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FAQs about Triggerfish Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Blue Throat Trigger Choked to Death on Squid - 6/4/08 Hi crew, <Hello Wes, Mich with you tonight.> I've asked many a question on WWM before. This time I don't actually have a question but was hoping this could go into one of your many helpful FAQs (though I'm not sure which)? <Will be placed.> I never thought this was a potential hazard because I'd never heard of it before, but just today my blue-through trigger choked to death on a piece of squid. I guess I'm writing this to warn people to cut up fish food to an appropriate size (and also to watch your fish while they eat, which I don't always do.) I dropped in a few small pieces of squid (maybe ?? square per piece) earlier today for my trigger, grouper, and eel. I only occasionally feed them squid, mostly opting for formula one. At any rate, I didn't' stick around to watch them but did hear some splashing noises from the tank. I glanced over and saw the trigger darting about with a piece of squid in its mouth. I didn't think anything of it. My trigger has always been skittish and will often times dart about for no apparent reason, even when no one's around. I should have gone over to investigate, and I used to come running every time I would hear this ?darting about,? but to be honest, I've since stopped because it just seemed like crying wolf too many times. About 10 minutes later, I walked by the tank and saw the trigger dead on the sand bed with the wad of squid in its mouth. I quickly reached in, pulled the squid out, and tried reviving him in the flow of my powerhead for about 5 minutes. I even tried pumping him gently in the stomach as some sort of strange fish CPR, but that didn't seem to work either. <A good thought and I have done this successfully before. Providing artificial respiration via the movement in and out of the powerhead can work. In my case, the bag broke that the fish was being transported in and the fish, a Sailfin Tang was very cold, it took me over an hour of this artificial respiration but he came back from the dead.> I'm both sad and shocked and feel a little guilty that this happened. But I guess at least I've learned a bit of a lesson, albeit one I never thought was an issue before. So that's my story for what it's worth. <Wes, thank you for sharing your experience and I'm very sorry for your loss.> Cheers and keep up the great work you guys (gals) do. Best, Wes <Thanks Wes, and my sympathy to you, Mich>

Blue-Throat Trigger Not Eating  - 05/03/07 Hi folks, <Hello.> Great site, recommend it to whoever will listen.   <Awesome.> I have a question about a blue-throat trigger. <...One of my favorites...> This is my second attempt at one of these fish and it is getting frustrating. <Well lets see if I can help you out.> For the record I have been keeping saltwater fish for over 15 years and this is my first attempt at a triggerfish.  I have a 5 year old majestic angel, a 7 year old swallowtail angel and a 7 year old Naso tang along with a few little guys to keep things hopping presently in a 90 gallon reef, <A bit on the crowded side but okay...> all are happy and fat with no aggression but now I figured I could try something new.  The first trigger died due to a bacterial infection that I couldn't get to in time but this second one is not visibly sick but still won't eat. <Blue throats tend to be a little more flighty/finicky...in general exhibit behavior atypical of how would expect a tiger to act. How long has it been?> He is about 3" long and in a 30 gallon quarantine tank with a few chunks of live rock, a skimmer, power head for movement and an AquaClear 500 hang-on filter.  There are a couple of other fish in there, just to keep it cycled.  I have checked all the normal water parameters, all is fine.  I have tried PE mysis, smaller mysis, flake, bloodworms, shaved shrimp, squid and clam - won't touch anything. <Wow, you have pulled out all the stops. I have a few more suggestions though; market scallops or mussels soaked in a nutritional supplement like Selcon.> Is the quarantine tank too small ?   <No seems adequate...for a quarantine.> The quarantine tank has had a small Pseudochromis and a coral beauty in it for a couple of years until recently when I nicely took a marine Betta because he had lateral line and Lymphocystis.   <Mmmm...with all these animals, yes quarantine tank is too small, quarantine tank should be just that....quarantine.> He has since been cured (  yes the lateral line too ) but I don't really have any place to move him so he is in the quarantine too.  Is he intimidating the trigger ?   <Perhaps, the specimen I have is extremely flighty; easily scarred.> There seems to be no aggression between the two, in fact they use the same cave at night.  Any ideas would be great.  I would hate to lose the trigger because of a screw up on my part.  I intended to move him into my 90 gallon reef after his quarantine period, which has been about 3 weeks.  But I don't want to do that if he is not eating because he will never get food in there with my other fish.   <Rob, how long has it been since the fish has not eaten? Thanks for your time, <Anytime...I look forward to your reply.> Rob in Syracuse, NY <Adam J in California.>
Re: Blue-throat trigger STILL not eating  - 05/03/07
Hey Adam, <Welcome back Rob.> Thanks for the reply. <No problem.> I have not seen this trigger eat in 3 weeks. <Mmm...that is a little lengthy.> He doesn't seem to be losing a lot of weight but I can't figure out what he is eating. <This tank has other animals, how well established is it? Perhaps micro-crustaceans.> I have soaked all of the food offerings in Selcon. ( been using that stuff for years ) <Cool.> I ended up putting the trigger into my 90 gallon reef last night.  He hid for around a half an hour and then started exploring the tank.   <A good sign, mine is till rather reclusive almost a year later.> My majestic wasn't too happy but he got over it quickly.  I added some mysis and blood worms hoping that he might get the feeding idea from the feeding frenzy that occurs every time I put anything edible into that tank.  Nothing, in fact he hid.  He does seem to be more active in the larger tank but I want him to eat soon.   <I understand, I would also try to offer food just after the lights go off...in his direction with a turkey baster if you can get hold of one.> I am assuming that he will figure it out any day now, he has got to be hungry and with the other fish active and feeding, he has got to get it.  I have had other fish not eat in the past, but they didn't live this long or I figured out what they wanted.  I do not want to lose this fish, he is way too cool looking. Do you think I should just wait it out or should I take him back to the LFS? <Well I would ask the LFS what they were feeding him.> To be honest I don't know how much effort the LFS would put out for a fish that won't eat. <Not much.> Do you think I need to increase filtration?   I have a red sea skimmer, Fluval 404, a large emperor hang-on, UV sterilizer ( 15w ), 3 powerheads and about 95 lbs. of live rock and an inch of live sand. <Well I'm not a fan of canister filters on marine tanks, I prefer macro-algae refugiums.> So far I haven't had any big problems at all, at least for the last 3 years. Any advice would be appreciated. <A few more feeding suggestions, if an LFS has live brine or live mysids.. give them a try. I know that live brine and live foods aren't the best thing. and certainly not a long term option but it's better than nothing. Also try some meats that are more poignant to the sense of smell, mackerel, squid, along those lines.> Thank you, <Welcome.> Rob in Syracuse, NY <Adam still in SoCal.>

Clown Triggerfish/Feeding   4/28/06 How do you do?  <I'm fine, Petey.> I purchased a show size clown trigger a couple of weeks ago   and it will not eat on its own.  I have to put the food on a stick and let him take it.  I have plenty of experience with show size triggers but this has never   happened to me before.  There are no other fish in the tank other than one damsel <Not for long.> that survived the cycling process.  Any suggestions would be appreciated? <I'd try different foods such as hard shell shrimp, squid, clams, etc.  May need more time to acclimate, especially in a new system that I'm thinking you have.> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Petey

Clown trigger unable to eat  - 2/11/2006 Hi, <Hello there> I have had a 2" clown trigger for about 4 months now.  Things have been going well as he appears happy and actively swims around.  However, over the last week or so, I've noticed that he's no longer able to eat.    <!?> He is definitely trying as he eagerly bites at the food I put in the tank. Unfortunately, he is unable to chew or bite through the food at all.  He'll even take food into his mouth, but then he always spits it out.  I have tried a wide assortment of items including pellets, flakes, freeze-dried krill, seaweed and frozen shrimp/scallops/mussels etc without any luck.  I really worry there is something wrong with his teeth, but I can't see any obvious problems.  I assume he is injured or deformed <Me too... likely the former... from "running into something"> as everything I've read about feeding triggerfish talks about how strong their jaws and teeth are.  Shouldn't he be able to easily devour all the above-mentioned foods? <Yes> Do you think this problem will correct itself in time or is my trigger doomed?   <I do hope for the former> Any recommendations, in terms of what to feed him or how to improve his situation, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance. -Jay <... really only "time going by" can/will tell here. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick clown trigger   12/8/06 Bob, <Rob> I'm sorry to keep bothering you, but there is no improvement with the clown trigger.  It's now been two weeks since he stopped eating.  The only semi-new development is that he had a bowel movement again today and expelled a bunch of white feces (I would not call it stringy, but it was what as chalk).  Any thoughts? Thanks. <Time to consider realistically the possibility of force-feeding t his specimen... with a large plastic catheter or turkey baster... and mashed up meaty food and vitamin supplement... netting, holding the fish to the side of the tank (with a very clean, residue-free cloth towel and friend...). Bob Fenner>

