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The, Tangs, Surgeons, Family Acanthuridae, are both numerous and speciose in Hawai'i, with two dozen species and millions of individuals. Some of these surgeons grow too large for aquarium use, and/or are deemed not attractive enough to be of use. Notwithstanding these criteria, the half of them that are utilized in the trade run the full spectrum of aquarium suitabilility.
Acanthurus achilles, the Achilles Tang (3), is well named for the allusion to the self-same heel of mythology; this fish rarely lives any time in captivity.
A. dussumieri, Dussumier's or the Eyestripe Surgeonfish (2), really gets too large at a foot and a half for aquarium use, but has been seen in pet-fish markets recently.
A. nigricans (formerly A. glaucopareius), the Goldrim or Powder Brown Surgeonfish (3), is called the Cat Tang in the trade in Hawai'i. A quite similar Indo-Pacific species, the White Faced Surgeonfish is a much sturdier species for aquarium use.
A. nigrofuscus, the Brown or Spot-Cheeked Surgeonfish, (2) should be more utilized in the reef part of our interest. This is a pretty hardy (though not awfully pretty) algae scraper; on par with the best Zebrasomas for the purpose, and very common on HI reefs.
A. olivaceus, the Orange- -Band, -Epaulette or -Shoulder Surgeonfish (3) should only be kept by the truly dedicated specialized aquarist with a huge system. This species grows to a foot and becomes extremely territorial in many settings.
A. triostegus, the Convict Surgeonfish (2), can be elevated to #1 rank kept in a large system with plenty of filamentous algae and a few conspecifics to school with.
Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis, the Chevron (Chevy) Tang or Black Surgeonfish (as adults)(1) is a real winner. Hardy, gorgeous and a good algae picker for reef aquarists. As with all tangs (and the vast majority of marines) it's best to start with juveniles of good health.
C. strigosus, the Goldring, Yellow-Eye or Kole ("Coal-eh") Tang (1) is also a great species for peaceful all-fish, fish and invertebrate and reef tanks, and much less money than the Chevy.
Naso lituratus, the Naso, Lipstick Tang or Orangespine Unicornfish is great (1) coming out of Hawaii and the Red Sea; elsewhere I rate its aquarium success much lower. Though this is an eager eater, and in need of copious feeding, take care to not be too generous, as this fish can grow to 30 inches. Yes two and a half feet in the wild.
N. unicornis, the Bluespine Unicornfish, or simply Unicornfish (1) is the only other member of a handful of other Hawaiian Nasos that make it into the aquarium interest. As with the Naso, this is another hardy, but large (two feet plus) import.
Sailfin Tangs, genus Zebrasoma in Hawai'i:
Z. veliferum, the Sailfin Tang (2), is unfortunately generally offered at too large a size to start with (more than 4") and adapt to aquarium conditions. This species is generally collected from elsewhere (Philippines, Coral Sea, Fiji, Indian Ocean, Micronesia). To 15".
Ecotype: The near-shore species roam shallow to mid-depth reefs searching for algal food; more open ocean types look for floating macrophytes and zooplankton offshore.
The Moorish Idol, Family Zanclidae. This is the same species as collected throughout the eastern Pacific to the Indo-Pacific. Though it does best coming out of Hawai'i, I still rate Zanclus cornutus a dismal (3). Most die in the process of collection and transport just getting to your dealers; less than one percent are alive three months from capture.
Barracudas, Family Sphyraenidae: Unmistakable stiff, tube-like bodies beginning with rows of pointed sharp teeth. Two Hawaiian species.
Left-Eye Flounders, Family Bothidae. From time to time small specimens of these flatfishes are shipped out of Hawai'i. Listed as generic "Bothus" species, these are mostly the Common Flounder, B. mancus (2). Given proper care, mainly a soft sandy bottom, non-aggressive tankmates and adequate food, these "flatties" can be long lived in captivity.
Soles, Family Soleidae:
Ecotype: Shallow broken reef/rubble zones to sand and grass beds, on the bottom.
