Mini reef aquarium guide. Reef aquarium setup for large reef tanks, Nano reef tanks, Pico reef or MIcro reef aquariums with reef tank lighting, filtration, choosing coral reef animals, and problem solving!
Hawkfish are a small predatory family of fish that spend most of their time on protruding coral blocks or branches of the reef.
The name 'hawkfish' comes from their predatory, 'hunting like a hawk' behavior. They use their pectoral fins to 'sit up' and watch for prey, and when they see it, they swoop down and devour it quickly.
In the aquarium these are very interesting fish to watch. They are very active, alert and are one of the hardiest aquarium residents. Many can be kept in reef situations except some will eat small crustaceans like cleaner shrimp. There are two especially that are known for this, C. fasciatus and P. forsteri.
There are only about 35 known species of Hawkfish. The family of fishes ranges anywhere from 10 cm (4 inches) to 1 meter (39 inches) in length but most of the aquarium specimens are under 15 cm (6 inches).
Stout bodies and large heads are one of the distinguishing characteristics which separates the Hawkfish from other families like the Blennies. Another obvious characteristic is that all hawkfishes have tufts of hair, called cirri, on the tips of their dorsal spines. Some are easily seen while others are harder to find but all hawkfishes have them.
Although breeding in the aquarium has not taken place, something is known about how they breed in the wild, see Breeding Marine Fish for more information.
The Longnose Hawkfish grows up to 5" (13 cm), yet in captivity, it commonly only grows to 4" (10 cm). Males are slightly larger than females and you can put a pair in a 45 gallon tank, unless the female decides to turn into a male, at which point, all out war breaks out! They have been known to breed in captivity and they are the most peaceful of the hawkfish clan, however, on occasion is has been known to attack shrimp and eat neon gobies. A well fed Hawkfish would rarely do this, and one raised in captivity on non-live foods would rarely exhibit this behavior, though this is the animal kingdom, so there is no guarantee! Keep salinity at 1.023 minimum and 72˚F to 81˚F with a few high places for them to perch and a lid, since they do like to jump. Avoid other hawkfish or aggressive fish as tank mates.