What Does A Puffer Fish Eat? [A List Of Their Foods]

If you have ever come across puffer fish in your life, you would have loved their overall structure. In fact, seeing their goofy shape, many humans keep them as pets in aquariums.

But, these sea creatures have their own patterns and style of eating. Also, if you are keeping puffer fish as pets, it is important you know their diet.

That said, what does a puffer fish eat?

Puffer fish live on mostly algae and invertebrates. Also, puffer fish have a strong enough bite force. This force allows them to crack open and eat shellfish, mussels, and clams quite easily. Plus, puffer fish have a hard enough beak too, which is why it is quite easier for them to crack open shells.

But, this was not all the diet options. You see, there are around 120 species of puffer fish out there. So, not all of the species eat the same. Also, it is not possible for us to include everything in the introduction.

Worry not, we have added everything in the segments below in the article. You will just have to go and find it out yourself. Let’s go-

What Does a Puffer Fish Eat?

Algaes and invertebrates are normally consumed by most puffer fish. But, we have told you in the upper segment about the 120 different species of puffer fish, right?

Yes, all of them will not follow the same eating pattern. In fact, many puffer fish consume shellfish, crabs, mussels, and even snails. Here, their sharper beak-like teeth can crush through most shells.

So, they even consume those options. Below, we have broken down what a puffer fish eats on the basis of the-

In Sea & In the Wild

Usually in the sea or in wild situations, puffer fish acts as great predators. Here, they will eat varieties of shellfish, crustaceans, snails, and even other fishes.

Besides these options, they will even eat blue crabs, live snails, shrimps, clams, and even bloodworms.

These were all the options that a puffer fish eats out in the wild. Let’s move on to the next segment-

In Aquarium

Now, one thing we would like to clear out before saying is what puffer fish eat in an aquarium. Yes, you can take these fishes as pets and keep them in an aquarium.

But, you will need a lot of experience and knowledge before doing that.

puffer fish in hand
Puffer Fish in Hand

Indeed, puffer fish owners have to be one of the most knowledgeable ones out there. Because these fishes require water with the best quality and a lot of space. Added to that they need a better-balanced diet too.

Speaking of the diet, you will need to decide whether to serve puffer fish live or frozen options.

Also, serving puffer fish live food will be good for their growth and enrichment. In fact, live food is preferred for puffer fish.

Here is the thing-

When you are serving them live food, you must ensure that those fishes are quarantined for an entire month prior to feeding. This quarantine should also be done in a completely separate aquarium too.

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The main reason for serving live fish is to ensure that those fishes are healthy enough. By doing this, they will not cause any harm to the puffer fish.

Also, when you are choosing live fish for the puffer fish’s diet, look out for the ones who are fast swimmers. Because if a puffer fish can not catch its prey, it will probably starve. Hence, it will die soon enough.

Another thing is puffer fish act as predators and can eat other fishes without hesitation. So, when you are thinking of putting them in an aquarium, isolate them from other fishes.

Lastly, if serving live options to the puffer fish bothers you and becomes a hard job, you can go for frozen food. Yes, that is an option. Plus, you can serve them freshly-killed options as well.

Just make sure, all of these options are “human-grade” fresh. That will be enough to ensure that the puffer fish will not fall ill after eating them.

As Babies and Adult

As adults, puffer fish will comfortably eat what you serve them. But, just be careful about selecting their diet beforehand.

But, as babies, you need to care a little bit more because of their effective growth and overall health.

Honestly, baby puffer fishes need to have variety in their diet. Here, live foods like grindal worms and brine shrimps should be given to them always.

Also, larger worms can be provided to them like- white worms and blackworms. But, you should choose these larger worms occasionally as their diet.

If you want, you can add snails to their aquarium tanks as well. But, as babies, not many puffer fish have that much interest in eating snails. But, they do eat tiny “ramshorn snails”.

Now, when it comes to prepared foods instead of living ones, the baby puffer fish would take pellets and flakes in their diet.

And, when it comes to frozen foods, the babies eat frozen bloodworms as well that are dried out. Plus, they eat frozen brine shrimp as well. Furthermore, the babies can eat frozen mussels too if served to them.

But, when you are serving frozen foods to babies, you need to watch out for a couple of factors. It is always better if you rehydrate the food before giving it to them. Here, you can soak the food in water for around 20 minutes.

Then, using a pipette or baster, you can just pour the food directly into the tank. The babies will then enjoy the meal.

The variety of food is more important for the dental health of the babies as well. The teeth of the puffer fishes grow throughout their lifetime. But as you are dealing with babies, you need to care about their teeth as well.

Puffer fish in the ocean

So, provide mixed diets to the babies. Here, you can add tiny snails to the babies so that they can munch on them. This would ensure better dental health and ensure overall better growth of the baby puffer fishes.

