Rhabdamia spilota Allen & Kuiter 1994

Other Names: Souryuu-sukashi-tenjikudai (Japanese name)

Glassy Cardinalfish, Rhabdamia spilota, in Triton Bay West Papua, Indonesia. Source: Gerald R. Allen / FishBase. License: All rights reserved

A semi-transparent pinkish cardinal fish with a silvery tinge on the head and abdomen, a dark stripe from the tips of the jaws to the front of the eye, 3-6 brownish blotches or spots on the gill cover and anterior part of the body below first dorsal fin, and indistinct dark pigment on the outer margins of the caudal fin.
In Australia, this species was previously misidentified as Rhabdamia gracilis.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Rhabdamia spilota in Fishes of Australia, accessed 01 Apr 2023, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/5491

Rhabdamia spilota Allen & Kuiter 1994

More Info


Off Shark Bay, Western Australia, and off Cape York, Queensland. Elsewhere the species occurs in Indo-west Pacific, from the Red Sea and the Andaman Sea, to Japan, South China Sea, Philippines, Indonesia, and New Caledonia.
May form large aggregations on steep reef slopes around rocky outcrops and isolated coral heads with gorgonian fans and crinoids.


Dorsal fin VI + I, 9; Anal fin II, 11-12; Pectoral fin 13-14; Lateral line scales 24; Gill rakers 7-9 + 20-23; Vertebrae 10+14=24. 
Body very slender, depth 3.2-4.1 in SL; preopercular margin and ridge finely smooth.


Body semi-translucent, pinkish with silvery abdomen, 3–6 reddish-brown to blackish blotches on opercle and anteriorly on body below first dorsal-fin base. Two short reddish-brown to blackish stripes (sometimes one or none) above center of opercle. A longitudinal reddish-brown to blackish stripe on lateral surface of body from upper end of gill opening to below second dorsal-fin base (sometimes absent). Snout and tip of lower jaw yellowish with black pigmentation. Lower part of head silvery-white (rarely with some black pigmentation or a diffuse black stripe from posterior margin of preopercle to midpoint of opercle). Posteroventral margin of orbit to center of opercle silvery-white (rarely with diffuse black pigmentation). First and second dorsal fins translucent red, yellowish basally. Pectoral fin translucent yellowish-red. Pelvic and anal fins translucent red. Caudal fin translucent yellowish-red, with indistinct black pigmentation on outer margins (Yoshida & Motomura 2018).


Feeds on zooplankton.

Similar Species

Rhabdamia spilota differs from the similar Slender Cardinalfish, Rhabdamia gracilis, in having more gill rakers on the first gill arch (modally 30 or 31 developed gill rakers, vs. 24 in R. gracilis), a black stripe from the jaw tips to the anterior margin of the orbit (vs. snout and tip of lower jaw with black pigmentation in R. gracilis), 3–6 reddish-brown to blackish blotches on the opercle and anterior of the body (vs. blotches absent in R. gracilis), and indistinct black pigmentation restricted to the outer margins of the caudal fin (vs. pigmentation scattered over entire fin in R. gracilis).


The specific name is from the Greek spilota (= spot), in reference to the distinctive spot above the pectoral fin.

Species Citation

Rhabdamia spilota Allen & Kuiter 1994, Revue française d'Aquariologie Herpétologie 21(1-2): 21, Fig. 2. Type locality: dropoff at east end of Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, Flores Strait, Java Sea, eastern Indian Ocean, about 8°18'S, 115°37'E, depth 23-45 m.


Bray, D.J. 2022

Rhabdamia spilota Allen & Kuiter 1994


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

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

Allen, G.R. & Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Descriptions of two news [sic] species of cardinalfishes (Apogonidae) from Malaysia and Indonesia. Revue française d'Aquariologie Herpétologie 21(1-2): 19-23.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C., Humann, P. & Deloach, M. 2015. Reef fish identification - tropical Pacific. Second Ed. New World Publications Inc., Jacksonville, 475 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 

Yoshida, T., Mabuchi, K. & Motomura, H. 2018. Rhabdamia novaluna, a new species of cardinalfish (Perciformes: Apogonidae) from the western Pacific Ocean, with comments on the synonymy of Rhabdamia gracilisIchthyological Research 66(1): 129-139. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10228-018-0664-1

Yoshida, T. & Motomura, H. 2018. Redescription of the Indo-West Pacific cardinalfishes (Perciformes: Apogonidae) Rhabdamia spilota Allen & Kuiter 1994 and R. gracilis (Bleeker 1856). Zootaxa 4377(2): 178-190 http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4377.2.2

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37327190


Depth:12-90 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:6 cm SL

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