Falco Hawkfish

Dwarf Hawkfish

Family: Cirrhitidae Picture of a Falco Hawkfish or Dwarf HawkfishCirrhitichthys falcoPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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I have had a falco hawk for about 5 months now and I haven't had any problems with him. He is an awesome fish for my reef tank. Never has he eaten my hermit crabs,... (more)  AJ

   The Falco Hawkfish or Dwarf Hawkfish is one of the most commonly seen of the hawkfish. They are a very interesting fish to watch and have very intricate and colorful markings. Although hard to see in the photo, they have bright yellow tufts (typical of hawkfish) on the dorsal fin rays.

   This is a fish that doesn't get real big, only up to 2.5 inches (6 cm). The Falco Hawkfish or Dwarf Hawkfish are readily available and easy to keep.

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Cirrhitichthys falco
Data provided by FishBase.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Cirrhitidae
  • Genus: Cirrhitichthys
  • Species: falco
Feeding the Falco Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco)
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Falco's Hawkfish enjoying mysis shrimp

The Falco's Hawkfish is one of the best beginner saltwater fish around! Not only are they easy to feed, but they are inexpensive for saltwater fish, and can be kept in a 15 gallon nano tank! They cannot be housed with peaceful fish, but will be bullied by very aggressive fish in smaller tanks. Their personality is matchless in the marine world, and their tiny 2.7" size makes them a must have even in a reef. They will eat small sexy shrimp, small hermit crabs and small snails.

Falco's Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthy falco) RED VARIANT
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Great example of a deep red color variation

The Falco's Hawkfish come in a few different shades of red. Some are reddish brown, while others, like this specimen are bright red! The Falco's that are found near coral are the redder specimens while the ones near only sandy and rubble areas are a brownish red. They can be kept alone, as pairs, or in small harems in very large tanks. Their small 2.7" size keeps their typical hawkfish attitude in check, so they can't do too much damage, unless you are a small snail, small crab of any sort or small shrimp!

Maintenance difficulty:    The Falco Hawkfish or Dwarf Hawkfish is easy to keep. Hawkfish are among the hardiest of all marine fish.

Maintenance:    The hawkfish are carnivores. They do well on a diet which includes all kinds of live, frozen, and flake foods. Best to feed small amounts several times a day. We generally feed freeze dried krill, squid, shrimp (the same kind people eat), mussels, and all kinds of chopped up fish.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:     Falco Hawkfish or Dwarf Hawkfish are found in the western Pacific, from the Philippines to Japan, Samoa, the Barrier Reef, and New Caldonia. They inhabit shallow coastal to outer reef flats and slopes at depths up to 45 meters.

Foods:    All kinds of meaty foods from small fish and invertebrates; crustaceans.

Social Behaviors:     Found singly on the reef with one male presiding over a territory that will include 2 to 7 females.

Sex: Sexual differences:    The male is usually larger.

Breeding/Reproduction:   Indications are that it is haremic and spawns nightly. Occasionally in pairs. Typical Hawkfish courtship and spawning behavior is seen. See general breeding behavior for Hawkfish in the Breeding Marine Fish page.

Light: Recommended light levels:    No special requirements.

Temperature:    Hawkfish should be kept at temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Falco Hawkfish or Dwarf Hawkfish adults can grow to 6.0 cm (2.5 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 20 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong    No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom    Usually spends most of its' time on coral outcroppings near the bottom.

Availability:   This fish is readily available and is inexpensive.

Author: David Brough. CFS.
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Lastest Animal Stories on Falco Hawkfish

AJ - 2013-02-12
I have had a falco hawk for about 5 months now and I haven't had any problems with him. He is an awesome fish for my reef tank. Never has he eaten my hermit crabs, snails, or peppermint shrimp. The small glass shrimp I feed him periodically are consumed right away! I wonder if these other people are feeding theirs enough. Mine eats pellet food, freeze dried krill, frozen mysis shrimp, and the glass shrimp. I feed him twice a day, dropping one or two pieces of food in at a time until he no longer begs for more. I also have a clownfish that follows him around like they are paired up lol. This is a very fun fish, don't let the other people's comments scare you away.

  • Anonymous - 2013-02-15
    if it will fit in his mouth, he will eat it, just a matter of time. not so much the hard shelled critters, but the shrimp are living on borrowed time
  • paris - 2013-04-18
    yup I def. agree. I had a hawkfish sweet as can be for a few months then ate my huge cleaner shrimp.. all of them!! i caught him with the antennaes hanging out of his mouth!
  • Niglin - 2013-05-31
    I have a 'Falco hawkfish', they are too small to do any real damage, may eat shrimp.. Mine leaves everything alone except worms, and also eats pieces of fish that I target feed the brittle star. I think that people who are claiming they are attacking their other fish are idiots, something else is doing this in your tank, or you're just plain lying for attention.
Thomas - 2009-07-06
I have been thinking about getting one of these for a while now. I thought they are very pretty and cute and fun looking fish to have...until i read all the comments on this site. Thanks to all who commented for helping me stay away from a apparently very disastrous decision!

David Johnson - 2004-03-02
I am rather new to the saltwater hobby, (13 months),so I am still learning about new species and their compatibility. One such species I was very impressed with was the Falco Hawkfish. I enjoyed watching this fish sit on my live rock and watch his environment like a little old man. My joy lasted all of two weeks as one by one my turbo snails started to go from active tank cleaners to empty shells. Two additional weeks past and my "bad feeling" about my new pet was confirmed when my beloved cleaner shrimp disappeared. I still think the hawk was cool but, BEWARE. Please read all info on this site on compatibility BEFORE you get one, unless you will not keep ANY TYPE of snail or shrimp.

john - 2003-11-08
The info i got from your site was great.
You told me everything i needed to know.....thanks

Jeremy - 2010-11-27
AHHHH, YES.........the falco hawkfish is very beautiful and smart. Couldn't wait to get one and we named her lola. All was well in the the tank until we added blue leg hermits, a mandarin dragonet, and a mat of green star polyps. Well the "cute little hawk" became a killer when her Grouper instincts kicked in, she ate the hermits, terrorized the dragonet and started to rip the polpys out of the coral mat. Cute little lola, aka little grouper.(predator)


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