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Box Fish (ostraction meleagris) Profile


Box Fish (ostraction meleagris) Profile Brian Tissot

Common Names:

Speckled Box Fish, Freckled Box Fish.

Scientific Name:

Ostraction meleagris (Jenkins, 1901).


The Box Fish has a hard, rectangular shaped body, thus giving it its name "Box" Fish. It uses a small dorsal and anal fin to propel itself through the water, at which time it curls up its tail on one side or other of the body. The mouth region protrudes from the front of the body, looking similar to a snout with a small mouth at the end. the female has a brown body with white spots. Pretty plain compared to the males whose body is basically brown with bright blue sides marked with golden spots and white spots on the top. The females will turn into males, like a lot of fish species do to propagate their species.


The Box Fish is a shy and quite fish. It likes to live around rocks and corals as a bottom dweller, a lot of times around sandy bottoms. It is generally slow moving, but have you ever tried to catch one in your aquarium without sending it into a toxic emitting frenzy? It's not an easy task. It can move fast, and jump too, when it wants to.

Maximum Size:

This species remains fairly small reaching an average length of about four to five inches. However, on occasion we have found a few nice showsize male specimens of about seven to eight inches.


It can sometimes be difficult to get a Box Fish to eat. We have found it will eat shrimps and crabs, as Crustaceans are one of their main food sources. It can also be a coral picker, so it is not a fish suitable for reef tanks.

This Fish Is Toxic!:

this little fish might look harmless, but when frightened it will release a TOXIC POISON to protect itself. When in the wild if this fish does its thing it can easily escape from its own poison.

However, in a closed aquarium system they have nowhere to go and the poison not only kills EVERYTHING else in your tank, it kills the Box Fish too. When it's all over all that's left standing are the rocks and decorations, thus our name the "Neutron Bomb" Box Fish. Believe it or not, even with this nasty trait it is a fish very much in demand by aquarists'.

Guides' Notes:

Because of its nature for being toxic, use extreme caution when having one in an aquarium. They get along fine with other fishes, are very non-aggressive, but be sure you don't mix other fish that will harass them. It is not wise to put two Box Fish of the same sex in a tank together, They will fight right off the bat. If you do and they manage to survive without killing each other off (and everything else in your tank) they will establish their territories and get along fine after that.

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