Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Box-, Cowfishes Selection

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 Systems, Boxfish Feeding, 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,

Don't choose them just because they're cute...

Tetrosomus gibbosus; Ostraciid comp., stkg.      4/6/13
   hoping you can help me, thinking about buying a Tetrosomus gibbosus for my 180gal FOWLR.
<A skittish boxfish species>
Looking on the web I'm not really getting a clear picture as to whether Tetrosomus gibbosus, the boxfish, is likely to poison my tank if stressed or worse. Many accounts seem to say, unlike some of its relatives, that it will not poison the tank even if it dies, other say it will so i don't know what to believe!
<Not likely to poison the system while live>
           I do not want to risk my other fish if Tetrosomus gibbosus is prone to killing its tank mates, I will not buy it if that is your reply.
I know Bob recommends Ostracion solorensis, which stays small and is prettier. Is this more likely to poison my tank though?
<Members of the genus Ostracion are much more appropriate for aquarium use>
       I think you can see the problem here, I like these fish but would be devastated if it cost me all my existing stock.
thanks for your help,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Tetrosomus gibbosus     4/6/13

Hi Bob,
          thanks for your invaluable advice. I will not buy a Tetrosomus gibbosus based on your earlier answer.
I am still interested in the Ostracion solorensis though. I have two questions which i hope you will help me with:
<Sure; If I can>
1. I have been trying to find info on the likelihood of Ostracion solorensis, specifically, releasing toxin and thus killing its tank mates.
Unfortunately articles seem to lump all boxfish together when discussing this danger. Are they all as bad as each other, can you give me an answer on Ostracion solorensis specifically?
<Not likely to do so... especially in a large/r volume system that's stable... To put in perspective; there are other sources of possible mortality (e.g. electrical outage) that are far more likely>
2. Secondly, when I used to have sharp nose puffers years ago, not currently, i used to have to catch then to trim their teeth now and again.
Are boxfish teeth different, hopefully not needing dentistry? 
<A bit; they tend to keep their own trimmed by fitting rock, substrate>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer or/and Long Horn Cowfish, sel., sys.   4/23/10
When I was a teenager I worked at a pet store (with a very large fish area) for 4 years. They had a very large porcupine puffer (about a foot long) that was a store pet and not for sale. I couldn't walk by his tank without stopping and playing with him.
<Are very intelligent and interactive.>
He had a very fun personality and would follow your finger or you back and forth, fast and slow, all day, and he was soooo cute!! He was always very curious and wanted attention.
<Often the case.>
I decided I had to have one, one day! Ten years later and I finally have my 40 gal high salt water tank set up and ready to go.
<This tank way too small to house a large messy puffer, perhaps a Toby or sharpnose puffer, but I'm not sure that is what you are looking for. There are also some fresh and brackish water puffers that may fit what you are looking for more closely, but have their own pluses and minuses. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FishInd3.htm and perhaps check out
http://www.thepufferforum.com .>
But, I'm having a very hard time finding them and when I do they don't seem very playful.
<When properly housed they can be very interactive, when stressed much less so.>
The whole reason I want this fish is because of its personality and curiosity and its cuteness is an added bonus! I have been noticing the Long Horned Cowfish a lot though...they seem to be quite curious and playful as
well...The people at the fish store said that I couldn't put them together, even if it was only them in the tank.
<The most common offered, Lactoria cornuta grows far too large for your tank.>
I've looked into both fish quite a bit and it seems like they both have good and bad qualities/habits.
<Like all creatures.>
I do plan on getting a larger tank down the road when they/it start to out grow my current tank.
<Stock for what you have now, tank upgrades rarely actually happen, and often too late after the fish has already suffered irreparable harm.>
I want a playful, fun fish, that has a personality and doesn't act like a fish, if you know what I mean.
<Hopefully you have realistic expectations here.>
I don't want anything that is going to be super difficult to maintain or work with since this is my first salt water tank. Any suggestions, advice, or general info would be greatly appreciated!!
<While puffers are not terribly difficult in many ways they do require quite a bit of maintenance and some specialized care, I'm not sure I would recommend them for a beginner in the hobby.>
Thank you,
Re: Porcupine Puffer or/and Long Horn Cowfish, 4/23/10

