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FAQs about Triggerfishes

Related FAQs: Triggerfish: Identification, Selection, Compatibility, Behavior, Systems, Feeding, Diseases, Reproduction, Balistapus, Balistes, Canthidermis, , Melichthys, Odonus, Pseudobalistes, Rhinecanthus, Sufflamen, Xanthichthys

Related Articles: Triggerfish, Triggerfish Regional Accounts, Red Sea Triggerfishes, Hawaiian Triggerfishes

A whole bunch of Odonus nigers at a lagoon break in the Maldives

Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection &Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Blue Jaw Trigger night time freak outs       12/23/15
Hi again! I hope this letter finds you well during this Christmas season!
I'm hoping your infinite wisdom may help me find some relief for my poor blue jaw. I've had him for about a year now. He's been very healthy and colourful. But I do believe he's scared of the dark. Is this possible? I have my tank set up in the den outside my room so at night I can hear all the commotion. Almost like clock work about an hour after the moon light
has finally dimmed all the way off and everyone else is asleep he just starts bolting to and fro. Smashing into everything. I'm convinced one morning I'll find him on the floor and I desperately want to avoid that. I have LEDs on ramp timers that take about three hours to go from full brightness to completely off. I also keep a small LED nightlight on in the den for bathroom runs. There are no kids or animals or human movement of any kind at this hour to prompt his outbursts. Do you think perhaps he's sick or just getting spooked by hermits? Do you have any suggestions to calm him down? This has been going on since he first joined my home and is not a sudden onset symptom.
Thanks again for being so incredible!!
<Some key questions here... how big's the tank? What sort of tankmates? Sufficient comfortable hiding places? Triggers are not especially easily spooked, but they do have quite specific ideas about what makes a good home. They need space, a fair amount given their territorial psychology, and won't cohabit well with other triggers. Xanthichthys are at the mellower end of the Balistid range (it's all relative of course; these aren't mindless, harmless fish by any means). So anything more territorial can cause problems. In terms of tank size and hiding places, if these fish feel confined, they're unlikely to settle, and bear in mind that Triggers "bed down" for the night by wedging into cracks and using their modified dorsal and anal fins to hold them in place. If your chap can't find a crevice that feels right to him, he won't settled down easily at night.
This is doubly true if there's an obvious "night shift" of predators (morays, but even Ariid catfish in my experience) that the Triggers aren't au fait with. Assess, and act accordingly. I'm not a fan of night lights (moonlight tubes for example) but these might be useful. Cheers, Neale.><<Well done! RMF>>

Are triggerfish edible?   4/2/13
Hello Bob and the WWM crew,
While spending a couple nights on Isla Mujeres, off Cancun, I believe I saw from my hotel room a group of local fishermen filleting triggerfish. I had no idea triggerfish were edible;
<Oh yes; they are... they're prized in sopas (soups) in particular. Just tough to skin (pliers); and of course capable of chewing through all but steel leaders>
I always assumed not, having read about ciguatera poisoning associated with Indo-Pacific triggerfish in the past.
Can you clear this up for me?
Thanks, Neale
<More of a local phenomenon... Balistids found, caught in lagoons and ciguatera mostly. Back to your honeymoon! Bob Fenner>

sick triggerfish... no useful data  - 06/05/09
My triggerfish developed several white splotches on it's mid section, and was not eating....didn't appear healthy. What's wrong? Should I remove him from the tank as not to infect the other fish (maroon clown, tang, and Foxface)
<... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/index.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

- Undulated Trigger 6/19/06 - Hi guys, i am very interested to get a undulated triggerfish. a large species about 8".i have never seen a large one but i saw in the net is it a beauty. any info on adult fish and photo? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/index.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/balistapus/index.htm and the FAQs beyond. Cheers, J -- >

Triggerfish ... what?    3/27/06 Your site is my main source for information, thanks for all you have done for my tank :) <You've done the work.> I love triggerfish and have had Nigers and blue jaws previously. My question is about the Picasso. I have seen a few Picasso's and seen <saw, seen only used with "have"> price tags in the 75 range. When I went into my LFS they had a Huma Huma for around 30. When I started talking to the guy at the store he was telling me that Picasso is another name for the Huma Huma. The fish we were looking at didn't have a very pronounced blue streak around the eyes. He told me that was because this fish was a juve and would get the blue with age. He also stated the reason this was was less expensive was because of size. Before I go investing in a Picasso, are they the same as Huma Huma?  The Picasso Triggerfish (Humu Humu) is Rhinecanthus aculeatus. A similar species, but not identical, is the Humu Rectangle Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus rectangulus.  The rectangulus are sometimes mislabeled as Humu humu's.   Pricing depends on availability and the area from where it was collected or a salesman with deep pockets.> Oh fish and their silly names...<Understand.  James (Salty Dog)> Simms

