Samoan Cardinalfish, Foa fo Jordan & Seale 1905

Other Names: Fo Cardinalfish, Samoan Fo, Weedy Cardinalfish

A Samoan Cardinalfish, Foa fo, on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, August 2018. Source: Glen Whisson / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial


A small mottled brownish cardinalfish with 5 indistinct bars on the body, a whitish spot at the pectoral-fin axil, a whitish spot behind the soft dorsal-fin base, 3 whitish spots at the caudal-fin base, and darkish banding on the second dorsal, anal fin and caudal fins.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Foa fo in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 Sep 2022,

Samoan Cardinalfish, Foa fo Jordan & Seale 1905

More Info


North West Cape and Scott Reef, Western Australia, to Sydney, New South Wales. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical west Pacific. 
Usually nocturnal, inhabiting open muddy or silty rubble areas with algae-rock outcrops or isolated soft corals in sheltered coastal bays; known to enter estuaries.


Dorsal fin VIII + I, 9; Anal fin II, 8; Lateral line 8-12 pored scales; Gill rakers (incl rudiments) 13-15; Vertebrae 24.


Body mottled brownish with 5 darker irregular bars, the first anterior to origin of first dorsal fin, the second bar from posterior half of first dorsal fin through posterior half of pelvic fin, the third narrow bar between soft dorsal and soft anal fins, the fourth on caudal peduncle, and the fifth at base of caudal fin; body scale margins uniform to pale edging; axil of pectoral fin with a whitish spot; 3 whitish basicaudal spots partially in darkish basicaudal bar; whitish spot behind posterior base of soft dorsal fin; second dorsal fin, anal fin and caudal fin pale with darkish banding.


Fish name trivia: Just five letters long, Foa fo, the Samoan Cardinalfish, is the shortest name of any valid species of Recent fish. (Fish Name Etymology Database © Christopher Scharpf and Kenneth J. Lazara The ETYFish Project)


Both Foa and fo are derived from fō, the Samoan name for cardinal fishes (Apogonidae). The genus name Foa, is a latinization of fō.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Samoan Cardinalfish, Foa fo Jordan & Seale 1905


Allen, G.R. 1993. Fishes of Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 44: 67-91.

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

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

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Fraser, T.H. & Randall, J.E. 2011. Two new species of Foa (Apogonidae) from the Pacific Plate, with redescriptions of Foa brachygramma and Foa fo. Zootaxa 2988: 1-27.

Hutchins, B. 2004. Fishes of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 66: 343–398.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Jordan, D.S. & Seale, A. 1905. List of fishes collected by Dr Bashford Dean on the island of Negros, Philippines. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 28(1407): 769-803 figs 1-20

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. & Kozawa, T. 2019. Cardinalfishes of the World. 2nd Ed. Aquatic Photographics, Seaford Australia and Anthis (Nexus), Aichi, Japan, 198 pp.

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293.

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.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

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.

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.

Russell, B.C., Larson, H.K., Hutchins, J.B. & Allen, G.R. 2005. Reef fishes of the Sahul Shelf. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory Supplement 1 2005: 83-105

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37327095

Behaviour:3.5 cm SL

Habitat:Silty, muddy bottoms

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