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Friday, July 29, 2011

Balloon fish-Tetraodontidae



Beauty Of Animal | balloon fish-Tetraodontidae | Tetraodontidae is a family of primarily marine and estuarine fish of the Tetraodontiformes order. The family includes many familiar species which are variously called pufferfish, balloonfish, blowfish, bubblefish, globefish, swellfish, toadfish, toadies, honey toads, sugar toads, and sea squab. They are morphologically similar to the closely related porcupinefish, which have large external spines (unlike the thinner, hidden spines of Tetraodontidae, which are only visible when the fish has puffed up). The scientific name refers to the four large teeth, fused into an upper and lower plate, which are used for crushing the shells of crustaceans and mollusks, their natural prey.

The puffer's unique and distinctive natural defenses help compensate for their slow locomotion. Puffers move by combining pectoral, dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. This makes them highly maneuverable but very slow, and therefore comparatively easy predation targets. Their tail fin is mainly used as a rudder, but it can be used for a sudden evasive burst of speed that shows none of the care and precision of their usual movements. The puffer's excellent eyesight combined with this speed burst is the first and most important defense against predators. Their back up defense mechanism, used if they are successfully pursued, is to fill their extremely elastic stomachs with water (or air when outside the water) until they are much larger and almost spherical in shape.


Even if they are not visible when the puffer is not inflated, all puffers have pointed spines, so a hungry predator may suddenly find itself facing an unpalatable pointy ball rather than a slow, tasty fish. Predators which don't heed this warning (or who are "lucky" enough to catch the puffer suddenly, before or during inflation) may die from choking, and predators that do manage to swallow the puffer may find their stomachs full of tetrodotoxin, making puffers an unpleasant, possibly lethal, choice of prey. This neurotoxin is found primarily in the ovaries and liver, although smaller amounts exist in the intestines and skin, as well as trace amounts in muscle. It does not always have a lethal effect on large predators, such as sharks, but it can kill humans.


Not all puffers are necessarily poisonous; Takifugu oblongus, for example, is a fugu puffer that is not poisonous, and toxin level varies wildly even in fish that are. A puffer's neurotoxin is not necessarily as toxic to other animals as it is to humans, and puffers are eaten routinely by some species of fish, such as lizardfish and tiger sharks. Also, Japanese fish farmers have grown nonpoisonous puffers by controlling their diet.Puffers are able to move their eyes independently, and many species can change the color or intensity of their patterns in response to environmental changes. In these respects they are somewhat similar to the terrestrial chameleon. Although most puffers are drab, many have bright colors and distinctive markings and make no attempt to hide from predators. This is likely an example of aposematism.

 
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