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FAQs about Triggerfish Stocking/Selection 2

Related Articles: Triggerfish, Red Sea Triggerfishes

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

Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Triggerfish tank question; stkg., comp.       5/17/19
<Hey Gil!>
Love your book and all the great information here at WWM. I have always wanted to build a predator tank and finally decided on a triggerfish as the one I wanted. I’m deciding between a Rectangular Trigger, a Picasso Trigger, and a Bursa Trigger.
<Neat animals>
The tank is a custom 93 gallon (48x18x25) with a ghost overflow and a 40 gallon sump. It’ll have a little over 70 lbs of live rock from my current reef tank (which will be broken down and sold off) unless you all feel I should add more. I will be skimming and running UV as well.
I’m considering a single tang, probably a Bristletooth of some kind, and a goatfish, toadfish, or something else to help with detritus.
<Mmm; not a Toadfish... too easily pestered by the Triggers, and not a good competitor for food>
So here are my three questions. One, will any of those species be okay long term in a tank of that size?
<Yes; all but the Batrachoidid>
Two, is there anything to tweak in terms of setup and aquascaping (I have read your article, but am looking for finer points of detail) that would make a Trigger happier?
<Some rock bommies (stacked rock piles arranged from the back) to make a course of sort, and allow for break up of the physical and visual environment>
And lastly, will the stocking list be feasible and would you have any suggestions to improve it?
<What you list is fine; IF you put more than one trigger in, likely one will become the alpha fish/animal of the system and may in time come to bully, beat others>
Thanks so much. I really appreciate the knowledge and help as I want to give my triggerfish the best life possible.
<Welcome... I would proceed w/ your present plan, and allow you some time to search out, add other livestock in time. Bob Fenner>

Blue line triggerfish       5/21/17
Hello WWM. I have a question about Pseudobalistes fuscus triggers.
<Neat animals>
I tried to find some information about temperament and tank mates / size for this species to little avail.
<Not a commonly collected, kept Balistid species... never really common, and small individuals especially hard to come by...>
I am considering purchasing a juvenile 2" or so for my tank. Tank mates would be a porcupine and spiny box puffer along with a Indian trigger (Melichthys indicus) all currently in the 4 to 6" length range. What are your thoughts on this?
<How large is this system? Likely fine (given very individualistic temperaments of Triggers) if the tank is very large... hundreds of gallons. Less so the smaller the size. The Blue Line will get much larger....>
Would this be plausible? (If this is a no-go I am considering a pinktail to finish off the stocking of the tank?
<Really about the same chance, rule of system size here>
Thanks for your input and what you do at WWM.
<Ah, welcome Brian. Bob Fenner>
Re: Blue line triggerfish      5/22/17

Thank you for the rapid response. I currently have a 150g with a 30g sump with large skimmer.
<Ahh; a Blueline would eventually (a few to several years) get too big here>
There is 120+ lbs of live rock stacked as to provide numerous large caves and hiding places. I am considering possibly moving up to a 210g if I go ahead with the blue line in the future. Would the 150 suffice or plan on
the 210?
<Like your hard drive, bank accounts, Harley engine displacement... "the bigger the better">

Again thank you and It's nice to have a reliable reference not only in your website but in your responses. Most of the local fish stores typically sell products, not cures (if you get my meaning). And ironically NONE of my
local fish stores have even heard of WWM.
<Some I've visited have computers on site; and make WWM available to customers for input. Cheers Bri. BobF> 

Trigger question; sp. sel.        1/11/16
Greetings, I have a 150g aquarium. It is fowlr. Currently I have a clown and brittle star I have had for the last ten years. I have not added anything to the tank for 3 years so it looks a bit empty. I was going to keep them for life but read today the clown could live for years longer. I hate to take a fish back to an lfs but if I am to enjoy my tank anytime soon it seems I am going to have to. I really don't want to see an apparent empty tank for another 5 years. I really want a trigger. It will be the only fish.
<? Which species? Many could/would live w/ a clown>
I have read various tank requirements. Which trigger can live healthy and stress free in a 150g?
<? See WWM re... >
I also read they will kill the cuc.
<Not likely; no>
Currently I have a well established deep sand bed. When I redo the tank should I go bare bottomed?
<I wouldn't>
Oh I also read the Humu grows very slowly so I think I can scratch that off the list since I want something I can see. Regards Stace
<Read for now. Bob Fenner>
Trigger question; stkg. Earl? Plus Brittlestar comp.        1/21/16

I emailed before and got Mr. Bob. I asked if I could keep a clown trigger in a 150. I think I got him mad :(Then again I am agoraphobic and leave my house 6 times a year so my social skills are rusty, lol I have since read a lot and ask in forums. Problem with forums is just because somebody did it doesn't mean it was right..so here I am again.
<As often the case as not, I've found. "Buyer beware" when it comes to forum anecdotal advice and unsourced claims.>
I have a 150g. I love the look of clown triggers and Bluelines. I decided against those.
<Good idea, too small for long-term habitation of these species.>
I know how it is to be closed in. It would be like me living in half of my living room.
<Exactly the case and also why decor/layout is so important and often overlooked.>
Would an undulated work?
<Undulated are one of meanest customers I have ever seen and also psychotically unpredictable (model citizens for years
then suddenly blood-mad fiends. Beautiful and smart and interesting though.
I want to keep one myself but, well, see the preceding :) Max length per Fishbase: 30.0 cm/11" or so>
Yes I read, but the health of my animals is paramount to me. I want to make SURE! If not an undulated, would a pair of or single blue throat work?
While here one more question please. I have 2 clowns and a large brittle star. I was going to 'trade' in. But the thought of losing fish I have had for 10 years literally had me sobbing. My hubby bought me a 40 breeder, drilled with sump and home made stand and canopy to put my fin friends in.
Now I am worried the 40g will be too small for the brittle star. I told Mr. Bob she was about 19 inches. Hubs and I measured her today the best we could and she is at a minimum 22 inches. Will she be ok in a 40 breeder with 2 clown fish, a deep sand bed and clean up crew? Please advise The psychological and physical health of my pets is important to me.
<Well, it's that whole "living in a small room" thing again. If I were sure the star would be safe in the larger tank I'd do that if you must keep it (I understand the attachment and also you'll be hard-pressed to find someone willing to take a starfish of that type and size.) Bear in mind that these guys can and will catch fish they can catch unawares (sleeping, ill) and also can be preyed upon by the usual beaky fish like triggers and puffers. I had a large one with a Humu trigger (my favorite fish) but since the star was only out in the middle of the night and buried itself in deep piles of rockwork in the day, the trigger never bothered it for a solid 7 years or so. Or maybe he knew it was around but just didn't care, who knows the mind of a mercurial fish?>

Planning Question, Trigger stkg./sel., Rhinecanthus sys. f'    7/3/13
Love the site and I've been reading plenty as I try to establish a good plan for a 135 g FOWLR tank.  I've had the tang <ah, tank> and all the necessary lights and skimmers for a number of years (time goes fast with 3 kids) and even had the tank placed in the wall of my basement when we finished it, but haven't had the time to actually get it up and running.  I think I'm suffering a little from paralysis from analysis too (aquascaping has me particularly perplexed).  At any rate, I'm starting to negotiate with my son (8 yrs old) about what fish we can have.  He of course prefers a variety of triggers.  I've talked him off the clown explaining it would be the only fish we could get in this system (and even then I've seen conflicting reports about whether 135 g is enough).
<Ultimately (a few years) it is not>
 He now is focused more on a Huma Huma after reading in one of my books that they were safe with other fish (although I know that may be misleading as well) and believing he could feed it by hand (Uggh).  He's currently reading up on the eels now so who knows where his fancy will take him next.
<The genus Rhinecanthus has a few "medium" safe Trigger species... including Humas... Melichthys and some Xanthichthys comprise the "safer" ones>
My current question is this - we are planning to move in the next 2-3 years.  How difficult will moving the tank be and should I maybe let that timeframe move me toward a more simplistic 1 fish FOWLR set up or should I fire away with the ultimate plan and just deal with the complexity of moving it when the time comes.
<No real reason to wait; enjoy the system, the sense of wonder and instigation it hopefully instills in you, your family now>
  I do have ideas about having a much larger tank in the next house in addition to the 135 g tank.  After waiting all this time I'm now worrying if I should just now hold off or go simple.
<Ahh, am a much bigger fan or encouraging you to go forward here>
I also have a 55g tank from my youth I was planning to use as a QT tank, but could use that in the interim if you advise holding off on the bigger tank all together.
<I say pull the trigger; go ahead w/ this project. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Planning Question   7/3/13

Much appreciated.  I've got some stocking plans I've toyed with and will run those by you when the time comes.
<Real good>
 Any good articles you can point me to on how to go about aquascaping? 
<Let me see... are there any posted on WWM re marines? Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aquascaping.htm
and the linked files at top. BobF>
Re: Planning Question   7/3/13

Disregard question on aquascaping articles - I found them.
<Ah! B>
Re: Planning Question   7/3/13

Thanks again.
<Welcome. B>
Hi   7/3/13

Hi my name is Michael I'm eight years old.  I want to be a Marine Biologist when I grow up. My dad emailed Kevin Murphy emailed Mr. Fenner today about our 135 gallon tank we are going to set up in our basement.
<Ah yes>
I like to read his Marine Fishes book by Scott W Michael to try and pick fish out and learn about them. I like trigger fish, but my favorite is the Picasso trigger. The book says I can feed it by hand - do you think it will bite me when it gets older?
<Mmm, I myself would always use tongs to hold the food. Triggers can really bite!>
I think it's really neat to be able to email fish experts!!
Your fellow fish lover,
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Planning Question   7/3/13

Thanks for the quick reply to my son's question. He's quite proud of himself. Lol.
<And you of him; as you should be. B>

Triggers and tank size    4/7/12
I have a 90 gallon tank and I would like to have a trigger fish, really like to have a pair.  From what I have read the tank will not be big enough for a pair of triggers, even Xanthichthys auromarginatus?
<Should be fine here>
 If they are the only two fish in the tank?  I don't see pairs of other species offered except for Crosshatch which are out of my price range and too big for the tank.  If I am limited to a single trigger, which would be best for a tank this size; Balistoides conspicillum, Odonus niger, Rhinecanthus (sp), or Melichthys vidua. 
<A Rhinecanthus species>

I really like the Pinktail but not sure if the 90 is big enough.  Can I house a trigger of your choice, a Gymnomuraena zebra, and a Choerodon fasciatus in the 90?
<Likely so>
 Would this max out the tank stocking or
could I add one more fish like a Bicolor Goatfish or an Engineer Goby?
<Maybe the Goat>
Can't find anything in the archives, but will the Choerodon get along with any other members of the Wrasse family like Bodianus anthioides or Thalassoma lunare?
<Should get along w/ both>
 I also thought  about a Marine Betta but not sure if this species is too shy for these kind of tankmates.  What order would you stock this tank?
  Goatfish or Betta, Tuskfish, eel, trigger?
<In the order presented>
 Should all of these species be freshwater dipped in m. blue and quarantined separately for four weeks?
<Up to you>
 I am wondering especially about dipping the eel.  I read that you can introduce shrimp or crabs to the tank before the fish and let them become established and the fish may leave them alone.
<Not likely; no>
 I don't think that would work with these species?  I would like to occasionally treat them to feeder shrimp or fiddlers and I suppose any crustacean is on the dinner plate if I accustom them to that kind of feeding.  Because of the messiness of feeding these species I plan on a good protein skimmer. 
Would a UV sterilizer also be of benefit? (Liverock only, no corals or other sessile invertebrates) Thanks Bob and Crew!
Lance in Nebraska
<Welcome. Bob in S. Cal.>

