Rhinecanthus cinereus
Source: JJPhoto.dk


Latin name Rhinecanthus cinereus - (Bonnaterre, 1788)
Family Balistidae - Rhinecanthus
Origin West Indian Ocean
Max length 16.0 cm (6.3")

As aquarium fish

Minimum volume 800 l (211 gal)
Hardiness Average
Suitable for aquarium Suitable with care
Reef safe Not reef safe
Aggressiveness Aggressive towards other species


  • Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
  • Larger crustaceans (Shrimp, crabs...)
  • Other invertebrates
  • Fish


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.

Threat towards crustaceans

This species poses a threat towards shrimps and crabs etc., which are relatively small.

Can be a threat to small fish

This spicies might be a threat to smaller fishes.

Can bite

This species will at times bite people.

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.

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.


This species demands a much higher price than similar species.

Requires a varied diet

This species must be fed with an appropriately varied diet.


This species often has a fun and interesting personality.

Grunting sounds

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

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 Rarely
Distribution Western Indian Ocean: Maldives (Ref. 30829), Reunion (Ref. 53568), and Mauritius (Ref. 33021).

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)

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2014. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (08/2014).


destructive, aggressive territorial, eats shrimp, eats crab, eats fish, trigger
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