Your Longnose Hawkfish stalks you as you are walking by and watches every movement you make; this is the behavior that makes them a very cool and sought after fish.

The Longnose Hawkfish is probably one of the most sought after hawkfish, due to it’s distinctive long nose and beautiful red checkerboard patterned body!  The body is clearish white with red lines running vertically and horizontally, forming a grid of squares and rectangles from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail.  In the middle of these shapes, are horizontally running red tiny specks.  Longnose Hawkfish have tufts or cirri at the end of each of the dorsal fin’s rays and on the nostril openings.  The tailfin is clearish with red speckling, the dorsal fin is similar, also having lines and speckling.  The pectoral fins are clear and oversized, which the fish uses for perching on surfaces.  The pelvic fins are also clear.  Longnose Hawkfish grow to 5.1” (13 cm) and males are slightly larger.  These fish are great for beginners!

Since the Longnose Hawkfish lacks a swim bladder, when captured at their typical 100 feet or greater depths, decompression is not as much as an issue than with other fish.  Deeper water fish that are collected and not allowed to decompress properly, endure a drawn out demise that can occur up to a month after being collected!  Not with the Longnose Hawkfish, making it a hardy addition to your tank!   An interesting thing they do, is when grabbing a meal that is bigger than their mouth, they will smash it against rocks to make smaller bits!  The coral size of the gorgonians and black tree corals they inhabit have a direct relation to how many are found in a colony in the wild.  This is the only Hawkfish that is found only in pairs and not harems.  

The Longnose Hawkfish is easy to care for and tend to with stand parasitic outbreaks better than other fish!  They are not as picky about water quality, but proper salinity of at least 1.023 is important due to their natural habitat where salinity is closer to 1.025.  They have been known to jump out of an aquarium, especially if there is another hawkfish in the tank that is harassing them.  If trying to keep a male and female pair, the aquarist must be willing to remove one of the fish if they suddenly start to fight, which can happen when the female decides to change sex!  Typically one Longnose Hawkfish is advised per tank.  

Aggressive fish and other hawkfish will pick on the Longnose Hawkfish, although they get along with all other mid sized fish, as long as they are not aggressive and cannot swallow them whole.  The only caution is very small nano tank sized fish such as small neon gobies, which may become lunch to some Longnose Hawkfish on occasion.  A well fed fish should not try to eat smaller fish, though individuals, especially large ones caught in the wild, will continue this behavior.  A juvenile brought up with other fish should behave, but there is no guarantee.  Adult Longnose Hawkfish have been known to occasionally attack decorative shrimp-like Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata spp), Cleaner Shrimp and dancing shrimp (Rhynchocinetes sp), yet the Longnose Hawkfish may do this less often if the shrimp has been added first.  Personally, I have never had my Longnose Hawkfish attack my Cleaner or Peppermint shrimp, or small fish, however, my tank is well fed.  It’s hard to say if a tank raised Longnose would engage in that behavior, but keep that in the back of your mind when making purchases!  They are great in a reef, with the above precautions and will eat very small shrimp or molting hermit crabs, tube worms and any moving invert that can fit in their mouths.  The only problem they may have with corals if they choose to sit on the same coral over and over, preventing it from opening, but that is a rare case.

The tank should be a minimum of 20 gallons with plenty of places for them to perch and look over their kingdom!  A minimum tank size of 60 gallons is wise if you want tank mates, since they can be territorial in smaller tanks.  Provide areas with flat rocks that are at various levels in the tank.  Mine even likes to perch on the glass magnet cleaner!  Feed a variety of foods to help keep its color, including salmon since it has the red pigment they need.  Put a fiberglass or other cover over the tank in case your Longnose Hawkfish decides to try his fin at carpet surfing!  They inhabit all areas of the tank, but prefer the upper areas. 

Scientific Classification


Longnose Hawkfish – Quick Aquarium Care

Aquarist Experience Level:Beginner
Aquarium Hardiness:Very Hardy
Minimum Tank Size:20 gal (76 L)
Size of fish – inches5.1 inches (12.95 cm)
Temperature:72.0 to 81.0° F (22.2 to 27.2&deg C)
Range ph:8.1-8.4
Diet Type:Carnivore

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Longnose Hawkfish, Oxycirrhites typus, was first described by Bleeker in 1857.  The only known common name is Longnose Hawkfish, which has also been spelled Long Nose Hawkfish or Long-nose Hawkfish, which is descriptive of it’s long nose!  The term Hawkfish comes from the hawk-like nature of the fish perching above prey and striking quickly when their target is within their perch.  Hawkfish have been referred to as aquatic raptors just for this reason!  Makes you think of Jurassic Park!  

