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Family Ostraciidae

Trunkfishes, Boxfishes and Cowfishes

These fish have rigid box-like bodies composed of fused scales with openings for eyes, mouth , gills, anus, and fins.  The skin of some species produces a toxic mucus under stress.  This toxin may be strong enough to kill anything within a confined space, such as a bucket, including itself.  Swimming is accomplished by sculling the dorsal, anal, and pectoral fins while the caudal fin is reserved for quick bursts.  Spiny species are referred to as cowfishes and smooth species as boxfishes.  Young are born as females and just handful will live long enough to become males.  They graze upon a variety of encrusting organisms including sponges, tunicates, hydroids, and algae.

 

HAWAII

Lactoria diaphana

SPINY or ROUNDBELLY COWFISH

 

Lactoria fornasini

THORNBACK COWFISH

Ostracion meleagris

SPOTTED BOXFISH, Female

 

Ostracion meleagris

SPOTTED BOXFISH, Male

Ostracion whitleyi

WHITLEY'S BOXFISH, Female

 

Ostracion whitleyi

WHITLEY'S BOXFISH, Male


INDO-PACIFIC

Lactoria cornuta

LONGSPINE COWFISH

 

Ostracion cubicus

YELLOW BOXFISH, Male


WESTERN ATLANTIC

Lactophrys triqueter

SMOOTH TRUNKFISH