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FAQs about Rhinecanthus Triggerfishes Compatibility

Related FAQs: Rhinecanthus Triggers 1, Rhinecanthus Triggers 2, Rhinecanthus Trigger ID, Rhinecanthus Trigger Behavior, Rhinecanthus Trigger Selection, Rhinecanthus Trigger Systems, Rhinecanthus Trigger Feeding, Rhinecanthus Trigger Disease, Rhinecanthus Trigger Reproduction, Triggerfishes in General, Triggerfish: Identification, Selection, Selection 2, Compatibility, Behavior, Systems, Feeding, Diseases, Triggerfish Health 2Reproduction,

Related Articles: Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus Species, Red Sea Triggerfishes

May chew on or up tankmates! Hopefully including these: Hermodice canunculata, a larger species of "Bristleworm".

Triggerfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Help! Rabbitfish in dire way!! Humu Trigger aggr.     2/21/13
Hi again!!!
I know, I know, so many questions.  Thought I'd just tack this one onto  the
string of old ones since it concerns the last topic.  Our trigger, as mentioned before, went on a rampage against damsels.
<Quite common>
 Well, it's taken us a while to get things back up so Mr. Trigger Buttface (humu Picasso - 6" or so) has been by himself since September.  Now he's King of the tank.  We did add a large (5" or so) Lawnmower Blenny with success about 2 weeks ago and he's turned into the fattest blenny I've ever seen.  With the exception of some early-on aggression the trigger was mostly okay with it (we threw a rock into his "cave" with great success in distracting him).  Now we've added a 5" scribbled Rabbitfish.  The trigger will NOT leave the rabbit alone.  He seems to get better about it but keeps rushing him (we got him Sunday, so about 3 days now).
<Put the trigger in a large plastic floating colander for a few to several days... often takes "the spit and vinegar" out... and will give the new fish/es time to establish themselves and rest-up>
 I put a piece of pvc in a different section of his cave and that seemed to distract him.  My boyfriend wants to get rid
of him now, but I think he can be saved (i do NOT want to get rid of him).
I'm at the point of tossing him into a 30gal for a few days but not sure if this can break his aggression. 
<... the colander>
The fact that he is leaving the blenny alone tells me we can do it but after the fishpacolypse he's really leery of sticking fish into small tanks now, especially with how dry our house is and how fast the water will evaporate.  We have a second Rabbitfish on order (magnificent Rabbitfish - hopefully because they are two wildly different rabbits in a 240 they can play nice) and that should break up his little fiefdom some more.  We are also considering floating him in a colander but not sure if we can find one big enough for him - he is FAT!
<To the plastic food store you go!>
Our sump won't be ready to stick him in for at least another week or two because UPS lost the fittings we needed to get our return working.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Help! Rabbitfish in dire way!! And now Humu in/comp.   11/22/12

Hi again!  So, our Humu trigger has made a full recovery and is apparently super happy with his new, 240 gal palace of a home.  Unfortunately, because he's always been such a calm, peaceful kind of guy (I know, right?) we thought he would be okay with the three 1 1/2 inch damsels
<Mmm, not>
we had already put in.  Apparently not.  He seemed fine with them for a little while but then my boyfriend brought home three 1 1/2 inch Chromis.  The hopes were that having a large, 240 gal tank with plenty of hiding places in the rock and his very own cave that he loves would allow for cohabitation with these other small fish and keep him from taking completely over as big bad boss so we could add other big fish later.  All seemed well at first - the damsels were hanging out with the trigger, the Chromis seemed happy... then suddenly, there were only two damsels and two Chromis.  Then, while I was sitting near the tank, one of the two remaining Chromis disappeared without even a ripple in the water.  When I checked the damsels they had small wounds (I'd say at most 2 or 3 mm in diameter), almost like bite marks on them.  Our Humu is 5-6 inches and hugely fat - I didn't think the wounds were big enough for him to cause them but my boyfriend disagrees.  The remaining Chromis seemed fine.  Next morning our damsels had passed leaving
us with one giant trigger and one tiny Chromis.  I found the Chromis dead yesterday with no visible wounds.
<This too happens>
Now there remains only a fat trigger and a 4 inch cowry snail (he leaves him alone, mostly because I don't think the trigger even knows he exists) that we see once every 9 months.  The part that worries me is that since Bitey (the trigger) has now decided to be territorial, will it be difficult
to introduce the rest of the fish as we had planned?
<Hopefully not... if the trigger proves too aggressive, it should be taken out temporarily, even just floated in a large plastic colander for a few days; to give the new fishes time to adapt, rest>
 Our stocking was based on having the trigger, the rabbit, our Queen angel and adding a puffer (dogface or porcupine), a wrasse (still deciding on this one - one of the bigger species for sure) and now I can't remember the rest.  We'll probably get a magnificent Foxface to replace our one-spot and another angel.  I just remember the list was carefully chosen for compatibility and size and there weren't too many on the list - maybe 7 or 8 fish total.  My boyfriend has actually mentioned the possibility of getting a second trigger (I'm not convinced that's a good idea, myself).
<Can work in larger volumes like yours>
Sadly, I think Usagi (our rabbit) was his boss and kept him in check and now he doesn't have anybody who will knock him down a peg with venomous spines.  I told my boyfriend we can continue with our original stocking plans only they will involve our 125 gal being turned into a "Bitey hotel" for a week while we acclimate and introduce the newcomers and rearrange his rock.  He isn't convinced that Bitey won't continue with his rampages but to me, the fish he went after were very small and he has been fine with fish his own size for years.  I feel bad for the poor damsels and Chromis but by the time we realized what was happening we couldn't get them to the LFS (closed on Sundays) to save them :(
Something else - our water parameters have been really good (now that they are out of the trough) but when I checked the water after the final tiny fish passing (we never found the first three) our nitrites and nitrates were in the detectable range (0.1 ppm nitrites and 0.2 ppm nitrates) and our salinity was around 1.024.  I'm also concerned that maybe the trigger WASN'T going on a rampage and instead we had a small cycle that took out the little fish.  If that's the case I will, oddly, feel better as we are prepping water for a big change this weekend (we just did a change last week and were out of salt to make a new batch - the water is ready, just needs salt which I picked up today).  I am also considering damsel gang warfare as a potential cause but that, even though they are mean ol' damsels, just doesn't seem as likely.
<Can happen>
  I guess I don't have a question so much as need reassurance that we can still make our original 240 gal plan work with my big mean pal in it and not have to get rid of him (I would reaaaaaally rather not as I am extremely fond of him).  :)
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Help! Rabbitfish in dire way!!

Again, thanks Bob!  You really have helped keep me sane through the great "fishpocalypse" as I have dubbed this move.
<Good one. B>
Re: Help! Rabbitfish in dire way!!  2/22/13

Hi Bob!
Thanks again! Looks like the colander wasn't necessary after all. He must have known we were looking for one because now he's adjusted to the rabbit and they're getting along well.
<Heee! The Humu might well have discovered just how spiny and toxic some of the Rabbit's fin spines are!>
 The rabbit is also eating very well now that the harassment has stopped.
I'm still going to get the colander because even though he's being good NOW I think he'll most likely continue in this vein of harassing every new fish we get. I'd rather he didn't, so giant plastic colander, here we come!! 
Either way, I'm just really happy he's reinforcing my belief that he's not going to be an absolute terror. I had hoped that if a humu got to nearly 7 inches without turning pure evil he'd manage to stay that way. 
Thanks again!!!!!
<Thank you for this follow-up. BobF>

Rectangular Trigger in a 90g FOWLR, comp.      10/5/12
Hey Guys,
First off, thank you for spending what clearly amounts to a considerable amount of time on your website - it has been a great resource for me. I've got some livestock questions for you, but before I get to that, let me tell you what I'm going to be working with (system isn't setup yet, as I'm not finished my own due diligence). The system is a 90g FOWLR with a 20g sump (I plan on running about 100 lbs. of live rock and some live sand in it), Koralia powerheads, and a Reef Octopus NWB-150 protein skimmer.
After multiple trips to Maui, I'm building this entire system around a Rectangular Trigger (Humuhumunukunukuapua'a). That being said, I'd like some opinions on prospective tankmates, as my searches haven't really answered specifics for me. Aside from the Humu (1.5-2.5", and to be added last), I was looking at a One Spot Foxface (2-4"), Blue Spotted Puffer (2-3"), and a Flame Angel (3-4"). Do you see any issues with these guys?
<Mmm, no. They should all get along, grow together here>
Assuming I'd have
a little more room for a few fish, what other options would I have here?
I've read that a Bluehead Wrasse and a Three Stripe Damsel would work with this group.
<Mmm, I'd skip on solitary Thalassomas... not happy alone; and a ninety is too small, would be too busy for the other fishes and a Blue Head (male).
The Dascyllus could work, but these too are not "that" interesting kept solitarily>
Knowing that there's no way I could run a CUC for very long because of the Humu, I'm interested in finding a fish that would also help keep the tank tidy.
<Not to worry, your gear and regular simple maintenance will suffice>
Any help would be greatly appreciated, as I'm trying to get all of my ducks
in a row before I move forward with stocking my tank and possibly making a mistake.
Nick Panaccio
<As you become aware of other choices, possibilities, write us back. A hu'i hou! Bob Fenner>

sick lionfish... incomp. w/ Balistid/s  6/27/12
I'll start at the beginning. 90G
tank set-up is crushed coral, 90lbs
live rock, lots of swimming room, and Tunze
9011 skimmer (I’m on well water) all my parameters are good. I got 2 Volitans lionfish (6" and 4") and a Picasso trigger,
<... not compatible... the image you show evidences this Rhinecanthus having chewed the larger lion>

the guy I got them off of only had them for 2 weeks and didn't want them anymore and they have now been in my tank for 2 weeks. The Picasso is fine but the lionfish was not active in his tank and very hard to feed.
<... stressed... by the Trigger>

