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FAQs about Box-, Cowfishes Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Boxfishes, Puffers in General, Puffer Care and Information, Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo, True Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Puffer Care and Information by John (Magnus) Champlin, Things That My Puffers Have Told Me by Justin Petrey,

Related FAQs: Boxfishes 1, Boxfishes 2, Boxfish Identification, Boxfish Behavior, Boxfish Compatibility, Boxfish Selection, Boxfish Systems, Boxfish Disease, Boxfish Reproduction, Puffers in General, Puffer Identification, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Compatibility, Puffer Selection, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, Puffer Reproduction, True Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Tobies/Sharpnose PuffersMarine Environmental Disease 1,

Boxfishes can/do go on hunger strikes w/o reason at times.

Blue Boxfish; feeding      3/3/17
<Hello Edwin>
Any advice for tempting a blue boxfish to eat?
<Oh yes; live small/ish crustaceans of any sort primarily; Ghost/Glass Shrimp is my fave.>
My experience is that the females eat readily but males will sometimes starve themselves.
Been trying to keep away from it - but its such a beautiful fish I just bought another one.
Its doing to the same as per most boxfish - ignoring everything in the first week and not even grazing.
Edwin Lee
<Try adding and soaking the shrimp (frozen if you can't secure live) in a vitamin/HUFA (appetite et al. stimulating) supplement; such as SeaChem's: http://www.seachem.com/entice.php
Bob Fenner>

Cow fish not eating   2/18/14
My cowfish, Pig, is not eating well.
<Not uncommon w/ Lactoria; feeding strikes... most often correlated w/ too narrow food choices... Thiaminase et al. issues
 I have had him since he was a sugar cube in October of 2013. He normally is a very active eater, hence his name. However we had a leak in our big tank and currently have all our fish spread out until we get our new 125 gallon tank up and running. He has been in a 20 gallon tank with live sand and rock as filtration and a mated pair of Cardinal fish for about 2 months. The Banggai Cardinals do not bother him, they just hide.
Two - three weeks ago Pig became stuck overnight between a rock and the side of the tank. It took me a little bit to find him in the morning and to free him I had to nudge the rock to the center. He was extremely upset after that so I added some stress coat. By that evening he was feeling better.
 Recently (with in the last week and a half)  I bought a basic filter for the tank because I didn't feel the rock and sand were doing a good enough job. Since adding that Pig spends all his time in that corner and has become obsessed with the bubbles (that have been in the tank the entire time, not new). He used to love playing in the bubbles when he was little in his smaller tank so I hadn't thought anything of it. But in the last two days I have noticed his appetite doesn't seem to be there. He will look at the shrimp
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfshfdgfaqs.htm
Needs other foods; perhaps soaking in HUFAs, Vitamins... "flavor enhancers">
 and sometimes swim at them but doesn't seem to be actually eating them. He used to be very social and would come to the front of the tank when I was there, he would follow the pipette with his favorite shrimp and target feed.
Now he is really just obsessed with bubbles. And when he does pay attention to the shrimp he's not actually eating them
Last I have noticed in past couple days a couple white spot. They are large raised spots (I don't think its Ich) one toward the top of his body / head and another on his other side toward his belly. Both are on what I could his naturally spiny areas.
Researching I am thinking that it might be Lymphocystis or an injury from his being stuck. I have read that poor water can cause the Lymphocystis and there is no treatment other than getting the water better.
<Yes; this is so... And; the bubbles coalescing on the water surface... can/could be indicative of trouble. Do you have an understanding of ORP? RedOx? Do search re on WWM; and consider at least "wicking" the surface film off the water, the use of GAC, PolyFilter...>
 Is there anything else it could be?
<The nutritional reading... doing what you can do to reduce Thiaminase... the improvement in water quality... Yes; these two>
Anything else I should do? Please advise. I have bought a 125 gallon tank so I can keep him health and happy. I just need to him happy until I can get him in there!
Thank you in advance for any advise and help you can give. I have attached some pics, I hope they come through.
Heather : )
<Do write back after reading if your plan of action isn't clear. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cow fish not eating   2/18/14

