Titan Triggerfish – Phuket Diving Guides Nemesis

Titan Triggerfish – Phuket Diving Guides Nemesis

Love Them or Hate Them Titan Triggerfish Are On Almost Every Phuket Diving Site

With a head that’s 2/3rds of it’s body mass, independently moving weird googly eyes and a set of teeth that wouldn’t look out of place on a hyena, the titan triggerfish is not going to win any modelling contracts but they can add a little excitement to a dive.

They’re a very prominent fish on Phuket’s reefs, signs of there activities are everywhere – deep excavations in the sand, broken corals, sea urchin spines scattered around and the odd digit or chunk of flesh from a diver are a sign of their presence and current disposition.

A Brief Bio

Titan triggerfish (Balistoides viridescens) are the largest of the triggerfish family in the indo-pacific and grow up to 75cm in length (it appears much larger when it’s attacking). They feed on molluscs, urchins, crabs, tube worms and other invertebrates, they also seem happy to feed on carrion if the opportunity arises.

The first spine of the dorsal fin can be locked into place and is from where the triggerfish family gets it’s name. At night the triggerfish wedge themselves into tight gaps in the coral and use the trigger to lock them in place making it very difficult for predators to get them out. The trigger is also used as a display to others of the same species and a warning to would be attackers.

Titan Triggerfish Sleeping On A Phuket Diving Site

Titan Triggerfish Sleeping On A Phuket Diving Site

Why Do Titan Triggerfish Attack Divers?

For fun would be my response but scientists believe that they’re protecting nest sites, and anything that wanders into the strike zone is fair game. The zone that needs to be avoided is an expanding cone directly above the nest so swimming upwards doesn’t help, you have to swim away along the bottom preferably keeping your fins towards the fish, a better option is to put your guide between you and the angry titan.

The nests are usually found in fairly shallow water in sheltered bays. Racha Noi and Racha Yai are definitely the preferred areas around Phuket, it’s very rare to hear of attacks on other dive sites even though titan triggerfish are present.

Although titan triggerfish supposedly attack only during nesting, that doesn’t seem to be the case in our area and they will sometimes defend a territory even if there isn’t a nest. Doesn’t seem to be so bad nowadays but there has been periods in the past where certain dive sites felt like you’re negotiating a minefield. We will be aware of the fish with attitude and try to steer you clear of them.

Most of the time the titan triggerfish will target the fin of the diver but there’s plenty of recorded attacks on other parts of the body that have left quite severe wounds requiring hospital treatment and in the worst cases some stitches and cosmetic surgery.

titan-triggerfish-attack

titan-triggerfish-attack

Why Not BBQ Them All?

It’s obviously morally wrong to remove a fish just because it’s a bit of a nuisance, it’s their territory not ours and they are a key member of the reef community. Titan triggerfish are often accompanied by sand perch and checkerboard wrasse who take advantage of the vigorous excavations to grab some food for themselves. They’ll also bite off pieces of acropora coral to reach hidden shellfish which actually helps the coral beds proliferate.

Titan triggerfish are one of the few fish that actively predate on healthy adult crown of thorn starfish and help keep their numbers in check. Enough reason not to slap them on the barbie but the fact that titan triggerfish can carry ciguatoxin should remove any lingering doubts.

Approach With Caution

We have sharks, venomous snakes and venomous fish that divers have a natural fear for and treat with caution but will happily approach the weird looking swimming rugby ball to get a photo. The best place to observe a titan triggerfish is from behind your guides shoulder. They’re usually absolutely fine but let your guide assess it’s state of mind and give the OK before approaching to observe or take a photo of this oddity with attitude.

Posted in Rare & Peculiar Critters on .

Popular Services

Thailand Liveaboard Manta Queen 1 At Koh Bon

Low Budget Liveaboards

If you don't need gourmet food, champagne and luxury accommodation then this selection of no frills but comfortable boats can deliver your Similan Island diving experience. You'll still get overfed, watered and dive the same fantastic sites as the pricier boats without breaking the budget on your well earned holiday. [...]