-Survival of The Fittest- Crew- thanks for your great site <Thank you> A story and a question: <Sure, you have Justin here.> Yesterday I did a water change in my 90gal FOWLR. Also bought a couple more lbs of cured LR (yes, really cured at the LFS). When adding the LR, I removed a fake coral piece that I had purchased but never really liked in the tank. <Everyone says aquascaping is never done in their tanks heehee I know the feeling.>  When changing water in my tank, all the inhabitants do a Houdini- they all disappear. <No To them the hand of god just appeared and its time to get outta the way .>  I figure this is good as it means there is sufficient hiding places in the tank. After the water change was complete, all seemed well. I checked out the tank after about an hour and noticed that my 4" Picasso trigger had not reappeared. He has a normal hiding place in large piece of coral skeleton so I figured he was still hiding. Unusual but not yet reason for alarm. After about another hour - still no Picasso so I started looking/wondering. <Done this with an eel several times and a wrasse. I feel your pain.>  Used a flashlight to checkout his normal hiding space and no sign. Checked out the floor around the tank in case he escaped without me noticing. Still no sign. Pondered this for a few minutes and then realized the one piece of fake coral removed earlier was hollow. The fake coral was not yet put away and was still on a towel on the floor by the aquarium. When I checked there - I had a oh sh@# moment. The trigger had wedged himself inside of the coral. His trigger was out and was stuck into the coral. He had been out of the water for almost 2 hours. I had screwed up and killed one of my favorite fish. :( I reached into the coral to remove the dead fish and he surprised me and moved! I quickly filled a bowl of water from the tank and "unstuck" his trigger from the coral. <Ok, usually not recommend touching the fish, rather simply submerging the whole coral, however its a heat of the moment thing, so good save.>  He fell into the bowl and immediately tried to jump out. With the help of my son, we got a cover over the bowl and held him there for a few minutes. When introduced back into the tank, he quickly found his normal hiding place. He has since come out, looks fine and is eating well and acting normal. I figure I'm lucky enough to own "one tough fish." My question(s)- Is it normal for a fish to be able to survive 2hrs out of the water? Is there anything I can or should do to for the trigger? <Well Yes and no. Triggers are notorious for their incredible survival. It is not normal in my experience for fish to live for so long outside of water, However the coral might have had water in it etc, it does not matter, the fish is alive and eating. All you can do for it is to give it time, Its stressed some, but the eating is a great sign that it is doing fine. Id simply enjoy your fish and be careful while aquascaping. :) > <Justin (Jager)> 

Funky trigger question I have a orange tail trigger fish and seems that it scratched it self on   both sides. on one side it is already healing but on the other it got white and   kinda bubbly. What can I do. <Read on www.WetWebMedia.com re trigger disease/health. Bob Fenner> Trigger Tank size

HI, <Hi Paul, MacL here tonight> first off let me say that you have an awesome website. <I thank you for everyone!>  I currently have a 20 gallon reef tank, but I am fascinated with triggerfish particularly the Clown and the Undulated.  How big of an aquarium would I ultimately need to keep ONE of this fish for it's lifetime.  I know that the Undulated does not grow to the same length as the Clown, but still grows to about 11 or so inches in captivity. <If it was only one fish I think  you could keep it in a 75 gallon. This would give it plenty of room to grow and plenty of swimming room. I have to say when I first read this though I thought about a 125 simply to see it grow to its full length. These fish can get very aggressive though.>  Thanks for your time, I really do appreciate it. Paul

- Odd Trigger Reactions - Hello Bob, <Actually, JasonC today...> I have read through the archives hoping to see if anyone else had already presented this to you, but unfortunately I didn't see it.  I have a (13-15 inches without lyres on tail) large Queen Trigger in a 135g by herself.  She gets a good varied diet (shrimp, scallop, squid, smelt, catfish, trigger formula and occasional lobster tail).  She is doing well, and handles captivity well (she was imported as a large fish and can still be flighty)  I have had her for about 8 months.  The problem is when I do a water change.  I use Instant Ocean, mixed well (used Stress Coat).  No problem during the water change (not afraid of the Hydro clean tube, swimming about in a curiously) but the next morning she's locked up (trigger erect) hiding in the corner or behind a large rock.  If she free swims she acts likes she's blind, swimming in circles, biting at the surface.  Her color stays well, no stress patterns.  I feel bad and don't want to stress her, but I have to do a water changes.  I've tried small successive changes, larger infrequent changes, no difference.  I mix my salt water in Instant Ocean 200 gal mix buckets (never used for anything other than water changes) and use my Eheim Hobby pump to return it to the tank. <Probably a few things to examine here - what is source water? Is pH of newly mixed water same as the tank? Salinity identical? Temperature? Any of these things or a combination could cause the reaction you describe.> 2-3 days later she swims like all is well, back to eating like a hog and ruling the roost.  I don't get it. <Well, the corollary between the water change and the behavior leaves little to question as to 'what' causes the problem. The real question is why... what is different about your water changes - could it be the stress coat? Anything else you add to the water that you didn't list? You must be the detective here. Cheers, J -- >

Acrobatic Trigger!  (8-20-03) I just noticed my Picasso trigger started spinning in the tank.  He'll just turn upside down and then right-side again, doing 1 full rotation, then he'll swim around and seem normal and then do it again.  He certainly seems healthy and the motion is definitely intended by him (I can see him working to do it).  Is this normal?  I've had him for about 9 months and never seen it before.<If he is doing on purpose he ok.  These guys are kind of like the family dog and he is performing tricks for you.> This is probably one of those stupid emails from overly concerned owners, but I just want to be sure - he's a great fish.<Not a stupid question at all.  Cody>

Trigger compatibility >I've been thinking about adding a Humu trigger. >>Ok. >First, is a 55 gallon tank with lots of live rock big enough for a trigger? >>No. >Will the trigger nip/kill my bubble tip anemone host to a pair of maroon clowns? >>Undoubtedly yes. >And finally, will it harass my two sand stars? >>Sand-sifting?  Maybe, maybe not.  Depends on whether or not it can see them.  Hope this helps!  Marina

Re: Triggers Hello Mr. Fenner, <Howdy> A quick question...my Niger Trigger has taken to spending unusually large amount of time swimming into the water column generated by one of my powerheads.  These guys can be on the odd side i know, but this behavior doesn't strike me as normal.  I have two powerheads going and a good Remora skimmer running so i would think there is enough O2 for him....any advice? He otherwise looks and acts just fine.  Again, many thanks for all your kind help! Michael <It might be boredom... but then again may be your trigger is reacting to its own reflection. Do try covering the panel where it's transiting up and down with dark paper for a few days. Please see here re others similar experiences: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/faqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Odonus niger trigger behavior I have recently acquired a this trigger he is about 3 1/2 " long and unless he is eating he is constantly swimming against the left side of my 125 gal tank  or resting in the same corner he seems very healthy otherwise any ideas ? thanks <Yes. Very likely this specimen is reacting to its own reflection... try covering this panel with a sheet of dark paper (you can likely remove it some weeks later). Do you have other fishes in the same system? I would add some to keep the trigger company. Bob Fenner>

