Ruby Cardinalfish, Apogon crassiceps Garman 1903

Other Names: Little Red Cardinalfish, Transparent Cardinalfish

A Ruby Cardinalfish, Apogon crassiceps, on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, March 2020. Source: Glen Whisson / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

A small semi-transparent reddish cardinalfish with a narrow midlateral stripe, brown mottling on each scale, and sometimes dark pigment on the upper sides. This species has a single large full row of scales between the lateral line and the dorsal-fin base.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Apogon crassiceps in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2020,

Ruby Cardinalfish, Apogon crassiceps Garman 1903

More Info


Houtman Abrolhos, and offshore reefs of north Western Australia, Ashmore and Cartier Islands in the Timor Sea, to Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, including reefs in the Coral Sea; also Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, west Pacific.
Inhabits coastal and offshore reefs, sheltering in caves during the day. 


Dorsal fin VI + I, 9; Anal fin II, 8; Pectoral fin 12-14; Pelvic fin I,5; Pored lateral line scales 24; Predorsal scales 5-6; a single large scale between first dorsal fin and lateral line 1; Circumpeduncular scales 12; Gill rakers (total) 15-16, developed gill rakers 8-9.
Body oblong, moderately deep, compressed; snout relatively blunt; posterior margin of preopercle serrated. No enlarged caninoid teeth on jaws. Lateral line well developed, extending to caudal-fin base. Base of anal fin subequal in length to base of second dorsal fin; caudal fin emarginate.


The specific name crassiceps is from the Latin crassus, (= thick) and ceps (= head) in reference to the “large, thick” head of this species.

Species Citation

Apogon crassiceps Garman, 1903, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 39(8): 230. Type locality:  Suva Reef, Viti Levu, Fiji Islands.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Ruby Cardinalfish, Apogon crassiceps Garman 1903


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. (p. 104 as Apogon coccineus)

Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454. (p. 397 as Apogon coccineus)

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

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.

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.

Choat, J.H., van Herwerden, L., Robbins, W.D., Hobbs, J.P. & Ayling, A.M. 2006. A report on the ecological surveys undertaken at Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs, February 2006. Report by James Cook University to the Department of the Environment and Heritage. 65 pp.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170.

Garman, S. 1903. Some fishes from Australasia. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard 39(8): 229-241 pls 1-5 See ref at BHL

Gill, A.C. & Reader, S.E. 1992. Fishes. pp. 90-93, 193-228 in Hutchings, P. (ed.) Reef Biology. A Survey of Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, South Pacific. Canberra : Australian National Parks Vol. 3, Kowari 230 pp.

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S.J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Checklist and new records of Christmas Island fishes: the influence of isolation, biogeography and habitat availability on species abundance and community composition. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 184–202 See ref online

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S .J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Fishes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands: new records, community composition and biogeographic significance. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 203–219 See ref online

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. (p. 161 as Apogon coccineus)

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.

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. (p. 546 as Apogon coccineus)

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 figs 1-2 (as Apogon talboti)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37327051

Biology:Mouth brooder (males)

Depth:1-20 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:5 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map