Thank you! I'm going to start researching right now!
<Ah, good. BobF>

Re: Cow fish not eating       2/19/14
Hey Bob! Thanks again for the links and info! We checked all the water levels and everything looks good. My husband had the bright idea to just turn off the air stone for a bit and amazingly my little Pig was his normal inquisitive self, once again coming up to great me and follow my finger. He also ate like normal with no bubbles to distract him. I think he is OCD for bubbles.
 The white bump or spot is getting smaller and fading as well. And to top it all off the Banggai's had babies.  So I'm hoping that means the water quality hasn't been too bad. This is their second batch to actually hatch and live. We were not actually trying to be fish breeders so this has been an adventure. The first batch are 81 days old and we only lost 1 out 11 while weaning them from live brine nauplii to frozen. This round it looks like only a batch of three but I guess we are once again in the sea monkey business! Ugh! Sorry tangent.
<No worries>
 That brings me to my follow up question. Pig is actually a very picky eater. He only likes the bright red brine shrimp that say they are Omega filled on the package. We also soak them in garlic and ZoĆ« and another vitamin I can't think of off the top of my head. We mix the brine with Mysis (both frozen) and he'll pick at the Mysis but he really loves the brine. What else could we try?
<See/back to WWM re Ostraciid feeding>

 We've bought some other stuff that our LFS has recommended and he just turns up his nose. We also give them formula 2 green veggies but he doesn't like that as well either. He does pick at the live rock.  At the LFS today I saw a yellow box fish smaller than my cow picking at a large shrimp. I was thinking of trying something like that to offer him a more varied diet.
<Look to the Spectrum pelleted brand>
 And I am concerned about Thiaminase build up and looking to avoid that.
<Ah, good>
I have seen a lot about what a puffer diet consists of but not so much about cow fish. Is it the same?
<Indeed; yes>
 Is ok to continue with the brine and Mysis with occasional veggies or should I be concerned and actively seeking other things he will eat?
 Thanks so much for your help and advice!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Ostracion Cubicus. Color, beh. f'  12/31/12
Hi, Ostracion Cubicus Yellow Black Dot Boxfish -
>Oh! Recently wrote a piece for a pulp hobby 'zine re this species<
I have often wondered why some of these fish are much brighter yellow rather than creamy coloured. As I have just purchased a small one that was yellow but is not turning creamy I was hoping that you have any ideas on how to increase the yellow colouring. He is eating New Life Spectrum Finicky Fish Formula and not being bothered by any other fish. Regards,
<I do concur that some specimens are definitely differently colored... and that likely nutrition plays a significant role here... I'd mix in some other foods that have a goodly content of Carotenoids et al. coloring pigment precursors... Krill, other shrimps... along w/ Spectrum brand. Bob Fenner> 
Cubicus Boxfish. Colour, fdg.     2/17/13

Hi Crew, I have looked on your site and cannot find anyone with a solution.
I have a small, about 3cms Cubicus Boxfish
<Wow! Small!>
 which I have had for about 6 weeks and all is well eating everything, New Life Spectrum and Spectrumax both 1mm sinking which I feed in small doses about 3 times per day. He has gone from being a bright yellow to a creamy colour but does get slightly more yellow when eating.
 I purchased Ocean Nutrition Spirulina flakes to try and get his colour back but still his it does not come back. The fish store said that Cubicus always lose their colour like the Regal Tang. I also have a Regal Tang (yellow belly) and he has kept his colour like the day he came out of the sea and doubled in size in the 7 months I have had him which I think is a good sign that the diet is complete in nutrients. Any magic remedies, the boxfish is not being stressed by any fish (I know they are prone to have their tail bitten by curious fish) I think he is very relaxed and happy and can only presume they lose their colour when happy and when he eats he gets excited and the yellow returns but only for a few min.s. Regards, Adam.
<Just time going, by, your good care... Bob Fenner>

