Latin name

Cirrhitus rivulatus

Other names

Hieroglyphic hawkfish


The fish has a deep body that is not strongly compressed at the sides. They have large heads with a blunt snout and a fringe of antennae along the posterior edge of the anterior nostril. They have a moderately large mouth with two types of teeth: an outer row of canines and an inner row of villous teeth. Teeth are also located in the center and on the sides of the palate. The upper edge of the tarsal is either slightly serrate or smooth, and the gill cover has 2 flattened spines. The scales are smooth, scales are absent in the intraorbital space, and the cheeks have less than 12 irregular rows of small scales. There are 41-49 scales on the lateral line. 

Features of fish fins

They have a continuous dorsal fin with 10 spines, the webs between the spines have deep notches and at the tip of each spine is a large bundle of antennae and 11-12 soft rays with a small incision separating the barbed part from the soft ray. The anal fin consists of 3 spines and 5-7 soft rays. The caudal fin is tubular. The lower 7 rays of the pectoral fin are strong, with deeply incised webs, and they are noticeably longer than the other rays of the pectoral fin. The upper 1st and lower 7th pectoral rays are unbranched. The pelvic fin has a single spur and 5 soft rays and begins behind the base of the pectoral fin. 

Fish colouring

The overall coloration is grayish-brown with 5 vertical stripes on the body, each consisting of a complex of golden-brown markings, each with a black border, which in turn has narrow light blue edges. The head has thick, golden-brown stripes with black edges, bordered by thin blue edges that diverge from the eyes. Most individuals have a pair of white patches on the back. Juveniles have a generally white body with dark brown stripes.


It is endemic to the eastern Pacific Ocean. They are found from southern Baja California and the northern Sea of Cortez to Ecuador, including all the coastal islands in the region. 


Marine, bottom dwelling, tropical species. Depth range from 5 to 23 meters. Occupies shallow water reefs. Juveniles are found in riparian zones and tidal pools.


This species reaches a maximum total length of 60 cm (24 in) and a maximum published weight of 4.2 kg (9.3 lb). It is the largest species in the family Cirrhitidae.


It is a solitary species, lying motionless on rocky ledges where its body pattern camouflages it against the background of the rocks. When sitting on rocks, it rests on its pectoral fins. They make seasonal movements, in southern Baja California they move to shallow water when water temperatures rise, usually in May.

Food and feeding habits

It is a predator that feeds on small fish and crustaceans, and even small marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus).


Known for their proterogynistic hermaphroditism - females turn into males when the dominant male dies. They are usually not sexually dichromatic, meaning that sex cannot be determined by color alone.

Pelagic spawners release many tiny floating eggs that drift with the currents until the larvae hatch. Spawning occurs at night in open water at or near the surface. The larvae are thought to emerge from the eggs in about three weeks. 


This fish is commercially important. Recommended fishing techniques: spinning and light jigging.

Relationship with a person

It is considered a good food fish.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Perciformes
Family Cirrhitidae
Genus Cirrhitus
Species C. rivulatus
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Bottom
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg 4,2
Maximum length, cm 60
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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