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FAQs about Py/Pajama Cardinalfishes, Genus Sphaeramia

Related Articles: Cardinalfishes

Related FAQs:  Cardinals,


lonely pajama cardinal fish??        1/24/16
I'm wondering if my lone pj cardinal fish needs another pj, since they are schooling fish:
<Actually; all PJ species are
... am sure I've mentioned this on WWM>
I had 3 pjs in my 35 gallon tank (I did not realize when I got them that the tank was a bit small for them)...
<A bit small... can lead to fighting, and killing off one another as they get larger>
they did get on ok in the small tank, though-- one just died, but was more than 10 yrs old, and another died 2 yrs ago, who was probably 8ish yrs old...
Now I'm worried that the lone survivor may need company (although, I'm also aware that cardinal fish can have aggression issues, especially in a small tank).
The lone survivor was a more recent addition to the tank about 7 yrs ago, so he was never as tight w/ the other 2 as they were each other.
I also have 3 yellow-tail blue damsels, who of course guard their individual territories and occasionally nip at the pj if he strays too close to them. All in all though, everyone in the tank has always gotten along fairly well.
So, should I get a companion for my lone pajama cardinal?
<A tough one.... I'd likely opt to leave the species, numbers you have as is... Maybe add something else... An active blenny or goby, Hawkfish... smallish... For color, interest; rather than more Apogonids>
thanks in advance
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Bubble under gill plate       12/3/15
I've recently noticed in one of my clients tanks that one of the PJ Cardinal fish has a bubble under its gill.
Not sure if it's air embolism, tumor or an isopod.
<Could be any of these. Can't make it out in your pix.... plenty large, but too poorly resolved as well. B>
It's been in the tank for 5 yrs. 500+ gallon many reef safe fish.

How many pajama cardinals?      5/4/15
<Six megs of pix... is it a full moon?>
Hi Crew.
I can't find the information I need about schools of pajama cardinals, so I am hoping you can help me figure out what to do. I am not particularly enamored with single, mature pajama cardinals, but thought a youthful school might be interesting. I ordered 5 of them, but they are going to be really small and I want to be able to notice and enjoy them while they are
still cute, so I am wondering if the tank could manage a few more (they are supposed to be easy to catch, so if/when they fade, get ugly, or get too big, I will just take them out). My other thought is that because this species of fish forms an hierarchy, a greater number of them will mean less stress on the fish at the bottom of the totem pole.
<I do know you're right>
The tank is a 75
<Oh; too small for any more; in fact, you'll likely end of with three, possibly one.
See (as in READ) on WWM re the family of Cardinalfishes. There are other genera, species of use here>
gallon reef tank with fairly open rock structure which will give the fish some hovering options (attached a picture of the rockwork... tank is looking messy and bare because I lost most of my coral in a crash a while back, but I wanted to send a picture because I believe my rockwork makes a significant difference in livestock options when compared to walls,
mounds, and towers... I did it this way for the sake of a yellow tang which died a month ago, because I wanted it to have a lot of swimming choices so the tank would seem bigger). The other fish include: pair of clowns that only leave their Duncan host at meal time; little green clown goby that just perches around rather than using swimming space; one Firefish which
is mostly in the lower part of the tank; and a Kole tang to arrive along with the cardinals (not real fond of the Kole appearance, but my yellow tang died a month ago and algae is now on my outputs... there are no other tang options for a 75g besides Kole and yellow,
<.... no. See WWM re Ctenochaetus, other Zebrasoma>
and I will get too attached to another yellow so I ordered the Kole). The only tankmate that will really be swimming all over the tank (except at feeding time) is the tang, and since the pajama cardinals are nocturnal, the tang and the other fish will be resting when the cardinals are most active (plus I can feed them after dark, so they won't have much competition for feeding time either). I usually give a lot of thought and planning to fish choices, so I am hoping to hear from you while I can still change the order.
Thanks folks.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: How many pajama cardinals?      5/4/15
Thanks for the quick response Bob. I think some of my WAMAS buddies are trying to convince me to forget about the pajamas entirely.
<I do agree... the genus Sphaeramia are argumentative.... worse than Banggais; and much bigger species
I won't order more of them. I still have time to cancel the pajama cardinals, and if I do not cancel them, I still have a some weeks of QT time in which to make a final decision (indecisiveness.... one more reason to use a QT!). By the way, I hope you are going to visit us WAMAS folks when we host MACNA this year
<Had thought the folks would be asking me to present; if not; will be out dive-traveling>
(FYI, I was the person who made that plate we gave to you).
<Ahh; have the plate on top of my cabinets (writing and slide storage); see it every day. I thank you>
Sincerely, Forrest
<Cheers, BobF>

