Niger Triggerfish Overview, Care & Breeding Guide

If you’re looking for a big colorful marine fish with an assertive personality, a popular choice is niger triggerfish. The moody big baby shows interesting behaviors. The species can also switch up its colors, making it look unique every few days!

It’s particularly suitable for seasoned aquarists. But with the proper setup and planning, even enthusiasts with slight experience can give this fish a shot!

So, if you plan to bring this fish home, let’s get started!

What is a Niger Triggerfish?

Niger triggerfish is a saltwater fish which is big and available in a combination of colors.

OriginWidespread; Indo-Pacific Ocean, Red Sea, Southern Japan, Great Barrier Reef, and more
Scientific NameOdonus niger
Common NamesRedtoothed niger triggerfish, blue triggerfish, redfang triggerfish
IUCN Red List StatusLeast Concern
AppearanceTrapezoidal body, lyre-shaped tail, rounded face, bluish-green body, but color changes with light, diet, mood
SizeAround 30 cm (11.8 in), max: 50 cm (19.7)
LifespanAround 10 years
TemperamentAggressive, territorial, unpredictable
Reef SafeNo
Tank LevelBottom dwellers
Water Temperature72-78 °F (22-26 °C)
pH Level8.1-8.4
Water HardnessAround 8-12 dGH
Care LevelEasy – in spacious tanks Difficult – in community tanks
Minimum Tank Size180-225 gallon for one
Tank EnvironmentSpacious, sandy substrate, strong flow corner, glued decor
DietCarnivorous, accepts little vegetable matter
Tank MatesOwn group, similar sized, similar tempered species

What is the Natural Habitat of Niger Triggerfish?

The niger triggerfish are found in a wide range of regions, like

  • Indo-Pacific Ocean
  • Red Sea
  • African east coast
  • Marquesas and Society Islands
  • Southern Japan
  • Great Barrier Reef of Australia

It’s native to coastal shallow inshore water of 9-30 m (30-100 ft) depth, reef channels, slopes with strong currents, and current-swept seaward coral reefs. The species stays hidden under rocks and crevices so it doesn’t get swept away by the currents.

According to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022 assessment, this fish is listed as Least Concern.

Which family does Niger Triggerfish belong?

This triggerfish belongs to the Balistidae family under the Tetraodontiformes order. Its scientific name is Odonus niger, but it’s popular by several names worldwide:

  • Niger triggerfish
  • Redtoothed niger triggerfish
  • Red toothed file fish
  • Blue triggerfish
  • Redfang triggerfish

Fun Fact: The triggerfish uses its dorsal and anal fins to maneuver underwater with an exotic way of propulsion, which makes it look like a propeller.

How does Niger Triggerfish look?

Niger triggerfish showing red teeth

This fish stands out with its majestic looks and moody personality. So, let’s know more about that here.

What is the Size of Niger Triggerfish?

In general, the triggerfish grows up to 30 cm (11.8 in). But in rare cases, it may grow up to 50 cm (19.7 in).

What is the Color of Niger Triggerfish?

The niger triggerfish generally seems blue to green. There are also hints of purple, black, teal, and other colors.

However, its body color changes based on mood, diet, lighting, and more. Cooler temperatures make the fish look darker. Warmer temperatures make it greener.

As its name “redfang triggerfish” suggests, it has two long, sharp red teeth. There are electric blue highlights near its eyes and outlining its anal fins.

The juvenile fish are green or dark blue.

What are the Features of Niger Triggerfish?

This species has a unique trapezoidal body, lyre-shaped tail, rounded face, small pectoral fins, and no pelvic fins. It primarily uses its dorsal and anal fins – which have elevated anterior regions – to navigate through the water.

Its pointy and sharp fangs continuously grow. It wears away the teeth and keeps them sharp by gnawing on crustaceans, sponges, and corals.

It also has a thick mucus covering, which helps it swim better and protects it from parasites.

