Pufferfish are known to inhabit both marine and freshwater bodies. They have spiny skin and are highly poisonous fishes. They are also known as balloonfish, blowfish, fugu, swellfish, and globefish.
All these names are because of its nature of inflating itself when threatened by a predator. We have listed more of such puffer fish facts for kids in this article. You are going to find it useful and fun.
11 Most Interesting & Fun Facts about Puffer Fish for Kids
The kids might find the puffer interesting and cute. But they are not as cute as they seem. They are very toxic.
Even though they are served as dishes in some parts of the world, it is always risky to eat them because of the poison in their bodies which is 1200 times more toxic than cyanide.
Let us have a look at some more interesting facts about them.
1. Pufferfish are survivors
Puffer fish has adapted to defend itself from various predators including humans. Their spikes are the most deadly weapon they have. It contains a poison named tetrodotoxin which is 1,200 times more toxic than cyanide.
They inflate themselves to appear bigger and dangerous to the predators. They also attack with their beak-like teeth. They are aggressive fishes that can attack anyone approaching them and one is advised not to touch it with bare hands.
2. The reason why they puff up
This is a self-defence technique to be protected from predators. When they get threatened by some predator they stress up and intake a lot of water. As a result, they inflate and look like balls. They can get three times their size when they puff up.
Many of these fishes have spines on them and these spines transform into needles when they inflate into giant balloons. The puffing up often protects them and keep them safe which is a good thing.
What is not good is the fact that when a puffer fish takes too much stress or is threatened frequently, the puffing up might cause its death as well.
3. There are around 120 species
These cute looking pufferfishes have species of more than 100. They are known as puffers, blowfish, globefish, balloonfish and toadfish worldwide. They are found all over the tropical waters.
The majority of them are marine water species but many species are inhabiting the brackish and freshwater bodies as well. They prefer living in areas of coral reefs. They are found in India, Malaysian Peninsula, Thailand, Philippine Islands, and Mexico.
4. Pufferfish do not have scales
Puffer fish does not possess scales like the other fishes. Instead, they have spines that are not visible until they puff up. The absence of scales makes them more delicate to water variations and at extra risk. They also need wide spaces when kept in captivity.
It is advised to not keep one if you are not a skilled proprietor. High-quality prime water is needed for their survival. They also do not do well in groups so if you want to keep them, you have to keep them separately.
5. Pufferfish are carnivores
Pufferfish are predators. They hunt for a wide range of fishes, snails, shellfish, molluscs, crabs, shrimps, coral, algae, sponges, starfish and urchins in the wild. If you keep the puffer fish in a tank along with other fishes, they might eat the smaller fishes or try to harm the bigger ones.
In captivity, they can be fed with shells, blue crab, mussels, clams, live crayfish, crab legs, oysters, cockles, unpeeled shrimp, algae tablets, snails and bloodworms.
6. The male pufferfish make nests
Some of the species like the white-spotted one are known for making nests. The male pufferfishes make nests on the sand. They do this to attract the female puffer fish. If the females are impressed with the making of the nests, they will lay eggs on them.
More interesting is that they never reuse a nest. They always make a new one every time. Once the female pufferfish lay eggs, the male pufferfish fertilizes them.
After fertilization, the eggs develop shells and after the hatching of these eggs, the little puffer fish also known as fry swims off in the hunt for food.
7. It is a delicacy in Japan
Humans are known to try new and unique things since time immemorial, even though it means risking their lives. The pufferfish which is filled with toxic poison is considered a delicacy in Japan known as fugu. People eat them even though knowing the consequences.
Expert cooks are required to cook these puffer fish to ensure that the toxic organs are taken out carefully and people do not die after eating them. But there have been 44 fugu poisoning cases in Japan between 1996 and 2006, and some even died.
8. Pufferfish teeth keep growing
Pufferfish have teeth that are fused to look like a beak-like formation. They have powerful jaw muscles. These jaws are strong enough to crush and crack open snails and crabs. Eating such a diet makes the teeth of the puffer fish erode constantly.
But it creates no problem for them as their teeth keep growing continuously as well just like the rodents. In captivity, they often grow larger teeth which makes them unable to feed themselves.