Re: How many pajama cardinals?     5/5/15
I changed the order - no pajama cardinals. I guess I'm going back to the plan I had a few years ago, which was to have an assortment of gobies even though I won't see them half the time. The good thing about gobies is the scalelessness, but the bad thing is their short life spans (which is why, I ended up changing my plans). I ordered a citron goby (which will probably
perch on corals and damage them like my green clown goby), a Hectors goby (had one before and loved it), and a yellow rose goby (have wanted one for several years but keep putting it off for other things). Usually I make an exception for the scaleless gobies and only QT them a couple days, but would like to hear your opinion on it (the tang QT plan is three weeks or more) . Thanks again for your advice!
<Glad to share. B.>

Orbic cardinal - stroke?       5/27/14
Hello. Thank you in advance for your feedback and assistance.
<Certainly welcome>
Hi all. I've had an Orbic Cardinal
<An; as in a single specimen I take it...>
for almost 1 month and it has been healthy and vibrant until 2 days ago. It is currently looking lethargic
and hanging out in an upper corner of my tank where there is less water turbulence from my power jets. For lack of a better word, it appears like it's had a stroke - it's rear tail is not open and fanned out like my
Pajama Cardinal, it's not eating (brine shrimp) and it's movements appear slow and almost strained. I just noticed a bit of a velvety/slick stuff on 1 of its sides (see attached picture). Otherwise the eyes and other fins appear clean and normal.
What are your thoughts on what the fish may be experiencing and how I can help fix it. Thanks again.
<The genus Sphaeramia members are VERY social animals... though they may bicker in too-small volumes in captivity. They're always found in shoals/groups in the wild. I suspect at least one major source of stress for your individual is that it is alone. IF you have room, I'd have at least 3, 5...
Bob Fenner>

Miracle Mud Refugium with a long term fish resident?? PJ Cardinal comp.        5/11/14
Good Evening,
<Yawnnnn; good morrow to you Wendy>
Here are the basics:
165 gallon reef tank
LifeReef custom sump
Aqua C 180 EV skimmer
LifeReef Calcium Reactor
LifeReef Refugium 10 gallon
Orphek LED's and a couple t5's
Eco Tech mp40
Alk 9-11 dKH
Calcium 420
<Magnesium in proportion?>
ph 8.1
Temp 79-80
20% water changes weekly
sps, lps and a few soft coral
3 Banggai Cardinals (father and 2 of his adolescent offspring)
1 Red Sea Sailfin Tang
<Will get very large in time>
2 PJ Cardinal fish (one in display and one in refugium)
hermits, snails, skunk cleaner shrimp and serpent star
food: pellets, flakes, 3 kinds of frozen and live saltwater minnows
<What is eating this last?>
I have a one eyed "grandpa" PJ Cardinal fish (had him 6 years). He was having his fins nipped off by (the younger, larger, probably same sex) PJ Cardinal fish and an orange line Bristletooth (when the Bristletooth was small it got along with the other fish, but then it hit puberty and became super aggressive-I caught it, gave to fish store).
With the one good eye, "Grandpa PJ" takes a little longer to eat. So with his nipped fins and slow eating habits I was afraid a slow death was going to happen. I put "Grandpa PJ" in our refugium. Here no one picks on him and he can eat at his leisure.
However, will he be ok in there long term?
<Likely so; fine in isolation.
His fins have healed and he looks good. But I am concerned the nutrients from the mud might not be good long term...what do you think?
<See WWM re... this product is fine in the short to long term>
The water flow in the refugium is low, but good circulation. The macro algae is doing ok. There are a couple hermits, a snail and a starfish in the refugium, too. The refugium light comes on at night and off during the day.
<Also good>
I don't think he will make it back in the display even if I can catch the aggressive PJ (been trying for a long time).
<You are probably correct>
Thank you,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Pajama Card. comp.      10/6/13
why is my pajama cardinal being so aggressive to my blue green Chromis ?  i have 80 gal tank they have been together for about 3 years never have had a problem before ?  thank you in advance for your help !! Tracey
<Mmm; sometimes this species of Apogonid just is/turns "this mean"... Best to either add more Sphaeramia or remove the one you have. Bob Fenner>

