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FAQs about Triggerfish Stocking/Selection 1

Related Articles: Triggerfish, Red Sea Triggerfishes

Related FAQs: Triggerfish Selection 2, Triggerfishes, Triggerfish: Identification, Compatibility, Behavior, Systems, Feeding, Diseases, Reproduction, Marine Livestocking

Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Niger (Odonus) trigger in reef Hello Crew, <cheers> I was wondering if a baby niger or pink tailed trigger would be OK in a 90 gallon reef.  <either are about as reef safe as it gets for reef tanks. Both are planktivores that feed from the open water column largely and pay less attention to benthic fauna... still, supervise as one would with a big angel or tang in a reef> Are these species more docile then other triggers and are they reef safe ? <the Niger Odonus is generally quite peaceful... the Pinktail can be frighteningly aggressive to other fishes> Thanks, Mario <if I was ever going to experiment with a trigger... the Odonus would be my choice. Anthony>

Yet Another Trigger Question Hi Bob. First, let me say that four years ago I purchased your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". Because of that book, very few fish died - anytime questions arose, I consulted the book. <Pleased to meet you> A couple of years ago I donated the contents of my Aquarium to the Steinhart Aquarium here in San Francisco. Tried Discus, then African Cichlids, but I've always really just loved Triggers. So, I'm converted my 55 back to saltwater. And getting "a" trigger. I realize that in a 55, one Trigger is probably safest ( do you second that ? ). I also will probably not put anything else with it, because of the inevitable outcome - Trigger dinner. Here is the question: which Trigger has the most personality? <The Clown, hands-down> I realize the Undulas has a ton of personality, but can also become a menace to my fingers as the years pass. I like the Black-Patch and Assasi immensely, and the Humu Humu to a lesser extent. In your experience, which of those fish would you buy if going for personality ? <The Humu/B. aculeatus> Best regards, Edward Azuar San Francisco <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>
Re: Yet Another Trigger Question
Bob. Thanks. Humu it will be. And they are certainly more readily available and not nearly as pricey as that Assasi. <Agreed... and "to each their own", but of the Rhinecanthus, it's my fave> I've noticed slight variations in color patterns on the Humus. Some seem more colorful than others. That whimsical face has to be one of the best on the planet. <Agreed... another of the deity/ies "little jokes". Bob Fenner> Best, Edward.

Titan/Clown Trigger Question How are you doing - I love your site and have found the information to be invaluable. I have two questions (if you have time). I have a 75 gallon with a UV, skimmer, wet/dry and canister filter: 1) Would I be able to keep a Titan Trigger and Clown Trigger together (both would be 2-3 inches and the only fish in the tank). <Yikes... a risky proposition> 2) How aggressive are the Titan Triggers? <At times, seasons, large individuals have been known to challenge (and bite) divers... I have experienced this species on nests in the wild... you can tell something's up... because all other mobile macro-life is missing in the vicinity.> I am not too familiar with them and was wondering if they can even live with any Lionfish or Morays? <I would not, do not encourage this... unpredictable animals that can bite other fishes into oblivion... I would not place the two Trigger species together... unless you had the capacity to observe them almost constantly and move the loser/s apart. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance, Jason Haefner
Re: Titan/Clown Trigger Question
Thanks for the quick response - I was afraid of that. I will be sure to avoid that situation without question. The last thing I want to do is hurt or put any fish's life in jeopardy intentionally. <You are smart here... too much chance of real trouble... psychological and physical.> Thanks again. Jason <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Trigger Bob, I am inquiring about getting a trigger for my 54 corner tank and would love to get a clown trigger.  <Yikes> However, I have two anemones and peppermint shrimp (damn Aiptasia) and would like to find some kind of trigger that would be compatible with those.  <There is none. Also, all species are or get too large for such a size and shape tank> I am trading in the fish I currently have for the trigger so he would be the only fish in the tank and would be willing to part with the peppermint shrimp as well. I sure would appreciate any advise you would give. Michael J. Bukosky <You're welcome to read through the materials on Triggerfishes stored on WetWebMedia.com; there's a bunch. Bob Fenner>
Re: Trigger
Bob, I just wrote about 15 minutes ago regarding 54 corner and clown trigger. Thank you for the fast response!!! I understand the tank size is not ideal but I was going to choose a very young trigger and trade in when it grows to large or looks stressed due to tank size. Now I would be interested in hearing any suggestion you might have recommending a fish that would have the hypnotic beauty of the clown trigger but would live happily in my system. I truly enjoy your site and thank you for your help!!!!!!!!!! Michael <Look to the genus Rhinecanthus for best choices here... a small Balistoides might go for a few to several months... Do "visit" it at your store a few times to select one that is "well-adjusted"... Bob Fenner>

Trigger sites do you know of any good triggerfish sites? How about any that sell rare triggers? Thanks! <Maybe try ours first, WetWebMedia.com including the many FAQs files, Regional Acct.s... and for the best source, The Marine Center is linked there on all pages... Bob Fenner>

Trigger Compatibility/Tank Size Hello Mr. Fenner.  <Hello Jessie> Thanks for having such a great site. I wanted to follow up with you regarding a few suggestions Steve Pro made on your behalf when I wrote to you a few months ago. I wrote to you initially to get information on what size tank I would need to safely house 4 trigger fish but now I need additional information on filters and protein skimmers. I have finally upgraded to a larger aquarium and I want your input regarding if it's large enough to house my list of desired fish. I also need your advice regarding the type of filter and skimmer I should purchase. The aquarium that I'm purchasing is a 260 gallon show tank (84x24x30). I currently have a 3" clown trigger and a 4" pink tail trigger that I will be moving over from my 75 gallon. <Good move> I'm planning to add a 3" blue line trigger, a 2" undulated trigger, and possibly a large puffer. The tank will be a fish only with ~100 lbs of live rock. Can I keep these fish peacefully in this size tank? <Only time can/will tell... the big variable here is the Clown Trigger... most develop "this whole space is mine" attitudes with age, growth...> The pet store owner where I'm purchasing the aquarium is trying to sell me an AquaClear Aquatics Pro-line 300 wet dry filter with a protein skimmer built in. He speaks very highly of this filter but I haven't been able to get much feedback from actual users. What are your thoughts on this filter? <Never used them myself. Please ask this question on the various chatforums (ours: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/). I am not a fan of wet-dry filters period... but this is going to be quite a messy tank with feeding as the animals approach large size... You will have to keep the mechanical filter media clean... likely by rinsing daily> I'm trying to keep my cost for the wet dry and protein skimmer combined below $500. Are there any suggestions that you can make?  <Please take a read through the many (as you know) marine aquarium filtration articles and FAQs posted on WWM.> Many of the articles that I've read recommend a turnover rate of 3-4x the tank volume but this guy is telling me that I should turn the water over 2x max. What are your thoughts on this? <I definitely disagree with the lower flow/turn over rate... If anything I would increase the water movement. Do look through the Pump Selection and Plumbing materials archived on WWM... and get a large enough outside pump to really move your water. Bob Fenner> Hope to hear from you soon.