The Trigger Is A Digger! To the crew at WWM: <Scott F. here tonight> I am once again in need of your ultimate knowledge. I actually have 2 questions. 1) I recently added a deep sand bed to my 110gal fish only tank. I previously had 1/2" of crushed coral which I removed and added a mixture of about 5" of CaribSea's special grade and pink sand. <Sounds nice!> My problem is I have a crosshatch triggerfish that seems to want to dig out one corner of the sand leaving about 1" on the bottom and 8" in the surrounding area. No matter how many times I re-level the sand he digs it out again. If it would not be detrimental, I was thinking of leaving the corner dug out the way it is and just level out that small mountain he created. I was just concerned about having a too deep of a sand bed throughout the rest of the tank, maybe 6-7" or so. I don't think it would make a difference if one corner is not going to have a deep sand bed but the rest of the tank does. Wanted to know what your thoughts were. <I've experienced the same annoying phenomenon with a percula clownfish. No matter what you do-the fish will do his own decorating! Triggers (even the Crosshatch) are notorious for this behaviour! I have never had any problems as a result of this excavation. As long as the entire sand bed is not dug up, you should not experience any problems, IMO> My 2nd question has to do with my Volitans lionfish which has been in the tank for 2 years. Over the last couple of weeks he has developed some type of growth or "lump" on his bottom lip. He seems fine otherwise with no change in his routine. The lump is about the size of a small pea. I thought it may have developed as a result of rubbing against the front glass (he's always out in front). Just wondering if you guys have encountered this before. <Lumps like this can be anything from an encysted parasite to cancerous growth, or even scar tissue (although that's unlikely here). I'd keep a close eye on this growth to make sure that it doesn't increase in size or appearance, or interfere with the fish's eating or breathing. Perhaps freshwater dips may help, if it is a parasite of some sort...Really hard to tell from here. DO search the disease FAQs on wetwebmedia.com for positive ID of this condition.> I thank you for giving up your valuable time to help myself and countless others. With much appreciation, Gene <And thank YOU, Gene- for sharing your experiences with others! Good luck to you! Regards, Scott F>

Quick Picasso Trigger Question I have a quick question. I have a small (3") Volitans Lionfish. I want to purchase a small Picasso. Will there be a problem with the Trigger nipping at the Lion's fins. <Yes, likely.> I know the long flowing fins can be attractive. Thanks for the time, Chris <Have a nice weekend! -Steven Pro>

Damsels, Stocking Question I was wondering if I could have 4 damsels in a 72 gallon aquarium with a Picasso trigger and 2 tangs. Deanne <Well, Deanne-it depends upon the size and species of the damsels, and-for that matter, the size of the tangs and trigger. Damsels can usually take care of themselves, but if you have a large trigger, they could potentially be meal items! Conversely, the damsels could harass young tangs and cause them undue stress. Check out this link: wetwebmedia.com/stocking1.htm for more information about compatibility and stocking of marine fish. Hope this helps! Scott F.>

Hiding Trigger (Crouching Balistid) Bob, Once again I call on you in a time of my aquatic needs. My tank is a 55 gallon that has been happy and healthy for quite some time (about two years). The levels are all good. I have a Porcupine Puffer, Bird Wrasse, Koran Angel, and a Niger Trigger. After a water change about 3 weeks ago, the Trigger went into hiding and comes out very rarely and only for a few seconds when he does. He seems to be a bit off balanced when he comes out and when another fish swims by, he goes back to his cave. The other fish are all healthy. Any ideas? <More likely than not he's hiding due to your doing something he can't do... akin to folks establishing pecking order with their dogs... You are/were the "god from above" who could stick your hands into its previous domain... and move things about! In time, this fish will become re-dominant, more assertive. Bob Fenner> Thanking you in advance for your help, Ben Ventura

New FOWLR 80g hex <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> I want to have at least a couple of triggers and planned to put I about 100lb live rock. <<No mention of tank size?>> I am so confused on whether to go with a true wet/dry with Bio-balls or an Eheim pro or even a refugium with plants... what do you think I really need. <<I think you need to research some more. A wet/dry would suit a system like this pretty well, but you would be challenged to keep the nitrates lower than extreme. Personally, I'd run a big protein skimmer and perhaps a refugium. Start your research here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm >> Also, what UV would you recommend ? <<None - much better to invest that money into additional tanks, etc for a quarantine system. Can avoid many of the problems that a UV would only scratch the surface of with good quarantine practices. Here's a link you might find helpful: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm >> Thanks <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: New FOWLR 80g hex Greetings, JasonC here... I just wanted to let you know that I completely missed the subject of your email when I asked about tank size. I was reviewing my answers/making sure I didn't misspell too many things and I noticed my bone-head maneuver. My apologies... 100# of live rock would be just fine for this system. Cheers, J -- 

Re: trigger sites yes, I have been reading your site and it is great! Just was wondering if there's any more. Thanks!! <None that I'm aware of... other than the materials listed on the bibliographies on the site. If you find some good links, info. pls send it along. Have you considered doing a search as in: http://wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm I would. Bob Fenner>

