Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Melichthys niger, Black triggerfish, Black durgon

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body & fins black
bases D & A: blue stripe



Melichthys niger (Bloch, 1786)

Black durgon, Black triggerfish

Body an elongate oval, robust, compressed; cheeks without longitudinal grooves; distinct groove before eye and below nostril; mouth small, opens a little above center line, with powerful jaws and 8 heavy, outer teeth on the upper and lower jaws, teeth about even in size, not notched; gill opening a short slit on side before pectoral base; dorsal fin III (1st can be locked erect, 2nd > ½ the size of 1st) + 30-34; anal rays 28-30; anterior rays of second dorsal and anal fins moderately elevated, much longer than posterior rays; pectoral rays 15-17; most rays of dorsal, anal and pectoral fins branched; 8-10 lateral ridges on rear of body and tail base formed by scales with low ridges; caudal fin moderately to strongly concave; 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 patch of enlarged scales immediately behind gill opening; lateral line inconspicuous.

Black to blue-black body and fins, with a pale blue-white line along the base of the dorsal and anal fins; front of head may be yellowish; thin blue lines radiating dorsally and anteriorly from eye.

Size: reaches 50 cm.

Inhabits rocky reefs and coral areas.

Depth: 0-75 m.

Circumglobal in tropical seas; southern California to the southern Gulf of California, Costa Rica and Panama, Gorgona Island (Colombia) and all the oceanic islands.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore Only
  • Inshore
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Rocks
  • Reef only
  • Corals
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Planktivore
  • Omnivore
  • Data
  • Benthic microalgae
  • Phytoplankton
  • Zooplankton
  • Pelagic fish larvae
  • Bony fishes
Egg Type
  • No data
  • Benthic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • East Pacific + all Atlantic (East+West)
  • All species
  • East Pacific + Atlantic (East +/or West)
  • TEP non-endemic
  • "Transpacific" (East + Central &/or West Pacific)
  • Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America)
  • All Pacific (West + Central + East)
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
Regional Endemism
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Continent
  • All species
  • Island (s)
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic
  • Eastern Pacific non-endemic
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
IUCN Red List
  • Not evaluated / Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 50
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 75