Finicky Sargassum Trigger - 09/23/06 Hello from Alabama, <<Greetings from South Carolina>> Thank you for the wonderful site and all of the great information, my tank has improved greatly after implementing many of your ideas over the past year. <<Is a collective effort...you're quite welcome>> I do have a question that I couldn't find much info on though.  I purchased a 5" Sargassum Trigger one week ago, I had a problem with my quarantine and after one day I had to put it into the main tank ( a 265 FOWLR).  The fish looks great and is very active, which surprised me because I have a Blue Throat Trigger that hid for the first several days, but now swims constantly.  I assumed this fish would do the same. <<Indicative of the difference in species/personality>> Even though it is active it hasn't eaten anything this whole week. <<Troubling...even more so if this fish has not eaten since capture.  Did you see the fish eat at the LFS before purchase?>> I have tried pellets, flakes, frozen shrimp, frozen Mysis, and even live guppies and ghost shrimp. <<Hmm...is a planktonic feeder...though according to FishBase they will also dine on crabs and urchins>> It doesn't show any interest in food at all. <<Not good>> Do you have any ideas of what else I could try and do you know how long he can go without eating.  Any help will be appreciated. <<The fish can go a surprisingly long time without feeding, but not eating for more than a week becomes worrisome.  If the problem were internal parasites I would expect the fish to have expired by now...the fact that it is still alive leaves "some" hope that this is a problem of acclimation/finding the right stimulus to get the fish to feed.  Perhaps you could try some fresh mussels/clams/oysters on the half-shell from your local grocery store. I have had success in the past getting finicky feeders to eat by offering (thawed) frozen glass worms (mosquito larvae).  Try soaking these in Selcon for a bit more enticement/nutritive value.  Another food you should try is Sweetwater Plankton.  This small soft bodied food (Daphnia actually) is a great "plankton" food.  Both of these will likely be appreciated by the Blue Throat as well>> Thank you, Jeremy <<Good luck.  EricR>>

Trigger Won't Eat - 09/08/06 We also have a Niger trigger that has stopped eating 2 and a half weeks ago and has gone to ground in the rocks. <<Not a good sign>> We have seen him several times during this period, he has no external signs of damage, parasites, etc.  Colour and markings look very good, breathing is normal, eyes are bright and actively looking at his surroundings. <<Hmm...is this fish a recent acquisition?  Perhaps this behavior is a reaction to its environment>> Tank has been established 10 years, 300 gallons, fish only all other fish ok, water ok, all we have done so far is extra water changes (not sure why) increase vitamins and essential elements we don't know what else to try, so I have been looking on the fish net for help and/or advice. Chris <<Well Chris...I have observed similar behavior before in other species (internal parasites I suspect)...unfortunately there's little you can do once the fish stops eating.  Do ensure your water quality is optimum, and keep trying to induce/offer food to try to get the fish to feed...and do a Google search of our site re "internal parasites".  Regards, EricR>>

Trigger not eating  - 09/07/06 Dear Bob Fenner:<Hey Bob is gone on a dive, lucky man so you get me today>   I bought a Picasso triggerfish last Friday (9/1) and it's been 6 days but the Picasso triggerfish won't eat anything.   I have tried to feed her the brine shrimp, the row shrimp, flake, krill shrimp, and even the Rosey fish but I never see her eating anything.   My current tank has candy anemone, crown fish, damsel fish, Chromis fish, coral bandy shrimp, hermit crab....and they are all doing good. <You don't mention how big the tank is, what the parameters are, how big the trigger is, how big the other fish are?  In my experience triggers can be a bit shy at first and will often hide or lock in and only come out when the tank gets dark. They will pick food off the bottom or coral or rock at this time. Is your trigger seeming to loose body mass? That is one way to tell for sure.>   I should ask the PetCo people to feed the fish before I bought it. they told me it just arrive that day or day before. <I would definitely ask them if it ate anything there and if so what it was.>   Any suggestion you can give is welcome <Good luck Sam and keep the faith, triggers get over this initial phase usually pretty quickly with patience time and the tank in good shape.>       Sam

Picasso Trigger Won't Eat - 09/10/06 Dear Bob Fenner: <<EricR at your service today...Bob's in Jamaica trying out all the new flavors of rum since his last visit>> I bought a Picasso triggerfish last Friday (9/1) and it's been 6 days but the Picasso triggerfish won't eat anything. <<Hmm...did you see it eat before you bought it?>> I have tried to feed her the brine shrimp, the row shrimp, flake, krill shrimp, and even the Rosey fish but I never seen she eating anything. <<Those mostly a prophylactic treatment, you can try adding some Epsom salts to you system at a rate of one level-teaspoon per 10 gallons of actual water volume...and keep trying to feed the trigger>> My current tank has candy anemone, clown fish, damsel fish, Chromis fish, coral banded shrimp, hermit crab....and they are all doing good. <<If the trigger recovers/lives, the anemone, shrimp, and crab will all likely become "trigger food".  You really should spend a little time researching your purchases beforehand...and utilizing proper quarantine procedure>>    I should ask the PetCo people to feed the fish before I bought it. <<Indeed>> They told me it just arrive that day or day before.  Any suggestion you can give is welcome. Sam <<About all you can do is keep trying to entice the trigger to feed (try soaking some thawed frozen mysis shrimp in Selcon for a few minutes before feeding)...and hopefully, learn from the experience.  Regards, EricR>>

Picasso and the food that bit back... Polychaetes   5/26/06 Hey there Crew, <Dan-O> I have a young Picasso Trigger that I fed a bristle worm to. Hungry (his name), went for it and the worm promptly disappeared into his belly. A week or so later, he developed a growth approx. where his chin would be and he doesn't seem to be able to open his mouth to take food. His appetite is the same as he goes for my fingers if they are too close to the tank and he will attack any food I put in the tank, but he can't seem to open his mouth to eat. He hasn't eaten in 10-14 days, so do you think it will go away on its own? Thanks, Danny <I do hope so... is possible the worm feeding and this situation are related... the bristles from some Polychaetes are very sharp, hurt like the Dickens to get stuck in ones hands (I can personally testify). I do hope your trigger self-repairs. Keep offering meaty food items every few days. Bob Fenner>

Trigger Diet -  - 03/22/06 I have a 6-7" Niger Trigger and was wondering about feeding and his teeth. <Okay.> Is shrimp with the tail on enough, or should I use some in shell clams to keep his teeth worn down? <Both are viable options, and I would utilize both as variety is key in the diet of marine fish.>   If clams are a good option, I understand I would pry them open partially before feeding, until he got the hang of it, and later he would open them himself. <That would be a good method.> My question is, what do I look for in a clam other than marine origin? <They should be raw and uncooked.> Do I rinse in freshwater first? <Yes I usually rinse my food in R.O. water before feeding.>   Is there a better food for this purpose? <Anything of marine origin with a hard shell is fine for this purpose.> Are there parasite, contamination risks? <If you are worried about this you can freeze the food prior to feeding.> I have read through all the trigger feeding and health FAQ's and the articles, but couldn't find an answer. <Really? This is a common question, especially with puffers.> Thanks so much for any information you can provide...you have been a great help to me in the past with my aquariums. <Anytime, good luck. Adam J.>
Re: Trigger Diet   3/23/06
Thanks so much for the info. <Anytime!> I had gleaned some information from reading the FAQ's everyday, but yesterday I searched on Trigger feeding, and didn't find the answers <I'll admit it is A LOT to search through...but hey I bet you learned some other neat stuff huh?> I received in your email...I didn't think about looking under puffers. <No worries.> Thanks again, you guys really are great! <You are welcome and thanks for the compliments, Adam J.>

