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 ...