Hawaiian Fish

Common Name Scientific Name Range Description
Achilles Tang Acanthurus achilles, Shaw, 1803Achilles Tang, Acanthurus achilles, Shaw, 1803, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)
It is found in various reefs of Oceania, up to the islands of Hawaii and Pitcairn. The fish is also, although less commonly, found in the Mariana Islands and even some reefs in southern Mexico and Guatemala. Acanthurus achilles is a tropical fish with the common names Achilles Tang and Achilles surgeonfish. They are a mid-sized surgeonfish reaching a maximum of 10in/25 cm at adulthood. Acanthurus achilles are black with striking orange and white lining along the fish’s fins and tail. When the fish matures, a prominent orange drop shape develops on the caudal area terminating into a sharp spine
 Ambon Toby  Canthigaster amboinensis, (Bleeker, 1865)Ambon Toby, Canthigaster amboinensis, (Bleeker, 1865), Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Ambon Toby, Canthigaster amboinensis, (Bleeker, 1865), Maui, Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Indo-Pacific and tropical eastern Pacific; in our area east to Durban. These Tobies very from light to dark brown, often with ocher-yellow on the upper head, nape and snout.  Blue-green lines radiate from the eyes.  A fine pattern of dark blue spots and lines adorns the cheeks.  The rest of the body is covered with iridescent light blue spots.  The base of the anal fin is intense blue.  Pairs are frequently encountered in boulder habitat close to shore, but may also be seen in the coral environment.  One study shows they feed mainly on coral.  Although chunky and rotund, they are fast swimmers and often hard to approach.  The species is named for the Indonesian island of Ambon.  To about 5 in.
Arc-eye Hawkfish Paracirrhites arcatus, (Cuvier, 1829)Arc-eye Hawkfish, on Guard, Paracirrhites Arcatus, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)
Associated with the coral reefs of the western and eastern Atlantic and Indo-PacificHawkfish are strictly tropical, perciform marine fish of the family Cirrhitidae the hawkfish family contains 12 genera and 32 species. They share many morphological features with the scorpionfish of the family Scorpaenidae. Hawkfish have large heads with thick, somewhat elongate bodies. Their dorsal fins are merged, with the first consisting of ten connected spines. At the tip of each spine are several trailing filaments, hence the family name Cirrhitidae, from the Latin cirrus meaning “fringe.” Their tail fins are rounded and truncate and their pectoral fins are enlarged and skinless. Their scales may be cycloid or ctenoid. Most hawkfish are small, from about 7-15 centimetres in length. The largest species, the giant hawkfish (Cirrhitus rivulatus) attains a length of 60 centimetres and a weight of 4 kilograms. A commercial fishery exists for the larger species as they are considered excellent food fishes.
 Bandit Angelfish  Apolemichthys arcuatus, (Gray, 1831)Bandit Angelfish, Apolemichthys arcuatus, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)  Hawaiian Islands  A bold black band like a robber’s mask passes through the eyes and along the body of these distinctive fish, giving them their common name.  They are gray with tiny white spots above the band, and white below.  Typically unafraid, Bandits will sometimes swim over to investigate divers.  On Kauai and in the Northwestern Hawaiian islands they are common enough that snorkelers sometimes see them.  Further south they are encountered less frequently, usually at scuba depths and most often on the windward sides of the islands.  Unlike other Hawaiian angelfishes, Bandits swim in the open and are usually paired, and feed heavily on sponges.  Because of their diet they probably taste bad and the striking color pattern could well be a warning to predators as well as a means for males to track each other.  Juveniles, which have a mask-like black band covering most of the chest, head and upper side are secretive and rarely seen, usually below 150 feet.  The species name means bent like a bow referring to the slightly arched black band.  To 7 in. Endemic to Hawaii.
Barred Filefish Cantherhines dumerilii, (Hollard, 1854)

