Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory

<I>Ostorhinchus norfolcensis</I>

Ostorhinchus norfolcensis

<I>Apogonichthyoides atripes</I>

Apogonichthyoides atripes


Regional Maps

External Links

CAAB: 37327000


Big Eyes, Cardinal Fishes, Cardinalfishes, Gobbleguts, Soldier Fishes

Compiler and date details

16 February 2015 - Gerald R. Allen, Douglass F. Hoese, Norbert J. Cross, & Matthew M. Lockett

18 November 2013 - Gerald R. Allen, Douglass F. Hoese, Norbert J. Cross, & Matthew M. Lockett

December 2006 - Gerald R. Allen, Norbert J. Cross & Douglass F. Hoese


Members of the Apogonidae are widely distributed in all tropical and temperate seas. The family comprises approximately 358 species belonging to about 40 genera (Mabuchi et al. 2014). Apogon was the largest genus, but it has been split into several genera. Consequently there have been numerous name changes for Australian genera and in some cases species names have also changed. In Australia, the family is represented by 33 genera and 143 species including two species from Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Island.

Apogonids are mainly inshore marine or occasionally estuary inhabitants, although one genus, Glossamia, is restricted to fresh waters of northern Australia and New Guinea. The majority of species inhabit northern coral reefs and a few are obtained mainly by trawling over sand and mud bottoms. Members of Vincentia are restricted to temperate waters. Most members of the family are active at night, feeding on a variety of benthic and pelagic invertebrates and small fishes. During daylight hours they shelter in caverns, rocky fissures, amongst branching corals and under jetties. This is one of the few marine fish families whose members exhibit oral egg incubation, a task undertaken by the male. The maximum standard length ranges from about 4 cm to 17 cm.

Fraser (1972) published a detailed study of the generic relationships within the family and his classification is followed here, with modifications from recent publications. Most of the Australian species are treated in Weber & de Beaufort (1929), Fowler & Bean (1930), Lachner (1953), Munro (1961) and Smith (1961). Allen (1999) presented a key to genera from tropical areas. Some of the species from northern waters are treated in Allen (1993). Gon & Randall (2003) dealt with many of the species known from Australia. Randall (2005) split the genus Apogon into a number of genera based on an unpublished PhD thesis. Some changes have been treated in more detail recently. Fraser & Allen (2010) revised Apogonichthyoides. Fraser (2008) revised Nectamia, and Greenfield et al. (2005) treated species of Zoramia. Fraser (2013) restricted Archamia to one species and placed other species in the genus Taeniamia. The classification recognised here is based on Mabuchi et al. (2014). That study elevated a number of subgenera of Apogon to distinct genera. Genetic studies have generally also supported monophyly of the various groups previously included as subgenera of Apogon (see Mabuchi et al. 2006). Mabuchi et al (2014) introduced a number of changes to the classification of the family in recognising four subfamilies, with the Apogoninae divided into 14 tribes.

Siphamia was revised by Gon & Allen (2012). It is not clear whether Siphamia fistulosa (Weber, 1909) recorded from Australia by Munro (1961) actually occurs here. Similarly, records in Munro (1961) of Apogon aroubiensis Hombron & Jacquinot, 1853, which is a species of uncertain identity, were based on one or more species of striped Ostorhinchus. It is also not clear what the basis is for the species record of Ostorhinchus margaritophorus (Bleeker, 1854) from Heron Island by Woodland & Slack-Smith (1963).


Excluded Taxa


APOGONIDAE: PterapogonMabuchi, K., Fraser, T.H., Song, H., Azuma, Y. & Nishida, M. 2014. Revision of the systematics of the cardinalfishes (Percomorpha: Apogonidae) based on molecular analyses and comparative reevaluation of morphological characters. Zootaxa 3846(2): 151–203 [202] (only species recorded from Australia Pterapogon mirifica (Mees, 1966) transferred to Quinca; genus restricted to Pterapogon kauderni Koumans, 1933 from Indonesia)


General References

Allen, G.R. 1993. Cardinalfishes (Apogonidae) of Madang Province, Papua New Guinea, with descriptions of three new species. Revue Française d'Aquariologie et Herpétologie 20(1): 9-20

