Gare au baliste titan ! (Thaïlande, février 2006)
Beware of titan ballista! (Thailand, February 2006)

Beware of the ballista!

  Indonesia: Bali - July 2008

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

Everyone is scared of sharks. It's silly. It is rare that the shark eats of the man (whereas the opposite is not it). In fact, there is more danger for divers: the triggerfish mustache or ballista olive, also called ballista titan.

A fast and sometimes aggressive fish

Those who have already felt his teeth, like Marie-Ange, remember ...

Baliste titan

The triggerfish is a pretty big fish, very fast. It is named after trigger-fish, in English, because of its caudal fin that shines like a trigger (Trigger) when he takes action.

It is one of the few fish that divers can fear attacks ... with, of course, the fierce clownfish ! ! !


Admire the teeth of the beast ... And the little cleaner shrimp, perched without fear on the tip of his nose!

Le baliste laisse les petites crevettes nettoyeuses se poser sur sa gueule aux dents acérées. (Malaisie, Perhentian Islands, juillet 2006)
The triggerfish leaves the small shrimp cleaners to rest on his jaws with sharp teeth. (Malaysia, Perhentian Islands, July 2006)

This photo is dated my journey of 2006 Perhentian Islands, Malaysia. A very wise ballista like that, the time of the passage to his "cleaning station", it is not so frequent ...

Video: the baliste meal

Below, shot in Bali in July 2008, a short video of the beast, demolishing the reef with big teeth:

Avoid approaching the "nest"

In fact, it is the male who is aggressive, during the mating season, when he keeps the nest. If you approach it too closely, it drives you out of its territory and does not hesitate to bite with its naughty big teeth of rabbit to better convince you to leave. And he swims fast.

Better to circumvent the place, because the ballista defines its territory from the bottom to the surface.

Gare au baliste titan ! (Thaïlande, février 2006)
Beware of titan ballista! (Thailand, February 2006)

The triggerfish also has an inverted cone vision. The frequent mistake of the divers is to take a distance from the top, while it suffices to move away while remaining at the same depth, preferably facing the animal: one swims calmly backwards, presenting the palms. Thus, if he takes the urge to bite something, it will be the plastic fins, rather than fat calf or a finger.

The other species of ballista, like the nice ballista-clown, with its white dotted livery, are not aggressive like the ballista titan.

Baliste clown. (Thaïlande, février 2006)
Clown triggerfish. (Thailand, February 2006)

In Koh Tao, Thailand, titan triggerfish have become particularly aggressive because of the high concentration of divers.

A few years ago, a ballista was nicknamed Tyson by the dive-masters of the area. The beast had, it seems, tasted the ear of a customer ... (like the boxer Mike Tyson during a fight).


  Indonesia: Bali - July 2008

  Between Two Journeys

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  1. Dear Corinne,

    Marie-Angel is not around a computer during the next week, I manage the blog during this course time.

    Now, not knowing if it accepts the links embedded in a comment, I disapproved of your comment linking to this article. It is not erased, just waiting for moderation in the admin. If she wants she'll be able to post it when she gets back.

    Thank you for your understanding.


  2. No worries, Roman!

    The "link" you're talking about is not a real comment, in fact, but just a "pingback" or "automatic trackback", generated by itself as soon as you link to another blog.

    I for my part disabled this feature on Little Bubbles Elsewhere, because it hampers the discussion between users, I think, to have these false comments with excerpts from a blog that has made a link to mine ...

    So no problem for you to turn this automatic "pingback", which has no other interest for Marie-Angel than to report that I made a link to A World Elsewhere. (I think she should delete them usually, because this is not the first time she and I are posting articles published in each other's blog).


  3. @ Denis: The sound of the triggerfish that eats the corals? "Scronch-scronch-scronch ..." 😆 But I will not try to get close to catch that noise that amuses you the next time! And if it does not scare me either, the triggerfish, I'm like you, I'm suspicious. We do not have time to see him arrive, he has already bitten. That's seen.

    @ PhilippeB: Funny beast, the ballista & #8230; Certainly. But more because of his manners, because it is still a fairly common fish. As for his weight, no idea. The biggest ones are very big, up to 80-90 cm long, I would say. It must be some good pounds. I wonder if it is eaten, the ballista? 😯 Happy new year too! 🙂

    @ Helen: Yes, I assure you! The meanest fish is him. Moray eels are wise and shy, in comparison. They are not spoiled by nature with their jawbone, but it's not the type to go on to bite you. Just avoid shaking a finger under their nose. It intrigues them, they believe then that it's something to eat that passes ... 😡

  4. Ok, thank you for the info: if I meet a ballista going to swim in the lake ... (That's right, it's so hot right now .... 😕) I'll pay attention !!
    Biz! 8)

  5. 😕 Ch'tite question: I am desperate to find info on "the season of love" or "nesting" for titan ballista ...

