Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Diodon holocanthus, Balloonfish, Balloonfish Porcupinefish, Long-spine Balloonfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

snout spines > body spines
tail base: no spines
many large erectile spines
dark bar through eye
body - blotches, few spots; fins - no spots

Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus, 1758

Balloonfish, Long-spine Balloonfish, Balloonfish Porcupinefish

Body a robust oval, inflatable; head wide and blunt; a pair of small barbels on chin; eyes large; nasal organ a flat short 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 fin 13-14; anal fin rays 13-14; pectoral rays 22-25; body and head covered with numerous long (> eye), erectible, 2-rooted, slender, round spines; 12-16 spines in an approximate row from top of snout to dorsal fin; 12-15 spines between lower jaw and anus; anterior middle spines on top of head longer than longest spines posterior to pectoral fins; no spines on tail base.

Light olive to pale brown, shading to white ventrally; small black spots on upper two-thirds of head and body; a brown bar from above to below eye; a broad brown bar across occipital region through eye, and another across middle of back; a large oval brown blotch above each pectoral fin and another around dorsal-fin base; fins pale, without spots.

Size: attains 60 cm.

Inhabits reefs and open sand-rubble bottoms.

Depth: 0-190 m.

Circumtropical distribution; Maine to S Brazil.

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  • Brackish
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Corals
  • Estuary
  • Mud
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 60
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 190