Pufferfish, also known as puffers, balloonfish, or blowfish, are well known to swell up into a ball-like shape as a defense mechanism in order to appear larger and scare away predators. They also have Spikes of Doom
to go along with it.
Some pufferfish also have the added bonus of being pretty damn poisonous to go with it. The majority of their bodies are steeped in toxin, and if you were to eat one, you'd die pretty dang quickly. Of course, in places like Japan where people consider them a delicacy, professional chefs have to be extremely careful in cooking them. Farm-raised blowfish with no toxin are also available, so one can enjoy blowfish without the threat of death.
Pufferfish have recently become a popular aquarium pet due to their goofy appearance, curious personality, and being rather intelligent as far as fish go (they are able to recognize their owners and can learn basic tricks). Did we mention they also like to be petted? Note
However, due to their specialized diets (They need to eat shellfish to keep their beak-like teeth healthy), they are best left to more experienced fish owners.
It should be noted that there are actually two groups of puffers. The first are known as the "True Puffers" (Tetraodontidae). Their spikier cousins are known as "Porcupine Puffers" (Diodontidae) or "Porcupine Fish". Many people, and even various forms of media tend to confuse the two. Remember, porcupine puffers are the ones with the spiny bodies (hence how they got their name).
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- In Discworld, the Bloat blowfish is ridiculously poisonous, making it a favorite weapon of some professional assassins. - its "puffing" mechanism seems to be chemically based so if you get stabbed by something covered with its poison (or eat one - unless prepared by an expert), you will... puff. They say after blowfish poison is used, you don't need to remove the body, merely repaint the room. And, of course, it's also a popular Agatean dish - although Nanny Ogg's Cookbook claims that the recipe involves disposing of the blowfish as thoroughly as possible (an incinerator is a good idea, if the wind isn't blowing towards people you like), and making something else. (But if you just don't bother having a blowfish, you aren't doing it right.)
Live Action Television
- The Columbo episode ''Murder Under Glass" centers around the killer- a trained chef- using blowfish poison to kill a victim. Columbo is tipped off to the exact poison and method later in the film when the killer is serving fugu sashimi and is revealed to be licensed and trained to prepare the fish.
- On Enterprise, Dr. Phlox's species have a reflexive ability to inflate their heads when threatened, in a manner similar to a puffer fish expanding its body. It only gets used the once, and while his assailant was certainly surprised, a fellow sentient with a gun is less easily deterred than a predator...
- The Animal Planet series Tanked often features at least one puffer fish being added to an aquarium.
- In an episode of Breaking Bad, Walt pulls Jesse out of a slump by comparing him to a blowfish.
- Bug Martini shows an office worker trying to sneak a bite of a puffer fish sandwich in a comic stating that they'd be extremely easy to poison.
- Duck Dodgers: in the episode "Samurai Quack", it goes one step further that he doesn't eat poorly prepared sushi....he takes a big bite out a whole and totally unprepared Blowfish after slapping it for a bit Mushroom Samba.
- Uncle uses one in Jackie Chan Adventures in order to cast spells.
- The Simpsons: Homer Simpson's one and only exposure to sushi ended with a cut of fugu (pufferfish) prepared by an apprentice sushi chef. Dr. Hibbert said he would die in 24 hours, but judging from him surviving in the end it apparently wasn't as ill-prepared as they thought.
- Mrs. Puff from SpongeBob SquarePants
- Her husband apparently was fished up and made into a lamp. She doesn't like to talk about it.
- In the Steven Universe episode "Beach Party", the Monster of the Week is a giant puffer fish with Super Breath and spikes that shoot out.
- In one episode of James Bond Jr., one of the goons working for the episode's villain is also a sushi chef. James notes that the chef is preparing a cut of blowfish (fugu), mentioning that it's lethal if not cut just right. James overpowers the chef and makes a quick cut of fugu, then threatens to make him eat it unless he talks. After the chef reveals what he knows, James promptly eats the fugu himself, revealing that fugu preparation is yet another one of his many talents.