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

See text for genera and species.

Porcupinefish are fish of the family Diodontidae, (order Tetraodontiformes), also commonly called blowfish (and, sometimes, "balloonfish" and "globefish").

They are sometimes confused with pufferfish. Porcupinefish are closely related to pufferfishes but porcupinefish have heavier spines (hence the name porcupine) on their body. Also unlike the pufferfishes, they have only a single plate of fused teeth in each of the upper and lower jaws.[1]

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 shoals of thousands of individuals can occur. They are generally slow.[1]

Porcupinefish have the ability to inflate their body 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 tetrodotoxin in their internal organs, such as the ovaries and liver. This neurotoxin is at least 1200 times more potent than cyanide. Some scientists believe the poison is produced by several types of bacteria that are somehow obtained via the fish's diet, because fish bred in captivity are not poisonous,[2] however, other scientists are skeptical of this theory. As a result of these three defences, porcupinefish have few predators, although adults are sometimes preyed upon by sharks and orcas. Juveniles are also preyed on by tuna and dolphins.[1]

The UNIX-derived computer operating system OpenBSD uses a porcupine fish as its mascot, named Puffy.


  • Genus Allomycterus
    • Deepwater burrfish, Allomycterus pilatus Whitley, 1931
    • Allomycterus whiteleyi Phillipps, 1932
  • Genus Chilomycterus (Burrfishes, Spiny Boxfishes)
    • Pacific burrfish, Chilomycterus affinis Gu:nther, 1870
    • Bridled burrfish, Chilomycterus antennatus (Cuvier, 1816)
    • Web burrfish, Chilomycterus antillarum Jordan & Rutter, 1897
    • Spotted burrfish, Chilomycterus atringa (Linnaeus, 1758)
    • Chilomycterus geometricus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
    • Spotfin burrfish, Chilomycterus reticulatus (Linnaeus, 1758)
    • Striped burrfish, Chilomycterus schoepfii (Walbaum, 1792)
    • Guinean burrfish, Chilomycterus spinosus mauretanicus (Le Danois, 1954)
    • Chilomycterus spinosus spinosus (Linnaeus, 1758)
      Chilomycterus geometricus
  • Genus Cyclichthys (Swelltoads)
    • Hardenburg's burrfish, Cyclichthys hardenbergi (de Beaufort, 1939)
    • Birdbeak burrfish, Cyclichthys orbicularis (Bloch, 1785)
    • Spotbase burrfish, Cyclichthys spilostylus (Leis & Randall, 1982)
  • Genus Dicotylichthys
    • Three-barred porcupinefish, Dicotylichthys punctulatus Kaup, 1855
  • Genus Diodon (Porcupinefishes)
  • Genus Lophodiodon
    • Four-bar porcupinefish, Lophodiodon calori (Bianconi, 1854)
  • Genus Tragulichthys
    • Longspine burrfish, Tragulichthys jaculiferus (Cuvier, 1818)

See also

Media related to Diodontidae at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ a b c Keiichi, Matsura & Tyler, James C. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N.. ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 231. ISBN 0-12-547665-5. 
  2. ^ Piper, Ross (2007), Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals, Greenwood Press.

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  • porcupinefish — [pôr′kyə pīn΄fish′] n. pl. porcupinefish or porcupinefishes (see FISH) any of a family (Diodontidae, order Tetraodontiformes) of tropical, marine bony fishes that can erect the long spines on their body by inflating themselves with air or water:… …   English World dictionary

  • porcupinefish — /pawr kyeuh puyn fish /, n., pl. (esp. collectively) porcupinefish, (esp. referring to two or more kinds or species) porcupinefishes. any of several fishes of the family Diodontidae, esp. Diodon hystrix, of tropical seas, capable of inflating the …   Universalium

  • porcupinefish — noun spines become erect when the body is inflated; worldwide in warm waters • Syn: ↑porcupine fish, ↑Diodon hystrix • Hypernyms: ↑spiny puffer • Member Holonyms: ↑Diodon, ↑genus Diodon * * * …   Useful english dictionary

  • porcupinefish — por•cu•pine•fish [[t]ˈpɔr kyəˌpaɪnˌfɪʃ[/t]] n. pl. (esp. collectively) fish, (esp. for kinds or species) fish•es. ich a spiny fish, Diodon hystrix, of tropical seas, capable of inflating itself when disturbed • Etymology: 1675–85 …   From formal English to slang

  • Long-spine porcupinefish — Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum …   Wikipedia

  • Spot-fin porcupinefish — Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum …   Wikipedia

  • Black-blotched porcupinefish — Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum …   Wikipedia

  • Diodon — Porcupinefishes Temporal range: 55–0 Ma …   Wikipedia

  • Puffy (mascot) — Puffy is the mascot of the free operating system OpenBSD. Puffy is a porcupinefish, which is used to signify the intention of the developers to make an impregnably secure operating system.Puffy is also the mascot of the child projects of OpenBSD …   Wikipedia

  • Striped burrfish — Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum …   Wikipedia

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