5 years in marine now new tank troubles Hi Bob, I know you probably get tons of emails. <Not that many. Electrons don't weigh much anyhow> I have combed the web, read most all of the WetWebMedia site, but an very worried about the cause and riddance of a persistent problem. Some background first. I have a Reef Aquarium for the last 5 years, I would not consider myself a beginner, but the problem I will get to shortly has me re-thinking my knowledge. My reef tank is 125g with a 35g sump. I have many corals, some hard to keep that are flourishing. I don't have many fish about 9 in this tank. Most I have had for 5 years, and none have even been sick (touch wood). I have a hippo (pacific blue) tang, yellow tang, Percula clown, Pseudochromis porphyreus, royal Gramma, flame angel, arc-eye Hawkfish. I even waited three year to add a dragonet to ensure they was plenty built up to eat, he is doing great. So here's the problem, I now have a home office... what a great time to put in a second tank, I've always wanted a predator tank. I bought a small 40 gallon curved front, put in 44-60lbs live rock 30 lbs reef rock (that I let sit in my reef sump for a week) and 1- 1/2" aragonite, Prizm skimmer, and power head. I let the tank sit for two weeks only as I salted the sand with about 10-15lbs from my reef tank. I added a few mushrooms and polyps from my reef and they are doing well. Then I bought three fish, and put them in all at the same time (never again). 1-yellow longnose butterfly, 1-spotbanded butterfly, and 1-clown trigger (also a small blood shrimp and a few hermit crabs). <Yikes... this mix... all at once... in a forty gallon system? Who got eaten, died first?> They all ate fine for a few days then the longnose developed what I believe was Cryptocaryon ( I believe he brought whatever this is into my tank). Due to my never have seen this I was slow, and this disease moved fast, the next day all were infected, the longnose stopped eating and died that day. The next day the second butterfly went and the clown trigger stopped eating. They were all dead in three days maximum. So I spent the next week reading, reading, reading. I dropped the salinity and raised the temperature on the empty tank (except for the shrimp and crabs) and left it alone for 32 days. In the mean time I purchased a hospital tank, and bought a blue chin Trigger. I really fattened him up with three daily feeding to ensure he was strong. After he had been in the hospital tanks for two weeks, and showed no signs of illness, I added him to the 40g. I then purchased another clown, and in the hospital he went. He was added in after two weeks and they were both great. After one month, I saw spots on the clown. This time I moved, and bought Kent RXP and in it went. Within two days all was fine no spots fish eating Great!! (I continued to use it for the full term) after the 14 days all still seemed fine, and stayed that way for maybe two weeks. Then I noticed a dusting on the top of the clown, and the next day could see the spots on his upper body. My shrimp was actively cleaning him and I added RXP immediately. This time things got worse much quicker like the first time, he was badly covered in two-three days even with the use of RXP. So after reading your suggestions, (btw at this point the blue chin had showed just a few spots) I gave them a three minute fresh water bath, moved them into the hospital tank, lowered the salinity, and started a copper treatment. By this time the clown had blotches on him that I assume was a secondary infection, and the blue chin looked not bad. The clown trigger died after one and a half days, and the blue chin is somehow still holding on (he looks like he has blotches but no spots-secondary infection?). I hope I have caught him in time, but he will not eat. So finally here is my question. I am really discouraged, I feel it is my responsibility to ensure that the fish have a good environment to keep them happy/healthy. To have killed these fish is very upsetting. What would you suggest, for the 40g? Do I leave the tank empty for two months, I don't want to kill the live rock with copper, but I don't want whatever is in this task to strike again.  <Leave it w/o fishes for the two months, lowered spg, elevated temperature... in the meanwhile develop a "mini-predator" stocking list (no Triggers in a forty) and stock one at a time (most easygoing to least)> I now purchased a 90 Gallon tank, I think the 40 was too small.  <Yes, the size was a large impediment to success> I will let the 90 settle for a while before thinking to add any livestock. I want this to be mainly a fish only with a few mushroom, polyps but I would like to add maybe two triggers, and Angel (Koran), a wrasse and possibly a lion to the 90g. It has 50lbs reef rock, 75lbs live rock and aragonite seed again from my reef. I have been sure to not let anything that touched the 40 get near my 90g or my 125g reef. <Mmm, make those triggers smaller species and start them small. The Koran should go in first.> Thanks for your time...Larry Pyykko <Thank you for writing, relating your experiences. You are on a "right" path, understanding much of the situation. Bob Fenner>

Re: 5 years in marine now new tank troubles Thank for the reply, ...If you can believe this the Blue chin trigger is still holding on, no spots, but I believe secondary infection (blotches at least two 1/4" size) might do him in. Copper is remaining at 0.15 to 0.20 and I'll keep it that way for the full 10 days...if he lasts. It's been 5 days and he still won't eat but he is 5" long and I had really fattened him up so I hope that he can fight this thing and recover. I will take your advise and go very slow in the 90g. The forty is too small for me so I'll sell it with live rock and all, but I'll make sure the person who buys it keeps very small fish and few so they don't go through the mess I caused. <A good plan> One final note you asked who got eaten first in my overstocked forty. If you can believe this, due to the shrimp being first, then the Butterflies, then the trigger, they all got along fine. Then never fought, they would swim together, maybe the Clown trigger was not big enough he was about 4" long. That was why I was so upset everything was great except for the Cryptocaryon. <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner> Larry

Species Identifications (unknown trigger juveniles) To Mr. Fenner, I have just acquired two small (3-5 inches) triggerfish. The pet shop owner said that they came in as Ocean Triggerfish from the Pacific. Looking at your site I was trying to identify them. I can not tell if they are the Finescale Triggerfish (Balistes polylepis) or if they are the Stone Triggerfish (Pseudobalistes naufragium). <Not likely either one of these, esp. the last... rare. More likely juveniles of the worldwide Canthidermis maculatus. Check the description, pic on WetWebMedia.com and more on FishBase.org> I was hoping that you might be able to provide me with a good way to tell which of these I have. Is there certain distinguishing marks that juveniles will have on one or the other aforementioned fish that I can look for. <Some species are distinctive as juveniles> Short of sending you a picture here is a brief description of the fish: Has a body similar to the queen trigger however, the forehead is more defined, almost like it sticks up a little before rounding down to the mouth that has a black line over the upper lip and a white line around the bottom lip. The body has 4 vertical black lines that overlay a pale brownish/gray body. The first line is right behind the gill plate the second about half way through the body. The third runs from the back of the dorsal fin to the back of the anal fin and the last one is right before the caudal peduncle. The tale has a full lunette feature where the top and bottom part of the tale extend further then the center. Last, the body is also covered in light blue lines that are similar to a Blue Line Trigger (p. fuscus) but not as pronounced as in the P. fuscus. Any help in identifying these fish would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and have a great day Mike Striegel <Curious... for specimens this size... if these fish were much smaller (like half) I'd guess they were juvenile Balistes vetula... Do please try to send along images. Bob Fenner>

