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Suitability of small (< 1 km2) marine reserves for protecting a commercially important endemic Hawaiian goatfish, Parupeneus porphyreus, was examined by quantifying goatfish habitat use, home range size and site fidelity in an existing marine reserve (Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii). Five goatfish equipped with acoustic transmitters were tracked for up to 93 h each over 3–14 days. Daytime habitat use patterns of two of these fish were continuously monitored for one month using a fixed hydrophone hardwired to an onshore computer. Acoustically tagged fish showed consistent diel patterns of behavior, refuging in holes in the reef by day and moving over extensive areas of sand and coral rubble habitat at night. Remote monitoring of daytime habitat use by two goatfish revealed that the same daytime refuge was used by both fish for at least one month (the battery life of the transmitters). Home ranges of all fish were within the boundaries of the Coconut Island reserve suggesting that even small areas containing suitable habitat can make effective reserves for this species. A relatively low abundance of reproductive size P. porphyreus at Coconut Island in comparison with deeper areas may indicate an ontogenetic shift to deeper habitat in this species.