Trigger Not feeding - 03/02/06 Good Day Folks, <<Howdy>> I have a 4" Blue-Jaw Trigger (male) Xanthichthys auromarginatus that I purchased three days ago from the LFS. <<Neat!  I too have one of these.>> He is a gorgeous fish, but so far he isn't interested in eating. <<Mmm...does your LFS quarantine?...did you see this fish eat before you bought it?>> He is housed alone in a 90g with about 60 lbs live rock 20 lbs live rock rubble and ~ 2" oolitic sand.  It is served by a Chaeto/deep sand refugium.  I'm turning the tank about 10 time/hr with a Little Giant MDQX-3. <<All good>> Fundamental water parameters are good, Gs = 1.022, T = 78 F, pH = 8.2, ammonia/ammonium, nitrites, nitrates = non-detectable. <<Okay...but I would prefer to see your SG closer to 1.025/026 >> The tank well established and seems very healthy to me.  He is very alert and active and loves to flutter around into the pump return jet, and will come to the glass to see me when I'm around. <<This too sounds fine/typical.>> I know it's not time to panic yet, but I would feel better if I could get him to eat. <<Me too...and three days without is a bit worrisome.>> The owner of the LFS said that he was eating brine shrimp, but for me he has only spit them out. <<Likely what he did at the LFS as well.>> To date I have tried frozen krill, Mysis, BS, blood worms and Formula 1.  I have also tried Formula 1 flake and pellets.  Any suggestions? <<All these are good choices I would expect the fish to take (mine does).  Try feeding some frozen glass worms (mosquito larvae), I have found this to be a good enticement for finicky eaters.  You should also try soaking all the previous mentioned foods in Selcon before feeding.  Hopefully this guy will start eating soon...else I fear there may be something amiss, as in an internal parasite.>> Thanks much. Gr <<Regards, EricR>>
Trigger Not feeding II - 03/04/06
Yahtzee!  It took me two days to track down glass worms (frozen), but they are a huge success. <<Yippee!  Very glad to hear this!>> I turned the pump down, and floated the glass worms on the surface.  Within a few seconds he was sniping them.  I'm sure that this isn't a great long term solution, but it least it will buy me enough time to train him in on some quality marine fare. <<Indeed...you will need to get him feeding on some marine based foods as you surmise, but the glass worms can still be fed along with these as well. Soaking in Selcon will also increase their nutritional benefit.>> My props out to you (EricR), I slept better last night. <<Thank you...is truly rewarding/redeeming to hear of such successes.  I'm very pleased (as you are) that your fish is beginning to eat.  Was/is my pleasure to assist.>> Please keep up the fine service folks, you are an invaluable resource to those of us who are willing to learn! <<Pleased that you think so.>> Also, I am replacing my evaporation with saltwater until I get in the 1.025/6 range. <<Ah, very good my friend.>> Peace. Gr     <<Regards, EricR>>

Blue Throat Trigger Not Eating - 01/01/06 I recently acquired a 3"-4" Blue Throat Trigger which looks in good health. <<Neat fish...I have one in the 5" range...>> It's been in the tank for about 1 whole week.  I read online that they may be very shy for the first few days, however, due to the fact that this fish is hiding the whole day I have not been able to see him eat. <<Mmm yes, can be a bit "shy", but should be coming out to eat unless it is being bullied.  You did confirm at the LFS before you bought it that this fish was eating, yes?>> The other fish in the tank are not picking on him so I don't think this has anything to do with his behavior. <<Okay>> Any idea how long does it usually take for this type of fish to come along?. <<The trigger should be out looking for/eating food by now.>> I would hate to lose him because he is not eating. <<Let's hope it doesn't come to that.>> I've notice that Krill passes right next to him and he won't even move an inch.  I tried Silversides and he looked interested but didn't take a bite.  Any suggestions will help.. Thanks. <<It may be the foods you are offering.  These fish are plankton feeders for the most part...try offering (thawed) frozen Mysis and plankton, and finely chopped krill/silversides.  Mine will also eat New Life Spectrum pellets and Ocean Nutrition flakes, though I would try the other offerings for your fish first.  If it still won't feed you should remove it to an isolation tank and see if it will eat without tank mates around.  As it has already been more than a week, time is getting critical so don't dawdle on this.  EricR>>

Trigger foods  9/26/05 Hello, I just received a Niger trigger and he is by far the coolest fish I have ever owned! So what kind of veggies should I feed him? Spinach, lettuce, Nori, etc.?? Thanks Ben PS I have been feeding him krill and flakes.  <It's quite obvious that no research was done on the trigger before purchase.  Triggers are not algae eaters, meaty foods, eat crabs, shrimp, urchins in nature.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re: trigger foods  9/26/05
hello, sorry about not being very specific. I know that they eat meaty foods but require a diet of veggies. Some people told me that they need to eat some veggies once in awhile. Or are they lying? Thanks Ben <Balistids will eat, try most anything... will get all their necessary nutrients through meaty and prepared foods. Bob Fenner>

- Baby Trigger Feeding - Hi- I have a juvenile Humu trigger. I am concerned about how much to feed this guy. I read through your other articles but didn't' notice a guideline for feeding frozen krill. I have been feeding him about 3 times a day, which I now see may be excessive. <Yes, twice a day is more than enough.> I alternated with flakes, then a chunk of frozen krill, with a little frozen brine shrimp thrown in. Weekly, I'll add some greens. Should I be feeding him only once daily, say on one day giving him a chunk of krill, the next day flakes, and so on? <Twice a day is probably better... these fish grow quite a bit in the first year and do need the nutrition. Is wise to mix up what you feed, as you've done, to make sure it gets a varied diet, including the greens. Good on ya'.> I worry about him not getting enough food as he is a very aggressive eater!! <Yes... is ok... much like a dog in this regard that they will eat until they seem ready to pop, but doesn't require that much food.> Aimee <Cheers, J -- >

Blue Throat Trigger WWM gang, Great site. I recently purchased a male Blue throat trigger. About 4 inches long, appears to be in excellent health. I have him in a quarantine tank (~40gals) by himself.  He's been in there a week with no signs of any parasites. He ignores any food other than fresh water "ghost shrimp" however.  I've tried a variety of frozen foods, but he shows no interest.  A ghost shrimp however, is immediately hunted down and eaten.  I've been adding a little bit of frozen food with the shrimp in hopes that he might accidentally eat it and figure out that it is food, but no luck. Intend to try some raw fish, muscles, etc. from the grocery store tonight. Two questions: 1)       Any recommendations as to how to teach this fish to eat something other than ghost shrimp? 2)       Would it be a good idea to move him to a display tank now, i.e. is he likely to learn to eat other food from seeing his tank mates eating?  He is headed to a 125gal that is networked into 500 gal system w/ large sumps and skimmers. Thanks in advance for your help. Dick >>>Hey Dick,   It's just a matter of time. Some fish take weeks or months to acclimate to a wide variety of foods. As long as you have him eating something that is nutritionally sound, you're doing fine. I had an emperor angel that wouldn't eat anything but brine for weeks on end, then one day something just snapped and he started accepting frozen foods. Continue feeding the ghost shrimp, soaked in Selcon, and keep offering other foods. He will come around. Don't cut his quarantine period short whatever you do. Cheers Jim<<<

Abandoning an UGF in a newly set-up 90 gal marine tank and feeding triggers Hi gang,<Hi Ed, MikeD here> I think you guys are doing a wonderful job.<Thanks, we try> My question is I have a 90 gallon fish only that has been up and running for 1 month, it took 3 weeks to cycle,<Be careful. in that short a time even the tiniest glitch can cause it to re-cycle or go into a mini-cycle.> the first question is I put an UGF in before I saw your site, I have 2 300gph power heads running on the up tubes, is this ok or should I get rid of the UGF, I have 6 inch crushed coral covering the UGF, and is it ok to just pull the tubes and cover up the holes without removing the UGF.<This would be my suggestion. I've done it in the past with no problems. On an olde tank you might have sufficient accumulation beneath to warrant siphoning out the mulm, but here I suspect you'll be fine> Second I have 2 trigger and a coral beauty<2 triggers can be a bit much in a 90 as they grow, so consider yourself warned> that are carnivores, I have found that our local Wal-Mart store has in it's sea food section what is called sea food melody, the guy working there said it's just left over and it has squid, clam, crab, and some sort of fish, all raw and unprocessed, I gave ground some up in the food processor and the fish love it.<It makes an excellent food as long as you don't grind it too fine, where it can pollute the tank. Your triggers, for instance have very strong jaws and sharp teeth. I just cut it into small pieces with scissors and feed until they lose interest, then stop> Is it ok, should I add some vitamins?<You can> Last question is I was given some what used to be live rock which I bleached and washed and left out in the hot West Texas sun to dry and let the bleach dissipate, I put it in the tank with my 25 lbs of live rock, I was told it would become live again over time, is it ok to do this?<Yes, it WILL eventually become part of your LR as well> I was told it would be ok, well any way I read your site daily and enjoy it very much.<Thanks for your interest and support> Thanks Ed from West Texas.