Hypothetical Trigger Question Hi, I was just wondering what size tank would be needed to house all of the following triggerfish to adulthood: Clown Trigger Picasso Trigger Pink-tail Trigger Niger Trigger Queen Trigger Undulated Trigger Cross-hatch Trigger Blue-throat Trigger <An indoor, in-ground pool in the 8000 gallon range.> I can imagine the size of tank that would be needed........BIG. However I think that once they all become full-grown it will be a magnificent display. I would most likely introduce them all simultaneously in the tank they would be intended to stay in. Any suggestions, ideas appreciated. <See note above.> Thanks, Dillon P.S. Awesome site you guys have going. <Thank you. -Steven Pro>

Triggers Great advice. Thanks much! Next question: how would the bursa and assasi do in the tank together? I know chances are that's a bad idea but I have to ask. <You are quite correct... but especially so with these two triggers (I'm putting my money on the assasi by the way). Mixing aggressive species in unnaturally close confines that they would never tolerate in the wild is tough enough. But with toothy predators like Triggers and some Puffers, it really is risky if not downright reckless. Really pot luck for it to work. Indeed my advice would be to pick from any of the many other wonderful, fascinating and beautiful hardy marine species outside of this family. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Trigger and a Lunare Wrasse Well, I think it's come down to either the Assasi or, assuming my LFS can't get one of those a Niger trigger and possibly a freckled Hawkfish. If she could get a real Bursa and not a Picasso called a Bursa I'd go that route but in Idaho it's not likely that would happen. <Don't be so sure. All are available from etailers and by your shop via special order> Thanks for the advice. The cost of the Assasi is $76 to me which is a bit high but within the price range I've set. <Then another more common species (Picasso, Niger, Huma...) is the "order of the day". Bob Fenner>
Re: Trigger and a Lunare Wrasse
Pretty much any trigger I order is a special order. I just know from past experience and the fact that she admitted it to me, anytime she orders a bursa she gets a Rectangular Picasso instead. <Very common occurrence in the trade. What they might do is use the Burgess Marine Atlas (by TFH), naming the page, placement of an actual image of the species you want, to identify exactly what you're looking for. This is also a typical tool. Bob Fenner>
Trigger (selection) and a Lunare Wrasse
So a few days ago I asked for advice on what trigger to keep with my Lunare Wrasse in an 80 tall. I was thinking a Clown Trigger but have since decided to pass on that one. <Good idea... a bit too much like a "bull in a China shop" eventually> I've narrowed it down to 4 and wanted to get opinions on these fish: Odonus Niger: Niger Trigger Rhinecanthus Assasi: Assasi or Arabian Picasso Xanthichthys mento: Crosshatch Trigger Xanthichthys ringens: Sargassum Trigger I'm leaning right now towards the Sargassum Trigger but I'm still open. I am taking into consideration the cost, the likelihood the LFS will get the right fish (all would be special order), it's endangered status, it's eventual size, and of course how well it will get along with a Lunare Wrasse. <I see... of these, the Assasi is/would be my first choice for temperament, behavior (the Sargassum and Crosshatch would hide too much, unless you had hundreds of gallons... The Niger is a medium choice, but the most available, least expensive> Additionally, assuming I do go with one of these 4, can anyone think of any other fish (not eels) that would be fine in an 80 Gallon tank?  <Many... how about the Basses? Or Rabbitfishes, or... Please read through... WWM. Bob Fenner> I'm trying to find a good balance for this tank without taking unneeded risks with the safety of the fish. David

Clown trigger and friends? I've read the FAQ for the clown trigger and I've got a quick question. I've got a 5" lunare wrasse housed in an 80g Tall. Currently there is a Naso, a Saddle Back Butterfly and a Blue Spotted Toby in there with him. The Naso and Butterfly have a new home that has been running for about 7 weeks now. The Naso will move probably this week and the butterfly will go in another couple of weeks. The Blue Spot is waiting for a tank to free up at the LFS where they'll give me credit for him. So the real question is this: Will the Lunare Wrasse survive the onslaught of a 2" clown trigger? The LFS says yes. In addition she suggested a larger Maroon Clown Fish for these two. I'm dubious of the clown fish suggestion but fairly sure the lunare will hold his own. Am I on the right track? <Should be fine initially, and with addition of other fishes for the next few to several months... the Clown Trigger will eventually outgrow the system though... maybe a year or so, but the species is unpredictable... I would have a contingency plan to move it or the other tank inhabitants for this eventuality. Bob Fenner> David Rencher
Re: Clown trigger and friends?
Being single the contingency plan is to buy a bigger tank. Do you have any other trigger suggestions for a Lunare Wrasse? <Please see the coverage on Triggerfishes on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/index.htm particularly the genus Rhinecanthus. Bob Fenner>

