What Do Puffers Eat? | All About Pufferfish Diet | FantaSEA (2024)

If you’re interested in keeping a pufferfish in your aquarium, it’s important to keep in mind that these are not the best beginner fish. They need a lot of space, don’t always play nice with their neighbors and have a very specific diet. In this article, we’ll go into that last point. What do puffers eat?

Keep reading for everything you need to know about pufferfish diet and their ever-growing teeth.

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What do puffers eat? The tooth debacle

You might have heard about how rabbits and other rodents have teeth that never stop growing. This allows them to gnaw away at hard foods without their chompers becoming too worn down. The downside is that without a proper diet, their teeth overgrow, leaving them unable to eat properly and sometimes cutting into their mouth.

It might come as a surprise to hear that rabbits and pufferfish have something in common, but they do! Puffers’ teeth work in a very similar fashion. Their powerful, fused and beak-like teeth allow them to crack their natural diet – molluscs and other invertebrates – with ease. And because the teeth keep growing, the wear and tear caused by those hard shells is no problem for the puffer.

Or is it? In the wild, a puffer is unlikely to get in trouble. Some species have even been observed scraping algae from rocks, meaning they’re probably not at risk of their teeth becoming overgrown.

Things are a bit different for captive pufferfish like the ones in our aquariums, which don’t have access to the foods they would normally eat. This is the main reason why it’s so important to consider puffer diet before you add one to your aquarium: it’s a bit more complicated than that of most other aquarium fish.

Did you know? Pufferfish teeth can be shortened. The problem is that this is a rather stressful procedure which involves sedation and can go wrong in unlucky cases. Prevention is better than cure!

What Do Puffers Eat? | All About Pufferfish Diet | FantaSEA (1)

What do puffers eat? Putting together a balanced diet

So what do puffers eat, and how do you make sure yours doesn’t end up with overgrown buck teeth?

Wild puffers feed on a wide variety of food: they’re omnivores. Their diets may include, but are not limited to molluscs, crabs, shrimp, (coralline) algae, corals, sponges, (bristle)worms, starfish and even urchins.

If they can get their beak on it, it’ll go in there, basically. But as you can see, the majority of these foods are pretty tough to crack, hence the ever-growing teeth. For your captive puffer, you’ll have to find similar items to feed it. Normal commercial fish foods are out; not only will your puffer generally not accept them, they’re also too soft.

Frozen, store-bought seafood is a good way to avoid having to hang around the fish market all the time. Your best options depend on your puffer’s size, but a few great foods are:

⦁ Mussels, co*ckles, clams, oysters
⦁ Crab legs and unpeeled shrimp
⦁ Snails
⦁ Algae tablets or nori
⦁ Live crayfish, shrimp, crabs

Just keep in mind that the ‘expert’ options, like clams and oysters, are best left to adult puffers. A juvenile might not have the strength required to crack them. Don’t forget to completely thaw any frozen foods before offering them to your puffer.

Although your puffer might adapt to eating pellets, flakes and other frozen foods like bloodworms, it’s best not to make them the main part of its diet.

Keep in mind that puffers are very messy eaters, and they’re greedy too. You’ll need a powerful filtration system and good resistance to those big, begging eyes. Don’t overfeed: your puffer really doesn’t need more than a few very small portions a day.

Did you know? You might have heard that pufferfish are toxic. Tetrodotoxin, which is highly dangerous, actually comes from bacteria in the food consumed by the puffer. This specific type of toxin is also found in some aquatic snails, blue-ringed octopus and even some angelfish species.

What Do Puffers Eat? | All About Pufferfish Diet | FantaSEA (2)


A pufferfish, especially a large adult specimen, really is a sight to see. These are not beginner fish, though, and you should get some aquarium experience in before considering keeping one.

Dreaming of your own fish tank? You’re in luck! FantaSEA Aquariums designs, builds and maintains aquariums for businesses and homes. You can contact us here with your ideas.

What Do Puffers Eat? | All About Pufferfish Diet | FantaSEA (2024)


What Do Puffers Eat? | All About Pufferfish Diet | FantaSEA? ›

Diet. The diet of the pufferfish

Tetraodontidae is a family of primarily marine and estuarine fish of the order Tetraodontiformes. The family includes many familiar species variously called pufferfish, puffers, balloonfish, blowfish, blowers, blowies, bubblefish, globefish, swellfish, toadfish, toadies, toadle, honey toads, sugar toads, and sea squab.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Tetraodontidae
includes mostly invertebrates and algae. Large specimens will even crack open and eat clams, mussels, and shellfish with their hard beaks. Poisonous puffers are believed to synthesize their deadly toxin from the bacteria in the animals they eat.

