Spotted Sharpnose Puffer, Canthigaster punctatissima
The Spotted Sharpnose Puffer, Canthigaster punctatissima, whose common Spanish name is botete bonito, is a species in the Puffer or Tetraodonitidae Family, known collectively as bottes in Mexico. Globally, there are thirty-three species in the genus Canthigaster, two of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.
The Spotted Sharpnose Puffers have robust slightly compressed bodies whose depth is 47 to 51% of standard length. They have an overall dark brown coloration and, with the exception of their whitish belly and transparent fins, are covered with numerous small white spots. Their head is large and blunt with large elevated eyes, a small mouth, and a long pointed snout. They have strong powerful teeth. Their back has a distinctive crest between the eyes and dorsal fin. They have short gill openings that end before their pectoral fins. Their anal and dorsal fins are small and similar in shape and location, have short bases, and are found well back on the body. Their caudal fin is rounded. Their body is scaleless and the skin is smooth but tough with a few small spines.
The Spotted Sharpnose Puffers are common inhabitants of rocky reefs and are found near the surface and at depths up to 80 feet. They reach a maximum length of 9.0 cm (3.5 inches). They are small and a very poorly studied species and very limited information is available about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Spotted Sharpnose Puffers have a limited range being found around the southern tip of Baja, in the southern two-thirds of the Sea of the Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.
The Spotted Sharpnose Puffer is an easy fish to identify due to its unique markings and cannot be confused with any other species.
The Spotted Sharpnose Puffers are very difficult to catch via hook and line and are thus collected by commercial fishermen as a by-catch using nets. The amount, if any, of tetrodotoxin contained in their bodies and the related concerns about the potential health threat to humans from eating this fish is unknown. Due to their small stature, this should normally not be an issue.