Porcupine Puffer - Diodon holocanthus
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The Porcupine Puffer (Diodon holocanthus) has long spines which it holds flat against its body until it inflates when threatened. It is usually light brown with darker brown blotches and black dots. These puffers can grow very large in size but usually remain much smaller. They are found along the western and eastern Atlantic Ocean as well as in areas of the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean.
Puffers are incredibly popular for aquariums. Many puffers are curious and outgoing and they may even seem to "know" when their keeper is near, swimming quickly to the aquarium glass or water's surface when someone approaches the tank. While endearing, puffers may not be the right choice for some aquariums.
Puffers are not too demanding in terms of care, but they need plenty of space and ample filtration to keep the water quality pristine. They're messy eaters, and the diet required for these fish can leave a lot of waste. Puffers have strong, ever-growing front teeth (beak) that they will need to wear down. They may chew on live rock in the tank to aid in the process. Feeding hard-shelled items, such as whole clams or shellfish, can also help to keep the teeth worn. Their diet should consist of a variety of meaty items like crab, shrimp, scallops, squid, krill and similar items.
It is important to never provoke a puffer to see it inflate. Puffing is a stress or defense reaction, and it can cause health problems or even death for a puffer. The fish can swallow air or over-inflate with water, leading to even more stress as the fish attempted to recover and even death due to stress-related complications or internal injuries. If a puffer inflates, remove the source of the stress, lower the lighting on the tank and allow the fish to recover on its own. Avoid using a net or removing the puffer from the water and exposing it to air. Instead, transfer with rigid containers, which will minimize stress that can cause them to puff.
All puffers can be destructive inverts and corals so it is not recommended that they be housed in reef tanks. Most are fine with most larger community fish, in a large tank with plenty of space to swim and explore. Avoid keeping them with tank mates that are much smaller, slow, delicate, or have long flowing fins. They may also prey upon much smaller fish and crustaceans like crabs and shrimp.
Visit That Fish Blog for more information from our marine biologists on Pufferfish and other aquarium-related topics!
That Fish Place
|Yes, with caution
|Max Size (in inches)
|Min Tank Size (in gallons)
|Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans
|Specific Gravity Range
|Armed Forces Americas
|Armed Forces Europe
|Armed Forces Pacific