What Are Characteristics of the Guinea Fowl Puffer?

By Naomi Millburn

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The guinea fowl puffer (Arothron meleagris), which is also called both spotted puffer and golden puffer, is a spiny fish that hails from the Pacific and Indian Oceans alike. Guinea fowl puffers can appear in areas as diverse and far-flung as South Africa, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, the Easter Islands and Japan's Ryukyu Islands.

Coloration

The coloration of guinea fowl puffers is not always easy to anticipate. For the most part, they are golden or brown in color. However, their coloration evolves many times throughout their lifetimes. At certain points, guinea fowl puffers may be yellowish. During other times, however, they may be black and covered with pale blotting -- a major difference. When they are yellow, they are occasionally covered with black spotting, but not in all cases.

Body

Guinea fowl puffers' spiky and sturdy physiques are rotund in form. These fish can achieve body lengths of approximately 20 inches, according to the National Aquarium. Guinea fowl puffers possess between 11 and 12 dorsal and anal rays, notes the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. They have between 17 and 19 pectoral rays.

Other Noteworthy Features

Guinea fowl puffers have big heads and coarse skin that is devoid of scaling. They do not have pelvic fins. Their tail fins are circular on the edges. Guinea fowl puffers' eyes are situated high up on their faces.

Puffing Up

True to their names, guinea fowl puffers do indeed puff up. This puffing occurs when the fish are faced with danger. Their bodies puff out into large round balls as they take in water. By vastly increasing in size, these puffers can often successfully ward off troublesome predators -- such as big fish, for example. Big fish often feast on guinea fowl puffers, and guinea fowl puffers themselves, as omnivores, often dine on coral, mollusks, detritus, algae, tunicates and sponges. They follow diurnal eating habits.

Habitat

In terms of living environments, guinea fowl puffers are usually found in coral reefs that are on the shallow side. They frequently occupy lagoons that are home to ample coral, which is one of their main dietary preferences. Guinea fowl puffers also often reside in rugged and rocky ridges in the sea.

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