sharpnose pufferfish [50k]

This three-inch Sharp-nose puffer appears to be taking a rest on a sponge, a common behavior among these petite fish. The clasped, often curled position of the caudal fin is normal, even when swimming. Sharp-nosed puffers are also capable of inflating themselves. Their small size (maximum about five inches) suggests they may use a much wider variety of hiding places on the reef-- I can certainly attest they are more difficult to corner for a photograph. This is one of several different coloration patterns among the numerous species of sharp-nosed puffers, with three triangular pigment "saddles" across its back ("cinctus" in the taxonomic name means "band").

There is one species of filefish, Paraluteres prionurus, known to mimic a similar species of sharp-nosed puffer. They may be easily distinguished from one another by the difference in length of the dorsal fin; in the Mimic filefish the dorsal fin runs along most of the back, but the puffer has a more abbreviated dorsal fin, as shown here. The filefish disguise serves as protection from predation, since the pufferfish has good defenses with its ability to inflate, its spiny skin, and toxic flesh.

Identification:  Canthigaster cinctus

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