Fiveline Cardinalfish (species: Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus
Fiveline Cardinalfish

©Rick Stuart-Smith: Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus, Lizard Island area.

©Lyle Vail: Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus at Osprey Islet, Lizard Island.

©Andy Lewis: An adult Fiveline Cardinalfish showing the yellow tail spot and thick black lines
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Apogonidae
Genus Cheilodipterus
Species Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus



Distinguishing features

A small greyish white fish with five dark horizontal stripes, a yellow patch near the tail, and a black blotch near the tail that aligns with the middle stripe. Usually seen in loose groups near branching coral.


  • Up to 12 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.


Similar taxa


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Areas of live branching coral (usually staghorn Acropora).

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 branching staghorn corals. 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


  • Abdulla, A. (2004). Predator-prey interactions in coral reef fish: the implications of predation risk on the behaviour and growth of prey, Ph.D. thesis, James Cook University. LIRS catalog number 1296.
  • Barnett, A. (2004). The trophic and reproductive implications of mouthbrooding in apogonid fishes, Honours thesis, James Cook University. LIRS catalog number 946.
  • Barnett, A. and D.R. Bellwood (2005). Sexual dimorphism in the buccal cavity of paternal mouthbrooding cardinalfishes (Pisces: Apogonidae), Marine Biology, 148: 205-212. LIRS catalog number 1021.
  • View all references