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Reef Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus rectangulus

Reef Triggerfish - Origins

The Reef Triggerfish is also known as the Wedge-tail Triggerfish, the Rectangular Triggerfish and the V-line Humu Humu.  It is often confused with the Picasso Trigger.   The Reef Triggerfish is the official fish representing the state of Hawaii.  The name Humu Humu (triggerfish) comes from Hawaiian and Humuhumu-nukunuku-apua'a refers to the pig-like snout that it and the Picasso Trigger have and use to "root" around the reef.  The Reef Trigger frequents the outer edges of coral reefs of the central and western Pacific, including the Red Sea. It has a tan body with dark bands. Its distinctive features include blue/black strips across its eyes, blue lips and a black wedge at the base of the caudal fin, which is outlined in brown and yellow.  The Reef Trigger is highly maneuverable and changes directions quickly.

Reef Triggerfish - Anatomy

Triggerfish have a double dorsal fin with a large spine in the front area of the fin. It uses the spine to lock itself into rocks and corals where it sleeps for the night, well protected from predators. Triggers have been known to sleep on their sides as well. 

Reef Triggerfish - Aquarium Care

The Reef Trigger is reasonably easy to keep, but is not reef safe and is not a good community fish. Reef Triggers are also territorial, so it is best to keep only one in the tank. They are less aggressive than the Clown Trigger and a good choice for your first purchase of triggerfish. The tank should be a minimum of 75 gallons, with 140 gallons preferred.  It should have plenty of places to hide plus open areas for swimming. 

Reef Triggerfish - Feeding

Reef Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus rectangulus

In the wild, Reef Triggers feed on algae and invertebrates.  In captivity, they can feed on regular live, frozen and flake foods. This can include squid, shrimp, krill, mussels, pieces of fish, starfish, sea urchins, shellfish and small fish. Their diet can be supplemented with spirulina, algae, dried seaweed and quality flake foods. Triggerfish use their mouths to blow over invertebrates and attack them in their soft undersides. They can be very aggressive when eating.  They will bite fingers, but can be hand fed.  They will also disturb items in the tank.

Reef Triggerfish - Breeding

There are no known sexual differences. Reef Triggers are egg layers and they are not bred in captivity.  Reef Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus rectangulus Reef Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus rectangulus Reef Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus rectangulus

Reef Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus rectangulus

Scientific Name: Rhinecanthus rectangulus
Family: Balistidae
Care: Normal
Temperature: 22 - 26 C; 72 - 78 F
pH: 8.1 - 8.4
dH: 8 - 12
Specific Gravity: 1.020 - 1.023
Size: 30 cm; 12 inches
Breeding: Egg Layer
Life Span: years
Crustacean Safe: No
Coral Safe: Yes


Only one Triggerfish per tank, although recommendations of compatibility with Redtoothed Triggerfish have been noted.  Keep with large basses, groupers, large surgeonfish, aggressive eels, lionfish and puffers.  Do not keep with invertebrates.