Deepwater Cardinalfish, Amioides polyacanthus (Vaillant 1877)

Other Names: Deep Cardinalfish

A Deepwater Cardinalfish, Amioides polyacanthus, from Off the coast of Imazato, Yamato Village, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, March 2003. Source: Loyalty / WEB fish picture book ( License: CC BY Attribution

A large silvery grey to bronze deep-water cardinalfish with a short dark-brown midlateral stripe, a yellowish-brown vertical bar on the caudal-fin base, an oblique brown bar below the eye across the cheek, a brown bar on the anterior part of the operculum, and a dark leading edge on the first dorsal fin. The species has sharp canine teeth in both jaws, and 7 spines in the first dorsal fin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Amioides polyacanthus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 Sep 2022,

Deepwater Cardinalfish, Amioides polyacanthus (Vaillant 1877)

More Info


Off the Northern Territory. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical Indo-west Pacific, from Réunion, Comoro Islands, Madagascar and Mascarenes east to Indonesia, north to Taiwan, southern Japan, and south to Vanuatu.
Inhabits deep caves and drop-offs on outer reef slopes.


Dorsal fin VII + I,9-10; Anal fin II,8; Pectoral fin 13-14; Caudal fin, principal rays 9+8, branched rays 8+7; Gill rakers 2+9; Lateral line, pored scales 22-24; Transverse scale rows above lateral line 2; Transverse scale rows below lateral line 6; Median predorsal scales 5–6; Circumpeduncular scale rows 12–14; Vertebrae 10+14.

One or two pairs of anterior retrorse canine teeth near symphysis of dentaries on each side, with a row of spaced 2–3 canines and other slightly enlarged teeth; two large retrorse canine teeth near premaxilla symphysis with band of villiform teeth on sides; one or two large prongs on posterior edge of post-temporal with small serrations along dorsal edge; one supernumerary anal spine; large supramaxilla; scales ctenoid.


Heemstra et al. (2006) report that in the Comoro Islands, the species: '...was often seen in the caves with coelacanths; also reported from the stomach of Latimeria.  Usually solitary, but sometimes seen in pairs or in groups of three to seven fish. The black bar at the base of the tail fin is faint or absent on some fish.'


The specific name polyacanthus is from the Greek poly- (= many, very) and akanthos (= prickly plant), possibly in reference to the canine teeth and spines in the first dorsal fin that differed from species of the genus Cheilodipterus.

Species Citation

Cheilodipterus polyacanthus Vaillant 1877, Bulletin de la Société philomathique de Paris (6th Série) 12: 29. Type locality: Réunion, western Mascarenes, southwestern Indian Ocean.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Deepwater Cardinalfish, Amioides polyacanthus (Vaillant 1877)


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

Fraser, T.H. 2013. Family status of Amioides and the senior synonym of Coranthus (Percomorpha: Apogonidae). Copeia 2013(1): 23-30

Heemstra, P.C., Hissmann, K., Fricke, H., Smale, M.J. & Schauer, J. 2006. Fishes of the deep demersal habitat at Ngazidja (Grand Comoro) Island, Western Indian Ocean : coelacanth research. South African Journal of Science 102(9): 461-465

Kuiter, R.H. & Kozawa, T. 2019. Cardinalfishes of the world. New ed. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics, and Okazaki, Aichi, Japan : Anthias, Nexus: 1-198.

Motomura, H., Alama, U.B., Muto, N., Babaran, R.P. & Ishikawa, S. (eds.) 2017. Commercial and bycatch market fishes of Panay Island, Republic of the Philippines. The Kagoshima University Museum, Kagoshima, University of the Philippines Visayas, Iloilo, and Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto, Japan, 246 pp.

Vaillant, L.L. 1877. Sur une espèce nouvelle du genre Cheilodipterus. Bulletin de la Société philomathique de Paris (6th Série) 12: 27-30

Quick Facts

Depth:70-276 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:22 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map