Tetraodon baileyi, Hairy puffer fish


Matt Clarke on the Hairy puffer fish, Tetraodon baileyi.

Common name:

Hairy puffer, Bailey s puffer.

Scientific name:

Tetraodon baileyi, Sontirat, 1989


Recorded from the Mekong in Thailand and Laos. 


Around 12cm/5. 


Not known. Like other Tetraodon, it probably feeds on a combination of snails, freshwater shrimp and crabs, and any slow-moving fish it can catch or bite chunks out of. Snails are the food of choice for most baileyi owners. 


According to Tyson Roberts study of Mekong puffers, this species is found in rocky habitats, including rapids, in the main Mekong River and its tributaries. Other scientists have also collected the species in swift-flowing water, often in the main river channel. 


Like other freshwater puffers, this can be an aggressive species, so it deserves a species tank to itself. It is one of the bottom-dwelling species, so needs a soft, silver sand substrate to allow it to burrow if it wants to. 

Although found among rapids, this is not a strong swimmer and tends to spend most of its time between crevices and rocks. Add some powerful filtration to recreate a river-like flow pattern, add a sandy substrate and litter the floor with a collection of rocks for the fish to rest between. 


This species gets its common name from the presence of tufty epidermal growths, or cirri, which give the fish a hairy appearance. The hairiest fish are believed to be male. Young fish have less cirri. 


Quite a few of these have been imported in recent years, but they re still relatively rarely seen and quite sought after among freshwater puffer fanatics. We spotted this one on sale at Wildwoods in Middlesex (0208 366 0243) in February.


Rather expensive. This was on sale for £69.95.

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