Cook's Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus cookii (Macleay 1881)

Other Names: Cook's Soldierfish, Cook's Soldier-fish

Cook's Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus cookii, in the Dampier Marine Park, Western Australia. Source: Rick Stuart-Smith / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution

A cardinalfish with 5-6 yellowish-brown to dark brown stripes, including an incomplete stripe from the upper rear corner of the eye to below the second-dorsal fin, the midlateral stripe ending in a distinct black spot on the tail base.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Ostorhinchus cookii in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Cook's Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus cookii (Macleay 1881)

More Info


Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia, and Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island in the Timor Sea, around the tropical north to the Great Barrier Reef and reefs in the Coral Sea, Queensland, and south to the Solitary Islands, New South Wales. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west Pacific: Red Sea and East Africa east to the Philippines, north to southern Japan, and south to Queensland and New Caledonia.
Nocturnal, shelters beneath ledges on rocky and coral reefs during the day.


Dorsal fin VII + I, 9; Anal fin II, 8; Pectoral fin 14; Pelvic fin  I, 5; Lateral line (pored scales) 24; Predorsal scales 3-4; Circumpeduncular scales 12; Gill rakers (total) 18-20, developed rakers 12-13.
Greatest depth of body 2.5-2.8 in SL.

Similar Species

The similar Pearly-line Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus taeniophorus, lacks a spot on the tail base, and has a shorter stripe behind the upper rear of the eye. While, the Broadstripe Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus angustatus, has a black spot on the tail base, but lacks a short stripe behind the upper rear of the eye.


The species is presumably named in honour of Captain James Cook, who named the Endeavour River, Queensland (the type locality) when his ship, the HMS Endeavour, was repaired there after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef in 1770.

Species Citation

Apogon cookii Macleay 1881, Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 5(3): 344. Type locality: Endeavour River and Erub [Darnley Island], Queensland.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Cook's Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus cookii (Macleay 1881)


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

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. 

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp. 

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. 

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

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

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. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp. 

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 

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 

Macleay, W.J. 1881. Descriptive catalogue of the fishes of Australia. Part 1. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 1 5(3): 302-444 See ref at BHL

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp. 

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37327050

Biology:Mouth brooder (males)

Depth:1-10 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:10 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map