Porcupine Puffer

Porcupinefish, Slender-spined porcupine fish

Family: Diodontidae Picture of a Porcupine Puffer or PorcupinefishDiodon holocanthusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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Can Porcupine Puffer be kept with nemo clowfish?  Hieu

   This one is doing what most Porcupine Puffer or Porcupinefish do very well, (besides eating) it is puffing up! If threatened, they will fill themselves with air or water to become about 5 times their normal size! This one did it every time we moved it.

   The Porcupine Puffer or Porcupinefish will become accustomed to being fed and will eventually look to their owners for food and will take it from your hand. Many times this fish will become so large the owners will get a separate aquarium for it!

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Tetraodontiformes
  • Family: Diodontidae
  • Genus: Diodon
  • Species: holocanthus
Porcupine Puffer Learning to Hunt Shrimp, Diodon holocathus
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Juvenile Porcupine Puffer hunting shrimp in captivity

The Porcupine Pufferfish grows to one foot and needs a 180 gallon tank as an adult. They are the closest thing you can get to a doglike personality in a fish! They will also, like a dog, chew on cords, and may need to be dewormed! These smart fish will learn who you are and that you have something to do with food! Feed them at least 3 times a day with veggie and meaty foods including hard shelled shrimp to help wear down their ever growing teeth. They will try to eat smaller active fish and may nip others. They spend most of their time under a ledge or in a crevice during the day, and come out in the evening. Do not catch with a net, nor tease to inflate, since that can cause them to have air trapped in the alimentary tract. They are also prone to ich, so have treatments available for the inevitable breakout. Best kept by an intermediate aquarist.

Porcupine Puffer (large) eating hermit, Diodon holocanthus
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Captive Porcupine Puffer behavior

This aquarist has provided his little water dog, the Porcupine Puffer with hermit crabs to help wear down his teeth. This is one trait they share with rodents! They need to chew on hard things to wear them down, otherwise, the aquarist will have to cut them down. Why? If they grow to long, the fish will not be able to close their mouth or eat and can starve to death. Provide your 1 foot long adult with a tank that is at least 180 gallons. Do not tease them to inflate. Besides being cruel, it can cause health problems that can lead to their death.

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Maintenance difficulty:

   Although the porcupine puffer or porcupinefish is easy to feed and generally hardy, they require special care and a special diet to stay healthy.


  Puffers have strong teeth that grow throughout their lives. They need to be offered hard shelled live food often to keep their teeth worn down. For a better explanation and links to the practice of puffer dentistry (if needed) please read here. Because they eat a meaty diet and are often messy eaters, puffers will produce a large bio load on the biological filter of your aquarium requiring frequent water changes and good maintenance practices.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:

  Indo-Pacific: Southern Australia from central New South Wales to a similar latitude in Western Australia.


 Puffers are primarily predatory fish in the wild, though they do graze on algae as well. Acceptable foods include shellfish, crustaceans and hard shelled foods such as snails. A large variety of all kinds of live and frozen meaty foods are best. It is best to feed small amounts several times a day. Some of the suggested frozen foods include prawn, crabs/crabs legs, bloodworms (live or frozen), blackworms (live or frozen), silversides, and mussels. Be sure to wash these foods thoroughly before feeding. Live foods can include snails, crabs, crayfish, shrimp (these are good for keeping their teeth trimmed), and earthworms. Live fish will also be eaten but it is thought it may cause problems such as 'fatty" liver and so should be fed sparingly or not at all.. Puffers are not picky eaters and will quickly become adapted to a variety of prepared aquarium foods and an occasional algae wafer. Flake food is not recommended. Even though they may eat it, puffers will not thrive on it.

Social Behaviors:

   Found commonly in shallow bays. Nocturnal. Occurs in small aggregations. In the aquarium, they can be aggressive among themselves, and any smaller fish may be eaten.

Sex: Sexual differences:


Light: Recommended light levels:

   No special requirements.


   No special requirements. Normal temperatures for marine fish is between 74 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Length/Diameter of fish:

   Porcupine Puffer or Porcupinefish adults can grow to 28.0 cm (11 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:

   A minimum 75 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong

   No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom

   No special requirements.


   This fish is available from time to time.

Lastest Animal Stories on Porcupine Puffer

Hieu - 2019-04-25
Can Porcupine Puffer be kept with nemo clowfish?

Andy - 2018-02-28
My first pet in sea water tank. it became active after 2 days and was welcoming for all kinds of food. I tried to feed it frozen krill, shrimp, apple snail and they were all acceptable. It chased slowly sinking fish food but its mouth was too big to create a flow to blow the fish food away its mouth. So far it didn't make it. I think fish food may be acceptable to it. It doesn't respond to fish food when it already sunk in the bottom. normally it lay on the bottom of the tank and become active when it see people coming. It attacks smaller fish . Does anyone know how to identify male or female? and how to breed them?

Mare Gray - 2017-03-09
Best fish I have ever had! I call mine Chloe even though I have no idea what its gender is. I got this fish when it looked like a mere tadpole and 13 years later I still have her. This fish has outlasted a picasso trigger, an angel fish, 2 clowns and several types of Damsels. Just curious if anyone on here has had there porky longer than 13 years. I hope she stays around many more years but am starting to wonder just how long they normally last. Also she has survived the worst of tank conditions. She has never bothered any fish I put with her, minds her own business and basically has always been a happy go lucky fish. I have even been able to keep crabs in there and she has never bothered them, unlike my picasso trigger who ended up eating 2 of them. Right now I just have her and a crab in my 55 gal. saltwater tank

craig warren - 2004-07-14
Easily the best fish to keep as a pet. During feeding they will swim to you and take food from your hand. Be careful not to be bitten by this one, it has very powerful jaws. It will spit jets of water from the aquarium at you if you dont feed it quick enough. It will also come to the front of the tank and beg for food. The best fish I've ever kept. Recommended to any one who likes a fish with a good personality.

  • Ron - 2013-02-25
    I had a 6 incher not too long ago he was a great fish. Be careful with your water changes!! The puffer i have now is a baby Its doing very well. Its okay to have your water at 80 degrees for these fish. good luck guys.