The Immaculate Pufferfish (Arothron immaculatus) is also known as the Black edged Puffer and the Yellow-eyed puffer. As with many other puffers, they have a symbiotic relationship with types of bacteria such as Pseudoalteromonas tetraodonis. This bacteria produces tetradotoxin which is a powerful neurotoxin. These tetradoxin’s are found in their skin and internal organs.
In an interesting study done on the Immaculate Pufferfish in India, specimens in some areas were found to be toxic whereas in other areas they were found to be non toxic. This implies that diet plays a role in the process. During the Second World War extracts from these puffers were used in treating migraines and menstrual cramps and there is potential for future medical use.
Immaculate Puffer have a typical pufferfish shape with a rounded body and a short tail. They have no scales or lateral line and have a set of yellow protruding nostrils on the snout. The skin is thick and tough. The body background color is usually a light grey on the upper body area but they have the ability to change this to a mottled darker grey coloration presumably for camouflage, the lower area of the body is white.
Their lips are a light yellow color and as with all the puffers they have four teeth that are fused into a beak giving them a powerful bite capable of crushing crustacean and other shells. They have no pelvic fins and the fins are a semi translucent yellow color except for the dorsal fin which is tinted black.
As can be seen in the image immediately below, the caudal fin is edged in black giving them one of their common names. On the base of the pectoral fin there is a distinctive black mark. The iris of their eyes is yellow giving them another of their common names. They have the ability to move their eyes independently and have good vision.
Full grown they can grow up to 30 cm in length although usually they are slightly smaller. As with all pufferfish or blow fish as they are sometimes known, they have the ability to take water into their stomach to swell themselves up, making it harder for a predator to fit them in its mouth.
IMMACULATE PUFFERFISH IN THE WILD
Immaculate Pufferfish are usually seen on sandy bottoms with isolated rubble. During the day they are normally seen resting in depressions on the sand. If a diver nears them they will usually swim off at a slight angle allowing one of their eyes to point backwards to watch you.
They are usually seen solitary. With their beak they can give a powerful bite and great care should be taken handing these fish.
Immaculate Pufferfish are found across the Indo West Pacific area and in the South East Atlantic. Usually they are on sandy bottoms close to the reef and in lagoons to a depth of 30 meters.
Immaculate Pufferfish use their impressive looking teeth to feed mainly on benthic crustaceans and mollusks although they also feed on sea grass and mangrove plants. They have four teeth which are fused into a sharp edged beak and the teeth continue growing throughout their life. They have a powerful bite.
Little seems known of their breeding behavior , however in pufferfish mating is between two distinct individuals and the eggs are released by the female and fertilized by the male, these then drop into the sand and later hatch. The larvae are planktonic.
Immaculate Pufferfish are kept by some aquarists, but because of their constantly growing teeth, they require regular feeds on hard shelled crustaceans to prevent the teeth from growing too far and becoming unusable. They are not aggressive fish, but may attempt to eat smaller sickly fishes and may nip long finned fishes. Because of their potential size they require a large tank. They will also eat most invertebrates and may damage corals.
IMMACULATE PUFFER CLASSIFICATION
- The Reef Guide fishes, corals, nudibranchs & other invertebrates: East and South Coasts of Southern Africa by Dennis King & Valda Fraser
- Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia