Cowfish are a unique and interesting fish. They may not have soft cuddly fur but they are as close as you can get to an underwater puppy dog!
Species Profile: Long Horn Cowfish
Welcome back Melissa! Enjoy her profile on the Long Horn Cowfish, or Lactoria cornuta.
Cowfish are very cute curious fish. Who couldn’t love a bright yellow box shaped fish with whitish blue spots and little horns sticking out from its head and behind its caudle fin?? Cowfish are very friendly and have great personalities. They are generally peaceful and get along with other peaceful fish like chromis, anthias, and basslets. They may eat small inverts as well as graze on live rock, and pick at algae from time to time. In captivity, they usually accept brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, krill, as well as other frozen foods. They should be fed small portions several times a day. With frequent feedings water quality must be continually monitored. It is a good idea to only house one cow fish per aquarium since they are aggressive towards their own species. A single cowfish should have at least 100gal since adults can reach a max size of 18”. If cared for properly they can live in an aquarium for many years.
Cowfish, as well as other members in the box fish family, are able to produce an ostracitoxin which is found in the mucous secretions in their skin. However, the cowfish must be alive to to release this toxin. They only appear to excrete the toxin if they are stressed or feel threatened. Cleaner shrimp and fishes that feed on the slime coat of other fish should be avoided as tankmates because they may provoke the cow fish to release its toxin. If the toxin is released in a closed system the water will usually have a milky haze and the fish immediately start gasping. It would only take a matter of minutes to kill the cowfish as well as the rest of its tankmates. Inverts tend to withstand higher concentrations of the toxin than fish and are more likely to survive. If you suspect the toxin is in your tank, add fresh carbon immediately. If carbon is used and replaced regularly you may see little to no effects of the toxin.