Compatibility - 10/13/06 Do you think two Nemateleotris magnifica and one Sphaeramia nematoptera can be kept together? <<Indeed...should not be a problem>> Thank you so much for your advice. <<Quite welcome, EricR>>

Seahorses and Cardinals    9/22/06 Hi, (to whom gets to answer my questions today:) <That would be me, Leslie> I have a 30 gallon hex tank with 2 captive bred seahorses (I'm not sure what kind they are, but they are about 4" long) a yellow Watchman Goby and a Cleaner Shrimp. For filtration I have a Rena 3 canister filter with the flow turned down so the seahorses don't go flying around the tank. The whole setup has been running and happy for over a year now and the question that I have is.....would it be okay to add 2 or 3 PJ Cardinals to this system? Some websites say yes others say no and on WWM I have not been able to find an answer. <Well they would do fine with seahorses and do well in small groups. They do however get to be close to 4 inches long and are wide dorso-ventrally. IMO a 30g hex is to small and does not have enough horizontal swimming space. Instead you might want to consider a captive bred Pseudochromis fridmani (Orchid Dottyback); an Assessor either the A. flavissimus (Yellow Assessor) or the A. macneilli (Blue Assessor); a Firefish either the N. decora (Purple Firefish) or the N. magnifica (Fire Goby); or a Ecsenius midas (Midas Blenny)> Thank you for your time and expertise, Diana <You’re most welcome, Leslie>

Pajama Cardinal Fish Disease   7/28/06 Dear Crew, <Paul> One of my Pajama Cardinals developed a white fuzzy growth along its mouth and stopped eating. <Mmm, likely "banged" into something> A portion of the filamentous growth was about a quarter inch long and dangled from its lower jaw.  After a week the fuzz disappeared and the fish is starting to eat a bit, but there appears to be a small hole in its lower jaw. The growth did not appear to be an isopod or parasitic invertebrate.  It does not seem to be affecting the other cardinals, blue damsels, clown fish or hawk fish that share the 75-gallon reef aquarium.  What could the disease have been? <A physical trauma>   Is any treatment required at this point? <No, not likely of benefit. Too likely too stressful to all.> Thanks very much! <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Cardinal swallows shrimp, Legs still sticking out. 12-06-05 Hello Crew, <Hello> A pajama cardinal ate our skunk cleaner shrimp last night after it molted. The shrimp doesn't fit in the cardinal's stomach as legs and antenna are sticking out of the mouth. <I must say this is a first.> My wife called me with this info at work, so I haven't seen it yet. Will the fish die, too? <The fish should be able to evacuate the shrimp on its own. If it does not do so, or looks to be laboring then you may need to help it out.> Anything that can be done to save it? My wife saw the empty molt, so she's sure it's the actual shrimp that got eaten after it molted. The shrimp is full grown and almost as long as the cardinal and I never thought it would try to eat it. <They will try anything that will try to eat anything that will fit in their mouth. Travis> 
Re: Cardinal swallows shrimp, Legs still sticking out. 12-06-05
Thanks for the reply, but it turns out my panic was unwarranted. <That is good. Always better to waste worry than to be right for worrying.> Over the course of the day, the legs and antennae slowly disappeared into the fish until they were gone a few hours after my initial mail... and it grabbed the largest piece of food at dinner time when I fed the tank. <Sea pigs.> I assumed the shrimp was too large to fit in the cardinal's mouth. It seems I was wrong.  <It does seem so...> Pajama cardinals won't be going into my next reef.  I'm looking at threadfins to fill the niche instead, in hopes that they won't eat my beloved Lysmata shrimps. <You will greatly enjoy the thread fins. They can also be kept in schools which is nice. Travis> Thanks, Ben 

