Swallowtail hawkfish, Cyprinocirrhites polyactis, is also known as the Lyretail or Soaring Hawkfish

Swallowtail Hawkfish-Facts-Photographs

swallowtail hawkfish, Cyprinocirrhites polyactis

The Swallowtail hawkfish, Cyprinocirrhites polyactis, is also known as the Lyretail or Soaring Hawkfish. They differ from other hawkfish in that they are often found in shoals. Sometimes particularly when they are juveniles they shoal with other fish such as the Sea Goldie.

swallowtail hawkfish, Cyprinocirrhites polyactis


The spotted hawkfish is a an orange brown color with a white section behind the dorsal fin on the upper part of the body. Tufts of cirri are found on the top of each dorsal spine. They have a swallow tail as the name implies. The pectoral fins are comparatively large and are without scales. They can grow up to 15 centimeters and are quite often seen this size in the ocean. The juveniles are usually more of a bright orange than the adults. Their eyes ate a greenish to blue color depending on the angle one views them from.

Cyprinocirrhites polyactis 5


With large and skinless pectorals, Swallowtail Hawkfish, are able to perch on corals which would often sting other fish. This provides them a measure of protection on their perches. They are not common fish and are seldom seen. When seen they are seen they are usually  in large numbers.  They favor areas with very  strong currents that will provide them with plenty of passing food. Because they feed on plankton they are sometimes seen hovering in mid water rather than on the bottom as with other hawkfish. Given that hawkfish do not have swim bladders this is quite an expenditure of energy and they generally rest after these forays into the water table. This is the best time to photograph them as they allow one to get closer than normal.

Cyprinocirrhites polyactis


Swallowtail Hawkfish are found across the Indo West Pacific area mainly on coral reefs. In Tanzania they have been sighted in areas with strong currents from 4 meters to 18 meters in depth.

swallowtail hawkfish, Cyprinocirrhites polyactis


This fish is a predatory carnivore as its name suggests and its main diet consists of plankton.

Cyprinocirrhites polyactis 2



Swallowtail hawkfish are probably not ideal for beginners. Note that they actively hunt crustaceans and smaller fish, so it should be the last fish introduced to a semi-aggressive to aggressive community of fish. The Swallowtail hawkfish is not as territorial or aggressive as other hawkfish but they will harass new aquarium additions including other hawkfish as well as fish that are much larger than itself. Their diet in an aquarium should include a variety of marine meats, frozen preparations, and live feeder shrimp.

Spending a great deal of their time in the wild in mid water in strong currents means that one should provide them with a similar environment.

Cyprinocirrhites polyactis 1


Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cirrhitidae
Genus: Cyprinocirrhites
Species: C. polyactis