Thank you very much for your fast reply!!
How fast do the long horned cowfish grow? The one I was looking at is like an inch long.
<It won't stay that size for long, I would guess it will be 6+ inches if properly housed and fed within a year, and if allowed to grow to over 18+ inches long. It is not a good fish for a casual hobbyist.>
Would you say that their personality is comparable to the porcupine puffer?
<Similar, intelligent and inquisitive, which can me destructive if bored.>
Also, how big of a tank do you think I would want for each?
<Something at least 24" wide, probably 6 feet long, probably something around 200 gallons for it's total life, but bigger would be better for these messy fish.>
Would it be okay to put them together in a large enough tank?
<Most likely.>
And if so, how large of a tank?
<250-300 gallons in my opinion.>
...I hope that's not too many questions!
<No problem, better to know what you are getting into now rather than after purchasing your tank.>

Boxfish... sys., sel. Hello. I have always loved boxfish but assumed my tank is to <too> small. I have a 55 gallon reef with one Ocellaris Clown fish and a Bicolor Pseudochromis (soon to be removed). I have been looking into Ostracion meleagris, Ostracion solorensis, or Ostracion whitleyi as their size is much smaller than many boxfish. Is my aquarium still to small to keep a contented (one of the above) boxfish and are any of them reef safe (especially with clams)? <Yes> Ostracitoxin- I have heard that it only effects fish and other vertebrates, is this true? <As far as I know, yes> Could the effects of ostritoxin be avoided or at least minimized with a good protein skimmer and lots of activated carbon/a Phosban reactor? <Yes> I know that is the best to hastily remove cephalopod ink from an aquarium. Most places that sell Boxfish list them as "Expert Only," is this only because of their toxin or are they genuinely very hard fish to keep alive and healthy? If so, why? <Good question... likely in a word: stress... Ostraciids just don't adapt well to captive conditions... They're very likely "accustomed" (hard wired) to being in large, open water conditions... And not being able to swim away from troubling experiential phenomena, suffer for it> - Bad shippers, problems with getting them to eat, prone to disease, all of the above, other? <Yes> I'm sorry if I am asking alot <No such word> of questions; but I can not find much information on the subject and I would hate to buy an animal that I am ill equipped to keep, or not have an animal that would have worked smashingly with my system. Thank you for your help. <Thank you for your obvious research, sharing... Bob Fenner>

Thornback (Hawaiian) Cowfish, sel.   2/23/08 I am trying to find where I can purchase a Lactoria fornasini. I moved recently and had to get rid of my old setup. I moved from an area with a lot of really good saltwater dealers to an area where not even a regular freshwater aquarium shop seems to be located. I have dealt with Drs. Fosters and Smith and Liveaquaria <A good outfit> in the past and have used them again to get my tank set up with live rock and live sand but they currently do not carry the thornback cow. Can you help me find a reliable dealer either in the Memphis Tenn. area or online that would have (or could get) this Cowfish? <Mmm, I would become familiar with your LFS, ask if they'd be willing to try and special order this fish... out of HI... Quality Marine, Sea Dwelling Creatures, Underwater World (all in LA, off 104th) all have good connections with collectors in the U.S. 50th State... Up to the folks there to find, gather your specimen... for you to stay on top of the order... Alternatively I'd contact the Good Dr.s F & S, Marine Center (.com), and ask them to keep their eyes open for you. Bob Fenner>

Boxfish/Systems/Compatibility 1/13/08 Hello, <Hi> I am setting up a 180 gallon aquarium 72x24x24. My question is what are the best Boxfish to keep? I know you have recommended Ostracion Meleagris, Whitely, and Solorensis. They would be kept by themselves. Also, can I put a pair of all three species in the 180 aquarium? If not how many Boxfishes could comfortably fit? What would I have to feed them? Any other special requirements? <Do read here and linked files above. Should steer you in the right direction. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfishes.htm> Thank you and email back ASAP! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)