Allen, G.R. 1999. Apogonidae. pp. 2602-2610 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 pp. 2069-2790.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Fowler, H.W. & Bean, B.A. 1930. Contributions to the biology of the Philippine Archipelago and adjacent regions. The fishes of the families Amiidae, Chandidae, Duleidae and Serranidae, obtained by the United States Bureau of Fisheries Steamer Albatross, in 1907 to 1910, chiefly in the Philippine Islands and adjacent seas. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 100(10): 1-334 figs 1-27

Fraser, T.H. 1972. Comparative osteology of the shallow water cardinal fishes (Perciformes : Apogonidae) with reference to the systematics and evolution of the family. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute, Grahamstown 34: 1-105 44 pls

Fraser, T.H. 2008. Cardinalfishes of the genus Nectamia (Apogonidae, Perciformes) from the Indo-Pacific region with descriptions of four new species. Zootaxa 1691: 1-52

Fraser, T.H. 2013. A new genus of cardinalfish (Apogonidae: Percomorpha), redescription of Archamia and resemblances and relationships with Kurtus (Kurtidae: Percomorpha). Zootaxa 3714(1): 1–63

Fraser, T.H. & Allen, G.R. 2010. Cardinalfish of the genus Apogonichthyoides Smith, 1949 (Apogonidae) with a description of a new species from the West-Pacific region. Zootaxa 2348: 40-56

Gon, O. & Allen, G.R. 2012. Revision of the Indo-Pacific cardinalfish genus Siphamia (Perciformes: Apogonidae). Zootaxa 3294: 1-84

Gon, O. & Randall, J.E. 2003. A review of the Cardinalfishes (Perciformes: Apogonidae) of the Red Sea. Smithiana, Publications in Aquatic Biodiversity, Bulletin 1: 1-47

Greenfield, D.W., Langston, R.C. & Randall, J.E. 2005. Two new cardinalfishes of the Indo-Pacific fish genus Zoramia (Apogonidae). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 56(33): 625-637

Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. 2006. Fishes. In, Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 35. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3, 2178 pp. [1081]

Lachner, E.A. 1953. Family Apogonidae : cardinal fishes. pp. 412-498 figs 69-84 pls 33-43 in Schultz, L.P., Herald, E.S., Lachner, E.A., Welander, A.D. & Woods, L.P. (eds). Fishes of the Marshall and Marianas Islands. Vol. 1. Families Asymmetrontidae through Siganidae. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 202(1): 1-685, figs 1-90, pls 1-74

Mabuchi, K., Fraser, T.H., Song, H., Azuma, Y. & Nishida, M. 2014. Revision of the systematics of the cardinalfishes (Percomorpha: Apogonidae) based on molecular analyses and comparative reevaluation of morphological characters. Zootaxa 3846(2): 151–203

Mabuchi, K., Okuda, N. & Nishida, M. 2006. Molecular phylogeny and stripe pattern evolution in the cardinalfish genus Apogon. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 38: 90-99

McCulloch, A.R. 1915. Report on some fishes obtained by the F.I.S. Endeavour on the coasts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South and South-Western Australia. Part 3. Biological Results of the Fishing Experiments carried on by the F.I.S. Endeavour 1909-1914 3(3): 97-170 figs 1-3 pls 13-37 [pl. 15 (fig. 2)]

Munro, I.S.R. 1961. Handbook of Australian fishes. Nos 1–42. Australian Fisheries Newsletter 15–17, 19, 20: 1-172 [published as separates 1956–1961]

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Smith, J.L.B. 1961. Fishes of the family Apogonidae of the western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute, Grahamstown 22: 373-418 figs 1-11 pls 46-52

Waite, E.R. 1901. Additions to the fish-fauna of Lord Howe Island. No. 2. Records of the Australian Museum 4: 36-47 [pl. 6]

Weber, M. & de Beaufort, L.F. 1929. The Fishes of the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Anacanthini, Allotriognathi, Heterosomata, Berycomorphi, Percomorphi. Leiden : Brill Vol. 5 458 pp. 97 figs.

Woodland, D.J. & Slack-Smith, R.J. 1963. Fishes of Heron Island, Capricorn Group, Great Barrier Reef. University of Queensland Papers, Department of Zoology 2(2): 15-69, figs 1-2


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
28-Aug-2021 APOGONIDAE 28-Aug-2021 MODIFIED
23-Feb-2015 APOGONIDAE 28-Aug-2021 MODIFIED Dr Doug Hoese
09-Jan-2014 APOGONIDAE 18-Nov-2013 MODIFIED Dr Doug Hoese
12-Dec-2012 12-Dec-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)