© Johan Boshoff


Triggerfish (Balistidae)


Triggerfish measure 35 cm on average but can be up to 1m in size.


Triggerfish have oval-shaped bodies that narrow towards the tail and sharp heads. Their tails are crescent-shaped, and their frontal dorsal fins have two sharp spines which fold into a sheath. The dorsal and anal fins are located at the end of the body and are triangular. Most triggerfish species have sharp front teeth. They vary greatly in colour and pattern.

General Info

Triggerfish belong to the Balistidae family which comprises of 12 genera and 42 species. They can be found over reefs. It protects its nest where its eggs are laid against other sea creatures and divers with a conical area built above it. This creature is bad-tempered, locking its dorsal spine in place when threatened or attacked.


Triggerfish feed on bottom-dwelling crustaceans, molluscs, sea urchins and other echinoderms, and some feed on plankton.


They can be found in all temperate and tropical oceans across the world.

Common Species

Clown triggerfish - Balistoides conspicillum
Redfang triggerfish - Odonus niger
Titan triggerfish - Balistoides viridescens

© Johan Boshoff