[[ Family Cirrhitidae ]]
The perciform fish family Cirrhitidae is characterized by having 14 pectoral rays, the lower 5 to 7 unbranched and enlarged with the membranes deeply incised; a single dorsal fin of X spines and 11 to 17 soft rays, the fin notched between the spinous and soft portions; membrane at dorsal spine tips with one to several cirri; anal rays III,5-7; 15 principal caudal rays; pelvic rays I,5; opercular spines 2; a fringe of cirri on posterior edge of anterior nostril; margin of preopercle serrate, though often only on upper half (number of serrae increase with age); scales cycloid; gill membranes broadly joined, with a free fold across throat; no swimbladder; 6 branchiostegal rays; and 26 vertebrae. Except for the presence or absence of palatine teeth and except for the reduced size of the canines in the monotypic genus Oxycirrhites ZBK , the dentition is essentially the same for all species: an outer row of small incurved canines, the largest in upper jaw at the front, and the largest in the lower jaw as 2 to 4 recurved canines nearly half way back in jaw; a broad dense inner band of villiform teeth at front of jaws, continuing progressively narrower posteriorly in upper jaw; a narrow V-shaped band of small teeth on the vomer.
The Cirrhitidae is primarily an Indo-Pacific family, with only three of the 33 species occurring in the Atlantic, and only three in the eastern Pacific (two of which are also wideranging in the Indo-Pacific). Most are found in shallow water on coral reefs or rocky substrata, often in areas exposed to surge. When in a surgy area, they use their thickened lower pectoral rays to wedge themselves in place. Cyprinocirrhites polyactis and Oxycirrhites typus ZBK are exceptions in their usual occurrence in 20-100 m. Cirrhitids feed mainly on benthic crustaceans, occasionally on small fishes. C. polyactis feeds well above the substratum on zooplankton, and O. typus ZBK makes short forays into the water column for the larger animals of the zooplankton. At least some of the species (and likely all) are protogynous hermaphrodites (Sadovy & Donaldson 1995).
The generic classification of the Cirrhitidae has a long and confused history which is summarized here:
Günther (1860) recognized eight genera in the family, only three of which remain in the Cirrhitidae today: Cirrhitus Lacepede (which Günther and most early authors misspelled Cirrhites ), Cirrhitichthys Bleeker ZBK , and Oxycirrhites Bleeker ZBK . The other five genera are now classified in the families Cheilodactylidae and Chironemidae.
Gill (1862) proposed the genera Cirrhitopsis ZBK for Cirrhites aureus Temminck and Schlegel from Japan and Amblycirrhitus ZBK for Cirrhites fasciatus Cuvier (1829) for which the type locality was given as Pondichéry , India.
Castelnau (1873) described Neocirrhites armatus ZBK as a new genus and species from northeastern Australia.
Bleeker (1875) treated five genera in the family for the East Indian region, adding Amblycirrhitus Gill ZBK and Paracirrhites Bleeker .
Steindachner & Döderlein (1884) described Paracirrhites japonicus ZBK as a new genus and species from Japan. Noting that their Paracirrhites ZBK was preoccupied by Paracirrhites Bleeker , Jordan in Jordan & Herre (1907) proposed the replacement name Isobuna ZBK .
Mowbray in Breder (1927) described Pseudocirrhites pinos as a new genus and species from the Isle of Pines, Cuba.
Fowler (1938) proposed the new genus Acanthocirrhitus ZBK for Cirrhitus oxycephalus Bleeker . Realizing that Cirrhitus fasciatus Cuvier is preoccupied by C. fasciatus Bennett (1828) , he provided a replacement name, Amblycirrhitus indicus ZBK . Randall (2001) has shown that Cuvier’s C. fasciatus is a specimen of the Atlantic Amblycirrhitus pinos (Mowbray) , and the type locality of India for fasciatus is a locality error for the Atlantic.
Schultz (1943) mistakenly relegated Cyprinocirrhites ZBK and Neocirrhites ZBK to the synonymy of Cirrhitichthys ZBK . He described Hughichthys ZBK as a new genus for Cirrhites melanotus Guenther , later shown to be a synonym of Neocirrhites armatus Castelnau ZBK . He then placed Cirrhitoidea ZBK in the synonymy of Paracirrhites and classified bimacula ZBK as a species of Paracirrhites . He described hubbardi ZBK as a new species in the genus Amblycirrhitus ZBK .
