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FAQs about Triggerfish Behavior

Related Articles: Triggerfish, Red Sea Triggerfishes

Related FAQs: Triggerfish Selection 1, Triggerfishes, Triggerfish: Identification, Selection, Compatibility, Systems, Feeding, Diseases, Reproduction, Marine Livestocking

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Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection &Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Triggerfish growth rate      11/6/17
Hello, this is Jinoo Kim. I have 2 juvenile triggerfish in my 29 gallon refugium. I want to grow them out before they get to the main display so they don't get eaten by the bigger fish in there. I have a Black Durgon Triggerfish and a Red Sea Niger Triggerfish (aka pink tail niger triggerfish). How fast do these guys grow?
<Mmm; not quickly... a couple inches per year, perhaps three if pushed>
Right now they're about 3 inches and I want them to be at least 6 inches so they don't get destroyed by the
other predator fish. Thank you.
Jinoo Kim
<I'd count on a year plus here. Bob Fenner>

Trigger behavior question       1/4/15
I have a blue-jaw trigger that behaves normally most of the time.
Periodically, he goes to the surface, sticks his head out, and bobs up and down. He seems fine otherwise. Any ideas why? I have searched everywhere online. Thank you for your time. I am very curious about his behavior.
Dusty Goucher, DVM
<Hi Dusty. This doesn't sound all that unusual, triggers are full of character and have pretty distinct personalities and do a lot of this sort of thing. Maybe a food seeking behavior or interested in something he sees up there. Hard to say much else without more information. No marks on him?
Is he eating well, and what? What other inhabitants are in the system, what size is the tank, how long have you had him, how long has he done this/how often? -Earl>
Re: Trigger behavior question
> I have only had him 3 weeks. There does not seem to be any problems. He
> has behaved this way since I got him and does it 1-2 times a day. He is in
> a 55gal with a porcupine puffer, sail fin tang, and a Foxface - all of whom
> are doing fine too. No one is aggressive (or at least equally so) and there
> are no signs of damage to anyone.
> <I would just keep an eye on him (check him more than once a day). Assuming the other animals are normal, if you've ruled out any problems with the water chemistry, I would assume it's just a behavior this particular fish has, especially since it is after all pretty recently removed from its environment into a completely foreign environment with a bunch of strangers. If he doesn't seem to be gasping for air or have any buoyancy/swimming trouble I would just enjoy it as one of an array of personality quirks these guys often have. My favorite fishy family, personally.>
> Dusty Goucher, DVM

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>>

Stuck Huma- 10/25/09
Hey Crew, (whoever i get lol)Became a proud owner of a Huma Huma Trigger last night. Acclimated him for about a hour. every thing was cool, he swam around for a bit then we turned the light off...woke up in the morning and he has wedged him self into our rock work. it took me a hour to find him. i resisted the urge and didn't touch him! i moved the rock a bit and he seemed to work himself in deeper. there is a way out of the rock but im pretty sure its too small for him to get out and im not sure if these little guys have reverse. he's only about a inch and was labeled a rectangular trigger Thanks Tyler
<Hello Tyler. I remember this species, Rhinecanthus rectangulus, fondly from my university days. A very robust, reasonably tolerant species (by trigger standards, anyway). Anyway, it is in the nature of triggers to
"lock" themselves into crevices when alarmed. That's what their trigger-like dorsal fin spines are for. So, I'd not worry overmuch. He'll probably be out and about by tomorrow. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Stuck Huma- 10/25/09

Hi Again, Well he's out!!! but... now i cant find him. in another rock maybe...? don't mind him in rocks but how do i feed him if he's in a rock!
thanks Tyler
<Glad there was a happy ending. Anyway, the thing with Triggerfish is that when they're hungry, they'll make their presence known. These are NOT shy fish, and are comparable to things like Oscars and Pufferfish in their willingness to beg for food. So, for now, just let him get used to his environment. If there are any other fish in the tank, make sure they aren't bullies (you can't keep two triggers in one tank, for example). Once he's settled, offer small amounts of suitable invertebrates: krill, mysis, unshelled shrimp, shucked clams, squid, etc. depending on the size of your triggerfish. Hand-feeding is certainly doable, but given the teeth on these fish, impale the food on the end of a stick, e.g., a toothpick or stay stick. Cheers, Neale.>

Humu Trigger & Clown Trigger in 55 gallon systems. No Surprises: Trigger Compatibility\Behavior 8/4/2009
Hello Crew,
<Hi Meg.>
I will start by saying I am new to saltwater tanks and have read your site till my eyeballs want to fall out. But it is so helpful. Thank you. But anyway I have two questions to ask you.
<Fire away.>
1. I have a Humu Trigger about three to four inches long (I call him my little devil)
<An appropriate name.>
He was my second fish....Initially he was in a 55 gallon with a striped puffer, maroon striped clown, and two blue damsels.
<Ouch. Triggers need a much larger tank than this.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/triggersysfaqs.htm >
All was well until I found him eating my clown and chasing puffer(those two then decided they couldn't ever come out of hiding)...so enters second 55 gallon.
<Still too small for a trigger, even if left alone.>
I put him in with a Diana hog wrasse, powder brown tang, and dwarf lion.
<This will not end well.>

