FAQs about Cardinalfishes, Family Apogonidae, Stocking/Selection
Related Articles: Cardinalfishes,
Related FAQs: Cardinalfishes 1, Cardinalfishes 2,
& FAQs on: Cardinal
ID, Cardinal Behavior, Cardinal Compatibility, Cardinal Systems, Cardinal Feeding, Cardinal Disease, Cardinal Reproduction, &
Banggai ID, Banggai Behavior, Banggai Compatibility, Banggai Selection, Banggai Systems, Banggai Feeding, Banggai Disease, Banggai Reproduction,
lonely pajama cardinal fish??
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
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
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>
Cardinal Fish... Buying rare, un-stocked fishes
I would like know of any contacts from whom I may purchase any of these cardinal
fish: Vincentia conspersa, Vincentia badia, Vincentia macrocauda or the
*Siphamia cephalotes. *I saw in an old question that one researcher asked you
about Vincentia conspersa, just wondering if the purchase was ever made. I know
that fish is from Australia and I'm currently going to be in Adelaide,
Australia, so I would like to know if there are any providers I could contact
around here for any of these species.
<Really far better for you to contact local importers/wholesalers, likely
through fish stores that deal widely in such locale/s... ASK them in turn if
they'd contact their suppliers; very possibly re asking their divers to look
for, secure these Apogonids. A longer shot is contacting the in-country
suppliers, visiting them, getting out and actually doing the gathering yourself
w/ their crew. >
Thank you for your attention
<Welcome. Bob Fenner who has "been here, done this several times">
How many pajama cardinals? 5/4/15
<Six megs of pix... is it a full moon?>
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.
<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
(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>
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
<Glad to share. B.>
Orbic cardinal - stroke?
Hello. Thank you in advance for your feedback and assistance.
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
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...
Cardinal Fish Compatibility 5/13/14
Do you think it is possible to mix different types of Cardinal Fish in
<Oh yes... have seen this done... and occurs in the wild>
I currently have 8 red spot cardinals(Apogon parvulus) and wanted
to add a trio of yellow stripped cardinals (Ostorhinchus
cyanosoma). Do you think this would work?
<If you have room... the bigger the better system-wise. BobF>
Fish dynamics. Easily over and mis-stocking a small marine
sys. Apogonid f' stkg./sel., Chromis as well
Hi Crew, Just sharing. I have a 24 gallon and usually
have six small fish. A year ago I had a Pajama Cardinal about 4 years
old, a Clown Goby about 5 years old, a Firefish about 3 years old and a
Bicolor Blenny about a year old. So I decided to get a pair of Hi Fin
Cardinals and one really dominated the other.
<Yes; not enough room here... but for one Apogonid>
So I sold the dominant one. Then the remaining Hi Fin became bossy and
My Pajama Cardinal would not come out and the Firefish rarely came out
so I sold that Hi Fin. The Firefish came out and stayed in the
middle most of the day. It took The Pajama Cardinal about 4 weeks to
come out and even then it was very skittish. I decided to add an Orange
so rather than 2 I decided on 3 and I also went for a Black Axil Chromis.
<Not a good choice here>
I know it is too crowded but I can always fix that. The Chromis is around
the size of the Pajama and is active. The Pajama Cardinal now is out all
day protecting his little corner from the Chromis. Didn't expect that.
The Firefish is hiding. I think the Blenny unnerves him. The Blenny is
moving around much more and doesn't seem to like the fact that there is
more competition for him. The Orange Stripes are very small, maybe 3/4
of an inch. But their mouths are very big. They compete for the food and
can really eat some big pieces. As of now they look yellow rather than
orange. Probably will not be able to keep all three when they are full
grown. They stay together near the bottom and don't seem to mind that
they are smallest in the tank. When food is there they go to the top
besides getting it from the water column. Sam
<Sam; you're a candidate for a much larger system... or systems! I'd be
looking about the place; maybe work as well... for location/s. Bob
Re: More re: Nassarius Snails Versus Fish,
hand-fed dragonetttes! 12/19/11
Thanks. I'll check some of those out. I had ordered
some blue eyed aka glass aka threadfin cardinals that never made it to
my were poor shippers, I'd have never ordered them, let alone order
a second batch to doom even more of them. Poor beautiful
On a more positive note, one of the dragonets ate from my hand last
Here's a video of them doing their mating dance:
Happy Holidays to you all!
