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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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A Fishwatcher's Guide to the Marine  Fishes of Hawai'i

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

Bob Fenner

  Along the trail at Makalawena Beach on Hawaii's big island.

Macropharyngodon, geoffroy, the Potter's or Shortnose Wrasse (3). Other authors rate this species higher for aquarium use; I have never found them to be tough. Like too many species/specimens of the genus, they die "mysteriously" overnight.

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

Novaculichthys (nee Hemipteronotus) taeniourus, the Rockmover or Dragon Wrasse (1), a tough customer that will constantly "remodel" your tank, its surroundings.

Novaculichthys taeniourus (Lacepede 1801), the Rock Mover, Dragon or Indian Wrasse (2) 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, Razorfishes are territorial and aggressive fishes. To about a foot in length.  Juvenile in captivity and adult in Hawai'i shown.

Oxycheilinus bimaculatus (Valenciennes 1840), the Twinspot Wrasse (2) is right about the right size at 6 inches maximum, but this shy beauty really takes a beating in the process of collection, holding and shipping from the wild. Indo-Pacific out to the Hawaiian Islands. Formerly placed in the genus Cheilinus. At right, a male and female in Hawai'i. Below: a juvenile, intermediate and adult in N. Sulawesi pictured. 

Oxycheilinus unifasciatus (Streets 1877), the Ring Tail or One-Banded Wrasse (2) is the widest ranging member of the genus. Found across the Pacific's Oceania through the Indian Ocean and Red Sea, and growing only to about a foot, it still does poorly in captivity. Formerly placed in the genus Cheilinus. Easy to miss as it is secretive, hiding in and amongst coral, rubble on the bottom. A juvenile and subadult off Kona.

Pseudocheilinus octotaenia and P. tetrataenia, the Eight and Fourstripe Wrasses (1); great, small aquarium additions for peaceful fish-only and reef systems.

Pseudocheilinus evanidus Jordan & Evermann 1903, the Pin-Striped or Striated Wrasse (2). I like this fish's other common names, the Disappearing or Vanishing Wrasse for its bashfulness. To a grand size of three inches. Indo-Pacific, including Red Sea and Hawai'i. This one off of Kona.

Pseudocheilinus octotaenia Jenkins 1901, the Eight-Lined Wrasse (2) comes in two color morphs, one more orange, the other more pinkish in body hue. Both can become agonistic toward other fishes. Under-crowding, over-decorating and keen observation are called for here, as always.  Indo-Pacific, including Hawai'i.. To five and a half inches in length. Hawai'i and in captivity.

Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia Schultz 1960, take a guess, yes; the Fourline Wrasse (2), is mainly collected out of Hawai'i. It is also a three-incher that like all members of the genus is best kept one to a tank. Western central Pacific. To three inches total length.

Pseudojuloides cerasinus (Snyder 1904), the Smalltail Pencil Wrasse (3)(male pictured) is the only member of the genus to be offered in any number. Even out of Hawai'i, specimens are difficult to keep alive. At right, male and female in Hawai'i. 

Stethojulis balteata, the Orange Line or Belted Wrasse (2). Terminal phase males are good looking, but are the zenith in excited behavior in the wild and captivity.

Stethojulis balteata (Quoy & Gaimard 1824), the Belted Wrasse (3), is an Hawaiian endemic. This is the most common and hardiest member of the genus, but still has a dismal survival rate. A male and a female off of the Big Island. To six inches long.

Thalassoma ballieui, the Blacktail Wrasse (1) is a stout fish-only system possibility.

Thalassoma ballieui (Vaillant & Sauvage 1875), the Blacktail Wrasse (1), a newer import from the Hawaiian Islands. To fifteen inches long. A rather plain, but hardy species for fish-only systems. Eastern central Pacific, Hawai'i and Midway Islands. Aquarium and one off of Oahu.

T. duperrey, the endemic Saddle Wrasse (2), Randall lists as the most common near-shore fish of Hawai'i.

Thalassoma duppery (Quoy & Gaimard 1824), the Saddle Wrasse (2) is the most common reef fish in its endemic Hawaiian Islands. To ten inches in length.

T. lutescens, the Sunset Wrasse (2) very rarely found here (much more out of the tropical Eastern Pacific). Hybridizes with T. duperrey.

Thalassoma lutescens (Lay & Bennett 1839), the Yellow Moon Wrasse (2). West Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean, to ten inches. Easily confused with the more common Moon Wrasse, T. lunare. Here are images of an initial phase individual and male in the Cook Islands, and another in Nuka Hiva, Marquesas.

T. purpureum, the Surge Wrasse, T. quinquevittatum, the Fivestripe Wrasse, and T. trilobatum, another Christmas Wrasse are three very similar appearing species that are offered occasionally along with others as "miscellaneous" and "assorted" wrasses (3) out of Hawai'i. As with this moniker applied to other aquatic livestock groups elsewhere, avoid these fishes. Most don't live in captivity. If you can't identify the organism to species and meet its living requirements, please don't encourage their further destruction by paying for them.

