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FishSpecies Animal

Lagocephalus lagocephalus

Lagocephalus lagocephalus

The Oceanic puffer (Lagocephalus lagocephalus Linnaeus, 1758) is a sea fish belonging to the Tetraodontidae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Animalia,
Subkingdom Eumetazoa,
Superphylum Deuterostomia,
Phylum Chordata,
Subphylum Vertebrata,
Infraphylum Gnathostomata,
Superclass Osteichthyes,
Class Actinopterygii,
Subclass Neopterygii,
Infraclass Teleostei,
Superorder Acanthopterygii,
Order Tetraodontiformes,
Suborder Tetraodontoidei,
Family Tetraodontidae,
Genus Lagocephalus,
Species L. lagocephalus.
The terms are synonymous:
– Lagocephalus exilis Tanaka, 1916;
– Lagocephalus lagocephalus subsp. lagocephalus (Linnaeus, 1758);
– Lagocephalus lagocephalus subsp. nigridorsum Fowler, 1944;
– Lagocephalus lagocephalus subsp. oceanicus Jordan & Evermann, 1903;
– Lagocephalus oceanicus Jordan & Evermann, 1903;
– Lagocephalus pennanti Swainson, 1839;
– Tetraodon janthinus Vaillant & Sauvage, 1875;
– Tetraodon lagocephalus Linnaeus, 1758;
– Tetrodon lagocephalus Linnaeus, 1758;
– Tetrodon pennantii Yarrell, 1836;
– Tetrodon stellatus Donovan, 1804.
The following subspecies are recognized within this species:
– Lagocephalus lagocephalus lagocephalus (Linnaeus, 1758);
– Lagocephalus lagocephalus oceanicus (Jordan & Evermann, 1903).

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Lagocephalus lagocephalus is a puffer fish found in all tropical and subtropical oceans, at depths between 10 and 475 m. Although it is native to the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans as well as the Sea of Japan, a surge in its distribution has been reported throughout the Mediterranean Sea in recent years.
In Italy it has been reported in the Ligurian Sea, Livorno, Palermo and other places in Sicily, where it happens to beach due to currents.
Its habitat is in open waters, but never too far offshore, nor too far from the bottom.

Description –
The Lagocephalus lagocephalus is a fish whose length reaches up to 61 – 65 cm, with a slate or bluish gray body on the back, milky white in the belly. Juvenile specimens have black spots scattered in the thorny area.
The livery is characteristic and is the best criterion to distinguish it from similar species, the back is in fact blue in colour, the sides brown and the belly white while the fins are all dark.
The body is oblong and fusiform, covered with smooth skin without plates or shields, but equipped with short spines arranged in longitudinal series in the ventral region, which is swellable and pleated in a resting position.
The lateral line is marked and divided into branches that surround the orbit and transverse branches, which join the lateral line or thin out towards the ventral area. The robust head has medium-sized circular eyes and tiny nasal openings.
It has a small mouth and the teeth are gathered in two upper and two lower dental plates. Can ingest water or air.
It has a single dorsal fin set far back and with 13-16 rays. The anal one is symmetrical to the dorsal and has 11-13 rays. The caudal (15 rays) has a sunken posterior margin and the lower lobe longer than the posterior one. The pectorals are quite robust and have 14-16 rays. The ventrals are absent.

Biology –
The Lagocephalus lagocephalus is a fish whose biology is little known, as is reproduction and its aspects and moments.

Ecological Role –
The name Lagocephalus lagocephalus means “rabbit’s head” and is a pelagic species which in the juvenile stage is stationed near river estuaries and as adults prefers tropical or warm waters, at depths between 10 and 100 m, but can also descend beyond 450 m. It mostly moves thanks to currents.
If threatened, this fish swells by ingesting air or water, which it retains by contracting the sphincters of the pylorus and esophagus and inflating the stomach, until it takes on a ball shape.
It feeds on both detritus and animal organisms (crustaceans and molluscs).
It is rarely caught with purse seines and steel terminal lines.
Although its toxicity is not ascertained, many species belonging to the same genus have highly toxic meat, skin and entrails due to the high content of tetrodotoxin, a deadly poison for humans. Furthermore, it can create some risks due to the powerful teeth capable of causing even serious injuries; however for the Japanese it is considered a delicacy.
It is believed, however, to be responsible for fatal poisoning and therefore should not be eaten.

Guido Bissanti

– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Louisy P., 2016. Guide to the identification of marine fishes of Europe and the Mediterranean. Il Castello Editore, Milan.
– Nikiforos G., 2008. Fauna of the Mediterranean. Giunti Editore, Florence.

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