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FAQs about Box-, Cowfishes Systems

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 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,

Ostraciids need much more room than may be apparent... for waste dilution, movement, psychological reasons.


Longhorn Cowfish Compatibility and Flow      9/27/17
I am thinking of starting a 125 gallon FOWLR just for a longhorn cowfish and a male Ostracion meleagris. Would these two be okay with each other?
<Yes; they should be fine here together, in this shape, size system>
Any other boxfish I can add (Ostracion cubicus)?
<I would just stick with one member of a genus here>
If not, what other fish could I add?
<All sorts! As long as they're not too small or too aggressive>
Would a flame angel or goldflake angel be too aggressive?
<They would not be>
What about a Tinkeri Butterflyfish?
<You have expensive tastes... but this could go>
Or a tang?
<Yes to a smaller species>
Also I read mixed things about flow. Some say they can't handle much flow and I read other places they can handle it (after all they come from the ocean).
<Ostraciids can handle good (aquarium) flows, as long as currents are not "too laminar"; that is, if the current is diffuse (not unidirectional, but split up, like with the use of a few discharges), it will be fine. Bob Fenner>

Sick Cowfish        3/6/16
I've had a small and young Cowfish for 4 months and he's got on really well and in the last weeks he keeps getting stuck on the grill of the filter at the back of the tank it's as if he has not got enough strength to
swim away if he gets stuck on it, so I usually give him a little nudge to free him and then he's fine until the next time.
<Not good that this Boxfish is so weak; or that the intake is that strong...>
Today when I got back from work I found him stuck but after I freed him he was bobbing all over the place and it looked like he had lost his buoyancy, so I've put him in a little nursery tank inside the main tank out of the mainstream of the water flow to see if he will recover it looks like he exhausted, it's the first time he won't feed as he usually feeds from my hand. He seems to sit on the bottom of the nursery net and sometimes stops flapping his little fins is there anything I can do to help him I would hate to loose the little guy!!!!
Any ideas??
<A larger intake screen (to lessen, spread out suction); moving the fish elsewhere; keeping it in a floating plastic colander till it is stronger.... 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.>