 In my tank same thing... lethargic and very hard to feed. I got them to eat on the 4th day (1 silverside) and then 5 days later (1 silverside) nothing since. 3 days ago I notice they both had mucousy
stuff on their back by their spines. The next day it peeled off and it was just white underneath. Today the area is bigger and now they have white dots (not like Ich),
it's larger dots and in a concentrated area. The smaller lion is now pale. I ran out to the local SW store and bought feeder guppies, carbon, Kent garlic Xtreme and prime. I added the garlic (9
drops) than added 5 guppies...I got no reaction from the lions. I then added the prime and carbon. My smaller lion looked like it was having trouble staying perched on the rocks so I turned off one powerhead (1 have 2 Koralia 1080's) and the smaller lion started swimming around...she's been swimmer around for about an hour now. The larger lion has perch himself on rocks so his mouth is at the surface sometimes out of the water. She has never swam around since I got her...hopefully a good sign. Do you have any idea what is going on with them...velvet disease? Stress? PH - 8Amm - 0Nitrate - 20ppmNitrite - 0Temp-80 I sent you a picture i took today
<The Trigger and Lions need to be separated... NOW. Bob Fenner>

Another trigger question   9/3/11
Since your wisdom is always appreciated, How do you think a small(about 2 1/2 inch) Picasso and a mature coral beauty might get along?
<Yes; should>
Tank size is 60 gal. And since triggers get larger, how long would this tank size work?
<For a while...>
Maybe a couple years?
<Perhaps... more likely a year>
Has anyone seen this combination work without the angel getting attacked?
<Assuredly so. Bob Fenner>
Thank you,

Long Horn Cowfish has a broken tail!   7/12/11
Help! We love our Long Horn Cowfish and woke up this morning to find him unable to steer, just being tossed by the current in our 75 gallon, live rock and fish, tank. He has a large white bump about 1/4" from his body encircling his tail and doesn't seem to be able to move his tail about like he normally does.
<Tetraodontiform fishes use their caudals for steerage to extents...>
We have a little net enclosure, I think we had it when our guppies had babies the first time and we wanted to keep some of them from being eaten, so we moved him to that and he's just hanging out on the bottom of it.
We've had Tex about 2 years and he's a real character and generally the first in line at feeding time. I added some krill to his little isolation room and he's ignoring it, so now I'm really worried. In the tank we have a saddleback puffer named Trigger (same size as Tex, about 2 or 3 inches bought at the same time), a clown, rusty angel, Firefish, and a Huma Huma trigger
<Here's the likely (biting) culprit. Best moved elsewhere>
(after being very aggressive for about an hour he has settled right in with the rest of the community, been there about 6 months now). Levels are all normal, all the other fish seem fine. I'm not sure where this bump came from, it wasn't there yesterday.
<Bite from the Balistid almost assuredly. Only partly likely from a physical trauma>
He is breathing ok, all his other fins are flitting about normally, but he is just sitting on the bottom of the little net box and ignoring the krill.
I read on your site that fresh garlic is helpful, I don't think this is Ick, more likely he got his tail stuck between a rock and a hard place. Any suggestions?
<Mmm, yes... As stated above, the Trigger needs to be elsewhere... with animals it can't/won't harm... Not with the rest of what you list... And the Ostraciid needs to be back in the main tank... where it will learn to swim w/ its injury, which should heal in time>
Thanks so much, I love your website and go there frequently for research and help. Martha
<Thank you, Bob Fenner>


Niger Trigger possibly in a 75G? 5/2/2011
Hello Crew!
"First time writer" here with close to 10 years experience in the hobby.
Like most, I have spent hours pouring over forums, retail sites, and of course the best information on WWM! The exposure to so many different sources is great, yet also has its downfalls with the occasional "success" stories of poorly stocked combinations in various tanks of all shapes and sizes that offer false promise of certain stocking lists.
<Well put>
As with anything in life, particularly our hobby, there are always exceptions and even though we can control the "neighborhood" in which we keep tankmates, we cannot control the individual specimen.
<Indeed; there is variable variability!>
Since all of you are already aware of that, I decided I would just go ahead and write directly with my questions for straight answers, which is what you are best at! So brief background....75G tank, 50 lbs live rock with quite a few caves/holes, mixed reef but only 4 corals, 2 OC clowns hosting in a BTA, one cleaner shrimp, and many hermits/snails in a CUC.
<Let's stop right here. There is TOO much probability that an Odonus, indeed any Balistid will consume the Clowns, Anemone, Shrimp, Snails>
Filtration includes one HOB power filter mainly for carbon, Aqua C Remora HOB skimmer (I love it.), and powerheads for flow. I typically perform 3 - 5 gallon water changes weekly, depending on how much RODI water I have left.
I have kept over the years species of all sorts, some with success, others as a learning experience/headache. I even had an undulated kept individually with an emerald crab for 6 months or so before selling him and the tank. Some of my favorites in the hobby include clowns, triggers, and tangs, which obviously for a 75G is not a good combination at all. My dream is for a larger tank, at least 150G but preferably 200G+ several years down the line, but as we all know things don't always happen when and as we hope. The reason I say that is I do not believe/like to buy a fish with plans to simply "trade in" in time for a smaller or different species. I prefer to keep something for it's entire life span and not take a fairly steep risk with a living creature.
So after all of that, my research, and confusion, here are my questions/hopes/concerns. My two clowns are non negotiable and will remain as the "centerpiece" of my tank. Having done angels, grammas, damsels, "smaller" tangs, Anthias, and cardinals, etc, over the years I'm looking for something "new" (one or two fish) to attempt that still appeals very much to me.
<How about a culture project?>
This of course is where the trigger comes in.
1. Obviously there is the risk associated with triggers with smaller fish and inverts, but is this a reasonably "OK" choice to make to add a Niger to the current setup, given the Niger's mid water feeding habits? It may not be recommended, and there are way worse combinations out there, but is this mixing feasible?
<Not really, no>
2. If we can determine this to be OK, could I/should I add one additional fish, which I would be leaning toward a yellow tang? If not any other recommendations? Particularly something with color, preferably yellow to offset the Niger and clowns? I am OK with just the trigger and clowns.
<I'd place a/the trigger last, whatever mix you end up putting together>
3. This again varies from the individual, but if I do try this how long would I have generally speaking before the trigger is too big for the tank, though liveaquaria.com says 70G as the minimum! (frustration here as they are known as a "standard" in the hobby)
<There are some exceptions/differences twixt KevinK and co. and my/WWM's impressions>
4. The Niger I am contemplating is in a VERY overcrowded tank at the LFS (go figure right) with turbo snails, small Clarkiis (my OCs are about 1.5 - 2", and the Niger itself is probably 2-3"), and quite a few other assorted species. Could this current combination "help" the Niger's passiveness? At least temporarily?
Many many thanks in advance and chances are I may have follow up questions as well. Have a great week!
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Niger Trigger possibly in a 75G?   5/6/11

Thanks Bob! That is pretty much the answer I expected. One more question about this? In your opinion, what is the better choice here between a Niger or Humu Humu? Thanks again!
<A tough one... I like both these fish... The genus Rhinecanthus "on average" is better behaved (more disposed to leave other fishes, corals... alone), but Odonus behavior does overlap! BobF>
Re: Niger Trigger possibly in a 75G?   5/6/11
Sounds like a coin flip! Well the Humu is my personal fave so I would lean that direction. Still trying to be smart about this though.
Thanks again and have a great weekend!
<You as well Clayton. B>

Stocking With a Bursa Trigger/Triggerfish/Compatibility 5/4/2011
Good morning all,
<Good morning to you, Gabe.>
I currently have a Bursa Triggerfish (3-4 inches) in quarantine. I wanted to know the suitability of possible inhabitants. One fish I would like to have is a Yellow Tang, but I don't want to introduce a fish that would get bullied or killed.
<This will likely happen with the tang.>
I would also like to inquire as to the suitability of a Sixline Wrasse and maybe one of the larger clownfish, such as a maroon.
<Would not do this as well.>
I understand triggers do best by themselves or in aggressive tanks...are Yellow Tangs and Maroon Clowns "aggressive" enough, or does that refer to their eating habits? Will a Sixline be able to evade the more aggressive fish?
<His luck may hold out for a while, but as the Bursa grows, the wrasse may become lunch.>
Oh, they are being put in a 90 g with a 20g sump, and plenty of live rock.
<The Bursa will soon outgrow this system. Have you read here and related articles/FAQs found in the header?
Thank you in advance,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Stocking With a Bursa Trigger/Triggerfish/Compatibility 5/4/2011

Thanks for the response.
<You're welcome.>
I was going off of a previous post (www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/sufflamen/faqs.htm) 
but never found any definitive answers as to the compatibility. Is saw a post from Anthony that referenced "little to no fishes" and thought that the list below might suffice. Seems that that may be "too much fish", so what, if any, herbivorous fish would survive/thrive with a bursa?
<The drawback you have is tank volume. The already aggressive Bursa can/will become more aggressive/territorial in this volume of water with other fish present. A large tang or Foxface may get along fine with a triggerfish in larger systems (180+), but not much chance of that happening in your present 90 gallon system. This is one reason why it is helpful to research and plan before buying.>
Thanks again!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Picasso Trigger picking on Leopard Wrasse
Rhinecanthus vs. Macropharyngodon, 2 different weight classes - 4/20/11

