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FAQs about Triggerfish Identification

Related Articles: Triggerfish, Red Sea Triggerfishes

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

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Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection &Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

identify juvenile trigger     6/13/14
<... why didn't your message bounce? You've sent orders of magnitude too large files>
Good Day All
<Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
I believe your website has great content on saltwater fish. I need help identifying this juve triggerfish. When I originally purchased it 8 months ago, the colors were not as pronounced. Originally thinking a Starry trigger. Than a Pineapple trigger but with growth and that slight mustache developing over the lip, it appears to be a titan trigger. I truly hope it is a Pineapple or at least a cross breed as the size of a adult Titan scares me. It is a very slow grower but the idea of having a species only 600g Titan tank haunts me. Any help is appreciated. I attached several pics for viewing. Thanks 

Golden Heart Trigger/Triggerfish 10/31/10
Saw that you don't have a pic of a Goldenheart trigger just wanted to offer up a pic of mine its around 5" feel free to use it on the site one of my favorite fish
<Is a beautiful fish, thank your for sharing.>
Thank You
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Scott Chase

Trigger ID - 01/07/09 Hey kids, LFS has a 3" Starry Trigger, per their identification... However, I was absolutely convinced it was a Yellow-Margin... Now, I am really confused... How do you differentiate between juvenile Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus and Abalistes stellatus? Are they not almost identical? <The Abalistes stellatus has white spots, the Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus has black spots (even the juveniles). Compare http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/pseudobalistes/index.htm  and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/indotriggers.htm  as well as http://www.fishbase.org/Photos/ThumbnailsSummary.php? ID=6027 and http://www.fishbase.org/Photos/ThumbnailsSummary.php?ID=58334 . Also told apart looking at the caudal peduncle. At Abalistes it is distinctly depressed and wider than deep, at Pseudobalistes it is compressed. Send a clear picture if you are still unsure. Cheers, Marco.>
Trigger ID II - 01/08/09
Marco, I think you're right. Thank you for the clarification... I think I'm right, too... The specimen in my LFS is simply identified as a Starry Trigger. It looks exactly like a hybrid of the two fishes in the attached photos that I copied from an internet fish retailer <<Not reproduced here. Others property. RMF>>  (sorry if images are too big/wrong format). The first image is clearly identified as a Starry Trigger - Also known as, Abalistes stellatus. The second, lo and behold, is their Yellow Margin Trigger - Specifically, Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus.. Now, these are the names used by www.thatpetplace.com. I believe the common names correspond correctly with the Latin... But, I think the Starry is mislabeled entirely. Are these not the same species of fish? Isn't their stellatus a younger version of flavimarginatus with more pronounced, darker saddle and mask pattern? Am I nuts? My hypothesis: My LFS does not have a Starry Trigger... They have a Yellow Margin. Thanks for letting me rant. <Both pictures show young Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus in my opinion. Marco.>

Trigger question; ID  12/18/08 Hi <Hello.> Today I bought a black patch trigger when I saw him he was very nice, looking very fat, eating and wasn't shy. He has settled in fine <In only a few hours? Improbable.> but when I went to look him up I noticed that the one I purchased didn't have a black patch instead it was a very faint tan. He isn't very big only about 3inch now to my question. Is this normal and will his patch go darker. Thanks a lot. <Light coloration can be a sign of stress due to environment design (needs a spot to hide), co-tank-inhabitants or water quality. May become darker when he has really settled in. If you doubt its ID send a picture or check: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/index.htm and the linked pages. Cheers, Marco.>

Goldheart trigger picture  11/17/08 Hey Bob. I've wrote in to you many times for questions and always gotten great answers from you and your Crew. <Ah, good> I noticed while looking through your trigger pages that you don't show a picture of the "Goldheart trigger". I'm not sure of it's scientific name, as I've looked around on the web and gotten the answer of Abalistes stellatus but on WWM that name is referred to as the "Starry trigger", which my Goldheart certainly doesn't look like. It does share some of the coloring, but fin structure looks different to me and the Goldheart has a very bright yellow/gold splotch on it's side behind the gill, plus the caudal fin is highlighted in blue, along with the other two main propulsion fins. Moreover, your web site lists them as coming out of the Indian Ocean and Red Sea, whereas this specimen I received was collected out of west Africa. I've attached a link to a picture of my Goldheart. I'd be more than pleased if you want to add it to your website, even just to the main trigger page that shows various triggers down the side. If nothing else, in the future if you need a good picture of one, here it is. And if you could tell me it's scientific name, I'd like that as well. http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i236/Recty/P1010797.jpg <Does... a very nice pic... and is Abalistes stellatus I believe> If that link doesn't work, I can attach a picture to the email for you. In fact, here are a couple more links to my pictures if you need or want to see more of it to help identify the species. http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i236/Recty/goldheart012.jpg http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i236/Recty/goldheart010.jpg http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i236/Recty/goldheart006.jpg http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i236/Recty/goldheart007.jpg and my favorite, trigger peekaboo! http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i236/Recty/goldheart016.jpg Thanks for all you do! Grant <Thank you for sharing Grant. Will post, share, with credit to you. BobF in Cozumel>

Re: Goldheart trigger picture  12/3/08 I've been doing more research on this one and I think the fish is actually this... http://www.fishbase.org/summary/speciessummary.php?id=4931  Would you agree? <I do...> I was told it came from West Africa, which Fishbase shows is the home range for the Balistes punctatus which is certainly also what my fish looks like. I searched around for Abalistes stellatus and found some decent web pictures, but they really look nothing like my fish. The B. punctatus though looks exactly like mine. Anyway, just thought you might want to know! My offer still stands, you are welcome to use any of those pictures on your website if you want to :) Thanks for all you do! Grant <Thank you Grant. I've never seen this species in the wild (have never dived the west coast of Africa anywhere), nor offered for sale in the trade. Is a beauty! BobF>

