Weeping Toadfish, Torquigener pleurogramma (Regan 1903)

Other Names: Banded Toadfish, Common Blowfish, Common Toadfish, Striped Toadfish, Weeping Toado

A Weeping Toadfish, Torquigener pleurogramma, in Little Bay, Sydney, New South Wales. Source: Klaus Stiefel / Flickr. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A pale greyish to brownish or greenish puffer with pale spots above a dark mid-lateral stripe, silvery-white sides and belly, several broad dark bands across the back, and several fine dark, vertical "tear-like: lines on the cheek.

Weeping Toadfish are poisonous and must not be eaten or fed to pets.

Video of a Weeping Toadfish with a large isopod hitchhiker.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Torquigener pleurogramma in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/883

Weeping Toadfish, Torquigener pleurogramma (Regan 1903)

More Info


Widely distributed around much of the southern half of Australia from Port Clinton, Queensland, to southern New South Wales or eastern Victoria, and Gulf St Vincent, South Australia, to Coral Bay, Western Australia. The species does not occur in Bass Strait or Tasmania; also at Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. 
Common in estuaries and coastal bays along the eastern and western coasts of Australia where individuals frequently form schools.


Dorsal fin 9-11; Anal fin 8-11; Caudal fin 11; Pectoral fin 14-17.
Body elongate, thick, rounded dorsally, flattened ventrally, tapering to narrow elongate caudal peduncle; a distinct ventrolateral skinfold extending from posterior margin of each pectoral fin to caudal fin base; body cavity inflatable. Head of moderate size (27-34% SL);  snout long; eyes of moderate size, dorsally adnate only, lower border just above pectoral fin base; bony interorbital space broad; chin prominent;  mouth small; teeth in each jaw fused into beak-like structure separated by medial groove; each nostril a short erect papilla, distally with two openings; gill openings confined to area just in front of pectoral fin bases.  

Scales absent, body densely covered by small but distinct spines extending from mid-snout to midway between pectoral fin bases and dorsal fin dorsally, to anus ventrally; lateral line distinct, angled from back of head toward centre of caudal peduncle, second lateral line associated with each ventrolateral skinfold.  

Single small bluntly pointed, paddle-shaped dorsal fin positioned posteriorly; anal fin similar to and opposite dorsal fin; caudal fin truncate. Pectoral fins moderately small, rounded. Pelvic fins absent.


Pale grey or greenish above, with many irregularly scattered paler spots and some smaller darker spots; broad dark bands, varying in intensity between individuals, across dorsum between eyes, one-third way between bases of pectoral and dorsal fins, and through dorsal fin base and between dorsal and caudal fin bases; dark stripe laterally with indistinct pale or yellowish upper border, extending from above each pectoral fin base to caudal fin; pale yellowish tinge sometimes occurring on each side between lateral stripe and ventrolateral skin fold, otherwise silvery; cheeks with several thin, dark, vertical lines, sometimes having yellowish tinge, giving tear-like appearance; chin yellowish; belly white; pectoral, dorsal and caudal fins pale, sometimes with yellowish tinge; anal fin pale, sometimes with yellowish tinge at base.


Feeds opportunistically on a wide variety of benthic invertebrates, including polychaete worms, amphipods, and bivalve molluscs.


The Weeping Toado has reportedly attacked spearfishers, perhaps attracted to the scent of fish blood.


Taken as bycatch in estuarine prawn fisheries, and by recreational hook-and-line fishers, often out-competing other species for bait.


Weeping 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.


The sepcific name pleurogramma is from the Greek pleuro- (= side) and gramma (= that which is written), possibly in reference to the dark lines/stripes along the side.

Species Citation

Tetrodon pleurogramma Regan 1903, Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1902(2,2): 300, pl. 24(2). Type locality: Port Jackson, Australia.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Weeping Toadfish, Torquigener pleurogramma (Regan 1903)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37467030

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern


Depth:1-30 m

Habitat:Estuaries, coastal waters

Max Size:21 cm TL


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