Starry Puffer

From Microcosm Aquarium Explorer

Arothron stellatus - (Bloch & Schneider, 1801, 1801)
Starry Puffer

Arothron stellatus.jpg

The largest of the puffers, growing to 120cm (47 in). Richard Ling/Creative Commons

Overview

This is the behemoth of all puffers, growing to lengths of more than a meter (yard) with huge eyes, a bite that can nip the tips off growing Acropora stony coral colonies, and a fish with great character and intelligence.

This and other puffers are poisonous to eat, having the lethal tetrodotoxin in their internal organs. Dozens of poisonings and up to six human deaths a year in Japan are attributed to the consumption of pufferfishes.

The skin of pufferfishes may also contain the toxin, and hobbyists should only handle these fishes when wearing rubber gloves as a precaution.

A smaller, more easily housed and more commonly available member of the genus is the Blackspotted Puffer, Arothron nigropunctatus.

See: A Puffer Primer by Mike Maddox.

Family: Tetraodontidae

Other common name(s):

  • Starry Toadfish

Native range:

Maximum length: 120 cm (47 in)

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: All levels.

Feeding

Its natural diet includes benthic invertebrates of all sorts (crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, algae, sponges, and others). In the aquarium it will greedily eat most foods, but should be offered a varied diet varied diet of meaty foods, including chopped shrimp, squid, clams, enriched krill, and fish—as well as preparations designed for herbivores.

It is important to include shrimp, crabs, mussels, snails, and other seafoods in their shells to help keep the puffer's teeth in good condition.

Aquarium Compatibility

Not recommended for aquariums with reef invertebrates. Will eat sessile invertebrates and coralline algae.

Special Care

Large puffers may need deworming and dental care if their fused teeth become overgrown.

Breeding/Propagation

The pufferfishes are demersal spawners, building a nest and guarding it. Larvae are planktonic and in the case of the Starry Puffer are often carried long distances by currents before settling out. They sometimes land in subtropical waters, where they are not likely to survive the winter months.

Reference: A PocketExpert Guide to Marine Fishes
Text credit: SWM