Pakol Fish: A Filipino Angler’s Guide to Starry Triggerfish

Pakol Fish (Starry Triggerfish)
Common Name: Starry Triggerfish
Local Names: Papakol, Pakoy (Tagalog); Pugot, Tikos, Pakol (Bisaya)
Max Size: Up to 60 cm
Distinguishing Features: Olive-green skin, white spots, flexible tympanum, prominent eye groove
Habitat: Mud and silt bottoms, coastal areas, coral reefs
Depth Range: 40 – 100 meters
Diet: Crustaceans, crabs, mollusks, small bony fish
Reproduction: Oviparous with distinct pairing during breeding
Conservation Status: IUCN Red List – Least Concern
Fishing Season: All Year Long
Recommended Bait/Lures: Shrimp, crabs, sand worms

Meet the Pakol Fish: Known locally as “Papakol” or “Pakoy,” also called the Starry Triggerfish, is a marine treasure found in the bountiful waters around the Philippines.

It swims in the same seas that stretch to the Red Sea, East Africa, northern Australia, and even to Fiji and southern Japan.

What the Pakol Fish Looks Like

These fishes can grow as big as 60 cm, but most of them you’ll see are around 40 cm. Their bodies are built for the sea with spines and soft rays along their back and belly.

They’re quite the lookers too, with scales that make a drum-like shape near their fins and stripes at the back. They even have a special groove near their eyes that’s hard to miss!

Where Pakol Fish Live

These fish love the muddy and sandy floors of the ocean. The grown-ups usually hang out in deeper waters, while the young ones stay closer to the shores where they can hide and find plenty of food.


They enjoy a good meal of crabs, shrimp, and tiny fish that live on the ocean floor. Their varied diet makes them important players in keeping the sea’s food chain in balance.

Breeding Habits

These Fish lay eggs, and when it’s time to breed, they pair up in a special dance that’s unique to them.

Local Fishing and Uses

In the Philippines, the Pakol Fish may not be the main catch, but it has its place in the market, sold fresh or salted and dried. They’re also a hit for aquariums because of their standout looks. However, be careful, as their meat can sometimes be risky to eat.

Their Place in Nature

Listed as “Least Concern” by conservationists, the Papakol Fish is not in danger of disappearing from our oceans anytime soon, reflecting a stable population in the wild.

Closing Thoughts

The Pakoy Fish is a treasure of the Philippine seas. Its unique features, habitat preferences, and diet make it a fascinating subject for study, admiration, and responsible fishing.

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