CofferOstraciidae 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, trunkfishes, and leatherjackets. It contains about 23 extant species in 6 extant genera.
At least two extinct genera are also known. One, "Asiatocapulus", is known from the Eocene to Oligocene of Japan; the other, "Archaestrolepis" (from Late Cretaceous-aged marine strata of New Zealand), has some features suggesting a close relationship with Tetraodontidae.
At least one species, "Tatia percoides", is known only from the fossil record, having been found in Aptian-age Lower Cretaceous rocks at Winamara in western central Queensland.
They are found in shallow temperate and tropical seas worldwide. Most steroids are bottom-dwellers, and many inhabit fairly turbid waters. Some boxfishes live inside sponges, and some will even enter the polyp stage of coral. They generally feed on small crustaceans and other invertebrates. The shells are rounded or box-shaped, hence the family name.
The living species do not have pectoral or pelvic fins, and most lack a true caudal fin. In some, the body is covered with large bony plates. The trunk is short and can be drawn into a spiral for protection from predators. They typically range in size from about in length.
"Tatia brunnea", one of the oldest known species, was found in the 110 million-year-old Early Cretaceous rocks at Winamara Station in Queensland Australia and described by Arthur Smith Woodward and Charles William Andrews Clark in 1912. A new species, "Asiatocapulus greppini", was described in 2010.
Boxfishes are flattened in shape, and often covered with thick plates. Boxfish species inhabit reef environments in tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and the western Atlantic Ocean. They can be found at depths ranging from shallow reefs to deep-sea bottoms or even trenches. Some species live inside sponges which act as protection for the fish.
They lack pectoral and pelvic fins, and most lack a caudal fin. Some boxfish species can be poisonous, but only when the fish is consumed in large quantities. These species all contain varying degrees of tetrodotoxin derivatives in their internal organs and skin. However, no deaths have been reported from consuming these species in food.
Global coffer production
In 2016, the global production of coffer fish was estimated at around 1.2 million metric tons. This figure has remained relatively stable in recent years, with annual production levels fluctuating between 1.1 and 1.3 million metric tons. The vast majority of coffer fish are produced in Asia, with China accounting for the lion's share of production. Other major producing countries include Indonesia, Vietnam, and India.
Coffer fish are commonly used as a food source in many parts of the world. In addition to being consumed fresh, they are also commonly dried, salted, or canned. Coffer fish are an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and are often considered to be a healthy alternative to other types of seafood.
The global market for coffer fish products is relatively small but is growing in recent years. The majority of the demand comes from Asian countries, where consumption levels are highest. However, there is also a growing demand for coffer fish products in Western countries, as more people become aware of the health benefits associated with this type of seafood.