Xanthichthys mento

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Latin name Xanthichthys mento
Local name Crosshatch Triggerfish
Family Balistidae - Xanthichthys
Origin Australia, Japan, Indonesia, East Pacific, Central/West Pacific
Max length 29 cm (11,4")
As aquarium fish
Minimum volume 1500 cm (396 gal)
Hardiness Hardy
Suitable for aquarium Suitable with care
Reef safe Reef safe with luck
Aggressiveness Might be aggressive towards other species
Recommended Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
Larger crustaceans (Shrimp, crabs...)
Other invertebrates
Beware of
Can bite

This species will at times bite people.

Can be a threat to small fish

This spicies might be a threat to smaller fishes.

Can be a threat towards small crustaceans

This species can be a threat towards small crustaceans, e.g. small shrimp.

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.

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.

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.

Lives in a pair

This species can live as a pair (male and female).


This species often has a fun and interesting personality.

Hiding places

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

Requires plenty of space for swimming.

This species revels in swimming and requires an aquarium with ample space.

Grunting sounds

This species can make a grunting sound when it feels threatened for example.

Bred in captivity

This species can be bred in captivity, one can therefore consider asking your local fish store for a captive bred specimen.

Descriptions and further reading

The males are yellow with a red tail, whilst the females are more greyish in colour.

Genus description (Xanthichthys)

This genus of triggerfish are quite peaceful compared to the other genera. They mainly feed on zooplankton in the nature, so they often ignore most invertebrates and fish in a reef aquarium.
But keep in mind that these fish might get tempted by smaller fish and invertebrates.

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.

References and further reading

About references

David A. Crandall. 2005. Triggering a Response From Guests: The Genus Xanthichthys - Reefkeeping Magazine - (English)

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)