Cryptic Cardinalfish, Apogonichthyoides umbratilis Fraser & Allen 2010

A Cryptic cardinalfish, Apogonichthyoides umbratilis, at Darussalam, Brunei, WAM P.330334-001. Source: Gerald R. Allen / FishBase. License: All rights reserved

A small cryptic cardinalfish with a large blackish spot on the first-dorsal fin, five brownish bars along the body and caudal peduncle (two or three dark bars on body and two faint and one dark bar on the caudal peduncle), a broad faint diagonal mark on the cheek, a small dark spot behind the eye near the beginning of the lateral line, and a tiny to small darkish spot above pectoral-fin axil.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Apogonichthyoides umbratilis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 03 Dec 2022,

Cryptic Cardinalfish, Apogonichthyoides umbratilis Fraser & Allen 2010

More Info


Known from the North West Shelf between Port Hedland and Dampier, Western Australia, and Cootamundra Shoal, Northern Territory. Elsewhere the species occurs in the Raja Ampat islands, West Papua, Indonesia, Brunei, Palau and possibly Kagoshima, Japan (Yoshida et al. 2011), mostly in depths below 20 m.
Inhabits rubble, sandy and shelly areas with abundant sponges, gorgonians, soft corals (Fungia and Gonipora) or macroalgae, and minimal hard corals. The Cryptic Cardinalfish is usually found solitary or in pairs in depths of about 10-40 m. During the day individuals shelter between or under rocks and rubble.


Dorsal fin VII + I,9, third and fourth spines thickened; Anal fin II,8; Pectoral fin 14; Pelvic fin I,5; Caudal fin (principal rays) 1+8-7+1; pored lateral-line scales 24; transverse scale rows above lateral line 2, one large, one small; transverse scale rows below lateral line 6; median predorsal scales 3; circumpeduncular scale rows 12 as 5+2+5; total gill rakers and rudiments 14–16, well developed 8–9, upper arch 3+1, lower arch 7-8+3-5; second arch with small tooth patches or low rudiments; Vertebrae 10+14. (Fraser & Allen 2010).


Brownish marks on head and body; no snout stripes; blackish spot in first-dorsal fin; brownish broad cheek mark from eye to ventral arm of preopercle; three brownish marks behind and above eye; brownish bar from base of first-dorsal fin on to side of abdomen behind pectoral fin; faint brownish bar below lateral line to near origin of anal fin; brownish bar from base of second-dorsal fin to base of anal fin; two faint bars on caudal peduncle followed by a brownish basicaudal bar; first-dorsal fin with blackish spot near distal portion of fin between third and fifth spines, whitish to pale regions around spot; second-dorsal fin with faint stripe-like darker area, otherwise with whitish small spots and darkish small spot at posterior base on fin; caudal fin with pale membranes and small brownish marks on the fin rays; anal fin with some whitish and brownish markings without any stripe-like appearance; pelvic fin with brownish broad mid-bar, whitish distally and proximally; pectoral fin pale; iris brownish. (Fraser & Allen 2010).

Similar Species

The Cryptic Cardinalfish may be confused with Apogonichthyoides timorensis and with species of the genus Foa. The lower pectoral fin-ray counts, markings on the head and multiple bars on the body distinguish A. umbratilis from A. timorensis.


The specific name is from the Latin umbratilis (= of the shade, retired or private), in reference to the observed cryptic behaviour of this species.

Species Citation

Apogonichthyoides umbratilis Fraser & Allen 2010, Zootaxa 2348: 45, figs 2–4. Type locality: between Port Hedland and Dampier, Northwest Shelf, WA, 19°39'S 116°22'E. 


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Cryptic Cardinalfish, Apogonichthyoides umbratilis Fraser & Allen 2010


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

Fraser, T.H. & Allen, G.R. 2010. Cardinalfish of the genus Apogonichthyoides Smith, 1949 (Apogonidae) with a description of a new species from the West-Pacific region. Zootaxa 2348: 40-56. Abstract

Fraser, T.H. & Allen, G.R. 2011. A new cardinalfish of the genus Apogonichthyoides (Perciformes, Apogonidae) from Raja Ampat Islands, with a key to species. Zootaxa 3095: 63-68.

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. (p. 145 & 328, as Apogon darnleyensis)

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

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.

Yoshida, T., Aizawa, M. & Motomura, H. 2011. Seven new records of cardinalfishes (Perciformes: Apogonidae) from Yaku-shima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture, southern Japan. Nature of Kagoshima 37: 119-125. (p. 122, Fig. 4, as Apogonichthyoides cf. umbratilis)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37327166

Biology:Mouth brooders (males)

Depth:10-60 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:41 cm SL

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