Balistoides conspicillum (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
Clown triggerfish

Balistoides conspicillum lives primarily on the seaward reef and on some lagoon pinnacles in the vicinity of reef passes, although it can also been seen on lagoon interisland reefs. Juveniles live relatively deep on the seaward reef dropoff and seem to come in sporadically. When we have seen juveniles, there are usually several of them in an area. Usually we see no young ones. Clown triggers probably eat a variety of benthic invertebrates. They appear territorial and are usually aggressive toward other clown triggers that come too close, but on a couple of occasions we have observed as many as four together and apparently getting along. It could have been mating season.

This one was eating a crinoid (feather star) and has an arm still stuck to its mouth. There doesn't seem to be much to eat on a crinoid, so perhaps it was just going for the commensal crabs and shrimp that hide within the branches and under crinoids.

This one was biting at a colony of brown sponge growing on the bottom (shown in second photo below). It was unclear if he was eating the sponge or going for shrimp that may live in the sponge's channels.

The next one grew up in an aquarium and had an odd color pattern.

Created 21 May 2012
Updated 27 March 2017

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