Greetings to All!
<<Hello Amy.>>
I can't express how helpful this site has been through the years, as it is the first resource I use for any questions or troubleshooting. The one thing that made your site my favorite, is that you advocate for the fish, not the whims of men (and women), actually giving voice to the voiceless.
A big heartfelt thanks!
<<Glad to hear you appreciate it, will pass along thanks to the rest of the crew.>>
Now, onto the matter at hand.
I recently purchased a 4 inch female Leopard Wrasse. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of time she spends actually out of the sand bed! Good sign right?
<<Yes it's normal for Macropharyngodon to spend it's 'nights' buried or covered so to speak in the shallow layer of substrate or when spooked, seeking cover. However, healthy specimens should be swimming about the reef (rock work in captivity) curious, alert...and feeing on the microfauna and microcrustaceans.>>
She has been a picky eater (as expected)
<<Yes, easily, the biggest concern for this genus in captivity.>>
but is slowly coming around, nibbling on mysis and slowly starting to pick at the live rock. I'll be working hard to get her eating the New Life Spectrum pellets.
<<Would be quite the accomplishment if the animal does accept this but would still keep it on a varied diet including finely chopped meats of a marine origin - assuming it will accept them as most captive Macropharyngodons like you mentioned are quite picky, and some simply perish refusing to eat at all.>>
(keeping my fingers crossed) Our 90 gallon is a mixed reef with an in line 50 gallon, 3 chambered sump/refugium FULL of pods and "bugs", not to mention live Mysis. (I am a fanatic about restocking pods as I will explain in a bit) It also has a deep, live sand bed, about 100lbs of Marshall Island Rock (came with the tank, not doing anything illegal)
<<No worries, I wouldn't assume that considering the ban is as recent as 2008...and even then there have been exceptions and amendments to that law...and the refugium, live rock set-up sounds great in your attempt to be successful with this wrasse...assuming there aren't too many other competitors for this natural food source sharing the tank with it.>>
mixed with some newer rock we had in another tank. We also grow Caulerpa, sea lettuce, and Chaeto in our sump which is fed to our Tangs. The sump also has a small amount of live rock and a bottom of miracle mud. Parameters are great, with nitrates a tick over 5 (we feed heavily as I am lucky enough to have a thriving Gorgonian. Out tank is full of tunicates which is also very exciting to me . So, "what's the problem" you may ask. It is this. Our 3 1/2 inch Picasso Trigger is harassing the new Leopard Wrasse. Not a constant harassment, but just enough that I am worried that she will have a hard time settling in.
<<...And with Balistids it rarely gets better, usually worse, sometimes overnight. Not a great situation for an animal that has trouble adjusting to captive life even under optimal conditions.>>
The Trigger's "territory" is in the right corner of the tank (he has a nice hole he has claimed), but he will swim all the way over to the right corner(where the wrasse hangs out), take a run at the wrasse, then slink back through the rocks over to his side-like he is going out of his way to be a naughty neighbor!
<<...And he may yet become more intolerant of his already established neighbors as he/she ages.>>
The Picasso has never exhibited any signs of overt
aggression to any of our other fish (list to be included shortly, I promise.
<<It's for lack of a better phrase the status quo with Triggers in captivity. Juveniles or younger triggers can be model citizens for years in community and reef aquaria, and they can literally 'snap' so to speak over night. These are highly intelligent, highly evolved reef fish that are built to prey on smaller, lower reef denizens. While Rhinecanthus tend to have a more mellow disposition than say Balistoides or B. undulatus, they can still get nasty. Have had 9-10' specimens (1% of my weight maybe) challenge me while diving in their territory off of Hawaii.>>
So my question, is this just a temporary thing?
<<Possibly but not likely.>>
Do they just need to sort out who is "top dog"?
<<Yes, but at the expense of health, even death of the 'loser.'>>
Do I remove the Picasso? (quite frankly, I would rather keep the Wrasse)
<<For long term success of a mixed community/invertebrate tank I would say removing the trigger would be optimal, yes.>>
mated pair of False Percs
<<Snacks for an adult trigger.>>
offending Picasso Trigger
big, fat Mandarin Goby (hence the need for pods)
<<I have some concern about this fishes well being with the introduction of the wrasse, they inhabit the same cryptic areas in search of microfauna for food. If the wrasse doesn't outright harass the mandarin, it will eventually outcompete it for food.>>
Copperband Butterfly (hence the need for pods)
Blonde Naso Tang
Tomini Tang
Powder Blue Tang (I know, I know ~I chastised my husband repeatedly for bringing this home!) I really want to thank you for all the great advice given over the years. At times, I've been ready to throw in the towel, but your site has always been able to coax me back from the brink :)
<<Good luck!>>
Warm Regards,
<<To you as well.>>
<<Adam J.>>

Triggerfish Tank Janitors, 10/23/10
Hey there,
We have a beautiful Bursa Triggerfish. He's such a character and fun to watch but he's a pain in the rear when it comes to finding a suitable tank janitor to be housed with him, he eats our snails and hermit crabs, which I know is to be expected but my question is what can we house with him to keep the tank looking nice without him eating them?
<Not much really, with triggers the best tank janitor available is you, and when you have your hands in the tank always know where the trigger is, they do bite.>
Is it just his natural predatory instincts that had him eating them or should I be feeding him even more than we already do?
<Is what triggers do.>
Any suggestions or advice would be highly appreciated!
Thanks in advanced!

Assasi Trigger And Corals/Triggerfish Compatibility 10/5/10
Hi all
<Hello Jim>
I trust all is well.
<So far, so good.>
I have added an Assasi trigger to my tank and have had experience with this genus before. I know triggers in general are not considered safe for any type of invertebrates, but I was wondering what your opinion is with this species and the following types of corals.
Feather dusters,
Sarcophyton leathers.
As I remember the Caulastrea was never touched by my previous Picasso, nor were the feathers. Opinions please.
<Triggerfish, have a tendency to rearrange the landscaping, rocks, and corals as it wanders about in search of food. This feeding behavior can be detrimental to coral health as moveable corals will constantly be overturned in it's quest for hidden food.>
<Ditto. James (Salty Dog)>

Dogface puffer, sys., comp. of Rhinecanthus...  3/2/10
<Hello Erica>
I really need your help I have a 200 gallon tank with a 30 gallon sump a commercial protein skimmer because my Dogface Puffer makes a mess in my tank
<Yes, indeed!>
but with the commercial skimmer which is huge it makes a big difference.
list of tank mates
Dogface Puffer
Banded Goby
Powder Tang
Clown 3"
Well I was given as a gift a Humu Trigger 1.5" <too small IMO> my question is will this fish do ok in my tank without hurting my 5" Puffer all of my water specs are perfect
<Really? If you know they are perfect, then you must know the numbers, so writing them down should not take too long at all...>
I test my water every day. <? Diligent indeed! I only test every two weeks!> My tank has been setup for 3 yrs.
<Mmm, I would be wary of putting these two together. It is far more likely to get picked on by the Puffer at this size than the other way around. You might be ok, but at the very least you are looking at some serious food input/ outputs (and the related issues associated with this) once these fishes reach the 8 inch or so mark... not too long down the road either. I would think twice about this one.>
<No problem, Simon>

Adolescent Picasso with Pair of False Percs? -- 1/27/10
I just had a very young Picasso clown die on me, and I'm a little worried the other one will be lonely. He doesn't play around the tank like he used to.
I'm watching to make sure he's not sick as the other one just died, I think from Brooklynella,
<... if this, than the other will very likely die soon as well>
so I've dipped the living Picasso and I'm watching him.
<Do please understand that the "system itself" is infested... Dipping, otherwise curing the hosts and returning them to this system will not save them>
He's eating, swimming, but not playing like he used to. I'm wondering if it'd be better for him to be alone in the tank for a while, or if I should put him in my main tank which has a pair of Ocellaris clowns.
<!? I'd hold off on doing this, and NOT mix anything wet twixt the systems IF you suspect a parasite here>
It's not a big tank; only 29 gallons, but there's lots of live rock places for him to hide, and the pair seem to stay on side (hosting in the sand no matter what else I offer them, any explanation for this?)
<Substitution for Actinarian host>
Intuition says not to put the tiny, snack-sized Picasso in with the 1 year-old Ocellaris pair, but I'm reading mixed messages online. You thoughts?
<I would not do it. Rhinecanthus spp. need much more room than this... See WWM re>
Thanks in advance (again,)
<Welcome in number, kind. BobF>

Fuzzy dwarf tank mates, not Rhinecanthus  1/9/10
Hi Guys,
You have a great, informative website.
I have not been able to find the response to some tank mate compatibilities on your site what I mean is
I have a 110 gallon tank (fish only with 100 lbs of live rock) that has -1 fuzzy dwarf lion fish about 3 inches
-1 metallic fox face about 4 inches
-2 chocolate starfish
I was looking to add a Picasso trigger as well... however I have read that when other individuals have inquired on this, their tanks are a lot smaller then mine, which could result in the trigger hurting the fuzzy dwarf lionfish.
<And too likely the Starfish>
So I was wondering if this would work out with my tank size?
<It's not a "good gamble" in my estimation. Too likely the Rhinecanthus will chew the Lion... make it hard to feed it (by eating all foods itself).
I'd be looking for more suitable tankmates. Please read here:
my tank has been established for 1 yr.
Also, I am planning for my 125 gallon fish only tank with about 110 lbs of live rock. I already have
- 1 yellow tang about 3 inches
- 1 unicorn tang about 5 inches
<Mmm, which species of Naso? See WWM re... most all species, specimens get too big for this size, shaped system>
Would a Sohal tang fit in here without over stocking my tank?
<Mmm, maybe... as THE alpha fish. I would place last, and acquire a small specimen to start with. See WWM re this Acanthurus>
I am also looking at the below , unsure if they could go in either the 125 gallon or the 140,
-clown trigger fish
<... See WWM...>
-Koran angelfish
<For quite a time... a few years if started small>
any information would be appreciated , and in what order should the fish be introduced.
<Please learn to/use the search tool and indices on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Compatibility of Picasso and anemones.  8/29/2009
Hello again WWM Crew,
I have been considering getting a bubble tip or long tentacle anemone for my 150 gallon tank, and I was wondering if a Picasso trigger, or blue angelfish would bother them?
<Distinct possibility>
I was also wondering if a Montipora, pulsia xenia, starburst polyps, mushroom polyps would be bothered.
Thanks in advance,
<Please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM... Bob Fenner>

Coral banded shrimp/Compatibility/Lunch    8/25/09
I have a Coral Banded Shrimp and would like to add it to my 150 gallon tank. The only fish I am skeptical about keeping it with is a 3" Picasso Trigger. In your professional opinion will this work as I do know that Coral Banded are cleaner shrimp, and I'm hoping he will realize this. I also have a frogfish tank but I think he would probably eat the shrimp, what is your opinion?
<Coral Banded Shrimp are not true obligated cleaner shrimp, they can take it or leave it, and should not be trusted with predatory fish.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog) Sent from my aging laptop.>

SW 150 Gallon Fish Stocking, Tangs, Triggers, and Damsels. 6/10/2009
Hello crew and thanks for all the great advice.
<Hi. Vincent, thank you.>
I have a basic fish stocking question that I wanted to get a sense of whether I am pushing the limit of my system, mostly in terms of aggression.
The system is a FOWLR 150g (72" x 18" x 27") with a 50g sump and about 120 lbs live rock. The tank has the following fish: Yellow Tang, Powder Brown (A. japonicus), Tomini Tang, Flame Angel & and an Assasi Trigger fish.
<An interesting mix>
I would like to add 3 Yellow Tail Damsels to the system to make it a little more interesting.
However, given all of the effort to get the system and current inhabitants compatible I want to make sure that the probability for success is high.
Please let me know your opinion on this last potential addition to the tank.
<My biggest concern would be the trigger. Rhinecanthus triggers tend to be somewhat 'mellow' but each fish is an individual. The tangs can be a bit belligerent as well. If all of the fish are well established, none of them are likely to welcome 'outsiders' >
<You do have a fair amount of live rock, so there are hiding places. So, the probability of success is slightly better than 50%/50% at best.>
<Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pictrigcompfaqs.htm >
Thanks again.

