Creature Feature – Porcupinefish
This week’s featured creature is the Porcupinefish.
Medium-to-large fish belonging to the family Diodontidae, there are approximately 18 species of porcupinefish. Similarly to their close relatives, the pufferfishes, porcupine fish can inflate their body with water when threated. However, unlike pufferfish, these species are covered in long spines that are visible even when delated.
© Dave Fleetham
Porcupinefish Fact File
Size: Individuals can grow up to around 90cm long and weigh up to 2.5kg
Distribution: Porcupinefish can be found on coral reefs in tropical and subtropical seas around the world
Diet: Individuals feed on hard-shelled prey, like molluscs, which it easily cracks open using its strong jaws and beak-like teeth. They also consume other marine invertebrates including sponges and coral
Behaviour: Most species are solitary, and nocturnal. Some species are poisonous, having tetrodotoxin in their internal organs, such as the ovaries and liver. This neurotoxin is at least 1200 times more potent than cyanide. This helps them avoid predation
IUCN Status: Least Concern. Some species are Data Deficient. Due to their toxin, they not considered a food catch (unlike highly prized pufferfish species), but some are caught for the aquarium trade