Thalassoma purpureum (Forsskal 1775), the Surge Wrasse (3). Indo-Pacific, to more than one foot long. This one in the Seychelles.

Thalassoma quinquevittatum (Lay & Bennett 1839), the Red-Ribbon Wrasse (3). Indo-Pacific, to six inches. Aquarium image.

Thalassoma trilobatum (Lacepede 1801), I wish was called the Three-Line Wrasse, but it's another of the Christmas Wrasses (just how many labrids are green and red anyway?)(3). To twelve inches overall length. This image taken in Hawai'i.

Xyrichthys pavo Valenciennes 1840, Peacock Wrasse. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, eastern African coast all the way over to the tropical eastern Pacific coast, Hawai'i... To sixteen inches in length. Occasionally offered to the trade as juveniles. Often mistaken for leaf litter in the wild. Feeds on crustaceans, mollusks. 

Need adult pic

Ecotype: Every possible habitat, sand flats, rocky reefs, depths and open waters; by species. Some require soft sand to burrow, sleep in, all need cover and tank tops.

Parrotfishes, Family Scaridae. Cousins to the wrasses, none of these colorful sand-factories live in captivity coming out of Hawai'i. Unfortunately, a few species of "assorted", "miscellaneous" Hawaiian Parrotfishes are sold in the trade. Most often seen are terminal males of the Bullethead and Palenose Parrotfishes, Chlorurus sordidus and Scarus psittacus (3). Don't buy these fishes!

Calotomus carolinus (Valenciennes 1840), Caroline's Parrotfish. The most wide-ranging species of the family, Indo-Pacific, eastern coast of Africa to tropical eastern Pacific. To eighteen inches in length. Feeds mainly on benthic algae and seagrasses. Pictured: At right, a female and a male in Hawai'i. 

Chlorurus sordidus (Forsskal 1775), the Daisy Parrotfish. Indo-Pacific, Red Sea to Hawai'i. Mainly feeds on benthic algae. To sixteen inches overall length. A juvenile and initial phase (female) at right from Pulau Redang, Malaysia. Below, images from Hawai'i the Cook Islands and Malaysia... of terminal males. A highly variably colored species.

Scarus psittacus Forsskal 1775, the Common Parrotfish. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, southern Africa to Hawai'i and the Marquesas.  To a foot in length. This terminal male off Two-Step off the Big Island. 

Scarus rubroviolaceus Bleeker 1847, the Ember Parrotfish. Indo-pan-Pacific; eastern Africa to Panama, including Hawaii and Galapagos Islands. To twenty eight inches in length. Shown, a female and male off Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia. 

Ecotype: Found swimming around rocks and the coral heads they scrape for food.

Sandperches, Family Penguipedidae: Two species in Hawai'i, one shallow, one deepwater. 

Parapercis schauislandi (Steindachner 1900), Schauinsland's Seaperch. Indo-Pacific; Africa to Hawaii. To eight inches in length. Shown: a juvenile in captivity and adult off Maui.

Blennies of all sorts, Suborder Blennioidea, Gobies, Family Gobiidae. There are a few dozen species of these largely small and bottom dwelling tubular fishes out of Hawai'i that might be of use to the aquarium trade. Very few are captured on a regular basis. Perhaps with the continued growth of reef type systems and biotopic presentations this will change.

Saber-Tooth Blennies:  Plagiotremus: Two Hawaiian species. So mean/aggressive they bite divers!

Plagiotremus ewaensis (Brock 1948),  the Ewa Blenny. To four inches in length. Endemic to Hawai'i. Pix from there. Feed on bits of fishes about them. Difficult to adapt to captive foods. 

Plagiotremus goslinei (Strasburg 1956), the Biting Blenny. Endemic to Hawaii. To three inches in length. This one off of Maui.

Sea Whip & Other Gobies:

Bryaninops amplus Larson 1985, the Large Whip Goby. Indo-Pacific; Madagascar, Seychelles to Hawai'i. To 6 cm. One off of Queensland, Australia, another off Kona. 

Bryaninops yongei (Davis & Cohen 1968), the Whip Goby. West to Mid-Pacific; Australia to Rapa, Hawai'i. To four cm. This one off of Mabul, Malaysia. Here in a typical pose where a pair will reside, the antipatharian Cirripathes anguina. Look for them when underwater (found 3-45 m depth). Mabul, Malaysia and Nuka Hiva, Marquesas, Polynesia pix. 

Coryphopterus sp. Hawaiian Sand Goby. According to Randall, formerly misidentified as Fusigobius neophytus (Gunther 1877). Here in shallow sand on the Big Island.

Hazeus nephodes E.K. Jordan 1925. Stout spine at anterior of both dorsal fins. To two inches in length. Found only in Hawai'i and Marshall Islands on the sand. Kona pic. 

Pleurosicya micheli Formanoir 1971, Michel's Host Goby. A transparent species with an internal red striped on top of its vertebral column. To one inch in length. Indo-Pacific. This one in Hawai'i perched on a Porites Coral. 

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

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