Animal Species:Threebar Porcupinefish, Dicotylichthys punctulatus Kaup, 1855

As its standard name implies, the Threebar Porcupinefish has three dark bars, one under the eye, a second on the operculum and the third behind the pectoral fin.

Standard Common Name

Threebar Porcupinefish


The Threebar Porcupinefish has a rounded body that is covered with spines. The spines on the back are blade-like and fixed in position, but those on the belly and head can be raised. It has a very broad head, with eyes positioned laterally. The teeth are fused to form a single plate in both jaws.

The species is green to blue-grey above and white below. The body is covered with small black spots. There is a dark bar under the eye, another on the operculum and a third on the body behind the pectoral fin.

This species looks similar to the Spotfin Burrfish, Chilomycterus reticulatus. The latter species has spots on the fins and has fewer spines on the head and body. Although there is some overlap in distribution, the Spotfin Burrfish generally occurs in tropical waters and the Threebar Porcupinefish is found in more temperate waters of Australia's east coast.

Size range

It grows to 43 cm in length.

Similar Species

Spotfin Burrfish, Chilomycterus reticulatus


The Threebar Porcupinefish is endemic to Australia. It is known from southern Queensland to northern Tasmania.

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.

Dicotylichthys punctulatus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Threebar Porcupinefish specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


The species is found on coastal and offshore reefs, often in rocky areas.

Feeding and Diet

Porcupinefishes in general feed on invertebrates.

Danger to humans and first aid

The flesh is reported to be poisonous but the spines are not toxic.



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.
  4. Leis, J.M. 2006. Nomenclature and distribution of the species of the porcupinefish family Diodontidae (Pisces,Teleostei). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 63(1): 77–90.

Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Threebar Porcupinefish, Dicotylichthys punctulatus, Diodontidae, green, grey, white, black, odd-shaped, 30 cm - 1 m, stripes or bands, marine, adult,