Scrawled Cowfish The scrawled cowfish, Lactoria cornuta (Bloch and Schneider 1801) is a member of the family Ostraciidae. It has been recorded from depths to about 60 m in most marine waters, but individuals may be found at much shallower depths during warm summer months.
The coloration of the scrawled cowfish is grayish brown with large brown spots, scattered irregularly on the body and fins. There are five dark brown diagonal bars on the back that cross both the caudal peduncle and caudal fin. The underside of each bar is bordered by a pale border. The scrawled cowfish usually has a maximum length of 18 cm, but most individuals are between 11 and 15 cm long.
The scrawled cowfish is an oval to oblong box-shaped fish that has no pelvic fins or spiny dorsal fin. The terminal mouth is small and it has fleshy lips. The dermal plates, which are hexagonal, make up the carapace that covers almost the entire body except for the tail regions. The carapace terminates around the base of the soft dorsal and anal fins.
Fish collected by trawling from depths greater than 100 fathoms have been reported as resembling a "hand-lantern" with light seen through the wide spaces between head bones. In shallow water, scrawled cowfish are whitish or cream-colored.
The scrawled cowfish is often found lying on or buried in the sand. It feeds mainly by scraping algae from stones and pebbles. Although it may feed on seaweeds, these fishes are not generally considered herbivorous.
"Lactoria cornuta" has a similar coloration to "Lactoria fornasini", which has more black on the body. In "Lactoria cornuta" the distance between each scale row is clearly wider than it is long, whereas in "Lactoria fornasini", this distance is as long as or only slightly longer than wide.
These dermal plates are firmly fused to form a “carapace”. The carapace terminates around the base of the soft dorsal and anal fins but does not extend onto the caudal fin or into the caudal peduncle. The head is small with eyes located dorsally on the head.
The fish has no pelvic fins, no spiny dorsal fin, the terminal mouth is small with fleshy lips, dermal plates, which are hexagonal-shaped, make up the carapace which covers almost the entire body except for the tail regions, firmly fused to form a “carapace” that terminates around the base of soft dorsal and anal fins but does not extend onto caudal fin or into caudal peduncle, and a head with eyes located dorsally on the head.
Global scrawled cowfish production
Scrawled cowfish are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. They are typically brown or gray in color, with large spots or blotches covering their bodies. These fish can grow to be quite large, reaching lengths of up to two feet.
Scrawled cowfish are popular aquarium fish, due to their unique appearance and interesting behavior. These fish are not particularly aggressive and can get along well with other peaceful species. They are omnivorous and will consume both plant and animal matter.
In the wild, scrawled cowfish help to control populations of small invertebrates. They are also an important food source for larger predators, such as sharks.
The global production of scrawled cowfish is currently quite low. This is due to overfishing and habitat loss. However, the demand for these fish in the aquarium trade remains high. As a result, prices for scrawled cowfish can be quite high.