Ornate Hawkfish Click to enlarge image
An Ornate Hawkfish at a depth of 5m, Mantis Reef outside wall, Wreck Bay, Great Barrier Reef, November 2001. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    hemistictus
    Genus
    Paracirrhites
    Family
    Cirrhitidae
    Order
    Perciformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 29 cm in length.

Introduction

The Ornate Hawkfish has two different colour forms. The fish occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific.

Identification

The Ornate Hawkfish has two different colour forms. The pale form has black spots on the top half of the body, a pinkish face and a white stripe along the side of the body. The dark form is grey with dark brown spots on the body. It has a single white or pinkish spot, about the size of the eye, on the side of the body.

Habitat

The Ornate Hawkfish is usually found on coral reefs at depths from 1 m to 20 m.

Distribution

The fish occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific, from the Cocos-Keeling Islands, north to Japan, south to Australia and east to the Pitcairn Islands. In Australia the Ornate Hawkfish is known from the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.



Feeding and diet

The Ornate Hawkfish feeds on small fishes and crustaceans.

Other behaviours and adaptations

It is often seen perched on its elongated pectoral fin rays on coral branches, sea fans (gorgonians) or rocks.

Breeding behaviours

Males maintain a harem of up to four females.

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 220.
  2. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 222.
  3. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  4. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 415.