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Related FAQs: Fishes of Hawai'i, Articles on: The Best Butterflyfishes of Hawai'i, Triggerfishes of Hawai'i

Related Articles: Introduction to Fishwatcher's Guide Series Pieces/Sections, Scott's Trip to Maui/Hawai'i,   Holualoa property

Hawaiian Marine Biotopes, Part 5

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 6, Part 7,


Bob Fenner


From Shallows to Deeper Water Triggerfishes:

            Diver-collectors try to avoid triggerfishes as they can and do easily bite through fence nets, but HawaiI has a mix of saleable species that make their way into collecting buckets and to you. Some species and individuals, particularly when started small, are less trouble than others behaviorally.  

Most wholesalers offer two species of Melichthys more or less continuously, the circumtropical Black (Durgon) Triggerfish, Melichthys niger (Bloch 1786) (usually out of Hawaii), to eighteen inches. Pictured: an individual in the Bahamas, and one in Maui, Hawai'i.

And the Pinktail Trigger, Melichthys vidua (Richardson 1845), is the other commonly offered member of the genus. Found throughout the Indo-Pacific. These are "medium" aggressive fish species that grow to about a foot in length in captivity, sixteen inches in the wild. Here are specimens in captivity and Hawai'i.

The most popular Rhinecanthus species is immortalized in the song of none other than Don Ho himself. This is the Humuhumu nukunuku apuaa (literally "water pig with a needle" in Hawaiian, in reference to grunting noise they make and their spiny dorsal "trigger"), AKA the Picasso or Lagoon Trigger (aka the "Blackbar" to science), Rhinecanthus aculeatus (Linnaeus 1758). Below, one inch baby in the wild (Maldives), two and six inch specimens in captivity shown.



The Rectangle or Reef Triggerfish ("Wedge-Tail Triggerfish" to science), Rhinecanthus rectangulus (Bloch & Schneider 1801)shares the waters and common Humu name with the Picasso in Hawaii. Indo-Pacific, Red Sea, east African coast. Shown here as a baby and adult in Hawai'i. To one foot in length.

Most commonly offered are the Sickle, Lei or my favorite, Boomerang Triggerfish, Sufflamen bursa (Bloch & Schneider 1801), (mainly out of Hawaii), an adult there shown and a smaller (four inch) individual in the Cooks.

Like the Blue Throat or Gilded Triggerfish, Xanthichthys auromarginatus (Bennett 1832), that are true reef dwellers. Here is a female and a male off of Maui, Hawai'i. Indo-west Pacific. To about a foot total length.


And An Occasional Filefish, Family Monacanthidae: 

Pervagor spilosoma (Lay & Bennett 1839), the Fantail Filefish. Eastern Pacific, principally Hawai'i where it's occasionally shipped out of. To seven inches overall length. Feeds on algae and benthic invertebrates, including corals.

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 6, Part 7,

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