Water Current for Yellow Boxfish 9/16/09
Hello Gang at WWM
<Howdy Jeff!>
I have a yellow boxfish of 2 1/2 years now and I have a question regarding current flow. Right now I have the boxfish in a 150G rectangular with just the boxfish, cleaner crew, flame hawk fish & a blenny. I have two Hydor Koralia pumps (a 3 (850 gph) and a 4 (1200gph)) that I put in one corner that basically puts a laminar flow to the other corner of the tank, in which after hitting the left corner the flow will split to either the left or right where the water will travel back and eventually rise again with the Koralia (or w the air stone on the other side) to the overflow box. The PCX40 main pump I have outputs 1190 gph.
<Nice graphic!>
My question: Does the boxfish like the laminar flow?
<Mmm, have seen Ostraciids in the wild in some very brisk currents...
random and laminar... They may seem like poor body designs for staying in one place... let alone getting about... But when the water is really ripping they do just fine... Can/do get down near the bottom, in and
amongst rocks... And your system has some great break up to allow this behavior.>
I know that they have a very unique shape to them which reduces drag considerably, so are they more comfortable with a laminar flow versus a turbulent flow (i.e. putting both powerheads on the corner to make a cross X pattern) or a very slow flow?.
<Am fairly confident that what you have, and can reconfigure here is going to be fine>
The flow in my tank is locally strong at the pump output, but as you can see in the photo (barley) both pumps are high up and cause most of the turbulence in the surface. On the left corner on
the other side the current hits and flows downward pretty fast (that's where I keep my high flow tunicates, Georgians etc...) and flows out back.
<Looks mighty fine to me>
I guess the real question would be. What exactly would a boxfish prefer as to water flow?. I've heard of the rule of x10 on gallon size so I know my minimum flow should be around 1500gph (although I am running 2050 gph), which works great for the corals and stuff, but my boxfish is #1 priority and her being comfortable is most important. My boxfish likes to hang underneath the powerheads (maybe she likes the updraft and the feeling of the high water flow on her?)
<Sounds reasonable>
But I remember a time when she was a baby I had her in a 55G tall with very low water flow and she would just hover at the bottom in a cave seemingly content and still for long periods.
<Young reef fishes for the most part do stay near the bottom... for food, avoiding predators>
But now as she's grown she will be very active with (the boxfish dance) but the powerhead spot is now becoming the main attraction (when she is hungry she will go explore, bite rocks, blow sand etc...) especially at nighttime. If I lower the water flow will she feel more comfortable in her two caves?
<I'd leave the flow where it is... Is not too much>
I have a feeling that the higher current is causing higher flows inside the caves and perhaps she prefers
floating under the updraft of the powerhead instead. Whatever the behavior, she certainly does not struggle or have balancing issues with the current. Thanks and as always you guys at WWM are the best!! *Jeff
<Welcome Jeff. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Question about yellow boxfish aquascape: Boxfish systems\aquascaping 8/8/2009
Hello WWM,
<Hi Jeff.>
First off, as everyone does here, Id like to thank you guys for the years of advice I've picked off this site in raising my fish, you guys are so accurate in your advice and everything has always helped!!
<On behalf of Bob and the rest of us, thank you, I'm glad you have found it helpful.>
My question is as follows. I have a 2 year old yellow boxfish in a 150 gallon tank in which all parameters are fine and the only other fish is a Hawkfish, dwarf flame angel and a lawnmower blenny (loads of crustaceans). I have a basic set up of live rock with two large caves in the middle
<Congratulations on keeping a relatively difficult fish for so long.>
The live rock setup is pretty elaborate... but my boxfish usually stays at the top squirting and dancing for food and at night will retire to her usual corner (either under the power head or near the bottom). She
will look into caves time to time... but wont ever spend too much time exploring.
<Anecdotally, they seem to like open water, with ledges to hide in\scrounge for food.>
Awhile ago I had a clownfish that, with a green carpet sea anemone had to be removed after I saw a YouTube video of a tang being eaten by the green carpet (don't want that to happen to my boxy fish!!)
<Smart move.>
In the process of breaking the entire tank down to get him, all of the rocks were out of place, almost like if a bomb exploded (very low level w/ allot of sandy spots in-between). All of a sudden the boxfish (who was a
little stressed at first with all the fussing with the rocks) got very curious and calm and started to look over all the rubble with much interest. She would pick and squirt and looked at everything.
<New territory\curiosity\hunting for food.>
When I set the tank back up (slowly as she was interested in everything), she went back to her old spots.
<Interesting behavior and a good observation.>
Now I know that a boxfish has a very peculiar mind and I was just wondering if a system that is less cave like and more "shelf like" or "valley" like is something that the boxfish enjoys more??
<Anecdotally, I would say yes.>
I heard boxfish like "ledgy" areas but is it said somewhere that boxfish do not like darker, cave-like areas?? If so ill break the tops off the caves and create more of an "cavernous" environment.
<You could certainly give it a try. If any of the other fish are attached to the caves, you could leave one for them.>
Thanks Guys ...
<Thanks for sharing.>

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>

Cowfish Mauled/Cowfish Compatibility    6/26/06 I have a 6 mo. 24g Nano that is running smoothly with various zos, Flower Pot, Cup Coral, Sun Coral, a Cowfish, Percula Clown, Firefish, banded goby, Sally Lightfoot, a Peppermint Shrimp, and various other cleaners.  Problem...my Cowfish turned up the other day with a half eaten tail fin.  Added some Melafix and he seemed to perk up and be recovering.  This morning I discovered the cowfish stuck to the intake with a shredded side fin.  Can't seem to get his equilibrium.  Who could be the culprit?  I thought Sally Lightfoots and Peppermint Shrimps are supposed to be safe.  Any thoughts...my cowfish is recuperating in a quarantine tank but want to remove the offender quickly.  I did watch the tank the other night, late, didn't see any mischief but the shrimp was standing guard.  I will try you jar technique to catch the offender. <I'm putting my money on the Sally Lightfoot if the Cowfish problem isn't disease related.  They are not to be trusted with slow moving fish such as the cowfish.  James (Salty Dog)> Debra <<A cowfish in a 24 gallon world? Not for long. RMF>>

