Whitespotted Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculata (Bloch 1786)

Other Names: Oceanic Trigger-fish, Rough Triggerfish, Spotted Oceanic Triggerfish, Spotted Trigger-fish, White-spotted Triggerfish

A Whitespotted Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculatus, caught in open water off fish aggregation bouy in Hawaii, April 2018. Source: Garren King / iNaturalist.org. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

Adults are dark above, paler below, with elongated white spots that fade with growth. Unspotted individuals may be Canthidermis macrolepis, a species that has not been recrded from Australian waters, but is widespread in the Indo-West Pacific, including the Red Sea, Arabian Sea, northern South China Sea, Japan and Micronesia (Matsunuma et al. 2020).

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Canthidermis maculata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/763

Whitespotted Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculata (Bloch 1786)

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Evans Shoal, Timor Sea, Northern Territory, and Thursday Island, Cape York, Queensland, to with juveniles in the Coral Sea, and south to at least Sydney, New South Wales; also the Lord Howe Province in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species is circumglobal in tropical and temperate waters. Inhabits shallow coastal and offshore waters including steep outer reef slopes, and is epipelagic throughout most of its life, often aggregating beneath floating objects - sometimes forming huge schools. Juveniles occur in oceanic waters, usually found sheltering around floating debris.


Dorsal fin III + 22-26; Anal fin 20-23; Pectoral fin 13-15; Body scale rows 40-49.
Body elongate; mouth small, terminal; cheeks evenly scaled; caudal fin double emarginate in adults (rounded in juveniles).


The species aggregates around fish aggregating devices (FADs), and is fished commercially in parts of its range, and taken with longlines and purse seines.

Species Citation

Balistes maculatus Bloch 1786, Tabula Blochii Naturalem Historiam Piscum in Forma Minori Representans: 25. Type locality:Tranquebar, India.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Whitespotted Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculata (Bloch 1786)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. 

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp. 

Allen, G., Steene, R., Humann, P. & DeLoach, N. 2003. Reef Fish Identification: Tropical Pacific. New World Publications, Inc., Florida, 480 pp.

Berry, F.H. & Baldwin, W.J. 1966. Triggerfishes (Balistidae) of the eastern Pacific. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 34(9): 429-474 figs 1-19 

Bloch, M.E. 1786. Tabula Blochii Naturalem Historiam Piscum in Forma Minori Representans. Augsburg. 

Gaertner, J.C., Taquet, M., Dagorn, L., Mérigot, B., Aumeeruddy, R., Sancho, G., Itano, D. 2008. Visual censuses around drifting fish aggregating devices (FADs): a new approach for assessing the diversity of fish in open-ocean waters. Marine Ecology Progress Series 366: 175-186. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07554

Gray, J.E. 1830. Illustrations of Indian Zoology of new and hitherto unfigured Indian Animals from the Collection of General Hardwicke. London Vol. 1. (described as Balistes oculatus)

Hollard, H.L. 1854. Monographie des balistides Deuxième partie (1). Étude des genres et des espèces. Annales des Sciences Naturelles, Paris 4 4(1): 39-72 (described as Balistes brevissimus)

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3) 

Kuiter, R.H. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls. 

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Indonesian Reef Fishes. Part 3. Jawfishes - Sunfishes, Opistognathidae - Molidae. Melbourne : Zoonetics pp. 623–893.

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp. 

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293 

Leis, J.L., Matsuura, K., Shao, K.-T., Zapfe, G., Liu, M., Jing, L., Tyler, J. & Robertson, R. 2015. Canthidermis maculata (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T190444A115320919. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T190444A1952236.en. Downloaded on 16 February 2021.

Marshall, T.C. 1964. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coastal Waters of Queensland. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 566 pp. 136 pls.

Matsunuma, M., Ikeguchi, S. & Kai, Y. 2020. First Specimen-based Records of Canthidermis macrolepis (Tetraodontiformes: Balistidae) from the Pacific Ocean and comparisons with C. maculata. Species Diversity 25: 135-144. https:/doi.org//10.12782/specdiv.25.135 

Matsuura, K. 2001. Triacanthodidae, Triacanthidae, Balistidae. pp. 3902-3928 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. 1986. Balistidae. pp. 876-882 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37465086

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-110 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish (rare)

Habitat:Reef associated & epipelagic

Max Size:50 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map