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Triggerfish | Maldives Marine Life
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Maldives Marine Life

The triggerfish species includes various, usually brightly-coloured fish that make up the family of the BalistidaeTriggerfish are a very visually attractive species, and they tend to be marked with lines and spots and can be found in Indo-Pacific waters as well as the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Triggerfish Habitat

There are many types of triggerfish , like the Titan or the Picasso, and they tend to inhabit a variety of warm coastal waters, including the waters around the islands of the Maldives.  Triggerfish dwell in the bottom of the sea, where they locate their prey and form their nests to protect their offspring, although some kinds of triggerfish live in shallower waters.   The triggerfish found in the Maldives generally live in and around the coral reef.


Titan Triggerfish

Triggerfish Appearance

Triggerfish have a large head and an oval-shaped, highly-compressed body.  Their jaw is strong and their teeth are specially adapted for crushing shells.  They detect their prey with small eyes that are set far from the mouth.

Triggerfish have different sets of fins that they use for different purposes like moving slowly or darting away from predators.  Their powerful jaw consists of a row of 4 teeth on either side and  the upper one contains an additional row of six teeth.  Adult triggerfish range in size from 20 to 90 cm.

Triggerfish Diet

Triggerfish tend to munch on slow-moving bottom-dwelling crustaceans, mollusks, sea urchins and other echinoderms.  Thanks to their powerful jaws and sharp teeth they choose creatures that have protective shells and spines which they find on the bottom of the sea.

Triggerfish Behavior towards Scuba Divers

Although they don’t usually represent a threat to scuba divers, triggerfish can be quite aggressive when they are guarding their eggs.  The Picasso and Titan triggerfish viciously defend their nests against all possible intruders; and this might potentially include the scuba diver.
Titan Triggerfish

Since their territory is usually a cone-shaped area reaching upward from their nest towards the water's surface, the best way to avoid the triggerfish's territory is to swim vertically away from the nest, instead of vertically.  While Triggerfish are not likely to cause severe harm to the scuba diver, they will bite to protect their eggs and this can draw blood.  When dealing with triggerfish, the best advice to scuba divers is to respect the triggerfish's habitat.

Triggerfish Reproduction

Triggerfish breed in harems.  There’s usually one male for a group of two to five females, which the male protects and guards. The male Triggerfish fertilizes the eggs after the female lays them in a nest.

Threats to Triggerfish

The biggest threat to the triggerfish is posed by humans who like to catch the triggerfish for various kinds of economic gain.  Some triggerfish are hunted for sport, some are collected for aquariums but mainly they are caught and sold for food which has to be prepared very carefully, because they are poisonous.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has listed the triggerfish as vulnerable or facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.  Nevertheless, there are many different Triggerfish species, and not all of them are at risk.