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Related FAQs: Triggerfishes in General, Triggerfish: Identification, Selection, Selection 2, Compatibility, Behavior, Systems, Feeding, Diseases, Triggerfish Health 2, Reproduction,

Related Articles: Triggerfishes (Family Balistidae), Red Sea Triggerfishes, Triggers of the Cook Islands

/The Best Livestock for A Marine Aquarium (Series)

 Triggerfishes of the Genus Balistes

Bob Fenner

The Queen in her court


Triggerfishes for  Marine Aquariums

Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here


by Robert (Bob) Fenner

The genus Balistes: four or five species.

Balistes capriscus (nee carolinensis) Gmelin 1789, the Grey Triggerfish. East and West coasts of the Atlantic. To two feet in length. Feeds on benthic invertebrates; mollusks, crabs. As B. capriscus in some literature. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=7327&genusname=Balistes&speciesname=capriscus

Sometimes the plain-Jane Finescale Trigger, Balistes polylepis Steindachner 1876, comes into the trade out of the tropical eastern Pacific, but it is ugly and grows to two feet. My old roomie Gary Okonowski holds up "the catch" before making la sopa in the Sea of Cortez, and a pic down in the Galapagos.

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Balistes punctatus Gmelin 1789, the Blue-Spotted Triggerfish. Eastern Atlantic. To two feet long. Feeds on crustaceans and bivalves. Juv. pic by RMF at TFP in PA. Adult photo courtesy of Scott Chase.
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Much more beautiful but the embodiment of aggression in a marine tropical is the Queen Triggerfish, Balistes vetula Linnaeus 1758,  from the Atlantic. This is a MEAN fish, biting machine that must be kept with basses, puffers and other animals too unpalatable to bite or mean and smart enough to bite back. To two feet in length. Pictured below: A two inch "tiny" specimen, a fifteen inch monster in captivity, and a foot long beauty in the Bahamas.

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Quick Question  Bob,  I have two quick questions for you the first is Under the Balistes section the West African Triggerfish is not listed. Is there a reason why? Second, do you know where I might be able to obtain some of the larger triggerfish that you don't commonly see, such as the Blunthead, or Ocean Triggerfish.  Thanks for all the information.  Mike Striegel  <Good questions all... Of the four assured species of the genus Balistes (do you recognize B. capriscus here? Make that five), about all the trade sees is the Queen (B. vetula)... and though I really enjoy this group all the way around (intended at one point to make their systematics my academic life's work), don't have much information or image work on many species that have little use/brush with the ornamental aquatics trade... Will gladly insert information if you can direct me to source... and even more gladly haul out, go diving with you and make images for insertion on the site! For the odder, larger species about two approaches come to mind to secure specimens. Consort with your suppliers (as collectors are very susceptible to their requests... and triggers of all sizes are easily caught... where they can be found... mainly by barbless hook and line), and secondly, to travel to their ranges, and gather your own. See my note above re traveling with!!! Bob Fenner, in sunny Southern California, but wishing he was in warm clear water elsewhere>  


Triggerfishes for  Marine Aquariums

Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here


by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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