Ghost Cardinalfish, Nectamia fusca (Quoy & Gaimard 1825)

Other Names: Dusky Cardinal, Dusky Cardinalfish, Guam Cardinalfish, Pearl Cardinalfish, Three-saddled Cardinalfish

A Ghost Cardinalfish, Nectamia fusca, at Onna, Okinawa, Japan, February 2014. Source: Patrick Randall / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A bronze to brownish cardinalfish with a uniquely narrow diagonal dark bar on the cheek and juveniles with a well-developed spot on the caudal peduncle that becomes indistinct in adults. The species also has a yellowish iris with a white inner ring, pale second dorsal, pectoral, pelvic, anal and caudal fins, sometimes a few faint pale bars on body, and no dark margins on the caudal-fin lobes.

Cite this page as:
Nectamia fusca in Fishes of Australia, accessed 12 Nov 2019,

Ghost Cardinalfish, Nectamia fusca (Quoy & Gaimard 1825)

More Info


Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, Ashmore and Cartier reefs in the Timor Sea, northern Great Barrier Reef to One Tree Island, Queensland, and reefs in the Coral Sea.
Elsewhere, the species occurs in the Indo-west-central Pacific from the Red Sea, Indian Ocean (except the Seychelles, Chagos Archipelago, Cargados Carajos, Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues) eastwards throughout the West Pacific to the Tonga Islands, Samoa, Phoenix and Marshall Islands, north the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, and south to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.


Australian Faunal Directory

Ghost Cardinalfish, Nectamia fusca (Quoy & Gaimard 1825)


Allen, G.R. 1993. Cardinalfishes (Apogonidae) of Madang Province, Papua New Guinea, with descriptions of three new species. Rev. Fr. Aquariol. 20(1): 9-20. (as Apogon guamensis & A. fuscus)

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Gon, O. 2010. Nectamia fusca. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T158626A5242735. Downloaded on 15 February 2016.

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21. (as Apogon guamensis)

Barnett, A. & Bellwood, D.R. 2005. Sexual dimorphism in the buccal cavity of paternal mouthbrooding cardinalfishes (Pisces: Apogonidae). Marine Biology 148: 205-212.

Barnett, A., Bellwood, D.R. & Hoey, A.S. 2006. Trophic ecomorphology of cardinalfish. Marine Ecology Progress Series 322: 249-257.

Fraser, T.H. 2008. Cardinalfishes of the genus Nectamia (Apogonidae, Perciformes) from the Indo-Pacific region with descriptions of four new species. Zootaxa 1691: 1-52. Abstract
Fraser, T.H., Randall, J.E. & Lachner, E.A. 1999. A review of the Red Sea cardinalfishes of the Apogon bandanensis complex, with a description of a new species. Special Publication J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology 63: 1-13.

Gon, O. & Randall, J.E. 2003. A review of the cardinalfishes (Perciformes: Apogonidae) of the Red Sea. Smithiana Bulletin 1: 1-47.

Hoey, A.S., Bellwood, D.R. & Barnett, A. 2011. To feed or to breed: the morphological constraints of mouthbrooding. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.2769.

Mabuchi, K., Fraser, T.H., Song, H., Azuma, Y. & Nishida, M. 2014. Revision of the systematics of the cardinalfishes (Percomorpha: Apogonidae) based on molecular analyses and comparative reevaluation of morphological characters. Zootaxa 3846(2): 151–203. PDF Open access

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. (as Apogon guamensis)

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs. (as Apogon guamensis)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37327061

Biology:Mouth brooders (males)

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-10 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:11 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map