What is the diet of a pufferfish? ›

Wild puffers feed on a wide variety of food: they're omnivores. Their diets may include, but are not limited to molluscs, crabs, shrimp, (coralline) algae, corals, sponges, (bristle)worms, starfish and even urchins. If they can get their beak on it, it'll go in there, basically.

Is A puffer fish A Carnivore? ›

Pufferfish are not carnivores. They're omnivores. They eat algae and aquatic invertebrates, and some larger pufferfish even eat shellfish such as clams, mussels, and crabs.

Can humans eat puffer fish? ›

Pufferfish, also known as 'fugu', is a popular delicacy in Japan. But did you know, pufferfish is an infamously poisonous fish that contains a lethal toxin known as tetrodotoxin (TTX), where as little as 0.002 g is enough to kill an adult human.

Do puffer fish eat live food? ›

Yes, many types of live foods, including brine shrimp, daphnia, grindal worms, and blackworms, can be easily cultured at home. 3. How often should I feed my dwarf pea puffer live foods? It's recommended to feed your dwarf pea puffer live foods at least once a day.

Can I have a pet puffer fish? ›

Petco has pufferfish for sale that can make great pets. Saltwater pufferfish are a fascinating species with unique defense mechanisms. While not ideal for beginner fish pet parents, experienced aquarists will love their pufferfish pet and enjoy establishing a dynamic relationship.

How often do puffers eat? ›

Feed your puffers live or frozen food 2-3 times a day.

Feed each puffer 1 block of frozen mini-bloodworms or shrimp (which you can buy at an aquarium store) per day, divided into 2 or 3 feeding sessions. Be sure to thaw out any frozen food before you feed it to your fish.

Is puffer fish blood poisonous? ›

Although pufferfish is considered an Asian delicacy well known as Fugu in Japan, only trained and licensed chefs are allowed to prepare it in restaurants. Much of the fish such as its eyes, blood, liver, and intestines contain the poison.

How many times can a puffer fish puff before it dies? ›

They can inflate many times throughout their lives as needed. So, it is not true that they can inflate just twice in a lifetime. If the fish is inflated on the surface, it is likely to ingest air. The air can be difficult to expel and can cause the death of the fish, since the fish floats and can not leave the surface.

What predator eats pufferfish? ›

Sharks Sharks, specifically tiger sharks, are one of the species that eat pufferfish. They are found in tropical and subtropical waters throughout the world. Tiger sharks--named for the stripes on their backs--are known for their undiscerning palate, meaning they eat anything they come across, even garbage.

How long do pufferfish live? ›

The lifespan of a pufferfish can range from three to 20 years, with an average of 10 years. Their lifespan can depend on many things, including the species and their environment. Pufferfish are very sensitive to their environments and can become easily stressed.

Why do pufferfish puff up? ›

Pufferfish will “puff up” as a defense mechanism if they are threatened. A shape that is more than double its original size, round and sometimes covered in spines is much more difficult to bite and isn't very appetizing to a predator.

What animal gets high on pufferfish? ›

Humans aren't the only creatures that suffer from substance abuse problems.

Why can't you eat puffer fish? ›

Pufferfish toxin is deadly

Pufferfish toxin causes paralysis, resulting in difficulty breathing. There is no specific medication for treating pufferfish toxin and pufferfish toxin is characterized by its extremely high fatality rate.

Do puffer fish eat fish food? ›

Wild puffer fish eat crustaceans and bivalves, such as crabs, shrimp, and mollusks. In home tanks, puffers are commonly fed prepared diets like fish meal-based pellets. While convenient, a diet of pellets alone can lead to tooth and lead them to gnaw on aquarium decor.

Is puffer fish illegal in the US? ›

Not totally banned, but you do need a license to sell or serve puffer fish in the U.S. Called "fugu" and served as a delicacy in Japan, puffer fish (AKA blowfish) can be deadly if not prepared properly. According to the FDA: "[S]ome puffer fish contain the toxins tetrodotoxin and/or saxitoxin.

Do pufferfish have teeth? ›

Puffer fish have teeth that grow continuously and need to be continuously worn by proper hard food items found in their wild diet. In captivity they will often have problems with overgrown teeth due to soft captive diets.


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