Snails an Triggers (2/5/04) Hello, I have a 3-4" Picasso trigger that I feed a general marine flake food and frozen krill. Would it be beneficial to occasionally throw a snail or two or maybe a hermit crab into the tank as a treat for the trigger, to make him feel at home? <No> What about crayfish? As far as I know the crayfish at my LFS are freshwater, does that make a difference? <Yes, likely to die quickly if "thrown in."> Thanks. <I would mix this fish's diet up with a variety of less expensive seafoods. For the price of a single hermit crab or nail, you can get 1/2 pound of mixed seafood. Many grocery stores sell things like "Seafood Gumbo Mix." At my local Albertson's this includes squid, octopus, shrimp, mussel, and other things. I'd say this is a better option. Steve Allen.>

- Trigger Food - I have been feeding the above fish 100% New Life Spectrum Marine Fish Food for over 6 months. Seems to be doing great. Someone suggested that I feed only meat (shrimp...) and forego the pellet food. I like the pellet food convenience. Can my fish survive on high quality pellet food? <Well, you've picked THE high quality pellet food, and the folks who created it are able to keep a whole bunch of hard-to-keep fish using this same food. I'd say your fish will likely do well with it. Sill, I like to make my own food from shrimp, squid, and clams... I'm sure your trigger would enjoy some. But as I said, the New Life Spectrum foods are about the best food you can get in a container.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >

- Fruity Fish Food - I recently visited the Newport Aquarium outside of Cincinnati, and noticed some odd things.  There was a large tank containing several triggers, and along with their standard "meaty" foods, they were also offering fruit to the triggers (mango, and bananas).  They had these in thin pieces hanging from a clip as you would see algae for a tang.  I asked one of the staff there why they were doing this.  They said the triggers actually love it, and the vitamin C  and other vitamins contained in these were beneficial to the fish. Have you ever heard of this? <Yes.> And if so could it be done in a home aquarium in smaller amounts, or would it be worth doing? <I don't think I would endorse the practice. The chances of a reef or pelagic fish running into a piece of fruit in the wild are [beyond] slim to none. As much as they might enjoy eating fruit, I can't imagine that they've evolved a digestive tract capable of getting the nutrients out of such fare - I'd personally stick with the meaty seafoods. If it's vitamins you're concerned about, I'd just add them to the foods - Selcon, VitaChem, etc.> Or would it cause too much organic waste?  <A definite possibility or more to the point, poorly digested organic wastes.> My fish are fine and healthy, water conditions are perfect (very close to your suggestions (0 - ammonia and nitrites, and close to 20 on the nitrates) - all thanks to very regular water changes with a little "prime" added to the r/o water.  I have a 75 gallon with a dog-face puffer, flame hawk, Huma trigger, harlequin Tuskfish, and a snowflake moray.  I think the trigger and maybe the puffer would be the only ones to nibble on this. But is it really worth my time to attempt this? <Not in my opinion.> Thanks for your time Kevin <Cheers, J -- >

- Feeding too Much? - <Hello, JasonC here...> I have a 200 gallon saltwater with a Naso Tang (8"), Yellow Tang (3"), Sunset Wrasse (8"), maroon clown (3"), Maculosus Angel (5"), and a Blue-throat Triggerfish (6"). I'm just wondering if I'm feeding them enough.  My water quality is always perfect as I do 10% weekly water changes but I want to know if I'm feeding them enough.  The trigger and the Maculosus are newcomers -- the others are fat and sassy and I know they get enough.  However, unsure how much to up the feeding amount with the arrival of the two new ones. The blue-throat absolutely loves zooplankton.  He has not been eating the Formula One or Two that I feed the others.  I usually put 1 and a half cubes of the frozen but am unsure about how much zooplankton?  They all love it but I need it especially for my trigger. <No more than can be consumed in three minutes, that's a good rule of thumb.> Also, how much seaweed per day?  I feed them Seaweed Select and usually put a 5 x 2" piece in there on a clip.  Everyone enjoys it, but am I feeding enough or too much? <Sounds about right.> Can you over feed on the seaweed? <Sure.> Also, how often should I put an open clam, mussel, or scallop in there for them? Should this be a daily thing or should I just do it once or twice a week? <I'd go with once or twice a week.> HELP!!  Don't know what the right feeding amounts are!! <You're doing fine.> Thanks so much. Elizabeth K. Birdwell <Cheers, J -- >

Trigger Trouble? (Pt. 2) That's the other problem besides the mysterious two white spots. . . he's not eating!   (I forgot to mention this very important factor!). <Yep...Pretty important! Be sure to try a number of different foods to tempt him to eat...Sometimes, when a fish is not eating, I'll use a vitamin product, such as Vita Chem, administered directly into the water- to help stimulate the fish into eating. Or, at the very least, the fish may take in the vitamins by drinking (which saltwater fish do)...> Every time I walk up to the tank he hides.  But then when I walk away he swims about happily -- checking out every corner of the tank.  His color is awesome -- he's fat and healthy and I looked at him  again this morning and there are no new spots -- just the same ones.   <That's a good sign...> I've been feeding him Formula One and Two.  Anything else I should try?   <I'd try frozen Mysis...A good all-around food, and one that provides good nutrition. Another would be chopped up squid- also high in protein, and eagerly accepted by most fishes. Keep trying different foods until you find something this guy likes> I got him on Sunday from the store so it's only been 2 full days.  They had only received him in (from Hawaii) the Friday before.  So, could he be not interested in eating because he's just not acclimated? <Quite possibly. The rigors of capture, transport, and acclimation are quite hard on fishes, and it may take them a while to settle in to start feeding...That's another good reason to use quarantine procedures: to give fishes time to "settle down" and adjust to captivity...Don't give up on this guy...Good luck! Regards, Scott F> HELP!!  I love him to death (named him Leonardo) and don't want to have to take him back!!!! Thanks for any suggestions you might have.  Always VERY MUCH appreciated.   Elizabeth

Spit And Run? (Trigger Won't Hold Food Down> Hi Scott, <Hello again!> Sorry to keep bothering you but I have another problem.  My trigger fish seems to vomit quite often (at least once a day) after he eats. I have not been feeding him anything new or any larger quantity (actually, he seems to eat LESS than his usual amount).  He also seems a little jumpy. This has been going on for about a week. Any ideas? Thanks. Rob Stein.  <Well, Rob- I've seen this kind of behavior in triggers before, and, in my opinion, it is usually does not seem to be a health issue. Rather, I think it is a "social" issue...These guys are greedy, fast eating fishes, and sometimes they tend to "strike" at the food, and, in their excitement, simply "bite off more than they can chew", spitting it out in the process. I have seen similar behavior with other fishes, such as tangs, that, ahem- "void their bowels" when they get excited, such as at feeding time. This behavior is usually something that seems to dissipate after a while. Other considerations are the tank mates for the fish, and how they may affect the trigger's behaviors. If you carefully observe the interactions between the different fishes in the tank, this may yield some interesting clues. Have fun checking this out! Regards, Scott F> 

