Information, Batfish, Saltwater fish, Species

Keeping Banggai Cardinalfish: Guide to Care and Requirements

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by Jason Matthews



The Banggai Cardinalfish is a unique and fascinating species that has become increasingly popular among pet owners. Whether you are a beginner or an intermediate pet fish owner, the Banggai Cardinalfish is a species you won’t want to miss. 


Scientific Name: Pterapogon kauderni
Common Names: Banggai Cardinalfish
Life Expectancy: 5-7 years
Adult Size: Up to 3 inches


OriginBanggai Islands, Indonesia
Care LevelModerate
TemperamentPeaceful, can be shy
Tank LevelMiddle to bottom
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons
Water pH8.1-8.4
Water Temperature72-78°F
Water HardnessdKH 8-12
LightingLow to medium
Tank MatesPeaceful, can be kept with other small, peaceful fish

Fun Fact Corner

Here’s a fun fact about Banggai Cardinalfish: They are known for their unique mating behavior, where males construct a nest and care for their eggs and fry. The male will defend the nest and ensure the eggs receive enough oxygen while keeping them free from parasites and predators.


The Banggai Cardinalfish, also known as Pterapogon kauderni, originated in the tropical waters of Indonesia’s Banggai Islands. This species was first reported in 1923 and has become a popular aquarium addition.

Despite its growing popularity, the Banggai Cardinalfish remains an uncommon species in the wild, with limited distribution and a dwindling population. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has designated the Banggai Cardinalfish as a vulnerable species due to its limited range and population size. 

Appearance & Size

The appearance of the Banggai Cardinalfish is one of its defining features, making it easily distinguishable from other species. This fish has an unusual and eye-catching look, with a conspicuous black patch on its head and an iridescent silver body. 

The fins of the Banggai Cardinalfish are transparent, with a slight yellow tinge, giving it a shimmering and graceful appearance. The caudal fin of this species is also elongated, adding to its overall aesthetic appeal.

The Banggai Cardinalfish’s appearance is not only visually appealing but also serves a significant function in its natural habitat, offering great camouflage and defense.

The size of the Banggai Cardinalfish is relatively small, with adults reaching a maximum length of 4 inches. This compact size makes them an ideal choice for aquariums of various sizes, from smaller desk tanks to larger community setups.


The Banggai Cardinalfish display distinct differences in size and coloration between males and females, making it relatively easy to determine the gender of individuals in your aquarium. Males have more prominent black patterns on their heads and bodies, whereas females are often lighter in color with more subtle markings. 


The behavior of the Banggai Cardinalfish is an important aspect to consider when keeping this species in your aquarium. This species is known for its dynamic and friendly behavior, often seen swimming in large groups in its natural habitat. 

They are nocturnal species, meaning they are more active at night and less active during the day, which is important to remember while designing your aquarium lighting and observing your fish. 


Choosing suitable tankmates for the Banggai Cardinalfish is important to keep this species in your aquarium. While the Banggai Cardinalfish are peaceful and generally get along well with other fish, it is important to consider compatibility with other species to maintain a harmonious community.

Here are some good tankmates for Banggai Cardinalfish:

  • Small, peaceful fish such as the azure damselfish and fairy wrasses
  • Non-aggressive crustaceans such as cleaner shrimp and dwarf shrimp
  • Snails and other invertebrates that do not pose a threat to the fish
  • Other peaceful cardinals, such as the Kaudern’s Cardinalfish
  • Non-predatory corals and anemones.

It is important to research and carefully consider the temperament, size, and behavior of any potential tankmates to ensure compatibility with the Banggai Cardinalfish and maintain the balance of your aquarium.

Tank conditions

Providing proper tank conditions is important for the health and well-being of the Banggai Cardinalfish. These fish are native to the shallow, sheltered waters of the Banggai Islands in Indonesia, and as such, they prefer an aquarium environment that mimics these conditions. 

A temperature range of 72-78°F, pH of 8.1-8.4, and specific gravity of 1.022-1.025 should be maintained in the aquarium. The Banggai Cardinalfish also benefit from a well-established filtration system, good water movement, and oxygenation to maintain water quality and health. Lighting should be moderate, and the aquarium should provide a mix of open swimming areas and hiding spots using live or artificial plants and rocks. 


The Banggai Cardinalfish are omnivores, meaning they eat various plant and animal-based foods. They eat a range of tiny crustaceans and zooplankton in their natural habitat. They can be given frozen or live food in an aquarium, such as mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, and krill, as well as a variety of high-quality pellet or flake meals. To ensure your Banggai Cardinalfish’s health and well-being, feed a varied and balanced diet that includes frozen and dried foods.

It is also important to remember that these fish are slow feeders and may take some time to find food in a crowded aquarium. Feeding smaller quantities multiple times a day rather than one large feeding is recommended to ensure they have enough to eat. Keep an eye on the other fish in the tank, as more extensive or aggressive fish may outcompete the Banggai Cardinalfish for food.


Breeding Banggai Cardinalfish in an aquarium setting can be challenging, but it is possible with the right conditions and proper care. These fish are monogamous and form couples in the wild and captivity.

It is important to provide suitable conditions for the fish, including a large enough tank, the proper water parameters, and an appropriate diet to encourage breeding. A healthy and well-fed Banggai Cardinalfish will be more likely to breed. 

After forming a partnership, Banggai Cardinalfish will lay their eggs in a safe and sheltered area, such as a breeding cone or among live stones. The male will then protect the eggs until they hatch, which usually takes 3 to 4 days. After a few days, the fry will be free to swim and can be fed small amounts of food, such as newly hatched brine shrimp or other small, acceptable meals.


The disease can concern any pet fish, including Banggai Cardinalfish. Maintaining good water quality and providing the right conditions for your fish is important to help prevent disease.

Ich, velvet, and fin rot are all common diseases that can afflict Banggai Cardinalfish. Various variables, including poor water quality, stress, and injury, can contribute to the spread of these diseases. Monitoring water parameters and executing regular water changes is critical to help avoid sickness.

If you suspect your fish is sick, it is important to take prompt action to prevent the spread of disease to other fish. This may involve removing the affected fish to a separate quarantine tank for treatment or adding medication to the main tank.


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

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