The World of Triggerfish, Everything You Wanted to Know


Triggerfish have an oval shape and they have a compress body configuration. The colours insist of blue, yellow, black and grey. They have detailed designs that often include lines and spots. The colour schemes allow to blend in well with their habitat.

Triggerfish vary in size based on location but they can grow up to 3 feet long. One of the neat elements of their bodies is that their eyes are far back on the head and they can move each of them independent of the other. They have various spiny dorsal fins that are very interesting. When they feel danger around, one of them moves like a trigger (which is where the name comes from).

Many scuba divers are fascinated with triggerfish as they are so colour and display peculiar habits. They can be found on many divers around the world and come in all sizes and colours.


They live in salt water so they are found in oceans around the world. They prefer the tropical and subtropical locations though that provides them with warmer temperatures. Many numbers of them are found in the Indo-Pacific waters. They tend to be close to shallow waters and along coral reefs.


They aggressively protect their surroundings and they will battle with each other frequently within their own school. The survival of the fittest is very dominant with the triggerfish. They tend to live alone, but often hunt for food in the same locations so they are often see as a group.

It is common for snorkelers and/or divers to be bitten by triggerfish because they are very territorial. However, such a bite isn’t going to be extremely painful or life threatening. It isn’t believed that the triggerfish bites people in an effect to consider them as a food source.

When triggerfish feel like they’re in danger, the body will move one of the dorsal fins like a trigger.


The jaws of the triggerfish are very painful and they enable the fish to crush food quickly. They have tiny teeth that are very tough that help them to consume food. They are bottom dwellers, finding crabs, worms and other crustaceans such as molluscs from the bottom of the sea floor. They use there fins to remove the debris in their way.

They also shoot water out of their mouth in an effort to remove sand. Then they can dig below the remains to get to their sources of food. They can consume large amounts of food per day and spend many hours seeking food.


There are many types of triggerfish, such as the Titan and the Picasso, and they tend to inhabit a variety of warm coastal waters, including the waters, including the waters around the island of the Maldives, Thailand and Red Sea. Triggerfish dwell in the bottom of the sea, where they locate their prey and from their nests to protect their offspring, although some kinds of triggerfish live in shallower waters.


Triggerfish often live for around 8-9 years, however have been known to live for 14 years.

Types of Triggerfish

As there are over 40 types of triggerfish, here are the common types of triggerfish to see:

  • Clown Triggerfish
The clown triggerfish is a small sized fish which grows up to 50cm. It’s body has a stock appearance, oval shape and compressed laterally. The head is large and represents one third of the body length. The mouth is small, terminal and has strong teeth.
Length: 50cm
Diet: Molluscs, Echinoderms, Crustaceans
  • Bluelined Triggerfish
The Bluelined triggerfish, also known as the Blue-and-Gold triggerfish, has a blue and yellow rippled effect over the entire body, with bright green eyes.
Length: 5 inches
Diet: Squid, Krill, Clams, Small Fish
  • Niger Triggerfish
The Niger triggerfish or Redtooth triggerfish is a striking fish for the home aquarium. The colour for the Niger triggerfish can change from day to day between purple, blue and blue/green with a striking, lighter blue highlight on the fins and long tail lobes, As an adult, they acquire bright red teeth, and are normally dark purple in colour with a blue/green highlight around their face making them quite interesting to watch them they eat.
Length: 7 inches
Diet: Squid, Krill, Clams, Small fish
  • Undulate Triggerfish
The Undulate triggerfish, also known as the Orangelined triggerfish or Orangetailed triggerfish, has an emerald-green body with yellow-orange vertical stripes.
Length: 5 inches
Diet: Squid, Krill, Clams, Small fish
  • Humu Picasso Triggerfish
The Humu Picasso triggerfish, also known as the Humuhumu triggerfish or Picasso triggerfish, has a wacky, painted appearance. It has a tan body with gradient dark bands, and vibrant blue and black stripe from cheek to cheel#k and deeplt set-back eyes.
Length: 5.5 inches
Diet: Squid, Krill, Clams, Small fish
  • Titan Triggerfish
Titan triggerfish are considered to be the most territorial triggerfish and as many scuba divers will testify they live up to their reputation.
Normally Titan’s only attack divers if they swim in to the vicinity of their nest, however in some areas such as Koh Tao in Thailand, they radomly attack divers mainly as divers have provoked them over the years.
The good news for divers is that they normally attack the fins, most instructors who teach in warm waters have 1 or 2 bite marks on thier fins to show for it.
Length: Up to 3 feet
Diet: Pretty much anything it can fit in its mouth

What to do if a Triggerfish attacks?

If you imagine an upside down cone where the point is the sea floor and the widest part is on the surface, this is the area that triggerfish like to protect.

So the best thing to do is to stay as close to the bottom as possible and swim around the nest keeping well clear. If it does start to attack than keep your fins pointed towards it and keep low. If you start swimming up, they will follow you.

Where to scuba dive with Triggerfish?

Triggerfish can be found in most tropical and sub-tropical countries including:

For more places please visit

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