Triggerfish Choice  1/10/12
I want to thank you beforehand on any advise you may give me, thank you. Ok my set up is a 75 gallon FOWLR Tank It is at a constant temperature of 80 degrees. I currently have a 2-3 in. V. Lionfish living there.
<Mmm, the Lion is too likely to either get bitten and/or deprived of food by having a Trigger present>
My wife really wants a trigger and after a lot of research I have narrowed the choices down to a Niger trigger or a Picasso (Huma Huma) trigger.
<A Rhinechanthus species would be better, still...>
Which of these two would you choose for this tank based on personality, and the ability to get along with my lion.
<A risk>
And would it be at all possible to add both triggers...
<Not really, no. Not enough room here>
if added at the same time. The triggers will be babies-ish as well. Thank you again. And would you have any recommendations that I may be able to use.
<Please see WWM re both species... the indices. Bob Fenner>

Re: Fish Order/Aquarium Size, Puffer and Xanthichthys sel.,    11/30/11
Thanks for the fast response.  Are there any puffers your would recommend that would do well with this cast of fish?  Any puffers that are not tobies?
<None really. All need more room for psychological, metabolic reasons>
  Is the blue throat the best trigger for a 93 gallon cube, since there isn't much swimming distance?
<Is near the top in terms of adaptability. BobF>

Trigger fish, stkg/sel., sys.   8/28/11
Hi Guys,
<And gals Jody>
I've been in the fowlr hobby for fifteen years, had many different fishes and the problems that come but still wanted to ask of your wisdom.
<Heeee! Can we settle on shared experience?>
I have a 55 gal tank with a mature (size of a fist) porcupine puffer,
<This fish, species needs more room than this>
mature Lunare wrasse and mature coral beauty angel. I had a clownfish with them that got bit (by accident) by the puffer
<Mmm, no; not so much accidental as promulgated by crowding, natural behavior>
during a feeding last week and died. So I wanted to add a new fish.
<There is psychologically and metabolically no more room for further fish additions here>
The one type that I have never had and always was curious about was <were>
triggers. I have always been afraid that they would kill my other fish ( I've always had lionfish, tangs, Rabbitfish, puffers) so stayed away. The LFS has a Niger, Humu Humu and undulated. I am most worried that I might have problems with the coral beauty who has had no problems with the tough wrasse and large puffer who only cares about food. Any ideas?
<Yes. A larger system. IF you had twice the present room... a six foot run... You might well be able to stock one of the more peaceful Balistids.
Read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/trigselfaq2.htm>
I'm sure your going to say the tank is too small
but I thought I'd ask and get opinions as to whether or not this might work.
Reading through the FAQ's is inconclusive on what might happen...of course dealing with fish in never conclusive.
Thank you much,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Final Tank Mate For My 85 Gallon/Stocking Levels, Balistid sel.  7/20/10
Hello WWM Crew!
<Hi Ricky>
I've been playing with the idea of getting a final fish for my 85 gallon system. Currently stocked is a One Spot Foxface, a Blue Spot Toby, a Flame Angel, and a Convict Tang. Filtration is more than adequate with a sump running a skimmer rated for a much higher volume (2x) and a refugium with cheato <Chaeto> macroalgae.
I lost my "show fish," a Picasso Trigger, back in December due to a strange growth that appeared in his gut. I'm a member of Reef Central and none of the aquarists could determine what it was when shown pictures. Anyway long
story short, my tank now feels a little empty now that the trigger is gone (in terms of personality).
I've been a fan of Sargassum triggers for quite awhile now and would love to get one but I'm not sure if one would be a good fit for my tank. I justified the Picasso because of the notoriously slow growth rate of Rhinecanthus sp. triggers but am not sure how Xanthichthys sp. compares.
Are they slow or fast growing?
<Growth rate in closed systems largely depends on tank volume, water quality, and diet.>
Eventually I will upgrade my tank but that, unfortunately, won't happen for about 2-3 years.
<I would not add the triggerfish until the upgrade.>
Second choices include a Potter's or Singapore Angel.
<Both difficult fish to keep and would not recommend in your present system.>
My concern here is that the Flame Angel might not be terribly happy about a new dwarf angel joining the group as both of these fish have a reputation for being a little on the shy side while flames tend to be a little more boisterous though I've had a Singapore in the past that I lost due to inexperience with disease who had a great personality and was the opposite of shy :).
Any chance you could shed some light on this conundrum? Is the Sargassum just a pipe dream for now?
<Your tank size is borderline for the fish you presently have, I would not add any more fish.>
Thanks a lot, in advance, for the reply and for the patience in reading my short novel!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Pink Tail Trigger.....Reef Safe?/Triggerfish Compatibility 4/10/10
Hey guys,
<Hello Jeromy>
I keep getting conflicting reports. Some say yes, others no. I have a 180g reef tank with a Yellow and Purple Tang, two Tomato Clowns, Green Chromis, Flame Hawk. Will a 6" Pinktail be ok here?
<It will eat crustaceans and likely go after any small fish. A better choice would be the Blue Throat/Chin Triggerfish (Xanthichthys auromarginatus). They have a decent track record in reef tanks.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Clown Trigger and Bursa Trigger in 800 Gal. Stkg.   3/26/10
Hello WWM,
Thank you guys so much for your site! I can not find much of anything regarding my tank size so I figured I'd be best to write in. I have a tank 800 Gal, 10' L x 4' W x 3' H.
<Wow! A honker to get in and work on I'm sure>
I currently have these great
fish in this FOWLR setup.
1 Male Blonde Naso Tang
1 Vlamingii Tang
1 Sailfin Tang
1 Orange Shoulder Tang
1 Sohal Tang
1 Yellow Eye Tang
1 Full Grown Maroon Clown ( little beast!)
<Ah yes>
1 Queen Angel
1 Map puffer (grows to 2'2")
900LBS live rock. 125 gallon sump. 2 AquaMedic 5000 skimmers. 100 gallon refugium with miracle mud. Its fun stuff!
All specimens are around 6-8 inches at the present time. I was wondering if you thought that this tank size would be big enough for a Clown Trigger and Black Belly Bursa Trigger to be added.
<I would skip the first... Way too likely to cause/wreak havoc here in time with your other fishes. The last, the Bursa, will likely be fine however>
Or just one of the two. I know the Clown's reports of adults taking out the entire tank at some point. But most don't have tanks bigger than 300 gal. if that.
<Were there time I'd tell you of systems of tens of thousands of gallons (the Mirage in Vegas was one) where we had to "dive in", because fishing didn't work, and physically remove Clown Triggers due to their eating the eyes and more of their tankmates>
In this size tank do you think there is enough room to reduce aggression enough for one or both triggers?
<The less, or a less aggressive one... See WWM: http://wetwebmedia.com/FishInd3.htm
toward the bottom... Re Stocking/Selection by the family, genera>
My whole back panel of the tank is live rock with caves top to bottom glued up the back wall. I know some of this would be based on the triggers individual personalities. Thanks for any input you might have!
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

02/03/10 stocking list. Triggerfish -- 3/3/10
<Hi Connor>
Thanks for the quick response
My tank is 150 gallon and already has a Harlequin Tusk. This is my planned stocking list:
1 Harlequin Tusk
1 Russell's Lionfish
1 Hippo Tang
1 Bluethroat Trigger(male)
1 Freckled Hawkfish

The last response said that the Foxface Rabbitfish would work instead of the Trigger, what about with the Trigger?
<Should all go together, but not in this size... I would reduce the numbers of large fish on this list, you have five that get to a foot or more.. too many.. reduce this to three at most>
Last question, will this Trigger have personality like the others?
<They are nice fish, but yes many of the others have more 'personality' than this one, but that is also what makes them sometime troublemakers. For a good balance, I actually like the Melichthys Triggerfish, my fave?
Melichthys indicus, because it only gets to about 8 inches, is pretty good natured, and still has that 'beefy' look. Try here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/melichthys/index.htm >.

Hey everyone..... Triggerfish sel.   2/15/10
I want to buy a Triggerfish for my moderately peaceful 90 gallon FOWLR.
After thorough reading of your website I see that the Sufflamen and Rhinecanthus triggers are indeed the most peaceful (as far as triggers go).
Bob states that the Indian Trigger (Melichthys indicus) is also a "good fish only species". Is this trigger (Melichthys indicus) relatively peaceful like the Sufflamen or will I have problems with aggression toward my butterfly fish?
<Of Balistids, it's consistently more peaceful; however, all Triggers are aggressive to degrees and unpredictable>
I find alot
<... no such word>
of info regarding the Pink-Tail trigger (which is categorized by Bob as medium-aggressive) but not the Indian, is the Pink-Tail more aggressive? I am in the middle of my stocking list at this point and would like your help.
Many thanks!
<Depending on what else you intend to place here... I would NOT add a trigger. Bob Fenner>

Ideas to stock a 265 "reef" with triggers -- 04/12/09
Hello everyone at WWM! I want to thank you all for investing your time and energy in promoting conscientious fish and aquarium keeping. I am planning on converting my 265 gallon "koi" tank into a reef habitat with fishes from the Indian Ocean.
<An adventure!>
My hubby and I are very partial to triggers and would like to keep a few among wrasses and clowns. I've had really dumb luck when I was young and naive, and actually kept 4 triggers (clown, Niger, Picasso, and undulated) along a green bird wrasse and hawk fish together for 2 years in a 125 gallon, they all died when we moved. Now, twenty years later, I still cannot forget how amazing those creatures are and now I'm both older and hopefully wiser to do a much better job. I'm thinking of a combination of a blue throat, Picasso, and Niger with a harem of wrasses and a pair of clowns plus something else but I can't figure out who else might go well with them. If I could get a pair of bird wrasses it would be sweet.
<Can be done... Gomphosus varius are caught as separate sexes in Hawaii for the trade... You state Indian Ocean... are you hoping for G. caeruleus?>
But before I go on and on, I want to know your opinion. Yes, I will be trying them with SOME coral but nothing too extravagant.
<I say keep on planning as you've been doing. What you propose is do-able and should be great fun. Bob Fenner>

Personable trigger, sel.   1/4/09 Hello Bob, Shea here. With some extra Christmas cash I was able to get a 125 gallon tank up and running! Now my dilemma is what to put in it. I love clown triggerfish and Picasso triggers just the same. I was wondering which of these on your opinion/experience is the more "personable" fish. <The Clown... but it gets too big for this volume> Whichever one I get will be in the 1"-2" range. Would this bad an acceptable size? <Both are great sizes to start... but again, the Clown will become "anomalous" in its behavior in this sized tank... perhaps within two years time... Better to go with one of the genus Rhinecanthus, have some other fast, smart fish tankmates with it... much more interesting for you, other humans> Thank you so much for the help <Welcome Shea. BobF>

Melichthys and Xanthichthys, are they compatible?  5/10/08 Hello Crew, <Hi, I'm so sorry for the delay, I don't know how your Q went so long unanswered.> Recently on one of my visits to a LFS I saw this Blue Throat Trigger in a 55gal. I asked them if it would be okay with my Indian trigger in a 75 gal. They said it was okay because this trigger was some of the more mellow species. I did not want to take the risk because I was not to sure. My question is would it be okay to keep the Indian Trigger with the blue throat in a 75. <Um, no, likely not. You should have at least 90g to keep two triggers. Here's a nice general article on Triggers: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/oct2002/Fish.htm > Because when I bought my Indian trigger, it was in a 100gallon with a blue throat trigger,5niger triggers, 2 groupers,1 lionfish and a sick eel. They had been living like that for 5 months. <Sure, but that was 100g... they likely wouldn't get along so well in a 55g.> If they are not compatible, could you recommend some fish because the place where I bought my trigger fed hi, feeder goldfish, and he treats everything I have put in there as food (including an eel which I had to return).Thank you for your help. <Yikes, they shouldn't be fed goldfish. Yes, triggers are aggressive and will have to be put only with other aggressive fish. I can't give too many good suggestions without knowing more about your system and personal tastes. Grown maroon clowns are quite aggressive. Please browse the fish index pages: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/index.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/part2.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm  Best, Sara M.>

