The puffer fish and the pointed puffer fish are at home in most tropical seas. They are slow swimmers and make up for this disadvantage by being able to move like helicopters. Changing direction in seconds, sideways, up, down and even backwards, which is rare in fish.
They got the name puffer fish because they can inflate like balloons when in danger by pumping water into a side chamber of the stomach. At the surface, this even works with air.
Pufferfish have a beak dentition of two tooth plates. This allows them to break down hard-shelled animals they find while foraging in coral reefs, sand and rubble.
Pufferfish have scaleless, tough skin.
Pufferfish produce one of the most potent poisons in the world. The tetrodotoxin is in the guts, reproductive organs and skin.
In Japan, the flesh of puffer fish is a delicacy. If improperly prepared, the toxin is deadly to humans. Therefore, only trained fugu chefs are allowed to prepare the food.
Giant puffer fish – Arothron stellatus
It is rightly named because this species can grow up to 1m.
The giant pufferfish is a loner. Its habitat is coral reefs, wrecks, seagrass beds and sandy areas. For us divers it is easy to find and recognize. If it feels threatened, it can also bite.
White spotted puffer fish- Arothron hispidus
The white spotted pufferfish is much smaller. It can grow up to 50 cm. Mostly found on seagrass beds. It is not shy and it swims slowly. Thus ideal for us divers to observe him.
Masked pufferfish – Arothrondiadematus
The Masked Pufferfish is very common and it is also a loner. Except for mating he meets with conspecifics. This in groups up to 20 specimens. It can grow up to 30 cm. Its name is explained by the dark eye mask.
Crowned pointed puffer – Canthigaster coronata
The Crown Tip Pufferfish is the most colorful of its genus. Special are the fine blue-yellow-black lines around its eye and the blue spots, which are distributed over the whole body. With a maximum size of 14 cm it is much smaller than the other puffer fishes. It lives in coral reefs and always stays near the bottom.
We divers see it rather rarely.
Red Sea Pointed Pufferfish – Canthigaster margaritata
As the name suggests, this species is mainly found in the Red Sea.
It grows to only 12 cm when fully grown. It lives in coral reefs and a little bit more rarely it can be found in seagrass meadows in the sand and rubble. For us divers rather rare to find.
Pictures by Johann Vifian
Source: Korallenriffführer und Riffführer Rotes Meer