All was well until ich hit....recovered but lost tang.
<Ahh... Quarantine, dips and baths will keep these pests out of your system. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm  >
I wanted to add more fish so I purchased another powder brown(couldn't resist), Flame Angel(beautiful), and still had wrasse and one blue damsel.
That was 1 month ago.
<I've already said it, but that is too many fish for a 55 gallon, especially with a trigger that will grow to just over a foot in length.>

Flame and Tang timid at first but in the last week came around. Triggy (his name) responded well....until today. I came out this afternoon to see Triggy eating my flame angel..literally.
<Territoriality, hunger, or just being a trigger...>

Most of the face was gone and eyes. I was horrified!! So I sadly cleaned that disaster. Well after feeding time this evening(I feed frozen krill)
<Hmm needs better food than just krill. Feeding krill all of the time is the same and you or I eating nothing but popcorn.
Http://www.wetwebmedia.com/trigfdgfaqs.htm  >
he then ate my blue damsel....they have lived together since Triggy was less than half the size..day one.
<Not surprising, unfortunately.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/triggercompfaqs.htm >
To my disbelief my "little devil" was now the enemy. He was very animated, ate out of my hand, and loved to play with small shells and search all areas of the tank. What would have made him eat everyone and can I do anything?
<A few things actually.>
I have taken him out and left wrasse and tang in the tank. I just don't know what to do. I don't want to lose him but can't afford to have him wipeout entire tanks!
<You have a couple of choices, Clearly, this is a belligerent trigger. You can purchase him a much larger tank for him, add a few tougher fish first, and he will probably make a great 'pet' fish, or you can find him a new home.>
Okay now second problem. In another 55 Gallon tank with a 6 inch clown trigger, 7 inch dog face puffer, and a domino about 3 inches, and striped damsel 2 inches.
<Terrible mix of fish for a 55 gallon tank, and dangerously overstocked.

Do realize that Clown will get up to 16 inches long, and generally have a nasty disposition.>
This is my boyfriends tank. Everything is good. Water quality, eating, etc.
For the last two months clown has been laying at the bottom of the tank not doing too much. He will make himself pale when he does this, and(prob sounds crazy) looks sad, breathing is fine.
<Likely a result of the overcrowding.>
Everyone else in tank is just fine. He still gets excited about eating and such. But just seems to lay around all day now. Now I have read numerous times on here that they can just be pulling your leg but is two months of this normal?
<No, the fish is stressed.>
He is such a beautiful fish we really don't want to lose him and he seems healthy as can be....I check them all over everyday since I am at home.
Sorry to repeat a question...it just seems a little long for this "episode". I appreciate your time and any feedback would be wonderful.
<You really need to reexamine how you are stocking these tanks. a 55 gallon will not work with these fish. I personally would not keep a trigger in a tank smaller than a 125 gallon, with a 180 or better preferred - these fish get big and mean.>
Thanks to your site I'm not always running to fish stores(some of which are not knowledgeable) Keep up the good work. I am sure I am only one of many who enjoy such an educational site! :) (didn't realize it would get this long winded! Sorry!)
<No worries.>

Reef tank - Triggerfish Behavior and Ideas for Shoaling Fish Addition - 07/15/08 Thanks for the great website! <<Thanks for using it!>> I was hoping to get a stocking suggestion as well as advice on odd fish behavior. <<Okey-dokey>> First, the tank stats: 250 gallon show tank, 50 gallon fuge, 150 gallon sump, SPS only <<Very nice>> ....will have LPS in future, Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate: 0, calcium: 400, alkalinity: 3.5, Mg: not measured. <<Okay>> SG had been consistently kept at 1.025, but we purchased a refractometer recently and realized SG was actually 1.029! <<Mmm, doesn't automatically mean it is correct…do make sure the refractometer is calibrated/accurate>> We have been gradually decreasing this with the goal of 1.025 in another week or so. The tank cycled for about a month with live rock from our established tank as well as some new rock....about 200 pounds total. Rock is arranged in two mounds with the center and sides open to allow plenty of water columns for swimming. <<Excellent>> Fish were added about four weeks ago and include a Naso tang (6 inches), Two Bar Rabbitfish (6 inches), Yellow Tang (5 inches), pair of Sebae clowns, and a Sargassum Triggerfish (5 inches). <<Neat>> All the fish had been living in our other tank for several years except the Sargassum Triggerfish, which was added at the same time as the other fish after a 10-week quarantine. <<Why so long I wonder…4 weeks should have been plenty>> The SPS (also from the old tank) has grown an amazing amount for only being in there a month. LPS, additional SPS, cleaner shrimp, peppermint shrimp, and a Mandarin Dragonet (3 inches) will be added from the old tank after the new one has stabilized a bit more. Question 1: The fish show zero aggression toward each other even during feeding time. They eat a flake diet from an automated feeder plus thawed fish/shrimp goodies several times a week. <<I very much urge you to have a look at adding New Life Spectrum pellets to this diet. This is a highly nutritious and very palatable food that all your fishes (with the possible exception of the dragonet) will enjoy and benefit from>> The Sargassum Triggerfish spends nearly all his/her time in one corner of the tank near the surface of the water swimming into the glass with his mouth. <<Hmm…>> He leaves the area to eat flake and seafood, but then returns to his spot. If we are working in the tank, he leaves his spot to come check out what we are doing. I know it's possible he is merely looking at his reflection, but I fear he is just really bored! <<A possibility I suppose…with this very intelligent family of fishes>> Crazy question, but any suggestions for entertaining an intelligent, bored triggerfish short of putting on a leash for a walk or throwing him a ball? <<In my experience, this genus of Triggerfish seems to enjoy having a "cave" to call its own to clean/maintain and from which to rest/poke it's head out and watch the world go by. Perhaps some subtle rearrangement of the rockwork is in order>> Question 2: We would like to add a small harem of 3 to 5 fish. We are looking for something pretty, non-aggressive, small (less than 4 inches), and not horribly expensive (less than $200 for 3 maybe???). <<Less than $200 for a trio!!! Now you're just being impossible… [big-grin]>> Sooo, any suggestions? <<Indeed…a species of Cardinalfish>> The only fish we could think of are Anthias or wrasses, but the Anthias all seem to be horrible keepers and the wrasse all seem to be a bit large. <<And haremic/schooling behavior form either species is not guaranteed in even a tank of a couple hundred gallons-plus, such as you have. With the fishes you have already, the very best Anthiine species for your tank would be a trio of Lyretail Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)…but these are a large species that can/will get to be a bit more than 4-inches. As for a suitable Wrasse trio, I would look to the smaller Flasher Wrasse species like the McCosker's Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus mccoskeri) or the Carpenter's Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus carpenteri)…both make for exquisite displays, though they are "jumpers">> Any other ideas for three small peaceful fish? <<Actually, I think a half-dozen Pajama Cardinals (Sphaeramia nematoptera) would be a nice addition…or for something a bit smaller, 6-10 Longspine Cardinals (Apogon leptacanthus)>> We had ranked Scott's Fairy Wrasse high on the list. <<Is a possibility…but is less likely to "get along" with conspecifics…and will get larger than 4-inches>> Thanks again for all the help! <<Happy to share>> Love reading the dailies! <<Me too!>> Michele <<EricR>>

