There are many different types of triggerfish, all of which have their own unique characteristics and colors. It’s easy to be intimidated by the sheer number of triggerfish species, but they’re actually very easy to keep and care for if you pick out the right type. With so many types of triggerfish out there, you may find yourself wondering which would be best to keep at home or in your local public aquarium.
Triggerfish are one of the most well-known species in the ocean, and they’re well-known by many names: puffers, blowfish, torpedoes, globefish, and puffies to name a few. But how many different types of triggerfish are there really? And how can you tell them apart?
Because they’re so fascinating, we’ve compiled a list of 17 popular types of triggerfish you should know! Read on to find out more about these beautiful creatures!
Types of triggerfish
Titan triggerfish (Balistoides viridescens)
The titan triggerfish is one of the most popular types of triggerfish and the largest species of triggerfish in its range. It can be found in the Indo-Pacific region. They have distinctive bodies and can grow to around 75 cm. Titan triggerfish are relatively docile but may nip at your fingers if you try to touch them. In an aquarium, they should be kept with other peaceful fish that won’t compete for food. They eat crustaceans, plankton, small invertebrates, and algae.
Bluelined Triggerfish (Pseudobalistes fuscus)
Bluelined Triggerfish, also known as Blue-and-Gold Triggerfish, Rippled Triggerfish, Blue Triggerfish, or Yellowspotted Triggerfish, is one of the most common types of triggerfish that lives in the West Atlantic. They live on reefs and feed mostly on algae, sponges, tunicates, and other small invertebrates.
Bluelined triggerfish grow to be about 9 inches long and can be found in large schools with other blueline triggerfish or with a variety of other fish species. These fish reproduce during the summer months when they migrate to shallow waters to lay eggs on sand beds. The eggs then incubate for a few days before hatching into free-swimming larvae. Juveniles have a dark spot at the base of their tail which is used to attract larger predators so they will not eat them while young.
Boomerang Triggerfish (Sufflamen bursa)
The Boomerang Triggerfish, also known as Sufflamen bursa, bursa triggerfish, or scythe triggerfish, is a small, abundant reef fish that can be found in the Indo-Pacific region. This triggerfish has a flat body and camouflage coloring that makes it difficult to see when it is hidden among the coral or rocks.
The name Boomerang comes from its distinctive mating behavior: after the female lays her eggs on a rock, she circles around them while the male fertilizes them. If a predator approaches, she slashes at the intruder with her sharp spines before darting off.
The boomerang triggers’ diet consists mainly of hard-shelled invertebrates such as mollusks and crustaceans, but they will occasionally feed on algae or plankton. These fish are often seen swimming upside down near coral heads waiting for food to fall into their mouths!
Sargassum Triggerfish (Xanthichthys ringens)
Sargassum triggerfish is a type of triggerfish that lives in the western Atlantic Ocean. They can grow up to 9.8 inches long. Xanthichthys ringens is a common triggerfish found throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Western Atlantic. It prefers to inhabit shallow reefs, coral, and rocky seabeds at depths from 2 to 20 meters.
Its diet consists mainly of small crustaceans and benthic invertebrates, but it will also eat planktonic organisms that live near the surface. These triggers usually remain solitary or in pairs within their territory and only form large schools when spawning. When threatened, they can erect the dorsal spine on their head as a defense mechanism; however, this may lead to them being caught by predators more easily due to their limited mobility.
Bluethroat Triggerfish (Xanthichthys auromarginatus)
Bluethroat triggerfish, also known as Bluechin Triggerfish, or Gilded Triggerfish, are found in the Indo-Pacific region, where they inhabit a variety of habitats from shallow coastal waters to deep reefs. This fish is omnivorous and feeds on both plant and animal material. The diet consists mainly of algae, but also includes crustaceans, polychaete worms, mollusks, and some coral polyps.
