Reef Fish Guide for Hawaii Beaches

Fish Basics

What characteristics identify an animal as a fish? It isn’t fins or spending their entire lives in the water because many marine mammals have fins and spend their entire lives in the water. In order for an animal to be a fish it must have all these attributes…

  • Gills. Fish extract oxygen that’s present in water with their gills.
  • Bones. Fish are vertebrates.
  • Cold-blooded. Fishes’ internal body temperature is the same temperature as the water surrounding them.
  • FIns. All fish have fins. Fish fins come in many different shapes and sizes.

Fish List (Hawaiian names are in parenthesis)

Stripebelly Puffer (Keke)

Stripebelly Puffer

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Spotted Trunkfish (Moa)

Spotted Trunkfish

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Teardrop Butterflyfish (Lau-hau)

Teardrop Butterflyfish

Photo courtesy of

Forcepsfish (Lau-wiliwili-nukunuku-‘oi’oi)


Photo courtesy of

Bluestripe Butterflyfish (Kikakapu)

Bluestripe Butterflyfish

Photo courtesy of

Bullethead Parrotfish (Uhu)

Bullethead Parrotfish

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Spectacled Parrotfish (Uhu’ahu’ula)

Spectacled Parrotfish

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Hawaiian Hogfish (A’awa)

Hawaiian Hogfish

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Yellowstripe Goatfish (Weke)

Yellowstripe Goatfish

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Saddle Wrasse (Hinalea lau-wili)

Saddle Wrasse

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Ornate Wrasse (Ohua)

Ornate Wrasse

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Cornetfish (Nunu peke)


Photo courtesy of

Trumpetfish (Nunu)


Photo courtesy of

Yellow Tang (Lau’i-pala)

Yellow Tang

Photo courtesy of

Convict Tang (Manini)

School of Convict Tang

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Lagoon Triggerfish (Humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua’a)

Lagoon Triggerfish

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Bluefin Trevally (Omilu)

Bluefin Trevally

Photo courtesy of

Yellowmargin Moray Eel (Puhi-paka)

Yellowmargin Moray Eel

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Whitemouth Moray Eel (Puhi-‘oni’o)

Whitemouth Moray Eel

Photo courtesy of

Orangespine Unicornfish (Umaumalei)

Orangespine Unicornfish

Photo courtesy of

To many joyful beach experiences!

— Lisa Dworkin

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