Trigger Compatibility / Tank Size Hello Mr. Fenner. First of all thanks for having such an informative website available. I think I have learned just as much about Marine life from your website as I've learned from all my different books combined. <I know Bob is happy to be so helpful.> I'm contemplating adding multiple triggers in a single tank. I currently have a 75G with a 3" clown, a 4" pink tail, and a 2" damsel. I want to add a Blue Line Trigger ~ 3" and an undulated ~ 2" so I'm planning to upgrade to either a 125 or a 150 in the next couple of months. I had an undulated once before in a 75G that created total havoc for the other fish, including the clown trigger. Is it possible to contain all 4 of these in a 125G or 150G and if so in what order would you have to introduce them to the tank? <There is not much of a difference between a 125 or 150, same square footage. I have seen multiple triggers in one tank only once (done well) and that tank was about 300 gallons. It housed four triggers; Clown, Undulated, Fuscus, and Queen. Introduce the "peaceful" ones first progressing to the meanest last.> I have plenty of live rock and plenty of caves / hiding places. I also I have a really good wet dry filter and a so-so protein skimmer. <You would be better off waiting until you can get a monstrous tank and a better skimmer, too.> Thanks again for your time and advice. Jessie <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Trigger information Anthony et/al (or anyone who knows about x. mento). I have a tank that just has a pink tail trigger right now (240) about 4". Was considering adding one more trigger to the mix. I was considering the Xanthichthys Mento (Crosshatch). Read all the descriptions and FAQs, but still feeling a bit less informed that I want to be.  <Not much known about the pelagic Triggerfishes captive husbandry> There are other nice looking ones I considered, but they were generally classified as just too aggressive (Queen, Viridescens/Titan, and Assasi (wife didn't like that one). Anyhow, knowing that it is an ocean swimming species rather than a true reef one, how are they in a 240 for the first 2 to 3 years before moving them onto a much larger tank ? <One of the less to least hardy species of Balistids... you'd be much better off with a Rhinecanthus species> Also, are they as territorial as some of the other more aggressive triggers (obviously in general), and anything particular about them - or should I just stay away from them ? Thanks <I would choose one of the Lagoon Triggerfish species here. Bob Fenner> Ed

Hi then (Too trigger unhappy) Hi Mr. Fenner, I have a problem you might be able to help me with. In my larger tank I have 5 triggers and am trying to acclimate a Queen trigger in there with them. I have tried emptying the tank and putting them all in a bucked and then reorganizing the tank. They did not fight in the bucket but they started fighting in the tank. Now I have taken out all the rocks and hiding places and have place the Queen back in. Some fighting is still going on but not as much. Should I just leave them together this was for a bit and then redecorate the tank and see how it goes?  <No... poor idea. Unless this system is thousands of gallons I would remove the Queen (Balistes vetula to browsers)... How would you like to live in a house with a bear, lion, hyena and two coyotes?> How long should I let the fighting go on? <... none, no time.> The Queen goes fine in my smaller tank, with smaller triggers, but she seems very hyper active in that tank. Your advice would be great help. Thank you, Jerita <Please return the Queen. Bob Fenner>

Clown and Assasi Triggers in Harmony? <Anthony Calfo, in your service> Hey Bob, thank you for the wealth of solid information. A few quick questions in my 150g tank at the office I have a near 2 ft gray moray, a 10 inch blonde Naso, a 9 inch assasi trigger and 5 inch clown trigger. They are all living peacefully enough, The clown and the assasi seem to get along just fine..  <fortunate... although as they mature and grow this will not always be the case... certainly too many fish for the 150 gallon in the long run> The most aggression i have scene is when, on few occasions they have sort of poked there triggers at each other.  <posturing... for now> Most times they seem to socialize (call me nuts) and interact in a friendly sort of way. Neither is extremely dominant, but the assasi has that edge. My questions are. Is it possible they could live peacefully for many years to come?  <unlikely if only because of tank size in the 2-3 year picture> If not how large does a clown seem to be when they get extremely nasty?  <per individual...no rule> (if they do always?) and at what size do they typically get there adult coloration.. mine seems to be in-between.  <a subject of much debate... dietary, gender or age related? Hard to say... within 3 three years in gross terms> Also is there anything I can do to attempt to prevent them from turning on each other, <seriously, a bigger tank could temper aggression in the future...how about an 8X8X4 feet saltwater pool in your basement?! C'mon...it would be cheap to build and all the talk among friends. We could even build a small boardwalk around it!> so i can continue to watch them interact. It seems odd they enjoy each other now as far as i can tell. Thanks as always, Brian <best of luck in your endeavors... do consider moving that 10" Naso out for starters if the bigger tank is not in the near future. kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Re: reef fish (Triggerfishes) Steve Are there any trigger fish that would be ok for a reef and community tank? I have liked the trigger for a long time but I was always under the impression that they were not reef safe. -Jason <No, not really. Anthony just had a conversation about this topic. Look at today's or tomorrow's FAQ for the details. -Steven Pro>

Trigger Selection Hello Mr. Fenner <Hello, Andy. Steven Pro here.> First of all thanks for making the most informative website anywhere about Marine life! Wow, what an amazing site! This site is exactly what I have been searching for. Also I just purchased 'Conscientious Marine Aquarist' from my LFS, another piece of perfection, thank you. My question is it possible to house a multiple of triggers in a single tank even when they are full grown? I have read a post on the Trigger FAQ page that stated he had just ordered a Clown & a Blue Line Trigger but already had a Rectangular, a Picasso, and a Niger! Is it all possible to contain all 5 and in what order would you have to purchase them in to reduce hostility between them? Actually here is my dream list if it is possible possible Huma, Queen, Niger, Blue Line, Clown, along with a Snowflake eel. Also the owner did not state what size of tank they were being kept in. Currently I am running a 55 and will be moving up to a 90 as soon as i can build the stand. I don't believe it would be possible with only a 90 but what would be the minimum size tank for that number of triggers? And what would be the maximum number you could keep in a 90? <Put only one in your 55. If you do get a 90, you may be able to get two triggers in there. It will depend on their individual temperaments. I would try the Huma-Huma and the Niger. The other become very aggressive in most cases.> Thanks again for your time and advise. -Andy Burton <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: New addition Hello again! Thanks a lot for your prompt answer. I was really surprised to see it coming so soon! <Have to run through all so Billy.G doesn't send us nasty grams re out e-boxes being too full> As you mention, my aquarium is full of fish live, so may be it is a good idea to remain for a while and not buy any other fish , which would mean starting again with getting along with the old tankmates, etc. However, I always like to "look" at other fishes, this is something that excites me very much (as you may imagine!), and I may be in the future I will take the risk (which I will try to be close to zero) to put a new tankmate in my aquarium. I like very much the Picasso Trigger (Rhinecanthus aculeatus ) and of course in case I would put it sometime in the future in my aquarium, it would be because it will be the last fish coming into, so it will accept the old fishes and I will try to have it at a small size. I suspect though that too small would mean that it would be chased by the Niger (or not?). <A possibility. Can't be accurately predicted> What is your opinion about this fish for my aquarium and what would be the optimum size to introduce it in my aquarium? <An inch or two> Another question: what is the best way to "separate" an aquarium for some days? (in order to isolate a sick fish or a frightened fish or a fish been attacked by others, etc.). ( I have heard about glass with holes, etc). <This or acrylic are okay... Or a floating colander, plastic or glass container with holes melted in top, sides... Bob Fenner> Regards, Thanassis

