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5 Great Tank Mates for Porcupine Pufferfish: Compatibility Guide 2023

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

Porcupine Puffer Fish

Porcupine puffers can be fairly large with demanding personalities to match. They attract quite a lot of attention with their long spikes, and over time, they learn how to demand it from their owners. Porcupine pufferfish have giant, friendly-looking eyes, but they are sometimes aggressive when in a community tank. Therefore, selecting suitable tank mates is crucial for the well-being of all the animals inside of it.

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The 5 Ideal Tank Mates for Porcupine Pufferfish

1. Blue Tang Fish (Paracanthurus hepatus)

Blue Tang Fish
Image Credit: Kayla Schroeder, Pixabay
Size: 9–12 inches (25–38cm)
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum tank size: 120 gallons (454 liters)
Care level: Medium
Temperament: Docile but aggressive towards other tang fish

The porcupine puffer and tang fish are compatible for a number of reasons. Both fish require the same minimum tank size, and like to be in the same water temperatures, alkalinity, and pH. Since the tang fish is larger, the semi-aggressive puffer won’t view them as a snack. Likewise, the tang’s peaceful temperament means they won’t bully the puffer.

2. Six Line Wrasse Fish (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia) – Most Suitable for Small Tanks

Six Line Wrasse fish in aquarium
Image Credit: Artyphoto, Shutterstock
Size: 2–4 inches (5–10cm)
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum tank size: 20 gallons (75 liters)
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Ranges from peaceful to mildly aggressive towards fish with similar colors

Six line wrasse and other types of wrasse fish add a nice pop of color to your tank. These fish have bold patterns, and they are small enough to fit into almost any home aquarium. They are semi-aggressive, but this is usually only towards fish who are the same color as them. These two fish also thrive in the same types of environments, making them excellent tank mates.

3. Bristletooth Fish (Ctenochaetus tominiensis)

Bristletooth Fish
Image Credit: SeraphP, Shutterstock
Size: 8–9inches (20–22cm)
Diet: Herbivore
Minimum tank size: 75 gallons (283 liters)
Care level: Medium
Temperament: Calm, aggressive towards fish with similar body shapes and colors

Bristletooths naturally hang around reef systems. You’ll have to be careful when introducing them to other similar-looking fish, but they get along well with the porcupine pufferfish. The bristletooth fish are medium-sized, but they don’t mind being in smaller tanks. They are also easy to care for, and mainly consume species of algae, so they help keep the tank clean as well.

4. Snowflake Eel (Echidna nebulosa)

snowflake Eel In planted aquarium
Imge Credit: Rich Carey, Shutterstock
Size: 12–24 inches (30–60cm)
Diet: Carnivorous
Minimum tank size: 75 gallons (283 liters)
Care level: Medium
Temperament: Shy and slightly aggressive towards smaller species

Snowflake eels are disease-resistant and adapt well to most tank conditions. The most significant benefit to pairing these eels with the porcupine puffer is their similar diets. Snowflake eels and porcupine puffers both enjoy crustaceans like shrimp, scallops, and mussels. Eels are only aggressive towards their prey, and they won’t waste time threatening a puffer with a body full of armored spikes. They are also fairly shy and prefer to hide at the body of the tank among the rocks.

5. Squirrelfish (Holocentrus adoscensionis)

Image Credit: Love Lego, Shutterstock
Size: 20–24 inches (50–60cm)
Diet: Carnivorous
Minimum tank size: 50 gallons (190 liters)
Care level: Medium
Temperament: Calm and peaceful

Because porcupine fish get along best with species around the same size as them, squirrelfish make excellent tank companions. Even if they did take curiosity in them, they would quickly learn to keep their distance from the long spikes on their spine. No bullying of your pufferfish will take place with these around. Squirrelfish are calm and like to keep the peace in the tank.

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What Makes a Good Tank Mate for Porcupine Pufferfish?

The most important thing to remember when housing a porcupine pufferfish is that there should never be more than one in a tank. Porcupine puffers are pretty mild-mannered towards other fish, but other porcupine fish are the only exception.

The best tank mates for these unique puffers are medium to large fish. A few smaller kinds do fine around them, but tiny fish become appealing meals to some pufferfish. Keep porcupine puffers away from lionfish if possible. Both of these animals use their spikes around other animals that scare them, which could lead to one or both being injured or killed if they are put together.

Always pair fish together who enjoy living in similar water conditions. Take the temperature, pH, and alkalinity into consideration.

Where Do Porcupine Pufferfish Prefer to Live in the Aquarium?

Your porcupine puffer is going to hang out in the open more often if they have an ample amount of places for them to hide. You’ll want a healthy mix of places for them to openly swim, and other places to retreat to. Fill the bottom of your tank with sandy substrates instead of gravel. Add lots of live rock and corals around the bottom of the tank.

Water Parameters

Porcupine pufferfish are found in parts of the Mediterranean Sea, the eastern Pacific, western Atlantic, and the northern Gulf of Mexico. They like the aquarium water to be kept between 75°F to 82°F, or 25°C to 28°C. Make sure you are using a tank that holds at least 120 gallons of water.

These fish must be kept in tanks that have low copper levels because they don’t have the scales to protect them, and they might get sick if too much is in the water. To keep the copper levels down, feed the aquarium with low copper foods, and always use reverse osmosis to treat the water. Ensure that your tank contains enough iodine. Too little could cause lockjaw or thyroid issues in your porcupine puffer.


Wild porcupine puffers grow up to 36 inches in length. However, most captive species stay under 12 inches long. Either way, an entire foot is long for a fish in captivity. You want to ensure they have plenty of space to turn around, swim, and hide in their habitat. These fish require a 120-gallon tank at the bare minimum. Larger is better, especially if homing them with other large fish species.

Aggressive Behaviors

Most of the aggressive behavior of porcupine puffers happens between fish of the same species. They aren’t likely to bully fish that are medium or large in size. Small fish might pique their curiosity, and they may end up turning them into a meal.

Never put more than one pufferfish in the same tank. There will definitely be a fight, and one or both could end up severely injured or dead.


Top 3 Benefits of Having Tank Mates for Porcupine Pufferfish in Your Aquarium

1. Some species keep the tank clean

Some animals that you put in tanks are herbivores and feed on algae that grow in the water. It’s nice to fill an animal’s stomach without having to pay for extra food. It also means you’ll have to clean your tanks one or two times less throughout the year.

2. It makes your aquarium more visually appealing

Porcupine puffers tend to stick to themselves in the wild. While they would do okay on their own, adding a variety of species to your aquarium makes the space feel more real, and gives you brighter visuals to look at.

3. It keeps fish from getting depressed

Although these puffers like time to themselves, studies have shown that fish kept by themselves in a tank for years might act lethargic and suffer from depression. Adding various fish to your tank makes life more interesting for them.

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Final Thoughts

Porcupine puffers are cute with fun personalities. You might not be able to put multiple together, but there are a few other types of fish that coexist well with them, and keep life a little more entertaining while in captivity. These are lovely fish to have if you’re looking for a simple animal to care for, with a lot of personality.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: eshoot, Shutterstock

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