Pao palembangensis (= Tetraodon palembangensis)

5. May 2023

Every now and then we can import this incredible freshwater pufferfish in small numbers. It is a very specialized species that only occurs in nature in Sumatra and Borneo, where it inhabits very soft, acidic water. This puffer fish is a purely freshwater species, never frequenting brackish or seawater.

The strangely colored belly is used for food acquisition. Pao palembangensis is a predatory fish that pretends to be dead to hunt. It then hangs around in the most impossible body positions, its marbled belly looking like carrion. If a small fish or shrimp comes to eat from the carrion, the animal itself becomes the prey.

According to unconfirmed rumors, females are less humped than males; in any case, males remain somewhat smaller. Clear external sex differences are absent. Breeding has already been successful, the fish, which becomes about 12-15 cm long, is a cave-breeder.

In literature Pao palembangensis (former: Tetraodon palembangensis) was incomprehensibly confused with the “figure-8 pufferfish”, Dichotomyctere ocellatus (former: Tetraodon biocellatus), a brackish water pufferfish growing about 8 cm long, which is still called “Palembang pufferfish” (see For Pao palembangensis, therefore, the colloquial name “Dragon Pufferfish” is becoming more and more common.

For our customers: Pao palembangensis has code 462555 on our stocklist, Dichotomyctere ocellatus code 46250. Please note that we only supply wholesale.

Text & Photos: Frank Schäfer