Thursday, January 28, 2010

Banggai cardinal fish

The Banggai Cardinal Fish, sometimes referred to as Kaudern's Cardinal Fish is a remarkable looking specimen having a silver body with vertical black stripes. The Banggai cardinal is a truly wonderful fish for the marine aquarium; so much so that it has been overfished to the point of possible extinction in the wild. It's body is covered in small white spots that are more easily seen on the dorsal, pelvic, anal and caudal fins. It is interesting to note that these Cardinal Fish are only found in a rather small area around Banggai Island off Sulawesi. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest marine fish to get to spawn, and raising the babies is a fairly easy task. This fish is very close to being placed on the endangered species list because of over collection. Before you purchase this fish, ask the retailer where they come from. If they say that is was wild caught, please don't buy them. Only buy captive raised or aquacultured specimens. The babies are brooded in the mouth of the male for a month or so, and when released they are perfect little miniatures of the parents, able to take enriched live brine shrimp from the moment they are released. In the wild the babies are released into, and hide among the spines of the long-spined sea urchin. Giving them the same cover in the aquarium greatly increases their chance of survival. Doing so will help those wanting and willing to aqua culture this species and we definitely want to reward these breeders. Another benefit from getting captive raised Banggai Cardinals is that they usually acclimate much easier than wild caught fish.
The good news is that these little guys are one of the easier saltwater species to breed. The males are mouth brooders which should increase the chances of successfully raising the young. The difficult part is figuring out if you have a pair. You may only be able to accurately tell once they've paired off. If you're really interested in breeding this fish and you have the appropriate equipment and tank setups you can buy a group of 3 and see if 2 of the 3 start to pair off. If they do, you may also notice them going after the third cardinal fish. If this happens and they are in a smaller tank, you will need to remove the third before it is hassled to death.

If they end up breeding you may notice that the mouth on the male will be bulging at the jawline and they aren't eating anything. They won't even go after their favorite foods! The male will mouth brood the fish and then release them after 20 days or slightly longer.

Take your time when acclimating these cardinal fish to your tank water. Once introduced they may hide out for a day or two but should come out once food hits the water. Give them lots of security by providing hiding places (think live rock) and they may be out in the open more.
Feeding them can be challenging when first introduced to your tank. They can be quite finicky and will probably not go after flakes or pellet foods. You may need to start with frozen or live fish food and then try to get them onto vitamin enriched flake foods. Aqua cultured specimens should be a little easier to feed.

You may be able to keep multiples in the same tank if it is sufficiently large enough. If you cramp multiples into a smaller tank you will probably see aggression among them, especially once a pair has formed.

Banggai cardinal fish seem to be fairly disease resistant but you still need to take proper pre-cautions and use a quarantine tank before introducing them into your main tank. Keeping them in quarantine can also give you a chance to get them eating without any competition from others.

The Banggai cardinal is a very peaceful fish, and needs to be kept with other nonaggressive fish. Doing just fine in a reef tank, this fish will not bother any invertebrates or corals. The fish can be kept in groups if the tank is large enough. Normally a pair will form and break off from the group. However, the pair may also make life miserable for their brethren, especially once they spawn and the male is carrying eggs. Feeding the Banggai is easy, as it will take any kind of meaty food as it drops through the water column. Make sure the fish gets enough to eat. Males carrying babies do not eat for the entire incubation period, and it is a good idea to isolate brooding males.

Species Name: Pterapogon kauderni

Synonym: Pterapogon kauderni

Common Names: Banggai cardinal fish

Family: Apogonidae (Cardinalfishes)

Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)

Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned Fishes)

Max. Size: 8.0 cm / 3.1 inches

Environment: Marine reef

Origin: Western Central Pacific

Temperament: Harmless

Company: Pterapogon kauderni (Banggai cardinal fish) is suitable in a reef tank.

Aquarium Setup: Pterapogon kauderni (Banggai cardinal fish) must be given a dark shelter to hide under during the day. They are nocturnal bottomfeeders by nature. Banggai cardinal fish appricieates low temperatures, but 72-78 degrees F. is not a problem. Keep levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate as close to zero as possible, even though Banggai cardinal fish usually can edure a few tens of ppm of nitrate. Brisk filtration is usually necessary.

Food: Pterapogon kauderni (Banggai cardinal fish) eats benth crustaceans, zoobenthos, small fish and mobile invertebrates. In aquariums, they will happily eat shrimp, small fishes and other fresh and frozen meaty foods. You can also train your Banggai cardinal fish to eat frozen processed foods. Dry prepared foods, such as pellets and flakes, will not be able to sustain a Pterapogon kauderni (Banggai cardinal fish).