With impressive teeth and vibrant colors, titan triggerfish are the biggest among the species. And although they’re beautiful, divers should beware of this territorial fish.
What are titan triggerfish?
The triggerfish family includes various species of distinct sizes and aspects, from the redtoothed triggerfish to the clown triggerfish.
The titan triggerfish, also known as giant triggerfish, is the biggest among its species. Their size and oval shape make them distinctive, as well as their threatening-looking teeth. Divers will find them in most areas of the Indo-Pacific, usually on shallow reefs but sometimes down to 164 feet (50 m). The titan triggerfish is solitary and you can see them day or night. Their usual diet consists of sea urchins, crustaceans and corals, and they frequently move rocks around to either munch on some corals or find small mollusks or other animals.
Why do they have a bad reputation?
In most areas, titan triggerfish usually stay away from both divers and snorkelers. However, during nesting season, the female builds her nest in a sandy area or over coral rubble in order to lay her eggs. The nest territory is cone-shaped around the zone where the eggs are, and the female titan triggerfish will fiercely defend the nest.
This is when divers should give the fish a wide berth. If divers accidentally swim over or too near the nest, they may face defensive behavior from the triggerfish. Defensive triggerfish often have an erected dorsal spine and swim rapidly toward the intruder. They might not always bite, but they will make it clear that the diver is not welcome. Because of its size and sharp teeth, the titan triggerfish bite can be painful and cause some damage to a diver, so it’s wise to give these nesting fish their space.
How should divers behave around them?
Because of the nest’s shape, in order to swim out of the danger zone, it’s best to swim horizontally away from the area rather than going up in the water column. In places where titan triggerfish are known to be somewhat aggressive toward divers or specifically during nesting season, your dive guide will usually give you a warning not to approach them. In any case, the titan triggerfish is a beautiful sight underwater provided you give it the space to make it comfortable.