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Pufferfish (Tetraodontidae) are adorable little characters that you can’t help but love!

Known for their incredible ability to inflate like a balloon, these feisty little fish vary in size, colour and appearance but what never changes is their larger-than-life attitude!

Due to their playful personalities and intelligence, pufferfish are sometimes referred to as the puppy dogs of the aquarium.

Pufferfish Characteristics

While they are usually slow, clumsy swimmers, these incredible animals have adapted a variety of techniques in order for them to survive. Not only are they capable of engulfing huge volumes of water or sometimes air to expand up to three times their size, but they are also filled with toxins called tetrodotoxin. These toxins are foul-tasting to other fish that try to eat them and can even be deadly to humans.

In some cultures, pufferfish are an expensive delicacy to eat, however, only specialists called fugu chefs in Japan serve it as a dish because if they are prepared incorrectly and the toxins are released the customer can be killed – which has been known to happen!

Pufferfish are also known for their great eyesight. They rely on their eyesight to spot predators in the wild and are also able to recognise human companions when kept in home aquariums.

Sadly, however, pufferfish put a huge amount of strain on their body when they inflate and can therefore only do this a finite number of times which varies between species and between individuals.

What do pufferfish eat?

Despite their cute appearance, pufferfish are actually carnivorous, feeding primarily on algae and invertebrates although larger species are known to use their beaks to crack open clams to eat the flesh inside. You read that right, pufferfish have beaks rather than teeth. These beaks never stop growing throughout their lives.

With over 120 different species, there are a wide variety of shapes and sizes that pufferfish can come in: the smallest being a Malabar puffer and the largest being a Mbuna pufferfish which can grow up to 2-feet long.

Where do pufferfish live?

Pufferfish can be found across the globe, in fact, they can be found in every ocean except in Polar Regions. They are a remarkably adaptable species, known to primarily live in tropical and sub-tropical water but some species can survive quite happily in brackish water (not as salty as seawater) and freshwater.

They typically like to live near coral – a type of animal that’s usually mistaken for a plant! You can find out more about coral reefs here: Is Coral a Plant or an Animal? 8 Interesting Facts

While pufferfish are numerous around the world, they can be difficult to see in the wild without professional diving gear. Luckily, a few species like to call Coral Cave at Blue Planet Aquarium their home.

Coral Cave’s waters are kept at a warm 26°c which perfectly mimics the tropical waters and conditions that pufferfish feel the most comfortable in.

So, that’s it for our guide to Pufferfish. If you’re keen to learn more, head on over to Blue Planet Aquarium for our Coral Cave exhibit and all the other great stuff we’ve always got going on. For booking info and tickets, click here.



What do they eat?

Algae, Crustaceans, Molluscs


Up to 60cm

Water Type

Tropical and sub tropical salt waters

Where are we?

Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans

  • Stars and stripes pufferfish in coral cave exhibit
  • Golden Dog Faced Pufferfish

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