Ostracion cubicus Click to enlarge image
A Yellow Boxfish at a depth of 15 m, "Davies Reef", off Townsville, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, November 1999. Image: E. Schlögl
© E. Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    cubicus
    Genus
    Ostracion
    Family
    Ostraciidae
    Order
    Tetraodontiformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 45 cm in length.

Introduction

The Yellow Boxfish can be recognised by its box-shaped body, bright yellow colouration and black spots. The species occurs in tropical and temperate marine waters of the Indo-West Pacific.



Identification

The Yellow Boxfish can be recognised by its box-shaped body, bright yellow colouration and black spots. Juveniles have black spots about the size of the pupil. As the fish grows, the spots become smaller and brownish, sometimes even changing to white spots with a black margin.

Habitat

The Yellow Boxfish inhabits coral and rocky reefs, and is found at depths of 1 m to 40 m. Adult Yellow Boxfish are often solitary and occur on deeper coastal slopes, lagoons and areas where there are crevices and ledges for shelter. Larval fish generally settle on sheltered rocky and coral reefs. In New South Wales this occurs in the summer months, when juveniles are often found in small aggregations.



Distribution

The species occurs in tropical and temperate marine waters of the Indo-West Pacific, including Indonesia, New Guinea, north to the Philippine Islands and east to Fiji and French Polynesia. In Australia the Yellow Boxfish is known from the central coast of Western Australia around the tropical north and down the east coast to south of Sydney, 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.



Feeding and diet

It feeds on a range of benthic organisms such as molluscs, crustaceans, fishes, sand-dwelling polychaete worms and algae.

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 244.
  2. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  3. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 408.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 469.
  5. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 265.