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Blackspotted Pufferfish (Arothron nigropunctatus) – Reef Reality Episode 23

The video for this episode is coming soon!!

Blackspotted Pufferfish (Arothron nigropunctatus) – Reef Reality Episode 23

Reef Reality Episode Voice Over

The black-spotted pufferfish is alternatively known as the dog-faced puffer or hush puppy puffer due to its snout, which makes it resemble a puppy or a baby seal.  It is this cute appearance that makes it popular as an aquarium fish.  However, they are highly poisonous, so not recommended for eating! They live in tropical climates, in shallow waters above coral reefs. They are nocturnal in habit and primarily carnivorous. Although they grow fairly large, they are not normally aggressive.


In adulthood, males can grow up to 13 inches (33 cm) in length. The body is rounded and covered in small prickles.  Colouring varies, and alters during maturation, but the predominant shade is pale blue, and the body is covered with black spots. Its main distinguishing feature is it unusual protruding snout, which gives it the appearance of a baby seal or a dog. The black-spotted puffer has very strong teeth, designed for grazing on hard coral and shellfish. The puffer can secrete a mucus from its skin which protects it against parasites

Regions & Habitats

Black-spotted puffers inhabit tropical waters in the Indo-Pacific region.  The main concentrations are found from East Africa across to Samoa and Micronesia. Their northern limit is Japan and their southern limit, New South Wales in Australia. They live in fairly shallow waters, up to a maximum depth of 25 metres, and tend to inhabit coastal to outer reef crests and slopes.

Feeding & Behavior

This is a primarily carnivorous species, which eats a wide range of marine creatures.  Dietary preferences include sponges, crustaceans, molluscs and tunicates, although they also graze on hard coral and ingest algae. They are mainly nocturnal, and during the day they hide between coral branches. As adults, they usually live in pairs, and are rarely aggressive.

Vulnerability & Resilience

This is a fairly common fish, and its vulnerability is low to medium. Resilience is medium. Minimum population doubling time is 1.4 to 4.4 years.

Red List Status

Has not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


1) Pollution – the eco-system in which the black-spotted pufferfish live is endangered.  One of the main causes is pollution of the oceans. Chemicals released into the water table as a by-product of industry and agriculture destroy the reefs.  Garbage that is improperly disposed of is another factor, as are oil spillages.

2) Destruction of habitat – it is estimated that the world has already lost 20% of its coral reefs. Human activities such as tourism, fishing, diving and sponge-collecting have contributed to their destruction. Global warming causes changes in sea level and temperature which destroy the delicate ecological balance, and excessive carbon dioxide in the water weakens the coral. Natural causes such as tropical storms can also damage reefs.

3) Sedimentary run-off – sediments get washed into the oceans and settle on top of the reef, blocking out sunlight and preventing the process of photosynthesis, which kills off the coral. Nutrients in the sediment can also encourage growth of algal blooms which choke up the oceans.

How to help

1) You can help to reduce pollution by ensuring that soaps, chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides are properly disposed of, and not washed down into storm drains, so that they cannot reach the oceans.

2) CLICK HERE for 40 Marine Conservation Tips - How YOU can Make a Difference!

Submitted by The Reef Reality Series on Nov 1, 2010