Picasso Triggerfish: Appearance, Lifespan, Size, Diet, Care, Tank Mates, Breeding & More

The Picasso Triggerfish, scientifically known as Rhinecanthus aculeatus, is a captivating and colorful species that fascinates aquarists of all skill levels. With its distinctive blue, yellow, and black gradients, this fish is a true work of art.

In this blog post, we will explore the appearance, lifespan, size, diet, care requirements, tank mates, breeding habits, and more of the Picasso Triggerfish. Whether you’re a seasoned fish keeper or a beginner looking for a stunning addition to your aquarium, this guide is for you. So, let’s dive in and unravel the beauty and mysteries of the Picasso Triggerfish.

Overview of Picasso Triggerfish

Picasso Triggerfish are commonly found in shallow reefs and lagoons in the wild. Their habitat spans are in the Indo-Pacific region, ranging from the Philippines to Hawaii. These beautiful creatures are known for their striking appearance and hold a special place in Hawaii. Also, they are also a popular and widely enjoyed part of the island diet.

It is known as the Humu Humu in Hawaii, which translates to “triggerfish with a nose like a pig.” The Picasso Triggerfish is also commonly called the Lagoon Triggerfish or the Blackbar Triggerfish.

The Picasso Triggerfish is known for its unique physical features and vibrant color patterns, but it is large and can be aggressive, so it is important to choose tank mates carefully and avoid keeping them with invertebrates. However, they are relatively easy to care for. They are territorial by nature, so providing them with a spacious tank with stable and secure hiding spots is recommended.



One of the most striking features of the Picasso Triggerfish is its artistic and captivating color patterns, which resemble the artwork of the famous Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. The combination of different colors and shapes on their body makes them a visually stunning addition to any aquarium. The unique color patterns of Picasso Triggerfish set them apart from other fish species, making them popular among aquarium enthusiasts.

This species has a large oval-shaped body. The body is tannish-grey in color with dark gradients towards the rear and a white belly. On top of the head are bright blue and black stripes, and a yellow stripe runs from the mouth to the back of the head. The head is equipped with a strong jaw designed for breaking down shells and corals, and small prominent orange or yellow eyes sit at the top of the head; they also have a fan dorsal fin that runs near the back of their body.


The size of Picasso Triggerfish can vary depending on various factors, including genetics, environmental conditions, and diet. On average, adult fish can reach a size of 10 to 12 inches. Males tend to be slightly larger than females. However, it’s important to note that size alone may not accurately indicate the fish’s gender.


The average lifespan of Picasso Triggerfish in the wild is around ten years in captivity with proper care. The lifespan of these fish can vary depending on various factors, including their environment, diet, and overall health.

By providing the necessary care and attention, they can live a long and vibrant life in captivity, delighting aquarium enthusiasts with their unique color patterns and captivating behavior.


The Picasso Triggerfish is a carnivorous species with a diverse diet. In the wild, they primarily feed on invertebrates such as crabs, clams, mussels, and shrimp. They are known to be voracious eaters and have strong jaws and sharp teeth that they use to break down shells and coral.

In an aquarium setting, it is important to replicate their natural feeding habits by providing a variety of meaty foods. This can include live or frozen options such as snails, crabs, small fish, squid, or pieces of raw fish. Varying their diet ensures they receive well-rounded nutrition and helps them wear down their teeth, which continually grow.

Make sure always to give foods that have hard outer shells. This will help them wear down their teeth and prevent them from growing too much. If their teeth grow too uncontrollably, it can cause discomfort for the fish and create a pathway for diseases or infections. So, a proper diet is really important for their dental health!

Feeding Picasso Triggerfish two to three times a day is recommended, as monitoring their intake and skimming any leftover organic matter from the tank prevent water pollution. They have a high metabolism, so it is crucial to provide them with sufficient protein-based foods to maintain their health and strength.

Essential care requirements

Ensuring the health and well-being of a Picasso Triggerfish in an aquarium requires careful attention to their specific care requirements. Here are some essential tips for keeping these fish healthy and thriving:

  • Tank Size: Picasso Triggerfish need a large tank with a minimum capacity of 100 gallons to provide ample space for swimming and territorial behavior.
  • Hiding Places: Create a vibrant underwater landscape using live rocks to build fascinating structures and intricate caves that can be proudly claimed as your fish’s territory. Avoid using corals, as they may not be compatible with the lively Picasso Triggerfish, which could potentially cause significant damage to the reef ecosystem.

It constantly explores its surroundings, diligently digging into the substrate, moving rocks around, and even gnawing on inorganic items it discovers. To ensure the safety of all tank inhabitants, it’s crucial to properly secure and stabilize the larger rocks, preventing any unexpected collapses or cave-ins that could potentially harm or even crush your cherished aquatic companions.

  • Water Parameters: Maintain stable water conditions with a temperature range of 74-82°F (23-28°C), pH between 8.1-8.4, water hardness: 8 to 12 dKH, and salinity around 1.020-1.025.
  • Filtration and Water Quality: Provide efficient filtration to ensure good water quality. The aquarium should be brightly illuminated and have good water circulation. Regular water changes are also necessary to remove accumulated waste and maintain optimal conditions.

Tank Mates

When considering tank mates for a Picasso Triggerfish, choosing species that can coexist peacefully and are not easily intimidated by its aggressive behavior is essential.

