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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Superclassis/Classis: Actinopterygii
Classis/Subclassis: Actinopteri
Subclassis/Infraclassis: Neopterygii
Infraclassis: Teleostei
Megacohors: Osteoglossocephalai
Supercohors: Clupeocephala
Cohors: Euteleosteomorpha
Subcohors: Neoteleostei
Infracohors: Eurypterygia
Sectio: Ctenosquamata
Subsectio: Acanthomorphata
Divisio/Superordo: Acanthopterygii
Subdivisio: Percomorphaceae
Series: Eupercaria
Ordo: Tetraodontiformes
Subordines: Balistoidei – Moloidei – Ostracioidei – †Plectocretacicoidei – Tetraodontoidei – Triacanthodoidei – Triacanthoidei – Triodontoidei

Familiae (19): AracanidaeBalistidae – †Balkariidae – DiodontidaeMolidaeMonacanthidaeOstraciidaeTetraodontidaeTriacanthidaeTriacanthodidaeTriodontidae – †Bolcabalistidae – †Cretatriacanthidae – †Eoplectidae – †Eospinidae – †Moclaybalistidae – †Plectocretacicidae – †Protobalistidae – †Protriacanthidae – †Spinacanthidae

Genus inc. sedis: †Ctenoplectus



Vernacular names
Deutsch: Kugelfischverwandte
English: Puffer, Sunfish, Boxfish
magyar: Gömbhalalakúak
日本語: フグ目
ไทย: ปลาปักเป้า, ปลาเป้า, ปลาวัว, ปลางัว
українська: Скелезубоподібні
中文: 鲀形目

Santini, F., Sorenson, L. & Alfaro, M. E.; 2013: A new phylogeny of tetraodontiform fishes (Tetraodontiformes, Acanthomorpha) based on 22 loci. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 31 May 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2013.05.014
Betancur-R., R., Broughton, R.E., Wiley, E.O., Carpenter, K., Andrés López, J., Li, C., Holcroft, N.I., Arcila, D., Sanciangco, M., Cureton II, J.C., Zhang, F., Buser, T., Campbell, M.A., Ballesteros, J.A., Roa-Varon, A., Willis, S., Borden, W.C., Rowley, T., Reneau, P.C., Hough, D.J., Lu, G., Grande, T., Arratia, G. & Ortí, G. 2013. The tree of life and a new classification of bony fishes. (PDF) PLOS Currents Tree of Life 2013 Apr 18: 1–45, downloadable Appendix 2 (new classification): 1–21, and downloadable Figure S1 (complete cladogram with annotated classification). DOI: 10.1371/currents.tol.53ba26640df0ccaee75bb165c8c26288 Reference page.
Betancur-R., R., Wiley, E.O., Arratia, G., Acero P., A., Bailly, N., Miya, M., Lecointre, G. & Ortí, G. 2017. Phylogenetic classification of bony fishes. BMC Evolutionary Biology 17(1): 162. DOI: 10.1186/s12862-017-0958-3 Open access. Reference page.
Tetraodontiformes in FishBase,
Froese, R. & Pauly, D. (eds.) 2022. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication,, version 08/2021.


The Taxonomicon

The Tetraodontiformes /tɛtrə.ɒˈdɒntɪfɔːrmiːz/ are an order of highly derived ray-finned fish, also called the Plectognathi.[2] Sometimes these are classified as a suborder of the order Perciformes. The Tetraodontiformes are represented by 10 extant families and at least 349 species overall; most are marine and dwell in and around tropical coral reefs, but a few species are found in freshwater streams and estuaries. They have no close relatives, and descend from a line of coral-dwelling species that emerged around 80 million years ago.


Various bizarre forms are included here, all radical departures from the streamlined body plan typical of most fishes. These forms range from nearly square or triangular (boxfishes), globose (pufferfishes) to laterally compressed (filefishes and triggerfishes). They range in size from Rudarius excelsus (a filefish), measuring just 2 cm (0.79 in) in length, to the ocean sunfish, the largest of all bony fishes at up to 3 m (9.8 ft) in length and weighing over 2 tonnes.[1]

Most members of this order – except for the family Balistidae – are ostraciiform swimmers, meaning the body is rigid and incapable of lateral flexure. Because of this, they are slow-moving and rely on their pectoral, dorsal, anal, and caudal fins for propulsion rather than body undulation. However, movement is usually quite precise; dorsal and anal fins aid in manoeuvring and stabilizing. In most species, all fins are simple, small, and rounded, except for the pelvic fins which, if present, are fused and buried. Again, in most members, the gill plates are covered over with skin, the only gill opening a small slit above the pectoral fin.

