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CAAB: 37465000


Filefishes, Triggerfishes

Compiler and date details

11 November 2013 - Gerald R. Allen, Connie J. Allen, Norbert J. Cross, Douglass F. Hoese & Matthew M. Lockett


The Balistidae have a circumglobal distribution in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate seas. The family comprises about 40 species belonging to 11 genera (Nelson 2006) and is represented in Australian seas by 22 species and all 11 genera, with an additional species included from Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Balistids are typically inshore marine fishes, mostly inhabiting coral reefs. Species of the genus Canthidermis are an exception for they are usually pelagic and found in association with floating debris. Triggerfishes are solitary or occur in aggregations (particularly Melichthys and Xanthichthys) and eat a range of invertebrates including echinoderms, corals, crabs and molluscs. They have an ovoid body, shaped more or less like a football, and a small mouth with relatively few chisel-like teeth. Pelvic fins are absent, but instead a single spinous knob is situated at the end of the pelvic bone. The scales do not overlap and the skin is very rough. The maximum size reached is about 75 cm.

Most of the Australian triggerfishes are diagnosed and illustrated by Matsuura (1980), Smith & Heemstra (1986) and Randall et al. (1997). Other revisions involving Australian species include those of Randall & Klausewitz (1973) (Melichthys) and Randall et al. (1978) (Xanthichthys). Relationships of the family were treated by Winterbottom (1974), Tyler (1980), Santini & Tyler (2003) and Santini et al. (2013).


General References

Matsuura, K. 1980. A revision of the Japanese balistoid fishes. I. Family Balistidae. Bulletin of the National Science Museum, Tokyo A 6(1): 27-69 figs 1-26 [Tokyo]

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Matsuura, K. & Zama, A. 1978. A revision of the triggerfish genus Xanthichthys, with description of a new species. Bulletin of Marine Science 28(4): 688-706 figs 1-7

Randall, J.E. & Klausewitz, W. 1973. A review of the triggerfish genus Melichthys with description of a new species from the Indian Ocean. Senckenbergiana Biologica 54(1/3): 57-69 figs 1-6

Santini, F., Sorenson, L. & Alfaro, M.E. 2013. A new phylogeny of tetraodontiform fishes (Tetraodontiformes, Acanthomorpha) based on 22 loci. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69: 177–187

Santini, F. & Tyler, J.C. 2003. A phylogeny of the families of fossil and extant tetraodontiform fishes (Acanthomorpha, Tetraodontiformes), Upper Cretaceous to Recent. Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology 139: 565-617

Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. 1986. Family No. 263: Balistidae. pp. 876-882 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls.

Tyler, J.C. 1980. Osteology, phylogeny, and higher classification of the fishes of the order Plectognathi (Tetraodontiformes). National Marine Fisheries Service (U.S.). Technical Report 434: 1-422 figs 1-326

Winterbottom, R. 1974. The familial phylogeny of the Tetraodontiformes (Acanthopterygii : Pisces) as evidenced by their comparative myology. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 155: 1-102 figs 1-185


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
12-Feb-2010 (import)