The 40 species of triggerfish are scattered throughout the world’s seas and are familiar to divers and aquarium aficionados. Largest of all is the stone triggerfish, which reaches up to 3.3 feet (1 meter) long, found in the Eastern Pacific from Mexico to Chile.
These bottom dwellers dig out prey, such as crabs and worms, by flapping away debris with their fins and sandblasting with water squirted from their mouths. They also use very tough teeth and jaws to take on sea urchins, flipping them over to get at their bellies, which are armed with fewer spines.
Triggerfish tend to be solitary but meet at traditional mating grounds according to timetables governed by moons and tides. The males of many species appear to establish territories on these spawning grounds and prepare seafloor nests that will house tens of thousands of eggs.
Females share care of the eggs until they hatch, blowing water on them to keep them well supplied with oxygen. In some species males are known to maintain a harem of female mates.