Arc-eye hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus), as with other hawkfish, are named for their behavior of perching themselves in strategic raised locations on the reef where they view their territory and pounce down on unsuspecting prey, just like a  hawk would. When a hawkfish sees a diver approaching they will often freeze in this position, probably in hopes they aren’t seen. The name, arc eye, or arcatus, meaning “arched”, refers to the bright orange marking around the eyes.

Arc eye hawkfish


The body of an arc-eye hawkfish may be greenish-brown, dark brown or reddish-orange with a broad, longitudinal white band along the distal half of the body. The tail is a blueish color. They have large heads with somewhat elongated bodies and the dorsal fins are merged. They have a distinctive orange arched marking around and behind the eye.

The tails are rounded and truncated. Their pectoral fins are large and scale less. Because the pectorals are large and skinless they are able to perch on corals which would sting most other fish. This gives them a measure of protection.


Arc-eye hawkfish grow up to 20 centimeters but are seldom seen this size. They are always solitary and will defend their territory against others of their species.

Arc-Eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus)




Arc-eye hawkfish are found across the Indo Pacific area, mainly on coral reefs at a depth of 1 to 30 meters.


This fish is a predatory carnivore, as its name suggests. Its main diet consists of small fish and crustaceans such as shrimps and crabs.

Arc-Eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus)


Arc-eye hawkfish are easy to keep in an aquarium, and therefore are ideal for beginners. These fish are highly territorial in aquariums so for a semi-aggressive to aggressive community of tankmates, it is best to introduce the hawkfish last. It may harass new additions, especially other hawk fish and fish that are much larger than itself.

The arc-eye hawkfish diet in an aquarium should include a variety of marine meats, frozen preparations, and live feeder shrimp. A pair may be kept in a tank but it should be a confirmed pair before they are put in a tank together.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cirrhitidae
Genus: Paracirrhites
Species: P. arcatus

About The Author

Profile photo of Alan Sutton

Alan Sutton is an underwater photographer and writer at Seaunseen.

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2 Responses

  1. Jon Whitney

    HI Alan,
    I was wondering if you would be willing to share which aquarium you took those hawkfish shots. I am a biologist at the University of Hawaii studying hawkfish, and this photo caught my eye, because they look like they could be of Paracirrhites bicolor, a rare sister species to the arceye that has only been found in a couple remote locations in the South Pacific. Although, the markings around the eye do appear to match P. arcatus, but the bright orange caudal fin is more diagnostic to P. bicolor. I have been struggling to find specimens of P. bicolor, and finding the aquarium where you took those shots would be really helpful. Thanks in advance for any help.

    Here is a link to what P. bicolor looks like:

    • Profile photo of Alan Sutton
      Alan Sutton

      Hi Jon

      I took those at Ushaka Marine World in Durban. I know the head of collections there and can put you in contact with him if you want. Almost certainly the specimen comes from Sordwana bay area.I have a few other images taken up in Tanzania of the Arc eye but haven’t got round to putting them up yet. They are not that common here but every second or third dive I will see some. If you would like images I can get some for you as I dive regularly.



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