Light gray to brown, bulky fish with white underside. Long spines all over its body, covered in small black spots except for the fins. Several (dark) brown blotches, including one over the eye.
Unassessed by the IUCN Red list but a circumglobal species.
Found around the globe in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate seas. Western Atlantic: Canada, Florida, USA and the Bahamas to Brazil. Eastern Atlantic: 30°N to 23°S; also South Africa. Western Indian Ocean: southern Red Sea to Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius. Pacific Ocean: southern Japan south to Lord Howe Island and east to the Hawaiian and Easter islands. Also from southern California, USA to Colombia and the Galapagos Islands. Inhabit shallow reefs to open, soft bottoms. Also in areas with rocky substrate. Sometimes form groups. Occur on open muddy substrates as well as on rich soft-bottom and coral reefs. Juveniles often with floating Sargassum rafts. Young and sub-adults may form small groups.
Up to 50cm., but usually around 30cm.
They feed nocturnally, on sea urchins, mollusks, hermit crabs, and crabs.
They are caught using nets from the surface, to be used in Chinese medicine for suspected medicinal benefits. When eaten it could cause ciguatera poisoning. These porcupinefish are not very capable swimmers.