Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The queen triggerfish is often found drifting close to the bottom, where it feeds on a range of molluscs, crustaceans and echinoderms (4). The strong jaws and long teeth of this fish enable it to bite through the hard body parts of these marine creatures with ease (4). It specialises on feeding on a particular sea urchin (Diadema antillarium), and has evolved an ingenious way of tackling this spiny prey; it blows water under the sea urchin to overturn it, exposing the part of the sea urchin where the spines are shortest (2). Little information is available on the breeding biology of this species, although it is known that triggerfish lay eggs which stick to corals, rocks and algae (4). The eggs are somewhat protected by being camouflaged (4), and are also apparently guarded by the male (2). As adults, queen triggerfish are protected by the erectile spine on their backs. If threatened, the triggerfish will retreat into a crevice in the reef, the spine on its back locks into position, and the predator is unable to remove the fish from its shelter (4).
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Description

The deep-bodied queen triggerfish has suitably regal colouring; it is a flamboyant, and variable, mixture of blue, green and yellow, which can be light or dark depending on the fish's mood (3), and vivid blue lines pattern the head and the fins (2). Triggerfish are named after the spines situated on their backs. The first large spine can be erected and then locked into place by the second smaller spine which fits into a groove in the first spine (3). This clever locking mechanism enables triggerfish to wedge themselves into crevices when they feel threatened (3), and the first spine can only be folded away when the second 'trigger' spine is depressed (2). The eyes, which are set high on the fish's head (2), are capable of moving independently of each other (4), and the small mouth bears large, stout teeth (2).
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Found over rocky or coral areas (Ref. 5217). May form schools, sometimes solitary over sand and grassy areas. Feeds mainly on benthic invertebrates (Ref. 4727). It preys on sea urchins by blowing water to overturn it and then attacks it where the spines are short (Ref. 9710). Excellent food fish but occasionally can cause intoxication due to the liver.
  • Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray 1986 A field guide to Atlantic coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 354 p. (Ref. 7251)
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Distribution

Western Atlantic: Massachusetts, USA and northern Gulf of Mexico to southeastern Brazil
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Atlantic in warm seas.
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Eastern Atlantic: Ascension, Cape Verde, and Azores (Ref. 7348); ranges south to southern Angola (Ref. 4420). Western Atlantic: Canada (Ref. 5951) to Massachusetts, USA and northern Gulf of Mexico to southeastern Brazil (Ref. 7251).
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Range

Occurs in the Atlantic Ocean (1), from Bermuda and the northern Gulf of Mexico, south to Brazil, and east to Ascension Island and the eastern Atlantic (2).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 3; Dorsal soft rays (total): 29 - 32; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 27 - 29
  • Jenyns, L. 1842 Fish. In C. Darwin (ed.) The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, under the command of Captain Fitzroy, R.N., during the years 1832-1836. Smith, Elder & Co., London (in 4 parts): p. 1-32 (Jan. 1840); 33-64 (Jun. 1840); 65-96 (Apr. 1841); 97-172 (Apr. 1842). (Ref. 3157)
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Size

Maximum size: 600 mm TL
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Max. size

60.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 7251)); max. published weight: 5,440 g (Ref. 4699)
  • International Game Fish Association 1991 World record game fishes. International Game Fish Association, Florida, USA. (Ref. 4699)
  • Robins, C.R. and G.C. Ray 1986 A field guide to Atlantic coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 354 p. (Ref. 7251)
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Diagnostic Description

Greenish or bluish gray on back, orange-yellow on lower part of head and abdomen, with two broad diagonal curved bright blue bands running from snout to below and in front of pectoral fins, the lowermost continuous with a blue ring around lips; a broad blue bar across caudal peduncle, and blue sub-marginal bands in median fins (Ref. 13442).
  • Jenyns, L. 1842 Fish. In C. Darwin (ed.) The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, under the command of Captain Fitzroy, R.N., during the years 1832-1836. Smith, Elder & Co., London (in 4 parts): p. 1-32 (Jan. 1840); 33-64 (Jun. 1840); 65-96 (Apr. 1841); 97-172 (Apr. 1842). (Ref. 3157)
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Marine
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Depth: 2 - 275m.
From 2 to 275 meters.

