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The dwarf puffer is considered to be one of the biggest a-holes of the freshwater community and are definitely not community fish and are best kept in a small species setup. Some people do keep them in larger community tanks with success, but it is not recommended. Dwarves are vicious little critters and will nip the fins off just about any other fish. They are capable of killing tank mates much larger than themselves with their relentless picking and nipping. Also, their small size can cause them to be eaten by larger fish. If you're going to keep dwarves, plan to provide them with their very own tank. There are a few tank mates that can be successfully kept with dwarves, though, and are worth mentioning:

Otocinclus - Known as "otos" in the aquarium trade, these little guys are an excellent addition to a dwarf puffer tank. Almost everyone who has tried them has successfully kept them in a dwarf tank with little to no problems. They remain small and do not attract much attention to themselves.

Shrimp - It's basically a gamble with shrimp. Some dwarves don't even notice them, while others will rip them to shreds within minutes! I have had a great deal of success keeping Amano Shrimp with my Dwarf Puffers so far, but I know that as soon as the puffers find out the shrimp are tasty, that will be the end of their peaceful coexistence! I would suggest buying some ghost shrimp from the local fish store and giving it a shot. Ghost shrimp are a very inexpensive feeder food, so if your puffers eat them, you're not out much money and the dwarves have gotten a great meal out of it. If they don't eat them, then the shrimp will make an excellent "cleanup crew" for your puffer tank.... scavenging the bottom and cleaning up any leftover food.

You are left with very limited options besides other puffers. I have seen a few tanks where ppl have gotten many different species of puffers and kept them all together but that was at least a 30 gallon tank.

Hope this helps
 

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i second what elrodg said! they can be nasty little bugger.

in a tank that size, i wouldnt put anything else in there! with shrimp its a gamble, so i hope they arent expensive. the DP will definitely ea t the babies if he doesnt kill the adults as well
 

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I've kept dwarf puffers with cherry, ghost, and amano shrimp successfully, but they did pick off babies from time to time. (did that keep the cherry population under control? no.)

I'll echo what previous posters have said - try otocinculus, or nothing at all. A DP in a 3.5 doesn't really need or want tankmates.

One unusual option that hasn't been suggested yet is large filter-feeding shrimp. The most common are "bamboo shrimp" and "vampire shrimp" Way too big and armored for your average DP to go after. The downside is that they filter-feed, so you'd need to feed tiny planktonic food.
 

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A 3.5g is really too small for even dwarf puffers, unfortunately. 5g is the accepted minimum. Keep in mind your substrate, hardscape and plants all take up some of that "3.5g" so it's probably much less than 3.5g.

Puffers make quite a mess when they eat so you will probably have a difficult time keeping the water clean unless you are very diligent. If you insist on keeping them in the 3.5, make sure to keep up on your water changes and try not to feed your lil guy food that they can't fully eat (such as snails it can't completely consume).

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that's how best to take care of a dwarf puffer. They are great little fish if you treat them right - super inquisitive and curious.
 
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