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FAQs about Odonus niger Triggerfish Behavior

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Triggerfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Niger Trigger/Behavior/comp.  12/21/11
Hello all,
<Hi Kyle>
 recently set up a 60 gallon tank and had a maroon clown and some live rock, about 4 days ago we added our trigger and very next morning the clown of comparable size to the trigger was torn to shreds.
<Not surprising.  The Niger is an aggressive fish and belongs with similar tank mates.  Your 60 gallon tank will be much too small as this fish grows.>
We removed him and now our trigger has started to lie on it's side on top of one of our live rocks, always in the same spot.  Tank is free of disease and water was just tested. Is this normal behavior?
<Not really.  Niger Triggerfish are very active during the day although when alarmed/frightened, they will lock themselves into a rock with their trigger.  Their personalities in that regard can differ by a wide margin. 
Do read here and related articles/FAQs.
James (Salty Dog)>

Niger trigger, beh.    10/17/11
Hey Crew,
Quick question for you today. I just recently put a 1-2" Niger trigger into my main tank on Saturday evening (10/15/11). I've dealt with this species of trigger before, and I've never had this problem. Although it is eating when I put food into the tank, it seems to hide behind rocks the entire day, and is some what intimidated by the pygmy angel which is also around the same size. I know its early, just wanting some advice/explanation.
<Just "afraid"... will become more social w/ time going by. Not to worry.
Bob Fenner>

Snowflake eel and Niger Trigger Relationship -- 02/12/09 Hello WWM Crew, <Hi Michelle> First of all I recently upgraded my a 75gal aquarium to a 125gal and was quite successful with some help from you. In my 125 I have a 5" snowflake, 3" Tomato Clown, 4" Arc-eye Hawkfish, 3.5" Panther Grouper, 4" Lunare Wrasse and a BTA. <The trigger and its size seem to be missing in this list.> Yes I am aware that the grouper will grow quite large and will potentially try to eat some tank mates when he gets bigger. <Yes.> I have crushed coral as substrate about 150lbs live rock, 4 powerheads, skimmer, and 180w 10,000K and 180w Actinic lighting. Should I upgrade lighting for the anemone? <Should be sufficient in my opinion, especially if it chooses a higher spot in the tank as residence. You'll see how the anemone develops given you have a sufficient water quality.> Ok, so on to my question... The snowflake and the Trigger have began to share an area in the tank. The eel hides in a large round piece of rock with an opening about the size of the Trigger. The Trigger will go up to the opening and hang out so he blocks the hole. The eel will poke his head out near the Triggers head and will just sit there. They almost seem to be cuddling. Neither seem to mind each other at all, but are extremely territorial towards all their other tankmates. I have attached a few photos so you can see, a couple are blurry but they really captured them cuddling. There is a picture of the tank itself, the rock they have been under is the one that is in the center of the tank. So, should this behavior concern me? <No, not at all. Most triggers prefer a spot for sleeping like a narrow gap or cave where they can use their trigger. I hope such spots are available, if so, I see no problem.> Is it "normal" for triggers and eels to share areas and actually get along? <Happens, but the exact opposite of triggers harassing morays by biting their fins or larger morays ripping pieces out of triggers also occur.> We are quite baffled by this one, I hope you can give us some insight on what we think is a strange occurrence. <More tolerance and acceptance than friendship using human terminology. In nature morays are more often found co-existing with congers or groupers, even communicating with the latter ones and hunting together with them. So, some social behaviour is not too surprising, especially not within the limited choices of an aquarium.> Thank you all, Michelle
<Welcome. Marco.>  

  "Me and my snowflake eel; we got a relationship"

My Odonus niger Hi, I recently bought a niger triggerfish from my local petstore and added it to my 75 gallon semi-reef tank. the only other inhabitant to my tank was a red-Volitans lionfish that is about 4 inches in length. the triggerfish is a good 3 inches in length but still seems to be afraid of my lionfish. I am positive that the lionfish can not fit this fish in his mouth, although i do know they are quite surprising sometimes, but my trigger stays hiding in a cave in the back of the tank all day long, except for feeding.  I have had him for 4 days so far and he seems to refuse to come out and I have noticed that he has scratched himself on the rock as well. do you think he's just going to hide away and die? is there anything I can do to make him less scared. anything would be greatly appreciated. thank you so much for all of your help. <Well, this is a shy species actually... and it is very new to your system. I agree with you that it is unlikely to be swallowed by the Lionfish. I would not be concerned re the apparent scratch (these animals are tough, good healers), nor the lack of outgoingness of your trigger at this point. Give it another week or two, and it will be out and about much more. Bob Fenner>

