Animal Species:Thornback Cowfish, Lactoria fornasini (Bianconi, 1846)

The Thornback Cowfish has a pair of large spines projecting forward in front of the eyes. The species occurs in tropical, and some temperate marine waters of the Indo-Pacific.

A Thornback Cowfish at Chowder Bay

Jonathan Regan © Jonathan Regan

Standard Common Name

Thornback Cowfish

Alternative Name/s

Spiny-backed Cow-fish, Thorny-back Cow-fish, Thorny-back Cowfish

Identification

The Thornback Cowfish is covered with hard bony armour. There is a pair of large spines projecting forward in front of the eyes. Another pair of spines projects posteriorly below the caudal fin from the rear of the ventro-lateral ridges. A single spine is positioned dorsally.

The species is green to brown with blue spots and dashes.

Size range

It grows to 20cm in length.

Distribution

The Thornback Cowfish occurs in tropical, and some temperate marine waters of the Indo-Pacific.

In Australia it is known from southern to north-western Western Australia and from the northern coast of Queensland to the southern coast of New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Lactoria fornasini

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Thornback Cowfish specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?

Classification

Species:
fornasini
Genus:
Lactoria
Family:
Ostraciidae
Order:
Tetraodontiformes
Class:
Actinopterygii
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  5. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Thornback Cowfish, Lactoria fornasini, Ostraciidae, brown, white, blue, odd-shaped, 10 cm - 30 cm, blotches/mottled, adult, marine,

2 comments

Mark McGrouther - 8.08 AM, 24 August 2009
Hi Jonathan, Thank you for submitting the image. It's a great shot that shows some of the unusual characters of the species. I'll add it to the factsheet in the next day or two. Thanks again.
Jonathan - 7.08 AM, 23 August 2009
Photo of a L. fornasini taken at Chowder Bay, 6.5m, 22 August, 2009.

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