Valentini's Sharpnose PufferCanthigaster valentini

  • Fringing Reef
  • Fauna
  • Blacksaddle Toby
  • Valentini’s Sharpnose Puffer


Canthigaster valentini belongs to the order of Tetraodontiformes, and the family of Tetraodontidae. Common names include Valentini's sharp-nose puffer, Banded Toby, Black saddled Toby, Model Toby, Saddleback pufferfish, and the Sharp-nose puffer fish.  The base colour of its body is white with brown spots speckled all across the body. There are four dark brown to black large bands, in the form of saddles over the dorsal area. The two middle bands extend onto the sides, and over the belly. It has a 0 dorsal spines; 9 dorsal soft rays; 0 anal spines and 9 anal soft rays[1]. It can reach a maximum length of 11cm. The male and female of the species can usually be distinguished from one another based on their colour.


[1] ‘Canthigaster Valentini Summary Page’.

Habitat and ecology

It is present across the Indo-Pacific region, from the Red Sea, South to Durban, South Africa and East to Tuamoto Islands, North to Southern Japan and South of Lord Howe Island. Its recorded depth range is between 1 to 55m. This puffer fish inhabits coral reefs of subtidal lagoons and seaward reefs. It can also be found in seagrass meadows, and artificial reefs   Its diet is varied and, consists of filamentous red and green algae, corals, bryozoans, tunicates, polychaete worms, echinoderms, molluscs, and brown and coralline algae. As a defence mechanism, this species can inflate to intimidate predators, which also makes them harder to swallow. They are also very toxic if consumed.

This species lives in groups, usually with a single sexually mature male that guards the territory, and multiple females and immature individuals. The males are territorial. The male spawns daily with a different female from the group. Females are territorial as well and occupy an area within the male’s territory. Females flex their caudal fins and swell to signal to the male that they are ready for spawning. The male acknowledges by visiting the female’s site more often. The female will then peck at the substrate prior to laying her eggs. Afterwards, she presses her abdomen onto the prepared nest. The male will then rapidly place himself across her caudal peduncle and both remain in this position for 5 to 10 seconds. Afterwards, the male swims away. The female will flap her anal fin repeatedly to ensure fertilisation and to push the eggs deeper into the substrate. Larvae hatch at dusk about three to five days after fertilization has occurred. Eggs and larvae taste unpleasant to other species, maximising chances of survival[1].


Conservation and management

According to the IUCN Red List, this species is listed as ‘Least Concern’. It is locally abundant in the Indo-Pacific region. No species specific conservation measures are in place but it is present in many MPAs (Marine Protected Areas). The aquarium trade is a potential threat and declines in abundance have been recorded in the Philippines. Further declines in abundance may be due to habitat (coral reefs and seagrass beds) degradation or loss[2].


[1] Frisch, ‘Are Juvenile Coral-Trouts (Plectropomus) Mimics of Poisonous Pufferfishes (Canthigaster) on Coral Reefs?’; IUCN, ‘Canthigaster Valentini’.

[2] Shao et al., ‘Canthigaster Valentini’.

Did you know?

The Blacksaddle filefish (Paraluteres prionurus) and the Blacksaddled coral grouper fish (Plectropomus laevis) mimic the Valentini’s sharpnose puffer to escape their predators.