Common Toadfish, Tetractenos hamiltoni (Gray & Richardson 1843)

Other Names: Common Toado, Toadfish, Toado

A Common Toadfish, Tetractenos hamiltoni, at Fly Point, Port Stephens, New South Wales, May 2007. Source: Richard Ling / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives

A sandy to whitish pufferfish with small brown spots over most of the back and upper sides, and brown bars and blotches usually on lower sides. Inhabits shallow estuaries, and often lies buried in sand with only the eyes exposed.
Pufferfishes (toadfish) are very poisonous and this species should not be eaten - or fed to pets.

Video of a Common Toadfish in an aquarium.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Tetractenos hamiltoni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 Jan 2020,

Common Toadfish, Tetractenos hamiltoni (Gray & Richardson 1843)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from northern Queensland to Flinders Island, Tasmania, and at Lord Howe Island; also in New Zealand. Occurs in a range of habitats including bays, sandy coastal areas, and the mouths of estuaries to less saline upstream parts of rivers.


Carnivore - feeds on crustaceans, molluscs, polychaete worms and echinoderms.


Spawns in winter. 


Common Toadfish possess occlusable yellow corneas - the species can vary the amount of pigment in its cornea by expanding chromatophores. The cornea becomes yellowish under bright light.

Similar Species

Differs from the Smooth Toadfish, Tetractenos glaber, in skin texture and colouration. The Smooth Toadfish has larger spots and blotches, and minute spines embedded in the skin giving it a smooth feel, hence the common name. The Common Toadfish is covered in small prickles.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Common Toadfish, Tetractenos hamiltoni (Gray & Richardson 1843)


Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2 (as Torquigener hamiltoni)

Bell, J.D., Pollard, D.A., Burchmore, J.J., Pease, B.C. & Middleton, M.J. 1984. Structure of a fish community in a temperate tidal mangrove creek in Botany Bay, New South Wales. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 35: 33-46.
Edgar, G.J. 2000. Australian marine life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. (2nd ed.) Reed New Holland: Australia. 

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2 

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Hardy, G.S. 1983. Revision of Australian species of Torquigener Whitley (Tetraodontiformes: Tetraodontidae), and two new generic names for Australian puffer fishes. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 13(1/2): 1–48. 

Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. 180 pp.

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762.

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)

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. 433 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp.

Mat Piah, R. & Bucher, D.J. 2014. Reproductive biology of estuarine pufferfish, Marilyna pleurosticta and Tetractenos hamiltoni (Teleostei: Tetraodontidae) in northern NSW: implications for biomonitoring. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 136: 219-230. PDF

Mazumder, D., N. Saintilan & R.J. Williams. 2006. Fish assemblages in three tidal saltmarsh and mangrove flats in temperate NSW, Australia: a comparison based on species diversity and abundance. Wetlands Ecology and Management 14: 201-209.
Richardson, J. 1846. Ichthyology. 53-74 pls 31-41, 43-44 & 53 (part) in Richardson, J. & Gray, J.E. (eds). The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror under the Command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R.N., F.R.S., during the years 1839–43. London : E.W. Janson Vol. 2 139 pp.
Siebeck, U.E., S.P. Collin, M. Ghoddusi & N.J. Marshall. 2003. Occlusable corneas in toadfishes: light transmission, movement and ultrastruture of pigment during light- and dark-adaptation. Journal of Experimental Biology 206: 2177-2190. PDF

Thomson, J.M. 1978. A Field Guide to the Common Sea & Estuary Fishes of Non-tropical Australia. Sydney : Collins 144 pp. 

Waite, E.R. 1904. A synopsis of the fishes of New South Wales. Memoirs of the New South Wales Naturalists' Club 2: 1-59 (as Sphaeroides hamiltoni)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37467054


Depth:0-20 m

Habitat:Estuaries, sandy areas

Max Size:14 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map