Yellow Boxfish – Toxic And Inspiring?

Yellow Boxfish – Toxic And Inspiring?

Yellow Boxfish Have An Evil Side

Yellow boxfish are virtually guaranteed on any Phuket scuba diving trip. Cute, quirky and very photogenic, the yellow boxfish hides a couple of surprising facts. It should be of no surprise that the yellow boxfish has some hidden survival strategies. Being bright yellow and swimming around with no discernible plan isn’t going to keep you alive very long. It’s swapped the usual fish strategy of being fast or spiky for something different.

Toxic Terrors?

Don’t cancel your Phuket scuba diving trip just yet but yellow boxfish can indeed release toxins into the surrounding water. The ocean equivalent of a skunk but with added death. It won’t harm you (unless you eat it) but can quite literally turn life belly up for any potential predators. The toxin (pahutoxin) works in a truly horrible way. The yellow boxfish releases a cloud of pain from all over its body that can burst red blood cells. You’re not going to see randomly exploding fish on your Phuket scuba diving tour (would be cool though), the toxin works by adhering to fishes gills and basically slowly strangling it to death.

Along with the toxins, the box shape is formed by bony, armour plates with holes only for fins, eyes, tail and that strange puckered mouth. So predators could lose their teeth as well as getting a mouth full of cell exploding toxins. It’s not just the yellow boxfish that has these traits. The gaudily coloured spotted boxfish can leave the same lasting impression on would be diners.

They can be extremely annoying for photographers but stressing a yellow boxfish could result in some collateral damage. It only takes one part in 10 million to asphyxiate its fishy friends. Roughly equivalent to a shot glass in an olympic size swimming pool.

Recruited By Mercedes Benz

Back in 2006, Mercedes Benz built a concept car inspired by the shape of the yellow boxfish. Even though they wisely chose not to paint it with boxfish livery, the car never made it to production. So why were Mercedes inspired by this oddball/box? Apparently the high agility and manoeuvrability of the yellow boxfish must mean its very aerodynamic and stable, apparently they were wrong… Turns out that the body is aerodynamically unstable and it’s the fin movement that corrects it all. Ah well, just a few million down the drain.

yellow boxfish inspired mercedes concept car

yellow boxfish inspired mercedes concept car

They Don’t Age Well

The incredibly cute juveniles start life as a bright yellow spotty cube but that soon changes. As they get older both males and females begin to elongate and change to a more blue/grey colour with just a hint of yellow. As Juveniles they tend to hide in reefs with plenty of get away holes, as adults they prefer more exposed rocky areas. We’d like to show you what the adult looks like but they’re just too ugly.

They grow on a diet of mainly algae with some sides of molluscs, crustaceans, small fish and sponges. The adults can reach up to 45cm and although we get plenty of juveniles on our local reefs, the adults are much more elusive. However you can find them all over the boulder strewn sites of the Similan Islands National Park.

You can find yellow boxfish on any of our Phuket scuba diving tours but they’re especially prevalent at Koh Doc Mai, Shark Point and Anemone Reef. They’re just one of the many fascinating creatures that Local Dive Thailand’s fantastic guides can show you. Join us anytime of the year for the best Phuket diving experience.

Contact Us Now!

By Justin Hartrey

I've been enjoying the incredible marine life in our oceans for over 25 years. 13 years ago I became a PADI professional, hoping to introduce as many people as possible to the incredible beauty of the seas.

Having been fortunate enough to dive all over south east and especially Thailand, I enjoy sharing my experience and passion on this blog.

Posted in Rare & Peculiar Critters on .

Popular Services

Phuket Diving Site Elephant Head Rock

Elephant Head Rock

Elephant Head Rock is a large rocky pinnacle that nestles between Similan Islands seven and eight. The strong current that runs between the two islands has smoothed the granite boulders on Elephant Head Rock and created lots of really nice swim-throughs. Although strong currents are frequently prevalent. The large size of the pinnacle ensures there is always a sheltered and safe area to dive. It's often the first dive of the day to allow d [...]

