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What is a Clown Triggerfish?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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A clown triggerfish, scientifically known as Balistoides conspicillum, is a fish in the Tetraodontiformes order. There are more than 40 species of triggerfish, which are all brightly colored and quite often prized as relatively large aquarium fish, but the clown triggerfish has distinctive yellow and white markings. Clown triggerfish typically grow up to 1.6 feet (0.5 m) long and act aggressively toward other fish of similar or smaller size. The fish have an oval-shaped and very thin body with small eyes. Some people enjoy hand-feeding their triggerfish, but this is generally inadvisable due to their sharp teeth and tendency of causing minor injuries when feeling threatened.

The predominant color of these fish is black, which serves as the background color for their many markings. Centered on the top area of their bodies are yellow lace-like markings, while along the bottom section, from the rear caudal fin and almost to the mouth, there are large circular light blue or white splotches. A small area around the mouth is colored bright yellow and often separated from the main black color of the body by a thin light blue or white line following a thin line of black. The bottom anal fins and top dorsal fins of these fish are typically light blue. There are often additional small lines and other markings on these fish, but their overall markings remain roughly uniform.

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Clown triggerfish are native to the waters of some Asian countries, such as Japan and Indonesia, in addition to the waters off east and South Africa. They are not commonly observed in these places, however, because their numbers are not particularly abundant. Triggerfish general normally live in shallow water around coral reefs, and this holds true for clown triggerfish as well. Only a few of its relatives, such as Balistoides canthidermis, prefer the open water.

When kept in a large aquarium, these types of fish can be aggressive toward other fish and even their keepers. It is generally recommended to only keep them with fish that are equally aggressive and large enough to stand their ground, such as other triggerfish of the same species or genus. Like most other fish, a clown triggerfish can learn to recognize its owner over a period of months. It can eventually become tame enough to be hand-fed, though this must be done with caution to avoid being bitten by the fish, which can easily draw blood.

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