Yellow boxfish

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Yellow boxfish
Kofferfisch (Ostracion cubicus) 02.jpg
Scientific classification
O. cubicus
Binomial name
Ostracion cubicus

The yellow boxfish (Ostracion cubicus) is a species of boxfish. It can be found in reefs throughout the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean as well as the south eastern Atlantic Ocean. It reaches a maximum length of 45 centimetres (18 in).

As the name suggests, it is box-shaped. Boxfish are also known for their armored and rigid body which in most cases would inhibit locomotion. This disadvantage is offset by the boxfish's carapace shape which is much more advantageous for its evolved style of swimming- ostraciiform locomotion.[1] When juvenile, it is bright yellow in color. As it ages, the brightness fades and very old specimens will have blue-grey to black colouration with faded yellow. It feeds mainly on algae, but will also feed on sponges, crustaceans and molluscs.

The fish's diet consists of marine algae, worms, crustaceans, molluscs, and small fish.[2]

When stressed or injured it releases the neurotoxin tetrodoxin (TTX) from its skin that may prove lethal to the fish in the surrounding waters.[3] The bright yellow color and black spots are a form of warning coloration (Aposematism) to any potential predators.[4]

They are solitary animals. Breeding occurs during the spring, in small groups that consist of 1 male and 2 - 4 females.[5]

In 2006, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its Bionic concept car, which was inspired by the shape of the yellow boxfish.[6] It was assumed that due to the extreme agility with which boxfish maneuver, that their shape was aerodynamic and self stabilizing. However, analysis by scientists suggests that boxfish agility is instead due to the combination of an aerodynamically unstable body and the manner in which the fish use their fins for movement.[7]

Yellow boxfish being sold in a restaurant in Jakarta


  1. ^ Santini, Francesco (2013). "A multilocus molecular phylogeny of boxfishes (Aracanidae, Ostraciidae; Tetraodontiformes)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Elsevier. 66 (1): 153–160. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2012.09.022. PMID 23036494.
  2. ^ Lougher, Tristan (2006). What Fish?: A Buyer's Guide to Marine Fish. Interpet Publishing. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-7641-3256-8. What does it eat? In the wild, mainly marine algae, worms, crustaceans, molluscs, and small fish.
  3. ^ Nagashima, Y., Ohta, A., Yin, X., Ishizaki, S., Matsumoto, T., Doi, H. and Ishibashi, T. (2018). Difference in Uptake of Tetrodotoxin and Saxitoxins into Liver Tissue Slices among Pufferfish, Boxfish and Porcupinefish. Marine Drugs, 16(1), p.17.
  4. ^ Kalmanzon, E., Zlotkin, E., & Aknin-Herrmann, R. (1999). Protein-Surfactant interactions in the defensive skin secretion of the Red Sea trunkfish Ostracion cubicus Marine Biology, 135 (1), 141-146 DOI: 10.1007/s002270050611
  5. ^ * Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Ostracion cubicus" in FishBase. November 2006 version.
  6. ^ Phenix, M. Mercedes' fish-inspired car. CNN Technology. March 15, 2007.
  7. ^ Buehler, Jake (11 March 2015). "A Real Drag: Mercedes-Benz modeled a car on the boxfish. Only it completely misunderstood the boxfish". Slate. Retrieved 11 March 2015.

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