Pinkbreast Siphonfish, Siphamia roseigaster (Ogilby 1886)

Other Names: Pink-breasted Siphonfish, Pink-breasted Siphon-fish, Silver Siphonfish

A Pinkbreast Siphonfish, Siphamia roseigaster, at Clifton Gardens, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, April 2022. Source: Erik Schlogl / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A pale silvery brown siphonfish often with a rosy hue, a prominent silver light organ along the lower surface, and often submarginal black bands on the dorsal and anal fins.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Siphamia roseigaster in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024,

Pinkbreast Siphonfish, Siphamia roseigaster (Ogilby 1886)

More Info


Kalumburu, Kimberley region, Western Australia (and possibly further south to the Pilbara, WA), to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and Proserpine, Queensland, to Bass Point, Shellcove, New South Wales. Elsewhere the species occurs in the Torres Strait, Papua New Guinea.
Inhabits sandy, muddy and rocky areas in estuaries and sheltered bays.



Ramsay & Ogilby (1887) note that 'All the examples examined during the latter half of October and the earlier half of  November were spawning, the milt or ova running freely from them on the slightest pressure.'


The similar Wood's Siphonfish, Siphamia cephalotes, harbours bioluminescent bacteria in two areas. One in the familiar disc-like, bacteria-harboring gland and paired elongate ventral bioluminescent reflectors, typical for this genus, that merge and end below the gill region. The second and more anterior site features two sacs that originate in the throat and protrude into the mouth, via the free space left by the laterally notched tongue. The bacteria live within the tips of these luminous sacs and the light diffuses within the mouth of the fish. The surface of the tongue is unique among cardinal fishes, being criss-crossed anteriorly by protruding dermal ridges, rich in taste buds and mucus-producing cells. It would appear that at night when feeding, the luminous mouth cavity of these fish acts as a lure to attract the small prey, while the ridged structure of the tongues surface facilitates their collection and aggregation before they are swallowed (Fishelson et al. 2005).

The Pinkbreast Siphonfish also has a light organ inside the mouth. Ogilby (1887) drew attention to 'the curious black lobe on each side of the tongue'.

Similar Species

The more slender Wood's Siphonfish, Siphamia cephalotes, differs in having 15-18 developed gill rakers on the first arch (vs. 13-15 developed gill rakers), fewer second dorsal-fin rays (7-9 vs. 9-11). The Pinkbreast Siphonfish also lacks palatine teeth (present in S. cephalotes).


The specfic name is from the Latin roseus (= rosy) and the Greek gaster (= belly), in reference to 'roseate' lower part of the body.

Species Citation

Apogon roseigaster Ogilby 1886, Abstracts of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1886: viii. Type locality: Parramatta River, New South Wales.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Pinkbreast Siphonfish, Siphamia roseigaster (Ogilby 1886)


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

Allen, G.R. 1999. Apogonidae. pp. 2602-2610 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 pp. 2069-2790.

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.

Blaber, S.J.M., Brewer, D.T. & Harris, A.N. 1994. Distribution, biomass and community structure of demersal fishes of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 45(3): 375-396,

Fishelson, L., Gon, O., Goren, M. & Ben-David-Zaslow, R. 2005. The oral cavity and bioluminescent organs of the cardinal fish species Siphamia permutata and S. cephalotes (Perciformes, Apogonidae). Marine Biology. 147: 603-609. 

Fraser, T.H. & Prokofiev, A.M. 2016. A new genus and species of cardinalfish (Percomorpha, Apogonidae, Sphaeramiini) from the coastal waters of Vietnam: luminescent or not? Zootaxa 4144(2): 227–242.

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.

Gon, O. & Allen, G.R. 2012. Revision of the Indo-Pacific cardinalfish genus Siphamia (Perciformes: Apogonidae). Zootaxa 3294: 1-84,

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)

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. New Edition. Seaford, Victoria: Aquatic Photographics, and Okazaki, Aichi: Anthias (Nexus), 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 

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 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,

McCulloch, A.R. 1921. Studies in Australian fishes, No. 7. Records of the Australian Museum 13(4): 123-142 pls 21-24, DOI 10.3853/j.0067-1975.13.1921.863 (as Adenapogon roseigaster)

Ogilby, J.D. 1886. Exhibition of Apogon (Apogonichthys) roseigaster sp. nov. Abstracts of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1886: viii

Ramsay, E.P. & Ogilby, J.D. 1887. Description of a new Australian Fish. Notes from the Australian Museum. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 2 1: 1101-1102 See ref at BHL

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37327017

Biology:Bioluminescent, mouth brooder (males)

Depth:1-73 m

Habitat:Sandy, muddy, rocky areas

Max Size:7.5 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map