Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus): Ultimate Care Guide

Common Name(s)Longnose hawkfish
Scientific NameOxycirrhites typus
OriginIndo-Pacific and Eastern Pacific
Temperature Range72-78°F
Water ParametersdKH 8-12, pH 8.0-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Adult SizeUp to 4in (5in in the wild)
Food & DietCarnivorous diet consisting of crustaceans, shrimp, and small fish.

Longnose Hawkfish are members of the Cirrhitidae family.  They’re a species of marine ray-finned fish.

The Longnose Hawkfish’s body has a base color of white with a red striping pattern that resembles a loose plaid or a snow fence.  Its stripes run both horizontal and vertical creating a criss-cross of the fish’s body. As its name suggests the Longnose Hawkfish has a long beaklike nose that adds plenty of character to its face. It also has a very distinguishing ten ray dorsal fin that has both soft and hard spines.  Some of the spines have cirri on the end that resemble small fuzzy balls. Longnose Hawkfish have long-flowing pectoral fins and their tail is straight on the end. Because they are nocturnal, Hawkfish have large eyes.

In nature, Longnose Hawkfish are mostly found in the tropical Indo-pacific and Red sea. Their habitat stretches from the coast of Eastern Africa to Southern Japan. Longnose Hawkfish can also be found in the Sea of Cortez from Northern Columbia to the Galapagos.  Most make their home in deep waters and sometimes divers need to go 100-300 ft down and look in the black coral to find them.

Longnose Hawkfish do not have swim bladders. This is a characteristic of the entire Cirrhitidae family.  This makes it easy for them to swim through varying depths without the need to decompress. It also means they need to perch and rest every so often as they don’t have the extra help to keep them buoyant in the water.

While they are excellent at swimming fast for short distances, their main behavior is to perch and wait for their food to come to them.

Longnose Hawkfish can be incredibly acrobatic and very entertaining.

Other common names for this fish are Longnose Hawks, Hawaiian Hawkfish, and Pilikoa.

Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus)

Are Longnose Hawkfish Reef Safe?

Longnose Hawkfish are semi reef safe.  Their perching habits may damage coral polyps and other reef species like catalaphyllia and anenomes have powerful enough stings to kill the fish. Longnose Hawkfish will also snack on crustaceans that are smaller than them.  Molting hermit crabs and small shrimp are not safe.  A large tank with carefully selected coral is the best idea for keeping Longnose Hawkfish out of trouble.

Longnose Hawkfish Care

Best suited to a serene setup, the Longnose Hawkfish appreciates plenty of places to perch and look out over its watery territory.


Being Tropical fish, the optimal temperature for Longnose Hawkfish is between 76.8-84.2F.  The water temperature should be stable.

Water pH

Longnose Hawkfish will thrive in a PH of 8.0-8.4. Fluctuations in PH will not be good for your fish.

Longnose Hawkfish Size

Longnose Hawkfish are relatively small.  They grow to be up to 5 inches (13cm).

Food and Diet

Longnose Hawkfish are carnivores.  They have large, strong jaws and sharp teeth.  They’re fast swimmers ready to devour their prey. They will perch on a rock or coral being very still waiting to strike and kill their supper.

Feed them thawed brine or Mysis shrimp twice a day.  An extra fun treat for Longnose Hawkfish is a clam on the half shell. Run a clam from the grocery store under your kitchen faucet until it opens up.  Separate the non-meaty side from the meaty side and drop the meaty side into the tank letting it float past the Longnose Hawkfish to the bottom.  Watch how quickly that clam gets gobbled up.

Their jaws are designed to eat small crustaceans so make sure you don’t have any in your aquarium that the Longnose Hawkfish can get a hold of.

Longnose Hawkfish Lifespan

Longnose Hawkfish live 5-7 years in their native home in the Indian and Southern Pacific oceans.  With proper care and attention aquarium owners can expect this same lifespan in their tank.

Longnose Hawkfish Tank Size

 A minimum tank size of 40 gallons will work for the Longnose Hawkfish if it is a single fish with no crowding.  For best results and to ease stress over territory Longnose Hawkfish will feel most comfortable in a 100-gallon tank.  This allows for enough space, generally better water quality, and less chance of squabbles over territory.

