Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Diodon holocanthus, Freckled porcupinefish, Long-spine balloonfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

snout spines > body spines
tail base: without spines
many large erectile spines
body blotches + few spots
dark bar through eye
fins - no spots

Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus, 1758

Freckled porcupinefish, Long-spine balloonfish

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 50 cm.

Inhabits reefs and open sand-rubble bottoms.

Depth: 1-100 m.

Circumtropical distribution; southern California to the Gulf of California to northern Peru and all the offshore islands.

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  • Brackish
  • Marine
  • Inshore Only
  • Inshore
Water Column Position
  • Bottom only
  • Bottom
  • Estuary
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Mud
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Corals
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Carnivore
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Data
  • Sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins
Egg Type
  • No data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • TEP non-endemic
  • East Pacific + Atlantic (East +/or West)
  • All Pacific (West + Central + East)
  • All species
  • East Pacific + all Atlantic (East+West)
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
  • Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America)
  • "Transpacific" (East + Central &/or West Pacific)
Regional Endemism
  • Island (s)
  • Eastern Pacific non-endemic
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Continent
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
  • South Temperate (Peruvian Province )
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
IUCN Red List
  • Not evaluated / Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 50
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 100