Elongate, compressed body; 1 pair canines at front of top jaw, 1 pair on bottom, none at rear of jaws; preopercle edge smooth; dorsal fin VIII, 13-14; anal rays III, 11; pectoral rays 15-17 (usually 16); tail fin varying from slightly rounded in juveniles to strongly concave with long tips in large terminal males; lateral line unbroken, but bends abruptly down near end of soft dorsal fin; scales large (25 on lateral line), smooth; head scaleless except for a patch of small scales dorsally on opercle.
IP: greenish yellow with faint light red bands on head; TP: greenish to blue, head pinkish with narrow greenish bands across cheek and radiating from eye, a broad dark band across outer portion of pectoral fin; tail fin with purple stripes along top and bottom edges; dorsal and anal fins with purple stripe along base; juveniles greenish brown above, white below, those colors separated by a black lateral stripe that breaks into spots toward the rear and ends in a black spot at base of caudal fin.
Maximum size reaches 32 cm.
Inhabits coral and rocky reefs.
Depth: 0-65 m.
Southern Baja and the SW and central eastern Gulf of California to Ecuador, most abundant at all the offshore islands.