Common or shortnose Boxfish


Common or Shortnose Boxfish

  • Common/shortnose Boxfish
  • Rhynchostracion nasus
  • Care: Intermediate
  • Diet: Omnivores
  • Group Size: Alone or group with caution
  • Place of origin: Western Pacific
  • Coral Safe: Possible with caution
  • Critter Safe: Generally no

Common Boxfish, Rhynchostracion nasus, also go by the name Shortnose Boxfish. These are adorable fish that make great additions to a marine tank. Common/shortnose Boxfish are full of personality and are perfect for someone after something different. 

Cowfish and boxfish belong to the Ostraciidae family. Which comes from the Greek word “ostrakon” meaning “shell”. Members of this family have square shaped bodies. This is thanks to their rigid carapace which grants them protection from predators. Their tough armour consists of sutured bony plates or scutes. It also encases most of their body, only leaving gaps for the: eyes, mouth, fins, gills ect.

Common/shortnose Boxfish Ecology.

These fish occur mostly alone in the Western Pacific, around: Sumatra, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Micronesia and the Philippines.

Common/shortnose Boxfish live in sheltered sandy bays or in rocky areas. Here they graze on algae and hunt for invertebrates, such as polychaete worms and crustaceans.

The unusual shape of the Common/shortnose Boxfish has resulted in them having enhanced manoeuvrability, which is advantageous when needing to navigate a complex environment such as a reef.

Rhynchostracion nasus in the Aquarium.

It is important to have plenty of nooks or crannies where your Common/shortnose Boxfish can explore and feel at home. Keepers may want to invest in a jump guard to prevent accidents. Young fish are not the strongest of swimmers so be mindful the flow rate isn’t too high.

Common/shortnose Boxfish are omnivores so do best when fed a varied diet. They will accept frozen Mysis shrimp and frozen brine shrimp. We enrich all our frozen food with seachem garlic guard and Atvitol vitamins. These are great for keeping fish healthy by providing them with the nutrition otherwise lost in frozen food. In doing so, these additives support their immune system and increase longevity.

These fish can also go for masstick that can be rubbed onto the rockwork or tank sides. In addition, they will graze on marine algae that can be stuck to the side of the tank with clips. Over time, Common Boxfish will eat a high quality flake food. They will also accept live foods, such as copepods and amphipods, that can be cultivated in attached refugium.

We adapt all our Common/shortnose Boxfish to aquarium life before they leave us. We focus on their health. Most will also be eating frozen food before leaving us.

Box fish can live alone. It is possible for them to live in a group as well. Success depends on a fair number of variables. For example, factors to consider include: tank size, space available, cover available and timing of introduction. Please give us a call if you want to know more.


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