know the age old story of reaching for an order at a restaurant at the same time as someone else, your hand's touch, and everyone lives happily ever after? This isn't the case with the MBU Puffer. Sometimes MBU Puffers are known to take a few chunks out of their tanks mates when the tank mate tries to go after the puffer's food simultaneously. Everybody makes mistakes, but these big guys can't help themselves when it comes to food, so this can be an ongoing issue, and you may be better off housing your MBU Puffer alone. They are territorial so never house two MBU Puffers together to avoid fighting. However, if you are adamant about keeping other fish with your puffer, with caution, you can try peaceful fish like rainbows, tetras, and livebearers but stay away from most bottom dwellers and fish who also love meaty foods.
When feeding your carnivorous MBU Puffer, you want to mimic what they would eat in the wild closely: shelled foods like clams, muscles, snails, and crayfish to help keep their beak trimmed down. You also want to offer foods like frozen bloodworms, and krill variety is essential to keep your puffer healthy.
This not so gentle giant is very intelligent. He will begin to recognize and interact with its owner giving different signals like slightly changing its color or making specific movements to let you know its dinner time. Keep your tanks large, water clean, and feed good food, and you are sure to have a happy, healthy MBU Puffer. A true jaw dropping display pet.