Falco Hawkfish (Dwarf Hawkfish/Cirrhitichthys Falco)

falco hawkfish

Last updated on August 31st, 2022 at 08:55 am

The falco hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco) is a species of hawkfish, from the family Cirrhitidae, native to the tropical Indo-Pacific from Africa to the Marshall Islands and from southern Japan to Australia. The fish has been found at depth. It inhabits areas with rocky or coral substrates, sometimes among weeds or in tide pools, and feeds on mollusks and small crustaceans. The falco hawkfish grows to a maximum length of 4 inches, but usually only reaches half that size in captivity.

The falco hawkfish belongs to the order Perciformes, along with perch and cichlids. While this species of hawkfish has many common names in Latin, it’s most often referred to as the dwarf hawkfish or the black-bodied hawkfish.

Also known as dwarf hawkfish or cirrhitichthys falco, they are marine fish from the family Cirrhitidae, closely related to the Mycteroperca spp. The falco hawkfish has the scientific name of cirrhitichthys falco and belongs to the Order Gasterosteiformes with the Family Cirrhitidae, Genus cirrhitichthys, and species falco. They are found in the Indo-Pacific region and grow up to 3 inches in length.

The dwarf Hawkfish can be hard to distinguish from similar species, but it has an unmistakable look that makes it unique on its own. This fish has large orange eyes and beautifully blue-green spots on its body, which really make it stand out in the sea. It’s a smaller variety of hawkfish, growing to just 3 inches in length, making it the perfect choice for any aquarist that’s looking to add a colorful fish to their tank without taking up too much space.

An Introduction to the Dwarf Hawkfish

The Dwarf Hawkfish, also known as Cirrhitichthys falco, is a species of hawkfish that can be found in a marine environment within tropical and subtropical waters. They are considered to be reef safe and should do well in aquariums that are at least 25 gallons in size. They will eat most foods offered to them and will readily accept fish flakes, Mysis shrimp, frozen brine shrimp, etc., though they prefer meaty foods such as the whole squid.

In order to maintain these dwarf hawkfish successfully, you must feed small amounts at least three times per day. A lot of large aquarium shops tend to raise their prices on these particular dwarf hawkfish due to their rarity; however, if you go with a smaller shop, you may be able to purchase your first one for around $20 or less depending on how many colors it has.

Origin and description

falco hawkfish

The Falco hawkfish is a species of Cirrhitidae, a family of reef fish commonly known as hawkfishes. The greatest species diversity in Cirrhitidae is found in coral reefs, where it can be found swimming over corals and rubble in lagoons and channels. Most members of Cirrhitidae feed on small crustaceans, polychaetes, tunicates, and other small organisms; falco hawkfish is no exception to that rule.

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However, there are some species of cirrhitids that are different from others in their behaviors. One such example is Cirrhitichthys falco or what most people know it by, Falco hawkfish. They feed off carrion like dead flounders and pufferfish. It is sometimes regarded as having a good-eating appearance due to its little adipose fin which makes it unique compared to its relatives in Cirrhitidae.

It is sometimes also referred to as sleepy hawkfish since if it senses any vibrations from nearby marine creatures, it slowly swims toward them until close enough for attack and then launches itself for a quick bite before swerving away quickly back into safety again.

Species profile

falco hawkfish

The Falco hawkfish is an elongated fish that can grow up to about 3 inches long. This fish has a deep brown head with a black blotch on top, and it has dark brown fins. The body of this fish is olive green to yellow-green, or reddish-brown, and there are several darker longitudinal stripes as well as several vertical stripes running down its body.

The chest area of this fish is white, and it also has a yellow tail fin with several black spots on it. There are seven or eight very large spines in front of its dorsal fin, and one small spine at each end behind its operculum. These spines have venom glands attached to them, so they are sharp enough to hurt a human.

But in spite of their sharp spines, these fish aren’t dangerous because they don’t inject their venom into humans when they stick you with them—and even if they did sting you, your skin would probably protect you from being injured by their venom anyway!

Scientific name

The scientific name of the falco hawkfish is cirrhitichthys falco


The Falco hawkfish is found in shallow water close to a reef; they are usually found between 4 and 23 meters deep, but they have been known to go as deep as 49 meters. Usually between 8 and 14 feet. They prefer shallow waters because of their small stature which makes it easy for them to be attacked by predators if they are too far away from a protective reef.

These tiny fish grow up to 3 inches long and live in a group of around 15-20 other individuals. These groups stay together even after they have grown up or while searching for food.

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Their coloring ranges from gray, dark brown, light red, or dark yellow with stripes along their bodies; these markings make it easier for predator’s visual systems to pick them out among other creatures in an attempt to protect themselves against predators, so that they can continue on surviving through evolution.

Falco hawkfish size

The average size of the fish is just 3 inches (8 cm) in length.

Falco hawkfish tank size

The minimum recommended tank size to keep your fish in is 24 gallons, which means 8 gallons for every inch of your fish.

Tank set up

The falco hawkfish is fairly easy to maintain in an aquarium. They can be housed with smaller fish and invertebrates but caution should be taken as they are known for their nippy nature towards other fish. A tank size of at least 24 gallons is needed to house a pair of falcos with plenty of swimming room.