Barred Filefish, Cantherhines dumerilii, (Hollard, 1854), 1st Cathedral, Lanai Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Indo-Pacific: East Africa to French Polynesia, north to Japan and Hawaii. Eastern Pacific: Mexico to Colombia  These large filefish are brownish gray with faint vertical bars.  A tuft of orange-yellow spines (longer in males) sprouts at the base of the tail, also orange-yellow.  Equipped with powerful jaws and strong teeth, they feed in part on living coral and can sometimes be heard crunching upon it, much like parrotfishes.  Dorsal spines (total): 2; Dorsal soft rays (total): 34-39; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 28 – 35. Greyish brown to yellowish brown with about 12 vertical dark brown bars; lips whitish; male adults with orange peduncle spines; soft dorsal, anal and pectoral fins pale yellowish; caudal fin orange with dusky rays. Sexually dimorphic with males having longer and deeper orange peduncular spines and deeper orange tail and eyes. 
Bigscale Soldierfish  Myripristis bemdti, Jordan & Evermann, 1903Bigscale Soldierfish, Myripristis berndti, Jordan & Evermann, 1903, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Indo-Pacific and Eastern Pacific: East Africa south to Natal, South Africa (but not from the Red Sea) and east to the Clipperton, Cocos and Galapagos islands, north to the Ryukyu Islands and south to the Great Barrier Reef, Norfolk Island, and Lord Howe I. Dorsal spines (total): 11; Dorsal soft rays (total): 13-15; Anal spines: 4; Anal soft rays: 11 – 13. Lower jaw of adults prominently projecting when mouth is closed. Lower half to three-fourths of inner pectoral axil with small scales. Centers of scales silvery pink to pale yellowish, the edges red; black of opercular membrane extending below opercular spine; naked part of pectoral axil black; outer half of spinous dorsal fin yellow to orange-yellow, lower half of remaining fins red, the leading edges white, sometimes with a black submarginal streak.  Inhabits outer reef slopes at depths of 1 – 50 m (3.3 – 164.0 ft).
 Bluespine Unicornfish  Naso unicornis (Forsskål, 1775).Bluespine Unicornfish, Naso unicornis, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)  The distribution of this species extends from Hawaii southward to central Polynesia, westward through Micronesia and Melanesia, through the East Indies, and across the Indian Ocean to the coast of Africa The Bluespine unicornfish (Naso unicornis) or Short-nose unicornfish is a tang from the Indo-Pacific.  It grows to a size of 70 cm in length. It is called kala in Hawaiian.  In the juvenile stage its body is of a light green-grayish color. Running longitudinally along the dorsal and anal fins are bright, almost fluorescent, turquoise blue colored stripes. This bright blue color also surrounds the razors on the caudal spine by the tail, the eye is surrounded by a goldenrod color, and the lips have an appearance of wearing pale, light blue lipstick. As an adult this fish looses the lighter green body color, turning to more of a grayish tone combined with some blue hues. The horn remains small and short. Its skin is smooth, almost scaleless looking.
 Bluestripe Butterflyfish  Chaetodon fremblii, Bennett, 1828Bluestripe Butterflyfish, Chaetodon fremblii, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) This species is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands where it is common and abundant throughout. It has been recorded at depths between 1-28 m The coloration of this species is distinctive among Hawaiian butterflyfishes: 8 blue stripes run diagonally from head to tail; and there is no black vertical bar that masks the eye as in many other species. A black spot high on the head and another at the base of the tail may represent deceptive coloration by confusing the location of the eye. Single individuals are common on shallow reef and rocky shores, especially around the patches of sand or smooth bottom between boulders or coral. This day active species feeds on reef invertebrates, in particular the tentacles of tubeworms, as well as algae.  The second most common butterflyfish in Hawaii during surveys during 1967-1968 (Allen 1980). It is common around the high islands in the southeast of Hawaii and in the leeward group. 
 Bluestripe Snapper  Lutjanus kasmira (Forsskål, 1775)Bluestripe Snapper, Lutjanus kasmira, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)  Indo-Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa to the Marquesas and Line islands, north to southern Japan, south to Australia. Southeast Atlantic: East London, South Africa The common bluestriped snapper Lutjanus kasmira (Forsskål, 1775) (Lutjanidae) is a reef fish found throughout the Indo-Pacific (Randall 2005). Because of the lack of highly commercially valuable fish species such as groupers and snappers (Oda & Parrish 1981, Randall 1987), this fish was intentionally introduced off the island of Oahu, Hawaii, from the Marquesas Islands and Tahiti in the 1950s to enhance local coastal fisheries. Since its introduction to Oahu, L. kasmira has become extremely abundant and has successfully spread throughout the entire Hawaiian Archipelago, from Midway in the northwest to the island of Hawaii in the southeast.  Dorsal spines (total): 10; Dorsal soft rays (total): 14-15; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 7 – 8. Dorsal profile of head steeply sloped. Preorbital width usually greater than eye diameter, but sometimes less in small specimens. Preopercular notch and knob well developed. Scale rows on back rising obliquely above lateral line. Generally bright yellow on upper two-thirds of the side and white ventrally, with a series of four lateral blue stripes. The fins are also bright yellow.   Inhabit coral reefs, occurring in both shallow lagoons and on outer reef slopes. Frequently found in large aggregations around coral formation, caves or wrecks during the day. Juveniles inhabit seagrass beds around patch reefs . Benthopelagic . Feed on fishes, shrimps, crabs, stomatopods, cephalopods, and planktonic crustaceans. Also take a variety of algae.
Brown Surgeonfish  Acanthurus nigrofuscus (Forsskål, 1775)Brown Surgeonfish, Acanthurus nigrofuscus, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer) Indo-Pacific: Red Sea south to Transkei, South Africa and east to the Hawaiian and Tuamoto islands, north to southern Japan, south to the southern Great Barrier Reef, New Caledonia, and Rapa (Austral Islands) The Brown Surgeonfish occurs in shallow tropical marine waters of the Indo-Pacific. It is brown to purple-brown with small orange spots on the head and thorax and has a black spot at the rear of the dorsal and anal fin bases.  Dorsal spines (total): 9; Dorsal soft rays (total): 24-27; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 22 – 24. Brown in color when preserved; with or without fine bluish gray longitudinal lines on body; pale pectoral fins with upper edge narrowly black; pelvic fins brown. Lips blackish brown; median upper teeth tend to be pointed. Dorsal fin base with a prominent black spot larger than 1/2 eye diameter; a smaller spot on base of anal fin. Groove of caudal spine encircled with a narrow black margin. Gill rakers on anterior row:20-24; on posterior row:18-23.   Found on hard substrates of shallow lagoon and seaward reefs from the lower surge zone to a depth of more than 15 m . Benthopelagic. Feed on filamentous algae. Form spawning aggregations. Adults usually in small groups, but form large schools in some oceanic locations. Juveniles are often seen in mixed species aggregations. Species at the bottom of the ‘pecking order’ among surgeon fishes, and as a result employs the strategy of feeding in large schools that overwhelm the territorial defenses of other herbivores
Chocolate Dip Chromis  Chromis hanui (Randall & Swerdloff, 1973)Chocolate Dip Chromis, Chromis hanui, Lanai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Endemic to Hawaiian Islands Damselfishes (or demoiselles) are among the most abundant of reef fishes. They are small, moderately deep-bodied, with a small mouth and conical or incisiform teeth. There is a continuous dorsal fin of 10-14 spines, the base of the spinous portion longer than the soft, and 2 anal spines; the caudal fin varies from truncate to lunate (but usually forked). The lateral-line is interrupted, the anterior part ending below the dorsal fin.  The Chocolate Dip Chromis is dark yellowish-brown and the caudal peduncle and fin are abruptly white slightly posterior to rear base of dorsal and anal fins; no pink or lavender on lower head and chest, but snout and jaws often tinged with blue; a large black spot at base of pectoral fins; dorsal spines 12, soft rays 13. Attains 3.5 inches (9 cm). Hawaiian Islands; known from the depth range of 6-165 feet (1.8-50 m). The eggs of damselfishes are elliptical and demersal; the male parent guards the patch of eggs until hatching. If the guarding male is frightened away, as by a diver, other fishes (usually wrasses and butterflyfishes) quickly seize the opportunity to feed on the eggs.
Commerson’s Frogfish  Antennarius commerson, (Lacepède, 1798)Commerson's Frogfish, Antennarius commerson, (Lacepède, 1798), Lanai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Commerson's Frogfish, Antennarius commerson, (Lacepède, 1798), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Commerson's Frogfish, Antennarius commerson, (Lacepède, 1798), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Commerson's Frogfish, Antennarius commerson, (Lacepède, 1798), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)  Indo-Pacific and Eastern Pacific: Red Sea and South Africa to Panama, north to southern Japan and the Hawaiian Islands, south to the Lord Howe and the Society islands. Although there are a number of frogfish species in Hawaiian waters, this is the one seen most often quite possibly because it is easier to see than the others and it is one of the largest species.    Most of the other frogfish species are so well camouflaged that they’re almost impossible to spot.  Dorsal spines (total): 3; Dorsal soft rays (total): 12-13; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 8. Comes in a variety of colors: yellow, orange, green, brown, and black. Found in lagoon and seaward reefs, often on jetty Pylons. Benthic. Feed on fish. Oviparous. Eggs are bound in ribbon-like sheath or mass of gelatinous mucus called ‘egg raft’ or ‘veil’.  The pectoral fins are limb-like appendages that have an “elbow” joint. The pectoral fins also are prehensile, that is, the fish can grab onto things with them. The frogfish uses its pectoral fins to hold onto the surface where it is perched even in strong currents.  The frogfish family (Antennariidae) are among the fishes known as “anglerfish,” because their first dorsal spine is adapted into a little lure that they can extend and wiggle above their mouths to attract prey.
Common Longnose Butterflyfish  Forcipiger flavissimus, Jordan & Evermann, 1898 Common Longnose Butterflyfish, Forcipiger flavissimus,  lauwiliwilinukunuku?oi?oi, Jordan & Evermann, 1898, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Indo-Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa  to the Hawaiian and Easter islands, north to southern Japan, south to Lord Howe Island; throughout Micronesia. Eastern Pacific: southern Baja California, Mexico and from the Revillagigedo and Galapagos Islands Dorsal spines (total): 12 – 13; Dorsal soft rays (total): 19-25; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 17 – 19. F. flavissimus has relatively shorter snout with a larger mouth, higher dorsal spine count, and absence of dark-centered scales on the thorax than F. longirostris. Common in exposed seaward reefs but also found in lagoon reefs. Benthopelagic. Solitary or in small groups of up to 5 individuals. Adults usually in pairs. Feed on a wide variety of animal prey including hydroids, fish eggs, small crustaceans but prefers tube feet of echinoderms, pedicilaria of sea urchins, and polychaete tentacles. Oviparous, monogamous. Form pairs during breeding.
Eyestripe Surgeonfish

Acanthurus dussumieri, Valenciennes, 1835

Eyestripe Surgeonfish, Acanthurus dussumieri, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Found in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific. The Eyestripe Surgeonfish can be recognised by its colouration. It has a yellowish brown body covered with irregular blue lines. Its head is yellow with blue spots and lines. There is an irregular yellow spot behind the eye, and a yellow band across the interorbital. The dorsal and anal fins are yellow with a blue margin and a blue stripe at the base. The caudal fin is blue with black spots. All species in the genus Acanthurus have an erectile spine on the caudal peduncle. The spine of the Eyestripe Surgeonfish is white. The socket and membrane attached to the spine are black. The species grows to 50 cm in length.
Fourspot Butterflyfish

Chaetodon quadrimaculatus, Gray, 1831

Fourspot Butterflyfish, Chaetodon quadrimaculatus, Gray, 1831, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)

Fourspot Butterflyfish, Chaetodon quadrimaculatus, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Found in the Pacific Ocean from the Ryukyus, Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands and Taiwan to the Hawaiian, Marquesan, and Pitcairn islands, south to the Samoan and Austral Islands and the Marianas and Marshall Islands in Micronesia The top half of the body is black, marked by two large white oval shaped spots on each side. The lower half of the body is yellow and the fins a yellowish color. There is a darker vertical band that runs through the eye area and a lighter, wider vertical band behind the eye area. The dorsal and anal fins are yellow with a thin white inside line bordering them. The tail is yellow marked by another white spot area where the tail joins the body. Body oval, deep, strongly compressed. Head length about equal to head height; preopercle smooth, without prominent spines. Snout short. Small protractile mouth with brush-like teeth in the jaws. Dorsal fin with XIII to XV spines, no notch between spinous and soft dorsal fin; and 20 or 23 soft rays; anal fin with III spines and 16 to 18 soft rays; pectoral fins transparent with 15 or 16 soft rays; pelvic fins with I stout spine and 5 branched rays; caudal fin rounded. Upper half of body dark with 2 white marks, lower part yellow; a black-edged yellow bar through eye with a white bar just behind it. Found almost exclusively on exposed seaward reefs at depths of 2 to 30 m. Feed mainly on polyps of Pocillopora. Solitary or in pairs
Freckled Snake Eel

