Porcupine Puffer Fish “Diodon Holocanthus”

Porcupine puffer fish

Last updated on July 27th, 2022 at 01:25 am

Porcupine puffers are also commonly known as blowfish, bubble fish, or balloon fish. They can inflate their body with water to make themselves larger in order to scare away predators and this helps them become buoyant so they can swim more efficiently. They also use their spines to deter predators and can even inject a very strong toxin into would-be attackers.

Since porcupine puffers are nocturnal creatures, they spend most of the daylight hours resting in crevices or caves made by other animals. Although they generally aren’t picky about where they choose to make their home. They do like to be in the water with low movement and an abundance of sponges, algae, or coral; all of which help provide food for them as well as protection from predators.

They are carnivores that feed on small crustaceans such as shrimp, crabs, and mollusks among others using the suction action of their mouths to capture prey.

Porcupine puffer fish have a life expectancy of around ten years if they are well taken care of in an aquarium environment. They generally grow to be between six and eight inches long, although it has been known for them to grow as large as twelve inches or more depending on the specific species.

Origin and descriptions

Porcupine puffer fish

The porcupine puffer fish is originally from the Indian Ocean, but it has been introduced to many areas around the world. It can be found in shallow waters near reefs or on sandy bottoms at depths of up to 20 meters. Their body is roughly circular and cigar-shaped, with tough skin. They have sharp spines on their back, but the spines are not venomous.

The porcupine puffer’s body coloration is generally brown or greenish-brown with yellow spots and white bands around the eyes. The inside of their mouth is black in order to camouflage into dark ocean floors when they are hunting for prey. They have a large head and an oblong, chunky shape.

They can grow up to 30 cm in length, with spines that are used for self-defense against predators or other porcupine puffers. These spines are sharp enough to break human skin if they touch it directly. They have small eyes which bulge out of their head and can be seen from above.

There are two dorsal fins of roughly the same size on their back, which help them to hide among reef corals when they feel threatened or stressed. When they are frightened, porcupine puffer fish will suck in large amounts of water into its belly until it becomes almost spherical in shape.

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Species profile

Porcupine puffer fish

Porcupine puffer fish are large, prickly fish that resembles a typical pufferfish. Unlike other species of the family Diodontidae, they have no scales and little to no spines on their skin. They also do not contain water in their bodies or puff up when threatened. Instead, porcupine puffer store toxins in their skin and can puff up when agitated.

They are aggressive fish that will readily fight with one another, though they live in small colonies, only consisting of a few individuals. These pufferfish feed on crustaceans such as crabs and shrimps which they crush by using their strong beak-like teeth.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the porcupine puffer fish is Diodon holocanthus.

Color and appearance

Their skin is dark brown or black with white spots on their back. Their underside has a pinkish tint and the tips of their fins are pale yellow in coloration. The eyes have golden irises, while its mouth is large with strong beak-like teeth that are used to crush crustaceans.

Porcupine puffer fish grow to a maximum size of around 50 centimeters and can weigh up to four kilograms.

Their skin lacks scales and spines, which is an adaptation that allows them to inflate with water or air when threatened. They also have the ability to store toxins in their smooth muscle tissues as well as mucus cells that line their inner skin.

When the fish is agitated or threatened it can puff up in order to intimidate predators, but when attacked they release a cloud of poison that may cause paralysis and death if consumed by other animals.

Although porcupine puffer fish is a popular aquarium species, they have been responsible for human fatalities. In addition to releasing their toxic mucus when agitated, it is also possible that the fish will release its toxins if handled roughly or from being exposed to sudden changes in temperature. For this reason, porcupine puffer should only be handled by experts.

Range and habitat

Porcupine puffer fish are found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific region. They tend to inhabit coral reefs at depths of less than thirty meters but have been known to dive up to one hundred and fifty meters below sea level in some parts of their range.

These fish live singly or in small groups that consist of a few individuals.

Porcupine puffer fish are carnivorous and feed on crustaceans such as crabs, shrimps, and mollusks that they crush using their strong beak-like teeth. They also can eat small marine animals like worms (phylum Annelida), bristleworms (phylum Chaetognatha), and sometimes small fishes.

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Porcupine puffer fish are found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific region. They tend to inhabit coral reefs at depths of less than thirty meters but have been known to dive up to one hundred and fifty meters below sea level in some parts of their range. These fish live singly or in small groups that consist of a few individuals.

Porcupine puffer fish size

Porcupine puffer fish grow to a maximum size of around 50 centimeters in length and can weigh up to four kilograms.

Porcupine puffer tank size

Porcupine puffer fish should be kept in a tank with at least 24 gallons of water for one individual and 43 to 55 gallons if you plan on keeping two.

