Everything about this fish is original including his name. This unusual, funny character of a fish has a huge list of names. You might find information under balloonfish, blowfish, porcupine puffer fish, puffer fish or the scientific name Diodon holocanthus. Most people first get interested in this inquisitive creature because of his unusual ability to blow up like a balloon. This is remarkable, but as you explore the characteristics of this cute little guy, you may just begin to wonder if you are watching him or it’s the other way around. Take a close look at a balloonfish and you’re bound to notice the intelligent, curious look in the eyes as you are being watched.
There are over 100 varieties of blowfish around the world in sub-tropical or tropical regions. Blowfish live in the coastal regions of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean. It’s no wonder blowfish are found everywhere, because they are lousy swimmers and just ride the currents. Balloonfish are adaptable and are raised in freshwater, saltwater or brackish aquariums.
Blowfish owners are convinced that their cleaver balloonfish have discovered the art of begging for food. Some people believe balloonfish recognize their owners through the glass and naturally come on over for a visit. These amazingly bright little fish have even been known to come out of their favorite hiding spots responding to the singing of an owner!
If you have never seen a puffer fish blown up like a balloon it really is quite a sight. The truth of the matter is balloonfish swell up because they are afraid and it’s an instinctive reaction to a predator or a threat. Physically it is hard on their bodies and it’s not a wise idea to induce this reaction.
It just takes a couple of seconds for a puffer fish to swell up. Puffer fish take in big gulps of air or water near the water’s surface. The air goes into a specialized sac, which fills up and expands and puffer fish have no ribs so they just blow up into the shape of a blown up balloon. A bit more complex than that, but you get the idea. Water is released back out through the mouth and gills and he returns to normal size and appearance.
When balloonfish are blown up a predator finds it difficult to get a hold of them and their skin cannot be pierced. Another one of nature’s miracles protecting the life of a balloonfish. Not to mention that this also saves the life of predators, because these fish are poisonous.
The balloonfish contain a deadly paralyzing poison called tetrodotoxin, which is even stronger than cyanide. Some of you may have heard that puffer fish are a delicacy served by specially trained chefs in Japan. This is quite true, but did you know that some people have actually died when the chef made a mistake in the cooking process?
Puffer fish have four teeth that can be used for protection. They may not have an abundance of teeth, but you can be assured they are good and sharp if they receive the right types of food. If balloonfish don’t eat crabs, snails and cockles with hard shells to help keep their teeth filed down it may be necessary for you to file them down. If balloonfish teeth grow too long they cannot eat. Watch your fingers because puffer fish may nip a finger or two when their favorite food is not served.
Blowfish are cute to look at, but keep in mind they have a strong survival instinct. They can be aggressive when kept in a tank with other blowfish and keeping several blowfish together is not recommended. Blowfish love live food just make sure any tank companions that you put in with them are not on the blowfish menu.
Puffer fish can take a flying leap right out of the fish tank. What possesses them to take a jump is unknown unless of course maybe you’re late serving dinner. Blowfish are definitely colorful characters in the fish world. Don’t eat them for dinner, keep your fingers out of the water and keep the lid on the tank. You’re bound to have a good time with your blowfish or was it puffer fish?