Find Out More
Charter A Whole Dive Boat In Phuket

Phuket Private Diving Tours

If you have a big group of diving friends coming to Phuket then why not personalise the tour and take the whole boat to yourself. Dive clubs, wedding parties and many other social assemblies have their own special requirements. We'll supply everything you need for a great day out, you'll just have to round up your friends and make sure that they turn up. If you have a mix of divers and non-divers then we would recommend the Koh Racha Noi [...]

Find Out More

Daily Schedules

M/V Kepsub Schedule

Jobs @ Local Dive Thailand

Local Dive Thailand is one of Phuket's fatest growing & most vibrant scuba diving operations, we are always looking for quality staff to join us, so feel free to have a look at our jobs listing page.

Job Listings

Contact LDT

Local Guides, Local Knowledge, Local Experiences

Don't trust your diving to amateurs or freshly minted dive guides, dive with local experienced experts from Local Dive Thailand. Our Scuba Diving Phuket Tours will take you to see the rarest of the rare critters, you will be amazed by the macro life our guides can find, in the secret places only they know. To put it in perspective, if you were going to climb Mount Everest you would certainly hire a local sherpa to lead the way & keep you safe. Diving is similar because there is absolutely no substitute for local experience & local knowledge, Local Dive Thailand's guides are Phuket's Sherpa's of the Andaman Sea!

Learn More About Us

Scuba Diving Phuket, Phi Phi & Thailand

When talking about Scuba Diving in Phuket, you should believe the hype, many seasons we have had Whale Sharks grace us on our regular and easy to reach dive sites and on a good day you can add Sea Horses, Sea Moths, Snake Eels, Frog Fish & Octopus to what you can see on any given dive and so much more. If we are heading to Phi Phi Island for the day, you can possibly see Hawksbill Sea Turtles and Black Tip Reef Sharks, also don't forget the King Cruiser, 84 meters of beautiful wreck and the most amazing reef nursery for fish and nudibranch. Local Dive Thailand day trip tours to these locations are not to be missed when you are scuba diving Phuket, get in touch with us and book an 'awesome' day of diving.

Book Your Day Trip

Related News From Local Dive Thailand

See why we are Thailand's leading scuba diving Phuket tour provider, stay up to date & watch out for news & special liveaboard offers!

New Website For Local Dive Thailand News & Updates

Local Dive Thailand’s New Web Threads

These days if you are not mobile friendly then you are out of the game, simple as that, we were seeing almost half of our web traffic come from small screens, what can only be described as mobile or small tablet resolutions, that meant we needed to change from the old slow non responsive website we had before, to something new and fast that anyone could load anywhere, on their phones, tablets or laptops! Welcome to the new and shiny Loc [...]

Read Full Story
Phi Phi Island National Park News & Updates

Phi Phi Islands National Park Fee And New Diving Rules

A couple of years back the entry fee for the Phi Phi Island Marine National Park jumped to THB 400 for all tourists and an extra THB 200 for divers. After months of collecting the fee from our diving guests in the morning and then returning it back in the afternoon we finally gave up. No National Park officers came to collect the fees but the Thai government has announced that they will begin strictly enforcing the fee collection from 17th Ju [...]

Read Full Story
Phuket Diving Rental Equipment Equipment We Like

Phuket Diving Holiday – Hire Or Bring Scuba Equipment?

We would all prefer to be using our own equipment but sometimes the extra carriage fees, weight of equipment and trying to get it dry after we've finished scuba diving can be a bit of a pain. Hiring equipment can be a simple solution at a surprisingly low cost. If you're going on a liveaboard safari or are in Phuket just to dive then yes of course you'll bring what ever equipment you have. Everybody feels comfortable with their own equip [...]

Read Full Story

Local Dive Thailand Office In Phuket


Find Us On Google Maps