Squirrelfish | Hawaiian Marine Life

Park Hours 9 AM - 5 PM

Hawaiian Squirrelfish

The Hawaiian squirrelfish, or ‘ala‘ihi in Hawaiian, are easily identified by their unique, vibrant red coloration, large eyes, and silvery-white stripes. The Hawaiian squirrelfish reaches approximately 6.5 inches in length and has a deep red dorsal fin with white spine tips and a unique white line beneath its mouth. Their dark, distinct eyes and unique behavior probably contribute to their popular name, squirrelfish.


Unlikely to be spotted in the daylight, the Hawaiian squirrelfish is a nocturnal species that spends most of the day hiding in ledges and caves, emerging at dusk to feed. Their large eyes and mouth are an adaptation for these nighttime predators; they take advantage of the darkness to feed on 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 common types of fish in the islands. They are endemic to Hawaiian waters, meaning that they are found nowhere else in the world.

Did you know?

The Hawaiian squirrelfish is commonly seen in reef environments in depths of 20 to 100 feet.

*Due to the constant rotation of animals back to the ocean, we cannot guarantee the presence of any specific animal.

Hawaiian Name: ‘ala‘ihi
Scientific Name: Sargocentron xantherythrum
Where to Find: Shallow Reef, Mid Reef*

share with friends

Discover More Maui Ocean Center marine life

Devil Scorpionfish

The devil scorpionfish presents venomous spines down their backs and colorful pectoral fins to warn others of danger. Their yellow...

Potter’s Angelfish

Potter’s angelfish have a unique pattern, with a deep orange on its front and dorsal region, which shades to a...

Whitetip Reef Shark

The whitetip reef shark is found throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans and is associated with the coral reef environment....