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FAQs about Balistoides (Clown, Titan) Triggerfish Behavior

Related FAQs: Clown Trigger Behavior, Balistoides Triggers 1, Balistoides Triggers 2, Balistoides Identification, Balistoides Compatibility, Balistoides Selection, Balistoides Systems, Balistoides Feeding, Balistoides Disease, Balistoides Reproduction, Triggerfishes in General, Triggerfish: Identification, Selection, Selection 2, Compatibility, Behavior, Systems, Feeding, Diseases, Triggerfish Health 2, Reproduction,

Related Articles: Triggerfish, Balistoides Species, Red Sea Triggerfishes

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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

titan trigger and green moray eel      5/10/18
hi all great site. very informative
<Hi George>
I just built a 450 gallon acrylic tank in my basement a month ago.
my basement entrance has always kept me from anything larger then a 180 gallon but building it myself has fixed this issue.
current occupants are a green moray eel and a titan trigger.
<One of the most aggressive Trigger species and it gets too large!>
all the filter media sand and live rock was transferred from my 180 gallon into this new aquarium, the eel is new but the titan has been with me for about a year in the 180
i<Caps> know the tank is to small for them once they get bigger, I am beginning the plans for a approximately 1000 gallon soon. the titan is about 9 inches and the green moray is 3 feet long.
<Keep an eye on the trigger as it is very mean with most tankmates>
i believe i have a year or so before the 1000 is necessary. contemplating whether to go acrylic or plywood this time.
my question is will the titan trigger get it’s adult coloration in a home aquarium?
<It will if good nutritional and environmental conditions are provided>
thanks George
<Your welcome Wilberth Gamboa>
Re: titan trigger and green moray eel      5/10/18
Thank You Very Much
<Welcome. Wilberth Gamboa>

Stressed Clown Trigger? - 07/04/06 Hello fellas. <<Don't forget the ladies...>> I had a quick question.  I  recently purchased (2 days ago) a small clown trigger from my local LFS. <<A true ALPHA fish if there ever was one>> I just noticed that at the very top near his dorsal fin has lost a little bit of color.  The black behind the top few spots has turned kinda white.  Is this a disease? <<More likely environmental...complicated with collection/shipping stress>> How can I get this little fella feeling better? <<Provide an optimum environment, water quality, diet, et al...and read/research re this species on our site, and the net in general>> Thanks, Josh Henley <<Regards, Eric Russell>>

Trigger beh., systems   5/25/06 Hi! If a trigger paces, does this mean more water movement is needed? 240 gallon tank. Dale <<Little to go on here. More complex decor to explore is another possibility. Lisa.>>
Re: Trigger Beh., Circulation - 5/28/2006
Sorry, more info: 4" clown trigger, in captivity 4 months.  Started "pacing" 3 months ago.  By pacing, I mean going end to end of the tank repetitiously. <<Sounds like he needs more stimulation to me.>> By increasing the circulation or turn around of water would it make a difference? <<Possibly.  What is the GPH flow right now?>> Dale

Clown Trigger Down in the Dumps I have a clown trigger that is acting somewhat odd and I was wondering if you could give me suggestions.  He has not eaten for a day and a half (and he usually is VERY willing to eat!) and doesn't swim around much.  He just stays lodged under his rock most of the time -- only coming out momentarily.  His color looks good and I have not noticed anything strange on him -- looks totally normal.  I did a water test and everything is perfect.  The other fish show no signs of anything odd.  Got any clues or suggestions?  Is he depressed after the holiday rush maybe???  :) <Likely my favorite species of fish (commissioned a stained glass model years back!). This is about the "most intelligent" species of a smart family of fishes... that does "just seem" to "get the blahs" every now and then (as well as "the children's play hour")... I suspect, given the other input, that there's nothing wrong with yours... it will just as suddenly "wake up" and eat everything in sight. Bob Fenner>

