Do Puffer Fish Eat Sea Urchins?

Puffer fish are fascinating creatures that make interesting pets. If you are planning to add sea urchins to your puffer fish’s tank, then it is worth considering the question ‘do puffer fish eat sea urchins?’.

It is always important to determine which species of fish get along and the ones that are natural enemies or predators of each other. 

In this guide, we will tell you exactly whether puffer fish eat sea urchins and if they can be housed together.

Cute Reptiles as Pets
Cute Reptiles as Pets

Do Puffer Fish Eat Sea Urchins?

Sea Urchin in hand
Sea Urchin in hand | Credit: Graffizone / Canva.com

Puffer fish do eat sea urchins. Puffers love to eat hard foods and are equipped with sharp teeth and a strong bite force that can crush sea urchins, corals, and shellfish.

In fact, puffer fish are notorious for eating anything that you add to their tanks.  So, if you’re planning to add sea urchins to your pufferfish’s tank, please reconsider the idea.

If you have recently added a puffer fish to an existing tank having sea urchins, please have them separated right away.

Unless you are planning to use sea urchins as a snack for your puffer fish, it is best to keep the two species away from each other.

How Do a Puffer Fish Eat Sea Urchins

Puffer fish is swimming in the fish tank
Puffer fish is swimming in the fish tank | Credit: Silk-stocking / Canva.com

Pufferfish come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes and they love hard foods.

They are also equipped with sharp teeth that allow them to easily eat hard foods like crabs and other hard-shelled crustaceans.

Pufferfish’s teeth are fused together to create a beak-like structure that helps them grasp their food easily.

They are also gifted with rather strong jaws that provide them with a  massive bite force. The force of a pufferfish’s bite is almost 62050 pa. This is even greater than the bite force of a piranha which stands at 12065 pa.

Therefore, it isn’t too surprising that puffer fish can easily eat sea urchins. Sea urchins are small sea animals having shells equipped with spines that resemble the sharp spikes of a porcupine. 

To eat a sea urchin, a puffer fish crushes its outer shell with its strong, sharp teeth and easily consumes the tasty and soft insides. Sometimes, they may flip the sea urchin upside down until all of its spikes are eliminated.

This makes the food easier to swallow for the puffer.

What Do Puffer Fish Eat?

Pufferfish eat everything – they are omnivores. They can eat plants and animals. In the wild, puffers eat shrimp, algae, and soft plants. These foods provide them with several nutrients.

In captivity, you can feed your puffer fish pelleted and live food. Your fish will also scrape off any algae that grow on the tank’s walls. This diet can provide your fish with the nutrients it needs.

However,  your pet also needs hard-shelled foods from time to time. This is very important to wear down their sharp teeth.

Check out this cool video of a puffer fish eating a crab to get an idea of how puffers eat hard foods.

For this purpose, you may feed your puffer hard foods like small ghost shrimp and varieties of snails with shells. If you plan to feed live mollusks and clams, keep them in a container of fresh seawater for a few hours to extract their waste.

A varied diet is important to keep your puffer happy and healthy. However, do not feed your puffer daily, rather feed it every 2-3 days. Thrice weekly feedings are optimal for most puffer varieties although small-sized puffers will need less. 

Remember: puffers have expandable stomachs with the capacity to eat a lot of food. Overfeeding can lead to a host of health issues – the chief one being deteriorating water quality.

puffer fish and others
Puffer fish and others

What Can Live with Puffer Fish?

Pufferfish are best housed alone since they tend to attack other tankmates. They are definitely not community fishes.

Besides, they are an extremely active species. Young puffers are known to dart frantically around the tank creating havoc with tank mates.

According to Ramasamy Santhanam, the author of Biology and Ecology of Toxic Pufferfish, the 

best tank mates for puffer fish are similarly-sized, semi-aggressive fish species like scats, archerfish, and Arius catfish. Alternatively, you can house them with specimens that hide all day such as the Synodontis catfish.

Biology and Ecology of Toxic Pufferfish

Biology and Ecology of Toxic Pufferfish (Biology and Ecology of Marine Life)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Santhanam, Ramasamy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 406 Pages - 12/22/2017 (Publication Date) - Apple Academic Press (Publisher)

Last update on 2022-08-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

FAQs – Do Puffer Fish Eat Sea Urchins

What fishes eat sea urchins?

Baby sea urchins are food to many underwater predators ranging from the tiny wrasse to the larger ones like the giant whales.

Once they grow, they have fewer predators – humans, parrotfish, sea otters, seagulls, and pufferfish being the main ones.

Do puffer fish eat other fish?

Yes, pufferfish are omnivores. They could eat anything you put in their tanks, including most fish species.

Will puffer fish eat starfish?

Scientists have obtained video footage of a puffer fish devouring the crown-of-thorns starfish. This is great news since the starfish’s ever-increasing population is destroying our coral reefs.

Where do puffer fish live?

In the wild, you can find many varieties of pufferfish. Some live in coral reefs and others live in the tropical and subtropical ocean waters. There are also freshwater varieties thriving in rivers and lakes.

Key Takeaways – Do Puffer Fish Eat Sea Urchins?

Pufferfish can eat sea urchins as they are equipped with sharp teeth and a strong bite force that helps them easily remove the sea urchin’s sharp spikes.

It is best not to house puffer fish with sea urchins – they simply aren’t the best tankmates. We hope this guide helps you get a better understanding of the unique pufferfish.

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