“If only it were not so mean.” That is what comes to mind every time I see the stately queen triggerfish (Balistes vetula). The queen triggerfish is such an amazing-looking fish, with its blue war paint and its lyretail caudal fin. Yet the queen triggerfish is so potentially lethal to both invertebrate and piscine tankmates that it is almost always best kept on its own in the home aquarium. If you are willing to dedicate a whole large aquarium to the queen triggerfish, you will enjoy its doglike personality and good looks for many years (more than two decades are possible).
Difficulty: The queen triggerfish is easy to keep in the home aquarium. Just provide the queen triggerfish with a highly varied diet that includes chopped seafood, live mussels, frozen krill, mysids and preparations for herbivores, and it will be happy as a pig in mud. You also need to feed the queen triggerfish often, say at least three or four times a day for young queen triggerfish, and twice a day for adult queen triggerfish.
Physical description: The adult queen triggerfish has a yellowish-green belly and throat, and is darker green over the rest of the body. The queen triggerfish also has blue highlights on the face and fins, and dark lines radiate from the eyes. The tail is beautifully lunate, and the dorsal fin of the adult queen triggerfish has a nice filament on the upper edge. The queen triggerfish can reach a total length of around 12 inches.
Range: The queen triggerfish is found in both the eastern and western Atlantic. The queen triggerfish occurs on lagoons, reef faces and slopes at depths of 5 to an amazing 890 feet. The queen triggerfish also inhabits and hunts in seagrass meadows. The queen triggerfish diet includes a wide range of marine invertebrates (including snails, bivalves, crabs, shrimps, sea urchins, sea stars and many more invertebrates) and small fish. The queen triggerfish will uncover buried prey by blowing water out of its moth toward the sand.
Compatibility: The queen triggerfish has to be one of the meanest fish available for the home aquarium — and not only does it have a bad attitude, it also has the bulk to back up its aggressive nature. If you want to house a queen triggerfish with other fish, it is imperative that the aquarium be very large – I am talking about 500 gallons or more. In a lesser volume of water, an adult queen triggerfish is likely to eventually decide to dispatch its tankmates. The other possibility is to keep the queen triggerfish with equally deadly characters, such as the gray triggerfish (B. capriscus), the titan triggerfish (Balistoides viridescens) and the blue-lined triggerfish (Balistoides fuscus). The queen triggerfish can also be kept with large moray eels, but the queen triggerfish has even been known to nip the exposed tail of an eel (and remember that a larger moray eel may eat your triggerfish). The queen triggerfish will chew up sedentary sharks, rays, frogfish and scorpionfish, as well. Keeping two queen triggerfish together is also foolhardy.
Aquarium conditions: The bigger the aquarium, the better — at least for potential tankmates. An adult queen triggerfish can be housed in an aquarium as small as 180 gallons, but this should be a species aquarium, as it is likely to cause trouble with other fish in an aquarium of that size. The other thing the queen triggerfish is notorious for is rearranging aquarium decor. The queen triggerfish will lift faux corals, bleached coral skeletons, etc. in its mouth, move them about the aquarium and may even break them to bits with its powerful jaws. The queen triggerfish has even been known to damage aquarium equipment in the display aquarium (e.g., heater, intake and return tubes from filters, power cords). Keep the water parameters for the queen triggerfish in the following range: pH of 8.1 to 8.4, specific gravity of 1.019 to 1.025 and a water temperature of 74 to 82.
Care considerations: While the queen triggerfish is not really a jumper, this and other triggerfish have been known to spit water out of open aquariums. If the water jets happen to end up soaking a power strip, some serious problems could occur.
Breeding: The queen triggerfish is too large to breed in the home aquarium.