Yellow Boxfish (species: Ostracion cubicus) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Ostracion cubicus
Yellow Boxfish

©Anne Hoggett: Ostracion cubicus at Yonge Reef near Lizard Island.

©Anne Hoggett: At least five Ostracion cubicus crowded into a hole near the outer crest of Ribbon Reef 10 near Lizard Island.

©Andy Lewis: A juvenile Yellow Boxfish
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Tetraodontiformes
Family Ostraciidae
Genus Ostracion
Species Ostracion cubicus



Distinguishing features

A medium sized fish with a distinct box-like bony cover to the body. Small individuals are yellow with black spots, while larger specimens are dark brown with small blue dots. Very large individuals are purple grey with indistinct spots and a prominent lump above the mouth.


  • Up to 45 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Areas of rich coral growth with nearby areas of rubble for feeding.

Can be found in most sheltered locations around the island.


The Yellow Boxfish is a benthic omnivore, feeding on a wide variety of invertebrates such as crustaceans, ascidians, worms, and molluscs, and it will also take some algae. It is usually seen singly, swimming slowly using the dorsal and anal fins, and will usually retreat to a shelter if approached closely. Boxfishes have a skin poison which they secrete if threatened, and this can be fatal to other fishes kept with the boxfish in a small aquarium.

Web resources


  • Bray, R.A. and T.H. Cribb (1998). Lepocreadiidae (Digenea) of Australian coastal fishes: new species of Opechona Looss, 1907, Lepotrema Ozaki, 1932 and Bianium Stunkard, 1930 and comments on other species reported for the first time or poorly known in Australian waters, Systematic Parasitology, 41: 123-148. LIRS catalog number 607.
  • Bray, R.A., T.H. Cribb and J.-L. Justine (2010). Diploproctodaeum sp(p). (Digenea, Lepocreadiidae) in Australian and New Caledonian waters including two new species from Tetraodontiformes and new records of related species, Acta Parasitologica, 55: 313-326. LIRS catalog number 1315.
  • Bray, R., A. Waeschenbach, T.H. Cribb, G.D. Weedall, P. Dyal and D.T.J. Littlewood (2009). The phylogeny of the Lepocreadioidea (Platyhelminthes, Digenea) inferred from nuclear and mitochondrial genes: implications for their systematics and evolution, Acta Parasitologica, 54: 310-329. LIRS catalog number 1280.
  • View all references