The boxfishes are a family, Ostraciidae, their scientific name is, "Ostraction Meleagris", of squared, bony fish belonging to the order Tetraodontiformes, closely related to the pufferfishes and filefishes. They come in a variety of different colors, and are notable for the hexagonal or "honeycomb" patterns in their skin and skeletons. They swim in a rowing manner. Fish in the family are known variously as boxfishes, cofferfishes, cowfishes and trunkfishes.

Boxfishes occupy the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, generally at middle latitudes, although the common or buffalo trunkfish (Lactophrys trigonus) which lives mainly in Florida waters may be found as far north as Cape Cod. The cowfish variety Lactophrys quadricornis can grow to be 50 cm or less in size, but are generally smaller at higher latitudes.

The hexagonal plate-like scales of these fish are fused together into a solid, triangular, box-like carapace, from which the fins and tail protrude. Young boxfishes are more rounded in shape and may exhibit bright colors. Because of their body scale structure, boxfishes are limited to slow movements.

List of genus and species


  • Zim, Herbert, and Shomemaker, Hurst. Fishes. Golden Press, New York (1955).

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