Giant Kahawai, Arripis xylabion Paulin 1993

Other Names: Kermadec Kahawai, Northern Kahawai

A Giant Kahawai, Arripis xylabion, at Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea, February 2014. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A deep bluish-green to deep-blue arripis becoming silvery-white below, with faint irregular dark grey spots above, and grey pectoral fins. Juveniles have a dark margin on the anal fin. The Giant Kahawai has a large caudal fin and the tail fin lobes are longer than the head length.  

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Arripis xylabion in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Feb 2024,

Giant Kahawai, Arripis xylabion Paulin 1993

More Info


Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in northern New Zealand, including the Kermadec Islands. Pelagic on continental shelf, often in schools.


Dorsal fin IX, 15-16; Analfin III, 9-10; Vertebrae 25. Length of upper lobe of caudal fin > 30% SL


Head and body deep bluish-green to steep-blue with irregular faint dark grey spots dorsally, silvery white below. Pectorals grey, other fins translucent to grey. Juveniles with dark margin on anal fin. 

Similar Species

Arripis xylabion differs from A. truttaceus gill in having more gill rakers (12-17 +20-25 vs. 7-11 + 16-17, respectively) and in the size of the caudal fin size (> 30.0% SL vs. ~29.9% SL, respectively). A. xylabion differs from A. trutta in the size of the caudal fin (> 30.0% SL vs. ~29.9% SL, respectively), and in other morphometric characters, such as orbit diameter. Gill raker counts and caudal fin size also distinguish the species from A. georgianus (gill rakers 16-18 +28-32). 


The species name xylabion is from Greek (= fire-tongs) in reference to the large forked caudal fin that distinguishes this species from other members of the genus.

Species Citation

Arripis xylabion Paulin 1993, Aust. J. Mar. Freshw. Res. 44(2): 467, fig. 4. Type locality: Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands [29°10'S, 177°50'W]. 


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Giant Kahawai, Arripis xylabion Paulin 1993


AFMA 2010. Norfolk Island Inshore Fishery Data Summary 2006-2009. Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra. 20 pp. 

Duffy, C.A.J. & Petherick, C. 1999. A new size record for kahawai (Arripis trutta) from New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 33: 565-569.

Eddy, T.D. 2011. Recent observations of reef fishes at the Kermadec Islands marine reserve, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 45(1): 153-159.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2 

Paulin, C. 1993. Review of the Australasian fish family Arripididae (Percomorpha), with the description of a new species. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 44(3): 459-471

Trnski, T. & Roberts, C.D. 2015. 194 Family Arripidae (pp. 1331-1333), in Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & Struthers, C.D. (eds) 2015. The Fishes of New Zealand. Wellington : Te Papa Press Vol. 4 pp. 1153-1748.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37344005

Depth:0-200 m

Habitat:Pelagic inshore

Max Size:85 cm SL

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