Callechelys lutea, Snyder 1904

Freckled Snake Eel, Callechelys lutea, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Endemic to Hawaii The Freckled Snake Eel can be seen with its head protruding several inches above the sand. This Yellowish white eel has small black spots covering its body. The blend in well and are easy to overlook. They can be observed to constantly gulp creating small puffs of sand. The bodies of these eels, up to 3 feet in length remain buried by the day. These eels have been seen swimming at the surface at night apparently attracted by light. The species name means yellow. It is endemic to Hawaii and a close relative the C. marmorata has also been found in Hawaii. In comparison C. mamoratahas dark spots on the belly where as the C. Lutea has few or none.
Hawaiian Dascyllus  Dascyllus albisella  (Gill, 1862)Hawaiian Dascyllus, Dascyllus albisella, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Hawaiian Dascyllus, Dascyllus albisella, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Eastern Central Pacific: Hawaiian Islands and Johnston Island. Adults are found in very shallow, protected water, over coral and rocky bottoms. Young often sheltering among the branches of Pocillopora; occasionally commensal with the anemone Marcanthia cookei (Ref. 9710). Benthopelagic (Ref. 58302). Peak spawning from May to August. Age-at-maturity estimated at one year. Feed on zooplankton, benthic invertebrates, and algae (Ref. 9710). Oviparous, distinct pairing during breeding (Ref. 205). Eggs are demersal and adhere to the substrate (Ref. 205). Males guard and aerate the eggs.  Dorsal spines (total): 12; Dorsal soft rays (total): 15 – 16; Analspines: 2; Analsoft rays: 15 – 16
 Hawaiian Lizardfish  Synodus ulae, Schultz, 1953Hawaiian Lizardfish, Synodus ulae, Schultz, 1953, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Pacific Ocean: Japan to Hawaii. Synodus (meaning “teeth together”) is a genus in the lizardfish family (Synodontidae), with 37 species.  Fine barring on head. Body bands darken towards the tail.  Identified by its eight darkish circles against a whitish body, blotches on head.  This common lizardfish lies in sand or rubble, sometimes buried with only the eyes and tip of the snout visible.  During spawning males aggregate on the sand in groups to wait for roving females, which may spawn multiple times with different partners.  To about 9 inches.
 Hawaiian Sergeant  Abudefduf abdominalis (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825)Hawaiian Sergeant, Abudefduf abdominalis, (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)  Endemic Hawaii  These abundant endemics are greenish white with five black bars that extend about half way down the body. The abdomen often develops subtle yellow striping, the bars can lengthen or shorten, and the ground color can lighten or darken. Other color changes occur during spawning and nest-guarding (see below). Juveniles, common in tide pools, are yellowish between the bars. Hawaiian Sergeants are frequently seen swarming high off the bottom to feed on plankton, usually over a specific area of the reef where they shelter and reproduce. When disturbed they dive as one for cover, but soon rise again to resume feeding. In bright sunlight they will feed almost at the surface; when clouds cover the sun they descend somewhat. In addition to plankton, these fish will consume algae or anything else they can find. Males nest in colonies and when reproductively active remain near the bottom vigorously defending purplish red patches of eggs laid on bare rock. The Hawaiian name is from ma’oma’o (“green”). The species name means “abdomen” or “belly” perhaps because this area of the fish is often yellow. The name “sergeant” is shared by several Indo-Pacific and Atlantic species of the same genus and is probably American in origin–sergeants in the British Army wear a crown instead of stripes. To almost 10 in., but usually smaller.
 Island Goatfish  Parupeneus insularis, Randall & Myers, 2002Island Goatfish, Parupeneus insularis, Randall & Myers, 2002, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Eastern Central Pacific: Hawaii, French Polynesia, and Pitcairn Islands to the Marshall, Mariana, Phoenix, and Samoa islands. This species is included in the Parupeneus trifasciatus complex where, Parupeneus trifasciatus is restricted to the Indian Ocean and Parupeneus crassilabris is from eastern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific, east to Fiji, Tonga, and the Caroline Islands. Variable in color, this solitary goatfish is perhaps most easily identified by its convex dorsal profile, thick lips and the rounded margins of its tail fin.  The head is slightly indented in front of the teye.  The body can be pale gray, reddish, purplish, or bluish.  Before 2002 it was known as the the Doublebar Goatfish and bore the now invalid scientific name P. bifasciatus.  Parupeneus insularis, a recently defined central Pacific species of goatfish (Perciformes: Mullidae) of the P. trifasciatus complex. Zoological Studies 41(4): 431-440. Previous authors have used the name Parupeneus bifasciatus (Lacepède) for a wide-ranging Indo-Pacific goatfish; however, Günther (1859), as 1st revisor, correctly placed bifasciatus in the synonymy of trifasciatus described by Lacepède on the same page. We herein divide P. trifasciatus into 3 species and restrict P. trifasciatus to the Indian Ocean. Parupeneus crassilabris (Cuvier) is recognized as valid for the eastern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific east to Fiji, Tonga, and the Caroline Islands; it differs from trifasciatus in color and in having shorter barbels. Parupeneus insularis is described as a new species from the Hawaiian Islands, French Polynesia, and Pitcairn Islands to the Marshall, Mariana, Phoenix, and Samoa Islands; it differs in color and in having a higher gill-raker count, 37-42 (modally 39), compared to 35-38 for the other 2 species, and it has shorter barbels than P. crassilabris.  Occurs on coral reefs and adjacent habitats, generally in less than 30 m, but has been recorded to 83 meters. Benthopelagic. Stomach contents of 12 specimens consist of 44% by volume of crabs; followed by shrimps, octopuses, mantis shrimps, amphipods and other crustaceans, fishes, and polychaetes.  
 Keeltail Needlefish  Platybelone argalus, (Lesueur, 1821)Keeltail Needlefish, Platybelone argalus, (Lesueur, 1821), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Keeltail Needlefish, Platybelone argalus, (Lesueur, 1821), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Keeltail needlefish are found in the western Atlantic ocean between North Carolina and Brazil, this includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean sea. In the Indian ocean, they are known off of east Africa,with range continuing into the Pacific reaching the Hawaiian islands and continuing north to the Ogasawara Islands.Keeltail needle fish have also been found around the Arabian Peninsula, in the Red sea and Persian gulf They usually occur offshore and are abundant around islands. They school in sheltered parts of reefs, feeding mainly on smaller fish. Keeltail needlefish are egg-laying, attaching their eggs to floating objects with specialized tendril-like structures on the egg’s surface.  P. argalus, body pentagonal in cross-section; caudal peduncle greatly depressed. Lower jaw obviously longer than upper. Vomerine teeth absent. Jaw teeth small. Anterior lobes of dorsal and anal fins moderate; caudal fin strongly forked. Dorsal finrays 11-16; anal finrays 14-20; pectoral finrays 10-13. Gillrakers 10-12. Vertebrae 62-76. Scales comparatively large. Predorsal scales 101-137. Juveniles with greatly elongated lower jaw, without black posterior dorsal fin lobe.
Lei Triggerfish Sufflamen bursa, (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)Lei Triggerfish, Sufflamen bursa, (Bloch & Schneider, 1801), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Lei Triggerfish, Sufflamen bursa, (Bloch & Schneider, 1801), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Lei Triggerfish, Sufflamen bursa, humuhumu, (Bloch & Schneider, 1801), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer) Hawaii There are eleven species of triggerfish in Hawaiian waters. These tough-skinned fish are known by the Hawaiian term, humuhumu, which means “to sew pieces together,” and is likely a reference to the geometric shapes and patterns that adorn some triggerfishes. The Lei Triggerfish, Sufflamen bursa is from the Indo-Pacific. It grows to a size of 25 cm in length. The “Scythe” markings on the lei triggerfish contain pigments which may change hue from light yellow to dark brown depending on mood of the fish.
