Pinktail Triggerfish Profile

Melichthys vidua, Raiatea, French Polynesia
Melichthys vidua, Raiatea, French Polynesia. zsispeo/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

While Triggerfish, in general, can be difficult to keep in an aquarium, the Pinktail Triggerfish is an exception. It may be a bit difficult to get them to eat when first introduced to the aquarium, but once they figure out that hand fed foods are actually food, they adapt well. This fish has what many people call "personality" as it will follow your relentlessly when you walk by the tank until it is fed.

If this fish is introduced into the aquarium at the end of the stocking procedure it will generally not quibble about the current housing situation as long as it can find a house of its own in the live rock formations in the tank. Including a number of potential "houses" in your live rock formations while aquascaping is always a good idea.

Scientific Name

Melichthys vidua (Solander, 1844), Balistes nycteris - synonym of M. vidua (Jordan & Evermann, 1905)

Other Common Names

Red-Tailed Triggerfish.

Hawaiian Names

Hu-mu hu-mu hi-'u-ko-le, or, Hu-mu hu-mu u-li.


This Triggerfish is named for its "pink tail". The body is so dark it looks black, but in reality, it is a very deep forest green color. The dorsal and anal fins have a translucent pinkish-white appearance marked with dark bands at the outside edges, and the pectoral fins have a yellowish color to them.


The distribution of this species extends from Hawai'i and the Tuamotu Islands westward through Polynesia, Micronesia, the Philippines, and the East Indies, and on across the Indian Ocean to the coast of Africa.

Average Size

Larger specimens can grow to about 15 inches.

Minimum Tank Size Suggested

100 gallons.


This fish enjoys the shallower waters outside the reef that has very rocky, stony or corally terrain where it can hide. Provide with plenty of shelter and ample room to roam around.


The Pinktail Triggerfish is one of the few Triggers that can actually be a pleasure to keep.

It is rarely aggressive towards its tank mates unless they are much smaller or introduced to the tank after the Pinktail. If more than one are to be kept in the same tank, it is best to add a male and up to several females at the same time.

This Trigger can be shy at first but will become quite docile and outgoing over time.