10 Puffer Fish Facts For Kids
Oceans, lakes and rivers are filled of with fish of all different shapes, sizes and species. The puffer fish is one of the most exotic looking fish that you can find. It is also referred to as the blowfish and is known for having a slow or almost clumsy swimming motion. This makes it a big target in the waters to predators that are looking to attack. Even though they have a slow swimming style, they have other characteristics that make them unique.
Here is a closer look at what makes a puffer fish so different:
1. Highly Elastic Stomachs
One of the most noticeable characteristics about puffer fish involves the elasticity of their stomachs. Even though they have a slow swimming motion that makes them ideal prey, their elastic stomachs make up for it. When they find themselves in danger, puffer fish have the unique ability to ingest large amounts of water in no time at all. This means that they can swell to enormous sizes that make them impossible for predators to kill. If needed, puffer fish can even ingest air to grow to sizes that make them virtually inedible. There are even some species of puffer fish that come with spines that do not make them very appetizing to predators.
2. What Happens When Puffer Fish Are Ingested?
When a predator does somehow ingest a puffer fish before they have inflated to a large size, they will not live for long. Puffer fish are also unique in the way that they contain high amounts of tetrodotoxin, which is substance that makes puffer fish have a bad taste and is even lethal when ingested by fish. In fact, puffer fish are so poisonous that they can even kill humans. It should be known that the poisonous substance found in puffer fish is more than 1,2000 times more lethal than cyanide. More than 30 people could die due to the poison that is found in just one puffer fish. Any antidote for this poison is still not known.
3. This Meat is a Delicacy
This might seem strange, but puffer fish meat is actually considered to be a delicacy in some parts of the world. In Japan, puffer fish meat is referred to as fugu and is very expensive to buy. This meat must be prepared by a licensed chef that knows how to cut the meat and ensure that no poison remains. There are even a number of deaths each year attributed to poor cuts of puffer fish meat. Even though people know that puffer fish are poisonous, they still continue to eat this meat in Japan.
4. How Many Species of Puffer Fish Exist?
There is more than one type of puffer fish that is in existence. In fact, there are actually more than 120 different known species of puffer fish in the world. Most of the known species of puffer fish can be found in tropical and subtropical waters. There are even a select species of puffer fish that actually live in fresh water. Since there are many different species, they are found throughout waters all over the world.
5. What Do Puffer Fish Look Like?
Puffer fish have a very distinct appearance that is hard to miss. When they swell in size, there appearance is even more noticeable and unique. They normally have long bodies that are tapered at the sides and are equipped with almost bulbous shaped heads. They come in a variety of different markings and those puffer fish with wild and colorful markings are often the most poisonous. The toxicity levels in puffer fish can be determined by the color of the markings. Bright colors lend to higher toxicity levels and dull markings result in lower toxicity levels. Those puffer fish with muted markings can blend in with their surroundings much easier.
Not only do different species of puffer fish have different markings, but they also range in size. Dwarf species of puffer fish can be as short as 1 inch and freshwater giant puffer fish can be as long as 2 feet. This type of fish does not have scales, but does have rough skin and spikes. It is also apparent that puffer fish have four teeth that are fused together to form what looks like a beak.
6. What Do Puffer Fish Eat?
Puffer fish live off a diet that consists mostly of invertebrates and algae. There are some larger species of puffer that actually eat clams and muscles. The bacteria that is found in the foods puffer fish eat is what is said to synthesize the poison in their body. They are particular about what they eat, but predators that choose to eat them do not live long after they ingest poisonous puffer fish.
7. Are They Endangered?
There might be many different species of puffer fish that can be found all around the world in waters, but they are endangered. This type of fish is considered to be at risk due to their vulnerability to pollution. The increasing loss of habitat and over fishing has also led to the demise of this species of fish. Even though they are at risk, most species of puffer fish are considered to be stable at the moment. However, this will not last if pollution, loss of habitat and over fishing continue at high rates.
Now that you know all the basic facts surrounding puffer fish, it is time to take a closer look at the cool tidbits of information that is most interesting:
8. Breeding Method
Puffer fish have a very unique breeding method that involves males guiding the female puffer fish to the shore. It is on the shore where female puffer fish actually let go of the eggs. The hard shell of the egg acts as a layer of protection until the limbs continue to grow and break through. Once they finally grow a tail and fins, they can swim into the water on their own. They then find their community in the reef.
9. Sharks and Puffer Fish
Even though puffer fish are extremely poisonous and the poison found in them is more than 1,200 times more deadly than cyanide, they are not harmful to sharks. Sharks have the unique ability to ingest puffer fish and not be killed by the poison. It is not completely known why sharks are able to withstand the high levels of tetrodotoxin that not even humans can withstand. This means that sharks are one predator that is not sorry once they ingest a puffer fish. This can’t be said for most predators living in the water.
10. Smallest Puffer Fish
The smallest species of puffer fish in existence is the dwarf puffer fish. It only grows to about 22mm in size, which makes it the smallest species of puffer fish. Giant puffer fish are so much bigger than dwarf puffer fish that they are almost 2 feet in size. The smallest puffer fish can be found in waters located in India. This dwarf puffer fish is only found in the River Pamba. Another unique puffer fish species is the Arothon, which is also known as a fat puffer. This type of puffer fish has the ability to blink their eyes and close them, which is unique to this species of puffer fish alone.