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FAQs about Balistes Triggerfishes

Related FAQs: Triggerfishes in General, Triggerfish: Identification, Selection, Selection 2, Compatibility, Behavior, Systems, Feeding, Diseases, Triggerfish Health 2, Reproduction,

Related Articles: Queen Trigger, Triggerfish, Balistes Species, Red Sea Triggerfishes

The Queen in her court, the Caribbean.

Triggerfishes for  Marine Aquariums

Diversity, Selection & Care
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Bumps like pimples on Queen Trigger     10/27/13
Hi Bob and Company,
I added a Queen Trigger to an aggressive tank about four months ago.  Two months ago it started to develop a bump above his mouth (see photo).
<I see this; and have seen such quite a few times with Balistids>
 In researching your site I didn't find pictures with a comparable looking feature, yet I gravitated to the Lymphocystis page.
<Don't think this is viral>
  Now there are more bumps and I count as of today that there are four white pimples.  The trigger seems a little sluggish compared to his behavior when I initially added him, spending much time in his cave.  He doesn't investigate around the tank or pick up rock rubble - behavior I would expect from a trigger that felt well.
  I would be grateful for your insight as to the condition, and as to what I should do if anything.
Thank you,
<Am pretty sure that these whitish areas, and the bump/hump itself are indicative of a growth inside this area... likely resultant from a run-in or several that this fish made early on; with rock, worms, corals... nothing to do really... one could try excising the area, "draining it" as it were; but I'd just wait and hope it heals of its own accord. Bob Fenner>

Re: Bumps like pimples on Queen Trigger      10/27/13
Thank you Bob.  I will wait and baby him with love and squid pieces, and hope for the best.  We added a cleaner wrasse Friday and it has perked up his attitude.  He has spent all morning in the cleaning station, so he's being responsive to the environment.
Big thanks,
<Thank you for this update Dave. Cheers, BobF> 

Triggerfish Growth Rate - 04/16/07 Hey Crew. <<Hey "Drowning in Dover">> I got myself into a bit of trouble this evening. <<Ruh-Roh>> Thanks to Mother Nature and the Nor'easter we are currently experiencing my build plans for a large trigger tank has been put on hold...probably indefinitely. <<Yeeikes!  Not a flooding victim I hope...>> A damaged basement is only part of the problem. <<Mmm...doesn't sound pretty>> The other part of the problem is that I currently have a juvenile (4") Queen Trigger (B. vetula) enjoying a 72g bowfront holding tank...or what was supposed to be a holding tank! <<Indeed...though small now, this fish has the potential for getting LARGE>> How fast do these fish grow? <<Though variable, Triggerfishes as a whole seem to be fairly slow growers>> I took a leap of faith when I saw this fish appear in my LFS a few weeks ago...the 365g tank she was supposed to go in was already underway...so I thought my empty 72g bow would be a great temporary house. <<I see>> Any advice? <<This size tank is not suitable for the long-term...as you seem aware of.  And though the fish could likely be housed in such for a time, I'm not a fan of trying to "grow" large fishes in small environments as I believe this leads to behavioral and health issues>> If I need to give up the fish I will. <<I guess that depends on what the future holds for you re a larger tank>> I don't see any plans to get the larger tank going in the near future.  It looks like this tank is going to be the only tank I will have going for a long time. <<Hmmm...then maybe the question of "what to do" has just been answered>> If I do give her up, any suggestions for a suitable trigger for my 72g bow? <<I'm a bit hesitant but...if this fish is going to be the "centerpiece" and tankmates are kept small/to a minimum, I think you could try one of the smaller Rhinecanthus species like R. verrucosus...maybe even R. assasi or R. rectangulus.  Do be sure to allow plenty of swimming space...>> Thanks! "Drowning in Dover" <<Sorry to hear of your misfortune.  Regards, EricR>>

African Blue Spotted Triggerfish, comp.   3/26/07 Hi, I have a compatibility question on a species of triggerfish which seems to just be entering the trade in numbers recently. <Yes> The Trigger is Balistes punctatus. As a relative of the Queen trigger my initial reaction is that it is likely far too aggressive for even a rough and tumble fish only tank. <Mmm, have never kept this animal... but the reports I've encountered (on the Net) state its temperament as being mild...> I have been assured by a couple of dealers however that they are quite mellow. Do you have any experience with them? <Unfortunately no> If I were to take the plunge the trigger would be heading to a 300 gallon tank with an Emperor Angel, Passer Angel, Harlequin Tusk, Polleni Grouper, and very large Hippo Tang (who is now 16 years old!). The group in the tank get along now in their own snippy ways and have been together for a couple of years. Thoughts? <Mmm... don't know what to state... I don't like relating other than near first-hand experience in such matters... I might try this species here... starting with a (likely) small specimen of a few inches in length... keeping an eye on it... Bob Fenner>

