Oxycirrhites typus

Common Names: Longnose hawkfish

Type Locality: Ambon Island, Moluccas, Indonesia

Range: Indo-Pacific, from the Red Sea to Hawai'i, throughout Micronesia; Eastern Pacific, Gulf of California to Colombia and the Galapagos Islands

Taxonomic Troubles: None. Originally described as Oxycirrhites typus. The genus is monotypic (this is the only species in it). O. seftoni and O. morrisi are synonyms.

Size: 13 cm (5 inches)

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical marine. Temperature 24 to 26 degrees Celsius (75 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit)

Difficulty: Generally very hardy

Tank Setup: Suitable for fish-only and most reef setups. Generally safe with sessile reef invertebrates, but will prey on any motile animlas small enough to ingest. Since they spend most of their time perched up high, waiting to ambush small prey, you will want one

Feeding: In nature a micropredator; will eat small shrimps and worms in an aquarium. Most regular aquarium foods are also readily taken.

Breeding: No aquarium accounts. Lays demersal eggs (on the bottom)

Fish Description

A red grid on a white background--three to four prominent horizontal stripes, with fainter scribbled stripes in between, then vertical red bars that create the square mesh pattern. A typical (for hawkfishes) large eye, and a needle-nosed snout, ending in a small, toothy mouth.


Hardy, colorful, peaceful, moderately sized and priced, and fascinating, this fish makes a great pet. ALthough ambush predators, hawkfish are not at all retiring, and they will quickly learn to beg for food when they see you approach.

It rarely works to keep more than one longnose hawk per tank, but they are peaceful toward other species too small to eat. They can get quite territorial about their favorite perch and chase off other fish, but they typicall end the chase short of an attack. Although some hawkfish get quite large (a foot or more) and have much blunter snouts, enabling them to eat fish almost as big as they are, this species is constrained by its snout from eating all but the smallest of fishes. This fish would be a hit just from its unusual body shape and coloration, but its behavior is appealing as well. Just like the hawk, it perches as high as possible, keeping a keen eye on the world below. Any sign of movement gets its immediate attention, and prey (or food tidbits) are snatched up in a swooping dive--the reef version of fast food).

Their feeding habits can seriously impact the fauna in a live-rock or deep-sandbed setup, but seen from the other side, they are useful for ridding tanks of unwanted critters. They seem to have no appetite for corals or other prized sessile reef inverts, but they can irritate and damage that spot on an animal on whihc they habitually perch. Often, however, the invert becomes habituated to the hawkfish; for example, coral polyps may remain extended despite the fish's presence among them.