Watanabe (1949) described Serranocirrhitus latus ZBK as a new genus and species of cirrhitid fish from Okinawa.
In a review of western Indian Ocean Cirrhitidae , Smith (1951) created the genus Cirrhitops ZBK for Cirrhites fasciatus Bennett . He mistakenly listed Amblycirrhitus hubbardi Schultz ZBK as a synonym of fasciatus . He also described Gymnocirrhites ZBK as a new genus, with Cirrhites arcatus Cuvier as the type species, adding that it is allied to Paracirrhites but distinct on the basis of lacking scales on the gill membrane and on the snout before the nostrils.
Schultz in Schultz & collaborators (1960) recognized 13 genera in the Cirrhitidae , including Isobuna ZBK , Serranocirrhitus ZBK , Cirrhitoidea ZBK , Hughichthys ZBK (though indicating that Neocirrhites ZBK “appears to be related”), and Gymnocirrhites ZBK . He obviously had some doubt of the validity of Gymnocirrhites ZBK , stating that Smith (1951) “attaches too much value to the scaly gill membranes.” He noted that a specimen of G. arcatus 48 mm in SL lacks scales on the gill membranes, but a specimen of 100 mm SL has them. He left bimacula ZBK in the genus Cirrhitoidea ZBK and described a new species, sexfasciata ZBK , in this genus.
Randall (1963) reviewed the family, recognizing 10 genera and 34 species. He discussed Serranocirrhitus ZBK in a footnote, noting the following noncirrhitid characters: all the pectoral rays unbranched and none thickened, no teeth on the vomer, ctenoid scales, and the configuration of a pomacentrid. He included Isobuna ZBK but stated that it differs from other cirrhitids in having 3 spines on the opercle instead of 2, ctenoid scales, and only 2 rows of scales above the lateral line. He recognized Neocirrhites ZBK as a valid genus with Hughichthys ZBK a synonym, placed Gymnocirrhites ZBK in the synonymy of Paracirrhites , described Isocirrhitus ZBK as a new genus for Schultz’ sexfasciata , put hubbardi in Cirrhitops ZBK , referred Cirrhitopsis ZBK to the synonymy of Cirrhitichthys ZBK , and Pseudocirrhites to Amblycirrhitus ZBK .
Randall & Heemstra (1978) reclassified the genera Serranocirrhitus ZBK and Isobuna ZBK in the subfamily Anthiinae of the Serranidae. That these two genera should have been placed in the Cirrhitidae is not as serious an error as it might seem. Jordan & Evermann (1898) wrote with respect to the cirrhitoid fishes, “This family should apparently be placed among the Percoidea near the Serranidae....This group agrees with the Percoidea in most respects, the chief external difference lying in the form of the pectorals,...” They quoted Günther ’s description of the skeleton of Paracirrhites forsteri , adding, “Dr. Boulenger finds that the skeleton has much in common (with the Serranidae)”.
In 1969 the author collected 32 specimens of an undescribed species of cirrhitid from Easter Island that appeared to represent a new genus. The following year he collected two more specimens from Pitcairn Island. Unaware of this material, Lavenberg & Yañez (1972) described the species as Cirrhitus wilhelmi from one specimen from Easter Island.
Kunio Amaoka requested specimens of the various genera of cirrhitid fishes from the Bishop Museum for a graduate student who planned a phylogenetic study of the family. Specimens were sent, including ones from Easter Island. The student did not complete the study, and the specimens were recently returned by Dr. Amaoka.
The present study has confirmed that the Easter Island - Pitcairn specimens of wilhelmi represent a new genus. The investigation of other cirrhitids currently placed in Cirrhitus has revealed two more species that clearly require placement in new monotypic genera. The three new genera are described below after the revised generic key of the family.
