Starry Triggerfish

Family: Balistidae Picture of a Starry Triggerfish, Abalistes stellatusAbalistes stellatusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Heather Lettengarver
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I have kept this Triggerfish (2 in a tank). They are fine in a single, they just need their separate hiding places. I have had them in a Fish-Only tank now for a... (more)  Dhritiman Datta

   The Starry Triggerfish is identified primarily by the white "stars" on it's back. This juvenile specimen also has distinctive black markings extending to below the eyes and has the close set spots on it's body.

   Pictures of adult specimens show the black coloration and the spots faded but the stars on it's back are still identifiable.

Heather reports this about her Starry Triggerfish:
"On observing the Stellatus behavior for the past few months I have found it to be the least dominant Trigger in the tank. She does occasionally have a nip or two in her pectoral fins - given by the Niger also in the tank. The Stellatus avoids my juvenile Undulated, and though the Undulated does not act aggressive towards the Stellatus (yet) he often will steal the food right from her mouth and retreat to the rocks (he does not do this with the Niger). Of course this pecking order may change as they grow and it may just be particular to my fish."

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Abalistes stellatus
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  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Tetraodontiformes
  • Family: Balistidae
  • Genus: Abalistes
  • Species: stellatus
Starry Triggerfish, Abalistes stellatus
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Adult Starry Triggerfish

Reaching almost 2 feet, the Starry Triggerfish will do best in a tank that is 300 gallons or more. House with other fish of the same pugnacious disposition and of similar size. There can be other triggers in the tank, however they should be added at the same time and each have an area to hide in at night. They are another one of those "aqua dogs," acting more like a canine than a fish! They will eat out of your hand and love to interact with people!

Starry Triggerfish juvenile, Abalistes stellatus
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Blurry video... you get the idea

This little baby Starry Triggerfish is quite different in color than the adults. This little guy could be mistaken for a Clown Trigger, however both get huge and are obnoxious, so either one will do! The Clown Trigger is much more colorful as an adult however, but both are very interactive with adults. As juveniles Starry Triggerfish are quite calm, however, like most aggressive triggers, a switch will flip in their head and they will attack any peaceful and smaller fish in the tank one day! Provide a 300 gallon tank, protect any chewable cords, and protect any outlets since they like to spit water out of the top of the tank. If you can deal with all of that, this makes an awesome pet!

Maintenance difficulty:    The Starry Triggerfish is easy to keep. Triggers are among the hardiest of all marine fish.

Maintenance:    Feed all kinds of live, frozen, and flake foods. Best to feed small amounts several times a day. We generally feed squid, shrimp (the same kind people eat), mussels, and all kinds of chopped up fish.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:    Starry Triggerfish are found in the Western Pacific to East Africa and the Red Sea; usually found on mud or silty sand

Foods:    All kinds of meaty foods including crustaceans, mollusks, and fish.

Social Behaviors:    Usually is not aggressive towards other triggerfish, but we are not sure about other kinds of fish. See Heather Lettengarvers' comment above.

Sex: Sexual differences:    Unknown.

Light: Recommended light levels:    No special requirements.

Breeding/Reproduction:    Unknown.

Temperature:    No special requirements.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Starry Triggerfish adults can grow to 60 cm (23.5 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 150 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong    No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom    No special requirements.

Availability:    This fish is rarely available.

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Lastest Animal Stories on Starry Triggerfish

Dhritiman Datta - 2007-07-20
I have kept this Triggerfish (2 in a tank). They are fine in a single, they just need their separate hiding places. I have had them in a Fish-Only tank now for a year. I have decorated the tank with coral skeletons. I have given them many hiding places and they remain fine. This is a KOOL trigger. However to keep 2 in a tank it is recommended to buy young and introduce at the same time.

  • Jake - 2013-10-06
    Mine is pretty mean! He picks on all the fish in the tank. Fish are as follows: yellow tang, starry trigger, clown trigger, hawk fish, panther grouper, emperor angel adult. I have been in this fish keeping for 10+ years and also have a reef tank. I have 2 tanks, running 125 gallon fish only tank, and a 55 gallon reef tank. These triggers seem to be pretty mean to me.
angel - 2010-02-17
What do u feed them?

  • Editor's Note - 2010-02-17
    All kinds of meaty foods including crustaceans, molluscs, and fish.
  • Anonymous - 2013-07-25