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85. A Cardinal in his pyjamas, the striped Cardinalfish (Apogon angustatus)


The Striped Cardinalfish (Apogon angustatus) is one of the many fish species with dark stripes (in fish markings, "stripes" refer to horizontal lines, while "bars" are the vertical ones). This cardinalfish also has an ocelli or a black spot on the caudal peduncle, which unfortunately cannot be seen in this underwater videoclip. While most of the approximately 360 recognised Cardinalfish species are dressed in yellow, orange, or red, there are some cardinalfish that display a completely different colour pattern. Other cardinalfish with horizontal stripes and a false eye-spot include Cook's Cardinalfish (Apogee cookii), the Fiveline Cardinalfish (Cheilodipterus Quinquelinatus), and the Sydney Cardinalfish (Apogee limenus), to name a few. Some species are dressed in polka dots like the Pajama Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera) and the Orbicular Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia orbicularis).

The Striped Cardinalfish usually feeds on small benthic invertebrates, primarily polychaetes (marine annelid worms commonly called bristle worms), around sunset.

Cardinalfish are found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, and some species even inhabit brackish water and freshwater streams. The Striped Cardinalfish is a resident of the western Indo-Pacific, ranging from Africa's eastern coast to Japan and the Solomon Islands in the east. Cardinalfish are found in a variety of habitats, including coral reefs, mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and soft substrate areas. Some cardinalfish species are also known to live in a commensal relationship with urchins, seeking protection among the spines of urchins to ward off predators. While some species are endemic to small geographic areas, others are found throughout entire oceans.

Most cardinalfish live in schools, while some prefer small aggregations. Small species tend to form schools, whereas larger species are more often solitary. However, the Striped Cardinalfish prefers a solitary existence near crevices and undercuts. These shelters provide protection against the cardinalfish's main predator, the Indian Ocean Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus).

Among cardinalfish, this species is of medium size. With a length of around 11cm/4 inches, it is certainly not the largest in its family. Some of the larger cardinalfish species can grow up to 25cm/10 inches. The smallest known cardinalfish is probably the Redspot Cardinalfish (Apogon parvulus).


To truly capture the essence of a subject, I personally find it most effective to start the clip with a close-up shot. This allows me to showcase the often overlooked small details, revealing the intricate patterns, textures, and movements that make the subject unique. When focusing on this Striped Cardinalfish, for example, I highlight the mesmerising iridescence of its skin and the delicate movements of its eyes.

After establishing the close-up perspective, I then smoothly transition to a broader picture. By widening the shot, the viewer gains a sense of the subject's environment. For this cardinalfish, it meant revealing the hole it calls home. This broader shot provides important context, helping the viewer understand the subject's natural habitat and adding depth to the visual story.

By zooming out or stepping back, I ensure that the viewer can see the subject in relation to its surroundings, providing a sense of scale and perspective. By following this sequence of shots—from close-up to broader picture to overall shot—I strive to create a visual narrative that paints a near complete picture of the subject. It is an approach that allows me to showcase the smallest details, provide a context-rich view, and ultimately present a comprehensive depiction that captivates the viewer's imagination.

More on this topic:

For another in-depth description about another Cardinalfish species with stripes please go to our vlog post 50 or click on this link: https://www.beyondscuba.com/post/a-wolf-in-sheep-s-clothing

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