The coral hawkfish is known by many different names, including the pixy hawkfish and the spotted hawkfish. Its wide range explains its large collection of names. It is found from the Red Sea and East Africa to as far east as Australia and Japan. It has
even been reported in the Galapagos Islands. It is a reef-dwelling species, found at depths of 40 metres or shallower. Coral hawkfish are small, growing to a maximum of 10 centimetres. With delicate transparent fins and a beautiful pink-white body covered in irregular red or brown spots, they are also highly sought-after by the aquarium trade. Coral hawkfish live either alone or in harems, and males are territorial. They favour areas with rich coral growth, but spawn in open ocean.
Cave hawkfish are unique within the hawkfish family in that they are characteristically reclusive. Unlike other hawkfish species, which spend the majority of their time
perching on coral outcrops in full view of passing divers, cave hawkfish favour dark recesses and live beyond the reach of recreational divers. Found at depths of up to (and possibly over) 100 metres, they are incredibly hard to find. They are native to the Indo-West Pacific including South Africa, Mauritius and Reunion, but have been reported in Indonesia and Japan as well. Cave hawkfish grow up to 12 centimetres in length, and have a slightly more elongated snout than most hawkfish species. Otherwise, they are similarly patterned, with red blotches on a white background.
The longnose hawkfish is a widespread species found in many different countries, including South Africa, Australia, Mexico and the Philippines. They favour steep drop-offs in areas with plenty of current, and are usually synonymous with Gorgonian fans and black
corals. They use the complex structure of these corals for protection, and feed on plankton carried to them by the current. This species is both resident and territorial. Longnose hawkfish can be seen in waters as shallow as 10 metres, but are also capable of thriving at depths of up to 100 metres. They grow up to around 13 centimetres in length, and are easily identified by their uniquely elongated snout. Their pale grey or white bodies are adorned with a distinctive grid pattern of orange or red stripes.
Other Hawkfish found on the reef
Horseshoe Hawkfish – Paracirrhites arcatus
Marbled Hawkfish – Cirrhitus pinnulatus
Paletail Hawkfish – Cirrhitichthys aprinus
Swallowtail Hawkfish – Cyprinocirrhites polyactis