By Bob Goemans
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Ocean Nutrition 


 Neocirrhites armatus (Flame Hawkfish)

Neocirrhites armatus
Castlenau, 1873

Flame Hawkfish

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable


These fishes belong in the Order Perciformes and Suborder Percoidei as members of the Family Cirrhitidae (Hawkfishes) consisting of approximately 11 genera with about 35 species. Most occur in the Indo-Pacific where the majority are found in shallow reefs zones, however, there are three species found in the Tropical Atlantic and Caribbean.

Their members are generally small, fairly peaceful, hardy, and colorful. All have stocky bodies with prominent heads and fairly large eyes for their size. The name 'Hawkfish' is derived from their hawk-like perching behavior, as 'adults' (larval hawkfishes 'do' possess a swim bladder!) lack a swim bladder (the specialized organ that enables them to regulate their position in the water column), therefore perch/sit on various types of substrates while viewing the passing traffic in hopes that something eatable will come into range. When it does, they dart short distances to capture it. Their strong pelvic fins are used as supports when perching and will defend their feeding territory, which includes the area around its favorite perching place. All have "cirrhi" in their names, which refers to the small hairy tuffs on the tips of their dorsal fins. All begin life as females with the largest and more dominant becoming a male. They live and spawn in harems, with one male interacting with several females. Unless you can sex them, it's one hawkfish, in any genus, per tank, unless it's a very large tank.

They should be maintained in systems with plenty of hiding areas and places to sit and watch the traffic go by so to speak. They are undemanding when it comes to water quality; however, they are predators and prefer meaty foodstuffs, e.g., mysis shrimp, shredded fresh marine fish/shrimp/clam flesh, live enriched brine shrimp, krill, Cyclop-eeze, and even enriched flake foods. Unfortunately, they cannot be trusted with very small fish such as Neon Gobies, or small shrimp and crabs because they could windup as a meal.

They begin life as females with the largest and more dominant becoming a male. They live and spawn in harems, with one male having several females. May pick on hermit crabs and shrimp.

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