What Everyone Is Saying About Puffer Fish

Welcome to a new blog posting called Would you eat that,  Consisting of something weird to eat from all over the world.  If you were there would you eat it,  The Puffer Fish/Fugu is the topic today hope you enjoy.


There are more than 100 species of Puffer Fish Which are in the family Tetraodontidae.  

That’s about 120 species in 19 different genera. They can be found in tropical waters all over the world, in both saltwater habitats, such as the Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea, and freshwater habitats such as the Mekong River, the Amazon River and estuaries.

 Puffer Fish are known by other names, such as Puffers, Balloon Fish, Blow Fish, Globe Fish and Toad Fish. They are not to be confused with the Porcupine Fish, which belong to a different family.  They can grow up to nearly four feet long.

The largest Puffer Fish is the Stellate Puffer Fish, which can grow up to 47 inches long or almost four feet, even longer than some sharks or baby crocodiles. It can be found around Africa and Japan. The Ferocious Puffer Fish from Australia is also large, measuring up to 36 inches, while the               Giant Freshwater Puffer From The Congo River can reach 26 inches long.  On the other end, the smallest puffer fish is less than an inch long – The Dwarf Puffer fish Of Southwest India.   Aside from their size, Dwarf Puffer Fish have a notable ability  they can choose whether to become male or female. At least, the oldest of the lot can.  Once a juvenile dwarf Puffer Fish chooses to be male, the rest are forced to become female. However, in some cases, two develop at the same time and choose to be male at the same time, and so one of them ends up becoming the dominant male.


Puffer Fish may vary in size and in appearance, but there is one thing they all share, which is what gives them their name – the ability to puff up. You see, because Puffer Fish are brightly colored and move slowly, they are more likely to get eaten by larger fish. To prevent this fate, Puffer Fish have come up with a strategy.  When threatened they can take in so much air inside their stomachs that they bloat and turn into large, Perfect Balls. This makes them look harder to eat Also, some Puffer Fish have spines and when they puff up, these spines stick out like needles. Now, who would want to eat something covered in all those pointed things?

These fish are considered the second most poisonous vertebrates in the world. They contain a toxin 1,200 more deadly than cyanide. It’s in their skin, their ovaries, their gonads, and their liver. One fish can kill thirty people.


Japanese eat 10,000 tons of Fugu a year. There are 80,000 Fugu chefs in Osaka alone. Fugu is considered a winter delicacy, typically eaten in December and January. The fish of choice in Japan is torafugu, a species that is found in Japanese waters. The best Fugu is said to some from Shimonoseki. Even though Fugu is very poplar in Osaka, Tokyo is the nation’s largest consumption center of the fish. The word “Fugu” is made of two Chinese characters meaning “River” and “Pig.”

Shimonoseki on the Southern Tip Of Honshu is particularly famous for Fugu.  There is a Bronze Monument Of A Fugu in front of the fish market. There are even Fugu pictured on the city’s manhole covers. Every February people pray for a good Puffer Fish catch before a special shrine and fishermen send the Emperor a Fugu as a gift.

It takes about 11 years to become a full-fledged Fugu chef. All cooks that prepare Fugu are licensed. They must go through a three year apprenticeship under a master, take intensive courses, pass a written exam and show skill making about a dozen types of Fugu dishes.


There’s a written exam that lasts two hours

 You are handed the following,  Fugu, knife and twin pans.

20 minutes test  takers must put all the poisonous parts in one pan and all the edible parts in the other, label the parts with plastic tags (red for toxic, black for edible) and prepare a meal in an artful arrangement.

Hard part of the test is separating out the female ovaries, one of the deadliest parts, look almost identical to the male’s testicles, which are a delicacy. If you mix them you fail the test.  Around 800 to 900 people take the test every year, with about two thirds of those taking it passing.


The White-Spotted Puffer Fish have a unique habit – the males are known to make Nests In The Sand, round and more than 6 feet in diameter.  More impressive even is that they never reuse the same nest twice. Rather just make a new one each time. The purpose?  Attract females. If the female is impressed, she will ‘lay’ her eggs in the nest and the male fertilizes them.  Normally, the female simply follows the male near the water’s surface or to some cover where she releases her eggs.  After fertilization the eggs develop hard shells and after hatching, the fry swim off ready to find food.  Masked Puffer Fish males also make ‘nests’ but for a different purpose. They create a home out of their sperm, where they can hide from predators. Also, the sperm gives their home a foul smell which masks their own scent.

In Tokyo may serve a three-year apprenticeship and have to pass a stringent test under the watchful eyes of health officials. There is no centralized regulation, Only 19 of Japan’s 47 prefectures requires chefs to pass an exam to obtain a Fugu License.  

Puffer fish share two similar traits with chameleons, They can change color turning lighter or darker in response to their environment.  Also they can move their eyes independently, meaning they can move their right eye in one direction and their left eye in another so that they are looking at two different things at the same time.  Puffer fish have excellent eyesight, which allows them to spot predators quickly so that they can either flee or puff up before it’s too late.girlholdingfish

The poison, tetrodotoxin, is actually produced by the bacteria that the fish allows to colonize its various parts. Tetrodotoxin is a Neurotoxin, meaning it takes out the nervous system as it moves through the body.  The toxin starts with the extremities. The first place people notice it is in the lips. Then the fingers. There’s a tingling numbness, and a loss of control. This is a sign that it’s time to go to the hospital.

The toxin moves inwards from there, taking out the muscles, often causing weakness, while paradoxically bringing on vomiting and diarrhea. Then tetrodotoxin hits the diaphragm. This is the large, muscular membrane in the chest that lets the lungs breathe in and out. The respiratory system is paralyzed while the person is still fully conscious. Eventually the toxin does get to the brain. Some people aren’t lucky enough to completely lose consciousness.   There are people who report being conscious, either occasionally or continually, throughout their coma.  The person becomes unable to move, speak or breathe, turning blue, until he or she is completely paralyzed. Death usually occurs within hours without treatment but in one case, it happened after only 17 minutes.


If You are In the Vancouver BC  Canada Area    

 Blue Fugu Sushi

So what are your thoughts would you dare eat the Puffer Fish? 

Let Me know your thoughts in the comments below