Triggerfish Behavior Hello Rob, Your site is very informative, I've really enjoyed reading peoples experiences with triggerfish (my favorite marine species) I live in Sydney Austra lia and fortunately many varieties are available from the LFS. I currently y own an Odonus Niger about 4inch(for some reason these fish are called queen triggers in Australia) <Interesting> I've owned him for a year now and love his character, behavior, colour even more so than some of the more popular triggers. I am aware that in the wild triggerfish are known to have the ability to fire jets of water, I thought this was limited to under water, but recently my trigger has learnt a new trick. When I open the tank lid and not before) in his excitements eat , he spits water out of the tank with such force that it flies up several feet in the air! He seems to be doing it at every feed now good party trick) I was wondering if you or your readers had experienced this behavior? <Never seen one able to spit so far... but have seen, heard of many times> I have previously owned the freshwater Oscar who displayed similar antics, he enjoyed a ping pong ball in his tank to play with. This is my first marine tank so I decided to attempt a fish only setup with live rock, I was advised to use a Jaubert style plenum as a natural nitrate removal. Seems excellent no detectable nitrate, what are your opinion s on the long term efficiency of such a setup? <Workable strategy... but does require some adjustment, and best to do as they do in Monaco... make very frequent partial water changes... Water is dripped into their "Jaubert" systems continuously> Thanks for your time and for providing such a great resource of info for fishkeepers world wide. Bye now. <Looking forward this March to getting on out to your country to dive, make photos... Possibly Whitsundays. Bob Fenner>

Re: Information on breeding triggers and tangs Thanks for your advice about my clowns. They're getting along fine, as long as I keep them fed good, and my anemone has found a comfortable new crevasse to hide it's foot in. (My LFS told me they'd like sand or glass... maybe I was misled.) The system is very healthy and I'm sure the conditions are OK for spawning, aside from "privacy" per species, which I can eventually accomplish with a custom made divider. However, my long term goal is to breed Pygmy Angels, Tangs, Triggers.  <Wow... Tangs and Triggers take a bunch of room, conditioning... much preparation for rearing/feeding their young> Any suggested reading on this, these? (Not, necessarily just 'captive' reading material but reproduction in the wild, also.) <Posted as Bibliography/Further Reading after the many articles placed on our principal site: www.WetWebMedia.com  In addition, you would do well to become familiar with computer-searched bibliographic work: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm I worked on my MSc on hormonal manipulation of mullets as aquacultural techniques... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Rob Dean

The triggers that hide no longer!!! Bob, Funny thing happened this morning! <Funny "ha ha", "unusual" or some other sense?> IF you remember I had wrote to regarding the 3 triggers that were in constant hiding...Well they are hiding no longer. I turned on my lighting this morning and went to have breakfast, after about an hour or so I came back to take a look. Wow they have pulled the heater off the glass and pulled my flow adjuster off of my powerhead... What a rapid change in personality... I did by the way try your damsel suggestion, and I believe this brought them out of hiding...so I guess my torn apart tank is your doing!!! ;-) Ryan <Mmm, don't expect me to come over and referee these triggers! Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Trigger Fish??? Robert, I have 1 Huma Huma, 1 niger, & 1 undulated and they all seem to be very shy after 2-3 days in the tank they come out to eat and then retreat to there individual spaces in the rocks. They are all 3-4 inches in length and I assume that they would have been out wreaking havoc by now! So am I doing something wrong tank temp is 77-78, salt readings are 1.022 and water is crystal clear. Any suggestions? Sincerely Ryan Petersen <Not to worry... very typical behavior for these species... this setting. They'll be out, moving sand and small rock about, eating all the food you can likely afford and more... in a few days to a couple of weeks. If you'd like to "speed things up" you can try adding a very tough damsel species like a three-spot (Dascyllus trimaculatus) as a "dither-fish". Will be adding your input here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/TriggerFAQs.htm Bob Fenner>

Triggerfish dear rob i have a couple questions to ask you about triggers. is it possible to keep a clown and an undulate if i have a big enough tank and if so what size should it be?? i am already looking at 100-125. <Yes, these two species of Triggerfishes can be kept together. Have seen them so in captivity, even the wild. When small to tiny a few tens of gallons might suffice, as mid-aquarium size (let's say six and four inches respectively), maybe a hundred and fifty to two hundred and forty gallons. At full size for captives a few times this.> i have another question about the sump i am building with my 55g. since it is a large tank and the main tank would just have triggers and live rock would it be a good idea to build a refugium as part of the sump?? <Yes, certainly. Bob Fenner> thanks again, slowburn

Triggers etc. Bob, I would like to set up a aquarium with mainly triggers and puffers...etc I was just wondering what you might suggest for the following parameters - Tank Size 70-90 gal? <The bigger the better... for sure> To sump or not to sump? <I would... once again, the bigger...> Refugium? <For part of the sump or in addition, sure> Deep Sand Bed? <Good idea... see above> High Powered light? <Not necessary, would go with 2,3 watts of compact fluorescents per gallon> Live rock/Coral Skeletons/Live Coral <All the above> Aragonite/crushed coral (fine vs. coarse)? <More coarse than fine... easier to keep clean, vacuum, less dusty from your fishes moving it around... they will> Mechanical and Chemical filtration skimmer? <A big skimmer... oversize by at least twice> Thanks so very much, and I LOVE your site. <Thank you for making my midday! Bob Fenner> Thanks Bob Macintyre

raccoon/trigger compatibility Is the raccoon b/f the best bet among the butterflies as far as holding its own against triggers? <Certainly one of them> I've got unusually docile (and small) Picasso and niger triggers, but I know they might not stay that way forever. Is adding a raccoon to this 75 gallon system a bad idea? <IMO/E yes. Too small a system, too eager fellow tankmates at mealtimes... would you like to have to eat while living in a smallish box with several times-your-size animals (let's say several hundred pound Hyenas) using no-hands? What about sleepy time? Bob Fenner> Thanks

