In this episode of visual meditation, we’d like to introduce you to the Longhorn Cowfish (Lactoria cornuta). This curious-looking creature has two spine-like horns growing from the front of its head, and two more from the back of its body. These make it harder for any would-be predator to swallow them. Their body has plate-like scales that are fused together to form a solid box-like carapace and the fins, tail, eyes, and mouth protrude from this.

Meet the Longhorn Cowfish (Lactoria cornuta)

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Longhorn Cowfish (Lactoria cornuta) at night in the bay of Amed, Bali, Indonesia, 2020.

Due to their armour, these fish are slow-moving and rely on their pectoral fins for propulsion. Cowfish are closely related to Pufferfish, and although they don’t have the ability to puff themselves up, they do have a symbiotic relationship with types of toxic bacteria similar to the Pufferfish. These bacteria produce ostracitoxin which is a powerful neurotoxin. The ostracitoxin’s are found in their skin and internal organs.

Longhorn Cowfish (Lactoria cornuta): A defence to kill

In addition to being poisonous, they have the ability to secrete the ostracitoxins into the water when stressed. This acts as a chemical defence when they are attacked by predators. To the dismay of many an aquarist who thought this funny looking creature would be a great addition to their tank, when stressed the Longhorn Cowfish is capable of killing every fish in an aquarium, including itself. An unfortunate case of murder-suicide, that once again shows us that creatures should not be imprisoned for our own entertainment.

There is more to discover

For more visual meditation, watch the whole playlist on our YouTube channel or browse through the different clips on our designated page „Take a Minute“ on this website.

Screenshot of "Take a Minute to Relax": Longhorn Cowfish (Lactoria cornuta). This curious-looking creature has 2 spine-like horns growing from the front of its head, and 2 more from the back of its body. It is yellowish green with a network of darker greenish lines and blue dots in between. Big blue pupils with a golden ring around and its hovering over the sand in the bay od A,ed, Bali, Indonesia, on a night dive.

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