Creature of the Month

Return to Main Page

courtesy of Scuba News

Picasso Triggerfish 
Rhinecanthus spp

According to our Club President, the Picasso Triggerfish is also know as the "Humuhumukununukuapua'a" which means "fish with a pig's nose" in Hawaiian.

Trigger fishes are so called because of the shark-fin 
shaped trigger they are able to raise in defense. They use 
this to jam themselves into a crevice in the coral. The 
trigger is actually the first spine of its dorsal (top) fin. 
They bend the second spine forward to fix the first 
firmly in position. When the fish is swimming the fin 
is flattened into a groove. 

Trigger fish are easy to identify from their distinctive 
shape. They have deep bodies, high eyes, small mounths 
and colourful patterns - no more so than the 
Picasso Trigger Fish. 

Five of the six species of the Rhinecanthus genus are 
known as Picasso Triggerfish (or just Picasso Fish). 
They are all between 23 and 30 cm long and mostly live 
in shallow water, less than 20 m deep. They feed on a 
wide variety of animals living on the bottom: fish, 
invertebrates and algae. You will find them in the 
Red Sea, Great Barrier Reef, Pacific and Indian Oceans. 

An attractive fish with blocks of colour on a white 
and beige background. Unlike some trigger fish, these 
aren't commonly aggressive towards divers. However, 
they do lay eggs in a nest on the sea bed which is 
guarded by the female fish, who will attack other 
fish that approach They are also territorial.

Further Reading:
Coral Reef Fishes (Collins Pocket Guides) 
by Ewald Lieske and Robert Myers

Photo at: