10+ Beautiful Hawaiian Fish With Pictures You Will See in Hawaii
The waters around Hawaii are teeming with marine life, and snorkeling is the best way to explore the vibrant underwater world. If you’ve always wanted to know what fish are found in Hawaii, check out this list of 12 Hawaiian fish names and pictures so you can easily identify the most common species on your next snorkeling trip!
Trumpetfish (also known as Nunu in Hawaii) is one of the most intriguing Hawaiian Fish names on this list. These strange species look nothing like the typical Hawaiian fish. Trumpetfish have a long body (like a trumpet) and are so thin that they are barely visible in the water from certain angles.
Their natural color is gray, but they can change to green or even yellow and add horizontal and vertical stripes to blend in with their surroundings. Usually they are not shy, just hang around in the water hunting peacefully.
Morish Idol, also known as Kihikihi in Hawaii, is a species most people recognize from the animated film Finding Nemo.
Morish Idol is one of the most common and easily recognized Hawaiian reef fish, with a large size (they grow to be over 8 inches) and wide, vertical black, yellow, and white stripes, a tall dorsal fin, and a tapered nose. It is almost certain that you will see some while snorkeling on any Hawaiian Island.
Reef Triggerfish – State Fish of Hawaii
Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, Hawaii’s State Fish, is a multicolored, parallelogram-shaped fish with a blue mustache, a blue-black striped cap, and a bright gold outlined ‘V’ right before the fan-like tail.
Aside from their bright colors, they are easily identified by the way they swim: they use their fins on their belly and back to propel themselves forward in the water.
Reef triggerfish should be avoided by divers and snorkelers. They are normally shy and swim away quickly, but when it comes to protecting their nest, they become aggressive and can bite.
The fun fact is that the local name of this Hawaaiin Reef Fish means ‘fish with nose like a pig’. This is due to the fact that when they are stressed, they can make pig-like sounds.
- See more: Hawaii State Fish Humuhumunukunukuapua a – The Story Behind of Hawaii State Fish
The invasive Lionfish is most likely one of those species that divers and snorkelers have a love-hate relationship with. They are beautiful, but in some places they are extremely harmful to the local ecosystems. These species, known as dragonfly fish (honu pinao) in Hawaii, are native and a natural part of the reefs.
Red and green lionfish can be found in Hawaii. The green ones grow to be about 6 inches long and are found in shallow waters, whereas the red ones grow to be about 7-8 inches long and are found in deeper waters. Lionfish are most active after sunset, but they can be seen during the day as well.
No matter what kind of lionfish you see, never touch it. Their spines are poisonous. They flare out and rotate their fins when approached.
If you enjoy Greek history, Paku’iku’i, Achilles Tang may be your favorite Hawaiian reef fish, as it was named after Achilles, the Greek warrior.
This species can be found in shallow reefs by snorkelers. Achilles Tangs are easily identified because they are larger than most reef fish, have an orange teardrop patch before the tail, and a bright orange bar runs along the tail.
If you search for Hawaiian Fish names and pictures, you will notice that the images always include bright yellow fish. Yellow tangs (Lau’ipala) are the fish most commonly used to promote snorkeling in Hawaii. This species is also known for its role as Bubbles in Finding Nemo.
Yellow tangs are typically found in large schools. The best part is that when you see Yellow Tangs, you are likely to see Green Sea Turtles as well, because Yellow Tangs clean the shells of this turtle species.
In Hawaiian waters, there are several Butterflyfish species. They are among the most common reef fish.
The Longnose Butterflyfish is a small species that can be identified by its very long nose, yellow-black mask, and black spot beneath the tail. Not only is their nose long, but so is their Hawaiian name. They are known as lauwiliwilinukunukuoi’oi, which is Hawaii’s longest known fish name!
- See more: How to Say Thank You in Hawaiian Language?
Raccoon Butterflyfish -kkkapu- are another common reef fish species that can be found in large numbers on Hawaiian reefs. They are so-called because of their raccoon-like black face mask.
Their body is yellow and black, with a white headband and black stripes down the sides. Raccoon Butterflyfish are typically seen in pairs, but can be found in shoals of hundreds up to 60ft/18m in depth.
The vibrant parrotfish plays an important role in the aquatic ecosystem. As they poop, they clean the corals and create beach-building sand, making them not only one of the most beautiful Hawaiian Reef Fish Species, but also an essential part of healthy reefs.
The Bullethead is rainbow-colored, while the native Hawaiian Parrotfish (Uhu) is orange with purple fins. A fascinating fact about parrotfish is that the males coexist with several females. When the male dies, the female alpha becomes the male by switching sexes.
If you’ve ever heard a strange, rasping sound while snorkeling, it’s because parrotfish are crunching up and pulverizing coral fragments with their razor-sharp teeth.
The bright yellow, blue striped snappers (Ta’ape) are shoaling fish that typically move in large groups around rocky pinnacles.
This Hawaiian reef fish has a fascinating backstory. Originally brought to Hawaii by the Hawaii government to provide an additional food source for the population, it was discovered that eating their flesh may contain a high concentration of ciguatera, a neurotoxin found in marine algae species snapper eat.
Because eating snappers can make people sick, fishermen stopped catching them, causing their population to explode. And although they are beautiful, they can crowd out native species and cause problems in the marine ecosystem in the future.
When looking for interesting species while snorkeling or diving in Hawaii, don’t forget to look among the corals as well, because not all fish swim; some simply sit on the corals.
The unusual Freckeled Hawkfish (Hilu piliko’a) was discovered lying on the corals on its pectoral fins. Juveniles are typically white and brownish, whereas adults can be pink, green, or even burgundy-yellow, with red freckles.
A deep red colored, large-eyed fish with bluish-whitish stripes and big eyes, this is Ala’ihi (Squirrelfish), another most commonly seen reef fish in Hawaii. They are endemic, which means they can only be found in Hawaiian waters.
Although they are common, they are difficult to find because Squirrelfish prefer to rest in quiet, dark places, holes, and caves during the day and are active at night, which is why their eyes are so large.
Topic: 10+ Beautiful Hawaiian Fish With Pictures You Will See in Hawaii
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