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Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > Miscellaneous species > Tetraodon Mbu
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This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

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This profile was written by "Jennie Dunlop" , a knowledgeable and helpful hobbyist.



Mbu Puffer

Tetraodon mbu



    These fish are fascinating to watch,they have cartoon like faces and often blink and yawn. Tetraodotoxin is the toxin present in these species of fish and is responsible for the deaths of substantial amount of sushi eaters!! Specially trained Fugu Sushi chefs are trained to remove the poison.
Quick stats:


    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Up to 24" (60cm+)
    Tank: 50 gals when young, enormous when mature 1000+.
    Strata: Bottom-middle, mainly comes up to top to take food.
    PH: 7.0-fairly tolerant
    Hardness: Medium. dH range: 10.0 to 15.0
    Temperature: Mid to upper 70's (likes warmer best) (26°C+)

Classification: Tetraodon comes from tetraodontidae meaning 4 toothed-beak made up of 2 upper and 2 lower teeth.

    Order: Tetraodontiformes
    Suborder: Tetraodontidei
    Family: Tetraodontidae
    Genera: Tetraodon
    Species: Mbu

Tetraodon mbu

Common name:

    Tetraodon Mbu,Giant green puffer, Mbu puffer.

Image gallery:

    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Freshwater species,found in Lake Tanganyika and lower Zaire.

General Body Form:

    Conical shaped body, scaleless tough skin, tiny spines except on the round snout and lower beginning of the tail fin. There are two forked nasal openings on either side of the head.


    Dark green/lighter green and yellow patterns on back,yellowish/mainly white belly. Lightens/darkens color with mood,also able to change patter to camouflage. If dark patches on under belly is sign of ill health/stress. Fantastic striped tail,usually kept "folded"but displays when swimming vigorously.

    Mbu Puffer


    Maintenance,large tank,good filtration,preferably external canister type,messy eater and large amounts of waste/droppings. Sandy/rounded gravel substrate as likes to rest on bottom,caved places to hide and explore,large open swimming area and some tough plants. Feeding,mollusk's,i.e. cockles in and out of shell(needs to grind teeth down)loves snails,live ghost shrimp etc. Readily hand tamed to take food but watch fingers.

    Mbu Puffer
    Blip eating a cockle

    Widely deemed to be highly aggressive to other fish,however many live very peacefully with community fish,all have distinct personalities,some very lively,some couch potatoes! They really get to know and recognize owner. The "puffing"behavior is usually only exhibited when the fish is in danger or stressed,it is not healthy to try to elicit this behavior on purpose,occasionally they seem to puff for no good reason. It is dangerous for the fish to puff up with air and so it should be caught in a tub of water rather than netted.


    Inhabits large rivers and lakes


    There is no known way to identify the sex of this fish and captive breeding has not been achieved.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Chris
Your right. My mbu lies at the bottom. makes "a nest" in the sandy bottom of tank every night. I swear he(or it) watches tv during the evening!! I ALWAYS turn lights of in tank when we go to bed every night at the same time. He also feeds out of my hand. You will find they eat on certain days. VERY FUSSY!