Find Out More
the phinisi liveaboard in myanmar

Phinisi In Myanmar

The Phinisi cuts an impressive figure. A wonderful, traditional Indonesian style yacht that gets you to the isolated Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar. Myanmar is a fantastic place to dive, visiting the wonderful dive sites is enhanced by joining a liveaboard safari with The Phinisi. Sitting firmly in the luxury category, The Phinisi has very comfortable cabins and diving facilities. The crew are highly experienced and attentive to your every [...]

Find Out More

Daily Schedules

M/V Kepsub Schedule

Jobs @ Local Dive Thailand

Local Dive Thailand is one of Phuket's fatest growing & most vibrant scuba diving operations, we are always looking for quality staff to join us, so feel free to have a look at our jobs listing page.

Job Listings

Contact LDT

Local Guides, Local Knowledge, Local Experiences

Don't trust your diving to amateurs or freshly minted dive guides, dive with local experienced experts from Local Dive Thailand. Our Scuba Diving Phuket Tours will take you to see the rarest of the rare critters, you will be amazed by the macro life our guides can find, in the secret places only they know. To put it in perspective, if you were going to climb Mount Everest you would certainly hire a local sherpa to lead the way & keep you safe. Diving is similar because there is absolutely no substitute for local experience & local knowledge, Local Dive Thailand's guides are Phuket's Sherpa's of the Andaman Sea!

Learn More About Us

Scuba Diving Phuket, Phi Phi & Thailand

When talking about Scuba Diving in Phuket, you should believe the hype, many seasons we have had Whale Sharks grace us on our regular and easy to reach dive sites and on a good day you can add Sea Horses, Sea Moths, Snake Eels, Frog Fish & Octopus to what you can see on any given dive and so much more. If we are heading to Phi Phi Island for the day, you can possibly see Hawksbill Sea Turtles and Black Tip Reef Sharks, also don't forget the King Cruiser, 84 meters of beautiful wreck and the most amazing reef nursery for fish and nudibranch. Local Dive Thailand day trip tours to these locations are not to be missed when you are scuba diving Phuket, get in touch with us and book an 'awesome' day of diving.

Book Your Day Trip

Related News From Local Dive Thailand

See why we are Thailand's leading scuba diving Phuket tour provider, stay up to date & watch out for news & special liveaboard offers!

Giant Frogfish - A Rare Find When Scuba Diving In Phuket Rare & Peculiar Critters

Frogfish – Bizarre Eating Machine Facts

Frogfish are a favourite of scuba divers all over the world and we're fortunate enough to get them in Phuket. These weird little creatures with a face only a mother could love have many strange adaptations. Making it an incredibly efficient predator and some that make it just plain comical. They generally ignore divers and photographers even when they're extremely close and very often carry on 'fishing' despite the close proximity but they [...]

Read Full Story
Take A Break From Diving and Go to Wat Chalong Temple Phuket Phuket Sights & Fun

Wat Chalong

Wat Chalong is the most important and the most beautiful Buddhist temple of the 29 or so located in Phuket. This stunning landmark is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island. The temple is dedicated to an eminent monk who is believed to have assisted the citizens of Phuket overcome a Chinese tin workers rebellion in 1876. Of course being a monk he didn't fight himself. But Luang Pho Cham's advice and medical assistance to [...]

Read Full Story
a diver in the clear shallow water at Racha Noi News & Updates

New PADI DSD Elearning

The PADI DSD (Discover Scuba Diving) has been added to the long list of elearning options available through the PADI App. New divers will be able to learn some basic scuba diving theory before getting in the water. It's not extensive theory, just some basic safety rules and some insight into how pressure affects us underwater. Not at all, if anything it simplifies matters. The prospective diver will be able to learn the necessary basic [...]

Read Full Story

Local Dive Thailand Office In Phuket


Find Us On Google Maps