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Fish of the Month
Issue: May 2010

Neocirrhites armatus

CASTELNAU, 1873

FOM T 0510

Oliver Lucanus

Common Names: Flame hawkfish, flame hawk, brilliant red hawkfish, red hawkfish

Type Locality: Nob Island, Queensland

Range: Pacific Ocean: Ryukyu Islands to the Line Islands and Mangaréva, south to the Great Barrier Reef and the Austral Islands; Caroline, Mariana, and Wake islands in Micronesia

Taxonomic Troubles: This is the original description.

Size: About 9 cm (3½ inches).

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical marine. Very adaptable in reef or fish-only systems.

Difficulty: A hardy marine, suitable for reef or fish-only systems, but will prey on small ornamental fish and motile invertebrates—this is not restricted to animals small enough to be ingested whole, as they will dismember larger prey items. Highly oxygenated water

Tank Setup: A hawkfish wants a high perch from which it can keep an eye on the scene below, and down from which it can swoop onto its prey. In the wild it is an obligate resident of coral branches, and in the aquarium it needs a suitable habitat into which it can div

Feeding: Carnivorous. Despite the fact that their natural behaviors are centered around a highly predatory lifestyle, flame hawks are usually easy to wean over to prepared foods and will then greedily accept all regular aquarium fare.

Breeding: Believed to be a protogynous hermaphrodite, with the male generally being slightly larger. Although captive spawnings occur, no successful rearing of the fry, which have a long planktonic stage, has been reported.

Description: Bright red with a broad, arc-shaped black dorsal band and a black eye ring.

Notes: A bit pricier than other hawkfishes, the flame hawk is still less expensive than many other popular marines. Its color and personality ensure its steady popularity. Lacking a swimbladder, these animals stay motionless on their perch until prey is sighted, at which point they swoop down onto their meal like their avian namesakes. Because a hawkfish can be extremely territorial about its perch, it is recommended that other species be stocked in the aquarium first to allow them to establish territories before the hawkfish arrives to claim what it wants. The flame hawk is a beautiful and fascinating fish that certainly deserves its continued popularity.

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