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Species: Sphoeroides testudineus, Checkered puffer

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2 pale bars between eyes
back: dark polygons in pale mesh
flank many spots
prickles: most body, imbedded, not noticeable
no skin flaps

Sphoeroides testudineus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Checkered puffer

Body oblong, thick, inflatable; head blunt; nasal organ on each side a short papilla with 2 small holes at end; eyes high on sides of head; jaws are a strong beak composed of 4 fused heavy powerful teeth with a central suture on each jaw; a slit-like gill opening in front of the pectoral fin base; a single short- based dorsal fin at rear of body; a similar-shaped anal fin with origin under or behind last few dorsal rays; dorsal rays 8, anal rays 7; pectoral usually 15; no pelvic fins; no spines in the fins; tail fin edge slightly rounded, with 10 main rays; tough scaleless skin; no skin flaps; prickles cover most of body but are imbedded and not noticeable.

Upper body dark brown with pale yellowish lines forming polygons; a pair of pale bars between eyes; lower sides heavily spotted with black; belly white to yellow.

Size: 30 cm.

Depth: 1-20 m.

Habitat: demersal on sand and mud bottoms around mangroves and estuaries.

New Jersey to Brazil.

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  • Freshwater
  • Marine
  • Brackish
  • Inshore Only
  • Inshore
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Mud
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Estuary
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Sand & gravel
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Benthic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • West Atlantic Endemic
  • All species.
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • GC non-endemic
  • Extends South of GC
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Island (s)
  • All species..
  • Continent
  • Also in Brazil
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • 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
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 30
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 20