Life cycle

A fully grown female will release 20,000 to 30,000 eggs at a time. These are fertilized by the male before being scattered in different directions over the reef. Once released into the water, they hatch within 24 hours and develop rapidly with some becoming mature adults after only three months of life.

The gestation period for this species has been reported to last between 21 and 25 days, with the eggs taking around two days to one week before hatching.

Porcupine puffer fish are preyed upon by many large predators in their natural environment, including sharks and other larger reef fish. The spines of this species can be harmful if they come into contact with humans or animals when removed from the water. This is also true of other large species of puffer fish.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Porcupine puffer fish are generally thought to be peaceful, although there have been reports of them becoming aggressive when threatened. It is also believed that they do not bother humans unless they feel like their territory has been invaded, or if they think some food might be acquired by doing so.

Porcupine puffer care

Porcupine puffer fish

Porcupine puffer fish care is not difficult, but there are some important aspects to consider. Part of their care involves minimizing the chances of aggression within the tank. This is best achieved by providing plenty of hiding places, both on the substrate and in the rock structure which can be fashioned into caves or mazes for your fish to hide out in when needed.

What do puffers eat?

The porcupine puffer will eat mostly benthic invertebrates in their natural environment, but this does not mean they won’t eat other foods. They are also known to be an opportunistic feeder in the aquarium and will accept nearly anything that is offered including flakes, pellets, frozen preparations of marine origin, or even live food if necessary.

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Porcupine puffer tank mates

Porcupine puffer fish are not overly aggressive, but they can get snappy with other tank mates if food is involved. This makes them a poor choice for reef tanks since there might be several invertebrates that will end up on the menu.

Water conditions

Porcupine puffer fish are not difficult to keep as long as the water chemistry and temperature are within their preferred range. For most specimens, a salinity of around 35ppt will be fine with typical tropical temperatures in the aquarium. They will need to be kept in high-quality water that is well filtered, but not overstocked.

The temperature of the water should be kept between 22°C and 25°C, this can be maintained by the use of an aquarium heater.

The porcupine puffer is also known to be very sensitive when it comes to the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, so ensure that there are several areas with the high flow within their tank and good surface agitation will help keep the dissolved oxygen at a healthy level for them.

One other thing to take into consideration is that porcupine puffer fish are not very tolerant of sudden changes in their environment, so it’s vital to slowly acclimate them when moving them from one tank to another.


Porcupine puffers are known to be difficult to breed, but it’s been done on a few occasions. In the wild, they normally lay their eggs in the nests of sea urchins and starfish which have not yet opened for spawning, so providing them with an environment similar to this can increase your chances of success.

The female will lay between 50 and 100 bright orange eggs which the male should fertilize as soon as they are laid, then he’ll guard them until they hatch about a week later at a temperature around 24°C or 75°F. The fry can be fed on newly hatched brine shrimp immediately after hatching.


Porcupine puffer fish can live up to 20 years in the wild. In captivity, their lifespan is typically about 12 years or more if well cared for.

They have a shorter life expectancy in the wild because they are often caught as bycatch when fishing commercially and also frequently die from injuries after being attacked by predators.

Parasites and diseases

Porcupine puffer fish

Porcupine puffer fish are not typically susceptible to many diseases because their mucus coating protects them from bacteria and viruses.

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However, there have been cases of porcupine puffer fish developing a tumor-causing virus after being exposed to an environment that does not meet their needs for several months or years. This has also occurred in aquariums where the porcupine puffer fish has been stressed from a lack of companionship.

They are also susceptible to parasites, such as flukes and flatworms that attach themselves to their skin or internal organs. Flukes tend to be more common in wild specimens because they can easily burrow through protective scales.

They can be treated for parasites and disease with the correct medications, but it is recommended that they are quarantined from other tank inhabitants to prevent infection of their symbiotic algae or spread of contagious diseases.


Porcupine puffer fish have a variety of predators in the wild, including sharks and other large marine life.

In captivity, they are typically safe from predation because they do not leave their aquariums. However, it is possible for them to be injured if another tank occupant tries to eat them or one fish becomes aggressive with another.

In the wild, porcupine puffer fish use their ability to inflate for self-defense and protection from predators. However, in captivity, they cannot do this because it is not necessary and may even harm them by increasing stress levels or causing other health problems.

Does it make good pets?

No. Porcupine puffer fish do not make good pets because they require a lot of care and attention.

In the wild, they are solitary creatures that spend most of their time hiding in caves or crevices to avoid predators. In captivity, this instinctual behavior causes them to become stressed from being kept with other fish.


Porcupine puffer fish are not pets that many people should consider due to the time, effort, and money required for their care.

They require a lot of space because they can grow up to 30 cm (12 inches), which is too large for most home aquariums. They also need saltwater with specific temperature requirements and other necessities such as caves or crevices for hiding and a separate aquarium to maintain their symbiotic algae.