Fanged Triggerfish

Fanged Triggerfish, Balistes rosasi

The Fanged Triggerfish, Balistes rosasi, whose common Spanish name is colmillo cochito, is a species in the Triggerfish or Balistidae Family, known collectively as cochitos in Mexico. Globally, there are seven species in the genus Balistes, three of which are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.

The Fanged Triggerfish have deep, rounded, robust bodies that taper toward the tail. They are very easy to identify due to their unique fanged teeth and their characteristic first triggerfish-like dorsal fin. They are a uniform drab brownish-tan color throughout. Their head has a rounded profile with a very elongated flat snout, modest-sized eyes, and a large mouth that opens in the front with powerful jaws and eight heavy human-like teeth on the upper and lower jaws. Their caudal fin is straight and their pectoral fins are elongated. They are covered with thick leathery skin composed of fine small scales.

The Fanged Triggerfish inhabit rocky reefs and slopes with borders adjacent to sand and are found from the surface to depths up to 600 feet. They reach a maximum length of 51 cm (20 inches) and weight of 3.2 kg (7.0 pounds). They are voracious predators and primarily consume fish.

In Mexican waters the Fanged Triggerfish have a limited distribution being found within a 50 km range of Caleta Agua Amargosa, Baja California Sur.

The Fanged Triggerfish are viewed by locals as an exceptional catch. A word of caution. Beware of THE CHOMP when handling these fish – they can bite like hell! I await a report on the food quality of this fish.

Fanged Triggerfish, Balistes rosasi. Fish caught in coastal waters off Caleta Agua Amargosa, May 1967. Length: 41 cm (16 inches). Weight 2.3 kg (5.0 pounds). Catch courtesy of Abundio Rodriquez. Photo courtesy of one of my creative readers.