Clown Triggerfish

The clown triggerfish is a type of small fish that can be spotted in demersal areas of tropical waters in Indian and Pacific oceans. Also known as the big-spotted triggerfish, these creatures are well known for their stunningly exotic looks, bright colors and dramatic allure. They are also valued greatly in the pet industry.

Clown Triggerfish

Clown Triggerfish

Clown Triggerfish Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Tetraodontiformes

Family: Balistidae

Genus: Balistoides

Species: B. conspicillum

Scientific Name: Balistoides conspicillum

Physical Description

Check out the physical characteristics of the clown triggerfish.

Size: Adults often grow up to a length of 50 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: There are no external or visual differences between the two sexes.

The head and the body: This fish has a large head which makes up for about one-third of its weight and size. Their body’s background color is black and the ventral area is covered with numerous large round white spots. There are yellow leopard-like patterns around the area of first dorsal fin and a yellow ring right around the mouth. There is also a white border surrounding this part of the body.

Tail: It has a broom-like tail that provides with extra propulsion as and when they are in need of it.

Jaws/Teeth: An interesting fact about these fishes is that their teeth never really stop growing. Their dentition consists of eight sharp teeth located at the mouth’s front. There are also six teeth behind the main front teeth and molar-like teeth that help them to grind the food in their throat.


Clown triggerfish typically lives for about 8 years in wild and up to around 20 years as a pet or in captivity.


They can be found extensively across the Indo-Pacific belt. Their range consists of the coastline around the South Africa and East Africa, right from Indonesia to Samoa. They are also spotted along eastern coastline of Australia and the southern regions of Japan.

The clown triggerfish loves to be around the clear waters of tropical and subtropical regions in the coral reefs.

The clown triggerfish tend to be solitary for most of their lives, except when they are looking to mate. These fishes are diurnal which means that they are active all the day. The male clown triggerfish is territorial in nature and they tend to guard their territorial areas at all costs. Clown triggerfish can be quite aggressive in their behavior and can even bite when threatened using their small but sharp teeth. While attacking their predators, enemies and competitors, they are going to use their long dorsal spine.

The clown triggerfish is a carnivore and they consume different types of crustaceans, fishes, mollusks and echinoderms, including shellfishes, shrimps, corals as well as marine algae and small squids.

The male fish finds itself anywhere between 2 to 5 females during mating season and they create their own nest for laying the eggs. These fishes dig into the sand and deposit their eggs there. It is the father’s responsibility to protect these eggs as the mothers tend to leave the site pretty much after laying their eggs. The females come back to the nesting area only after the eggs are hatched. The male fishes are strong protectors of the eggs as they can attack any potential threat including the divers viciously.    

Eggs of the clown triggerfish have a typical green color and they are always fertilized by the males. The eggs hatch after a period of about 8 days. The young fishes are cared and nurtured for by the mother after they hatch out. Spawning takes place in deep waters. The juvenile fishes stay in deep waters until they attain a size of about 15 cm to 20 cm. The young ones attain sexual maturity at the age of one year.


Here are the distinct adaptations of the clown triggerfish.

  • The clown triggerfish makes use of a specific wedging mechanism to defend itself. By using the three spines in its dorsal area, it keeps itself hidden inside a crevice or a hole when attacked.
  • The distinct colors and designs on the body of this creature help in confusing predators. They can easily blend with the coral world to have the protection they need.
  • They have strong tooth and jaws which they can use for holding themselves in crevices when they need to. They can also use them to crush crustaceans, sea urchins and other types of food for consumption.

A large number of predators prey upon the clown triggerfish. Numerous carnivores like sharks, octopuses, large fishes and squids prey upon these fishes.

This species of fish has not yet been enlisted by IUCN.

Here are some unique and interesting facts about the clown triggerfish.

  • Clown triggerfish tend to grunt on occasions when trying to escape from their predators.
  • These fishes can eat up other smaller fishes and crustaceans when they are kept as pets in the same tank.
  • Clown triggerfish gets their name from the distinct pattern and coloring that it has on its body.
  • They typically live at great depths in the ocean, anywhere from 3 feet to 250 feet. 
  • They can be tamed easily and taught to feed directly from human hands.



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