Balloonfish, Sphoeroides pachygaster (Müller & Troschel 1848)

Other Names: Blunthead Puffer, Smooth Pufferfish

A Balloonfish, Sphoeroides pachygaster, in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, depth 446 m. Source: Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) / License: CC BY Attribution

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Sphoeroides pachygaster in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jun 2024,

Balloonfish, Sphoeroides pachygaster (Müller & Troschel 1848)

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Off Perth to Scott Plateau, Western Australia, and east of Dunk Island, Queensland, to east of Eddystone Point, Tasmania, and eastern Bass Strait, Victoria. Elsewhere, the species is circumglobal in tropical and temperate seas.
This relatively deepwater puffer occurs in a variety of habitats, including over the continental shelf, in submarine canyons and around seamounts, ridges and rises - over sandy, muddy, and rock bottoms at depths to 500 m. Juveniles are pelagic.


Feeds mostly on cephalopods (squid, cuttlefish and octopus), also consuming small, bony fishes.


Occasionally taken as bycatch in commercial trawls, long-line and trap fisheries. Although the species may be toxic in some areas, muscle, skin, and male gonads are consumed in Japan.

Species Citation

Tetrodon (Cheilichthys) pachygaster Müller & Troschel in Schomburgk 1848, The history of Barbados: 677. Type  locality: Barbados, West Indies.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Balloonfish, Sphoeroides pachygaster (Müller & Troschel 1848)


Ayling, T. & Cox, G.J. 1982. Collins Guide to the Seafishes of New Zealand. Auckland : Collins 343 pp. 48 pls 475 figs. 

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp.

Hardy, G.S. 1981. New records of pufferfishes (family Tetraodontidae) from Australia and New Zealand, with notes on Sphoeroides pachygaster (Müller and Troschel) and Lagocephalus scleratus (Gmelin). Records of the National Museum of New Zealand 1(20): 311-316 figs 1-2 

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) 

Matsuura, K. & Tyler, J.C. 1997. Tetraodontiform fishes, mostly from deep waters, of New Caledonia. p.173-208. In B. Séret (ed.) Résultats des Campagnes MUSORSTOM 17(9). Mem. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat. 174.

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp.

Müller, J. & Troschel, F.H. in Schomburgk, R.H. (ed.) 1848. The History of Barbados; comprising a geographical and statistical description of the island and an account of its geology and natural productions. London XX, 722 pp. 7 pls. 

Shao, K., Liu, M., Jing, L., Matsuura, K., Hardy, G. & Leis, J.L. 2014. Sphoeroides pachygaster. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T190193A1943625. Downloaded on 23 August 2016.

Shipp, R.L. 1974. The pufferfishes (Tetraodontidae) of the Atlantic Ocean. Publications of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory Museum 41: 1-162 figs

Stewart, A.L. & Roberts, C.D. 2015. 248 Family Tetraodontidae. pp. 1730-1740 in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds). The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 4 pp. 1153-1748.

Whitley, G.P. 1928. Studies in Ichthyology. No. 2. Records of the Australian Museum 16(4): 211-239 figs 1-2 pls 16-18 (described as Liosaccus aerobaticus)

Williams, A., Last, P.R., Gomon, M.F. & Paxton, J.R. 1996. Species composition and checklist of the demersal ichthyofauna of the continental slope off Western Australia (20–35º). Records of the Western Australian Museum 18: 135-155.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37467004

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern


Depth:1-500 m

Habitat:Benthopelagic, shelf & upper slope

Max Size:40 cm SL

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CAAB distribution map