Purple Lobster: Ringing the dinner bell for Triggers 3/27/2009
I was wondering if anyone knows why my purple lobster died suddenly.
<How long did you have this lobster and how big is your tank?>
I just tested my water this morning: nitrites 0, ammonia 0, pH 8.2 temp76, salinity 1.024. Nitrates were 20ppm but that is compared to what they were.  My nitrates were in the process of coming down, but he seemed healthier when the nitrates were at 100ppm.
He came out and ate Mysis this afternoon but was dead by 9 pm.
I have a Huma trigger and Yellow tang.
<Ah Ha....>
Do you think the trigger did it. He did look bitten except his tentacles were very short.
<Most likely. crustaceans are a natural food source for them.>
I am thinking of getting rid of my trigger.

Trigger Compatibility... Again.  1/18/09 Now, I really am sorry for this one... I know that similar situations and recommendations abound within the FAQ's... But, I'll throw it out there anyway...Can a 2" Rhinecanthus Aculeatus/Picasso Trigger kill a 6" Arothron Manilensis/Striped Dogface Puffer? <Mmm, doubtful this would occur... but is a remote possibility> Or does it only matter than he thinks he can? <Hmmm> I know there's no guarantee with any Trigger, but I thought that Rhinecanthus were somewhat more mellow than the various Balistapus and Balistoides. I have had Picassos Before, but never anything like this... Evil. And would you say, as a very general rule, that any display of aggression will intensify with age? <This is most often the case> There's a scary thought... Barely two inches - The smallest fish in the tank... He tries to bite me... He forced me to return my beloved Mullidae/Goatfishes (well, actually, he had been chasing them for awhile - thought it would pass - one of them decided to split from the entire program and leave the tank on his own). He even brings out the worst in a Chromileptis/Panther Grouper... You ever notice the Panther's body is almost like a Pig or a Rhinoceros? With that low-slung mouth just like certain mammals have for rooting and grazing? My 5" Panther Grouper very quickly scoops and flings the Picasso just like a Rhino... (Just an observation). Now, on to the Puffer... During feeding, the Puffer gets his... No way around that... Could not care less about the Trigger. The Trigger, however, tries to steal the puffers food... So much that, even if I feed them on separate ends of the tank, the Trigger will stop eating to dart across the tank and try to prevent the puffer from eating. The Puffer keeps on munching like that green, hotdog eating thing in Ghostbusters. But the Trigger is clearly not happy and getting more and more aggressive - Biting and shoving the Puffer. Which is extra weird because the Trigger hasn't grown much in the last three months, whereas the Puffer has almost doubled in size. I guess my question is this: Is this going to get worse? I love both fishes. I don't know if a larger tank would make that much difference... Right now, they're in a 15g show (about 20" X 10" X 18")... <... Are you joking? This is too small by more than half for just the puffer alone...> I have also ordered a juvenile Pomacanthus Imperator/Angelfish to balance it out... No, I'm lying... They're in a 100G and I will definitely not be adding an Imperator in this system ever... <Ahh!> But I do have a lovely Pogonoperca Punctata/Clown Grouper/Soapfish that is still doing quite well his recent near-death experience... I know... I need a bigger tank. What do I do with this Picasso Trigger? Smack him with a rolled up newspaper? <I'd put him in "jail"... in a floating colander (plastic of course) for a week or so... See if that doesn't take some of the "spit and vinegar" out of him. It just might. Bob Fenner>

Humu Humu Triggerfish & Banded Cat Shark...  12/29/08 I Have a 10 inch banded cat shark in a tank with some Sgt major damsels. The question is I would like to purchase a Humu Humu triggerfish & was wondering if the shark & the trigger would get along. <Heeeee! And Orcinus orca?> I was told that this trigger is one of the least aggressive triggers on the market & shouldn't do any harm to the shark if the shark is already in the aquarium but cant add anything after the trigger. is this true or was I just being told a lie just for them to sell me the trigger? Any help would be great thanks, Robert <No my friend... back to go. BobF>

Huma trigger, comp.  6/13/08 Hey y'all, Have you ever heard of a Huma trigger living in a reef tank? <Yes... the genus Rhinecanthus is found on reefs...> I love humas but I love corals. I only have a torch and green bubble in my tank at the moment. I know humas need stuff to grind their teeth down...I'm just asking if its pretty much impossible to keep one in a reef tank. <Read re here: http://wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm Scroll down... Can be done... esp. in large/r systems, with starting with a smallish individual, train/feeding it... May "sample" in time... just have to keep an eye on... feeding on totally nourishing, non-live/recognizable as live foods like Spectrum pellets is advised. Bob Fenner>

Huma trigger 06/14/08 Hey y'all, Have you ever heard of a Huma trigger living in a reef tank? <Yes... the genus Rhinecanthus is found on reefs...> I love Humas but I love corals. I only have a torch and green bubble in my tank at the moment. I know Humas need stuff to grind their teeth down...I'm just asking if its pretty much impossible to keep one in a reef tank. <Read re here: http://wetwebmedia.com/fishindex3.htm Scroll down... Can be done... esp. in large/r systems, with starting with a smallish individual, train/feeding it... May "sample" in time... just have to keep an eye on... feeding on totally nourishing, non-live/recognizable as live foods like Spectrum pellets is advised. Bob Fenner> I have a LFS that I trust and they can order me a 2 inch baby. Would this work? Its a 75 with. a yellow tang and 3 Chromis... <Keep reading. RMF>

Clown Fish Feeding, Tankmates 5/1/08 I have a question. I had two clown fish in my 75 gallon aquarium and they were really good eaters. I just got a Picasso trigger fish and for the first day the clowns were fine and they would swim with the trigger and eat with him and everything. <More likely they were sizing each other up.> Now all of a sudden they are a little afraid and won't go to the top for fish flakes anymore. <Triggers are quite intimidating and aggressive.> My trigger is getting all the food and I'm afraid that my clowns are not getting any. Is there any way that I can get my clowns to eat something? <Try some sinking pellets, and hopefully they will become a bit more aggressive eating with the trigger as the fish get used to each other. If the clowns are otherwise healthy I would not worry too much until a week has passed, they should be able to go this long without food without any negative repercussions.> <Chris>

Humu Humu Trigger, comp.  4/17/08 I recently wrote about the contents of my 75 gallon tank, inquiring if a Humu could live comfortably in a 75 gallon. Well yesterday I went and asked my LFS if they could get one in, they told me these were some bad fish. He said it was likely that they would turn on the tank and it was wise to decide against it. Is this true? Thanks in advance. <Triggers in general are pretty aggressive fish, although the Rhinecanthus genus are generally less aggressive compared to other triggers. If housed with proper tankmates and given enough space it can make a very nice aquarium specimen. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/triggers/Rhinecanthus/index.htm .> <Chris>

Picasso Trigger Fish Compatibility   2/26/08 Hello all, <Tyler too> I have a question about stocking a new tank that I have set up in my house. I currently have two tanks, a 120 gallon reef tank and a 72 gallon FOWLR tank. I just recently set up a 135 gallon (four year old active tank that was just moved from my brother's house and a small mini-cycle is already complete) that will also be a FOWLR and will (hopefully) replace the 72. My 72 has a 3-1/2 inch flame angel and an approximately 5 inch Picasso that have lived together for over 5 years. Since these fish are the most established and the largest, I have planned on keeping them in the 72 until all of the new fish in the 135 have become established there and are able to grow a bit. The new fish that I am planning on adding to the 135 are a juvenile Annularis (1-1/2 inch), <Will need more room than this in time> three royal grammas (small), and a pair of small Raccoon Butterfly Fish (1-1/2 inch). Ultimately, I would like to transfer the Picasso and the flame into the 135 but I am concerned about the compatibility. My Picasso has existed peacefully for a long time with the flame angel but I'm concerned about the effects of new tank mates and a new environment. I can keep all three tanks running but it sounds like a lot of work. I realize that there aren't any absolute answers but if I do transfer my existing fish in, is there a time for that transfer that would give me the best chance for success? Thank you for the advice, Tyler <Mmm, one never knows... genus Rhinecanthus triggers are on the mellow side for the family... but just slightly more predictable than the more aggressive Balistids. I give you good odds here, considering this specimen's existing behavior. Bob Fenner> Triggers, mixing Rhinecanthus  8/9/07 Can I mix different species of Rhinecanthus in a 210g tank? I have a non aggressive 5" Humu who has been in my tank for about a year. I wanted to add an assasi <Not really a good gamble... Too likely in the long haul, with growth, to be altercations. Maybe look into Xanthichthys sp. if you want more than one individual Balistid. Bob Fenner>

Aggressive Picasso Trigger Killed All Fish!?   6/22/07 <Maybe> My husband and I have a 75 gallon tank and had three tangs, a coral beauty and an angel (juvenile about 4"). <What species?> The tank was well established. All of the fish had been with us for several years and we decided to purchase a Picasso Trigger. He was about the same size as the coral beauty but much smaller than all the other fish (he's about 2 1/2"), so we decided that he would be compatible and a good "last" addition to the tank. A few days after his arrival, we noticed that the coral beauty was not doing well. It looked like it was suffering from minor attacks from the Picasso Trigger. <Mmmm> About a week after we purchased the Picasso Trigger, we noticed the coral beauty fading away, but the other fish were swimming, eating and seeming quite healthy and were not bothered by the Picasso. Seven days after its arrival, I came home from an early morning appointment, turned on the tank light and all of the fish, except for the Picasso Trigger, were dead. All of them! <Yikes!> They had been seemingly fine the evening before (not 8 hours earlier). Could the Picasso have killed all of these fish? <Highly unlikely... but... what did?> Other than the coral beauty, none of the other fish looked as if they had attack marks? <Mmmm... there would be if the Trigger were involved for sure> Do Triggers produce some type of poison of which we were not aware? It is just such a puzzle. <Good question... not as far as I'm aware... they can be ciquatoxic... a cause of "fish food poisoning"... but not applicable here> I first thought another factor may have played a part. That same week the "dog food" crisis arose and we also lost one of our dogs later the next week from poisoning. <Very sorry, commiserations> We, of course were not feeding our fish dog food, but realized that some of the fish food did have wheat gluten in it. No one else at our aquarium store reported any tank die offs like ours, though. <Mmm, no... not related> Three months later, the Picasso seems just fine. My husband purchased two damsels (not a smart move), and I caught the Picasso snacking on our blue damsel this morning. I know this one is a mean one - no doubt. But could he be capable of killing off an entire tank of much larger fish in a matter of hours? Thanks for any insight you may have, Elizabeth Poff <I really don't think so... but the mystery still remains and begs the question... What is it that would result in the death of all the others and NOT kill the new trigger? I know naught... But I would likely trade out the Humu/Rhinecanthus ... likely to stay, become even "meaner". Bob Fenner>

