The cardinalfishes belong to a very large family called the Apogonidae and, oh the irony, are very small in size. The cardinals are carnivorous. The cardinal label alludes to their predominantly red colouration but strangely enough it’s only a minority that is beautified by distinctive red. In general, we see rather dull and hardly exciting additional tones, tinges and hues.

The cardinalfish isn’t particularly picky in habitat preference. To spot them we name rocky regions and coral reefs of the Red Sea, but also deeper mud habitats, brackish and clear waters.

Like the soldierfish, the squirrelfish and the bigeyes from the Priacanthidae family, the cardinal possesses a spectacular ocular arrangement to suit their nocturnal hunting demands. During the day, it stays hidden under ledges and coral branches.

The night sees dispersion over reefs in feeding fashion, concentrating on small benthic crustaceans. Male cardinals brood eggs in their mouths until hatching, although some females also do.

Family Members

Eyeshadow Cardinalfish

Size up to 10 cm (0,32ft). Depth up to 40m  (131ft)

The eyeshadow takes it peculiar name from the black stripe that laterally runs the small and tapering body, accentuating the eyes like mascara. Its colouration is whitish and iridescent. You will find this shy and nocturnal species in protected reef area near coralline formations. It’s easily intimidated and avoids daylight. This tiny single cardinalfish fasts upon small fish and invertebrates..

Five-lined Cardinalfish

Size up to 12 cm  (0,39ft). Depth up to 40m  (131ft)

This nocturnal cardinalfish hides under ledges or in cracks and crevices of coral formations to avoid brightness. Although it has to be said that some species, by exception, do not shy away from daily activity. When they come to life at night the five-lined cardinalfish will find comfort in eating small fishes, gastropods and crustaceans. The slender and silvery body is adorned with five subtle black lines. The five-lined is a solitary fish.

Other Family Members

Black-ring Cardinalfish

Cave Cardinalfish

Five-spot Cardinalfish

Flower Cardinalfish

Golden Cardinalfish

Iridescent Cardinalfish

Mottled Cardinalfish

Orange-Lined Cardinalfish

Tiger Cardinalfish

Yellow-striped Cardinalfish

Zebra Cardinalfish