The Hawkfishes are a family of 38 small species, with big heads, slightly elongated bodies, and short, rounded tail fins. Hawkfishes range from 8.5 to 30 cm in length, and are only found in tropical waters, down to around 50 m.
Hawkfishes are mostly very colorful fish and are usually found perching on top of corals or sponges using their enlarged, thickened, scaleless lower pectoral-fin rays.
The latin family name Cirrhitids is derived from the many tiny tassel-like cirri at the tips of the spines on the first dorsal fin which make this family easy to identify (if you can get close enough). The second dorsal fin is merged with the first, but has no cirri.
All species feed on small crustaceans and fishes, however one species (Cyprinocirrhitus polyactis) mostly feeds on zooplankton.
Many species of Hawkfishes are solitary, however some species form pairs, and other species form small harems of several females dominated by a larger male. A female will change into a male if the dominant male leaves the harem or dies.