Re: Trigger/Butterfly compatibility Hi Bob!  <Sorry to say I ain't Bob, (well, not THAT sorry) - but anyway, he's somewhere in Asia, almost certainly underwater...> Can you suggest a particular species or two of butterfly that would have a decent shot of holding its own as against my 3" Picasso trigger and 3" niger trigger? The tank is a 75 FOWLR, and one more addition will make it fully-stocked. Perhaps I should look elsewhere for a tank-mate? <Ungh. About the only butterfly that has a chance with these young monsters is an adult Raccoon - and the Raccoon should've gone in first. Note that the Picasso and Niger will outgrow your 75 gallon tank between the two of them, within about 18 months. Then they will probably kill each other. Adding a 6+ inch Butterfly will accelerate this greatly... I think a mid-sized hawkfish might be a better choice, like a speckled hawk, maybe falco, etc. Either way, your tank is too small for both triggers, in the long run. > Thanks, Joe <Sorry to be so glum about it, nonetheless, you're quite welcome  -Lorenzo>

Trigger fish Hi Bob, I have my first tank up and going for about 4 months and am already planning my second larger tank! <Yikes, escape this addiction while you're young! Just kidding.> For this second tank I want to keep a Niger trigger and Huma trigger. What size tank should I get?  <The bigger the better... A hundred gallon minimum> I would like this to be there permanent home. I have been told that a 55g would be fine at the LFS, but suspect that this may be somewhat small. Morgan <It is my friend. Please take a read through the "Trigger" sections, especially the FAQs stored on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Triggerfish compatibility time-bomb? I have a 25g tank with 20 lbs. of live rock, protein skimmer, 2 powerheads, etc. Currently nothing in the tank. I have the chance to inherit a 2 inch Huma Huma trigger. I know this would be a very small system for him and plan to upgrade to a 75 gallon in about 6 months. Can I keep him "happy" for the next several months till I can upgrade? Also, are there any inverts, gobies I can keep with him to help control the wastes? <Likely yes on the time frame (don't feed much...) and no on the invertebrates... though a small goby might do well, be good company. Bob Fenner> TJ Morgan

Clown question Hello Mr. Fenner, <Hello there> I have a question regarding my Clown trigger(5") and my Huma (2"). After feeding my clown will lay down on the bottom of the tank and the lil Huma will rub up against him, or rather, all over him. There is absolutely no hostility between the two. They will also do this at other times and also while swimming about. At times it seems the Huma is "kissing" all over the Clown. What are they doing? <"Associating"> Are they just buddies? If I am to separate them, would they become depressed? <I think you might be correct> I know these are probably some of the stupidest questions you have heard, but their antics are different than I have ever seen. <I have observed many such behaviors twixt the "advanced" (tetraodontiform) fishes... and read about many more... these fishes are very social... aware, "fun-loving"... I am not surprised at your observations.> I hope you are doing well. Thank you, Jertz <Yes my friend, thank you. Bob Fenner>

Triggered Bob - Have enjoyed reading your responses to various questions about triggers. I'm making a return to the hobby after a 14 year break and am really enjoying the enhanced access to information available via the Internet. <I as well... what a fabulous tool for making known what we have collectively, images, inspiration and discoursing... fast, cheap... very exciting> So... short story long: 14 years ago and with only the guidance of stores interested in selling me fish, I had a very successful 55 with a clown trigger, a Huma trigger, a percula clown, a couple of damsels, a blue tang, and that was about it, all the fish were roughly two inches, except for the damsels which together probably added up to two inches. I also had a large [3.5"] French angel for a while but traded him in for the clown trigger so... I also put in the odd royal Gramma and in retrospect, perhaps the fish that would tip the balance on the tank. <Yes> Anyway, the Huma was perhaps the third or fourth introduction, and the clown trigger one of the last. The clown trigger was always very shy but in general it was a very social tank - no fights. <Often the case... where "grow up" in peaceful settings...> The Huma was extraordinary... always knew when visitors were in the room - watched them move around - incredible fish that little Huma.  <Agreed, very intelligent fishes> I did keep a lobster for a short time which cut the Gramma in half, but he was too big for the triggers to become food. In fact one day I came into the room to see the clown trigger with a startled look giving the lobster a ride around the tank by the tail - lobster got a free ride back to the store. Kept the tank in harmony until I moved from FL to MA when I was forced to disband the tank. <Hmm> So 14 years later I've started a 75 and it's up and running smooth. I've been reading your responses to the tank-mate question in relation to clown triggers. I've already acquired a Huma - about 4" - quite a bit more animated than he was in the store, but he's adjusting. He's got a mini-school of blue damsels to hassle, but it's not escalated into harassment or damsel-chunks. <Good> Now the question... I had been pondering the benefits of doing a repeat of my past tank, occupant-wise [with updated filtration, etc. of course] and be happy once again. Now that I've been reading your comments, I'm having second thoughts and figured I would ask before I bought the fish rather than tell you all about it - "I've got two 6" triggers in a 30 gallon and some damsels - is that bad?" Not much to say after that except, "Doh!" <Yes...> Seriously - If I get the clown trigger small [2"] and don't overfeed... can I pull off a similar mix. Here's what I was thinking... <Maybe...> 1) couple more of the same damsels [for a total of 5] for "micro school" 2) a medium sized percula clown, maybe a pair, but maybe not, would hate to loose one half [smaller] of the pair 3) a small clown trigger 4) a lemon-peel angel 5) the random anemone for the percula <... As you know some trigger species are more "divergent" than others in their... shall we agree... "individuality"... In a seventy five... I wouldn't do this... too small a system, too great a likelihood the Clown (and less likely the Rhinecanthus) will consume the Anemone... on up...> Insane, perhaps, but at least I'm asking before I go any farther. Clown triggers sure are pretty, but so it the Huma. <Yes...> I also noticed you mentioned "entertaining/stimulating" the triggers to keep them happy. I'd love to hear more or perhaps a URL. <Hmm, wish I had one to offer... perhaps you can assemble such anecdotes, post your speculations in an aquarium article for alls edification... FAMA would likely run this...> I'm really enjoying my new Huma - any way to sex them? <Not externally as far as I'm aware...> Thanks in advance - cheers. J -- <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>