The tetraodontiform strategy seems to be defense at the expense of speed, with all species fortified with scales modified into strong plates or spines – or with tough, leathery skin (the filefishes and ocean sunfish). Another striking defensive attribute found in the pufferfishes and porcupinefishes is the ability to inflate their bodies to greatly increase their normal diameter; this is accomplished by sucking water into a diverticulum of the stomach. Many species of the Tetraodontidae, Triodontidae, and Diodontidae are further protected from predation by tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin concentrated in the animals' internal organs.
Long-spine porcupinefish, Diodon holocanthus: On the right is a blue-spotted grouper, Cephalopholis argus

Tetraodontiforms have highly modified skeletons, with no nasal, parietal, infraorbital, or (usually) lower rib bones. The bones of the jaw are modified and fused into a sort of "beak"; visible sutures divide the beaks into "teeth". This is alluded to in their name, derived from the Greek words tetra meaning "four" and odous meaning "tooth" and the Latin forma meaning "shape". Counting these teeth-like bones is a way of distinguishing similar families, for example, the Tetraodontidae ("four-toothed"), Triodontidae ("three-toothed"), and Diodontidae ("two-toothed").

Their jaws are aided by powerful muscles, and many species also have pharyngeal teeth to further process prey items, because the Tetraodontiformes prey mostly on hard-shelled invertebrates, such as crustaceans and shellfish.

The Molidae are conspicuous even within this oddball order; they lack swim bladders and spines, and are propelled by their very tall dorsal and anal fins. The caudal peduncle is absent and the caudal fin is reduced to a stiff rudder-like structure. Molids are pelagic rather than reef-associated and feed on soft-bodied invertebrates, especially jellyfish.
Ocean sunfish
The honeycomb cowfish is part of the family Ostraciidae.
American whitespotted filefish Cantherhines macrocerus

This cladogram of extant Tetraodontiformes is based on Santini et al., 2013.[3]


Triodontidae (threetooth puffer) Triodon.jpg

Aracanidae (deepwater boxfishes) Aracana aurita.jpg

Ostraciidae (boxfishes) Lactoria fornasini1.jpg

Triacanthidae (triplespines) Triacanthus strigilifer Day 175.jpg

Triacanthodidae (spikefishes) Ethiops.jpg

Balistidae (triggerfishes) Särkänniemi - fish.png

Monacanthidae (filefishes) Monacanthus ciliatus - pone.0010676.g193.png

Molidae (ocean sunfishes) Mola mola 1898.jpg

Diodontidae (porcupinefishes) Cyclichthys orbicularis mirrored.jpg

Tetraodontidae (pufferfishes) Canthigaster valentini1.jpg

Fossil families

Superfamily †Plectocretacicoidea Tyler & Sorbini, 1996[4]
†Cretatriacanthidae Tyler & Sorbini, 1996[4]
†Plectocretacicidae Tyler & Sorbini, 1996[4]
†Protriacanthidae Tyler & Sorbini, 1996[4]
†Bolcabalistidae (e.g. Eospinus) Santini & Tyler, 2003[5]
†Moclaybalistidae Santini & Tyler, 2003[5]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tetraodontiformes.

Keiichi, Matsura & Tyler, James C. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-12-547665-2.
Tyler, James C (1980). Cover of: Osteology, phylogeny, and higher classification of the fishes of the order Plectognathi (Tetraodontiformes) by James C. Tyler Osteology, phylogeny, and higher classification of the fishes of the order Plectognathi (Tetraodontiformes). NOAA.
Santini, Francesco; Sorenson, Laurie; Alfaro, Michael E. (2013). "A new phylogeny of tetraodontiform fishes (Tetraodontiformes, Acanthomorpha) based on 22 loci". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 69 (1): 177–187. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.05.014.
Tyler, James C.; Sorbini, Lorenzo (1996). "New Superfamily and Three New Families of Tetraodontiform Fishes from the Upper Cretaceous: The Earliest and Most Morphologically Primitive Plectognaths" (PDF). Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology. 82 (82): 1–59. doi:10.5479/si.00810266.82.1.

Santini, Francesco; Tyler, James C. (2003). "A phylogeny of the families of fossil and extant tetraodontiform fishes (Acanthomorpha, Tetraodontiformes), Upper Cretaceous to Recent". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 139 (4): 565–617. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2003.00088.x.

Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Tetraodontiformes" in FishBase. January 2006 version.
Tree of Life: Tetraodontiformes
Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology. 364: 560. Retrieved 2011-04-21.

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