Silver Siphonfish, Siphamia argentea Lachner 1953

A Silver siphonfish, Siphamia argentea, in the Raja Ampat islands, West Papua, Indonesia. Source: Gerald R. Allen. License: All rights reserved


A small rare bioluminescent cardinalfish with a striated light organ along the lower surface, irregular patches of small dark dots mostly above and below the body midline, 7 first dorsal-fin spines, the second spine shorter than the third spine, and a complete lateral line with 23-24 tubed scales.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Siphamia argentea in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Jun 2024,

Silver Siphonfish, Siphamia argentea Lachner 1953

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Off the Kimberley, Western Australia, and the Philippines, often taken in trawls; depth range 23-107 m. Specimens from Australian waters were collected with a beam trawl and a sled, towed on rocky substrates with rubble, gorgonians and sponges. Specimens from the Philippines were taken on bottoms varying from fine to coarse sand, mud, hard and soft corals and shells.


Dorsal fin VII+I,9; Anal fin II,8; Pectoral fin 13; Tubed lateral-line scales 23–24; Median predorsal scales 5–6; Total gill rakers 3–4 + 9–10, developed gill rakers 1 (1 of 18 with 2) + 8–9, gill rakers on ceratobranchial 7 (1 of 18 with 8). 
Body short and compressed, its depth 2.45–2.75 in SL and width 1.95–2.5 in the depth; eye diameter 2.85–3.7 in head length; first dorsal spine 2.1–3.3 in second spine; second dorsal spine 4.6–6.3, spine of second dorsal fin 3.3–4.4 (3 specimens), and second anal spine 4.4–6.0, all in head length; pectoral-fin length 4.2–5.0 and pelvic-fin length 4.5–4.8 in SL; caudal-peduncle length 1.45–1.9 in distance between pelvic spine insertion and anal-fin origin. Preopercular edge with 14–28 serrations; preopercular ridge smooth. Scales strongly spinoid. Tip of light organ on each side of tongue bound by membrane.


Colour in life unknown.In preservative: body brown, often with clusters of small dark spots forming blotches above and below middle of body; head may be somewhat paler than body; wide cheek mark, or trace of it, consisting of small dark dots from lower edge of eye to upper angle of maxilla, sometimes continuing to angle of preopercular ridge; narrow dark line may be present under vertical edge of maxilla from its upper corner to anterior end of ventral peropercular ridge; fins pale, but base of pelvic fins with variable amount of dark brown dots; peritoneum, stomach and intestine with fairly dense dark spots, those on the peritoneum larger. Light organ striated.


The silvery stripe along each side of the ventral surface consists of longitudinal bundles of transparent muscle whihc is associated with a light organ inside the abdominal cavity, above the pelvic girdle.

Species Citation

Siphamia argentea Lachner, 1953, in Schultz et al., Bull. U.S.N.Museum 202(1): 421, fig. 71. Type locality: Northern Balabac Strait, Philippines, 8°08'10"N, 117°19'15"E.


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Silver Siphonfish, Siphamia argentea Lachner 1953


  • Allen, G.R. 1999. Families Ambassidae and Apogonidae. In: Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (Eds.) FAO species identification guide for fisheries purposes. The living marine resources of the western central Pacific. Volume 4. Bony fishes part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). FAO, Rome.
  • Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Volumes I-III. Tropical Reef Research, Perth Australia.
  • Gon, O. & Allen, G.R. 2012. Revision of the Indo-Pacific cardinalfish genus Siphamia (Perciformes: Apogonidae). Zootaxa 3294: 1-84
  • Kuiter, R.H. & Kozawa, T. 2019. Cardinalfishes of the world. New Edition. Seaford, Victoria: Aquatic Photographics, and Okazaki, Aichi: Anthias (Nexus), 198 pp.
  • Lachner, E.A. 1953. Family Apogonidae : cardinal fishes. pp. 412-498 figs 69-84 pls 33-43 in Schultz, L.P., Herald, E.S., Lachner, E.A., Welander, A.D. & Woods, L.P. (eds). Fishes of the Marshall and Marianas Islands. Vol. 1. Families Asymmetrontidae through Siganidae. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 202(1): 1-685, figs 1-90, pls 1-74

Quick Facts

Biology:Bioluminescent; mouth brooder (males)

Depth:23-107 m

Habitat:Sandy, muddy areas

Max Size:5 cm TL

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