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Fish of the Month
Issue: September 2010

Arothron meleagris

(LACEPÈDE 1798)

FOM T 0910

Iggy Tavares

Common Names: Golden puffer/pufferfish, guineafowl/guinea-fowl pufferfish, guineafowl blaasop, spotted puffer, velcro fish, white-spotted balloon, white-spotted puffer, yellow puffer, etc.

Type Locality: Asia

Range: Widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific; eastern Pacific: Mexico to Ecuador

Taxonomic Troubles: Originally described as Tetraodon meleagris. You may also find this fish listed as Arothron ophryas, Ovoides latifrons, T. lacrymatus, Tetrodon meleagris, or T. setosus. The fish is sometimes confused with Arothron nigropunctatus or A. setosus, but can be

Size: 50 cm (20 inches).

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical marine.

Difficulty: Hardy but demanding. A big and messy eater. It can be shy, so tankmates need to be peaceful rather than rowdy, but as a big, curious, nippy fish with a sharp beak, it can harass tankmates that are not robust. It is most often kept successfully alone in it

Tank Setup: Requires at least a 150-gallon tank. Needs plenty of open swimming space. Excellent filtration and frequent water changes are necessary to maintain water quality.

Feeding: Primarily a corallivore, but also feeds on a wide variety of invertebrates and algae. Absolutely not for a reef setup, as almost all the invertebrates will be dinner for the fish. As an opportunistic predator, it will readily take all types of meaty foods

Breeding: Not yet accomplished in captivity.

Description:

Like several related species, this puffer occurs in various natural color morphs. The most common is dark with white spots, resembling the coloration of the guineafowl (a pheasant-like bird, Numida meleagris).

There are also white-splotched, yellow, gold, and white forms. Like all puffers, this fish can inflate its body by taking in water, turning itself into a large, spiky, less-swallowable sphere. When moving one, use a container rather than a net to prevent its inflating with air, which can prove fatal.



Notes: Marine puffers are always popular pets because of their personalities. Intelligent and curious, they quickly learn to interact with their owners through the glass. Their comical hovering movements, intriguing patterns, and expressive eyes appeal to many people, but most are not able to house them properly. These are big fish that require a sizeable commitment in terms of tank size, filtration equipment, and salt for frequent water changes—all for a fish unsuited to most community setups.

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