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Related FAQs: Fishes of Hawai'i, Articles on: The Best Butterflyfishes of Hawai'i, Triggerfishes of Hawai'i

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Hawaiian Marine Biotopes, Part 3

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7,


Bob Fenner


Shallow Water Squirrelfishes, Family Holocentridae:

Myripristis amaena (Castelnau 1873), the Brick Soldierfish.
West-Central Pacfic; Indonesia, Philippines to Hawaii.
To about ten inches in length. Found in waters less than 30 feet depth in Hawaii. Monterey Bay Aquarium photo.

Myripristis kuntee Valenciennes 1831, Shoulder-bar Soldierfish. Indo-Pacific; East Africa to Hawai'i. To eight inches total length. Reef-associated. Leading part of spiny dorsal fin yellowish. This one off of Queensland, Australia.

Neoniphon sammara (Forsskal 1775), the Sammara Soldierfish. Indo-Pacific, Red Sea to the Hawaiian Islands. To about a foot long. An occasional import. The first one in the Cooks, the second the Red Sea. Common on shallow reefs in Hawaii.


Sargocentron diadema Lacepede 1802, the Crown Squirrelfish. Indo-Pacific, Red Sea to Hawai'i. To nine inches in length. The most common Pacific offering in the family.



Scorpionfishes, Family Scorpaenidae: 

            Hawaii hosts a number of smaller scorpionfishes, of which two are regularly utilized as ornamentals. One is an endemic, the other often imported from elsewhere.  

Pterois sphex Jordan & Evermann 1903, the endemic Hawaiian ("Dwarf") Lion; often mistakenly sold as Antennata lions which they closely resemble in terms of pectoral finnage. Sphex lion fins are shorter, less colorful and more clubbed in appearance. Though more costly than the majority of lions which are imported from the Philippines and Indonesia, Hawaiian lions are my favorite for hardiness. To eight inches.

Taenianotus triacanthus Lacepede 1802, the Leaf Scorpionfish. Indo-pan-Pacific. To four inches overall length.
 Usually found amongst reef rocks on a open setting, rocking like a falling leaf. Molts twice a month. Feeds on
small fishes, fry and crustaceans. Comes in browns, blacks, yellows, reds and Below, first row, an assortment
in N. Sulawesi. Second row in Gili Air, Indonesia, light purple! Second also off Gili Air, the last in Fiji.






Shallow Water Basses, Family Serranidae:

            There is a mix of bass species in Hawaiian waters. Only one large (imported) species occurs here that is available to aquarists and some gorgeous smaller species of anthiines and Liopropoma. 

Cephalopholis argus Bloch & Schneider 1801, the Peacock or Argus Hind or Blue-Spotted Grouper. Indo-Pacific, Red Sea to French Polynesia. Introduced into Hawai'i and the tropical eastern Pacific coast as a food and game fish. To a foot and a half in length. Make excellent aquarium specimens for large fish-only systems.


Small, medium, and large specimens (6, 12, 16" respectively), in the Red Sea, Hawai'i and French Polynesia.


Hawkfishes, Family Cirrhitidae: 

            Hawkfishes are abundant in the Aloha islands, some hidden between rocks and amongst coral stands, others boldly perched looking over their domain.  

Cirrhitops fasciatus (Bennett 1828), the Redbarred Hawkfish. Punctuated distribution in the Indo-Pacific, including Hawai'i (where most often shipped from), Reunion, Mauritius, Japan, Madagascar. To five inches overall length. Kailua-Kona, HI image. One of two in the genus.


Cirrhitus pinnulatus (Forster 1801), the Stocky Hawkfish. Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea. To a foot in length. This four inch specimen in Hawai'i. An occasional import that does well in captivity, including reefs that don't house small motile invertebrates or fishes.


The Arc-Eye hawkfish, Paracirrhites arcatus (Cuvier 1829). With an interesting U-shaped three color patch behind the eye. They grow to about 5 inches in length and come in two basic color varieties; one flesh-toned, the other a darker brown based. Both of these in Hawai'i.


Forster's or Freckled Hawkfish, Paracirrhites forsteri (Schneider 1801). With a body marked by dark spots on the front half and horizontal bands on the rear. This species can be testy and eat goldfish near their full length of almost nine inches, so be careful when purchasing a larger one. Indo-Pacific. Juvenile and adult dark form in Hawai'i.



Cardinalfishes, Family Apogonidae: 

            There are ten species of cardinals that occur in Hawaii. None are collected for the trade, though one shallow water species that occurs here does get imported from further into its Indo-Pacific range. Good for a fill in fish species for a peaceful system.  

Apogon kallopterus Bleeker 1856, the Iridescent Cardinalfish. Indo-Pacific, including the Red Sea (where this one was photographed at night while foraging). To six inches in length. A larger specimen out during the day in the Maldives also shown.


