Cardinalfish can be described as the little fish with the big eyes. Most remain small, growing to no more than 2 inches and several species are quite colorful and decorated with stripes and spots.


Popular with many fish enthusiasts because of their peaceful nature, Cardinalfish are hardy and can be safely kept in reef tanks. Being somewhat shy in nature they should be provided with lots of rocks and caves to hide in and should not be kept with aggressive tankmates. Cardinalfish will eat all types of food and they should be offered a varied diet of meaty fare such as brine shrimp, msyis shrimp, bloodworms, etc.

Keeping them in male/female pairs is recommended. They can be kept in groups if the tank is large, otherwise males will fight among themselves.

Several species of Cardinalfish have been successfully bred in captivity. It is very difficult to differentiate between the sexes, so a group of fish should be kept together and allowed to pair off.

Males will fight for territory and should be removed, save for the dominant male. Unlike many marine fishes Cardinalfish are mouthbrooders; after spawning takes place, the male will collect the eggs in his mouth. After the eggs hatch, he will continue to hold the fry for a period of several weeks.

When he finally releases the babies, they are large enough to be fed newly hatched brine shrimp.

TankConditions: 72-78°F; sg 1.020-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4; dKH 8-12

Compatibility: Other Cardinalfish, Chromis, Clownfish, Dartfish, Dragonets, Filefish, Foxface and Rabbitfish, Gobies, Grunts and Sweetlips, Jawfish, Hawkfish, Puffers, Tangs and Surgeons, Wrasse, Live Corals, Live Rock and Sand, Invertebrates.

Cardinalfish are generally found in groups among coral reefs around the world. Being nocturnal creatures, they hide in caves during the day and come out to feed at night. Their large eyes help them to locate small crustaceans and fish in the dark.

Yellow Striped Cardinalfish Species Data:

Yellow Striped Cardinalfish

Family: Apogonidae
Species: Apogon cyanosoma
Size: 2 1/2 in (6 cm)
Diet: Carnivorous
Temperament: Peaceful

Spotted Cardinalfish

Pajama cardinal fish Sphaeramia nematoptera

Pajama cardinal fish Sphaeramia nematoptera (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Family: Apogonidae
Species: Sphaeramia nematoptera
Size: 3 in (7.5 cm)
Diet: Carnivorous
Temperament: Peaceful

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