Boxfish nutrition  9/25/09
Hi guys n' gals at WWM!!
I have a quickie question on Boxfish feeding (specifically a yellow boxfish (of 2 1/2 years)). Bob suggests a lot to feed boxfish "opened shellfish" ... My question: What kinds?? (mussel or clam) and how should it be served??
<Mmm, I'd get a bag of frozen seafood mix from a grocery store, and defrost a piece every few days... prise open the bivalves a bit... and drop in>
Should the shell be crushed for easy access or just partially opened?
I know its most important for the boxfish to eat away at the shell and for now all my boxfish loves are frozen brine shrimp and Aquadine wafers (she LOVES the algae wafers (will mix them with the substrate when she "squirts" them up!!)). Are there any aquarium type clams or mussels (I don't care about the $$, ANYTHING for boxfish) that I can put in the tank so as if she ever gets the urge she can eat it herself (I have purchased tunicates and seen her eating them before), its just that I rather buy something natural for her to eat instead of getting a huge crushed clam or mussel from the store and just watch her look at it and have to remove it.
As with the nutrition question I have a dental question too. I see my boxfish constantly bite at the liverock (I have many sponges growing wildly and some tunicates that I purchased for the boxfish) and incidentally eat substrate with the Aquadine wafers. Are these examples sufficient for the boxfish to wear down her teeth??
<Likely so... you will/would see excessive tooth length/growth if not>
I've seen her bite at the tops of snails before but nothing else really happens af apart?
<Oh yes>
Perhaps she is still too small for shells? (about 3.5" head to tail and maybe an 1.75" at the widest part).
<Much more to grow! See Fishbase.org for the maximum length and a growth/age curve for the species. Bob Fenner> 

Boxfish Troubles  2/16/07 Hello from Alabama,   Thank you for all of the help your website has given me. I have recently purchased two boxfish (male and female, Ostracion meleagris) for a maintenance customer of mine. I tried to talk him out of it but it didn't work. The male is about 6" <Wow, big!> and the female is about 3.5". I got them from liveaquaria.com's "Diver's Den", so we could see what we were getting. <Nice feature, good company> They haven't eaten since I received them a week ago. The fish are very active but show no interest in food at all. I have tried fresh squid, shrimp, scallops, and even live freshwater ghost shrimp. <Wow...> The male does have a small white bump/pimple on his belly, not sure what this is. <Likely no big deal> If you think they may need some type of medication what would you recommend? <I would NOT treat, or even move these Ostraciids... they can/do go on "hunger strikes" particularly when moved... and won't starve for quite a long while if in initially good condition... I would keep trying... with an opened shellfish... when you call on this account> They are in a 65 gallon quarantine that shares a wet/dry with a 40 gallon quarantine that is holding a Rabbitfish. The customer has ordered a medium Naso tang and a small flasher wrasse that will also go into this quarantine system (in case this has any effect on medication types). Any help would be greatly appreciated.      Thank you,   Jeremy <>< <I encourage you to go ahead and place these fish... Will likely feed in the main/display tank... in time... versus possibly never feeding and perishing from "stress" in quarantine. Bob Fenner>

What to feed my Puffer Hi again, Today I have a question about the puffer fish that I just recently purchased for my tank. At my LFS he was labeled as a Short Nosed Puffer, but in my research online I have found that it is sort of a subcategory of puffer fish, am I correct? <Do you mean... a Sharpnose puffer... as in the subfamily Canthigastrinae of the family Tetraodontidae?> Right now I have no way of getting a picture of it for you guys to help me identify it, but I'll describe it the best I can. It has the body shape of a Dog-Faced Puffer, but it is only about 2 inches in size. The LFS told me that he would only get to be about 4 to 5 inches long fully grown.  <Uhh, "bad form" to buy ahead of investigating... the species... its requirements/needs... We have most all aquarium available species listed... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm. Scroll down to the Puffer articles, related FAQs...> He is a light gray in color with dark gray horizontal stripes, and his tail is all black. My question is, what should I feed him. They told me at the local fish store that he should eat 3 to 5 feeder guppies a day... <Negative... see the above where you should read> ...but I have read that freshwater fish are not very nutritious. I also have a Spotted Hawkfish that is on the same diet, but only 2 to 3 a day. I think it would be easier to feed them something frozen, but I'm not sure what they would accept. Would frozen krill be a good choice, or should I try frozen silversides? Or is there another option that I should go with? I originally was feeding the Hawkfish 1 ghost shrimp a day, but they got to be a little expensive. I haven't tried feeding the puffer the shrimp, but I have read that he needs something with a somewhat hard shell from time to time to wear down his teeth. Thanks for the help, Daniel <Study my friend... the mistakes you're making are easily avoided. Bob Fenner> 

