Pufferfishes (Tetraodontidae) Overview
Pufferfishes are closely related to porcupinefishes. When threatened, they inhale water and expand into a balloon shape, which makes it difficult or impossible for a predator to swallow them. They differ from porcupinefishes in that their skin has bristles while porcupinefishes have sharp spines.
Pufferfishes, like porcupinefishes, are also poisonous. Their bodies have tetrodotoxin in them, a powerful neurotoxin. The toxin is produced by bacteria within their bodies.
In the Hawaiian language pufferfishes are known as makimaki. There are twelve species of pufferfishes in Hawaiian waters, of which three are endemic. They range in size from a few inches up to 3 feet (90 cm) and have strong jaws, sharp beaks and scaleless bodies with a single dorsal fin. They feed mainly at night.