Rough Triggerfish

Rough Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculata

The Rough Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculata, whose common Spanish name is cochito manchado, is a species in the Triggerfish or Balistidae Family, known collectively as cochitos in Mexico. This fish is also known at the Spotted Oceanic Triggerfish. There are only three global members of the Canthidermis Genus, three of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic, one in the Pacific and one in both oceans.

The Rough Triggerfish have elongated robust, compressed, and oblong bodies with a depth that is 44 to 48% of standard length. They are black to grayish dark blue and are covered with small white spots. Their head has a rounded profile, modest-sized eyes, a small mouth that opens at the front, and powerful jaws with 8 heavy human-like teeth on the upper and lower jaws. Their anal fin and second dorsal fin are long and curved and their anterior rays are very elevated and much longer than their posterior rays; their caudal fin is doubly concave; their dorsal fin has 3 spines, the first of which can be locked erect and the second being one-half the size of the first; and their pelvic fins are minute. They have thick leathery skin.

The Rough Triggerfish are an ocean pelagic species that is normally found far out at sea. They collect around floating debris such as logs but have been found at depths up to 360 feet. They reach a maximum of 50 cm (20 inches) in length and 2.4 kg (5.2 pounds) in weight. They are a rare, deep water species and little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters they are found in all waters of the Atlantic. In the Pacific they are found from Acapulco south along the coast of the mainland to Guatemala and around all the oceanic islands. I have caught a fish that was about 10 miles north of La Playita and 30 miles into the Sea of Cortez, and have juveniles collected off the southwest coast of Baja extending the known northerly range for this species.

The Rough Triggerfish is an easy fish to identify and cannot be confused with any other species.

The Rough Triggerfish are exceedingly rare and therefore of limited interest.

Rough Triggerfish, Juvenile, Canthidermis maculata: Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, October 2009. Size: 5.8 cm (2.3 inches). Identifiection courtsey of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.Rough Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculata, juvenile. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, October 2009. Length: 5.8 cm (2.3 inches). Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.

Rough Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculata. Fish caught from coastal waters of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2012. Length: 36 cm (14 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Rough Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculata. Fish caught from coastal waters off Key West, Florida, August 2014. Length: 33 cm (13 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Dean Kimberly, Atlanta, GA.

Rough Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculata. Underwater photo taken in coastal waters off Kailua-Kona, HI, November  2015. Length: 41 cm (16 inches). Photo courtesy of Bob Hillis, Ivins, UT.

Rough Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculata. Fish caught from coastal waters off  Vanuatu, October 2012. Length: 46 cm (18 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Rough Triggerfish (7)Rough Triggerfish, Canthidermis maculata.  Fish caught from oceanic waters in the Central Pacific (2oN, 140oW), July 2016. Length: 44 cm (17 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Dan Fuller, San Diego, CA.