Spotfin porcupinefish

Diodon hystrix family Diodontidae taxonomy

Diodon hystrix Linnaeus, 1758, India. other common names

English: Spot-fin porcupinefish; French: Diodon porc-epic; German: Gepunkter Igelfisch; Afrikaans: Penvis; Japanese: Nezumifugu.

physical characteristics

Body elongate, stocky, and inflatable. Several long, strong spines cover the body, with a row of 20 stretching from the snout to the dorsal fin. The jaw has two fused teeth that are quite adept at crushing food items. There are 14-17 soft rays in the dorsal fin and 14-16 soft rays in the anal fin. The body color is grayish-tan, with small black spots and a white belly. A dusky-colored ring surrounds the belly. Grows to more than 35.4 in (90 cm) in total length.


Essentially circumglobal in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate waters. From East Africa to San Diego, California, and Chile and the Galapagos Islands. Also in the Atlantic from Massachusetts and Bermuda to Brazil and from the Iberian Peninsula south to southern Africa.


Frequents coral and rocky reefs, usually in caves and holes to a depth of 164 ft (50 m). Swims in the water column during low-light periods.


Generally solitary. Reportedly nocturnal but occasionally active in daylight.

feeding ecology and diet

Prefers hard-shelled benthic invertebrates that include gastropods, hermit crabs, and sea urchins.

reproductive biology

Not well known, but paired courtship involving chasing has been observed just before sunset. Probably spawns demersal eggs. The larvae are pelagic.

conservation status

Not listed by the IUCN. May be vulnerable to overfishing, because it is normally not common anywhere.

significance to humans

Poisonous and not taken for food but collected and dried for use as ornaments. ♦

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