The linespot trigerfish is a species of the beloved toothy reef fish that went from unobtainable to just ‘ultra rare’ in just a few short years. Our first encounter with Xanthichtys lineopunctatus was only a little over three years ago when we spent some time photographing a pair on the outskirts of Chicago but today, we are enjoying a studly male specimen in our very own new fish only display tank.
The color and pattern across Xanthichthys species triggerfish is shockingly conservative with the linespot triggerfish having the most distinctive pattern on its flanks. Fortunately, the linespot triggerfish in our care is the exact same specimen that we wrote about from ACI Aquaculture a couple years back, never even remotely thinking that this individual would become our pet one day.
The provenance of our linespot triggerfish is extremely fortunate because the photographs of this fish stretch back nearly two and half years, giving us an opportunity to see how the pattern changes with size and maturity. The photo above is from May 2017 while the one below is from January 2020 and you can see how the spots and stripes have become bolder, thicker, and more pronounced. The spots on the chest or ventral area in particular have become a lot more noticeable giving it a very attractive jaguar spotted belly.
Our specimen of the mythical linespot triggerfish, along with two others currently available from Sea Dwelling Creatures all originated from the Maldives; this is perplexing because we’ve received collected reef fish from this part of the world for decades, but only recently has this species appeared on availability lists. It is believed that the linespot triggerfish is more common in deeper environment but so are other rare Maldivian fish such as Liopropoma africanum.
Whatever the story on the sudden limited supply of the once-absent linespot triggerfish, we are grateful to have come into the possession of a nice male thanks to a very great saltwater aquarium friend. Now we have the full gamut of semi ‘reef-safe’ Xanthichthys triggerfish available in the saltwater fish aquarium hobby at least until the mesophotic reef explorers find another new species like we saw in Xanthichthys greenei several years back.