Melichthys niger   (Bloch,  1786) (Fish)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Actinopterygii

Image copyrights: Randall, J.E.

Size: 30.0-50.0 cm TL (male/unsexed)

Color: Head, body and vertical fins black, base of second dorsal and anal white; caudal with a narrow white hind border and a black submarginal vertical band. Pectoral black, membrane hyaline posteriorly. Groove behind corner of mouth pale. Upper and lower caudal rays edged white in some small specimens.

Head 3.1-3.3 in standard length, 3.75-4.10 in total length. Depth of body 1.9-2.1 in standard length, 2.3-2.5 in total length. Upper profile of head convex. Eye diameter 4.6-5.7 in head, 3.3-4.0 in snout and 1.7-2.1 in highly convex interorbital space. A distinct groove before eye, below the nostril. A narrow groove behind corner of mouth obliquely downwards to below gill opening. A group of enlarged osseous plates behind gill opening. First dorsal spine with small spinules in front, its length a little more than half length of head; second dorsal spine about 3/5th of first spine; third spine minute. Anterior rays of dorsal and anal longest, rays decreasing in length gradually to the last. Pectoral fin much less than half length of head. Scales of tail and caudal peduncle each with a low longitudinal ridge.
Number of spines in the first dorsal fin: III; number of spines and rays in the second dorsal fin: ii, 30-32; number of spines and rays in the anal fin: ii, 26-27; number of rays in the pectoral fin: i, 13 (14); number of scale rows along the midside of body from the upper corner of operculum to the midbase of caudal fin in the absence of lateral line: 46-58+12-14; number of horizontal scale rows usually counted from origin of the dorsal fin to the lateral line and from anal origin to the lateral line: 24-26.

Remarks: Values in above description denote proportions.

Synonym (s)
Balistes buniva Day, 1888
Melichthys radula Jones, 1969
Melichthys ringens Smith, 1949
Balistes buniva (non Lacepede, 1803)
(Misapplied name)
Balistes fuscolineatus Seale, 1901
(Junior synonym)
Balistes kib Montrouzier, 1857
(Junior synonym)
Balistes kibitar Montrouzier, 1857
(Junior synonym)
Balistes niger Bloch, 1786
(Senior synonym)
Balistes piceus Poey, 1863
(Junior synonym)
Balistes radula Solander, 1848
(Junior synonym)
Balistes ringens Osbeck, 1765
(Ambiguous synonym)
Balistes sillone Le Danois, 1961
(Junior synonym)
Balistes verrucosus Gronow, 1854
(Ambiguous synonym)
Melichthys bispinosus Gilbert, 1890
(Junior synonym)
Melichthys buniva (non Lacepede, 1803)
(Misapplied name)
Melichthys niger (Bloch, 1786)
(Senior synonym)
Melichthys piceus (Poey, 1863)
(Junior synonym)
Melichthys radula (Solander, 1848)
(Junior synonym)
Melichthys ringens (Osbeck, 1765)
(Ambiguous synonym)

Common Name (s)
• Black Triggerfish (English)
• Kalihi (Mahl)
• Karutha Karatti (Malayalam)
• Black Filefish
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(Fisheries, aquarium)

Habitat:  Bentho Pelagic, Reef Associated
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  Calcareous algae, zooplankton, phytoplankton


• Lakshadweep, Agatti INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Amini INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Andrott INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Kavaratti INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Minicoy INDIA
• Lakshadweep INDIA
• Lakshadweep, Kalpeni INDIA (Record: 06/03/1987-01/04/1987)

Literature Source(s)
  • (2002) Lakshadweep Islands biodiversity strategy and action plan (Version: 3)
  • James, C; O'Farrell, S; Hamylton, S; Ingwersen, C and Walker, R The coral reef resources of Mu Ko Surin national park, Thailand Coral Cay Conservation Available at -
  • Letourneur, Y; Chabanet, P; Durville, P; Taquet, M; Teissier, E; Parmentier, M; Quero, JC and Pothin, K (2004) An updated checklist of the marine fish fauna of Reunion Island, south-western Indian Ocean Cybium 28(3) 199-216
  • Durville, P; Chabanet, P and Quod, JP (2003) Visual Census of the Reef Fishes in the Natural Reserve of the Glorieuses Islands (Western Indian Ocean) Western Indian Ocean J. Mar. Sci. WIOMSA 2 95-104
  • Froese, R and Pauly, D (2000) Fishbase 2000: Concepts, design and data sources ICLARM 344 pp Available at -
  • Jones, S and Kumaran, M (1980) Fishes of the Laccadive Archipelago The Nature Conservation and Aquatic Sciences Service, Trivandrum, Kerala 760 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Kumaran, M; Murty, VS and Lalmohan, RS (1989) Resources of ornamental fishes Marine living resources of the union territory of Lakshadweep: An indicative survey with suggestions for development Bulletin of Central Marine Research Institute CMFRI 43 46-64 Available at -
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at -

Page last updated on:2011-12-13

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