News / Species Spotlight / Highly Underrated Fish - Melichthys niger (11/25/14)

Highly Underrated Fish - Melichthys niger

In the Wild

Melichthys niger is native to just about every tropical water around the globe, except that they are conspicuously absent from the Caribbean. It is very common around oceanic islands, but uncommon otherwise. They are usually found on the seaward side of reefs, in less than 60 feet of water, and nearly always found in small loose aggregations.

They have a very interesting diet, living primarily on plankton and small fish, but also eat a lot of calcareous algae. They have also been found to congregate around spinner dolphins to eat their offal.

They M. niger can reach a size of nearly 20 inches, and because of this, it is a food fish of minor importance where it is abundantly found.
ref: Fishbase - Melichthys niger

In the Aquarium

The Black Durgeon Triggerfish is extremely hardy once acclimated to a new setting. They take frozen marine based foods nearly immediately, and segue onto pellets shortly after. Because it is primarily a planktivore, it can be kept in reef aquariums with little or no threat to most corals. As they get larger they may be a risk with small fish and shrimp. Your best chance for success with cleaner shrimp is to add them before the fish.

The Durgeons are in the middle of the trigger road as far as aggression goes. I do not suggest keeping them with peaceful fish, but they should be good with most fish that aren't easily scared or intimidated (or very small).

They look very much like another fish in the Genus called the Indian Trigger Fish. They can be differentiated by the plate like scales on the flank of the Durgeon, and by the presence of a prominent line running from jaw to pectoral region on the Indian trigger.