Pea puffers, also known as dwarf pufferfish, make some of the best fish for a home aquarium.
Small but spunky, they are some of the most intelligent and personable fish you can get for your tank.
However, you may be wondering if it’s possible to get more species beyond your pea puffers in one tank. Luckily, the answer is yes, you can get your pea puffers some tank mates!
In this article, we’ll tell you about the top 8 tank mates you can put with your dwarf pufferfish. These species include:
To learn more about these great tank mates, read on!
Our Recommended Pea Puffer Tank Mates
1. Cherry Shrimp
- Scientific Name: Neocaridina davidi
- Origin: Eastern China
- Size: 1 – 1 ¼ inches long
- Temperament: active, docile
Cherry shrimp make an excellent tank mate for many species of fish with their docile nature and bright, beautiful colors. However, they have a few ground rules for them to be successful with pea puffers.
Since pea puffers will often eat small shrimp in the wild, you run the risk of having your puffers eat your cherry shrimp by having them in the same tank. However, this can often be combated by regularly feeding your puffers and ensuring that the shrimp are fully grown before adding pea puffers to the mix.
If your shrimp are big enough to defend themselves, they can often be a harmless addition to your dwarf pufferfish tank. You may also want to consider getting another tank mate with the shrimp to distract your pufferfish from wanting to eat them all the time.
2. Neon Tetras
- Scientific Name: Paracheirodon innesi
- Origin: The Amazon, South America
- Size: Approximately 1.5 inches long
- Temperament: Peaceful, timid
Neon tetras are adorable little fish that are incredibly popular in the aquarium hobby. With their bright colors, they’re hard to miss in any home fish tank.
Because neon tetras have been bred for many different situations, they can handle a variety of different environments. Your dwarf pufferfish’s tank conditions will likely be accepted by neon tetras as well thanks to their hardiness.
Because neon tetras are so small, they can be a bit timid by themselves. It is recommended you get at least six neon tetras to add to the tank so that they will have a school to protect themselves in.
3. Zebra Danios
- Scientific Name: Danio rerio
- Origin: South Asia
- Size: 2 – 2 ½ inches long
- Temperament: active, social
Zebra danios are some of the best tank mates you can get for your pea puffers! Because they often inhabit the same waters in the wild, they live together well in the same tank without many adjustments.
This species is active and easy to care for. Because they are quick, they can easily escape any potential attacks from aggressive fish.
This means any nippy pufferfish can’t do much damage!
They are also a calm species that provides a good balance to the tank with pea puffers. Zebra danios may get a bit longer than the pea puffers at 2 – 2 ½ inches, which also helps to protect them.
Zebra danios come in colors including black, white, orange, red, purple, blue, and green, so you can gather your favorite colors in your tank!
On average, they live between three and five years, so you will have them for a while as long as they’re provided with good care.
4. Dwarf Suckers (“Otos”)
- Scientific Name: Otocinclus
- Origin: South America
- Size: 1 ½ – 2 inches long
- Temperament: peaceful, timid
If you’re looking for a fish that actually contributes to your aquarium, dwarf suckers are the way to go. Dwarf suckers, also called “otos” (short for “otocinclus”), are the perfect bottom feeders for a tank with dwarf pufferfish!
I mean, dwarf suckers and dwarf pufferfish? Talk about a match made in heaven.
Since dwarf suckers spend their time along the bottom of the tank eating algae off the substrate, they help keep your tank clean while also keeping their space away from your pea puffers. This means less potential for any fish fights in your tank.
And if there is a fight, your otos have a “fin” up. They have rows of armor along their bodies which can help protect them if your puffers do get a bit nippy.
Remember that otos prefer cooler water, but pea puffers are more than happy to accommodate this. You’ll also want to use soft sand as the substrate so your dwarf suckers don’t hurt their bellies as they eat and swim!
5. Kuhli Loach
- Scientific Name: Pangio kuhlii
- Origin: Indonesia
- Size: 3 – 5 inches long
- Temperament: peaceful, shy
The Kuhli loach is one of the most fascinating fish you can own in your home aquarium. With a long, skinny, striped body similar to that of an eel, Kuhli loaches are known to stand out amongst the crowd.
Kuhli loaches are considered bottom feeders since they enjoy burrowing through the sand for leftover food. Since they often dwell the bottom of the tank and pea puffers swim towards the top, they will likely not fight with one another.
However, do keep in mind that some pea puffers may be inclined to bite your Kuhli loach due to its lithe movements. If you know your dwarf pufferfish tend to be aggressive, a Kuhli loach may want to be avoided.
If you do decide to get a Kuhli loach for your tank, keep in mind that you’ll have this fish friend longer than some other species. On average, Kuhli loaches live between seven and ten years with good care!
6. Pygmy Corys
- Scientific Name: Corydoras pygmaeus
- Origin: South America (Brazil)
- Size: approximately 1 inch long
- Temperament: peaceful, calm
Corydoras catfish are some of the best bottom feeders you could add to your pea puffer tank. Because they eat algae off your substrate, your tank will remain cleaner longer, which means fewer water changes!
Pygmy corys are great because they come in a variety of colors and are extremely peaceful compared to some other fish species. They will need soft sand to protect their bellies and sinking food to eat when they’re done with the algae.
Pygmy corys have similar temperature and pH requirements as pea puffers, so they should be easy to incorporate into your tank! Just make sure you have at least 8 in a school so they can feel safe.
- Scientific Name: Poecilia sphenops
- Origin: Mexico
- Size: 4 – 4 ½ inches long
- Temperament: peaceful, active
Mollies and pea puffers make great friends! With their large size but gentle nature, they get along well with dwarf pufferfish.
Because of their size, your pea puffers won’t try to eat or attack them. You will, however, have to use adult mollies as babies are at risk for becoming a puffer snack.
They also make attractive fish as they come in a wide variety of colors including silver, red, orange, black, and white. Between sailfins, dalmatians, and balloons, there’s a molly for every aquarium!
Mollies are highly adaptable and can live in a variety of tank environments. They live between three and five years on average, so you have a decent amount of time with your mollies as long as you care for them well!
7. Cherry Barb
- Scientific Name: Puntius titteya
- Origin: Sri Lanka
- Size: 1 – 2 inches long
- Temperament: peaceful, timid
Cherry barbs are a great addition to your dwarf pufferfish tank, especially if you’re new to aquariums entirely. They’re a hardy species that can handle a wide variety of environments, so they can adjust quite well to your pea puffer tank.
Because cherry barbs are schooling fish, you’ll want to get at least six of them to add to your tank. This will keep them less timid and prevent potential issues between your cherry barbs and your puffer fish.
This species is not only beautiful, but also has a great personality. Though timid at times, they become quite social once warmed up which makes them entertaining to watch.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a bit of a bigger tank for this species since you’ll need an entire school of them. The preference is at least 25 gallons, but may be larger depending on how many pea puffers you have.
Cherry barbs also live up to six years with good care, so you can have them for quite a while!
Now You’re Ready
Now that you know the best tank mates for your pea puffer, you’re ready to pick your favorite to spruce up your aquarium!
These species include: Cherry shrimp, Neon tetras, Zebra danios, Dwarf suckers, Kuhli loach, Pygmy corys, Mollies and Cherry barbs.
It’s important to note that while it looks nice to give your pea puffer some friends, you don’t necessarily need them.
Pea puffers do just fine on their own, so you don’t have to feel guilty if none of the species on this list are for you!
If you own pea puffers, let us know which tank mates are your favorite for them. If you have any questions about your tank, ask us below and we may write about your question next!