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>

Puffer/boxfish/lionfish - 3/6/2006 First off I would just like to thank all of you at WetWebMedia for having such a great website with every possible answer to every possible thing which has to do with what we all love most, fish. I'm sure just about everybody asking you a question compliments you on your site, so I will get right to my points. The majority of my questions have probably already been answered. I have a 75 gallon set up right now with a nice 6-7 inch long lion fish (about 10 inch wide fins) and a Striped Dogface Puffer (still rather small 3.5 inches) My first question is how would a 5 inch Spiked Boxfish be in this aquarium? <<Absolutely not.  Your puffer needs a MUCH larger tank as it is.>> I talked to my nearest saltwater store and they said it would be a good combination, mainly because all 3 fish tend to be slow moving and not aggressive towards fish that cant fit in their mouths. <<Most puffers find lionfish fins too hard to resist.>> My next question deals with feeding My Lionfish. Can I get by with just feeding him live ghost shrimp? Along with live brine Shrimp as well? <<No, both of these foods are very poor nutritionally.>> I am asking this because as dumb as I sound, I really don't like taking a part in having other fish be killed even though it's what happens in nature. I would just feel better off letting him eat live Ghost/Brine shrimp instead of Guppies/Mollies. I have Guppies and Ghost Shrimp in the tank right now and he probably ate 15 Guppies within a 10 minute period. <<Feeder fish are a bad choice as well.  They carry disease, and are malnourished when purchased.  Search on WWM for feeding suggestions.>> My next question has to do with any helpful advice you have towards trying to steer the lionfish away from live and start feeding him frozen instead. I am sure you have a link on the website already about this question. So I am sorry I am asking it again. <<Read on WWM>> My last question has to do with the growth rate of the Striped Dogface Puffer. I have had this little fellow for a little over a month now, and he might be getting a little more round but does not appear to be getting any longer yet. I read they reach around 10 to 12 inches in length. <<He needs to be moved to larger quarters ASAP to avoid stunting.>> Again thanks a lot guys for your time and I am sorry about the questions I asked that you have already answered. Hope to hear back from you soon. <<Enjoy your research. Lisa.>> - Peter

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>

Shaw's cowfish/Arcana aurita AKA Striped Cowfish Hi Bob, <cheers, mate... Bob is away in Indonesia getting his face tattooed, his tongue pierced and his nails done. Anthony Calfo in his stead> My name is Sal and I have read your book many times over now. thanks for all that great info. I hope that you can help me. The fish is Arcana ornata. it comes from western Australia (coral sea). I am having trouble finding information. <www.fishbase.org is one of the best places to begin a search about fish... look here for yours: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=14561&genusname=Aracana&speciesname=aurita > I want to provide this fish with an optimum environment at my home.  <good, my friend... because like most cowfish it needs a species tank with no other fishes for many reasons beginning with the toxicity of its flesh> I think this fish requires cooler water. if this is true can my live rock and live sand survive? also, what sand stirrers and herbivores can I use in these cool waters?  <I would not recommend the keeping of any other fishes in with this species for a casual display> what foods should I feed?  <little is known about dietary needs here but a very wide selection of meaty foods will likely be necessary. At least have Gammarus shrimp, Mysids, Pacifica plankton, shredded krill and occasional live ghost or grass shrimp> what other fish are compatible?  <none... it would be perhaps irresponsible to keep such tank mates for the severe toxicity of cowfish when nipped or disturbed. You will need to always have water ready on hand for a complete water change too to spare the fishes life if it should ever exude in the tank for other reasons (temp spike, filter trapping, etc)> I know I have a lot of questions. I do trust your information so that's why I come to you. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot, Sal <I would strongly recommend avoiding boxfish and cowfish of any kind unless you are fully interested and prepared to set up a dedicated tank for them. The risk and labor to keep them healthy are significant. Perhaps just admire them from afar :) Kindly, Anthony>

Help with cowfish (06/21/03) <Hi! Ananda here today...> Hi I have been reading for days and I guess I am looking  for an answer that doesn't exist!!! <Or at least hasn't been written yet....> We have a 29 gallon that we prepared for weeks ,its water is perfect, the temp is perfect.....My husband surprised me with a 2 inch long horn cow... <As much as I usually approve of surprise gifts, surprise fish are generally not a good thing!> Now I know they have trouble eating for the first few days and they can be stressed easy...At the fish store he was told that the cowfish just came in, so we know he has had a rough few days... <The worst time, IMO, to get one of these fish is right after they have come in. You run a much higher risk of losing the fish if it has not had any time to adjust to tank life. After the first few days, the remaining fish will be the strongest of the ones that shipped. This is why many people will put a "hold" on a fish, even putting a deposit down, while letting the fish stay at the store for a week or two -- to avoid getting a weak individual.> We tried live shrimp and black worms...nothing...Today he is swimming on the very top of the tank almost hissing and spitting at us...Now I read they do this ...but he does it for hours... <Well, cowfish will spit water when they hunt. He's hungry! This is a good sign. They usually eat clams, squid, octopus, fish, and other benthic invertebrates. Do wander over to http://www.cowfishes.com and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CowfishPuffers_andMore/ for more info! Also when he does go to the bottom. he falls to his side. no energy at all.... <I think I have seen this before... do ask on the Cowfish boards about this behavior.> His coloring is fine and his eyes are all clear!! I realize he is dying but what did we do wrong??? Was he too stressed... <Quite possibly.> Is it good to wait a few days while he gets used to a pet shop tank?? I would think not!!! <See my comments above> If there is anything we can  do now or in the future let us know.. ps we have live rock and a tiny damsel that's doing fine....The cow fish is the only one not doing well. The damsel does not bother the cow at all. <At least not yet...damsels do get to be much larger, uglier, and meaner as they get older.> THANK YOU....LESLIE. I tried to research this myself and believe it or not I couldn't find a question (or answer ) just like mine.... <Do consult with the good people on the cowfish board mentioned above. They have a lot of experience with the specialized care these fish require. --Ananda>