- John E. Randall (2001): Revision of the generic classification of the hawkfishes (Cirrhitidae), with descriptions of three new genera. Zootaxa 12, 1-12: 1-4, URL:http://www.zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:E3F3B85F-4DB1-442C-9F05-61F90D5806F2
[[ Family Cirrhitidae ]]
Key to the genera of Cirrhitidae
1a. Snout not elongate, its length about 2.8-4.1 in head length; body not slender, the depth 2.0-3.4 in SL; canine teeth in jaws markedly longer than inner villiform teeth, those at front of upper jaw and side of lower jaw enlarged ................... 2
1b. Snout elongate, its length 1.85-2.0 in head length; body slender, the depth 4.4-4.6 in SL; canine teeth in jaws only slightly longer than inner villiform teeth and nearly uniform in size ............................................ Oxycirrhites ZBK
2a. Caudal fin rounded, truncate, or slightly emarginate; dorsal soft rays 11-15; snout not short, its length 2.7-3.8 in SL ....................................... 3
2b. Caudal fin lunate; dorsal soft rays 16 or 17; snout short, its length 3.6-4.1 in head length.. .............................................. Cyprinocirrhites ZBK
3a. Small scales on cheek in more than 12 rows .............................. 4
3a. Rows of large scales on cheek 4-6 (small scales also usually present) ........... 8
4a. Lower 7 pectoral rays unbranched and thickened; first 2 supraneural bones in space before second neural spine; more than 40 cirri in 2 series on posterior flap of anterior nostril.. .......................................................... 5
4b. Lower 6 pectoral rays unbranched and thickened; first 3 supraneural bones in space before second neuralspine; fewer than 15 cirri on posterior flap of anterior nostril.......6
5a. Supraorbital ridge high, continuing more than half eye diameter posterior to orbit; lower opercular spine acute, forming an angle of 45° or less; no scales in interorbital space; pectoral fins reaching slightly beyond a vertical at tips of pelvic fins; body depth 3.1-3.35 in SL ............................. Cristacirrhitus ZBK , new genus
5b. Supraorbital ridge low and not continuing posterior to eye; lower opercular spine forming an angle of 90°; a V-shaped band of scales in posterior half of interorbital space; pectoral fins short, not reaching a vertical at tips of pelvic fins; body depth 2.6-3.1 in SL ................................................. Cirrhitus
6a. Dorsal soft rays 13; three-fourths or more of preopercular margin coarsely serrate; palatine teeth absent; body very deep, the depth2.0-2.4 in SL, and very compressed, the width 2.9-3.1 in depth; longest pectoral rays not extending beyond a vertical at pelvic-fintips ............................................. Neocirrhites ZBK
6b. Dorsal soft rays 11-12; about upper half of preopercular margin finely or coarsely serrate; palatine teeth present; body not very deep, the depth 2.6-3.3 in SL, and not very compressed, the width 1.9-2.3 in depth; longest pectoral rays extending beyond a vertical at pelvic-fintips ............................................. 7
7a. Upper margin of preopercle finely serrate (25 or more serrae); exposed end of posttemporal finely serrate; first (most medial) branchiostegal ray strongly curved and nearly parallel with second ray; gill membrane across throat naked; scales on cheek separated from serrate edge of preopercle by a broad naked zone crossed by irregular sensory channels (may show as ridges); no scales on snout; scales ventrally on chest extremely small; 3 rows of large scales above lateral line in middle of body; dorsal soft rays 12 ................................ Notocirrhitus ZBK , new genus
7b. Upper margin of preopercle coarsely serrate (fewer than 13 serrae); exposed end of posttemporal with 3-5 serrae; first (most medial) branchiostegal ray nearly straight and not parallel to second ray; gill membrane across throat scaled; scales on cheek extending to base of preopercular serrae; scales on snout extending to below anterior nostrils; scales ventrally on chest one-half or more size of scales on side of body; 4 rows of large scales above lateral line in middle of body; dorsal soft rays 12-14 (rarely 12 or14) ................................... Itycirrhitus ZBK , new genus
8a. Rows of large scales above lateral line to base of spinous portion of dorsal fin 5; a single cirrus from membrane near tip of each spine of dorsal fin; membranes between longest dorsal spines incised at most one-fifth spine length; palatine teeth absent.. ................................................ Paracirrhites
8b. Rows of large scales above lateral line to base of spinous portion of dorsal fin 3 or 4; a tuft of cirri from membrane near tip of each spine of dorsal fin; membranes between longest dorsal spines incised one-third or more of spine length; palatine teeth present or absent ................................................ 9
