(Diodon hystrix)


The porcupinefish is known for its ability to inflate its body with water when threatened—just like its close relatives, the pufferfishes. Unlike pufferfishes, this reef dweller is covered in long spines that are visible even when deflated. Porcupinefish are often speckled and range in color from olive to brown with pale undersides. Their small fins help propel them through the water and change direction quickly as they navigate caves in a reef.

This species feeds on hard-shelled prey, which it easily cracks open using its strong jaws and beak-like teeth.

A Note from the Caretaker

The porcupinefish at the National Aquarium routinely visit the veterinarians to have their teeth filed. This ensures their beak-like teeth do not grow too long.

Quick Facts

Learn more about the porcupinefish! Did you know that the porcupinefish gets its name from the sharp spines that stick out all over its body when it inflates with water?

This species can be found on coral reefs in tropical and subtropical seas around the world.

Porcupinefish eat sea urchins, gastropods and crustaceans like clams and snails.

A porcupinefish can grow to up to 3 feet long.

This species is not believed to be threatened.

Sharks and other large fish prey on porcupinefish, but their defenses ensure they are rarely a meal.

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