|Stocky hawkfish, Cirrhitus pinnulatus|
W. S. Macleay, 1841
The Cirrhitidae were first recognised as a family by the Scots-born Australian naturalist William Sharp Macleay in 1841. It is one of the 5 constituent families in the superfamily Cirrhitoidea which is classified in the suborder Percoidei of the order Perciformes. Within the Cirrhitoidea, the Cirrhitidae is probably the most basal family. They have been placed in the order Centrarchiformes by some authorities, as part of the superfamily Cirrhitoidea, however, the 5th edition of Fishes of the World does not recognise the Centrarchiformes. The name of the family is taken from that of the genus Cirrhitus which is derived from cirrhus meaning a "lock of hair" or "a barbel", thought to be a reference to lower, unbranched rays of the pectoral fins which Bernard Germain de Lacépède termed as “barbillons”, which means "barbels" in his description of the type species of the genus C. maculatus, and which he thought to be “false” pectoral fins. Another possibility is that the name refers to cirri extending from the tips of the spines in the dorsal fin spines, although Lacépède did not mention this feature.
- Amblycirrhitus Gill, 1862
- Cirrhitichthys Bleeker, 1857
- Cirrhitops J.L.B Smith, 1951
- Cirrhitus Lacepède, 1803
- Cristacirrhitus Randall, 2001
- Cyprinocirrhites Tanaka, 1917
- Isocirrhitus Randall, 1963
- Itycirrhitus Randall 2001
- Neocirrhites Castelnau, 1873
- Notocirrhitus Randall, 2001
- Oxycirrhites Bleeker, 1857
- Paracirrhites Bleeker, 1874
Cirrhitidae hawkfishes are roughly oblong in shape with a body that has a depth which is 21% to 50% of its standard length. They have a fringe of cirri on the rear edge of the forward nostrils. There are two poorly developed spines, on the gill cover. The outer row of teeth on the jaws are canine-like, the longest normally being located at the front of the upper jaw and the middle of the lower jaw. Inside this row there is a band of bristle-like teeth, wider in the front. The dorsal fin is continuous, having 10 spines and 11-17 soft rays, it has an incision separating the spiny and soft-rayed parts. The anal fin contains 3 spines and 5–7, typically 6, soft rays. There are 14 pectoral fin rays with the lowest 5-7 rays unbranched and normally thickened, with deep notches in the membranes separating these lower rays. There is a single spine in the pelvic fins as well as 5 soft rays. The scales are cycloid and they lack a swimbladder. The colour an pattern varies with species. The maximum length attained is around 55 cm (22 in), although around 30 cm (12 in) is more typical. Most species are actually quite small and colourfully patterned 
Distribution and habitat
Cirrhitidae hawkfishes are found in the tropical western and eastern Atlantic, Indian and Pacific, mainly in the Indo-West Pacific region. They are benthic fishes which are found on coral reefs or rocky substrates, mostly inhabiting shallow water.
Cirrhitidae fishes use their robust lower pectoral-fin rays to wedge into position where they will be subjected to the forces of currents and waves. They are carnivorous fishes, their main prey being benthic crustaceans. One species, Cyprinocirrhitus polyactis mainly feeds on zooplankton, although it is frequently encountered resting on the substrate. Hawkfish frequently sit and wait on the higher parts of their habitat, diving onto prey items seen underneath them, in a similar manner to some hawk species, hence the name hawkfish.
Fisheries and utilisation
Cirrhitidae hawkfishes are mostly too small to be of interest to fisheries. The 3 largest species are occasionally fished for as food fish. A few of the smaller more colourful species, particularly Neocirrhites armatus and Oxycirrhites typus, are collected for the aquarium trade.
Coral hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus), Galápagos Islands
Spotted hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys aprinus), Lembeh Straits, Indonesia
Coral hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus), Great barrier reef, Australia
- Richard van der Laan; William N. Eschmeyer & Ronald Fricke (2014). "Family-group names of Recent fishes". Zootaxa. 3882 (2): 001–230. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3882.1.1. PMID 25543675. Retrieved 2021-07-08.
- J. S. Nelson; T. C. Grande; M. V. H. Wilson (2016). Fishes of the World (5th ed.). Wiley. p. 459. ISBN 978-1-118-34233-6.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2021). "Cirrhitidae" in FishBase. June 2021 version.
- Christopher Scharpf & Kenneth J. Lazara, eds. (25 February 2021). "Order CENTRARCHIFORMES: Families CENTRARCHIDAE, ELASSOMATIDAE, ENOPLOSIDAE, SINIPERCIDAE, APLODACTYLIDAE, CHEILODACTYLIDAE, CHIRONEMIDAE, CIRRHITIDAE, LATRIDAE, PERCICHTHYIDAE, DICHISTIIDAE, GIRELLIDAE, KUHLIIDAE, KYPHOSIDAE, OPLEGNATHIDAE, TERAPONTIDAE, MICROCANTHIDAE and SCORPIDIDAE". The ETYFish Project Fish Name Etymology Database. Christopher Scharpf and Kenneth J. Lazara. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
- Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ron & van der Laan, Richard (eds.). "Genera in the family Cirrhitidae". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
- J.E. Randall (2001). "CIRRHITIDAE". In Carpenter, K.E. and Niem, V.H. (eds.). FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 5. Bony fishes part 3 (Menidae to Pomacentridae) (PDF). FAO Rome. p. 3321.
- "Hawkfish". Mexican Fish. 24 May 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
- James W. Fatherree (2015). "The Hawkfishes". Reefs.com.
- Media related to Cirrhitidae at Wikimedia Commons