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Red-toothed triggerfish

Odonus niger

Description: Red-toothed triggerfish are usually deep purple with blue-green markings on the head and glowing light blue margins on the fins and tail lobes. The tail is lyre-shaped, like other fish in the Balistidae family. The mouth appears to be grinning and possesses tiny red teeth that are needle sharp with two teeth in the upper jaw visible when the mouth is closed. Their elongated dorsal fin is retractable and can be locked into an erect position.

Size: This species of triggerfish can reach a maximum length of 12 inches (30.5 cm).

Behavior: These fish are aggressive towards others of their species and can vocalize making a grunting-type sound. They have the ability to change the color of their body from purple to blue to blue-green depending on their mood. Holes are hiding spots in which they lock themselves into by using the tail as a hook and the dorsal fin as a wedge. Mucous covers the body that is secreted from the skin and provides protection from parasites and helps these triggerfish swim faster.

Diet: Schools will often gather to feed on zooplankton and sponges.

Communication: Aggression and aggravation are vocally expressed to others of their species by making a loud grunting sound. The bodies change coloration to warn potential predators to stay away or to attract a mate. Triggerfish are showing a warning when the dorsal fin is raised and locked into the erect position.

Reproduction: These usually solitary fish meet at mating grounds where males establish territories. Nests are prepared into which eggs are laid; they are guarded and cared for until they hatch.

Habitat/range: Red-tooth triggerfish prefer reef channels, slopes and coral reefs with strong currents in the Indo-Pacific region near Australia, Fiji, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

Status: Not evaluated by the IUCN Red List.