Spotted Trunkfish

Spotted Trunkfish, Lactophrys bicaudalis

The Spotted Trunkfish Lactophrys bicaudalis, whose common Spanish name is chapin pintado, is a member of the Boxfish or Ostraciidae Family, known collectively as peces cofre in Mexico. There are only three global members of the Lactophrys Genus, with all three being found in Mexican waters of the Atlantic.

The Spotted Trunkfish have oblong thick bodies with a humped back that are enclosed in a bony box formed by thickened, joined, enlarged, and hexagonal scale plates. The box has openings for the mouth, eyes, gill slits, fins and tail. They have a pale gray to whitish background color and are covered with numerous dark brown to black spots. They white around the mouth and the lips are white; mature fish have two white spots behind the eyes. The juveniles are orange-white and covered with a limited number of black spots. They have triangular shaped bodies that are narrow on top and wide at the base. The heads have pointed snouts with protuberant fleshy lips encircling a small mouth that opens in the front that is equipped with small conical teeth and short gill slits. The anal and dorsal fins are far back in the body; the caudal fin is fan-like and rounded. The anal fin has two sharp spines. They do not have pelvic fins and the fins do not have spines and the lateral line is inconspicuous.

The Spotted Trunkfish are slow swimmers found in and around coral reefs. They reach a maximum length of 48 cm (19 inches) and found at depths up toe 165 feet. They are protected by a slime that contains ostracitoxin that can kill other fish, thus making them unsuitable for use in aquariums. They feed on benthic invertebrates including acorn worms, mollusks, peanut worms, polychaetes worms and sponges that are exposed by a jet of water ejected through the mouth.

In Mexican waters the Spotted Trunkfish are found in all waters of the Atlantic.

The Spotted Trunkfish is similar in size and shape to several other trunkfish, however only the Smooth Trunkfish, Lactophrys triqueter, has spotting but those are white.

The Spotted Trunkfish are of limited interest to most but visually awesome and will make a nice table decor if allowed to dry.

Spotted Trunkfish Lactophrys bicaudalis. Fish caught off the Dania Pier, Dania, Florida, January 2016. Length: 16.5 cm (6.5 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Spotted Trunkfish Lactophrys bicaudalis. Fish caught off the Channel 5 Bridge (MM 71.4), Florida Keys, Florida, December 2015. Length: 17 cm (6.7 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.