Tetraodon schoutedeni – Spotted Congo Puffer

Tetraodon schoutedeni or Spotted Congo Puffer is a freshwater pufferfish that grows up to 10 centimetres long. They are not suitable for the community aquarium.

Tetraodon schoutedeni – Spotted Congo Puffer

Tetraodon Schoutedeni is a freshwater puffer fish of the genus Tetraodon. The common name of this species is “Spotted Congo Puffer”. The genus name Tetraodon can be broken down into two ancient Greek words. Tetra means “four” and Odon means “teeth”. A reference to the teeth of this generation. The name schoutedeni is in honor of Henri Schouteden, a Belgian zoologist, ornithologist and entomologist.


Malebo Pool
Malebo Pool

It is the smallest African puffer fish to be found in the Congo Basin. More specifically, they can be found in Pool Malebo (formerly Tanley Pool). This is located in the lower regions of the Congo river system. It has an area of approximately 500 km² with a depth between 3 and 10 meters.

Due to its beautiful pattern, acceptable size and relatively mild nature, these pufferfish have become very popular all over the world.


The natural habitat consists of clear, fast-flowing water with lots of stones and dense vegetation. They hide between the stones or the long grasses along the banks. The soil consists of loam and mud.

In the wild, the puffer fish feeds on food that lives on the bottom as opposed to food that is swimming or floating. Snails and worms make up the bulk of their diet.

In the 1960s, the Tetraodon schoutedeni was one of the best-known ornamental fish in the aquarium trade. The very first breeding attempts in the aquarium were already undertaken at that time. However, this was not a priority.

This species almost completely disappeared from the hobby due to fierce civil wars. This area became too dangerous for the fishermen and took no risks to their own lives. Today, the import of wild caught is still fairly scarce. They are not available all year round. You have the best chance in the spring.

Breeding programs

Tetraodon schoutedeni is now part of various breeding programs, which makes it possible to buy captive bred for a few years now, instead of just wild caught. Germany and Indonesia are masters of setting up such breeding programs. This is also where most of the “captive” bred species are found.

The aquarium

This pufferfish requires a well-established aquarium. As with many Puffers, the Spotted Congo Puffer requires a relatively heavily planted aquarium in which sight lines are broken and hiding places are created. A soft sandy bottom should not be missing.

Hard-leaved plants, wood and rocks can all be used to make them feel safe and maintain their natural behaviour.

Tetraodon schoutedeni is a plant biter. Plants with very thin and low stems / leaves / shoots such as a lotus, crinum and crypto balanceae will die one by one. Hard-leaved plants will also be damaged, but can withstand impact and can repair the damage themselves. You can try:

  • Anubias
  • Javavaren
  • Amazone zwaardplant
  • Bolbitis

Aquarium size and water parameters

An aquarium with dimensions 80x40x40 is suitable for keeping one Tetraodon schoutedeni. For a group you will need an aquarium of minimum 120x50x50. To distribute aggression it is recommended to introduce 6 puffers of the same size / age and at once. The ratio of 2 males to 4 females.

Remember that these fish have a character all of their own and that character changes over the years as well. Friendly can turn into an enemy after a year.

Water parameters

  • pH 6,5 – 7,5
  • Temp 26 – 27,5 Celsius
  • NO2 0
  • NH3/4 0
  • NO3 <15

Because these fish do not have scales, they are extra sensitive to water values, but also to medication.

Tank mates

Tetraodon schoutedeni is not a puffer fish to keep in a community aquarium. Despite this species having a relatively gentle disposition, it can become very aggressive without warning. Like other puffer fish, they are truly fin-biters.

Be warned as the LFS (aquarium shop) dares to recommend these for keeping in a community tank! If you want fellow inhabitants in the aquarium, which is not recommended, you should look for fast, short-finned fish. They must also be able to thrive in the same water parameters.

Sexing Spotted Congo Puffers

An adult female reaches a length of 9-10 centimeters. Males stay a bit smaller at 7-8 centimeters. Males also have a slimmer body than females and a more pointed head. Females are rounder and fuller in shape.

When purchasing several Tetraodon schoutedeni in a small format (3 centimeters) you cannot clearly see what the sex is. It is better to choose a larger size around 5 centimeters.


Rapashy Grub Pie
Rapashy Grub Pie

One of the most important elements to ensure good health for your Tetraodon schoutedeni is to provide it with a varied diet. Balanced so that it can take in all the necessary nutritional values.

Recommended foods:

  • Snails (50%)
  • Earthworms (dendrobena)
  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Repashy Grub Pie

You are not allowed to feed Tetraodon schoutedeni cockle, mussel, oyster or other crustaceans! The diet consists of 50% snails. Furthermore, the diet consists of insects.

With insufficient snails and other food that they wear the teeth with, overgrowth will occur. Then you have to deal with trimming the teeth.

Melanoides tuberculata (Red rimmed Melania) should be avoided at all times. These are way too hard and they can damage their teeth. Recommended snails are horn snails and pond snails.


Because the pufferfish is very sensitive, it is very susceptible to poor water quality. High biological and mechanical filtration is highly recommended. A firm and consistent refreshment policy is also essential for the health of the fish. Your nitrate level should never exceed 15ppm.

A filter must be able to filter at least 3x the volume of the aquarium per hour. 4 times or higher is always better

Tetraodon schoutedeni does not like strong currents. Weak to moderate is best.

Breeding Tetraodon schoutedeni – Spotted Congo Puffer

The Spotted Congo Puffer mating ritual is characterized by the male biting the female’s abdomen, hanging on her abdomen waiting for her to release the eggs.

Tetraodon schoutedeni mating ritual
Tetraodon schoutedeni mating ritual

With the right care and optimal living conditions, you will enjoy your Tetraodon schoutedeni for a long time. You don’t have a pufferfish for a year or 2 years. Depending on the species, you have them for a minimum of 5 to 10 years and some even 15 or more.



Wendy Geers – Want to discuss puffers?: Facebook Kogelvissen zoet brak zout

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Wendy GeersFacebook Kogelvissen zoet brak zout

Last Updated on 26 May 2021 by John

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