Liverock, Shaw's cowfish, and a temperate aquarium >Hi Bob, >>Good morning, Sal.  Marina is here for you this morning. >I hope you are well. >>I will make an assumption that Bob is, indeed, doing well, and I would say that I'm doing well, as well.  I hope you are well as well, too. >I'm interested in keeping a Shaw's cowfish (Aracana aurita).  He will be in a 75 gallon tank.  This tank will have to be kept cool for this cowfish.  Can I keep live rock in this tank for the main filtration device, or would 68 degrees be too cold for it?  Should I just use a trickle filter?  Thank you very much for your advice. >>Hhmm.. good questions, all of them.  Well, 68 would definitely be the low end of the temperature spectrum for *tropical* live rock, that is to say live rock that has been grown and harvested in tropical waters.  However, being as how that is so close the 70F range, I'd be quite curious to try it, even just a little bit might yield interesting results.  Generally, though, we can say with a fair degree of certainty that it would be ineffective to attempt to utilize that tropical live rock in a "temperate" setting (albeit on the high end of the scale). I would go with a deep sand bed for primary filtration, including denitrification, with copious foam fractionation.  To get it well on its way *before* I added the fish I would begin a "fishless" cycle--using shrimp or similar tossed into the tank to create a source for ammonia and so on. I hope this has helped, and best of luck!  Marina

Copepod Temp. Hi Bob, <Hello Sal (my brother-in-law's name as well)> I am setting up a cold water tank for Shaw's Cowfish (Aracana aurita). I'm looking at putting one male, one female and 3 juvenile in 180 gallon tank. <Neat. A gorgeous species> The temp in this tank will be 66 degrees. The filtration will be accomplished using an oversized protein skimmer and wet/dry filter. As a food source, I plan on breeding copepods. This will be accomplished in a separate tank at a temp. of 75 degrees. Then I will transfer them to the main tank. Will these copepods survive at this cooler temp. for a while? <Yes, they should easily> Do you think they could breed in there? <If not consumed, possibly> I am asking these questions because if I plan on vacationing I've got to worry about feeding them. <Not to worry (much) here. I know this genus can go for many days w/o feeding (they often do in transit from collection to their "end-user" site)> Also these fish need algae. Would you use something like Ogo ( temp. concern ) or just throw some sea veggies on a clip for them? Sorry about all the questions, but you have all the answers. <I would try live seaweeds and next dried, reconstituted seaweeds (Kombu, Nori...) and leave off with terrestrial greens. Bob Fenner> Gratefully, SAL
Re: copepod temp.
Hi Bob <Salvatore!> Thank you for your reply. I wrote to you about the Shaw's cowfish tank. I know you receive hundreds of emails. I appreciate the time you spent answering my questions. I hope to record all of my experiences with  this  aquarium. <Ahh! And write it up for publication, posterity I hope> I have been looking for over a year and I can't find that much info on temperate aquariums or Australian cowfish. <Me neither. Outside of the Dave Wrobel efforts at popularizing "coldwater reefs" in the hobby literature about a decade back there is little specific information> Hopefully I can help out others who try it after I do. <Outstanding. Our ideas, goals are confluent here. Bob Fenner>                                                                                     Thanks a lot,                                                                                          Sal

Boxfish! HI! I fell in love with the Ostracion cubicus and I read that these fish get pretty large...what would be a good tank size for one of these fellers?! <At least eighty gallons> Also can you tell me about the white spotted boxfish, I am debating over what the purchase, both are just so adorable!  Thanks - Ash <What's posted on WWM is about all I have. Bob Fenner>

Lactoria fornasini Hi All, <Tyler> I just bought a 55 gallon tank to go along with my 135 gallon reef. I have always wanted to keep cowfish. My plan is to keep two thornback cowfish (Lactoria fornasini) in this tank along with live rock and sand (no other fish). I am going to run a AquaC Urchin for a skimmer but am lost after that. Do cowfish require a refugium for filtration or would I be okay with just a sump? I want to get everything straight before I start. Thanks a lot. Tyler <They do need, appreciate good water quality... and this species can become very large... see fishbase.org re... and can indeed be very "messy"... a refugium would be best... a sump at least useful... and they will need larger quarters. Bob Fenner>

