Odonus niger

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Latin name Odonus niger - (Rüppell, 1836)
Local name Red-toothed triggerfish
Family Balistidae - Odonus
Origin East Indian Ocean, West Indian Ocean, Australia, Japan, The Red Sea, Indonesia, East Pacific, Central/West Pacific
Max length 50 cm (19,7")
As aquarium fish
Minimum volume 800 l (211 gal)
Hardiness Hardy
Suitable for aquarium Suitable with care
Reef safe Reef safe with luck
Aggressiveness Aggressive towards other species
Recommended Fish
Larger crustaceans (Shrimp, crabs...)
Other invertebrates
Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
Maybee Large polyp stone coral (LPS)
Soft coral
Sponsored by
Beware of
Can be a threat to small fish

This spicies might be a threat to smaller fishes.

Can be a threat towards crustaceans etc.

This species will eat shrimps, crabs, small bivalves, snails and the like.

Look out for wiring, plastics etc

This species some times likes to biting rubber and plastics etc, which are found in an aquarium.

Be aware of this, therefore place other objects in the tank which it will then examine as a natural food source.

Demand a very large aquarium when fully grown

This species needs a very large aquarium when fully grown.

Exactly how big the aquarium should be is hard to say, but the size of this species is such, that it cannot normally be kept in a home aquarium.


This species can be extremely aggressive towards other fish.

Be careful when keeping these fish together with peaceful or docile species. Regular feeding, plenty of hiding places and a lot of space can alleviate aggressive behavior to some degree.

Keep in mind
Requires a varied diet

This species must be fed with an appropriately varied diet.

Rearranges rocks and sand

This species has a habit of rearranging rocks and sand.

Make sure rocks are placed securely on the substrate, so they cannot toppled over.

Frequent feeding

This fish requires feeding several times a day, especially when newly added.

When the fish can find its natural food in the aquarium it requires less frequent feeding. 

Food which sharpens teeth

These fish require food which helps to prevent overgrowing teeth. e.g. clams.

If their teeth grow too much, it might necessitate grinding them down, however this is a very stressful procedure.


This species often has a fun and interesting personality.

Hiding places

This species needs good hiding places, for example, between live rocks.

Descriptions and further reading

Odonus niger is very unpredictable in its behaviour. Some individuals will leave corals in peace and be tolerant of other fish, whereas some can be very aggressive and destructive.

Family description (Balistidae)

Triggerfish (Balistidae) are distinguished by their strong jaws which are used for crushing rock, shells or corals in its hunt for food.

It is hard to give a general discription of Triggerfish, as they vary much in behaviour, not just between species, but also from specimen to specimen.

These fish are generally not reef safe and are a challenge to keep in a coral aquarium. Those that fit best, are the Melichthys, Odonus and Xanthichthys species as they live mostly of zooplankton. They will therefore often leave corals and for the most part crustaceans alone, if they are well fed. The more space available to these fish the smaller the problems tend to be.

These fish are generally very aggressive towards other fish, they should be given a lot of space to minimize their aggressivel behaviour. Generally speaking, it is difficult to find fish which live together with Triggerfish. It is obvious that small fish would fall victim to them, but also Lionfish, for example, would not survive the Triggerfish.

Triggerfish need a larger amount of food than many others, so it pays to be well prepared when acquiring them. At the same time it is important to provide a varied diet, consisting of krill, Mysis, shrimps, crabs, mussels, small fish, octopus, snails as well as algae based foods.

They have a great personality compared to other fish, some owners have taught their Triggerfish tricks using little titbits.
They have been known to swirl sand about, in order to find food. They are also known to spray water from the surface, therefore care must be taken when placing electrical equipment.

One must also realize that they can sometimes bite fingers or arms, so one must take all precautions neccessary.

Aquarium trade Yes
Distribution Indo-Pacific: Red Sea south to Durban, South Africa (Ref. 4420) and east to the Marquesas and Society islands, north to southern Japan, south to the southern Great Barrier Reef in Australia and New Caledonia.
Danish common names Rødtandet aftrækkerfisk
French common names Baliste bleu
English common names Blue triggerfish
Redtoothed triggerfish
Redtooth triggerfish
References and further reading

About references

David A. Crandall. 2002. Triggerfishes - Reefkeeping Magazine - (English)
Jim McDavid. 2007. Aquarium Fish: Triggerfish - Advanced Aquarist - (English)
Bob Fenner. Bruisers and Cruisers, the Triggerfishes, Family Balistidae - Wet Web Media - (English)
Scott W. Michael. Reef Aquarium Fishes: 500+ Essential-to-know Species - TFH Publications / Microcosm Ltd. - (English)