Puffers belong to two distinct families. The Diodontidae family consists of Porcupinefish and Burrfish, and all have spines, spikes, or burrs on their bodies. The Tetraodontidae family consists of Puffers and Tobies that have no visible spines on their skin. The most common genera of Puffers are Arothron, Diodon, Canthigaster, and Chilomycterus. Most of these fish are found in temperate and tropical waters around the world. The majority of these fish are found on or around coral reefs, while others prefer lagoons or bays. Puffers are solitary in the wild, although occasionally they can be found in small groups. Most species of Puffers reach approximately eight inches in length in an aquarium with the exception of the Canthigaster Puffers, which reach an average size of only three inches. The largest member of these two families can reach an adult size of over 30 inches in the wild.
Puffers are closely related to Boxfish, and have the ability to inflate their abdomen by gulping water or air quickly, which increases the size of their bodies. The fish can double or even triple in size, reducing the likelihood that a predator will swallow it.
The diet of these fish includes crustaceans and other hard-shelled invertebrates. Puffers are relatively hardy and adapt well to captivity if provided with swimming room, a varied meaty diet, and a few hiding places.
Most Puffers have no recognizable characteristics that differentiate males from females, and the breeding of these fish in an aquarium is extremely difficult.