Hawkfishes (Cirrhitidae) can exhibit real strange behavior as many of you who have, or have had, such fishes can attest to. As a result, they make ideal fish to acquire from many standpoints. Most of you are familiar with the Longnose Hawk, Oxycirrhitus typus, and the Red or Flame Hawk, both very commonly found in pet stores. There are quite a few other varieties though, but they are not so common. You may want to check a good reference book on saltwater fishes to find out more about other types.

They can dart or dash across the aquarium and seemingly stop instantaneously (this is especially true of the Red Hawk Fish).


They can walk. Strange as it seems they can. The fins are not entirely covered with skin. As a result, they can use the end of their lower fins to seemingly walk on rocks and on the bottom of the tank. This is indeed really odd to observe.


The fish are shy and rapid movements around the tank make them dissappear within the rock structure immediately.


The name Hawk is derived from their habit of sitting at a real high point on the reef, looking for prey. This habit is noticeable in the aquarium as well.


Longnose Hawkfish
They will dash from one rock to another at very rapid speed, a speed they can only sustain for very brief periods of time though.


Hawkfishes like strong currents.


If needed they can anchor themselves to a rock with their fins and remain in place even when the currents would make you think they cannot.


They often live among Fire coral and appear to be immune to the strong stinging these corals can inflict.


Hawkfish are hardy and are easy to keep. They eat small animals (animalcules) off the live rock in the aquarium. They do best in such aquariums in fact, as there is always something for them to feed on.


They generally leave corals alone, although some have reported having Red Hawks that bothered corals.


The Giant Red Hawk is reputed to eat small fish. You are unlikely to own one of those though as they are rarely imported as far as I know.


To do well, all Hawkfishes need many hiding places. The presence of rock, preferably live rock is thus important for the long term well being of these fishes.


Extra feeding can be provided by the addition of cooked shrimp bite size pieces, or scallop, mussel and similar food. They are not easy to acclimate to flake food. The fish is recommended for any type of aquarium and is, generally, considered to be easy to keep and not demanding on the water quality. Unfortunately they can be expensive.

Observing the behavior of this fish in the tank can be real fun.



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