Manta Ray
Manta birostris, (Walbaum, 1792)Breaching Manta Ray, Manta birostris,  (Walbaum, 1792), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer) It ranges throughout tropical waters of the world, typically around coral reefs. The manta ray (Manta birostris) is the largest species of the rays. The largest known specimen was more than 7.6 metres (25 ft) across, with a weight of about 1,300 kilograms (2,900 lb). They have the largest brain-to-body ratio of the sharks, rays and skates a brain which is kept warm during lengthy dives to as deep as 500 metres in cold water.Body dorso-ventrally flattened, with greatly enlarged pectoral fins, which give them a disc-like shape. Tips of fins pointed. Back dark, often with whitish patches and occasionally, other areas. Underside white, often with grayish areas and blotches. Head broad with long head fins. Large mouth on leading edge of the head. Tail whip-like, usually without spines.
Size from wing-tip to wing-tip over 6.5 meter.
 Manybar Goatfish   Parupeneus multifasciatus,   (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825)Manybar Goatfish, Parupeneus multifasciatus, (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Pacific Ocean: Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean to the Hawaiian, Line, Marquesan, and Tuamoto islands, north to southern Japan, south to Lord Howe and Rapa Islands Dorsal spines (total): 8; Dorsal soft rays (total): 9; Anal spines: 1; Anal soft rays: 7. Diagnosis: Pectoral rays 16 (rarely 15 or 17). Gill rakers 7-10 + 28-33 (total 36-41). Body depth 3.1-3.65 in SL; head length (HL) 2.8-3.1 in SL; dorsal profile of snout straight to slightly concave, the length 1.65-1.95 in HL; barbels long, their length 1.0-1.3 in HL; longest dorsal spine 1.5-1.75 in HL; last dorsal soft ray notably longer than penultimate ray, the latter contained 1.15-1.45 in length of the former; posterior margin of caudal-fin lobes convex; pectoral-fin length 1.35-1.55 in HL; pelvic-fin length 1.25-1.45 in HL. Body gray to red, the margins of the scales often yellow, with a broad black bar on caudal peduncle and one beneath anterior part of second dorsal fin, the area between bars paler than rest of body (sometimes white); a narrow dusky bar often present below interdorsal space, and one or two broad dark bars may be present anteriorly on side of body; head usually with a dark brown band from above upper lip through eye to upper end of gill opening; caudal fin yellowish to pink with narrow blue lengthwise bands; basal half of second dorsal fin of adults dusky anteriorly, black posteriorly, the outer half with narrow dark-edged blue and yellow bands; anal fin like outer part of second dorsal fin.
 Milletseed Butterflyfish  Chaetodon miliaris, Quoy & Gaimard, 1824Milletseed Butterflyfish, Chaetodon miliaris, Quoy & Gaimard, 1824, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)  Hawaii endemic The milletseed butterflyfish, Chaetodon miliaris, is one of the most recognized butterflyfishes in Hawaiian waters. Its English name refers to the small, seed-sized black spots that are distributed in vertical rows on its lemon yellow body. It is also known as the lemon butterflyfish in some dive guides. The Hawaiian name, lau wiliwili, refers to the resemblance of the fish’s body shape to the leaf of the wiliwili tree, and to the yellow color of the wiliwili leaf when it drops from the tree. Like many butterflyfishes, the milletseed butterflyfish has a black mask through the eye and a black spot near the tail.  This species is a Hawaiian endemic, it is found only in the Hawaiian Islands and is the most common species of butterflyfish in Hawaiian waters. It feeds primarily on zooplankton above the reef, but sometimes cleans other fishes and is also opportunistic, feeding on nests of damselfish eggs if they are unprotected. Familiar to snorkelers and divers, it is seen in schools above shallow reef slopes, as well as to depths of 830 feet (250 meters). The milletseed butterflyfish reaches lengths of 6.5 inches (16.5 cm).
Moorish Idol Zanclus cornutus, (Linnaeus, 1758)Moorish Idol, Zanclus cornutus, (Linnaeus, 1758), Maui Hawaii, (Steven Smeltzer)Moorish Idol, Zanclus cornutus, (Linnaeus, 1758), Lanai Hawaii, (Steven Smeltzer)Moorish Idol, Zanclus cornutus, Little Cathedrals, (Linnaeus, 1758), Lanai Hawaii, (Steven Smeltzer) Found in East Africa, Indian Ocean and the Ducie Islands; Hawaii, southern Japan and all of Micronesia; they are also found from the southern Gulf of California south to Peru. The moorish idol, Zanclus cornutus (“Crowned Scythe”), is a small marine fish species, the sole extant representative of the family Zanclidae (from the Greek zagkios, “oblique”) in order Perciform. A common inhabitant of tropical to subtropical reefs and lagoons, the moorish idol is notable for its wide distribution throughout the Indo-Pacific. A number of butterflyfishes (genus Heniochus) closely resemble the moorish idol. It is closely related to, if not a direct descendant of the extinct Eozanclus brevirhostris, from the Middle Eocene of Monte Bolca.  The body is deep and strongly compressed, with three wide black and two pale yellow bars.  The protruding, tubular snout has a yellow saddle across the top.  Short horn-like projections arise above the eyes and are larger in males.  Females are blackish brown densely covered on all sides with small white spots. Males have dark blue sides with irregular black spots, some of which may have gold centers. They also have gold markings on the head and at the base of the tail. When stressed, the Boxfish releases a poisonous substance, called ostracitoxin, from its mucous glands.
Multiband Butterflyfish  Chaetodon multicinctus, Garrett, 1863Multiband Butterflyfish, Chaetodon multicinctus, Garrett, 1863, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Endemic in Hawaii with a sister species, C. punctatofasciatus, in the Western and Central Pacific. These small butterflies are light tan covered with brown dots that coalesce to form four or five vertical bars.  Almost always tightly paired, they are a common sight throughout the Islands, probing and picking at the corals upon which they feed.  Like other coral-eating butterflysishes, they take only a few bites from a colony and then move on, minimizing damage to their food source.  Pairs are common on coral reefs to 100 feet.  Feeds upon individual coral polyps, worms, and small crustaceans.  Attains 5 inches.  Endemic to Hawai‘i.
Orangeband Surgeonfish  Acanthurus olivaceus, Forster, 1801Orangeband Surgeonfish, Acanthurus olivaceus, Forster, 1801, na'ena'e, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Islands of Oceania to western Pacific usually seen over sand bottoms near reefs, sometimes encountered in small groups Orangeband Surgeonfish are found in Hawaiian reefs from 10 feet to 150 feet deep. The juvenile Orangeband Surgeonfish is bright yellow, with a blue edge on the anal and dorsal fins, and similar in appearance to the Yellow Tang. The color of the adult Orangeband Surgeonfish (Acanthurus olivaceus) is grayish-brown to olive (thus the species name, “olivaceus”), usually with the front of the fish being lighter in color, and becoming darker on the rear portion of the fish. Prominently displayed on each side of the fish is a horizontal orange band broadly ringed with blue. The orange band extends back from the gill opening, and becomes more brilliant with age. The base of the dorsal fin is also lined with orange. Near the rear of the tail fin is a crescent-shaped white mark. The Orangeband Surgeonfish, whose Hawaiian name is Na‘ena‘e, may be seen near coral reefs, in small schools, feeding on filamentous algae and detritus covering sand and bare rock. Juveniles inhabit protected bays and lagoons, singly or in small groups in shallow water. They grow up to 12 inches long.
Orangespine Unicornfish

