Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Family: DIODONTIDAE, Porcupinefishes, Burrfishes, Balloanfishes

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body & head - large spines
strong beak: 2 plates, no median sutures



Porcupinefishes are small to medium sized (up to 1 m, many 20-50 cm) fishes; body wide, inflatable; head wide and blunt; nasal organ usually in small tentacles before eyes; 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; no pelvic fins; fins without spines; body covered with thick, often long, spines, which are either short, immovable and with 3 roots, or longer, erectable and with 2 roots.

Procupinefishes are mainly nocturnal, and retreat to caves or beneath ledges during the day. Their strong tooth plates and powerful jaws are well adapted for crushing urchins, molluscs, and crabs.

The family occurs worldwide in tropical seas and contains 24 species in 8 genera. In our region there are 4 circumtropical and one Indo-Pacific species from three genera.