Facts, Information and Photos of the Black Triggerfish

Melichthys niger
Federica Grassi / Getty Images

Melichthys niger (Bloch, 1786). This species appears in Pacific books under various names including M. buniva (Lacepede, 1803), and M. radula (Solander, 1848). In the western tropical Atlantic areas, it has been discussed under the name of M. piceus (Poey, 1863).

Other Common Names

Black Durgeon, Bursa Triggerfish, Hawaiian Black Trigger.


On the face and around the eyes there are thin, light blue-turquoise colored lines.

Along the base of both the soft dorsal and anal fins, there are bold white lines. The body appears to be black in the wild, but once out of the water with some light on this fish, you can actually see that its body is of a dark blue to blue-green color with horizontal markings present.


Occurs from Hawaii and central Polynesia westward through Micronesia and Melanesia, through the East Indies, across the Indian Ocean to the coast of Africa, with similar species found in the tropical Atlantic Ocean.

Maximum Size

To 14".


A very active fish that needs lots of room to move around, and plenty of shelter for hiding.

Characteristics & Compatibility

In the wild, each Black Triggerfish has its own house to live in amongst the coral and rock formations just outside the reef, but they will emerge and congregate above near the surface of the water in large schools to feed on current drifting zooplankton and algae.

However, when you catch this fish and put it in a closed environment with other ones, they will bite and attack each another. This is a fish that can be aggressive towards more docile fish and tank inhabitants.

Diet & Feeding

An omnivore that can be fed a mixed diet of shrimp, squid, clams, fish, and other meaty fares suitable for carnivores, as well as marine algae and vitamin-enriched herbivore foods.

Reef Tank Suitability

Not recommended.