Lactoria fornasini - Take 2 Thanks for the response. You said that this type of fish gets large, but this is the smallest of the cowfish at 5.9", correct?  <No... nine inches maximum... you obviously did not look on fishbase.org...> Scott Michaels book calls for a minimum of 55 gallons for these and they will be the only fish in the tank. Is this still acceptable? <For one...> One more question. Where in the heck can I buy these online? I did a search and didn't come up with much. Thanks for the help. <Please see WWM re... Bob Fenner>

Boxfish Hi Bob, <Or Maddox, and he's listening to Yahel... :D> Yesterday, I asked you about putting two thornback cowfish in my soon to be 55 gallon. You didn't think this would be a good idea. <Boxfish grow too large for a 55> In your opinion, what is the best all around boxfish to put in a 55 gallon? Things I would like to keep in mind for this would be availability, hardiness, ability to get along with other tankmates. <No boxfish will be able to remain in a 55 gallon indefinitely (I'm not aware of a boxfish species that attains less than 18"), no boxfish is hardy, though Whitley's boxfish is probably the hardiest out of the genus. Boxfish are best housed alone or with other peaceful tankmates that won't outcompete them for food> Thanks. <You're welcome - M. Maddox>

Boxfishes Hi Bob, First of all, thank you in providing a truly "pearl of wisdom" on the net : your website is the answer to almost every aquarist prays; it could use a search engine though ; <Hmm, does have one... the Google search is on...> Anyway, I recently fall in love with two box fishes : Ostracion cubicus Ostracion meleagris <Both cuties> I have a spare 15 gal tank.. I wonder if I can setup it up and house a pair of meleagris and a cubicus in there ? Will these species fight ? <In such a small tank... bad proposition... even for just one specimen... really.> I found info about these fishes contradictory : some authors say they are very difficult to keep, others say easy... What's your opinion ? <Easy enough to maintain in a large, stable setting... about sixty gallons per...> In my 180g reef I think I might have a mantis.. I've found that the Labracinus lineatus ( Australian flame Basslet ) preys on mantis ( or is supposed to ). Is this fish considered reef safe ? <As a juvenile yes... as an adult, can be trouble.> best regards my friend, Goncalo Proenca <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Fast Growing Boxfish I have had a very healthy boxfish (cubicus) for about 5 months now and he is growing quite fast (about 4 inches long now) and eating more and more as time goes on. I'm wondering if he will be okay indefinitely in my tank or if he might outgrow it: the tank is 125 gallon with quite a bit of live rock. My other concerns are that he will get too big to reach the floor between the rocks in order to feed and that he might get so big as to dominate the tank to the exclusion of other fish. What can you tell me? -Pat <Well, Pat, I can tell you that these guys are pigs, like you mentioned, and will swim around at the top of the tank begging to be fed. Adults approach 18 inches, so your fish is eventually going to get rather large for your tank. Diligent attention to a high quality protein skimmer and changes of activated carbon are in order. You can read further of these fish at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/boxfishes.htm -Steven Pro>

Boxfishes, and a new SW aquarium... Mr. Fenner... <Hello> I'm a beginner at this but I believe that I have read just about anything there is to know about caring for a boxfish... I am thinking about putting up a new SW aquarium... I'm a little short on cash for now, so I am going to purchase no where larger than a 30-50g tank... to go with the new set-up... I am thinking about purchasing a boxfish (preferably "Ostracion cubicus" or yellow boxfish)... any suggestions you can make on how I should set-up the tank... live sand or live rocks... <Live rock... which will inoculate the substrate, make it live as well> I know that I should not include reef for it would get picked on by the boxfish... any suggestions on what types of fishes or inverts that are compatible with the boxfish....  <All sorts... please read through WetWebMedia.com re Ostraciids, invertebrates...> I know that the tank is not big enough to accommodate the size of the adult boxfish, but I know that a juvenile will suit it fine... therefore I will purchase a much larger tank to accommodate the fishes' growth... will a porky puffer go well with the boxfish... I know that they wouldn't, but because of my love for both.. are there any suggestions you can make to make it work.... sorry for all the questions... any response will be great... <In a large enough system, these fishes can be kept together... good filtration, skimming is called for... and regular maintenance to maintain good water quality... with such high metabolism, meaty eaters. Bob Fenner> gratefully... Sokha

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