Clown Trigger Down in the Dumps Mr. Fenner, Please help. . . I don't know what to do.  My clown trigger is still acting strangely.  3 days and no eating.  Yesterday he barely came out of his rock all day.  His color still looks good and he is still swimming fine (at least for the very short time he IS swimming and not in his rock).  However, he did come out for very short period of time last night and was being picked on.  First the maroon clown picked on him (normal for her to do this -- but he usually just ignores it. . .she just nudges him) and he quickly retreated to his rock.  Then he was out again and my supermale (about 6 times triggers size) started picking on him pretty bad and he quickly retreated again.  I turned the lights off immediately and of course the wrasse went to bed.  I looked in the tank this morning and could see Trigger in his rock and he was breathing but he wouldn't come out of course. <Yikes... maybe this fish is just being too bullied> What should I do?  Should I leave the lights off for a time period?  Should I put Trigger in a separate container in the tank with a rock or something (the hard part would be trying to catch him or get him out of his rock though). <Yes... either this or move at least the wrasse>   Normally the wrasse never picks on him -- is he sensing that Trigger is sick (even though he doesn't look it) and is deciding to pick on him for that reason?  Please help. . . he's one of my favorites (not to mention expensive) and I just don't know what to do to help him. <Would you feel safe, like eating if something six times your size was in your world, chasing you?> You have mentioned before that Triggers sometimes "get down in the dumps" -- how long does this typically last?  Are their symptoms what I describe?  Please help. . . your suggestions would be much appreciated!!! Thanks!  :) <Do separate these fishes... and try offering your trigger an opened clam or "cocktail" shrimp (sans sauce). Bob Fenner>

Clown Trigger Down in the Dumps Thanks for your advice.  I will separate them when I go home for lunch today.  How long should they be separated?  Is it safe to re-introduce them in a few days?   <not likely... even if behaviorally "safe", the stress of moving a fish from one water chemistry to another and then back again within days is too dangerous. Personally... I'd wait closer to 2 weeks> Should I re-introduce them with the lights off?   <often helpful... please do> Thanks again for all of your help! :) <best regards, Anthony>
Clown Trigger Down in the Dumps
Thanks for your advice.  I will separate them when I go home for lunch today.  How long should they be separated? <... until the trigger is able to hold up on its own> Is it safe to re-introduce them in a few days?  Should I re-introduce them with the lights off?  Thanks again for all of your help! :) <Likely to take weeks, perhaps months. But you could try in a few days... when you're home so if there is overt aggression you can re-remove the wrasse. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown Trigger Down in the Dumps
Thanks for your response. . . here's my problem though. . . . my sick tank crashed a week ago and I don't have it up and running again yet.  I would have to put my trigger in a separate container (Tupperware with holes in it) within the larger 160 gallon tank.  Is this ok?  I know it won't give Trigger the space he's used to but will this suffice for the time being?   <Yes, as a matter of fact, an all-plastic colander floating with some air trapped under the edge works great. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown Trigger Down in the Dumps
Yesterday at lunch I tried to get Trigger in the plastic container (even had an opened clam ready to entice him with) but I couldn't get him out of the rock he was lodged in. <If large enough, one can depress the second hard spine of the dorsal fin/trigger to remove... else wise move the whole rock it's wedged in>   I didn't have time to move everything around and take the rock out so I decided to separate the wrasse until I could get off work.  When I got home however Trigger was floating at the top.  Very very sad. . . <Ohh> he was one of my favorites.  I just don't understand!  When I took him out and looked at him he looked perfectly normal!  No marks, not even fins torn! I really think wrasse just picked on him that one time that I saw.  There was absolutely no evidence of foul play -- even his color looked great.  What could have happened?  What did I do wrong? <Psychologically battered is my strongest inclination... maybe a latent internal problem?> I love triggerfish.  Could you recommend another that I might try?  I have a 160 gallon with a wrasse, maroon clown, Naso tang, and two yellow tangs.  What other trigger (hardy ones of course) would you recommend? <A Rhinecanthus species... of about the same size as your dominant wrasse. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/rhinecanthus/index.htm> Thanks for all of your help.  Hopefully you can shed some much needed light on this. . . . I just don't know what happened to him.  I've had him for 2 years (with the wrasse!) <What? Mmm, this IS strange...> and he has been the smallest one in the tank but a very confident, hardy fish.  He survived two very bad bouts with ICH and has always swam around like he owns the place.  My tank has always been a peaceful tank even with the constant loads of energy portrayed by the wrasse.  This was just so unexpected. . . thanks for any help! :)    <Maybe the wrasse has become "more alpha" in recent times. Sorry to hear/read of the loss. Bob Fenner>

