Common name: Burrfishes, Porcupine Fishes, Porcupine-fishes, Porcupinefishes



Small to medium-sized robust fishes, similar to pufferfishes, with bodies covered in large strong spines. Porcupinefishes have small mouths with teeth fused into a single beak-like unit in each jaw, slit-like gill openings and small dorsal and anal fins far back on the body. No other family has the following combination of characters: large spines on body; no pelvic fins; body inflatable.

Although they are slow swimmers, they can inflate their bodies into spiny spheres when alarmed, making it difficult for predators to attack.

They should not be eaten as the poison tetrodotoxin is found in their internal organs.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Porcupinefishes, DIODONTIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 26 May 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

Seven genera and 19 species are recognised worldwide, with all genera and 12 species known from Australian waters.

Family Distribution

A small family found worldwide, mostly in shallow tropical seas. Many porcupine fishes are nocturnal and usually shelter in caves, crevices and under ledges during the day.

Family Feeding

Porcupine fishes are carnivores and use their powerful jaws and fused tooth plates to crush crabs, molluscs and sea urchins.


Dianne J. Bray


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