Mixing Cardinals As always you guys rule.  <Thank you> I have 3 PJs whom I love, living in my 75. One has been with me for years and years, she's my "other woman." It's her eyes :). (I know its a she because one of the new guys had to carry her eggs quite a few times). Anyways, I have some space for a few more fish, not many but like maybe 2. I always wanted Banggais, and I am trying to find out if 3 PJs and 2 Banggais would be happy in my tank. My utmost concern is for the PJs with the usual irrational exuberance for new fish that is shared by most people with my affliction as a secondary issue. The only other top fish is a royal Gramma and a tomato clown that has a anemone. Lots of rockwork. Thanks again and again for all the information over the years. <James, definitely go with the Banggais. The tomato is not a good choice to mix with cardinals. James (Salty Dog)> 

Pajama cardinal/elegance coral Hello again Bob, I hope you can save the day again… The little pajama cardinal seems to have taken a liking to my elegance coral Always hovering.. picking at it, yet I do not see damage and the coral does not recoil..  Is the coral safe?, should I be concerned? <These associate in the wild... no problems... the cardinals likely receive some protection from predation... Catalaphyllia sting like no tomorrow...> The little sweetie would be impossible to catch and a shotgun to a 20g nano might prove destructive….don’t you agree? <A twenty gallon system is too dangerously small for this Euphylliid> Thanks for being there. Ellen <Bob Fenner>

How to breed pajama Cardinalfish 3/28/04 hi, right now I have 3 pajama cardinal fish that I've had for about a year in a 75gal reef tank.  a few months ago I moved the three of them into a 20 long because they seemed a bit stressed out by the other fish in the 75.  so I set up the 20 gal just for these three fish and was wondering if anyone had any info on breeding this species of fish.  I've looked all over the web and cannot find anything that's helpful in any way.   thanks, Sara <these fish and several others in the family have been spawned in captivity... do look up spawning reports and information on the subject at the "Breeders Registry" online and be sure to look up reports for related species. Best of luck! Anthony> -

Breeding cardinals of different species- Hi Bob, <Kevin here in his stead.> I was doing research on Pajama Cardinal fish since I just bought a new one to add to my 65 gallon that already had one male.  I thought I was buying a female but after viewing the species photos on your web page: http://saltaquarium.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wetwebmedia.com%2Fmarine%2Ffishes%2Fpart2.htm I realize that I actually have two different species of Cardinal fish and perhaps the new one is a male, which would account for the aggressive behavior of the original Pajama Cardinal towards the new Pajama Cardinal.   Will this be a continuous problem? <Likely, they usually will take to each other fairly quickly if it's going to happen.> The new fish is not shy about eating, though the bigger older fish will eventually chase it away.  I was hoping to breed a pair but seeing that they are slightly different in species I realize that this will not happen. <Unfortunately, you're probably right. The best you can hope for is them to just get along, which may happen. Just keep an eye out for the new guy so it doesn't get beat up! Good luck! -Kevin> Mike