Hashing, Boxfish size/sel., systems - 03/13/2005 Hey,      I noticed in 1 of your replies on WetWebFotos that you are a hasher! I'm YIP   ...  Yes, I'm Pointing from St. Pete Fl,   I've hashed w/ tbh3 & tbmah3. <Ahh! And I am Dogfish... a very old timer... who has hashed in many countries...>    I'm looking up box fish ... I just started a saltwater tank & catch what I put in it. Just got a 6-8 inch box fish and a 1-1/2 inch box fish ... they are really pretty. How big do they normally get? <Depends on the species... the most commonly available are posted on WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/boxfishes.htm>    Just a "HI" from the other side of the states!    Yip <Am actually out in HI (Hawai'i') right now... hashing with the Kona Coast HHH and doing the Lavaman next mo... have mercy! On out! BobF/DF>

Porcupine Puffer and Long Horn Cowfish   2/22/06 Hi,    <Hello>   I currently have a 4" porcupine puffer in my 125 gallon fish only with live rock tank.  His/her tankmates include 2 green Chromis, and a royal Gramma.  I read that a long horn cowfish is a good tankmate for a porcupine puffer, <Mmm, not IMO> and I wanted to make sure that this is true.  I was also wondering what other fish would be compatible with both the puffer and the cowfish. <... a bunch... see WWM re...> The puffer and the cowfish are two of my favorites, and I would love to have them both, but I do not want to put either of them in a bad situation (or their tankmates for that matter).  I'd appreciate any advice.       Thank you,   Charity <Cowfish are problematical in captivity period... for toxicity reasons mainly... I would not mix one in this sized system (too small...) with other tetraodontiform fishes. Bob Fenner> Cowfish Selection - 2/21/2006 Are there any species of box/cowfish that are suitable for keeping in a 4foot tank indefinitely? If not, no problem, but they are incredibly neat fish. <<They certainly are.  Google Tetrosomus gibbosus.  Requires expert care, but is within the size range you seek.>> Will <<Lisa.>> Cowfish - poorly suited for aquarium life 6/18/05 I have a Long horn Cowfish.   <Ughhh... neat fish, but very poorly suited for aquarium life.> It eats well and swims around.   <the bigger problem here is its adult size at 1.5 feet long! It will surely stunt and die prematurely for being kept in an aquarium unless you get it to a public aquarium sized display sooner rather than later. Its simply not true that fishes "grow to their tanks size." Again... they just stunt and die prematurely. Plus... this fish has toxic skin secretions. If stressed, it can/will exude a substance that will kill every living fish in your display including the cowfish itself. Please(!) research fishes before you buy them my friend. This ill-advised purchase will at least cost this specimen its life, likely.> The problem is he is getting a stringy white growth over his horn and on the top of its head.  I don't know if it is bacteria or fungus.  I have a 40 gallon FOWLR tank with 2 perculas, a neon goby and a blue tang.  Any help with identification and treatment would be great. Thanks <Any treatment of this toxic fish must be done in an isolation tank. If you do not have a QT tank, please read more in our archives and beyond about the critical need for having one to succeed long term in this hobby. Also... read more about your cowfish here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfishes.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfshfaqs.htm and here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?genusname=Lactoria&speciesname=cornuta Do remove this fish to a QT tank as soon as you can condition a sponge filter (in the display for several weeks). Use medicated food in the meantime with hopes to buy time on the condition if it seems to be bacteria or fungus (common on these sensitive fishes). Anthony>

Aracana sp. Years ago my first published article was on Lactoria cornuta (Cowfish) for TFH. (PS I won't take it personally that you don't have it on your bibliography). <Likely missed citing/copying, adding to files due to their long-standing habit of skipping bibliographies... I and real citation/abstracting interests rarely pick up materials w/o bibliog.'s> I am obviously a big fan of the group, and lately several websites have been offering Aracana sp. for sale, particularly Aracana ornata and Aracana aurita. Do you have any experience with these?  <Only as a retail dealer... and very inoccasional dive encounter> They are as pricey as they are beautiful ($200+), and I am worried that they might not feed in captivity, a la the male of Osctracion meleagris. <Supposedly are not too touchy... but I would make very sure the specimen/s I was/were acquiring were in good health, feeding... and get through a reliable source (SDC, Marine Center...). Bob Fenner> -- Michael Krechmer

