Black Triggerfish, Melichthys niger (Bloch 1786)

Other Names: Black Durgeon, Black Durgon Triggerfish, Ebony Triggerfish

A Black Triggerfish, Melichthys niger, in the Cayman Islands. Source: Mark Rosenstein / License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

A dark greenish-black to purplish triggerfish with pale blue lines along the bases of the soft dorsal and anal fins. The scales on the rear of the body have prominent keels that form longitudinal ridges.

Video of a Black Triggerfish.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2016, Melichthys niger in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Jun 2024,

Black Triggerfish, Melichthys niger (Bloch 1786)

More Info


Ningaloo Reef, and offshore reefs of north Western Australia; also Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Elsewhere the species is circumglobal in tropical seas.
The species is reportedly common and abundant especially around oceanic islands, sometimes in large aggregations.

Species Citation

Balistes niger Bloch 1786, Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische: 27, pl. 152, fig. 2. Type locality: China Sea.


Bray, D.J. 2016


Australian Faunal Directory

Black Triggerfish, Melichthys niger (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., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp. 

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

Allen, G.R. & Russell, B.C. 1986. Part VII Fishes. pp. 79-103 in Berry, P.F. (ed.) Faunal Surveys of the Rowley Shoals, Scott Reef and Seringapatam Reef, northwestern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 25: 1-106 

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21 

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. 

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. Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische. Berlin : J. Morino Vol. 2 160 pp. pls 145-180. 

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6 

Kavanagh, K.D. & Olney, J.E. 2006. Ecological correlates of population density and behavior in the circumtropical black triggerfish Melichthys niger (Balistidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 76: 387–398.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp. 

Liu, J., Zapfe, G., Shao, K.-T., Leis, J.L., Matsuura, K., Hardy, G., Liu, M., Tyler, J. & Robertson, R. 2015. Melichthys niger. (errata version published in 2016) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T193609A97666184. Downloaded on 14 February 2017.

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. 

Randall, J.E. & Klausewitz, W. 1973. A review of the triggerfish genus Melichthys with description of a new species from the Indian Ocean. Senckenbergiana Biologica 54(1/3): 57-69 figs 1-6

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37465081

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-75 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:50 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map