The Puffer Fish. 

Deadly Delicacy

Puffer fish, or Tetraodontidae, are most known for their ability to “puff” up into an inedible ball to defend against predators. They do this by inflating their stomachs with water, for the most part, and sometimes air. Not only do they have the ability to blow up, they are also toxic to their predators. This toxin, called tetrodotoxin, is found throughout their bodies and is produced by bacteria in their environment. Despite this chance of toxicity, people still choose to eat puffer fish as a delicacy.

In the Wild

While the species we know as the puffer fish are mostly saltwater fish, there are some species that live in freshwater. All together, there are over 120 different species of puffer fish in the world. Saltwater puffer fish typically live in tropical and subtropical waters, whereas their freshwater cousins live in areas like the Congo, the Amazon, and the freshwaters of Southeast Asia. Though there are freshwater species, there are many puffer fish that prefer to live in brackish waters.

Puffer fish are characterized by their short bodies and small fins, which make them slow swimmers. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, and there isn’t much difference between males and females besides a slight color variation. The smallest puffer fish is about 1 inch long while the largest species can grow over 2 feet long.

This interesting species is carnivorous and mainly preys on small invertebrates and algae. Bigger species have a tendency to break open shellfish with their hard beaks. 

In the Tank

Because there are so many species of puffer fish, it’s possible to find the perfect puffer fish for your size of tank. Small fish, like the dwarf pea puffer, only require tanks of 3 gallons or more. Large species, like the Mbu puffer fish, would need tanks of 125 gallons at the very least. Depending on the species, tank water should be between 74 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of around 7 to 7.5. 

Puffer fish tend to be more aggressive than most fish. As they are slow swimmers, they tend to be aggressive and territorial, especially when it comes to food. This means, they may also nip fins of other fish, so suitable tank mates will be gentle fish, with bottom-feeding fish being the best candidates.

It’s also best to feed aquarium puffer fish similar diets to their wild counterparts. If possible, they should be feed shellfish, and the fresher the better! Once you’ve got the proper food, they should be fed about once a day.

Deadly but Endangered

While the puffer fish is dangerous to most predators and humans, many species of puffer fish are endangered due to pollution and overfishing. However, other species are still thriving in the wild.

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