Trigger trouble. Beh.   5/28/2008
Hey guys. I have a four or five inch trigger that I haven't seen in weeks. <Unusual... Balistids do go on occasional hunger strikes, hiding... but not for days...> he first started hiding when I got rid of my HUGE tiger cower snail which had caused the deaths of many good feather dusters due to avalanches . <Ahh! A shame> I actually thought he died for a little while. But then I caught a glimpse of him just for a moment when I walked into the room before he dashed back into the live rock and I haven't really seen him since. I have a 1.5 foot snowflake eel. A yellow tang and a little damsel that has survived somehow and they all live in a 90 gallon tank with at least 70 lb of live rock and a 30 gallon Refugium. I'm wondering why he all of a sudden hides all the time. Could It be that my nitrate levels are too high? Or is something else is out of whack? <Yes... I do agree here... have seen 'unknown' chemical changes in systems elicit these sorts of behaviors... Generally the "S.O.P." of large water change/s, spiffing up your skimmer and use of activated carbon shortens the return to normalcy with extant livestock> Thanks a lot. Mat <Bob Fenner>

Depressed Odonus Trigger - 06/29/07 Hello to all of you! I have an established 90 gallon system. My 9 year old Lipstick Tang, sadly, recently passed away. <... Sorry to realize> All that I have in the tank now are a 3" Black Trigger and a Sixline Wrasse. The Black Trigger and the Lipstick Tang were swim-mates. He enjoyed competing with her for food. All co-existed peacefully together. The Lipstick Tang was there first and was "queen". The Trigger is obviously depressed about the Tang being gone and is lonely. <Oh! Is this a Melichthys niger? Not an Odonus niger? Not really germinal to the situation...> The other day I watched him swimming back and forth, depositing small pieces of rock into the area where the Tang slept, until he had made a rocky area the size that her body was, as if he was making a grave marker for her! <Interesting> He's very protective of her spot. He eats with less enthusiasm, goes into his sleeping spot a lot, and is also chasing the Sixline Wrasse around some, though not to hurt him. I feel that's more frustration on the Trigger's part. So I feel I need to put another fish in soon. I need some advice and input on what to put in. Should it be about the same size as the Trigger? <Mmm, not able to tell...> A LFS has a Yellow Tang that's a little smaller than the Trigger, and I've also found a Lunar Wrasse, not full grown. I really don't know what to add. What are some good fish to add? <I'd choose the Zebrasoma over the Thalassoma...> I worry about the Trigger being too aggressive with a new fish and there being disastrous results. I appreciate any help. Robin <Mmm, whatever you add, do so early in the AM on a day you can be around to observe... and leave the light on overnight... Bob Fenner>
Re: Depressed Odonus Trigger 6/29/07
Hi Bob, Thanks for answering my questions and so quickly, too. I need to get clear on something you said. Do I understand you correctly that I am supposed to leave the lights ON overnight? If so, could you explain why that is. <Ah, yes... To "put off" the established fishes re the existing social dynamic, and give the newbie a chance to settle in amongst unfamiliar settings> Now I have another question if I can take up a little more of your time. At the LFS today I observed 2 Yellow Tangs (Zebrasomas). There is seaweed in the small tanks they are in. The guy there moved the seaweed out of the tanks so I could see them better. One stayed in the back of the tank and just kind of "hung out". The other one acted like it really ticked him off to have that seaweed taken out. He acted really feisty. Okay, so do you have any input on which one to choose to try to house with the Niger Trigger? Have a great July Fourth! Thanks for your help. Robin <Thank you my friend. I'd choose the "feisty" one. BobF>

