Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Family: OSTRACIIDAE, Cowfishes, Boxfishes


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body in rigid box

FAMILY OSTRACIIDAE

BOXFISHES, COWFISHES

Boxfishes are small to medium sized fishes (to ~ 45 cm) in which the body is oblong, thick, enclosed in a triangular, rectangular or pentagular bony box or carapace formed by thickened, joined, enlarged, usually hexagonal scale plates; carapace with openings for mouth, eyes, gill slits and fins and tail base; mouth small, opens at front, lips fleshy; teeth moderate, conical, usually < 15 per jaw; gill openings are short, oblique slits in front of pectoral bases; no spiny dorsal, soft dorsal and anal fins at rear of carapace; no pelvic fins; tail base slender, flexible; tail fin a fan with a rounded end; dorsal, anal and pectoral fin rays branched; lateral line inconspicuous.

About 39 species and 12 genera of boxfishes are known worldwide.  In the Greater Caribbean there are 5 species (4 W Atlantic and 1 trans-Atlantic) in 2 genera.

PREPARED BY D ROSS ROBERTSON, AFTER MATSUURA (2002)