Hawaiian Blue Spotted puffer not eating  9/25/05 Purchased a Hawaiian Blue Spotted puffer from an internet site over a week ago. Looked healthy on arrival and still looks well with no visible parasites but has not eaten a thing since arriving. I've tried flakes, krill, plankton, pellets all with and without garlic added. <Mmm, don't eat dried food/s... and generally don't eat after being shipped for a while> He is housed in a 50 gallon FO tank <Too small> with a small Picasso Trigger, Flame Angel, and Blue Tang. <Too crowded> No one has been bullying him or troubling him since he's arrived. <Psychologically... is very crowded> SG is 1.023, Ph is 8.2 and ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites are undetectable. I have a HOB power filter rated for 500 gallons per hour, an Aqua C Remora skimmer and 2 1200 Maxi Jets for added water circulation. Temp has been higher than I would like at 84 degrees and I've ordered a chiller last week that is yet to arrive. <... I'd cancel the chiller, put the money toward a reasonable sized system... at least double... better quadruple what you have> The other fish all appear well and are feeding well. The puffer has been hiding in a cave but does come out about once a day and make a slow tour of the tank. Moves slowly but does not have any visible lesions and doesn't look emaciated yet. He was acclimated over 3 hours via drip technique and then given a 10 minute freshwater dip with Methylene Blue added before being added to my tank. <Good technique> Any ideas what might be wrong here before I lose this little guy? All comments would be appreciated. Thanks. John <Needs larger quarters... stat! As they say on teevee... Try offering whole/opened shellfish... and add vitamins to the system water. Do get the larger system... ASAP. Bob Fenner>

Re: Hawaiian Blue Spotted puffer not eating Thanks Bob for your quick response. I'll try to get that larger tank and offer him the fresh foods as you recommend. John <Ah, good... and have been cogitating furiously whether I should've mentioned the toxicity of ostraciids... so I will here. You don't want to disturb boxfishes, particularly in small volumes... they can... poison the water sufficiently to kill your other fishes... in a short while. Bob Fenner> Cyclop-eeze for Boxfish? Hi Bob <Sal> Thanks for the idea. Maybe I could follow in your footsteps and write a book. <Of a certainty yes> I do have a new question ( of course ). I' m reading about a food that I just heard about called Cyclop-eeze. Have you heard of them? <Yes, saw it fed at a local marine club meeting just two nights back. Has a very good reputation> Do you think it could be fed to adult fish ( cowfish )? <It's tiny... but worth a try... you could make it into "cubes"... with a binder... other materials... homemade> The website says food size is 800 microns. Sounds like a very good food source. Id like to know what you think. As always thank you very much.     <Worth trying. Bob Fenner>    

Yellow boxfish feeding- 2/3/04 Hey! <Hiya>     Just a quick question, I have just acquired a yellow boxfish and I haven't noticed him eating yet, he ate at the store. <What did they feed at the store?> I feed my fish tetra marine granules, which sink to the bottom and I read that boxfish are bottom feeders so I didn't see a problem with that. <Well, good theory, but if they aren't eating it yet then time to move to something else.> I was wondering if there was something else I could try, I have never had a problem with fish eating the granules but I understand that boxfish have a specific diet, <correct. When first introduced, the Cubicus Boxfish prefers a diet of live brine shrimp or bloodworms. Once acclimated, the diet should include chopped squid, clams, mussels, and herbivore preparations.> I have bloodworms but am leery about using them because I heard that they could harm my Tang, <Here are some links with some information regarding your fish: http://www.marinedepotlive.com/783554.html and http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_Display.cfm?siteid=21&pCatId=81 and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfishes.htm Any help would be helpful, thanks.  Matt