Triggers…Picasso or Clown?...or Both!? (Aye yi yi) - 04/24/08 Hi guys, <<Lesley>> First of all I'd like to say thank you to you guys for such a wonderful website - I've used it over the years and have been amazed at the consistently high standard. <<Ah, quite welcome…and many thanks for the kind words, the site is quite the collective effort>> My question is this: I currently have a 100 UK-gallon FOWLR tank, <<Mmm, about 120-gallons US…for us "Yanks">> which is home to a 3" yellow tang, a 2" Valentini puffer and a small Percula clown fish. There is only one invert - a fan worm which sneaked in on some recently purchased live rock. We've had this tank for 7 years now. <<Neat>> We want to add a few new tank mates and have been speaking to our LFR. <<LFS? (Local Fish Store)>> He thinks we can add either a Picasso Trigger (my husband's choice) <<Agreed>> or a Clown Trigger (my choice) <<Um, no…not in my opinion>> or possibly both <<Certainly not>> - if they are very small and added at the same time. <<Even if obtained "very small," you must give consideration to the long-term health (physical and psychological) of these fish AND their tank mates. The Picasso Trigger will likely cohabitate with these other fishes just fine and is usually a good choice for a "mixed" community (with the appropriate tank mates)…but the Clown Trigger will one day decide it wants the tank ALL TO ITSELF. Need I be more descriptive?>> I have read through the FAQs regarding triggers and have come across a couple where these two triggers live in the same tank in harmony. <<For a time, yes>> I know that this is wholly dependent on the individual triggers and their age (belligerence increases with maturity it seems) but it does appear possible. <<Odds are the Clown Trigger "will" kill its tank mates one day…and generally without any kind of warning>> I am worried though that this may not be a good idea in the long run. <<Ahh…no we are on the same page [grin] >> We don't really have the space to upgrade to a bigger tank any time soon. <<Unless VERY large this would not make a difference, ultimately>> We are also considering possibly a Majestic Angel and/or Copperband Butterfly fish. Would any of these plus one or both triggers work with our three existing tank occupants, bearing in mind the tank size? <<Hmm… The Angel is not easily kept in many cases (many are damaged during collection), and is not a good fit in this tank with a Trigger, besides (not enough room for the two together in this tank)...and the Butterfly will likely starve/not be able to compete for or find adequate food in this setting…if you get it to take prepared foods at all. Best you keep searching…in my opinion>> The Puffer and Clownfish are very mellow but Percy (the yellow tang) is definitely top dog (or fish!) in this tank. <<Ah, yes…and another issue with introducing the Copperband>> Things are really peaceful at the moment and I don't want to tip the balance but, at the same time, we would like a few more fish. <<Can be done…but will take some careful research and consideration re species selection>> Finally, what are the fan worm's chances of survival if the triggers are added? <<Nil, nada, zip… In fact, I'm surprised the Puffer hasn't made a meal of it yet>> Thank you. Lesley Saxton <<Happy to share. Eric Russell>>

Re: Triggers...Picasso or Clown?...or Both!? (Aye yi yi) - 04/25/08 Hi Eric <<Lesley>> Thanks for the advice <<Quite welcome>> - we'll definitely have a rethink <<For the best, mate. And do feel free to contact to discuss, if you so wish>> and yes, you're right, I did mean "LFS" <<I figured as much [grin] >> - I was typing with jet lag having just got back from Borneo! <<Ah!!! Bob just returned from a diving excursion there himself...about a week ago. Perhaps your paths crossed without even knowing! Be chatting. Eric Russell>> <Could well be. RMF>

New Tank Setup and Trigger Selection 12/20/07 Hi, <Hello there Nan> First of all I'd like to appraise "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner. As a newbie to establishing community saltwater tanks, the book has been very resourceful. I currently own a 90, 58 and 40 gallon aquariums. I have researched and learned about fish compatibility, which is the reason why I have so many fish tanks. I am in the process of upgrading my 90 gallon aquarium to a 215 gallon, to give my fish plenty of room to grow. <Nice> My three aggressive fish residing in the 58 gallon consist of the following: a 2" Atlantic Blue (Acanthurus) Tang, a Strawberry/Purple Pseudochromis, and a Pygmy Cherub Angel. I realize the Atlantic Blue Tang will outgrow the 58 gallon aquarium. I am also considering the purchase of a Trigger Fish (either a Blue Jaw or Pinktail) for the 90 gallon (or larger). Since I have heard conflicting stories about Trigger fish compatibility, my question is can the Blue Jaw or Pinktail Trigger be tank mates with my three aggressive fish if it is added last? <Yes... either one would go fine here> Also, would you recommend a larger tank to house these four fish? As a conscientious fish owner, I don't want my prized specimens to be devoured by a Trigger Fish. Thanks in advance. Nancy Beasley <The 215 will be great... the Cherub may have to hide a bit though. I would go with the Xanthichthys/Blue Jaw... Cheers, Bob Fenner> Nancy J. Beasley

Need some advice on my fish list for my 150-gallon Pull The Trigger? (Considering a Triggerfish in Stocking Plan)  11/26/07 Hi there everyone, <Hey there! Scott F. in today!> I'm hoping you guys can help me out. I've been reading through the website and I must say I've learned an awful lot. <Glad to hear that! We have some cool people who work very hard to bring it to you every day!> I'm going to set up my first saltwater tank and I need some help with my fish list. The tank is 150 gallons and measures 48" long by 24" wide by 30" high. It's going to be a future reef tank lightly stocked with LPS and fish. After doing some reading on Tangs I've decided to stay away from them, as I've learned they really need a six-foot tank to thrive. <I think that you made a responsible decision!> Anyway, here are the fish I'm hoping to have: 1 Bluejaw Trigger (Xanthichthys auromarginatus), 2 common Clowns (Amphiprion ocellaris), 1 Orchid Dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani), 1 Sixline Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia), and 1 Coral Beauty Angel (Centropyge bispinosus). What do you think of these fish for this tank? I'd greatly appreciate any feedback and any other fish suggestions you may have. Thanks in advance, Shannon O'Rourke <Well, Shannon- I think that you put considerable effort into researching and developing this stocking list! My only reservation (always seems to be one, right?) is the Trigger. Although this species is certainly one of the more "passive" Triggerfish (an oxymoron, huh?), it can display some aggressive tendencies on occasion, and it does have much of the same dental equipment as the more nasty ones! There is potential for this fish to nip or become more aggressive with age. My friend had one that started out as a perfect gentleman, but grew into a holy terror, taking out a few tankmates along the way. On the other hand, I've seen others that were excellent citizens, living for years in community aquariums without incident. It's kind of a dice roll, really. If you are planning on keeping shrimp, I'd say that your odds of ending up with an all-you-can eat shrimp buffet will increase as the Trigger grows! Don't keep 'em with shrimp! Bottom line is that you could include the Trigger in your plan if you're willing to accept the potential risks that the fish poses. Do also keep in mind that this Trigger can hit 8 plus inches in size, and the need for larger quarters as the fish grows must be taken into consideration. Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.>

Trigger Happy, comp. sel.    11/14/07 Hello everyone, <Anthony> Thank you for taking yet another one of my questions. My 72 gallon FOWLR (I have a few lbs of live rock as I would like as much swimming space for the fish as possible) bow front just finished cycling and I'm not ready to begin slowly stocking it. I would like a predator set up centered around a trigger. I would love an undulated trigger but I have read all the stories and FAQ's about this fish and now I'm concerned, mainly because I don't want a 1 fish system, I would like at 3-4. I know I want a trigger because they have one of the best personalities of all, but I don't know which one would be best with two other tank mates a Zebra Moray and maybe a Harlequin Tusk Wrasse. <Will be crowded in time...> My question is who would be most compatible the Undulated, Pinktail or Whitetip Trigger? Or is my expectations too much for my set up? <Mmm, best guess, likelihood of getting along... in the opposite order listed> Thanks Anthony <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Crosshatch Trigger fading? 9/26/07 What's up guys and gals? Just wanted to drop a line regarding the crosshatch trigger. I'm interested in this fish for an upcoming 10 foot long reef tank I am planning. However, I had planned on keeping a pair, but I feel that they would be lacking space, so to my question, does a male crosshatch trigger's color fade if he is not in the presence of a female? <Not much, but some, yes> From every personal documentation of crosshatch triggers in home aquariums I've read that pairs never exhibit any courting or interactions other than just merely putting up with each other's presence. If this is the case, I might just get a male. Thanks for any help you can offer, Nick <Or even a small school if there's room... Xanthichthys spp. live in shoals in the wild. Bob Fenner>
Re: Crosshatch Trigger fading?  9/27/07
Thank you for the reply Mr. Fenner! Just a quick follow up, if I were to do multiple crosshatches, would it need to be set up as a harem or would multiple males get along together? Not sure if I'd go this route, but I'm curious. Thanks again! <A mix of sexes would be fine to excellent here... Just try to find/start them small-ish... four-five inches if possible. Have seen X. mento in very large aggregations in the wild... BobF>

Rectangle trigger or Humu Humu - 07/24/07 Hi Bob and all at WWM: <Phil.> Which trigger is better behaved, the rectangle trigger or Humu Humu (or are they essentially the same?) <Rhinecanthus rectangulus and Rhinecanthus aculeatus are basically the same with regard to compatibility, size, care, unpredictability of current personality and unpredictability of the change of personality with growing age. While they are sometimes more docile (at least compared to other triggers), they can turn their mind and become problematic. See also http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/Rhinecanthus/faqs.htm  and the linked files on compatibility. Cheers, Marco.> Phil S., Lancaster, PA

Bursa trigger, sel.   6/30/07 Hello all at WWM! <Phil> I am a former marine aquarium aquarist, <"Come on back to the fold"> getting back into the hobby after a hiatus of a few years. I saw a nice 4.5" true bursa trigger (Sufflamen bursa) at my LFS. As triggers go, I have heard that they are a little on the smaller, more docile side, relatively speaking, so I'm thinking it might be a good candidate for my new FOS. <For one of size, yes... relative to most Balistids> I like their color scheme--attractive, but not garish. Any thoughts or input would be greatly appreciated. Love your site! Best wishes--Phil in Lancaster, PA ... <Ooh, near the fab TFP retail outlet> <Thank you... Do please send along a/the "rest" of your intended stocking plan, perhaps some particulars re the size, shape, make up of this system. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Trigger Stocking   2/11/07 Thank you for all the great advice to date. <Thanks for the vote of confidence.> After reading for days, I am still unsure how to stock my 92 gal FOWLR. <Okay.> My experience is with reef systems, and fragging corals - not aggressive marine fish (other than being bit by a triggers while diving). <See everybody; it's not just an idle threat....hehe.> The 92 has been established for about 5 months and I would like to go with triggers. <As in more than one?> I currently have a Yellow Tang. My wish list is an Odonus and/or Picasso, a puffer (possibly Arothron), and an Imp Angel. Is all this possible? <Not in this size tank.> If not, due to space, what could I add with the Tang and Triggers? <Mmm...depends on the trigger species, most will outgrow a 92 gallon tank...depending on the footprint of the tank, could make a could single/impressive specimen display> Thanks again. <Adam J.>

