his hawkfish reaches to a maximum total length of about 22 cm (9 in). The dorsal fin has ten spines and eleven soft rays, while the anal fin has three spines and six soft rays. There is considerable variation in the colouring both among adults and as a result of changes during growth. The main colour is usually yellowish but there is a broad black or dark brown lateral band, mainly on the rear half of the body. The sides of the head and the front of the body are whitish or grey, with red speckles. In Asia, juveniles may be reddish dorsally, while in Oceania they tend to have golden-green upper parts and white underparts