What Is Triggerfish?


Last updated on July 2nd, 2022 at 03:06 pm

Triggerfish are a type of fish with unique characteristics. You may have seen them at the aquarium or in your favorite movie, like Finding Nemo! They swim upright and their bodies resemble an eel. When it comes to eating time, they can be picky eaters; many types will only feed on live prey in order to keep their teeth sharp.

What is triggerfish?

Triggerfish are a type of marine fish that live in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. There are over 50 different species types of triggerfish with most living between 200 to 700 meters below sea level. They are known for their sharp teeth as well as being aggressive predators who hunt at night. Triggerfish can grow up to 60cm long and weigh up to 20kg.

They can be identified by their deep-bodied oval shape as well as the two dorsal fins they have with a very long first spine and second longer fin located at the back of its head, which look like ears. They are also covered in tiny spines that scatter from their body armor protecting them against predators because they don’t have scales.

Triggerfish are an important part of the oceanic ecosystem as they eat prey species that would otherwise cause harm to other marine life such as coral and sea urchins. They help clean up dead organisms from the seabed, which is essential for a healthy environment in our oceans. They also have a distinct taste for certain types of coral and other invertebrates.

Triggerfish are often caught by spearfishermen, which is now an important source of their livelihoods. They also gather in large numbers that make them easy prey to find once they have been identified from the surface or underwater and attracted with bait such as squid on a fishing line.



Triggerfish are found in the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific coast of Central America. They live on reefs, rocks, sand bottoms, or seagrass meadows with good water flow at depths from 3 to 200 feet deep. The triggerfish is a carnivore that feeds mainly on crabs including lobster-like crustaceans called psolopa. They have a powerful jaw that they use to crush open prey with large pointed teeth and eat them whole, head first as is typical of fish in the order Tetraodontiformes.

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Trigger fish live in warm shallow waters with sandy or muddy floors. They can be found from the Red Sea to Polynesia, often close to coral reefs and near mangroves that are at risk of rising sea levels. Triggerfish are also seen on sandbanks exposed by low tides outside their natural range. But they cannot tolerate salinity above 30%, so they are seldom seen in the open sea or estuaries.

Life cycle

Trigger fish are born as males and transform into females when they reach maturity. They can also change back to a male if the female dies or is removed from the habitat.

Triggerfish are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female sex organs. After puberty, females store sperm in a cavity called the spermatheca to fertilize eggs when needed or to pass them on to other triggerfish as part of mating rituals.

The trigger mechanism that gives this species its name is located on the head. The fish can use its teeth to deploy a bony spine that shoots out of its mouth with enough force to stun prey.

The trigger mechanism is also used in mating rituals, where one male will pierce another’s skin with the spine and then present it as an offering for copulation. Triggerfish are viviparous, meaning the mother carries its eggs inside of her until they hatch.

Are triggerfish peaceful or aggressive?

They are very aggressive. Although they do not pose a threat to humans, but they will defend themselves if provoked. They are generally docile unless their nest is threatened or when they feel cornered.

What do triggerfish eat?

Triggerfish feed mostly on crustaceans, with some mollusks and small fishes. They are preyed upon by larger predatory fish such as mackerel or tuna.


They are broadcast spawners with water-borne eggs and planktonic larvae. They breed in the spring or fall depending on where they live, going through a courtship period before mating which lasts for about an hour. The male will dart around the female while defending his territory from other males, finally settling down and releasing sperm bundles into the water.

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The female will then swim to the surface and release her eggs into the open water column, where they will float for a few seconds before sinking towards the bottom. The male may fertilize these eggs on their way down or wait until this batch of eggs is released at some later date. After releasing one to several batches, the female will then repeat this process, but for the next round of eggs.

Triggerfish lifespan

Triggerfish live on average between 12 and 15 years.

