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
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.
It grows to 43 cm in length.
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.
Distribution by collection data
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.
- Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
- Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
- 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