Is the Ocean and Gray Trigger in the same species? Bob: Is the Ocean and Gray Trigger in the same species? Thank you in advance, Randy, Park Ranger <Hmm, not according to most references... The Ocean is Canthidermis Sufflamen and the Gray Balistes carolinensis... both listed by their genera on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Triggerfish mixing I have a Huma trigger that is about 2" long and the pet store has a Huma that is about 3"-4" long. Will they fight if I have both in a 65 gal. If so, how bad? <Hmm, they might get along now... I'd bet about fifty fifty chances... but when a bit older, larger they will be fighting tremendously... territorial... not a good thing. Bob Fenner>

Triggers, Killer Puffers I went to the LFS and seen a BlueLine trigger about 4-5 inches he has been there for about a month and he has these like fading spots on the side of him that you can only see at a certain angle i was wanting to get him but i don't know if he is sick or not also in my tank i have a stars and stripes puffer 6 inches a blue throat trigger about 7inches and an assasi trigger that is 3-4 inches this is in a 125 gallon tank. I know the BlueLine trigger is as mean as a queen trigger.  <Not in my experience... but not a consistently tempered species> How long could i keep these fish in this tank before i need a bigger one. <Maybe a year or two> Do you think the nitrates would go down a lot more if I add in live rock first i have about 65 pounds and i still want to add another 140 pounds would that keep the nitrates low.  <Yes, this would help> One more question i have high nitrates now will that affect my fish every thing is were it is supposed to be except for the nitrates. <Hmm, the "high" concentration of nitrates indicates other metabolite build-up as well... scatols, phenols, much more that hobbyists don't test for... Good skimming, regular water changes, enhanced denitrification, good aeration... use of ozone, ultraviolet sterilizers... induced photosynthesis... many things can be done to strike a balance lower> I have seen a lot of other people that can keep more than one puffer together but i have tried about every single kind of puffer available but my puffer still fights with them I had my puffer and a golden that was triple the size of mine and mine was still fighting with it do i just need a bigger tank to have more then one or will i just never be able to put more then one puffer.  <Perhaps... some individuals are more "aggressive" than others... you may have one that is too "mean" to keep with others... I would place it after other(s) have become established in the larger/new system> I have had Burrfish and porcupine puffers work but i don't want anymore of them because they don't really last very long in my tank. <Do also try confining this "bully" if/when introducing other fishes... maybe by floating it in a large plastic colander for a few days. Bob Fenner>

Trigger trauma Hello Bob, and thank you for your help in the past. I had a friend leave town about two months ago, so I inherited his collection of triggerfish! <What a gift!> He had a 180 gallon aquarium, and I only have an 80. The fish are all healthy and eating, and there is absolutely no aggression between any of the fish after two months. My question is whether things will work out in the long run, or if I am headed for trouble. Here is what I have in my 80 gallon tank: one 6 inch niger trigger one 5 inch Picasso trigger one 5 inch clown trigger one 4 inch undulated trigger one 2 inch white tail trigger one 1 inch domino damsel one 1 inch three stripe damsel Do you think this is too much? Thanks for your help! <Yes, too much of even a good thing is too much... this system (and even the 180 they came from) is too small psychologically for this collection, let alone the messiness of these big eaters/defecators... I would start saving up for a much larger system and/or making plans to trade some, all of these fishes in... Bob Fenner who does NOT want to be reincarnated as one of the damsels in this group!>

Re: trigger trauma Thanks. I will start saving my meager income for a larger tank... -Eric <Ah, good plan. You and your Triggers will be much happier. Bob Fenner>

water and everything is fine. All other fish are fine. I thought maybe just old age and didn't expect him to live long. The next day (yesterday) he was still breathing, laying on the bottom of the tank. I put a fresh oyster on

Hey, I have a question. My clown trigger in a 29 gallon tank , always when i  walk in he is hiding in between 2 rocks. I know it is probably not that big  of a deal but would there be a problem with that. thank you >> In all likelihood it is "pulling your leg" (honestly). This is a very intelligent, and personable fish (as fishes go!)... and quickly learns to do whatever gets its owner(s) attention... Like a squawking parrot? Feed it piece by piece... by hand (watch your fingers) and it will soon be following you about (in the tank!) Bob Fenner