Naso lituratus, (Forster, 1801)

Orangespine Unicornfish, Naso lituratus, (Forster, 1801), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Found throughout the Indo-Pacific region and in Australia it is found from the top of the Great Barrier Reef along the east coast to the Solitary Islands Marine Park in northern New South Wales. The Orange Spine Unicornfish (Naso lituratus) is a tropical fish species that belong to the surgeonfishes family Acanthuridae. This species can be easily recognised by two bright orange forward hooked spines on the caudal peduncle (base of tail), its orange lips and black face mask. The body is brownish-grey with yellow nape and there is a broad black band on the dorsal fin. It can be found on coral reefs and often occurs in pairs. The Orange Spine Unicornfish (Naso lituratus) grows to a maximum length of approximately 45 cm.
Ornate Butterflyfish

Chaetodon ornatissimus, Cuvier, 1831

Ornate Butterfly Fish, Chaetodon ornatissimus, Cuvier, 1831, Maui Hawaii, (Steven Smeltzer)

Indo-Pacific: Sri Lanka to the Hawaiian, Marquesan and Ducie islands, north to southern Japan, south to Lord Howe and Rapa Islands; throughout Micronesia. The Ornate Butterflyfish, Chaetodon ornatissimus, is a species of butterflyfish (family Chaetodontidae). It is found in depths down to 36 m. It is a close relative of the Mailed Butterflyfish (C. reticulatus) and the Scrawled Butterflyfish (C. meyeri).The Ornate Butterfly has a white body marked by six diagonal, parallel orange stripes. The head is yellow with five black vertical bands, one running through the eye. The tail is marked by a black vertical stripe through the middle and edged at the tip with black. The outer edge of the fins are yellow highlighted by a thin black inside border.There are about 114 species of Butterflyfish. They have thin, disk-shaped bodies that closely resemble their equally recognizable cousins, the angelfish. They spend their days tirelessly pecking at coral and rock formations with their long, thin snouts in search of coral polyps, worms, and other small invertebrates.
 Ornate Wrasse  Halichoeres ornatissimus,  (Garrett, 1863)Ornate Wrasse, Halichoeres ornatissimus, (Garrett, 1863), Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Known from the western Pacific (e.g., Philippines south to the Great Barrier Reef) east to the Hawaiian Islands It is found among rich-coral growth, but it also frequents the bases of lagoon patch reefs and reef faces, where it forages among rubble and sand. It is a shallow-water wrasse, having been reported from a depth of 12 to 50 feet.  Dorsal spines (total): 9; Dorsal soft rays (total): 12; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 12. Identified by the red-striped pattern and the two ocelli in the dorsal fin in juveniles and females. Another similar species in Japan that has a spotted tail and lacks the series of white blotches over the back (Ref. 48636). Juveniles closely resemble juveniles of H. biocellatus, but have a brighter metallic sheen to the rows of light green markings along the head and back.
Oval Butterflyfish  Chaetodon lunulatus, Quoy and Gaimard, 1825Oval Butterflyfish, Chaetodon lunulatus Quoy & Gaimard, 1825, kikakapu, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Widespread in the Western Pacific from Japan and Australia to the Tuamoto Islands and Hawaii. Widely around coral reefs in Taiwan. Body oval, deep, strongly compressed. Head length about equal to head height; preopercle smooth, without prominent spines. Snout short. Small protractile mouth with brush-like teeth in the jaws. Dorsal fin with XIII or XIV spines, no notch between spinous and soft dorsal fin; and 20 to 22 soft rays; anal fin with III spines and 18 to 21 soft rays; pectoral fins transparent with 13 to 15 soft rays; pelvic fins with I stout spine and 5 branched rays; caudal fin rounded. Golden orange with narrow slightly oblique purplish stripes on on body; broad yellow-edged black bands at base of dorsal and anal fins and across middle of caudal fin; a yellow-edged black bar through eye; a broad red zone in soft part of dorsal and anal fins; caudal peduncle grey.  Occurs in monogamous pairs in coastal coral-rich areas. Juveniles hide among branches of small corals, often in lagoons. Feeds solely on live corals.
 Oval Chromis  Chromis ovalis,  (Steindachner 1900)Oval Chromis, Chromis ovalis, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)  Hawaii endemic Adults are brassy yellow-green but appear gray at a distance with dark fin edges. Sub-adults yellow-bodied with blue streak over eye. Juveniles  brilliant blue with yellow dorsal surface.  When not feeding they form dense schools near the bottom, usually in the vicinity of crevices and caves.  Oval Chromis are most plentiful above rocky or coral bottom at depths of about 20 to 130 ft, often mixing with the Threespot Chromis.
 Pacific Trumpetfish  Aulostomus chinensis, (Linnaeus, 1766)Pacific Trumpetfish, Aulostomus chinensis, (Linnaeus, 1766), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Pacific Trumpetfish, Aulostomus chinensis, (Linnaeus, 1766), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Pacific Trumpetfish, Aulostomus chinensis, (Linnaeus, 1766), Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Indo-Pacific: East Africa to Hawaii and the Easter Island, north to southern Japan south to Lord Howe Island. Eastern Central Pacific: Panama, Revillagigedo Islands, Clipperton Island, Cocos Island, and Malpelo Island Dorsal spines (total): 8 – 12; Dorsal soft rays (total): 24-27; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 26 – 29. Occurs in three basic color phases: uniformly brown to green, mottled brown to green, or uniformly yellow. First dorsal fin consists of a series of isolated spines, followed by a second dorsal fin consisting of rays. The second dorsal fin is shaped like the anal fin and is found directly above it. A black maxillary stripe usually present, but may be reduced; dorsal and anal fins light, but with a dark basal bar; caudal fin usually with two round black spots; a black spot at the base of each pelvic fin.
 Peacock Grouper  Cephalopholis argus, (Heemstra and Randall 1993)Peacock Grouper, Cephalopholis argus, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Peacock Grouper, Cephalopholis argus, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Cephalopholis argus is the most widely distributed of the groupers, occurring from the Red Sea to South Africa and east to French Polynesia and the Pitcairn group, including northern Australia, Lord Howe Island, and Japan. It was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1950s. Introduced from Mo’orea, French Polynesia, in 1956 for fisheries purposes.  These fish have become common throughout the Hawaiian Islands, where they continue to be known by their Tahitian name, roi.  Often ciquatoxic and dangerous to eat, they are not targeted by fishermen and have undergone a population explosion.  Some individuals are dark brown with dark-edged iridescent blue spots.  In large specimens the ground color lightens, the spots fade somewhat, and a series of light vertical bars may appear on the rear half of the body.  Sometimes a large pale patch develops under the pectoral fins.  These wary fish typically sit on or near a coral head, disappearing into a crevice when approached.  They hunt by lying on the bottom and darting forward to catch small reef fishes, particularly juvenile surgeonfishes, and occasionally crustaceans.  Sometimes they ambush by hanging motionless in mid-water, lunging at passing prey or chasing it a short dista  They will also follow a foraging eel or octopus to capture animals flushed from crevices, or swim with a school of browsing surgeonfishes using them as cover while hunting.  The species is named for the hundred staring eyes of the mythical Greek monster Argus.  To about 16 in.
 Multiband / Pebbled Butterflyfish  Chaetodon multicinctus, Garrett, 1863Courting, Pair of Pebbled Butterfly Fish, Chaetodon multicinctus, Garrett, 1863, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer) Eastern Central Pacific: Hawaiian Islands and Johnston Atoll. These small butterflyfishes are light tan covered with brown dots that coalesce to form four or five vertical bards.  Almost always tightly paried, they are a common sight throughout the Hawaiian islands.  They are at most 12 centimetres (4.7 in) in length, and white with yellow, brown, and black markings. These butterflyfish are territorial and form pairs. The pebbled butterflyfish occur near reefs in the eastern central Pacific, and are endemic to waters off the Hawaiian Islands and Johnston Atoll.  On the dorsal and anal fins, there is a black line running lengthwise, approximately one-third the total height of the fin from the outer margin. The pelvic fins are white, and the pectorals are transparent. The caudal fin bears a black crescent at its middle and a dark ring at its base.
Pinktail Triggerfish

Melichthys vidua, (Richardson, 1845)

Pinktail Triggerfish, Melichthys vidua, (Richardson, 1845), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)
Pinktail Triggerfish


Found from Hawai’i and the Tuamotu Islands westward through Polynesia, Micronesia, the Philippines, and the East Indies, and on across the Indian Ocean to the coast of Africa. This Triggerfish is named for its “pink tail”. The body is so dark it looks black, but in reality it is a very deep forest green color. The dorsal and anal fins have a translucent pinkish-white appearance marked with dark bands at the outside edges, and the pectoral fins have a yellowish color to them. They can grow up to 40 centimetres (16 in)
 Potters Angelfish  Centropyge potteri, (Jordan & Metz, 1912)Potters Angelfish, Centropyge potteri, (Jordan & Metz, 1912), Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) This species is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands  and Johnston Atoll in the central Pacific  The only truly common angelfish species in Hawai`i, Potter’s Angel is rusty orange overall with many irregular, vertical gray-blue lines. The orange darkens to bluish black on much of the lower side and this dark area is larger in males than in females, making them easy to distinguish in the field (i.e. females show more orange). The edges of the rear fins are striped horizontally with bright blue and black. Males have more blue on the fins than females and their bodies are slightly more elongate. Some individuals are much darker than others and a rare all blue-and-black specimen has been photographed by Hiroyuki Tanaka.  Potter’s Angels live in pairs or in small groups of a male and several females, usually in clear water at depths of 10-150 ft. under ledges or on reef slopes with plenty of shelter holes. One researcher ranked them among the ten most frequently seen fishes in such areas. They feed on detritus and algae and although they inhabit a specific territory they do not defend it from other algae-eating fishes. (The male does defend his harem and breeding territory from other males, however.) These fish can be hard to see without scuba, but adventuresome snorkelers on O`ahu might find them off the cliffs at Kawaihoa (Portlock) Point, where for some reason they are frequently in the open. Big Island snorkelers can see them at Hönaunau or Kealakekua Bay in only a few feet of water. Divers, of course, will see them almost anywhere, peering from the coral and darting from one hiding place to the next.
Pyramid Butterflyfish Hemitaurichthys polylepis, (Bleeker, 1857)Pyramid Butterflyfish, Hemitaurichthys polylepis, (Bleeker, 1857),  Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)Pyramid Butterflyfish, Hemitaurichthys polylepis, (Bleeker, 1857), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer) Eastern Indo-Pacific, Hawaii, Great Barrier Reef This fish us easily recognized by its color pattern. It has a bright white pyramid shape in the middle of the body, outlined by a bright yellow color. The head is a darker golden yellow color, and as this picture shows, when excited the color of the head can change to a very dark, almost black color. The pectoral and anal fins are white. The tail is also white, with some tinges of black. The scales on this fish are very noticeable with the white pyramid area having almost a pearlescent appearance.
Rainbow / Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse

