Animal Species:Common Toadfish, Tetractenos hamiltoni (Gray & Richardson, 1843)

The Common Toadfish is found in shallow coastal waters and estuaries along the eastern Australian coastline. Like most toadfishes, the species is very toxic and should not be eaten.

A Common Toadfish at Clifton Gardens

A Common Toadfish at Clifton Gardens
Photographer: Erik Schlögl © Erik Schlögl

Standard Common Name

Common Toadfish


The Common Toadfish is a sandy to whitish colour. It has small brown spots over most of the back and upper sides. The lower sides often have brown bars and blotches.

The species has small gill slits located just in front of the pectoral fin bases and a distinct skin fold running along the lower sides. Its teeth are fused and form a beak-like structure with a median groove. The family name Tetraodontidae means "four teeth".

The species looks similar to the Smooth Toadfish. They can be separated by skin texture and colouration. The Smooth Toadfish has larger spots and blotches. It has minute spines embedded in the skin which give it a smooth texture, hence the common name. The Common Toadfish is covered with small prickles.

Size range

It grows to 13 cm in length.


The Common Toadfish is found in shallow coastal waters and estuaries along the eastern Australian coastline from northern Queensland to southern New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Tetractenos hamiltoni

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Common Toadfish specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


It is a schooling species that is often seen buried in sand with only the eyes exposed.

Danger to humans and first aid

The Common Toadfish is very toxic and should not be eaten. Human deaths have resulted from the consumption of toadfishes.



What does this mean?


  1. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.

Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags fish, ichthyology, Common Toadfish, Tetractenos hamiltoni, sandy bottom, Tetraodontidae, brown, beige, white, grey, long and skinny, 10 cm - 30 cm, blotches/mottled, shallow estuaries, marine, adult,


Mark McGrouther - 2.02 PM, 08 February 2010

Hi Will, Thank you for your kind offer of an image of the species.  I will add a factsheet for this species within the next few days.  In the meantime, feel free to email me your image.  Thanks again, Mark

Will Teo - 12.02 AM, 06 February 2010
hi mark, is there a classification for smooth toadfish? i mean with all the photos, identification etc..the only one available is the common toadfish. i have photos of the smooth toadfish (i think) if you want.

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