Grey triggerfish Balistes capriscus, copyright Max Ryazanov.

Belongs within: Tetraodontiformes.

The Balistidae, triggerfishes, are deep-bodied, shallow-water fishes in which the first spine of the first dorsal fin can be locked in an erect position (Matsuura 2015).

Characters (from Matsuura 2015): Body deep, moderately compressed, encased in very thick, tough skin with large scales easily discernible as individual units; scales above pectoral-fin base often enlarged, forming a flexible tympanum; mouth small and terminal, or almost terminal; teeth strong, eight in the outer series of both jaws; gill opening a moderately short, vertical to oblique slit in front of pectoral-fin base; two dorsal fins present; first dorsal fin with three visible spines, second spine more than half length of first spine, first spine capable of being locked in an erect position by second spine; second dorsal and anal fin similar in shape; most dorsal-, anal-, and pectoral-fin rays branched; pelvic fins rudimentary, represented by series of four pairs of enlarged scales encasing posterior end of pelvis.

    |--Oligobalistes robustus Danil’chenko 1960AS09, P93
    |    |--B. orbiculatus (Heer 1865)P93
    |    |--B. ovalis (Agassiz 1842)P93
    |    `--B. spinosus (Agassiz 1842)P93
    `--+--+--Balistapus Tilesius 1820ND13, M15
       |  |    `--B. undulates (Park 1797)M15 (see below for synonymy)
       |  `--+--Pseudobalistes Bleeker 1865-1869ND13, M15
       |     |    |--P. flavimarginatus (Rüppell 1829)M15 (see below for synonymy)
       |     |    |--P. fuscus (Bloch & Schneider 1801)M15
       |     |    `--P. naufragium (Jordan & Starks 1895)M15
       |     `--Xanthichthys Kaup in Richardson 1856ND13, M15
       |          |--X. auromarginatus (Bennett 1832)M15
       |          |--X. caeruleolineatus Randall, Matsuura & Zama 1978M15
       |          |--X. fuscus (Schneider 1801) [=Balistes fuscus]M58
       |          |--X. lineopunctatus (Hollard 1854)M15
       |          |--X. mento (Jordan & Gilbert 1882)M15
       |          `--X. ringens (Linnaeus 1758)M15 [=Balistes ringensM58; incl. B. armatus Bleeker 1859M58]
       `--+--Sufflamen Jordan 1916ND13, M15 [incl. Hemibalistes Smith 1949M15]
          |    |--S. albicaudatum (Rüppell 1829)M15
          |    |--S. bursa (Bloch & Schneider 1801)M15 [=Balistes bursaM15, B. (Balistapus) bursaM58, *Hemibalistes bursaM15]
          |    |--S. capistratus (Shaw 1804) [=Balistes capistratus]M58
          |    |--S. chrysopterum (Bloch & Schneider 1801)M15 (see below for synonymy)
          |    |--S. fraenatum (Latreille 1804)M15 [=Balistes frenatusM58]
          |    `--S. verres (Gilbert & Starks 1904)M15
          `--+--Balistes Linnaeus 1758ND13, M15 [incl. Nematobalistes Fraser-Brunner 1935M15, Verrunculus Jordan 1924M15]
             |    |--B. capriscus Gmelin 1789K-M02
             |    |--B. carolinensisF15
             |    |--B. lima Bennett 1832 (n. d.) [=Xanthichthys lima]M15
             |    |--B. papillosus Linnaeus 1758L58
             |    |--B. polylepis Steindachner 1876M15
             |    |--B. punctatus Gmelin 1789M15
             |    |--B. scolopax Linnaeus 1758L58
             |    |--B. tomentosus Linnaeus 1758L58
             |    `--B. vetula Linnaeus 1758M15
             `--+--Abalistes Jordan & Seale 1906ND13, M15
                |    |--A. filamentosus Matsuura & Yoshino 2004M15
                |    `--A. stellaris (Anonymous 1798)M15 [=Balistes stellarisM58]
                `--Rhinecanthus Swainson 1839ND13, M15
                     |--R. abyssus Matsuura & Shiobara 1989M15
                     |--R. aculeatus (Linnaeus 1758)M15 (see below for synonymy)
                     |--R. assasi (Forsskål 1775)M15
                     |--R. cinereus (Bonnaterre 1788)M15
                     |--R. lunula Randall & Steene 1983M15
                     |--R. rectangulus (Bloch & Schneider 1801)M15 (see below for synonymy)
                     `--R. verrucosus (Linnaeus 1758)M15 (see below for synonymy)
Balistidae incertae sedis:
  Rhinecarpus echarpeG75
  Odonus Gistel 1848M15
    `--O. niger (Rüppell 1836)M15 (see below for synonymy)
  Gornylistes prodigiosusNE12
  Balistoides Fraser-Brunner 1935M15
    |--B. conspicillum (Bloch & Schneider 1801)M15 (see below for synonymy)
    `--B. viridescens (Bloch & Schneider 1801)M15 (see below for synonymy)
  Canthidermis Swainson 1839M15
    |--C. macrolepis (Boulenger 1888)M15
    |--C. maculata (Bloch 1786)M15 (see below for synonymy)
    |--C. rotundatus (Procé 1822) (see below for synonymy)M58
    `--C. sufflamen (Mitchill 1815)M15
  Melichthys Swainson 1839M15
    |--M. indicus (Randall & Klausewitz 1973)M15
    |--‘Balistes’ kibitar Thiollière 1857 [incl. B. ringens Osbeck 1765 non Linnaeus 1758, Melichthys ringens]M58
    |--M. niger (Bloch 1786)M15
    `--M. vidua (Richardson 1845)M15 [=Balistes viduaM58]
  Xenobalistes Matsuura 1981M15
    |--*X. tumidipectoris Matsuura 1981M15
    `--X. punctatus Heemstra & Smith 1983M15

