This Picasso triggerfish is also known as the Lagoon or Blackbar triggerfish,
or more generically, hu-mu hu-mu (referring to all triggerfishes).
It is a colorful relative of puffers,
and filefishes-- all members of the order Tetraodontiformes.
Triggerfish have a sharp spine, or trigger, shown here folded down into
its groove as
the black streak on the top of the fish. I know from experience trying
to photograph triggers that if they are chased long enough, they
eventually take refuge in a reef hiding place, such as in a small hole
in the reef near the bottom of a coral outcropping. The trigger turns on
its side to enter. After entering the hole, if the fish raises its
trigger, it is nearly impossible to remove. I suspect the hiding place
the fish usually prefers is its burrow, since triggerfish are territorial
and known to sometimes sleep on their side.
Triggerfish are tough and sleek, favoring shallow waters of the
reef. Their tough skin and fused teeth make them capable of successfully
attacking spiny sea urchins to get to the soft flesh. They also eat crabs, mollusks, worms, other fish,
algae and are even known to nip at the tips of hard corals. This
species only grows to about nine to ten inches (about 25 cm) but some
others, such as the Titan
triggerfish, may grow to 30 inches (75 cm). They are found in many areas
of the Pacific from Hawaii to the Maldives, and even the southeast and
east central Atlantic and the Red Sea.
Early Hawaiians used this
and another trigger species, R. rectangulatus, in religious
ceremonies, naming them for their pig-like habits of rooting through the
substrate for food, and grunting when disturbed.
Identification: Rhinecanthus aculeatus
to Gallery I