- Clown Trigger Questions - Hello, <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I've recently set up a semi predator tank with inhabitants including a clown trigger (3.5 in), snowflake eel, <My friend, with these two creatures alone, the word "semi" does not belong - this is a true predator tank.> formosa wrasse and a recently added Imperator Angelfish (4.5 in) and my triggers colors have been fading since his addition I am not sure if this is a sign that he is stressed out from the new arrival or if it might be related to either a feeding or disease issue. <Could be any one of those - how big is this system?> About 6 weeks ago, I noticed spots on him and corrected by treating my tank with a mild based copper treatment (killed my cleaner wrasse) which seemed to correct the situation and regularly am checking for signs of return <Egad... this is not a correction by any means. Treating your main system with copper will likely stall your biological filter and could even lay it to waste. You should do some rudimentary water tests to make sure ammonia and nitrite are not building up...> In regards to feeding I try a few goldfish/ghost shrimp twice a week and for the balance of the week feed the tank brine shrimp and frozen krill. At what size can I feed him crayfish and what size should they be in relation to him <I would stick with frozen foods like Prime Reef and other meaty foods, shrimp, krill, squid, etc. Live foods tend to cause too much aggression which this clown trigger doesn't need to have encouraged.> All assistance is greatly appreciated <I would encourage you to browse and read the Wet Web Media site - all of these animals and their captive care requirements are covered there in addition to quarantine and treatment procedures for ailing fish.> Chris <Cheers, J -- >

How long does it take for a BABY clown trigger (1"-1.5") to change into his adult coloration <Just a few months. Bob Fenner>

Clown Trigger behavior Hey Crew, I have a clown trigger (3.5in.) in a 55 gallon that has been running for about 8 months now.  The clown was the first fish I introduced after my damsels.  Until a couple of days ago he would always have tons of personality and race back and fourth from one side of the tank to the other.  About a week ago I added a yellow tang (4 in.) I don't know if there is any correlation, but a couple of days ago the trigger has been acting much different. If it is out, it isn't swimming around. It still eats, and the coloration looks normal, but it just seems like it is lazy or something.  Also, when he is eating, he sometimes rotates onto his side, then flips back over.  If you have any ideas, I would be most gracious to hear your diagnosis.  Thank you  Eric <Good accounting of your system and pertinent points. It may be that your triggerfish is "just bored" (a fifty five gallon system is a very small world for this species... it needs more room), but I do suspect you're correct in correlating the addition of the Yellow Tang with its feeding/behavioral differences. I would not be overly concerned, and suspect that all will "self-correct" in a short while. Do look into and invest in a larger system. Bob Fenner>

