Flower Cardinalfish a Saltwater Mouthbrooder

Flower Cardinal Apogon fleurieu

The flower cardinalfish Apogon fleurieu is also known as the Bulls eye Cardinalfish and Ring tailed cardinalfish. They are one of the few species of saltwater fish that are mouth brooders.


The flower cardinalfish has proportionally large eyes with two conspicuous blue lines across them. They have  two dorsal fins and a black band around the tail. The dorsal and caudal fins are edged in orange and the lower half of the body has an orange tint to it. The lateral line is fairly prominent. They grow up to 10 cm in length.

Flower Cardinal Apogon fleurieu



During  the day the flower cardinalfish will usually be found in a shoal under an over hang or in a cave , often with other species of cardinal fish or sweepers. At night they disperse to feed. Occasionally they may be seen hiding in grass beds during the day.


The flower cardinalfish is found across the Indian ocean and in the west Pacific. They are found between depths of 1-30 meters.


Flower Cardinalfish Apogon fleurieu


The flower cardinalfish are nocturnal feeders , feeding mainly on zooplankton and small benthic organisms. During the day they gather in shoals and at night they disperse and feed singly.


During breeding pairs are formed and once the eggs have been laid the male carries the eggs in his mouth until they hatch. During this time the male cannot feed and towards the end of the incubation period the males become quite skinny making the protruding mouth more noticeable. This can result in cannibalism with the male eating some of the eggs.


Flower Cardinalfish Apogon fleurieu



Flower cardinals are not commonly kept in aquariums, but several other species of cardinals are and there is no reason that they could not be kept.

Flower Cardinalfish Apogon fleurieu


Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Apogonidae
Genus: Apogon
Species Apogon fleurieu


The Reef Guide fishes, corals, nudibranchs & other invertebrates
East and South Coasts of Southern Africa
Dennis King & Valda Fraser



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