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Florida Manatee & Aquatic Center Animal Fact Sheet
Acanthostracion quadricornis

The scrawled cowfish is found in tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts, Bermuda, and the northern Gulf of Mexico to southeastern Brazil. There has also been a report of this species off the tip of South Africa.

The body of the scrawled cowfish is covered with hexagonal-shaped dermal plates that are securely fused together to form a "carapace". There is a pair of spines projecting from in front of the eyes, similar in appearance to cow horns, hence its common name of "cowfish". A second pair of spines is located at the rear corners of the carapace. The carapace terminates around the base of the soft dorsal and anal fins. The terminal mouth is small with fleshy lips. Pelvic fins and spiny dorsal fin are absent. The caudal fin is rounded, truncate, or slightly produced ventrally or dorsally.


Habitat: As a shallow water species, the scrawled cowfish resides primarily in sea grass beds to depths of 262 feet (80 m).
Diet: Carnivore: The diet of the scrawled cowfish includes sessile invertebrates such as tunicates, gorgonians, and anemones in addition to slow-moving crustaceans, sponges, hermit crabs and marine vegetation.
Status: Not Evaluated
Approximate Dimensions of Adult:

Length: 8-22 in

Lifespan: NA
Reproduction & Offspring:

Spawning has been documented off Venezuela during the months of January through February and June through September. Eggs are released in pelagic waters with the larval stage is completed while still pelagic, with juveniles eventually settling out of the water column.


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