Trigger On A Hunger Strike? Hi Bob, <Actually, Scott F. in today> I was wondering if you could help me. We have had our pink-tailed trigger for about 2 years now. He has always been very healthy and a voracious eater, hence his name "Pumba" (after the hungry warthog in The Lion King).  Well, suddenly Pumba has quit eating.  He is laying low in the tank, but doesn't appear to be having any problems otherwise.  Our family is worried, as we have all become attached to this guy, he has the most personality of any of our other fish.  Nothing has been recently added or changed in our tank.  We have Pumba, a falcula butterfly, a long-nosed butterfly, a coral beauty, two clarkii clowns, a long-nosed Hawkfish and a strawberry Basslet.  Our tank is 90 gallons.  My husband thinks that he ate a snail or crab and has a tummy ache. <Well, you never know...> I think that he is boycotting our selection of food because we haven't offered his favorite, silversides.  We offer a variety of foods, alternating between saltwater flakes, saltwater pellets, live brine, prawns, and formula 1 and 2.  I am going out today to get some silversides!  It has been over a week since he has eaten.  Any ideas?  Your help would be greatly appreciated.  Sorry for the length here.  Thank you! Amy <Well, Amy- hard to say what the cause of Pumba's "hunger strike" is...Triggers have certainly been known to do this, much like Oscars...However, I am always concerned about a fish that quits eating. I'd run a range of water tests (ammonia, nitrite, pH, specific gravity, etc.) just to be on the safe side. Have you changed any husbandry procedures dramatically-like a large water change, or missed a few water changes? Have you recently introduced any other fishes to the tank? Changed brands of salt mix, used additives, etc? Ask yourself all of the obvious questions, then-look beyond the obvious.  If the fish is still refusing silversides, you may very well be dealing with an illness or some other condition...don't forget to look for obvious signs of illness in your search for answers. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Amy Bogue

Crunch and Munch (Feeding a Trigger Fish) Hello crew <Hey there, Scott F. here with you this evening> I was wondering if the Picasso would eat the frozen brine shrimp sold at fish shops or if it would be best to feed live brine? Also, do they eat turbo snails or any other 'cleaners'? <The Picasso trigger will certainly eat frozen and live brine shrimp, however, that's like you living on a diet of three musketeers. They certainly tasty, but they do not do a whole lot in nutrition. Brine shrimp does not offer a high nutritive value.  It's an excellent supplemental food, but should not be the basis of his diet.  Rather, I would feed this guy high quality frozen food such as Mysis, krill, chopped squids, clam, etc.  And yes, he will definitely eat snails and probably munch on your hermit crabs too.  Other than the fact that he will eat everything that goes in your tank, including your fingers, will rearrange your decor, dig in your sand, and tear the place up, he is a great fish.  Enjoy him!> Thanks for your time <Thanks for stopping in!>

Humu trigger Hey guys, I had a question about feeding a Humu Trigger.  There's a perfect 1 1/2 inch baby Humu at the LFS and I wanted to know what and how much to feed before buying the guy.  Are a few flakes every other day, a half cube of formula one the other days enough?  I also have 3 damsels in a 55 gallon with 15 lbs of live rock and 20 pounds of live sand.  Thanks a lot, Tony <Hey Tony, the 55 is going to be a little cramped for the trigger, especially as it gets older.  I would probably avoid this fish until I had a larger system.  That being said, check out the link below on feeding these fellas.  -Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/trigfdgfaqs.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/hawaii_triggers.htm >

Trigger Happy! Hi, <Hello! Scott F. here!> I have some questions about my Picasso trigger.  I've had him almost a year now and he's about 4" in length.  He doesn't seem to have grown much (maybe 1/2") since I got him and was wondering if this is the normal growth rate in a 90g system. <Sounds about right...I'll bet he'll get a bit larger in this tank; it may take another 6 months to a year, but it will happen!> I feed him once a day and he eats plenty of frozen prawn, silversides, and a frozen minced preparation.  Should I feed him more frequently, like twice a day?  And does it have an effect on growth? <Well, I tend to favor small feedings twice daily. It's really a matter of personal preference, your judgment as to what is appropriate, understanding the needs of your particular fishes, and facing the potential consequences of feeding more frequently. Consequences? Yep- think about it...The more you feed, the more the fish need to eliminate waste into your system. This, in turn, means more attention to husbandry, such as water changes, protein skimming, and other aspects of aquarium maintenance. Yes- the fish will probably grow bigger, faster. But think- why would you want to push the growth? In closed systems, this can actually mean a shorter life span- the opposite of what we are trying to achieve, right?> How big can I expect him to get?  I've read your articles on feeding, but still felt the need to ask direct questions. <Certainly no problem to ask more questions! These fish can hit close to 10 inches as adults, but I rarely see them more than 6-8 inches. In fact, I've seen 'em off of Kona many times at about 5-6 inches.  Don't get me wrong- these guys can get big, however!> Also, is there a food on the market that would truly enhance his color? <I'd keep on feeding quality marine-based foods, such as krill, squid, silversides (like you're doing), etc.> I've tried Vibra Gro with no results.  As far as his eating goes, are there any type of anemones I could add to the system that he wouldn't see as dinner? <Well, I won't go so far as to recommend this- but I've seen one kept in a tank with a Condylactis anemone for a long time- and he's never taken any interest at all in the anemone. Does that mean that the fish will leave an anemone alone in your tank? NOPE! Each individual is different. Quite frankly, it's entirely possible for the fish to suddenly decide that an anemone is a tasty treat. On the whole, it's better to be more responsible and not chance inverts with these fish.> How about urchins, I was told a tuxedo (pincushion) urchin might be ok?  Would it be recommended since they're toxic? <Well, I'd have to say no. Why chance it? In fact, now that I think of it- there are a few frozen foods on the market just for triggers, which have urchin as a major component. And, you can actually purchase frozen chopped urchin for feeding these guys-so it's a great food, but a lousy companion, IMO!> Sorry for the barrage of questions, and many thanks for your input! Tim <Any time, Tim. Sounds like the trigger is in very capable hands! Enjoy him! Regards, Scott F>
Trigger Happy (Pt. 2)
Scott, Great info, thanks so much for your response!  It was very informative and answered questions I've been wondering about since I've had him.  You guys are a terrific resource, invaluable really!  Keep up the good work, and on behalf of all "aquarists", THANKS. Tim <Really glad to be of service, Tim! Feel free to "query" us any time! Regards from your neighborhood fish nerd, Scott F>

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

Trigger Live Food I have a question regarding Trigger food --- basically I am trying to find a live food to feed my Huma and Undulated Trigger --- my experience is that live food triggers (excuse the pun) a instinctive response in predators that you don't get with frozen, pellet or flake food (just my experience with triggers and Groupers when I had across the street access to crayfish). <You and I's experiences are in agreement>   The reaction when a my trigger is fed a live crayfish or night crawler is noticeably different than when they see a frozen silverside, flake or pellet food.  That leads me to my question --- I have 8 Bearded Dragons <For unfamiliar readers these are lizards> and their main diet is Crickets (farm raised no pesticides) --- now here is the catch --- to gut load the crickets I feed them fish food --- I know you know where I am going with this. Is there a problem with feeding the triggers the gut loaded crickets? --- I already know they will eat them readily my Huma devoured about 12 medium crickets yesterday.  Pros or Cons or absolutely not? <Likely no difficulty... other than the very response, conditioning you alluded to initially. Do you want your fishes to "act mean"? If so, feeding live foods will encourage this. Bob Fenner>

