Fun Long-spine Porcupinefish Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Feb 20, 2024 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Nov 15, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Long-spine porcupinefish facts are fun and tell us much about this aquarium fish.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

The long spine porcupinefish (Diodon holocanthus) is a popular saltwater fish that has many common names namely balloonfish, balloon porcupinefish, and freckled porcupinefish. The strange-looking fish is often confused with the pufferfish when in actuality fishes are completely different species. Yes, just like the name of the species suggests, the long spine porcupine fish is covered in sharp spines that shoot up when threatened. But their spines tend to be thicker than a pufferfish's. The distribution and habitat of the animal are rather widespread in nature as it can get accustomed to most climates although it prefers to live in tropical and sub-tropical temperatures. A natural predator, the porcupinefish maintains a carnivorous diet and feeds on sea urchins, crabs, snails, and mollusks with their powerful teeth. To know more about this enigmatic porcupinefish keep reading.

If you want to keep learning, do check out some interesting facts and information about the salmon and the blue marlin

Long-Spine Porcupinefish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a long-spine porcupinefish?

The long-spine porcupinefish (Diodon holocanthus) is a species of fish.

What class of animal does a long-spine porcupinefish belong to?

It belongs to the Actinopterygii class of animals.

How many long-spine porcupinefish are there in the world?

An accurate estimate of the number of mature Diodon holocanthus is currently unavailable. But the distribution of the species is rather widespread.

Where does a long-spine porcupinefish live?

The balloonfish are found all over the planet and are not endemic, in all climates. It can be found along with the Pacific coast, the Florida Keys, Bahamas, Brazil, Madagascar, Mauritius, the Western Indian Ocean, and South Africa, and Hawaii in the United States. It's found all over the Caribbean and Eastern Asia. The fish is widely common in many islands and coral reefs.

What is a long-spine porcupinefish's habitat?

Adult balloonfish can be found in the ocean's shallower sections. Grassy flats, coral reefs, and mangrove areas are their preferred marine habitats.

Who does long-spine porcupinefish live with?

Quite similar to most species that belong to the family Diodontidae, the balloonfish too is a solitary animal that prefers to venture out during the night.

How long does a long-spine porcupinefish live?

A popular fish in the aquarium trade, the long spine porcupine fish is hardy and easy to feed and can thus survive with minimal supervision. In captivity, their lifespan ranges from 12-15 years.

How do they reproduce?

Diodon holocanthus are prolific spawners. When in the wild, the male of the species pushes the female to the top, where vast quantities of eggs are discharged and fertilized. The eggs hatch after several days of floating near the surface and the larvae are fully formed by then. When the juveniles reach 2.3-2.7 in (6-7 cm) in length, their fins and teeth mature, and they migrate to inshore habitats.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the long spine porcupine fish is evaluated as Least Concern by the IUCN and is not Endangered.

Long-Spine Porcupinefish Fun Facts

What does a long-spine porcupine fish look like?

Often known as the balloonfish or spiny puffer, Diodon holocanthus is an average-sized fish. It has long spines that extend from all over its body, barring the fins and face and dark patches on the sides. The spines are actually modified scales that most of the time rest flat on the body but shoot up when they sense danger. The spines are rounded, slender, and erectible. The species is covered in these spines of which approximately 12-16 spines travel from its snout to its dorsal fin, anal rays have 13-14 while pectoral rays have 22-25. The body of the animal is pale brown or light olive in color with large black patches and small dark brown or black spots. The underside of the stomach in mature individuals is white but the juveniles sport dark spots. The fins are translucent and have a yellow tinge. The mouth is small and the skin around it is wrinkly.

The freckled porcupinefish may not be a pretty sight, but it is an interesting species.

How cute are they?

Although the freckled porcupinefish is popular in the aquarium trade, one cannot call it cute, like yellow tang. The fish is rather strange in its appearance. Its fleshy brown body covered in spines and large eyes are what usually catches the eye.

How do they communicate?