9a. Palatine teeth absent; maxilla reaching to or beyond a vertical through middle of eye; dorsal spines short, the longest 2.9-3.2 in head length; dorsal profile of head convex; lower 5 pectoral rays unbranched; interorbital fully scaled; snout not pointed; preorbital without a free posterior margin ................. Isocirrhitus ZBK
9b. Palatine teeth present; maxilla not reaching a vertical through middle of eye; dorsal spines 1.7-3.0 in head length; dorsal profile of head straight to slightly convex; lower 5 to 7 pectoral rays unbranched; interorbital scaled or naked; snout pointed or not pointed; preorbital with or without a free posterior margin ............... 10
10a. Dorsal soft rays 14-15 (rarely 15); first 2 pectoral rays unbranched; snout not pointed, the dorsal profile from interorbital to upper lip convex; interorbital naked. ........................................................... Cirrhitops ZBK
10b. Dorsal rays 11-13 (rarely 13); first pectoral ray unbranched, second branched; snout pointed, the dorsal profile straight; interorbital scaled or naked .......... 11
11a. Preopercular margin finely serrate; first 2 supraneural bones in space before secondneural spine; preorbital without a free hind margin; interorbital scaled; first dorsal soft ray not produced into a filament; lower 5 (rarely 6) pectoral rays unbranched ... ... ..................................................... Amblycirrhitus ZBK
11b. Preopercular margin coarsely serrate; all 3 supraneural bones in space before second neural spine; preorbital with a free hind margin for one-fourth to one-half distance from lower edge to eye; interorbital not scaled; first dorsal soft ray usually produced into a filament; lower 6 or 7 pectoral rays unbranched ............. Cirrhitichthys ZBK
- John E. Randall (2001): Revision of the generic classification of the hawkfishes (Cirrhitidae), with descriptions of three new genera. Zootaxa 12, 1-12: 4-6, URL:http://www.zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:E3F3B85F-4DB1-442C-9F05-61F90D5806F2
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:296
Specimens with Barcodes:285
Species With Barcodes:24
The hawkfishes are strictly tropical, perciform marine fishes of the family Cirrhitidae associated with the coral reefs of the western and eastern Atlantic and Indo-Pacific. They share many morphological features with the scorpionfish of the family Scorpaenidae.
Hawkfishes have large heads with thick, somewhat elongated bodies. Their dorsal fins are merged, with the first consisting of 10 connected spines. At the tip of each spine are several trailing filaments, hence the family name Cirrhitidae, from the Latin cirrus meaning "fringe". Their tail fins are rounded and truncated, and their pectoral fins are enlarged and scaleless. Their scales may be cycloid or ctenoid. Most hawkfishes are small, from about 7-15 cm in length. The largest species, the giant hawkfish (Cirrhitus rivulatus) attains a length of 60 cm and a weight of 4 kg. A commercial fishery exists for the larger species, as they are considered excellent food fishes.
The vibrant colours exhibited by most hawkfishes have won them popularity in the aquarium hobby, aided by the fishes' reputation for unproblematic upkeep and easy acclimation to tank life. Popularly kept species include the longnose hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus), which is coloured in a red and pink crosshatch pattern, and the flame hawkfish (Neocirrhites armatus).
Because of their large, skinless pectoral fins, hawkfishes are able to perch upon fire corals without incurring harm. Actually hydrozoans rather than true corals, fire corals possess stinging cells (nematocysts), which would normally prevent close contact. Afforded some degree of protection by their living perches, hawkfishes seek the high ground of the reef, where they warily survey their surroundings like hawks. This is said to have inspired their common name.
Most hawkfishes are solitary in nature, but some will form pairs and share a head of coral. Other species form harems of up to seven females dominated by a larger male. They are diurnal, and remain within the shallows of the reef, no deeper than 30 m. Typically motionless, hawkfishes will dart out to grab crustaceans and other small invertebrates which happen to pass by.
Spawning occurs at night, at or near the water's surface. Hawkfishes are pelagic spawners; they release many tiny buoyant eggs which drift with the ocean currents until hatching. Hatching is thought to happen after about three weeks; the distance travelled in this time may explain their exceptionally wide distribution. They have not been successfully bred in the aquarium, with the exception of the longnose hawkfish.
Hawkfishes are noted for their protogynous hermaphrodism; functional females will change into males if the dominant supermale dies. Hawkfishes are generally not sexually dichromatic, meaning the sexes cannot be distinguished by coloration alone.
Coral hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus), Galápagos Islands
Spotted hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys aprinus), Lembeh Straits, Indonesia
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