Clown Trigger & Passer Angel Behaviour Hi Bob, <Hello Matthew> I have bought and read your book and really enjoyed it (great photo of that adult clown trigger being held by a diver!). <I recently met someone (John Phillips of Tideline, LA) who had met and dived with none other than Rodney Jonklaas... a famous diver (RIP) from Ceylon/Sri Lanka... who was my inspiration as a collector and had a very nice pic of him and a Clown Trigger that circulated quite a bit...> I have a 100 gallon fish only tank with two aqua medic Turboflotor 1000multi hang on skimmers, a Eheim 2229 wet/dry biological and a Eheim 2028 for mechanical/carbon filtration.  I have no live rock but use A-Z No3 to keep Nitrates at about 2ppm - ammonia and nitrite are zero. I am proud of how healthy the fish look - their colours seem to glow. <Sounds very nice> My fish display some really interesting behaviour that I thought you might be able to explain. I have 3 fish - a 6" Clown Trigger, a 5" Passer Angelfish (it has yellow pectoral fins - female I think) and a 5" Lunare Wrasse. They have been together for about 6 months. <Going to be a very crowded system with time, growth> The trigger and the angelfish sleep together! There is a small "cave" in the tank and the triggerfish settles down in there when the lights go off at night and the angelfish then follows the trigger in and then seems to defend the cave. The angelfish will do regular patrols of the tank before returning to the cave with the clown trigger. If I get close to the tank the angelfish will charge at me and then return to the cave - it is normally hand tame when the lights are on and will follow me around the room in the tank. I even put a large plant pot in the tank to create another cave and although both fish go in there from time to time during the day they still choose to sleep together in the cave. During the day they do not react to each other and can even bump into each other without any reaction from either fish . I thought you might be interested!   Regards,  Matt - UK <Yes, thank you for sending this observation along. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Clown Trigger & Passer Angel Behaviour Thank you for the quick reply. <Welcome> Please find attached a photo of the clown trigger. Your book is a real inspiration and by applying your recommendations I hope you will agree that this is a very happy/healthy fish. <Yes, appears so! Bob Fenner>
Regards, Matt

Clown Trigger Growth Rate (3/9/04)   I appreciate your help on my last question, however I have another.  I realized in buying the clown trigger that it would eventually out grow my 40 tank, I was originally hoping to upgrade to an 100 gallon tank. However due to recent events this upgrade might not be possible. <Which is why one should always buy on the basis of what one has available now, not what one hopes to have in the unpredictable future.> How long will it take for my clown trigger which is now 3.5-4 inches to outgrow my current tank and around what size will it be when this happens. <It is likely to feel crowded within a year after only growing a few inches. Clown Triggers are mean and get meaner with age. When it gets unhappy, it will start biting your eel and even you.>  Thanks again, -Brad <If you don't think you can upgrade by Christmas, you should consider finding this fish a new, bigger home elsewhere. Steve Allen.>

Our poor Clown Trigger First off, hello and hope you all are doing well. Hopefully, this question will become helpful to others that might have the same scenario! <I hope so too> Secondly, my wife and I have a 70 gallon tank which, after the rocks and crushed coral and fish added is, about 60 or 55 gallon. We have 5 fish total: -Spottyback Wrasse (purple body with orange face and gnarly teeth only approx. 3"=healthy) -Yellow Tang (approx. 4"=healthy) -Foxface (approx. 6"=healthy) -Huma Trigger (which I bought about 2 years ago for my wife's birthday as she is the Trigger collector which is approx. 3"=healthy) -Clown Trigger (which I bought WITH the Huma who is now approx. 5" or so=EATING BUT LAZY and LETHARGIC!!!). <Mmm, this tank is too crowded... psychologically... and soon to be physiologically... If you wanted to keep just what you list here you'll need a few hundred gallons> We just did a 50% water change about 1 week ago and they all seemed fine. Tests were all perfect (we've had the tank now over 3 years with the two Triggers added just 2 years ago). The wife tells me that "trigger's like to play silly games. they pretend to be sick and lay at the bottom until you walk over to check on them only to find out they are fine. Let's just keep an eye on him/her to see how it is doing and keep a log".  Now, I have never had a saltwater tank, she and her brother had a 150 or so when they were teenagers that fell over after the Northridge Earthquake with approx. 2-3K worth of equip., livestock, etc., so, she has had more "practice". I do notice when I go to feed them, the Clown is very active. Today, this morning, I was sitting with my a.m. coffee and noticed the Foxface and Yellow Tang pecking at the Clown's "poo" and the Clown was just LAYING THERE! So, I went up to the tank and behold, the Clown starts doing his usual barrel rolls, swimming horizontally...etc. My questions/comments are: 1. I'm disgusted that the fish even eat poo that hasn't come out yet! YUCK!-Is this normal? <Yes, and not harmful in general> 2. WHY is the Huma (which secretly I like more but will never tell the wife) SO much SMALLER? BTW...HATES seaweed...eats only krill and Trigger formula. <Different species... propensity for growth is less and ultimate size...> 3. Is the Clown doing this for attention or is there something wrong? <Not likely anything "wrong"... your wife is correct in stating re their play behavior... this fish is very likely "just bummed" out... > 4. The wife keeps telling me "don't get attached to the fish, they eventually get too big for our tanks and we will eventually have to trade them in for smaller fish"...is this true? I really love all the fish we've had so far and they have been with us for 3 years! I really would hate to trade them in. I would love to get a bigger tank but with that comes more work and focus and we have a baby on the way. Is there a peaceful resolution? <Not really... your wife is correct here as well...> 5. Is my tank "okay" as far as inhabitants? The only thing I notice as far as "aggression" is, the Huma keeps getting it's butt kicked by the Wrasse only because it wants the Wrasse's "home"! <It is not okay... is way too crowded, stressful... equivalent to you living in something space-wise like your house with a bull and a bear...> That's it...let me know if I missed anything. <Mmm, all seems well-written, complete... I would trade the Clown Trigger in or get a much larger system... with plans to get one or more even much larger systems down the near road. Bob Fenner>

