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Ostraciidae (Boxfishes)

Species Currently in the DFL

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Acanthostracion quadricornis
Scrawled Cowfish
Ostracion nasus
Shortnose Boxfish
About This Family
All tropical and temperate (occasionally) areas of the world’s oceans.
Benthic-dwelling, and occur over rocky and coral reefs and over sand, seagrass, and sponge bottoms in depths to 200 m.
The body of all Boxfishes is almost completely encased in a bony shell or carapace composed of enlarged scale plates. The mouth is small with conical teeth and the diet is typically benthic invertebrates. There is no pelvic skeleton nor fin spines and the small gill slits are found just ahead of the pectoral fins.

Some Boxfishes can secrete a toxin known as “ostracitoxin” which can kill other fishes, when in confined quarters, and also can kill the Boxfish although it is less susceptible. Some species have been reported to have toxic flesh. Boxfishes are slow swimming and scull with their dorsal, anal, and pectoral fins, utilizing the caudal fin when more speed is needed.

There are two subfamilies (some authors recognizing these at the family level), the Aracaninae or trunkfishes with seven genera and about 13 species, and the Ostraciinae with seven genera and about 20 species.

Matsuura, 2001, 2002; Nelson, 2006
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