Longnose Hawkfish Care: Diet, Mates, Tank and Breeding

A Oxycirrhites typus looking for food

The Longnose Hawkfish is one of our favorite fish because it looks totally different from other tankmates. Maybe this is why it is one of the most sought after hawkfish!

You will love adding this fish to your aquarium as much as we do because it is peaceful and quite hardy. In fact, if its colors were blue and red we think it could’ve been part of Superman’s aquarium since every superhero needs a superpet!

This guide will walk you through everything you need to properly care for your hawkfish from diet to tank setup and mates (keep an eye on those fish to avoid too). Ready? Let’s do this!

Quick Facts

Scientific Name:Oxycirrhites typus
Other Names:Long-nose hawkfish, Longnose hawk, Hawaiian hawk-fish, Pilikoa
Reef Safe:With caution
Lifespan:5 to 7 years
Size:4 to 5 inches
Care:Low to Medium
Diet:Carnivore: Meaty foods like frozen mysis shrimp, enriched brine shrimp and chunks of crustacean
Water Parameters:75-80F, 8.1-8.4pH, 8-12dKH, 1.023-1.025SG
Tank Size:Minimum: 30 gallons, Better: 40 gallons.
Breeding Difficulty:Medium to High since they change from females to males

Species Summary

The Longnose Hawkfish is one of the most desired members of the hawkfish species by hobby aquarists. The Oxycirrhites typus is a highly intelligent and exciting fish that’s known for its fascinating hunting behaviors. 

You may even see your hawkfish watching your movements and following after you. These carnivores are easy to care for and native to the Indo-Pacific region.

Longnose Hawkfish, also referred to as Hawaiian Hawkfish, lack a swim bladder, which is why they’re often found near the bottom of the ocean. They can confidently swim at depths between 30 feet and 300 feet because they don’t struggle with decompression issues like other fish. 

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Author Note: Hobbyists adore these fish due to their eye-catching coloring, charming personalities and innate hardiness. Are you one of those hobbyists? 


Longnose Hawkfish have square tails, oversized pectoral fins and long, thin noses they can use to scout out crevices. These fish boast a red and white plaid pattern along their bodies. Lines run both vertically and horizontally across their flanks. 

What if a Longnose Hawkfish is being threatened? 

No worries! They have no problem hiding their vibrant colors from predators when they dart amongst the bright corals and anemones.


The average Longnose Hawkfish has a lifespan of 5 to 7 years. If you provide ideal water conditions and nutrition as well as a stress-free environment, you may see your hawkfish live up to 10 years old! 

Average Size

These longnose hawkfish have an average size of 4 to 5 inches long. For breeding purposes, you should note that the males are typically larger than the females.

Longnose Hawkfish Care

In their natural environment, these fish live in shallow regions near natural reef slopes. It’s important to consider their natural hiding instincts and lack of a swim bladder when designing your tank. 

Crafting a suitable aquarium environment will keep them content and minimize the chances of territorial scuffles.

Tank Size

At a minimum, you can get away with using a 30-gallon tank for a single longnose hawkfish, but it’s better to utilize a 40-gallon aquarium or larger. It’s possible to keep a few hawkfish in the same tank, but you wouldn’t want to have an aquarium any less than 100 gallons. 

The smaller the tank environment, the bigger the risk of aggression.

Water Parameters

  • Water temperature: 75 F to 80 F
  • pH levels: 8.1 to 8.4
  • Water hardness: 8 to 12 dKH
  • Specific gravity: 1.023 to 1.025

Tank Setup

You’ll want to outfit your aquarium with an abundance of rocks, ledges and caves. These hawkfish like to sit atop high structures and survey the surrounding scenery. A tall perching spot is also a necessity for their hunting behaviors.

As for the substrate: you can’t go wrong with a fine sand or larger gravel option where they can hide if necessary. 

Author Note: Opt for stronger water movements that mimic their natural environment in the Indo-Pacific.


Longnose Hawkfish have large, sensitive eyes and nocturnal tendencies, making dim lighting settings ideal.


Maintaining your reef tank requires specialized filtration equipment to manage the bio-load and water quality. You’ll want to complete water changes at least bi-weekly to ensure your salinity, ammonia and nitrate levels remain consistent. 

Smaller tanks up to 40 gallons need to be changed more frequently than larger aquariums.


Acclimation is a must so your Longnose Hawkfish can safely adjust to your tank. Saltwater fish do best with the drip method, but you also have the choice to try the floating method. Don’t forget the many benefits of utilizing a separate quarantine tank to stop your new fish from spreading any harmful bacteria or illnesses.

Drip method

You’ll need a large bucket and a long line of tubing. You’re welcome to float the fish in your aquarium first to make sure its water is at the same temperature as your tank. 

You’ll then put the fish in the bucket and drip water from the aquarium at a rate of about three drops per second. After about an hour or two, you can scoop the fish out of the bucket and transfer it to its new home.

Floating method 

This is simpler as it only requires you to take your bagged fish and float them in your tank for about 30 minutes

You’ll then slowly add tank water, pouring out about half when necessary, until your fish is acclimated. Don’t let any of this water mixture enter your aquarium when transferring the new addition over.

A Longnose hawkfish swimming in a saltwater aquarium

Are Longnose Hawkfish Reef Safe?

Longnose Hawkfish aren’t completely reef-safe as they have a habit of causing harm accidentally. As these fish perch, they put a lot of force into their pectoral fins, which can irritate or damage the polyps and clams below. 

Author Note: These hawkfish will also try to eat anything it can fit in its mouth from molting crabs to feather dusters to shrimp. A larger tank with plenty of perching options will help protect your corals, but you should still monitor your invertebrates.

Common Possible Diseases & Prevention

Longnose Hawkfish are a strong species with a sturdy immune system. They’re often the last to get sick and may even survive a worst-case-scenario tank crash. 

However, they are no SUPERFISH since living in a poor environment with bad water quality or stressful conditions will wear down their hardiness over time.

You should still quarantine them to avoid the stress of a quick entry into your tank. If they do get sick, you can separate them and treat them with the appropriate medication. A prophylactic dip may also be helpful to avoid potential bacterial infections.

Food & Diet

Feed your Longnose Hawkfish a balanced diet with a variety of meaty foods like frozen mysis shrimp, enriched brine shrimp and chunks of crustacean. They’ll occasionally accept flakes and pellets with color enhancers. It’s best not to feed them live food as this may encourage them to go after small fish in the tank. Adult hawkfish should be fed twice daily.

Behavior & Temperament

Longnose Hawkfish are one of the more peaceful fish in the species. They’re very curious and like to explore their territory and surrounding areas. 

This hawkfish will stick to safe rocky outcroppings unless they’re diving for food or chasing away intruders. Even without a swim bladder, they can swim quickly for short periods of time.

They have sharp teeth that they’ll use to defend themselves against predators and other hawkfish. Longnose Hawkfish are best known for their swooping and perching behaviors. 

Author Note: You’ll find they’re most active at night, but some aquarists have had luck in adapting their hawkfish to diurnal living.

Longnose Hawkfish Tankmates & Predators

These hawkfish will coexist peacefully with most tank mates except for those much larger than them. You should also be wary of your small fish, crustaceans or invertebrates that your hawkfish may be tempted to hunt. 

They’ll snack on all manner of shrimps including sexy shrimp, Peppermint shrimp and cleaner varieties like the Cerith Snail. It’s ideal to house them with other mid-sized fish with peaceful to mildly aggressive tendencies.

In-fighting is possible if you have several hawkfish in the same tank. Mating pairs can exist peacefully, but there’s always a chance your female can change into a male. Condition your hawkfish to coexist early by adding them together as juveniles

Author Note: If necessary, revamp your decorations or move the battling fish to a larger tank to curb aggressive outbursts before they result in injury or death.

The best tank mates for Longnose Hawkfish include:


Longnose Hawkfish are protogynous hermaphrodites (say that 10 times fast!) that start as females before changing to males when needed. Unlike other hawkfish species, these fish will pair up with one male and one female rather than create a harem. They like late dates since their spawning dance takes place in the evening around the time the sun sets.

Courting Ritual

  • The male will swim around the female and get close to her, prompting her to lead the both of them to her chosen spawning site. 
  • They’ll swim sharply up from the substrate and, at the peak of their arc, release the necessary eggs and gametes. 
  • The eggs are dispersed widely in the current, where they stay until they’re old enough to reach the reef. 

While it’s not uncommon to witness a spawning event, you may still have trouble keeping the eggs alive until they hatch.

Author Note: The moment you see eggs in your tank, you should remove them to a rearing aquarium. The Longnose Hawkfish fry are sensitive to water fluctuations and changes in their diet. You’ll need to keep them in a dim area and feed them rich foods several times a day.

Once they’re mature, they’ll need to be separated into individual tanks or given away. Too many hawkfish in one tank increases the risk of aggression and bullying. It’s not ideal to add any back with the parents as they will be viewed as intruders to their territory.

Finishing Up

Now you are a connoisseur of Longnose Hawkfish! We hope this guide guided you (yes, guide used twice) though all the essential knowledge required to succeed as hawkfish owner.

We think you will love this guy since its appearance is not common. Adding a variety of fish to your tank is very cool because that is the WOW factor that catches everyone’s eyes and we are sure you won’t get bored of it. 

If you enjoyed this guide you will like other Saltwater Fish Care Guides and if you will be sharing your cool Longnose Hawkfish to your friends don’t forget to tag us on Facebook. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out and best of luck!

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