Black-Spotted Puffer Arothron nigropunctatus

  • Fringing Reef
  • Fauna
  • Black- Spotted Pufferfish


Arothron nigropunctatus belongs to the order of Tetraodontiformes (Puffers and Filefishes), from the family of Tetraodontidae (Puffers). Other common names include Black spotted blow fish, Black spotted puffer, Black-spotted pufferfish, Black-spotted toadfish and Dogface puffer fish.  This pufferfish is multi-coloured, with an elongated, globular body. Dorsal and anal fins are small and symmetrical while pelvic fins are absent. There are no scales on the body, and the skin is smooth. The overall body colour is a pale grey to greyish brown colour. Its body is lined with prickles and large black spots; black patches occur around the eyes and on the snout. There is a white streak across the top of the snout. This pufferfish may also be yellowish or bluish grey in colour[1]. There are 4 large teeth, two on each jaw. Each pair of teeth is fused to form a beak there is no lateral line. It has  0 dorsal spines; 10 to 11 dorsal soft rays; 0 anal spines and 10 to 12 anal soft rays. It can reach a maximum length of 33cm[2].


[1] IUCN, ‘Arothron Nigropunctatus’.

[2] ‘Arothron Nigropunctatus Summary Page’.

Habitat and ecology

The Black-spotted puffer is present across the Indo-Pacific, from East Africa to Micronesia and Samoa, north to southern Japan, south to New South Wales. Recorded depth range is between 3 to 25m. It resides in coastal waters to outer reef crest and slopes where invertebrates grow abundantly. Its diet consists of corals (Acropora tips), crustaceans, molluscs, sponges, algae and tunicates. This species is oviparous; adults are often found in pairs. The males build nests in the sand, where females come to lay their eggs[1].


Conservation and management

According to the IUCN Red List, this species is listed under the ‘Least Concern’ category. It is commonly found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. No species specific conservation measures are in place but it is present in many MPAs (Marine Protected Areas). The aquarium trade and collect are potential threats, although no population declines have been documented yet. Habitat loss due to coral bleaching may also be a potential threat to this species.


[1] ‘Arothron Nigropunctatus | DORIS’.

Did you know?

When scared or disturbed, the Black-spotted puffer can inflate by accumulating water in its abdomen. This defence mechanism makes it difficult for a predator to swallow the fish. It also accumulates tetrodotoxin in the skin, gonads and viscera. This toxin can ultimately lead to death by respiratory failure for humans. It is also unpleasant for predators to consume.

Arothron nigropunctatus is commercially traded in Japan. Only the highest qualified cooks are able to cook this species for suitable consumption.