Eel question Hi. I currently have a 75 gallon tank with plans to upgrade to a 125 this summer. I currently have a niger trigger and a Huma Huma trigger in the tank. Both are about 4-5 inches and doing fine. I want to add an eel and there are two that I just am having a very hard time deciding on and so I am wondering if I could put both eels into the tank right now with the two triggers and house them compatibly together until I get the 125 then switch everybody over to it. The two eels I am interested in are the Fimbriated moray and the banded moray. Both are about 8-10 inches. Do you think that this can be done compatibly?  <Mmm, there is some chance that your triggers may chew up these eels at this small size...> I have very good filtration on the tank and a Aqua C protein skimmer as well. I have lots of hiding places also. Any help would be much appreciated. I really would love to have both eels and the triggers but do not want to order them and THEN find out that I cannot have them. Thanks Tiffany <The eels themselves should be fine together now and for quite a while in your size system... It's just the worry about the unpredictable nature of Triggerfishes that concerns me. Bob Fenner>

Reef trigger? Hello Bob, <Howdy> In Scott Michael's book, I think it's called handbook to marine fishes or something of the like, he states that niger, blue jaw, and crosshatch triggers can be placed in a reef tank. I was wondering if you concur and/or had any additional input. Thank you for your time. Ken <Mmm, do agree that some triggers are found in close association (even hiding in when you approach) with reefs... Not the Crosshatch... this Xanthichthys is mainly an open-ocean species. Our coverage: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Xanthichthys. htm So, others can be tried... but all Balistids are individualistic... so, though a given genus, species may "tend" to get along... any given one might prove to be a nibbler of corals, sponges, mollusks, crustaceans, other fishes... Bob Fenner>

Triggerfish I have a question about Trigger fish. I have tried five times to add a Trigger to my tank and have failed. <Intriguing... generally very hardy species. Our coverage: http://wetwebmedia.com/TriggerArts.htm > All other fish I have added to my tank have lived and are thriving; including Emperor Angel, Blue Angel, Sailfin & Mimic Tangs, Powder Blue Sturgeon, Clowns, Damsels as well as inverts. My tank tests are fine in all areas. Just recently I tried a Picasso Trigger baby and was very distressed when he died. Can you tell me what the problem could be. <Perhaps it was too much of a baby... maybe a larger specimen? Like three, four inches to start... Perhaps trauma from collection, shipping proved too much, or the other inhabitants too stressful for it.> I have also tried Clown, 2 Nigers and a Pink tailed, all died within a week. Other fish added at the same time are doing beautiful. My Emperor Angel is now 9 inches (I raised him from a baby) and is a terrible bully to any new fish that I add so I thought he would leave the Trigger alone. I would appreciate any help you can suggest. Philcats <Well... if the root cause/s of your trigger losses were environmental, it is very likely some of the other fishes listed would "go first"... I am inclined to encourage you to seek other sources for your future Trigger tries... Maybe the specimens you had were bunk... this is about the only thing that "sticks out" from what you have revealed here. The Balistid species mentioned are generally quite tough, and ship well... Bob Fenner>

Welcome Home Hello again Mr. Fenner, Hope your vacation was a blast! I'm taking a short one to Newport Beach, CA.  <A nice town to visit.> in the morning to see my brother & pick up a 2" Chevron tang he bought me for my birthday. I may also pick up a tiny blue jaw or pink tail trigger to try in my reef tank. What are your thoughts about the triggers in a reef?  <Hmm, some species, when small can be "reef" useful... all are unpredictable as specimens though> I've read and heard that they are 2 varieties that may not destroy the whole tank. <Some more than others... all have the potential... Less so as I state when they're small, if you have a huge system...> My other question-My quarantine tank has been running for 3 weeks now w/out any inhabitants & when I checked the water this morning, the nitrite level was at about .25-"yikes"- Can I put 5gal of my regular tank & 5 gal of new r/o mixed water into the 10gal q/t . <Sure. Good way to boost nitrification> When I quarantined fish in the past, I changed a few gallons daily to keep water quality up. The q/t tank was never cycled. Thanks again & If you are in the N.B area, my brother & I will treat for Tommy's Sushi in Tustin! (tempting you again) Craig <Chat with you soon. Bob Fenner>

Red tooth trigger we have recently added a red-tooth trigger  <Odonus niger for browsers> to our tank. is it normal for this fish to lay on it's side. it does that constantly but has no trouble swimming about when it feels like and feeding is normal as well. it also lays on top of our spotted grouper. they seem to like to bed down together. just wondering.... thanks. Anna Mojica <All "normal" for this group of intelligent, social creatures... Bob Fenner>

Re: 1st saltwater tank!!! Thanks so much for your quick response...am I to understand that the clown trigger is the main concern in our favorites "getting along" ?  <Hmm, yes... don't have ongoing strings to refer to where I am...> Also, there is a lot of info regarding breeding of Banggai cardinals which is not a wish of mine yet the limited info I find state single specimen or two males not recommended. Any info will be greatly appreciated. Barbara <In a large enough (a hundred or more gallons) system two males are no problem... Bob Fenner>

