Are Puffer Fish Poisonous?[Explained]

Puffer fishes are wonderful animals that people consider keeping as pets and having as delicacies. Yes, in many countries, people have developed this habit of eating them. 

Honestly, it does not matter if people want to keep puffer fish as pets or have them as delicacies, what matters is whether they’re safe or not. 

Yes, many people have been concerned and have asked- are puffer fish poisonous

Yes, puffer fish are poisonous. These fishes contain deadly and potent toxins which are saxitoxin and tetrodotoxin. Here, the toxins have the potential of causing death and severe illness. So, these fish should not be consumed randomly without any precautions. Plus, the fish should be handled carefully because of their spiky outer skin.

This was the answer to whether the puffer fish is poisonous or not. But, the honest truth is- there are a lot of factors besides randomly calling them toxic. 

That is why we have broken down segments and explained how poisonous these fishes are. And, how you should handle them. 

With that in mind, let us start the article by explaining a bit more about the toxicity of puffer fish-

Are Puffer Fish Overall a Poisonous Fish?

Yes, puffer fish are poisonous. They might look cute and all, but, when they are compared with the other vertebrates in this world, they are the 2nd most poisonous ones out there. 

After the golden poison frog, these puffer fishes are the most poisonous. In fact, the toxins found in their internal organs are enough to kill other fishes as well. So, they are lethal to both humans and other fishes. 

But, we have already explained and stated that in the segment above. Here, in this segment, we would like to get in deep and explain further. 

So, you know that the presence of deadly toxins saxitoxin and tetrodotoxin is causing problems like critical illness and death. Basically, these toxins attack the central nervous system of the human body. 

And, if you compare these toxins with cyanide, well, they are deadlier. If you want to put a number on it, it is 1200 times deadlier. So, it is a matter of great concern, indeed.

Here, the initial symptoms will begin within 20 minutes to even 2 hours after you eat the fish. 

That is why the consumption of these fish is not advised that much. But, more on this discussion is in the segments below. 


Besides that, puffer fish do not come to shore and attack humans. Since they are so toxic, many people wonder- where do puffer fish live

Well, they are usually found in tropical ocean waters. So, no worries here for humans.

See also  Where Do Puffer Fish Live?

Are Puffer Fish Poisonous to Eat?

Yes! Puffer fish are poisonous to eat. In fact, you should take a lot of precautions before even thinking of eating a puffer fish. But, why is there all of a fuss about eating puffer fish? 

Because eating puffer fish can kill a human. Yes, death from puffer fish consumption happens on an annual basis. Here, the tetrodotoxin we mentioned earlier is capable of being more poisonous than even cyanide. 

Even if that is not enough, one puffer fish alone has enough toxins to kill 30 adults in one go. Also, there have not been any antidotes invented for the toxin from puffer fish. 

That is why it gets even trickier and yearly deaths are seen from puffer fish consumption. 

Amongst all this fuss, having puffer fish is a known delicacy in different countries. Mostly in Japan, people eat puffer fish and have named it “fugu”. It costs a lot to have “fugu” and only the most trained and licensed chefs out there cook this delicacy. 

Because the chefs know that one mistake and a bad cut could cause death to the customers. Amidst all these preparations, still, a lot of people die consuming puffer fish.

Here, the liver of the puffer fish contains the most toxin, and people in Japan eat this part the most. Since the liver contains this much tetrodotoxin, consuming this will straight up cause paralysis. 

But, the question is, why do people still eat puffer fish amidst all the warnings? 

Well, in Japan, eating puffer fish is really a challenge. Here, the thrill-seeking people are ready to even give up their lives and eat puffer fish. 

Besides all this, puffer fish has a chewy texture and a distinct flavor. 

The puffer fish is even lower in fat and higher in protein. That is why fugu meat and skin are found in a lot of Japanese cuisines because the meat is more versatile than other options. 

Plus, people are ready to spend a lot and risk their lives to have this option in Japanese cuisine. 

So, the chefs are ready to serve them as well. 

What Are the Puffer Fish Poison Symptoms?

After the consumption of puffer fish, if your body has taken in all the toxins, it will be really deadly. Consuming the “tetrodotoxin” directly will cause paralysis straight after. 

But, consuming puffer fish is not always the case. Many people can even get stung by puffer fish when they are touching or holding them inappropriately. 

