Hi, Melissa here. We are all familiar with puffer fish and what they are able to do. They have the ability to inflate their body 2-3 times their normal size. It is true they may look like a cute prickly little ball, but it is very costly to them. Puffers inflate themselves as a defense when they feel threatened or scared. They can do this by swallowing gulps of water. If they swallow too much water they can actually rupture their stomach. You can only imagine how much pain something like that would cause. So you can see why puffers should never be provoked to the point of inflation. Sadly, once their stomach is ruptured the puffer is a goner.
If puffers need to be transported it much be done very carefully. The puffer must remain under the water at all times. If they ingest air they will have a very difficult time getting the air back out. If the air remains inside the puffer it will mess with their buoyancy and will ultimately lead to their death.
While puffers may look cute when they are puffed up, always remember that it is very stressful behavior. So, next time you visit a pet store and you see a customer trying to make a puffer inflate please make them aware that puffer fish never puff because they are happy and that puffing up can potentially lead to their demise.
If you like puffers, check out our video on the Mbu Puffer:
Do you know anything about the availability of puffers that have been bred in captivity? I know dwarfs are an obvious one, and the arrow another which seems rather rare but has been bred a few times. Any others? Are arrows common in the US?
To my knowledge there are not very many people that have successfully bred puffers in captivity. Carinotetraodon travancoricus (dwarf puffer) is the one puffer you mentioned that has been bred in captivity with some success. Tetraodon lineatus (fahaka puffer) and Tetraodon cutcutia (ocellated puffer) have also been bred in captivity but they seem to be on rare occasion. I am sure there are probably others out there, but they are few and far between. Tetradon sucatti (arrowhead puffer) is fairly common. We do see it on our order list from time to time. We have not seen captive bred puffers on our order lists but it would be cool if we did in the future. We are getting most of our clownfish that we offer tankraised. So who knows, maybe someday we will be getting tankraised puffers too. If you or anyone else has experience breeding puffers in captivity please share your story!