Trigger Growth-Rate/Compatibility - 11/12/06 Hello to all at WWM, <<Greetings>> I just have a small query regarding triggerfish. <<Alrighty>> In your opinion, which triggers are the fastest and slowest growers? <<Hmm, good question...they "all" seem to be rather slow growers in my estimation>> You may even be able to help me out with my decisions. <<I'll try>> I am just about finished cycling my tank, it's been about 5 weeks. I'm really into the prospect of having triggers. <<I hope this is a large tank>> Could you recommend two triggers that I'm likely to have the most success keeping together? <<If this tank is 125-gallons or larger, you may have luck with Rhinecanthus species and/or Xanthichthys species.  I recommend choosing two differing species and introducing the pair (whichever you decide upon) to the tank as small specimens, and at the same time>> I only want to keep two fish and that would mean the two triggers together.  The tank has a number of sufficient hiding spots, so they both would have their own "turf".  Thank you in advance for any suggestions! Jarryd <<Quite welcome.  EricR>>

Mating of the Sargassum and Crosshatch Trigger   10/2/06 We Have a Sargassum Trigger (Which we thought to have been a male  because of the red tail.) The past week our Crosshatch has been acting  strange, digging out sand from the bottom of the tank and losing all of his  colors for about 2-5 minutes then getting it back. Today we noticed that the  Sargassum's lower stomach is huge and the opening which I believe are where  the eggs come out is dilated (white around it like tearing). Is there a  possibility that the Sargassum that we thought was a male is pregnant and  actually a female. <Yes> Can't find out much information on the Sargassum sex or how  long they carry their eggs. Please Help Penny <Need to visit a large/College library for such information (if it exists!): http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm Does read like spawning behavior... Bob Fenner>

Questionable Aquarium Service...Trying To Do What's Needed - 09/22/06 Dear Wet Web Crew, <<Hello>> My employer has a beautiful 200-gallon salt-water tank, and has a tank service that comes in and cares for this tank. <<Ok>> I have a serious lack of confidence in this company because I did a little research on your site and they have made many really bad mistakes. <<Some do yes, but doesn't mean this one is "bad".  Have you been able to talk to other/previous customers of this company?  Have they done anything to make you feel uncomfortable with their level of service?>> First, they got the chemicals wrong in the tank, which killed most of the fish. <<Ahh...I see...sounds like you may have good reason for your concerns...>> Then, when they replaced the fish, they brought us 5 crabs, a blue-throat Triggerfish, 3 assorted angelfish <<Mmm...>> (in separate bags. NOT introduced at the same time), and a pair of ocellaris (among others).  Of course, the Trigger ate the crabs immediately.  I am an administrative assistant with little/no knowledge of fish, and have been tasked with taking care of their diet, and making sure they get what they need. <<Sounds like you need to start doing some reading/researching my friend.  Google searches on our site and the NET re the species names will yield much information>> So I need a little advice from professionals that actually care about the fish.  After the initial eating of the crabs, and the disappearance of one of the smaller Angelfish (which after reading on your site I found out why <<...?>>), the blue-throat trigger has started exhibiting odd behavior.  He lies down at the bottom of the tank on his right side, and just lays very still for long periods on time. <<Maybe not all that "odd" after all.  Is there live rock in this tank? (should be if there isn't)...Does this tank have any type of decor/rock work?  These triggers will very often "rest" in a hole or crevice in the reef during the day, and definitely at night.  If the tank is not suitably aquascaped the trigger may be merely "resting" on the bottom of the tank>> He is still eating well (They get frozen shrimp, the cubed kind once a day, and Formula 2 the blue-green algae variety flakes twice daily). <<Do look in to obtaining some New Life Spectrum Marine pellets and a frozen "Angel" food formulated specifically for their care.  Feed these AND the frozen shrimp, with the flakes, twice daily>> His color has faded a bit, but he doesn't have any spot or slime on him, and he hasn't rearranged the tank in a while- he used to do that all the time.  I read one of your entries about one having similar behavior in a 20 gallon tank, and you said the tank was too small but I don't think that is the case here- the tank is 200 gallons. <<Agreed...but that doesn't mean there aren't more/other environmental factors at play here...such as water chemistry or the "design" of the tank itself>> Could he be malnourished or ill? <<Maybe...the trigger needs several small feedings of meaty foods daily.  The Spectrum pelleted food and the frozen shrimp fed at least twice a day will help.  For even better nourishment of ALL the fish, consider getting/soaking the food in Selcon and/or Vita-Chem a couple times a week>> And is there some product or variety of food I should tell my boss to get for him? <<Ah yes!...as explained>> Cordially, Jane <<I want to help Jane, do write back if you need further clarification on anything...and try to give me as much information about the system as you can (filtration/maintenance/aquascaping (or lack of), etc.).  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

