Hawkfish Information And What Do You Need To Know About The Family

Different Hawkfish Species
By Garrison Hickles Updated

The Hawkfish is a family, consisting of a number of saltwater fishes. Not all of them are kept as pets, but knowing about the entire family would give you some deep knowledge regarding the same. This is because many aquarists, often show some inclination towards a particular type of fish species, based on its genus and family. It could be colour, size, nature, or even longevity that the fish enthusiasts consider. So, when we discuss the family, it is likely to enlighten you with inclusive information about Hawkfish.

Key Specifications Of Hawkfish

The below-mentioned table gives some quick knowledge to form an idea about Hawkfish. All the information that we provide here is on an average basis, keeping more or less all the individual species in mind.

OriginIndo-Pacific and Atlantic regions
LifespanMore or less 10 years
ColoursOrange, yellow, and white
TemperamentAggression depends on the species
Size2.75-24 inches [species-specific]
Maintenance RequirementModerate
Tank SizeSpecies size-specific


The family of Hawkfish is scientifically termed as Cirrhitidae and it includes around 12 genera in total. Each genus has multiple species of Hawkfish, and amidst all of them, only a few are domesticated. The fish family is quite a popular one when it comes to marine tank setup. The colour variations are plenty because the number of species is also a lot. The family is pretty hardy with an outstanding endurance level.

Quick Introduction To The Family Of Hawkfish

Name Of The GeneraName Of The Species
AmblycirrhitusTwo spot Hawkfish [Amblycirrhitus bimacula]
White Hawkfish [Amblycirrhitus earnshawi]
Sharpsnout Hawkfish [Amblycirrhitus oxyrhynchos]
Red-spotted Hawkfish [Amblycirrhitus pinos]
Amblycirrhitus unimacula
CirrhitichthysSpotted Hawkfish [Cirrhitichthys aprinus]
Yellow Hawkfish [Cirrhitichthys aureus]
Cirrhitichthys bleekeri
Spotted Tail Hawkfish [Cirrhitichthys calliurus]
Dwarf Hawkfish [Cirrhitichthys falco]
Cirrhitichthys guichenoti
Coral Hawkfish [Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus]
Cirrhitichthys randalli
Cirrhitops Redbarred Hawkfish [Cirrhitops fasciatus]
White-spotted Hawkfish/Hubbard’s Hawkfish [Cirrhitops hubbardi]
Cirrhitops mascarenensis
Cirrhitus Cirrhitus albopunctatus
West African Hawkfish [Cirrhitus atlanticus]
Stocky Hawkfish [Cirrhitus pinnulatus]
Giant Hawkfish [Cirrhitus rivulatus]
Cristacirrhitus Blackspotted Hawkfish [Cristacirrhitus punctatus]
Cyprinocirrhites Swallowtail Hawkfish [Cyprinocirrhites polyactis]
Isocirrhitus Sixband Hawkfish [Isocirrhitus sexfasciatus]
Itycirrhitus Wilhelm’s Hawkfish [Itycirrhitus wilhelmi]
Neocirrhites  Flame Hawkfish (Neocirrhites armatus)
Notocirrhitus Splendid Hawkfish/Mottled Hawkfish (Notocirrhitus splendens)
Oxycirrhites Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus)  
Paracirrhites Arc-Eye Hawkfish[Paracirrhites arcatus]
Paracirrhites bicolor
Blackside Hawkfish [Paracirrhites forsteri]
Whitespot Hawkfish [Paracirrhites hemistictus]
Paracirrhites nisus
Paracirrhites xanthus

Origin And Habitat Of Hawkfish

To trace the origin of the Hawkfish family, tropical waters of Indo-Western Pacific, Eastern, and Western Atlantic can be named.

The habitat is all about coral surrounded by shallow water levels. Mostly reef based waters are their home in the wild.

Appearance Of Hawkfish

As there are 33 species of Hawkfish, not every fish has exact same patterns. The common feature that we can discuss is their rays, because all of them are ray-finned, to be precise. While the dorsal fins have around 17 rays the anal fin has around 6 rays. The numbers might vary a little depending on the species of the fish.


The smallest of the family Dwarf Hawkfish, is around 2.75 inches, and the biggest of them, the Giant Hawkfish can size around 24 inches. There are other species with varying sizes.


There are many colourations spotted on the fishes of Hawkfish family. While the base colours could be white, orange, brown, yellow, and moss green, there are various types of patterns exclusive to species. There might be itsy-bitsy spots and various patterns on the body.