As of now, there are at least 36 species of Hawkfish with around 15 species commonly found in aquarium stores in the United States.

Longnose Hawkfish are found in the Indo-Pacific, in the Red Sea, around South Africa, the Hawaiian Islands, southern Japan, New Caledonia and upper coasts of Australia.  In the Eastern Pacific they are found in the Gulf of California to northern Colombia and Galapagos Islands.  In short, they are found from the southern coast of East Africa, the Red Sea then all the way to the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean off the California coast of the USA.  They inhabit reef pinnacles and steep outer reef slopes that have a strong current which feeds the hard to keep in captivity, large gorgonians and black corals in which they live.  As far as corals they inhabit, they only choose gorgonians that are larger than 6 feet in diameter and black corals larger than 5’ tall.  The more corals there are, the more Longnose Hawkfish are found in the area. They are found at depths from 49 to 492 feet (15 to 150 m), but most commonly are found at depths over 100 feet (30 m).  The Longnose Hawkfish feeds on benthic inverts, planktonic crustaceans and benthic crustaceans.

They can be found in small groups as juveniles, before they develop territorial tendencies and often are tolerated by adults.  As adults, they are more commonly found in male and female pairs, yet on occasion one male can share a territory with two to four females spread out with one Longnose Hawkfish per gorgonian or black coral, though this is rare.  

Males will chase larger females away since the large females have a tendency to turn to males and fight them for their territory!  Longnose Hawkfish are found in pairs, not harems. 

They have not been evaluated for the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species.

Species Variations and Similar Species:
The Longnose Hawkfish cannot be confused with any other hawkfish.

  • Scientific Name: Oxycirrhites typus
  • Social Grouping: Varies – Best kept singly, even a mated pair can result in the female turning male and them fighting with one another to the death.
  • IUCN Red List: NE – Not Evaluated or not listed


The Longnose Hawkfish has an elongated body, with a needle nose plier-like mouth and larger than average pectoral fins that they use to perch with.  Their body is a opaque white with several thin vertical and horizontal stripes forming a grid of squares and rectangular patterns that start at the tip of the nose and run the entire length of the fish, terminating at the base of the tail.  Red specks or dots run horizontally, in the center of each the of the square and rectangle shapes.  The dorsal fin is white with red lines and specks on the rays and spines, which are tipped in little tufts or cirri, and the nostril openings also have these cirri.  The tailfin is white with red speckling, and the pectoral fins are clearish yellow, and sometimes have a subtle red accenting on the outer edges.  The pelvic fins are clearish yellow and the anal fin is pale red with the first part of the fin being white.   They are protogynous hermaphrodites and can change from female to male, thus males are slightly larger than females.  Males are also said to have dark red lower jaws and black edges on the pelvic and tail fins, though this has not been “officially” documented as fact with ichthyologists.  Hawkfish are all born female, so males are larger than females.  Longnose Hawkfish males grow to 5.1” (13 cm) and are said to live from 5 to 10 years. 

  • Size of fish – inches: 5.1 inches (12.95 cm) – 5.1” (13 cm)
  • Lifespan: 5 years – 5 to 10 years depending on care.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Longnose Hawkfish are easy to care for and perfect for a beginner.  Offer your hawkfish many different types of foods to help keep their coloring.  Give them plenty of crevices and areas to hide in and hunt amongst to make them feel secure.  Throwing in a few small hermit crabs for a snack will be appreciated by your hawkfish!  Keeping a lid on the tank will also help prevent them from jumping out if they are startled.  Larger hawkfish will attack this more peaceful hawkfish.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

This carnivore can lose it’s coloring in captivity if it is not fed a wide variety of meaty foods.  The color in raw salmon flesh is one place to get this pigment, and it should be finely chopped according to their size.  You can also feed them frozen/thawed mysis shrimp, fortified brine shrimp, and finely chopped fish, shrimp or crab meat and occasionally flake or pellets that have color enhancers can be given.  Occasionally offer freeze dried foods, since a diet of all freeze dried meaty foods may eventually be rejected; as some have had the experience.  Feed several times a day as juveniles and twice a day as adults.  Not offering live foods such as mollies and guppies may keep them from going after live tank mates as they grow older.  

  • Diet Type: Carnivore
  • Flake Food: Occasionally – Only with color enhancing properties
  • Tablet / Pellet: Occasionally – Only with color enhancing properties
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet – Not necessary and may cause them to go after desirable smaller fish in the tank. Though if attempting to breed them, this will help condition the pair.
  • Meaty Food: All of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day – Feed juveniles several times a day and can feed twice daily as adults.

