Common Toadfish, Tetractenos hamiltoni Click to enlarge image
A Common Toadfish at a depth of 1.5 m, Clifton Gardens, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, October 2002. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    hamiltoni
    Genus
    Tetractenos
    Family
    Tetraodontidae
    Order
    Tetraodontiformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    It grows to 13 cm in length.

Introduction

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.

Identification

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.

Habitat

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

Distribution

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.



Danger to humans

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

References

  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.