A Few Q's Hi Bob, How are things. Well, I have been slowly reducing the stock in my system to a more moderate level. My final level, I hope to be as follows: Emperor angel [5 or 6" sub-adult] Clown trigger [3" or so] Yellow (or Regal) tang [opinions here please] [3" (5")] <Can become a trouble fish... aggressive with growth> 4 line red sea cleaner wrasse [2 to 3"] And I hope to replace the remainder of my fish with a flame angel. [small, 2 or 3" specimen] The tank is 84"x18"x20" high. <Hmm, about 131 gallons... before rock, substrate displacement... I wouldn't place a Clown Trigger in this size system with these fishes... would you like a large, possibly mean pit-bull or such running free in your home... with no doors to keep it out of the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen... and no way to leave? Me neither...> 100 lbs of Fiji Rock. pumps for circulation are; 2 x 600 gal/hr, 2 x 300 gal/hr. There is a 36"x12"x12" sump area filled with Caulerpa Mexicana, for nutrient export, on 24hr lighting, and will be harvested regularly, as required, as soon as it has grown enough (and it is growing very quickly). Water changes ...... 10% weekly. There is only a scattering of coral sand on the base for decor, and the rocks are arranged into two mounds to break up the lines of sight and form a figure of 8 swimming route. I have three basic questions, and the fourth less important. 1) Is this proposed level of stock ok for my tank 9with or without the flame) <Without the Clown Trigger, maybe subbing a Ctenochaetus or Zebrasoma for the Acanthurus lineatus...> 2) Compatibility, do you see a problem ??? And which tang would recommend I keep ??? <Hmm, see above and the Surgeonfish coverage on www.WetWebMedia.com> 3) Is adding a flame angel a bad idea ??? i.e. do you see problems with compatibility with existing fish??? <S/b okay with the above stipulations...> 4) I had to move a 6 line wrasse to a 12 gal tank, as he was terrorizing the 4 line cleaner wrasse ...... would it be ok to re-introduce him, or am I likely o have world war 3 again??? <WWIV this time... keep them apart, separate systems> Thanks for reading, and for your help. Regards, Matt <Keep studying. Bob Fenner>

Crosshatch (trigger) bob, being one of your students, i recently decided to purchase a trigger that real laid back in aggressiveness. It has been 3 days, and he seems to on a hunger strike. is there anything i should do?? is it just acclimation or something more, he spends 1/2 time free swimming for food?? strange, strange trigger, thanks tom <Yikes... this genus of Triggerfishes, Xanthichthys is way prone to go on such hunger strikes... and if it does adjust to captivity (in very large systems...) this can take weeks. These are pelagic species that live in the open ocean for the most part... only marginally associated with reefs. Read over the Triggerfishes materials stored on the www.WetWebMedia.com site (again), esp. the FAQs... and do keep offering (daily) a mix of frozen/defrosted and fresh meaty foods. Bob Fenner>

Uh-Oh Triggers Hello again Mr. Fenner, I am once again looking to you for your expertise. :) Today I got two new triggers that arrived via UPS. They were supposed to be a 2" clown trigger and a 2" blue line trigger. They came in at 6" each.  <All too typical... they don't come out of a machine...> Well the rest of the tank is no bigger than 3 inches. 1 Rectangular Trigger at 2" , a picas at 3" and a Niger at 3". I also have a red Volitans at about 3.5 inches. I got a fantastic deal for the Clown and BlueLine, considering they only billed me for the smaller size. <Really?> Should I remove the smaller fish or hope they do not become dinner? <Starting to sound like not much of a deal to me...> Kinda irks me, I wanted these two to be small also, cause then I could let them grow together until the larger tank is ready(which is a time off still). Could you please advise me? Stunned by their size! Jerita <What can I say/write? Someone may have to go... the smaller or larger specimens... would likely trade in the Clown and take my chances on the other... Bob Fenner>

Tankmate Selection Hello Bob, Thank you ever so much for your reply! If you might recall, I was trying to figure out a tankmate to introduce between my existing manenlisis puffer and my want to be trigger. I had thought about a Selene vomer because I like them, but understand they get too big. And I thought about Sea Robins/Flying Gurnard but got over them. What would you think about me having instead, two smaller species triggers with my smaller species of puffer, (Arothron Manilensis)? Mine is a 90 g FOWLR. Could I manage my Manilensis Puffer with a Huma Huma and a Pink Tail (Melichthysvides).? I have a W/D filter and a Red Berlin Skimmer. <Should be able to go together... maybe a little tussling at dinner times> or would i be pushing my desires too far with my Manilensis Puffer accompanied by a Huma Huma (Rhinecanthus Aculeatus ) And, a, a, a, a Clown trigger ???? I understand the Clowns can get big and vicious, but are soooo beautiful. ( you can let me down easily) <Too big, mean for such a size system, mix of species... I wouldn't do it> What if i started with the two triggers as young, small ones" Any chance? <Not for me> I only want three fish, and I want them to be healthy, and happy. Appreciate your reply, Thank you, Bob. A beginning but also Conscientious Aquarist. <Glad to read it. Bob Fenner>

Trigger Fish Bob, The question I have is about Rhinecanthus Rectangulus. I have owned a Rhinecanthus Aculeatus and am fairly familiar with their temperament and attitude, but I have yet to find a description of the "true Humu" (Rhinecanthus Rectangulus.) I am hopeful that you maybe able to help me understand this interesting specimen. Thank you for your help, Doug <Very similar in temperament, size, habits. Have some coverage of these two "Lagoon" triggers on the www.WetWebMedia.com  site. Bob Fenner>

Fish Selection Hello Bob, First of all I just wanted to say, that for me, as a new aquarist, and for all, this is such a great site!  <Thank you> Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom!  <You would do the same... help others be successful in sharing the parts of the world that are aquatic... guard against unnecessary losses... a joy> My next purchase, honestly, will be your Conscientious Marine Aquarist. What an appropriate title! <Indeed. I know you will enjoy, benefit from the experience> My question for you is, I have a 90g S.W.F.O w a little live rock, established for 2 months w a few damsels and a new, recent addition of a small puffer, who I understand is a small species. An Arothron Manilensis who grows to 6 inches in captivity.  <Thereabouts> I'd like to add a tiger <trigger>, perhaps, a Huma Huma or pink tail as an infant, but in between puff being here and Trig's introduction, I'd like one more fish. I'd like perhaps a flying gurnard, alka sea robin, but I can find no info as to compatibility. <Not a group of fishes regularly imported for ornamental use... they are hardy, very interesting fishes in captivity (used quite a bit in Public Aquariums). My only concern for you here would be that the Puffer and Triggerfish might well out-compete the Sea Robin for food (Have just checked my site (www.WetWebMedia.com) and only have a heading for this group (Triglidae) under the Mail-Cheeked Fishes (Scorpaeniformes)... as they're logically placed near the "Lionfishes" and their relatives with whom they're closely related... but do have pix, could write a bit about the family> Or as to whether it could hold it's own with a Puffer and a Trig OR I also like lookdowns, Selene Vomer but also have the same problem as far little info. <Take a read over the "Jacks, family Carangidae" sections on the WWM site here... do have some coverage of these fishes> On the Selene Vomer they say they are schooling fish, would one alone feel, left out? <IMO too big for your system> Can you please give me your opinion as to either of these fish with a Puff and a Trig? Taking in to account Trig isn't in my tank yet and the Manilensis is young and shy. Thanks, ever so much Needlenose P.S I don't want to overcrowd, I want a good environment for my fish. <I understand, and agree... Would keep investigating other fish species possibilities for now... as the Triglid may not be a viable choice in just not being available. Bob Fenner>

