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Guinea Fowl Puffer FishGuinea Fowl Puffer Fish
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Tetraodontiformes Tetraodontidae Genus: Arothron Species: meleagris
Scientific name: Arothron meleagris
Common name: Guinea fowl puffer fish
Hawaiian name: O'opu hue

This species of pufferfish is found across the entire Indo-Pacific from East Africa to western South America. It is primarily marine but it is also found in estuarine waters and even in fresh water. It comes in a variety of colors, primarily black with white spots. The other dominant form is yellow with black spots. Their skin is covered with short rubbery spines and, if disturbed, they may imbibe water to blow up like a balloon. Presumably, this behavior foils predators that may be trying to swallow them – hence their common name.
Puffers of this order, the Tetraodontiformes, are associated with a toxin called tetrodotoxin where it was first discovered. The order includes the pufferfish, porcupinefish, ocean sunfish or mola, boxfish, filefish and triggerfish. Several members of this family carry the toxin. In Japan some puffers are considered a great delicacy—but if not prepared by properly trained cooks, eating them can cause serious illness, or death. Tetrodotoxin (also known as "tetrodox" and frequently abbreviated as TTX) is a potent neurotoxin with no known antidote. This toxin blocks action potentials in nerves essentially preventing any affected nerve cells from firing by blocking the channels used in the process. The poison paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays fully conscious, and eventually dies from asphyxiation. Although tetrodox was discovered in these fish it is also found in several other animals (e.g., Blue-ringed Octopus) and is actually the product of certain bacteria such as Pseudoalteromonas tetraodonis associated with these creatures.

These puffer fish are omnivores equipped with four fused teeth forming a beak (Tetraodontidae – meaning “four teeth”) enabling them to feed mainly on tips of branching corals and, to a lesser extent on sponges, mollusks, bryozoans, tunicates, foraminifera, algae, and detritus. They also are equipped with crushing teeth at the back of their mouths. Guinea fowl pufferfish are home ranging members of the reef, living near the sea floor in waters rarely deeper than 24 meters and preferring coral rich areas of clear lagoon and seaward reefs. They lay their eggs in a nest.

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