Our Favorite Facts About Pufferfish

With their big eyes, spherical shape and graceless swimming techniques, it’s hard not to love pufferfish.

Published March 14, 2017

Don’t let their cuteness fool you. If threatened, these fish can pack a major toxic punch. There are over 150 known species of pufferfish, ranging from one inch to two feet in length. And that’s just the start of all there is to know about pufferfish! 

Here are some of our favorite facts:
  1. Pufferfish can quickly ingest huge amounts of water to turn themselves into an inedible ball. The pufferfish’s stomach works like a water balloon, expanding to 100 times its normal size.
  2. The toxin present in pufferfish is a thousand times more powerful than cyanide to humans. The neurotoxin at play here in tetrodotoxin, which is also present in triggerfish and the blue-ringed octopus.pufferfish
  3. Tetrodotoxin paralyzes a human’s diaphragm, ultimately causing respiratory failure. One pufferfish has enough of the toxin to kill 30 adults. There is no known antidote.
  4. Pufferfish eat a variety of invertebrates and algae thanks to their unique mouths. The top and bottom of their mouths contain hard pellets that they use to crush the shells of clams, mussels and other prey. They also have a sharp beak, which they can use to eat coral! pufferfish
  5. These fish aren’t very efficient swimmers. Pufferfish hide at night among the coral or on other surfaces where they lay down to rest.
  6. Pufferfish create "underwater crop circles" to attract a mate. According to this study, males spend seven to nine days constructing intricate patterns in the sand to attract females.

What do YOU love about pufferfish? Tweet us your favorite facts! 



Previous Post

Featured Stories

Jellies in petri dish Welcome to the Jelly Jungle

Deep inside the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) building, the National Aquarium runs a little-known lab. Here we carry out the propagation of jellies, many of which later end up on exhibit in Jellies Invasion. Read on for a peek into the process!

Read the full story

Cold stunned turtle Cold Stunning: Where, How and Why?

Picture this: You’ve just spent a wonderful, late summer week on Cape Cod, swimming in the ocean and enjoying the sunshine with friends and family. As fall sets in, you know it’s time to head home. You get on the highway, but something strange happens … despite driving for hours, you end up back where you started. You feel sluggish, confused and exhausted. If you were a turtle, you just might be cold-stunned.

Read the full story

Related Stories

One Year at the Animal Care and Rescue Center!

Published May 21, 2019

Animal Care and Rescue Center: All Systems Go

Published May 24, 2018