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Balistapus undulatus


 Balistapus undulatus (Green trigger) 

One of the most beautiful and most aggressive marine fish. Also named the green trigger or undulated trigger this fish will terrorize any tank and will eat any fish, coral or invertebrate it can swallow. Not to be kept with peaceful or small pieces or reef tanks. Grows to an impressive 30 cm in nature although it will not reach more than 20 cm in captivity (25 in really big tanks. Intolerant of its own species as well as most other triggers. One of the hardiest species, it can be even used for cycling the tank. The striking coloration makes it a centerpiece in marine (usually fish only) tanks. It is better to add it last in the tank - allowing more than enough time for the other fish to settle. I feel that Bob Fenner's comments on this species describe this situation far better.

About the only downside of balistid keeping, and it’s a big one is there overt, and at times agonistic personalities.

Everyone has favorite stories to tell about these fishes. The "cute" spitting Clown Trigger that bit the bejeesus out of someone’s finger. The big Undulatus that moved all the gravel and rock around the tank, pulled up the undergravel filter risers, then committed hara-kiri by smashing the aquarium heater against the tanks side. The Niger that spends all its spare time "locked in" with its trigger, upside-down!

Yes, these fishes ARE characters, and if anything else universal can be stated about them: they’re individualistic. Some members of the same species can be kept in very peaceful surroundings. I’ve seen some housed in full-blown reef systems. Other specimens of the same species can be unholy terrors, outright consuming any real or potential "tankmates".

As alluded to above, most Triggerfish species offered in the trade rank the highest score (a 1) in my book in terms of aquarium survivability. This is of course given a few, actually two provisos: One, that you secure initially healthy specimens (usually no problem), and two, that they are procured at a reasonably small (but not too tiny) size. For most species the latter practical range is a few to a handful of inches in total length. All triggers are wild collected, and most of only an inch or so to start will do all right, but the two to five inchers are more sure-fire for adapting to captive conditions."

With the permission of Robert (Bob) Fenner webmaster of WetWebMedia (bobfenner@aol.com)

See next page for more photos

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