Picasso Triggerfish Care Guide: Size, Tank Mates, & Diet

Picasso triggerfish are some of the most fascinating and beautiful fish in the world of aquariums. With their bold colors, unique patterns, and playful personalities, these fish have become a favorite among fish keepers of all levels. But what makes the Picasso triggerfish so special, and what do you need to know to care for them properly?

In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of Picasso triggerfish, exploring their origins, behavior, diet, and much more. Whether you’re a seasoned aquarium enthusiast or just getting started with fish keeping, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know to care for these incredible creatures and create the perfect home for them in your aquarium. So, get ready to learn all about the amazing Picasso triggerfish and discover why they’re a must-have for any fish lover.

Species Summary

Picasso Triggerfish, also known as Humu-Humu, are a vibrant and aggressive saltwater fish species found in shallow reefs and lagoons across the Indo-Pacific region. These solitary fish fiercely defend their territory and primarily feed on crustaceans and squid. During the breeding season, they form harems consisting of one male and multiple females.

Famously recognized as Hawaii’s state fish, the Picasso Triggerfish is also an integral part of the local cuisine. Their full Hawaiian name, humu humu nuka nuka apua’a, translates to “the fish that snorts like a pig,” referring to the grunting noise they make as a defense mechanism.


The Picasso triggerfish is a colorful and striking fish that can be found in the waters of the Indo-Pacific region. This fish has a unique appearance with a combination of blue, green, yellow, and black coloring on its body.

One of the most distinctive features of the Picasso triggerfish is the black band that runs vertically across its eyes, making it look like it’s wearing a mask. The fish also has a large dorsal fin with pointed spines that it can raise or lower at will, and sharp teeth that it uses to crush shells and crustaceans.

The Picasso triggerfish can grow up to 30 cm in length and is known for its aggressive behavior, making it a popular target for aquarium enthusiasts. However, this fish is not recommended for beginner aquarists as it requires a large tank and specific water conditions to thrive.


The Picasso triggerfish has a lifespan of up to 10 years in captivity with proper care. This species of fish is known for being hardy and adaptable, but their lifespan can be affected by a variety of factors such as diet, water quality, and stress levels.

To ensure a long and healthy life for your Picasso triggerfish, it’s important to provide them with a well-maintained aquarium that meets their specific needs. This includes a large tank with plenty of space to swim and hide, as well as a varied and nutritious diet.

It’s also important to monitor the water quality regularly and perform regular water changes to keep ammonia and nitrate levels in check. High stress levels can also impact their lifespan, so it’s important to avoid keeping them with overly aggressive tank mates or in an overcrowded tank.

Picasso triggerfish Average Size

The average size of a Picasso triggerfish is around 9-10 inches in length when kept in captivity. However, they can grow up to 12 inches in the wild.

Picasso Triggerfish Care

Picasso triggerfish are fascinating and colorful marine fish that are highly sought after by aquarium enthusiasts. These fish are known for their unique and striking appearance, but they also require specific care and attention to thrive in captivity. Proper care for Picasso triggerfish involves attention to their specific needs in terms of tank setup, diet, and behavior.

Tank Size

Picasso Triggerfish are known for their aggressive and territorial behavior, which makes tank size an important consideration for their care. To ensure the health and happiness of your Picasso Triggerfish, a tank size of at least 120 gallons is essential. However, bigger is always better when it comes to these fish, as they are curious swimmers that will scour the tank.

While some aquarium experts advise against keeping more than one Picasso Triggerfish, if you do choose to keep a pair, an even larger tank will be necessary. This is because Picasso Triggerfish are highly territorial and will violently defend their claim.

Water Parameters

  • Water temperature: 76 to 82°F
  • pH levels: 8.1 to 8.4
  • Water hardness: 8 to 12 dKH
  • Specific gravity: 1.021 to 1.025 sg

What To Put In Their Tank

When setting up a tank for a Picasso Triggerfish, it’s important to consider their natural habitat and specific needs. Providing plenty of hiding places and a variety of tank decor can help promote their health and well-being.

For substrate, a sandy bottom is ideal for Picasso Triggerfish. They like to sift through the sand and search for food, so a fine-grain substrate will be most suitable. Live rock is also a great addition to their tank, as it provides natural hiding places and helps maintain water quality by serving as a biological filter.

Common Possible Diseases

  • Picasso Triggerfish are generally hardy fish but can still be susceptible to certain common diseases if their tank conditions are not properly maintained.
  • Common diseases that can affect Picasso Triggerfish include Ich, Fin Rot, bacterial infections, fungal infections, and parasites.
  • It’s important to monitor your fish for any signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or abnormal behavior.
  • Treatment involves removing any affected fish and providing appropriate medication to the tank.
  • Maintaining proper water quality and tank conditions can go a long way in preventing disease in Picasso Triggerfish.