Nocturnal Odonus Niger? Hello, <Hi, Mike D here> I am new at having a tank. I have a 125 gallon salt water tank. I have a yellow tang, an angel, Picasso trigger and a Niger trigger (Odonus Niger). At night the Niger is very active and likes to make splashing noises. Is this normal? I have been unable to find anything about the Niger fish being Nocturnal or anything else on this. Thanks.
<The Niger trigger, sometimes sold in larger sizes as the Vampire trigger due to it's red teeth, can reach up to 19", so you may find that you need to upgrade to a larger tank eventually. To the best if my knowledge they aren't truly nocturnal but often occupy deeper waters, thus becoming "twilight fish" that are active in dimmer light. Not generally being as aggressive, when small, as the Picasso, it may be telling you that it needs an additional feeding now that the competition has eased off.  For whatever it's worth, the Niger is one of the few larger triggers that doesn't automatically eliminate tank mates as it matures as does the Undulatus, the Clown and the Queen, the hint here being don't add too many triggers lest you end up with a bloodbath in the eventual future.>

-A Niger Fakes it- <Hello> I bought a Niger triggerfish a week ago. <Did you Q/t this fish?>  He seems very active with my damsel, but when he stops moving he lays on his left side on the bottom of the tank in the same spot. <Well they do tend to have personality "quirks" and each does different things to get us to pay attention.>  Is this normal behavior of this fish? <Could be, But I really need to know if this fish was q/ted or even freshwater dipped as it might be sick. Is it eating well, swimming normally and not having any spots etc?>  I have just a 20 gal. tank with crushed coral bottom and 5 live rocks. <Ok here is the problem, Not only was it not q/t ed its in a tank that is way too small for this fish. While it may be fine now and the laying on the substrate is normal (Mine does it sometimes to get more food), it will get way too large for this tank and will get sick soon if it isn't already. I hope your tank is not infected with any diseases from this fish, but please quarantine your fish for at least 4 weeks before putting them in your display. If any of them are sick or have ich then they will infect everything and its a hassle to get everything well. Also please research your fish on WWM before buying them. This fish will get 8" to 15" or more in some cases. Can you handle a 80-120 gallon tank for it?> Thanks, John  <Justin (Jager)> 

Niger Trigger   1/10/06 (I am resending the below message just in case it was never received. My virus scanner is on the blink and causing all sorts of trouble.)
<Thank you for this. We have webmail issues off/on as well> Crew,     As always thanks in advance. I am having a problem with my Niger trigger. First off the long and not so short; 55 gal. <... too small a volume for this species.> FOWLR, pH 8.3, temp. 80, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate 0, calcium 450, Alk 7. I started to have trouble with the trigger after I rearranged my power heads in an attempt to eliminate dead spots in the aquarium. The next day the trigger was hiding under her sleeping rock but came out to eat at chow time. The next day wedged under the rock again, this time it wouldn't eat. Third day the same behavior, move to quarantine tank. <I would wait a week or two here... Triggers are given to such behavioral changes with slight changes in their environment> No treatment as yet because I have no idea what is going on. The other tank inhabitants are a small Scopas tang, a lawnmower blenny, a yellowtail blue damsel, a maroon clown, a large thriving sebae anemone, a long spine urchin, a pencil urchin, a coral banded shrimp, a cleaner shrimp, and various hermits and snails. <Am very surprised that the trigger has not (yet) consumed the last few> Nothing else is showing signs of distress. Filtration includes an emperor 400 with the bio-wheels removed and an aqua-c remora pro skimmer. I think it may be too late for her as she has stopped eating and swimming altogether, but does not have any other overt visible sign if stress or disease. Her diet included Formula One and Two soaked in Zoecon, frozen Mysis shrimp also soaked in Zoecon and lastly Wardley's freeze dried plankton also soaked in Zoecon. This is very distressing as this was the second fish added to the system after the tank was cycled nearly eleven months ago.     Thank you ever so much, Mike <Do try both an opened clam and on another occasion a "cocktail shrimp" (sans sauce of course)... and replace the trigger in its larger/est system. Bob Fenner>