Re: Goldheart trigger picture That area must have recently opened up easier access for collecting ornamentals, as about 4 online retailers that I've never seen carry a Goldheart just started to... someone got in there and get some out. <Guess so!> All in all, it's a great fish. GREAT coloring, super easy to feed and I had a bout of Ich in my tank which didn't even seem to affect the Goldheart at all. It was kind of weird actually, every other fish in my tank showed spots on the fins, eyes and bodies, the Goldheart never did. <Balistids are tough... in many ways, including parasitic disease resistance> My biggest concern now is that Fishbase says 60 cm max size, which is almost exactly 24"... I find that most fish listed on Fishbase only get about 60-80% as large as they list, <Yes... and in captivity... much less> at least in the home aquarium, but that still puts me at 15-20 inches, which is a large fish and I imagine it will get mean by the time it is that large. <I doubt if even placed in a huge captive setting that this fish would exceed 30 cm. in ten years time...> Oh well, if that is the case I'll do what is best for the fish at that time, either relocate or finally build my dream massive 8000 gallon cement tank in my basement :) Thanks again Bob. <Heeee! I say Silicone a piece of glass in the door jam, fill it up, and dive on in! Zee plongeeeeeeeee! BobF>

Re: Red Sea aquarium fish selection... Trigger names, Id... Goatfish sys.,  - 7/2/08 I'm glad you agreed on the Blue Throat trigger idea, I think they are cool fish. Quick question for you though, I read on WWM that they are endemic to the Red Sea, yet sites like LiveAquaria sell them from Hawaii. What's up with that? No need to get too technical, I'm just curious, I want to make sure I purchase the correct version. <Mmm, there are two species... of different distribution... with the same name. See here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/index.htm The Sufflamen is the one you're looking for... from the Red Sea, western Indian Ocean... the Xanthichthys is the Pacific... including the Hawaiian Isles. An ex. of the difficulty, lack of clarity of common appellations> The goatfish I mentioned, I'm glad you replied back positively about it, I'm looking forward to having one. Curious though, will they be ok in about a 1 inch crushed coral substrate? <Mmm, I encourage you to not use this type, size, depth of material period... For the system and the Mullid, look to very fine/soft coral sand... and read re on WWM> I don't want the real small particle stuff because I'm afraid my water will just be too cloudy, <Mmm, not so...> I was thinking the next size up, the stuff that cant really float around in the water, but not much bigger than regular sand. If this is totally inappropriate for a goatfish I'll probably just stick to the small sand, I'd like to do whatever I can that will get me away from having to manually stir the sand myself from time to time. Quick question for you that I just want your opinion on... regarding metal halides lighting. I'm planning on going with a 250w 13K Mega Chrome Marine, double ended metal halide. But the more and more I read about Kelvin ratings, the more unsure I get of what I want... Basically, what lighting temperature do you feel looks best for a FOWLR? <Mmm... for the Red Sea? A dear friend, Pablo Tepoot, of New Life Enterprises, asked me for images to make his spectacular photo montage that he has for his trade display booth as well as a large wall in his Homestead, FLA home... For the color of the water... Something in the 10-14k K range is about right> If you recall, I'm going to have 3 or so bright yellow B/F but also a Purple tang and a Emperor angel, both of which are not yellow and much darker, I'd like their colors to stand out as well. I've been reading that you want low Kelvin ratings for making yellow stand out and high Kelvin rating to make the blues stand out, however, I'm just planning on one MH with no other light supplementation, so what would in your opinion be the best lighting to go with? I realize this is a topic for much debate, I'm just looking for your personal opinion on it. <Understood> This is the light I'm speaking of, by the way. http://www.marinedepot.com/ps_ViewItem~action~view~ idProduct~MB6612~idCategory~FILTBUMHDETW~category~Saltwater_Aquarium_Supplies- Lighting-Bulbs-Metal_Halide-Double_Ended-250_Watts~vendor~.html <I see> So I just finished The CMA tonight, one of the other books I ordered was Reef Invertebrates by you and Calfo, I'll be starting that tonight. I'm especially interested in the part dedicated to refugiums. <Heeee! The original idea for the work was to promote others success in our hobby interest by encouraging the use of these live sumps... I told Anthony (Calfo) that we'd never sell the work with this as the focus or... title (!)... so we settled on Reef Invertebrates (sans Cnidarians which we intend/ed to make another volume)... but did manage to sneak in about a quarter of the work as Refugiums... You will enjoy, gain by its reading. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Trigger ID C. maculatus or Sufflamen? 1/24/07 Hi I'm sure you guys are busy so thank you ahead of time for reading this. Do you know what kind of trigger this is? Here's my photo bucket link- http://s94.photobucket.com/albums/l96/RyumaDaddy/ and an RC link- http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&postid=9067522#post9067522 <My inclination is to agree with the ID of Canthidermis maculatus, but in this extreme juvenile coloration, it is too hard to say. I would lean toward the genus Canthidermis, but seems to be very small, indeed. GrahamT.> Thank you very much Nigel

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

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>

Mono Argenteus Trigger? Bob, Have you heard of a Mono Argenteus Trigger? Do they have a more common name? We have one in our tank and would like some facts on it for the wall posters. Please offer any information you have. I appreciate your time. Thanks! Pearl Hettwer <Mmm, likely you're referring to Monodactylus argenteus... not a triggerfish. Do place this name in fishbase.org or WetWebMedia.com and see if this is the animal you have. More scientific and husbandry information will be found on these sites re this fish. Oh, and all the species of known Triggerfishes (family Balistidae) are listed as well. Bob Fenner>

Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection &Care

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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