The Hawaiian squirrelfish, or ‘ala‘ihi in Hawaiian, are easily identified by its unique vibrant red coloration, large eyes, and silvery white stripes. Reaching approximately 6.5 inches in length, the Hawaiian squirrelfish has a deep red dorsal fin with white spine tips as well as a unique white line beneath their mouth. The dark distinct eyes and unique behavior probably contribute to their popular name, squirrelfish.
The Hawaiian squirrelfish is commonly seen in reef environments in depths of 20 to 100 feet. Unlikely to be spotted during daylight, the Hawaiian squirrelfish is a nocturnal species that spends most of the day hiding in ledges and caves, emerging at dusk to feed. Its large eyes and mouth are an adaptation for these nighttime predators. They take advantage of the darkness to feed on invertebrates, usually crustaceans found on the reef.
Often spotted peering out from holes in the reef, the Hawaiian squirrelfish will quickly flee when approached. The Hawaiian squirrelfish is amongst the most commonly seen types of fish in Hawaiian waters. They are endemic to Hawaiian waters, meaning that they are found nowhere else in the world.
*Due to the constant rotation of animals back to the ocean, the presence of any specific animal cannot be guaranteed.