The puffer fish is one of the most dangerous delicacies and the most poisonous fish in the world, which gourmets from all over the world dream of trying. Many are willing to pay a tidy sum in order to enjoy this delicacy and feel the fine line between life and death. Only professional chefs are involved in its preparation, as any mistake can lead to the most unfortunate consequences.
Origin of the species and description
The main fame of the fish is due to Japanese chefs and its strong poisonousness. In fact, the true name of the puffer fish is the brown puffer. Fugu was mistakenly called because of the Japanese dish, but the name has become very boring and now it has become more common than the true name of the fish.
Pugu fish is also called:
- brown puffer;
- fish dog;
The brown puffer belongs to the family of pufferfishes of the genus Takifugu. This genus includes 26 species of fish, one of which is the puffer fish. The puffer fish was officially listed in 1850, but there are fossilized remains that are approximately 2,300 years old. At that time, more than 5 fish of this family were included in the reference books.
Video: Fugu fish
In danger, the puffer fish inflates, which increases its size several times and scares off predators. This is not the main defense mechanism of the fish. Her main defense is a deadly poison, which is so strong that it even kills a person. What is unusual is that, unlike other fish of the pufferfish family, puffer fish accumulate poison not on the skin, but inside.
Interesting fact: puffer fish do not produce poison! Poison is produced by bacteria that are its food, and if puffer fish is brought out in conditions where these bacteria are not present, then the fish will not be poisonous.
Appearance and features
Fugu fish does not differ in particularly large sizes, especially large species reach a length of 80 cm, but the average is 40-50 cm. It lives at a depth of up to 100 meters. Its main color is brown, however, rounded black spots can be observed from the sides. Fugu fish, unlike many other fish, does not have scales; instead, the fish has dense skin.
The puffer fish has rather small eyes and mouth, but at the same time it has excellent vision and smell. Under the eyes of the fish are small tentacles, in which a large number of receptors are located. The teeth resemble 2 large incisors, this feeling is due to the fact that the teeth of the fish are fused. She has practically no bones, not even ribs.
Due to the unique feature, the fish increases in size by about 3-4 times in case of danger. This effect is achieved by filling the internal cavities of the fish with water or air. At the same time, it takes the form of a ball. This is practically the only fish that has this defense mechanism.
The puffer fish has small needles all over the body, which are smoothed when calm. However, at the moment of danger, when the fish grows in size, the needles begin to stick out in all directions, which makes it even more inaccessible to predators.
The main feature of puffer fish is that it is the most poisonous fish on our planet. Its poison is capable of killing an adult within half an hour. Moreover, the older the fish, the more poison it contains. Despite the fact that it is prepared exclusively by professional chefs who have taken special courses, about 15 people die from a dish with this fish every year.
Where does the puffer fish live?
The halo of puffer fish is quite extensive, it lives in:
- Okhotsk Sea;
- Yellow Sea;
- East China Sea;
- Pacific Ocean;
- Japan Sea.
Pugu fish is a low boreal Asian species. The main halo of its habitat can be considered the waters adjacent to Japan. Puffer fish can also be found in the Russian waters of the Sea of Japan, but it lives there mainly in the summer.
Fugu fry are born at a depth of about 20 meters and gradually go to a depth over time. Large individuals of this species prefer to be at a depth of about 80-100 meters. The fish prefers quiet, calm places near various bays. They prefer to be closer to the bottom, where various algae and bottom reliefs additionally help them protect themselves from predators.
Puffer fish can also be found in fresh water bodies of rivers:
An interesting fact: puffer fish, unlike many fish, has big problems with aerodynamics, which does not allow it to reach high speed, it is very slow, but at the same time it can swim sideways and even backwards.
What do puffer fish eat?
Pugu fish is predator. True, her diet is vaguely appetizing, even by the standards of an animal species. It feeds on sea worms, sea urchins and stars, various mollusks and corals. Fugu fish does not produce poison, the poison is produced by bacteria that are present in its food, while they do not act on the fugu, and the poison accumulates in various parts of the body.
