An orange pufferfish was recently collected in Western Australia by Oceans Reefs Marine Aquariums (ORMA) and it’s quite an unusual specimen. What makes the orange pufferfish so special is that it’s not the usual puffer species we see displaying this solid colored appearance.
Gold or yellow puffers are regularly available in the aquarium hobby, and these are usually xanthic specimens of the guineafowl puffer, Arothron meleagris, or the dogface puffer, Arothron nigropunctatus. With the black markings around its lips and under its pectoral fins, the orange puffer discovered by ORMA looks like a starry puffer, Arothron stellatus which matters in one very big way.
The guineafowl and dogface puffers are pretty big fish, growing to about a foot in length, and we’ve seen plenty of large puppy-dog friendly golden puffers over the years. However the starry puffer dwarfs these two species with an adult size of around three feet long – can you even imagine a giant orange puffer the size of an actual small dog?
Starry puffers have a beautiful and unique appearance when small, which is mostly orange with a network of lines and spots that makes for a very eye catching fish-ball. However the orange coloration usually fades away to a greyish color while the stripes break up into small star like spots.
In the case of the orange puffer from Ocean Reefs Marine Aquariums, the fish has almost no markings, and it has retained the orange juvenile coloration into a much larger size than usual. Unlike triggerfish and angelfish, this aberrant coloration is not likely to simply fade away under aquarium conditions, and we really hope to see this specimen grow into a giant orange aquarium pet someday.