That said, how do they get stung? Do puffer fish have teeth

Yes, puffer fish have sharper teeth. But, they do not sting humans by biting them. They have spiky outer skin which is enough to sting humans. 

See also  How Long Do Puffer Fish Live?

And, what happens if you get stung by puffer fish?

Well, be it consumption or even getting stung by puffer fish, the initial symptoms are tingling of the mouth and lips. It will be followed by dizziness and further tingling. Next up, there will be problems with keeping the overall balance of the body. 

puffer fish

Then, you will have a problem speaking properly and you will develop an overall weakness in the muscles. After all this, paralysis will occur and continuous vomiting and diarrhea will take place for a while. 

Since there will be paralysis, respiratory paralysis will follow as well. This will cause death, eventually. 

You have to keep in mind that there is no antidote prepared or made yet for the toxins of puffer fish. And, the toxins of the puffer fish will begin to circulate on and on eventually. 

If the toxin is spread out, even more, you will die within 4-6 hours.

Are Puffer Fish Poisonous After Dead?

Yes! Dead puffer fish are poisonous as well. This was a tricky thing since many people believed that the toxins somehow got out after a puffer fish died. That was not the case, obviously. 

Because, the toxins still remain in place even after they are dead. In fact, every year in Australia, a lot of dogs are killed because they chomp on dead puffer fish

Here, the dead puffer fish come to the shore by being washed by the waves from the sea. Also, many fishermen leave dead puffer fish on the beaches after accidentally catching them. 

Now, when pet owners take their dogs up to the beach for a walk, these dogs mistakenly consider puffer fish as a treat. But, this is a deadly treat for them. 

Because right after chomping puffer fish, the dogs fall victim to the poison and toxins. Since these are one of the most poisonous fishes out there, the dogs die from respiratory problems. 

Many dog owners do not know the problem with puffer fish, which is why they let their dogs go near puffer fish.

Are Puffer Fish Poisonous to Touch?

Yes! Puffer fish are poisonous to touch as well. Even though puffer fish look cute when they are all goofed and fluffed up, they should not be held or touched. But, why? 

Well, the skin of the puffer fish is filled with all sorts of spikes and spines. Here, the spikes and spines themselves are quite hazardous. And, the spikes contain tetrodotoxin (TTX) as well. 

The presence of tetrodotoxin is already harmful enough for humans and other fishes, you know that!

Basically, due to the spikes of the puffer fish, you should not touch them. Because the spikes can damage your hands severely. And, when the toxins enter from the spikes, they can even kill you. Here, you should make sure that you are not touching puffer fish even when they are puffed out. 

See also  Do Puffer Fish Have Teeth? [Explained]

So, unless you are an expert on puffer fishes, you should never ever hold or touch them. 

Is There a Puffer Fish Poison Treatment?

The puffer fish does not have an antidote. We have told you that already. So, if you accidentally touch puffer fish, does that mean you have no options? 

Well, you could undergo some sort of treatment after touching or consuming puffer fish if you feel like you are experiencing some symptoms. 

First off, the patients should be taken away straight to an emergency clinic/hospital. Here, the airway needs to be secured. Then, stomach pumping should be done for the “gastric lavage”.

But, everything depends on how fast the gastric lavage is done after the ingestion. If a lot of time has passed after consuming the tetrodotoxin, it might be just too late. 

Besides this, the patient’s cardiac functions need to be monitored. If there are any unusual heart rhythms, necessary actions should be taken. Also, respiratory functions need to be checked throughout. 

That is all for the treatment.

Can you Survive Puffer Fish Poison?

No! It is not possible for you to survive puffer fish poison. In fact, all humans and other fishes have a higher chance of dying due to puffer fish poison because it is so lethal! 

The highest you can do is go to a hospital if you have consumed puffer fish or have been stung by it. They can provide some treatments. Even then, there is no guarantee that you will survive the poison. 

Since there is no antidote to the poison, it is really hard to say if there is any survival chance. 

Parting Words

That was it for our discussion over the point- are puffer fish poisonous? By now, you will know that puffer fish are poisonous and their poison can kill humans and other fishes easily. 

So, the next time you go for an adventure and come across these cute fishes, create your distance. Because you should not be deceived by their goofy structure and you should know that you will die from their poison easily. 

Also, you should never consume them! Even though they are a delicacy in many countries, consuming poison will never be good for you and your body. 

In the end, these wonderful fishes are made to be admired. But, make sure you are admiring them from a distance. Good Luck!

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