Grey Triggerfish – Balistes capriscus

The Grey Triggerfish, also known as Leatherjacket, Pig-faced or Turbot, is a species in the order of the Tetraodontiformes and thus belongs to the superclass of the bony fish.

Grey Triggerfish - Balistes capriscus Osteichthyes bony fish diving canary islands species atlantic ocean
Grey Triggerfish – Balistes capriscus


Balistes capriscus has a laterally strongly compressed body with a grey colour. On body and fins you can find a great, bright blue pattern. The belly and the lips of the Grey Triggerfish are white. On the forehead it has a horn which he can erect or retract. The eyes of Balistes capriscus are prominent.
It is up to 60cm long, whereby males become larger than females.

Fische der Kanaren – Kugelfischverwandte (Tetraodontiformes)

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Habitat and Distribution

The Grey Triggerfish is found above rocky reefs, down to a depth of 100m.

When diving in the Canaries, it is more often seen on the small eastern islands than the big western ones.

In addition, it is spread in the western Atlantic from Nova Scotia in Canada, along the coast of the USA, the Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea all the way to Argentina. In the eastern Atlantic it can be observed from southern Ireland, across the Azores, along the European coasts, Madeira, to Angola, including many island in the area. The Grey Triggerfish can also be found in the Mediterranean Sea.


Balistes capriscus is solitary or lives in small groups. Its diet consists of small invertebrates such as mussels, snails, crustaceans or echinoderms. The Grey Triggerfish belongs to one of the few species that helps against sea urchins plague. Its teeth are made to break hard shells. To find prey, it swirls sediment with a stream of water from its mouth to see if there is anything underneath. Is it, for example, a starfish, it is lifted and dropped until it lies headless and defenceless.

For sleeping, Balistes capriscus can erect its horn on his forehead and fix itself in a crack to be protected of enemy attacks.


For reproduction, the males built small pits and wait for a female to lay its spawn. However, these are elective. Only clean nests of handsome males are used. While the female takes care of the eggs after fertilization and supplies them with fresh water, the male patrols through its territory to keep enemies out. After 50-55 days, the larvae hatch and are carried away with the current. In the Mediterranean Sea, the reproduction of the Grey Triggerfish takes place in summer.