Reef triggerfish

The reef, rectangular, or wedge-tail triggerfish, also known by its Hawaiian name, Humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua”˜a, or just Humuhumu for short; meaning “triggerfish with a snout like a pig”, is one of several species of triggerfish. Classified as Rhinecanthus rectangulus, it is endemic to the salt water coasts of various central and southern Pacific Ocean islands. It is often asserted that the Hawaiian name is one of the longest words in the English Language and that “the name is longer than the fish.”


The triggerfish’s teeth are set close together inside its relatively small mouth, and it has a small second spine, which it can use to lock its first spine into an upright position. The triggerfish will wedge itself into small crevices and lock their spine to make it almost impossible to get them out. In addition, when fleeing predators, the triggerfish will sometimes make grunting noises, possibly to warn other nearby triggerfish of danger at hand. They hide in crevasses.


Using their extremely sharp teeth and powerful jaws, these fish feed on hard-shelled invertebrates like mollusks and crabs. The reef triggerfish also feeds on algae.


The reef triggerfish is distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific region, and it is especially prominent in the coral reefs of the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii state fish

Due to an expiration of a Hawaiian state law, the trigger fish ceased to be the state fish of Hawaii in 1990. However, as of April 2006, a bill was presented to the Governor of Hawaii which reinstated the reef triggerfish (Humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua”˜a) as the state fish of Hawaii. The bill passed into law May 2, 2006 and was effective upon its approval.