Hawaiian Giant Herring, Elops hawaiensis Regan 1909

Other Names: Banana Fish, Banana-fish, Chiro, Giant Herring, Hawaiian Ladyfish, Ladyfish, Pincushion-fish, Tenpounder, Torres Strait Herring

Hawaiian Giant Herring, Elops hawaiensis. Source: Dinh D. Tran, FiMSeA / http://ffish.asia. License: CC by Attribution


The Hawaiian Giant Herring is a long slender silvery fish with a single dorsal fin on the middle of the back, a forked tail, a large eye and a moderately large mouth. This schooling species lives in coastal bays, harbours and estuaries, occasionally entering freshwater.

Cite this page as:
Martin F Gomon & Dianne J Bray, Elops hawaiensis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Jan 2020,

Hawaiian Giant Herring, Elops hawaiensis Regan 1909

More Info


Although usually found in tropical and subtropical waters of the Eastern Indian Ocean and Western Pacific, the Hawaiian Giant Herring is an infrequent visitor to southern Australia. The species is known from the Andaman Sea to the Hawaiian Islands and Tuamotos, north to Japan and south the New Caledonia and Australia. In Australian waters, the Hawaiian Giant Herring has been recorded from Spencer Gulf, SA, westwards, northwards and down the east coast to Wilsons Promontory, Bass Strait, Vic.

Hawaiian Giant Herrings are benthopelagic in inshore waters, found in the lower reaches of estuaries, bays and harbours, particularly around mangrove areas in depths between 0-40 m. They move southwards with the warmer currents during summer months. Younger fish often enter the lower freshwater reaches of rivers and streams.


Dorsal fin 17; Pectoral fin 15-16; Pelvic fin 12-13; Aanal fin 14-17; Lateral line approx 100; Vertebrae 66-70; Brachiostegal rays 20-25.

Body elongate, fusiform, moderately compressed; eye large; mouth large, terminal, jaws approximately equal, upper jaw extending well beyond eye;  a gular plate present between arms of lower jaw; jaw teeth very small and granular. Scales very small, approximately 100 in lateral line. All fins without spines; caudal fin large and forked; pectoral fins low on side of body, near ventral outline; ventral fins abdominal, below origin of dorsal fin.


To 120cm TL but commonly to 50cm.


Blue or greenish grey dorsally, silvery ventrally; fins sometimes with a faint yellow tinge.


Hawaiian Giant Herrings form schools and are carnivores feeding on small fishes and crustaceans.


Little is known of the biology of the Hawaiian Giant Herring.

Sexes are separate and spawning occurs in the ocean. Both eggs and larvae are pelagic. The transparent leptocephalus larvae are long and leaf-like, with forked tails. The larvae drift into shallow coastal waters and estuaries where they develop to maturity and it is during this period when young fish may venture into coastal streams. The larval development and metamorphosis from leptocephalus larva to juvenile was described by Sato and Yasuda (1980).


Although not commercially fished in Australian waters, the Hawaiian Giant Herring is marketed fresh, frozen, or sold as fish meal in other parts of its range.

The Hawaiian Giant Herring is caught by recreational fishers using trolled or cast lines baited with live shrimp or baitfish, or with a variety of lures. Although it is a good sports fish, known for its fast strikes and leaps out of the water, it very bony and is considered to be a poor eating fish.


Not evaluated.

Similar Species

The Hawaiian Giant Herring is very similar to the Australian Giant Herring, Elops machnata, and differs in having more vertebrae (66-70 vs 60-66). Although some authors have used the structure of the upper jaw teeth to distinguish the two species, this character changes with growth. The Australian Giant Herring has only been recorded from Albany, WA.


Elops is from the Greek ellops, meaning a kind of serpent, in reference to the long, slender body.

Species Citation

Elops hawaiensis Regan C.T. (1909). A revision of the fishes of the genus Elops. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (8)3(7): 37-40 [35], Port Jackson, NSW.


Martin F Gomon & Dianne J Bray

Hawaiian Giant Herring, Elops hawaiensis Regan 1909


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine fishes of tropical Australia and south-east Asia. Western Australian Museum, Perth. 1-292.

Allen, G.R & R. Swainston. 1988. The marine fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.

Bray, D.J. 2008. Family Elopidae: giant herrings, ten pounders. p. 154-155. In Gomon, M.F., D.J. Bray & R.H. Kuiter. Fishes of Australia’s southern coast. New Holland Publishers: Chatswood, Australia.

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & P.J. Kailola. 1984. Trawled fishes of southern Indonesia and northwestern Australia. Australian Development Assistance Bureau, Australia, Directorate General of Fishes, Indonesia, and German Agency for Technical Cooperation, Federal Republic of Germany. 407 p.

Hildebrand, S.F. 1963. Family Elopidae. p. 111-131. In Olsen, Y.H. (ed.) Fishes of the western North Atlantic. Mem. Sears Fndn. Mar. Res. 1(3): 111–131 figs 19–21. 

Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.

Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea fishes of southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.

Johnson, J.W.   1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43( 2): 709-762.

Larson, H.K. & R.S. Williams. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. In Hanley, J.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. and Larson, H.K. (eds.), Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biological Workshop. The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Museums and Art Galleries, Northern Territory and Australian Scientific Association 1997: 339-380.

McBride, R.S., C.R. Rocha, R. Ruiz-Carus & B.W. Bowen. 2010. A new species of ladyfish, of the genus Elops (Elopiformes: Elopidae), from the western Atlantic Ocean. Zootaxa 2346: 29-41.

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the world (4th edn.) New York : John Wiley & Sons, 601 p.

Regan C.T. 1909. A revision of the fishes of the genus Elops. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (8)3(7): 37-40

Smith, D.G. 1999. Elopidae. Ladyfishes, tenpounders. p. 1619-1620. In Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (eds.) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Vol. 3. Batoid fishes, chimaeras and bony fishes part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome.

Smith, M.M. 1986. Elopidae. p. 155-156. In Smith, M.M. & P.C. Heemstra (eds.) Smiths' sea fishes.

Whitehead, P.J.P. 1962. The species of Elops (Pisces : Elopidae). Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (13)5(54): 321–329 figs 1–3.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37053001

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Depth:1-40 m

Fishing:Commercial & gamefish

Max Size:120 cm SL

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