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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 7

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6,


Bob Fenner



Coris gaimard (Quoy & Gaimard 1824), the Yellowtail Coris or Gaimards Wrasse is THE Coris Wrasse to most hobbyists (1). Depending on life stage this fish also goes by the common appellations as the Red (as young) and Yellowtail Coris. To a mere sixteen inches in length. Indo-Pacific out to Hawai'i. where these images of a juvenile, female and male were made.



Gomphosus varius Lacepede 1801, is the much more common Bird Wrasse (1) in the west. Its males are lighter green over-all, and females transversely white to black front to back, with an orangish upper "beak". The common Bird Wrasse is found in Hawaii to the tropical western Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean. Female in Hawai'i, male in captivity.


Macropharyngodon geoffroy (Quoy & Gaimard 1824), Potters Leopard Wrasse (3). Found in Hawai'i to Micronesia and the East Indies. A look-alike for Potters Dwarf Angelfish, Centropyge potteri. A very delicate species. Maui and aquarium photos.


Novaculichthys taeniourus  (Lay & Bennett 1839) the Rock Mover, Dragon or Indian Wrasse is a very hardy fish that is more often killed by aquarists than dies from other influences. As an aquarium specimen this species requires regular "beefy" feedings of animal-based foods. It is a gluttonous feeder that quickly starves if underfed. Not for reef tanks, To about a foot in length.  Juvenile in captivity and adult in Hawai'i shown.



Deeper Water Surgeonfishes:


Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis (Chevron Tang); All Ctenochaetus species change color with age but the chevron is most striking. Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis young are unforgettable; bold orange bodied covered with variegated lines of electric blue. Adults shift to a deeper orange red base covered with darkish blue uneven horizontal lines, ultimately to almost black. Below, juvenile and adult specimens in aquariums and a splendid adult off of Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i.




An Open Water/Pelagic Triggerfish:


A more open ocean species, the Redtail or Crosshatch Triggerfish, Xanthichthys mento (Jordan & Gillbert 1882). Entire tropical Pacific. To a foot in length. One in captivity and a school off of Socorro in the Eastern Pacific.


Puffers of all kinds: 


            One of the six species of the bony-encased boxfishes found here finds its way into the trade regularly, the (male) Blue Box and (female) Black Boxfish. 

Ostracion meleagris Shaw 1796, the Blue (male), Black (female) or Whitespotted Boxfish. Vying with the common Cowfish, Lactoria cornuta, for most commonly offered species in the family. Like other (demersal) Boxfish species, this one needs to be well fed... on the tank bottom, not the surface or mid-water. Take care with aggressive feeding tankmates. A female and male from Hawaii in captivity.


Puffers That Blow-Up: True Puffers and Burrfish 

            A real mix of large and small (Tobies) species that come into our interest from HawaiI and elsewhere. Large species for very large systems only. 

Arothron hispidus (Linnaeus 1758), the White-Spotted Puffer. Indo-Pacific, Red Sea, east African coast, tropical east Pacific coast. To twenty inches in length in the wild. Cute when small, and very hardy... just big eaters and mess makers. Here are pictured a four inch juvenile in captivity, a one foot specimen in the Red Sea, and a fifteen inch mottled or "koi" one in the Seychelles.



Arothron meleagris (Lacepede 1798), the Guinea Fowl Puffer. This is a "standard" offering in the pet fish trade, in black and white, golden and mottled color morphs. Found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific. Below are images of a "normal" individual in Hawai'i, a xanthic "gold" one in captivity, and a mottled "koi" one in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. To twenty inches long in the wild.



A species regularly offered is the Ambon Sharpnose Canthigaster amboinensis (Bleeker 1865). I also like the science of ichthyology's name for this species, "Spider-Eye Puffer" for obvious reasons. Tropical eastern Pacific and Indo-Pacific. To six inches long in the wild. Here's one in captivity, another in Hawai'i..



Canthigaster coronata (Vaillant & Sauvage 1875), the Crowned Puffer. Another regular offering from this genus/subfamily. Indo-west Pacific, Red Sea out to Hawai'i. To five inches in the wild. This image made off of Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia. 

Canthigaster jactator (Jenkins 1901), Hawaiian Sharpnose Puffer. Hawaiian endemic. To three inches in length. This one in the 50th State's waters.


Diodon holacanthus Linnaeus 1758, the Long-Spined Porcupinefish. Circumtropical in distribution. To some eighteen inches in length in the wild. A comical, hardy addition to a fish-only rough and tumble marine system. Aquarium and St. Lucia (Caribbean) images.



Diodon hystrix Linnaeus 1758, the Spotted Burrfish. Circumtropical in distribution. To some three feet in length in the wild (not a misprint). Here are photos of specimens in Hawai'i and the Maldives.



Bibliography/Further Reading: 

Fishbase.org (the definitive Net reference for ichthyological information)

Hoover, John 1998. Hawaiis Sea Creatures. A Guide to Hawaiis Marine Invertebrates. Mutual Publishing, Oahu. 365 pp.

 Randall, John E. 1996. Shore Fishes of Hawaii. Natural Wonder Press, OR. 216 pp.

 To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7,

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