Re: Aggressive Picasso Trigger Killed All Fish!?  6/23/07 Thank you for your quick reply. <Welcome> In response to your question about the angel, we had a beautiful Koran angel. <Mmm, needs more than a 75 gallon...> It was a real loss to lose so many wonderful fish that we had in our tank for many years. And all of the obvious reasons for a die-off just don't hold in this situation since the Trigger is still alive. <Well... Balistids can be tough... but is still a mystery to me... IF the root of the problem were environmental... low DO, or a nitrogenous anomaly let's say, the trigger should have perished as well... That it would have "scared" or harassed the other fishes to the point of their mortality w/o leaving bites, missing eyes... not possible> There were no signs of serious attack marks on any of the fish except the coral beauty, and if there was a disease in the tank, I would imagine that all of the fish would show a few symptoms before the die off! <Yes, agreed> It's a true puzzle and hopefully someday our "cold case" will be a solved "murder" mystery. Thanks again for your help! E. Poff <Ooooh, am I going to get to be in the teevee series with that gorgeous too-light-skinned blonde gal? I could easily pass for her chubby box-toting side-kick... BobF>

Triggerfish/Compatibility, James go 3/28/07 Mr. Fenner <James with you today.> I know this topic has been discussed in the past, but one thing I would like to know is are there ANY corals that can be kept with a triggerfish (specifically Rhinecanthus)? <Would not do.> I am very interested in a Humu Humu for a species tank, but would like some Vibrance and color to the tank without resorting to fake decoration. Specifically I was contemplating Zoanthid species. Supposedly these corals have a noxious taste and thus deter most predators. They are also hardy so if a trigger does get curious the colony will likely survive. Also, if the trigger decides to re-arrange rockwork it wont decimate the Zoanthids as I have polyps that have been behind rockwork for years maintain growth and spread their way back to daylight. <Problem you are going to have is that the trigger will constantly turn over rocks looking for tasty crustaceans.  Any type of coral you have on the smaller rocks will eventually be upside down.  You will be constantly in the tank rearranging for naught, and this would be the best scenario among other problems that could take place.  Tis not worth the trouble.  There are many other very colorful fish that are compatible with reef systems.> I ask not only for the color and diversity aspect, but I would also like to use MH lighting to give the aesthetic appeal of shimmer lines...and I figure since I  will be using the best lighting, why not take advantage of that. <Do not see how the lighting relates to the trigger.> I do realize that my prized Acanthastrea will have to remain in one of my other tanks! Any thoughts on this issue? <As above.> Thank you very much, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Long time reader and big fan Joshua Hazelton

Triggerfish in a reef. Bobs go  3/28/07 I know this topic has been discussed a little in the past (especially regarding invertebrates, SPS corals and clams), but one thing I would like to know is are there ANY corals that can be kept with a triggerfish (specifically Rhinecanthus)? <Sure... all sorts... the species of Balistids in this genus are all called "Reef Triggerfishes" at places, languages around the world... They are found in close association with cnidarians... More an issue of size of the system, other food items available mostly...> I am very interested in a Humu Humu for a species tank, but would like some Vibrance and color to the tank without resorting to fake decoration. Specifically I was contemplating Zoanthid species and some soft corals. Supposedly these corals have a noxious taste and thus deter most predators. They are also hearty so if a trigger does get curious the colony will likely survive. <Likely will be fine with these> Also, if the trigger decides to re-arrange rockwork it wont decimate the Zoanthids as I have polyps that have been behind rockwork for years maintain growth and spread their way back to daylight. I ask not only for the color and diversity aspect, but I would also like to use MH lighting to give the aesthetic appeal of shimmer lines...and I figure since I  will be using the best lighting, why not take advantage of that. <Why not?> I do realize that my prized Acanthastrea will have to remain in one of my other tanks! <This too would not likely be disturbed> Any thoughts on this issue? <Mmm, nope> Thank you very much Long time reader and big fan Joshua Paul Hazelton <Bob Fenner, who hopes to be out diving with the two local Rhinecanthus (in HI) later today>

Humu Picasso Trigger Mixed Answers 1/13/07 Alright, <Indeed... Graham T. with you tonight.> I'm going crazy here trying to figure out my setup for my tank.   <Your *empty* tank? Are you building a species list? I commend you, if so.> I currently have a 70 gallon and am looking for some tankmates for a Humu Picasso Triggerfish.  I have been searching and reading this website all day and I think I'm getting conflicting results.   <Happens, but a basic BS filter should help there. ;) > It seems that just when I figure out what can go with it, there's another question answered that screws me all up.  So PLEASE help!! <I will try...> I've found that (and I'm not wanting to do ALL of these) a Humu Humu can go with a Panther Grouper <poor choice with your tank size>, Dwarf Lionfish <no problem there>, Puffer <depends... can be fine>, Foxface (sometimes) <No prob.s there.>, and a Niger Trigger <Most of the time...>.  But it seems that I'm getting mixed opinions on this (from this website).  If I introduce the Picasso LAST and it's only a couple inches long (or so) will that help out a lot? <I think I understand your issue. It may stem from the fact that triggers (and most other marine fish) are fairly intelligent, and that imparts a tendency toward *personality* in your fish. That personality will be formed based on it's life-events and some genetic predisposition, just like you and me. For the most part, the painted trigger (as I only think of the Assasi trigger as a "true" Picasso) is a feisty but agreeable tank-mate. I see them living successfully with sessile inverts, though they usually are better-suited for a motile-invert or true FOWLR setup. You can never guess exactly how your livestock responds to stimuli until you have the specimen in your crosshairs and observe it. What you read here on WWM are usually guidelines - based on crew-members' personal experience. Mine, as a trigger-lover, is that painted triggers can be comical, mean, shy, stupid, belligerent, tolerant, and more... but not usually in the same specimen. I have had two different setups (including my current one) with a painted and niger trigger sharing space. In the first instance, they were introduced at the same time, and there was never any hostility to speak of. This time, the niger (usually the more shy, introverted of the two) was at home first, and the two didn't hit it off until three weeks went by. I have seen painted triggers live peacefully with many more docile species than say, a clown trigger. Selecting small specimens will ensure that bad habits are kept to a minimum. Finally, as you know, introducing the fish you believe to be the most aggressive last is always the way to go to avoid squabbles that end in nipped fins, or in the triggers' case, missing eyes/scales. I would think you should broaden your search for compatible species to include more tidy eaters. A groupers in a 75gal is just too big a fish, IMO. BTW, my first painted trigger got along famously with three Lysmata amboinensis shrimp, and a tiny clown goby - but this is not the rule with most triggers. Another key to fish selection and success is stress-reduction that you provide by creating the ideal environment and conditions for you choices. Welcome to the hobby, Jon. -Graham T.> Appreciate the help, Jon
Re: Humu Picasso Trigger Mixed Answers follow-up 1/14/07
I appreciate the help, Holy goodness are you guys fast!! :) <That's better to hear than the occasional "Did you guys get my email..." Thank you, and you're welcome.> I forgot to ask, I've read that Angels do a pretty good job in my type of setup (Picasso Trigger, Dwarf Lionfish, Foxface) is this true? <I already forgot how big your setup is, and if you're stocked a little or just building a list of fishes so you can introduce them in the right order. If so, then the angel would be fine, I believe. Many Pomacanthus angels, like the French and Cortez are a little feisty in their own right. Of course, you have to keep in mind that an Pomacanthus angel will get a bit large for a medium tank.> I was looking at a French Angel, beautiful fish. <Read ahead, Graham... Read ahead...> Am I right in thinking that it might not be aggressive enough? <Mmmm... maybe not, but let me suggest this order of addition in your setup: 1) Dwarf Lionfish (2-3") 2a) Foxface (2-4") 2b) French Angel (3-4") 3) Painted trigger (1.5-2.5") I wouldn't add the trigger until the other three have settled in and made themselves at home for a few weeks. Maybe after the Foxface and angel are added, you can wait a week and get the trigger in QT for 2-4wks. HTH, -Graham T.> Jon

