Fragile Cardinalfish, Zoramia viridiventer (Greenfield, Langston & Randall 2005)

Fragile Cardinalfish, Zoramia viridiventer, at Palfrey Island, Lizard Island Group, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Source: Anne Hoggett / Lizard Island Research Station. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

A semi-transparent silvery cardinalfish with scattered blue spots often on the head and anterior body, a small black spot on the caudal peduncle, a faint dusky band sometimes on the side of snout, and often blackish tips on one or both caudal-fin lobes.
In Australia, this species has been misidentified as Zoramia fragilis.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2016, Zoramia viridiventer in Fishes of Australia, accessed 08 Dec 2022,

Fragile Cardinalfish, Zoramia viridiventer (Greenfield, Langston & Randall 2005)

More Info


Offshore reefs of north Western Australia, Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island, Timor Sea, and the Northern Great Barrier Reef, to the Capricorn Group, Queensland.
Aggregates among branching corals in sheltered lagoons or bays.


Dorsal fin VI-I,9; Anal fin II,9; Pectoral fin 14; Pelvic fin I,5; Principal caudal-fin rays 17, upper and lower unbranched; Lateral-line scales to caudal-fin base 24 (plus one smaller pored scale extending onto base of fin); two near-equal scales above lateral line to base of first two dorsal-fin spines, followed by a series of large scales in a single row below remaining spines and second dorsal fin, these scales overlapping all but narrow upper part of scales below; scales below lateral line to origin of anal fin 5; predorsal scales 6; circumpeduncular scales 12; total gill rakers on first gill arch 6 + 26 (6–7 + 24–27). 
Body depth 2.6 (2.55–3.3) in SL (specimens less than about 34 mm progressively more slender); body very compressed, the width 2.8 (2.65–2.8) in body depth; head length 2.55 (2.4–2.55) in SL; dorsal profile of head straight; snout length 3.9 (3.95–4.2) in head length; orbit diameter 2.65 (2.6–2.8) in head length; bony interorbital width 4.45 (4.1–4.65) in head length; caudal-peduncle depth 2.4 (2.5–2.75) in head length; caudal-peduncle length 1.6 (1.55–1.7) in head length. Mouth very oblique, forming an angle of about 50° to horizontal axis of head, the lower jaw strongly projecting; maxilla extending to below center of eye, the upper-jaw length 2.25 (2.2–2.4) in head length; posterior end of maxilla with a distinct angular notch; dentition as in the genus. Tongue narrowly triangular with rounded tip, the upper surface with small papillae. Gill rakers well developed, the longest on lower limb nearly half orbit diameter in length. Anterior nostril a small, short, membranous tube on side of snout, slightly more than half distance from fleshy edge of orbit to median anterior point of upper lip; posterior nostril a narrow elliptical opening at level of upper edge of pupil, its length about one-fourth pupil diameter. Suborbital margin smooth, ending below center of eye; preopercular ridge slightly irregular, but without serrae; posterior three-fourths of ventral edge of preopercle and ventral half of posterior edge finely serrate. Origin of dorsal fin over third to fourth lateral-line scales, the predorsal length 2.4 (2.4–2.5) in SL; first dorsal-fin spine 3.9 (3.45–4.05) in head length; second or third dorsal-fin spines longest, 1.9 (1.85–2.15) in head length; spine of second dorsal fin 2.3 (2.35–2.5) in head length; first dorsal soft ray longest (second ray nearly as long), 1.5 (1.45–1.5) in head length; first anal-fin spine very short, 7.75 (7.1–8.4) in head length; second anal-fin spine 2.8 (2.5–3.0) in head length; first anal soft ray longest (second ray nearly as long), 1.75 (1.45–1.8) in head length; caudal fin 3.1 (2.9–3.1) in SL; caudal concavity 3.05 (3.0–3.15) in head length; pectoral fins 1.5 (1.5–1.6) in head length, the third or fourth rays longest; pelvic fins reaching or extending slightly beyond anus, the first or second soft rays longest, 1.75 (1.65–1.85) in head length (Greenfield et al. 2005).


Body with a small black spot mid-posteriorly on the caudal peduncle, one-half pupil diameter or more in size; a faint broad dusky band on side of snout directly before eye; some specimens with a faint dusky line at base of dorsal fins; tips of one or both caudal lobes often blackish.

Similar Species

Zoramia viridiventer differs from Z. leptacantha by having a black spot on the caudal peduncle, and in lacking the dark line on the back from the origin of the first dorsal fin onto the caudal peduncle.
Z. viridiventer differs from Z. perlita in lacking dark lines just above the insertion of some of the anal-fin rays. 
Z. viridiventer differs from Z. gilberti in lacking either a dark spot on the gill cover.


The specific name viridiventer is from the Latin 'viridis' for green and 'venter' for abdomen, in reference the green coloration usually present in the abdomen.


Bray, D.J. 2016


Australian Faunal Directory

Fragile Cardinalfish, Zoramia viridiventer (Greenfield, Langston & Randall 2005)


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. 

Fraser, T.H. & Lachner, E.A. 1985. A revision of the cardinalfish subgenera Pristiapogon and Zoramia (genus Apogon) of the Indo-Pacific region (Teleostei: Apogonidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 412: 1-47.

Greenfield, D.W., Langston, R.C. & Randall, J.E. 2005. Two new cardinalfishes of the Indo-Pacific fish genus Zoramia (Apogonidae). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 56(33): 625-637.

Hutchins, J.B., Williams, D.McB., Newman, S.J., Cappo, M. & Speare, P. 1995. New records of fishes for the Rowley Shoals and Scott/Seringapatam Reefs, off north-western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 17: 119-123.

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., 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. 1983. Annotated checklist of the coral reef fishes in the Capricorn-Bunker group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Special Publication Series 1: 1-184.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37327058

Biology:Mouth brooders (males)

Depth:1-15 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:5.7 cm TL

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