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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- These fish aren’t very efficient swimmers. Pufferfish hide at night among the coral or on other surfaces where they lay down to rest.
- 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.
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