Balistidae, the Triggerfishes. Triggers are well known for several traits; being tough and hardy; aggressive and even playful to the extent to sampling their tankmates to death (not reef tank candidates), even biting divers who come to close near mating/nesting time. Most of the eleven species found in Hawai'i make it into pet-fish markets. They are all to a degree good for rough fish-only set-ups, and do well if received in initial good condition.
Melichthys niger, the (Hawaiian) Black Durgeon or Trigger (2) is mellow as far as triggerfishes go, and stays relatively small (a foot). Circumtropical, but best from HI.
M. vidua, the Pinktail Trigger or Durgeon (1), is much the same as the Black above in size and temperament, but more beautiful and hardy.
Rhinecanthus aculeatus, the Picasso, Lagoon Triggerfish, or shades of Don Ho (singing) the Humu Humu Nukunuku Apua'a (1). The Pinktails information applies to this species as well. Evenly tempered, beautiful, and grows to about a foot in length.
R. rectangulus, the Reef, Rectangle or confusingly also a/the Humu Triggerfish (2). About the same size and nature as the Picasso, but slightly less hardy on average.
Sufflamen bursa, the Boomerang or Lei Triggerfish (2), though not the "Bursa" Trigger as its scientific name might lead one to think (that's R. verrucosus).
Xanthichthys auromarginatus, the Blue Throat (males) or Gilded Triggerfish (1); males sell for more but are blessed with deep blue coloring under their chins and gold margining on their unpaired fins. To 8 inches.
X. ringens, the Crosshatch Triggerfish (2). A deeper, and open-water zooplankton-eating species that does well in very large systems. To one foot in length.
Ecotype: Associated in and under rocks and corals where they feed on most types of invertebrates and sleep and hide when approached.
Filefishes, Family Monacanthidae. The filefishes in general do not make good aquarium additions; most are too shy and retiring to get their share of food in mixed company. Others have rare, restricted diets, still others simply die without apparent cause overnight. The three Hawaiian files that occasionally come into the markets are better than average in survivability, but still the domain of advanced aquarists with time and space to specialize.
The circumtropical Scrawled Filefish, Aluterus scriptus, (3) is at times shipped out of Hawai'i. Small (about a foot) specimens are the only ones to adapt (they get to a yard long).
Cantherhines dumerillii, the Clown or Barred Filefish (2), feeds on ramose corals' polyps and other benthic invertebrates.
Pervagor spilosoma, the Fantail Filefish (2) is the best of the three. If you can get an intact specimen and keep it in a peaceful live rock setting it will usually live.
Ecotype: The Scrawled File lives above the reef to open oceans; the two others are more homebodies, living in shallow to mid-depths near reef and rock bottoms.
Puffers of all sorts.
Family Ostraciidae- Trunkfishes; puffers that don't (i.e. don't blow up); are encased in a hard dermal shell and prone to secrete a toxic slime (killing other tankmates too) when stressed. Two Trunkfish species come out of Hawai'i into the trade, but also come from other areas.
The Blue (male) and Black (female) or Spotted (both) Boxfish, Ostracion meleagris (2), make okay aquarium selections for very peaceful settings.
The Whitley's Trunkfish, O. whitleyi is a bit of an enigma geo-sexually. Practically only females are found around Hawai'i, and more males more toward French Polynesia.
Ecotype: Reef bottoms when small, open sand and grass beds as adults.
Family Tetraodontidae- puffers that blow up, smooth or with small prickles. The real puffers of Hawai'i fall into two categories; big boys that consume most everything, and the delightful Sharpnose puffers that just peck bits out of everything.
The Stripebelly Puffer, Arothron hispidus (2) is only occasionally imported, not being a great beauty.
A few color variations exist for the Guinea Fowl or Spotted Puffer, A. meleagris (1). All black with white dots, all or mostly golden to white or a mottling or combination of two or all three. All survive about the same, but grow to more than a foot, and "sample" all tankmates they can get their prodigious biting beaks on.
Ecotype: Shallows. Rubble, sand, sea grass beds with sand to dig in.
