Black Cardinalfish (species: Apogonichthyoides melas) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Apogonichthyoides melas
Black Cardinalfish

©Isla Davidson: Apogonichthyoides melas in the Lizard Island lagoon. Note the large dorsal and anal fins. Tail lobes also rounded but not visible in this photo. This specimen is probably a juvenile. It lacks a large ocellated spot on the second dorsal fin that is present in adults.

©Makeely Blandford: Apogonichthyoides melas about 3 cm long and less than 2 months old, caught in a light trap at Lizard Island and raised in aquarium.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Apogonidae
Genus Apogonichthyoides
Species Apogonichthyoides melas



Distinguishing features

A nocturnal fish that hides in dark crevices during the day. Found in shallow, well-sheltered areas. The dorsal, pelvic and anal fins are distinctively elongate and rounded. Adult forms can have an ocellus on the 2nd dorsal fin-base and indistinct broad bars on the body; neither of these features are present in the juvenile (pictured), which is dark brown/black all over. (Contributed by Tim Gordon)


  • Size data has not been obtained.

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Local abundance

  • Lizard Island: Rarely seen, cryptic

Web resources


  • Luehrmann, M. (2018). Colour vision diversity in coral reef fishes: Cardinalfish (Apogonidae). PhD thesis, University of Queensland. LIRS catalog number 2325.
  • Luehrmann, M., F. Cortesi, K.L. Cheney, F. de Busseroles and N.J. Marshall (2020). Microhabitat partitioning correlates with opsin gene expression in coral reef cardinalfishes (Apogonidae). Functional Ecology, 34: 1041-1052. LIRS catalog number 2448.