<And to you and yours. BobF>
Cardinal for my tank...
I have a 25g tank that I have set up and I am just now starting to
think about stocking it.
Basically, I am looking for a Cardinalfish as I hear they are a great
choice in an SPS tank (which I am planning to keep) because they
circulate fresh oxygen through polyps deep in the colonies and they
directly "fertilize" the coral by defecating usually near/in
it (and I love the way they swim).
I am concerned about them in general, however: it seems like most need
to be kept in groups or pairs to thrive.
<Better, either a small group or a known pair>
It sounds like those that are kept in pairs that spawn become very
aggressive towards tankmates and like most cannot be kept in groups in
<A group of three of one of the smaller species should be ok>
Basically, my question is, is there any Cardinalfish that will do well
kept by itself?
<Yes, Pterapogon kauderni and probably others can be kept alone, but
better in groups if poss.>
Also, how are Threadfin Cardinals for groups?
<Mmm, have a read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cardinal.htm w/
the related FAQS... should provide all you need>
Someone online suggested them to me, but I'm also wondering how
high is their bioload?
<Low, they are not aggressive swimmers>
On ReefCentral someone said their bioload is almost non-existent but
I'm not sure I believe this. Perhaps if a Cardinal isn't a good
idea, you could suggest a Nano fish that would be beneficial to SPS
<I think one of the Cardinals would make a fine choice>
Thank you ever so much!
Apogon compressus shipping issues
I work in a small wholesale facility and we are/have been having
problems with some of the larger Apogon sp. Our problem is not keeping
them, but how they arrive. In particular, *Apogon compressus *have been
giving me problems lately. When the fish arrive from the Philippines,
which is a direct flight, they are "bloated" and floating as
if they have swallowed air. I've asked our supplier to try
different methods as far as packing and shipping go, but to no avail.
Do you have any ideas I can give them to try or is this a problem that
I will have to deal with?
<I'd ask for smaller specimens... if possible. There are
intermittent and inherent troubles with collecting and handling larger
If it were one or two out of forty, I would not be too concerned.
However, the last batch I received was more like twenty five out of
forty. I'm not going to order them anymore if this continues to be
a problem. I've had this problem with a couple of other cardinal
species (typically the larger species with the same body shape) from
several different suppliers. Beating my head against a wall isn't
working so I thought I'd put the question out there. Thank you.
<Mmm, once the damage is done (i.e. before you get them) there's
not much to be done. Collectors should leave larger individuals in the
wild... to breed, live... and their wholesale distributors should
refuse to buy larger ones of these and most other fish groups. Cheers,
Cardinalfish and Mandarin Addition (some
consideration needed here) -- 10/12/10
I was glancing online at Cardinalfish for sale, and came across this
species, Fowleria flammea (common name is the "red stop light
cardinal"). I looked for more information on WWM, but was unable
to find anything.
<<Does appear to be absent'¦though it is listed on
I was curious if you knew much about the species
<<I do believe this is the first I have seen/heard of
and if their care was similar to other cardinal species?
<<I would expect it to be very similar to other like species,
From the pictures, this appears to be a colorful fish; the site
recommends a small group can be kept together and will form a
<<I would agree>>
I am interested in possibly adding a group of these fish to my 90g reef
aquarium (130lbs LR, 120lbs LS). Current residents include a small
purple tang, small Copperband butterfly, pair of ocellaris clowns,
royal gramma, and a lawnmower blenny. I would like to add a mandarin
dragonet in the future as well.