They feed by snapping their jaws at prey as it passes near them, or by using their body to sweep items into their mouth while they swim. They do not seem to be territorial, and will sometimes school with other species such as damselfish.
Niger Triggerfish (Odonus niger)
Niger triggerfish, also known as Odonus niger, blue triggerfish, redfang triggerfish, or red toothed triggerfish are found in the Atlantic Ocean, from Mauritania to Angola and the Gulf of Guinea.
They can be found on sandy bottoms in coral reefs and lagoons. They have dark brown or black bodies with yellowish-white bands. The Niger Triggerfish is considered a large fish, reaching up to 50 cm (20 inches) long. The diet of this species consists mainly of mollusks, crustaceans, and polychaete worms. It will eat anything that it can fit into its mouth!
Crosshatch Triggerfish (Xanthichthys mento)
The crosshatch triggerfish, also known as redtail triggerfish, Xanthichthys mento, or blue-throat triggerfish, is a type of triggerfish that can grow to be up to 12 inches in length. They live in coral reefs and can be found at depths up to 656 feet below the surface.
Though they are not a threatened species, their natural habitat has been reduced by overfishing and pollution. They are usually gray with green stripes across their back and a bright yellow underside. It feeds primarily on small fish and crustaceans, but will occasionally eat plant matter when it’s available.
Pinktail Triggerfish (Melichthys vidua)
The pinktail triggerfish has a body that is typically very dark green with translucent whitish-pink dorsal and tail fins. This fish can grow to lengths of about 40 centimeters and inhabit depths of up to 200 meters deep in the ocean.
They are carnivores, eating mainly crustaceans such as shrimp, crabs, lobsters, and squid. As bottom feeders, they swim along the ocean floor in search of food. Their diet also includes worms, snails, small fish, and sometimes urchins.
Indian Triggerfish (Melichthys niger)
The Indian Triggerfish, also called the black-finned triggerfish, lives in the Indo-Pacific oceans at depths of up to 300 feet and is one of the most common species. They can grow to be up to 9.8 inches (25 cm) long and they are typically dark brown or gray with a series of white spots on their body. They have very powerful jaws which they use for hunting and defending themselves.
As such, it’s important to keep your hands away from the mouth when handling them as they will bite. These fish are predatory and opportunistic eaters who will consume just about anything that fits in their mouths; crustaceans, mollusks, worms, and other invertebrates, sea urchins, small fish eggs and even floating plastic bags!
Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus)
The Picasso triggerfish, also known as lagoon triggerfish, Picassofish, or blackbar triggerfish, is one of the most popular types of triggerfish. There is a similarity between the Hawaiian name for the fish and the state fish of Hawaii, the reef triggerfish (Rhinecanthus rectangulus), they are both called humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa, and can also be spelled humuhumu-nukunuku-a-puaʻa or just humuhumu for short.
Both fish have snouts like pigs. They are commonly found in the Indo-Pacific and Indian Oceans, but they can also be found in the Atlantic Ocean near the African coast. They can grow up to 11.8 inches (30 cm) long and typically weigh between 8 ounces (227 grams) and 10 ounces (283 g).
The average lifespan for a Picasso triggerfish is about 16 years. They have sharp spines that give them their name. These spines provide protection from predators by making them difficult to swallow. Some people have been injured from getting stuck on these spikes while trying to catch the fish using bare hands, so it’s important to use gloves when catching a Picasso triggerfish.
Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)
The clown triggerfish can reach a length of 19.7 inches (50 cm). In appearance, its body is stocky, oval in shape, and compressed laterally. About one-third of the body is occupied by the head. A small and terminal set of strong teeth is present in the mouth
Three spines make up the first dorsal fin, the longest and strongest being the longest. It is erectile and hidden in a dorsal furrow.
A trigger system is formed by these dorsal spines, which belong to the Balistidae family.
Anal fins are symmetrically opposite each other in size and shape, and the second dorsal fin is similar. A ventral protrusion replaces the pelvic fin.
