Cardinalfish Family Photos and Information – Apogonidae

The Cardinalfish Family – Apogonidae

Pink Cardinalfish, Apogon pacificus, a representative member of the Cardinalfish or Apogonidae Family.

The fish of the Cardinalfish or Apogonidae Family are known in Mexico as cardenales. They are one of the largest tropical reef families with 350 global species placed in 41 genera. In Mexican waters, there are 12 Cardinalfish found in the Atlantic and 5 in the Pacific. They are red with various white and black markings. They have oblong laterally compressed bodies, large eyes that are greater in diameter than snout length, and a large oblique mouth equipped with small villiform teeth on both jaws and that opens in the front. Their anal fin has two spines and 8 to 18 rays; their caudal fin can be rounded or forked; and they have two dorsal fins, the first with 6 to 8 spines and the second with one spine and 8 to 14 rays. Their gill covers are serrated without spines. They have a complete lateral line that extends into the caudal base and are covered with scales that vary in texture.

The Cardinalfish are found inshore in all global tropical waters at depths up to 300 feet. They are small fish and reach a maximum length of 15.0 cm (5.9 inches). Most are found in and around coral and rocky reefs. They are nocturnal predators emerging at night forming small schools and remain secluded during the day. They consume small fish and small invertebrates including crab and shrimp. They are one of the rare marine species exhibiting oral brooding; males incubate the fertilized eggs in their mouth for several days before releasing hundreds of 2 to 4 mm larvae into the ocean which remain in planktonic form for several weeks before developing into juveniles.

The Cardinalfish are used extensively by the aquarium trade. They date to the lower Eocene Period, 55 million years ago.

Three Cardinalfish, two from the Atlantic and one from the Pacific, are currently included in this website.

Flamefish, Apogon maculatus
Pink Cardinalfish, Apogon pacificus
Twospot Cardinalfish, Apogon pseudomaculatus