Common name: Puffer-fishes and allies

An extremely diverse and specialized group of bony fishes found worldwide in temperate and tropical seas. A few species enter freshwater. The order comprises 412 extant species in the 10 families of living Tetraodontiformes: Triacanthodidae 23 species in 11 genera, Triacanthidae seven species in four genera, Balistidae 37 species in 12 genera, Monacanthidae 102 species in 27 genera, Aracanidae 13 species in six genera, Ostraciidae 22 species in five genera, Triodontidae monotypic, Tetraodontidae 184 species in 27 genera, Diodontidae 18 species in seven genera, and Molidae five species in three genera (Matsuura 2014).

Species share the loss, reduction or fusion of many bony structures in the head and body. Fins and their supporting elements are reduced or lost, and vertebrae are reduced in number. 

Pufferfishes and their allies have small mouths with very unusual dentition. They have modified teeth that may be enlarged or fused into a beak-like structure, or incorporated into the jaw bones. The gill opening is reduced to a small slit near the pectoral-fin base, and most have thick skin, covered in scales that are modified into spines, ossicles or fused bony plates. Some groups are poisonous, and the puffers and porcupinefishes are highly inflatable.

Author: Dianne J. Bray

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Puffer-fishes, TETRAODONTIFORMES in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Mar 2017, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/order/51

Order References

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