It has a black background. The inferior half of the body is covered with more or less round white spots. Yellowish sinuosities encircle the first dorsal fin, forming a network that resembles leopard patterns. A yellowish ring surrounds the mouth, which is enclosed by another whitish fin ring. There is a white stripe running along the snout just below the level of the eye.
Undulate Triggerfish (Balistapus undulatus)
The undulate triggerfish, also known as the Orange-tailed Triggerfish or Orange-lined Triggerfish, is a moderately sized species of triggerfish that can grow up to 7.9 inches (30 cm) in length. It has a brownish to the greenish body with lighter-colored stripes and it also has orange lines running from behind the head to the rest of the body.
The Undulate Triggerfish feeds on small fish and shrimp by trapping them in its large mouth that closes when prey enters its hole. They inhabit reefs and rocky surfaces where they are normally found at depths of 8 to 82 feet (2.4 to 25 meters). They are considered uncommon and generally solitary creatures but may gather during mating season for a few weeks in their favored spawning areas.
Queen Triggerfish (Balistes vetula)
The Queen Triggerfish, also known as the Balistes vetula, is a member of the triggerfish family. These fish are very large in size and have a few different color variations. They are mostly blue, turquoise, purple, and green in color with a yellowish throat, and lighter blue lines on the head and fins.
The Queen Triggerfish has been observed to reach up to 24 inches (60 cm), although, most are just about half of that length. It can change color to match its surrounding environments, especially when subjected to stress.
Reef triggerfish (Rhinecanthus rectangulus)
Known for its brown color, the reef triggerfish is one of the most common types of triggerfish. This fish can be found in reefs around the world and has a lifespan of about ten years. Reef triggerfishes are solitary creatures that typically spend most of their time hiding among coral and other reefs to avoid predators. They will only come out at night to feed on crustaceans and other small fish.
They can grow up to about 12 inches (30 cm) long and weigh as much as 7 pounds. When threatened, this type of triggerfish inflates its body with water or air to appear larger and more intimidating to scare off any potential attackers.
In addition, they use their dorsal fin spines to inflict painful injuries on anyone who gets too close. They can also blow jets of water to help them in finding benthic invertebrates that are buried under the substrate.
Grey triggerfish (Balistes capriscus)
Triggerfish are a large family of fish with many different species. The most popular is the grey triggerfish, or gray triggerfish, which has an elongated body and can grow up to 24 inches (60 cm) in length, but they are more common at around 17 inches (44 cm) in length and weigh up to 5.1 lb (2.3 kg). A beak-like mouth with fleshy lips can be found at the tip of the snout.
A far-back set of eyes can be seen at the top of the head. Body parts are compressed laterally and the skin is tough and leathery. One of the spines on the front dorsal fin is extremely strong and is much longer than the other two.
Its predominant colors are pale grey, greenish-grey, or yellowish-brown. On the chin and across the body, there is a pale streak and three indistinct dark bars. In some cases, white dots and irregular lines can be seen on the lower part of the body, and sometimes blue spots and lines on the dorsal fins and upper parts.
Rough triggerfish (Canthidermis maculata)
The rough triggerfish, also known as spotted oceanic triggerfish or Canthidermis maculata, is a deep-water species found in the waters around the Maldives. They are one of the largest types of triggerfish and grow up to 20 inches (50 cm) long, but their usual common size is around 14 inches (35 cm), and unlike some other triggerfish, they are mostly pelagic.
There is a difference in coloration between adults and juveniles. A juvenile’s grayish-black skin is marked with white spots that fade away over time, while an adult has blue-gray skin.
Dark blotches can be seen on the pectoral fins and faces of adults during mating. When females ascend upwards in the water column, away from their nests, these dark markings may disappear within a few seconds.
There are also differences in the shape of caudal fins between adults and juveniles. Adults have concave caudal fins, while juveniles have rounded ones.