Striped burrfish have large heads and widely spaced bulging eyes. They are brownish in color, with large dark splotches along their bodies. Their eyes are golden-yellow with iridescent blue-green specks in the pupils. Burrfish are covered with short, heavy spines that are always erect—unlike their cousins, the porcupinefish, which have movable spines. They move by undulating or waving their pectoral fins and tails rather than by bending the entire body. Striped burrfish, like all of the burrfish and pufferfish, can take in water to inflate their bodies when threatened.
Our specimen has adapted well to his home and rarely inflates—even during moves between tanks. He seems to relate the presence of a person in the exhibit with mealtime. He’ll come to the surface and spit water at the aquarist’s feet as if to say, 'Hurry up! I’m hungry!'
Did you know that burrfish are covered with short, heavy spines that are always erect?
Striped burrfish are abundant from the northern Gulf of Mexico to Brazil. They live in seagrass beds in bays and coastal lagoons and over shallow coastal reefs from Maine to Florida, although they are less common in the northern part of their range.
In the wild, striped burrfish use their powerful beak-like jaws to eat small fishes, barnacles, snails, crabs and clams. They have been observed swallowing hermit crabs whole—shell and all.
Striped burrfish grow to be about 10 inches long.
Striped burrfish are common throughout their range.
Not many predators can get past the burrfish’s formidable spines when it puffs up to full size. This species is of no commercial value to fisheries, although it is sometimes collected for the pet trade.