Scrawled cowfish

The scrawled cowfish, Acanthostracion quadricornis, belongs to the Ostraciidae family and is closely related to boxfish and trunkfish. They range in size from 8-15 inches, with a maximum length of 18 inches, and can be found at depths between 6 and 80 feet. It is common to occasional in Florida and Bahamas; occasional to uncommon in the Caribbean. It may occur in the Gulf of Mexico, north to Massachusetts, Bermuda and south to Brazil. It has distinctive features such as a scrawled pattern of bluish markings covering its body; a blue line runs from snout to anal fin and it has a sharp spine above each eye. This latter point distinguishes cowfish from trunkfish.

Overall it is coloured blue-green to yellow cast. However, it may darken, pale and change color. Significantly it has two sharp spines in front of anal fin. The scrawled cowfish lives in a wide range of habitats including grass beds. However it is wary. If disturbed it may remain motionless apparently relying on camouflage.


  • Formerly classified in genus Lactophrys


  • Humann, P. & Deloach, N., Reef fish identification, Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas, 2003, 481 p., p.388-389


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