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Species: Sphoeroides maculatus, Northern Puffer

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

lower flank: row ~6-8 dark bars
upper head & body - tiny black spots
prickles: all body to level D & A
no skin flaps
pectoral 16

Sphoeroides maculatus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)

Northern 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 16 (15-17); no pelvic fins; no spines in the fins; tail fin edge slightly convex, with 10 main rays; tough scaleless skin; no skin flaps; body covered with prickles to about level of dorsal and anal fins, prickles on ventral surface extend behind anus.

Upper body brown, belly yellow to white; lower flank with a row of ~6-8 dark bars behind pectoral fins; head (especially cheeks), back and sides with tiny jet black spots.

Size: 25.3 cm.

Habitat: demersal on soft bottoms in bays and estuaries as well as further offshore.

Depth: 1-60 m.

E Florida to Newfoundland.

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  • Brackish
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Estuary
  • Mud
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
Egg Type
  • Benthic
  • Data
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 25.3
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 60