Aracana ornata

Ornate cowfish
Aracana ornata
Aracana ornata, female, Photo: Graham Edgar
Aracana ornata
Aracana ornata, male, Photo: Rick Stuart-Smith
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Aracana ornata
Aracana ornata


Temperate Australasia


Differs from the closely related Shaw’s cowfish in having narrower spines on the back, a prominent bump in front of the eye, and a regular arrangement of blue-centred black spots on the yellow sides of the body. The female ornate cowfish is more difficult to distinguish because it has red, white and black striped sides, but the body is deeper with narrower spines on the back than female Shaw’s cowfish, and the lines along the sides are narrower and more linear.


Max Size: 15 cm

Sea Temperature Range: 11-22.2°C

Depth: 5 - 60 m

Habitat Generalization Index: N/A

Also referred to as the SGI (Species Generalisation Index), this describes the habitat niche breadth of the species. Species with values less than 15 are found in a relatively narrow range of reef habitat types (specialists), while those over 25 may be found on most hard substrates within their range (generalists). Learn more here.

Conservation and Rarity

IUCN Status: Not Evaluated

Occurrence: Infrequent (5.2% of sites)

Occurrence describes how often the species is found on surveys within its distribution. It is calculated as the % of reef sites surveyed by RLS divers across all the ecoregions in which the species has been observed

Abundance: Few (2 per transect)

Abundance is calculated as the average number of individuals recorded per RLS transect, where present.

Edit by: GJ Edgar. 2008. Australian Marine Life. New Holland, Sydney