Trigger compatibility question Hi Bob, it's always such a treat to visit your website. I just bought a small 2 inches Rhinecanthus assasi and was wondering if it was possible to get another Rhinecanthus to keep in the same tank, let me know what you think. Thanks, Stefi/London <A great and beautiful species... Wish more found there way over to this side of "the pond"... I give you very good odds in being able to house more than one of the members of this genus together... starting small, and having a large enough system (bigger as they get larger... at least 200 liters now...) and plenty of live rock, other decor to get out of eye-shot and biting of each other... Bob Fenner>
Re: trigger compatibility question
Thanks for taking the time... I really appreciate. if you don't mind me asking you one more thing.... I've read that this specie does not grow too large, if this is true, can you tell to which size they are likely to get to in the home aquarium? <About a foot long in the wild, half that or so in captivity> Thank you and all the Best!. <Thank you. Bob Fenner>
Re: trigger compatibility question
I promise, I will make this my last question!!!! how about a blue trigger with the assasi? same size though. hmmm....I wonder. <Not as good a bet by far as another Rhinecanthus species... I give you about fifty fifty chances within a year that the Blue would kill your Assasi. Bob Fenner>

Picasso Trigger and Reef Tanks Hi Bob, First, thanks for the advice on the Cyanobacteria problem and for the advice on the copperband butterfly. <You're welcome> One more question: I know that triggerfish are not recommended for reef tanks. But in a big reef tank (mine is 300 gal) would a Picasso trigger be less aggressive, or will he eat all of my crabs, snails, clams, shrimp, etc ? <Eventually, some to all of them> So far my "Pablo" is not really bothering anyone and he is eating the frozen food i am feeding 2x per day. Of course he is only 2-3 inches in length right now. I really love him and want to keep him in my tank...am i asking for trouble (especially with my maxima clams) ? <Only time can tell> Thanks again for all of your help. The Copperband is no longer shy...just as you forecasted. The Cyanobacteria is disappearing thanks to your suggestion to turn down the CO2 in my calcium reactor. Chuck Spyropulos <Glad to hear of your successes my friend. Bob Fenner>

Triggers Hello Mr. Fenner, I love your web page. <Thanks. I as well, "it's getting better all the time"> I was hoping you could direct me to an online company where I can get triggers shipped to me. My local fish stores never have what I am after and seem to have some trouble getting them, if they even can. I am looking for a Rectangular, Clown and a Blueline. Thank you so much for all of your great information you have on your site. Jertz <Well, there's a few e-tailing marine livestock dealers websites listed on the www.wetwebmedia.com website... You could try one/some of these... I would be very specific about what you're looking for (species, size, source location...) and would/do encourage you to first try asking your local fish shops to do their best in requesting them for you... they have more selection... and better pull with collectors/transhippers. Bob Fenner>

Trigger Specialist Input/Questions Bob, Thanks for your reply and information. As for the West African Triggerfish, I do have an article from Sea Scope that discuss this fish. I would be more then happy to mail you a copy of it. <Thank you... will look around for this quarterly (I've actually written for Aquarium Systems, the publisher for years... sheesh)...> Also, I have a Crescent triggerfish in my possession. I have had him for the last seven years and can give you information in regards to this species and send you a photo of him if you like. <Would very much appreciate this. Scans? > I also wanted to ask you about the new species of triggerfish that they found in the Maldives. It is apparently a new Xanthichthys species. It has a blue face, yellow fins, red tail, a blue line dividing the body horizontally in half with a yellow upper body and a white belly. Have you heard or seen this species apparently they live about 250 - 400 feet depth.? <No... and was in the upper Maldives just last year... but not at this depth... is this species listed on FishBase (.com) or elsewhere on the Net?> I also wanted to let you know that there is some information about the Strickland triggerfish in a book called Fish of the Indo-Pacific. I lent it to my brother and as soon as I get it back I will email you the author and publisher. <Very good> If you or one of your peers do ever obtain the Blunthead triggerfish and looking to make a some money. Just email me. Thanks again for everything. Mike Striegel <Is this naufragium? Am on my way to southern Baja (for diving, pix) the beginning of Feb... Will talk with the few collectors there, see what they can smoke up> PS. When I get some vacation time I might email you to go diving! <Now you're talking. Bob Fenner, out to Indo./Lombok in May on way to Aquarama in Singapore with dive, fish friends if you'd like to consider.>

Trigger Recommendations I have read your FAQ's and A/Q's and was wondering if you wouldn't mind answering a question. I recently started a 50 gallon tank (just over a month old). It is cycled and everything. I now have two damsels and a yellow tang, yet I wish to add in another fish, preferably a trigger. Are there any triggers you would recommend? I heard the niger are one of the least aggressive; would that suffice? I, of course, would love to have a clown trigger, but was told this is too aggressive and will eventually destroy everything in the tank (including the horse-shoe crab and hermit crab). Please just let me know. Thanks, Mike <Small Odonus niger's are generally an easier going sort (about half don't turn "mean" with growth, age in my estimation)... An even better choice are the members of the genus Rhinecanthus... variously called Humu Humu, Picasso, Lagoon, Assassin Triggers... You can find pix and more about them on our site: www.wetwebmedia.com... All triggers will be suspect with crustaceans. A Clown would be very unhappy ultimately in such a small system. Bob Fenner>