Subfamily Canthigastrinae. The Sharpnose Puffers or Tobies (1).
Canthigaster amboinensis, the Ambon Toby, C. coronata, the Crown Toby, C. epilampra, the Lantern Toby, and C. jactator, the Hawaiian Whitespotted Toby, (all 1's) have much in common. They stay small, hide much of the time, and eat most any meaty foodstuff.
Ecotype: Reefs, rocky areas and grass beds.
Family Diodontidae- puffers that blow up and have large spines that are either fixed or become erect when the fish engulfs water.
Two of the moveable spine diodontids occasionally are caught for the trade from here. Both are circumtropical, and so these puffers are often less money from elsewhere.. The Spiny Balloonfish, Diodon holocanthus (1) can grow to more than a foot, but this is small compared with the Porcupinefish, D. hystrix (2), at more than twice that. Both species are fine for fish-only systems when small.
Ecotype: Reefs, rocky areas and grass beds.
The main international airport on Oahu is where most folks fly into, though there are direct flights from major cities in the U.S. to the Big Island and Maui during the high season. "Hops" (shorter flights) run continuously during the days and nights between all the other islands. All that's available and its related costs can easily be searched and reserved through the Internet and your Travel Services provider.
There are a myriad of plan possibilities, from dive live-aboards, simple to luxurious hotels, and term accommodations. For the cost-conscious, Hawai'i is hard to beat as a distant destination. With so many species of aquarium use, and places to dive, for fishwatchers and aquarists there are no better deals I know of.
Special Thanks to ichthyologist, diver/photographer, and general all-around good guy Dr. John Randall of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Oahu for generously lending images and correcting numerous errors and name changes.
Allen, Gerald R., Steene, Roger and Mark Allen. A Guide to Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publ. Calif. 250pp.
Fenner, Robert M. 1998. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, A Commonsense Handbook for the Successful Saltwater Aquarist. Microcosm, VT. 432pp.
Fowler, Henry W. 1967 (authorized reprint). The Fishes of Oceania. Memoirs of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum Volume X. Honolulu, HI (orig. 1928). Johnson Reprint
Michael, Scott W. 1998. Reef Fishes, v. 1. Microcosm, VT. 624pp.
Randall, John E. 1996. Shore Fishes of Hawai'i. Natural World Press, OR. 216pp.
Tinker, Spencer Wilkie. 1978. Fishes of Hawaii; A Handbook of the Marine Fishes of Hawaii and the Central Pacific Ocean. Hawaiian Service, Inc. HI. 532pp.
Titcomb, Margaret. 1972. Native Use of Fish in Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu. 175pp.
Sharks: Subclass Elasmobranchii
Fenner, Robert . 1996. Shark attack. TFH 5/96.
Hargrove, Maddy. 1998. Sharks; the ultimate challenge. TFH 6/98.
Michael, Scott W. 1986. Sharks for your saltwater tank. FAMA 10/86.
Stevens, Jane E. 1995. The delicate art of shark keeping. Sea Frontiers, Spr. 95.
Eels: Morays and More
Esterbauer, Hans. 1994. The ecology and behavior of moray eels. TFH 2/94.
Fenner, Robert. 1995. Morays; the family Muraenidae. TFH 3/95.
Gonzalez, Deane. 1976. Puhi. Marine Aquarist 7:7, 76.
Michael, Scott. 1996. The morays- serpents of the sea, & Would you believe it- more
morays. AFM 7,8/96.
Stratton, Richard F. 1997. The zebra moray. TFH 3/97.
Michael, Scott A. 1995. Frogfishes: anglers of the reef & The frogfishes: species in the
marine trade. AFM 11,12/95.
Michael, Scott W. 1998. Reef Fishes, v. 1. Microcosm, VT. 624pp.
Pietsch, Theodore W. & David B. Grobecker. 1985. Frogfishes: aggressive mimics of the
reef. FAMA 4/85.
Krechmer, Michael. 1993. Trumpetfishes: aquarium oddities. TFH 3/93.
