Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Found in shallow water down to about 80 m, mainly in seagrass beds (Ref. 3696). Feeds on sessile invertebrates such as tunicates, gorgonians and anemones, as well as on slow-moving crustaceans, sponges (Ref. 3696), hermit crabs and marine plants (Ref. 13442). Oviparous (Ref. 205). Considered an excellent food fish; marketed fresh (Ref. 3696).
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Distribution

Western Atlantic: Massachusetts (USA), Bermuda, and northern Gulf of Mexico to southeastern Brazil
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Atlantic Ocean: in tropical and temperate waters (Ref. 3696). Western Atlantic: Massachusetts (USA), Bermuda, and northern Gulf of Mexico to southeastern Brazil. Reported from tip of South Africa.
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Western Atlantic.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 10; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 10
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Size

Maximum size: 550 mm TL
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Max. size

55.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 6937))
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Diagnostic Description

Dark markings on head and body; parallel bands on cheek. Pair of prominent spines projecting from in front of eyes suggests cow horns. Second pair of spines at lower rear corners of cuirass (Ref. 26938). Body deep, covered with hexagonal dermal plates (Ref. 37521).
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Ecology

Habitat

Environment

reef-associated; marine; depth range ? - 80 m (Ref. 26938), usually 10 - 30 m (Ref. 40849)
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Depth range based on 394 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 232 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 75
  Temperature range (°C): 22.695 - 27.274
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.289 - 2.736
  Salinity (PPS): 35.556 - 37.190
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.033 - 4.855
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.075 - 0.290
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.756 - 5.012

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 75

Temperature range (°C): 22.695 - 27.274

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.289 - 2.736

Salinity (PPS): 35.556 - 37.190

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.033 - 4.855

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.075 - 0.290

Silicate (umol/l): 0.756 - 5.012
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Depth: 2 - 80m.
From 2 to 80 meters.

Habitat: reef-associated.
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Trophic Strategy

Occurs in shallow waters, mainly over seagrass beds (Ref. 33, 3696). Found in shallow water down to about 80 m (Ref. 3696). Feeds on sessile invertebrates such as tunicates, gorgonians and anemones, as well as on slow-moving crustaceans, sponges (Ref. 3696), hermit crabs and marine plants (Ref. 13442).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Acanthostracion quadricornis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 18
Specimens with Barcodes: 57
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Acanthostracion quadricornis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 15 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CCTTTATTTAGTATTTGGTGCTTGAGCCGGAATAGTAGGGACAGCCCTAAGTCTACTCATCCGAGCAGAACTGAGCCAACCAGGCGCCCTTCTTGGAGACGATCAGATTTATAATGTTATCGTCACAGCGCATGCATTCGTAATAATTTTCTTTATAGTAATACCAATTATAATTGGAGGGTTTGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCACTAATAATTGGAGCCCCTGATATAGCATTCCCCCGTATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTTCTCCCTCCCTCCTTCCTCCTTCTCCTAGCTTCATCAGGAGTTGAAGCAGGTGCTGGGACAGGCTGAACAGTCTACCCACCCTTAGCGGGTAACCTAGCACACGCAGGAGCATCCGTTGACTTAACCATCTTCTCACTTCATCTGGCTGGAGTTTCCTCAATTCTAGGGGCCATCAATTTTATTACTACTATTATTAATATAAAACCTCCCGCTATCTCCCAATATCAAACACCCCTATTTGTCTGAGCCGTATTAATTACTGCTGTCCTTCTTCTCCTATCACTACCAGTTCTTGCTGCTGGCATTACAATGCTCCTTACAGATCGAAACTTAAATACCACCTTCTTTGACCCGGCAGGAGGAGGAGATCCAATCCTTTACCAACATTTATTT
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Conservation

Threats

Not Evaluated
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: commercial; price category: high; price reliability: very questionable: based on ex-vessel price for species in this family
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Wikipedia

Scrawled cowfish

Acanthostracion quadricornis juvenile


Scrawled Cowfish (Acanthostracion quadricornis)

Distribution[edit]

The scrawled cowfish, Acanthostracion quadricornis, belongs to the Ostraciidae family and is closely related to boxfish and trunkfish. They range in size from 8-15 inches, with a maximum length of 18 inches, and can be found at depths between 6 and 80 feet. It is common to occasional in Florida and Bahamas; occasional to uncommon in the Caribbean. It may occur in the Gulf of Mexico, north to Massachusetts, Bermuda and south to Brazil in tropical and temperate waters.

Reproduction[edit]

It has been known that the Scrawled Cowfish spawns during the months of January and February, and July through September. They release the eggs in pelagic waters and eventually settle as juveniles out of the water column.

Description[edit]

It has distinctive features such as a scrawled pattern of bluish markings covering its body; a blue line runs from snout to anal fin and it has a pair of sharp spines above each eye, giving the name “cowfish” because they resemble the horns of a cow. This latter point distinguishes cowfish from trunkfish. Overall it is colored blue-green to yellow cast. However, it may darken, pale and change color. Significantly it has two sharp spines in front of anal fin. Pelvic fins and spiny dorsal fin are not found on the cowfish. Almost always there will be dark, blotchy spots along the body, and three to four horizontal lines on the cheek. They have usually less than 15 teeth in each jaw.

Habitat[edit]

Because the Scrawled Cowfish is a shallow water species, it will mostly always be found in and along grass beds. However it is wary. If disturbed it may remain motionless apparently relying on camouflage.

Diet[edit]

The Scrawled Cowfish likes to eat small invertebrates such as crabs and tunicates. It also will feed on some species of marine vegetation.

Importance to Humans[edit]

Scrawled Cowfish can be quite tasty is cooked properly. It is locally abundant in the Caribbean region and often sold fresh. Although they are very good to eat, in many places around the world they are used as an aquarium fish because of their beautiful coloration.






Note[edit]

References[edit]

  • Humann, P. & Deloach, N., Reef fish identification, Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas, 2003, 481 p., p. 388-389

Acanthostracion Quadricornis Summary Page." FishBase. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2014. <http://www.fishbase.org/summary/92>.

"FLMNH Ichthyology Department: Scrawled Cowfish." FLMNH Ichthyology Department: Scrawled Cowfish. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2014. <https://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Gallery/Descript/ScrawledCowfish/scrawledcowfish.html>.

Page, L. M., H. Espinosa-Perez, L.T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, N. E. Mandrak, R. L. Mayden, and J. S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of the fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, 7th Edition. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 34, Bethesda Maryland.

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