All Puffed Up! Thank you for your very informative response to Trigger Happy part 1 and 2. But now you have gotten me amped about a larger tank and a different mixture of predatory fish. <Uh- Oh!> I noticed you had a qualifier in your suggestion (Maybe ... maybe). I am assuming this to mean that no matter what, a Trigger may not allow another tankmate. <No- just that they have to be the right kind of tankmate-in the right kind of tank!> With that said I have seen several of your discussions about Triggers and Puffer being able to co-exist.  In my case you said maybe to a Canthigaster jactator which gets about 5 inches.  My question to you is was that to lessen the load on a smaller system or its ability to handle the onslaught by a Humu Trigger fish? <More the ability to handle the onslaught than anything else!> If it is the latter help me understand the tactics the Puffer uses when the Trigger decide he wants no company?  I am aware that the flesh is toxic and they can expand, is that enough to deter the aggression?  What are the tougher Puffers in the trade if tank size is no longer the issue? <Actually, this guy (C. jactator) has a rather "nasty" reputation for being nippy himself! It's more of a situation where "live and let live" should prevail. These guys can usually handle themselves-I've kept them with triggers myself, and have seen lots of people do the same without World War 3 occurring.> The other species you mentioned was the "Crosshatch Trigger" (what a beautiful species)--- I can't seem to get a mail order price on these guys --- do you have a ball park estimate on a small specimen? <Do try Marine Center, and be prepared to pay well over $100.00> Being a zooplankton feeder is the diet for the Crosshatch Triggers any different from the other Triggers/Puffers? <Not materially- they will gladly accept Mysis, chopped seafoods, etc. They are gorgeous fish, and generally (not I said "generally") a lot better behaved.> Lastly, as a side item do you have any source, preferably mail order to get live crayfish or any other live food for Triggers (retail)??? Thanks <Well- if it were me- I'd rather encourage them to eat frozen foods and fresh seafood, which they easily do. You don't want to risk the introduction of parasites, etc with live crayfish, IMO. Good luck on your future acquisitions! Regards,, Scott F.>

Feeding (general, trigger) Hi guys, <<And hello to you, JasonC here.>> Thanks for your help with my last disease problem. <<Although it wasn't me, I'll gladly take the credit ;-) - actually, just glad we can help.>> My fish are on their way to recovery. <<Good, good.>> I have another question about feeding my Picasso trigger. I've read that they should be fed 3 times a day. <<Heavens no, not unless you want it to grow to near full size in a year - these fish will eat until the pop, and will grow accordingly.>> I feed my fish once a day and was wondering how much I should give him. <<Hmm, hard to quantify... say an eighth to a quarter of a formula cube, not much more.>> He's got a nice fat belly now as I've been feeding him till content. <<That's probably too much.>> Since I only feed him once daily, should I be giving him so much at a time, or should I cut back since he's looking kind of chubby? <<I would cut back just a bit, perhaps a third of that, twice a day.>> Thanks. Tim <<Cheers, J -- >>

Trigger Hi, <cheers!> Our trigger fish doesn't seem to be doing very well these days. The tank he is in is 150 gallons. He is in there with a tang, grouper, clown fish and a brittle star. I have noticed in the last few days that he has been hiding a lot in the coral. His teeth which are normally darker in color are extremely white. I tried feeding him brine shrimp and noticed that even though he seems very hungry, for some reason he's not taking it in . Normally he loves this stuff.  <the fish could be suffering from a dietary deficiency if brine has been a staple food for a couple of months or more. Please resist using adult brine... even though it is well liked, it is an almost useless food (mostly water... read the analysis on the back) and many fish starve to death eating it! Use mysids or Gammarus instead> I did see him take in one and then just push it back out. He also seems to be losing weight to. Our tank recently has had a lot of problems with red algae.  <interesting... slime algae are Cyanobacteria and many are toxic to fishes... please read through the archives (do a keyword search on Google for WWM from our WetWebMedia index page). Much has been written about controlling Blue Green algae (red is related)> Any help you can give me in this matter would be greatly appreciated. <basically increased water movement, improved skimmer performance, improved gravel siphoning and water changes and remove the trigger to a quite hospital tank if necessary> Charlie <best regards, Anthony>

Unhappy Trigger Hi There, Specs first. I have a 72 gallon tank, sump, protein skimmer and 40 pounds of live rock - water quality fine. I've had a pink tail trigger in my tank for the past five months or so. Up until last week he's always been out hanging around the tank looking for the next feeding. In the last week he has taken to hiding in the rock I haven't seen him out once even when food is put in the tank. He doesn't seem to have eaten for quite some time. The only other fish in the tank is a pygmy angel who is perfectly normal. Any idea what could be going on with my trigger? <Unusual... but triggers, esp. the more mellow ones like this Melichthys sometimes do go on mysterious-cause feeding strikes. I would do the S.O.P. good-sized water change, and try offering a fave food item (like a cocktail shrimp sans sauce). Otherwise, most often these behavioral anomalies almost always solve themselves in time. Bob Fenner> Thank you kindly for your help, Simon.

Question (s, goosing nitrification, Powder Brown Challenge, skinny trigger) Hi Dr Bob, <Hello> I hope you are well today. You keep on amazing me by helping out so many people and asking so little in return, I am very impressed with you and your crew. <I am impressed with the folks here for these reasons, but not myself... assuredly, if you had spent as many years, hours studying, working in the field... you would know, do more> I have 3 questions for you today if this is alright ? <We'll see> Question 1 - We have a huge aquarium here in the city and they have this "wonder product" they use for cycling their tanks, they call it comprazyme (I have no idea how to spell this) and its a brownish powder. On a 130gallon FOWLR tank they add less than a teaspoon of this stuff and 3 days later they start adding livestock, it never shows any ammonia or nitrates after this My LFS borrowed some of this powder and tested this with the same results - he also cycles his tanks so quickly now. I have been searching all over for information about this comprazyme and haven't found a thing - does this sound familiar to you at all ? <There are various yeast and bacteria derived (even synthesized) enzymes that will "do the trick" of nitrification... many have been developed for the sewage treatment and industrial clean-up businesses... None are really appropriate for aquarium use IMO/E.> Question2 - I have a new Powder Brown Tang, which has been in my quarantine tank for a couple of days now. I am detecting some nitrites in the QT, about 0.3ppm and it doesn't seem to be increasing or decreasing. Since day 1 my the Tang has been scratching himself every now and again (which could be normal according to one of your articles about tangs I read earlier). I think you normally say that nitrites of above 1.0 is dangerous, so can I keep the tang in the QT if the nitrites stay at 0.3 ?  <Yes, though do make efforts to lower this... utilize some ready bacterial involvement from your main tank> I did a 25% water change yesterday with no effect. My main tank has zero nitrites, so I'm tempted to move the tang to my main tank but I'm very scared to do that, due to past nightmares. this is why I set the QT up in the first place. <I would NOT move this specimen. Too much risk of parasitic outbreak/transference> Question3 - In my main 140 gallon tank I have a small Picasso Triggerfish, it is a very interesting fish and I just love its behavior etc. The only problem I have is this little guy's appetite - it eats and bites anything it can get its teeth on. It is literally biting holes into my live rock and ripping it apart. I don't mind replacing some live rock every now and again, but I'm worried that he is killing the live rock, if this is possible. Can he damage the live rock, i.e. killed the life on it ? <Only to an extent... I would try offering some other live foods in an attempt to "fill it up"... like whole shellfish (on the opened shell or headless (e.g. "Cocktail" sans sauce) shrimp of different kinds.> Thanks in advance and my apologies for the many questions. <No worries, Bob Fenner> Gavin