Niger Trigger acting funny...  12/12/06 I have had the fish 3 months and for the most part has been the dominate <dominant> fish in the tank. The fish eats all the time and seems very healthy, until this morning. The fish has no intention of doing anything but resting wedged between rocks in the tank. Usually it spends it days swimming all over and moving small rocks. <Natural behavior> i did a water change yesterday like I regularly do, I have not added any new fish in a long time. The only thing I have added was some fully cured live rock only about 15 lbs. Does anybody have any ideas what could be wrong? <Could be "bummed" with the change in its world... might have eaten something on the LR that didn't agree with it...> Could the rocks have some sort of parasite on them? <Mmm, not likely> Any help would be greatly appreciated. As i am writing this email the trigger will come out swim for a couple seconds then dart back into the rock and wedge itself in there again. I have a fish only tank..175 gallon 1) Niger trigger 1) Huma Huma Trigger 1) Panther Grouper 1) Snowflake eel 1) lion Fish 1) Domino Damsel 1) One spot fox face rabbit fish 1) Scooter Blenny <Will be consumed> 1) Porcupine puffer Very little live rock ( working on that though) mostly base rock and dead Tonga Branch <Mostly a "wait and see" type problem/situation here. Bob Fenner>

Niger Trigger Issue   12/12/08 Hello, <Jean> Your site is incredible and have helped my husband and I tremendously with our first go at a saltwater aquarium. I've read through every bit (I believe) of trigger behavior on your site, but my question goes a little beyond the answers that were offered. I hope you can help. <I as well> We have a 125 gallon saltwater Uniquarium with a Niger trigger (about 4.5"), a cow fish (same size), snowflake eel (18"), and panther grouper (7"). About 2 months ago we had to remove a domino damsel (2.5") because it was bullying the cow fish. <This species can be a terror> Ever since then, the trigger has gone into hiding and on a hunger strike. I read your site and was encouraged that triggers often hide and go on hunger strikes, but would soon get over it. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We can find wedged in different rocks, and use flashlight to see the body in good shape, but the tail is getting smaller. We are actually shocked it's still alive because we never see it swim nor eat. Perhaps the trigger is sorry to have his Domino buddy gone (it used to follow the trigger everywhere), or could it be sick? We are feeding them frozen squid daily, the others eat enthusiastically, and the water and temperature tests fine too. <Mmm, I do concur that the Dascyllus removal likely traumatized the trigger... and that this is an extraordinarily long adjustment period> The only other thing I can think of is back in May, when the grouper was smaller, the trigger tried to eat the grouper. We quarantined the grouper for two months while he healed and then reintroduced him to the group. Perhaps now that the grouper is bigger, the trigger is turned chicken? <This could also be an influence> We will soon have to trade in the grouper at LFS because he's getting too big for the system. Any suggestions you may have would be most appreciated! Merry Christmas! Sincerely, Jean <Thank you Jean... I do have a suggestion, or better put, something, given the circumstances, that I myself would do. I would systematically remove all rock, to a clean container, and after all was out for an hour or two, carefully, but differently restack it in another way... perhaps in two "bommies", towers if you will, one toward each corner... This simple rearrangement of habitat, and the sharing of a new trauma amongst extant tankmates, may well serve to have this trigger "get over" it current behavior. One other thing. Do know that Odonus are very social animals in the wild... always found in shoals of good to huge size... and that in small volumes (aquariums), by themselves, some individuals "do" just turn out to be "chickens". Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Niger Trigger Issue   12/12/08 Many, many thanks Bob. My husband is going to work at the new arrangement right away. Take care and cheers! <Ahh, very good... Have attached a couple of pix for your enjoyment... one from the trip last month in Raja Ampat, showing just what "scaredy cats" this species can be when approached by divers... and another from some years back diving at a break in an outer atoll in the Maldives... Lots of Odonus for sure. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Niger Trigger Issue 12/12/08 Stunning - thank you Bob. <Glad to share with you Jean! B> 

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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