Striped Burrfish

Striped Burrfish
Chilomycterus schoepfii


Key Distinguishing Markings:

  • body is yellow to brown above and white to yellow below (although sometimes black) with numerous black or dusky-brown stripes and several large black ocelli;
  • numerous short, thick spines cover the head and body;
  • jaws and teeth modified into short beak; and
  • iridescent blue-green pupils.

Size:

Distribution:

  • Occurring from New England to Brazil (including the Gulf of Mexico), the striped burrfish is found throughout Maryland's Coastal Bays and in the Chesapeake Bay from the mouth north to about the Patuxent River.

Habitat:

  • Adults are most often found in seagrass beds.
  • They live in brackish to marine environments and within water temperature range of 54 - 100oF and are unable to survive in water cooler than about 43oF.

Food Preference:

  • Striped burrfish primarily eat shellfish (mainly gastropods), barnacles and crabs (particularly hermit crabs).

Spawning:

  • They are believed to spawn offshore but uncertainty exists as to the time.

Fishing Tips:

  • It is unlikely that you will ever catch a striped burrfish on hook and line, but if you do please handle them with gloves. The spines are sharp and the powerful jaws and beak can surely produce a painful bite.
  • They are generally too small to provide any value as a food source and DNR cautions against consuming them.

Fun Facts:

  • Striped burrfish move by jetting water from the restricted gill openings.
  • The striped burrfish has a defense system in the form of an organ known as a buccal pump which allows it to inflate its body considerably when threatened.
  • Inflation in the striped burrfish is not as extreme as that of the northern puffer (Sphoeroides maculatus) but when combined with the presence of its sharp spines it no doubt is more effective in deterring a would-be predator.

Kingdom: Animalia - animals

Phylum: Chordata - chordates

Subphylum: Vertebrata - vertebrates

Superclass: Osteichthyes bony fishes

Class: Actinopterygii - ray-finned fishes

Subclass: Neopterygii neopterygians

Infraclass: Teleostei

Superorder: Acanthopterygii

Order: Tetraodontiformes puffers, filefishes, triggerfishes

Suborder: Tetraodontoidei puffers, porcupinefishes

Family: Diodontidae - burrfishes

Genus: Chilomycterus Brisout de Barneville, 1846 burrfishes, spiny boxfishes

Species: Chilomycterus schoepfii (Walbaum, 1792) striped burrfish


For more information on striped burrfish and their management, please contact Angel Willey.

Illustration by Diane Rome Peebles
Provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,
Division of Marine Fisheries Management


References:
1. Humann, P. 1994. Reef Fish Identification: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. 2nd Edition. 406 p.
2. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Online database. http://www.itis.gov. Accessed October 24, 2012.
3. Martin, F.D. and G.E. Drewry, 1978. in Development of the Fishes of the Mid-Atlantic Bight. Vol. 5: 306-309.
4. Murdy, E.O., R.S. Birdsong, and J.A. Musick. 1997. Fishes of Chesapeake Bay. Smithsonian Institution Press. 324 p.
5. Perlmutter, A. 1961. Guide to Marine Fishes, p. 411.
6. Robins, C.R., G.C. Ray, J. Douglas, and R. Freund. 1986. Peterson Field Guide. A Field Guide to Atlantic Coast Fishes.
    Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA. 354 p.
7. Wainwright, P.C., R.G. Turnigan, and E. Brainerd; 1995. Functional Morphology of Pufferfish Inflation: Mechanism of the Buccal Pump.
    Copeia (3): 514 - 525.


Return to Top