Cardinalfish – Kaudern’s Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni)

Updated on January 30, 2021 by

Banggai Cardinalfish are peaceful fish species showing a beautiful display, becoming one of the most popular fish among the saltwater enthusiasts. They are easy to care for and can readily adapt to changing aquatic environments, which makes them suitable even for beginner enthusiasts.

Quick stats – Banggai Cardinalfish

Category Info
Origin Indonesia
Max size 3.5” / 8 cm
Aquarium Min 30 gallon / 110 liters
Water 72-78° F / 22-25° C

dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4

sg 1.020-1.025
Care level Easy
Behaviour Peaceful
Diet Carnivore
Family Apodonidae
Colors Black, white

Banggai Cardinalfish description

The Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) is a remarkable fish species among the fish keeping life with distinctive features and peculiar characteristics that makes it stand out from other fish species in the aquarium world which gave rise to their popularity.

In the wild, the Banggai Cardinalfish is most often found as a grey-colored body fish decorated with small silver blotches and ornate black streaks. However, some species can be found in red coloration, but this is seldom found relative to the grey-colored species.

Three black bars run through the body from the head. The body and fins have a myriad of white dots that are more visible on the fins.

These species have the shape of a disc, growing to a maximum size of 3.5’’ (8cm), and possessing remarkable fins.

The Banggai Cardinalfish possesses a distinctive tasseled first dorsal fin, a second dorsal fin ray, and a forked caudal fin. Some species have black anterior edges on their fins.

They are playful and peaceful species that are suitable for your nano reef tank. However, they are best housed alone or as a pair. Most times, two males might squabble with each other.

It is quite difficult to tell the male Banggai Cardinalfish from the female as there is no visible distinction to differentiate the sex. One can only tell the difference probably during breeding.

The Banggai Cardinalfish has been bred in captivity with the captive breeds being hardier than their wild counterparts. They are fairly resistant to most diseases but are prone to common diseases such as the marine ich and fin rot.

These species are quite popular and inexpensive too, which makes it easy to get from most pet and fish shops. With just a few dollars you can have your tank hosting these remarkable and attractive species.

Banggai Cardinalfish in the natural habitat

The Banggai Cardinalfish is native to the coast of Indonesia including the islands within the Banggai archipelago which gave rise to its name.

In the wild they are often found among silty seagrass beds, coral ledges, sea anemones and mangrove roots during the day, and will often come out at night to hunt for food.

They are carnivores and would prey on small aquatic species such as benthic and planktonic crustaceans.

Banggai Cardinalfish in the ideal aquarium

Banggai Cardinalfish - Pterapogon kauderni

The Banggai Cardinalfish can be kept in a fish only tank or preferably in a reef tank. Due to its small size and peaceful temperament, these species are suitable as well for nano reef tanks.

Setting up the best aquarium for Banggai Cardinalfish species will require a well-filtered minimum of 30-gallon tank having a temperature in the range of 22.2-25˚C (72-78F), pH value ranging between 8.1-8.4 pH, water hardness of 8-12 dGH and sg of 1.020-1.025 to house a single or pair of Banggai Cardinalfish. 

However, if a larger number of Banggai Cardinalfish is to be housed together, or as a community fish with other fish species, then a larger tank should be provided.

To mimic their natural habitat, a silty substrate should be employed. The tank can be decorated with plants, rocks and other tank ornaments should be provided with lots of caves and crevices to provide hiding places for the Banggai Cardinalfish.

They are nocturnal in nature which makes them uncomfortable with high lighting. In consequence, a rather low lighting setup should be provided.

As peaceful and shy species, they are best housed alone or as a pair. However, they can make great community fish when housed with suitable species.

Suitable tank mates for the Banggai Cardinalfish include similar sized and peaceful species such as Gobies, Dwarf Angelfish, Clownfish, and Blennies.

They can also be housed with larger peaceful species such as Tangs, Filefish, Damselfish, Wrasses and other larger and peaceful species. However, these tank mates should be adequately monitored so that the Banggai Cardinalfish will not feel intimidated or harassed into hiding.

They are reef safe which makes them suitable with corals, invertebrates, and shrimps.

