Description of Reared Preflexion Gray Triggerfish, Balistes Capriscus, Larvae from the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Here we describe and illustrate reared gray triggerfish, Balistes capriscus (Gmelin, 1789), larvae from the northern Gulf of Mexico less than 3 mm notochord length (NL). Eggs were collected by scuba divers from active nests with a guarding female. Gray triggerfish eggs had a mean diameter of 0.62 (SD 0.03) mm. Eggs hatched from 24 to 48 hrs after fertilization based on samples brought back to the laboratory. Post-hatch larvae were distributed throughout the water column of the rearing tanks. Larvae were maintained in laboratory rearing tanks but none survived beyond 6 d post-hatch. Morphological development of live gray triggerfish larvae (n = 10) for each day is described and a representative specimen is illustrated. Larvae hatched at a mean size of 2.2 mm NL and 20 myomeres, without pigmented eyes or a functional mouth. This study provides descriptive information on smaller and less developed larvae than has previously been described. This new material will improve researchers' ability to identify gray triggerfish from field collections.