Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Family: TETRAODONTIDAE, Puffer-Fishes

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body smooth or + small spines
strong beak: 4 plates, with central sutures



Pufferfishes are small to medium-sized fishes (up to 100 cm, but usually < 30 cm) that have heavy, thick bodies that are inflatable by swallowing water; head large, blunt; eyes high on sides of head; jaws are a beak composed of 4 fused heavy powerful teeth with a central suture on each jaw; a slit-like gill opening in front of the pectoral fin base; a single dorsal fin (usually short- based with 7-15 rays) at rear of body; a similar-shaped anal fin below the dorsal; no pelvic fins; no spines in the fins; tail fin rounded to concave, with 10 main rays; tough, thick, scaleless skin, usually covered with small spinules, often with fleshy skin flaps.

The family is pantropical, primarily marine, but with some freshwater species. Puffers live mainly on soft-bottom habitats, although some are reef fishes. They are omnivores that eat urchins, sponges, live corals, starfishes, crabs, molluscs, worms, tunicates, and algae. These fishes produce a powerful poison, tetraodotoxin, in many of their tissues, but particularly the liver and ovaries.

Worldwide there are 26 genera with about 184 species. Sixteen species from five genera have been recorded from the tropical eastern Pacific; including one circumtropical, five Indo-Pacific and nine endemics. One genus is endemic to our region.