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. 2020, Tetractenos hamiltoni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 20 Jul 2024,

Common Toadfish, Tetractenos hamiltoni (Gray & Richardson 1843)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from northern Queensland to Flinders Island, Tasmania; also Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in New Zealand. 
Occurs in a range of habitats including bays, sandy coastal areas, and estuaries to less saline upstream parts of rivers. Individuals often lie buried in sand with only their eyes exposed


Feeds on crustaceans (especially crabs), molluscs, polychaete worms, echinoderms, aquatic plants and insect larvae. Common toadfish have been seen blowing jets or water or lunging at isopods and crabs on rocky surfaces above water level.


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.

Species Citation

Tetraodon hamiltoni Richardson 1846, Ichthyology of the voyage of H. M. S. Erebus & Terror Vol. 2: 63, pl. 39 (figs 10-11)]. Type locality:  Port Jackson, New South Wales (lectotype).


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Common Toadfish, Tetractenos hamiltoni (Gray & Richardson 1843)


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

Gray, J.E. & Richardson, J. 1843. List of fish detected on the coasts of New Zealand. pp. 226-228 in Dieffenbach, E. (ed.) Travels in New Zealand: with contributions to the geography, geology, botany and natural history of that country. London : John Murray Vol. 2. (Tetraodon hamiltoni, nomen nudum; name only and no description or indication).

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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37467054


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-20 m

Habitat:Estuaries, sandy areas

Max Size:14 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map