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.