Scientific Name: Lactoria cornuta
Ease of Care: Difficult
Approximate Arrival Size: Small: 1" to 2"; Small: 2" to 3"; Large: 3" to 5"
Approximate Full Size: 18 inches
Reef Safe: No
Longhorn Cowfish, Lactoria cornuta, are an extraordinarily unique aquarium addition that have a specialized set of care requirements necessary for successful captive livelihood. Of utmost importance, this fish must be kept with peaceful aquarium mates that will not cause undue stress. Larger aquariums with moderate-to-low aquarium populations and moderate-to-low water flows suit it best. Cowfish are not assertive eaters, so they should not be housed with fish that will eat the food before the Cowfish has received adequate nourishment. As an omnivore, herbivorous side of its diet must be supplemented with seaweed sheets or other vegetable preparations. All foods must be fed below the aquarium surface. Floating foods may cause the fish to gulp air, thus causing potential problems with balance and buoyancy. Also known as the Yellow Boxfish, younger specimens are a brilliant yellow that is sometimes nearly fluorescent. This coloration does mellow with age as this fish reaches more mature sizes. In the wild, it can reach 18 inches, thus explaining its requirement for frequent feedings of at least three times per day. Be careful not to overfeed so as to adversely affect water quality. In the home aquarium, specimens in the size range from eight to twelve inch maximums are more commonplace than those of a foot or greater. For the aquarist willing to devote extra time to allot time for the correct care and a the willingness to furnish a proper environment, keeping a Longhorn Cowfish can be a highly rewarding experience.
When this fish is in duress (or upon expiration), it emits toxins that can harm or kill aquarium mates. Because these toxins may be excreted during shipment, it is extremely important to follow all steps in the acclimation guide. Water from the acclimation bag must never enter the destination aquarium.
This fish requires special care and is traditionally difficult to keep. It is, therefore, recommended only for the advanced aquarist or for aquatic research facilities.