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White-spotted puffer, Arothron hispidus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Actinopterygii
Subclass: Neopterygii
Infraclass: Teleostei
Order: Tetraodontiformes
Family: Tetraodontidae

The pufferfish is a family of fish, with about 100 species.[1] They are also known as the blowfish, fugu, swellfish, and globefish. They are called the pufferfish because when they are threatened, they puffs up to about twice their normal size by gulping water. In this engorged state, the pufferfish can swim at only about half their normal speed. Pufferfish are generally believed to be the second-most poisonous vertebrates in the world, after the golden poison frog. They use tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin.

Most pufferfish are found in sub-tropical and tropical marine waters (including coral reefs) in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Some puffers live in brackish and fresh water. The scientific name refers to the four large teeth, fused into an upper and lower plate, which are used for crushing the shells of crustaceans and mollusks, their natural prey.

Despite their poison, the meat of some species is eaten in Japan (as 河豚, pronounced 'fugu'), Korea (as 복 bok or 복어 bogeo ), and China (as 河豚 hétún). It is prepared by specially trained chefs who know which part is safe to eat and in what quantity.

References[change | change source]

  1. Keiichi, Matsura & Tyler, James C. 1998. In Paxton J.R. & Eschmeyer W.N. (eds) Encyclopedia of fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 230–231. ISBN 0-12-547665-5