Aquarium Care

Reef tanks

  • Nano/Small tanks up to 40 gallons, perform 5% water changes weekly.
  • Medium sized up to 90 gallons, perform 15% bi-weekly. 
  • Large Tanks 100 gallons and over, once water is aged and stable can be changed 10% bi-weekly to 20% monthly, depending on bioload.

Fish only tanks:

  • Nano/Small tanks up to 40 gallons, perform 15% water changes bi-weekly.
  • Medium sized up to 90 gallons, perform 20% to 30% monthly depending on bioload. 
  • Large Tanks 100 gallons and over, once water is aged and stable can be changed 20% to 30% every 6 weeks depending on bioload.

For more information on maintaining a saltwater aquarium see: Saltwater Aquarium Basics: Maintenance. A reef tank will require specialized filtration and lighting equipment. Regular water changes done  bi-weekly will help replace the trace elements that the fish and corals use up. Learn more about reef keeping see: Mini Reef Aquarium Basics.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly
Longnose hawkfish
Image Credit: Vladimir Wrangel, Shutterstock

Aquarium Setup

Minimum tank size is 20 gallons, though it should be a 20 long to give them plenty of places to perch.  If attempting to find a male and female pair, introduce into a 45 gallon tank, a larger and much smaller Longnose Hawkfish.  Provide many places for each of them to hide.   In tanks that are at least 6 feet long or more, you can try a group of 4 or 5 juveniles, which will give you better results for a pair, but be prepared to remove any that are being attacked.  Avoid housing with other hawkfish unless they are smaller, just as peaceful, and the tank is over 100 gallons.  They do not require any special substrate, but live rock with plenty of crevices to hide and hunt in will help them adapt.  Keeping the temperature steady anywhere between 72˚ and 81˚F with a pH of 8.1 to 8.4 is best.  Any lighting is acceptable and they are found in areas with swift water movement, so provide that in one area of the tank.  Longnose Hawkfish swim in all levels of the tank, however, they will prefer upper levels in which to perch.  They have been known to jump out of tanks so provide a lid of some sort.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L) – 20 gallons for one, 40 for a pair, 60 gallons if you wish to have tank mates to disperse aggression.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes – Only if 20 gallon tank is a long.
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Plus Hiding Places – Provide areas for them to perch on out of flat rocks.
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Any
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 81.0° F (22.2 to 27.2&deg C) – 72˚ F (22˚ C) 81˚ F (27˚ C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 79.0° F – Probably will breed in temperatures from 79˚F to 81˚F.
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG – Salinity is over 1.023 at the deeper levels they are found.
  • Range ph: 8.1-8.4 – Ph is higher at the deeper levels they are found.
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Strong – Provide one area of strong water movement to mimic their habitat.
  • Water Region: Top

Social Behaviors

The Longnose Hawkfish is one of the most peaceful of the hawkfish clan.  They will get along as a male and female pair, although a female may decide to change to male and this will cause an all out war!  Remove one of the fish if this happens.  It starts with them circling in a head to tail spin and will raise and lower their dorsal fins.  The next step is locking jaws and injury will soon take place!  This behavior is different from spawning or courtship!  Male and female pairs will do fine in 40 gallons or more, which is wise just incase they decide to not get along, the other can find a place to hide until you rescue it! This is part of the reason housing one Longnose Hawkfish per tank is wise.   Larger hawkfish will attack the Longnose Hawkfish.  In a larger tank, at least 100 gallons, one other peaceful hawkfish such as the Flame Hawkfish may be housed with the Longnose Hawkfish, but watch out for unexpected aggression.  

Hawkfish will get along with most all other fish besides ones small enough to fit in their mouths once they are full grown but not aggressive fish.  If you desire tank mates, the tank should be at least 55 to 60 gallons and at least 4’ long.  Some aquarists have noted that once the Longnose Hawkfish is full size, it can swallow a Neon Goby whole and some feel they may go after very small juvenile anthias, thin elongated fish like small firefish, or smaller fish in the clown goby clan.  I had a mandarin in the tank with a Longnose Hawkfish and it was never bothered, yet this was in a 150 gallon tank.  If you are not feeding your Longnose Hawkfish live foods from the juvenile stage and on, and feed them regularly, this occurrence may not be as common, though not all fish read this website!  It is also a good rule of thumb to allow your very small juvenile fish to become larger before adding an adult Longnose Hawkfish, or allow them to grow up together.  Avoid housing with very aggressive fish, and avoid larger carnivorous fish that can swallow them whole.  The best tank mates are Dwarf Angels (not too small of a juvenile), less aggressive Dottybacks, Damsels (not small juveniles), larger Blennies and Gobies, Butterflyfish, adult Anthias, mid-sized Wrasses like fairy wrasses, and adult Clownfish.  Only fish with peaceful to semi-aggressive temperaments.  

