Diodontidae (Porcupine/Burrfishes)

Porcupine or Burrfish (Diodontinae) closely resemble pufferfish. Like the pufferfish they are known for their special way of swimming, their spikes and personality and ofcourse the ability to puff themselves up. It is therefore no surprise that many aquarists are seduced by these amusing fish.

In nature these Porcupinefish blow water into the sand to expose their food, thus they are sometimes called blowfish. This may well occur in a domestic aquarium. They are also known to blow water out of the tank, f.e. when feeding. Take therefore extra care when placing the electrical equipment.

They are not reef safe and can often be seen nibbling the fins of other fish in the aquarium. They do not thrive in company of more aggressive fishes, as it can stress them. Overal Porcupinerfish do best with their own species. They are however, very hardy and healthy individuals under proper conditions can live for many years in captivity.

One must take extra care when handling or during transport, as several species can release toxins in the water when stressed.

Some sources claim these fish are difficult to keep, but when one understands their feeding needs it is not too hard. What must be realized is that Porcupinefish need a lot of food, so the aquarium must be geared towards this.
They need food which grinds their teeth as they grow continually and they cannot survive if the teeth are too long. Suitable foods can be snails or mussels.
Fish flakes are not suitable eventhough they will eat it. If used it must be supplemented by a choice of seafood and frozen food.

When selecting a Purcupinefish in pet/fish shop one must be aware of parasites, they often occur, both externally as well as internally and appear as small unevennesses on the skin. Their spread can only be avoided by keeping the fish in quarentine.

See more regarding feeding, selecting and disease, in John Champlin`s article.