Animal Species:Ornate Hawkfish, Paracirrhites hemistictus (Günther, 1874)
The Ornate Hawkfish has two different colour forms. The fish occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific.
Standard Common Name
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.
The species grows to 29 cm in length.
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.
Distribution by collection data
The Ornate Hawkfish is usually found on coral reefs at depths from 1 m to 20 m.
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.
Mating and reproduction
Males maintain a harem of up to four females.
- Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 220.
- Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 222.
- 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.
- Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 415.
Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Ornate Hawkfish, Paracirrhites hemistictus, Cirrhitidae, grey, brown, green, yellow, pink, 'normal fish', 10 cm - 30 cm, dots/spots, blotches/mottled, coral reef, marine, adult,