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Title: Porcupinefish  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of fish of Hawaii, Coral reef fish, The Octonauts, Premaxilla, Tetraodontiformes
Collection: Diodontidae, Poisonous Fish
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Porcupinefish (Diodon nicthemerus)
Photo by Mikkel Elbech
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Tetraodontiformes
Family: Diodontidae
Bonaparte, 1838


Porcupinefish are fishes of the family Diodontidae (order Tetraodontiformes), also commonly called blowfish (and, sometimes, balloonfish and globefish). They are sometimes collectively called pufferfish,[1] not to be confused with the morphologically similar and closely related Tetraodontidae, which are more commonly given this name.

Porcupinefish are medium- to large-sized fish, and are found in shallow temperate and tropical seas worldwide. A few species are found much further out from shore, wherein large schools of thousands of individuals can occur. They are generally slow.[2]

Porcupinefish have the ability to inflate their bodies by swallowing water or air, thereby becoming rounder. This increase in size (almost double vertically) reduces the range of potential predators to those with much bigger mouths. A second defense mechanism is provided by the sharp spines, which radiate outwards when the fish is inflated.

Some species are poisonous, having a cyanide. The poison is produced by several types of bacteria obtained from the fish's diet.[3] As a result of these three defenses, porcupinefish have few predators, although adults are sometimes preyed upon by sharks and killer whales. Juveniles are also preyed on by tuna and dolphins.[2]


The porcupine fish (as Diodon antennatus) is mentioned in Charles Darwin's famous account of his trip around the world The Voyage of the Beagle. He noted how the fish can swim quite well when inflated even though the altered buoyancy requires it to do so upside down. Darwin also mentioned hearing from fellow naturalist "Dr. Allen of Forres, that he has frequently found a Diodon, floating dead and distended, in the stomach of the shark; and that on several occasions he has known it eat its way, not only through the coats of the stomach, but through the sides of the monster" (Voyage 14).

See also

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ Mills, Dick (1993). Cooke, Jane, ed. Aquarium Fish. San Diego: Dorling Kindersley. p. 281.  
  2. ^ a b Keiichi, Matsura & Tyler, James C. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 231.  
  3. ^ Piper, Ross (2007), Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals, Greenwood Press.
  • Balloonfish. Florida Museum of Natural History. Casey Patton. Accessed on June 24, 2005.
  • Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Diodontidae" in FishBase. May 2006 version.
  • Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Diodon holocanthus in FishBase. May 2005 version.
  • "Diodontidae".  
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