Box Fish or Ostraciidae is a family of squared, bony fish belonging to the order Tetraodontiformes, closely related to the pufferfishes and filefishes. Fish in the family are known variously as boxfishes, cofferfishes, cowfishes and trunkfishes. It contains 25 species in six extant genera.
Ostraciidae occupy the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, generally at middle latitudes, although the common or buffalo trunkfish (Lactophrys trigonus) which lives mainly in Florida waters may be found as far north as Cape Cod. The cowfish variety Lactophrys quadricornis can grow to be 50 cm or less in size, but are generally smaller at higher latitudes.
They come in a variety of different colors, and are notable for the hexagonal or “honeycomb” patterns in their skin. They swim in a rowing manner. The hexagonal plate-like scales of these fish are fused together into a solid, triangular, box-like carapace, from which the fins, tail, eyes and mouth protrude. Because of these heavy armoured scales, Ostraciidae are limited to slow movements, but few other fish are able to eat the adults. Ostraciidae of the Genus Lactophrys also secrete poisons from their skin into the surrounding water, further protecting them from predation.Although the adults are in general quite square in shape, young Ostraciidae are more rounded. The young often also exhibit brighter colors.