News / Species Spotlight / Aquacultured Banggai Cardinals (06/29/15)

Aquacultured Banggai Cardinals

Banggai Cardinals - Pterapogon kauderni

What makes Banggai Cardinals so special? They are only naturally found near one chain of islands in Indonesia, the Banggai Archipelago. They boast a striking coloration and blend in well when hiding amongst the protective black spines of Long Spine Urchins. They peacefully establish schools, interact with their environment, and are one of the easier fish for hobbyists to successfully breed in captivity.

Why Aquacultured?

The limited distribution, small brood sizes, and longer population doubling time of Banggai cardinals makes them a species that is vulnerable to overharvest. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of one of our suppliers, we can now offer a dependable line of aquacultured Banggai Cardinalfish, thereby reducing the pressure on the wild resource. Whats more is that like other aquacultured fish, these are conditioned to getting food from people, making them friendlier. They are also accustomed to captive aquarium conditions, making them much hardier than their wild counterparts. Keep in mind that these aquacultured specimens will be smaller on average than wild caught fish.


As a species, Banggai Cardinals are sensitive to shifts of salinity and pH. Because of this we acclimate them very slowly here, and would advise you to do the same. Remove about 25% of the water from the bag the fish are shipped in, then slowly drip your system water into the bag. Repeat this process 2 more times. This allows a nice slow change of water parameters for the fish, making their transition to your tank much less stressful. When you have the option, always acclimate fish in low light.

Captive Care:

The Aquacultured Banggai Cardinalfish will thrive in many different types and sizes of tanks, but is especially well suited for small aquaria. Three to five of these are ideal for nano sized saltwater aquaria (5 20) gallon tank with other (mostly) peaceful inhabitants. They can be kept in reasonably large groups in larger aquaria; somewhere between 12 and 15 works quite well. For best results, try a display designed specifically for Cardinalfish. If you house them with other fish, choose fish with a peaceful demeanor.

In the wild, these fish live in large schools over seagrass beds, amongst mangrove roots, near anemones and most frequently near long spine sea urchins. Keep this in mind when planning your display for these animals. None of these types of cover or animals are needed to successfully keep Banggais, but any of them would make a pretty neat and natural looking display.

Captive Breeding:

One of the best reasons to keep at least three Banggai Cardinals is getting them to breed in captivity. Having three gives you a very good chance of getting a male and a female. In a stable, well fed aquarium, females will lay eggs directly into male mouths, and males will incubate eggs until they hatch. They will then mouth brood the juveniles for a while after hatching with each brood having between 7 and 14 offspring.

The cardinals have no planktonic period, and the first time you see the babies, they are nearly fully developed. At this stage, we have great success feeding them Nutramar copepods (Tigrio) until they can be weaned onto a prepared diet. Adults will use Long Spine urchins for safety, but juveniles will benefit the most from having the spines of the urchin as a safe haven from predators. In an aquarium with many other fish, the males will frequently eat the juveniles, and if they dont, the other fish usually will. If you want to maximize your chances of breeding success, limit the number of other fish in the aquarium, and quickly remove the young from the general population, or plan on having a species specific tank.


These fish have been eating pelletized foods for most of their lives. Here we primarily feed them pellets, but we also like to provide a mixture of frozen (thawed) food because a varied diet helps with general vitality of all fish. We will often use enriched brineshrimp, pacific krill, mysis and/or bloodworms. All our fish benefit from multiple feedings per day, and these are no exception. When feeding larger numbers of fish, this is especially important because it gives the less boisterous members of the school more chances to get food. It also helps developing fish grow and it strengthens their immune systems.