A very poisonous fish

The puffer fish belongs to a family of poisonous fish that lives in ocean waters all over the world (tropical and subtropical), some are found in fresh and brackish water (less salty than seawater). Their bodies are long, with a bulbous head, rough, scaleless skin, and four beak-like teeth.

They are known by the common name of puffer fish due to their particular ability to swell up when they feel scared or attacked. There are more than 120 species around the world, of different sizes and characteristics, the smallest is the pygmy puffer fish with a length of 2.5 cm, and the giant freshwater puffer fish that measures up to 61 cm in length.

Fun facts

  • Its mechanism to inflate itself involves taking in water, multiplying its size several times. This prevents another fish from swallowing it.
  • Some species show a series of sharp points when inflated that make contact with the fish more difficult.
  • There are species that have specific markings and colors on their body to warn that they are dangerous. While others have a special speckling or pattern that helps them go unnoticed in their natural environment.
  • Most puffer fish have a powerful toxin that makes them taste unpleasant and even lethal to other fish.
  • To humans, the puffer fish toxin is deadly and can be up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide.
  • Although its consumption is so dangerous, this fish is considered an exotic delicacy in some parts of the world. It is a very expensive dish and it is only prepared by trained and licensed chefs, a bad cut means serious problems for the diner.