Black Boxfish, Ostracion meleagris Shaw 1796

Other Names: Black Box-fish, Ornate Boxfish, Spotted Boxfish, Whitespotted boxfish

A male Black Boxfish, Ostracion meleagris, on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef life Survey. License: CC by Attribution


Males and females differ in colour: males are blackish on the back with white spots, and have bluish sides with bright yellowish bands and spots. Females and juveniles are dark brown to blackish with white spots.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Ostracion meleagris in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 Oct 2021,

Black Boxfish, Ostracion meleagris Shaw 1796

More Info


Recorded in Australia from the Houtman Abrolhos area, Western Australia, to about Jervis Bay, New South Wales, New South Wales. Also at Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, and at Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the tropical Indo-Pacific.

The Black Boxfish inhabits coral reefs, from the surge zone to about 30 m, and are often seen on reef crests and reef slopes. Juveniles shelter among boulders, often with urchins.


Feeds on a range of invertebrates including molluscs, tunicates, plychaetes, sponges, crustaceans; also consumes algae.


Dianne J. Bray

Black Boxfish, Ostracion meleagris Shaw 1796


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

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp.

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6

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.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to sea fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 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. 

Parmentier, E., Solagna, L., Bertucci, F. et al. 2019. Simultaneous production of two kinds of sounds in relation with sonic mechanism in the boxfish Ostracion meleagris and O. cubicusScientific Reports 9: 4962.

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.

Russell, B.C. 1983. Annotated checklist of the coral reef fishes in the Capricorn-Bunker group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Special Publication Series 1: 1-184 figs 1-2

Shaw, G. in Shaw, G. & Nodder, F.P. 1796. The Naturalist's Miscellany, or coloured figures of natural objects; drawn and described from nature. London Vol. 7 pls 231–254, unnumbered pages.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37466019

Danger:Poisonous skin secretions

Depth:1-30 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:25 cm TL

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