Diodon Holocanthus - Porcupine Puffer

Family - Diodontidae

Order - Tetraodontiformes

Length - 2 to 18 inches

Minimum Aquarium Size - 75 gallons

Recognition - Brownish-gray body with brown splotches on upper body. The entire body is covered with small spines that lay flat in normal conditions.

Habitat - Tropical saltwater

Behavior - Carnivore

Residency - Indian and Pacific Ocean

Life Span - Up to 20 years in captivity

Of Special Note - When threatened, the porcupine puffer can inject water into the ventral portion of its body, causing it to balloon up to three times its normal size. This causes the spines to stick out and that, combined with the increased size, helps to protect the puffer from predators. The puffer is normally an amiable fish that enjoys swimming with other species, but can voraciously feed on invertebrates. The puffer's mouth is composed of two hard plates that are capable of crushing shells, making snails and crabs potential meals. The porcupine puffer should never be removed from the water when it has inflated, since the additional weight of the water can injure it.

Since the porcupine puffer has a taste for snails and shrimp, it is adviseable that you do not add the fish to a reef tank that has numerous snails and shrimp. Instead, the puffer should be kept in a fish-only or fish-only with live rock tank. Since snails normally make up an important part of the clean up crew, you can instead add urchins or fish that clean, such as the lawnmower blenny and sand-sifting gobies.

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