Taking Inventory: Pufferfish

An inflated fish of self-importance!

Let’s talk fish. Minecraft has a lot of them – from cod, to salmon, to 3,584 different kinds of tropical fish, to guardians (are they fish? They look like fish). But one fish stands above them all in terms of size, danger, and ridiculous facial expressions. It’s our item of the week:

The pufferfish.

Pufferfish were added to Minecraft in Java edition 1.7.2, the Update That Changed the World. They were mostly added as an ingredient for potions of water breathing, perhaps because the developers thought that a puffed-up pufferfish is full of air. It’s actually full of water, but we’ll come to that in a moment.

Want a pufferfish? You’ve got three options – an easy one, a medium one and a hard one. The easy one is simple enough – cast a fishing rod into the sea and wait. When you get a bite then reel it in. If it’s not a pufferfish, then toss it back into the water and try again until you get one.

The medium-difficulty option involves hunting down a living pufferfish in a warm or lukewarm ocean biome. They spawn in groups of 1-3, somewhat rarely, and they can be tricky to find because they’re so small. When you approach, though, the pufferfish will start inflating. Get closer still and you’ll be inflicted with poison. To catch it, you can kill one or put it in a bucket.

Your third option is the hardest of all. Find an ocean temple, kill a Guardian or Elder Guardian, and hope that they drop a fish. If they do, you’ll have to hope it’s a pufferfish. On average you’ll have to kill a little over 300 Guardians before a pufferfish drops. Hey, I said it was hard, didn’t I?

If you luck out with the Guardians, or pick one of the easier options, you’ll have a pufferfish in your inventory. Congratulations! It can be eaten, but I advise against it – it’ll make you simultaneously hungry, nauseous, and poisoned. Better to use it to brew a potion of water breathing, trade it with a fisherman villager, or wrangle cats and ocelots.

In the real world, Pufferfish are a whole family of ocean and estuary fish called the Tetraodontidae. Their natural prey consists of crustaceans and mollusks, which they grind up with four large teeth (hence the name: "tetra" means four, and "odous" means teeth) that are fused into an upper and lower plate in their mouth.

The majority of species in the family are indeed toxic, and some are among the most poisonous in the world. Because humans are weird, that means we love to eat them – and specially-trained chefs in Japan, Korea, and China learn which parts of the fish are safe to eat and in what quantity. Other members of the species are totally nontoxic and can be eaten without issue.

Oh yeah, the puffing. Pufferfish will generally try and run away from predators but if they can’t then they suck in surrounding water until their extremely elastic stomach is totally filled. Not only does this make them appear larger and more dangerous, but it exposes pointed spines in all directions. If a predator does manage to get through the spine wall and consume the fish, it generally dies of the toxins in the pufferfish’s body.

My advice, both in Minecraft and real life, is to generally stay away from pufferfish. They’re pretty, and weird, and wonderful, and they don’t take kindly to being caught. Just let them be, eh?

Duncan Geere
Written By
Duncan Geere