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Hi, all,

I recently experienced something rather harrowing in my tank that I felt like sharing. I have a planted tank with two south american leaf fish and a handful of amazon puffers (as well as a few otos to keep the leaves pristine).

Anyhow, I generally supply the leaf fish with guppies to eat, but a few mornings ago a loud splash alerted me to the fact that one finally decided to try a puffer fish (after months of living uneventfully together). The timing was terrible. The puffer inflated himself inside the leaf fish's mouth. Unsure what to do (but sure that trying to pull the puffer out would surely injure both fish), I decided to let things play out. My "best case" scenario guess was that the puffer would expire, deflate, and be swallowed by the leaf fish.

Well, weirdly enough, a few hours later, when I checked in again, both fish were swimming normally around the tank, independent of one another. I wish I'd been there to see the separation happen, as I have a hard time imagining how the puffer got out of the mouth backwards.

In any case, it's been a few days and both fish are acting as if nothing ever happened. I'd always imagined puffer fish inflating to _prevent_ being eaten, not _while_ being eaten. Live and learn, I guess.
 

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Pufferfish either inflate before being eaten, or, if caught off guard, expand in a predator's throat. If the latter happens, they usually die in the process of choking the predator, thus removing a pufferfish-eater from the environment. Same idea as poison dart frogs.
You'll most likely want to separate them before you find two dead fish locked together, as pufferfish stay inflated even when dead and a dead inflated puffer will probably suffocate a leaffish eventually. The otos are also a bad plan, for similar reasons- the leaffish will eventually try to eat them, especially if they see an oto swimming, and most likely the oto's pectoral fins will lodge it into the leaf's throat.
 
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