Image: Spiny Pufferfish, Diodon new species?

Spiny Pufferfish, Diodon new species?

A possible new species of Spiny Pufferfish from the Red Sea.

Horst Moosleitner
© Horst Moosleitner


The image was sent to Jeff Leis in December 1999 along with a letter that said:

Dear Dr. Leis,

Jack Randall told me, I should contact you in case of the fish shown on the enclosed photograph made in the Red Sea. Could it be an unusual colour form of Diodon liturosus or is it a hybrid of this species and D. hystrix? The spotted fins point to the latter species, the dark bars to the former.

What's your opinion? I'd be glad to hear soon from you.


Dr. Horst Moosleitner
Zoologisches Institut
der Universitiit
Hellbrunnerstr. 34
A-5020 Salzburg, Austria

Jeff replied:

Dear Dr Moosleitner,

Thank you for your letter of 12 December with the photo of the Diodon from the Red Sea. I have not seen a Diodon with this colour pattern before. You are correct in stating that in many ways it is intermediate between D. hystrix and D. liturosus, but there are also some elements of the colour pattern, particularly the irregular lines on the lateral surfaces, that occur in neither species. The fish seems to have a rather long caudal peduncle, a characteristic of D. hystrix, so I doubt it is merely a colour form of D. liturosus.

So, I am unable to identify this fish for you. It could be a hybrid, but I have never seen any other evidence of hybridisation in this family. It could be an undescribed species. Next time vou see such a fish, if you could capture it, examination of the specimen should enable me to answer your questions.

Can you please tell me just where in the Red Sea the photo was taken? With your permission, we would like to post your photo on our website. That way, maybe someone else can report seeing such a colour pattern.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Jeffrey M. Leis
Principal Research Scientist

Anyone with photos or other information on a spiny puffer like the one illustrated should contact the Australian Museum.

If you are able to obtain a specimen please photograph it, then freeze it and contact your nearest museum. If you cannot freeze the specimen, it should be fixed in a 10% formaldehyde solution (90% seawater) or an alcohol solution (preferably 80% ethanol in tapwater). As a last resort the specimen could be placed into methylated spirit. For all fixation methods other than freezing, the belly wall should be cut to allow the fixative to enter the body cavity and fix the internal organs.

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Tags fishes, ichthyology, Spiny Pufferfish, Diodon new species?, Diodontidae, brown, white, yellow, odd-shaped, 30 cm - 1 m, complex pattern, rocky reef, marine, adult,