Habitat: reef-associated. May form schools, sometimes solitary over sand and grassy areas. Occurs at 28 °C. Feeds mainly on bottom-living invertebrates (Ref. 4727). It preys on sea urchins by blowing water to overturn it and then attacks it where the spines are short (Ref. 9710). Excellent food fish but occasionally can cause intoxication due to the liver.
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Environment

reef-associated; marine; depth range 2 - 275 m (Ref. 4727), usually 3 - 30 m (Ref. 40849)
  • Gasparini, J.L. and S.R. Floeter 2001 The shore fishes of Trindade Island, western South Atlantic. J. Nat. Hist. 35:1639-1656. (Ref. 40849)
  • Tortonese, E. 1986 Balistidae. p. 1335-1337. In P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot, J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds.) Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. UNESCO, Paris. Vol. III. (Ref. 4727)
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Depth range based on 316 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 254 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 1293
  Temperature range (°C): 22.078 - 28.067
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.115 - 3.505
  Salinity (PPS): 34.217 - 37.096
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.285 - 5.017
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.039 - 0.286
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.805 - 5.080

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 1293

Temperature range (°C): 22.078 - 28.067

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.115 - 3.505

Salinity (PPS): 34.217 - 37.096

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.285 - 5.017

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.039 - 0.286

Silicate (umol/l): 0.805 - 5.080
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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The queen triggerfish inhabits coral reefs and nearby sandy and rubble areas, from shallow waters down to depths of 50 metres (3).
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Trophic Strategy

Found in coral reef environments, near the bottom, from shallow sandy or grassy areas to the upper slope of the reef. Employs different feeding behaviours to capture and manipulate different type of prey, for example, it uses suction feeding to capture worms and other soft prey, while it feeds on crabs and sea urchins by directly biting off parts of the prey (Ref. 45549). Sessile invertebrate feeder (Ref. 57616).
  • Randall, J.E. 1967 Food habits of reef fishes of the West Indies. Stud. Trop. Oceanogr. Miami 5:665-847. (Ref. 33)
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Balistes vetula

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 7 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ACACGTTGACTCTTTTCAACTAACCATAAAGACATCGGCACCCTTTACCTAATCTTTGGTGCTTGGGCTGGGATAGTGGGCACAGCTTTA---AGCCTTCTAATCCGAGCAGAATTAAGCCAACCCGGCGCCCTTCTAGGCGAT---GATCAAATTTATAATGTTATCGTCACAGCACATGCTTTCGTGATAATTTTCTTTATAGTAATACCAATTATAATTGGAGGATTTGGAAACTGACTCATTCCCTTAATA---ATTGGAGCCCCCGACATGGCCTTCCCTCGAATAAATAATATGAGCTTCTGACTCCTTCCCCCTTCTTTACTCCTCCTCCTCGCTTCCTCAAGCGTAGAAGCTGGGGCCGGAACCGGATGAACAGTATATCCCCCTCTTGCAGGGAACCTCGCCCATGCAGGAGCCTCTGTTGATTTA---ACCATCTTTTCACTGCATCTAGCAGGGATCTCATCAATTCTAGGGGCAATTAATTTTATTACAACAATTATTAATATGAAACCCCCTGCCATTTCTCAATATCAAACACCATTGTTTGTCTGAGCAGTTCTAATTACAGCTGTTCTCCTCCTCCTATCCCTTCCCGTCCTAGCCGCC---GGAATTACAATACTCCTCACCGATCGAAACTTAAATACCACATTCTTTGATCCTGCAGGAGGTGGTGACCCCATCCTCTACCAACACCTATTTTGATTCTTTGGCCACCCCGAAGTATATATTCTTATTCTCCCTGGCTTCGGAATGATTTCCCACATTGTTGCCTATTATTCAGGTAAAAAA---GAACCCTTCGGTTATATAGGAATAGTCTGAGCCATGATGGCCATCGGCCTCCTTGGTTTTATCGTATGAGCCCACCACATGTTTACAGTCGGAATGGATGTTGACACCCGAGCCTATTTCACCTCTGCCACAATAATTATTGCAATTCCAACGGGGGTAAAAGTATTTAGCTGATTA---GCCACACTACACGGGGGC---GCAATTAAATGAGAAACTCCACTCTTATGAGCCCTAGGCTTTATTTTTCTGTTTACAGTAGGAGGCCTAACAGGTATTGTTTTAGCAAACTCATCACTTGATATTGTACTTCACGACACATACTATGTAGTAGCCCACTTCCATTACGTC---CTGTCAATGGGAGCCGTCTTCGCCATCGTTGCCGCCTTCGTCCACTGATTCCCCCTGTTTTCTGGTTATACCCTTCATAATACATGAACAAAAATTCACTTTGGAGTAATATTTGTTGGAGTCAACCTCACATTCTTCCCACAACACTTCCTAGGTTTAGCTGGAATGCCTCGA---CGCTACTCGGACTACCCTGATGCCTACACA---TTATGAAACACAGTTTCTTCAATTGGGTCTCTCGTATCTTTAGTGGCCGTAATTTTATTCCTGTTTATTATTTGAGAAGCATTTGCAGCCAAACGAGAAGTC---CTGTCCGTCGAACTTACTTCCACAAAC
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Balistes vetula

