Porcupinefish are fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 of the family Diodontidae, (order Tetraodontiformes
The Tetraodontiformes are an order of highly derived ray-finned fish, also called the Plectognathi. Sometimes these are classified as a suborder of the Perciformes...

), also commonly called blowfish (and, sometimes, "balloonfish" and "globefish").

They are sometimes confused with pufferfish
Tetraodontidae is a family of primarily marine and estuarine fish of the Tetraodontiformes order. The family includes many familiar species which are variously called pufferfish, balloonfish, blowfish, bubblefish, globefish, swellfish, toadfish, toadies, honey toads, sugar toads, and sea squab...

. Porcupinefish are closely related to pufferfishes but porcupinefish have heavier spines (hence the name porcupine
Porcupines are rodents with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that defend or camouflage them from predators. They are indigenous to the Americas, southern Asia, and Africa. Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents, behind the capybara and the beaver. Most porcupines are about long, with...

) on their body. Also unlike the pufferfishes, they have only a single plate of fused teeth in each of the upper and lower jaws.

Porcupinefish are medium to large sized fish, and are found in shallow temperate and tropical seas worldwide. A few species are found much further out from shore, wherein large shoals of thousands of individuals can occur. They are generally slow.

Porcupinefish have the ability to inflate their body by swallowing water or air, thereby becoming rounder. This increase in size (almost double vertically) reduces the range of potential predators to those with much bigger mouths. A second defense mechanism is provided by the sharp spines, which radiate outwards when the fish is inflated. Some species are poisonous, having a tetrodotoxin
Tetrodotoxin, also known as "tetrodox" and frequently abbreviated as TTX, sometimes colloquially referred to as "zombie powder" by those who practice Vodou, is a potent neurotoxin with no known antidote. There have been successful tests of a possible antidote in mice, but further tests must be...

 in their internal organs, such as the ovaries and liver. This neurotoxin is at least 1200 times more potent than cyanide
A cyanide is a chemical compound that contains the cyano group, -C≡N, which consists of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. Cyanides most commonly refer to salts of the anion CN−. Most cyanides are highly toxic....

. Some scientists believe the poison is produced by several types of bacteria that are somehow obtained via the fish's diet, because fish bred in captivity are not poisonous, however, other scientists are skeptical of this theory. As a result of these three defences, porcupinefish have few predators, although adults are sometimes preyed upon by sharks and orcas. Juveniles are also preyed on by tuna
Tuna is a salt water fish from the family Scombridae, mostly in the genus Thunnus. Tuna are fast swimmers, and some species are capable of speeds of . Unlike most fish, which have white flesh, the muscle tissue of tuna ranges from pink to dark red. The red coloration derives from myoglobin, an...

 and dolphin
Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from and , up to and . They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating...


Unix is a multitasking, multi-user computer operating system originally developed in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs, including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan, Douglas McIlroy, and Joe Ossanna...

-derived computer operating system OpenBSD
OpenBSD is a Unix-like computer operating system descended from Berkeley Software Distribution , a Unix derivative developed at the University of California, Berkeley. It was forked from NetBSD by project leader Theo de Raadt in late 1995...

 uses a porcupine fish as its mascot, named Puffy.


  • Genus Allomycterus
    • Deepwater burrfish
      Deepwater burrfish
      The deepwater burrfish, Allomycterus pilatus, is a porcupinefish of the family Diodontidae, found in the eastern Indian Ocean, and southern Australia and New Zealand.-References:...

      , Allomycterus pilatus Whitley, 1931
    • Allomycterus whiteleyi Phillipps, 1932
  • Genus Chilomycterus (Burrfishes, Spiny Boxfishes)
    • Pacific burrfish, Chilomycterus affinis Gu:nther, 1870
    • Bridled burrfish, Chilomycterus antennatus (Cuvier, 1816)
    • Web burrfish, Chilomycterus antillarum Jordan & Rutter, 1897
    • Spotted burrfish, Chilomycterus atringa (Linnaeus, 1758)
    • Chilomycterus geometricus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
    • Spotfin burrfish, Chilomycterus reticulatus (Linnaeus, 1758)
    • Striped burrfish, Chilomycterus schoepfii (Walbaum, 1792)
    • Guinean burrfish, Chilomycterus spinosus mauretanicus (Le Danois, 1954)
    • Chilomycterus spinosus spinosus (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Genus Cyclichthys
    Members of the family diodontidae, species of the genus Cyclicthys are usually known as swelltoads.-Distinguishing features:Fish of the genus Cyclicthys have;* three-rooted, rigid spines distributed over their bodies....

    • Hardenburg's burrfish, Cyclichthys hardenbergi (de Beaufort, 1939)
    • Birdbeak burrfish, Cyclichthys orbicularis (Bloch, 1785)
    • Spotbase burrfish
      Spotbase burrfish
      Also known as the yellowspotted burrfish.-Range:Red Sea to South Africa and east to southern Japan, the Philippines, Australia and New Caledonia. Also found around the Galapagos Islands and in the Mediterranean.-Description:...

      , Cyclichthys spilostylus (Leis & Randall, 1982)
  • Genus Dicotylichthys
    • Three-barred porcupinefish, Dicotylichthys punctulatus Kaup, 1855
  • Genus Diodon
    Members of the diodontidae, species of the genus diodon are usually known as porcupinefishes or balloonfishes.-Distinguishing features:Fish of the genus Diodon have;...

    • Pelagic porcupinefish, Diodon eydouxii Brisout de Barneville, 1846
    • Long-spine porcupinefish
      Long-spine porcupinefish
      The long-spine porcupinefish is also known as the spiny balloonfish.-Range:The Long-spine porcupinefish is circumtropical in distribution, being found in the tropical zones of major seas and oceans:...

      , Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus, 1758fish
    • Spot-fin porcupinefish
      Spot-fin porcupinefish
      Also known as the porcupinefish or porcupine puffer.-Range:The spot-fin porcupinefish is circumtropical:* Eastern Pacific: San Diego to Chile including the Galapagos Islands....

      , Diodon hystrix Linnaeus, 1758
    • Black-blotched porcupinefish
      Black-blotched porcupinefish
      -Range:*Indo-Pacific: Red Sea, East Africa to the Society Islands, north to southern Japan, south to New South Wales.*Southeast Atlantic: southeast coast of South Africa.-Description:...

      , Diodon liturosus Shaw, 1804
    • Slender-spined porcupine fish
      Slender-spined porcupine fish
      The slender-spined porcupine fish or globefish, Diodon nichthemerus, is a porcupinefish of the family Diodontidae, found in the waters of southern Australia, as far north as Port Jackson to Geraldton, Western Australia...

      , Diodon nicthemerus Cuvier, 1818
  • Genus Lophodiodon
    • Four-bar porcupinefish, Lophodiodon calori (Bianconi, 1854)
  • Genus Tragulichthys
    • Longspine burrfish, Tragulichthys jaculiferus (Cuvier, 1818)

See also

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