Moluccan Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus monospilus (Fraser, Randall & Allen 2002)

Other Names: Moluccen Cardinal, Moluccen Cardinalfish, Yelloweyed Cardinalfish

A Moluccan Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus monospilus, in Chwoder Bay, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, May 2020. Source: John Sear / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A silvery to brown or reddish-brown cardinalfish with a distinct white spot behind the rear of the dorsal fin, often a broad dusky mid-lateral stripe, with a narrower partial stripe above, brown and whitish stripes on the head, and a yellow iris. At night, this species lacks the stripes along the side.
In Australia, this species has long been confused with Ostorhinchus moluccensis, which occurs in Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.

Video of a Moluccan Cardinalfish being engulfed by a Whitemargin Stargazer.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Ostorhinchus monospilus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 13 Jul 2024,

Moluccan Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus monospilus (Fraser, Randall & Allen 2002)

More Info


Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, north to offshore reefs in the Timor Sea, and the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, with individuals as far south as Sydney, New South Wales. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, west Pacific: Indonesia, Philippines, Australia. Often inhabits deeper reefs.


Dorsal fin VI + I, 9; Anal fin II, 8; Pectoral fin 13-14; Principal caudal-fin rays 9+8;  Vertebrae 10+14=24: Gill rakers 26-28 rudiments, and 19-21 developed gill rakers on the lower limb; Lateral line (pored scales) 24; Transverse scale rows above lateral line 2; Transverse scale rows below lateral line 6; Median predorsal scales (median) 3-4


Roof of mouth and parts of gill arches darkish.

Similar Species

Differs from Ostorhinchus moluccensis in lacking dark vertical bars on the sides of  juveniles and adults, along with a number of other characteristics.


The specific name monospilus is from the Greek mono (= one) and spilos (spot) in reference to the single white spot behind the rear of the dorsal fin.

Species Citation

Apogon monospilus Fraser, Randall & Allen 2002, Raffles Bull. Zool. 50(1): 182, fig. 1A-C. Type locality: Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Philippines, 20 m. 


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Moluccan Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus monospilus (Fraser, Randall & Allen 2002)


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

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

Allen, G.R., Kuiter, R.H. & Randall, J.E. 1994. Descriptions of five new species of cardinalfishes (Apogonidae: Apogon) from Maumere Bay, Flores, Indonesia and surrounding regions. Rev. Fr. Aquariol. 21(1-2): 27-38. (as Apogon moluccensis)

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. (as Apogon moluccensis)

Fraser, T.H., Randall, J.E. & Allen, G.R. 2002. Clarification of the cardinalfishes (Apogonidae) previously confused with Apogon moluccensis Valenciennes, with a description of a related new species. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 50(1): 175-184. See ref online, open access

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

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6 (as Apogon moluccensis)

Kuiter, R.H. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls. (as Apogon moluccensis)

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

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp. (as Apogon moluccensis)

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

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. (as Apogon moluccensis)

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 moluccensis)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37327067

Biology:Mouth brooder (males)

Depth:2-41 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:8 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map