Labroides phthirophagus, Randall, 1958

Rainbow Cleaner Wrasse, Labroides phthirophagus, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Hawaiian Dascyllus, Dascyllus albisella, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)

Found in the tropical Indo Pacific The wrasses are a family, Labridae, of marine fish, many of which are brightly colored. The family is large and diverse, with over 600 species in 82 genera, which are divided into nine subgroups or tribes. They are typically small fish, with most less than 20 centimetres (7.9 in) long, although the largest, the Humphead wrasse, can measure up to 2.5 metres (8.2 ft). They are efficient carnivores, feeding on a wide range of small invertebrates. Many smaller wrasses follow the feeding trails of larger fish, picking up invertebrates disturbed by their passing. fish will congregate at wrasse cleaning stations and wait for wrasses to swim into their open mouths and gill cavities to remove gnathiid parasites. Cleaner wrasses are best known for feeding on dead tissue and scales and ectoparasites, although they are also known to ‘cheat’, consuming healthy tissue and mucus, which is energetically costly for the client fish to produce.  Few cleaner wrasses have been observed being eaten by predators, possibly because parasite removal is more important for predator survival than the short-term gain of eating the cleaner.  The Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasse glows with color.  Both the male and female wrasse are yellow, blue and magenta with a broad black strip that widens from head to tail.  Juveniles are all black except for an intense blue or purple line along the back.  Other wrasse species, rather than inhabiting fixed locations, make “house calls”—that is, their “clientele” is too territorial or shy to go to a cleaning station.
Ringtail Wrasse  Oxycheilinus unifasciatus, (Streets, 1877)Ringtail Wrasse, Oxycheilinus unifasciatus, (Streets, 1877), Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Eastern Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean: Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean to the Hawaiian, Marquesan and Tuamoto islands, north to the Ryukyu Islands, south to Rowley Shoals in northwestern Australia, New Caledonia, and Rapa. Dorsal spines (total): 9; Dorsal soft rays (total): 10; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 8 – 11. Adults developing a distinctive black blotch covering the rears of the dorsal and anal fins. Display a bright white band over the tail. White bar often present on caudal peduncle (this pattern very changeable). Red lines radiating posteriorly from eye continuous across opercle to posterior opercular edge. Membranes of spinous portion of dorsal fin smooth, not incised.
Spotted Boxfish – Male
Ostracion meleagris camurumMaleMale Boxfish, Ostracion meleagris camurum, night dive, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)
Spotted Boxfish Male, Ostracion meleagris, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)
Indo-Pacific, Hawaii, Polynesia, Pacific Coast of Mexico to Panama, Africa The Ostracion meleagris, also known as the Spotted Boxfish, lives in the waters of the Indo-Pacific region and usually inhabits clear lagoons and seaward reefs.2 It has brilliant coloration as a result of sexual dimorphism and can be up to six inches in length.Females are blackish brown densely covered on all sides with small white spots. Males have dark blue sides with irregular black spots, some of which may have gold centers. They also have gold markings on the head and at the base of the tail. When stressed, the Boxfish releases a poisonous substance, called ostracitoxin, from its mucous glands.
Spotted Puffer Arothron meleagris, (Anonymous, 1798)Spotted Puffer, Arothron meleagris, (Anonymous, 1798), o'opu hue, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)Spotted Puffer, Arothron meleagris, (Anonymous, 1798), o'opu hue, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) The genus Arothron, or fat puffers, is a member of the pufferfish family (Tetraodontidae). Arothron is perhaps notable as being the pufferfish most commonly kept by marine aquarists. The Whitespotted Puffer (Arothron meleagris) has the ability to inflate by inhaling air or water. This is a protective defense that Puffers have which prevents them from being eaten by other fish. When it expands and inflates itself, a predator finds it difficult to swallow or get its mouth around the fish. When inflated, this Puffer’s body has a soft prickly texture, which is harmless to the touch. This Puffer can grow to 14″ in length.Also it is especially this genus that divers and hobbyists describe as being ‘cute’, due to their large expressive eyes, the ability to blink and vocalise and their dog-like snouts. The largest of these is the species stellatus which can grow to 48 inches in length. All species of puffers are highly toxic, containing a lethal poison called tetrodotoxin, 10,000 times more powerful than cyanide. A dose of 1 – 2 mg of this toxin can be lethal. Reported cases from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have documented toxicity with ingestion of as little as 1.4 ounces of puffer fish. Patients with severe toxicity may have deep coma, fixed nonreactive pupils, apnea, and loss of all brain stem reflexes. Death can occur within 4 – 6 hours. Typically, death occurs from respiratory muscle paralysis and respiratory failure.
Threadfin Butterflyfish

Chaetodon auriga, Forsskål, 1775

Threadfin Butterflyfish, Chaetodon auriga, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