Tank Setup

Helping your Longnose Hawkfish live the good life means imitating their natural habitat as closely as possible.  In the wild Longnose Hawkfish live along steep outer reef slopes.  They are a perching fish and like to hide among sea fans and black coral.

Creating an ideal habitat for Longnose Hawkfish includes having places for it to perch.  If the fish can not perch it will be very stressed.  Longnose Hawkfish are fairly adaptable and will resort to perching on fake rocks and coral or hang out in caves and overhangs if maintaining alive sea fans and black coral is not something you want to take on.

Longnose Hawkfish are nocturnal and will hide during the day. That being said they have large eyes to see in the dark and would prefer soft lighting that’s easy on the retinas.

One last thing to consider is that Longnose Hawkfish are jumpers.  You’ll want to make sure your tank depth is sufficient and you have a tight-fitting lid that covers the top of the tank well.

Longnose Hawkfish Breeding Behavior

Breeding Longnose Hawkfish in captivity is not impossible, but it’s probably not worth it as the fry don’t survive to maturity.

Longnose Hawkfish are sequential hermaphrodites.  All are born female and in adulthood, the largest Longnose Hawkfish within a set region will become a male.  While other types of Hawkfish form harems, Longnose Hawkfish appear to be monogamous.

Telling the males and females apart can be a challenge. Males have a black outline on the pelvic and caudal fins.

From a human perspective, the mating rituals of the Longnose Hawkfish could seem quite romantic. They spawn at sunset. The male proceeds toward the female with his dorsal fin erect.  They engage in a twirling dance with brief rests (because remember, no swim bladders). Right before spawning the couple will line up side by side and shoot up from the coral through the water vertically. At the pinnacle of height, they will turndown, flex to release the eggs and sperm, and then return to the coral.

Longnose Hawkfish are demersal spawners, meaning they have eggs that sink to the bottom.

Common Disease

Fortunately, the Longnose Hawkfish is usually a very healthy fish with a small parasite load. In fact, many times other fish in the tank will show symptoms of a disease and succumb to it before the Longnose Hawkfish does.

If your tank does come down with an infection, quarantine and a prophylactic dip are the best courses of action.

One of the most common saltwater aquarium diseases to watch for is Saltwater Ich.

The symptoms are white spots on the fins and bodies of the fish. (too many white spots to count indicates a serious case), heavy breathing, scratching, and twitching.

A really good idea for managing and eliminating Ich is understanding the lifecycle of the parasite.

Copper, Chloroquine Phosphate in a quarantine tank and UV sterilizers can all help get rid of Ich.

Side note: Saltwater Ich and freshwater Ich are two different parasites.  Saltwater Ich is caused by Cryptocaryon irritans and the freshwater version is Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

Tank Mates for Longnose Hawkfish

Longnose Hawkfish have incredibly razor-sharp teeth and are super speedy swimmers, it’s best to not have tankmates that are small and bite-size living with them. 

You also don’t want to pair them with other Longnose Hawkfish as they become quite territorial and will damage or kill each other. One Longnose Hawkfish per tank is the limit.

More often than not Longnose Hawkfish live with their tank mates agreeably. If you notice your Hawkfish becoming aggressive try changing things up a little. A couple of tweaks to the tank decorations can reset the neighborly vibe in your tank. 

Unless you’re really not fond of your cleaner shrimp, you’ll want to avoid introducing them to a tank with Longnose Hawkfish. They will be quickly devoured. 

Peppermint shrimp are a larger shrimp species and may be at less risk of being eaten by your Longnose Hawkfish, but it is still risky to have them together.

Some examples of compatible fish friends for your Longnose Hawkfish are Anthias, Banggai Cardinal fish, Blue-green Chromis, Butterflyfish, Clownfish, Damselfish, Dottybacks, Dwarf angelfish (as long as they’re not too small), Regal tangs, and wrasses. 

A good rule of thumb for matching tank mates with your Longnose Hawkfish is if it will fit in its mouth, it will end up in its stomach.

Also to avoid turf wars, add your Longnose Hawkfish to your saltwater tank after the rest of your fish have been added.

Where can I find Longnose Hawkfish for sale?

Because they’re not bred in captivity, and therefore must be caught live in the wild, Longnose Hawkfish can be a more expensive fish than other saltwater aquarium fish.

The cost of Longnose Hawkfish is dependent on size and usually falls in the range of $70-$90 USD.

You can purchase Longnose Hawkfish online.

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