Banggai Cardinal Fish - (Sphaeramia nematoptera)

Includes a variety of cardinalfish, including:  

  • Pajama cardinal
  • Banggai cardinal
  • Flamefish cardinal
  • Black cardinal 
  • Twospot cardinal 
  • Blue-eyed cardinal 
  • Yellow-stripe cardinal 
  • Red spot cardinal


Scientific name: Sphaeramia nematoptera, Pterapogon kauderni, Apogon maculatus, Apogonichthyoides melas,  Apogon pseudomaculatus, Zoramia leptachantha,  Apogon cyanosoma, Apogon parvulus

Cardinalfish have two distinct dorsal fins and can be found around the world. These slower-moving nocturnal fish make excellent additions to large community aquariums. Most species are recommended for beginning marine aquarists.

Typical appearance and behavior

  • Some peaceful species may be kept in small groups; different species should not be mixed
Although nocturnal (active at night), cardinalfish can become used to daytime feeding and activity
  • May become aggressive toward individuals of the same species; should be kept in groups of five or more
  • Some species are mouth brooders and have been successfully bred by aquarists


  • Care Difficulty:
  • Average Life Span:
Up to 15 years with proper care, depending on species
  • Average Adult Size:
1-9+ inches long, depending on species
  • Diet:
  • Minimum Habitat Size:
5+ gallons for a single cardinalfish, depending on species
  • Water Temperature:
  • Specific Gravity:



Habitat size

  • Water health - Provide proper filtration to ensure optimal water quality to help maintain health. Slow to moderate water circulation, based on species, should be provided to mimic water currents found in the cardinal's natural habitat. Stable water quality (pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) and water temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing. The addition of a protein skimmer can aid with maintaining great water quality and high dissolved oxygen levels. An aquatic heater should be used to stabilize water temperature, ensuring it does not fluctuate more than +/-2 degrees in a 24-hour period. The specific gravity should remain stable. Do not allow specific gravity to fluctuate more than +/-0.001 in a 24-hour period.
  • Décor - Provide rock and décor for hiding places and plenty of room for movement


What to feed your cardinalfish

A well-balanced cardinalfish diet consists of:

  • Flakes, pellets, freeze-dried and frozen food
  • A varied diet will help to ensure proper nutritional balance


Things to remember when feeding your cardinalfish:

  • Depending on species and size, feed small amounts two to three times daily, no more than fish will eat in 1 to 2 minutes
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding


Cardinalfish care

  • Water care: Maintaining great water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration is important to help keep your cardinals healthy
    • Daily: Check filter, water temperature and other equipment
    • Weekly: Test water quality at least once a week
    • Weekly to monthly: Change 10 to 25% of the total volume of water every two to four weeks, or as needed. Change filter media monthly
  • Avoid overcrowded conditions, as this is a major cause of stress and disease. Maintain good water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration


Please Note: Due to variations within species, your item may not look identical to the image provided. Approximate size range may also vary between individual specimen.