Bursa triggerfish    3/27/06 I have a question for you guys, about my Bursa Triggerfish. I have had him for two days, and he is eating fine. He lays around a lot behind the rocks, and comes out every once and awhile, and then goes and hides. <To be expected...> The night I first got him he dove into a tight hole and got stuck, and I had to free him. <Can free itself> Two days later, I noticed he had a whitish film covering different areas of his body. I think it's a bacterial infection, so I have been treating with Pimafix. <Not a good idea...> I would really appreciate if you could answer this question for me. I would not like to lose this fish. <There is no question posted. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm scroll down to the Triggerfishes area. Read re their Systems (yours needs a few hundred gallons ultimately, at least sixty uncrowded right now for itself), Compatibility, Disease... Bob Fenner>

Undulated Trigger Tail Spikes   03/07/06 Our Undulated can change her tail spot from black to the same color as her body. My question is can they retract their tail-spikes? <Mmm, not much, no> I've tried to get a close look but it's hard to tell. It seems as when her tail spot is matching her body color it looks as if just the tips of the spines are out; and when it's black in color they appear longer. Thanks for the help. Coady Keough <Are a bit like the tangs of the subfamily Nasinae... with their "tangs" out all the way pretty much all the time. Bob Fenner>

Trigger Unhappy with Christmas Gift 12/30/05 We have a Niger trigger and recently (for Christmas) our daughter gave my husband a realistic "fake" anemone ("dad, you can't keep those anemones alive") for the tank.  Since the introduction of the anemone, the trigger has found a hole in a rock and seems to spend much of his time in it. Obviously he is threatened by this and we should remove it maybe, but it would devastate my daughter (she is 16).  Or is this going to be a normal thing as you have mentioned, hiding in a rock?  We could not find much info re: hiding.  Would you suggest simply moving the anemone or removing it altogether?  Maybe he will "get used" to it!!??   <<Hiding in the rock is normal for a trigger that is stressed. Be patient and the trigger should get used to the change in the tank.>> Thanks, Christie Vickers <<You're welcome - Ted>>

Trigger, Sand, and Live Rock   12/28/05 Crew,  <KC> Merry Christmas! <And to you> My question relates to the interesting behavior of my Picasso trigger.  He constantly sifts the sand, and spreads it all over my live rock.  In fact, half of my live rock is now covered completely by sand (talk about a white Christmas!). <Ah, the joys of keeping triggers.> Is this bad for the live rock?  I plan to use a power head to blow most of the sand off the rock.  But I would like to know if I need to clear the sand off my rock every day or couple days to save my rock. <I don't believe any harm will come to the rock but for aesthetic reasons I think I would blow the sand off every couple days.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks KC

HI biting triggerfish  9/19.5/05 Hello <Hi, Adam J with you tonight> On my first visit to Hawaii I was bitten on the right foot by a fish the lifeguard said it was a triggerfish, it hurt a lot and I had teeth marks. <OUCH!, sorry to hear that.> do they have teeth and how many and do they bite humans? Thanks <they do have teeth, very sharp teeth in fact, many aquarists who keep triggers in aquariums have been bitten while cleaning the tank, and they leave a mark.  I don't believe the trigger deliberately set out to attack you but it's more likely you invaded his/her territory and it was defending itself.  Being in Hawaii it could have been a few different species of trigger that attacked you, see here for info on Triggers http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/> <AdamJ>

Trigger & grouper question 8/21/05 Hi, I have had good luck with my undulate trigger with many other triggers in the tank. <Thus far...> I firmly believe that each fish is it's own self and that you cannot always judge a fish by it's species. I have a few questions, first, what is the largest undulate you've seen in a personal aquarium? <Overall length, about twelve inches> Second, starting at 5", what should I expect a clown trigger's length to be in a year given daily 'good food' feedings (i.e. New Life spectrum pellets, shrimp, squid, cuttlefish)? <Perhaps seven-eight inches> Lastly, at what length does a Louti grouper change from the juvi colorings, to the red body with yellow fin margins? <Most at about six to eight inches> Thanks, Dan. <Bob Fenner>

Pinktail Trigger Questions, behavior mostly 6/31/05 Dear WWM Crew,     Me again.  You guys have been great at answering some questions that I have had in regards to the Clown Trigger species but now I come to you with my hat in my hand. <Wow, quite an archaic reference!> Yesterday, June 29th, 2005 I purchased a 4 1/2" Pinktail Trigger from my LFS.  I was actually there when they got the shipment in and to avoid 2 sets of acclimations back to back, I purchased it immediately in the shipping bag and took him home to acclimate him.  After acclimation, he was introduced to the tank <No quarantine... to check for health, allow the animal to rest, recover?> where he proceeded to swim down to the bottom and lay kind of sideways where he then exhibited heavy breathing.  From what I have read this so far is normal right? <Yes> After an hour with the lights off, I went back, turned the lights on and he had found himself a nice rocky area to hide in.  He spent the next 4 hours in that spot and then came out and began to swim around and check out his surroundings.  At that time, I then introduced 2 small pieces of freeze dried krill which he gobbled up happily before retreating back to his cave.  Today he began to venture out more, checking small areas at a time and then hurriedly swimming back to his cave.  I fed him 2 more pieces of krill around noon which he greedily accepted, then around 4PM I offered a small amount of garlic soaked Mysid shrimp which he devoured, then this evening 4 more pieces of garlic soaked krill which again he devoured.  This all looks good but he has yet to stay out in the open only checking small areas at a time then retreating back to his cave.  The guy looks flawless aside from a couple of things.  One of his eyes has a tiny what appears to be cloudy mark on it.  What might this be?  A scratch?? <Most likely, yes> Also his 2 front fins are a bright yellow along with his tail that is suppose to be pink.  Is this normal or has he just not gotten his adult colors yet.  Thanks in advance for your reply.  I am a little concerned.                                                    Jeff K <No worries re the color... regional, temporal... Bob Fenner>

