Balistes vetula

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Queen triggerfish
4987 aquaimages.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Tetraodontiformes
Family: Balistidae
Genus: Balistes
Species: B. vetula
Binomial name
Balistes vetula
Linnaeus, 1758

Balistes vetula, the queen triggerfish or old wife, is a reef dwelling triggerfish found in the Atlantic Ocean. It is occasionally caught as a gamefish, and sometimes kept in very large marine aquaria.


The queen triggerfish reaches 60 cm (24 in), though most only are about half that length.[1] It is typically blue, purple, turquoise and green with a yellowish throat, and light blue lines on the fins and head.[2] It can change colour somewhat to match its surroundings, or if subjected to stress.[2]


In the western Atlantic, it ranges from Canada to southern Brazil, and in the eastern Atlantic it is found at Ascension, Cape Verde, Azores and south to Angola.[1] It is reasonably common in Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.[2]


The queen triggerfish is typically found at coral and rocky reefs in depths of 3–30 m (9.8–98.4 ft), but it can occur as deep as 275 m (902 ft) and sometimes over areas with sand or seagrass.[1]

It preys on a variety of invertebrates, notably sea urchins.[2]

In the aquarium[edit]

As one of the largest and most aggressive of the triggerfish, this fish is rarely a good choice as a resident in a marine aquarium. It is however a hardy fish for those who can provide it with a proper environment. Because it grows so large and so quickly the minimum aquarium for this fish is a 500-gallon aquarium. Although some sources argue it can be kept in as little a tank as 125 gallons, when it achieves its adult size of two feet it is very unlikely to thrive, and will likely lead to premature death.

Its diet consists of invertebrates. In aquariums shrimp, squid, clams, octopus, scallops, and crab are all good choices of food.


This fish is called cochino in Cuba,[3] and this is the probable origin of the name Bahía de Cochinos, which is known as the Bay of Pigs in English.


  1. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). "Balistes vetula" in FishBase. June 2012 version.
  2. ^ a b c d Humann, P, and N. Deloach (2002). Reef Fish Identification: Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. 3rd edition, pp. 394.
  3. ^ Claro, Rodolfo; García-Arteaga, Juan P.; Gobert, Bertrand; Cantelar Ramos, Karel (13 May 2003). "Tabla 2. Pesos y tallas mínimos legales en Cuba y proporción de peces con tallas inferiores en las capturas con chinchorros y nasas de la empresa pesquera de Caibarién" (pdf). Situación actual de los recursos pesqueros del Archipiélago Sabana-Camagüey, Cuba. Invemar. Retrieved 14 April 2011.