I have a marine tank, 2 months old, with a lot of brown algae, I also have a  Huma trigger fish, does that stop me from using a cleanup crew? Since trigger  fishes are not compatible with invertebrates. Also as a new aquarist, I am  often confused between a reef tank and a marine tank and variations thereof.  Could you please elaborate. Thanks. >> The first query: yes to most species, specimens of triggers happily munching hermits and snails... but you might try them in your situation... as the Huma is about the best species to "trust"... Hmm, the tank type question sort of reminds of me the "All newts are salamanders, but not all salamanders are newts" classification argument. Let's see. All the following ARE marine tanks/set-ups... by definition, they contain saltwater and marine types of life. If the system has "just fish" in it... it's called a Fish Only (FO) system... but, and here's where the confusion comes in, it may have elements of "higher" types of marine systems, more specialized, components... like intense, full-spectrum lighting, better filtration, live rock/sand...  Next in this scheme might come the Fish and Invertebrate marine system... once again, not necessarily w/o "reef accoutrements", but housing fishes and non fishes... but excluding such organisms as live corals, sea fans, sponges... that require: Reef gear. The lighting, filtration previously mentioned... and possibly much more.  So, according to the world of pet-fish Bob, marine systems are defined more by what they house than the gear employed.... though many folks would instead emphasize the need for increasing water quality, the types of equipment employed. Bob Fenner

Hey Bob quick question, can you have triggerfish with a clam or some  starfish? I know triggerfish don't do good with inverts., but I would like to  know this. Thanks >> Not really... I mean, there are some triggerfishes that as species and individual specimens are "more mellow" than others (what an understatement!)... but how much are you and I going to trust them... ongoing? Ultimately, triggers are independent, unpredictable predators... Bob Fenner

Triggers is there any scavengers safe with triggers. David  >> Not really... some fishes can help (large, smart, fast wrasses let's say), by keeping the bottom stirred up... while your vigorous filters and pumps are doing their best... but crabs, shrimps, snails, urchins, seastars... are all playthings to lunch. Bob Fenner

I have been a hobbyist for quite sometime although my knowledge of salt  aquariums is apparently not as strong as I would like. I have a 55 gallon  long tank which has been set up for a good 9 months, I have no problems with  fish dying off, however, I put a Niger Triggerfish in my tank which is  beautiful, he does nothing to the damsels that were in the tank before but  every time I introduce a new fish, he treats it like brine shrimp. I would  like to put a banded cat shark in the tank or perhaps an eel, is there anyway  to keep peace? If not what fish can I put in that would be compatible with  this 3" Niger Triggerfish? >> Well, my knowledge of all things is more scant than I'd like. The impromptu feeding exercise you relate is all too common... and will be repeated with most anything living or not you place into "its" domain. I'd rule out the banded catshark entirely, as they are a poor choice period (though one of the best shark choices), requiring a dedicated set-up... really. An eel might go, but I would take the trigger out first (put it in your quarantine/hospital tank?) for a good week or two while the eel gets its "fins". There are other fishes to consider, but the list is quite long... and you should be making it... with help from surveying your choices in books, magazines, rapport with fellow hobbyists. Bob Fenner

Hi Bob, I have a 30 Gallon tank with 2 triggers (Clown and Blueline) and I  just bought some live rock. Would you know of any anemone that they would  not eat to add some to my tank? Or would they eat anything? Thank you >> If any, I'd try a less tasty, and least expensive Condylactis... first. Even though they're from different oceans, I'd test the triggers on a Condy... and if they don't eat it in a very short while... the next "giant" anemone species I'd try (because it's about the hardiest) is a Bubble Tip (Entacmaea quadricolor)... but, you know what I'm about to say... they might well decide to tear them up at any time... out of boredom, curiosity... Bob Fenner

Triggerfish/Anemone Snacks, Scavengers will a trigger fish eat a anemone. Also what can i put in the tank that will scavenge on the bottom without been eating? David >> Yes! And put in with a trigger w/o being taste-tested? How about your hand with an algae sponge and gravel vacuum... and with your eyes open! Bob Fenner

Cleaner Uppers for a Trigger Tank I recently got a Huma Huma trigger and want to put a few detritivores in with him. I have a 30G and about 45lb. or live rock what would you suggest? >> Actually, the only "safe" (that is, for sure not going to become an expensive meal) detritivore to use is none... just to do the vacuuming, algae removal by hand (yours). My next choice would be one or more type of urchins... (make sure and place them mouth side down to start... Hermits, other crabs and snails and starfishes are likely to get munched. Ditto for "sand sifting" fishes. However a larger wrasse species, like a hogfish (genus Bodianus) might be tough and smart enough to avoid the trigger and help keep the bottom stirred up... If it were me, I'd put the money into another outside power filter... Bob Fenner

Question: I wanted to ask you about a curious behavior exhibited by my Picasso trigger. It's still a juvenile, about 3 inches long. In between his roaming and foraging, he goes through stretches where he continuously rubs himself against rocks and ornaments. Yet, he does not appear ill--his appetite is characteristically voracious and his fins are clear, intact, and free of spots or discoloration. He has been doing this almost the whole time I have had him (about 3 months, now). When I first noticed the behavior, i gave him a formalin bath, thinking he was harboring parasites. But, as I said, he doesn't appear sick. Is this of any significance, or is this just some idiosyncratic behavior on the part of the fish? Bob's Answer: Hey Phil, good to hear from you as always. Yes, I think your evaluation is accurate. The "higher" Orders of living fishes do in my estimation exhibit quite a bit of idiosyncratic behavior. I do suspect that Triggerfishes blowing, scraping, rubbing et al. activities have some sorts of adaptive significance... most likely having to do with food gathering (or maybe acting "crazy" scares off would-be predators!). Anyhow, I wouldn't fret, nor dip the specimen any more; it's probably fine.

Question: Can angels and triggers live in a reef tank without destroying everything? Bob's Answer: Cory, some triggers and angels, as species AND individuals do leave "well enough alone" in different types of reef systems. Obviously all live together in the wild, so my question goes back to you: What makes the difference in captive confines whether there is over-predation, aberrant behavior (maybe) resulting in damage to other organisms...? What do you think? There are species of both families of fishes that historically work out much better. The very smallest of the dwarf (genus Centropyge) angels, and some of the more "easy-going" balistids, like those of the genus Sufflamen. What other key livestock do you want to keep? This will help you to sort out the other "fishy" livestock per it's likelihood of munching on it.

Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection &Care

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