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>

Very Shy Niger Hello there, <Hi> I was wondering if you might be able to help me with a fish of mine. I bought a 4 to 5 inch Niger trigger two weeks ago and he has spent 99% of his time hiding under a sponge in the quarantine tank. <To be expected> He's in there with a friendly Kole Tang. The Kole was shy too, but like all my other fish, got over it in a week or less. This Niger is still hiding after 2 weeks and not eating much. Is there anything you recommend to bring him out?  <Dip, move to your main tank> How long should this go on before I become concerned? <No time at all> Should I wait for him to come out before I put him in my show tank? Any other advice? Thank you very much. <I would move this fish. Bob Fenner> Brendgol Majewski 

Fading trigger Hey guys, is it normal for a three inch humu humu trigger to fade to real light in color.  He's been in the tank for three days now and I have a 65g.   Sometimes he's real vivid and dark, other times he's real lite and dull, sometimes change is drastic in short period of time. Thanks <Isn't abnormal at all... Balistids do rapidly change color in response to mood, environmental conditions. Bob Fenner>

-A Niger Fakes it- <Hello> I bought a Niger triggerfish a week ago. <Did you Q/t this fish?>  He seems very active with my damsel, but when he stops moving he lays on his left side on the bottom of the tank in the same spot. <Well they do tend to have personality "quirks" and each does different things to get us to pay attention.>  Is this normal behavior of this fish? <Could be, But I really need to know if this fish was q/ted or even freshwater dipped as it might be sick. Is it eating well, swimming normally and not having any spots etc?>  I have just a 20 gal. tank with crushed coral bottom and 5 live rocks. <Ok here is the problem, Not only was it not q/t ed its in a tank that is way too small for this fish. While it may be fine now and the laying on the substrate is normal (Mine does it sometimes to get more food), it will get way too large for this tank and will get sick soon if it isn't already. I hope your tank is not infected with any diseases from this fish, but please quarantine your fish for at least 4 weeks before putting them in your display. If any of them are sick or have ich then they will infect everything and its a hassle to get everything well. Also please research your fish on WWM before buying them. This fish will get 8" to 15" or more in some cases. Can you handle a 80-120 gallon tank for it?> Thanks, John  <Justin (Jager)> 

Undulated Trigger - When Will it Get Aggressive? Hello, I got a 3 or 4 inch undulated trigger about a week ago and was just wondering why he hides all the time. From what I hear they are supposed to be really mean and not shy. He is the only fish in my 55 gallon tank. It used to be a reef and still have some Shrooms, snails and crabs in there and he hasn't even acknowledged that that stuff is in there. When I drop a silverside in there he swims out of his cave grabs the fish and eats it in his cave. Just wondering if I got a shy one or if it just takes some time for him to not be so shy. Oh and by the way my water is perfect and he is not breathing hard at all.  <Patience Doug, the name of the game. He's eating, good. I haven't saw my watchman goby until about a week and a half after I got him. James (Salty Dog)> 
Undulated Trigger Fish Shows No "Mean" - II
Thanks for the fast reply!! Just hope that he doesn't turn out to be a shy fish because I gave up a lot of neat "reef" fish because I wanted an aggressive tank. I talked to one guy at my live fish store and he said that undulateds are known for hiding and being shy when first introduced into the home aquarium. Have you ever heard that about them? If so do you have any idea on how long this will take? I am trying to be as patient as I can. <Doug, I've never heard of them being shy. They are as mean as a mother-in-law on a bad visit, probably the most aggressive of all triggers. James (Salty Dog)>
Undulatus - Justin's Take - IIa
Thanks for the fast reply!! <Justin Here> Just hope that he doesn't turn out to be a shy fish because I gave up a lot of neat "reef" fish because I wanted an aggressive tank. I talked to one guy at my live fish store and he said that undulated's are known for hiding and being shy when first introduced into the home aquarium.  <This depends entirely on the personality of the fish. I have personally been bitten, smacked and even scratched by one very small 1.5" undulated trigger while trying to feed and later catch it. I have also seen the same fish take 6-8" groupers head on for food and space and win, as well as most other aggressive fish in its tank. I definitely rate them in the trigger family in the middle to the top as far as possibility for aggression.>  Have you ever heard that about them? If so do you have any idea on how long this will take? <Find one that is very active and after he/she is acclimated then you will see them become the ruler of the tank as long as a more aggressive fish isn't apparent. Mostly Females are more cranky then their male counterparts, though I do not know how to sex them, I've just seen a female birthing in a tank then a few weeks later after removing the mother to a new tank, watching it chase everything out of the tank including the divers.>  I am trying to be as patient as I can.  <Don't worry this fish can be a holy terror at times if provoked. A great aggressive tank fish, though don't mix with other triggers usually, or anything that isn't as aggressive as it, and add it last to your tank as it will pick on any new arrivals to the tank.> thanks again <Justin (Jager)> 