In a reef setting, they do not bother corals, though once in a while a Longnose Hawkfish may perch on a coral, irritating it, and preventing it from opening.  This is not usually a problem, however, since Hawkfish tend to move from spot to spot.  They may appreciate a replica coral of the gorgonians they perch on in the wild, but it is up to the individual fish.

Longnose Hawkfish, once full grown may eat ornamental shrimp, including the Peppermint Shrimp, Cleaner Shrimp and definitely will eat smaller shrimp like sexy shrimp.  Eating larger shrimp like the Cleaner Shrimp is not as likely with this hawkfish, but there is still a small risk.  They will eat worms that live in the reef like feather duster worms and will eat molting hermit crabs.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Sometimes – Male and female pairs will work, however, if the female decides to change to male, they will start fighting.
    • Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses): Monitor – Larger species only. Fairy wrasses that are mid sized only, like Solar Fairy Wrasses. Avoid juvenile flasher wrasses with an adult.
    • Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Monitor – Avoid juveniles if your Longnose is an adult. A Flame Hawkfish may be okay in the same tank with a Longnose as long as the tank is at least 100 gallons and they are added together as juveniles.
    • Monitor – Avoid juveniles if your Longnose is an adult. Less aggressive dottybacks only.
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (tangs, large angels, large wrasses): Safe
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (lionfish, groupers, soapfish): Monitor – Do not house with fish that can swallow them whole.
    • Monitor – Only mandarins would be safe with Longnose Hawkfish in a large tank with lots of rockwork and natural foods for the mandarin. They will outcompete seahorses for food and may eat juvenile pipefish.
    • Anemones: Safe
    • Mushroom Anemones – Corallimorphs: Safe
    • SPS corals: Safe
    • Gorgonians, Sea Fans: Safe
    • Leather Corals: Safe
    • Soft Corals (xenias, tree corals): Safe
    • Star Polyps, Organ Pipe Coral: Safe
    • Zoanthids – Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Safe
    • Sponges, Tunicates: Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Monitor – May occasionally eat Cleaner and Peppermint shrimp. Will eat small shrimp such as sexy shrimp. Will attack small molting hermit crabs.
    • Starfish: Safe
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Monitor – Will eat tube worms or other worms that will fit in their mouth.
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Safe
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Safe

Sexual differences

Males tend to be larger than females.  Some have reported that males have a red lower jaw and black on the tips of their pelvic and tail fins, though these are not yet substantiated.

Breeding / Reproduction

Male Longnose Hawkfish are larger than females, and females can change as needed into males.  This ability is called being protogynous (producing female reproductive cells before male ones) hermaphrodites (possessing both male and female reproductive organs sometime during their life span).  Longnose Hawkfish are born female and turn male as needed.  Males are thus slightly larger than females and usually pair up, unlike other hawkfish that have multiple females in their harem.  In the wild, Longnose Hawkfish start their spawning ritual just before the sun sets and ends once the sun has completely set.  The spawning season may have a bearing on the water temperature in the areas they inhabit.  For example, it was reported in Papua New Guinea that November was one spawning month.  The male will swim around the female in a circular pattern, then will sit close to her and she will then lead the male to the courtship site. The male will stimulate the female to release eggs by nudging her with this long snout, sitting on her and then quivering his body.  They both raise up their heads and flex their pectoral fins, raising themselves above the substrate and then within one to two seconds, quickly swim upward for a short distance, releasing their gametes at the pinnacle of their ascent.  This behavior, seen in the wild shows they are pelagic, with fertilized eggs being carried by the current until they mature enough to drop to the reef.  This would also explain their wide dispersal.  Both male and female return to their coral home after the event.  The newly fertilized eggs start their journey as they develop, much like other fish in the ocean.  

This is the only Hawkfish that has been reported to spawn in captivity.  See general breeding behavior for Hawkfish in the Breeding Marine Fish page.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate

Fish Diseases

All Hawkfish are hardy and disease-resistant.  Some have even survived tank crashes.  They would be susceptible, however, to typical illnesses if water quality is poor for extended periods and salinity and/or temperature is unstable and highly fluctuating.  They may not do well with fresh water dips and/or formaldehyde treatments.  Such a treatment did kill one Longnose Hawkfish I had, while the clownfish survived.  


Longnose Hawkish are mid-priced and relatively easy to find.



 Oxycirrhites typus (Image Credit: User:Haplochromis, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)