Moreover, the species has a dorsal spine on both sides of its tail. When extended, it lets the fish “lock” into coral and rocks. It looks like a cocked gun and hence the name “trigger.”

Are there any differences between a male and a female Niger Triggerfish?

There aren’t any obvious differences between the two genders.

What is the behavior of Niger Triggerfish?

In the wild, the adult fish form groups and forage the bottom. The juvenile fish also group-up and stay hidden in rubbles and crevices. After sunset and when scared, the fish uses the locking mechanism to stay hidden.

It’s pretty aggressive and territorial around smaller species but social around similar-sized species. It’s also one of the least aggressive triggers.

When excited, it creates a grunting noise. It also has an unpredictable mood. When young, it’s usually peaceful, but as it grows up, it also gets aggressive.

This fish can be trained to eat directly from the owner’s hands and show excitement at the sight of its owner. You can tame a young trigger better than an adult one.

What is the Lifespan of Niger Triggerfish?

On average, the niger trigger can live up to 10 years old in captivity. According to my experience, it can live up to 15 years with optimal care. In the wild, it lives much longer.

Author’s Note: While the fish can be trained to eat by hand, don’t try it at home. Often, when it is agitated, it may bite. Instead, feed it through tongs if you must.

How to take care of Niger Triggerfish?

Group of niger triggerfish

If you’re eager to get this fish for your tank, you must prepare the perfect marine tank for it. C’mon, let’s know everything you need here.

What is the Tank Size of Niger Triggerfish?

For one adult niger triggerfish, a 180-225 gallon tank is necessary. To house multiple specimens or a community tank, you need a much bigger tank.

What is the Water Chemistry for Niger Triggerfish?

To keep your triggerfish healthy and sustain it for the longest time, follow these water parameters at all times.

  • pH Levels: 8.1-8.4
  • Water Temperature: 72-78 °F (22-26 °C)
  • Water Hardness: Around 8-12 dGH
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: Less than 10 ppm
  • Specific Gravity: 1.020-1.025

What is the Tank Environment for Niger Triggerfish?

To make your niger triggerfish feel at home, mimic its natural habitat. However, don’t be too attached to the decor, as it loves to rearrange everything.

1. Substrate

The fish likes to forage the substrate for food and swirl around. So, use a thick layer of soft, fine, crushed coral sand.

2. Lighting

The fish doesn’t have any specific lighting needs, so you can go for standard aquarium lights. It also exhibits different colors in different colored lighting – intense light makes it seem green, and subdued lights make it look black. So you can experiment with it.

3. Décor

Use plenty of live rock as hiding spots. Create lots of small caves, rockwork, and PVC pipes. Place them at a distance to avoid overcrowding.

Stick all décor to the aquarium so they don’t get messed up.

Some add corals and anemones in the tank, but this isn’t safe. If the fish is hungry, it’ll munch on them or use coral rubble to sharpen teeth.

4. Filtration

This fish produces lots of waste. So, install a strong and efficient filter – with 4-6 times the tank volume – to maintain the water quality. However, don’t forget to protect all cords, pipes, and other equipment parts because the fish chews on them.

5. Water Flow Rate

Provide moderate to strong flow for the fish using a powerhead in one corner or water column. However, maintain normal flow in the remaining tank to ensure the fish gets to rest and the remaining tank mates are not overwhelmed.

Care Tip: Keep the aquarium lid on at all times to prevent the fish from jumping and splashing.

What does Niger Triggerfish eat?

The niger triggerfish is a carnivore but accepts little herbivorous feed. In the wild, it consumes zooplankton and sponges in groups.

In captivity, it accepts live, frozen, and flake/pellet food. Keep it on a diet of meaty food, plankton, teeth-wearing-down food, and a little vegetable matter, like:

  • Krill
  • Hard-shelled shrimp
  • Brine shrimp
  • Squid
  • Clam
  • Mussel
  • Small cut fish
  • Worm
  • Pellet
  • Algae-based food
  • Seaweed

Feed it 2-3 times a day. In fact, try to feed it more meals when it is newly added to your tank. If you don’t provide hard-shelled foods to wear down its teeth, it will become stressed, agitated, and aggressive. Always keep this trigger well-fed to reduce aggression.