To Trigger or Not to Trigger  11/12/06 Hi, and thanks for the great website. <Welcome> I current have a 125 gallon saltwater tank that has been up and running for 6 months.  Current residents are:  2 yellow tang (and they get along great), 2 clownies, 1 coral beauty, 1 Toby puffer, and 1 dog face puffer. My LFS recently obtained a vampire trigger (queen trigger?). <Balistes vetula?> I am in love with this fish.  Will this be a good addition to the neighborhood?   <Uh, no> I think I know the answer, but if I see it in writing will abide by your answer. Thanks for the great info. <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/balistes/index.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Moving X-LARGE Queen Trigger   11/5/06 Hello! <Hi there> I am going to be moving our store's mascot tomorrow and would like your opinion on some of the methods we are thinking of using.  And, if you have any recommendations, please give me some!  :) <Hotay!> Our mascot is a 17 inch Queen Triggerfish.  She is going to be moved into a 180 gallon tank - she's in a 55 gallon right now.  The tank isn't even a full two feet away from her current tank.  We are going to move her tomorrow, and we will be filmed for our local news station, so we want this to look good!  :)  She will be fully acclimated by a drip method before the move happens. As for the methods we have thought about... 1.  "bucketing" her.  This would involve scooping her up into a bucket and then gently submersing the bucket into the 180. <This is best... do watch your hands/fingers... and back while lifting> 2.  "toweling" her.  This would involve placing a wet bath towel into the tank and scooping her up.  Then clutching the top so that she cannot escape.  Then submersing the towel and the trigger into the new tank. 3.  "bagging" her.  This would involve taking a large plastic bag (12 x 20), filling it with aquarium water from her current tank, and having that set aside.  Then take two other of the bags, make slits in the center of the bag, and then scoop her up with that, placing that into the bag of water, and then gently submersing her into the tank. <Will likely chew right through most any thickness, multiple bags> Unfortunately, this fish will not deal with a net, she is too strong, which is why I am not going to "bag" her as most would do.  Float the bag, etc.   If you have any recommendations for me, I would love to hear them!  :) Thanks so much! Wendy Legeret Wendy's Blue Lagoon <A suitably large, semi-flexible bucket is best here. Good moving! Bob Fenner> Queen Trigger, Trigger In/Comp.   8/8/06 Hello all,         I'm interested to know your thoughts on the following scenarios. If it's not too much of a problem).        My mum said that I would be able to get a 180 gallon tank, and I plan to set it up with triggers. Would it be possible to house a queen trigger and an undulated trigger together in this size tank? <Possibly... but not likely... the Queen will be after the other, likely all other fish livestock...> Do these two fish grow at the same rate, and do they get to the same size as adults?   <Good question... and no. The Queen grows much more quickly, gets much larger> I currently have the undulated in a 55gallon (he's about 3 inches) and want to move him to a bigger home, I haven't bought the queen yet. I have fallen in love with the queen triggers, they are beautiful. <I would not try a Balistes vetula with this fish> If you don't think it's big enough what size tank would be suitable? <Bedroom size... really. This TWA species has a large "territory"> They would be the only two inhabitants. If not these two triggers then what two do you suggest I might have more luck with in this size environment?? <Perhaps a Rhinecanthus species> I am open to any and all your suggestions, you guys truly are a great team to ask advice of!! Thanks for your time, Jarryd <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/index.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Filtration for Queen Trigger  07/21/06 Hello! < Howdy! > I just love your site - great information and such a great service you offer! < Bob and the crew do an excellent job! > As for my question, I guess I really don't have one but more of  asking your opinion sort of thing. < I have plenty of them! > In my store, I have a 16" Queen Trigger who is going to be placed in a 180 gallon aquarium by herself. < That sounds like a great idea! > I am going to be building the stand out of cinder blocks and 2 x 4's for a few reasons.  First of all, my store is VERY SMALL.  Not a whole lot of room - my store is not even 800 square feet.  The perimeter is full of tanks and the middle is full of supplies and display tanks for sale - just wanted to give you an idea of why I am placing here on cinder blocks!  LOL < Be very careful when stacking the blocks. The holes should be up/down, NOT left/right! I am speaking from experience, having been peppered by the shrapnel of one turned the wrong way! This may alter your shelving idea a little. Sorry if it does. > Anyway, I am planning on using the under section of her tank for other products - the cinder's are going to be 5 high and staggered for placement of 2 x 4's for shelves.  The opinion I am looking for is this - The tank is going to out in the open where she can be seen on all four sides.  Because of this, I am hesitant to add a sump, wet/dry, or canister because of little ones, adults, and kids could possibly put something in the system.  Currently, she is in a 55 gallon on her own with 2 Penguin 350's, two 12" airstones that are hooked up to a 250 horse blower, and 2 large Chemi pure.  I am thinking about adding maybe an extra shelf for a canister and then put a bio-wheel filter as an extra.  What do you think? < I like the idea of having the filtration inaccessible. Have you considered internal filtration? If you have enough live rock, an internal canister filter (whether manufactured or fabricated) may be more than adequate enough. Investigate the pond section of this site for ideas on internal filters. > Thanks so much! Sincerely, Wendy Legeret Wendy's Blue Lagoon

