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How Many Pea Puffers Can You Put in a 29-Gallon Tank?

As an aquarium hobbyist there are so many ‘cool’ and quirky species of fish you could keep. Choosing which ones can be challenging, especially if you’re limited by the size of your tank. Freshwater fish are very popular but what about the more obscure species known as the pea puffer? How many of this species can you keep in a 29-gallon tank? The answer is:

Be it that pea puffers are territorial and semi-aggressive in nature, they need plenty of space to swim and explore in an aquarium. If you intend to keep more than 1, the general ‘rule-of-thumb’ is 5 gallons of water for each pea puffer followed by 3 gallons of water for every additional puffer fish. Therefore, a 29-gallon tank should contain no more than 9 or 10 pea puffers at anytime.

Now that you know how many pea puffers can be kept in a 29-gallon aquarium, let’s take a closer look at this in more detail in this article. I’ll explain more about their habitat, temperament, and reproductive ability. I’ll also discuss how fast they grow, what the minimum tank size for pea puffers should be, and what happens if they’re kept in too small of an aquarium.

And now, if your interest is piqued and you’d like to learn more about the very unique pea pufferfish, then let’s begin!

Photo by Morgan Wilde on Unsplash

What is a Pea Pufferfish?

Pea Puffers, or dwarf puffers, are a type of freshwater fish with vibrantly coloured scales and bulging eyes. They’re sometimes referred as Malabar pufferfish or pygmy pufferfish. Native to Southwester India, these fish have helicopter-like maneuverability making them such a joy to watch! Their tendency to puff out like a balloon makes them one of the neatest fish species you can keep in an aquarium.

The growth rate for pea puffers is quite rapid. A fry can grow to full maturity in as little as a few months. With the proper food and water conditions, they can spawn very quickly. Therefore, they need plenty of aquatic space to thrive. When it comes to a community tank, each pea puffer should have at least 3 to 5 gallons of water.

What is the Minimum Size Tank for a Pea Pufferfish?

Bigger is better when it comes to keeping almost any species of fish in a community tank, regardless of size. The more space fish have to swim freely and explore their aquatic surroundings, the healthier and ‘happier’ they’ll be. Confining fish to a small aquarium not only stunts their growth and shortens their lifespan it can also increase stress and aggression levels.

That said, the absolute smallest size aquarium you should keep any pea puffer, is a 5-gallon tank and that’s for just a single fish! If you plan to have more than 1, then you need to invest in a larger, 10-gallon tank and even then, you should keep only 3 pea puffers in it. If you happen to have a 20-gallon tank, then you can keep 6 or 7 pea puffers.

How Many Gallons Do Pea Pufferfish Need?

Since pea puffers are quite small, hence the ‘pea’ reference in their name, they can do quite well in a smaller aquarium. The maximum length for a mature pea pufferfish is 1.4 inches (or 3.5 centimetres) which makes them one of the smallest species of pufferfish on Earth. But don’t let their minute size fool you – this species is known for being both aggressive and territorial if kept in a confined space.

You can keep a single pea puffer in a tank as small as 5 gallons, but that’s the minimum. Many aquarium hobbyists feel it’s cruel to confine any fish, even small ones, to a tiny space. For that reason alone, they tend to recommend bigger tanks, such as 29 gallons or larger. More volume provides not only adequate space, but also more dilution of waste for better water conditions and healthier, ‘happier’ fish.

How Many Fish Can I Put in a 29-Gallon Tank?

Regarding how many fish you can keep in a 29-gallon aquarium, the ‘rule-of-thumb’ tends to be 1 inch of fish per gallon of water. This, of course, is just a guideline. Many factors dictate how many fish you can keep in a community tank including fish temperament, the type of water conditions necessary, and the amount of maintenance required.

Overstocking a tank is never okay. Not only does it become harder to maintain, but it also lowers the quality of life for the fish. As well, it greatly increases the changes of fish illness and/or death. In fact, it’s better to understock a tank, meaning you should have fewer fish than the ‘one inch per gallon of water’ recommendation if you truly want them to thrive in their aquatic environment.

What Can I Put in a 29-Gallon Tank with Pea Pufferfish?

There are many different fish you can put in a 29-gallon tank. If freshwater fish are your preference, then you can have pea puffers as well as other dwarf species including dwarf bettas, dwarf catfish, dwarf cichlids, and dwarf gouramis. The idea is to keep smaller fish so that they have more space to swim and explore inside the tank.

Make sure you research the various types of fish you are considering as not all species are compatible with each other. When it comes to pea puffers, for example, they tend to be relatively hostile and territorial in nature. Therefore, they should be kept with fish of similar size or slightly that are also fast-moving fish and can ‘get away’ if need be. These include tetras, rasboras, and danios.

Be careful as pea puffers are also carnivorous and could feed on any small shrimps or snails you may have in your tank. As well, you should try to keep them in male/female pairs or 2 females and 1 male if you want to have 3. Should you end up with 2 males and 1 female, you could be in trouble as the males will often each other fight for dominance.

What Happens if Your Tank is Too Small for Pea Pufferfish?

An aquarium that’s too small for your pea pufferfish will result in a multitude of problems. Stunted growth, illness, and increased aggression are just a few examples. Worst case scenario – your fish will start to die off. Therefore, it’s always better to have a larger tank. Smaller tanks also tend to get dirtier much faster and hence require more maintenance, such as frequent water and filter changes.

Most fish, regardless of size or species, live longer, ‘happier’ lives in an aquatic environment that’s both spacious and reminiscent of their natural habitat. As far as pea puffers are concerned, a planted tank with a pH level around 7 and good filtration is a must. And remember, they grow to maturity quickly and have a penchant for reproducing so they should be kept in a spacious aquarium.


To conclude, pea pufferfish are semi-aggressive and territorial in demeanor. Therefore, they need plenty of room to swim and explore if they’re to thrive in a community tank environment. The typical ‘rule-of-thumb’ is 5 gallons of water for the first pea puffer with an extra 3 gallons of water for every additional puffer fish. Hence, a standard 29-gallon tank can hold up to 9 or 10 pea puffers.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I trust that you’ve found it be both interesting and informative. Good luck with your freshwater water pea pufferfish tank!

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