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The Differences Between Male & Female Dogface Puffers

By Pamela Meadors

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Dogface pufferfish -- or blackspotted puffers, as they are sometimes known -- are a species of fish found among Indo-Pacific reefs. These solitary creatures possess many unique physical attributes, including progressive color change. Visually determining sex is impossible, but male and female puffers do possess some behavioral differences.

Sexing Pufferfish Is More Than a Challange

Male and female dogface pufferfish are similar in size, markings and many behaviors. They're both poor swimmers who use their expandable stomachs and short, small spines to puff up for defense against predators. Throughout their lifetimes, these carnivorous fish will experience color changes ranging from gray to yellow while maintaining their dog-face appearance. Their sexual differences become evident only during their mating efforts in the wild. Females scatter eggs among the seafloor sediment, leave males to find, fertilize and guard them until hatching. In aquariums, breeding does not occur, thus making gender identification impossible.

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Author

Working with both small animals and exotics, Pamela Meadors has devoted more than 15 years to the veterinary field. She possesses a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and is the proud mom of a blind hedgehog.

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