Mauritius triggerfish / Flame triggerfish

Another species of Triggerfish we would like to shine our light on is the Mauritius Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus cinereus). As their name implies, they can be found near the shallow reefs and steep outer reef slopes of Mauritius, next to the neighboring island of Reunion and to the north near the Maldives.

This species is part of the group of the previously discussed triggerfish, the “Picasso triggerfish” of the genus Rhinecanthus. These triggerfish have a remarkable, distinctive feature: they have have a dark stripe running from the forehead down through the eye to the pectoral fin. Another characteristic of the Mauritius Triggerfish are their extremely strong jaws, which they use to crush shells and corals when searching for food. Good to know: this species can be very aggressive towards other fish, in particular to members of their own species. Compared to other fish, they have a big personality. After a while this fish will start recognizing its owner and greet him excitedly whenever he or she comes into the room to feed.

The Triggerfish is not suitable for a reef aquarium, it attacks all types of invertebrates, but there have been successes reported and documented in SPS reef tanks when the specimens are being well fed continuously. They fairly do well in a FOWLR system when introduced at the same time at a young age. But they are best kept in a large system with other hardy big fish, that can defend themselves. They can become more aggressive the more they mature. Keep in mind that any fish that fits in their mouth, will end up on the menu. In conclusion, preferably keep only one specimen per aquarium, due to its territorial nature. Provide ample hiding places for the Triggerfish to feel comfortable because they will establish a territory and at night they like to dig in into a cave and open their trigger fins to use them as anchors in between rocks. Be aware that at times they love to redecorate your aquarium by moving rocks around.

There have been reports of triggerfish biting through tubing, and even heaters, so it’s worth thinking carefully about where you place your equipment, preferably in a sump far out of reach of the triggerfish’s mouth. Even though Triggerfish are often considered hand tame, and may even occasionally make noises to beg for food, it is not recommended to feed them from your hand. They may make a mistake and see your fingers as a meaty snack. Also, always keep a close eye on the fish while doing maintenance in your aquarium.

Rhinecanthus cinereusMax. 30 cm
Western Indian OceanTemperature: 23 – 27 °C
pH: 8,1 – 8,4
Salinity: 1.020 – 1.025

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