Hawaiian Red and White Striped Squirrelfish

Hawaiian squirrelfish or Striped Squirrelfish.
Hawaiian squirrelfish or Striped Squirrelfish. Bernard Spragg. NZ/Flickr/CC0 1.0

Family

Holocentridae (Squirrelfishes and Soldiersfishes)

Scientific Name

Sargocentron xantherythrum (Jordan & Evermann, 1903). May also be found listed in older books as Holocentrus and Adioryx xantherythrus.

Other Common Names

Hawaiian Squirrelfish, Yellow-Red Squirrelfish.

Hawaiian Names

'A-la-'i-hi.

Distribution

Endemic to waters of the Hawaiian area, including Johnston Island.

Identification

The Hawaiian Red and White Striped Squirrelfish has a bright red body with about 10 bright white longitudinal stripes, and a red dorsal fin with the spines tipped with white.

There are two diagonal white lines on the head, one that extends below the eye from the corner of the mouth to the base of the gill plate, and one that extends upwards from the base of the gill plate to the top of the eye. The area behind the gill has a slight yellow coloration, and the gill cover has several spines.

This fish is often mistaken for its close relative, the Crowned or Diadem Squirrelfish (Sargocentron diadema). Having the same two diagonal white lines on the head, what primarily separates the two species is that this particular fish has a deeper ruby-red colored body, the stripes are more of a bluish-white color, and the dorsal fin is black, white, and red. (Click the above photos to see species comparisons).

Average Size

About 6 to 7 inches.

Suggested Minimum Tank Size

50 gallons for a single specimen, 75 gallons for small groups, and at least 100 gallons for larger groupings.

Habitat

Because this fish is a nocturnal animal that hides in the shadows during daylight hours and comes out at night, if kept in a brightly lit aquarium it won't be seen very often.

To enjoy this fish it is best kept in low lighting. To make it an even more interesting display, why not create a complete "nocturnal species tank" by combining a group of these fishes with some other non-aggressive nighttime tankmates.

No matter what type of tank this fish is placed in, it requires lots of places and spaces for hiding. A shelter can be provided in the way of live rock structures, decorative rock cave, and crevice type formations.

Characteristics & Compatibility

Quite peaceful and communal, the Red and White Striped Squirrelfish can be kept with members of the same species, particularly in small or large groupings. However, if a big enough aquarium and adequate shelter are not provided to house them together comfortably, they may spar amongst themselves to defend a hiding place. This fish is best kept with other non-aggressive fishes.

Because of this fish's rough scales and sharp gill spines, it can easily get caught or snagged in aquarium net materials. If this happens it may be difficult to remove the fish from the material without some scale damage occurring.

Use caution when handling this and other Squirrelfishes. If poked by one of the spines, although not poisonous or toxic, it nevertheless can result in a nasty and painful stinging injury.

Diet & Feeding

The Hawaiian Red and White Squirrelfish is a carnivore that in nature feeds on a variety of crustaceans, such as shrimps and crabs, marine worms, brittle and serpent stars, and other motile invertebrates.

In captivity, it can be fed a varied diet of chopped seafood, live or frozen brine and mysid shrimp, as well as other frozen preparations suitable for carnivores.

Suggested Feedings

2 times a day.

Reef Tank Compatibility

Not suitable if the above types of marine invertebrates are present.