Ryan Photographic - Diodontidae - Porcupinefishes


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Family Diodontidae

The family Diodontidae encompasses the porcupinefishes, sometimes also known as blowfish, globefish or balloonfish. They are medium to large fish and they all possess the ability to inflate themselves with air or water to dissuade predators. As if this weren't enough the ingested water causes spines to erect. In addition the internal organs such as the ovaries or liver are laced with a bacterially produced toxin - tetrodotoxin which is 1200 times more toxic than cyanide. They mostly eat hard shelled invertebrates.

As the sad picture below illustrates, porcupinefish are sometimes sold as curiosities. It used to be customary for divemasters to hassle porcupinefish until they inflated - great fun for all the spectators but bad news for the fish which had to expend energy pumping itself up and then more energy to subsequently deflate. This practice is now actively discouraged, as a result, inflated procupinefish are rarely seen. When I was on a night dive in Raja Ampat this fish was minding its own business trying hard not to be photographed when a very large spooner crab fell out of a crack above the porcupinefish and caused instant inflation. When I say "instant inflation" I mean maybe a second - perhaps. I hung around with the crab and the porcupinefish for about ten minutes and when my patience finally ran out the pair were still working out their new relationship.

Fishbase lists 19 species in 6 genera.

 

Chilomycterus reticulatus Spotfin burrfish

Chilomycterus reticulatus Spotfin burrfish, Roca Partida, Revillagigedo Islands

Fish 1833 Chilomycterus reticulatus Spotfin burrfish, Roca Partida, Revillagigedo Islands

Cyclichthys orbicularis Orbicular burrfish

Cyclichthys orbicularis Orbicular burrfish, Lembeh Straits

FISH 6328 Cyclichthys orbicularis Orbicular burrfish, Lembeh Straits

Diodon holocanthus Balloonfish or Porcupinefish

balloonfish

FISH 5535 Diodon holocanthus, Balloonfish or porcupinefish, near Loreto, Sea of Cortez.

balloonfish pair

FISH 5522 Diodon holocanthus Balloonfish pair, Sea of Cortez near Loreto

balloonfish

FISH 5370 "Take my picture, I'm cute." Diodon holocanthus, Balloonfish, Sea of Cortez.

balloonfish

FISH 5533 Diodon holocanthus, Balloonfish, Sea of Cortez.

Diodon liturosus Black-blotched porcupinefish

Diodon liturosus Black-blotched porcupinefish Kri Eco, Raja Ampat

FISH 8249 Diodon liturosus Black-blotched porcupinefish Kri Eco, Raja Ampat.

Entetus dentatus Many-toothed spooner crab with inflated Diodon liturosus Kri Eco, Raja Ampat

IMG 8255 Entetus dentatus Many-toothed spooner crab with inflated Diodon liturosus Kri Eco, Raja Ampat

Entetus dentatus Many-toothed spooner crab with inflated Diodon liturosus Kri Eco, Raja Ampat

IMG 8266 Entetus dentatus Many-toothed spooner crab with inflated Diodon liturosus Kri Eco, Raja Ampat.

Diodon liturosus Black-blotched porcupinefish, Fiji?
inflated dried balloonfish
Inflated, dried and varnished porcupinefish for sale as curios. Tarpon Springs, Florida (the fish probably come from the Philippines)

 

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