The puffer fish is a slow swimmer that lives in the vicinity of the reef. Their size varies from 5 to 50 centimeters.
Their body is wide and elongated and grows progressively narrower towards the tail. The front of the head is elongated with a short spout and at its end is the mouth. A strong, short beak extends from the mouth. This is made up of the fusion of four teeth. The eyes are placed high on the sides of the head. The back fins and the back end (the underside of the body) are short and permanently placed at the back of the body. The tail fin is rounded. The skin is thick and is covered in many spiked scales.
They feed on algae, sponges, invertebrates, molluscs, pieces of skin, worms and shrimps. This is made possible by the use of their tough teeth.
In times of danger, they swallow large quantities of water or air into a pouch that extends from their stomach and the fish becomes the shape of a ball. This is where the name “Abu Nafcha” (the swollen one) comes from – given to it by Arab fishermen.
Some of its organs contain poisons that can be fatal and so the fish is inedible!!!! The poison and its potency vary according to the area it is found in, the season of the year and the species of the genus. When in danger, the fish excretes poisonous mucus from its body as a defense mechanism.
This species is the deadliest enemy of the large starfish – Cyphastrea
It is mainly active in the late afternoon and at night. By day it hides in shaded places on the reef and goes down to a depth of up to ten meters.
Its size as an adult reaches 5 centimeters. It lives alone or in small groups in the open areas of small niches. It also excretes poisonous mucus in a time of danger, as do all the species in this genus.