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Spotfin Squirrel FishSpotfin Squirrel fish
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Beryciformes Family: Holocentridae Genus: Neoniphon Species: sammara
Scientific name: Neoniphon sammara
Common name: Spotfin Squirrel fish
Hawaiian: Ala’ihi

Spotfin Squirrel fish live in the Indo-Pacific and range in tropical waters from the Red Sea in the west to Hawaii.

Squirrelfish are a strictly nocturnal group of fishes. The Sammara or spot-finned squirrelfish are handsome animals colored reddish on their backs and pinkish silver beneath. Their common name perhaps derives from their red coloration and their habit of swimming in a jerky manner and then stopping motionless for a moment, in a way similar to squirrels.

They are social animals and produce sounds by drumming their swimbladders to communicate. They shelter in sea grass beds and, on Turtle Reef, among branching coral or close to the cover of caves during the day.

They are armed with a small venomous spine on their operculum (gill flap) but are otherwise quite harmless and, as jacks and groupers would have it, absolutely delicious to eat. They feed at night on small crabs and shrimps by foraging mainly over the sandy seafloor surrounding the reef.

[Back to Reef Species Guide]