By consuming hard shelled prey, the giant puffer is able to prevent tooth overgrowth.
  • Size

    Maximum length of 30 inches (76 cm)
  • Diet

    Mollusks, insects, crustaceans and small fish
  • Range

    Large rivers and lakes in Africa
  • Habitat

    Shallow water near bottom of rivers and lakes

Physical Characteristics

  • Coloration is white to yellow over the back and sides with a pattern of darker brownish-black irregularly shaped rings, spots and stripes. The belly is a lighter shade of yellow to white.
  • The body is short, stout, tube-shaped, and covered in a large number of spines with ray-shaped pectoral fins.
  • Small mouth with two sets of fused, beak-like teeth, one each on the upper and lower mandibles.
  • Maximum length of 30 inches (76 cm).

Animal Fact

The giant puffer is largest species of freshwater puffer fish.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of mollusks, insects, crustaceans and small fish.
  • Consuming hard-shelled prey helps prevent tooth overgrowth.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in large rivers and lakes in Africa, including Lake Tanganyika and the Congo River Basin.
  • Typically found swimming and feeding in shallow water or near the sedimentary bottom of rivers and lakes.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Oviparous, or egg-laying species.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.
  • Populations in eastern Africa occur in a very limited range, making them more susceptible to threats from increased farming.

Additional Information

  • Like all pufferfishes, this species may inflate itself with water or air when threatened or stressed.
  • The flesh of this puffer is considered a delicacy in Japan. It must be prepared by highly trained chefs since many parts of this fish’s body contain a deadly poison called tetrodotoxin. Many still die consuming this fish.
  • One of the few fish known to blink.
  • May change coloration based on surroundings.


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