The Banggai Cardinal fish is a popular fish in aquarium trade. You’ll find plenty of aquarist keeping Banggai cardinal fish in their saltwater tank. Banggai cardinal fish has origin from Banggai island, Indonesia and hence this name. Though they’re heavily exported but their appearance is restricted in Banggai area and are considered as close to extinct species by IUCN.
Size & Color: They grow up to size of 3 inches (8 cm). They’ve silver color on their body with black stripes. Dorsal and caudal fin comes in variety of color like blue and gray,yellowish brown.
Image Credit– British Society for Underwater Photographers
Ph & Temperature: You need to complete nitrogen cycle of your tank before you add them into it. Brisk filtration is necessary in aquarium. Also you need to maintain temperature of about 25°C – 28°C and ph of 8.1 – 8.4 with carbonate hardness 8 – 12°dKH. You need to keep levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate to as low as possible, even zero will be fine.
Breeding: You’ll find it hard to differentiate between male and female but if you keep eye on them during breeding period you’ll see that male’s mouth is large during this period. You’ll also see that second lower fin of male is larger. It’s hard to come to conclusion unless you get a mated pair. Pair is known to breed easily in home aquarium so you’ll able to see pair mated with males jaw being longer as they’re mouth brooder. Male will release the fry from mouth once it is ready to swim and eat i.e in 18-28 days. You can read more about Banggai cardinal fish breeding from Frank Marini.
Food: You can feed them frozen food, live food and shrimp food. As they’re nocturnal and often hide under live rock or stone shelter so it’s hard to get them towards food. They can be feed on small crustaceans in the reef tank. They don’t prefer flake and pellet food so you need to keep them on diet of frozen food or live food.
Behavior : They’re middle dwellers and often swims at the top when it comes to food. They’re reef tank compatible and do fine with other reef tank-mates. You can also place them in group of 3-5 Banggai cardinal fishes but make sure you have bigger saltwater tank. If the tank is small then you’ll find conflict among them especially if any pair is mated. You need to keep atleast 50 gallons tank if you want to put group of Banggai cardinal fish. Pair of Banggai cardinal fish can be placed in the tank of 30 gallons. As they’re harmless fishes so will pose no harm to other tank-mates. They’re perfect for community tank or peaceful tank and even in the reed tank. They’ve lifespan of 4-5 years or even longer than that.
They cost around 30-40$ in aquarium shops and due to heavy trading they’re available in almost every part of the globe. If you maintain the nitrogen cycle of your tank then there is nothing more you need to take care of them as they’re disease resistant. Before you add them to your big tank you can place them in quarantine tank and train them with diet. Glazing silver appearance of Banggai cardinal fish in the dark is quite pleasing and will put a good show in your aquarium. If you don’t find Banggai cardinal then pajama cardinal fish is one alternative fish you can try for your aqurium.