Snappers, Family Lutjanidae: 

            The only shallow water member of this family in HawaiI used in the ornamental hobby was actually introduced from the Marquesas in 1958, and is rarely collected from here for our use.  

Lutjanus kasmira (Forsskal 1775), the Common Bluestripe Snapper. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, eastern Africa to the Marquesas, south to Australia, over to the Southeast Atlantic; South Africa. Here in the Maldives and Australia..


Butterflyfishes, Family Chaetodontidae: 

            Hawaiian Butterflyfishes span the gamut of the familys aquarium suitability, with some appropriate generalized zooplanktivore species to obligate coralivores. About half of the two dozen species that occur here are occasionally collected for the trade though only the deepwater Tinkers fetches sufficient divers pay to be attractive to collectors. From personal experience, I assure you most butterflies are flipped over fence collection nets and released to the wild.


Forcipiger flavissimus  Jordan & McGregor 1898, Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish, Forcepsfish. Wide variety of foods taken, rarely corals. Widest distribution of B/Fs, from east coast of Africa to west coast of Central America. To eight inches overall length. Maldives photo. 

Forcipiger longirostris (Broussonet 1782), Yellow Longnose, Long Longnose Butterflyfish. With a longer snout than its congener and patch of dark spots on the chest to distinguish the two. Also hardy and about the same size. From east African coast to mid-Pacific. Dark color forms seasonally seen. Bunaken, Indonesia and Hawai'i pix. 

Hemitaurichthys polylepis (Bleeker 1857), the Pyramid (often sold as H. zoster) Butterflyfish. Zooplanktivore, living in midwater and feeding in shoals. Central and western Pacific, including Hawaiian Islands. To seven inches in length. Aquarium image.

Heniochus diphreutes Jordan 1903, Schooling Bannerfish.(1) Similar to the "common heni", H. acuminatus, but with smaller mouth and more rounded breast area. Zooplanktivore that excels in a large, un-crowded system. Cleaners as juveniles. This one in Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia.

Chaetodon auriga Forsskal 1775, the Threadfin Butterflyfish. A great beauty and hardy aquarium specimen, though it will eat coral polyps and anemones. See other materials on this species by clicking on name. Widespread Indo-Pacific. An Auriga B/F in Hawai'i. 

Chaetodon kleini Bloch 1790, Klein's Butterflyfish. Widespread from Hawai'i over to Africa's east coast. To five inches overall. A hardy, but shy species that often perishes due to too much commotion and competition in captivity. A juvenile in Hawai'i, an adult one Redang, Malaysia.

Chaetodon miliaris  Quoy & Gaimard 1824, the Lemon Butterflyfish. Hardy, abundant and not hard to catch, this Hawaiian endemic is a real winner that ought to be used more widely in the trade. Two Hawaiian images to show degrees of yellow in wild specimens

Chaetodon lunula (Lacepede 1803), the Raccoon Butterflyfish. Though not as attractive as its namesake in the Red Sea (C. fasciatus), the Indo-Pacific Raccoon is just as hardy, and a very good choice for eating pest Aiptasia anemones in reef tanks, though it will consume coral polyps in some cases. Click on name for more information, images. This one in the Cook Islands, South Pacific.


Chaetodon fremblii  Bennett 1828, the Blue-Striped Butterflyfish. A relic species confined in range to the Hawaiian Islands. Opportunistic feeder on algae and benthic invertebrates including corals. To five inches total length. Pictured here in captivity.

Chaetodon unimaculatus Bloch 1787, the Teardrop Butterflyfish. Often, too often imported from Indonesia, the Philippines and even Hawai'i... like the similar Indian Ocean species of the same common name this is an "iffy" fish that mainly perishes due to the rigors of human (mis)handling. Shown: an adult in Fiji.


Chaetodon lineolatus Cuvier 1831, the Lined Butterflyfish. At a foot long, vying for largest of the family. Widespread from Hawai'i over to the east coast of Africa, into the Red Sea. A beauty that eats corals, anemones, much of all else, but doesn't live. One in Hawai'i

Chaetodon quadrimaculatus  Gray 1831, the Four-Spot Butterflyfish. Found in the central to western Pacific, including Hawai'i. To six inches long. A few specimens live and live, most die "mysteriously" in aquarium conditions. In the wild, this species feeds principally on Pocillopora coral polyps. Shown, an adult in  the Cooks.

Chaetodon ornatissimus Cuvier 1831, the Ornate Butterflyfish. Yet another obligate corallivore. Yes, a beauty, but does not live in home fish tanks. Indo-west Pacific, Including Hawaiian Islands. To about seven inches in length. Commonly offered, doesn't live.

Chaetodon reticulatus Cuvier 1831, the Reticulated Butterflyfish. Nice looking, and "friendly" underwater toward divers, but dismal survival records in captivity for this coral polyp eater. Found commonly in central and western Pacific. To six inches total length. One in the Cooks.


 To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7,

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