Reef Safe Triggerfish?

by Brian Dunat

How many times have you walked into a fish store, seen a triggerfish and thought it would be a cool fish to add to the aquarium? I can tell you there have been numerous stops where we’ve seen a Humu Picasso, Clown, Niger or Undulated Triggerfish at a LFS and thought, “I wonder if those are safe for a reef tank”.  We have all made the boneheaded mistake at least once of where we impulsively buy a fish, bring it home to our established tanks and
then realized it’s not going to work.  We are then faced with a few choices, none of which are very appealing.  Trying to catch any fish in an established aquarium is a pain by any measure and trying to use a trap to nab them is one step away from pulling the hairs from your arm one at a time.  The key really is to make sure that you put some thought and planning time into your fish scaping.  In doing some research on Triggers, you can certainly figure out the ones that will work in your tank.

Why Do Triggerfish Get Such A Bad Rap In The Reef Tank World?

I’ve seen the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a and the Pinktail trigger fish while diving in Hawaii and always wanted to add one to my show tank. The problem with most triggers is that they can be very
aggressive towards other tank mates.  In addition to this, they may at any moment, decide to rearrange their reef tank surroundings and can make sure work of eating many of their invertebrate tank mates.   If you aren’t interested in performing expensive displays of who eats who in the food chain, perhaps some more consideration is in store…

Choosing The Right Type Of Triggerfish For Your Reef Tank

After doing a lot of research and relying on some past experience and knowledge from some LFS owners, we decided to add a small Blue Throat Triggerfishfrom Hawaii to one of our show tanks.  Upon first introduction, a few

Male Blue Throat Triggerfish

Male Blue Throat Triggerfish

of the tangs in the tank were a little aggressive towards our new friend, but by the end of the week all was well within the tank and the pecking order had been established.  The Blue Throat Trigger has some very striking colors that are a great addition to any tank.   The males have a bright blue jawline as well as blue and silver spotting throughout the body and their fins are all accented in a vibrant yellow.  This trigger is a very showy fish and it likes to cruise around the top of the tank which helps to really show off its coloration.  By the second week, Nori algae sheets and Spectrum Thera-A pellets were being consumed in mass quantities which was a good sign that the fish was being accepted into the social structure of the tank.  In addition,  the Blue Throat Trigger has a very high survival rate from capture to LFS which makes them a safe and a sustainable choice for your reef tank.

Have you kept a Blue Throat Trigger in your Reef Tank?  Had success keeping any other Triggerfish with reef inhabitants?  We’d love to hear from you!


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