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/The Conscientious Marine Aquarist

Sharpnose Puffers, aka Tobies, Subfamily Canthigastrinae

By Bob Fenner

  A pair of Canthigaster jactator 

The Sharpnose Puffers or Tobies, subfamily Canthigastrinae are laterally compressed, taller than wide in cross section and have limited inflation capabilities. There is but a single genus Canthigaster, and it members are readily identified by their elongated, pointed snouts. Canthigasters make for hardy, small (most are less than four inches), undemanding tankmates... as long as they're not placed with fishes or invertebrates that they can "nip" chunks out of. 

    Here we'll highlight the most commonly available species of Tobies in the aquarium interest. 

A species regularly offered is the Ambon Sharpnose Canthigaster amboinensis (Bleeker 1865). I also like the science of ichthyology's name for this species, "Spider-Eye Puffer" for obvious reasons. Tropical eastern Pacific and Indo-Pacific. To six inches long in the wild. Here's one in captivity, another in Hawai'i..

Canthigaster bennetti (Bleeker 1854), Bennett's Sharpnose Puffer. Indo-Pacific, Africa's eastern coast. To four inches in length. Eats filamentous and coralline algae, as well as benthic invertebrates. Pictured: specimens in the Maldives, N. Sulawesi and Cook Islands.
Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available

Canthigaster callisterna (Ogilby 1889), the Clown Toado. Southwest Pacific, including Australia. To nine inches.

No pic

Canthigaster compressa (Marion de Proce 1822), the Compressed Toby. Western Pacific. To four inches in length. Image of a male and pair in N. Sulawesi (Lembeh Strait).  

Canthigaster coronata (Vaillant & Sauvage 1875), the Crowned Puffer. Another regular offering from this genus/subfamily. Indo-west Pacific, Red Sea out to Hawai'i. To five inches in the wild. This image made off of Kona, Hawai'i's Big Island. From Fishbase.org: "Former distribution of Hawaii and Tonga to the east coast of Africa and the Red Sea, is divided into three species: C. coronata, endemic to the Hawaiian Islands; C. axiologus from the rest of the Pacific west of the Hawaiian Island; and C. cyanospilota from the Indian Ocean and Red Sea "

Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Canthigaster cyanetron Randall & Cea-Egana 1989. Southeast Pacific, Easter Island.

No pic

Canthigaster cyanospilota Blue-spotted saddle toby. from the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. Picture by Di out in Mauritius 2016. From Fishbase.org: "Former distribution of Hawaii and Tonga to the east coast of Africa and the Red Sea, is divided into three species: C. coronata, endemic to the Hawaiian Islands; C. axiologus from the rest of the Pacific west of the Hawaiian Island; and C. cyanospilota from the Indian Ocean and Red Sea "

Canthigaster epilampra (Jenkins 1903), the Lantern Toby. Indo-Pacific. To five inches in length. This one off of Hawai'i's Big Island. 

Canthigaster flavoreticulata Matsuura 1986.Western central Pacific on the Tonga submarine ridge.

No pic

Canthigaster inframacula Allen & Randall 1977. Eastern central Pacific, the Hawaiian Islands. 

No pic

Canthigaster investigatoris (Annondale & Jenkins 1910). Indo-west Pacific, Indonesia. 

No pic

Canthigaster jactator (Jenkins 1901), Hawaiian Sharpnose Puffer. Hawaiian endemic. To three inches in length. This one in the 50th State's waters.

Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available
Canthigaster janthinoptera (Bleeker 1855), the Honeycomb Toby. Indo-Pacific, east African coast. To three inches in length. In the Galapagos.

Canthigaster leoparda Lubbock & Allen 1979, the Leopard Sharpnose Puffer. Indo-Australian distribution. To two inches long.

 No pic

Canthigaster margaritata (Ruppell 1829), the Pearl Toby. Indo-west Pacific and Red Sea. To five inches overall length.

 No pic

Canthigaster marguesensis Allen & Randall 1977. East central Pacific: Marquesas.

Canthigaster ocellicincta Allen & Randall 1977, the Shy Toby. Western Pacific. To two and a half inches in length.

No pic

Canthigaster papua (Bleeker 1848). Eastern Indian Ocean. To about four inches maximum length. This one off of KBR, N. Sulawesi.  

Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available)
Canthigaster punctata Matsuura 1992. Western Indian Ocean. Deepwater.

No pic

Canthigaster punctatissima (Gunther 1870), the Spotted Sharpnose Puffer. Eastern Pacific. The Pacific C. punctatissimus and Hawaiian C. jactator are almost copies of each other, white spotted against a brown background. The more eastern species is darker. To about three inches in length. Shown here at Baja's tip (Cabo San Lucas) and the Galapagos.

Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Canthigaster pygmaeus Allen & Randall, 1977, the Pygmy Toby (to two inches long). Western Indian Ocean and Red Sea. Here's one of this shy species individuals in the Merre Rouge.

Canthigaster rapaensis Allen & Randall 1977. Southwestern Pacific, French Polynesia's Rapa Island.

No pic

Canthigaster rivulata (Temminck & Schlegel 1850), the Brown-Lined, Double-Lined, Rivulated Toby Puffer. Indo-west Pacific. To seven inches long. Mauritius 2016.
Canthigaster rostrata (Bloch 1786), simply called the Sharpnose Puffer. Tropical west Atlantic species, common and inexpensive. To five inches. Eats mainly seagrass (and some invertebrates) in the wild. Specimens below of a male and female in the Bahamas and Cozumel shown, and a male and female in Bonaire.

Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available
 
Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.
 
Canthigaster sanctaehelenae (Gunther 1870). Eastern Atlantic, around Morocco.

No pic

Canthigaster smithae Allen & Randall 1977, the Bicolored Toby. Western Indian Ocean. To five inches.

Canthigaster solandri (Richardson 1845), the Spotted Sharpnose Puffer. Indo-Pacific; replaced by C. margaritata in the Red Sea. To five inches. Pictured: Aquarium, Cook Islands, N. Sulawesi and Fiji specimens.

Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.
 
Canthigaster tyleri Allen & Randall 1977, Tyler's Toby. Indian Ocean. Replaced by C. leoparda in the Pacific. To three and a half inches in length.

No pic

Canthigaster valentini (Bleeker 1853), Valentini's Sharpnose Puffer has a filefish mimic. You have to look close to discern Paraluterus prionurus even when accidentally shipped mixed in with valentine's puffer; as a file it has a two-spine dorsal that the puffers lack. This is a type of Batesian mimicry, with the file suffering less predation by pretending to be an unpalatable puffer. Two images of each, in the wild and aquariums of the Sharpnose Puffer (first two) and mimic Filefish.

Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available)
 
Bigger PIX:
The images in this table are linked to large (desktop size) copies. Click on "framed" images to go to the larger size.

Bibliography/Further Reading:

Allen, Gerald R. 1976. Sharpnose Puffers. TFH 1/76.

Michael, Scott W. 1991. An aquarist's guide to the Tobies (Genus Canthigaster), pts. 1,2. FAMA 1,2/91.

Michael, Scott W. 1995. Get to know the Tobies. AFM 10/95.

Parker, Nancy J. 1978. Maki-maki or the deadly death. Marine Aquarist 8:5, 78.


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