Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Balistoides conspicillum

Clown triggerfish

Clown triggerfish, Balistoides conspicillumClown triggerfish, Balistoides conspicillum


Balistoides: Latin, balista, -ae = crossbowman + Greek, oides = similar

General Notes:

Not reef safe. Keep only with other large aggressive fish that can not fit in their mouths. They will also eat any inverts in the tank. Clown triggerfish have really strong jaws, sharp teeth and are not afraid to use them! When doing maintenance in the tank, it's best to keep your eye on them and watch for an attack. They have great character and are entertaining to watch. To see more natural behaviour they are best kept in a tank with a thin fine substrate as they will blow water into it while searching for food. Triggerfish also have a unique dorsal fin that can lock into place. If frightened, they can enter a small cave or opening and use their dorsal fin and a smaller fin on it's belly to lock themselves into place and use their powerful jaws to attach themselves in place to prevent anything from removing them from their defensive position. They also lock themselves into their caves at night to ensure nothing prays upon them while sleeping. Unusually for aquarium fish, small juveniles cost far more than larger specimens. This is because small individuals inhabit deeper water and only come on to the reef when a little older.

Carnivore - Clams, sea urchins, sea squirts, snails, crabs, shrimp, tunicates, molluscs and any small fish that they can catch. They will also take prepared frozen foods that are enriched with vitamins. They should be fed at least twice a day.

There are no external differences between the sexes.

Triggerfish breed in harems of one male to two to five females. The female will build a nest and lay her green eggs in it while the male will come and fertilize the eggs and guard the nest. Once the eggs hatch the female will take over guarding the fry while the male defends a larger territory.

The wild population of clown triggerfish has not been evaluated, all specimens offered for sale have been caught from the wild.

Information at a glance

pH: 8.2 - 8.4
dGH: 8 - 12
Salinity: 1.021 - 1.025
Temperature: 24 - 28°C (76 - 82°F)
Diet: Carnivore
Size: 50cm (20in)
Min tank size: 675 litres
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Aquarium type: Species
Swimming level: All levels

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Clown triggerfish, Balistoides conspicillum

Origin: Indo-Pacific: East Africa south to Durban, South Africa and east through Indonesia to Samoa, north to southern Japan and south to New Caledonia

Habitat: Lives in clear coastal to outer reef habitats as well as in clear seaward reefs adjacent to steep drop-offs. They prefer to live in solitude and are uncommon to rare throughout most of their range. Adults are usually seen along deep drop-offs, swimming about openly and may retreat to caves when approached. Juveniles are generally secretive; living in small caves with rich invertebrate growth.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Tetraodontiformes
Family: Balistidae
Genus: Balistoides
Species: B. conspicillum (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)

Common name:
Clown triggerfish

Synonyms: Balistes conspicillum, Balistoides niger