Crosshatch Trigger

Xantyhicthys mento

With its great looks, The Crosshatch Trigger Fish is one of our favorite saltwater fish for the home aquarium. Many agree with us. The Crosshatch Trigger fish generally doesn’t bother the other fish in a home aquarium. It has a great personality, has a great personality and won’t bother corals in a reef aquarium. Crosshatch Trigger fish are known for being great pets, disease-resistant, friendly, resilient and easy to feed.

The name “Crosshatch Trigger” comes from the blue radiating lines on their face and the black lines criss-crossing along their body. The male’s body is an intense yellow and a showy red-rimmed tail. The female has a yellow-fringed caudal fin. It is one of the most beautiful and rarely seen triggers. The Crosshatch Trigger fish has the well-known triangle shape that trigger fish all share when is it “standing still” in the water. But when it starts to move, the shape shifts into one that is more like a torpedo.

Here’s an interesting factoid about trigger fish: The name “trigger” comes from the way that the fish uses its first dorsal spine. When a trigger fish is resting, or when there is trouble around, a trigger fish will go into the nearest crevice in the reef and lock its first dorsal spine into an upright position and held in place by the second dorsal spine. Once they have triggered this mechanism and are secure in place, it is nearly impossible to move of remove them from that spot.

Crosshatch triggerfish are mostly found in the area of small isolated islands in the tropical Eastern and Western Pacific Oceans in various locations from the Baja Peninsula (West Coast) westward to the Pitcairn, Easter and Hawaiian Islands.

Crosshatch Trigger fish for sale usually measure in 7-11 inch lengths. Adults will usually reach about 12 inches in a saltwater aquarium and about 14 inches in the wild.

Crosshatch trigger fish can be found thriving throughout the tropical and sub-tropical Eastern and Western Pacific Oceans but generally prefer smaller isolated oceanic islands such as Hawaii. They can be found in large schools in open water, usually at depths of 90 feet and greater (around the limit most recreational divers are able to go and the average depth where nitrogen narcosis symptoms begin to appear). This helps to explain why Crosshatch Trigger fish are as rare as they are and why they can be as expensive to obtain.

Crosshatch Trigger fish are one of the easier trigger fish to care for. Usually adapts well to captivity, even becoming tame enough to be hand fed. One male can be housed with several females, but don’t put another male in the same aquarium. They will fight fiercely and fight often.

Water Conditions: 72-78┬░ F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
House Crosshatch Trigger fish in aquariums that are at least 180 gallons with a lot of rocks and caves.

Note: The Crosshatch Trigger fish will rearrange the landscaping and rocks as it wanders in and out of the caves.

Crosshatch Trigger fish are frequently found in the waters around sub-tropical islands, at great depths where water temperature is not only cooler, but it is much more stable. It may take a while for them to adapt to the brighter lights in coral reef aquariums. If you are planning to house them in a fish only with live rock (FOWLR) aquarium, some suggest using lights with blue hues to make them feel more at home.

Adults tend to be very shy and can take quite a while to adapt to captivity. If they are going into an aquarium of aggressive fish or larger fish, give them extra quarantine time first to make sure that the trigger has grown accustomed to aquarium life and that it is accepting prepared foods.

Crosshatch Trigger fish are “forced inductive respirators,” which means that they use the flow of the ocean to provide their gills with plenty of water and oxygen. Be sure that your tank has enough water flow to push water through the Crosshatch’s gills. If having a strong water flow will disrupt the community and environment that you already have in place, then the Crosshatch Trigger fish may not be the best choice for your aquarium.

Crosshatch Trigger fish need wide open areas of swimming space and a selection of places to rest at night or to hide when they are frightened. Just like all other trigger fish the Crosshatch Trigger fish slides into a rocky space and lock itself in by raising its dorsal fin. This is a defense mechanism that makes it very hard for predators to disturb or attach the Crosshatch trigger while it is resting.

Crosshatch Trigger fish are carnivores and they are not finicky eaters. They are known to eat most foods offered in a home aquarium. Feeding them a meaty diet will be very good for the fish. Chopped whole shrimp, squid, larval silversides, and mysis shrimp preparations are a good base, and supplementing that with frozen carnivore preparations will make for a happy fish. Chopped krill is especially good for them because it provides the nutrients which help to maintain their bright pigmentation. Crosshatch Trigger fish should be fed a few times daily to maintain the proper body weight.

Note: If a Crosshatch Trigger fish develops a pinched abdomen, it is a sign that it is not getting enough food and it needs to be fed either more food or more often (or perhaps both). Once the signs of starvation reach the dorsal musculature near the top, the fish’s chance of recovery is almost zero.

One of the better Triggerfish for the reef aquarium, the Crosshatch Trigger has a reputation for not bothering corals, but it may nip at clams or invertebrates. The fish’s anatomy makes it difficult for the trigger to feed on invertebrates and bottom dwellers. Being a planktivore, corals are not on the Crosshatch Trigger fish’s menu.

At the same time, Crosshatch Trigger fish have a tendency to rearrange rock work and aquascaping as it wanders through the aquarium, potentially knocking corals over as it does so. You will want to be sure that everything is attached well and that there is no possibility that the trigger can knock your rocks around.

The Crosshatch Trigger fish is a good community fish which can be kept with a large variety of other fishes. It doesn’t have the belligerent disposition of most trigger fish. They are charismatic and curious by nature. The Crosshatch Trigger fish mixes well with most other reef fish. They can be kept with moderately-aggressive tank mates and groups of Crosshatch Trigger fish (one male and one or more females) have thrived in in extra large aquariums.

The Crosshatch Trigger fish rarely bothers its tankmates, but it is not a good idea to add small dotty backs, or similar bite-sized fish, into a tank with adult crosshatch triggers. They might be mistaken as being a treat. However, if they are there when the Crosshatch is added, the existing small damsels, wrasses and basslets are usually ignored (so if you plan to keep shrimp in the tank with a Crosshatch Trigger, add the shrimp first).

The Crosshatch Trigger fish is often shy when it is first introduced to an aquarium, but quickly overcomes this as it learns to recognize its caretaker and associate them with food.