Sometimes called the masked triggerfish, the bridled triggerfish is found throughout the Indo-Pacific. In South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal marks the southern boundary of its range. It has
been recorded at depths of up to 200 metres, but usually prefers rocky reefs and sandy lagoons with an average depth of around 18 metres. This species forms distinct pairs during breeding season, and can be very territorial at this time. Bridled triggerfish have a varied diet, which includes algae, smaller fish and crustaceans. They reach a maximum length of 38 centimetres. Juveniles start out sand-colored, with a series of thin black pinstripes. Over time, they become more uniformly beige in color, while adult males have an oblique yellow band that slants backwards from the corner of the mouth.
The yellowmargin triggerfish is found in the Indo-Pacific, from the Red Sea to southern Japan. In South Africa, it occurs as far south as KwaZulu-Natal. The species favours estuaries and silty, shallow reefs up to 50 metres deep, and is
found singly or in paris. During breeding season, males migrate to a traditional spawning ground and establish territories. Females then arrive and select a mate, ultimately laying up to 430,000 clustered eggs in a nest (usually a sandy depression), which they protect aggressively until hatching occurs. The yellowmargin triggerfish grows up to 60 centimetres in length, and has a pale face and a beige body covered with black-dotted scales. It gets its name from the yellow margins on its dorsal, anal and tail fins.
Found throughout the tropical and subtropical Indian Ocean, the western Pacific Ocean and parts of the Caribbean, this colourful
triggerfish reaches lengths of approximately 50 cm. It is easily distinguished by its markings, which include a series of irregular white spots on the lower half of its body, a yellow ring around the mouth and a series of yellow leopard-print patterns in front of the dorsal fin. The dorsal fin is comprised of three spines, the first of which can be held erect in order to intimidate other fish, or to prevent predators from extracting the trigger from the reef. Clown triggerfish have strong teeth, which they use to prey on crustaceans including sea urchins. Like other triggers, they are often exceptionally territorial.
Native to the Indo-Pacific, the red-toothed triggerfish is found along the length of the east African coast, from the Red Sea south to Durban. It is non-migratory, spending its entire life on the same patch of reef (usually between five and 40 metres deep).
Red-toothed triggerfish favour reef channels or sloping reefs in areas with plenty of strong current. Adults usually form aggregations, and seek shelter in reef holes when threatened or sleeping. Once inside the hole, the triggerfish wedges itself in by erecting its first dorsal spine, which is locked into place by the second dorsal spine or trigger. They can be aggressively territorial, feed on zooplankton and sponges, and grow up to 50 centimetres in length. They are identified by their uniform dark blue colour and bright red fangs.
The pinktail triggerfish is found throughout the Indo-Pacific, although the Aliwal Shoal area marks the southern boundary of its range in Africa. It inhabits depths of between 40 and 60 metres, and favours coral-rich reefs with plenty of current.
Usually found in small groups, the pinktail triggerfish has an eclectic diet, including algae, crustaceans, sponges and small fish. The species forms distinct pairs during breeding season, and reaches a maximum length of 40 centimetres. Like all triggers, the pinktail triggerfish has a laterally compressed body and swims with a distinctive sculling motion. Adults are dark brown in color, with a pale dorsal and anal fin, a yellow pectoral fin and a pink tail fin with a distinct white band at the base. Juveniles have dark lines radiating from the eye.
Other Triggerfish species on our reef
Ripple Triggerfish – Pseudobalistes fuscus
Bluethroat Triggerfish – Xanthichthys auromarginatus
Boomerang Triggerfish – Sufflamen bursa
Halfmoon Triggerfish – Sufflamen chrysopterum
Indian Triggerfish – Melichthys indicus
Orange Lined Triggerfish – Balistapus undulatus
Striped Triggerfish – Xanthichthys lineopunctatus
Wedge-tailed Triggerfish – Rhinecanthus rectangulus