10 Types Of Pufferfish [Complete Guide]

When fishing, you will come across a selection of different fish species. These include pufferfish. They are amongst the toughest species to catch and handle due to their aggressive nature. However, scoring a pufferfish catch can still be a rewarding experience.

So, before you embark on your next fishing adventure, you want to learn about these fish. Below, we’ve shared a complete guide to various types of pufferfish found across the globe.

What Are The Different Types Of Pufferfish?

What Are The Different Types Of Pufferfish

As mentioned above, pufferfish exist in different parts of the world. Most of these fish features a universal chubby and striking thorny-like body. However, you can find some with scaleless bodies. You can differentiate various pufferfish based on their colors and sizes.

After all, they exist in small, medium, and large sizes with different patterns and colors. Owing their name to their puffing-up behavior, they do so in water as a defense to protect themselves against predators.

Generally, these tropical fish survive in marine, freshwater, and brackish water environments. Currently, about 150 species of pufferfish exist; with about 30 living in freshwater environments. Let’s check out some of the popular pufferfish types;

Brackish Water Puffers

As mentioned above, you can find pufferfish in three different types of environments. Brackish water pufferfish live in waters with salinity levels between seawater and freshwater. Typically, brackish water occurs where groundwater mixes with seawater.

Alternatively, brackish water occurs where salt has dissolved from mineral deposits over time. Brackish waters host two main types of pufferfish. These include figure-eight puffers and spotted puffers, particularly, green spotted puffers.

Figure-Eight Puffer

Also known as eye spotters due to the eye-shaped spots across their bodies, these fish dwell in Southeast Asia. Figure-eight puffers survive in both freshwater and brackish water environments. They have greenish-yellow patterns on their backs while their caudal fins look like the number eight or an eye.

The figure-eight pufferfish grows to a length of about 3.1 inches long. In an aquarium, the fish survives in brackish water mimicking environments. They need at least a 15-gallon tank with temperatures between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius.

Spotted Puffer

Common brackish water spotted pufferfish include the green spotted puffer. Found in South and Southeast Asia, the fish survives best in brackish water. But, they are also known to live in freshwater and saltwater environments. The fish grows from about 6 inches to 6.7 inches long. 

They have green backs with black spots, white bellies, and light green tails and fins. Frequently raised in aquariums, green spotted puffers need brackish water environments. Additionally, they require a pH level of at least 8. Due to their aggressive nature, the choice of fish to pair them with is quite limited.

Marine Puffers

You will also find a pretty high amount of pufferfish types residing in marine conditions.

Blue-Spotted Puffer

The blue-spotted puffer measures about 31.5 inches long in maturity. The fish has an oval shape, but, it features a small and symmetrical dorsal and anal fin. Furthermore, the blue-spotted puffer has no scale whilst its color patterns vary.

But, its background coloration remains to be bluish-grey. In their natural habitat, the fish live in tropical and subtropical oceanic waters. They prefer external slopes on rocky or coral reef surfaces about 82 feet under.

Map Puffer

Also known as Kesho-fugu or scribbled puffer, the map puffer lives in the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean. This type of marine puffer is amongst the most poisonous. Yet, it still sells in food markets and the aquarium trade.

The medium-sized fish grows to about 25.6 feet long and features an oval, spherical, and elongated shape. Like the blue-spotted puffer, the map puffer has no scales, however, it has small dermal spines. It has a whitish body with black, green, or brown broken lines.

Golden Puffer

Due to its appearance and shape, the golden puffer is sometimes referred to as the guinea fowl puffer. Though native to the Indo and the Eastern Pacific Ocean, the fish is commonly grown in aquariums. Measuring up to 19 inches long, the fish has a heavy, rounded body.

The body is black with many small spots in white, yellow, or a mixture of the two colors. On their rounded blunt heads, they have a short snout and massive teeth. Unlike the map puffer, the golden puffer has a coarse sandpaper body with small, rough denticles.

Valentin’s Sharpnose Puffer

Valentin’s sharp nose puffer features a rather small body – measuring no more than 3.9 inches long. The fish is also distributed across the tropical and subtropical Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. The fish features a small pointed body with distinct black stripes on the back.

