Animal Species:Spotfin Porcupinefish, Chilomycterus reticulatus (Linnaeus, 1758)

The Spotfin Porcupinefish has short immovable spines on the head and body. The species has a patchy distribution in tropical and subtropical marine waters worldwide.

Standard Common Name

Spotfin Porcupinefish


The Spotfin Porcupinefish is grey above and white below. It has dark spots on the body and fins. There are short immovable spines on the head and body.

The species has a dark bar below the eye and another at the rear of the head. There may be a faint bar in the pectoral region and another before the dorsal fin.

Size range

The Spotfin Porcupinefish grows to 75 cm in length.

Similar Species

The Spotfin Porcupinefish looks similar to the Three-bar Porcupinefish. The latter species lacks spots on the fins and has more spines on the head and body. It occurs in more southern waters on Australia's east coast.


It has a patchy distribution in tropical and subtropical marine waters worldwide.

In Australia it is known from north-western Western Australia and northern Queensland to northern New South Wales. It has also been recorded from Lord Howe Island. The fish in the upper images were well south of their recorded distribution.

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.

Chilomycterus reticulatus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Spotfin Porcupinefish specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


Young fish up to 20 cm in length are pelagic. Adults live on rocky reefs, coral reefs and soft bottoms in depths down to 100 m.

Feeding and Diet

It feeds on hard-shelled invertebrates.



What does this mean?


  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Leis, J.M. Diodontidae. Porcupinefishes (burrfishes). in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (Eds). FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 6. Bony Fishes part 4 (Labridae to Latimeriidae), estuarine crocodiles, sea turtles, sea snakes and marine mammals. FAO, Rome. Pp. iii-v, 3381-4218.
  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.

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Tags fish, ichthyology, Chilomycterus, reticulatus, Spotfin Porcupinefish, grey, black, odd-shaped, 30 cm - 1 m, dots/spots, rocky reef, coral reef, sea floor, marine, adult,