Compatibility of anemone and clownfish with Humu Humu trigger Hi!  I love your site and all your extremely informative Q&A -- what a remarkable resource!  Thank you for what you do! <Much appreciated> Here's my question:  I have a very friendly <There are no friendly triggers> and relatively docile humu (about 4 inches) humu living very happily with a convict damsel in a 40 gallon FOWLR system. <Much too small a tank.> The two don't seem to bother each other at all and have been very peaceable roommates for over two years.  I would like to add a clownfish (percula, likely, although possibly a Clark) along with an anemone.  In fact, I just bought a pink anemone today at the LFS largely since the man at the store didn't seem to think there would be any incompatibility problem.  I thought I would give the anemone a chance to make itself at home before introducing the clownfish.  After now searching the issue of compatibility between the humu humu and the anemone I am now suddenly alarmed at the thought that the humu humu might nibble at and ultimately kill the anemone.  (I know, I should have figured this out in advance of buying the thing.)  Is it highly likely that the humu humu will munch on the anemone or simply a somewhat possible eventuality?  Is the little convict damsel likely to succumb to the anemone's tentacles?  Should I take the anemone back to the store tomorrow and forget the idea of giving the clownfish an anemone home? <Bad idea all together, take the anemone back.  Triggerfish should never be trusted with inverts.> Also, would the humu humu be likely to harass the new clownfish? <Yes> Does it depend very much on the relative size of the clown? <No> (the Clark would be about 3 inches and the percula would be a little guy - perhaps 1.5-2 inches).  Separately, what do you think of the idea of introducing a lunare wrasse into this environment?  Would the wrasse be likely to upset the happy relationship between the humu humu and the convict? <As the trigger grows your tank will not be able to support any more fish.  Your trigger can attain a length of up to 10 inches and they do grow quite fast.  A 70 gallon tank would be the minimum size for this trigger.> Thank you in advance for you advice. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Humu humu Compatibility - 12/17/2005 Hi, <Hello, Josh here.> I've never posted a question before so I don't know if I'm supposed to send you an email like this or simply follow the link your site.  So, I apologize if you receive this twice.... <I only see this one, so, unless Bob got one...>    Hi! <Uh.. Hi there! Josh here today.> I love your site and all your extremely informative Q&A -- what a remarkable resource! Thank you for what you do! <Actually thank you! We couldn't do it without all the participation!>   Here's my question: I have a very friendly and relatively docile Humuhumu (about 4 inches) living very happily with a convict damsel in a 40 gallon FOWLR system. The two don't seem to bother each other at all and have been very peaceable roommates for over two years. <As with any Triggerfish, this can change. The fact that it's tank is too small increases the chances.> I would like to add a clownfish (percula, likely, although possibly a Clark) along with an anemone. <If you're trying to  pair them up, make sure you do the adequate research. There are many mixes that don't work, others that work only sometimes.> In fact, I just bought a pink anemone today at the LFS largely since the man at the store didn't seem to think there would be any incompatibility problem. <YAY! Did you research any on this type before your purchase? How about the best route to success for a Clown host?> I thought I would give the anemone a chance to make itself at home before introducing the clownfish. <Should also make sure you can make it at home. Give a bit of time here, and learn all you can on its care. Anemones aren't easy and should not be taken lightly.> After now searching the issue of compatibility between the humu humu and the anemone I am now suddenly alarmed at the thought that the Humu humu might nibble at and ultimately kill the anemone. <Better late then never (sort of). There is a chance it may happen. No way to know that it won't happen later either.> (I know, I should have figured this out in advance of buying the thing.) <Better luck next time.> Is it highly likely that the Humuhumu will munch on the anemone or simply a somewhat possible eventuality? <I'd say it's highly likely a chance he'll try it. Whether he likes it or not...> Is the little convict damsel likely to succumb to the anemone's tentacles? <Is this a Dascyllus (striped)? Probably not. Smart and quick.> Should I take the anemone back to the store tomorrow and forget the idea of giving the Clownfish an anemone home? <That's what I would advise.> Also, would the Humu humu be likely to harass the new clownfish? <Probably, at least upon introduction. The Damsel would as well.> Does it depend very much on the relative size of the clown? (the Clark would be about 3 inches and the percula would be a little guy - perhaps 1.5-2 inches). <The closer sized to the Trigger the better.> Separately, what do you think of the idea of introducing a lunare wrasse into this environment? Would the wrasse be likely to upset the happy relationship between the Humu humu and the convict? <Any introduction is going to cause some "activity". Introduction to an undersized tank will likely cause negative activity.> Thank you in advance for you advice. <No problem. I would abandon the anemone idea and plan a tank upgrade, too small for the Picasso. - Josh>

Triggerfish and Corallimorphs tog.?   2/14/06 I was wondering if I should take a chance of having a mushroom colony with a Picasso Triggerfish? I know that triggerfish are known to bother corals somewhat but I just want to know my chances of keeping both. (btw I don't have the mushrooms or the triggerfish yet) <Mmm, I give you about 50:50 odds that they'll co-exist... but no telling when the Rhinecanthus might munch the Shrooms. Bob Fenner>

Rectangular Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus Sp.) Tankmates - 02/12/06 Dear Eric, <<Hello Akila>> Hope everything is fine there. <<Not so bad my friend...thank you for asking.>> Everything is going as planned in my main and quarantine tank.  I still didn't put any fish to the main tank even after a month of cycling. <<Excellent to hear!>> I am going to wait a little bit more and work on my quarantining process. <<Super!>> There is a 4" Rectangular triggerfish in the same tank with some Domino damsels at the LFS.  So I was wondering whether to buy the fellow, quarantine it and put him with my 2 damsels and the clown. Do you think it'll be fine?  Cuz I heard that Rectangular, Niger and Humu Picasso triggers are quite peaceful than the rest. <<The Rhinecanthus specie of trigger does make an excellent aquarium fish.  But as it matures/gets larger (10" or more in captivity) it will become more aggressive and need to be housed with equally aggressive (or more agile) fishes.  Domino damsels are actually a pretty good choice for tankmates here...though I don't consider them very attractive as adults.>> Also later on in about 2 - 3 months time I am planning to buy a 4" Butterfly fish & a 2" Fire Goby.  Do you think the Rectangular   Trigger will be compatible with them? <<It will probably be fine with the butterfly for a time...the goby is questionable in my opinion.>> Appreciate your response, thanks. Best regards, Akila <<Take care my friend, EricR>>

Humu Humu and Queen Angel (more like versus) Sir, First I would like to thank you for all the information you provide on your web site, it has helped me immensely.  <Very good to hear/read.> The situation is this; I have a 120gal. fish only tank, in it I have a 2" Humu Humu Trigger, 3" Blueline Trigger, and a 4" Queen Angel. I was wondering, is the Humu Humu a fin nipper?  <Yes, assuredly> I have read just about everything I could on the Humu Humu and never once did I read that it nips at the fins of the other fish.  <Given the opportunity, hunger it will nip at the rest...> I am asking this because on occasion I see what looks like the Humu Humu nipping at the Queen Angel, is this normal? <Yes, though from separate oceans.> The Queen Angel was introduced after the Humu Humu, could he just be trying to bully the Angel? If so, will this eventually stop?  <Maybe and maybe> All three of my fish are flawless (at least in my eyes) I would hate to lose any one of them. Any help you can give me on the subject would be greatly appreciated. <Wish I could be more specific here. Triggerfishes as a group are quite predatory... as they grow in captivity some mellow, others become terrors... as species and individuals. Most of the genus Rhinecanthus ones learn to get along... given enough food, space, and their opportunity to be the alpha, or near alpha individual... the Queen, Holacanthus ciliaris, unfortunately occupies about the same status in the wild and captivity. Bob Fenner> Mike

Re: Humu Humu and Queen Angel Sir, Thank you so much for the quick reply. Good and bad news, first the good. The Queen Angel and Humu Humu are now like the best of friends, they are getting along very well, very happy to see that. I did, however, have to get rid of the Blueline Trigger. Out of nowhere he became VERY aggressive and started to attack both the Humu Humu and Queen Angel.  <Yikes, thank goodness you were there at the time to separate them> I was very fortunate to find someone who I know will take good care of the Blueline and I did not have to take it back to the LFS. Once again, thank you for the reply, it is nice to see that someone out there really cares about the hobby and it's hobbyists. <As it is obvious you do. Bob Fenner> Mike

Picasso Could you please tell me how a Picasso trigger juvenile would be in a 75 gallon tank with an juvenile emperor. I currently have a full grown tang, 2 fire gobies, 1 cleaner wrasse, 2 damsels, 1 blenny, 1 lawnmower blenny and some hermit crabs. <Hmm, I would likely pass on a Picasso for your set-up... too much chance/likelihood it will/would eat your Hermits, gobies (if not terrorize them)... perhaps the damsels and blenny...> I have read two different reports on the Picasso. One said it was aggressive (I don't believe) the other said peaceful. <Please see the coverage of this species on the WWM site. Bob Fenner> Thank you sand

Picasso Triggerfish I Just bought a 2 inch Picasso Trigger and I heard that they get aggressive when older but will he kill my other fish. <overall the Humu humu complex of triggers are relatively well behaved but may be aggressive with some fishes. Do keep it with appropriate sized and speciated tank mated. Good buddies include puffers, eels, groupers and larger wrasse species. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Rhinecanthus rectangulus  I am trying to setup a Maui biotope in a FOWLR system. I would like a Humu Humu as the centerpiece fish but cannot seem to get a consensus on whether or not it would kill the snails I'm using as a cleanup crew.  <It will likely do so over time> I can't create the look I'm after without live rock and I happen to believe it is an important requirement for healthy fish like a dwarf angel which I would also like to include.  <Agreed. I would use live rock for sure... I did some drawings in anticipation of building out a public aquarium in Kona once... all had a rock motif> But I'm not sure how to maintain nice looking LR without some snails to clean it.  <No worries... there are other scavenger choices... and in actual practice, not much to worry about re problems here> If you could share some advice about this I would be very appreciative. If the rectangulus will not work, could you suggest an alternative fish, appropriate for this biotope, that has a similar character or personality, if there is such a thing. <Mmm, if you're set on this showpiece I would go with it, and build the rest of the collection/biotope around it. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Bret Packard

Trigger Happy! Good Evening Everyone <Hi there! Scott F. with you tonight> Lately I have been trying to find information on Rhinecanthus lunula.  All I have come across is that it is rare, and is more docile than the rest of the Rhinecanthus species. I have checked the Marine Center, Fishbase and searched through Google and have not found anything. The owner of my LFS has a 10"-12" specimen that he says  is very aggressive and is not compatible with my fish and I just wanted to here what you guys thought about this before I made any moves on purchasing him, and then quarantining him for 4 wks in my 75gal aquarium. <Love that you're planning on quarantine for new purchases!> I have a 180 gallon aquarium (72" X 24" X 24") with a 200gal wet/dry, protein skimmer, 175lbs of Fiji, Tonga and Florida live rock, and 1" gravel bed (crushed coral). I keep my nitrates at 0-20ppm, nitrites 0, ammonia 0, and do a water change of 75 gallons every two weeks. The three inhabitants are: 13" Naso vlamingii, 9" Pomacanthus imperator (which is very belligerent) and a 4" Balistoides conspicillum. The LFS owner is selling this specimen at only $200-250, which I am assuming is a bargain since you said on your site that "they can be had for a few hundred dollars". Do you think the two triggerfish would be compatible? <To be quite frank- no! I would not try this. You have a large tank, but simply not large enough to try to keep two triggers together, particularly if the specimen in question has a mean streak in him! This would simply be too many large fish in (yep) too small an aquarium! You would need several hundred (like 500 gallons or more, IMO) gallons to attempt to keep several large fishes like this in the same system. If for no other reason, I wouldn't attempt this because of the copious waste matter that these guys produce. Besides, the "personal space" that these species will require to live anything close to a normal life span is huge> I have never tried this before so I do not have experience on keeping 2 triggerfish "under one lid". The only thing I can think about is keeping the clown trigger in the 75gal until he grows a few inches.  I don't think the trigger will pick on the angel but I don't know about the vlamingii tang because I am not familiar with the lunula trigger's aggression, but after all he is a trigger. <Well said! They can be perfectly nasty at any time!> Well I thank you ahead of time for your input on this matter. Ian Behnk <Ian- I'm so glad that you are taking time before you actually purchase to review the fish's long-term needs. I think he will be better off in his own large tank, where he can be the "top dog". Best of luck to you in your efforts with this fish!  Scott F.>

