Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Tetraodontiformes
(Puffers and filefishes) > Balistidae
Etymology: Melichthys: Greek,melis, -itos = honey, a sweet thing + Greek, ichthys = fish (Ref. 45335). More on author: Bloch.
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Marine; reef-associated; depth range 2 - 75 m (Ref. 9710), usually 0 - 20 m (Ref. 40849). Subtropical; 30°N - 29°S, 180°W - 180°E
Circumtropical. Western Pacific: Ryukyu and Ogasawara islands eastward to the Tuamoto Islands. Eastern Pacific: San Diego, California, USA to Malpelo Island, Colombia (Ref. 9276). Western Atlantic: Florida, USA and Bahamas to Brazil (Ref. 7251). Reported from the Gulf of Mexico (Ref. 46995) but see Ref. 26938. Eastern Atlantic: St. Paul's Rocks (13121), St. Helena, Ascension Island, Rolas Island, and Cape Verde (Ref. 7348). São Tomé Island (Ref. 34088). Western Indian Ocean: Durban, Natal, South Africa (Ref. 4420). Uncommon in most areas but abundant around isolated oceanic islands (Ref. 9710).
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 50.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5217); common length : 30.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 3272)
soft rays: 28 - 30. This species is distinguished by the following characters: a deep groove in front of eye; 20-25 head scale rows from corner of mouth to lower end of gill opening; 57-66 body scale rows from upper end of gill opening to caudal fin base; presence of prominent longitudinal ridges following scale rows of posterior body; slightly rounded to double emarginate caudal fin; a thin white bar neat posterior margin of the caudal fin; black spots on scales forming lines (Ref. 90102).
Inhabit clear seaward reefs. More common around oceanic islands (Ref. 9276). Found on inner and outer reef crests, usually near the slope or drop-off to deeper water, where in small but loose aggregations. Sometimes swim high above substrate feeding on zooplankton (Ref. 48637). May also be solitary (Ref. 90102). Benthopelagic (Ref. 58302). Diet consists primarily of calcareous algae and zooplankton (Ref. 1602); also feed on phytoplankton (Ref. 5213). At Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, southeast Atlantic, groups of about 100 individuals join groups of spinner dolphins to feed on feces and vomits of the cetaceans when they congregate in a shallow bay for rest and social interactions. The postures a dolphin adopts prior to defecating or vomiting are recognized, and the fish begin to converge to the dolphin shortly before the actual voiding. Offal feeding may be regarded as a simple behavioral shift from plankton feeding to drifting offal picking (Ref. 48727). Marketed fresh (Ref. 9770).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Oviparous, distinct pairing during breeding (Ref. 205).
Matsuura, K., 2001. Balistidae. Triggerfishes. p. 3911-3928. In K.E. Carpenter and V. Niem (eds.) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Vol. 6. Bony fishes part 4 (Labridae to Latimeriidae), estuarine crocodiles. FAO, Rome. (Ref. 9770)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 120744)
CITES (Ref. 115941)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: commercial
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on models
Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969
): 24.4 - 28.9, mean 27.4 (based on 1548 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.6250 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.02754 (0.01588 - 0.04777), b=2.92 (2.77 - 3.07), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this species & (Sub)family-body (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 2.4 ±0.0 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (Preliminary K or Fecundity.).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Moderate vulnerability (41 of 100) .