The triggerfish has an oval-shaped, highly compressed body. The head is large, terminating in a small but strong-jawed mouth with teeth adapted for crushing shells. The eyes are small, set far back from the mouth, at the top of the head. The anterior dorsal fin is reduced to a set of three spines.
The first dorsal spine is very thick and strong and can be locked in an erect position. The other two dorsal spines are smaller but still stiff and sharp. The pelvic fins also have lock mechanisms to keep them stiff and pointed forward while the fish is navigating through rocky areas or foraging. These features make the triggerfish a fearsome predator.
The triggerfish is striped with black and white, which enables it to blend into its surroundings in the shallows where it lives much of the time. In deeper water, the stripes break up the fish's outline, making it much less visible to predators from below. When a potential enemy approaches from behind or above, the triggerfish can quickly slam its first dorsal spine into its own body, where it lodges firmly. This puts the triggerfish in grave danger but keeps the predator at bay.
The triggerfish is found mostly along coral reefs and rocky bottoms throughout the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii. Their range extends to Florida, southernmost Japan, Australia, and the Red Sea. Some species live in estuaries or freshwater rivers. They occur at depths of 3 to 50 meters, though most are found at about 20 meters.
Triggerfish feed mostly on crabs and shellfish, but also eat worms, echinoderms, bristle worms, tunicates, urchins, and other invertebrates. They also feed on algae, small sea urchins, hydrozoans, and other water plants.
In turn, triggerfish are preyed upon by sharks and other large fish. They aggressively protect their young from predators, fiercely biting any intruders that get too close.
Triggerfish have a unique mating system in which the male becomes aggressive and guards a group of females instead of just one female. The males display for the females by dipping forward and spreading their pectoral fins. The females choose a partner and follow him for a few days before spawning, which occurs in tight groups around or near coral reefs.
The triggerfish has an oval-shaped, highly compressed body. The head is large, terminating in a small but strong-jawed mouth with teeth adapted for crushing shells.
Triggerfish are polygamous; each male will develop a harem of several females during mating season. Courtship takes place in the late morning hours with the male following closely behind the female, including chasing her if she tries to escape. The female eventually selects a male and digs a shallow nest in the sand, which is used as the spawning site.
Global triggerfish production
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), triggerfish are among the most important commercial fish species in the world. In 2012, the global production of triggerfish was estimated at more than 1.3 million tonnes. The vast majority of this catch is used for human consumption, with only a small fraction being used for Aquaculture.
The vast majority of triggerfish are caught in the wild, with only a small fraction being raised in aquaculture facilities. The top five countries for triggerfish production in 2012 were China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Together, these five countries accounted for more than 80% of the world's total triggerfish catch.
In recent years, there has been a growing demand for triggerfish as a food fish. This is due to the fact that triggerfish is a relatively lean and healthy source of protein. Triggerfish are also popular among aquarists and are often kept as pets.
As the demand for triggerfish continues to grow, it is important to ensure that sustainable fishing practices are used in order to protect the species from overfishing. Aquaculture is one way to meet the growing demand for triggerfish while also ensuring that the species is not depleted in the wild.