Choosing clown triggerfish Hi Bob! I read with great interest on the FAQ issue on triggerfish. I'm very keen to keep the clown trigger in a 110 gallon tank with live rocks and nothing else. However, I have a choice to make between a 5" ( aggressive ) and a 7" ( mellow ) one. And I want your opinion, <Better to start with smaller specimens... but also better to beware of very aggressive individuals... unless this is as you state, the only tenant for your 110> Both fishes are in good condition and feeding well. I somehow is drawn to the smaller one. Both are in the LFS about 4 weeks but the 5" was infested with fungus like disease earlier and was cured. Can it ( fungus ) occur again? <Not likely. The damage from handling, capture, and maybe poor conditions in transit was the principal cause... this is a tough species. Kept in better surroundings they rarely succumb to secondary problems.> Another concern is will a mature clown loses its colour with ageing. Why some species colour is not so brilliant ? Is it because of the diet? Or is it because of the PH and other parameters problems? <To some extent yes. Mainly issues of diet and consistent, high water quality...> Can I keep with a large angelfish like Blueface? Is it true that clown are more prone to disease than other trigger? <Not a good choice for captivity or with the Clown Trigger. And Clowns are amongst the most disease resistant, in a very disease resistant family> Very eager to hear from you ASAP I am going to make a choice of keeping triggerfish. Anxious, Arise. >> <Keep cogitating furiously till you know for sure which direction you want to go here... Do consider other, more mixable Balistid species and maybe take a read over the family again on our site: Home Page  Bob Fenner>

Question regarding Picasso Triggers.... Hello Bob! Wanted to let you know....great website! Very informative! I'm hoping that maybe you can answer a question for me that I've gotten a million mixed answers on. I have a fairly new 75 gal. marine setup, and currently only 2 Common Clowns. I'd like to possibly add a Scooter Blenny, Yellow Headed Jawfish, Royal Gramma, a smaller Angel, Royal Gramma, Threadfin Butterfly, or Regal Tang. (Not necessarily all of these....just what I'd like to choose from.) My question is....would a Picasso Trigger (Rhinecanthus Aculeatus) be suitable in your opinion? I've heard everything from "Not advisable" to "Sure....not bad community fish compared to the other Triggers" to "Get him while he's young and you probably wouldn't have a problem." I realize individual personality plays into it, but I've grown fond of them in the stores and was wondering what I would have to sacrifice for one. By the way, this is a non-reef tank. Any advice you have would be appreciated! Thank you, Matthew Monahan >> Thx for the plug on the site, much appreciated... Hope the "angel" you mention will be a hardier species of "just" a dwarf type (probably the genus Centropyge...). And, if it were me, and my 75, I'd skip on the Trigger... Though this is one of the less-variable, more-mellow types... it's just now worth the risk of it going ballistic (pun intended), and the space (physiologically, psychologically) it would/will take up... My advice? Well, actually, what I'd do? Look to the other additions, start saving, planning for the next, new/big... tank/system... Bob Fenner

Clown trigger I'm thinking about getting a clown trigger. is there any other triggers which can be kept with it. its a 92 gallon corner aquarium. I've been told not to put any other triggers with the clown. your help would be appreciated. thanks, Barry >> It's possible, given starting with smaller individuals (under four inches let's say), that individual personalities would mesh... the Clown would/should be the dominant fish, including all triggers in this arrangement. That is, add only sub-size tank-mates in the way of triggers with your Clown. A survey piece on the family and others input can be found on my site: Home Page  Bob Fenner

I've got some [certified net-caught, of course] blue-chin triggers  (Xanthichthys auromarginatus) coming in from the Philippines on a shipment  tomorrow. Scott Michael (Marine Fish - the little 500 page jobber) lists  them as reef-safe and fairly benign as triggers go. Has anyone on the list  kept them? I can only hope that the reality is as good as the picture, but  that seems rarely the case (that guy must take a lot of pics to get the  beauties he publishes). Another reason I like them is they are sexually  di-chromatic, so easy to pair off (or separate as the case may be) Any further info beyond that small blurb appreciated. Sounds like it is a  spitter too - I have a Huma Huma in the shop that can do a 4" spout when it  sees me coming. THX, Keith >> About as safe as Triggerfishes get... but I still wouldn't place them in my system... unless it was HUGE (several hundred plus gallons). Bob Fenner

Clown Trigger  Bob Can I place a Clown Trigger with a Niger and a Picasso Trigger. The Niger and Picasso are about 3' to 4' long and are kept in a 55 gallon setup? Thanks! >> Hmm, I wouldn't... for the very real possibility of conflicts betwixt these species... and the fact that the system is too small for even just a Clown Trigger alone as it grows... Bob Fenner

Compatibility of triggers Hi, I have a 240g tank (200g actual water) with a wide assortment of fish that  includes a Huma trigger and an Odonus niger (both approx 3" long). I would  love to have a clown trigger 3" long, but I'm afraid they wont get along.  What do you think? Also, the two triggers I have now get along superbly.  Thanks, bob sanders >> In this size system, with two small, relatively peaceful (for triggers) species, a Clown should mix in... for now... As the Clown gets bigger it might become territorial though... and be of more harm to "later additions" than your two current triggers... Bob Fenner

Melichthys trigger ID Hi, Bob. This is perhaps kind of an esoteric question, but I figure you're the guy to ask ... I'm wondering if you might clear up some confusion regarding the identification of the Melichthys indicus trigger fish. On their webpages, several mail-order retailers (including FF Express) offer a critter designated as both Melichthys indicus and "Hawaii Black Triggerfish." However, I've checked several references on Hawaiian reef fishes (including Fishbase, http://www.cgiar.org/iclarm/fishbase/) and none indicates that the M. indicus lives there. Sources also list M. indicus as strictly an Indian Ocean species. Is the "Hawaii Black Trigger" offered for sale perhaps Melichthys niger? I might be interested in including an indicus in the tank I'm planning, but the niger would grow too big! Thanks in advance for any light you might shed on this.  >> Thanks for writing... really enjoy this sort of query... Do agree with your findings, of the nine triggers found (ever) in Hawai'i, Melichthys indicus isn't one of them (do have pix of this similar-looking Balistid from the Red Sea, Seychelles, Phuket/Thailand, and Sulawesi/Indonesia.... about all around it's range. The FFExpress pic is the circumtropical... and way too common M. niger as you state... Hope the boss man catches this message! Bob Fenner, who thanks you for brightening his day

Hi Bob  I have a question for you. What do you think of a niger trigger for a reef tank? I have one in my daughters 30 gal. reef tank, and he seems to not  bother anything. I would like to put one in my 125 show tank but just can't get myself to trust them. What do you think? >> Not in my opinion a good idea... some of the Niger's are very peaceful... coming out of the Red Sea... but I would not trust one in a reef tank... I'd keep looking myself. Bob Fenner, who knows first hand how individualistic and unpredictable this whole family can be.