Food & Diet

Picasso Triggerfish are carnivorous fish that require a varied diet to ensure proper nutrition and growth. In the wild, they feed on a variety of small fish, crustaceans, and invertebrates. In captivity, it’s important to provide a diverse diet that meets their nutritional needs.

A good diet for Picasso Triggerfish should consist of high-quality pellets, frozen or live foods, and occasional treats such as fresh seafood or krill. Pellets should be specifically formulated for carnivorous fish, and can make up a significant portion of their diet. Frozen or live foods such as krill, shrimp, and small fish can be offered as a supplement to their pellet diet.

It’s important to avoid feeding your Picasso Triggerfish food that is high in fat or low in nutritional value. Foods such as beef heart or processed meat can lead to digestive issues and should be avoided. Additionally, it’s important not to overfeed your fish as this can lead to obesity and health issues.

Behavior & Temperament

  • Picasso Triggerfish are highly territorial and can become aggressive towards other fish in the tank, particularly other Triggerfish or fish that are similar in appearance.
  • They are playful and curious, and will often explore their surroundings, including any rocks, caves, or plants in the tank.
  • Picasso Triggerfish may become accustomed to their owner’s presence and may even become excited and interactive when they see their owner approach the tank.
  • It’s important to only keep one Picasso Triggerfish in a tank or to keep them with other large, aggressive fish that can hold their own against their territorial behavior.

Picasso Triggerfish Tank Mates

According to experts, Picasso Triggerfish can safely live with comparably-sized aggressive fish, but it’s important to avoid keeping them with passive or timid fish.

Suitable tank mates for Picasso Triggerfish include other large marine fish such as groupers, tangs, and wrasses, but it’s best to avoid smaller fish as they may be seen as prey.

It’s important to monitor the interactions between tank mates carefully and ensure the aquarium is large enough for all the fish to establish their own territories. Additionally, it’s recommended to add all the fish in the aquarium at the same time to avoid territorial infringement by the Picasso Triggerfish.

Suitable tank mates include:

  • Domino Damselfish
  • Foxface Rabbitfish
  • Hippo Tangs
  • Lionfish
  • Marine Bettas
  • Powder Blue Tangs
  • Snowflake Eels
  • Wrasses


Breeding Picasso Triggerfish in captivity is challenging and requires specialized conditions. They are not known to breed in home aquariums, and most Picasso Triggerfish found in pet stores are wild-caught. However, there have been a few successful attempts at breeding them in controlled environments.

To breed Picasso Triggerfish, a large breeding tank with plenty of hiding places, live rock, and a sandy substrate is required. The tank should have stable water parameters with a temperature between 75-82°F, a pH level of 8.1-8.4, and a salinity of 1.020-1.025.

Once a male and female pair have been identified, they should be introduced into the breeding tank together. The pair will need to establish a hierarchy, and there may be some initial aggression. Once they have settled in, they will begin to court each other and eventually mate.

After the female lays her eggs, the male will fertilize them and then guard them fiercely. The eggs will hatch in about three to five days, and the male will continue to protect the newly hatched fry until they are able to fend for themselves.


Can I keep a Picasso Triggerfish in a small tank?

No, Picasso Triggerfish require a tank size of at least 120 gallons to accommodate their size and territorial behavior.

What kind of diet should I provide for my Picasso Triggerfish?

Picasso Triggerfish should be fed a varied diet consisting of meaty foods, such as shrimp, krill, and squid. They may also require supplements to maintain their health.

Can I keep more than one Picasso Triggerfish in the same tank?

While it is possible to keep more than one Picasso Triggerfish in a tank, it is recommended to only keep one unless the tank is very large, as they are highly territorial and can become aggressive towards each other.

What tank mates are suitable for Picasso Triggerfish?

Picasso Triggerfish can safely reside with other comparably-sized aggressive fish, such as groupers, tangs, and wrasses. They should not be kept with passive or timid fish, as they may become aggressive towards them.

What are some common diseases that affect Picasso Triggerfish?

Some common diseases that can affect Picasso Triggerfish include bacterial infections, parasitic infections, and ich. It is important to monitor their behavior and health regularly and seek veterinary care if any issues arise.


It’s important to note that Picasso Triggerfish are not a good choice for beginner aquarists, as they can be challenging to care for and require specialized conditions. However, for experienced hobbyists who are up to the challenge, they can make a stunning and entertaining addition to their aquarium.

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