News / Species Spotlight / Popular Pisciness - Crosshatch Triggers (06/03/15)

Popular Pisciness - Crosshatch Triggers

In The Wild

Xanthichthys mento can be found throughout the tropical and subtropical pacific, from the coast of North & South America all the way to Russia & Japan down to Australia. It is absent from the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. It prefers the habitat around reefs and islands where schools can be found above drop-offs.

While they are generally solitary according to QM divers, there are also reports of them being found in schools around seaward reefs above drop-offs and in lasting mated pairs (see right). They are benthopelagic, which pretty much means they will feed on benthic organisms as well as food suspended in the water column.

In wild conditions, they reach a max size of about 12 inches. As a result, in areas where they are found shallow enough, they are taken as a food fish. While they can be found near the surface, in most areas where they are collected now they are found at depths down to over 400 feet.

In The Aquarium

Also called Red Tail triggers (not to be confused with Caribbean Red Tail Triggers), and Peach Face Triggers (I kinda like that one actually), Xanthichthys mento is most commonly called the Crosshatch Trigger in marine husbandry circles. Regardless of what you call them, they are popular for several good reasons.

They have some of the best dispositions as far as triggerfish go and make very curious and engaging aquarium inhabitants. Though they can initially be skittish and hide a lot, after they get used to their new housing arrangements they usually take to hand feeding quite quickly. They won't bother most other fish, most of the time, though generally speaking they shouldn't be housed with very small or timid fish.

These are a very active, high energy fish, so they should be fed multiple times per day. While they will take pelletized foods, at least one of their daily meals should be meaty (krill, chopped seafoods, large saltwater mysis, etc) to help them keep optimum weight and vitality. Luckily, they take food aggressively so this shouldn't be a problem.

Fish from this genus are often labeled "reef safe" and for the most part, I agree with this statement, but it depends on your reef. These are highly unlikely to bother corals, polyps and anemones of all sorts, but they will make quick work of hermit crabs, ornamental shrimps, even cleaner shrimp if they get hungry enough. I have always thought they were worth it, you just need to replace your cleaners slightly more often than you previously did. They also make a lot of waste (from all the eating) so filtration needs to be strong.

All in all, these are a hardy, gorgeous and uncommon fish with total fish collector geek status. As a side bonus, unlike many other fish that fall into that category, these are pretty straightforward to keep. We currently have a good stock of SSC Crosshatches in stock and even a few pairs, so give your Account Manager a call. Male pictured below and top right, female pictured middle right.

John Randall, Shore Fishes of Hawaii, Revised Edition. (University of Hawaii Press 2010)
Scott W. Michael, Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes, 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications 2004)
Rudie H Kuiter & Helmut Debelius, World Atlas of Marine Fishes, 1st ed. (IKAN-Unterwasserarchiv 2006)
Scott W. Michael, Marine Fishes, 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications Inc, New Jersey, 2001).
Quality Marine Internal References: Eli Fleishauer, Adam Mangino