The falco’s swim from the substrate to the water column so a sand substrate will benefit them most. Make sure there are lots of plant cover such as java moss, Java fern, cherry shrimp, etc. They also enjoy driftwood decoration, however, it must be cured first or it will leach tannins into your water which your fish will not appreciate. It’s important that you provide a cave or tunnel that’ll provide shelter from being bullied by larger fish in your tank or falling victim to curious angelfish.

Falco hawkfish tank mates

It’s possible to keep a dwarf hawkfish with other peaceful fish that inhabit similar environments, such as damselfish, butterflyfish, and angelfish. The downfall of keeping dwarf hawkfish in a tank environment is their need for lots of space – these territorial predators won’t make friends easily, so it’s best to only have one falco hawkfish per tank.


falco hawkfish

Cirrhitichthys falco can be bred in captivity. They are paternal mouthbrooders and have adhesive eggs. The female will lay her eggs on a flat surface and as they hatch, she will not move from that spot until they do.

The male will go to great lengths to guard both his mate and his offspring, even if it means laying down his own life. Young cirrhitichthys falco start out eating rotifers and other microscopic organisms. As they grow larger, they begin feeding on brine shrimp nauplii, copepods, and Isochrysis galbana or Tetraselmis suecica.

After 12 days of growth at 28°C, one or two of their first chromatophores appear, yellow-brown pigments surrounded by clear muscle cells which function much like a pupil. This is called metachrosis and allows them to control how light enters into their bodies. At around 45 days, cirrhitichthys falco are ready for sale as young fishes with an average length of 2 cm for males and 4 cm for females.

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They become sexually mature at about 10–12 months old when their average length reaches 5–6 cm for males and 8–9 cm for females. In terms of coloration, most specimens develop into dark brown fish but there exist also silvery colored juveniles.

Are falco hawkfish aggressive or peaceful?

The falco hawkfish can be very aggressive in a community aquarium. They are territorial among their own species. They can get along with other dwarf and clown shrimp, gobies, and larger fish. They will fight with others of their own kind or smaller species of hawkfish. If you want to keep two or more falcos together in a tank, make sure it’s large enough for everyone to have their own territory without having to fight with each other all day long.

Falco hawkfish care

falco hawkfish

The dwarf hawkfish is more easily kept and less aggressive than its larger relatives. Although they are relatively hardy in captivity, they still do require some special care. They should be kept in an aquarium that is at least 30 gallons, with plenty of hiding places for each fish as well as some live rock for algae growth.

These fish can grow to be 6 inches long, so make sure there is plenty of space for them to maneuver around in your tank. Also keep in mind that these fish will nip at coral, sessile invertebrates, clams, and clam mantles, so keep them away from these or risk losing your livestock. Feed them a diet rich in vegetable matter along with meaty foods like Mysis shrimp or squid; their diet should consist of approximately 70% plant matter and 30% meat.

Falco hawkfish diet

The falco hawkfish’s diet consists mainly of crustaceans, especially mysids and copepods. It also eats mollusks, worms, sea urchins, and other fish. Some researchers have observed that they may exhibit a preference for snails over other food sources. The falco hawkfish uses its protrusible mouth to suck in prey or scrape algae from rocks in tide pools or kelp forests. Its eyes are located at each side of its head so it can see food without turning its head like most species. They are small enough to hover among corals without harming them.

Water parameters

falco hawkfish

They prefer slightly hard water with high carbonate hardness. Salinity should be in the range of 1.018 – 1.024, ph of 8.0 – 8.4, and temperature at 74 degrees Fahrenheit or 23 degrees Celsius. Like many other fish, they are intolerant to copper-based medications and can be sensitive to rapid changes in water chemistry so care must be taken when medicating them. The tank should have some rock work scattered around as they like to perch on rocks.

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Falco hawkfish lifespan

They can live up to 5 – 7 years or more depending on care and tank size. They have been known to reach 10 years in captivity.

Parasites and disease

These fish are especially prone to parasites and disease, particularly if they’re newly collected. Keeping them in a cycled aquarium with clean water is best, and using an effective treatment method to get rid of parasites. A good quarantine tank will also prevent any infections from spreading into your main tank. Always handle any new fish as carefully as possible, to avoid unnecessary stress—and be sure to wash your hands before handling another fish!

One of the common parasites and diseases affecting this fish are is Anchor worms – White, thread-like worms that anchor themselves to your fish with a small root. They will eat at your fish’s flesh as they grow larger, doing massive amounts of damage. These need to be removed manually or treated via medication. If left alone for too long, these can kill your hawkfish in a matter of days.


The falco hawkfish is preyed upon by a wide variety of larger fish species such as snappers, groupers, and even other larger hawkfish. Although they are small enough to escape most predators by darting away at high speeds, smaller fish that have not developed sufficient swimming abilities may be eaten by larger species of predatory fish. In some areas of its range, these fish are also subject to predation from marine mammals like seals and dolphins.

Do Falco hawkfish make good pets?

Yes. For experienced aquarists with large aquariums, these species make good additions to reef tanks. However, they do not mix well with other species and need a lot of space in which to swim, so be sure you have a big tank before adding any of these fish. Even though they are small, their beautiful colors and interesting behaviors are sure to delight your friends and family!