The Threadfin Butterflyfish is found in the Indo-Pacific. Its geographical range stretches from eastern Africa (down to Mossel Bay, South Africa) and the Red Sea to Hawaii and the Marquesas and Ducie Islands of French Polynesia. The northern border of their range is found south of Japan, while the southern border is located near the Lord Howe (Australia) and Rapa Islands (French Polynesia). The Threadfin Butterfly is a reef-associated fish and its does not migrate. Its depth range is 1-35 meters / 3-115 feet. Length is up to 23 cm (9 in). Chaetodon auriga has a neck patch of ascending and a belly patch of descending oblique dark lines. It has a bright yellow tail and a broad dark patch under the eyes. It can be found in several different types of habitats, including corals reefs (inner and outer reef slopes), inshore waters and rubble covered bottoms with prolific plant and algae growth. The Threadfin Butterfly appreciates environments where there are plenty of caves and similar to hide in, but also plenty of open space to swim around in. This species can be found singly, in pairs, or in aggregations. When an aggregation has been formed, it will usually roam over large areas looking for food.
 Threespot Chromis (lightened)  Chromis verater, Jordan & Metz, 1912Threespot Chromis Lightened, Chromis verater, Jordan & Metz, 1912, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Eastern Central Pacific: Hawaiian and Johnston islands. Dorsal spines (total): 14; Dorsal soft rays (total): 12-14; Anal spines: 2; Anal soft rays: 12 – 14. Overall color is black. With three pupil-size white spots: one at the rear base of the dorsal fin, one at the rear base of the anal fin, and the third at mid-base of the caudal fin.   Adults form large aggregations high above the bottom in rocky areas around caves and ledges). Benthopelagic. Collected from 183 m. Spawn from December to June. Oviparous, distinct pairing during breeding. Eggs are demersal and adhere to the substrate. Males guard and aerate the eggs.
Ulua Giant Trevally Caranx ignobilis (Forsskål, 1775)Ulua Giant Trevally, Caranx ignobilis,  (ForsskÃ¥l, 1775), Lanai Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)Ulua Giant Trevally, Caranx ignobilis, (ForsskÃ¥l, 1775), Lanai Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer) The giant trevally is distributed throughout the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region, with a range stretching from South Africa in the west to Hawaii in the east, including Japan in the north and Australia in the south. The giant trevally, Caranx ignobilis (also known as the giant kingfish, lowly trevally, barrier trevally, ulua, maliputo, talakitok or GT), is a species of large marine fish classified in the jack family, Carangidae.The giant trevally is distinguished by its steep head profile, strong tail scutes and a variety of other more detailed anatomical features. It is normally a silvery colour with occasional dark spots, however males may be black once they mature. It is the largest fish in the genus Caranx, growing to a maximum known size of 170 cm and a weight of 80 kg. The giant trevally inhabits a wide range of marine environments, from estuaries, shallow bays and lagoons as a juvenile to deeper reefs, offshore atolls and large embayments as an adult. Juveniles of the species are known to live in waters of very low salinity such as coastal lakes and upper reaches of rivers, and tend prefer turbid waters.
The giant trevally is a powerful apex predator in most of its habitats, and is known to hunt individually and in schools. The species predominantly takes various fish as prey, although crustaceans, cephalopods and molluscs make up a considerable part of the diet in some regions. The species has some quite novel hunting strategies including following monk seals and stealing prey that is stirred up, as well as using sharks to ambush prey. The species reproduces in the warmer months, with peaks differing by region. Spawning occurs at specific stages of the lunar cycle, when large schools of giant trevally congregate to spawn over reefs and bays, with reproductive behaviour observed in the wild. The fish grows relatively fast, reaching sexual maturity at a length of around 60 cm at 3 years of age.The giant trevally is both an important species to commercial fisheries and a recognised gamefish, with the species taken by nets and lines by professionals and by bait and lures by anglers. Catch statistics in the Asian region show hauls of 4000-10 000 tonnes, while around 10 000 lbs of the species is taken in Hawaii each year. The species is considered poor to excellent table fare by different authors, although ciguatera poisoning is common in the fish. Dwindling numbers around the main Hawaiian Islands have also led to several proposals to reduce the catch of fish in this region.
Undulated Moray Lanai Gymnothorax undulatus, (Lacepède, 1803)Undulated Moray, Gymnothorax undulatus, Maui, Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)Undulated Moray, Gymnothorax undulatus, Maui, Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)Undulated Moray, Gymnothorax undulatus, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)Undulated Moray, Gymnothorax undulatus, (Lacepède, 1803), Maui, Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer) Widespread in the Indo-Pacific from East Africa to the Americas; in the eastern Pacific it occurs from Costa Rica to Colombia, and the Revillagigedos Islands. This moray is common on Hawaiian reefs, and can be seen withdrawn in crevices by day or hunting in the open at night.The undulated moray, or Puhi Laumilo , has a distinctive pattern of light undulating lines and speckles on a dark green background, with a snout that is often yellow. It can reach between 3-5 feet in length. It is a common species on reef flats among rocks, rubble, or debris and it also occurs in lagoons and seaward reefs, commonly inhabiting caves. It is reported to be an aggressive species and prone to bite.Dorsal and anal fins covered with skin, but clearly evident; dorsal fin origin before gill opening; rear nostril not tubular, at most a raised rim; teeth pointed and well developed; a single row of long fang-like canines at front between top jaws and the usual canines anteriorly in jaws; young with a few canines in middle row of upper jaw.Head variable, often yellowish, but also brown, grey or whitish; young brown with diffuse yellowish bars on body forming “chain-link” pattern; adults irregularly mottled.
Whitemouth Moray Gymnothorax meleagris (Shaw & Nodder, 1795)Whitemouth Moray profile, Gymnothorax meleagris, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)Whitemouth Moray, Gymnothorax meleagris, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)Whitemouth Moray, Gymnothorax meleagris, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)Whitemouth Moray, Gymnothorax meleagris, Rare color variant, (Shaw & Nodder), 1795, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer) Indio-Pacific The Whitemouth Moray is brown to yellow-brown with numerous dark-edged white spots on the head and body. The inside of the mouth and the tip of the tail are white. A black blotch surrounds the gill opening. There are enlarged canine teeth at the front of the upper jaw. The whitemouth moray is found in coral-rich areas of lagoons and seaward reefs. It prefers very shallow depth and juveniles are often in intertidal zones. It is often seen hunting during low tide among partly exposed reefs. It feeds mainly on fishes and crustaceans, by day and probably also at night. Ciguatera poisoning has been reported.Coloration is dark skin with small white spots, contrasting with white inside the mouth.It can be found living on coral reefs from depths of 1 to 36 metres and it is known to primarily feed on fishes and crustaceans. The Whitemouth Moray grows to a maximum length of 1.2 metres.
 White Spotted Toby  Canthigaster jactator, (Jenkins, 1901)White Spotted Toby, Canthigaster jactator, (Jenkins, 1901), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer) Endemic Hawaiian Islands. Tobies, sometimes called “sharpnose pufferfish” are diminutive puffers with a somewhat elongated snout. They are generally less than 4 inches long and constitute a subfamily within the larger pufferfish family, Tetraodontidae. Out of five species of tobies in Hawai`i, this is by far the most common. It is brown with white spots. The eye is green and the body often displays a slight green fluorescence. Usually in pairs, these fish occur on hard substrate just about everywhere, both in areas of 100% coral cover and in dead silty places where little else seems to live. Some individuals have irregular black marks on the snout, body, and fins—perhaps a disease. Others are so distended with parasitic worms (nematodes) that they appear inflated. One study indicated that Hawaiian Whitespotted Tobies feed mostly on green and red algae; another showed sponges to be the main food, followed by algae and tunicates
White-tip Reef Shark  Triaenodon obesus, (Rüppell, 1837)White-tip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus, (Rüppell, 1837), mano lalakea, Mala Pier, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)White-tip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus, (Rüppell, 1837), mano lalakea, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)White-tip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus, (Rüppell, 1837), mano lalakea, Mala Pier, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)White-tip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus, (Rüppell, 1837), mano lalakea, Mala Pier, Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)

White-tip Reef Shark, Triaenodon obesus, (Rüppell, 1837), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Found on Indo-Pacific coral reefs, the whitetip reef shark occurs as far west as South Africa and as far east as Central America. The whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) is a species of requiem shark, family Carcharhinidae, and the only member of its genus. A small shark usually not exceeding 1.6 m (5.2 ft) in length, this species is easily recognizable by its slender body and short but broad head, as well as tubular skin flaps beside the nostrils, oval eyes with vertical pupils, and white-tipped dorsal and caudal fins.
During the day, whitetip reef sharks spend much of their time resting inside caves. Unlike other requiem sharks, which rely on ram ventilation and must constantly swim to breathe, this shark can pump water over its gills and lie still on the bottom. At night, whitetip reef sharks emerge to hunt bony fishes, crustaceans, and octopus in groups, their elongate bodies allowing them to force their way into crevices and holes to extract hidden prey. Individual whitetip reef sharks may stay within a particular area of the reef for months to years, time and again returning to the same shelter. This species is viviparous, in which the developing embryos sustained by a placental connection to their mother. One of the few sharks in which mating has been observed in the wild, receptive female whitetip reef sharks are followed by prospective males, who attempt to grasp her pectoral fin and maneuver the two of them into positions suitable for copulation. Females give birth to 1–6 pups every other year, after a gestation period of 10–13 months.  Whitetip reef sharks are rarely aggressive towards humans, though they may investigate swimmers closely. However, spear fishers are at risk of being bitten by one attempting to steal their catch. This species is caught for food, though there are reports of ciguatera poisoning resulting from its consumption. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed the whitetip reef shark as Near Threatened, noting that its numbers are dwindling due to increasing levels of unregulated fishing activity across its range. The slow reproductive rate and limited habitat preferences of this species renders its populations vulnerable to over-exploitation.  It is typically found on or near the bottom in clear water, at a depth of 8–40 m (26–130 ft).
 Whitesaddle Goatfish  Parupeneus ciliatus, (Lacepède, 1802)Whitesaddle Goatfish, Parupeneus ciliatus, (Lacepède, 1802), kümü, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)  Endemic Hawaiian Islands This is Hawaii’s only endemic shallow-water goatfish.  It can be grayish purple, greenish, or reddish, but almost always has a small white spot, or saddle, above the bse of the tail.  Pale streaks along the body above and below the eye are another identifying feature.  It feeds at night and is often seen resting by day, alone or in small groups.  Jueveniles sometimes occur in tide pools.  Highyly valued in ancient times, this fish was sometimes used in offerings calling for a pig, when a pig was unobtainable.  It was forbidden to women as was pork.  Dorsal spines (total): 8; Dorsal soft rays (total): 9; Anal spines: 1; Anal soft rays: 7. Diagnosis: Pectoral rays 15 (rarely 14 or 16); gill rakers 6-8 + 23-27 (total 30-34); body depth 2.93.5 in SL; head length (HL) 2.85-3.25 in SL; dorsal profile of snout straight to slightly concave, the snout length 1.85-2.1 in HL; barbels short, 1.5-1.8 in HL; longest dorsal spine 1.55-1.9 in HL; last dorsal ray slightly longer than penultimate ray; posterior margin of caudal-fin lobes convex; pectoral-fin length 1.35-1.55 in HL; pelvic-fin length 1.2-1.55 in HL. Color brown to red dorsally, paler ventrally, the scale edges darker; scales on body with or without a white or pale blue spot; a darker brown or brownish red stripe, broadly bordered in white, from front of snout through center of eye, becoming indistinct below origin of second dorsal fin; a dark brown spot within stripe behind eye; a second dark stripe across cheek parallel to the first, bordered below by a white band that ends at pectoral-fin base; a white or pale pink spot anteriorly on upper half of caudal peduncle covering about three horizontal rows of scales, followed by a black or dusky spot with darker scale edges a little larger in size (spot may extend slightly below lateral line); fins light red to reddish gray, the second dorsal and anal fins often with small pale spots.
Yellow Margin Eel Maui