The body is white with blue-grey spots while the head features a blue-grey color. Additionally, its tails and fins are yellow. Some Valentin’s pufferfish have a rainbow streak around the eyes. These types of pufferfish travel in packs with a dominant territorial male and two territorial females.

Freshwater Puffer

As we mentioned above, you can also find a selection of freshwater puffers. Some puffers survive in both freshwater and other water environments. Others survive solely in freshwater.

Fahaka/Nile Puffer

Also known as the Nile pufferfish, the Fahaka puffer lives in tropical freshwaters in the Nile, Chad, and Turkana basins. They typically survive in large rivers, open waters, weed beds, and vegetated fringes. 

The fish grow to about 16.9 inches long and have a stocky elongated body. Their body is also covered with short prickles and has a brownish-gray finish on the back.

Gold-Ringed/Mbu Puffer

A giant freshwater puffer, the gold-ringed puffer grows to about 26 inches long. Due to their massive size, they are impossible to house in a domestic home aquarium. This is because they need a larger tank and a more complex filtration system.

The fish survives in the middle and lower sections of the Congo River as well as in Lake Tanganyika. Design-wise, it features a yellow belly and a light yellow to the brown upper body with black patterns.

Crested Puffer

A small freshwater blowfish, the crested puffer lives in mainland Southeast Asia. The fish lives in brackish waters, although, you can also find it in freshwater settings. The fish is also relatively small – measuring only 3 inches long. Due to its small size, it is commonly harvested for the aquarium trade.

Congo Puffer

The Congo puffer, also known as the potato puffer, is exclusively found in the Congo River. The fish resembles a potato; boasting a heavy puffy body with a sandy or cream-like belly and grey-white back. The fish almost resembles a frog due to its large body and puffy head.

Growing up to 5.9 inches long, the fish prefers to spend its time being inactive. It wallows under sand or other substrates in water. In captivity, their tanks should be filled with a very soft and sandy substrate. The substrate allows them to bury themselves at least 2 inches deep to mimic their natural environment.

Can Touching A Pufferfish Kill You?

Can Touching A Pufferfish Kill You

Coming in contact with pufferfish (including touching them) can have fatal consequences. Most pufferfish contain a poisonous substance called tetrodotoxin. Tetrodotoxin is what gives the fish a foul taste and makes them lethal for humans to consume.

The poison is mostly found internally, but, the fish still has traces on the skin and their spines. The spines are most visible when the fish puff up as a defense mechanism. The tetrodotoxin poison is extremely toxic. 

One pufferfish holds enough toxicity of the poison to kill up to 30 adult humans. In general, the toxicity level of tetrodotoxin is about 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. The worst part about the poisonous substance is that it has no known antidote.

Can You Survive A Pufferfish Sting?

Some victims survive a pufferfish sting whilst others don’t. The neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin, released by pufferfish has no antidote. Therefore, there’s no medical intervention available. Unlike other non-serious toxins, you cannot deactivate tetrodotoxin by heating, freezing, or drying.

The only solution to a pufferfish sting would be to manage the victim using known first-aid techniques for symptoms. Symptoms associated with pufferfish bites include slowed heart rate and respiration, dilated pupils, and altered consciousness.

The symptoms appear about a few hours after a person comes in contact with the toxin through the skin or spines of the fish. Alternatively, symptoms take about 6 hours to appear after ingestion. For some people, these symptoms continue to persist and can stay for up to 24 hours.

However, for others, these symptoms persist and become more serious and even fatal. In serious cases, pufferfish stings can lead to death or brain damage due to hypoxia. This is because the toxin tends to hinder oxygen circulation.

Which Puffer Fish Are Not Poisonous?

As mentioned above, most pufferfish are poisonous due to their tetrodotoxin neurotoxin. However, not all puffers are necessarily poisonous. Generally, the northern puffers (blowfish) are not poisonous. In fact, their flesh is free of many toxins and is safe for human consumption.


With a myriad of pufferfish existing worldwide, you want to learn more about them if you like to fish. Doing so helps to avoid falling victim to their attacks.

Additionally, knowing more about pufferfish allows you to identify which type is ideal for aquarium keeping, and consumption, and which ones to avoid.