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Melichthys niger - Black triggerfish

Melichthys niger - Black triggerfish Photo courtesy: Geoff Schultz

The black triggerfish is mostly black with a green or blue tint. It has pale blue lines along the base of both its dorsal and anal fins. Adults are usually between 6 and 12 inches in length and are typically found at depths between 20 and 100 feet. Black triggerfish congregate in groups in the open waters above coral reefs.

Distribution, Stock Structure and Migration
Circumtropical. Western Pacific: Ryukyu and Ogasawara islands eastward to the Tuamoto Islands. Eastern Pacific: San Diego, California, USA to Malpelo Island, Colombia. Western Atlantic: Florida, USA and Bahamas to Brazil. Absent in Gulf of Mexico. Eastern Atlantic: St. Paul's Rocks, St. Helena, Ascension Island, Rolas Island, and Cape Verde. São Tomé Island. Western Indian Ocean: Durban, Natal, South Africa. Uncommon in most areas but abundant around isolated oceanic islands.

Inhabit clear seaward reefs. More common around oceanic islands. Found on inner and outer reef crests, usually near the slope or drop-off to deeper water, where in small but loose aggregations. Sometimes swim high above substrate feeding on zooplankton. depth range 0 - 75 m, usually 0 - 20 m.

Diet consists primarily of calcareous algae and zooplankton; also feed on phytoplankton. At Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, southeast Atlantic, groups of about 100 individuals join groups of spinner dolphins to feed on feces and vomits of the cetaceans when they congregate in a shallow bay for rest and social interactions. The postures a dolphin adopts prior to defecating or vomiting are recognized, and the fish begin to converge to the dolphin shortly before the actual voiding. Offal feeding may be regarded as a simple behavioral shift from plankton feeding to drifting offal picking.

Quick Fact
The black triggerfish will lock itself into crevasses by raising its "trigger", which is its first dorsal fin spine.

Learn More
- FishBase

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