Adding another fish, Blue-jaw Triggers (Xanthichthys auromarginatus) - 02/06/07 Hi Bob and crew. <Crew here!  Mich with you tonight!> I have a 125G FOWLR and some polyps. About 100-125 lbs of live rock. I have one Red Sea Sailfin Tang (4in) one Scribbled Angel (3-4in) one Cinnamon Clown one Christmas Wrasse One See-through Goby one Green Mandarin six Yellow Tail Damsels. My fish are doing great, but I have always wanted a trigger. My faves are Clown and Picasso but I don't want to risk their aggression.  I have settled on the Blue-jaw.  I do have two reservations.  One, I think my tank may be overstocked with the addition of the trigger. <If your nitrates aren't already elevated, I think this would be a fine addition.> Two, I have read that they are very easily frightened and spend a lot of time hiding. <Blue-jaw Triggers (Xanthichthys auromarginatus) can be a little shy and may spend a good deal of time hiding when they are first introduced, but typically come around to become a more social member of the community.>   I wouldn't want to add a fish that I will rarely see. <Understandable.  May be a problem initially, but I think in the long term will be ok> What do you say? <Hey! Hey! This was made in the USA?> Thanx <You're welcome!  -Mich> P.S, If you think the trigger is a bad idea, what fish would you recommend that will fit well into my community, or am I done? <I think you have made a good choice!>
Adding another fish, Blue-jaw Triggers (Xanthichthys auromarginatus)  2/7/07
<Mich here again!> Thanx again for a timely reply. <Welcome!> You guys are great. <We try.> If I do end up adding the trigger, can I add anymore small fish, and if yes, what would be your choices? <I would proceed slowly here.  Take one thing at a time.  Add the trigger and see what happens.  You don't want to push your filtration or  psychologically crowd the tank.  With any possible future additions I would be thinking about where the fish tends to spend its' time, i.e. is it a swimmer, a bottom dweller, a percher etc., behavior type issues.  Look at the typically behaviors of the other fish in your system and think about where a small fish might fit in.  Don't forget about compatibility issues here also.  You don't want to provide live food in this instance!  Patience here my friend. -Mich>  

Triggerfish Selection 9/25/06 Hello to all at WWM! <Hello Jarryd> I was just interested to know what species of triggers the crew at wet web media have? Sorry if that's a dumb question, but I am just really interested to know! <I can't speak for the rest of the crew, but I do not keep triggerfish.  I only have time for maintaining one tank, and triggerfish severely limit my livestock selection due to their aggressiveness and feeding habits.> Also I have a 70 gallon saltwater tank ready to go and was wondering if you can suggest any species of trigger I might be able to house there for its whole life (on its own), that I can get. I do live in Australia so we are limited as to what species are Available.  I definitely know my LFS can get Picassos, clowns and undulateds. I was really thinking of an Undulated Triggerfish as my LFS had a huge 10-inch female, she was gorgeous and had the best personality! <The Undulated Triggerfish would be fine providing he is the only fish in the tank. As for other triggerfish, I would choose one that wouldn't exceed one foot in length, fully grown.  Foster & Smith provide the full-grown lengths of all fish they sell. These lengths are based on typical home aquarium conditions. See here. http://www.liveaquaria.com/search/default.cfm> Thanks for your time, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Jarryd

Another Reef Tank for a Bluechin Trigger - 07/27/06 Hi Crew, <<Hello Jeff>> I have a question about the stocking of my system. <<Okay>> I would like to add a pair of Bluechin Triggerfish (Xanthichthys auromarginatus). <<Wonderful fish!  I introduced a pair to my reef tank a couple years ago...sadly I've since lost the female, but the male is doing great>> But I am not sure if they will put me over the bio-load that my tank can handle. My current system configuration is as follows: -450 Gallon Reef Ready Custom 96" x 36" x 30" display tank. -Euro-Reef CS 8-3+RC Skimmer and a Deltec APF600 Skimmer -63 gallon sump, 55 gallon Refugium and 39 gallon rock Refugium -2 Tunze 6000 Streams & 2 Tunze 6100 Streams -Lighting: 3 250 watt MH HQI and 4 39 watt actinic T5's -145Lbs Tonga Rock, 84Lbs Base Rock, 16Lbs Tonga Branch Rock, 60Lbs Indo Rock, and 60Lbs of Marshall Island rock -420Lb Bioactive Live Aragonite Reef Sand Current Bio-load in tank: -Various Soft Corals, LPS, Zoo's, mushrooms and Clams. -Also various crabs, snails and shrimp. -8 Zebra Dartfish (Ptereleotris zebra) -9 Blue-Green Chromis (Chromis viridis) -1 Green Mandarin (Synchiropus splendidus) -1 Scooter Dragonet (Synchiropus ocellatus) -1 Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma veliferum) -1 Mimic Tang (Acanthurus pyroferus) -1 Comet (Calloplesiops altivelis) -3 Ochre-striped Cardinalfish (Apogon compressus) -1 Pajama Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera) -1 Copperband Butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus) -1 Orchid Dottyback (Pseudochromis fridmani) -2 Percula Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula) -1 Ornate Wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus) -1 Twinspot Hogfish (Bodianus bimaculatus) -1 Flame Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus jordani) <<Hmmm...but for the Sailfin which will get quite large, and the Comet which will be of moderate size (Mimic and Copperband to a lesser degree), most everything else is fairly small.  Considering the size of this system, the (2) quality skimmers, the presence of a large sump and refugium, and plentiful though not "overdone" live rock...I would be tempted to add the triggers>> Thank you in advance for any advice you can provide. <<Try to get Hawaiian specimens if you can.  And make sure you acquire both the male and the female at the same time (in the same shipment even) to lessen the possibility of conspecific aggression.  When feeding, small portions of meaty foods (mysis, plankton, glass worms...all with a twice-weekly soak in Selcon) fed a couple to several times a day are best.  Mine even enjoys New Life Spectrum pellets...which do a fabulous job of soaking up Selcon/vitamin supplements.  Oh yeah, a cave/crevice (one for each) in which to hide/watch you move about will be greatly appreciated by the triggers>> Jeff <<Regards, Eric Russell>>

Blue cheeked Trigger Fish in a Reef Tank?  6/5/06 Hello Crew, <<Hello Bob>> I'd just like to get your opinion of Blue Cheeked Trigger fish, (Xanthichthys auromarginatus ), in reef tanks. <<Absolutely worthwhile...if you have the space>> I have heard much recently of the suitability of these fish to reef set ups due to their planktonic diet, but they are trigger fish after all and those shrimps look so tasty! <<Ha!...indeed.  There's always the possibility of trouble, but I've kept this species in my reef for more than a year now without incident (I have shrimp and snails but no hermits), and would heartily recommend you give them a try.  I think the biggest danger would be if you tried to introduce more shrimp after the trigger is in the tank...would have to be introduced very carefully, not just "dropped" in to the tank>> My set up is 340 litre. <<Mmm, marginal...should be "OK" for a time, but would like to see it in a larger system for the long term>> Stock includes leather and mushroom corals.  1 cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis).  Red- and blue-legged hermits.  Turbo snails. Fish list; 2 x Amphiprion ocellaris 1 x Ecsenius midas 2 x Pomacentrus alleni 1 x Neocirrhites armatus 1 x Centropyge bicolor 1 x Pseudocheilinus hexataenia 1 x Gramma loreto 1 x Ctenochaetus strigosus Thank you for your time and expertise! Bob Mehen <<A pleasure to assist, Eric Russell>>
Re: Blue Throat Triggers in a Reef? - 07/18/06
Hi again you guys! <<Hello Pam!>> So, I took your advice (Eric) and I purchased two Blue Throat Triggers (BTT's) directly from Hawaii a few weeks ago. <<Ahh, Excellent!>> They arrived a lot larger than we would have hoped, but they are beautiful (especially him, but don't tell her!). <<Indeed...wonderful fish>> They looked very healthy but apparently came to me very stressed. <<Hmm...possibly handled poorly>> We weren't sure they were going to make it through the acclimation process (the male was particularly stressed, bobbing head down in the tank and floating almost completely upside down, it wasn't pretty). <<Yikes!>> Thankfully they did survive and once we got them eating a whole week later, they seem great! <<Yay!>> It was very difficult to get them to eat.  We tried everything from a homemade fish food recipe all our other fish love, to live Brine shrimp, frozen Mysis, krill, squid, and the list goes on. <<I'm surprised by this, I must say>> We tried to feed them for a full week to no avail......finally a fellow hobbyist (from Wamus) told us about this frozen freshwater Mysis from Canada. <<Yes, PE Mysis...an excellent food>> He brought some over that night and we couldn't believe it...they inhaled the Mysis! <<Very good>> I tried two other brands they did not touch before that! <<Try them now...>> Needless to say, I can't seem to feed them often enough-they love this high protein stuff! <<Be careful...several "small" feedings per day.  Also, wouldn't hurt to soak these in Selcon (or similar) a couple times a week>> It is made by Piscine Energetic (FYI).   For the past three weeks these BT are feeding well, and looking terrific (until yesterday). <<Ruht-Roh>> We were planning on putting them in the main population since we just did our water change in the main tank and my Q-tank is small for them.  We noticed some spots on the fins (especially on the male).  We have been doing very regular water changes in the Q (a few times a week) using water from the main tank and keeping a very close eye on pH and ammonia.  No issues.  We did lose power a few times about a week ago, but they had a battery air stone in there the whole time (maybe it was stressful, but they seemed fine and the temp didn't change.  They are acting normal and look healthy so I don't know what to do about this (action or ignore). I don't think this is Ick because it doesn't look like salt and they aren't scratching against the live rocks or anything.  Luckily I am not a disease or parasite expert since that has not been a problem in my tank and I have a UV filter on the main tank.  This looks like faded white spots on one of the tips (not near the gills) of the male's fins and her lower fin (under her belly).  I am afraid to treat what I don't know and I am also afraid to do a freshwater dip or anything that could stress these fish we have worked so hard to keep acclimated and stress free.  Does this sound like something that will treat itself?  Should I be worried?  Do you know what this is? <<Is smart of you not to panic/treat until you have confirmed the need to do so.  These spots are normal/natural markings...nothing to worry about.  At first glance they do appear very much like parasites, but careful observation will reveal they are indeed markings on the fins>> I have put some Kent Garlic Xtreme in the Mysis when I feed the past two times-any other ideas? <<I don't think you need be concerned...you can continue occasionally with the garlic additive if you wish, it may serve as a preventive measure towards internal parasites.  You might also try it with the other foods as an enticement>> Long story short (I know, too late).....I am so happy you helped convince me to get them. <<It pleases me greatly to hear this>> I can't wait to see them happy and swimming in the main tank.  It was difficult to get them acclimated and they have had some stress, but all in all seem to be very happy and don't even stress during water changes anymore! <<They will much appreciate a cave/crevice in which to hide/sleep...though they probably won't inhabit the same one>> It's been three weeks and I would like to take them out of the QT this week but need to know if these  barely visible spots are dangerous or if they will harm my other fish.  And what I should do if anything.  I can't send a picture-it doesn't show up. <<No worries my friend.  I believe all will be/is fine>> Sorry to only write when I have a problem....but you always seem to save the day. <<Hee!  High praise indeed!>> Thanks! Pam <<Very welcome, do keep me posted on the pairs' progress.  Regards, Eric Russell>> Blue Throat Triggers in a Reef? III - 07/18/06 Thanks again Eric-my hero! <<I'm blushing, or maybe just beaming! <grin>... You're very welcome>> I will keep an eye on them but feel much better now!  I will try other foods again with the garlic as you recommended. <<Ah yes, and the Selcon/a vitamin product too>> Thanks for the very quick reply and taking the time.  You guys really are a terrific resource and I appreciate that. <<The guys and gals here are pleased to do what we can>> Have a great day, Pam <<And you my friend.  EricR>> Clown Trigger, Yay or Nay?!  5/12/06 I have a question regarding Clown Triggerfish Selection. <Sure-thing.> I ran across one at the LFS yesterday.   <Okay.> It is about 2" from end of the nose to the tip of the tail. <A bit small, juvies of this species don't really acclimate or ship well in my experience.> Its stomach is looks pinched and it seems to have general signs of lack of food. <Not un-common.>   My questions first should a Clown Triggerfish in this condition be passed on or can they recover quickly? <Depends, is he/she eating now, is the animal alert, "spunky", and aware of the aquarists presence.>   Also I couldn't find an article on the website that details the selection of a Clown Trigger fish, could you point me to it or help me out a bit as to what to look for regarding size and appearance when purchasing one? <I'm not sure if we have a article specifically on clown triggers but here is a general article that may help you; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/selection.htm ; Adam J.>

Looking A Reef-Safe "Puppy Dog" Fish - 04/01/06 Title pretty much says it all.  I'm absolutely in love with Picasso triggers and all manner of puffers, simply because of their personalities. <<Indeed, fascinating fishes.>> However, I cannot have either just yet. <<?>> The largest tank I can have at present is a 50-gallon, and I also want to make it a small reef (mostly softies), with a few community fish (think Green Chromis and the like). <<Ah, I see.>> Is there any fish you know of that is peaceful enough to live with timid fish, but won't eat the softies, AND has a great personality?  Tall order, I know. <Mmm...>> But if anyone can help out, I'm sure it's you! <<Uh oh...pressure...>> Thanks much in advance, Jodie <<Well Jodie, with your penchant for triggers you might want to consider one of the planktivorous species re (Blue Throat, Crosshatch, Pink Tail...I would avoid the Niger trigger as it will get quite large for this tank).  One of these in a reef tank with a few small fishes could make a very interesting display.  I have a male Blue Throat trigger in my reef display, and if I think about it, I guess he is rather "puppy dog" like.  Regards, EricR>>
Looking A Reef-Safe "Puppy Dog" Fish II - 04/06/06
UPDATE:  My infatuation with Picasso Triggers won out over my desire for a peaceful reef tank. <<Nothing wrong with following your passion my friend...maybe you have 'two' tanks in your future?>> This weekend I brought home the tiniest little Humu I've ever seen, about 1". <<Mmm, tiny indeed.>> Now I know these guys only grow about 1" per year, so he'll be fine in the 50 until I can get him something bigger next year. <<Agreed>> Now I need to find suitable tankmates.  His current tankmate is a 3" Samurai Squirrelfish, and they get along famously!  I'd like to also get some manner of puffer, but one that will grow slow also, so they won't outgrow the tank (or each other).  Any suggestions?   <<Many possibilities, perhaps one of the similarly sized Arothron species...A. nigropunctatus, A. diadematus, A. hispidus, or A. manilensis...?>> Cheerio, Jodie <<Regards, EricR>>
Looking A Reef-Safe "Puppy Dog" Fish III - 04/06/06
Much thanks! <<Very welcome>> I was hoping the dogface would be in there!  Will wait a few weeks and then bring home a friend for little Ziggy Stardust. <<Ha!>> Thanks again, Jodie <<Good luck with your new 'puppies!'  EricR>>

Rectangular Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus Sp.) Tankmates - 02/12/06 Dear Eric, <<Hello Akila>> Hope everything is fine there. <<Not so bad my friend...thank you for asking.>> Everything is going as planned in my main and quarantine tank.  I still didn't put any fish to the main tank even after a month of cycling. <<Excellent to hear!>> I am going to wait a little bit more and work on my quarantining process. <<Super!>> There is a 4" Rectangular triggerfish in the same tank with some Domino damsels at the LFS.  So I was wondering whether to buy the fellow, quarantine it and put him with my 2 damsels and the clown. Do you think it'll be fine?  Cuz I heard that Rectangular, Niger and Humu Picasso triggers are quite peaceful than the rest. <<The Rhinecanthus specie of trigger does make an excellent aquarium fish.  But as it matures/gets larger (10" or more in captivity) it will become more aggressive and need to be housed with equally aggressive (or more agile) fishes.  Domino damsels are actually a pretty good choice for tankmates here...though I don't consider them very attractive as adults.>> Also later on in about 2 - 3 months time I am planning to buy a 4" Butterfly fish & a 2" Fire Goby.  Do you think the Rectangular   Trigger will be compatible with them? <<It will probably be fine with the butterfly for a time...the goby is questionable in my opinion.>> Appreciate your response, thanks. Best regards, Akila <<Take care my friend, EricR>>

Looking for Balistapus undulatus of size  - 01/23/2006 Hi Crew,      I hope things are going well. I am looking for a 7-9 inch male undulated triggerfish and having no luck finding one. Liveaquaria.com had referred me to you to see about any ideas. I have a 72 gallon tank I was going to keep him in by his self. Any ideas?      Thanks,   Rodney <Mmm, rarely is this species shipped so large... very expensive... as it would be one, maybe "two to the box"... Your best bet is to check with your LFS' and make known what you're looking for, perhaps place an ad on the Net, various marine BB's in the hope of finding one that someone has grown to about this size and is looking to trade it out. Bob Fenner>

Pinktail Triggers  9/10/05 I was curious to know if the Pinktail triggers were as hardy as the many other species. <Mmm, I'd say "medium" for triggers... which is relatively "high" for marine fishes used in the aquarium interest> This species is not as common in the areas that I live so information from first hand people is hard to come by. Also, as other triggers do, can I expect a slow growth rate from them as well? <Yes to the slow growth... an inch or two per year for the first few years. Bob Fenner>

Trigger selection question  9/9/05 Hi Bob.  I have been looking through your site-- it's great by the way--and I have a specific question that I was hoping you could answer.  I am switching a 75 gallon tank to a 110 gallon.  I currently have a snowflake eel, maroon clown, and yellow tang.  I want to add a trigger.  I have had Nigers in the past, but I was thinking about getting a pink-tail trigger or a blue-throat trigger as they seem to be less aggressive than the Nigers. <Are> I was also hoping to add a puffer--maybe a porcupine.  I am wondering if one of these trigger species tends to be less aggressive than the other, and also if there is a better choice of puffer for the tank.  Thank you for any advice you can give and the great website. ~Jocelyn   <The Pinktail would adjust better to your conditions... but the "Lagoon" Triggerfishes of the genus Rhinecanthus would be better still. Bob Fenner, working on a piece by coincidence on Balistoides conspicillum... having just split up the genus' FAQs ayer>

Trigger system, selection question 7/7/05 dear WWM crew, I currently have 2 freshwater tanks and I am entertaining the idea of going salt. I'm not thinking of doing it until December or so, but I'm trying to do research and a lot of learning in the mean time.  The triggerfish are what caught my eye. My question is this--starting from scratch is it possible to keep any trigger at all in a tank of 90 gallons? <Yes> I want to be a responsible fish-keeper and I am getting the idea that this is not something that can be done. thanks for any help. Jill <Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/index.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Christmas Island Clown Triggers 29 Jun 2005 WWM Crew, <Hi there>     I am in the process of trying to obtain a Clown Trigger.  When viewing photos of Clowns in books and on the internet, you usually see this fine example with radiant coloring. <Does vary... with mood, health...> More times then not you also will see an almost fluorescent green on the tail area as well as a very bright blue on the edge of their fins, however when you see them at the LFS or see photos of other hobbyist' Clowns, they mostly just exhibit black, white, and yellow colors.  When asking my LFS about this, they stated that the more colorful Clowns originate from the Christmas Islands. <Island... Kiritimati... in the eastern Indian Ocean...> Any truth to this??? <The fishes from this location are exceptional... mainly due to the good practices of the folks in the trade there> My Clown is going to be the centerpiece of my aquarium and I would like to be able to obtain one with this type of coloration.  Wasn't for sure if there was anything that you could do diet wise to help the Trigger exhibit these colors as well.  Thanks in advance for your reply!!!                                                               Jeff K <Much has to do with the environment the fish is placed, kept in subsequently... Lots of room, circulation, filtration... low organics... Bob Fenner>

Niger in a 55 Hello All, <<Hello One. Marina here.>> Today I purchased a Niger. I have a 55gal w/one snowflake eel (10" long), one yellow tang (3" long), one Valentini puffer (3" long) one cleaner wrasse (2 1/2" long I know he's a short term fish. Thought I had ich)... <<Wait a minute, you're saying that you purchased this fish KNOWING that it wouldn't survive long-term??? That equals bad Karma, baby. BTW, one of the WORST choices for controlling ich, ESPECIALLY with such small fishes!>> ...one false percula (2 1/2" long) and one Anthias (2 1/2" long). <<Jeez, you've hit your limit a while ago, there.>> Niger is in qt tank for now. <<Ok.>> My intent is to move the tang, trigger and maybe the eel in a year to a 120gal. <<Why wait a year? These fishes, numbers, should be in such a tank NOW.>> My question, would they all be happy and play nicely in the 55 until the 120 is up and cycled? <<You are VERY overstocked as it is. This is, in my opinion (considering the habits of the fishes you've listed) cruel. I'm sorry to be so blunt about it, but there it is.>> In the 55, I have 60lbs or more of live rock, I do a 3-5 gal water change every other week and a 25% water change every month and a haft or two. <<That doesn't do enough, in my opinion, to keep water quality up, and it sure as heck doesn't give them the swimming space they need. Especially the tang and Anthias.>> No algae blooms, water test are in range and top off with R/O. <<As ever, I ask, "What is 'in range'?" Tells me nothing, and I'll remind you/all that this is ONLY the stuff hobbyists can test for, does not come close to telling the whole story, my friend.>> If you suggest not keeping all together, I do have a 30 gal reef, but if I can get away with it, I'd rather not move anyone out.. Thanks all Brenda <<The 30 is a nano, and outside of the clown no other fish would really be suitable for such a small system (I would have moved it there a long time ago.. unless THAT's already overstocked with vertebrate life). I hate to say it, but you've got to decide what's more important - having these fish now (all of which are quite readily available, so I don't see the point), or providing them the best you can in/for the long term.  I also hate to say this, but it really seems to me that you're not exactly taking into consideration the fishes' psychological health/welfare. Water changes are great, but the frequency in such an overstocked system leaves something to be desired, as well as the amount changed.  The tang alone is problematic in a 55, could do alright for a few months to a year as long as growth is stunted/delayed. But adding in all those other fishes.. whew.. Alright, as things stand, I really DON'T think they'll do well for more than a few months given husbandry, tank-mates, housing. Get the 120 NOW, or give up some fishes. Marina>>
How About Adding "Volume on the Cheap"? Niger in a 55 Take Two
Hello again, <<Hi Brenda.>> Bluntness is not a form of cruelty, when it comes as a wake-up call to a potential disaster. Reason for delay in 120, basement is under construction. Really don't want drywall dust getting into water even with a cloth cover. <<Ah.. Can't blame you on that.>> The 55 housed the clown, Anthias and bicolor for a year. Puff came along, to help with a mantis problem in 30. Eel was a hitchhiker in large rock (lucky me). <<Holy Canoli.. you got a snowflake as a hitchhiker? Jeez, eyeah (lucky you).>> Bicolor mover to 30. Puff stayed in 30 until 3 months ago. Tang was given by Army friend shipped over. <<Ah, yes.>> Had him in QT tank moved him in 55 came down with black dots got cleaner for him. He cleaned him up good. I guess when I said "I thought I had ich", I should have finished and said worms. I would love to keep the cleaner, but everything I've heard and read, they don't have a long life expectancy. <<They do, but not in most captive situations. They require large, and large numbers of, fishes upon which to perform their duties. There are anecdotal stories of folks getting them to feed on other foodstuffs, but I have yet to hear of one living in a situation such as yours long term. This is why WWM, as a whole/group is so against the sale and purchase of these animals (for the most part).>> Any suggestion would help. <<Here it is: Are you able to add water VOLUME to any/all of these systems via additional sump or similar? Rubbermaid or similar plastic tubs can add 20-30 gallons for a small price, and all that would *really* be needed beyond that is some tubing and pump. If you could add macroalgae to them, even better, but it's going to allow you and the fishes a much larger buffer in all situations. Heck, these things can even actually act as tanks.>> Today was a big move day for some. Niger will remain in QT for a month or so. Clown move to reef. Have a small 12 gal nano reef; Anthias is there until I can think of something. Didn't move him to 30 because of cleaner and peppermint shrimp afraid he would nip. 55 has puff, tang and wrasse oh yes and eel. <<Whew!>> Mention water, cause I was hoping you might say "keep water quality good and you might get by for a year". <<Keeping water quality up can definitely help, but I can't tell you with a straight face that all these animals could get on for a whole year this way. Can you trade in some fishes right now? The cleaner, at least?>> Not this case. Failed to mention QT tank is 30 as well. If any of these moves don't seem reasonable, please suggest something.....I know get the 120 going........B- <<Heh, yeah. But, in the meantime if you could thin the numbers in each situation, and add water volume, then you could squeak by. On water changes alone... I am hesitant (but that doesn't mean add volume don't do more water changes). Additional chemical filtration (something not yet mentioned) is sometimes helpful, but can quickly become expensive. Again, reconsider the numbers/purchases here. You have a lot of trouble even if things do go smoothly, a crap shoot. And that's my best advice. Marina>>

