Characteristics and Behavior:
The checkered pufferfish is a small to medium-sized fish with a distinct checkered or hexagonal pattern on its body. They have a round, laterally compressed body, and when threatened, they can inflate their bodies by taking in water or air to deter potential predators. Checkered pufferfish are known for their playful and curious behavior, often seen hovering near the seabed or swimming in midwater.
- Checkered Pufferfish inhabit warm, shallow waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean, from the Atlantic coast of the United States to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and as far south as northern South America.
- They prefer brackish and saltwater environments, including estuaries, seagrass beds, and coral reefs, and can tolerate a wide range of salinities.
- Florida's diverse marine ecosystems, such as seagrass beds and coral reefs, provide essential habitats for these fish. They contribute to the biodiversity of these ecosystems and play a role in maintaining their health.
- Checkered Pufferfish typically have a lifespan of 2 to 5 years.
- Reproduction takes place in nearshore areas, and females lay their eggs on the substrate. The eggs hatch into larvae, which eventually settle in seagrass beds or other suitable habitats.
- Toxic Defense Mechanism: Like other pufferfish species, the Checkered Puffer contains a potent toxin called tetrodotoxin, primarily in its internal organs. This toxin is a defense mechanism, deterring potential predators from consuming them.
- Changing Colors: Checkered Pufferfish are capable of changing their coloration and pattern to some extent, often displaying darker or lighter hues depending on their mood, surroundings, or activity.
- Excellent Swimmers: Despite their comical appearance, Checkered Pufferfish are agile swimmers and can move swiftly when necessary. They use their strong pectoral fins for propulsion.