- Ostracion solorensis, the Reticulate Boxfish: reef safe? - Hi. I am writing to question your expertise on this fish. I've researched what I could on your site and the internet, but cannot find whether this fish would be considered reef safe.  <They may eat sponges, tunicates, and potentially tubeworms, but should leave coral alone. The reason you find little about their behavior in reef aquaria is because they can release a toxin if agitated/killed which can wipe out a whole tank in short order. It's not a risk many aquarists, myself included, are willing to take.>  I have a 55g, inhabitants include 2 Pink Skunk Clowns, 1 Sunrise Dottyback, 1 Spotted Garden Eel, and 1 Chalk bass. I plan on adding a blenny or goby of some sort, and then one larger fish. I was hoping this fish would be a good candidate for the larger fish.  <Yep, as they max out at about 4">  I have mostly LPS and soft corals (zoanthids, Ricordea, etc.), as well as a Bubble Tip Anemone and a Rose Anemone. I have a few SPS, but am willing to give them up in exchange.  <I don't know if they'll bother SPS. I did a few searches on the more popular boards and didn't come up with much on the subject.>   I have read that it will nibble on tube worms, but have been unsuccessful in finding out if it will use SPS as puffers do.  <Maybe you will be the first to find out! Do share your experience, it may only cost you a frag or two!>  Will inverts be in danger too?  <Shouldn't be.>   My cleanup crew consists of a Fighting Conch, Serpent Star, several Margarita Snails, a Porcelain Crab, an Anemone Crab (hosts in BTA with Skunks) and also a Bay Ghost Shrimp. I plan on adding some peppermint shrimp and cleaners cautiously due to the Dottyback.   Thanks for any advice.  Joe <Let us know what happens, I'm on the edge of my seat! -Kevin>

- Ostracion solorensis: part 2 - Hi Kevin. Thanks for the response. <No prob> Alas I have searched on the boards as well to come up empty-handed. <As did I> I am writing back because I thought I read that this fish was far less toxic than its relatives. <I had not heard of this, and after digging through most of my books and doing several forum and wetweb searches, I finally stumbled upon page 322 of Bob's book (CMA) and saw the inset picture of our little friend here. It is still quite a toxic boxfish.> I'm probably mistaken though, and I will check my references. If I do end up getting this fish I will write back to tell you of success or failure. Should I just email the crew email address or do you have a personal address? <Just send it on over to the crew where it will be later posted for all to benefit from.> Now to just find a male for a 2 digit price :) <Hehe, good luck! -Kevin> Thanks again. Joe

50 Gallon Tank... Overstocked? <Hi! Ananda here today...> I'm interested in purchasing a small cowfish, but haven't at this point do to the current stock in my aquarium. The aquarium doesn't look overstocked to me, but it may feel like the occupancy has reached its max to the tenants. <Kudos to writing before getting such a demanding species. I would avoid *any* cowfish in a tank that small. Do talk to the kind folks on the Yahoo forum "Cowfish, Puffers, & More" at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CowfishPuffers_andMore/ to hear/read first-hand experiences with these fish.> Please advise if I've overstocked the tank or if I can continue adding. The following are the occupants in the aquarium: (1) 3 inch Powder Brown Tang, <Long-term, this guy needs a bigger tank. I would not keep this guy -- at his *current* size -- in anything less than 75g. And he's going to get a lot bigger.> (1) 3 inch Clark's Anemonefish, (2) Damselfish (a 2 inch green Chromis and a 2 inch four stripe damsel), <The 4-stripe is going to get bigger & meaner...> (1) 2 inch Mandarinfish, <Ack! For long-term survival, these guys need a tank at least 2-3 times the size of your current tank and lots of live rock to provide habitat for their food source (primarily copepods and other critters in the rock). Most people who report any success with these fish (i.e., keep it alive for more than six months or so) have at least a pound of live rock per gallon of tank size. Some have more, and many have a refugium dedicated to 'pod production. Do read up on these guys on the WWM site!> (2) Medium size Cleaner Shrimps, (1) small Arrow Crab, <Arrow crabs are not safe with smallish fish or smallish shrimp... and it's probably competing for food with your mandarin fish.> (5) small Cleaner crabs, (5) small Snails (for algae cleaning). Their is also (I'm guessing) about 15-20 pounds of live rock. <I would suggest tripling this as soon as possible. Do check the WetWebMedia chat forums at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk for discussions about where you can get good live rock inexpensively.> Thanks for any feedback you can provide P.S. The tank has a penguin filter and an under gravel 403 Fluval system. <*blink* Undergravel filters are, um, usually considered passé' by most marine fishkeepers... they can be a source of nitrates and are far from efficient at filtration. Much info on marine filtration, starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm ...Do look into getting a protein skimmer for that tank, too! If you use the Google search tool at the bottom of the Daily FAQ page, try "50 gallon skimmer" as a search phrase to get some recommendations.> The salt and water levels are checked weekly <And hopefully your ammonia and nitrite levels are zero, and nitrates are less than 20? If not, a filtration upgrade is definitely in order... --Ananda>