<<Not a good mix in this volume with the Blenny>>
The tank has been up for one year, and all parameters are within normal
limits (0 nitrate/nitrite/ammonia/phosphates, spg 1.024,
<<This is 'ok'--though I prefer to see a higher reading
closer to NSW values (1.026)>>
temp 77, pH 8.2). I have a few frags of SPS, LPS, and softies, and a
2" maxima clam. I always see a ton of amphipods roaming the rock
at night; this leads me to believe I may be ready for a mandarin.
<<Still best to find one that will accept prepared foods (frozen
Mysis, etc.)--rarely does a system of this size provide enough natural
foodstuffs for these fish>>
I was originally interested in a group of blue-green chromis (Chromis
viridis) but came across these cardinals.
<<The Cardinals are a better choice--less likely to
'self-destruct' in a system of this size, in my
Would a small group of chromis get along ok in this size of aquarium
(with these tankmates)?
<<I don't think they would be a 'group' for long.
Even in tanks twice the size of yours, I have seen groupings of Chromis
slowly dwindle from the imposed 'stresses of the
Or should I keep looking more in the Cardinalfish direction?
<<This would be my choice here>>
Or could I even have both?
<<Not in my opinion--I think both species would suffer in this
I am wanting some "colorful" eye-catching fish that like to
swim in the water column.
<<Not uncommon--just unfortunate that this is usually an
afterthought to system design/stocking>>
Please advise if this would over-stock my tank (or if it is already).
Also, any suggestions for peaceful, colorful schooling fish are great
<<I don't think it's so much a matter of stocking density
here as it is species selection. A group of five small Cardinalfishes
could 'fit' here in my estimation, but the boisterous Tang and
territorial Clowns and Blenny may prove problematic in this volume.
I'm not saying the Cardinals won't work out here, and I do
think they are your best choice in this situation (as opposed to
Flasher Wrasses, Anthiines, etc.) But as alluded earlier, systems with
'peaceful, colorful schooling fish' really need to be designed
around these fish for the best chance at long term success>>
Thanks again for your help,
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
P.S. One last question - do you foresee a problem keeping a mandarin
with the lawnmower blenny?
<<I do'¦ The Blenny's 'territory' will be
most if not all of your rockwork (apart from what the clowns may have
staked out)--and will defend it vigorously, even viciously, from other
'bottom dwelling' fishes>>
The blenny has been in the tank for ~6-7 months and has gotten quite
large (5"). He's a little snippy towards the butterfly if the
butterfly starts grazing near "his spot".
<<Indeed'¦ It's your decision, but I would not add a
Mandarin to this system. EricR>>
How Many Chromis For A 55? --
Good morning crew,
<<Evening now'¦Hiya Matt!>>
I have a pretty simple question today.
I have a 55gal tank with live rock that I would like to turn into a
reef. The only fish that I want to keep are a school of blue green
<<Mmm, I see'¦ Your tank may be a bit small for
How many of these fish do you think I will be able to keep in my 55gal
tank with no other tankmates.
<<As far as bioload goes, the tank should handle about nine of
these fish (given good filtration/husbandry), but It has been my
experience that even these 'so-called relatively-peaceful'
Damsels will still trouble conspecifics to the point of extermination,
leaving one or two individuals in the end, if/when housed in a
too-small system. A better choice, in my opinion, would be a small
Cardinalfish species. These will do much better, given proper species
choice, than the Chromis.
I think this would look great if they were to school around a reef as
the only inhabitants.
<<I am much in agreement; but for the 'Chromis'
selection. Perhaps Apogon leptacanthus or Sphaeramia nematoptera would
appeal to you'¦>>
Thanks for your input.
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
Re: How Many Chromis for a 55? & Apogonid
sel. f' -- 10/21/09
Thanks so much for the advice.
Apogon leptacanthus actually seems to resemble the chromis in shape
somewhat, so if you feel that this would be a better choice then I will
try to find them somewhere.