Gymnothorax flavimarginatus, (Rüppell, 1830)

Yellow Margin Moray, Gymnothorax flavimarginatus, (Rüppell, 1830), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

"Fierce eel", Yellow Margin Moray eel, Gymnothorax flavimarginatus, (Rüppell, 1830), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Pühi-paka, Yellow Margin Moray eel, Gymnothorax flavimarginatus, (Rüppell, 1830), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Yellow Margin Moray eels range from the Red Sea and South Africa east all the way through the indian and Pacific Oceans to Costa Rica and Panama and the Galapagos Islands. Yellow Margin Moray Eel Gymnothorax flavimarginatus are one of the most aggressive eel species. The yellow-edged moray, Gymnothorax flavimarginatus, is a moray eel of the family Muraenidae, found in the Indo-Pacific oceans from the Red Sea and South Africa eastward to the Tuamotus and Austral islands, north to the Ryukyu and Hawaiian islands, south to New Caledonia, and in the eastern Pacific from Costa Rica, Panama and the Galapagos Islands, at depths down to 150 m. Its length is up to 240 cm. The yellow-edged moray is found along drop-offs in coral or rocky areas of reef flats and protected shorelines to seaward reefs. It feeds on cephalopods, fishes, and crustaceans. It most often appears on the reef after a fish has been speared during daylight. The regularity and promptness of such appearances make it clear that the yellow-edged moray is especially sensitive to stimuli emanating from an injured or stressed fish. It is eaten in some parts of the Indo-Pacific.
Coloration is yellowish, densely mottled with dark brown, with the front of the head purplish grey and the posterior margins of fins yellow-green. The eyes are reddish and the gill opening is a black blotch. Juveniles sometimes are bright yellow with brown blotches.
 Yellowstripe / Blackstrip Coris Coris flavovittata, (Bennett, 1828)Male Yellowstripe Coris, Coris flavovittata, (Bennett, 1828), Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer) Eastern Central Pacific: Hawaiian Islands. Northwest Pacific: Midway Islands Mature females are white with three black stripes running lengthwise along the upper side.  Males, could not be more different.  They are mottled light blue-green overall with a line/blotched face and lither blotches along the body and fins.  Juveniles are black with four or five white (sometimes, light yellow) strpes.  Large, mature females are uncommon and males are rare.  The species name means “yellow striped” from the unusual juvenile form.  The Hawaiian name hilu, means well behaved.  Women who ate hilu while pregnant were said to bear quiet, refined children.  This species inhabits sand and rubble areas adjacent to coral reefs in depths of 1-98 m. It is generally listed as a protogynous hermaphrodite (e.g., DeMartini et al. 2005) but no primary literature could be found to confirm this. This species feeds on echinoderms, molluscs, gastropods, crustaceans, and polychaetes. The maximum recorded size is 56 cm and 2.8 kg.
Yellowtail Coris

Coris gaimard, (Quoy & Gaimard 1824)

Yellowtail Coris, Coris gaimard, hinalea 'akilolo,(Quoy & Gaimard 1824),  Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)

Yellowtail Coris, Coris gaimard, Hawaiian name hinalea akilolo,(Quoy & Gaimard 1824),  Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Found in tropical marine waters of the Indio Pacific Coris is one genus in the second largest marine fish family, Labridae. This huge family contains more than 65 genera and 460 species. The fishes placed in the Labridae family characteristically use their pectoral fins extensively for swimming, rarely using their tail, and then usually as a means of escaping danger. The Hawaiian name is hinalea akilolo. Coris Gaimard grows to a size of 40 cm in length. As a juvenile it is a bright red color with large black margined white spots. As an adult it has a pink face and fins, with the exception of the tail fin which is bright yellow. The body is green towards the anterior darkening and decorated with bright blue specs towards the posterior. The fish also gains a very bright orange anterior when it grows into adulthood, and has a drastically shaded body in the posterior region that is dotted with obscenely bright blue spots ringed with dark blue. The posterior of Coris gaimard appears to be like a midnight sky with numerous stars thrown on it. The mouth also presents a series of consistent features that distinguish this genus. A pair of large canine teeth are located at the tip of both the upper and lower jaws. These teeth are slightly recurved and fit nicely into one another when the jaws are closed. Running the length of their jaws are several rows of teeth. Beginning as large conical teeth, the outside row gets progressively smaller as the row extends toward the rear of the mouth. Inside these conical teeth are small, molariform teeth, which form several more irregular rows. The final teeth of note are their pharyngeal teeth. These bone-crushing teeth are used by several genera of Labrids, including Macropharyngodon and Halichoeres. These teeth are especially useful for crushing the hard exoskeleton of motile invertebrates such as hermit crabs, echinoderms, and mollusks.  Deeper dwelling individuals exist, though, as submarine observations have identified Coris gaimard as deep as 240′
Yellow Tang  Zebrasoma flavescens   (Bennett, 1828)

Yellow Tang, Zebrasoma flavescens, Lanai Hawaii, Knob Hill (Steven Smeltzer)

Pacific Ocean: Ryukyu, Mariana, Marshall, Marcus, Wake and Hawaiian islands. Has been reported off the coast of Florida in the Western Central Atlantic Dorsal spines (total): 5; Dorsal soft rays (total): 23-26; Anal spines: 3; Anal soft rays: 19 – 22. bright yellow overall (pale in preservative). Sheath of peduncular spine white. Body very deep, its depth 1.4 to 1.75 times in SL. Snout moderately protruding. Mouth small; teeth spatulate, close-set, the edges denticulate. 12 upper and 14 lower teeth in juveniles, and 18 upper and 22 lower teeth in an adult 15 cm SL.  Adults inhabit coral-rich areas of lagoon and seaward reefs from below the surge zone to about 46 m. Benthopelagic over rock at 1-81 m. They occur singly or in loose groups. Mainly herbivorous, browsing on filamentous algae. Group spawning and pair-spawning by territorial males that court passing females were observed. Spawning activity occurs around the full moon indicating lunar periodicity. Spawn in batches throughout the year. Presence of a venom gland could not be determined despite the presence of distinct anterolateral grooves; this may be due to the loss of venom glands in adults.
 Yellowfin Goatfish  Mulloidichthys vanicolensis, (Valenciennes, 1831)

Yellowfin Goatfish, Mulloidichthys vanicolensis, (Valenciennes, 1831) Maui Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)

Indo-Pacific: Red Sea to the Hawaiian, Marquesan, and Tuamoto Islands, north to southern Japan, south to Lord Howe Island.  When in the open during the day, these goatfish have whitish bodies with some yellow along the back, yellow fins and a yellow stripe from eye to tail.  The yellow strip may be bordered faintly with blue.  They feed only at night, resting by day in tight schools that hang almost motionlessly in midwater, usually at the same spot on the reef year after year.  The also congregate in caves and under ledges, where they often turn entirely pink or red (including the yellow strip and fins).  When posing to be cleaned by wrasses they typically take on the darker red color, perhaps to make parasites stand out.  They also turn reddish when taken from the water, thus the Hawaiian name, meaning “red weke.”   Dorsal spines (total): 8; Dorsal soft rays (total): 9; Anal spines: 1; Anal soft rays: 7. Back red-orange, sides and belly whitish; yellow longitudinal band present; no dark blotch on under middle of 1st dorsal fin. All fins yellow.
Zebra Moray

Bymnomuraena zebra, (Shaw, 1797)

Zebra Moray, Bymnomuraena zebra, (Shaw, 1797), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)

Zebra Moray, Bymnomuraena zebra, (Shaw, 1797), Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)


Found in the Hawaiian Islands southward to Polynesia, westward across the tropical Pacific Ocean to the Philippines and East Indies, and across the Indian Ocean to the coast of Africa. Also occurs off Panama, the Galapagos Islands, and Mexico. The strikingly marked zebra moray is not common, but is easily recognized: it has a blunt snout and is a deep chocolate brown with narrow light yellow bars. This species may reach sizes up to 5 feet (1.5 m), though most specimens are smaller. An inhabitant of crevices and ledges of seaweed reefs from the surge zone to depths of at least 130 feet (39 m), it is also seen on reef flats where is may swim in the open. This species is found throughout the Indo-Pacific, from East Africa to the tropical Americas. Well-adapted for its diet of armored invertebrates, the zebra moray’s molar-like teeth nearly cover the jaws and palate like a cobblestone pavement. Common dietary items include pebble crabs and other crustaceans, clams, even sea urchins.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *