name = Triggerfish

image_width = 250px
image_caption = Titan triggerfish ("Balistoides viridescens")
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Actinopterygii
ordo = Tetraodontiformes
familia = Balistidae
subdivision_ranks = Genera
subdivision = See text.

Triggerfishes are brightly colored fish of the family Balistidae. Often marked by lines and spots, they inhabit warm coastal waters of the Atlantic, Mediterranean and the Indo-Pacific.

Anatomy and appearance

Triggerfish range in size from 8 inches to 3 feet long (20 to 90 cm).

Triggerfish have a roundish, laterally flat body with an anterior dorsal fin. They can erect the first two dorsal spines: the first one locks and the second one unlocks. This prevents predators from swallowing them or pulling them out of their holes. This locking and unlocking behavior is why they are named 'triggerfish'.

They have a small pectoral fin, fused to one spine. Unlike the spine of a filefish, the spine of the triggerfish can be held in place by a second spine to make the fish more threatening to the predator. Their small eyes, situated on top of their large head, can be rotated independently. They have tough skin, covered with rough rhomboid-shaped scales that form a tough armour on their body. A big, angular-shaped head extends into a snout with strong jaws and sharp teeth, made for crushing shells. Each jaw contains a row of eight teeth, while the upper jaw contains another set of six plate-like teeth.


eggs in a small hole, dug in the ground. Some species guard their eggs.

A few of the triggerfish species can be quite aggressive during reproduction season. In particular Picasso triggerfish and titan triggerfish viciously defend their circular nests against any intruders, including scuba divers and snorkelers. Their territory extends in a cone shape from the nest to the surface, so swimming upwards puts one further into the fishes' territory. A horizontal swim away from the nest site is the most sensible course of action when confronted by an angry triggerfish. In contrast to the relatively small Picasso triggerfish, the titan triggerfish poses a serious threat to inattentative divers due to its large size and powerful teeth.

Some species of triggerfish are known to make a sound akin to a grunt or snarl when taken out of the water. Triggerfish aggressively attack anything or anyone who comes to disturb its eggs; beware, titan triggerfish can cause serious injury.



*"Abalistes" Bloch & Schneider, 1801
**"Abalistes stellaris" : Starry triggerfish
*"Balistapus" Tilesius, 1820
**"Balistapus undulatus" : Orange-lined triggerfish
*"Balistes" Linnaeus, 1758
**"Balistes capriscus": Grey triggerfish
**"Balistes ellioti"
**"Balistes polylepis" : finescale triggerfish
**"Balistes punctatus" : Bluespotted triggerfish
**"Balistes rotundatus"
**"Balistes vetula" : Queen triggerfish
**"Balistes willughbeii"
*"Balistoides" Fraser-Brunner, 1935
**"Balistoides conspicillum" : Clown triggerfish
**"Balistoides viridescens" : Titan triggerfish or mustache triggerfish
*"Canthidermis" Swainson, 1839
**"Canthidermis maculata": Spotted oceanic triggerfish
**"Canthidermis macrolepis" : Large-scale triggerfish
**"Canthidermis sufflamen" : Ocean triggerfish
*"Melichthys" Swainson, 1839
**"Melichthys indicus" : Indian triggerfish
**"Melichthys niger" : Black triggerfish
**"Melichthys vidua" : Pinktail triggerfish
*"Odonus" Gistel, 1848
**"Odonus niger" : Redtoothed triggerfish
*"Pseudobalistes" Bleeker, 1865
**"Pseudobalistes flavomarginatus" Yellowmargin triggerfish
**"Pseudobalistes fuscus" : Blue or rippled triggerfish, blue-and-gold triggerfish or yellowspotted triggerfish
**"Pseudobalistes naufragium" : Stone triggerfish
*"Rhinecanthus" Swainson, 1839
**"Rhinecanthus abyssus"
**"Rhinecanthus aculeatus" Picasso triggerfish, lagoon triggerfish "(USA)"
**"Rhinecanthus assasi" : Arabian Picasso triggerfish
**"Rhinecanthus cinereus"
**"Rhinecanthus lunula" : Halfmoon picassofish
**"Rhinecanthus rectangulus": Reef triggerfish or humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua'a "(Hawaii)"
**"Rhinecanthus verrucosus" : Blackbelly triggerfish
*"Sufflamen" Jordan, 1916
**"Sufflamen albicaudatum" : Bluethroat triggerfish
**"Sufflamen bursa" : Boomerang triggerfish
**"Sufflamen chrysopterum" : Halfmoon triggerfish
**"Sufflamen fraenatum" : Masked triggerfish
**"Sufflamen verres" : Orangeside triggerfish
*"Xanthichthys" Kaup in Richardson, 1856
**"Xanthichthys auromarginatus" : Gilded triggerfish
**"Xanthichthys caeruleolineatus" : Bluelined triggerfish
**"Xanthichthys lineopunctatus" : Striped triggerfish
**"Xanthichthys mento" : Redtail triggerfish
**"Xanthichthys ringens" : Sargassum triggerfish
*"Xenobalistes" Matsuura, 1981
**"Xenobalistes punctatus" : Outrigger triggerfish
**"Xenobalistes tumidipectoris"