Whitley Boxfish Hi Bob.. <You get Ananda at the keyboard today...> Can you give me any info on the Whitley boxfish, I have been offered a m/f pair and was wondering if there was any special requirements... i.e. food, are they reef safe?? etc <The official name is Ostracion whitleyi. They might be reef-safe, but they are definitely not invert-safe: most boxfish will munch on invertebrates. They stay small, for boxfish, but I'd still have a tank of at least 75 gallons for a pair -- bigger, if you have other fish in there. And that could be a danger: these fish, if stressed, may release ostracitoxin, which could wipe out a whole tank....> have found the www has very limited info <I would suggest heading over to the Yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CowfishPuffers_andMore/ to see if anyone there has first-hand experience with these guys.> many thanks in advance... Nigel <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Having A Cow (or Two)! (Cowfish Keeping) Hi <Hi there! Scott F. with you Recently I was at a local shop and they had a fish tank, and I saw the cowfish and thought it was neatest fish I've ever seen. So when I got home, I began searching online for info on them and I came across your site, so I thought I'd ask you guys my questions. First off, I have previously owned fresh water fish, so what do you think it would cost to get tank setup for 1 or 2 cowfish. Also, would a cowfish be too advanced for me to take care of? <Well- that's a question that is really tough to answer. It all depends upon your choice in tank, equipment, etc. Some folks choose to utilize less expensive mechanical filtration and simple hang-on the back units. Others want a full-blown reef system with sophisticated lighting, sumps, skimming, etc. Cowfish do require careful husbandry, like many fish, and require excellent water quality. As messy eaters, they do give off a significant quantity of metabolic waste, so you need to utilize effective filtration and a suitable sized tank (100 gallons plus, IMO). You can read the many FAQs on the WWM site to get ideas for appropriate equipment selections and setups.> I don't want to get one, then neglect it. <No you don't! Glad that you're approaching this correctly> Also, I was not sure if I should get one or two. Do they get lonely like some animals? <Well, I wouldn't use just that word...But, if you introduce them at the same time, they may develop a certain social dynamic with each other.> Or do they react to each other violently? Thanks, Dave <I would not advise adding another Cowfish after the first one is already established, but if introduced at a small size, and at the same time, I have seen more than one kept together successfully. The key is providing plenty of room (these guys can get HUGE), stable conditions, and careful observation. Do your homework, and this little characters will provide you with a lot of enjoyment for many years! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Having A Cow(fish)? Hi Bob, <Scott F. in for Bob today> Thank you for the help so far, WWM has been very helpful.  I was interested in buying a cowfish and a royal Dottyback.  The cowfish is just a little (for now) yellow guy with black dots, and of course you know the Royal Dottyback.  Are these guys safe with False Percula Clowns, Banded Coral Shrimp, Green Brittle Star, and Algae Blenny. <I'm not too concerned about everyone else, but I do worry about the cowfish, and it's potential to poison the tank if agitated excessively. Ounce for ounce, Dottybacks can be some of the toughest fish around! With lots of good rockwork, and plenty of space, it could work, but I'd pass on the Cowfish, and relegate this guy to a more "mellow" tank.> I have read that the cowfish is omnivorous and I do have a fair bit of green algae and black algae (trying to get rid of, just got another powerhead to increase water movement as WWM stated). <Yep, they do eat some vegetable matter> I have also read that the royal Dottyback is very territorial will this be a problem with the other tank mates??   <As above. Mainly concerned with the Cowfish> I am wanting to do a partial reef partial fish tank are these 2 reef safe, I know the Cowfish nips at some corals, anemones. <The Cowfish is problematic, but the Dottyback is a fine reef fish> I also had a question about the power head I just bought. Are all powerheads submersible? <Well, there are a number of manufacturers who make external powerheads, such as Tunze, Gemini, Hi Tech, etc.> I bought the Pro 4 by Hagen, which pumps 240-425 GPH, it has a water line located on the side.  Am I able to submerse it as it states it is a submersible?? <I believe that this all Hagen powerheads are totally submersible, but I'd consult Hagen first, as I am not familiar with this particular model. They should be able to give you exact information on it> Finally, I read that you should have a GPH flow of 5X -10X the tank size.  Now are these Imperial or metric GPHs.  Just curious not to worried as they are FAIRLY similar. Thank you very much, Todd Hawman <Interesting question! As an American, I say "X" times per tank volume in US gallons, but the theory is the same in metric, too. Shoot for 10 times tank volume, and I think you'll be okay. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Longhorn Cowfish.....hardy??? (7/25/04) Hi, <Hi Leslie here tonight> I was wondering how hardy cowfish are? <Well, unfortunately this family of fish do not have a good record of success in captivity, which is related to lack of appropriate nutrition. These fish need green as well as meaty food, on a regular basis.  Most are lost to outright starvation. In addition the Longhorn Cowfish you are asking about attains an adult length of 18 inches and requires at least a 180g tank.  Add to this that many members of this fish family possess a toxin called  "ostracitoxin"  which they can release into the tank if stressed.  Although rare there have been losses of entire systems to this toxin.>  Thanks < Your most welcome, Leslie >

