Yellow Boxfish, Ostracion cubicus Linnaeus 1758

Other Names: Blue-spotted Box-fish, Cubed Boxfish, Cubical Boxfish, Polka Dot Boxfish, Yellow Box-fish, Yellow Trunkfish

A Yellow Boxfish, Ostracion cubicus, at Yellow Rock, Lord Howe Island, New South Wales. Source: Andrew J. Green / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution

Like most boxfishes, this species changes colour and shape with growth. Large adults are pale yellowish-grey to bluish or purplish-brown with a yellow tail base, yellow markings between the body plates, remnants of dark spots on the body, and small black spots on the fins - and a bony bump above the mouth. 
Immature fish are reddish to yellowish-brown with clusters of dark spots surrounded by blue, or black spots with pale margins, and black spots on the fins.
Juveniles are bright yellow with black spots on the head and body.

Video of a juvenile Yellow Boxfish
Video of a juvenile Yellow Boxfish at Talima Marine Sanctuary, Cebu, Philippines.
Video of a juvenile Yellow Boxfish in the Maldives

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Ostracion cubicus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 07 Jul 2020,

Yellow Boxfish, Ostracion cubicus Linnaeus 1758

More Info


Known in the Australian EEZ from Fremantle, WA, to Wollongong, NSW, also Rowley Shoals and Scott Reef, WA, and Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands in the Indian Ocean, and Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, widespread in the tropical Indo-west-central Pacific.


Omnivore - feeds on algae, a range of benthic invertebrates including sponges, crustaceans, molluscs, polychaete worms, and small fishes.

Species Citation

Ostracion cubicus Linnaeus, 1758, Systema Naturae: 332. Type locality: India.


Dianne J. Bray

Yellow Boxfish, Ostracion cubicus Linnaeus 1758


Allen, G.R. 1985. Fishes of Western Australia. Book 9. 2207-2534 526 pls in Burgess, W.E. & Axelrod, H.R. (eds). Pacific Marine Fishes. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications.

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.

Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1979. The Fishes of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Aust. Natl. Parks Wldlf. Ser. Spec. Publ. 2. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service 81 pp. 15 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp.

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna tria Naturae, secundem Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentis, Synonymis, Locis. Tom.1 Editio decima, reformata. Holmiae : Laurentii Salvii 824 pp.

Matsuura, K. 2001. Ostraciidae, Aracanidae, Triodontidae, Tetraodontidae. pp. 3948-3957 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Matsuura, K. & Tyler, J.C. 1998. pp. 229–230, in Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37466013

Danger:Poisonous skin secretions

Depth:1-35 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:45 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map