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This article is about the fish. For the clipboard software, see Diodon (software).
Temporal range: 55–0Ma

Early Eocene to Present[1]
Diodon, Mauritius.jpg
Diodon holocanthus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Tetraodontiformes
Family: Diodontidae
Genus: Diodon
Linnaeus, 1758

See text

Members of the family Diodontidae, species of the genus Diodon are usually known as porcupinefishes or balloonfishes.

Distinguishing features[edit]

Fish of the genus Diodon have;

  • two-rooted, moveable spines (actually modified scales) distributed over their bodies.
  • beak-like jaws, used to crush their hard-shelled prey (crustaceans and molluscs).[2]

They differ from the swelltoads and burrfishes (genus Cyclichthys and Chilomycterus), which have fixed, rigid spines.

Defense mechanisms[edit]

  • Like pufferfishes they can inflate themselves, making their spines stand perpendicular to the skin. When inflated they pose a major difficulty to their predators: a large diodon fully inflated can choke a shark to death. According to Charles Darwin in The Voyage Of the Beagle (1845), Darwin was told by a Doctor Allen of Forres, UK that the Diodon actually had been found "floating alive and distended, in the stomach of the shark" and had been known to chew its way out of shark bodies after being swallowed, causing the death of its attacker. [3]
  • They may be poisonous, through the accumulation of tetrodotoxin or ciguatera.[2]


There are currently five recognized species in this genus:[4]


  1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology 364: p.560. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  2. ^ a b Lieske, E. and Myers, R.F. (2004) Coral reef guide; Red Sea London, HarperCollins ISBN 0-00-715986-2
  3. ^ Darwin, Charles (1845). Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle round the world, under the Command of Capt. Fitz Roy, R.N. 2d edition. London: John Murray. p. 14. 
  4. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). Species of Diodon in FishBase. October 2012 version.