Stars-and-stripes Puffer, Arothron hispidus Click to enlarge image
A Stars-and-stripes Puffer at a depth of about 10 m, west side of Black Rocks, off Smoky Beach (Hat Head National Park) south of South West Rocks, New South Wales, 15 December 2003. Image: Derek Morton
© Derek Morton

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    hispidus
    Genus
    Arothron
    Family
    Tetraodontidae
    Order
    Tetraodontiformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The Stars-and-stripes Puffer grows to 51 cm in length.

The Stars-and-stripes Puffer grows to over 50 cm in length. Like many of its relatives, it has poisonous skin and internal organs.



Identification

The Stars-and-stripes Puffer can be recognised by its colour pattern. The body is greenish to yellowish brown above and white below. The upper sides of the body and caudal fin are covered in small white spots. The lower sides have white to pale blue lines. The pectoral fin base and gill opening are enclosed by alternating dark and light rings.

This species has the typical rounded body shape of many of the pufferfishes (family Tetraodontidae). It has a single dorsal fin positioned posteriorly on the body, opposite the similarly-sized anal fin.

Habitat

Habitats range from estuaries to coral reefs.

Distribution

The Stars-and-stripes Puffer occurs in tropical and warm temperate marine waters throughout the Indo-Pacific.

In Australia it is recorded from southern Western Australia, around the north of the country, and south to central 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.



Feeding and diet

This species feeds on a variety of foods including algae, coral, sponges, starfish, molluscs, anemones and other invertebrates. The mouth is beak-like. The teeth in both the upper and lower jaws are fused into two "plates". This distinctive dentition gives rise to the scientific name for the family, Tetraodontidae, which means four teeth.

Danger to humans

Like all fishes in the family this species contains a potentially lethal toxin (tetrodotoxin) in the skin and internal organs.

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. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.
  4. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557. (as the Stars and Stripes Puffer)