The Wolf Cardinalfish, Cheilodipterus artus is one of the larger species of Cardinalfish in Tanzanian waters. They can be easily confused with the Tiger Cardinalfish, Cheilodipterus macrodon at a quick glance, but the Tiger Cardinalfish has a white caudal area and the adult Wolf Cardinalfish has a black band in the caudal area. The juvenile Tiger Cardinalfish has a black dot on the white part of the caudal area.
On the juvenile the . There is a black ring around the eyes.
WOLF CARDINALFISH IN THE WILD
The Wolf Cardinalfish are nocturnal feeders and during the day hide in crevices or deep caves. The juveniles are commonly seen out during the day but mature adults are not as common. The juveniles are usually in loose groups often with semi mature specimens. They are sometimes also seen hiding on the edges of thick growths of acropora corals in the company of the Crowned Squirrelfish which also frequent these growths during the day.
The Wolf Cardinalfish is found across the Indian ocean and in the West Pacific up to Southern Japan and down to Australia. They have been found between depths of 6 to 8 meters in Tanzanian waters to date.
The Wolf Cardinalfish are nocturnal feeders , feeding mainly on zooplankton and small benthic organisms. Given their size at 18cm full grown adults may take smaller fishes but this is speculation.
With all Cardinalfish, during breeding pairs are formed and after performing a mating dance, the eggs are laid by the female and fertilized by the male. The male then collects the fertilized eggs and carries the eggs in his mouth until they hatch. During this time the male cannot feed. 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. We have only witnessed the egg laying on one occasion and it seems to occur on nights with a full moon.
Wolf Cardinalfish are probably not commonly kept in aquariums being one of the lesser known species and also possibly predatory on smaller fishes. Some cardinalfish have been bred in captivity by breeders such as Orafarm where they are occasionally available.
Purchasing captive bred fish takes the pressure off of wild populations and if one can do so one should. Most Cardinalfish are reasonably hardy and easy to keep.