SIT AND WAIT: THE HAWKFISH
By Jim Wolf, Marine Biologist
They are very comical. Sitting perched amongst the rocks waiting for
food to pass as they move their eyes in all directions. Members of the
Hawkfish family are a welcome addition to almost any aquarium.
They usually come from deep water (which explains their high price and
red coloration), and almost always thrive in captivity. Only one species
per tank and feed them high protein foods such as shrimp and small fishes
(incidentally, do not under estimate what they stuff in their mouth!) They
lack a swim bladder so they sink when they stop swimming, and have reinforced
fin rays to help prop them up when at rest. They most common cause of death
among Hawkfish is (in captivity) jumping out an aquarium with too large
an opening in the lid.
There are about 35 species in 10 genera, but only four commonly make
it into the hobby.
Cirrhitichthys: These hawkfish come from shallower waters and
have a blunt head. Their dorsal fin spines have 3-5 small rays coming off
of them, and they attain a maximum length of 3 inches.
Neocirrhitus: This is the familiar red hawk, and it is in a class
by itself. They lack the rays on their dorsal fin spines and attain a length
of about 3 inches. They are commonly found at depths of greater than 100
Paracirrhites: These are the Hawaiian hawks (although they are
found through out the Indo Pacific) and they lack the dorsal fin rays and
come in a variety of colors and with some species attaining a length of
Oxycirrhites typus: The long nosed hawk is unmistakable with
its long draw out snout. They have similar care and feeding as the other
hawks and grow to reach about three inches in length.