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Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus
Coral hawkfish, Halcón de coral

photo of coral hawkfish in typical coral habitat, from Ocean Oasis, © 2000 CinemaCorp of the Californias photo of two coral hawkfish, from Ocean Oasis, © 2000 CinemaCorp of the Californias

Family: CIRRHITIDAE (Hawkfishes)


Whitish or pink body, with squarish red to brown spots. Adults grow to 8 cm (about 3 inches) in length.

Range and Habitat

The coral hawkfish is widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific. It also occurs in the tropical eastern Pacific where it ranges from the Gulf of California to Ecuador including the Galapagos Islands. It is usually associated with coral heads at from near the surface to depths of about 15 meters (45 feet).

Natural History

The hawkfish is an ambush predator. It is always alert, remaining motionless for long intervals as it waits for prey — mainly small crustaceans and small fishes. Its modified pectoral fins have stout free pectoral rays adapted for perching. At night it hides deep in the coral branches for protection.

Text by Patricia Beller
Photographs from Ocean Oasis,

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