This is because they eat lesser crunchy fishes in captivity and hence their teeth grow faster than they erode.
9. Pufferfish shut their eyes without eyelids
Puffer fish do not have eyelids. The amazing fact is that they can still close their eyes. They do this by pulling their eyeballs deep into their eye sockets. After that, they squeeze the pores and skin around the eye to shut completely.
They have excellent eyesight which makes them able to identify the predators well in time before they can get hurt. They try to flee or puff up accordingly.
They can also focus on two different things at the same time. If they are looking upon a thing on their extreme right side with their right eye then they can also focus their left eye on the things on their extreme left at the same time just like the chameleons.
10. The liver is the most dangerous
The different body parts of the pufferfish contain different levels of toxicity. But the liver is the most poisonous part of a puffer fish. The stomach of the pufferfish can get 100 times bigger than its original size when it gulps in water to inflate.
The stomach of the puffer fish is the most elastic area in the entire body. Their skin is very thick and rough and it is advised to wear thick gloves while handling them. The smallest pufferfish is the dwarf pufferfish and the largest is the stellate pufferfish.
11. The more colourful, the more toxic
You can estimate the level of poison among the puffer fish species by looking at its body colour. The puffer fish with the brightest colours are the more poisonous ones. One puffer fish is poisonous enough to kill over 30 human beings.
It is the second most poisonous creature found on the planet to date. They can damage the nervous system of the victim and paralyse them. They are slow swimmers and hence get caught easily by the predators. They can also change their body colours and have two sets of skeletons.
Also want to know about some other sea creatures, read these articles:
Different Types of Puffer Fish
There are approximately 120 known species of pufferfish found mostly in the tropical oceans of Africa and Asia. Although they are also known to live in the freshwater. We are listing here the 5 most common species that are found worldwide.
- Dwarf pufferfish is found in the Indian seas and freshwater bodies. They are aggressive and territorial. It is the smallest pufferfish known.
- Blue-spotted pufferfish is a saltwater pufferfish. It is found in the coral reef areas of tropical and subtropical regions. It has small electric blue spots.
- Red-eye pufferfish is found in southeast Asian countries. They are found in the freshwaters. They are more aggressive than the dwarf puffer.
- Amazon pufferfish inhabits fresh water in the Amazon River basin. This species is peaceful in comparison to most of the pufferfish species.
- Saddle pufferfish are found in the shallow seas over the Pacific and Indian oceans. It has yellowfins, black stripes, and dark spots on white flesh. It has a sharp nose.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The natural diet consists of molluscs and other invertebrates.
They live in tropical and subtropical ocean waters, brackish water and even freshwater.
They are the inhabitants of the coral reefs. Apart from that, they are also found in the rivers of South America and North Africa.
The scientific name of Pufferfish is Tetraodontidae.
A baby pufferfish is called Fry Or Fingerling.
Pufferfish have teeth that are fused forming a beak-like structure.
An adult puffer fish can weigh around 30 pounds.
Pufferfish can not breathe out of water hence breathing air is out of the question.
Pufferfish inflate by swallowing a lot of water.
They puff up when they are threatened by some danger to appear more intimidating. They also puff up when they are stressed.
Usually, they deflate when their stress levels come down. But extreme levels of stress and inflating might cause death.
They can get about a length of 8 inches on average. However, the size depends on the species.
There is no known fact about how long pufferfish live but considering its relatives and other species an average of 10 years can be estimated.
Pufferfish is covered in spikes and these spikes contain poison.
Pufferfish spikes are filled with deadly toxins.
You should never touch a pufferfish with bare hands. The poison may cause fatal injury and you may get sick as well.
Almost all pufferfish contains tetrodotoxin which is more poisonous than cyanide.
The poison in the pufferfish attacks the central nervous system and often causes death. There is no antidote for the poison.
Mostly they are light brown and gets white when inflated.
Tiger sharks and Sea snakes top the list of pufferfish predators.
Despite its poison, they are being hunted worldwide. The Chinese puffer is critically endangered because of overfishing and the other species are also vulnerable.
So these were the amazing puffer fish facts for kids. We hope that you enjoyed the article and got some insight into this cute looking dangerous fish. Now you can decide for yourself whether you want one as a pet or not.