Parasites and diseases


Triggerfish are susceptible to a number of parasites and diseases, including the following:

  • Brucella infection – caused by wading on coral or sand beaches near coastal reefs. The disease can also be transmitted from one fish to another via injection. Triggerfish with this bacteria typically die within two weeks of contracting it, and the disease can be fatal once it reaches a certain point.
  • Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is a parasite that causes white spot dermatitis, an infection that results in lesions on the skin and scales of the fish. This condition often leads to secondary bacterial infections if left untreated, which can kill or debilitate the triggerfish.
  • Trigger fish can also be infected with a protozoan, Cryptocaryon irritans, which causes freshwater diseases such as salmon poisoning or saltwater diseases like amyloodiniosis. The latter is typically fatal if left untreated for too long.


Trigger fish are prey for larger predators in the ocean. They rely heavily on their camouflage to avoid being eaten. They will often swim with just their eyes and mouth above or slightly below the water, making it difficult to spot them from any distance away. When attacked, a triggerfish will try to hide by swimming into holes and crevices.

Does triggerfish make good pets?

Trigger fish are typically not available as pets. They’re aggressive, and they have sharp spikes on their dorsal fins that can injure people or other animals who come into contact with them. Trigger fish also have powerful jaws to break open shells of prey items like clams, urchins, and oysters. These characteristics make it necessary for triggerfish to have a very large tank, and they also need to be fed live prey items.

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What can triggerfish do?


Trigger fish are a type of fish with unique characteristics. They swim upright and their bodies resemble an eel; they don’t have scales, fins, or spines. They also eat only live prey to keep their teeth sharp! But there is one thing that sets them apart from other fish: they are immune to the venom of sea urchins.

Trigger fish have immunity from the venomous spines that come off of Sea Urchins, which can be a big problem for other fish who cannot escape so quickly.

How do they get this immunity?

One reason is that their scales have tiny barbs on them, making the urchin’s spines come off instead of getting stuck in the fish.

Why are triggerfish dangerous?

trigger fish

Trigger fish are dangerous because they can be aggressive and sharp. This means that, if the fish is startled, it may bite you with its strong jaws or a spine on its back to defend itself. They also have spines in front of them which will stab any prey that comes near enough for the fish to get hold of.

The trigger fish is a sedentary fish that lives on the seafloor and at night, it swims up to feed. This means that you might see them in shallow waters, rocks, or coral reefs during the day since they are not looking for prey. As such they often get stepped on by people so if this happens, use caution as these fish are not afraid to fight.

Triggerfish size and lifespan

Trigger fish can grow up to 30 inches and have a lifespan of over 20 years so they’re definitely an animal you want to avoid if possible. If they do attack, be sure that the wound is cleaned right away with water or soap since they may also carry parasites that will need immediate treatment.

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Trigger fish teeth

Trigger fish are so-called because they have on their lower jaw a set of teeth that can be triggered to shoot out, and then recede back into the mouth. These “trigger” or protrusible jaws enable them to capture prey with speed and efficiency – often before that potential meal has even seen what is happening. Triggerfish are scavengers, but they may also hunt prey that moves too slowly.

The teeth were discovered by Mr. John Bennett in 1802 when he was on the island of Mauritius and found a fish with protruding “teeth” which could be used as darts or to capture prey. He wrote about these specimens under the name “Labrus” and in his description, he remarked that the teeth were on a lower jaw, which was not conventional.

Many people are amazed by this type of fish because it has interesting attributes as well as unusual features; they can be found in waters around Australia, Indonesia (especially Sulawesi), Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore. They also live in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, but they are not so common there.

Trigger fish teeth are formed from a lower jawbone that has been modified to enable the fish to use its mouth like a weapon – it can open wide enough to swallow prey whole or crush tough-bodied animals with strong jaws.

Is triggerfish poisonous?

Triggerfish are not poisonous, but they do have sharp spines that can cause injury if handled improperly. They also have a strong odor and flavorful flesh that is popular in many culinary dishes. They are considered “critically endangered” by the World Conservation Union due to the overfishing of their stocks.