Hawkfish Family Photos and Information – Cirrhitidae

The Hawkfish Family – Cirrhitidae

Giant Hawkfish, Cirrhitus rivulatus, a representative member of the Hawkfish or Cirrhitidae Family.

The fish of the Hawkfish or Cirrhitidae Family are known collectively in Mexico’s fishing areas as halcónes. Globally there are thirty-eight family members that have been placed in ten genera of which four species, one in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific, are found in Mexican waters.

The Hawkfish are relatively small fish being approximately 30 cm (12 inches) in total length; most are much smaller. They have moderately compressed oval bodies that vary in depth from 21 to 50% of standard length. Their head has a short snout with a large mouth equipped with a row of small canines. There are cirri on the rear edge of their front nostril and the tips of their dorsal fin spines. Their gill covers have two indistinct spines. Their anal fin has 3 spines and 5 to 7 rays, their caudal fin has a straight edge, their dorsal fin has 10 spines and between 11 and 17 rays, their pectoral fins have 14 rays of which 5 to 7 are stout and are utilized for perching on the ocean floor, and their pelvic fins have one spine and 5 rays and originate behind the pectoral fin base. Their bodies are covered with smooth scales.

Hawkfish are colorful fish that vary significantly by species. They are found within coral reefs and rocky substrate. The majority are found in shallow waters. They are largely sedentary, remaining motionless on the bottom for long intervals, periodically swimming to a new vantage point on the reef surface. They have the ability to wedge themselves into rocky structures in areas of surge. Hawkfish are carnivorous feeding primarily on small fish and a wide variety of crabs, shrimps, and other crustaceans. Some of the larger species are utilized by certain cultures for food. Many Hawkfish are valued as aquarium fish.

Two Hawkfish reside in Mexican waters of the Pacific and both are currently included in this website:

Coral Hawkfish, Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus
Giant Hawkfish, Cirrhitus rivulatus