    I met some great people who came say "cuckoo", while I was "slightly" scared - it made the guide laugh. Gentiles, see players ...

    If there is a fish that scares me, it's titan ballista (and blue stripes ...)

    So I'm looking for info grosso modo qd these bestiolles are horny ... No way to find the info (it depends on the seas, no doubt - I seek pr maldives). What is the news?

    @PhilippeB: Apparently, yes. The triggerfish is eaten - second-hand info ...

  6. @ Jon: No idea about the "season" of love ballista, if only there is one. I think it must depend on corners, and climates ... Basic precaution, in doubt: keep your distance, observing the behavior of the beast.

  7. @Corinne: Yes, it is eaten in Thailand anyway, I just saw one in the fish section of Carrefour Rama 4 in Bangkok. Indeed these teeth are quite impressive ......

  8. @ PhilippeB: Noooooo !!! Not possible! Baliste at Carrefour? !!! Amazing ... Thank you for going on the field to check this amazing info. I'll have an emotional thought for ballista, the next time I'll meet one ...

  9. Hello Corinne,

    Yes I confirm, the ballista titan is very aggressive, we were attacked for more than 5 minutes in Bunaken (Manado, Indonesia) ... Usually, to move away a little showing the fins is enough, but he did not give up until we were far enough, 10-15 meters ... The following week, a diver was even bitten severely 3 times by the same ballista titan.

    I also confirm that many ballists eat themselves! I saw some on a market in the Philippines. He cut it into pieces without the skin, and washed with water. Why? Mystery.

    Have a good day.

  10. Hello,
    In Lembeh, a guide was pulled off a (small) fingertip by a big puffer fish. He attacked it like that, for no apparent reason. He was furious because he is probably the only diver to be bitten by this debonair species.
    JF23, It seems to me that the skin and entrails of the triggerfish contain toxins. In addition, the skin is thick, almost like leather.
    Corinne, I love this blog. Congratulations.

  11. @ Phylos: A puffer puffer finger !!! 😯
    Oh dear ! I'm going to be suspicious now. The last time I approached a puffer, I was not too worried. I stayed long minutes under his nose to flash, closer and closer. He let himself be nicely. Well, well I'll know that we should not trust the apparent placidity of puffers (for the uninitiated: balloon fish) ...

    Otherwise, I did not know that the ballista contained poisons. I imagine that to eat it, it is better to know how to prepare it properly ...

    Finally, thanks for the compliments! I will try to continue in the same vein!

  12. March 2010 and I'm coming back from Maldives.
    At each dive "mask fins tuba", I found these ballista titan a malicious look. Corner looks, how to swim "not Catholic". In short, they did not inspire me.
    And then, we wanted to make a beautiful picture by attracting fish with a little bread (not good ...). Suddenly, a violent attack by the triggerfish: the rapid escape in reverse, on about fifteen meters, immediately imposed itself, with muscular defense thanks to the fins. There were three of us, he attacked us one after the other. No bobo, but beautiful fears.
    Morality: it is better not to irritate the ballista on the one hand and not to drag in its zone when one perceives it on the other hand.

  13. @Georges: Yes, the triggerfish is a territorial fish, and when it defends the area where there is its nest, it can be very aggressive. He is quick and quick, it is better to go away when he goes on the attack, and to present him the fins. Where I am, at the moment, in Pulau Weh (Sumatra, Indonesia), the balistes are peaceful, we are not yet at the time when they make their nest, but I always watch them out of the corner of the eye.

    1. Hello

      I live in Reunion, St Pierre, and I regularly walk the lagoon apnea, without fins.

      There are picasso ballista in abundance, and I have noticed several times a pair of ballista titans.

      The picasso triggerfish started to become aggressive at the end of October, and they will probably be aggressive at least until February, according to my experience as well as testimonials collected.
      As for the titans, the ones I saw were about 30 cm, and were not (yet) aggressive.

      The good thing about picassos is that they do not bite right away, they first make a first charge of intimidation.
      On the other hand, it is true that the more people in the water, the more they seem exhausted and charge further.

      Yours sincerely 8)

  14. We met several people last February on Koh Tao Nuanyuang. We stayed for 3 days on the island and in the evening when all the tourists were leaving the site was for us. I called with my daughter the fish guitar because it has the volume. He broke the corals with his teeth. He did not pursue us happily but they are relatively close to the shore ... I concluded that we were very lucky .. to see them without being attacked.