Porcupinefish communicate in a similar fashion to other fish. They use touch, smell, sound, and impulse, among other things, to communicate with one another. Also, when the species feels threatened it inflates its body by swallowing water. This causes the body to puffer up which in turn makes its long spines shoot up dangerously. They use this technique and visual form of communication to ward off predators.

How big is a long-spine porcupinefish?

The balloon porcupinefish is quite large in size. They have a length of 12 in (30 cm) on average. They are smaller than a humphead wrasse which is 6 ft (1.8 m) in length.

How fast can a long-spine porcupinefish swim?

Balloonfish are slow swimmers who push themselves forward with their pectoral, dorsal, and anal fins. They typically use these fins to navigate the coral reef at a leisurely speed. But when they use their caudal fins, they can achieve a rapid burst of speed. Porcupinefish are more nimble than they appear, and they can quickly change directions.

How much does a long-spine porcupinefish weigh?

An accurate estimate of the weight of the balloon fish is unavailable. However, the peculiar fish looks rather fleshy and bulky, so one can assume that despite its small size, it probably weighs on the heavier side.

What are the male and female names of the species?

No specific name has been assigned to the male and female adult Diodon holocanthus. They are simply referred to as male long-spine porcupine fish and female long-spine porcupine fish.

What would you call a baby long-spine porcupinefish?

Young or baby long spine porcupine fish does not have any particular name. They are referred to as juveniles.

What do they eat?

The balloonfish maintains a carnivorous diet. It is a nocturnal animal and predator that only hunts for food during the night. The teeth of D. holocanthus are sharp and the upper and lower jaws are fused together, making a strong, heavy beak. It is thanks to its sturdy mouth structure that it is able to crack the thick shells of snails, sea urchins, and hermit crabs to feed on them. The species uses its comparatively large eyes to feed on these coastal delicacies at night. The fish also often blows into the sand or sea bed to expose small organisms, gastropods, crabs, and sea urchins. If you observe them hunting or feeding, you might get an impression that the fish is one of the most natural predators. When it comes to catching its prey, the balloonfish does not rely on speed. The dorsal fins of the predator are only useful when it comes to navigating complex environments like coral reefs and not for hunting.

Are they dangerous?

Unlike most porcupine fishes, long-spine porcupine fishes are not poisonous, just like firefish. However, their external spines may hurt if it pierces the human skin.

Would they make a good pet?

Despite its odd appearance, the long-spine porcupine fish is quite popular in the aquarium trade. They are easy to catch and do not need too much care to thrive in a tank. They have a habit of shooting water out of aquariums so it's best to keep the tank closed with a tight lid. Also, they might inflate if they are taken out of water.

Did you know...

The fish has multiple common names like blotched porcupinefish, brown porcupinefish, hedgehog fish, and spiny puffer. 

The species is aggressive and predatory in nature so they do not make good tankmates. They could settle down with bigger fishes like tangs or wrasses.

What is the scientific name for porcupine fish? 

The scientific name of porcupine fish is Diodontidae.

How do porcupine fish protect themselves?

When porcupine fish feels threatened it swallows or sucks water into its body. This causes the body to inflate which in turn causes the long spines to stick out at dangerous right angles. The body of the fish swells up to two to three times its original shape and takes on a spherical shape when it is inflated. Its flexible skeletal structure and elastic skin and stomach are what help the fish take on this defensive stance. It is thanks to this shielding technique that the balloonfish finds it easy to avoid predators.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these salmon facts and silverjaw minnow facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Crawfish Life Cycle coloring pages.

Long-Spine Porcupinefish Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Sea urchins, hard-shelled mollusks, hermit crabs, and snails

What Type of Animal were they?

Omnivore

Average Litter Size?

A large number

How Much Did They Weigh?

N/A

What habitat Do they Live In?

Marine reef habitats

Where Do They Live?

florida, Bahamas, the western indian ocean, pacific ocean

How Long Were They?

12 in (30 cm)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Class

Actinopterygii

Genus

Diodon

Family

Diodontidae

Scientific Name

Diodon holocanthus

What Do They Look Like?

Brown

Skin Type

Scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

sharks, killer whales, dolphins

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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