The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Rhinecanthus verrucosus
Rhinecanthus verrucosus
(bursa triggerfish)
Marine Fishes

Copyright Info
Rhinecanthus verrucosus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name: bursa triggerfish

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Body compressed with protruding snout.  Brown to light blue in color with white coloration below lateral line.  Grayish brown dorsally.  Three rows of forward-curving spines posteriorly on side of body along and anterior to caudal peduncle with the upper row shorter than the lower.  Second dorsal fin and anal fin similar in shape.  Large elliptical black spot located ventrally and mostly anterior to anal fin.  Dorsal fin III (23-26), anal fin 0 (21-23), pectoral fin (13-14).  From Randall et al. (1996).

Similar species: Queen triggerfish (Balistes vetula) lacks dark elliptical body spot.

Native Range: Blackbelly triggerfish are distributed in the Indo-West Pacific from the Seychelles and Chagos islands to Vanuatu and south Japan to the Great Barrier Reef.  From Allen et al. (2003).

Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: In Florida, this species was observed near Boca Raton in 1995 (Courtenay 1995).

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Rhinecanthus verrucosus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL199519951Florida Southeast Coast

Table last updated 6/20/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: The blackbelly triggerfish is frequently found in lagoons and shallow waters of reef flats among macroalgae, rubble and coral among seagrasses (Lieske and Myers 1994; Bean et al. 2002).  Juveniles frequents holes (Kuiter and Tonozuka 2001).  Chen et al. (2001) reported that the species moves to the reef flat at high tide and returns to the sandy subtidal zone during low tide.  This movement occurred when water depth fell below 40–60 cm.  Adult blackbelly triggerfish are territorial, engaging in frequent agonistic behavior with other triggerfishes including Rhinecanthus aculeatus (Chen et al. 2001).

Means of Introduction: Probable aquarium release.

Status: Reported in Florida.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

References: (click for full references)

Allen, G., R. Steene, P. Humann and N. Deloach.  2003.  Reef Fish Identification.  Tropical Pacific.  New World Publications, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida and Odyssey Publications, El Cajon, California.

Bean, K, G. P. Jones and M. J. Caley.  2002.  Relationships among distribution, abundance and microhabitat specialization in a guild of coral reef triggerfish (family Balistidae).  Marine Ecology Progress Series 233: 263-272.

Chen, T., R. F. Ormond and H. Mok.  2001.  Feeding and territorial behaviour in juveniles of three coexisting triggerfishes.  Journal of Fish Biology 59: 524-532.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr. 1995. Marine fish introductions in southeastern Florida. Newsletter of the Introduced Fish Section, American Fisheries Society 14(1):2-3.

Kuiter, R. H. and T. Tonozuka.  2001.  Pictorial guide to Indonesian reef fishes. Part 3. Jawfishes - Sunfishes, Opistognathidae - Molidae.  Zoonetics, Australia.

Lieske, E. and R. Myers.  1994.  Collins Pocket Guide. Coral reef fishes. Indo-Pacific & Caribbean including the Red Sea. Haper Collins Publishers.

Randall, J. E., G. R. Allen and R. C. Steene.  1996.  Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea.  Second Edition.  University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Morris, James A., Jr., and Pamela J. Schofield

Revision Date: 3/22/2021

Peer Review Date: 4/29/2009

Citation Information:
Morris, James A., Jr., and Pamela J. Schofield, 2024, Rhinecanthus verrucosus (Linnaeus, 1758): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=323, Revision Date: 3/22/2021, Peer Review Date: 4/29/2009, Access Date: 6/20/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/20/2024].

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