Compatibility Question Hi,  <Hello Mike> I am putting together a stocking plan for a 55-65 gallon fish-only marine system, and would love to include a trigger fish as the main species. Is this tank size too small to keep a trigger?  <Mike, a 70 gallon would be the minimum as the Blue Chin reaches 9" in length.>  I was thinking about a Bluechin (Xanthichthys auromarginatus) and was also wondering what other fish would be compatible. Unfortunately, due to a lack of space I won't be able to put together a larger tank (100 gal. +) for at least a year. What would be your recommended tank size for the Bluechin adult? Thanks for your help-great website. <Mike, your tank size is ideal for clowns, a Dottyback, cardinals, long nose hawk, etc.  <James (Salty Dog)>

Trigger = Eating Machine (3/2/05) I have recently upgraded my aquarium and have invested in a 300 Gallon system.  <I am green with envy.>  I have not yet stocked the tank but ultimately want to put a clown trigger in it.  <Cool fish. Great tank for it.>  I know from reading your previous Q&A that this fish has great personality but may tend to be somewhat aggressive.  <Variable personality. It's one of the "less aggressive" members of the family.> <<RMF disagrees... this fish often is an unholy terror when large>> If I placed a small trigger (say 2") into this system with a flame angel, a few damsels (green Chromis, 3 strip, yellow tail), a few percula, some regal tangs, and invertebrates (snails, hermit crabs, cleaner shrimp, brittle stars) and coral (hard and soft) what would be the outcome. My gut tells me to kiss the inverts and damsels good-bye.  <Smart guts.>  Any advice given is appreciated. Thanks in advance.-Rob  <The Trigger will eventually eat all of the inverts. Mine nipped at the "chips" on my starfish, so I eventually got rid of it. It did leave my big green brittle stars alone. Check the picture on WWM of a Trigger eating a Linckia star. Smaller fish are eventually at risk as well. Damsels can be very aggressive with each other. A "few" Perculas may not get along so well either. What do you mean by "some Regal Tangs?" Are you moving some fish from another tank? Have you considered a pair of Maroon Clowns rather than a "few perculas?" If you decide to go FOWLR, which you must if you have the Trigger, you might consider fewer interesting big fish rather than a bunch of small ones. Examples would be a Snowflake Eel (no small tankmates), Lunare (beautiful fish) Wrasse or Bird Wrasse, a larger angel or butterfly. With plenty of $, a pair of Chaetodon semilarvatus would really look great. If you want corals and other inverts, you will have to choose strictly "reef-safe" fish. Consider a harem of fairy wrasses. I'm getting excited just thinking of all the possibilities for a tank of this size. My most important advice is to be very, very patient. Research and plan and move slowly. This patience will really pay off. Hope this helps. Steve Allen>

Itching to get a trigger... not two        Ola ! - A quick question. I have just set up a 55 gallon tank.  I was thinking about getting a baby Niger and a small Clown Trigger, <Uh, no> along with ample live rock and two Domino Damsels (per cycling and time and not rushing into this and all that jazz). My plan is to raise the Triggers till they are about eight inches and then either sell or trade one or both in, depending on whether I go big, (i.e., a hundred gallons). Do you think this is a terribly bad idea? <Not a good one... too much stress... fighting> Inhumane? My cousin has a Niger Trigger in a fifty, it's six inches long and seems to be happy. A couple stores assured me that a Niger will not grow that fast and would be happy in there for a while. <The Niger... along with the Damsels...> My cousin's eats great and is very communicative. Triggers are seem super cool, nearly bright and I bet I'll be able to go big later, just not right now. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. - Ishan <I'd skip adding the Clown here. Bob Fenner>

Triggers, stocking Hi, I just finished putting together a 72 FOWLR and am going to add fish soon. (Minimal LR) I would really like a Niger / Clown Trigger, a puffer (blue spot?) and maybe a snowflake / zebra moray. Is this too much for the tank to handle? <Mmm, I would NOT place a Clown Trigger in this size system period... and not with the other fishes listed> If so, I will probably set up a peaceful cardinal / Chromis / goby / etc. tank. Oh, and is the 1200 GPH flow I have going too much? <Not too much> I might add a surface skimmer which runs on a powerhead (200-300 gph). Works like an overflow, really cool product! -Alex PS. I have a maroon clown in my Nano that I hand feed! He will even come a small distance out of the water if I hold the flakes above him! Really fun! <Neat! Bob Fenner> 

I am beginning a salt water aquarium.  I really like Huma Huma (Picasso) Triggers and Clown Triggers I am beginning a salt water aquarium.  I really like Huma Huma (Picasso) Triggers and Clown Triggers.  I have a 55 gallon tank.  Is it possible to have one of each species of Trigger in my tank at the same time? Mike Bux <More than one trigger species can be kept in a given system, but it needs to be "good" size... a 55 is too small ultimately for either of these species... they might get along seemingly well enough as small specimens (up to a few inches), but will not "feel well" in each others company. I encourage you to consider other fish families altogether... until and unless you have a bigger tank. Bob Fenner>

Bird Wrasse Girlfriend Hello, <Hi, MikeD here> I am about to purchase a male green bird wrasse<ok. These are actually among the more aggressive members of the wrasse family>.  However, in his tank at the shop is the female. Apparently he was unhappy until they added the female<Whomever told you that is on commission and trying to sell a double sale with you picked out as the intended salary increase source.>.  Should I also purchase his girlfriend to keep him happy or will he survive without her<He'll probably do better without her. Keep in mind that most wrasses occur in schools, rather than pairs, and that nearly all males WERE females before they got to that stage.>? Also, in my 400 gallon tank I only have 5 fish including a Niger Trigger<With a 400 the pair of Bird Wrasses would probably do fine, while the results are often a violent and sometimes fatal divorce in smaller tanks.>. Can I add a Picasso Trigger and\or a Clown Trigger<If you want to add another trigger that's your choice, but be aware that the Niger will grow to AT LEAST a full foot and MAY grow up to 20" (that's 4" shy of TWO FEET)  Although your tank is large enough to support a Clown Triggerfish to maturity, the VAST majority end up going ballistic and killing ALL of their other tank mates.  Those brilliant colors mean the same thing that they do on wasps and coral snakes, "I'm dangerous! Approach at your own peril!" and are NOT there just to be pretty>?   I have asked this already but you all have your own and varied opinions.  I do want a peaceful tank when everyone's all grown up.<LMAO! Bird Wrasses and Triggerfish are NOT peaceful fish, but rather are very much the fish equivalent of creatures like Hyenas and Jackals, in other words omnivores with a well developed taste for fresh meat on the hoof. In fact, the comparison of a triggerfish to a land hyena is particularly apt, as both have jaws capable of crushing things far beyond the ability of other creatures in their respective habitats.  the war between the Lions and the Hyenas is NOT just a cute story line in "The Lion King" with the two species being natural and deadly opponents, while ironically many triggerfish are the cause of death to Lionfish in captivity> Many Thanks, James.

Boomerang Trigger Boomerangs <Hi, MikeD here> I recently purchased a small (about 2 in.) boomerang or whiteline trigger for a community tank. I understand that they are one of the least aggressive of the triggers. What kind of algae eating creatures (crabs, snails, etc.) can I put into the tank that are least likely to become snacks.<I'm afraid the sad fact is none. The term "least aggressive" is highly arguable and pertains largely to fish tankmates. IMO, the "safest" of the triggers are the pelagic species such as the Bluechin, the Crosshatch and the Sargassum which are safe with most larger crustaceans and inverts.> Thanks, Kirk Alexander

C.M.A. Question and livestocking Mr. Fenner, <Aaron> I was flipping through my Conscientious Marine Aquarist book today, and I had noticed that the picture showing the two 55 gallon tanks (I think it was page 37?) looked very overstocked. <I see it... a Fish and Invert. system... Mmm, not my pic, nor caption (these are often done by editors), but not overly overcrowded... two apparent larger fishes, a Flame Angel and Auriga Butterfly. Would be better off in larger quarters.> If I recall correctly there were a few ocellaris, a purple tang, a butterfly, magenta Dottyback, PJ cardinal, flame angel, and a yellow damsel, yet there was no mention in the caption saying that this many fish was reasonable. <Oh, I do see the Purple Tang, under a rock cave on the left> Was this intentional?  Meaning that you were simply showing that with increased/superior filtration that you could have 'much' more fish, or am I just hoping that I can overstock my 55g? <Think you may be hinting at what the editor had in mind likely, to illustrate with more livestock the need for better circulation and filtration.> Which brings me to my next intertwined question  ^__^ I would like to keep a Pinktail Trigger (for as long as he doesn't harass tankmates), 3" Atlantic Blue Tang , Lamarck's Angel, Midas Blenny, and a Fire Clown in my 55g Reef. <Mmm, I wouldn't do this... the Trigger is too much period here... as is the Lamarck's Genicanthus> I currently have 3 powerheads (total gph= 900), a hang on the back refugium with macroalgae on a reverse light cycle, an Eheim classic canister filter, an Aqua C Remora skimmer, and a Whisper filter with Poly-Filter. The clown, blenny, and the angel would be my only long-term fish, whereas with the trigger and tang, I would just like to keep long enough before their behavior and/or tank space needs become a problem. Any advice you can spare will be much appreciated and heeded. -Aaron <I would either keep looking, making plans for livestocking or secure larger quarters for the mix listed. Too much likelihood of behavioral/health problems in the 55 with this assortment. Bob Fenner>
Re: C.M.A. Question and livestocking
Mr. Fenner: <Aaron> Wow, I was expecting that I would receive a response sometime next week, hehe!  I take it you are an internet junkie as well? <Hee hee! And fearful of dangerous backlogs should I become less diligent!> I know that a trigger in a 55 might not be a good idea, so what would be your stance on a Bluejaw trigger (he would be 3-4" at the time of purchase)? <Again, no... and a big offer! Come out and see this species in the wild... in Hawai'i! A bunch of us are hauling over for most of August and October... This fish and the (was it a Pinktail?) live in mid-water in a very large piece of water... would be psychologically "very unhappy" in such a small volume as a 55> He has been at my LFS for about a week now (my girlfriend works there, and she's been keeping an eye on his behaviour), he hasn't attacked nor shown interest in the smaller fish he's being housed with ,and his maximum is about 8-9" whereas the Pinktail is about 12"+, correct? <Ahh, see you've been doing your homework... bring that girlfriend and come on over!> If you tell me that the Bluejaw wouldn't be suitable either, I guess I'm going to have to hang up my trigger idea until I upgrade my tank, what minimum tank size would you recommend for a specimen of the Bluejaw's size? <Not in the way of Balistids... I have a very special place in my heart for these fishes... thought that I might make their systematics my life work, at least a PhD... so do "watch out for them" especially> Hypothetically speaking ;o) If I DID get the 3-4" Bluejaw (and added him last with the blenny, clown, and angel) and he didn't not bother the other fish, nor look to be unhappy with the swimming space, no territory issues, and my parameters were all zero or very close to it, would there be any problem with this, assuming that the only cause for concern that it would eventually get to be ~8"? <I would not do this> About the Lamarck's angel, can you tell me why you are against it?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not questioning your judgment,  I've just read that it's maximum adult size is 5-7" and I have an established tank, with enough live rock and pods for him to pick at, with lots of current for him to play around in too, so I'm just curious as to why it wouldn't be suitable for my tank. <Similar to the trigger, swallowtail angels need real space to be comfortable> Are there any other Genicanthus angels that would be better suited, Watanabei perhaps? , and if not, should I just stick with a Coral Beauty? <I would go with a/the Centropyge here> Thank you so much again for the honest reply, I also apologize for assuming the picture in your book was selected and commented by yourself. <No worries. A worthwhile question, good chance for explaining to others as well> Your site is very addictive, I'm definitely going to refer newbies to your site, it's probably the next best thing to a marine encyclopedia. -Newly converted WetWebMedia fan,   Aaron <Ahh, glad you find the site useful, interesting. Thank you for adding to it. Bob Fenner>

