Fish Identification: Clown Triggerfish

I love goofy looking fish, and today's fish identification definitely fits that description!

Physical description

We've seen triggerfish before when we covered the black triggerfish. The clown triggerfish has the same basic body shape. This means an oval shaped body that is very flat. Ventral fins on the body and rear dorsal fins "wave' to allow slow movement through the water, giving triggerfish what is probably their most recognizable characteristic.

What distinguishes clown triggerfish is their coloring. The bottom half of the fish is covered in large white spots over a dark background. The top of the fish is medium sized black spots over yellow color. The fish also has a few white stripes, in particular below the eyes and along the dorsal, ventral, and caudal fins.

If all that color isn't enough for you, clown triggerfish have distinctive yellow lips, large like their triggerfish brethren. These lips mask strong jaws used for crushing sea urchins and the like.

Geography and habitat

Sorry Caribbean divers, but the clown triggerfish is found in tropical Indo-Pacific waters. Even in this region, the fish is relatively rare.

Nevertheless, look for it at all depths around coral reefs.

Due to their colorful appearance, clown triggerfish are highly sought by the aquarium trade, despite being difficult to maintain.

Further reading

Fresh Marine
Animal World

Photo by mjwinoz

Juvenile photo by cliff1066