Stratton, Richard F. 1994. Trumpetfishes: definitely different. TFH 12/94.
Squirrelfishes and Soldierfishes, family Holocentridae:
Fenner, Robert. 1996. An introduction to squirrelfishes. TFH 6/96.
Michael, Scott W. The soldierfishes; fishes of the night. AFM 11/97.
Michael, Scott W. The squirrelfishes; can you say "red"? AFM 12/97.
Fenner, Robert 1997. Lionfishes; hear them roar. TFH 5/97.
Fleetham, David. 1995. Hawaiian scorpionfish. Discover Diving October, 95.
Michael, Scott W. 1996. Scorpionfishes- ambushers of the reef. AFM 5/96.
Michael, Scott W. 1996. Scorpionfishes- many to choose from. AFM 6/96.
Parker, Nancy J. 1977. Hawaiian lion. Marine Aquarist 7:8, 77.
Basses & Their Relatives:
Fenner, Bob. 1995. A diversity of aquatic life: The family Serranidae. FAMA 5/95.
Fenner, Robert. 1996. Basses, groupers or hinds, the genus Cephalopholis. TFH 12/96.
Michael, Scott W. 1998. Gorgeous groupers; one genus really does stand out
(Cephalopholis). AFM 1/98.
Randall, J.E. & L. Taylor. 1988. Review of the Indo-Pacific fishes of the serranid genus
Liopropoma, with descriptions of seven new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes, no. 13.
Fenner, Bob & Cindi Camp. 1990. Diversity of aquatic life: the hawkfishes, Cirrhitidae.
Michael, Scott W. 1998. Hawkfishes; small, aggressive predators of the coral reef. AFM
Randall, John E. 1981. Longnose hawkfish, Oxycirrhites typus. FAMA 8/81.
Takeshita, Glenn Y. 1975. Long-snouted hawkfish. Marine Aquarist 6:6,75.
Michael, Scott W. 1997. The goatfishes; put a goat in your tank! AFM 1/97.
Butterflyfishes and Angelfishes
Allen, Gerald R., Roger Steene & Mark Allen. 1998. A Guide To Angelfishes &
Butterflyfishes. Odyssey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research, Aust. 250pp.
Fenner, Bob. 1995. My favorite dwarf angelfish- Centropyge loricula. FAMA 10/95.
Fenner, Robert. 1996. Butterflyfishes you don't want. TFH 9/96.
Fenner, Robert. 1998. Perfect little angels. TFH 4/98.
Hoover, John. 1995. Hawaii's butterflyfishes, pts. 1,2. FAMA 11,12/95.
Michael, Scott. 1994. Bad butterflies; there are lots of problems when keeping many species
of butterflyfish. AFM 7/94.
Michael, Scott W. 1996. Pygmy angelfishes; diminutive, but beautiful. AFM 1/96.
Michael, Scott W. 1997. Tinker the butterfly. AFM 1/97.
Michael, Scott W. 1997. Holacanthus angelfish; their behavior isn't very angelic. AFM
Miklosz, John C. 1976. Hawaiian butterflies. Marine Aquarist 7:2, 76.
Moenich, David R. 1988. Pygmy angelfishes: The genus Centropyge. TFH 1/88.
Refano, Joseph. 1985. Butterflies from Hawaii. FAMA 7/85.
Stratton, Richard F. 1990. The teardrop butterflyfish; one of the tougher butterflyfishes in
the hobby is Chaetodon unimaculatus. TFH 6/90.
Allen, Gerald R. 1991. Damselfishes of the World. MERGUS, Germany. 271pp.
Fenner, Robert. 1997. Dascyllus: damsels definitely not in distress. TFH 1/97.
Fenner, Robert, 1995. The conscientious marine aquariust; with notes on cleaner wrasses. TFH 5/95.
Fenner, Robert. 1996. The wrasses we call hogfishes. TFH 10/96.
Fenner, Robert. 1997. The razorfish, family Labridae. SeaScope v.14, Fall 97.
Michael, Scott W. 1990. An aquarist's guide to the wrasses of the genus Pseudocheilinus. FAMA 9/90.
