The Ballooning Porcupinefish

The Ballooning Porcupinefish





The porcupinefish or burrfish belongs to the family of the Diodontidae. They are part of an order called Tetraodontiformes. The porcupinefish is related to the boxfish and the pufferfish. By the way, the Greek word ‘Tetraodontiformes’ alludes to the dentition, comprising four teeth.


The teeth of the pufferfish, the boxfish and the porcupinefish are fused, forming a lethal ‘scalpel , enabling them to crush the shells of molluscs and crustaceans. In contrast to the members of the Tetraodontidae  bunch, the porcupinefish is ‘diodontic’,  meaning two-teethed.


The pufferfish has a very effective system to defend itself; it inflates its body

to balloon-like proportions to impress and deter enemies. The porcupinefish, on the other hand, raises the spines on its scales for exactly the same purpose; distracting predators. When a porcupinefish raises from the water, it swells up by swallowing air.


Family Members


Yellow-Spotted Burrfish


Size up to 34 cm (1,1ft) . Depth up to 90m (295ft)


Nocturnal burrfishes are solitaire and so is the yellow-spotted species with its elongate and well-proportioned body that is equipped with tiny spines. The colours conjure up visions of fading grey and silver, the spines marked with yellow accents.


This porcupinefish relies on a impressively strong dentition to crush prey in the order of hard-shelled benthic invertebrates like crabs and gastropods in a coralline decor. It doesn’t say ‘no’ to worms either.

Orbicular Burrfish/Birdbeak


Size up to 15 cm (0,5ft) . Depth up to 20m (65ft)


The orbicular burrfish have spines on their body, similar in appearance and colours to its yellow-spotted pendant. When it feels endangered it balloons, subsequently erecting their spines. When inflated, it conjures visions of a spiked football. Solitaire as this porcupine fish is, its habitat is sandy bottoms and areas with rubble near slopes that are rich in algae and in sponges it likes to hide in during the day. It becomes active during the night to feast on hard shell invertebrates.


Common Porcupinefish

 Size up to 70 cm (2,2ft) . Depth up to 65 m (213 ft) 

The nocturnal and solitary common porcupinefish inhabits rocky and coral outer reefs and lagoons and loves sea urchins, molluscs, crustaceans, gastropods and bi-valved shells. It has relatively large eyes. Its greyish coloured body is equipped with spines, looking like vicious spikes when the porcupine fish inflates itself.