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Clown Triggerfish

Balistoides conspicillum

How to Care for Clown Triggerfish

written by Dave Burr

Behavior: While the Clown Trigger's coloration is quite bizarre and unusual, so is its behavior. In the video clip you will see a Clown Trigger that we have kept in a client's 400 gallon predator reef for the past year. The Clown Trigger will eat shrimp, clams, crabs, snails, and smaller peaceful reef fish. We must mention that the Clown Trigger can be a peaceful aquarium habitant for many months and then suddenly become quite aggressive towards its tank mates. If you are going to take the risk of adding a Clown Trigger to a predator reef aquarium, start with a small one and know that you may have to trap and remove it one day when it matures to a more aggressive adult. All in all, the Clown Trigger is an extraordinary fish that will dazzle you with its coloration, and make you laugh at its quirky behavior. Best kept with other aggressive fishes of equal or larger size.

The Clown Trigger is best kept singly but may be kept with other triggers such as the Humu Picasso Trigger. It is more aggressive than Bluejaw Triggers and Niger Triggers. Adding all triggers together will reduce any territorial disputes. Provide with several hiding places where the Clown Trigger can retreat to. As with all triggerfish, the Clown Trigger will wedge itself into a rock when it sleeps and lock itself in by raising its dorsal fin. This defense mechanism makes it difficult for predators to attack it while it is resting.

Feeding: Offer the Clown Trigger a mixed diet of mysis shrimp, silversides and other meaty foods 4-6 times per week. Soaking all fish food with vitamins will help keep your fish healthier and make them less susceptible to disease. We recommend soaking food in garlic as well when adding new fish and whenever your notice ich or other disease in the aquarium. Garlic will help repel external parasites and will boost the fishes immunity.

Feeding Tips: Remember to feed slowly. Leftover food will cause nitrates and phosphates to rise. If you see food falling to the sand bed and into the rocks, you should feed slower and give the fish a chance to eat before adding a little more. Using a turkey baster allows you to target food to different fish. For example you can feed the aggressive fish on one side of the tank and then squirt a little bit on the other side for the less aggressive fish. This way all the fish get a chance to eat enough.

Maximum Length: 20"
Care Level: Easy
Family: Balistidae
Reef Compatibility: Add with caution - Predator Reefs Only
Minimum Aquarium Size: 80 gal.
Range: Indo Pacific, Australia
Diet: Carnivore
Water Conditions: 75-80° F; sg 1.024-1.026 (1.025 is ideal); pH 8.1-8.4 Ca 420-440 ppm, Alk 8-9.5 dKH, Mg 1260-1350, Nitrates <10ppm, Phosphates, < .10ppm

Water Chemistry: Maintaining Ammonia at 0 ppm, Nitrites at 0 ppm, and Nitrates below 10ppm will help to keep your Clown Trigger happy and healthy. We recommend doing a water change soon after Nitrates rise above 10 ppm. Maintaining proper calcium (420-440 ppm), alkalinity (8-9.5 dkh - run it 7-8 if you are carbon dosing), and magnesium levels (1260-1350 ppm) will help to keep pH stable in the 8.1-8.4 range. We recommend a specific gravity of 1.024-1.026 with 1.025 being ideal for fish. Temperature should remain stable as well and should stay within a 2 degree range.

Video