Billy’s getting used to his new display

A pushy puffer fish who became an international celebrity after being featured in a National Geographic magazine is exploring his new surroundings.

Billy the porcupine puffer fish is now in the giant ocean display at Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium.

He learnt how to fire water jets at staff to let them know he is hungry before aquarists then had to spoon-feed him his supper.

His behaviour was so extraordinary that he was featured in the National Geographic Kids’ magazine.

But Billy has also been piling on the pounds to such an extent that he outgrew his old display.

Blue Reef’s Anna Etchells said: “Billy was still relatively young when he first arrived here and since then he has been steadily growing.

“He’s now reached a size where he can confidently fend for himself in our tropical ocean tank.”

“He has actually settled in really well and has already started establishing his own territory and bossing the other fish about.

“However he also still very much likes the attention of staff and will still come to the surface whenever he ears people passing by in the hope of either getting fed, or hitting them with a spray of water.”

Although potentially deadly, puffers are usually extremely placid fish and only become dangerous if threatened or stressed.

Many of them also develop a close relationship with their keepers; coming to the top of their displays to be fed and to interact with their carers.

Pufferfish are able to inflate their bodies by using special muscles and valves to rapidly gulp in and retain water. They have no ribs so they can inflate up to three times their original size.