Large and boisterous species should be avoided as their mates since they will harass these shy and peaceful species into hiding and they will not be able to come out and feed.

Banggai Cardinalfish feeding

In the wild, Banggai Cardinalfish are carnivores, usually feeding on benthic and planktonic crustaceans. This requires that they are fed with a variety of meaty live and frozen food such as brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, chopped krill, and clam meat.

They don’t particularly fancy much eating flakes and pellets. But a highly nutritious and vitamin enriched flakes and pellets could subtle their appetite and get them used to it.

For optimum performance, they should be fed thrice a day with just enough they could finish in a few minutes and this meal should be served when the lights are out due to their nocturnal nature.

To maintain high hygiene and adequate water quality, every leftover food should be removed as soon as they are done feeding.

Banggai Cardinalfish breeding

Breeding Banggai Cardinalfish is quite easy as they can easily and regularly breed in captivity and they exhibit a mouthbrooding system of breeding.

To improve breeding, a breeding tank can be provided with the aforementioned water conditions and a breeding pair can be introduced.

Due to the fact that it is quite difficult to identify the different sex, they should be allowed to form pairs in their aquarium tank. These species have an unusual spawning pattern. Unlike many other species where the male approaches the female, the female Banggai Cardinal would rather approach the male.

The female will approach the male from behind with a vigorous trembling motion. When she gets to the male she begins to display some spawning ritual by tilting her body repeatedly in a bid to entice the male.

If the male is interested and accepts the proposal, he will then open his mouth in a confirmatory gesture. 

Once the mating pair is formed, the female will release her eggs while the male picks them up to fertilize them. However, the male may not be able to collect all the eggs deposited by the female and some of the eggs picked by the male might also die before they are hatched. This will determine the male to spit them out and they’ll most likely end up being devoured by other fish.

After this, the breeding pair can be introduced into the breeding tank that has already been prepared.

The male will mouth breed the eggs for a period of 30 days with the female hanging around him for the first few days in a bid to protect him from predators.

During the period of mouthbrooding, the male will not be able to feed, so as not to harm the eggs.

As soon as the fry hatch, they become free-swimming. They are probably left to fend for themselves as the parents have little or no parental instincts.

The parents can now be removed from the tank while the juvenile ones are cared for. They should be fed with baby brine shrimp until they are mature enough to feed on heavier food matters.

Banggai Cardinalfish - Pterapogon kauderni

To conclude

Banggai Cardinalfish is a great fish species to give your tank a distinctive look and astonishing beauty too. They are quite peaceful, hardy, and easy to care for, which makes them suitable for fish keepers of different levels of experience.

They are suitably kept alone or in pairs, though they are also good community species.

They are carnivores and should be fed with high quality and vitamin-enriched frozen and live meaty foods.

They have quite a peculiar breeding pattern and exhibit the mouthbrooding method with the eggs hatching in about 30 days to deliver free-swimming fry.

The Banggai Cardinalfish fry can be fed with baby brine shrimp until they are mature enough to feed on a variety of other diets.

With proper care and adequate tank conditions, the Banggai Cardinalfish can live over 5 years whilst growing up to 3.5cm (8cm).

Banggai Cardinalfish FAQs

What is the life span of Banggai Cardinalfish?

With proper care and right tank conditions, Banggai Cardinalfish can live over 5 years.

What is the maximum size of Banggai Cardinalfish?

Banggai Cardinalfish can grow up to 3.5” (8cm) long.

What are suitable tank mates for Banggai Cardinalfish?

Banggai Cardinalfish can be housed with similar sized and peaceful species such as Gobies, Dwarf Angelfish, Clownfish and Blennies. They are also reef-safe with corals and other invertebrates.

What is the best food for Banggai Cardinalfish?

In the wild, Banggai Cardinalfish are carnivores, usually feeding on benthic and planktonic crustaceans. This requires that they are fed with a variety of meaty live and frozen food such as brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, chopped krill, and clam meat.

They don’t particularly fancy much eating flakes and pellets. But a highly nutritious and vitamin enriched flakes and pellets could subtle their appetite and get them used to it.