Aquarium Fish

Helmet Cowfish

posted: 05/15/12
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Helmet Cowfish
Courtesy of Drs. Foster and Smith
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Referred to by many names, including Camel Cowfish, Thornback, Thornbacked Boxfish, Cowfish Helmet, and Hovercraft Boxfish, the Helmet Cowfish requires the care of an experienced aquarist. The Helmet Cowfish has a rather drab, pale tan body with random blotches of blue and occasional black dots. The eyes are large and blue.

The Helmet Cowfish should have a minimum of an 70-gallon tank. Use caution if placing it in a reef tank as it will often nibble at tubeworms. When stressed, the Helmet Cowfish releases a poisonous substance, called ostracitoxin, from its mucous glands which will kill other fish in the tank very quickly.

Very little success has been achieved in breeding this fish in an aquarium.

When introduced into a tank, the Helmet Cowfish can be fed a diet of live brine shrimp or bloodworms. After acclimatization, chopped squid, clams, mussels, and herbivore preparations can be fed. This fish has the peculiar habit of coming to the surface and spitting when it is hungry.

Fish Facts

Name: Helmet Cowfish (Tetrosomus gibbosus)

Family: Ostraciidae

Range: Indo-Pacific

Size: Up to 4 inches

Diet: Omnivore

Tank Set-up: Marine: Coral or rock, plants

Reef Compatible: With caution

Tank Conditions: 72-78°F; sg 1.020-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4

Minimum Tank Capacity: 70 gallon

Light: Medium

Temperament: Peaceful

Venomous: Yes

Swimming Level: No specific level

Care Level: Difficult

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