Species NameCirrhitidae (Family that includes various species)
Common NameHawkfish
Care LevelModerate
Lifespan5-7 years
Adult Size3-5 inches depending on species
DietCarnivore (small crustaceans, mollusks, fish)
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons
Temperature72°F – 78°F (22°C – 25.5°C)
Water ConditionspH 8.1-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025, dKH 8-12

About the Hawkfish – Species Summary

Hawkfish, belonging to the family Cirrhitidae, are fascinating and vibrantly-colored marine fish that predominantly inhabit the coral reefs of the tropical Indo-Pacific region. Their common name, Hawkfish, stems from their hawk-like hunting behavior. They often perch on corals or rocks, attentively observing their surroundings before swiftly darting out to snatch unsuspecting prey. Their striking appearance and unique demeanor make them an attractive choice for marine aquarium enthusiasts.

Hawkfish Lifespan

In captivity and under ideal conditions, hawkfish generally live between 5 to 7 years. Proper care, including a well-maintained tank environment and a balanced diet, can promote longevity.


Hawkfish possess an intriguing combination of bright colors and patterns that can include reds, oranges, whites, and even blues. They often have spots, bands, or other distinguishing marks depending on the species. A notable feature of hawkfish is the presence of cirri, which are tiny, hair-like appendages on the tips of their dorsal fins. These not only add to their aesthetic appeal but also have functional roles in their natural environment.

Average Size

While size can vary considerably among species, most hawkfishes grow to an average adult size of 3 to 5 inches.

Hawkfish Care

Tank Size

A minimum tank size of 30 gallons is recommended for hawkfish. However, if you intend to introduce other tank inhabitants, a larger tank might be preferable.

How To Set Up Their Tank

Hawkfish thrive in a tank that mirrors their natural coral reef environment. Plenty of rock formations, live corals, and hiding spaces are crucial as these fish frequently perch and observe their surroundings. A fine sandy substrate is also beneficial, though hawkfish spend most of their time higher up in the tank.

Lighting Requirements

Hawkfish aren’t particularly picky about lighting, but a moderate to high light setup, replicating the bright conditions of their natural coral reef habitat, is ideal. If your tank houses corals, ensure the lighting caters to their specific needs.


A pH range of 8.1 to 8.4 is best suited for the health and well-being of hawkfish.


Consistent temperatures between 72°F and 78°F (22°C to 25.5°C) should be maintained for hawkfish. Regular monitoring and reliable heaters can ensure a stable temperature range.

Water Parameters

Salinity levels should be kept stable between 1.020 and 1.025, while the carbonate hardness (dKH) should ideally be maintained between 8 and 12.

Disease Potential

Hawkfish, like many marine species, are vulnerable to diseases such as marine ich and velvet. Preventative measures like quarantining new additions to the tank, observing fish for signs of disease, and ensuring optimal water conditions are crucial.

Food & Diet

Being carnivores, hawkfish primarily feed on small crustaceans, mollusks, and occasionally smaller fish. In captivity, they thrive on a diet of high-quality pellets, live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, and squid. Feeding them a varied diet ensures they get all the essential nutrients.

Behavior and Temperament

Hawkfish are generally peaceful and are known for their perching behavior. They choose a vantage point, often on rocks or corals, from which they watch their environment and hunt for prey. However, they can be territorial and may occasionally display aggression toward smaller or similarly sized fish.

Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for hawkfish, avoid very small fish that might be seen as prey. Larger peaceful fish, various invertebrates, and many corals coexist well with hawkfish. However, it’s essential to monitor interactions to ensure harmony within the tank.


Breeding hawkfish in captivity is challenging and not common. They are known to form monogamous pairs in the wild. If an attempt is made to breed them, providing an environment that closely resembles their natural habitat, with plenty of hiding and spawning spots, is crucial. Observing their behavior, ensuring a balanced diet, and maintaining water parameters can increase the chances of breeding success.

Hawkfish FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)