Pufferfish are sometimes kept in aquariums. At the same time, the diet of the fish changes significantly. It begins to consist of moths, various hard-shelled crustaceans, mollusks and fry. Ground beef or minced liver or heart is also suitable for them.
An interesting fact: unlike many types of fish, dry food is absolutely contraindicated for puffer fish.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Despite the fact that pufferfish have been discovered for a long time, scientists know little about their way of life. This is due to the fact that in most countries there is still a ban on catching this fish. The puffer fish is a clumsy slow-moving fish that spends most of its time at the bottom, but despite this — she is very curious.
The puffer fish is a predator, but does not attack other fish and does not feed on dead fish, but conflicts between two specimens are not uncommon. These conflicts occur for a reason incomprehensible to scientists, because they do not fight for territory, and they define a partner for procreation in a completely different way.
Puffer fry are born at a depth of 20 meters, as they grow older they sink lower and lower to the bottom. The fish leads a calm lifestyle and does not make long-distance migrations. With an unusual shape, the fish can swim sideways and backwards. The older the pufferfish, the farther from the coast it lives, but before the onset of a storm, the puffer tends to stay closer to the coast.
Social structure and reproduction
Pougu fish is not migratory and she leads a solitary life. Over time, they try to move away from their relatives, and when meeting with them, attacks are not uncommon, which in rare cases end fatally.
The male pufferfish is the more responsible parent. The main care for the offspring lies with him. Initially, the male lures the female by making patterns on the sandy bottom. These patterns are often striking in their regular geometric shape. The female absorbs the male, the shape of the patterns of which is more ideal. This is due to the fact that such patterns more reliably protect the eggs from the current.
After the female has chosen the male, she sinks to the very bottom, thereby showing her consent. Then they look for the most suitable stone for laying eggs, which the male fertilizes.
On this, the functions of the female in the upbringing of the offspring end, then the male takes care of everything. He protects the eggs with his body until the offspring appears. After the appearance of tadpoles, the male digs out a depression into which he transfers the fry and continues to take care of them until the fry begin to feed on their own. As soon as the fry begin to feed on their own, the male ceases custody of them and leaves in search of a new female.
Natural enemies of puffer fish
Despite the fact that puffer fish has a rather small size and low movement speed, it has practically no natural enemies. The defense mechanisms of puffer fish are too dangerous and fatal for any predator.
Even if someone swallows the puffer fish, it swells and increases in size, the needles pierce the predator who dared to eat the fugu. They pierce all kinds of organs, causing enormous damage, and if the predator does not die from this, then a deadly poison soon begins to act, which finishes off the attacker. Most predators do not subconsciously connect with this fish.
The same predators that may not notice its protection (for example, sharks) do not hunt at the bottom, which additionally protects the fugu. The main threat to puffer fish is humans. Despite the danger of eating pufferfish, the fish dish is becoming more and more popular, which increases the catch and destruction of this fish.
Interesting fact: The poison of puffer fish in very small doses is an excellent analgesic, it is used by some pharmaceutical companies.
Population and species status
Of the 26 species of Takifigu, 24 do not experience any threat of extinction. Only Takifugu chinensis and Takifugu plagiocellatus are endangered. At the same time, the threat of extinction of Takifugu chinensis is quite significant and this species is on the verge of extinction. Scientists have begun to restore this species in artificial reservoirs, but this measure may not bring results.
In the natural habitat, there is practically nothing that threatens the population, since it is a fish devoid of natural enemies. An exception may be human activities that can aggravate the situation, but at the moment there is no such threat.
An increase in the population of puffer fish is also not observed. It has to do with natural control. Fugu is a solitary fish and cases when a male and a female meet are not so frequent, besides, the offspring grow almost independently and the fry often become food for other predators.
The puffer fish is a slow, awkward fish that has an impressive protective arsenal that induces fear on many aquatic life. Most likely, she would not have attracted such close attention to herself if the Japanese dish from her was not so dangerous and advertised. The absence of natural enemies guarantees this species a long existence on our planet.