<<Indeed'¦and quite a striking little fish when kept in
(They seem pretty difficult to find).
<<Do check online sources>>
Now, being that these guys seem to be smaller than the chromis, how
many of these would you recommend for my 55gal reef?
<<A dozen should be fine>>
Also, I am really trying to go for the schooling look, so what are my
realistic chances with these guys?
<<That depends on your definition of 'schooling look.' If
you are expecting them to whip around in a cloud of flashing scales
like a school of Sardines under attack then no'¦not these or
any other fish available/suitable to the average home aquarium.
But'¦ It is my experience that the more social species of
Cardinalfishes (of which these are one) will 'hang out in a
group''¦though you may want to add a small compatible
wrasse species to your tank (e.g., Halichoeres chrysus) for a bit of
<<Always welcome'¦ EricR>>
Re: Stocking For A 75 Gallon Tank, now Banggai, PJ Cardinal
sel. 12/5/08 James thanks for the response.
<You're welcome.> Is there any possibility in stocking a
school of Banggais. I had tried once, but they all mysteriously died
one by one. I was thinking maybe 5 or so same as the PJ. <Sure, the
Banggais are relatively peaceful toward their own <<Mmmm, not
always... RMF>> and readily breed in the home aquarium. Do
provide cave-like rock arrangement for them. You may want to read here
and related FAQ's on the subject.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cardinal.htm James (Salty Dog)> Zach
Small Water Column Fish -- Revisited, Apogonid
sel. -- 06/15/07 Hey thanks once again Mich. <Welcome!>
I have access to some Apogon cyanosoma (yellow-lined or gold striped
cardinals). Some folks seem to be ok keeping them long term in a small
group, others experience aggression as they mature. Any thoughts on
these? <I have never kept this species of fish, so I'm not able
to draw on personal experience here, but the literature describes these
as one of the "bolder" members of the family and recommends
keeping a group of 5-7 individuals, all introduced at the same time.
You may want to consider dimming your lighting when they are
introduced. There is more info here,
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cardinal.htm but nothing as far the behavior
of this species versus others in the genus. It can be difficult to
predict behavior as it can vary greatly between the individual. Other
fish in the system can also impact behavior. I would avoid overcrowding
and provide plenty of hiding places. Good luck! Mich> Randall
Hardiness of Pajama Cardinals vs. Banggai Cardinals
2/13/07 Hi again crew, I have been having the same problems with
Banggai Cardinalfish that I have read about on your site-- they cease
to eat, start breathing rapidly, and then die. <Does happen... and
all too often... and this should not be the case... That is, Apogonids
such as these can be, should be raised in captivity... regionally...
and be well-ready to withstand the rigors of moving, captivity...>
All of this happens very quickly. I'm not sure, but I think I
remember them having stringy, white feces as well. Recently, I lost
eight! I bought these eight in groups of three, three, and two, so they
did not all come from the same shipment. I quarantined them
in a 30 gallon bare tank, first all together, and then separated the
next batch into three 10-gallon compartments. I tried FW dips before
quarantining, and when that batch died, I skipped the FW dip. None of
this made any difference. I have kept many more difficult
fish successfully, but I just can't keep the Banggais alive (yes,
the water parameters are all where they should be). <Mmm... I want
to say a few things (thanks for this prompting)... the vast majority of
Pterapogon ARE cultured (somewhat), but still imported (from Indonesia
mainly)... and they ARE way too often BUNK! Your experiences are not
atypical...> The only answer I can comes up with is the mysterious
parasite I have read about which supposedly infects Banggai
Cardinals. I was told the fish I purchased were tank-raised, but who
knows if this is true-- and maybe tank-raised Banggais carry this
parasite as well. So here is my question: are Pajama Cardinals
susceptible to the same parasite? <... not as far as I'm aware,
but have not seen definitive proof of such a parasitic involvement in
the high incidental mortality of this species> I have not seen much
written on your site about the Pajamas since they have been so
overshadowed by the popularity of the Banggais. <Are old-timey
favorites... the two principal species...> Have you been receiving
emails with Pajama Cardinals suffering from the same symptoms and
dropping dead? <Not as far as I recall, no> Also, I read that
while a group of Pajama Cardinals will establish a pecking order, they
do not display conspecific aggression ( aggression to
other Pajama Cardinals, if I used the term incorrectly) to
nearly the same degree as Banggai Cardinals, making it easier to keep
them in a group. Is this true in your experience, or reports from your
readers? <Mmm, yes... though Sphaeramia can indeed be territorial...