Hi Bob!  Just found you on the web site....I have a 35 gal. tank that's been in  storage for about 2 yrs now. I had a saltwater set up, nothing too fancy,  but I did really well with the few fish I kept, most lived for several years.  I had a couple pieces of live rock, and depended on a bio-wheel for  filtration.. My question is what do I need to do to get the tank ready for life again, and  how "easy" has the live sand become (it was pretty new around here, the first  time I set up my tank so I didn't even try.)  Also, I was thinking about trying a TRIGGER...what kind would you recommend  for a 35 gal. tank, and I would probably keep it as the sole resident... Thanks in advance for your help & advice! Debbie Demick >> Glad (you don't know how much) to have you back! I can only guess how many tanks are "in storage" versus up and running... Live sand is better, more fresh and diverse than ever before... Many folks "make their own" with the newer, better types of live rock, by simply placing this on top of the substrate (including your old rock if you still have it). For Triggers (my fave group of fishes, I was, may still do a systematic review of them for a doctorate) I would look to one of the "Lagoon Trigger" species of the genus Rhinecanthus... my fave there is R. assasi, the Assassin Trigger... unlike some of the other "smaller" species of Balistids to choose through, this one is very outgoing and not mean... generally. Bob Fenner, whose rundown on the Triggerfishes you can find at www.wetwebmedia.com

Reef safe Triggers Hi Bob- Question regarding Triggers for the reef tank. Am I correct in thinking  that possible candidates are: Black Finned, blue throat, crosshatch, Sargassum and Niger. These species  being planktonic feeders and  consuming food in the water column, might be safe in a reef tank? thanks for your response. Tom >> Have seen all these Triggerfish species and more in reef set-ups... but I can't give them a carte blanche guarantee of leaving other fishes or invertebrates alone... The Crosshatch (Xanthichthys) get pretty big, fast... and all might well, "cross the line" if hungry/curious... I'd only try one or more of these if I had the capacity to move it immediately... Bob Fenner

Picasso triggers Dear Bob,  I was wondering what you thought of the following fish combination. I currently have a 3inch Gramma and a 2 inch Picasso trigger. I would like to add a harlequin Tuskfish, Pacific Blue Tang, a skunk clown, and possibly an angel (I would buy all of these fish at a smaller size). My tank is a 60 gallon with 40 lbs. of live rock, a CPR Skimmer with Biomedia, and a Magnum 280. Is the fish combination okay, and do I need more rock? Thanks. Avery >> Hmm, you just may "get away with" this mix if they all grow up together... but it may not work... and the trigger and Tuskfish are going to get big...too big for the sixty ultimately. The two of these will likely consume the Gramma, and Skunk as time goes by... And you will definitely need a larger tank if you're going to try an Angel of survivable size and temperament to go along with them....  Bob Fenner

55 gal. tank Hello Bob, I have a 55 gal. show tank, that i am getting ready to set up, I plan to start cycling it with about 4 damsels, I am planning to add 3 to 4 medium size triggers once the tank is cycled, My questions are: do you think that the triggers would get along okay together, and how many of these fish can i add safely at one time. Thank you, Reade Phillips >> Hmm, well, as you probably know, this family is filled with very individualistic species... But, other than getting crowded in a few to several months, if you're careful about selecting them all about the same size, and temperament... you should be able to have an interesting... never idle arrangement.  A word of caution re placing Triggerfishes, be careful about similar appearing types. The "lagoon triggers"... humu, rectangular, assassin... really duke it out territorial wise due to thinking their the same species... Bob Fenner

What triggers are good to keep together in a 85 gallon hex ?  >> Hmm, well all sorts... there's sort of a "hierarchy" of whose meanest, meaner, less mean... with species like the Undulated (Balistapus undulatus), Queen (Balistes vetula)... near the top, the various Lagoon Triggers (e.g. the Humu, Rectangulatus, Assassin) near the middle and some relatively easygoing types like the White Line and Pink Tail.... But, a few provisos: they're all individualistic... a given species specimens can be marshmallows to terrors... Start them all at once and on the small side... Bob Fenner

Picasso or Niger Triggerfish? I just finished reading your book (its great!!!) but it has brought up some questions in my fish choices. In my 125gal. FOWLR I would like 2 clowns, a dwarf lionfish, a flame Hawkfish, a Wimplefish, bi-colored angel, coral beauty angel, lipstick tang, yellow tang and (here's the question) a niger trigger. I really want a peaceful tank and I have been agonizing over my choices for months. But after reading your book you put the niger in a "possible troublemakers" category. I thought they were supposed to be the nicest of them all. Would I be better off with the Picasso? Could you elaborate a little more on both of the triggers, temperament, size, personality. Also, are there any problems with my choices as a whole that you can tell. Do you recommend buying fish mail order site unseen (I know that could be a tricky question). Thank you again for your time. Michelle >> Thank you for your kind words and for writing! Yes, the Triggerfishes are as intelligent and interesting as they are individualistic... And the Niger rates higher on the likely to be a troublemaker index than the Picasso (Rhinecanthus aculeatus is the one we/you/I mean). But either might go and not become a tankmate muncher if started small... Another important factor might well be who went in the first (the triggers should be last, after everyone else is settled in), and source location. For the Nigers, the further into the Indian Ocean the better, for the Picasso, I really like the ones from Hawaii best... But small as in 1-2" is best. On the query of your proposed mix, the dwarf lion should be started small, lest it swallow your clowns (they have surprisingly large mouths). The rest should mix and do okay. Re ordering livestock mail-order, this is a tough call. On the one hand, I always like to look fishes, invertebrates et al. over and leave them on-site for a few days before buying... on the other hand I have spend decades of my life buying large amounts of livestock sight unseen, but from people I've come to trust as honest and competent... And, I just don't know about the quality of dealers near you... I do know the folks who do the "selection service" work that are ffexpress.com and they do know what they're doing. And I'm given to understand from input from their customers (via this same bat-channel) that they're highly accountable... But I'll tell you what is more important than buying local or mail-order: knowing what to expect and do with the livestock you buy from either source, quarantining it, and providing the best of circumstances for its husbandry... Bob Fenner

Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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