My Irascible Trigger Fish Hi Bob. You may remember me. I've been known as 'Garlic Fingers' as well as other  pugnacious puns. You recommended garlic for my clown trigger who had a  recurring eye problem. Since the garlic, he has had no recurrence of the  problem. <I'm with ya> Lately however, I have noticed that sometimes when I have not been in the  room or near the tank for a while, the trigger looks pale and ashy. When he  sees me by the tank, he quickly returns to his usual vivid coloring. I have  had him for about a year, and he has become more aggressive as he has aged.  Is it possible this has anything to do with the changes in his appearance? I  am on top of keeping my water quality up, and all things are right on. None  of my other fish show any changes in color contrast. Is this a common thing  with these clown triggers? <It, the color changes and behavior are all normal... the animal has imprinted on you... and is very happy when you're around... nothing to worry about> Thanks again, Deb with the Irascible Trigger (Fish) >> <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

New Trigger I recently started a salt water tank - 90 gallon three weeks ago. After two weeks of cycling with limited live rocks (hard to find in the summer), I bought two Percula clowns. Three days ago, I bought a juvenile clown trigger, a scooter blenny and four hermit crabs. The clown trigger has been very shy for the first two days. He is 3/4" long, the clowns are 1 1/4" long. Yesterday, the clown started swimming. I fed the fish last night and the clown trigger ate like crazy. His tummy was bloated. Right after eating, he hid back in the rocks. Could I have over fed the trigger? Is he sick?  This morning when I went to see him before heading to work, he was still hiding in the rocks, his tail curled in. His tummy does seem bloated anymore, but it was hard to see because he was hiding in the rocks. He didn't seem to want to move.  Should I feed him tonight when I get home? Is he sick? >> The trigger is likely fine... just settling in... and hopefully he will get along for a while with the other animal life you list... though it will someday consume all the others... including the Hermit Crabs... keep offering it food daily... and be patient. Bob Fenner

CLOWN TRIGGER Hi Bob The colours on my clown seems to 'come on and off'. She could look real pale one moment and then the next moment fully flushes with the natural colours. Is this natural? I have been told to check water quality but I doubt that is the reason. Thanks John Wong <Water quality could have something to do with the color changes, but not necessarily... This sort of behavior is natural... and these intelligent animals do need "guidance/stimulation" to be "happy"... but will still engage in what appear to be anomalies (swimming upside down, spitting, moving things about...) Bob Fenner>

