Even though the Banggai Cardinalfish (pterapogon kauderni) is one of Lembeh’s Signature Critters it’s population here is not natural. As the name says, the Banggai Cardinalfish is actually endemic to the Banggai Archipelago. The population in Lembeh Strait is the result of escaped Fishes, that were meant for Aquarium Trade. Since then the population of this Species is growing in Lembeh.
The Banggai Cardinalfish usually stay shallow and inhabit the surrounding of anemones or sea urchins. Like all Cardinalfish they are mouthbreeders: The female releases the eggs, that the male then fertilizes. He then takes the fertilized eggmass in its mouth and breeds the eggs (2-3mm in size) for 20 days. Then the little Banggai Cardinalfish hatch – but they remain in the mouth of the male for another 10 days. After that, the yolk is consumed and the little fish leave their fathers mouth. They don’t go through a pelagic state and settle immediately in the population. The male does not feed for the whole 30 days.
Best place to see Banggai cardinalfish in Lembeh Strait: Basicly almost every Dive Site – you don’t even need a guide. Anyone can find them and it is a very common fish here. But nowhere else 😉
Best lens to use: Banggai Cardinalfish can be shot with all lenses: Supercloseup with a long Macro of the Eggs in the Mouth, Portrait with a 100mm or a 60mm – even Wideangle shots of a population with an anemone are possible.