The Banggai Cardinal Fish

A pair in a nano and a shoal in a larger aquarium of these fish can simply look amazing. These fish are not necessarily the brightest or the biggest but they can be an amazing addition to a communal aquarium. Cardinals are generally considered peaceful and placid within an aquarium. The most common two types of cardinals that are found within the hobby are the Pajama and the Banggai. They truly are a great addition to any saltwater aquarium.



I personally prefer the Banggai to the Pajama and currently have a breeding pair. They are such a unique shape and swimming style that they always catch my eye.

For Many years I have been viewing these critters in my local LFS and always said “one day”. Well a few month ago I got myself a pair and have fell in love with them. They are so different and have become a great addition to my reef.

I keep a pair, just like I do with clowns, as my aquarium is simply to small for a shoal. They are generally the larger cardinal and if you desire them as a shoal you will need a large aquarium.



Tank Size

30 gallons is recommended. Although keeping a pair in a nano aquarium seems to be the norm. I suggest as long as you don’t over populate the aquarium and there is enough swimming space a smaller tank will be just fine.

These guys do well in a communal tank or a nano aquarium.

They form amazing shoals in a large aquarium if you have the water volume for them.


Care Level

Easy – ideal for beginners. As long as all your parameters are stable you should have no issues with them.



Semi-aggressive to a degree! The pair I have are peaceful and have never shown any act of aggression towards other tank mates. When breeding they can often become aggressive towards others but I have yet to experience this myself.


Reef safe

Yes. Kept many over the years and I have never had a problem with keeping cardinals and coral.


Max Size

3 inches.



Banggai cardinals have a basic coloration of black and white. They have a white base body with black stripes. They have tall fins and are often referred to as the long-fin cardinal.



Carnivorous – Frozen foods and pellets seem to work well with these fish. But they will eat a wide range of fleshy foods.



You can tell the difference between the male and female but it isn’t easy. There are two main ways to do so.



One – If you look at the underside of the fish, the male has two appendages and the female has one. Although this isn’t easy as the fish never pose for a quick check.


Two – As these fish are moth breeders the male has a much bigger and pronounced jaw than the female. As the male carries the eggs in his mouth it makes sense the male should have a larger jaw than the female.


They can be bred within the home aquarium with relative ease providing your water parameters are stable and suitable for fish and corals. Basically all you need is a pair to bond and let mother nature do its job.

Keeping the fry on the other hand is hard work as you will ideally need a separate nursery aquarium. Most people that raise banggai use reef putty and cocktail sticks (or any other stick/rod) that mimics a spiny urchin. The fry will then shoal within the spines and feel safe.