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 9
Specimens with Barcodes: 32
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2d

Version
2.3

Year Assessed
1996
  • Needs updating

Assessor/s
Roberts, C.

Reviewer/s

Contributor/s
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Threats

Vulnerable (VU) (A2d)
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Little information is available on the status of the queen triggerfish, but it is known that this striking species is a commercially important food fish (5), vulnerable to trapping and spear-fishing (6). It may also be susceptible to the detrimental impacts of changes in the abundance of its primary food source; in 1983 and 1984, the sea urchin Diadema antillarum underwent massive mortality on reefs throughout the Caribbean. Luckily, the queen triggerfish shows some resilience to such events, as it was found that the fish sought out alternative prey species (5) (7).
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Management

Conservation

The queen triggerfish occurs in a number of protected marine areas throughout its range, such as Saba Marine Park and Hol Chan Marine Reserve in the Caribbean, of which some areas are designated no-fishing zones (8).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: commercial; price category: medium; price reliability: very questionable: based on ex-vessel price for species in this family
  • International Game Fish Association 1991 World record game fishes. International Game Fish Association, Florida, USA. (Ref. 4699)
  • Sadovy, Y. 1992 A preliminary assessment of the marine aquarium export trade in Puerto Rico. Proceedings of the Seventh International Coral Reef Symposium, Guam, Vol. 2, p. 1014-1021. (Ref. 12090)
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Wikipedia

Balistes vetula

Balistes vetula, the queen triggerfish or old wife, is a reef dwelling triggerfish of the Atlantic Ocean. It is occasionally caught as a gamefish, and sometimes kept in marine aquaria.

Appearance[edit]

The queen triggerfish reaches 60 cm (24 in), though most only are about half that length.[1] It is typically blue, purple, turquoise and green with a yellowish throat, and light blue lines on the fins and head.[2] It can change colour somewhat to match its surroundings, or if subjected to stress.[2]

Ecology and range[edit]

The queen triggerfish is typically found at coral and rocky reefs in depths of 3–30 m (9.8–98.4 ft), but it can occur as deep as 275 m (902 ft) and sometimes over areas with sand or seagrass.[1]

In the West Atlantic, it ranges from Canada to southern Brazil, and in the East Atlantic it is found at Ascension, Cape Verde, Azores and south to Angola.[1] It is reasonably common in Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.[2]

It preys on a variety of invertebrates, notably sea urchins.[2]

In the aquarium[edit]

As one of the largest and most aggressive of the triggerfish, this fish is rarely a good choice as a resident in a marine aquarium. It is however a hardy fish for those who can provide it with a proper environment. Because it grows so large and so quickly the ideal aquarium for this fish is a 500 gallon aquarium. Although some sources argue it can be kept in as little a tank as 125 gallons, when it achieves its adult size of two feet it is unlikely to thrive.

Its diet consists of invertebrates. In aquariums shrimp, squid, clams, octopus, scallops, and crab are all good choices of food.

Cuba[edit]

This fish is called cochino in Cuba,[3] and this is the probable origin of the name Bahía de Cochinos, which is known as the Bay of Pigs in English.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Balistes vetula" in FishBase. June 2012 version.
  2. ^ a b c d Humann, P, and N. Deloach (2002). Reef Fish Identification: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. 3rd edition, pp. 394.
  3. ^ Claro, Rodolfo; Juan P. García-Arteaga, Juan P.; Gobert, Bertrand; Cantelar Ramos, Karel (13 May 2003). "Tabla 2. Pesos y tallas mínimos legales en Cuba y proporción de peces con tallas inferiores en las capturas con chinchorros y nasas de la empresa pesquera de Caibarién." (pdf). Situación actual de los recursos pesqueros del Archipiélago Sabana-Camagüey, Cuba. Invemar. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
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