Balistapus undulates (Park 1797)M15 [=Balistes undulatusM58; incl. Balistes kile Montrouzier in Thiollière 1857 (n. n.)M58, Balistes lineatus Thiollière 1857M58, B. (Balistapus) lineatusM58, Balistes prasliniensis Quoy & Gaimard 1824M58, Balistes praslinoides Lesson 1830M58]

Balistoides conspicillum (Bloch & Schneider 1801)M15 [=Balistes conspicillumM58, Balistes (Balistapus) conspicillumM58]

Balistoides viridescens (Bloch & Schneider 1801)M15 [=Balistes viridescensM58, Balistes (Pseudobalistes) viridescensM58]

Canthidermis maculata (Bloch 1786)M15 [=Balistes maculatusM58; incl. B. azureus Lesson 1830M58, B. brevissimus Hollard 1854M58]

Canthidermis rotundatus (Procé 1822) [=Balistes rotundatus; incl. B. munumum Thiollière 1857, B. (Canthidermis) oculatus Bleeker 1865, B. uni Thiollière 1857]M58

Odonus niger (Rüppell 1836)M15 [=Xenodon nigerM58; incl. Balistes erythrodon Günther 1910M58, Odonus erythrodonM58, Zenodon erythrodonM58]

Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus (Rüppell 1829)M15 [=Balistes flavimarginatusM58; incl. B. brasiliensis Peters 1876M58, B. papuensis Macleay 1884M58]

Rhinecanthus aculeatus (Linnaeus 1758)M15 [=Balistes aculeatusM58, Balistapus (Rhinecanthus) aculeatusM58; incl. Monacanthus cheverti Alleyne & Macleay 1877M58, Balistes heteracanthus Bleeker 1859M58, Balistes (Balistapus) heteracanthusM58]

Rhinecanthus rectangulus (Bloch & Schneider 1801)M15 [=Balistes rectangulusM58, Balistapus rectangulusM58; incl. Balistes (Balistapus) cinctus Bleeker 1865M58, Balistes medinilla Quoy & Gaimard 1824M58]

Rhinecanthus verrucosus (Linnaeus 1758)M15 [=Balistes verrucosusM58, B. (Balistapus) verrucosusM58, Balistes tamaked Montrouzier in Thiollière 1857 (n. n.)M58]

Sufflamen chrysopterum (Bloch & Schneider 1801)M15 [=Balistes chrysopterusM58, Hemibalistes chrysopterusM15; incl. Pyrodon niger Bleeker 1859M58, Balistes nigerM58]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[AS09] Alfaro, M. E., F. Santini, C. Brock, H. Alamillo, A. Dornburg, D. L. Rabosky, G. Carnevale & L. J. Harmon. 2009. Nine exceptional radiations plus high turnover explain species diversity in jawed vertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106 (32): 13410–13414.

[F15] Fowler, H. W. 1915. Cold-blooded vertebrates from Florida, the West Indies, Costa Rica, and eastern Brazil. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 67 (2): 244–269.

[G75] Grant, E. M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. The Co-ordinator-General’s Department: Brisbane (Australia).

[K-M02] Klein-MacPhee, G. 2002. Triggerfishes. Family Balistidae. In: Collette, B. B., & G. Klein-MacPhee (eds) Bigelow and Schroeder’s Fishes of the Gulf of Maine 3rd ed. pp. 590–592. Smithsonian Institute Press: Washington.

[L58] Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii: Holmiae.

[M15] Matsuura, K. 2015. Taxonomy and systematics of tetraodontiform fishes: a review focusing primarily on progress in the period from 1980 to 2014. Ichthyological Research 62 (1): 72–113.

[M58] Munro, I. S. R. 1958. The fishes of the New Guinea region: a check-list of the fishes of New Guinea incorporating records of species collected by the Fisheries Survey Vessel “Fairwind” during the years 1948 to 1950. Papua and New Guinea Agricultural Journal 10 (4): 97–369 (reprinted: 1958. Territory of Papua and New Guinea Fisheries Bulletin no. 1).

[ND13] Near, T. J., A. Dornburg, R. I. Eytan, B. P. Keck, W. L. Smith, K. L. Kuhn, J. A. Moore, S. A. Price, F. T. Burbrink, M. Friedman & P. C. Wainwright. 2013. Phylogeny and tempo of diversification in the superradiation of spiny-rayed fishes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 110 (31): 12738–12743.

[NE12] Near, T. J., R. I. Eytan, A. Dornburg, K. L. Kuhn, J. A. Moore, M. P. Davis, P. C. Wainwright, M. Friedman & W. L. Smith. 2012. Resolution of ray-finned fish phylogeny and timing of diversification. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109 (34): 13698–13703.

[P93] Patterson, C. 1993. Osteichthyes: Teleostei. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 621–656. Chapman & Hall: London.

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