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I’ve Seen That – Balloonfish

The adorable balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus) is an odd‐shaped swimmer that belongs to the Porcupinefish family. These fish (aka spiny puffers) have the unique ability to draw in water to greatly inflate their bodies as a defense against potential predators. Balloonfish have long spines, which are always in an upright position or become upright when they inflate.


  • Are generally very shy and will retreat into the reef if they sense you’ve spotted them
  • Instead of teeth, have fused plates on the top and bottom of their jaw, which they use to crush and then dine on marine snails, sea urchins, or small crabs
  • Are poor swimmers as result of strangely shaped bodies, so they generally are out searching for food at night
  • Are a benthopelagic species, meaning they both rest on the sea floor under the “shade” of soft coral or slowly swim in the water column just above the reef
  • Are preyed upon by larger piscivores (fish eaters), such as the great barracuda, eels, and sharks