The puffers and boxfish belong to several interesting fish families. The boxfish have a unique bony carapace, almost an exoskeleton, covering the body with gaps through which the mouth, eyes, and fins protrude. Puffers, on the other hand, are highly flexible, capable of taking in water to puff up, presumably to make themselves larger and harder to swallow. Both familes are toxic, some very much so, although the flesh of some puffers, carefully prepared by licensed chefs, is considered a dangerous delicacy in Japan. Many of these fish look as though they would be interesting aquarium inhabitants, but care must be taken. Boxfish are capable of secreting toxins when stressed. We have seen this toxin kill all the other fish in a bucket to which a boxfish had been added. Puffers should also be kept with care, especially if there are small children or pets in the house. We once had a pet cat come very close to death after picking up in his mouth a sharpnose puffer that had jumped out of the aquarium. The cat simply carried the puffer, which in its distress at drying out was apparently secreting toxins from his skin, halfway across the room and collapsed. He took several days to recover.
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