Triggerfish Project - Using Fishbase 4.3.05 Hello. Thank you for reading my email. <Hi, no problem! Ryan helping you today.> I have a couple of questions about Queen Triggerfish: 1. What eats the Queen Triggerfish? 2. What is the Queen Triggerfish's life cycle? 3. About how long does the Queen Triggerfish live? 4. How is the Queen Triggerfish's reproduction? <What kind of teacher just gives up the info? I'll make you a deal. I'll give you the Latin name for the fish. With this, you can sound really smart AND you can look all this stuff up quickly. I'll even point you in the right direction.  Go here: http://fishbase.org/search.cfm - Under scientific name, you need to use two names. The first, is the Genus. The second is the species. Here's the info for your fish: Genus: Balistes Species: vetula >>> Thank you again. I hope that you can answer these important questions. I am doing a class project, and I need these questions answered. <And now, you'll be able to find the answer. Keep up the good work. Ryan> 

- Trigger Help - I just put my queen trigger in yesterday and I fed him some gold fish and he ate them pretty quickly after they went in his tank... <Would suggest you find a different source of food... live food, feeders are a bad choice. Any meaty seafood will do [squid, shrimp, etc.].> but today he's going crazy swimming really fast one side of the tank to the other and he's not eating his food... he swims really fast and sometime knocks the heater off the glass and the filters too... and then he calms down... and then does it again... is he ok? <Yes, is likely fine. Many fish, especially those new to captivity obsess over their reflection in the surfaces of the tank... typically want to kill that fish on the other side. Not a bad thing, but you may want to find another place for that heater. Cheers, J -- >

Sexing Queen Triggerfishes? 2/17/05 How can you determine the sex of a Queen Trigger?  Thank You <I'm not aware of any reliable dimorphism, although we can tell you that these fishes are not hermaphrodites. Perhaps do some searches in the academic archives at: http://scholar.google.com/  kindly, Anthony>

Queen Trigger Question Hi, I just bought a BEAUTIFUL queen trigger today.. and I have it  quarantined at the moment, he's about 9 inches long, the guy at the store said he  was probably about 2 years old.... my question is what is the average Life-span  for one of these guys??   thank you <Several years... have lived at least a decade in captivity.... MEAN though. Bob Fenner> Queen trigger WWM <Robert> I have this beautiful Queen Trigger (Balistes vetula) which I purchased at a LFS.  I placed it in a  20 gal quarantine tank that has live sand and a small amount of live rock, to which it adapted rapidly.  A couple of days after this purchase, I noticed some subtle off-white bumps (that really look like little spikes, or raised scales) that are definitely raised, about 0.5-1 mm.  They are only noticeable when looking at the fish from the head or tail ends.  At first I just observed for about two weeks, during which time the spots  did not increase in number or size.  Also, whether related or not, the fish's coloring is blotchy, not solid green with blue stripes as pictured in The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, by Bob Fenner, on page 313.  The fish is active, a voracious eater and generally healthy.  I have had this fish in isolation over 2 months.  I have tried fresh water dips with Methylene blue, transferred to a treatment tank with copper for 3 weeks and, most recently, have even tried Maracyn-Two.  To this day, the spots/spikes persist with no change.  It is difficult to tell if the spots have always been in the same location.  I have also attempted photographing the spots to send with this email, but did not get good results.  I am tempted to place this fish in my 300 gallon show tank with the other fish but have this nagging feeling that there is still something going on here that I don't understand. <Perhaps... but...> The fish remains in the treatment tank for ~2 weeks of no treatment.  I have place carbon in the filter to clean up the water after the treatments.  Again, no change.  This fish seems very healthy despite these spots.  Any suggestion? Thanks Rob Peters Palmer, Alaska <The coloration difference may well be simply resultant from collection, holding stress... or even just a color variation. The bumps I would not be overly concerned re... they might be parasitic (maybe a type of worm), but very unlikely to spread to other species of fishes. I would go ahead with your plans of placing this specimen in your main system at this point. Bob Fenner>