Behaviour Of Hakwfish

These fishes stay in the benthic zone in their natural habitat and they are named Hawk because of their predatory nature. They prefer to camouflage by staying motionless at the base, and suddenly catch their prey off guard. Their colourations and physical features help them with this practice. Many species are aggressive they might be territorial as well. Some prefer to stay inside a cave-like structure in the home aquarium, but not always.

Some fishes are good to stay with other community fishes as long as they are not threatening to each other. It takes a lot of knowledge to understand the behaviour of any fish, and this family is no exception to that. Not all fish comes with the same temperament and tank parameters, so detailed information is suggested before opting for any of the Hawkfish species.

Lifespan Of Hawkfish

It is again a matter of species-specific information but overall, it can be said that their life expectancy is around 10 years. Some species can live for 6-7 even, and some can live longer. To sum up the life expectancy of this family, or in that matter, any other pet fish, you have to remember that care level of that particular fish enhances its life quality. Proper and timely food, adequate mental stimulation, safe and secure surrounding, and a relaxing ambiance, all are important factors that can keep a fish healthy.

Diet Of Hawkfish

This is a group of carnivorous fishes and they mostly eat smaller fishes and crustaceans. Whichever species you choose make sure you include live foods from time to time. Obviously, there will be a feeding pattern, but on average frozen and live both types of foods should be given.

Tank Requirements Of Hawkfish

The tank is the home for any fish and there is nothing better than creating a wild habitat-like ambiance inside it. The fish needs to feel comfortable with their surrounding. So, create a tropical marine tank with some suitable stuff that you need to maintain for the sake of the fish. There are strict no-nos because not all things should be put inside the tank.

Tank Size

While most of the small-sized fishes can stay within a 30-gallon tank, for the large ones, like Freckled Hawkfish you will have to get a 75-gallon tank.

Tank Lid

Tank lid is important so that jumping fishes can’t get out of the aquarium. Not only this, but the lid will protect the habitat from dirt.


A marine tank with a rocky bottom and coral decoration would be good for the fish.


Go for any functioning saltwater filter that would keep the tank clean.


Any marine theme can be incorporated inside the tank, with coral and colourful rocks. You can try innovative decorative tank ideas.


Moderate lighting is suitable, since these fishes have beautiful shades you can arrange lights that are not too strong for the fishes.

Cleaning Method

The tank should be free from any sort of food leftover or any broken pieces of ornament. So, partially change the water, check if all the apparatus are neat. Lid, or any other cover, wipe and clean them accordingly.

Water Type For Hawkfish

This is a saltwater fish group, and be it pH level or other water parameters, all should be in accordance with the fishes’ compatibility.


Any standard marine aquarium with a temperature around 21-25 Degrees would be good. Still it is recommended to know about your species first because not all have the same requirement. But overall it can be said that all are pretty much require warm water.

pH Level

You have to set the range of 8.1-8.4 for most of the Hawkfish species.


The general hardness that such fishes grow in is usually between of 8-12 dkH.

Specific Gravity

The range should be within 1.020-1.025.

Compatibility Of Hawkfish

This is actually a wide topic to discuss on because each species has its own type of equation with other fish. The common tendency is that if any member of thai family stays in a tank lonely for a quiet a time, then it can become territorial when new fishes are introduced. So, you have to handle the situation wisely.

Suitable Tank Mates

From a common perspective, there are some fishes considered safe for any Hawkfish and they are

  • Dartfish
  • Anthias
  • Basslets
  • Tangs
  • Angelfish
  • Boxfish
  • Rabbitfish
  • Dragonet

 Unsuitable Tank Mates

Solitary fishes, or carnivorous aggressive fishes who can pounce and prey on fishes are not compatible for any of the Hawkfish species.

Breeding Of Hawkfish

Captive breeding is not that common and many aquarists have failed consistently to breed them. There is one theory that suggests, all fishes of this family are hermaphrodites. They are female by birth, but as per requirements they can be changed into males and such things are common in the wild. If breeding happens then they are supposed to lay eggs. Nothing more is known as such.

Diseases Of Hawkfish

This is a strong family and there is no species that can be fall weak easily. The pet ones should be fed properly so that their immunity is never compromised. Still, there are some parasitic and bacterial infections that can badly affect them. Timely diagnosis and treatments should be the way. At the same time, you have to check if their is any injury on the fish as a result of any fighting breaking out inside the tank. The species that you have kept, should be read and researched on beforehand.


In the lap of nature, every species is beautiful and that fact is proven once again when you see such fishes. The colourful fishes, with a strong and resilient nature are common choice for aquariums. Amidst all, Flame Hawkfish, Longnose Hawkfish, these are frequent choice of people. As a part of marine fishkeeping, you have to have some of them sooner or later for the sake of the impressive beauty of the wonderful fish family.

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