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Sargassum Triggerfish

(Xanthichthys ringens)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Semi-aggressive   • Maximum Size: 10"
• Minimum Tank Size: 110 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-80° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Western Atlantic, Caribbean
• Family: Balistidae   • Species: Triggerfish   • Aquarium Type: Fish Only

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Sargassum Triggerfish native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Sargassum Triggerfish, also commonly referred to as the Red Tailed Triggerfish, is one of the least aggressive triggerfish species in the hobby and is highly prized for that very reason. Sargassum Triggerfish are endemic to the tropical reefs of the West Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea. Sargassum Triggerfish have a beautiful tan to powder-blue base coloration with a bright red to maroon outline around their caudal fin in addition to dark markings along the base of the dorsal and anal fins as well as a dark frontal dorsal fin, which houses their dorsal spine. They also have dark speckling on their flanks as well as three horizontal, purple to blue, stacked stripes across their operculum.

Sargassum Triggerfish have eyes that work independently of each other in order to scan the area for predators and prey alike. Sargassum Triggerfish also use their forward dorsal spine to securely lock themselves into the reef and rock structures while sleeping. Sargassum Triggerfish are considered to be fairly peaceful for a triggerfish and are in high demand as they have been successful reef inhabitants. The Sargassum Triggerfish can sometimes be hard to acquire, but can usually be special ordered or eventually found through online retailers and auctions.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Sargassum Triggerfish in the home aquarium.

Sargassum Triggerfish require an aquarium of at least 110 gallons with a sand substrate and plenty of live rock for refuge (they enjoy caves) and territory. They greatly appreciate unobstructed swimming space where they can move around freely, unhindered. They should be provided with high quality biological and mechanical filtration as well as efficient protein skimming to ensure pristine water conditions, proper oxygenation, and a decent amount of water movement.

Care should be taken if a need should arise to collect a specimen from the aquarium; they should not be collected with a net as their dorsal spine can shred it to pieces and they may also cause injury to themselves or others in the process. They should be collected by coaxing them into a collection container with a flattened net, that can then be used to cover the container to prevent escape and injury for all parties involved.

Although they aren't truly aggressive, they will sometimes get into arguments with other triggerfish and should be housed as the only triggerfish in their aquarium (mainly for their own safety). They will usually get along with most semi-aggressive or even peaceful tank mates of a relatively similar size. Although not recommended for reef aquariums, they will not usually bother sessile invertebrates or stony coral species, but like other triggerfish, they will commonly snack on crustaceans, mollusks and tiny fish. They are ideal candidates for a peaceful to semi-aggressive, large FOWLR system.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Sargassum Triggerfish.

Sargassum Triggerfish are carnivores that eat small fish and invertebrates (mainly crustaceans) in their natural habitat. In the aquarium they should be offered a wide variety of live ("gut-loaded" when possible), fresh, or frozen and vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, ghost shrimp krill, chopped clams, chopped squid, bloodworms, chopped mussels, and other freshly chopped or prepared meaty seafood items. Feed them three times a day and only what they will eat within a few minutes.

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