Puffer Fish – By AV

The puffer fish or Teraodontidea is an amazing example of defense. They live in brackish or salt water in the lower temperate and tropical zones. Many are very much like chameleons because they can change color or intensity of color. Not only that but the eyes of the puffer can move independently.  Puffer’s main defense is their ability to swell up by swallowing large quantities of water into their extremely elastic stomach. In the puffer’s bone structure, the pelvic bone is missing.  This is to ensure that nothing will get in the way of the expanding stomach. They swell up to be too large to be eaten. But if some how eaten, the predator will find them extremely poisonous. A single puffer fish has enough poison in it to be able to kill 32 people. The poison is found in many parts of the fish from the eyes to the liver to the intestines. There are two predators of the puffer fish which are immune to the poison. These are the tiger shark and the sea snake.

Puffers have an unusual life cycle. A male fish pushes a female far out to sea.  She lays her floating eggs and within three days they hatch small larvae which have basically only mouths, eyes, swim bladder, and fins in a little exoskeleton. Over the next ten days they loose their “shell” and become miniature puffer fish that are spotted on the bottom so they can flip over and hide inside Sargasso algae.  When they grow large enough they swim back to the shallow waters and loose their spots. This juvenile stage takes about three weeks.

In the puffer fish the mouth has two teeth on the top and two on the bottom which are flat and are fused together so they wrap around like several human teeth. One type of puffer is the porcupine fish and it is unique not only for its long spines but because it is buck toothed. Their primary foods are clams and red worms. These amazing creatures can range in size from one inch to more than three feet.

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