Choosing The "Perfect" Trigger? I am getting a 120 gallon tank and I want to get a triggerfish.  What would be the best combination of interesting/colorful and do I need to use live rock in the tank setup or not?  Thanks for your help! <Well, there are a number of good choices, IMO. MY personal favorite is the Picasso, or Humu Humu Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus aculeatus. They are hardy, colorful, attractive, intelligent, and display amazing an amazing "personality", often learning to take food right from your fingers (be careful, though- they can nip-hard!). They can hit a pretty large size, though, like most triggers, so don't overcrowd yours-and think about a larger tank for the long run (they are very long-lived, too!). They can get a bit nasty towards their tankmates, BTW. They will do their own "interior decorating" in your system, digging in the sand, moving rocks, and making a lot of "grunting" noise! All in all, if I had to choose one trigger to spend the rest of my life with, it would be the Humu Humu! And, live rock in your setup would certainly be a benefit, so by all means use it, if you are so inclined. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Pick My Trigger >In a 180 gallon tank, in your opinion, what would be a better display triggerfish (from small to large) in coloration and personality: Assasi triggerfish Blue Lined triggerfish Thanks in advance >>Oh my goodness, you're asking for an entirely subjective opinion here.  Well, let's give it a go, remembering that you're talking to the woman who favors Zebrasoma scopas above most all other tangs.  However, I find I'm partial (in terms of appearance) to the Blue Line trigger (Pseudobalistes fuscus).  This animal can ultimately reach 22" by adulthood, that is one seriously large piece of fish meat my friend.  Whereas the Assasi (Rhinecanthus assasi -- also MUCH more commonly known as the Picasso trigger) will hit around 8", quite a difference.  In my opinion, if housed by itself, the Blue Line would JUST fit in the 180, but it would really be tight.  Marina

- Trigger compatibility - Thanks Kevin, Also I was interested in finding out if a smaller Picasso trigger would be compatible in the mix as well as inches of fish for a 75 gallon, specifically with the semilarvatus butterfly, hippo tang and maroon clown (and a neon goby). <I would be most concerned with the trigger chomping the goby, it should be fine w/ the other tankmates. Tank size is a consideration though, and provided all these fish are only a couple of inches long, there should be no problem. The tang, butterfly, and trigger will all require larger homes some day, and it may be wise to wait until then to add the trigger.> I am gonna donate my Kole tang to the LFS because his mouth is damaged from shipping and he has a hard time eating. I wont have any invertebrates being that they're all pretty much gone from the hyposalinity I am currently practicing. <Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks again, Very much appreciated

"Pineapple trigger"???? Dear Bob (or staff), You helped me previously with my Annularis' lower lip being bit off by my Golden Puffer (almost 2 years ago) they are both doing excellent by the way! My question: I encountered what was labeled a "pineapple triggerfish" in the LFS., what is the correct name; Latin and common? This thing looks very much like a Titan trigger, its small, 2-3 inches, light bland yellow/brown in color. What is the diet, where are they from, peaceful or not, size, and last do they make a "fine addition to an aquarium"? He/She would be in a 75 gal.. tank. Regards, Gary <Mmm, "got me". Try plugging the common name into Fishbase.org and checking the pix and descriptions of the Triggerfishes on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

FISH SLEEPING...zzzzzzz I was just wondering if fish sleep?<I would think so. Some wrasses dig under the gravel at night, triggers lock themselves in crevices, etc>   I just bought a clown trigger today and when the lights went off (I have them on a timer) I saw him lay up against my fake coral.<yes, he was resting>  It scared me as I thought something was wrong.<don't be alarmed these fish do very awkward things (but the locking itself in crevices/etc is very normal for this species>  I know that the lights have to be on for 12 hrs which they are.<Not necessarily. They don't HAVE to be on for 12hrs exactly (I just turn mine on when I wake up in the morning and turn the lights off at around 8-9pm)>  So, my question is does he think that its night time and its time to sleep??<Yes, triggerfish are very intelligent (for fish) the recognize night time just like they recognize you at feeding time>  Thank you very much.<your welcome, IanB> Scott

Blue throat trigger in a reef? 3/3/03 fist of all. great site. lots of informative stuff. <thanks kindly> I'm tempted to buy a small blue throat trigger for my 240 Reef tank. i have heard that they are okay. would they go after my clams or my big urchin? thanks! <the good news is that you are correct... this genus is touted as "reef-safe" (aside from shrimps/crustaceans mostly) and that is about as true as it gets among triggers. The bad news is that they are still a calculated risk. More of a risk than a nippy tank (Clown Tang, e.g.) or angel (Centropyge). I have kept several species from this genus myself with cnidarians and they were reasonably well-behaved. They ate no coral but intimidated a lot of other creatures if only by presence alone. The urchin is way too tempting. I would not recommend it ultimately. Best regards, Anthony>

Balistoides conspicillum (Clown trigger compatibility) I am sorry that I didn't inform you that I already have the 180gal (72" X 24" X 24") with the 13" Vlamingi tang and 9" emperor angelfish already in the aquarium.  The 75 gallon tank quarantine and/or emergency aquarium) is the aquarium in which I was going to place my clown triggerfish after I quarantined him for 4 weeks.   <Okay. Good idea.> And I was planning on purchasing an aquarium twice the size of my 180gal in the next couple years.  My question was do you think the tang, angel and (10") clown trigger will get along in the larger aquarium (180) or do you think he will be too aggressive?   <I would spend some time watching this guy at the store. Personally, I never buy a fish without spending at least two hours staring into the tank at the LFS. The aggressiveness that is in question exists in this fish species whether or not they have large quarters. They are accustomed to swimming in the ocean and they are aggressive there too! The smaller quarters simply aggravate this aggressive tendency and increase the overall stress level within the tank. IMO I think he will probably be okay for a while since his tankmates are rather rough and tumble also. But alas...there are no guarantees. The last trigger that I had was totally passive the first year that I had him. Then suddenly he began eating the corals and biting every fish in sight. You never can tell what a trigger will do. They change fast! But they are wonderful pets> By the looks of things I think they should have enough "personal space" but after all I am not a fish. <Ha! Good point! The tank is big enough to hold this guy for a while. Just keep in mind that a clown trigger tops out at almost 20"> Well thank you for your much needed advice and next time I write I will be clearer on the info that I give. <The clarity wasn't your fault...I just made a mistake.> Ian Behnk <I'm glad that I could be of assistance to you! David Dowless>

Re: Titan Trigger Hi Bob, <Hello Kelly> Want to update you on the Titan Trigger. Well, I went to visit the Titan trigger on Saturday. After reading your articles and others on the web, I realize that the Titan trigger must be a yellow-mandarin Trigger. These triggers get very large as well but not as big as the Titan. They are usually sold as Titans but in actuality they are not. The yellow-mandarin has a peach face and having a very small or no mustache. Now, the yellow-mandarin trigger is beautiful in her own way, but I wanted a Titan. The owner tried dropping the price once I decided not to purchase the trigger. The bottom line is I wanted a Titan. Fortunately, I was refunded my deposit. <Perhaps a Yellow-Margin Triggerfish, Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus is the species you're referring to.> After leaving the store, my husband and I were extremely disappointed. I went back to wetwebmedia.com and perused conversations you have had with other aquarists. You've mentioned the Marine Source a couple of times. Plus I noticed a link to them on your website. Well, I spent a lot of time emailing the staff and talking with them regarding their species. I asked them what could go together until full grown. I ended up purchasing a 3" Titan Trigger, 5" black puffer, and a 14" rare bright yellow golden eel. Angela from the Aquarium Source said that all above fish should get along fine. I told her that it was because of your site that is why I decided to go with them. <I see. I do hope they grow up, get along.> My husband and I kind of like the idea of watching the Titan grow. I know you mentioned before that Titans are slow growers. If you have to guess, about how many inches do you think the trigger will get within a year? <Maybe six, seven inches overall> I also would like to get your idea as to how you think everyone will get along in a 155 gallon bow aquarium. The golden puffer, which is 8" will be in the tank as well, which is a very peaceful fish. I was looking up info. regarding the Golden Eel on your website; you do not have any info. About this particular eel. According to Angela, she said that it is the same eel as the Golden tail eel just a different color variation. Your article endorses the Golden Tail as being one of the best choices for the aquarium. I tried looking for information regarding the Black puffer, which there is none. <Actually... this is likely what we call a "Dogface Puffer", an Arothron species... please see WetWebMedia.com re Tetraodont Puffers... you will find it there.> I could not find any articles on the internet at all. Is the care similar to the Gold Puffer? <Same genus, yes.> My new arrivals are coming on Saturday morning. I am so excited! I feel like an expecting parent! ;) Kelly <Sure you will enjoy them. Bob Fenner> Re: Titan Trigger Yes, you are right.  The Trigger is the Yellow-Margin.  I know this; I don't know why I said Yellow-Mandarin, geesh!  You must think I have marmalade for brains! <Delicious!> I realize eventually that I will have to probably put the Titan in a tank alone but since he is a baby, I could probably get away with it for now.  If you have any doubts, please let me know.  I have a 90 gallon where my smaller fish are going into.  I could put the puffers there. <I do hope they all get along for a good long while> Again, if you had to guess, what potential problems should I look out for. <Just overt aggression... this may come in a short or gradual while.> I value your opinions.  It is hard to fine someone who knows a wealth of information like you do and be friendly ALSO!  Do you have memberships or some other cause that needs funding?  I would be happy to contribute. :)  Kelly <We have an Amazon.com donation feature on the homepage and indices... and books of our own making we sell. Bob Fenner>

Trigger Happy? My fish (dogface puffer, watchman goby, and percula clown) all get along fine and are very juvenile. You suggested a trigger. I thought they were mean. I would like to add something like Jawfish, yellow goby, another percula, blennies and something for algae on live rock. A trigger would be great if you thought it would work. Also how may fish (without overstocking) could i get with my setup? Your website is awesome!!! Very interested in the collecting section since I am a diver myself. Only collected lobster though. Thanks again for all the info--greatly appreciated.  Jill <Sorry- have to plead ignorance here...Not sure who you spoke to first, but I'll chime in with my 2 cents worth, anyways! Adding a trigger to this mix could work, but a lot depends upon the size of your tank. For the most part, the fish you have are quite peaceful. The puffer can be  bit destructive, but is not particularly aggressive. If your tank is big enough (100 gallons plus), and if you get one of the peaceful ones, such as the Xanthichthys species. Again, whenever triggers and puffers are in a tank, husbandry (water changes, feeding practices, etc.) needs to be of particular concern. With their greedy appetites and messy feeding habits, these guys can really damage water quality if you're not on top of things. With those considerations taken, they make great pets that you will enjoy for many years to come! Good luck! Scott F.>

