Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pterapogon kauderni

Image: © Jens Petersen (Jnpet)
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Scientific Name: Pterapogon kauderni
Species Authority: Koumans, 1933
Family: Apogonidae
Common Name: Banggai Cardinalfish, Kaudern's Cardinal Fish, Longfin Cardinalfish, Kardinalbarsch (DE)
Distribution: Western Central Pacific: Apparently restricted to Banggai Islands, Indonesia. The Banggai Cardinalfish has an extremely limited geographic range, and is found only at select sites around the coasts of 33 islands in the Banggai Archipelago, an island group in Indonesia. A small population was also artificially introduced into the Lembeh strait in 2000, some 400 kilometres north-west of its natural range. The total suitable habitat available within the Banggai Cardinalfish's range amounts to a mere 34 square kilometres. Banggai Cardinalfish is threatened by extinction due to collection for the aquarium trade (Endangered).
Environment: Demersal; marine, depth range 1.5 to 5 metres. A tropical marine species, the Banggai Cardinalfish occupies shallow coastal waters at depths between 1.5 to 5 metres, but is rarely found deeper than 2.5 m, and water temperatures ranging from 28 to 31 degrees Celsius. It generally prefers calmer waters, though some populations live in areas with strong surges and currents. Living near the seabed, this species is most commonly found around coral reefs, but also around seagrass beds and, less commonly, over small, open patches of rubble. Within these environments, it is normally found in association with various bottom-dwelling organisms, such as sea urchins, sea anemones, and branching corals. The Banggai Cardinalfish is preyed upon by various species, such as the crocodile-fish (Cymbacephalus beauforti), various lion-fish species (genus Pterois) and the grouper (Epinephelus merra).
Reef Safe: Yes
Minimum Tank Size: 300 liters, preferrably larger
Tank Set-up: Marine aquarium with corals, a lot of live rocks / rocks, live sand, macroalgae. Peaceful tank mates is ideal for this slow and methodical swimmer. Take your time when acclimating these cardinal fish to your tank water. Once introduced they may hide out for a day or two but should come out once food hits the water. Give them lots of security by providing hiding places (think live rock) and they may be out in the open more.
Water Region: Middle to top levels mostly.
Lighting: Moderate lighting
Water Flow: Moderate to moderately strong, normally found in reef tanks and/or FOWLR aquariums.
Size: Up to 10 cm
Lifespan: Up to 4 years, maybe longer in captivity. In the wild, they seem to live shorter with an average of 1 to 2 years of age.
Diet: Carnivore. They should be fed a well balanced diet of vitamin-enriched meaty foods such as feeder shrimp, marine flesh, bloodworms, and depending on its size, live feeder fish. In the wild, the Banggai Cardinalfish feeds principally upon tiny planktonic crustaceans, with copepods, in particular, making up about 80 percent of the diet. Nevertheless, this species is an opportunistic feeder, and will take a variety of small organisms from the water column and the seabed, including marine worms, molluscs and fish larvae. In addition, it plays an important role in its environment by preying on the larval stages of coral reef fishes' parasites.
Temperament: Aggressive. Avoid keeping more than mated pairs in smaller tanks. May be able to keep a small shoal in larger aquariums. Watch for aggression among individuals and remove some if necessary. In the wild, Banggai Cardinalfish live in small groups of usually between 1 and 6 individuals, though a group of 500 has been recorded.
Care Level: Easy to Moderate
Resilience: Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years.
Reproduction: Mouth Brooder. This fish has been successfully bred in captivity and among saltwater fish, this is one of the easier ones to breed. They are mouth brooders, or more specifically, the male will mouth brood the fry until they are ready to be released.

Reproduction in the Banggai Cardinalfish begins with the female choosing a male; the pair then separate from the group and establish a territory, aggressively defending it from other fish that come too close. The female then initiates an unusual courtship ritual, swimming alongside the male, bodies touching, and making a trembling motion. This behaviour occurs repeatedly on both sides, with the only signs of the male's receptivity being a darkening of the lower jaw and an occasional opening of the mouth. After several hours of this behaviour, the female spawns a mass of up to 75 large eggs (a very small number for a marine fish). These are quickly swallowed by the male, and brooded in a special pouch inside the mouth. The eggs take about 20 days to hatch, after which, the newly hatched embryos continue to develop in the male's mouth pouch. After a further 10 days, when the young have reached around five to six millimetres in length, they are released.

During the 30-day brooding period the male does not eat, and attends to the brood by frequently turning the eggs and expelling dead eggs and embryos.

Gender: It can be difficult to determine the sexual differences between male and female banggai cardinalfish until they are ready to breed. The male's lower jaw may be more rounded (for mouth brooding?) whereas the female's jaw may be more straight lined. Another sign may be a much longer second dorsal fin on males. You may only be able to determine that you have a male/female combination when they pair up.
Special Requirement/s:
Banggai Cardinalfish is an endangered species. As an aquarist, we can help in our own little way - Before you purchase this fish, ask your LFS or retailer where they come from. If they say that is was wild caught, please don't buy them. Since they are known to breed easilly in captivity, only buy captive raised or aquacultured specimens. This will increase the demand for CB Banggai Cardinalfish and in doing so will help those who are already breeding them in captivity, and those wanting and willing to aqua culture this species get rewarded for their efforts, and more importantly, lessen the fishing / collecting pressure in the wild.
Red List Status: Endangered (EN)
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Specific Gravity: 1.020 to 1.025
Temperature: 24°C to 26°C
pH: 8.1 to 8.4
Angelfish (Dwarf)Groupers
Angelfish (Large)Grunts / Sweetlips
BlennyLionfish / Scorpionfish
CardinalsPuffers / Porcupines
ChromisSeahorse / Pipefish
ClownfishSharks / Rays
DartfishTangs / Surgeons
EelsWrasse (Reef Safe)
Filefish Wrasse (FO/FOWLR)
Foxface / RabbitfishCorals
With Caution
Not Compatible
Encyclopedia of Life (
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (
ARKive (
Pet Education (
Meerwasser-Lexikon ( ( (
Aquarium Domain - (
Wikipedia (
Baensch Marine Atlas
The New Marine Aquarium (Michael S. Paletta)
World Atlas of Marine Fishes (Helmut Debelius & Rudie H. Kuiter)

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