Queen trigger in a 240 Hi, <Hello!> I have a 240 gallon FO system. I have  12" Sohal Tang and a 15'' maculosus angel. They are the only 2 fish in my system. I love queen triggers, I know that they are the MOST aggressive fish in marine. If I buy a little one, and let it grow to an full adult, will it still kill my 2 other fish?? <My friend...all fish are individuals. If the tank is lightly stocked with lots of rocks and other things for cover, you should be alright. But no guarantees. David Dowless>

Queen trigger question I have a 100 gallon tank and am thinking about getting a small queen trigger, I was wondering what I could keep with it. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Samit <<Hi Samit, These WWM links will tell you what you need to know. Can you say "alpha", dominant, aggressive??? Go to: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/balistoides/ and start here for stocking questions: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stocking1.htm Hope this helps you, Craig>>

Re: That Balistes vetula in your face! Bob, Help me out here...my son Roberto has been bugging me for months to ask you the circumstances of your Queen Trigger scar. <It was back in Korea in '53... Actually off of Central America circa '73 with an old timey Nikonos rig and a rushing Queen that I tried to ward off with the point and shoot... I thought I had done so completely, but when caught my breath, the TWA Balistid had nipped me but good on the wrist.> I tried explaining that the story behind the scar is you wouldn't share the last cold one in the waist cooler you wear while diving and the Trigger got justifiably ticked off! <Just wasn't looking/seeing what was going on... waded/floated into the "nest area" (no other sizable fishes present)... was "escorted out" hence. Bob F>

Worried about my Queen Trigger Hello: <Howdy> I hope you may have heard or seen what my Queen Trigger is experiencing. I've noticed for about 1 week some blotches on his body. These blotches are not white and are not in any pattern. These blotches kind of look like blisters (no color) and can only be seen in good light. There are no marks or blotches on his fins. He is eating well and does not seem to have any breathing problems. If this is a disease, I want to start treatment ASAP. <Not a disease. Normal to stress-related markings> I've become very attached to him. He is about 2-1/2 years old and in a 75 gallon tank by himself. I keep the water temp around 78-80 and salinity around 1.023 or 024. I was wondering if you have ever heard of a trigger fish shedding?  <Yes> He is not itching on rocks. I've read books on diseases and this does not seem to fit into any category. If you have any suggestions or have ever seen this type of problem, please let me know so I can help him ASAP. Thanks for any help. Leigh <I am a big fan of the Balistids (intend/ed to work on their systematics for my doctorate)... and have always followed their husbandry and popular writing (have a scar from a Balistes vetula from years back in the Bahamas... anyhow, don't be overly-concerned here. All likely fine. This species does "shed" and does display the markings you so well note. Bob Fenner>

Re: Grouper (actually Queen Trigger) I had a 6" grouper and a 4" queen trigger really nasty. The grouper was not eating the way a grouper eats and I thought it was because of the trigger. When I got home in the evening the groupers fins were all gone and one side of his body looked like someone scaled him. I knew he would not survive so I put him in a pitcher to freeze and die peacefully. Could the queen trigger have done this to him or was this some type of disease? <Unfortunately this damage was very likely due to the Trigger. A very territorial species> The night before he was fine and every night I check my fish with a magnifying glass. Can a disease attack a fish so rapidly? In the tank I also have a volitans lion and a dog face puffer both are eating when the trigger allows them two. <I encourage you to trade this Queen Trigger in. There are some "rapid onset" infectious diseases of fishes... but they would have been manifest on your other fishes... Bob Fenner>

Quick Question  Bob,  I have two quick questions for you the first is Under the Balistes section the West African Triggerfish is not listed. Is there a reason why? Second, do you know where I might be able to obtain some of the larger triggerfish that you don't commonly see, such as the Blunthead, or Ocean Triggerfish.  Thanks for all the information.  Mike Striegel  <Good questions all... Of the four assured species of the genus Balistes (do you recognize B. capriscus here? Make that five), about all the trade sees is the Queen (B. vetula)... and though I really enjoy this group all the way around (intended at one point to make their systematics my academic life's work), don't have much information or image work on many species that have little use/brush with the ornamental aquatics trade... Will gladly insert information if you can direct me to source... and even more gladly haul out, go diving with you and make images for insertion on the site! For the odder, larger species about two approaches come to mind to secure specimens. Consort with your suppliers (as collectors are very susceptible to their requests... and triggers of all sizes are easily caught... where they can be found... mainly by barbless hook and line), and secondly, to travel to their ranges, and gather your own. See my note above re traveling with!!! Bob Fenner, in sunny Southern California, but wishing he was in warm clear water elsewhere>

Triggerfishes for  Marine Aquariums

Diversity, Selection & Care
New eBook on Amazon: Available here
New Print Book on Create Space: Available here

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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