Re: Rhinecanthus rectangulus So I decided against the trigger. I decided it would be too messy (too much bioload) and would restrict potential tankmates more than I was willing to accept.  <Well put> I've come up with this fish list which I think represents an authentic Maui Biotope, although maybe not accurate according to normal depths for the fish, but there are the obvious limitations with a tank. <Yes, for sure> I've gotten a plethora of information from WetWebMedia, a truly phenomenal resource, and a big thanks to you for most of that. <Much good help here... including of course from input from folks as yourself> I'm planning to go ahead with a 3" Longnose Hawkfish (Louie) who I picked up a little over a week ago, an 8-10" snowflake moray, a 2-3" yellow tang, and a flame angel. I figure the fish will probably need bigger tank than the 75 I have to offer them now, but I anticipate at those sizes they should be happy for awhile. Do those sound properly compatible to you?  <Yes... the Hawk is rare (deepwater) in Hawai'i... but all should get along> My only concern is really for the snowflake going after the flame angel. I've heard the snowflake will occasionally take potshots at small fish (not sure what counts as a small fish though). <Not likely here... the Angel is smarter, the Eel young... and able to be trained on strict prepared crustacean foods> I may try a red slate pencil urchin as well. Let me know if you think I'm off base with these fish. <The Urchin would be a nice touch (add in a few months though)> Thanks again for providing your book(s) and the material on WetWebMedia. I really enjoy the research and I think my fish enjoy me making less mistakes at their expense. <Our purpose (along with inspiration, recruitment...) to a large extent. Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Bret

Trigger Happy! Hi, <Hello! Scott F. here!> I have some questions about my Picasso trigger.  I've had him almost a year now and he's about 4" in length.  He doesn't seem to have grown much (maybe 1/2") since I got him and was wondering if this is the normal growth rate in a 90g system. <Sounds about right...I'll bet he'll get a bit larger in this tank; it may take another 6 months to a year, but it will happen!> I feed him once a day and he eats plenty of frozen prawn, silversides, and a frozen minced preparation.  Should I feed him more frequently, like twice a day?  And does it have an effect on growth? <Well, I tend to favor small feedings twice daily. It's really a matter of personal preference, your judgment as to what is appropriate, understanding the needs of your particular fishes, and facing the potential consequences of feeding more frequently. Consequences? Yep- think about it...The more you feed, the more the fish need to eliminate waste into your system. This, in turn, means more attention to husbandry, such as water changes, protein skimming, and other aspects of aquarium maintenance. Yes- the fish will probably grow bigger, faster. But think- why would you want to push the growth? In closed systems, this can actually mean a shorter life span- the opposite of what we are trying to achieve, right?> How big can I expect him to get?  I've read your articles on feeding, but still felt the need to ask direct questions. <Certainly no problem to ask more questions! These fish can hit close to 10 inches as adults, but I rarely see them more than 6-8 inches. In fact, I've seen 'em off of Kona many times at about 5-6 inches.  Don't get me wrong- these guys can get big, however!> Also, is there a food on the market that would truly enhance his color? <I'd keep on feeding quality marine-based foods, such as krill, squid, silversides (like you're doing), etc.> I've tried Vibra Gro with no results.  As far as his eating goes, are there any type of anemones I could add to the system that he wouldn't see as dinner? <Well, I won't go so far as to recommend this- but I've seen one kept in a tank with a Condylactis anemone for a long time- and he's never taken any interest at all in the anemone. Does that mean that the fish will leave an anemone alone in your tank? NOPE! Each individual is different. Quite frankly, it's entirely possible for the fish to suddenly decide that an anemone is a tasty treat. On the whole, it's better to be more responsible and not chance inverts with these fish.> How about urchins, I was told a tuxedo (pincushion) urchin might be ok?  Would it be recommended since they're toxic? <Well, I'd have to say no. Why chance it? In fact, now that I think of it- there are a few frozen foods on the market just for triggers, which have urchin as a major component. And, you can actually purchase frozen chopped urchin for feeding these guys-so it's a great food, but a lousy companion, IMO!> Sorry for the barrage of questions, and many thanks for your input! Tim <Any time, Tim. Sounds like the trigger is in very capable hands! Enjoy him! Regards, Scott F>
Trigger Happy (Pt. 2)
Scott, Great info, thanks so much for your response!  It was very informative and answered questions I've been wondering about since I've had him.  You guys are a terrific resource, invaluable really!  Keep up the good work, and on behalf of all "aquarists", THANKS. Tim <Really glad to be of service, Tim! Feel free to "query" us any time! Regards from your neighborhood fish nerd, Scott F>

Trigger and Live Rock  3/30/03 hey again Phil<Hey Tyler!> If I bought a Huma trigger what is the smallest size fish I could keep with it?<This depends on the trigger.  I've seen some that are fine with smallish fish, others rip damsels apart in a few minutes.> Would he get along with a flame angel, clowns, full grown Firefish.<There's a good possibly that this should work out fine.  The tank is between 125 gallons... so that gives "appx." say 20 gallons per fish.  This is if you get 1 Angel, 2 Clowns, 2 Firefish and one Trigger.>   What's a good web site to buy live rock for cheap.<Hehe Cheep live rock??  Where? LOL!  Depends on what ya want.  I like Harbor Aquatics, but they do cost a bit more then other places.  But HA live rock has lots of life on it.  Read over our forums as we just had some posts about live rock.  www.wetwebfotos.com/talk  >   Thanks! Tyler<Hope this helps and good luck!! Phil>

Aggressive Assassi Hello, <Hi James, PF fielding your question tonight.> Searching the net for some answers, I found your site.  I recently purchased a young Assassi trigger for my 125 gallon tank.  He was my third "real" fish addition after letting it cycle - I had 9 damsels, a clown, a lawnmower blenny, in before.  A day after I purchased him, I bought a Jawfish.  Suffice to say, I have only 4 damsels left, and the Jawfish was torn to ribbons this weekend.  The clown and blenny seem fine, however, although I do not know how long that will last.  All of my research and questioning of fish specialty people, I was told I really shouldn't keep more than one trigger in a tank, but alas, if this keeps on, I'll be doomed to having one very aggressive Assassi only. Can you suggest some other triggers I could look for that would be...I guess, equally assertive in this large tank. (specs again were just 125 gallon, Hawaiian black sand w/ live black sand, no live rock). Any idea on puffer compatibility  - anything so I don't have a 1 fish show!! He was supposed to be the last one added, but now that he's decimated a number of damsels (at least he finishes his meals) and the Jawfish, the tank is looking sadly empty.....and he's only 2 1/2 niches! Thanks, James C. Graham <Well James, the humane thing to do would be to remove the other fish before they are eaten and find them a new home. That said, in my research on triggers the following words seem to come up like dandelions on a lawn: "best kept with no other triggers". Fish don't just recognize species, but general body build also. Just so you know, your little terror is going to grow into a bigger one, possibly to around 12". As for tank mates, something equally aggressive is in order. The Red, Spotfin, and Australian Dottybacks are all candidates. While smaller, they make up for it in attitude. These are the kinds of fish that attack divers (I wouldn't recommend you go sticking your hand in your tank either, a cleaning magnet is definitely in order). Avoid lionfish, while predaceous, triggers just tear them apart. In all honesty, I think a species tank would suit this guy best. If you want a community, I would recommend researching your choices more, after you return the trigger. Good luck, PF>

Picasso Trigger (8-9-03) Hi, I have a small (2-3 in hard to tell though because the curved glass makes him seem larger but probably closer to two inch) Picasso trigger. Everything I have read says that Picassos are the nicest of the triggers<Certainly not the nicest, but not the meanest either.>...my girlfriends dad has a 7 inch Picasso trigger in a reef tank that he has had for 8 years and his trigger doesn't bother anything and he's got shrimp corals and small and larger fish. <He could probably sell that trigger for booku bucks.  There are a few reef safe types but these guys usually aren't one of them.> So I bought this small trigger and he absolutely mauled my fish.  I've heard lions and tangs can go with Picassos but is that only for these "tame" Picassos or is a trigger instinctively going to avoid a lion.  I would like either a fuzzy dwarf lion or a regal tang but don't want to kill them or if the lion could win don't want to kill the trigger...is my trigger doomed to be a species tank or can one of these fish go with the Satan Humu Humu?<I would say go for it, the tang and the lion are pretty tough customers, with the exception being the tang is a ick magnet and need a strict quarantine time before being added to the main tank.  Cody>

Assasi Trigger (12-28-03) Dear Bob, Cody here today!> I currently have a 90 gallon fish-only marine system.  For filtration I have a Filstar XP3 Canister Filter, a Whisper 4 a large protein skimmer and about 25lbs. of live rock.  The current inhabitants are a 4 inch Yellow Tang, a 3 inch Scopas Tang, a 2 inch Blue Damsel, and two 3 inch Clark Clowns.  I was wondering if I have room for a 2-3 inch Assasi Triggerfish? This will be the last fish added to the system.  Along with the Live Rock I have about 40lbs. of Lace Rock spread throughout the aquarium.  This will provide the other fish with some shelter in case the Triggerfish becomes aggressive.   If you are worried that any of the fish will be picked on,  have other aquariums that I can transfer them to. <You should be ok but just watch him as he gets bigger.  He will eventually need a larger tank but this should do for a while.  Cody> Thank you for your time, Sam Reef

