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)
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 ostracitoxins 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.