Snowy Cardinalfish, Foa nivosa Fraser & Randall 2011

Foa nivosa, in the lagoon off Uliga, Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, January 2005 - holotype BPBM 39658, before collection. Source: Jack Randall. License: All rights reserved


A small pale yellowish-brown cardinalfish with a reddish overlay, and clusters of red-margined whitish spots that are noticeably smaller on the head than on the body.

Foa nivosa was described in 2011 from Palau, the Marshall Islands and Fiji. Specimens have also been collected on the Great Barrier Reef.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Foa nivosa in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Snowy Cardinalfish, Foa nivosa Fraser & Randall 2011

More Info


Black Rock Entrance to the Swain Reefs area, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Elsewhere, the species occurs in Palau, the Marshall Islands and Fiji in depths of 15-40 m.

Specimens from the Marshall Islands were found on Halimeda beds in depths of 15–27 metres, and one collection included algae of the genera Padina, Caulerpa, and Dictyota. Specimens from Queensland were trawled in 25-50 m.


Dorsal fin IX spines as VII(I)-I, 9 (rarely VII-I, 8); Anal fin II, 8; Pectoral fin 12; Pelvic fin I, 5; Caudal rays (principal) 1+8+7+1; Gill rakers (including rudiments) 12-14; Lateral line 21–22 (as 3–7 pored scales and 14–18 pitted scales); Vertebrae 10+14.


Maximum length 29 mm SL.


Pale yellowish-brown with a reddish overlay on the head and lower body, and many white spots with red margins; spots smaller on head than on body; three or more whitish basicaudal spots; second dorsal, anal and caudal fins pale reddish with small white spots and translucent membranes (Fraser & Randall 2011).


Feeds in small crustaceans.


Cardinalfishes are oral egg brooders. The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Following spawning, males take the egg mass into their mouths and brood the developing eggs until the larvae hatch.


Of no interest to fisheries.


IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Not Evaluated

EPBC Act (Australia): Not listed


The specific name nivosa is from the Latin nivosus, meaning 'snowy', in reference to the numerous whitish spots on the body.

Species Citation

Foa nivosa Fraser & Randall 2011, Zootaxa 2988: 20, figs. 9, 11-15. Type locality: Majuro Atoll, lagoon off Uliga, 7°06'27.4"N, 171°22'07"E, depth 29 meters.


Bray, D.J. 2018


 Australian Faunal Directory

Snowy Cardinalfish, Foa nivosa Fraser & Randall 2011


Fraser, T.H. & Randall, J.E. 2011. Two new species of Foa (Apogonidae) from the Pacific Plate, with redescriptions of Foa brachygramma and Foa fo. Zootaxa 2988: 1–27

Mabuchi, K., T.H. Fraser, H. Song, Y. Azuma & M. Nishida. 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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37327171

Biology:Oral egg brooders (males)

Depth:15-50 m

Habitat:Reef associated, Halimeda beds

Max Size:3 cm SL

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