The boxfish, a member the Ostraciidae family is also known as the trunkfish. It has a large distribution in tropical seas, including the Red Sea. The boxfish is a slow mover and omnivorous, feeding on algae, molluscs and crustaceans.  However, their free-moving fins enable them to rotate their body and to make swift movements. Its skin is covered with toxic mucus, a slimy cocoon, to shy away predators. The diurnal boxfish has a quadrangular body, meaning box-like. It’s covered with armour-like bony plates. The boxfish releases toxic liquid when it is stressed, subsequently sometimes tragically killing itself as a result.

Family Members

Longhorn Boxfish

Size up to 50 cm (1,6ft). Depth up to 100m (33ft)

The solitaire and diurnal adult takes on a more elongated shape after its juvenile cube-like shape.  It is equipped with pretty long horns on its forehead. It feeds on invertebrates in sandy lagoons by exposing them by a strong water jet, squirted from between the lips. Its almost indefinable ‘ yellow’  leans to gold and dark khaki, ornamented with skyblue spots.

Arabian Boxfish

Size up to 15 cm (0,5ft). Depth up to 20m (65ft)

This is an ‘ordinary, common’ boxfish. It operates in small groups or solitaire, gently hovering over reefs in sandy areas. The diurnal and omnivorous Arabian boxfish can be spotted with various colourful appearances. Royal blue would probably come nearest to indicate, together with even darker blue dots.

Yellow Boxfish/Cube Boxfish

Size up to 45 cm (1,5ft). Depth up to 45m (150ft)

The diurnal yellow boxfish is also known as the cube boxfish or the polka dot boxfish. This is a solitary species, seeking a secure environment under overhangs in reef formations. Their colour and decoration spectrum is spectacular. We mention purple, ochre, black, white and yellow. It discourages enemies with bright yellow and black spots, serving as an alarm system. It’s fond of sponges, algae, molluscs and crustaceans.  This species is tainted yellow and larded with white spots in female mode and stands out with grey and with black dots when male. When tempted to socialize, the cube boxfish will form small harems.

Thornback Trunkfish

Size up to 30 cm (0,98ft). Depth up to 110m (360ft)

Not highly likely to be spotted at its maximum depth of 110 m, it also roams seagrass beds and sandy and rocky areas at moderate depths of 3 m. The diurnal thornback trunkfish is solitary. It also goes by the name of camel cowfish and humpback turretfish and feeds on a wide variety of invertebrates and algae.  It comes in different colours and patterns, probably cornflower yellow, sometimes with a honeycomb resembling pentagonal design.