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Look at other dictionaries:

  • triggerfish — [trig′ər fish΄] n. pl. triggerfish or triggerfishes (see FISH) [because depression of the second spine of the fin causes the first to snap down] any of various brightly colored tropical fishes (family Balistidae) of the same order… …   English World dictionary

  • triggerfish — /trig euhr fish /, n., pl. (esp. collectively) triggerfish, (esp. referring to two or more kinds or species) triggerfishes. any of various compressed, deep bodied fishes of the genus Balistes and allied genera, chiefly inhabiting tropical seas,… …   Universalium

  • triggerfish — /ˈtrɪgəfɪʃ/ (say triguhfish) noun (plural triggerfish or triggerfishes) any of various compressed, deep bodied fishes of the genus Balistes, and allied genera, chiefly of tropical seas, having an anterior dorsal fin with three stout spines. Usage …   Australian-English dictionary

  • triggerfish — noun any of numerous compressed deep bodied tropical fishes with sandpapery skin and erectile spines in the first dorsal fin • Hypernyms: ↑plectognath, ↑plectognath fish • Hyponyms: ↑queen triggerfish, ↑Bessy cerca, ↑oldwench, ↑oldwife, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • triggerfish — noun Date: 1849 any of various deep bodied bony fishes (family Balistidae, especially genus Balistes) of warm seas having an anterior dorsal fin with two or three stout erectile spines …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • triggerfish — noun any of several brightly coloured fish, of the family Balistidae, that inhabit tropical reefs, and have an erectile spine on its dorsal fin …   Wiktionary

  • triggerfish — noun (plural same or triggerfishes) a tropical marine fish with a large dorsal spine which can be erected and locked into place. [Family Balistidae: numerous species.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • triggerfish — trig•ger•fish [[t]ˈtrɪg ərˌfɪʃ[/t]] n. pl. (esp. collectively) fish, (esp. for individuals or kinds) fish•es. ich any deep bodied tropical fish of the family Balistidae, chiefly of tropical seas, having three stout spines on the front of the… …   From formal English to slang

  • triggerfish —   Humuhumu (for various kinds, see humuhumu and entries that follow it).   Also: mukumukuwahanui, uwī uwī, uwī uwī lua …   English-Hawaiian dictionary

  • Triggerfish Twist — is the fourth book in Tim Dorsey s as yet unnamed series of books which were centered on Serge A. Storms. It was published in 2002.The book takes place in the summer of 1997, somewhere in the midst of the events of Florida Roadkill . Triggerfish… …   Wikipedia

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