Looking for rare boxfish Mr.. Fenner: do you have any source for obtaining a white-barred boxfish Anoplocapros lenticularis? thank you, john McKenna <Do give the fine folks at Marine Center a "ring": http://www.themarinecenter.com/ If anyone, they'll be able to secure you a healthy specimen. Bob Fenner>

Boxfish I love boxfish, especially the yellow cubicus, but I don't know how large they grow. Can you recommend one that won't get too big, say over 5 inches or so? Thanks, Anna >> If you feed Boxfish (puffers) sparingly, they will grow slowly... the whole family (Ostraciidae), gets more than a few inches (5+)... Bob Fenner

Is yellow cubicus good with other fish? The cow fish is in the family with the cubicus and puts out poison. Is the Cubicus poisons? I have a Foxface, yellow tang, scooter blenny and my  cleaners. Will I be able to keep a cubicus? If so, how many should I have  in a tank? Lena Byers >> To a lesser degree, the Cubicus Boxfish does/can release ostracitoxins into the water. One to a tank is a good idea. Bob Fenner

Ostraciid toxin Hi Mr. Fenner, I am Monty Coty (Fish Whisperer from AquariaCentral.com and Aqualink.com) and was curious as to a quoted reference where you stated:  Robert M. Fenner wrote in his "The conscientious marine aquarist" (page 322) that he "witnessed three episodes of whole tanks being poisoned with this (long horned cowfish) species, one from a dead specimen in a filter, another from a harassed individual, the third from the careless introduction of shipping water into the display system."  I have made the longhorn cowfish my "idol" of marine fish, and have a website featuring Goodyear, the Incredible Cow at: www.fishwhisperer.homestead.com/fish.html  I have been long since publicly questioning allegations of the longhorn cow's release of toxins when stressed. I have never had a longhorn cow display this behavior. Indeed, I have kept a longhorn successfully with an aggressive panther grouper, an aggressive clown trigger, and Goodyear is currently in a community with a Picasso trigger and yellow tang. I had to remove the clown trigger because after a period of less than a year, he became aggressive to the cow, partially destroying his rear pectoral fin. I could see the cow was visually disturbed, and always turning to keep faced towards the clown trigger. After two attempts at isolation of the clown and reintroduction, I have since permanently removed him from the community tank. The cow is far more relaxed, and this is very evident to myself and two colleagues whom I have had help "monitor" the tank.  Also, once there was a rock fall when all the rock and fish were being removed for a move. The cow became so scared/startled that he began "wobbling" extremely fast across the tank (60 hex), bouncing of the sides so hard you could hear him thudding. I would think if ever a longhorn cow would excrete a stress-toxin, this would have been the opportunity.  I want to ascertain that I do not just "toss" fish in community tanks with no wherewithal of proper research, but I have taken "monitored risks" to observe individual personalities of fish in relationship to their compatibility. Assuredly, this plays an important factor albeit there are certain constants with all species. At any rate, the longhorn cow in the trunkfish family has shared the accusations (unfairly, I believe) of releasing toxins readily like certain members of the boxfish family.  I don't question the release of toxins which seep from the liver of deceased longhorn cows readily upon their passing, but would like further confirmation from an esteemed individual such as yourself that you do indeed support as an absolute fact that the longhorn cow itself positively excretes a lethal stress toxin. I am not addressing other cowfish, specifically the longhorn cow. A response from you would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much for you time and consideration.  Sincerely, Monty F. Coty >> Good and glad to make your acquaintance Monty. Do agree with your observations re Boxfishes... they're neat. Intelligent and personable. And others statements about their apparent variability as species and individuals to produce, excrete ostracitoxins... A few references re the topic: Brock, V.E. 1956. Possible production of substances poisonous to fishes by the boxfish Ostracion lentiginosus Schneider. Copeia 1956, 195-196. Michael, Scott. 1998. Swimming boxes. Boxfish are interesting to keep, but choose their tankmates carefully to avoid disaster. AFM 3/98. Thompson, D.A. 1964. Ostracitoxin: an ichthyotoxic stress secretion of the boxfish Ostracion lentiginosus. Science 146:244-245. Thompson, D.A. 1969. Toxic stress secretions of the boxfish Ostracion meleagris Shaw. Copeia 1969:335-352. Be chatting, Bob Fenner

