Most Triggerfishes are brightly colored and
marked with patterns of lines and spots. They are easily recognized
by their deep flat bodies, small pectoral fins, small eyes placed
high upon the head, and rough rhomboid-shaped scales that form
a tough covering on their body. Near the area in front of the
tail they have some prickly, spike-like rows of spines. Even
though quite small, these tail spines can scratch and cause injury
to a person or other fishes. Also because of the rough, spike-like
texture of these fish's bodies, they can easily get caught in
an aquarium net, and once snagged it can be difficult to remove
them from the material without some scale damage occurring.
Triggerfishes are easily recognized and named for, you got it,
their flexible trigger spines. As you can see in the photo, this
fish has a top dorsal spike that can be put into an up or down
position at will. At the bottom of the body there is another
smaller, permanently extended type trigger that can be flexed
as well. When these fish feels threatened, is ready for sleep
at night, or wants to secure itself against strong surge-zone
wave action, it will go into a hole and stick up its top trigger,
flex the bottom one, and then lock them both into place. The
force of the two triggers used in conjunction with one other
firmly wedges the fish into place. Once a Triggerfish has "trigged
in", it is next to impossible to remove it from its hiding
place. If at some point you see a Triggerfish laying on the bottom
of the tank or propped up against a tank wall, don't worry, it
is how these fish sleep when there is no shelter available to
take cover in. Triggerfishes are capable of making a noise much
like that of a pig grunting when disturbed or agitated.
Triggers are extremely territorial and seem to be on the move
most of the time. In general they do get along with most other
fish. They need plenty of room to move around, as well as establish
a territory of their own with as little infringement from other
tank mates as possible. With a tendency to be aggressive towards
other Triggerfishes, especially those of the same species and
sex, usually putting them together is not a good idea. Their
nature can be unpredictable. Sometimes they can harass and pick
on other fishes, and other times they may get long just fine.
When keeping other fish with a Trigger, the closer the other
fishes are to the same size as the Trigger, the less chance harassment
will occur. It is best to place Triggers in an aggressive fish-only
tank community along with other larger non-related species such
as Groupers, Lionfishes, Snappers, Eels, Hawkfishes, Tangs and
Triggerfishes are one of the easiest of all marine fishes to
care for. Most all species adapt quickly to aquarium life, are
very hardy, and will eat just about anything you offer them as
food, including fingers.
Triggerfish are carnivores that spend their days nibbling on
a wide variety of echinoderms and crustaceans like crabs, shrimps,
sea urchins, worms, and other invertebrates. They are not coral
eaters, but they may have a tendency to pick at clams and other
animals that may be attached to corals or live rock.
When looking for food in the sand, some Triggers will tip up
on their nose and "blow" the sand to uncover a potential
meal. It is interesting to watch them eat a sea urchin. They
will pick off all the spines, turn the urchin over to expose
the more vulnerable area of the urchin, and with their front
two bonded teeth and strong jaws, they break it open. Triggers
do not attack other fish for the purpose of eating them, but
they are opportunistic and will feed on the flesh of dead fish.
Triggers are messy eaters which can contribute to high aquarium
maintenance requirements, as well as result in water quality
issues, particularly in small water volume aquariums. By setting
up a good regular tank cleaning routine and removing larger excess
pieces of food that are not eaten in a reasonable amount of time,
these problems are less likely to occur.
Triggerfishes can be fed frozen vitamin-enriched preparations
suitable for carnivores, as well as herbivore rations with marine
algae for a balanced diet. Fresh meaty foods such as chopped
shrimp, squid, clams, and fish can be offered, and soaked in
a liquid vitamin such as Selcon to supplement their dietary requirements.
Reef Tank Compatibility: Because these fish eat a wide variety of crustaceans
and invertebrates, they are not considered suitable in live rock
or reef aquariums that may have these types of marine life present.