though not as often to as the degree as Banggais> As always, thanks
for taking the time to read this and for offering your advice. Art
<Thank you for asking. Bob Fenner>
Question on where to acquire Apogon leptacanthus in the U.S.?
Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in his stead> I've been searching for
these cardinals (A. leptacanthus) for a while now. I've contacted
The Marine Center, who is usually good about finding rare fish
<agreed... a fine choice> (but they told me they only come along
as a "fluke") and Walt Smith, who lists these as one of his
products, but he replied back and said that he doesn't believe he
exports these at this time. I noticed that next to your description by
the photo of these fish, you mention they're from a friend's
tank? Would you happen to know where they were purchased or of
another source where I may be able to find these fish? <Hmmm... Bob
can check this out when he returns from Indonesia> Thank you very
much! I really find your site helpful and useful! Thomas <let me
suggest too that one of the very best places to get rare and cherry
picked fishes is by contacting an aquarium service person in LA (use
Internet Yellow Pages). These are chaps that visit the biggest
wholesalers several times weekly in the course of their business and
can keep and eye out for you and monitor status of special orders. SDC,
Quality Marine, Walt Smith and a dozen other of the biggest wholesales
are all virtually within walking distance of each other. Do consider
hiring a jobber to peep for you. Best regards, Anthony>
Looking for marine fishes for research Dear Sir or Madam:
<Hello> My name is Kim Akers, a research biologist at the New
Jersey State Aquarium. We are trying to purchase ~30
Pterapogon mirifica and possibly as many Vincentia
conspersa. We are interested in obtaining live fish to
conduct a study on their reproductive biology in comparison with other
Cardinalfish, and for some phylogenetic work. Would you have any ideas
on whom I should contact? I have tried almost every online
US fish store and supplier, plus several more in other countries, to no
avail. If you have any thoughts, I would appreciate hearing
them... <I have cc'd friends/associates in the marine livestock
wholesale industry above. I am confident they will follow-up and
contact you in turn. If you would like my further assistance, please
feel free to contact me here. Bob Fenner> Best regards, Kimberly
Akers Research Biologist NJ State Aquarium Looking for marine fishes
for research Wow, thanks for the prompt reply and for sending this
request out....I'll be keeping my fingers crossed! <Glad to be
of service, link between the science and trade. As stated, please make
it known if these folks don't get back to you expediently, and
I'll do some prodding. Bob Fenner>
Cardinal Solo? I would really like a Banggai Cardinal for my
50 SW. However, I know this is a schooling fish and only
have room for one. Will a single Banggai do o.k., or will
the lack of schooling stress it out? <Not particularly. I have seen
them kept successfully in groups in larger aquariums. The problem in
groups is that one or more of the fish will "fall out of
favor" with the "alpha" fish, resulting in the
individual being subjected to constant harassment, which can lead to.
well- you get the picture! One will do just fine! Good luck Regards,
Cardinal Fish Hello, I would like to know if the Banggai or
spotted cardinal fish is the easiest overall to keep. <This fish is
very hardy, but so are many others.> I have heard that the lights
should be kept off most of the time with these fish as they are
nocturnal. <I have not heard this.> Is this true?
<I have not heard this, but wouldn't they just come out when the
lights are off?> Also, is it better to get a pair of
three? <Depends on the tank size and other
inhabitants.> Thank You.
<Take care James, Don>