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How Fast Does a Puffer Fish Grow?

By providing the right diet and creating the right atmosphere inside the aquarium, the baby puffer fishes will grow eventually. In fact, the baby puffer fish will become a size of ½ inch in just 2 months (approx.)

How Do Puffer Fish Survive Against Predators?

Puffer fish are great predators. And, they can even protect themselves when they feel like they are threatened.

Here, the puffer fish will just inflate into the shape of a ball for evading the predators. Basically, these fishes fill in their stomachs with water in large amounts.

This makes them blow up several times their usual size. Besides this, the puffer fish even has spikes on their skin. This helps them to survive.

Do Puffer Fish Eat Jellyfish?

No! Puffer fish do not eat or have any interest in eating jellyfish. They usually rely on invertebrates and algae.

How Much Do Puffer Fish Eat?

While there is not any exact number on how much puffer fish eats, we can provide you with some insights. Basically, puffer fish eat every day. To make things even more precise, dog face puffers can eat upto six clams per day.

Also, you can feed your puffer fish frozen or live food almost 2-3 times per day. Furthermore, feed your puffer fish 1 block of shrimps or frozen bloodworms (mini-size).

You might give in to the goofiness of these lovely creatures and overfeed them. It is not healthy for the puffer fish, and they will suffer from liver and kidney problems.

So, instead of a large meal, you can break their meals down into 2-3 small sessions. Also, after feeding them for around six days, you need to keep them fasting for a single day.

Do Puffer Fish Have Eyes?

Yes! Puffer fish have eyes. In fact, the eyes of the puffer fish set them apart from other animals. Basically, these wide bulging eyes have allowed them to develop a sharper vision.

Due to this vision, the puffer fish can spot prey and even identify threats from a distance. That is not all. The eyes of puffer fish have another advantage.

Here, the fish can move both eyes independently from the other. This allows the fish to scan for upcoming threats from any direction. And, this wider range of vision helps a lot for the puffer fish to survive.

Do Puffer Fish Have Fins & Teeth?

Yes, puffer fish have teeth and fins like other fishes! Here, the puffer fish comes with 5 fins. Within these five, there are one abdominal, one anal, one dorsal, and 2 pectoral fins.

Added to this, puffer fish comes with 4 teeth. Yes, two are on the bottom and two are on the top! Both these 4 teeth combine into a huge beak.

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Since puffer fish has a massive beak and a stronger bite force, it can chew hard things down like it is nothing.

Lastly, if you are wondering- do puffer fish have scales or not?

No! Puffer fish do not have scales. They might have a rougher outer skin surface. But, there aren’t any scales on their skin!

Predators of Puffer Fish

We’ve heard a lot about what puffer fish have been eating. But, now it is time to unveil the predator list of puffer fish. Even though puffer fish has toxins and poison that could kill even humans, there are predators!


In fact, humans are one of the largest predators of puffer fish. Yep! There is a delicacy (fugu) in Japan where people eat puffer fish.

Despite being poisonous, people still eat it and there is quite a demand for pufferfish as well. Hence, humans have made them one of the largest predators of puffer fish.

Sea Snakes

Other than that, sea snakes are the ones who can eat puffer fish. These snakes are not affected by the tetrodotoxin poison inside the puffer fish. Hence, they’ve developed as predators too.

Also, puffer fish do not have a strong enough camouflage ability as well as other sea creatures. So, sea snakes can hunt them down quite easily.

Tiger Sharks

Added to this list are tiger sharks as well. As sharks are huge predators, they do not care much and are not affected much by the toxins/poisons of puffer fish.

Speaking of tiger sharks, they eat everything they come across (garbage as well). Since puffer fish are not great swimmers, they come in the way. Hence, sharks eat puffer fish.

Can Puffer Fish Eat Carrots?

No! Even though there was a debate before in this list about puffer fish basically eating anything, they still don’t prefer carrots.

The main reason for this would be because of the natural habitat of the puffer fish. In their habitats, puffer fish would prefer and eat shellfish, snails, and even crustaceans.

That said, a carrot is the last thing we expect to be in the natural habitat of puffer fish. So, carrots are never available to the puffer fish. For this reason, neither the puffer fish eat carrots nor even prefer them.

Parting Words

This is the part where we bring the conclusions in! It was a great ride! Now, you will know what does a puffer fish eat! Be it in the sea, or aquarium- we have explained their eating patterns.

Just one small piece of advice before we head off! If you’re keeping puffer fish as pets, consider what you are serving. Because being a puffer fish pet owner is a challenge on its own.

So, whether it is live fish or frozen options, really scrutinize the quality of the puffer fish’s diet. Because if you can properly ensure a healthy diet and healthy surroundings, puffer fish will live up to 10 years almost.

Good luck!

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