Spotted Porcupinefish (species: Diodon hystrix) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Diodon hystrix
Spotted Porcupinefish

©Andy Lewis: An adult Spotted Porcupinefish in pale colouration

©Andy Lewis: An adult Spotted Porcupinefish in dark colouration

©Lyle Vail: Diodon hystrix at Lizard Island.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Tetraodontiformes
Family Diodontidae
Genus Diodon
Species Diodon hystrix



Distinguishing features

A medium to large sized fish with large eyes, and a brown body covered with black dots and short spines. Nocturnally active - usually seen resting in caves during the day. Swims slowly using the dorsal and anal fins.


  • Up to 70 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Areas of coral reef with caves and holes for shelter, generally in areas with low current.

Found in most reef habitats around the island.


The Spotted Porcupinefish feeds at night on hard shelled invertebrates such as molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms. They have exceptionally strong, chisel like teeth which they use to render the reef in search of food. There is little published information on their ecology, although they are well known for the poison (tetrodotoxin) contained in their skin and internal organs, which has caused many human fatalities.

Web resources


  • unspecified - The flesh of this fish is poisonous and should never be eaten. The spines are also poisonous, and the teeth are also very powerful and capable of severing fingers and toes, so care should be taken if handling this fish.


References that assist with identification

  • Randall, J.E., G.R. Allen and R.C. Steene (1990). Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Other references

  • Yotsu-Yamashita, M. (2001). Chemistry of pufferfish toxin, Journal of Toxicology- Toxin Reviews, 20: 51-66. LIRS catalog number 90048.