Trigger behavior Hello, <Hi Rory, MacL here with you tonight> I hope the whole wet web media crew is having a happy holiday season!!! <So kind of you, I unfortunately have a cold which sucks!> I have been into this hobby now for about 6 years now off and on. Usually when I have a question I use the search engine on your website, and it usually tells me everything I need to know. Although this time I have a strange question that I don't know how to begin to try to find on the search engine. Now before I begin let me tell you that the care that I put into my tank is as far as I know good practice. I do a 30% water change with Catalina water every weekend. I perform regular test on my water quality PH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite and always everything looks to be great. I also use RO top off water and mix the recommended dosage of either Kent's pro buffer additive, or calcium additive into the top off water but never both at the same time. Now about 2 months ago I purchased a Picasso trigger that is only about 1 inch in size. Like always I placed him in my quarantine tank for 2 weeks that has no substrate or rock and is a bare bottom tank with just a little plastic plate that goes across the bottom so the fish have some privacy when needed. <Sounds nice!> After 2 weeks everything looked well so I placed him in the main tank. At day 4, I noticed he started scratching on my live rock but he did not appear to have any white spots on him at all, not 1 nothing on his fins or body. So immediately I took him out and performed a fresh water dip for about five minutes with water that I raised the pH level with a buffer and made sure the temperature was the same. Then I placed him back in my quarantine tank and added some CopperSafe. I have not seen him scratch once from the very moment I put him back in the quarantine. I put him in there for a month and two weeks into him being back in the quarantine I performed another fresh water dip. He has never had any white spots, or any spots of any kind at all and he looks very healthy. Now today he has been in quarantine for a month with CopperSafe so I decided to put  him back in the main tank. Now the weird thing is as soon as I put him in the main tank he started scratching on the rocks for about a hour straight then he stopped and hasn't scratched at all??? <Okay that is definitely confusing. Sounds like there is something in the tank that is bothering him. Have you checked to make sure the tank is grounded and there is no electric current going into the tank.> I now have had him in there all night and he is no longer scratching, just immediately when I put him in for the first hour. This is strange he looks healthy as can be but I am worried about this strange behavior. Could it be that there is something that is irritating him in the main tank. It just doesn't make sense??? All my other fish in the tank are well with no signs of sickness or distress. If you can help me with this problem that would be great. <Triggers are known scratchers if that helps you at all. I think if it was me I would put him in quarantine for four weeks with the salinity lowered to a treatment level just to be on the safe side if he starts scratching again.> I don't really want to keep moving him back and forth from quarantine to main tank, but I guess I will if recommended, but I don't see how any parasites would survive from the fresh water dips and the CopperSafe treatment for a month??? <Sometimes it depends on the levels of the copper but hopefully since he has stopped then you'll no longer have to worry about him scratching again.> Thank You in advance, and I wish you all a happy holidays!!! <Thanks for the kind wishes. Please let us know if he starts again. MacL>

Nocturnal Odonus Niger? Hello, <Hi, Mike D here> I am new at having a tank. I have a 125 gallon salt water tank. I have a yellow tang, an angel, Picasso trigger and a Niger trigger (Odonus Niger). At night the Niger is very active and likes to make splashing noises. Is this normal? I have been unable to find anything about the Niger fish being Nocturnal or anything else on this. Thanks.<The Niger trigger, sometimes sold in larger sizes as the Vampire trigger due to it's red teeth, can reach up to 19", so you may find that you need to upgrade to a larger tank eventually. To the best if my knowledge they aren't truly nocturnal but often occupy deeper waters, thus becoming "twilight fish" that are active in dimmer light. Not generally being as aggressive, when small, as the Picasso, it may be telling you that it needs an additional feeding now that the competition has eased off.  For whatever it's worth, the Niger is one of the few larger triggers that doesn't automatically eliminate tank mates as it matures as does the Undulatus, the Clown and the Queen, the hint here being don't add too many triggers lest you end up with a bloodbath in the eventual future.>

