Pterapogon kauderni

Photo by Mark Rosenstein / Active Window Productions, Inc.


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Apogonidae

Genus: Pterapogon

Species: P. kauderni


Cardinalfish, also known as Banggai Cardinalfish, is a ray-finned fish, hence the Class Actinopterygii. It has 8 total dorsal spines, 14 dorsal soft rays, 2 anal spines, and 13 anal soft rays (Capuli, and Valdestamon). This species is more noticed by it having a tasseled first dorsal fin and deeply branched caudal fin. Furthermore, both the second dorsal fin rays and anal fin rays are elongated. Its skin color pattern is very clear and made-out: it has 3 black bars across the head and body, black edges along the anterior margins of the second dorsal and anal fins, black edges along the upper and lower margins of the caudal fin, and black pelvic fins marked with white spots. There is also a series of white spots that run along the edges of the second dorsal, anal and caudal fins. The body is very shiny and silvery, which includes about 20 dazzling white dots between the second and third black bars. The body size of the adults reaches up to 8 cm total in length (Allen, G.R & Donaldson, T.J.).

Life History & Ecology:

  • Range and Habitat:

Pterapogon kauderni are very restricted in their geographic range. It is found only in designated regions around the coasts of 33 islands in the Banggai Archipelago, an island group in Indonesia ("Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni)"). Cardinalfishes are a tropical marine species. It is a demersal fish, meaning it lives and feeds on or near the bottom of the body of water. It stays in shallow waters at depths between 1.5 – 5 meters, but rarely deeper than 2.5 meters and at temperatures between 28 – 31 degrees Celsius. Normally, it favors calm waters, but there are some that live in areas with large currents. Also, cardinalfishes are frequently found near and around coral reefs; there are some that can be found around seagrass beds also. Living in these environments, cardinalfishes usually associates with organisms that also live near the seabed, such as sea urchins, sea anemones, and branching corals ("Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni)").

  • Diet:

Banggai Cardinalfishes are carnivores. It eats benth crustaceans, zoobenthos, small fish and mobile invertebrates ("Banggai cardinal fish - Pterapogon kauderni "). In aquariums, it should be fed a well balanced diet of meaty foods, such as feeder shrimps, marine flesh, bloodworms, and depending on its size, liver feeder fish ("Kaudern's Cardinal - Tank-Bred"). It cannot eat dry prepared foods, such as pellets and flakes.

  • Reproduction:

Cardinalfishes are considered non-monogamous pairs. The females are promiscuous and are wiling to mate with multiple males. The Banggai Cardinalfishes are easy to breed once a mated pair forms. The females usually defend the male during and after reproducing. Cardinalfishes are paternal mouthbrooders, meaning the male keeps the eggs. The actual spawning occurs normally in the mid-afternoon (in aquariums) and the transfer of eggs only takes a few seconds. Spawning is very obvious, the male refuses food and will have a very swollen buccal cavity afterwards. After spawning, the female will be very protective of the male. Cardinalfishes reproduce about every 30 days, but it has been seen as frequently as 2 weeks (Pedersen).

  • Behavior:

Cardinalfishes are normally considered semi-aggressive. But since it shows territorial aggressive behavior towards members of their same species, it should not be kept in large groups, although it does like to have a few other Cardinalfishes around for interaction ("Kaudern's Cardinal - Tank-Bred"). 


Although the Banggai Cardinalfish has become a representative in the aquarium market, there has been no conservation measure in place for the Banggai Cardinalfish. But soon after the Banggai Cardinalfish started to become a popular species in the aquarium trade, a breeding program was developed at the New Jersey State Aquarium (Allen, G.R & Donaldson, T.J.). Also, in 2010, LINI started to work in the Banggai Archipelago, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, to assist local stakeholders in developing a marine conservation program for the area (Zayed).

Basically, it hasn’t been much of an area of worry in previous years, but it’s starting to become a matter of concern in more recent years since it’s starting to overexploit and it is starting to be threatened by habitat destruction.

Recent Research:

There was a recent project that was done for 3 years, from April 2008 – April 2011, regarding the Banggai Cardinalfish in Indonesia. The goal was to help preserve the Banggai Cardinalfish and gain a better understanding of the following: the importance of marine protected areas, on-site research to familiarize with the dynamics of the species along with the impact of fishing and mankind activities, and the practice use of farming techniques that are cost-effective to the economy (Cégalerba).

Interesting facts:

  • Unlike most marine fishes, cardinalfishes produce a very small number of eggs, which the males brood and incubate in their mouth.
  • Banggai Cardinalfishes seem to be fairly disease-resistant.
  • Based on recent import data, cardinalfishes have been ranked as one of the ten most valuable marine aquarium fishes imported into the United States.
  • Every year, there are over 900,000 individuals of Banggai Cardinalfishes that are exported to Europe, Japan, and the United States; that’s almost 1 million!

Economic/Ecological Service:

Cardinalfishes have become a popular aquarium fish because of its attractive appearance, rarity, limited distribution, and interesting biology. For that reason, in present years, Banggai Cardinalfish have become an important individual to the ornamental coral reef fish trade. As a result, fishers make a living by combining Banggai Cardinalfish harvest with fishing for other species for the aquarium trade ("Ecological Impacts and Practices of the Coral Reef Wildlife Trade").

Links of Interest:

Please note that the following links may have either been removed or relocated by the webpage owners since the time this student report was created.  Beautiful invasion video  Male with mouth full of eggs  Banggai Cardinalfish releases young from its mouth  All about Banggai Cardinalfishes


Please note that the following references may have either been removed or relocated by the webpage owners since the time this student report was created.

Allen, G.R & Donaldson, T.J. 2007. Pterapogon kauderni. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <>. Downloaded on 27 May 2013.

"Banggai cardinal fish - Pterapogon kauderni ." Aquatic Community., 27 Mar 2013. Web. 27 May 2013.<>

"Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni)." Wildscreen, n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.<>.

Capuli, Estelita Emily, and Roxanne Rei Valdestamon. "Pterapogon kauderni." CC-BY-NC, n.d. Web. 27 May 2013. <>.

Cégalerba, Nicolas. "Research on the Banggai Cardinalfish - Indonesia." Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation . Web. 30 May 2013. <>.

"Ecological Impacts and Practices of the Coral Reef Wildlife Trade." N.p.. Web. 29 May 2013.<>.

"FINS: The Fish Information Service." Fish Index. Active Window Productions, Inc., n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.<>.

"Kaudern's Cardinal - Tank-Bred." Foster and Smith, Inc., n.d. Web. 27 May 2013. < 1500 2672&pcatid=2672>.

"New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences ." Banggai Cardinalfish. Hopeworks N' Camden. Web. 31 May 2013.<>.

Pedersen, M.. "Banggai Cardinalfish Breeding/Spawning Overview - Pterapogon." Marine Ornamental Fish & Invertebrate Breeders. Forum Software, phpBB Group, 22 May 2010. Web. 31 May 2013. <>.

Zayed, Mohamed bin. "Banggai cardinal fish (Pterapogon kauderni)." Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund 2013. Web. 29 May 2013.<>.