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Species: Chilomycterus reticulatus, Spotfin Burrfish

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head, body & fins: black spots
spines few, short, immovable, 1-2 atop tail base
juv: blue, spots larger & sparser

Chilomycterus reticulatus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Spotfin Burrfish

Body rotund, can be inflated; head wide and blunt; eyes large; nasal organ an open pitted cup (in juveniles a tentacle with 2 openings); teeth fused into a strong, parrot-like beak with two plates that lack a front groove, large, opens widely at front; gill opening a vertical slit before pectoral base; pectorals large; fins without spines; no pelvic fins; dorsal rays 12-14; anal rays 11-14; pectoral rays 19-22; tail fin with 10 rays; body and head covered with relatively few,short (< eye), fixed, 3-rooted spines (4 roots on head) that are triangular and flattened in cross-section, and, in some cases reduced to plates under skin, ~ 8-10 in an approximate row from snout to dorsal fin; top of tail base with 1-2 spines.

Grey on back grading to whitish ventrally; scattered black spots on head and upper body; small dark spots on median fins; also several diffuse, dusky brown bars on head and body; no thin dark lines on body. Juvenile: similar to adult, but with a blue cast to body, body spots larger and sparser, fin spots restricted to fin bases.

Size: grows to about 75 cm; the young lead a pelagic existence until about 20 cm.

Inhabits coral and rocky reefs, but also trawled on soft bottoms.

Depth: 1-141 m.

Circumtropical and with a largely temperate distribution; N Carolina to Brazil.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Rocks
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Corals
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Continental primarily
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 75
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 141