The Red-Striped Cardinalfish is endemic to Western Australia, found only from Shark Bay to Cape Leeuwin. A nocturnal species, they are found on clear inshore coastal reefs, under jetties to deep offshore, in or near ledges and caves during the day. Their diet comprises of small invertebrates from the plankton, which they locate with their large eyes while feeding solitarily at night in the open water. It has several reddish-brown stripes and fine iridescent blue lines on a white base, with distinguishing black blotches at the base of its tail and pectoral fin. This species grows to a maximum length of 14 centimetres.
The Red-Striped Cardinalfish forms a distinct mating pair during courtship and spawning. As is true for all Cardinalfish the male is the main parent. A mouth brooder, he fertilises and then incubates the female’s eggs in his mouth. He will also carries the young for a couple of days after they hatch. It was once believed that the fish was eating its young.
Other common names include Western Striped Cardinalfish.
Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty
It is very common to see a Red-Striped Cardinalfish underneath the jetty and lives near fallen timber or broken piles, where it hides from predators. Seen only in pairs or solitary individuals. During the 2011/12 Underwater Observatory season a pair of Red-Striped Cardinalfish appeared to have taken up residence under some of the braces on the piles close to the Observatory. Courting behaviours were observed as well as the male brooding his clutch inside his mouth, right through to the juveniles release into surrounding waters.
Image by: A. Micah