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CARDINALS: SENTRIES OF THE DARK
By Jim Wolf, Marine Biologist
Cardinal fishes are in many respects the damsel fishes of the night.
Members of the family Apogonidae, they fill many of the ecological niches
that are filled by the damsels during daylight on the reef. The night time
has caused them to be less territorial (since there is less competition)
and they have larger mouths ( to consume the larger plankton associated
with night time on the reef) and posses large eyes. They do well in small
groups and are non aggressive. They eat a variety of food and will adapt
readily to captivity if they are not harassed by other fishes. They like
subdued lighting and are a good addition to a "twilight aquarium".
There over 170 species but only a few are seen in the hobby. Sphaeramia
nematoptera is the common Pajama cardinal. It is tempting to add these
fish to community aquarium , however they need a tranquil environment that
is associate with either a reef or twilight aquarium. In captivity, if
well cared for, Cardinal fish will breed. The male will hold the eggs in
his mouth. On the reef they may be commensal ( to hang around with no "cost"
to either host or visitor) with sea urchins or anemones and many other
species are red to yellow in coloration with striking patterns.
Photo's courtesy of Phil Shane of Quality
Flame Cardinal - CaribbeanApogon
Flame Cardinal - Costa RicaApogon
Orange Lined CardinalApogon
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