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Bizarre Baby Boxfish arrive at Aquarium

April 6, 2013

A pair of bizarre baby fish which resemble armour-plated boxes and spit water when they’re hungry have gone on display in a special nursery tank at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium.

The exotic species is also known by a bewildering number of different common names including the humpack turretfish, the hovercraft boxfish and the camel cowfish.

It is found from East Africa to Indonesia, north to Japan, and south to Australia. There is also a resident population in the Red Sea, which is now believed to be spreading to the Mediterranean, via the Suez Canal.

The humpback turretfish is usually found in deep offshore waters over coastal slopes and sheltered muddy and sandy substrates.

It is also occasionally found near shallow algae and seagrass beds and areas of part-destroyed coral reefs, and rocky outcrops.

In the wild it feeds mainly on algae and invertebrates; including worms, crustaceans, molluscs, and sponges.

However individuals in captivity are noted for their habit of coming to the surface and spitting water at passing aquarists to let them know when they are hungry.

Blue Reef’s Jenni Smith said: “Although they’re only tiny, they are a particularly impressive little fish.

“They have got real personality and have already made quite an impression on our aquarists.

“They are sharing their new nursery display with a pair of equally-unusual looking long horned cowfish and together they make quite a sight for visitors who can’t quite believe what they’re seeing!

“They’ve got to be among the least streamlined fish in the world and are pretty slow moving but they’ve got bundles of character which more than makes up for their less than agile swimming technique,” she added.

Long horned cowfish have bull like ‘horns’ protruding from the head. Their unique method of locomotion, called ‘ostraciform swimming’, causes them to look as if they are hovering in the water.

IMG_7409 [Desktop Resolution] Baby Longhorn Cowfish