Cloudy eye on PJ cardinal and quarantine practice. Hello, <Hi Laurie.  Adam here today.> I have a 3 year old 46-gallon bow front reef tank with 1 Percula, 1 Bicolor Angel, 1 Neon Dottyback, and 4 Bar Gobies.....all healthy.  I also have many  mushrooms and polyps and a couple leathers.  I recently added 3 small Pajama  Cardinals.  I am 50/50 about quarantining.  If the fish is a strong one (like  my Dottyback), I will quarantine.  These guys are so delicate I chose not to. <I am befuddled by your logic.  I am strongly in favor of quarantine for all subjects, particularly those that are "delicate" or disease prone.  They are exactly those that are likely to carry or contract disease, not eat, etc.  In other words, they are the fish that quarantine is designed for!>   After 24-hours they are fine.  Eating well and acting quite normal.  Only an  occasional curious peck from the Dottyback.  No one is really bothering them  too much at all. <Good to hear.  Such docile fish are often the subjects of aggression.  Beware also that with three, two are likely to pair off and shun the third.> One Cardinal, however, has a cloudy eye.  I don't want to take him out into the quarantine tank and put him back into the reef only to stress him out even more.  Will the cloudy eye go away by itself or do I need to treat it somehow? <Effective treatment in a tank containing inverts is not possible (another good reason for quarantine!).  The cloudy eye could have many causes including Amyloodinium (velvet) which spreads and kills rapidly.  I would absolutely remove this fish to a quarantine tank ASAP.  One of the best ways to do this is with a tiny (#20 or so) barbless fish hook designed for fly fishing.  Bait the hook and catch the fish.  It may sound cruel, but it is quite effective and much less stressful than a chase with a net.  If you have the containers to do so, you could also drain the tank to within a few inches of the bottom, net the fish and re-fill.  Inverts should tolerate this for a few minutes to a half hour with no problem.> A challenge in a reef with live rock, etc.  (I have a UV sterilizer with a brand new bulb.) <See above tips for removing fish from a reef tank.  Also, you may want to move the UV to the quarantine tank if practical.> Thank you in advance for your help. <Good luck!  Adam> Laurie

Pajama cardinals I have one pajama cardinal fish. I want to buy another one so I can mate the two.  The problem is I don't know the difference between a male and a female.  Can you please help?  The sexes are not much differentiated but may be distinguished by the males slightly larger size and the girth of gravid females. They are some of the few marine mouthbrooders with the males generally doing the incubating. Young are released after about a week, and develop as plankton for a couple of months in the upper water column., good luck, IanB> Thanks, Wendy

PJ Cardinalfish >I did finally get to go back to that fish store and check out the eel gobies a little bit better and I have discovered that they were convict blennies/engineer gobies.  I just wanted to thank you for all of your help and now I have a couple of new questions for you.   >>You're very welcome, Sara.  Shoot. >I have recently acquired a pajama Cardinalfish.  I had been searching for this fish for over a month before I finally found it, but I'm now having a problem with it being very picky about what it eats.  the PJ will take a bite of whatever I'm feeding and then just spit it out and ignore the rest of the food.   >>The fish may not feel comfortable.  For instance, it would probably be happier if you had two more in the tank.  However, not knowing your tank's capacity (I skimmed the previous here, maybe I've missed it?) I can't say you must, or even should.  If you can give me a rundown of the basis system (tank capacity, stock, filtration, water flow/pump ratings) that would be quite helpful.  I'm going to link you to a good article, and suggest that you try some frozen Mysis shrimp, don't give up just yet.  Also, try crushing a very few of the pellets, and keeping the lights a bit dimmer when feeding this fish.  As I recollect, they're one of the more nocturnal, reclusive fishes.  They appreciate having ledges and caves, as well, but make them very "open". >I've tried 3 or 4 different types of flake foods, 2 different types of pellets and so far only 2 types of frozen foods.  the PJ did seem to like the squid that I threw into the tank but still didn't seem very interested in eating.   >>Try chopping it very fine. I do feed my tank twice a day. once in the morning and once in the evening before the lights go out.  do you have any suggestions on what may help my PJ to eat?  also I was wondering if I should add another PJ to my tank (if I can find another one), and should I construct a few caves for it to hide out in?  it just sits in the middle of my tank where I have no live rock.   >>Ok, addressed above the lighting, add two (assuming generous tank dimensions and light stock load), caves/ledges, try the Mysis, and other meaty foods, and see this link--> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cardinal.htm the right side of the tank has been taken over by my pair of coral banded shrimps (where no fish is brave enough to go) and the left side belongs to a Sailfin tang and an orange tail damsel.  so do you think the PJ is ok where its at or should it have lots of places to hide during the day?  well thanks for any info you can give. >>Some rearrangements (and additions of the darkening ledges and a couple more cards) would probably be in order.  The other fish you've noted tend to be a bit aggressive, but I've never seen them go after cards.  However, they're daytime fishes, the cards are night owls, so you've got to help it hide out during the day.  Good luck!  Marina

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