One More Fish! Hello All, I just rediscovered your web site, I have been away from it for a year or so. It is truly an invaluable source of information. Keep up the good work. <Scott F. with you today- thanks for the "props"- welcome back!> Tank incidentals: 72G reef-ready bowfront, 80+lbs live rock, 2in average bed aragonite sand, trickle filter (from which, on your site's recommendation, I am about to remove the bioballs), protein skimmer. All water is RO. Evaporative top-offs are done with Kalkwasser. The tank set-up is over 3 years old and the tank chemistry is fine. Current livestock: 1 mated pair of maroon clowns, 1 royal Gramma, 1 lyretail wrasse, 1 Sailfin tang, about a hundred feather dusters (look like the pictures of a Hawaiian species from your web site) that seeded themselves from the live rock, and like Bugs Bunny: THEY'RE MULTIPLYING'. Several hermit crabs and the odd snail or two. A brittle star which, since it hides under the rocks and I never see it, may or may not be alive. Question: I'd like to add one last fish to this set-up. My thoughts are A Humu-Humu Trigger or Niger Trigger. Are either of these fish appropriate in my set-up? <Frankly- no! They are both capable of becoming quite large, quite mean, and are generally messy eaters. They would, in all likelihood, decimate your feather dusters. I love the Humu-one of my favorite fishes, but at an adult size approaching 10", you'd need a much larger tank for him. The Niger can reach double that size! Also, just an FYI-our Sailfin tang is a great fish-but it, too reaches an adult size of 15". You'll definitely need to move it to a much larger tank in the near future to accommodate it for it's full life span.> I'd also like to hear your thoughts on another appropriate fish since this is my final planned addition and I want something really showy. Thanks, Frank Canzolino, Elmhurst, Illinois <Well, Frank- sounds like you have a nice mix of fishes already in there. Based on the adult size potential of the tang, I'd be hesitant to advise you to add one more fish. However, if it were me, I'd look into a smaller fish that fits the bill. Maybe a Meiacanthus species blenny, which can be attractive and swim in the water column, stay small, and eat well. There are other smaller species that could work, too. Do read up on the wetwebmedia.com site for more potential choices. Enjoy your tank. Sounds really nice!>

A Home For Zorro! You have helped us out a couple of times with problems concerning our triggerfish (Zorro). Well we are still having problems with the tank set-up and water. I apologize if this will be long and winded but we really just need advice on what to do next. Well here's the story from the beginning.... Two months ago we purchased a Rekord 120 starter kit, which comprised of a built in filter, light and heater. The shop which we purchased it from recommended it to us as an ideal marine tank starter kit. We did explain that we wanted a tank for about 6 fish but was told the filter could only support 3, any more fish we would have to purchase another filter.  <So, rather than sell you what you needed...?> So the same day we purchased from them a protein skimmer (Lee's) 25kg of coral sand (which we were told to put in the tank) 10kg of Tufa rock and various other things like thermometers and water purifiers. After leaving the tank running for three weeks we were told that we could place our trigger fish in the tank. (Even though the ammonia levels and nitrite levels were slightly high) because he was quite hardy. <Wow- that's some bad advice! Even though he's tough- that's really not a good idea!> One week later algae started to appear and the nitrite levels began to soar, so there advice was to get a crab to eat the debris. Six hours later the crab was dead (eaten) and the fish was struggling to breath on the bottom of the tank. We emailed you and did a water change at the same time (throwing in a poly filter as well).  <The best thing you could have done at that point> You told us this was great advice. We went back to the shop and had a water test done for us. It showed the nitrite levels and ammonia levels had risen to very dangerous levels. <Sure- the tank had not yet cycled> More poly filters and water changes later we got the levels down but not completely gone. So we decided to go to a different suppler <A great move!, IMO>, who told us our complete set-up was inadequate for marine fish and that all the advice apart from yours was wrong. We have now had to purchase a stand alone filter (Fluval 304) which Zorro doesn't like and now will not leave the confounds of his rock. So I have now emailed Juwel who made the system and this is there EXACT words "The system were designed by a company called Ruegg in Switzerland who are marine and cichlid specialists. We have optimized the performance for tropical set-ups as this is the most commonly used format. Marine fish require much higher flow rates than tropical and this can be achieved by upgrading the pump or adding a second filter." So in the eyes of the law we have been sold a complete system which doesn't do the job intended. <And put poor Zorro through a lot of trauma!> So here's the problem we have grown very fond of Zorro and do not wish to part company, so a refund on the tank its self is inappropriate, so what would your advice be...Sorry if it took you along time to read but as you can tell we are having loads of problems and bad advice. <Yes, you certainly were! The first thing that you need to do is find a shop that is more interested in listening to your needs, rather than just trying to sell you something! Is there a local marine aquarium society in your area? Maybe you can hook up with someone local who could help you navigate the pitfalls of marine tank start up! What you need to do at this point is let the tank finish cycling without further disruption of the process. Yes, PolyFilters are great and will help out, but you have to let the system cycle. Canister filters can work in marine setups, but diligent attention to maintenance is important. Keep monitoring the water quality, make sure that your protein skimmer is functioning well, removing lots of dark, yucky stuff. Another recommendation would be to read through the WetWebMedia FAQ's on marine tank setups, and get some objective information on the types of equipment that you need. Also, a good book, such as Bob's "CMA", or Mike Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium" would give you a good basis for getting a grasp on this stuff. Feel free to contact us again with any problems you may have! You can do it, and we can help! Good Luck, Scott F.>

Clicking Sound from Triggerfish Bob, just wondering if you have ever heard of a Niger Trigger making an audible clicking sound? <Yes... the family is actually quite "noisy"... gritting their teeth, whacking their pectoral girdle against their sides (using their gas bladder as a resonator), other sound producing mechanisms... have heard them above and below water> We have a small one (about two inches) and a fairly loud clicking sound seems to emanate from his tank. other than a soft coral and a crab and some live rock, that is all that is in the tank? Any Ideas? <Perhaps "happy grunts", maybe "chatting" to itself, trying to get your attention... Bob Fenner> Regards, Scott Fawke Brisbane, Australia

Rhinecanthus aculeatus specifics Good afternoon Bob, I've been cruising around the San Francisco looking at various Rhinecanthus and deciding what size Picasso I'm going to buy. A LFS owner told me that most Picassos for sale in this area are collected from Hawaii.  <excellent> He also told me that the ones from the Indian Ocean are a bit more colorful and hardier. <color is variable, although some would say the Hawaiian are in fact nicer. As far as hardiness... the contrary is true. The short travel to the West coast and the highly professional collecting methods in Hawaii (high paid American collectors) deliver a much hardier product than the cheaply collected fish from IO and the greater transit time> My question is twofold - is it true that they are slightly more appealing and tougher when originating from the Indian,  <nope> and if so, how does a mere mortal distinguish Hawaiian vs. Indian ( vs. P.I. for that matter ) ? <even most experts cannot> .... And, does it matter ?  <nope again> This all came about because I've noticed that some Picassos are dark and some are lighter. <indeed... some variability in species if not locale> BTW - After sending earlier email to you asking about the Rhinecanthus with the best personality, and telling you that I've loved the Assasi in photos, I saw an Assasi at an LFS, and although beautiful, it did not have quite the punch that the Picasso has ( lots of punch for the $$$$ ). <agreed> Best, Edward Azuar San Francisco <best regards, Anthony>

The Eternal Trigger-Reef Question (Jason's response) Hello again: <<Hello to you, JasonC here...>> While I was sold initially on the idea of a reef tank, after a few months I'm losing interest in a focus on invertebrates. I've also loved triggers since I was a young fry. <<Understandable - very amusing fish.>> Currently I have a 65 gallon semi-reef with: Maroon Clown Royal Dottyback Yellowtail Damselfish Female Dotted Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus punctatus) Gorgeous Prawn Goby (Amblyeleotris wheeleri) Lawnmower Blenny Sally Lightfoot crab A few Emerald crabs Cleaner Shrimp hermits/snails as cleanup A few species of mushroom coral polyps a possible anemone for the clown With some modification or removal of species, is a trigger like the Niger or Pink-tailed completely incompatible with inverts, especially the coral and shrimp? <<The Niger trigger is probably your only shot - the pink tail should be lumped in with all the other types as far as reef-safeness goes... [is that even a word?]>> Am I crazy for considering this? <<Not entirely.>> Are triggers, no matter what the species, only safe for fish-only systems? <<As a group, probably so. The Niger trigger is slightly unique in that it is a planktivore - it finds its food in the water column. The other triggers are much more opportune and will go to the trouble of flipping things over to find their food as well as eat just about anything that presents itself.>> Thank you again. I can't tell you how much I appreciate being able to consult experts with my questions. <<Absolutely my pleasure.>> -Ian Berger <<Cheers, J -->>
The Eternal Trigger-Reef Question (Anthony's response)
Hello again: <"Hello again...Hello. Just called... to say... Hello." Ok... like I'm the ONLY one singing that Neil Diamond tune now?!?> While I was sold initially on the idea of a reef tank, after a few months I'm losing interest in a focus on invertebrates.  <Complete blasphemy... you need a lobotomy :p> I've also loved triggers since I was a young fry. <OK... we can agree on this <G>> Currently I have a 65 gallon semi-reef with: Maroon Clown Royal Dottyback Yellowtail Damselfish Female Dotted Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus punctatus) Gorgeous Prawn Goby (Amblyeleotris wheeleri) Lawnmower Blenny Sally Lightfoot crab A few Emerald crabs Cleaner Shrimp hermits/snails as cleanup A few species of mushroom coral polyps a possible anemone for the clown <please do the reefs and the industry a favor and do not get an anemone for a mixed species tank. If you must have one, please give it a dedicated system and chose your species wisely after much research... preferably a bulb tip anemone (BTA) or a brown malu/sebae. Else you are likely to add to the statistic of high anemone mortality within 1 year of import> With some modification or removal of species, is a trigger like the Niger or Pink-tailed completely incompatible with inverts, especially the coral and shrimp?  <not entirely incompatible... this genus and some other related (rare) species are quite invert safe with their planktivorous feeding habits. Still... the larger shrimp are a bit unsafe and tempting even for these reef-safe (really Cnidarian safe) creatures> Am I crazy for considering this?  <that is an entirely different subject upon which I am not qualified to speak... although I have my suspicions :D> Are triggers, no matter what the species, only safe for fish-only systems? <nope> Thank you again. I can't tell you how much I appreciate being able to consult experts with my questions. <our pleasure> -Ian Berger <best regards, Anthony> 

trigger - reef <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> Just wondering about Niger Trigger reef compatibility.. <<Ok.>> I currently have a 55 gal tank with a custom acrylic 200 gal being built...but they are taking their time and are extremely busy, will not be finished till near Christmas, so I will probably not have it fish ready until this time next year. in the 55 there is about 100 lbs of LR, a couple emerald crabs, a couple peppermint shrimp, some xenia, some star polyps and some mushroom anemones. The current fish inhabitants are 2 tank raised clowns, 5 green Chromis and a juvenile Zebrasoma veliferum(2 inches) that I stupidly took off a friend out of pity, but have grown to love. I have also fallen in love with a small (same as the Zebrasoma) Niger trigger, beautiful specimen. 1) will it rip apart the rock work? 2) will it eat the shrimp? 3) will it eat the crabs? 4) will it eat the snails? 5) will it eat my corals? 6) will it eat or bother my smaller fish? 7) will it fight with the Sailfin? 8) will the Sailfin hold it's own? 9) will they settle down? 10) can I get this fish? 11) should I get this fish? <<Rather than answer those all individually, I'll just state it this way: out of all the triggers, this is perhaps the only one that could be considered 'reef safe'. What this means varies from person to person, but suffice to say the Niger trigger is a planktivore and finds its food in the water column. That being said, there are no guarantees... each fish is an individual and may choose to not follow the plan. There's only one way you are going to find out...>> Thanks so much, unfortunately, I think I know the answer to all these questions. Maybe my 200 should be for fish, and my 55 for a reef. <<Agreed, the larger volume would help.>> Chris
<<Cheers, J -- >>

Triggerfishes for  Marine
Diversity, Selection & Care

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