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Species: Balistes capriscus, Gray Triggerfish

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grey + blue spots, 3 indistinct dark bars
juv: stronger bars

Balistes capriscus Gmelin, 1789

Gray Triggerfish

Body oblong, relatively deep, robust, compressed; cheeks without longitudinal grooves; a distinct groove before eye and below nostril; a small mouth that opens at the front, with powerful jaws with 8 heavy, outer teeth on the upper and lower jaws; side teeth notched, longer and pointed in center; gill opening a short slit on side before pectoral base; dorsal fin III (1st can be locked erect, 2nd > ½ the size of 1st), + 27-28; anal rays 24-26; anterior rays of second dorsal and anal fins distinctly longer than posterior rays; pectoral rays 13-15; most rays of dorsal, anal and pectoral fins branched; tail base compressed, without spines, tubercles or ridges; tail fin doubly concave, with prolonged lobes; pelvic fins externally reduced to 4 pairs of large scales encasing end of pelvis; thick leathery skin, with regularly arranged diagonal scale plates; snout completely scaled; a group of large, partly separated bony scales that form a thick membrane immediately behind gill opening; scales without keels; lateral line inconspicuous.

Grey; blue spots and lines on upper body and fins; 3 indistinct dark blotches or irregular bars on back, those bars strongly developed in juveniles.

Size: attains 63 cm; reaches 15 years.

Inhabits rocky and coral reefs, and nearby sand and seagrass bottoms; juveniles and sometimes adults associate with drifting sargassum.

Depth: 0-110 m.

Occurs in temperate and tropical areas of both the East and West Atlantic; Nova Scotia to Argentina.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Rocks
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Water column
  • Corals
  • Flotsam
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins
  • Sessile crustacea
  • Sessile molluscs
Egg Type
  • Benthic
  • Data
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • Transatlantic (East+West Atlantic)
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Vulnerable
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 63
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 110