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210. A confused Blackspotted Puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus)


A Blackspotted Puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus) seems overwhelmed and confused by the underwater videographer’s presence and can’t make up its mind in choosing a direction to head for.

The Blackspotted Puffer closely resembles the Guineafowl Puffer (Arothron meleagris). Both species can be easily distinguished by a distinctive feature absent in the Guineafowl Puffer: the dark and often nearly black lips.

In addition to the presence of these characteristic black lips, there are other differences between these seemingly identical species. Firstly, in terms of size, the Blackspotted Puffer is smaller than its cousin, reaching a maximum size of 33cm/13inch, approximately 33% smaller than the Guineafowl Puffer, which can attain a total length of 50cm/20inch.

Similar to its cousin, the Guineafowl Puffer, the Blackspotted Puffer showcases a diverse range of colours and colour combinations. The most common colour varieties for this species are beige and yellow. Another less common variant is the bluish version, which also features irregular black blotches. Additionally, there are individuals that display a combination of all known colours found in this pufferfish, such as a yellow belly with a blueish back or a yellow head with a bluish back and a beige belly. Some individuals even bear a white patch between the eyes and mouth. Despite these variations, all exhibit black spots scattered over their body, hence their name. While some believe that colour changes may be influenced by the fish's habitat or age. Personally I hold a different view; because some colours or colour combinations are more abundant in certain places, I am inclined to believe that these colour variations and combinations are more likely the result of genetics. When fish or any animal reproduces, the offspring is likely to resemble their parents, as genes are passed on to the next generation. In isolated populations, fish within the group are more likely to share similar characteristics, which is easily visible in these fish’s colour and colour combinations, due to the absence of genes introduced from outside the geographical group.

These puffers are commonly found in pairs or as solitary individuals, ranging geographically from the eastern coast of Africa to the island nations in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They prefer to roam around reef slopes and lagoons but do not inhabit the Red Sea.

Blackspotted Puffers are carnivorous and favour hard and black coral polyps and sponges as their main diet. Being true carnivores, they also occasionally feed on mollusks and crustaceans.

Like all puffers (Tetraodontidae), they are poisonous if consumed. As slow and seemingly unenergetic swimmers, they are vulnerable to fast-striking predators. The Blackspotted Puffer's defence against these predators lies in their skin, liver, and gonads, which store a powerful and deadly poison: tetraodontoxin.


This underwater footage was marred by slightly larger-than-usual suspended particles. Despite significant efforts to visually soften these floating cinematographic nuisances, there was a single quite large particle that seemed unremovable using conventional methods. In the DaVinci Resolve editing program, I successfully removed it with just a few well-aimed clicks.

Filming location:

This short underwater videoclip has been filmed in Mauritius 🇲🇺

More on this topic:

For an other Blackspotted Puffer insight please go to vlog posts 75 or click here https://www.beyondscuba.com/post/a-feeding-blackspotted-puffer-arothron-nigropunctatus

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