Cook's Cardinalfish (species: Ostorhinchus cookii) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Ostorhinchus cookii
Cook's Cardinalfish

©Andy Lewis: An adult Cook's Cardinalfish
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Apogonidae
Genus Ostorhinchus
Species Ostorhinchus cookii



Distinguishing features

A small dark brown fish with a series of silver lines running horizontally along the body. The thick mid-lateral stripe terminates in a black dot at the tail base. Usually singly or in small groups near overhanging ledges and caves.


  • Up to 10 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Ledges and caves in sheltered lagoonal and back-reef habitats.

Found in most sheltered reef habitats around the island.


A nocturnal predator on crustacean zooplankton, these fish rest during the day close to the shelter of caves and holes in the reef. They breed October - February, and the male fish hold the eggs in the mouth for 3-5days until the larvae hatch. Cardinalfishes have very short lifespans, becoming mature at 1 year old and living for only 3-5 years.

Web resources


  • Depczynski, M. (2006). Small cryptic fishes on coral reefs: a new perspective on reef fish ecology and life histories, Ph.D. thesis, James Cook University. LIRS catalog number 1070.
  • Depczynski, M. and D.R. Bellwood (2005). Wave energy and spatial variability in community structure of small cryptic coral reef fishes, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 303: 283-293. LIRS catalog number 932.
  • Doving, K.B., O.B. Stabell, S. Ostlund-Nilsson and R. Fisher (2006). Site fidelity and homing in tropical coral reef cardinalfish: are they using olfactory cues? Chemical Senses, 31: 265-272. LIRS catalog number 990.
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