From: MasterFugu
These fish can get up to 26" inches and I am shocked that this article states that a 50 gallon tank is sufficient for one. Mbu puffers should never be put in a tank this small, and I can tell you now if you do, it will not last long at all. This fish needs 1000 gallons to actually be able to be happy and move around freely. Yes that's right, 1000 gallons. This probably shocks some people, but from many puffer keeper's experience, much less than this is just not good enough. This fish should not be bought by people who aren't prepared to shell out a heck of a lot of money for the upkeep. The huge tank and massive filtration costs are enough to put a lot of people off. I strongly recommend, unless you can afford all of the equipment as well as upkeep, that you do not buy this fish. There are plenty of other puffers which also have great personalities (what puffer doesn't?) which can thrive in more feasible tank sizes. If you do decide that you can look after one, plleeeeaaase do loads and loads of research before buying one, and don't ask your LFS about them, they will lie to you as they know that they won't be able to sell it if they tell people it needs 1000 gallons. Anyway, I hate to be so negative about all this, but there is no escaping the fact that most people just can't look after them properly. Unfortunately, this is a fish to be left for the lucky few which can care for them properly.
From: MasterFugu
I have had quite a few of these lovable little b@$t@rd$ over the past few years, all but the last pair never lasting over two months (most likely due to negligence on my part: fresh water first and not replacing a broken heater). The pair I have now, which I suspect are two different Asian species: T. nigroviridius and fluviatilis (I don't know which is which; one is slightly less round with much smaller and more concentrated spots, which occur on the base of the dorsal fin), live in a brackish tank (specific grav: .004-.015). The tank currently houses 9 sailfin mollies, 2 monstrous pterogoplycthys gibbiceps (spotted sailfin plecs, and 1 night goby; all but the mollies have been there for over a year. I can't stress enough that this species needs brackish water, as well as hard-carapaced food to wear down their teeth. My babies, Malo and Kirby, regularly eat freeze-dried krill, frozen prawn and beef-heart (beef-heart should not be a staple - it is used only for rapid growth and does nothing to wear down the teeth), snails and beetles (adult meal-worms).On a less regular basis I give them ghost shrimp, crayfish (sometimes larger than the puffs) and fiddler crabs (also occasionally larger). Their feeding on crayfish and fiddlers is quite entertaining - the puffs have a particular order in which they always dismantle their victims: eyes, claws, legs, tail, and belly. The crunch can even be heard from outside the tank. They should be watched as they eat, so as not to leave behind any uneaten portions which will rot and dirty the tank - a big enough problem since puffs are extremely messy fish (a reason to avoid bloodworms and flake). Kirby, the one with the the larger spots, has been eating the tubifex worms intended for my mollies, and as a result, has grown a pair of rabbit-like buck teeth, which prevent him from being able to eat correctly. I am going to college soon and plan to bring my babies with me (after a month of tank cycling); hopefully the absence of the mollies, and therefore their food, will allow him to properly wear down his teeth to a healthy length. I strongly advise against keeping them in fresh water, though they may get by in rift lake tanks. Those who have had success probably have a similar African species that does well in such an environment. So far, these are my favorite fish (though I intend to get a T. lineatus, the ultimate bad-@$$ fish, after college).
From: Colin R.
The basics for tetraodon mbu puffers which are very big and powerful puffers that also inhabit the middle and lower Congo. Can grow to 30" not 24". which is an important distinction when choosing the width of your intended fish tank. The fish I keep are in ammonia 0 nitrite 0 PH 7.2 KH 8 GH 10 nitrate less than 50ppm DO 10mg/l NO SALT!. Their diet consist of frozen prawns(staple) earthworms soaked in tap water for a few hours(the noise they make with these, almost made a friend throw up!). Mollusks from a non polluted beech and freshwater snails taken from other tanks with no disease in. These type of foods are a must as the puffers crush the hard shells it wears down its teeth (beak) because if it didn't and the beak grows to big the puffer will be unable to eat and without a trip to the vet to get the teeth filed down will certainly die. That is probably the most common form of death apart from water quality problems. Sometimes mbus have what looks a lot like white spot however the spots stick out a bit more, this disease does not spread like white spot, though and seems to be brought on by poor diet not varied enough and/or acidic water,it has never caused any major problems and as long as it is being kept at a low level of spots, because sometimes it just won't clear totally there is nothing to worry about, but don't keep using chemicals(unless its the normal white spot). The second mbu I owned started at 4" in 175 gallons five years on it's now about 26" in length, and its new tank is so big that the garden fences of mine and my neighbours are being taken down because it won't fit through the front door. MBU'S do have there own personalities and will recognize there owners. The best way to keep these fish is in large tanks with more than adequate filtration in excess of 100 gallons to start with. It is true that you can keep some mbus in community tanks however as each one has its own personality and you really don't know what's going to happen. My experience ranges from some will eat all the big fish that get in their way first and leave the little fish as they pose no threat, but when you put food in for the puffer and the smaller tetras go for it the puffer just sucks the food and whatever else is around it into its mouth and you still end up with just a few left (one glowlight at last count). so if you are going to keep them with other fish I suggest you go for ones that are smart enough to stay out of their way, the list for me includes a red tail shark, clown loachs and ansistrus plecs (not large plecs). not a long list. If your now thinking that these fish only grow to the size of the tank(which is a myth for all fish) I can tell you you are very much mistaken my first mbu is still alive and is about eight years old and came to me at 3" it was put into a 40 gallon tank. This did slow the growth of the fish down and three years on it was only 10" long. that's when it was moved to an 86 gallon tank and in one year was 15". this means the fish was half its natural size in four years, (guess how big it is now?). I believe the growth of these fish can never be stopped, it can be slowed down but not enough, plus you should always give fish ample swimming space. If you need any more info email me.





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