Milkspot Toadfish, Chelonodon patoca (Hamilton-Buchanan 1822)

Other Names: Gangetic Blow Fish, Gangetic Pufferfish, Marbled Toad, Marbled Toado, Milkspotted Puffer, Milkspotted Toadfish, Milk-spotted Toadfish

A Milkspot Toadfish, Chelonodon patoca, in Hong Kong, August 2014. Source: Marie Raison / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A greyish to brownish puffer with silvery-white lower sides, large round or oval white spots, dark bands on the head and body, a broad yellow patch below the pectoral fin, and a pale yellowish tail. Some authors refer to this species as Chelonodontops patoca.

Pufferfishes are poisonous and should never be eaten or fed to pets.

Video of a Milkspot Toadfish eating a crab.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Chelonodon patoca in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024,

Milkspot Toadfish, Chelonodon patoca (Hamilton-Buchanan 1822)

More Info


Northern Australia from the Ashburton River, Western Australia, to Port Clinton, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west Pacific, from East Africa to the Admiralty Islands, New Britain and the Trobriand Islands, north to China and Japan, south to northern Australia. 

Individuals or small groups inhabit muddy, sandy and shelly areas in estuaries, mangroves, and the brackish reaches of rivers and streams. The species may occasionally occur near shallow inshore reefs.


Dorsal fin 9-10; Anal fin 8; Pectoral fin 15-16.
Body depth, 2.6-3.0 in SL, eye diameter 3.0-4.3 in HL; snout ~2.2-2.4 in HL; back evenly arched; interorbital space flattened; nasal organs appear as a round depression before the eyes with a low fleshy rim forming a short triangular flap on the front and rear edges.
Skin mostly smooth with a patch of spinules on the back extending from behind the interorbital space nearly to dorsal-fin origin; similar patches of spinules present on the throat and abdomen.
Caudal fin truncate to slightly rounded.

Species Citation

Tetrodon patoca Hamilton, 1822, Fishes River Ganges: 7, 362, pl. 18(2). Type locality: Ganges, India.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Milkspot Toadfish, Chelonodon patoca (Hamilton-Buchanan 1822)


Allen, G.R. 1991. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of New Guinea. Madang : Christensen Research Institute 268 pp. 

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp. 

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp. 

Beumer, J.P. 1978. Feeding ecology of four fishes from a mangrove creek in north Queensland, Australia. Journal of Fish Biology 12: 475-490. 

Blaber, S.J.M., Young, J.W. & Dunning, M.C. 1985. Community structure and zoogeographic affinities of the coastal fishes of the Dampier region of north-western Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 36: 247-266. 

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. 

Hamilton, F. 1822. An Account of the Fishes Found in the River Ganges and its Branches. Edinburgh : Archibald Constable 405 pp., pls 1-39.

Hutchins, B. 2004. Fishes of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 66: 343–398. 

Kottelat, M. 2013. The fishes of the inland waters of southeast Asia: a catalogue and core bibiography of the fishes known to occur in freshwaters, mangroves and estuaries. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 27: 1-663. Ref. available, open access (as Chelonodontops patoca)

Kottelat, M., Whitten, A.J.,  Kartikasari, S.N. & Wirjoatmodjo, S. 1993. Freshwater fishes of Western Indonesia and Sulawesi. Periplus Editions, Hong Kong. 221 pp. 

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293.  

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp. 

Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls 

Matsuura, K. 2015. Taxonomy and systematics of tetraodontiform fishes: a review focusing primarily on progress in the period from 1980 to 2014. Ichthyological Research 62: 72-113. Open access

Paradice, W.E. & Whitley, G.P. 1927. Northern Territory fishes. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 9(1): 76-106 figs 1-3 pls 11-15 (as Leiodon patoca)

Psomadakis, P.N., Matsuura, K. & Thein, H. 2018. Chelonodontops alvheimi, a new species of pufferfish (Actinopterygii: Tetraodontiformes: Tetraodontidae) from the Indian Ocean, with redescription of the rare pufferfish Chelonodontops leopardus (Day 1878). Ichthyological Research 8pp. Abstract (as Chelonodontops patoca)

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. 

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. 

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.

Shao, K., Matsuura, K., Jing, L., Hardy, G., Leis, J.L. & Liu, M. 2014. Chelonodon patoca. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T172416A1341720. Downloaded on 31 July 2018.

Taylor, W.R. 1964. Fishes of Arnhem Land. Records of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land 4: 44-307 figs 1-68 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37467015

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern


Depth:1-5 m

Habitat:Estuaries, mangroves

Max Size:38 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map