Picasso Triggerfish are aggressive and territorial. Housing fish with similar temperaments ensures that everyone can hold their own in the tank. It’s important to avoid choosing small fish, as a Picasso Triggerfish can easily gobble them up. Additionally, it’s best to steer clear of invertebrates like shrimp, as these fish see them as tasty treats.

It is recommended to keep only one Picasso Triggerfish per tank. While some people have successfully housed a pair by introducing them as juveniles, it is a risky endeavor. It’s better to err on the side of caution and stick with one triggerfish per tank.

While Picasso Triggerfish are generally solitary and territorial in nature, some fish species can make suitable tank mates. Compatible tank mates for the Picasso Triggerfish include:

  • Large Tangs and Surgeonfish
  • Large Wrasse species
  • Large Angelfish, such as Emperor Angelfish or Queen Angelfish
  • Groupers and Hawkfish
  • Butterflyfish (choose species that are robust and not overly territorial)

It’s crucial to carefully monitor the interactions between the Picasso Triggerfish and other tank mates and be prepared to make adjustments if aggression or conflict arises. Providing sufficient hiding spots and ample swimming space can also help alleviate stress and territorial behavior.


Breeding Picasso Triggerfish in a home aquarium can be quite challenging, and successful breeding attempts have been rare. In the wild, a male Picasso Triggerfish will have a large territory that overlaps with the territories of several females. During the breeding season, females create nest-like structures in the sand where they lay eggs and fiercely guard them until they hatch. After hatching, the female leaves the offspring to fend for themselves.

Replicating these nesting conditions in a home aquarium is difficult, especially considering the aggressive nature of Picasso Triggerfish. Commercial operations have had more success in breeding this species. However, for home aquarium enthusiasts, the focus should be on providing a suitable environment and proper care for these fish rather than breeding attempts.

Common Issues and Solutions


When caring for Picasso Triggerfish, there are several common challenges that fish keepers may encounter. By understanding these challenges and implementing effective solutions, you can ensure the health and well-being of your Picasso Triggerfish:

  • Aggressive Behavior: Picasso Triggerfish are known for their territorial and aggressive nature. They may exhibit aggressive behavior towards other fish in the tank. To address this, provide ample hiding places and create territories using live rock or artificial structures.
  • Feeding Difficulties: Picasso Triggerfish have strong jaws and teeth, allowing them to consume hard-shelled prey. However, introducing a varied diet can be a challenge. Ensure a balanced diet by offering a mix of meaty foods, including shrimp, mussels, and squid. Also, consider using frozen or pellet food specifically formulated for Triggerfish.
  • Tank Size Requirements: Picasso Triggerfish require a spacious tank with ample swimming space. A tank with at least 100 gallons capacity is recommended for a single adult Picasso Triggerfish. Avoid overcrowding the tank to prevent territorial disputes.
  • Disease Resistance: Picasso Triggerfish are generally hardy and resistant to diseases but fall victim to Marine Ich and other diseases. Suppose to quarantine any sick fish in a separate tank to ensure the well-being of your fish. This will allow you to provide the necessary care and treatment to bring them back to good health. However, poor water quality or stress can make them susceptible to infections. Maintain good water parameters, perform regular water changes, and provide a stress-free environment to prevent diseases.
  • Aggressive Tank Mates: When selecting tank mates, choose species that are compatible with the aggressive nature and territorial behavior of Picasso Triggerfish. Avoid housing them with small or docile fish that may become targets of aggression.

Addressing these common challenges and implementing effective solutions can provide a conducive environment for your Picasso Triggerfish to thrive and display their distinctive beauty in your aquarium.

FAQs about Picasso Triggerfish

How long do Picasso Triggerfish live?

In captivity, Picasso Triggerfish can live for up to 10 years with proper care and tank conditions.

How big do Picasso Triggerfish grow?

Adult Picasso Triggerfish can reach a size of 10 to 12 inches.

What do Picasso Triggerfish eat?

Picasso Triggerfish are carnivores with a diet primarily consisting of meaty protein. They prey on invertebrates such as snails, crabs, clams, mussels, and shrimp.

Can Picasso Triggerfish be kept with other fish?

Picasso Triggerfish are aggressive and territorial, so they are best kept with aggressive fish of similar size that can defend themselves. Keep small or passive fish as tank mates.

Can Picasso Triggerfish be kept in a reef aquarium?

No, Picasso Triggerfish are not reef safe. They tend to dig and uproot material, which can cause damage to corals and other invertebrates.

How to care for Picasso Triggerfish in an aquarium?

Picasso Triggerfish require a spacious tank with plenty of live rock for hiding spots and exploration. Maintaining stable water conditions, providing a varied diet, and monitoring for aggressive behavior are crucial.

Can Picasso Triggerfish be bred in a home aquarium?

Breeding Picasso Triggerfish in a home aquarium is challenging and has had little success.


The Picasso Triggerfish is a fascinating and beautiful species. Its unique physical features, such as its colorful patterns and sharp contrasts, make it visually striking and captivating to observe in an aquarium setting.

By creating a spacious tank with hiding spots and stable structures, providing a varied and nutritious diet, and carefully selecting compatible tank mates, you can create an environment in which the Picasso Triggerfish can thrive.