Papuan Toby

Papuan Toby

Papuan Toby

The Papuan Toby (Canthigasterpapua) is a relatively rare fish in the aquarium trade but they can make a wonderful addition to almost any saltwater aquarium.  They have a unique color pattern and possess the ability to inflate their body by swallowing water.This species is not a picky eater and can be tank-mates with many other aquatic organisms.  In this article, we are going to look at the characteristics, tank conditions and diet of this beautiful marine species.


The Papaun toby is from the family Tetraodontidae which is commonly known as the pufferfish family.  This refers to their ability to swallow water in order to inflate their body to scare away predators.  They originate from the Indo-West Pacific and have been found around New Guinea, Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.  The majority of their body is a golden brown color with blue spots spaced around their sides.  They have blue lines along their back and a black false eye spot near their dorsal fin.  In the wild, they typically live in areas that are free from strong water movement, dwelling as deep as 165 feet below the water’s surface. They typically grow to a maximum of 3.9 inches in length in an aquarium setting.  Since they are considered to be one of the hardiest pufferfish species, they are ideal for almost all aquarists.

Papuan Toby

Fish Tank

Although the Papuan toby is a fairly hardy fish, it has several unique tank considerations that must be addressed.Due to their poor swimming ability, it is important to ensure that there are strainers on all of the siphon tubes.  Another important tank consideration is that the Papuan toby’s teeth will continuously grow during their lifespan.  Therefore, it’s important to incorporate hard calcareous décor so that they have something to grind their teeth down on.  If they are unable to do so, the size of their teeth can begin to obstruct their feeding ability.  They prefer slightly basic water (pH 8.1 to 8.4) and water temperatures between 74 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.  A carbonate hardness ranging between 8 dKH and 12 dKH should also be maintained in your aquarium.  A 50 gallon tank can be used to house a single Papuan toby but a larger tank, 100 gallons or bigger, should be used if stocking multiple fish.  If kept under optimal conditions, these fish can live between 8 and 14 years.


The Papuan toby is considered to be semi-aggressive due to their habit of nipping at the fins of other fish.  Aproper feeding schedule and adequate space can help keep them from causing problems in your aquarium althoughthey should not be stocked with congeners.

Fish Food

The Papuan toby is omnivorous and primarily feeds on algae and benthic invertebrates in the wild.  A wide variety of fresh, flaked, pelleted, and frozen feeds can work well for this species.  It is important to feed them at least twice a day.  If they are not fed twice a day, they can quickly lose weight, feed on motile and sessile invertebrates in your aquarium, and nip at other fish in your aquarium.

The Takeaway

The Papuan toby is a great fish for aquarists who want a unique fish in their saltwater aquarium.  Their striking coloration, hardiness, and easy to follow dietary requirements make them perfect for beginning and advanced aquarists alike.  However, careful consideration should be given to their tank design and feeding schedule in order to keep your fish healthy and happy.

-Richard Bryant
contributor for Aquarium Network