Banggai cardinalfish

Banggai Cardinalfish

Pterapogon kauderni


These fish hide among the spines of sea urchins for protection against predators.

Exhibit Name and Location:
Baltimore - Pacific Coral Reef

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Banggai Cardinalfish

This small, disc-shaped fish is easily recognized by its tasseled first dorsal fin; long, tapering second dorsal fin; and deeply forked tail, or caudal fin.

The colors are striking: a gray background with bright silver flecks and several bold, black, vertical stripes.

The male of this species incubates the eggs in his mouth and continues to hold the young within his mouth cavity after hatching to further protect them.


The Banggai, along with most others in the cardinalfish family, feeds on plankton and small, bottom-dwelling crustaceans.


The male and female of this species are of comparable size, up to 3 inches in total length.


This cardinalfish is restricted to the Banggai Islands in Indonesia. It is common around jetties and over sandy bottoms with sea grasses.

Population Status

This species was introduced into the pet trade in the 1990s and has become popular for home aquariums in recent years. Because of its restricted range and relatively shallow habitat, it is in danger of being exploited and over-collected. Some experts fear that this could lead to extinction.

Breeding this species in captivity is one way to reduce the pressure caused by collecting from wild populations.


Humans are the biggest threat to Banggai cardinalfish, as the fish are popular among aquarium hobbyists.

These fish also fall prey to several natural predators, especially as juveniles, when they are picked off from the spines of sea urchins by hungry passers-by.

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A Note From the Caretaker

If you can’t spot the Banggais, look closely among the tentacles of the anemones. Hiding comes naturally to these fish. In the wild they often use the spines of sea urchins for protection from predators.