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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes > Family Apogonidae
Chequered cardinalfish
Ostorhinchus margaritophorus
Family Apogonidae
updated Sep 2020

Where seen? This small silvery fish is commonly seen on many of our shores, especially on the Northern shores. Often seen in small groups, in pools among seagrasses and coral rubble. It was previously known as Apogon margaritophorus.

Those seen about 3-4cm, grows to about 5.5cm. Body slender. On the sides, white and reddish to brownish stripes. Between two stripes are narrow vertical lines that forms a window-like or chequered pattern - like a child's drawing of an airplane, with little squares for the windows.

Often seen in small groups.
Cyrene, May 08

Window-like patterns on the sides.
Pulau Hantu, Jan 06

Cardinalfish babies: Cardinalfishes are mouth brooders. The fertilised egg mass is kept in the mouth until they hatch in several days' time. Usually it is the male that undertakes this task, but in some species both the male and female do this.

Brooding eggs in the mouth.
Pulau Semakau, Oct 11

Pulau Semakau, Oct 11

Pulau Semakau, Oct 11

Releasing newly hatched babies?
Cardinalfish friends: According to FishBase, the fish is found in "small groups, usually sheltering near long-spined urchins or large anemones in seagrasses". On our shores, it is sometimes seen hovering near carpet anemones, but not touching the sea anemones. However, the fish has not been observed near our long-spined sea urchins.

Hovering near Giant carpet anemone
occupied by anemonefishes.
Tuas, Mar 09

Hovering near Haddon's carpet anemone.
Changi, Apr 05

*Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display.

Chequered cardinalfishes on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Hovering near a carpet anemone.
Coney Island, Jun 20
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

Hovering near a carpet anemone.
Pasir Ris Park, May 21
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

Terumbu Hantu, Jul 20
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

Pulau Semakau, Apr 08
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on his flickr.

Beting Bemban Besar, Aug 18
Photo shared by Dayna Cheah on facebook.

Terumbu Pempang Tengah, May 11
Photo shared by Ivan Kwan on flickr.

chequered cardinals @ terumbu raya 09Feb2009 from SgBeachBum on Vimeo.

  • Allen, Gerry, 2000. Marine Fishes of South-East Asia: A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Periplus Editions. 292 pp.
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