Whitespotted Puffer (Canthigaster jactato) Information

Hawaiian Whitespotted Puffer in Kona
Hawaiian Whitespotted Puffer in Kona Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

While the White Spotted Puffer is possibly one of the cutest fish you can put in your saltwater aquarium, it is well known for causing a lot of damage to other fish in the tank by constantly nipping at and taking small chunks out of their fins.

Scientific Name

Canthigaster jactator (Jenkins, 1901)

Other Common Names

Hawaiian Whitespotted Toby, Whitespotted Sharp-Nosed Puffer.


The Whitespotted Puffer has a tan body and a white belly. Its many white spots from the middle to the back half of the body are outlined by thin black lines. The spots near the front half of the body and area around the snout have a light turquoise hue to them. It has a dark, almost black spot or area at the base of the dorsal fin. often confused with C. solandri (Richardson, 1845), which has spots on the tail and lines around the eyes. It also resembles C. janthinopterus (Bleeker, 1855), which has pale streaks that cross the snout. All of these species have a sharp, pointed snout, thus named Sharp-Nosed Puffers.


It is an endemic species only found in Hawaiian waters and doubtless adjoining areas around Hawai'i. It is most commonly found in shallower waters on the reef but does also inhabit deeper waters throughout the reef.


The Whitespotted Puffer is an omnivore. It feeds on a wide range of crustaceans, echinoderms, and invertebrates, such as sponges, tunicates, polychaetes, bryozoans, sea urchins, brittle stars, crabs, peanut worms, shrimps, zoanthids, fishes, amphipods, and foraminiferans, and will eat marine algae and detritus as well. Because of its food preferences, it is not a fish recommended for a reef tank. However, it does well in a fish-only tank. Feed a diet of various meaty fares, including chopped shrimp, squid, clams, and fish. It will also accept herbivore fares, such as nori and vitamin-enriched flaked foods.


This fish can be quite territorial and very aggressive. It will follow other fish around a tank and pick at their fins, nipping little bites out of them, and it doesn't seem to matter how big the other fish is either! The Whitespotted Puffer does not get along with puffers of its own kind, unless as a mated pair, and can sometimes become a real terror to most other fish as well. It is best kept in a specific aggressive species community tank.

Care Rating

We give this fish a One StarFish Care Rating Level. It does make a good beginner fish because it is a very hardy species, but unfortunately, it does have a very aggressive nature. This is a fish we think you either like or dislike. I like it and Stan dislikes it. I think it's cute and adorable, he compares it to a yapping, nipping, annoying poodle or chihuahua. We have talked to numerous hobbyists that feel the same way, so keeping one is something you just need to decide for yourself.