Blackside Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri)

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Blackside Hawkfish
Paracirrhites forsteri
Blackside Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri)
Name Blackside Hawkfish
Name Lat. Paracirrhites forsteri
Family Hawkfishes
Family lat. Cirrhitidae
Order Basses
Order lat. Centrarchiformes
Origin Indo-West Pacific
Habitat Lagoons, seaward reefs
Diet Carnivore
pH 8.1-8.4
Hardness 8-10 °KH
Behavior Aggressive
Keeping Individual, pair
Reef Compatible With caution
Care Level Easy
Life Span N/A
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 20 cm
Temperature 24-28 °C
Salinity 33-36 ‰
Aquarium ~ 350 l
US Units
Size 8"
Temperature 75-82 °F
Salinity 1.020-1.025 sg
Aquarium ~ 90 gal

Distribution and habitat

The distribution area of Paracirrhites forsteri is the Indian and Pacific Ocean, from the Red Sea to Hawaii. There they prefer to live in branching corals (Stylophora, Pocillopora, Acropora) on outer reefs and in clear lagoons.


They need a well-structured aquarium with a reef structure (hiding, resting and retreat possibilities) and with living stones that act like a biological filter as well as coral sticks. Only lime-rich, heavy metal-free sands, gravels, stones or sea sand may be used as substrate.

Filters, skimmers and heaters are necessary to ensure water quality, as well as pumps to simulate tides, swells and bottom currents. Lighting must be appropriate for the species' day-night rhythm

Salinity: 33-36 ‰ pH value: 8.1-8.4
Carbonate hardness: 8-10 °KH Nitrate content: 2-8 mg/l
phosphate content: 0.01-0.1 mg/l nitrite content: 0.0-0.05 mg/l

For salinity, an average value should be aimed for, which may only vary slightly by +/- 0.5 ‰. Ammonia and ammonium must not be measurable. Special attention must be paid to constantly good water quality.


They are voracious lurkers that prefer to eat shrimp, crustaceans and small fish. The change of food is unproblematic. The food supply should consist of a combination of live and frozen food, such as artemia, mysis, shrimp and krill, with chopped fish, mussel and shrimp meat or a commercially available frozen food mixture enriched with vitamins, supplemented with live food shrimp. It is recommended to feed larger portions 1-2 times a day.

Regular and varied feeding promotes health and increases resistance.

Behaviour and compatibility

They choose hiding places (corals) from which they can overlook as large an area as possible. It is recommended to keep them in pairs. They are moderately territorial and usually defend only a certain area of a coral. Interspecific aggression usually occurs only through food competition. A socialization with other, not too small fish, is well possible.

Sex dimorphism

They are protogynous hermaphrodites, i.e. males develop from functional females when needed. No external distinguishing characteristics are known.

Reproduction and breeding

Spawning takes place in the evening or at night. During this process, the fish catapult themselves synchronously to the water surface and then immediately return to the starting point

There are no known reports of successful breeding in the aquarium.


Their coloration and pattern is very variable depending on the origin, but always with numerous dark spots in the head area. They are very jumpy, especially during spawning, so the aquarium should be well covered. As reef dwellers they should only be kept together with corals and not in a fish-only aquarium.

If different species are kept together, care should be taken to ensure that the fish match each other in terms of water quality and temperature requirements and social behavior, and that the setup meets the needs of all species kept together. New fish to be introduced must be acclimated slowly to the water in the aquarium

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Werner Winter; Image: Thomas Wasinger

Source: BAENSCH & DEBELIUS (2006): Meerwasser Atlas Bd. 1, Mergus Verlag; ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF