Guineafowl Puffer, Spotted Puffer
Botete Negro, Botete Dorado
(Arothron meleagris)

Guineafowl Puffer, Arothron meleagris: This fish is one of the puffers that is characterized by its black skin covered with white polka dots, and its large, strong, beak-like teeth. It has also been reported in a bright yellow form, the Golden Puffer or Botete Dorado. (Below is shown a rather unique picture as this color transformation is occurring.) The Guineafowl Puffer can be confused with the female Spotted Boxfish, Ostracion melearis, in the wild, but “up close and personal,” the boxfish is easily distinguished by its rigid structure.

The Guineafowl Puffer is a member of the Diodontidae group of Porcupinefish of the Tetraodontidae or Pufferfish Family.

It is widely distributed across the central Indian and Pacific Oceans from Africa, throughout Micronesia and to the Eastern Pacific south to Ecuador.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

In Mexican fishing waters , they are found on the east coast of Baja California from La Paz to Cabo San Lucas and on mainland Mexico from Guaymas to Los Mochis, and then from Mazatlan to Guatemala. They are also common to all offshore islands including Tres Marias and Revillagigedos.

Other puffers found in Mexican waters include: the White-Spotted Puffer, Arothron hispidus; the Pelagic Porcupinefish, Diodon eydouxil; the Ballonfish or Barred Porcupine Fish, Diodon holocantus; the Spotted Porcupinefish, Diodon hystrix; the Oceanic Puffer, Lagocephalus lagocephalus; the Bullseye Puffer, Sphoeroides annulatus; the Smooth Puffer, Sphoeroides lispus; the Longnose Puffer, Sphoeroides lobatus; and the Peruvian Puffer, Sphoeroides sechurae.

The Guineafowl Puffer is reported to reach 16 inches in length and is found in water up to 100 feet in depth. The fish is a visual phenomenon that will inflate with encouragement but has no structure, no rigid backbone and resembles a “tube of goo” that is a 100 percent catch-and-release. It feeds on coral, small sea animals, sponges, seaweed, and detritus, and it can be caught from shore on cut squid that is allowed to lie quietly on sand adjacent to reefs.

Note: Like many puffers, the Guineafowl Puffer is reputed to be highly poisonous, even fatal, if eaten, due to the presence of tetrodotoxin believed to protect it from predation by larger fish.

Guineafowl Puffer fish picture 1

Guineafowl Puffer fish picture 2

Guineafowl Puffer fish picture 3

Guineafowl Puffer, Arothron meleagris: Three Guineafowl Puffers, caught while fishing from shore during the summer months, in 83 to 85-degree water, outside the breaker line, in 20 to 30 feet of water, utilizing 15-pound test line with a two dropper loop rig, no swivels, 1.5-ounce bank sinker, and Mustad 92553 hooks, size #4, on cut squid at Km. 14 (Twin Dolphins) between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur., Mexico. Sizes of these three fish, a uniform 8 inches, and virtually no fight. Not edible! The first fish pictured clearly shows its powerful, shield-like front teeth, used to crush bits of coral, shells, and other food. The third picture demonstrates the Guineafowl Puffer's unique color transformation. Description and photos courtesy Carol Snow.

Guineafowl Puffer fish picture 4

Guineafowl Puffer, Arothron meleagris: San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, November 2006. Mid-morning, Cabo Real, Km. 21, 6 inches, on cut squid, about midway through color phase transition. Photo courtesy Carol Snow.

Guineafowl Puffer fish picture 5

Guineafowl Puffer, Arothron meleagris: "The Guineafowl Puffer fish lives on the coral reefs and feeds on coral. It's a very good member of the coral reef because after he digests the coral he spreads all the leftovers and helps the coral reef to grow. It's like fertilizer." Description and photo courtesy Pepe Murrieta, Pepe's Dive Service, Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Guineafowl Puffer fish picture 6

Guineafowl Puffer, Arothron meleagris: San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, clearly showing its powerful, shield-like front teeth, used to crush bits of coral, shells, and other food. Description and photos courtesy Carol Snow.

Guineafowl Puffer fish picture 7

Guineafowl Puffer fish picture 8

Guineafowl Puffer, Arothron meleagris: San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, during a fishing trip in early September 2003. Near sunset, Twin Dolphins, Km. 14, 8 inches. Description and photos courtesy Carol Snow.

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