Fourline Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus doederleini (Jordan & Snyder 1901)

Other Names: Doederlein's Cardinalfish, Four-line Cardinalfish

A Fourline Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus doerderleini, at Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Source: Ian V. Shaw / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution

A pinkish-brown cardinalfish with four dark brown stripes along the head and body, the third stripe not reaching the large black spot on the middle of the caudal peduncle (spot about pupil diameter in size).
This species was previously known as Apogon doederleini.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Ostorhinchus doederleini in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Apr 2024,

Fourline Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus doederleini (Jordan & Snyder 1901)

More Info


Houtman Abrolhos (possibly south to Perth), Western Australia, around the tropical north, to at least Sydney, New South Wales; also the Lord Howe Province and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species has an antitropical distribution in the west Pacific.
Inhabits lagoons and reef slopes, mostly sheltering in caves during the day, at depths to 20 m, emerging to feed at night. Subadults usually occur in groups, and individuals form distinct pairs during courtship and spawning.


Dorsal fin VII + I, 9; anal fin II, 8; Pectoral fin 15; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line (pored scales) 24; Predorsal scales 3; Circumpeduncular scales 12. 


Plankton larval duration is 16–26 days, and the species is very short-lived, attaining maturity in October–January, and having a life span of about one year (Kingsford et al. 2014).


Gerlach et al. (2016) found several genetically distinct but morphologically similar clades of Ostorinchus doederleini on the Great Barrier Reef.


The species is named in honour of German zoologist Ludwig Döderlein (who was connected with the Imperial University at Tokyo) for his “assiduous” work on the fishes of Japan.

Species Citation

Apogon doederleini Jordan & Snyder, 1901, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 23(1240): 901, fig. 6. Type locality: Nagasaki, Japan. 


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Fourline Cardinalfish, Ostorhinchus doederleini (Jordan & Snyder 1901)


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

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 figs 1-2

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 doederleini)

Barnett, A. & Bellwood, D.R. 2005. Sexual dimorphism in the buccal cavity of paternal mouthbrooding cardinalfishes (Pisces: Apogonidae). Marine Biology 148: 205-212. (as Apogon doederleini)

Barnett, A., Bellwood, D.R. & Hoey, A.S. 2006. Trophic ecomorphology of cardinalfish, Marine Ecology Progress Series 322: 249-257. (as Apogon doederleini)

Bottesch, M., Gerlach, G., Halbach, M., Bally, A., Kingsford, M.J. & Mouritsen, H. 2016. A magnetic compass that might help coral reef fish larvae return to their natal reef. Current Biology 26(24): R1266 - R1267

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. (as Apogon doederleini)

Finn, M.D. & Kingsford, M.J. 1996. Two-phase recruitment of apogonids (Pisces) on the Great Barrier Reef. Marine and Freshwater Research 47: 423–432. (as Apogon doederleini)   

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2 (as Apogon doederleini)  

Francis, M.P. 2019. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Version: 2019.1

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. (as Apogon doederleini

Gerlach, G., Atema, J., Raupach, M.J., Deister, F., Müller, A. & Kingsford, M.J. 2016. Cryptic species of cardinalfish with evidence for old and new divergence. Coral Reefs: 1-14    

Hoey, A.S., Bellwood, D.R. & Barnett, A. 2012. To feed or to breed: the morphological constraints of mouthbrooding. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, (as Apogon doederleini

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

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 doederleini)

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) (as Apogon doederleini)  

Jordan, D.S. & Snyder, J.O. 1901. A review of the cardinal fishes of Japan. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 23(1240): 891-913 figs 1-10 pls 43-44 See ref at BHL

Kingsford, M.J., Finn, M.D., O'Callaghan, M.D., Atema, J. & Gerlach, G. 2014. Planktonic larval duration, age and growth of Ostorhinchus doederleini (Pisces: Apogonidae) on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Biology 161(2): 245-259. 

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

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. (as Apogon doederleini)  

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

Kuwamura, T. 1985. Social and reproductive behavior of three mouthbrooding cardinalfishes, Apogon doederleini, A. niger and A. notatus. Environmental Biology of Fishes 13(1): 17-24.

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. 

Marnane, M.J. & Bellwood, D.R. 2002. Diet and norturnal foraging in cardinalfishes (Apogonidae) at One Tree Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series 231: 261-268. (as Apogon doerderleinii)

Okuda N, Miyazaki M & Yanagisawa Y. 2002. Sexual difference in buccal morphology of the paternal mouthbrooding cardinalfish Apogon doederleini. Zoological Science 19: 801–807.

Okuda, N. & Yanagisawa, T. 1996. Filial cannibalism by mouthbrooding males of the cardinal fish Apogon doederleini, in relation to their physical condition. Environmental Biology of Fishes 45: 397-404.

Okuda, N. & Yanagisawa, Y. 1996. Filial cannibalism in a paternal mouthbrooding fish in relation to mate availability. Animal Behaviour 52: 307–31. (as Apogon doederleini)  

Okuda, N., Takeyama, T. & Yanagisawa, Y. 1997. Age-specific filial cannibalism in a paternal mouthbrooding fish. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 41: 363-69. DOI (as Apogon doederleini)  

Oxley, W.G., Ayling, A.M., Cheal, A.J. & Osborne, K. 2004. Marine surveys undertaken in the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve, December 2003. Townsville : Australian Institute of Marine Sciences 64 pp. (as Apogon doederleini)     

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. (as Apogon doederleini)  

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 doederleini

Takeyama, T, Okuda, N. & Yanagisawa, Y. 2002. Seasonal pattern of filial cannibalism by Apogon doederleini mouthbrooding males. Journal of Fish Biology 61(3): 633–44. 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37327053

Behaviour:Mouth brooder (males)

Depth:2-30 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:9 cm

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CAAB distribution map