Facts about Amazing Puffer Fish - A Marine Wonder
Know interesting facts about Puffer Fish - One of the most poisonous creature on the earth
Millions of species of animals live in the sea but a few are really unique. One of these amazing creatures is Puffer fish which has distinctive features fascinating many. This is in spite of the fact that it is the second deadliest animal due to its possessing poisonous characteristic. This extraordinary characteristic, however, does not deter human being from studying, adoring, show-casing in the drawing rooms and even eating Puffer fishes.
Stay with me to know more about characteristics and species of Puffer fish.
Main Characteristics of a Puffer Fish
1. Puffer fish is also known as 'Balloonfish' or 'Blowfish'. Basically, this is because of its capacity to fill its highly elastic stomach with large amount of water or even air to give it a shape of a balloon or ball which helps to deter predators to swallow it.
2. Puffer fish is a slow swimmer and cannot compete with others/predators, it uses its puffing action as a defense mechanism. Some species have sharp spines which also help Puffer fish to defend itself as these are toxic to other animals and humans.
3. Puffers are the second most poisonous after Golden Poison Frog and so far there is no antidote available. The toxin (tetrodotoxin) of one puffer fish can kill 30 adult human beings as it is known to be 1200 times lethal than cyanide.
4. In the event of a predator succeeding in consuming a puffer fish it may perish because of the poison. The only exception is Shark fish which is not harmed by its consumption.
5. Worldwide there are more than 120 species of puffer fish and the sizes of puffer varie from 3 inches to about 3 feet.
Mbu Puffer Fish
Mbu Pufferfish is also known as Giant Freshwater Puffer because of its massive size which can go up to 26 inches or 67 cms. Looks of Puffer fish are peculiar because of bulging eyes, large mouth, squarish head and skin pattern. Mbu is found in Africa's Congo basin particularly in Lake Tanganyika
Keeping an adult Puffer in captivity is fraught with difficulties because of requirement of size of the aquarium (800 to 1000 or more capacity), quantity of water and its management. Even a 4 inches Puffer grows very quickly and its dietary needs also change accordingly. Puffer would love to have crunchy food like mussels, crabs and smaller fish.
Skin Pattern of Mbu
It has a unique pattern of skin which resembles Belousov- Zhabotinsky pattern, a typical of chemical reaction shown below.
Resemblance of skin pattern with Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction pattern.
Puffer fishes have very powerful jaw muscles and their teeth are fused together making a beak-like structure. Mollusks and crustaceans are the natural food sources for these four-teethed fishes and the power of teeth can crack open crabs and crush snails. Watching them in action is a pleasure.
Keeping them in captivity without their natural food would necessitate cutting their teeth periodically.
Watch the teeth of Puffer Fish in action and note their power
Cutting the teeth of Puffer Fish
Your acquaintance with Puffer fish
Have your ever seen a Puffer fish in aquarium?
Some species also have spines on their skins covering their bodies. These spines function as an added protection ward off predators
Destressing action of puffed up Golden Puffer Fish
Sometimes the Puffer fish gets stressed or excited. It results into puffing action. Then it slowly releases that stress to come to its real shape. See the action.
Defending acts of Puffer fish
A relatively sluggish swimmer has been bestowed with self defending instinctive action by nature. One cannot imagine that a Puffer can go unscathed after offensive of a predator. Watch this defending act of a Puffer.
Other Varieties of Puffer Fish
#1. White-Spotted Puffer
White-spotted Puffer is normally medium sized with maximum length up to 50 cms and maximum weight recorded as 2010 gms. Its body is generally greenish-brown in colour with white small spots found on the sides, back and caudal fin. The belly wears white bars. Only medium aggressive, it is found mainly in south-east Atlantic Ocean, Indo-Pacific Ocean and East Pacific Ocean. Its food includes algae, sponges, coral, starfish and mollusks
#2. Bandtail Puffer
This species of Puffer fish is commonly found in Caribbean and can widely be seen from north US - Massachusetts to south Brazil - Santa Catarina. It can go up to 30 cms and it likes molluscs, crustaceans and echinoderm and prefers remaining near the bottom on seagrass beds and coral reefs. This adds to its safety as predators may not be able to spot it there
#3. Spotted Sharpnosed Puffer
This species of Puffer fish is quite colourful with spots and bars on its body and perhaps the most beautiful of this species. Also known as solander's toby, or blue-spotted toby, this species is often called False-eye because of a black spot at the base of the dorsal fin, which can be helpful in dodging the predator. It also keeps itself protected from parasites and infection by secreting mucus or slime from its skin. It is relatively peaceful and can be kept even in 30 gallon onward aquarium in view of the size (12 cms, as adult) it acquires.
4. Dog-faced Puffer
Also called Black spotted Puffer
Dog-faced Puffer has got its name because it has a round shaped head, expressive eyes and projecting nose. It is also called Black- spotted Puffer and it could be of different colours like bluish or even bi-colour, with maximum length up to 33 cms. It does not have scales on the skin. The one with yellow colour is quite popular.
They can be found in reefs of Western Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean but not in the Red Sea and mainly eat live corals.