Trigger Fish

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

trigger fish the common name for a larger number of species in the family Balistidae, notably Balistes capriscus. They may also be called leatherjackets, in allusion to their thick and tough skins. The ‘trigger’ in the main name is a little spine on the back, just behind the solitary dorsal spine (and in fact representing a rudimentary second dorsal spine). This ‘trigger’ can be used to lock the dorsal spine in an upright position.

Some trigger fish may reach a length of 60 cm (24"), but they are mostly smaller. Nonetheless, as they are deep bodied, they have enough flesh to be worth eating, and it is good. They are often divested of their leathery skins before being sold.