Freckled Porcupinefish, Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus 1758

Other Names: Fine-spotted Porcupinefish, Fine-spotted Porcupine-fish, Freckled Porcupine-fish, Long-spined Porcupine Fish, Longspined Porcupinefish, Long-spined Porcupine-fish

A Freckled Porcupinefish, Diodon holocanthus, in Jervis Bay, New South Wales, February 2015. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A pale greyish-brown to dark brown porcupinefish peppered in small black spots, becoming whitish below, with 6 large brown blotches and bars (sometimes indistinct) on the upper half of the body, and unspotted fins. The head and body are covered in long erectile spines. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Diodon holocanthus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2024,

Freckled Porcupinefish, Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus 1758

More Info


Widespread in Australia from Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, (and possibly south to Fremantle), around the tropical north to at least Ulladulla, New South Wales, with a specimen washed ashore at Wilsons Promontory, Victoria; also the Lord Howe Province in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species is circumglobal in tropical waters.
Inhabits shallow coral and rocky reefs to open soft bottom areas, including muddy substrates. Juveniles often shelter around floating Sargassum rafts. 


Dorsal fin 13-15; Anal fin 13-15; Pectoral fin 20-24.
Body spines all erectile (movable through at least 90°), with 2 roots (except a few around gill opening or dorsal-fin base); no spines entirely on caudal peduncle; no small downward-pointing spine below anterior margin of eye; 12-15 spines along ventral midline from lower jaw to anus; 12-16 spines from snout to dorsal base; chin with a pair of short barbels.


Feeds nocturnally on molluscs, sea urchins and crabs.


Juveniles and sub-adults sometimes form small to large groups.


Randall & Johnson (2019) consider Atopomycterus bocagei (Steindachner 1866) to be valid as Diodon bocagei.


The specific name is from the Latin holo- (= entire) and acanthus (= spine, thorn), in reference to the long spines covering the body.

Species Citation

Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus, 1758. Systema Naturae 1: 335. Type locality: India.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Freckled Porcupinefish, Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus 1758


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Fujita, T., Hamaura, W., Takemura, A. & Takano, K. 1997. Histological observations of annual reproductive cycle and tidal spawning rhythm in the female porcupine fish Diodon holocanthus. Fisheries Science 63(5): 715-720.

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Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

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Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E. & Johnson, J.W. 2019. Diodon bocagei (Steindachner, 1866), a valid species of porcupinefish (Tetraodontidae [sic]: Diodontidae), from New South Wales, Australia. aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology 26(2): 45-48.

Randall, J.E., Rogers, C.S. & Ogden, J.C. 2019. The circumtropical swarm population of the longspined porcupinefish (Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus). aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology 25(2): 53-80.

Russell, B.C. & Houston, W. 1989. Offshore fishes of the Arafura Sea. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 6(1): 69-84.

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Steindachner, F. 1866. Über die Fische von Port Jackson in Australien. Anzeiger der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse, Wien 3(7): 50-55 (described from Port Jackson as Atopomycterus bocagei)

Steindachner, F. 1866. Zur Fischfauna von Port Jackson in Australien. Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften. Wein 53(1): 424–480 (as Atopomycterus bocagei)

Swainston, R. 2011. Swainston's Fishes of Australia: The complete illustrated guide. Camberwell, Victoria : Penguin Australia 836 pp.

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Whitley, G.P. 1933. Studies in Ichthyology No. 7. Records of the Australian Museum 19(1): 60-112 figs 1-4 pls 11-15 (described from North West Islet, Queensland as Diodon armillatus)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37469005

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:3-100 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:50 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map