Clown Triggerfish / Big spotted triggerfish

The Clown Triggerfish is a beautiful reef fish that stands out in coloration and personality. It has a fierce black pattern, covered with bright white circles on the bottom half its body, a leopard-like yellow pattern around the dorsal fin and a yellow mouth. Although the fish looks cute, you should be aware that these fish have strong teeth and a nasty bite.

Biting strength

You wouldn’t be the first to get bitten by the Clown Triggerfish while cleaning the tank because it can see your hand as an intruder in its territory. Keep in mind that fish, just like humans all bear different types of personality but by many hobbyists the clown triggerfish is considered potentially to be the most aggressive of the trigger fish you can find in the world’s ocean.

Keeping a triggerfish

It’s best to provide the Triggerfish with a large tank, at least 200 gallons and preferably much more, as these triggers can grow up to 40 cm. Give them ample hiding places in the form of crevices and caves and if you want to keep tank mates make sure these are robust, and not easily intimidated. Also feed the triggerfish well, because the less hungry they are, the less aggression they demonstrate. They will eat basically anything you give them. They love meaty food such as shellfish and various crustaceans, krill, scallops, shrimp and small fish, but also seaweed.

Their defence mechanism

They do not have many enemies in nature apart from larger fish and sharks, but nonetheless they have a clever defence mechanism. This Triggerfish has three spines which are situated on the dorsal fin and can be erected when the fish feels threatened or needs to hide and anchor itself into a cave to protect itself from bigger predators, such as sharks. These spines look like triggers in action and therefore the name triggerfish. The unique color pattern also serves as camouflage because when looked upon from above these fish blend in with the corals below and viewed from below the white circular spots look like waves and water patterns above.

Fun facts

This Triggerfish is called a clown because of its colorful clown-like appearance, with a funny yellow colored mouth, just like a clown that painted its lips. Not just its looks, but also its personality is quite like a clown: clowns are presented in a friendly manner throughout many tv series and movies but also as a grotesque character in horror movies. The Clown Triggerfish is also known for this quite opposite spectrum when it comes to its personality. This fish has been described both as funny and friendly, almost puppy-like, intelligent, inquisitive and curious, that recognizes its care keeper in due time. But some are described as little demons, aggressive and territorial and ready to attack anything that comes too close, including your hand when you enter the tank. Their eyes can move independently and are set high on their face, giving them an even funnier look.

This species has more than just one fun fact. The Clown Triggerfish can swim backwards and love to hover over reefs in search for delicious meals down below. They can also produce a grunting sound to scare other fish. Some of them demonstrate a funny behavior of taking sand into their mouths and spit it out through the gills in search for food, quite a sight to witness when demonstrated in the home aquarium.

Balistoides conspicillumUp to 50 cm in the wild, in captivity usually smaller, up to 30 cm
Can be found in a wide region covering the Indian Ocean, Pacific and Atlantic Ocean from Australia, Indonesia to Florida, and even South Africa and JapanTemperature: 23 – 27 °C
pH: 8 – 8,4
Salinity: 1.020 – 1.025

Would you like to contribute you own information based on experience to our article? Please use our contact form here, leave the info below in a comment or send us an email at


Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin