These relatively poor swimmers find protection in their ability
to puff up and raise spines along their body when attacked.

Size  8 to 14 inches long, can be as long as 20 inches

Diet  Mollusks, sea urchins, hermit crabs and other crabs

Range  Found in tropical waters around the world

Habitat  Shallow coral reefs, grassy areas and mangroves

Predators  Balloonfish have few natural predators. When attacked they

swallow water or air to puff up to three times their normal size.

Relatives  Relatives of the balloonfish include the porcupine or burr fishes.

There are 19 species that all have well-defined spines and the ability to inflate.

Family life  Balloonfish spawn in the open ocean, and the larvae develop fins and
teeth when they are about 3 weeks old. As juveniles they float in seaweed called


Conservation status  Unknown  Balloonfish are not normally consumed by people
due to toxins found in their bodies. However they are slow swimmers and are easily
caught from the surface using hand nets. They are sometimes used in Eastern medicines
and found in tourist shops, puffed and preserved.

Balloonfish and climate change  Coral reefs are home to balloonfish and many other marine animals. In fact, coral reefs may be the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. But warming ocean temperatures and ocean acidification threaten corals and the many animals that depend on them, like balloonfish. Read more ...

Explore other profiles   Check out little blue penguins and green sea turtles.