Fish of the week Balistoides conspicillum - Clown triggerfish


Sir Brian The Lenient
Staff member
RC Mod
Balistoides conspicillum clown triggerfish

The clown triggerfish is a gorgeous fish with a mostly black upper body with white circles on its lower body, with dramatic yellow flashes on its head, lips and tail. This is one of the larger species of triggerfish, reaching almost 20 inches. This fish requires (like other triggerfish) a heavy diet of meaty foods, preferably vitamin enriched to maintain its vivid coloration.

The clown trigger is definitely not reef safe, as it will greedily feed on shrimp and other invertebrates.

This fish is commonly available in the hobby, at prices ranging from $60 on up to over $100. The Red Sea variety seems to be hardier in the trade than other locations.

Triggers appear almost intelligent at times, and the clown trigger is no exception. They have lots of character, and are fascinating for the fish only tank. It is important to keep them with equally belligerent or agressive species, as the clown trigger can go from docile to destructive seemingly overnight. They have powerful jaws that can both crush a crab shell and munch on an aquarist's finger. If you stick your hand in your tank, know where your trigger is :)

When selecting a clown trigger, the very small specimens sometimes offered are not as hardy as the more medium sized specimens. They are rapid healers, so a torn fin isn't that critical, but be cautious of any that appear to have cloudy eyes or open sores. A thin trigger usually isn't a problem, since they will fatten up with proper feedings.

Just a beautiful fish in the proper setting, guaranteed to elicit oohs and ahhs from observers.

like all triggers, this one needs copious amounts of food. avoid purchasing one with a pinched stomach, as i often see them like this in LFS's not feeding them enough. once about 4" in length, you can count on this fish eating close to $10 of food per week. simply put, they need to eat A LOT.

of course, what comes along with such an eating machine, is a pooping machine. be sure your mechnical filtration is in good working order.


We love this fish. We got one when we knew enough to be able to keep it, but not enough to know that we shouldn't put on in a tank as small as ours. We picked up the 2" trigger for $25 (a big sale at what we now know is not a good store). Then, two years later, we traded the 5" trigger in to a store who made sure it was taken only by someone who has a tank big enough to keep it.

It was in a tank with a volitans lion (also now removed), dominoe damsel, niger trigger, yellow-tail damsel. It was aggressive towards things if they got too close, but it would never go out of it's way to attack something. For example, we would occasionally feed ghost shrimp in this tank. The clown would go after one once, and, if he didn't get the shrimp on that one try, he would give up. Then the niger would hunt it down, incapacitate it, and then the clown would come to eat what couldn't run anymore.

We plan to have one in the future when we both have jobs and can afford a home large enough for one.