Sphoeroides lobatus Feeding Suggestions, Pt. 2 1.13.05 To: Ryan, <Morning!> Thank You for replying to my email.  Yes and No about purchasing the Puffers on impulse. We did have our tanks well planned out (we have several) and we do not over crowd them (one pair of Cichlids per 55 gal) and we were looking for a Puffer when we came across these, the only difference was that the store did not know anything about them and they were in a 10 or 15 gal tank. I guess it's a case of I could not bear to see them in that tank where they had been for a few months, with no shelter to hide from all the preying eyes. <Everyone with a heart and an aquarium has been there!  The important part is that you're doing what you can now to learn about them!> I think they will do well, I have a good idea about feeding, and right now they are so small they are doing well in the 40 gal we put them into with lots and lots of hiding places. I will look for the Selcon.  I do have one more question, right now they seem to do well being in the same tank together, but should they be separated when they are older/bigger? <In a tank full of live rock, and plenty of cover, you may be able to house them together.  But, in a bare, open tank, the conditions aren't favorable for the weaker of the two.  Just monitor the behavior, and be aware that you may need to separate them at some point.> I have read that you cannot keep more then one puffer to a tank. Thank you for writing me back so quickly. It certainly has helped confirm some things for me. I am sure they will do just fine and I am looking forward to watching them grow, it is amazing to watch them do their "hummingbird" swim around the tank. <They're fascinating and personable creatures!  Enjoy them.  Ryan> Arlene Olson

Spotted boxfish Don't know if you still answer questions or not, but its worth a try. I recently obtained a 4 inch spotted (male) boxfish. What is the best ways to get it to start eating. It still seems confused. Its in a 30gal by its self. Haven't tried live food yet. Any ideas. Thanks Darren >> <Oh yeah, still trying to do my bit... online for co.s and on our site we post a slew of questions/comments/replies: Home Page . And I take this is an Ostracion meleagris... and even if not, most all will start feeding if you can offer them a good sized opened mussel or shrimp (as in for human consumption... and once they start feeding, will almost always accept any/all meaty foods. Bob Fenner>

Keeping Boxfish (Ostracion cubicus) Hello. I'm considering purchasing a boxfish (preferably Ostracion cubicus) now that my much-loved porcupine puffer has died. I just wanted a general guide on the overall care on such fish. I have spent a lot of time at your website, but still have a few questions: I have a 55 gallon marine aquarium (the SeaClear acrylic systems with the built in wet\dry and a protein skimmer) with a Maroon clown, Sebae clown, and Bicolor angel (all are small-3 inches or under). I feed my fish mostly dry food (Wardley marine color flakes, dried krill, etc.). Would the boxfish require live and\or frozen food regularly??  <Yes, pretty much daily... won't live long or well on dried prepared foods> I've kept fish since I was 6 (11 years so far) but with starting college I have not kept up with the latest info in the hobby, and I don't remember all that I used to.  <who does?> Do they have any special needs I should know about?? Do you sell boxfish?? <Yes... to not be "disturbed"... by you, the system, other livestock... and no, I sell only ideas> Any tips or some advice would be helpful. Thanks a lot for your time. Michael --Rhino Fades To Grey-- <Not much more to say my friend. Place such Boxfishes (family Ostraciidae) in established, optimized, stable, and not-too-busy settings, feed them regularly and they should do fine. Bob Fenner>

Re: Keeping Boxfish (Ostracion Cubicus) Thanks a lot for your prompt response and for your tips. I have just one more question: should I feed frozen food for fish (such as the various frozen 'cubed' foods) or should I purchase frozen seafood (small shrimps and oysters) or both?? In terms of live food: fish or something such as brine shrimp?? Thanks for any info. <Both would be better... live foods I would dispense with... not important to these fishes, more money, and likelihood of introducing pests, disease. Bob Fenner> Michael

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