- Trigger compatibility - Thanks Kevin, Also I was interested in finding out if a smaller Picasso trigger would be compatible in the mix as well as inches of fish for a 75 gallon, specifically with the semilarvatus butterfly, hippo tang and maroon clown (and a neon goby). <I would be most concerned with the trigger chomping the goby, it should be fine w/ the other tankmates. Tank size is a consideration though, and provided all these fish are only a couple of inches long, there should be no problem. The tang, butterfly, and trigger will all require larger homes some day, and it may be wise to wait until then to add the trigger.> I am gonna donate my Kole tang to the LFS because his mouth is damaged from shipping and he has a hard time eating. I wont have any invertebrates being that they're all pretty much gone from the hyposalinity I am currently practicing. <Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks again, Very much appreciated

Picasso Trigger tankmates Hello!  I have a 55 gal fish only saltwater setup.  It has a Penguin 330gph BioWheel,  SeaClone 100 protein skimmer, and a 300 gph powerhead.  The tank currently houses 3 damsels that are left over from cycling and a 2 1/2 inch Picasso trigger.  I would like to get rid of the damsels and provide the trigger with a compatible tankmate.  My LFS has suggested a harlequin tusk, possibly another wrasse species, or another trigger.  I'm new to saltwater and would love to hear your ideas on acceptable tankmates for my trigger. <I would either choose a small Pufferfish, or the Tuskfish. I would choose one not both, Good luck, IanB> Thanks in advance, Brandy

No such thing as a "REEF SAFE" Rhinecanthus aculeatus! Hi I'm considering buying a trigger fish to put in my reef aquarium - which I know would not usually be a good idea but the guy I would buy it from (private buyer) already has this particular trigger in a reef tank.  He seemed surprised to hear that they weren't reef safe and says this one has never touched his corals although he does admit to feeding it on very good quality food - cockles, etc rather than just flakes.  To add to this I don't have to just take his word for it because he's sent me pics of his set-up and in one of them the Picasso is swimming around with a great big coral in the background and a tiny damsel fish next to him. <It still is a GIGANTIC risk...adding this aggressive species of triggerfish could devastate an aquarium.> His set up is 5'/2'/2' whilst mine is only 2'/2'/2' - he selling up everything so I'm planning to buy quite a lot of coral off him (leather, mushrooms, cabbage etc) - his cleaning crew (7 hermits and a scarlet shrimp),<The shrimp will be eaten for sure> and a few fish: Lemon Peel Angel and Red Wrasse. <Wow... your aquarium is way too small...the lemon peel angel and red wrasse can be picked on by the triggerfish... or even killed>  If I did by all those fish I would get rid of my 3 green Chromis  (which were just starter fish anyway 6 months ago) which would leave me with an urchin, and yellow tang, a goby, one clown (maybe I need to get him a mate) and the above three fish.   Is this too much - my tank is 55-60 gallon (sump included - pretty big sump).<I would not add the Centropyge angelfish nor would I even consider adding the Rhinecanthus Aculeatus> I had read that some Picasso's - those with upturned mouths - are sometimes less aggressive. At the moment he is only 2 inches long - is there a chance he will turn more aggressive later. <most definitely> If so what I might consider doing is buying him now and setting up another smaller tank with just the Picasso in it (and a bit on rock obviously) - how big would that tank need to be?<at least 75 gallons for now> Thanks for your help - I know all the literature says triggers are "not reef-safe" but it was the one fish I've always wanted so when I decided to go reef I was very disappointed to find out I couldn't get one.  Have I found a reef safe trigger? <Negative, Good luck, IanB> Thanks again PICASSO TRIGGER QUESTION Hi, <Hi Rob> I'm new to the site, and couldn't really find a way to contribute to the forums (though I accept this could be pure ineptitude on my part)<You should just dive in and post Rob.> so I thought I'd try an email. I have a 55 gallon currently housing 3 yellow-headed Jawfish, a long-nosed Hawkfish, and a coral beauty.  A friend of mine has been keeping a tiny Picasso for me (about 1-1/2" - he keeps it now with another, quite dominant Picasso of the same size), which I am debating adding to the setup. I'll be prepared to move the Picasso when it outgrows the tank, but I do not particularly want any dead Jawfish or Hawkfish. <While Picasso's I've been around for the most part are not supremely aggressive fish all triggers are potential trouble. That being said I think they are wonderful fish but I really think the Jawfish would become a snack as the Picasso gets larger.> Would adding the trigger to the tank be a lethal decision? I will soon have the capability to move the Jawfish to another tank. <If you move the Jawfish it might work okay. I think the Hawkfish should be okay.> All the information I've found so far says it may or may not be, and I haven't been able to find any specialized info. I really appreciate any help you can provide. Many thanks, Rob <My concern is that the most docile of triggerfish can be a problem. I remember a story, I'm pretty sure its on the website of a trigger who was great until he accidentally bit a damsel then ate them all as he learned they were edible. The point being accidents can and do happen and you might have a problem with any fish and a trigger. That being said many people do have successful fish only tanks with triggers.  Generally they put them with a bit more aggressive fish and definitely not something like a Jawfish.  Good luck, MacL>

PICASSO TRIGGER & JAWFISH FOLLOW-UP Thanks for the reply. <You are very welcome.> I've been wracking my brain over this for a while.  I don't want to endanger my Jawfish, but I've become quite attached to the Picasso. <I can understand that they are amazing fish.> I can't think of anything else I would want to add to a tank. <Sometimes your heart just gets set on one particular type or indeed one fish.> So, I've got another question.  How long do you think the trigger (still at 1 1/2") could stay coexist with the Jawfish (about 2 1/2" at the moment)? <That is such a tricky question. They could get along forever and never have a problem. Or the Jawfish could get scared and start hiding immediately and never recover. > I could move the Jawfish pretty soon, but if they'll be okay for a while I'd like to save up for a compact lighting fixture. <understandable. I guess the big thing is that you are taking a chance putting them together. The question is whether its worth the chance. Sorry don't mean to seem wishy-washy with the answer here but seriously it could work or it might not work at all. I would hate to tell you they could go together and then see you have a problem.> Once again, great site and thanks for the help. <Thanks for the kind words.> Rob <Good luck Rob>

Grouper Grudge Hello all.  Sorry to be constantly asking you questions.  I am a very curious person and you all seem to be one of the only well-versed and reliable sources available (not that I don't also like you and appreciate the work, but you understand the difficulty in finding reputable information I'm sure). Just a quick question this time.  I have a four inch or so Huma, had him about a year now, and I was just wondering- when you say they are very very slow growers, exactly how long should I expect for him to take to become a sizeable specimen?  It seems like he's only grown an inch or so.  It's hard to tell since I see him everyday and it happens so slowly, even though he eats more than any other fish I own.  My concern is that I acquired a small (maybe 2 inches at the time) miniatus grouper who is rapidly putting on size, already about three plus inches.  The trigger has completely dominated him thus far.  Though they do not cause any harm to one another, the trigger has certainly asserted himself as the top dog (or fish) in the tank.  I can see how this may become a problem as the bitter miniatus has a mouth that will probably soon be able to fit around this long-term enemy.  Should I be concerned?  Is my grouper going to hold a grudge? thanks again. Reuben >>>Hello again Rueben, nice to hear from you. If you had a very small trigger, say 1", then it would be difficult for me to predict exactly what would happen here, but I can guarantee you it would be one of two things. One, the grouper, having been raised with the trigger, would grow larger and leave the trigger completely alone. Often, when a predatory fish is raised with another, smaller fish, (especially a more aggressive one) the predator will not consume the fish when it finally gets large enough to do so. It doesn't see the fish as food, just another part of it's environment. It's acclimated to the other, smaller fish's presence. The other possibility, things would be fine for a long time, then one morning you will wake up minus your trigger. Now, since your Huma Huma is already 4", you have little to worry about. Although they are a SLOW grower, as I said before. (about an inch a year, as you have witnessed) they are a tough mouthful. It will be quite some time before the miniatus is large enough to even THINK about ingesting a trigger of this size, and your trigger will continue to grow. No worries. It would take quite a large grouper (by aquarium standards, say14"), to eat a trigger of that size I had a 3" Huma Huma with a 9" miniatus for quite a long time. Cheers

Humu Aggression 'Incompatibility with parrot fish (Scarus), Incredibly Poor Purchasing Choices 10/26/05 Hey, I have a 90 gallon FOWLR with about a 7in rainbow parrot.  <Wow, a Scarus guacamaia'¦talk about tank buster at a potential 50 inches!! Definitely not suited to private aquaria.> He was in there for about 3 weeks. I recently purchased a 7 inch Humu Humu.  <A risk 'to say the least.> They seemed fine for two days. The third morning I was looking for the parrot, to my surprise I eventually find him floating behind rocks with an eye ripped out, and pieces of his body bitten into.  <Mmm, while I am sorry to hear of the passing of your specimen I am not surprised.>  I was told that parrot fish can live with a Humu Humu, is this wrong, or is this trigger crazy?  <Triggers have varying personalities, one trigger can be docile the next can be the Boston strangler'¦..its always a gamble, always a risk mixing triggers and anything else really 'nest kept a single specimens.>  <<When speaking of the Humu, take Adam's admonitions seriously - I once cared for a juvenile Humu who literally stalked me around the tub (3K gallon holding tub) - I had to take very real care that he didn't sample me.  MH>> What fish do you recommend I consider for this guy? <In this size tank 'and now that he is alone, this trigger will likely not tolerate any tank mates at all.> Thanks a lot. ~Sam <Adam J.> 

That Old Triggerfish Compatibility Question!  9/22/05 Hi, <Hi Adam J with you this morning.> I have a 56 gallon tank, full of live rock, live sand, ample filtration and water current....i have two damsels, Humbug and Southseas Devil....and a Yellow Tang <This fish is (or will be) much too large for this system, US 100 gallons minimum for any tang, and even larger for some.> .....but I've always loved Triggerfish especially Picasso's! I've seen a really perfect tiny one at my local shop, and would like it! Is this a huge mistake? <Each trigger had his/her own personality, this fish could be a saint and get along with everyone else or it could be a terror from the get-go'¦..It could also be a saint as a juvenile and then 'snap' when it gets bigger.  Unfortunately I will have to advise against purchasing it do to its potential size at nearly 12', this tank buster will need a tank in the 100-150 gallon range.> I know the damsels could end up as a meal, but then I've also read  the Southseas devil is a good companion for a trigger with its added belligerence! Is a Tang a good match for a Trigger? I also know my tank isn't an ideal size, but I am going to get a far larger one in the future! <Wait for the upgrade.> would love to  see what you think! <Adam J.>

Triggerfishes for  Marine Aquariums
Diversity, Selection & Care

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