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Banggai Cardinalfish

(Pterapogon kauderni)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Easy   • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive   • Maximum Size: 3"
• Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-79° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.022-1.025
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Indonesia, Banggai Islands
• Family: Apogonidae   • Species: Cardinalfish   • Aquarium Type: Reef Compatible

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Banggai Cardinalfish native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) in the wild are found living in shallow habitats ranging from coral reefs & lagoons to seagrass beds and reef margins. They prefer more protected calmer waters and are generally found in small groups of individuals ranging from 9 to 12 individual fish. The species has a short lifespan, reaching around 4 years in optimal conditions in captivity, and perhaps 1 to 2 years in the wild. Banggai Cardinalfish coexist well with other small reef fish species and are often found living around anemones and sharing the water space with Clownfish, Danselfish and a host of small crabs and shrimp. As this species is found extensively in the water around the Banggai Islands, it has been referred to as the Banggai Cardinal in the aquarium hobby for some time. However, it also goes by a number of other common names within the aquarium hobby including: Kaudern's Cardinalfish and Longfin Cardinalfish.

Wild Banggai Cardinalfish prefer to establish small schools of individuals ranging from 12 to 20 fish, where they will establish an area around a coral head, anemone or other similar reef structure. The group will stay near cover while they wait for feeding opportunities in the currents above. They will feed on small planktonic organisms in the currents and tiny crustaceans like amphipods and copepods. They generally stick to more shallow areas of the reef or in shallow lagoons as there are less larger predatory fish in these areas and more dense coral growth that can be used for protection from predators.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Banggai Cardinalfish in the home aquarium.

Hobbyists looking to keep Banggai Cardinal fish should have an aquarium of at least 30 gallons and have plenty of live rock, corals, macroalgae plants or mix of these or similar structures in order to make this specimen feet comfortable and safe. Banggai Cardinals should be kept in groups, with at least 3 individuals making up a minimum group size for smaller aquariums, and larger groups up to 12 individuals in larger aquariums. Kept as a single specimen the Banggai Cardinal is unlikely to flourish in the aquarium and will most likely hide quite a bit and generally not feel safe or happy. Schooling fish like this one have developed in nature to like in groups of individuals in which they not only protect one another by alerting to danger and retreating to cover, but also have a social structure that provides them a level of comfort.

Cardinalfish in the wild are preyed upon by a number of larger fish species who inhabit the same reefs and lagoons, thus it is critical that the hobbyist provide an aquarium environment that affords the Banggai Cardinal plenty of structure to retreat to and hide when they feel threatened. Coral reef tanks are ideal for keeping Cardinalfish as they both provide plenty of areas for the fish to retreat to when threatened, but also because Cardinalfish will not damage corals. They will swim in and out of the branches and tentacles of the corals, which makes for a very visually appealing site for aquarium hobbyists to enjoy.

Banggai Cardinalfish will do well with a variety of tankmates including other peaceful reef fish, semi-aggressive fish species like Large Angelfish, Tangs, Wrasse and Butterflyfish. When kept in a good sized school of 6 to 12 individuals, the Banggai Cardinal will be much more able to deal with larger semi-aggressive fish species, as they will use the size of their school to appear bigger than they are and provide each other with a sense of protection. Banggai Cardinals will also do well with most all corals, sessil invertebrates and smaller reef inverts like shrimp, snails, crabs and other similar species.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Banggai Cardinalfish.

This fish is an opportunistic feeder, whose diet includes planktonic, demersal, and benthic organisms. Copepods & amphipods constitute the bulk of their diet in the wild. In the aquarium environment, the Banggai Cardinal should be fed a variety of meaty marine foods intended for marine carnivores and omnivores. Good food choices include: marine flake, mini marine pellets and frozen foods like brine shrimp, small krill, ocean plankton and mysis shrimp. Juvenille specimens should be fed small meal multiple times a day as they have a high metobolic rate due to their rapid growth. Adult specimens will appreciate multiple feedings a day, but can get bye on a single feeding a day.

Breeding Information

How to successfully breed Banggai Cardinalfish in the aquarium environment.

Banggai Cardinalfish have successfully been bred in captivity at scale since 2016, which has decreased the amount of wild-harvested fish needed to meet the demands of the aquarium trade and lowered the cost of the fish. Aquacultured specimens are often better suited for aquarium life as they are adjusted to the aquarium environment from birth. With proper line breeding where some wild-harvested fish are bred back in with aquacultured specimens, proper gene pool diversity will be maintained, while still drastically lowering the amount of fish that are harvested from the wild.

Banggai cardinalfish are a paternal mouthbrooder, where the female initiates breeding activity with a male of similar size forming a breeding pair. Once a mating pair is established they will breed within a few days, where they will designate a breeding spot that they will defend aggressively. The female will deposit the eggs and the male will collect the eggs into his mouth in order to protect the eggs while the develop.

The newly hatched juvenile Banggai cardinalfish do not go through any pelagic larval phase, instead they experience a high growth rate. AFter hatching, the juveniles will increase in weight several times over, while being brooded inside their father's mouth. At release, the juvenile Banggai Cardinalfish are many times heavier than they were at hatching. Juveniles will then settle directly within the parents' habitat upon release from their father's mouth. They will form a tight school and will look to stay close to structure like corals, anemones, macroalgae plants or other similar items in order to have an area to retreat to for safety when threatened by larger fish.

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