Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Diodon hystrix, Porcupinefish, Spot-fin Porcupinefish

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snout spines < body spines
tail base: 1-2 spines
many large erectile spines
body & fins spotted

Diodon hystrix Linnaeus, 1758

Porcupinefish, Spot-fin Porcupinefish

Body robust, inflatable; head wide and blunt; no barbells 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 15-17; anal rays 14-16; dorsal and anal fins rounded; pectoral rays 22-25 (rarely 21); body and head covered with numerous long (> eye), erectible, 2-rooted, slender, round spines; 16-20 erectile spines in an approximate row from top of snout to dorsal fin; 14-19 spines between lower jaw and anus; spines anteriorly at front of head shorter than longest spines posterior to pectoral fins; 1-2 small spines dorsally on tail base.

Light grey brown dorsally shading to white ventrally; upper body and dorsal, anal and tail fins with small black spots; body without large dark blotches.

Maximum length: 91 cm.

Adults inhabits coral or rocky reefs, juveniles occur in estuaries.

Depth: 1-137 m.

Circumtropical distribution; Maine to 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
  • Sessile crustacea
  • Sessile molluscs
  • Sessile worms
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 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)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 91
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 137