The Conscientious Marine Aquarist (trigger feeding, high DO) I love the book and am learning tons, Thanks. A couple of questions. 1. I have a 48 gal. tank w/ one damsel, four clowns and a Niger Trigger (much larger than the clowns and damsel but all living peacefully together) and I feel the trigger wasn't getting proper nutrition from basic flake and frozen Emerald Entree so I bought regular store bought shrimp - is this ok to feed the trigger? <Yes> 2. Is there a possibility for too much oxygen in the tank? <In some unusual circumstances, yes.> Thanks, Jake-Dallas <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Question regarding niger trigger Dear Bob, We have the following in our tank at the moment. Tank - 4ft x 2ft x 2ft Capacity - 450l 120gal Filter - Fluval 403 Powerhead - Atman At-f102 4 Undergravel plates Lighting - 4 x 2ft Arcadia Fluor Tubes 2 x Marine Blue 2 x Power Glo 20W Heating - 1 x 250 watt heater Protein Skimmer - 1 x Orca 35 skimmer Live Stock - Live Rock - 50kg 110pounds 1 x Coral Banded Shrimp - Stenopus hispidus 1 x Snail 1 x Blue Tang - Paracanthurus hepatus 1 x Tomato Clown - Amphiprion melanopus 1 x Scribbled Angel - Chaetodontoplus duboulayi 1 x Royal Dottyback - Pseudochromis paccagnellae 1 x Coral Beauty Angel - Centropyge bispinosa 1 x Yellow Boxfish - Ostracion cubicus 1 x Bubble Tipped Anemone - Entacmaea quadricolor 1 x Star Fish - Fromia milleporella ???? 1 x Soft Coral - Nephthea sp ???? <the angel and blue tang alone will easily grow to fill if not outgrow this aquarium... the box fish is really too much as they grow to 2 feet in length or more. Really an inappropriate animal for most tanks especially for their toxin which can be exuded and kill every fish including themselves within minutes/hours if stressed. Please consider removing this fish to a large species tank only> We are considering buying a small (about 6cm) Niger Trigger and want to know if we buy him this small, will our shrimp be in mortal danger or will the shrimp be able to defend himself enough to condition the Trigger to eat something else?  <this trigger doesn't eat shrimp in the wild... it is a planktivore. No large crustacea in its diet like most triggers. The shrimp is fairly safe. Still... it is another fish that reaches a large adult size and I must suggest that you consider the need to leave space for current fish to grow even in the short term (2-3 years). The tank already has fish that grow too large for this display> Also, what would you recommend as the best diet for the Trigger? <finely shredded meats of marine origin. Some alga based material too. Mysis shrimp, Pacifica plankton, Spirulina algae and Nori seaweed, shredded cocktail shrimp, etc> Secondly, our Scribbled Angel has a tendency to swim on an angle (i.e. not straight up and down.) He frequently sits in the current of the filter outlet basically swimming enough to stay in one spot, but is leaning while doing so. Occasionally, he has also being completely horizontal (giving us quite a scare thinking he is dead). This normally occurs at night after the lights have been turned off. He is quite a shy fish at the moment but slowly coming around.  <has been observed in captivity before when non pathogenic... perhaps a function of captivity/tank size> Is this a natural behaviour or should we be more concerned.  <still look closely for gilling (rapid, scratching, one closed, etc) that would suggest parasites or the prelude to an infection. Do have a quarantine tank ready> All levels are fine in the water. Temp is good. No visible marks or irregularities on the fish. We look forward to your help on this one. Keep up the excellent work with the site. Regards, Scott Fawke Brisbane, Australia <best regards, Anthony>

Trigger and Puffer Hi Bob, <Steven Pro this evening.> I have a 75g tank with a 4-5 inch Huma Huma trigger, a 4-5 inch stars n stripes puffer, a clown and 2 damsels. The Huma was the last fish that I introduced in the tank. In the beginning (for the first two months or so) everything seemed fine. I'd feed my Huma and puffer 1 large feeder and they'd both share it. <By feeder, I assume you mean feeder goldfish, an absolutely horrible food for any marine fish. Please try to wean both onto foods of saltwater origin. Frozen krill, clam, mussels, and mixed "formula" foods would all be good.> In fact my puffer got lazier and didn't even bother to go for the kill anymore. He'd let the Huma chase the feeder and then would join in on the feast afterwards. I'm wondering if this is normal. Even with the feeder swimming right by him would not cause the puffer to do anything. <Maybe he realized the goldfish was bad for him (a little joke to amuse myself).> Another concern is that now my Huma is really getting mean and has started to bite my puffer whenever he approaches the dead feeder Huma is feeding on. I suppose it could be because my puffer usually takes huge bites and can swallow almost the whole feeder, leaving Huma with nothing. I don't know what to do to stop the Huma from attacking my puffer who is really shy. <Putting them in separate tanks would surely work. Also, try to feed them a little more and at different ends of the tank.> Thanks, May <Have a nice evening. -Steven Pro>
Trigger and Puffer II
Hi Bob, <Actually, this time and last time, you were "talking" to Steven Pro, one of the WWM crew members.> I realize that feeder goldfish isn't a natural food source for my Huma and trigger, however, will that somehow affect their health? <Yes, will be bad for their health. You can read more about it here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm > I thought I was doing the right thing by feeding them live food versus frozen food. <Much easier to meet their dietary requirements with frozen foods.> I also occasionally feed them thawed mussels, shrimps, squid, and other marine variety seafood but it seemed to me that it was giving my puffer indigestion problems. Don't get me wrong, he'll eat anything, except for formula food. <Those are all good foods.> Another dumb thing that I did though was I threw in a freshwater crayfish. <Not dumb at all. Generally needed for the trigger and to a greater extent the puffer to wear down their teeth.> I'd read somewhere that it was good for the Huma to eat hard-shelled things to sharpen their teeth. My puffer ate most of the hard shell and had very bad indigestion for a couple days. I even though he was going to die cause he would float on his side! He's much better now and recovered. <A very strange occurrence, perhaps unrelated to eating the crayfish.> It seems that you're suggesting feeding them mostly frozen food as I've been doing above all the time. Anything live that I can buy occasionally that they'll like? <Ghost shrimp that have been acclimated to full strength seawater and fed a well round diet of marine origin are ok, but really not necessary.> Thanks for the reply. ~May <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Inverts and big fishies Hello boys, are we enjoying the summer? <Fine, you?> I had a question concerning starfish, hermit crabs, turbo snails and how good their protection is. I have a 72 gal bow front I was wanting to mainly for the most part to be a fish tank, but I do have a inch of live sand on the bottom as well as about 25 to 30 lbs of liver rock just to help with the biological filtration mixed in with the decor rock. The question now is, I would like to have like turbo snails, hermits, and a star or 2 to help with algae and detritus, but, do fish like triggers open up the can of whoop %ss on them? Can they munch through there hard shells?  <Absolutely. Worth trying, experimenting, but all Balistids/Triggers can/will munch, sample these invertebrates if hungry or just curious. Bob Fenner> Thanks. John

Feeding triggers Clams Hello WWMCrew, Great site! I visit it numerous times daily. A very quick question. I've heard/read that feeding triggers fresh clams is a real treat for them, so I bought a small steaming clam @ the market today & was wondering what to do. Do I shuck it & put the whole clam in? Or just drop the clam in & let the triggers work for their treat? Thanx in advance. Craig <Best to pries it open this time... with larger size triggers, once they learn "what's inside" they will open clams themselves. Bob Fenner>

Feeding Puffers Hi there. <<Hello, JasonC here...>> We have a porcupine puffer and a Humu Humu trigger and we were wondering if we are feeding them enough. <<if I were a trigger or a puffer, the word "enough" would not be part of my vocabulary.>> Unfortunately being in the Netherlands there are limited feeding options. So far we have been feeding them clams...(not the shell) And we feed them 3 times a week, let's say 4 clams for Spikey, and 2 for Magnum if he is lucky....... <<and I'd be a lucky trigger to be eating clams all the time, but depending on the size of the clam, you might be able to feed a half-clam or less per day and still meet the nutritional needs of the fish.>> This has been the advice since we bought them but recently we found out that this guy is a scam..... <<uh oh... well, no harm done by the clams - this is much better food by a factor of 100 [or more] than brine shrimp, which is what many people in the US are told they should feed. So really, you're not doing so badly.>> Can you help..  We once in a while feed them frozen sardines and shrimp (of course, defrosted ;-) <<ok - you might want to try chopping/blending/mixing those three things in a blender or food-processor into a chunky, lumpy goo, and then freeze into a sheet, ice cubes, or something similar. This would also be an excellent opportunity to add some vitamins to the mix. You could then thaw a half cube or so and use that to feed a more precise portion. Check out the reading at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm >> The reason why we don't feed so much is that we always have high nitrate... <<yes, good plan, although you may/might want to change the water a little more often if the nitrates are always on the rise.>> let me know? Thanks in advance Wendy <<Cheers, J -- >>

