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Diodon holacanthus - Longspined porcupinefish

Diodon holacanthus - Longspined porcupinefish Photo courtesy: Geoff Schultz

The balloonfish is greenish-brown with darker splotches and small dark spots on its spine-covered body. There is a dark band that runs from one eye to the other and the surrounding head spines are longer than the ones on the rest of the body. Balloonfish can grow to 20 inches, but are usually between 8 and 14 inches in length. They are typically found in mangroves, grassy areas, and coral reefs between 6 to 50 feet in depth.

Distribution, Stock Structure and Migration
Circumtropical in distribution. Western Atlantic: Canada, Florida, USA and the Bahamas to Brazil. Eastern Atlantic: 30°N to 23°S; also South Africa. Western Indian Ocean: southern Red Sea to Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius. Pacific Ocean: southern Japan south to Lord Howe Island and east to the Hawaiian and Easter islands. Also from southern California, USA to Colombia and the Galapagos Islands.

Inhabit shallow reefs to open, soft bottoms. Also in areas with rocky substrata. Sometimes form groups. Occur on open muddy substrates as well as on rich soft-bottom and coral reefs. Juveniles often with floating Sargassum rafts. Young and sub-adults may form small groups. Depth range 2 - 200 m, usually 2 - 35 m.

Feed on mollusks, sea urchins, hermit crabs, and crabs at night.

Quick Fact
The balloonfish can raise its spines without inflating its body.

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