Color Change Dear Mr. Fenner, <Bob is out of town, discovering snow in the great Midwest. Anthony Calfo and I are answering the daily questions for him until his triumphant return.> I have a clown trigger 3-4" that I think is changing into his adult form. In the last month or so I have been noticing that his color is fading while his spots are noticeably getting larger. I want to know if their is something wrong with him or does that go with changing to adult hood and also when will he look "Normal" again. <There is a color change from juvenile to adulthood, but I would not describe the transformation as "fading". Take a look at the pictures at this link, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/balistoides.htm> I have a 100 gallon tank with a Red Sea adult emperor angelfish and I get my parameters checked bi-weekly. They are both healthy and eating Life Line herbivore and carnivore food cubes. thank you <You are welcome> Ian Behnk <Steven Pro>

Clown Trigger Hello there, I have had a 55 gal tank up and going for several months. I added a Picasso trigger who seems to be doing fine. My concern is I added a second Trigger fish (Clown) and he seem to be very skittish and not swimming around even for food. He has only been in my tank for 2 days but I'm wondering if this is normal or should I be concerned with this behavior?. <too early to tell, although mixing trigger species is not usually a great idea. Issues with aggression are likely in the long run. In the meantime, the new fish could simply be getting used to the new climate and traffic patter of the house where the tank sits (big scary shadows suddenly walking by...hehe). Or, it could be intimidated by the presence of the other fish(es). There is always the possibility of disease too... aquarists really need to quarantine all new fish for 2-4 weeks before just throwing them into displays... else it is like roulette with living creatures and pathogenic diseases. Do read more in the archives about proper QT. Patience in the meantime and careful observation. Anthony> Please help, Best Regards, Todd Pelletier

Clown Trigger  Bob, <Hi Jerad, Craig here> I have read all of your Q&A's on clown triggers just to learn more about them. I recently purchased a 4 1/2' clown that a guy has had for a year. The clown is very yellow and has clear fins. Will he always stay real yellow or will he turn more black on his face and body? Also he darkens up a lot whenever he eats, is that normal? I know Fiji's have the best colors buy where do you think mine is from? thanks for everything and also can I get a good link to a site with extensive info. on clowns.  Thanks again, Jerad <I don't know if your fish will color up but you can see that much coloration is related to the fish's moods, surroundings, and food sources. I would give your Trigger a good varied diet, lots of space, and good water quality and he will become whatever he is supposed to naturally look like. You can find all kinds of Trigger info at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/ follow all links as well. Enjoy! Craig>

Fish With Slow Growth Hi guys! <Hey!> No big problem. I'm just curious as to why my clown trigger is growing so slowly. He has been in a 180g for two years, and is very healthy and active. He has grown from about 5" to 7" in that time.  <This is a touch slow, but please do not make fun, he may be sensitive.> Fed approx. once per day with a varied diet--sometimes I am away from home and skip a day or two, while other days I'll feed two meals. He eats supermarket squid, scallops, shrimp, crab, plus flake food, silversides, and a variety of frozen cubes. <Sounds good, I would add some more protein frozen PE Mysid shrimp and more krill (Freeze dried and frozen). Occasional live crayfish too for dental care (wearing teeth down).> I added a gorgeous golden meleagris puffer to the tank, and that fish has gone from 7" to 9" in less than six months. Since both fish will reach approx. the same adult size, and are in the same tank, and eat approx. the same amount of food, shouldn't the growth rates be nearly the same too?  <not really>  Is it simply that the trigger is a bit more active and "burns calories"? I want to make sure they -- the two above plus a 28" snowflake moray-- eat enough, but on the other hand I don't want out-of-control nutrients in the tank either. BTW, I will get a larger tank for them as they continue to grow.  <good to hear>  Thank you for your thoughts. Steve. <How long is your tank? A fish in a 100gal six foot long tank will grow faster than in a 100gal four foot long tank. Offer foods higher in protein, make sure water quality is good, and he should start putting on some weight. Best Regards, Gage.>

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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