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Tan teardrop-shaped body with brown blotches and black spots over entire length. Long spines (typically seen lowered) are found over entire body surface, starting at the forehead. Eyes are large and pronounced with yellow irises. Iridescent blue-green specks may be seen within pupil. Brown band runs over forehead, from eye to eye. Fins are clear. Rounded caudal fin.
20.3-35.6 cm (8-14 in) avg; 50.8 cm (20 in) max
Mollusks, crabs, and urchins
Species exhibits dioecism. Fertilization is external. Spawning primarily occurs in late spring and early summer.
Western Atlantic: Florida to Brazil
Eastern Atlantic: Morocco to Angola and South Africa
Western Indo-Pacific: Micronesia and Australia to Africa
Western Central Pacific: Hawaii, Pitcairn, and Easter islands
Eastern Pacific: southern California to Colombia and the Galapagos
2-100 meters in tropical & sub-tropical marine coastal waters
When threatened or frightened, the balloonfish will take in water - thereby noticeably expanding its overall body size. In this inflated state, its spines stand erect. The spines and the enlarged size can prove intimidating to potential predators.
Throughout certain Pacific island communities, the balloonfish was historically fashioned as a helmet.
For more information about bony fishes, explore the
Bony Fishes InfoBook
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
Bond, Carl E.
Biology of Fishes - Second Edition
. Saunders College Publishing, 1996.
Reef Fish Identification - Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas
. New World Publications, Inc., 1992.