Cardinalfish (Apogonidae)

Cardinalfish Family Characteristics:

Cardinalfish are generally slow moving nocturnal fish, they often hide among coral heads during the day. However, at the approach of a net, they can move very fast! They are usually found on coral reefs, but some frequent tidal pools and one species enters fresh water.

Unusually for a marine fish, the two separate dorsal fins are carried erect. This feature, together with the large head, mouth and eyes, is a characteristic of the Cardinalfish family.

Reproduction is by mouth brooding. The male generally incubates the eggs, although in some species this task is undertaken by the female. In other species within the family, both sexes share the responsibility.

Diet And Feeding:

Once acclimatized to aquarium conditions, Cardinalfish will eat most live food and many other foods (but never flake food). Do not keep them with fast swimming fishes or they will lose out in the competition for food. It is a good idea to feed cardinalfish late in the evening. Since this will suit their nocturnal lifestyle and may result in a greater willingness to accept new foods.

Aquarium Behavior:

Cardinalfish are an ideal choice for the beginner but should be acclimated gradually to the bright lights of the home marine aquarium.

List Of Popular Aquarium Cardinalfish:

  • Flamefish (Apogon maculatus)
  • Pyjama Cardinalfish or Spotted Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematopterus)
  • Fowleia Cardinalfish (Fowleria isostigma)
  • Longspine Cardinalfish (Zoramia lepticanthus)
  • Kaudern's Cardinal (Pterapogon kanderni)
  • Orange Lined Cardinalfish (Apogon cyansoma)


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