Boxfish recommendations Dear Mr. Fenner: I have just recently discovered your WetWebMedia website- what an incredible wealth of information. I have been enjoying it immensely and using the information therein to help me plan my next aquarium system (a 60g mini reef).  <Thank you, and glad to help> I have not set the system up yet and am still in the planning stages. At this point I have my heart set on keeping one or two boxfish as the primary occupants of the tank. My question is what is your recommendation in terms of hardiness, ethical means of capture, compatibility with other fish, and compatibility with invertebrates such as shrimp and coral? <Pretty much stated on the scant coverage offered on WWM... but my current favorites are the Solorensis, Cyanurus, and Whitley's... these are more and more available, and arriving in good initial health... I would avoid the most common species of Ostraciids... i.e. Meleagris, the Black and Blue Boxfish... these are and have been "bad" on arrival the last few years...>  I very much appreciate any information you could give and apologize if this is a recurrent question. <No worries my friend. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Samantha Harris

Anaplocapros lenticularis-White Barred Box Fish Searched your web site but could find anything in detail about this fish other than general comments about the boxfish family. The local fish store has one at about four inches and I was trying to do some research. I have a 250 gallon tank up and doing well for over a year now. Per Burgess this is a peaceful fish and recommend for a community tank. The tank is fairly well stocked but not overly so at present and is comprised of angels, butterflies and tangs. Some 60 inches of fish now and about 80 inches if all are full grown. The dilemma is the tank contains some rarities including a Conspicuous Angel, a thriving Regal and a juvenile blue stripe as well as some more common fish. All get along well although the purple tang will occasionally chase new comers for a few hours then ignore them. Question: Is this boxfish fit for this community tank? The purple is about 3 inches is he/she likely to ignore the 4 inch box fish? He has ignored angels larger than him. Burgess shows this fish at 15 cm max. About 6 inches by my calculation. Your site shows 13 inches. Big difference. Any ideas on max size? Sorry multiple questions. <Boxfish are only to be kept in species specific displays. They have toxic flesh and can exude toxins into the water when stressed and kill every breathing fish in the display including themselves within mere hours. Beyond that, they are not adept swimmers and cannot compete with active community fish like angels and tangs. Even if they could, they are notoriously challenging feeders. The problem is not that they will not eat in captivity so much as they do not survive easily on what is offered (many dieing of a dietary deficiency. I could go on for quite some time about why the fish should not be bought or imported for impulse purchases (a specialists fish). Fortunately, my friend... this is not an impulse for you as you had the very good sense and intuition to ask before you bought an unfamiliar fish. I wish more folks did too! Kindly, Anthony Calfo> Thanks as always
Randy-Las Vegas

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: