Pixy Hawkfish Care Guide

Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus

DifficultyLow
Minimum Tank Size30 Gallons
DietCarnivore
Water Parameters72-78 F, pH 8-8.4, Salinity 1.020-1.025
AggressionAggressive
Size3"

Pixy Hawkfish can be a fun fish to introduce to established tanks, and a nightmare for new aquarists. Their aggressive nature combined with extremely territorial attitudes makes this one fish you will have to wait to add to the tank. Additionally they will harass any fish smaller than themselves, as well as larger fish that are not at least semi aggressive.

Behavior

The coloration of the Pixy Hawkfish is an interesting design. To understand it, we need to think about how light works in the ocean. The first color to be filtered out of deep water is red. This makes their red spots much more difficult to see. Combine this with their white bodies, and you have a nearly invisible fish who blends in well with sand, rocks and corals. This produces a fish who acts like they’re invisible, even when in plain sight.

For the most part, hawkfish can be seen sitting on rocks, macro algae and corals. Their eyes will flick around, watching the activities of both the tank and room. This is always fun as a hawkfish owner, as most other fish will only recognize the aquarist at feeding time.

Keep in mind these are some of, if not the most aggressive hawkfish available. Do not add these fish to your tank if you want small, peaceful fish as well. The Pixy Hawkfish is reef compatible, but with caution. Not all pixies will pick at corals, but it is not that uncommon.

Diet & Feeding

The Pixy Hawkfish will eat meats, frozen and live foods with relative ease. They are however slow eaters, so expect them to take a mouth full of food, run off and then come back for more. It is highly unlikely that any Pixy Hawkfish will eat any form or prepared food, but it is possible. Just remember this is the exception, not the rule.

Pixy Hawkfish should be fed twice a day. Their watchful eyes will rarely miss a feeding and will often be the first fish to start eating. This is extremely useful when all other tank mates are oblivious.

Because the Pixy Hawkfish will not eat prepared foods, owners will often set up feeder shrimp breeding tanks. These are fairly easy to set up and can save a lot of money long term when feeding multiple carnivorous fish.

Aggression

Unlike some of the more skittish hawkfish, the Pixy Hawkfish is very territorial and will not welcome any new introductions, even when at night. For this reason, unless you are adding much larger fish, you must add the Pixy Hawkfish last. Any new fish will be harassed and/or eaten by the pixy. Smaller fish are typically not possible with this hawkfish, as they will attack, if not outright kill smaller fish.

Finally they Pixy Hawkfish will target any and all crustaceans and snails. Even significantly larger shrimp are in danger when a Pixy Hawkfish is present, as the fish is just too fast for the shrimp to defend against. The only clean up crew with a good chance to survive are astrea snails. These snails will hold onto the rocks and glass much harder than any snail, exposing almost none of their body. Cerith and nassarius snails are especially easy targets as they are highly exposed.

New additions to the tank should be introduced only after lights out. Additionally you may want to install a divider for the tank. This can be left in place for a few days. This will allow the new fish to become more comfortable before subjecting him to the torment of the Pixy Hawkfish. This will typically give the fish enough confidence to fight back, which will in turn prevent future fights.

Remember even larger fish can be bullied if they are not familiar with the new tank.

Sexing & Breeding

There is very little difference between male and female Pixy Hawkfish. For the most part the males will be larger than the females if they are the same age. That being said, age has more to do with their size than gender.

This is a non issue however, as the fish are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning they can change genders from female to male when needed. To pair pixies you will need one pixy to be much larger than the other. There may be a brief bout of chasing before one is accepted as the dominant and becomes male.

Hawkfish are pelagic spawners, meaning they rise to the top of the tank before releasing the genetic materials needed. This will produce plenty of tiny eggs, which are very difficult to see without any sort of magnification.

If you intend to remove the eggs and incubate them elsewhere, it is much better to use a container rather than a net to remove the eggs. A net is much more likely to damage the eggs, resulting in a much lower hatch rate.

To best catch the eggs you will need to turn off the waters main source of flow, or at least slow it down substantially. This will prevent the eggs from blowing all over the tank.

Breeding will often take place just before or after lights out. This works best when the lighting system is automatic. If you are tying to breed the fish without a light timer, you will need to turn the lights off at the same time each day until the fish recognize the time.

Hawkfish will not spawn if they are stressed, underfed or in uncomfortable water conditions. Be sure the tank matches the parameters at the top of this page if you are having any issues.

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