Clown Triggerfish photo courtesey of: http://www.aquariumdomain.com/viewSpeciesMarine.php?id=158

Clown Triggerfish photo courtesey of: http://www.aquariumdomain.com/viewSpeciesMarine.php?id=158

Triggerfish in Your Aquarium

As members of the Balistidae family, there are about eleven types of Triggerfish that have successfully found homes in aquarium tanks. These eleven vary in size, color, and behavior, but share some similarities such as diet and water conditions. Overall, a Triggerfish should be the solitary fish in a tank, but can cohabitate with other large eels, angelfish, snappers, wrasse, and surgeonfish. Mixing other fish with these semi-aggressive to aggressive fish is a risk and aquarists should use caution and monitor the tank carefully. It is also not advised to mix Triggerfish together, regardless of species and gender. If trying to mate two, be extremely careful and do extensive research on the nature of these egg-laying creatures. Water conditions are common between all types at 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit, pH of 8.1-8.4, and dKH of 8-12. Triggerfish are considered relatively easy to care for, but due to their aggressive behavior should be handled with caution. Several are considered reef safe depending on what else is kept in the tank and should be watched closely.

These fish, while hardy and unsocial, are beautiful and intelligent, fascinating in their quirky habits. They range in color from blacks and blues to brilliant oranges and yellows in a variety of patterns and shades. Their eyes are highly-developed and move with ease to track prey and monitor possible threats. The name “Triggerfish” comes from their unique locking first dorsal fin that can hold the fish in place when it sleeps or hides in caves. Triggerfish are generally rhombus-shaped and use their dorsal and anal fins rather than the caudal for normal swimming habits. The caudal fin however can be used for short, powerful bursts of speed usually necessary when hunting prey. As for their diet, Triggerfish of all varieties prefer the same feast, including krill, squid, clams, urchins, and small fish, supplemented with a healthy amount of algae and whole crayfish (with shells) to help wear down their constantly growing teeth. When a Triggerfish has a poor diet, it can become sluggish and its color can dull significantly. They are highly territorial and have been documented to bite owners during feeding. When threatened, they can charge and make a grunting sound like a pig. They also keep themselves occupied by moving rocks and décor in their tanks on a daily basis.

Below are the most successfully kept Triggerfish recommended by seasoned aquarists and some more information on each that would be helpful when picking a Triggerfish for your own home. These are general facts that can vary based on the personality of the fish and environmental factors.

 

Blue Throat Triggerfish (Xanthichthys auromarginatus)

  • Also called: Bluechin Triggerfish, Gilded Triggerfish
  • Origin: Hawaii, Indonesia
  • Minimum tank size: 125 gallons
  • Maximum size: 9 inches
  • Appearance: body is gray and speckled with light blue. Fins are yellow-tipped. The males have darker blue markings on the cheeks, giving them the colloquial names of Bluechin and Blue Throat.
  • Temperament: semi-aggressive
  • Reef compatible: with caution
Bursa Triggerfish photo courtesy of:  https://www.coralimports.com/fish/triggerfish/bursa-triggerfish-rhinecanthus-verrucosus/)

Bursa Triggerfish photo courtesy of: https://www.coralimports.com/fish/triggerfish/bursa-triggerfish-rhinecanthus-verrucosus/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bursa Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus verrucosus)

  • Also called: Black Patch Triggerfish, Blackbelly Triggerfish
  • Origin: Indonesia
  • Minimum tank size: 125 gallons
  • Maximum size: 9 inches
  • Appearance: body comes in tan shades with a face that is half white and half yellow. It is also distinguished by a thin angled “moustache” and a colorful streak across the eyes. They have a large black spot on the abdominal area and orange-dipped fins.
  • Temperament: aggressive
  • Reef compatible: no

Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)

  • Origin: Australia, Indonesia, Sumatra
  • Minimum tank size: 300 gallons
  • Maximum size: 1 foot and 8 inches
  • Appearance: body of black with large white spots. Snout and spine are painted yellow and can have markings in blue, green, or orange.
  • Behavior: while one of the most colorful, the Clown Triggerfish is also one of the most aggressive, commonly kept inhabitants of an aquarium. Be cautious when selecting mates for the tank or keep it in a tank of its own at least 300 gallons in size.
  • Temperament: aggressive
  • Reef compatible: no

Crosshatch Triggerfish (Xanthichthys mento)