Michael, Scott W., 1992. A guide to the leopard wrasses (Genus Macropharyngodon). SeaScope v. 9, Spr. 92.
Michael, Scott W. 1997. Beautiful wrasses; the unique species of the genus Halichoeres. AFM 3/97.
Michael, Scott W. 1998. Wrasses; the good, the bad and lovely. AFM 6/98.
Michael, Scott W. 1998. Coris wrasses; Hardy, but not for reef tanks. AFM 7/98.
Privitera, Lisa A. 1992. The Hawaiian flame wrasse Cirrhilabrus jordani Snyder, FAMA 9/92.
Scheimer, Gregory. 1997. Wrasses for the reef aquarium, pts 1,2. FAMA 11,12/97.
Stratton, Richard F. 1989. The red wrasse: Coris gaimard. TFH 11/89.
Stratton, Richard F. 1990. The Hawaiian saddle wrasse. TFH 6/90.
Stratton, Richard F. 1991. The sunset wrasse. TFH 6/91.
Burgess, Warren E. 1981-82. Parrots of the sea. Pts I,II. TFH 12/81, 1/82.
Fenner, Robert. 1996. Parrotfish pitfalls. TFH 1/96.
Spies, Gunther. 1990. Sand factories- the parrotfishes. TFH 4/90.
Burgess, Warren E. 1977. The chevron tang. TFH 3/77.
Fenner, Robert. 1996. Will the real powder brown tang please swim up? TFH 3/96.
Fenner, Robert. 1997. Unicorn tangs, genus Naso, Family Acanthuridae. SeaScope v. 14, Spring 97.
Lobel, Phillip S. 1984. The Hawaiian chevron tang Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis. FAMA 3/84.
Michael, Scott W. 1995. Tangs of the genus Zebrasoma. AFM 4/95 and SeaScope Fall 92.
Michael, Scott W. 1998. Surgeonfishes; meet their strict care requirements, or else... AFM 9/98.
Michael, Scott W. 1998. The Surgeonfishes; getting to the point- the species. AFM 10/98.
Stratton, Richard F. 1989. The Achilles tang. TFH 1/89.
The Moorish Idol
Smith, Stephen J. 1998. A risky proposition- Moorish idol. TFH 5/98.
Stratton, Richard F. 1992. The Moorish idol. TFH 10/92.
Flood, Andrew Colin. 1997. The trouble with triggers. 2/97.
Michael, Scott W. 1997. Triggerfishes; a great reason for having a saltwater tank. AFM 2/97.
Pemberton, Jennifer Anne. 1993. The Tetraodontiformes: a little-understood group. TFH 4/93.
Stratton, Richard F. 1989. The masked triggerfish, Rhinecanthus rectangulus. TFH 12/89.
Stratton, Richard F. 1991. The white-lined trigger. TFH 5/91.
Stratton, Richard F. 1993. Another look at the Picasso triggerfish. TFH 3/93.
Stratton, Richard F. 1995. The triggerfish mystique. TFH 11/95.
Fenner, Bob 1995. A diversity of aquatic life: filefishes, the Monacanthidae. FAMA 7/95.
Quinn, John R. 1990. Fooling around with filefish. TFH 10/90.
Fong, Jack. 1994. The ten most amusing boxfishes. TFH 9/94.
Lobel, Phillip S. 1985. Spawning behavior of the spotted trunkfish Ostracion meleagris. FAMA 8/85.
Michael, Scott W. 1995. Get to know the tobies (sharpnose puffers). AFM 10/95.
Michael, Scott W. 1997. The puffers; unique in many ways. AFM 8/97.
Michael, Scott. 1998. Swimming boxes; boxfish are interesting to keep, but choose their tankmates carefully to avoid disaster. AFM 3/98.
Pyle, Richard L. 1989. Whitley's boxfish, Ostracion whitleyi Fowler. FAMA 7/89.
Quinn, John R. 1986. Puffers and friends; a look at the pros and cons of keeping the popular puffers. TFH 5/86.