Crabs and Triggers I hope you can help. I would like to know if the large red legged hermit crabs (almost fist size) would become a meal for this trigger. The trigger is 11 cm specimen. Secondly, would he be very aggressive towards large angels, wrasse and eels? <This species is a "toss up" temperament-wise as far as a "predictability index" goes with Balistids... It will likely harass, ultimately consume the hermit (let's say if/when it molts), but in an adequately large, well fed, filtered system, would leave the fish/groups listed alone. Please see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sufflamen.htm and the FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner>

Triggerfish and sea urchins I have a black sea urchin about the size of a tennis ball or just a little smaller and I'm getting a 2.5-4" clown trigger and I know that triggers love sea urchins, so, is there any chance that the triggers wouldn't eat the urchin? <Yes... at the acquired size it is likely unfamiliar with urchins as foods. As long as this specimen is otherwise well fed, it will likely leave yours alone> I do have an extra tank to put the urchin into so I'm not just going to let the triggers eat the urchin (I'll move it out immediately if you say so). Thanks for your help! Kevin Ballard <Whichever system is more stable, has more rock, material to live on, I would leave/move the urchin to. Bob Fenner>

Huma dentition When I got my Huma he had what looked to be a set of broken teeth in his lower jaw, and it proceeded to show why as it loves to crash at full rush into things... <Yes, not uncommon> Anyway, today I noticed it was quite ginger with whole krill - a favorite food - and upon further observation noticed that one of the remaining front teeth was on its way out... and now finally gone. <...> The question is - do these fish go through teeth like sharks - or have juvenile teeth... or am I completely wrong and have misidentified the tooth as a chunk of shell... small wound in gum make me think it was a tooth. <Likely a remnant, and not deciduous... one copy to a customer/lifetime> Upper teeth look fine and formidable. Allowed another favorite food - clam - to thaw completely and he ate fine. Not concerned per se - just curious - his problem for crashing into things. TIA. Cheers. J -- <Still able to eat, deliver a formidable bite... including to you. Bob Fenner>

Macroalgae Bob, I am sure interested to cultivate macroalgae in the tank but will the trigger fish consume it ? David. >> <Only a bit... unlikely that it would/will consume all. Bob Fenner>

Over feeding? Dear Bob, I had recently bought a juvenile clown trigger (3/4" long). I have a 90 gallon and has two percula clowns (approx 1' 1/4" long), a scooter blenny and 4 hermit crabs. I just started the tank three weeks ago. The trigger has been in the tank for three days. It was hiding most of the first and second day. It started swimming on the third day. I fed the fishes yesterday and the trigger ate like crazy. His stomach was really bloated and right after eating, he went into hiding. This morning, the trigger still won't come out and swim. Did I over feed? Is the trigger sick? This morning before I left for work, the trigger was hiding at in the rocks and his tale is curved. He was just sitting on the rock. Should I worry? >> I wouldn't worry... maybe a "tummy ache" or simple post-introduction trauma exhibition... It will be out and eating too much real soon. Bob Fenner

Trigger/cleaner shrimp Hi Bob, This is David from Malaysia, an island call PENANG, heard about it? Have you been here? Drop me a line if you are coming! <Have heard of the area. Haven't been there yet! Will cc you if/when can get thereabouts> Anyway, I like to know whether clown trigger will consume a cleaner shrimp? <Absolutely. Have seen triggers cleaned by such shrimps in the wild... but wouldn't risk one myself> And is it save to feed clown with live food like the usual shrimp caught in the shore? <Definitely yes.> Any different if fed with live food? <Any, all types generally accepted, as are all dried, prepared foods> Appreciate your reply. TRIGGER HAPPY. >> <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Hi Bob, I'm having a strange problem with my Huma-Huma trigger that I was hoping you can help with. In the last few weeks he does not seem to eat. He will swim up to the food, mouth it, but doesn't ever seem to actually swallow it. His gut is getting pinched and he is showing classic signs of starvation. He is still quite active and seems interested in the food (particularly the freeze dried krill) but just won't swallow it. I have had him a little over 5 years and he is approximately 3.5 inches. Water parameters appear fine (pH 8.4, salinity 1.21, temp 79F, no nitrite or ammonia, trace nitrate). He is in a 180gal fish only with live rock (about 90 lbs of Marshall island rock that has been there over 2 yrs). Wet/dry sump filter with full time use of carbon/deNitrate (Seachem)/Phosguard (Seachem). Other inhabitants include maroon clown (8 yrs), Falcula Bfly (9yrs), Yellow tang (3 yrs), lemon peel angel (1.5 yrs), Flame grouper (5 yrs), Blue face Angel ( 3 yrs), Sohal Bfly (1 yr), Flagfin angel (3 yrs), Small clown trigger (about 6 months). All other inhabitants seem fine with the exception of a flame angel (yes, I quarantined him) that I introduced about 2 months ago that died about 3 weeks ago (he ate but slowly wasted away). Feeding regime is frozen Mysis, krill, bloodworms, beef heart, clam (aqua Yums mixed bag) 1x per day; Ocean nutrition Angel formula 2 or 3x week; freeze dried krill soaked in Selcon 3x week; Nori sheet 2 or 3 x week. Since the flame angel looked like he was also eating but still wasted away I am worried that it may be intestinal parasites. I'm reluctant to treat the whole tank since nothing else is showing symptoms. Ideas ? If it is intestinal worms any low impact suggestions on treatment ? Thanks, Jim >> After reading through your message a few times... I am inclined to accept that this situation merits what may seem a novel, even whacky approach. It is obvious you are an accomplished (note I didn't say we were old!) aquarist who cares a great deal about his system, livestock, and has a modicum of success in the hobby... And you probably well know that I am not one given to quirky or unfounded approaches....  This being stated, I do believe what your experiencing is indeed some sort of intestinal parasite problem with your Trigger... and though you could use certified anthelminthics (like Piperazine, di-n-butyl tin oxide.... I could list others... even while being on vacation in Maui... where I am).... I would use chopped Garlic (yep, Allium sativum if memory serves), the stuff we put in marinades, salads... for our consumption... It does work to rid fishes of "intestinal" parasites... a statement of fact... The fresh, "you chop it" variety is best... and if the animal is eating at all, just sneak some bits of it each feeding for the next few weeks in the FD Krill... You should see a return to eager eating.... and in your system, the bit of oil coming from the garlic should be no problem. I have "done" similar work with puffers, closely related to Triggerfishes... Trust me here. Bob "henceforth to be called "garlic breath" Fenner

Fish Appetite? Your Q&A column is the best resource going -- many many thanks for your time  and effort. We have a 65 gallon hex with four fish in it - snowflake moray (12 inches),  queen trigger (about 5 inches), sailfin tang (about 4-5 inches), and 3-Spot  angel (about 3-4 inches). Everybody gets along just fine - no squabbles, no  nips or biting. And until the past two days, all ate well -- the moray gets  chunks of raw shrimp and scallop; as does the trigger. The trigger, tang and  angel have been eating everything we put in the tank -- and we feed a variety  of flakes, frozen fortified brine shrimp, frozen bloodworms, and dried green  alga (Ocean Nutrition). Now the trigger has stopped eating - I used to have  to outsmart the fish just to get a chunk of shrimp down to the moray, now it  ignores it. It has wallowed out a depression in the substrate inside a  "cave" formed by three pieces of rock, it seems "mopey" - lethargic - and  uninterested in proffered shrimp chunks or small scallops (to the delight of  the moray). It mouths some brine shrimp/blood worms, but is really off its  feed. The others are still greedy and avid eaters. Is this just one of  those things that will pass, or symptomatic of a problem?? We use a UG system with two powerheads (one low, one high); a Magnum 350  canister with an outflow "Y-ed" to a bio-wheel and a UV sterilizer; and a  skimmer. Water seems good - specific gravity 1.021; temp 76; PH 8.2;  alkalinity 2.8; ammonia/nitrite zero to trace levels. Your thoughts???? >> Thank you for writing. You've summed up the question and most of the response very concisely. The Queen (Balistes vetula) is just on a feeding strike... and this is quite common for the family (Triggerfishes)... and no real cause for alarm. This is a very intelligent (for fishes) animal... that will do many things that seem anomalous... even playful. Don't worry, it will be eating (but hopefully not becoming feisty... a real potential with this species) in no time. Bob Fenner

Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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