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:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Nectamia fusca in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 Mar 2023,

Ghost Cardinalfish, Nectamia fusca (Quoy & Gaimard 1825)

More Info


Jurien Bay to the Institut Islands in the Kimberley, including offshore islands, Western Australia, Ashmore and Cartier reefs in the Timor Sea, and the far Northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, and reefs in the Coral Sea, to the Solitary Islands, New South Wales; also Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere, the species occurs in the Indo-west-central Pacific: Red Sea, Madagascar and Maldives east to Line and Tuamotu islands, north to Ryukyu Islands, south to northern Australia and New Caledonia..
Inhabits reef flats, shallow lagoons and sheltered reef slopes, hiding during the day within Acropora thickets, other corals, holes and crevices.

Species Citation

Apogon fuscus Quoy & Gaimard 1825, Voyage Autour du Monde... Vol. 1: 345. Type locality: Guam (neotype).


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

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.

Garman, S. 1903. Some fishes from Australasia. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard 39(8): 229-241 pls 1-5 (described as Apogon nubilus)

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.

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

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

Marnane, M.J. & Bellwood, D.R. 2002. Diet and norturnal foraging in cardinalfishes (Apogonidae) at One Tree Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series 231: 261-268. doi:10.3354/meps231261 (as Apogon guamensis)

Quoy, J.R.C. & Gaimard, J.P. 1824-25. Freycinet, L.C.D. de (ed.) Voyage Autour du Monde, entrepris par orde du Roi, sous le Ministère et conformément aux instructions de S. Exc. M. le Vicomte de Boucharge, secrétaire d'État au Département de la Marine exécuté sur les corvettes de S.M. l'Uranie et la Physicienne, pendent les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820; publié sous les auspices de S.E.M. le Conte Corbière, secrétaire d'État de l'Intérieur, pour la partie historique et les sciences naturelles, et de S.E.M. le Marquis de Clermont-Tonnerre, Secrétaire d'État de la Marine et des Colonies, pour la partie nautique; par M. Louis Freycinet, etc. Paris : Pillet Aîné Vol. 1 + atlas iv 712 pp. See ref at BHL

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:1-20 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:11 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map