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Species: Balistes vetula, Queen Triggerfish

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cheek yellow + 2 oblique blue stripes; fins - blue borders
juv: oblique blue lines on head

Balistes vetula Linnaeus, 1758

Queen 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 and 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), + 29-31; anal rays 27-28; anterior rays of second dorsal and anal fins distinctly longer than posterior rays, those of 2nd dorsal long and pointed; 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.

Purple to green to yellowish to brown; lower head & chest yellow; 2 oblique bright blue lines on cheek; fine blue lines with yellow borders radiating from eye; tail base with blue bar; dorsal, anal and tail fins edged in blue. Juvenile: grey brown, blue oblique lines across lower head; dashed oblique black lines on body.

Size: attains a length of 65 cm, 40 years; IGFA record 2.4 kg.

Inhabits rocky and coral reefs, and in adjacent sand and grassbeds.

Depth: 0-275 m.

Both sides of the Atlantic in tropical and temperate areas; Massachusetts to Brazil.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Corals
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Corallivore
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Sponges/seasquirts/bryozoa
  • Hard corals
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins
  • Sessile molluscs
  • Sessile worms
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
  • Near threatened
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 65
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 275