Trapped Trigger Trouble? Hello once again, I'm quite sad to say the only time I have to ask you guys a question is when I have a fish in trouble. <Quite alright! Scott F. here today> I realized today that my Humu Humu triggerfish, who hadn't come out to eat in a few days, was trapped in "his rock"...the rock where he has swam into since I've had him.  I guess he just simply got to  big to swim back out...no room to turn around in this small hole.  I slowly crushed the rock with a pair of pliers until he was freed. <Whatever does the trick!>   He IMMEDIATELY darted into the corner of the tank hiding from everything.   <Understandable!> This was about 15 minutes ago and he's still breathing really heavy.  I'm  pretty sure he's in quite a bit of shock, and I was wondering if there is anything I can do to help him recover.  Your help is always greatly appreciated. Dean <Well, Dean- triggers are very tough fishes, and although not indestructible, they come awfully close. I think that your fish simply needs some quiet time to rest up from this ordeal, as long as he is not displaying any signs of injury. Given the passage of time and a little peace and quiet (not to mention, some feeding with his favorite foods!), he should come around just fine! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Stressed Trigger or not Mr. Fenner, <Brendgol> When fish get stressed do they lighten up or darken up? <Many do, yes> In particular, black Hawaiian triggers? <Melichthys niger? For sure! This is one of the most fast-changing color/pattern marines I know of> Is their normal relaxed color black or is it the lighter green/yellow look? <Mmm, hard to say... have seen this species in the tropical West Atlantic and Hawai'i the most... and are at times apparently "happy" or "excited" and both light or dark in background color... the highlights though, mainly blues and golds, seem to be indicative of a positive mental/emotional, physiological state> Also, I am treating my show tank with some of Kordon's reef safe Ick Attack (I know you guys are not big believer's in the reef safe products) all natural stuff and some Melafix (sp?). I assume this stuff would not stress a fish out? <Mmm, am not so sure. Any non-specific poison/medication (which these and almost all "fish medicines" are) I'd expect to add considerable stress to livestock> How do I get rid of the Ick for good? I have dropped the Spec Grav to 1.019 I don't want to go lower because of my cleaner shrimp in the tank <!> and I'm afraid they will die if I lower it further.. Any suggestions? <Please read over the MANY files of FAQs on Cryptocaryon posted on www.WetWebMedia.com re your possible avenues here. The shrimp should not be in a system being treated for parasitic disease... and should NOT be subjected to altered/lowered spg> Thank you Brendgol Majewski <Study my friend. Bob Fenner>

Picasso Running Scared? (9/6/04) Hi, <Hello. Steve Allen here.> I would like to ask your crew a question regarding my Picasso trigger. He or she has been a hardy specimen for some time now. I recently added two puffers to his tank which already had a clown. He (the Picasso) quickly asserted himself as alpha male within minutes. They have been getting along <or putting up with one another> now for some time (a couple of weeks maybe).  I have always fed him from my hand and he has always been a good eater. <Haven't been bitten yet, eh? Can happen & hurts.> The two puffers have also been eating from my hand also, especially the porcupine. This last Saturday, I got up to feed them, a little later than normal, and found the Picasso hiding in the coral he normally sleeps in and the dog face puffer had changed color. They both have not responded to my feeding. The porcupine is still eating well but I can't get the Picasso out of his hiding place. He now has started coming out very slowly and does not eat well. He will NOT eat from my hand anymore.  He also stays in his hiding place all day long. He has hardly eaten anything.  The dog face is starting to eat again from my hand and is starting to be himself again. Except today the dog face blew himself up for no apparent reason. I am concerned about this behavior from my Picasso, this is not how he used to act. I am planning on buying a new tank next week for all the other fish except the Picasso. <A big one, I hope. These puffers will grow to over 10" and will need plenty of room.> I read that these triggers can be a little aggressive as they age. <Not as bad as Clowns, but all Triggers get more aggressive as they grow/age.>  Will this behavior end soon and what do you suppose happened. <Hard to say, but it sounds as if they may have had a nasty tussle.> I have a 60 gal. tank and all chemistry is excellent. The new tank I am buying will be 120 gal. <Good>  Any help would be greatly appreciated. <How big/old the Trigger? You may need to house it in quarantine while getting the Puffers into your new tank. Keep an eye out for any symptoms suggesting infectious our toxic ailments as well. It does seem to me that the solution here is separation.> Thanks, Mike Jamison <You're welcome. Good luck.>

Triggerfish tricks thank you for reading this e-mail, i wanted to ask you if trigger fish does eat or grasp power cables present under water? pls send back 10x. <Actually Triggerfishes are not to be trusted with power lines, tubing, glass heater tubes... can break all... possibly with disaster. Best to hide all, protect all that can't be hidden in sleeves. Bob Fenner>

One Gill?? Hi there I was wondering if you could help shed some light on a small problem.<MikeD here and I'll sure try> I have a Juv. Picasso trigger in my tank who has been pretty happy for the past week.<Meaning that he's new and has been in the tank for about that time?> This evening I noticed something strange - he seems to be breathing with only one gill. One gill is 'puffing' while the other is being held pretty still. Also the one that is working seems to be doing double time (suppose that is to be expected). He was fine during the day (at least I did not notice this during the day) and, I suppose like all triggers he is happy to feed - just breathing a bit fast out of one gill. Could the gill maybe have something stuck in it?<The answer is yes, but probably not what you expect. If it's indeed a new and small fish, there's a good likelihood that what you're seeing is the beginning of an ick infestation and the parasites on the one side are the reason for its immobility. Very small fish often pass away from ick infestations without the owner ever being aware of what the actual problem is. With the tough, leathery skin of a trigger, it's not unusual for no visible "spots" to show, while the parasites in the gill effectively create a fish version of pneumonia, with suffocation often the actual cause of death> Any suggestions on what I can do or should I just leave it for a while?<My suggestion would be to set up a small Quarantine/treatment tank and dose with one of the formalin based Ick treatments (Quick Cure, for example) dosed at half the suggested amount (the small size and labored breathing would indicate that full strength may prove too much for the fish to handle. I'd suggest against the hyposalinity treatment because, frankly, I doubt you have the time. As always, NEVER medicate in your main tank proper.>> Thanks

Triggerfishes for  Marine
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