  • Also called: Blue Cheekline Triggerfish
  • Origin: Hawaii
  • Minimum tank size: 180 gallons
  • Maximum size: 11 inches
  • Appearance: has a unique pattern on its yellow body with many dark lines creating a “crosshatch” pattern. The face has bold blue lines tracing from the mouth to the back of the gill plate. The fins are a beautiful blue color with yellow edges, and the tail is maroon.
  • Temperament: aggressive
  • Reef compatible: with caution

Humu Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus)

  • Also called: Humuhumu Triggerfish, Picasso Triggerfish
  • Origin: Fiji, Maldives, Tahiti
  • Minimum tank size: 180 gallons
  • Maximum size: 10 inches
  • Appearance: has a bold, painted appearance. The body is tan with gradient dark bands and vivid blue stripes on the top of the head. It also has a yellow stripe from cheek to cheek and eyes set high and deep in its head.
  • Temperament: aggressive
  • Reef compatible: no
Humu Rectangle Triggerfish photo courtesy of:  http://oceansdirect.com/product/humu-rectangle-triggerfish-rhinecanthus-rectangulus/)

Humu Rectangle Triggerfish photo courtesy of: http://oceansdirect.com/product/humu-rectangle-triggerfish-rhinecanthus-rectangulus/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humu Rectangle Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus rectangulus)

  • Also called: Rectangular Triggerfish, Wedge-tailed Trigger, the V-line Humuhumunukunukuapuaa
  • Origin: Hawaii, Indonesia, Fiji, Sumatra
  • Minimum tank size: 180 gallons
  • Maximum size: 1 foot
  • Appearance: has a mostly tan, black, and white body with a white face and two blue and black stripes banded across the eyes. It is also marked by the black V-pattern outlined in yellow on the posterior section of the body.
  • Temperament: semi-aggressive
  • Reef compatible: no
Niger Triggerfish photo courtesy of:  http://exoticsfish.blogspot.com/2012/10/black-triggerfish.html

Niger Triggerfish photo courtesy of: http://exoticsfish.blogspot.com/2012/10/black-triggerfish.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Niger Triggerfish (Odonus niger)

  • Also called: Redtooth Triggerfish
  • Origin: Fiji, Indonesia, Australia, Sri Lanka
  • Minimum tank size: 180 gallons
  • Maximum size: 1 foot
  • Appearance: the body color varies in this species of fish, and can also change constantly between purple, blue, and green with a striking, lighter blue highlight on the fins and long tail lobes. Lighting and the colors in the tank can play a role in the fish’s coloration. When they reach maturity, they acquire bright red teeth that stand out against their darker faces.
  • Temperament: aggressive
  • Reef compatible: no

Pink Tail Triggerfish (Melichthys vidua)

  • Origin: Hawaii, Indonesia
  • Minimum tank size: 180 gallons
  • Maximum size: 1 foot and 2 inches
  • Appearance: body is an emerald-green body with a pearly-pink tail. The face and pectoral fins are accented by yellow with darker specks on the scales.
  • Behavior: with extreme caution, it can be kept in a reef aquarium, but will eat any crustacean and small fish, as those make up part of its natural diet.
  • Temperament: aggressive
  • Reef compatible: with caution

Red Tail Triggerfish (Xanthichthys sp.)

  • Also called: Sargassum Triggerfish
  • Origin: Caribbean
  • Minimum tank size: 125 gallons
  • Maximum size: 10 inches
  • Appearance: body is mostly purple or blue with sides marked by evenly spaced, dark spots. The fish is also outlined in black that progresses into the tail and changes into a red, giving the fish the name of “Red Tail.”
  • Temperament: aggressive
  • Reef compatible: with caution

Undulate Triggerfish (Balistapus undulatus)

  • Also called: Orangelined Triggerfish, Orangetailed Triggerfish
  • Origin: Indonesia, Fiji, Africa
  • Minimum tank size: 180 gallons
  • Maximum size: 1 foot
  • Appearance: has a green body with blue hues and gold or orange vertical stripes that outline the mouth, eyes, and fins.
  • Temperament: semi-aggressive
  • Reef compatible: no

White Tip Triggerfish (Sufflamen chrysopterus)

  • Also called: Halfmoon Triggerfish, Whitetail Triggerfish
  • Origin: Fiji, Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka
  • Minimum tank size: 180 gallons
  • Temperament: aggressive
  • Maximum size: 8.5 inches
  • Appearance: has a brownish-black body with a very pale blue underbelly. Yellow highlights the caudal fin and back, while the tail is tipped in white.
  • Temperament: aggressive
  • Reef compatible: no

References:

http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/aquarium-fish-supplies.cfm?c=15+44

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2007/7/fish

http://www.saltcorner.com/Articles/Showarticle.php?articleID=123