The Brackish Aquariumin General

Cowfish in General

by ~ocean


If you’re interested in boxfish and cowfish, this is the article for you. Perhaps you’ve had a cowfish or boxfish before and you just simply just want to know more about them, or you’ve seen one at a local fish store or perhaps at a friend’s house. Perhaps, like many others, the sheer force of a cowfish or a boxfish in any aspect has grasped you. This article will help you understand the world of the cowfish and boxfish, and will educate you how to care for them as well. We’ll examine what their basic necessities are. As we do, you’ll soon know what essential equipment they need. We’ll also look at the necessary maintenance's, as you, being the maintainer of these fabulous fish need to know these. We’ll also look into giving proper nutrition, and feeding properly.

There are over 26 types of cowfish and boxfish through out the world. At the end of this article, we feature only the 12 most common. Though, they are called marine fish, few of them do live in the open waters of the ocean. The rest live in water no deeper than 500 meters by shore and in coral reefs. Cowfish and boxfish are saltwater fish. You must not get this wrong or else things will end catastrophically.


Boxfishand cowfish are odd-looking fish, from pyramid backs, to horns, to a box shape body; different species are different and similar in different ways. Boxfish have dorsal fins but not pelvic fins, and the same with cowfish. They are commonly described as swimming tanks, because of their thick armor below their broad layer of skin.

Female boxfish have pointed mouths, while the male has a wider mouth, like those seen on freshwater Corys and Plecos. They male are generally more colorful than the female. As for the cowfish, all cowfish have the same type of cone like mouth. Again the rule applies; the male cowfish is usually more colorful than the female counterpart.

Boxfish carry armor around thick protective scales as the cowfish do as well. Cowfish have developed sharp spines for not being swallowed, as well as poison. Boxfish don’t have sharp spines, but do have a fair amount of poison.

Boxfish swim mostly with just their tail fin, but they do turn with their pectoral fins. Cowfish, however, swim with their dorsal fins and their tail fin. This allows them to “hover” compared to swimming at an angle, which the boxfish have to do to get higher, since their dorsal fins are generally smaller and weaker. Once again, for cowfish, the pectoral fins are used for turning, like the boxfish. Remarkably, the cowfish can “hover” in a spot up and down without moving forwards or backwards.

Size of a cowfish and boxfish depends on the species. For example, the long horned cowfish and the yellow boxfish both grow to a massive 18 inches. But selling sizes are smaller. Yellow boxfish are sold at merely an inch, the size of a pea, compared to the 2 to 4 inches of the long horned cowfish (you can get 0.5 inch baby ones). Some species are very small for example the scribbled boxfish at a size of 5 inches and the thornback cowfish at a 5.9-inch. But the smallest would have to be the camel cowfish at the mere 4 inches maximum (excluding the Boston bean).


Cowfish and boxfish all have sharp vision, since they don’t have as much speed as other fish like wrasse do. Their vision enables them to spot prey earlier than they prey can see, and as best as they can, the cowfish or boxfish will rush in and deliver a deadly bite. Their eye also has a pair of transparent lenses in the shape of semicircles, giving the cowfish (not the boxfish) a “cute” look. The pupil of a boxfish is a semi circle like moon thing, that is truly unique.

When you see a cowfish or boxfish, you will not see ears. They are inexistent on the outside, but in their body organs, they do have a true ear. Water conducts sound quicker than air, so hearing is vital in the ocean. Sound vibrations pass through the cowfish or boxfish, and then it reverberate in the cowfish or boxfish’s inner ear.

For cowfish and boxfish, smell is vital. Prey, mates and predators are all discovered with smell. You can’t see how they do it, but they have an organ called the olfactory organ, which is also present in a human as well. When water flows by, a part of it goes through a place called the nare, linked to the olfactory, which identifies what the smell is and sends it to the brain.

Surprisingly, boxfish and cowfish have taste buds not only in their mouth but on their lips, fins and scales as well!

Strangely, cowfish and boxfish have a most unique sense that is common for humans but seemingly impossible for cowfish and boxfish – touch. This sense can be preformed because of a system called the lateral system, which allows them to feel what they bump into or bite into.

Part II - Care