All About Pufferfish Species

Black Saddled Toby (Canthigaster valentini)
Steven Trainoff Ph.D. / Getty Images

Although related to Pufferfish, Porcupinefish or Burrfish are not poisonous, but there are many species of Puffers that do excrete tetrodotoxin. With these facts, pictures, characteristics, compatibility, feeding, aquarium care, and other profile information you can learn all about Porcupinefish and Pufferfish.

  • 01 of 05

    Brown Whitespotted Puffer

    Perlhuhn-Kugelfisch (Arothron meleagris), Tierpark Hellabrunn, München

    Rufus46 / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

    The Brown Whitespotted Puffer (Arothron meleagris), also known as the Guinea Fowl Puffer, Speckled Puffer, Speckled Balloon Fish, Golden Puffer, and Fugu, is commonly black or brown with numerous small white spots (Brown Whitespotted Puffer), but a bright yellow variety (golden puffer) is occasionally seen, and a mixture of the two morphologies with bright yellow spots and black patches also occurs.

    Pufferfish have the ability to inflate by swallowing air or water. This is a protective defense puffers have that prevents them from being eaten by other fish. When it inflates itself, a predator finds it difficult to swallow or to get its mouth around the pufferfish. When inflated, this Puffer's body has a soft prickly texture, which is harmless to the touch. It is from the Indo-Pacific, and Eastern Pacific Oceans. It is occasionally collected for the aquarium trade.

    The Brown Whitespotted Puffer can grow to 14" in length. It eats a wide variety of marine life, but it feeds mainly on tips of branching corals and to a lesser extent on sponges, mollusks, bryozoans, tunicates, algae, crabs, shrimps, and detritus. In captivity, it may not be quick to adjust to tank fed fares, because of its coral diet preference. However, once adjusted it may accept freshly chopped or frozen foods, such as shrimp, crab, squid and fish, and possibly herbivore diets. Of course, it is not suitable for reef tanks because it will eat the invertebrates.

  • 02 of 05

    Green Whitespotted Puffer

    White-spotted puffer (Arothron hispidus) being cleaned by Hawaiian cleaner wrasse (Labroides phthirophagus).

    Brocken Inaglory / Wikimedia Commons / GNU

    The Green Whitespotted Puffer (Arothron hispidus) will adjust well to aquarium life and eat in captivity. It has a slow going, friendly, and personable demeanor, but of course, the downside to this fish is the toxin it can exude. It is suggested for a fish-only community aquarium with fish that have the same or similar traits.

    The Green Whitespotted Puffer is an omnivore, eating a wide variety of marine life, such as fleshy, calcareous, or coralline algae, mollusks, tunicates, sponges, corals, zoanthids, crabs, shrimps, tube worms, and echinoderms, as well as detritus.

  • 03 of 05

    Valentini Puffer

    Valentini's sharpnose puffer (Canthigaster valentini)

    Haplochromis / Wikimedia Commons / GNU

    The Valentini Puffer (Canthigaster valentini), also known as the saddled puffer, has the ability to inflate by swallowing air or water like the brown whitespotted puffer. This is a protective defense that Puffers have that prevents them from being eaten by other fish. The Valentini puffer is a small puffer that grows up to 4 inches (10 cm). It is widely distributed throughout the Indian Ocean and Red Sea, and South Pacific islands. 

  • 04 of 05

    Whitespotted Puffer

    Whitespotted Puffer Keoki Stender

    The Whitespotted Puffer (Arothron hispidus) is a medium to large-sized puffer fish, it can reach 20 inches (50 cm) in length. It is light grey in color, or greyish or yellowish, and clearly covered with more or less regular white spots. It is an omnivore and feeds on a wide range of invertebrates, such as crustaceans, echinoderms, sponges, tunicates, polychaetes, bryozoans, sea urchins, brittle stars, crabs, peanut worms, shrimps, zoanthids, amphipods, and foraminiferans, and will eat marine algae and detritus as well. Because of its food preferences, it is not a fish recommended for a reef tank.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Spiny Porcupinefish

    Freckled Porcupinefish (Diodon holocanthus), Wakatobi Dive Resort, Indonesia

    Christian Gloor / Wikimedia Commons  / CC by 2.0 

    This amusing fish makes a great pet. The Spiny Porcupinefish (Diodon holocanthus) will quickly learn to take hand-fed foods. As cute as it is, unfortunately, it is not considered to be reef safe as it has an appetite for snails, crustaceans and small fish. It can grow up to 20 inches in length.

    The Porcupinefish has spiny appendages that cover most of its body. The spines and body colors may vary from light gray to mottled tans, sometimes with dark spots. It has 2 teeth, one on top and another on the bottom. The Porcupine Puffer doesn't have pelvic fins but uses its pectoral fins to move about.