What are the Tank Mates for Niger Triggerfish?

Despite niger triggerfish having an unpredictable personality, it is usually in its best behavior with species of similar size like:

  • Angelfish
  • Large damselfish (like blue devil damselfish)
  • Clownfish
  • Grouper
  • Moray eel
  • Large pufferfish (like blue spotted puffer)
  • Rabbitfish
  • Large wrasse
  • Tang (doctorfish, naso, kole yellow eye tang)
  • Adult Moorish idol

If you want several niger triggers, go for three. Remember, it’s suitable for FOWLR (fish only with live rock) tanks. Always add the trigger after adding all other species, as this will keep its aggression in check.

Which Tank Mates to Avoid with Niger Triggerfish?

The niger triggerfish aren’t good tank mates to the following types:

  • Smaller species: They’ll get eaten by the trigger.
  • More aggressive species: They may terrorize your trigger or encourage it to fight.
  • Other trigger species: They’ll get into fights.

Some specific tank mates to skip are:

  • Basslet
  • Angler
  • Cardinalfish
  • Batfish
  • Frogfish
  • Filefish
  • Pipefish
  • Tessalata eel
  • Pseudochromis
  • Ray
  • Seahorse
  • Shark
  • Invertebrates (shrimp, snail, clam)

What are the Common Diseases for Niger Triggerfish?

The niger triggerfish, though hardy, is susceptible to some common marine fish diseases like the following:

Disease NameCausesSymptomsTreatment
Fin rotBacterial infectionFin fraying, disintegrating, and discoloration, lethargy, bad appetiteImprove water quality, add antibiotics
Marine ichExternal protozoan parasiteWhite spots, flashing, lethargy, bad appetiteAdd ich medicines or aquarium salts, raise water temperature
Marine velvetParasitic infectionColor loss, flashing, clamped fin against the body, heavy breathing, skin peeling, yellowish film on the skin, lethargy, bad appetiteRaise water temperature, keep lights dim for days, add aquarium salt or medicine with malachite green or aldehyde
Depressive episodesBoredom, lack of hiding space, lack of freedom, poor dietLethargy, aggression, not eatingAdd more hiding spots, rehouse in a bigger tank, provide a varied and improved diet.

Quick Tip: Maintain proper water quality, oxygen levels, and salinity in the tank to prevent the triggerfish from falling sick.

How to Breed Niger Triggerfish?

Till now, niger triggerfish aren’t successfully bred in home aquaria or captivity. This is due to certain challenges like the following:

  • Owing to the fish’s size and tank requirements, you’ll need extremely huge aquariums or ponds to induce spawning behavior.
  • There are no visible differences between the two genders. Hence, it’s hard to find a pair.
  • The newly-born fry need a specific pH range to survive.

However, here are some facts about the fish breeding in the wild.

  • They have specific mating grounds. When ready, the fish goes to mating grounds.
  • The male marks his territory and builds a nest to attract a female.
  • He changes colors to attract mates.
  • The female fish lays eggs and takes care of the eggs
  • Both parent fish guard the eggs and wait for the eggs to hatch.

A word from FishInAquarium

The outgoing personality of niger triggerfish makes it pretty fun to raise and feed. In fact, this lovable giant baby can be trained to greet you just like dogs. It can keep you entertained the entire day!

So, if you liked this article, share it with your friends. Let them know the joy of having this trigger. If you have more questions, drop us an email, and we’ll reach out with solutions!

Minnie B Miller - Professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium

About Minnie B Miller

Minnie B. Miller, a professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium, has over 8 years of expertise in fish breeding and care, gained through her roles at AquaticTX and Sea Lion Landing. Having honed her skills with various aquatic species, she is dedicated to empowering fellow enthusiasts by sharing her knowledge and experience.