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Guide to travel, activities, organisms, and ecology of the Sea of Cortez

Barspot Cardinalfish
Apogon retrosella

Sea of Cortez Barspot Cardinalfish Apogon retrosella


Description and Size
Adults may grow to 2-4 inches.  Barspot cardinalfish are generally pink or red in color, often with a slight metallic sheen.  The body is torpedo-shaped and the dorsal fin is split.   

Identifying Features
Apogon retrosella may be differentiated from other cardinalfish in the Sea of Cortez by the presence of both a dark spot on the caudal peduncle at the base of the tail, and a strong bar extending below the second dorsal fin.  The pink cardinalfish, Apogon pacificus, is also occasionally referred to as a barspot cardinalfish, but lacks the caudal spot.  The tailspot cardinalfish, Apogon dovii, on the other hand has the tail spot, but lacks the dark bar.   

Aogon retrosella is common on rocky reefs throughout the Sea of Cortez.  In the northern Gulf, juveniles are often observed in the tidepools of Puerto Penasco at night.  Adults are found along reefs to depths exceeding 200 feet (61m).    

Barspot cardinalfish are found on rocky reefs, occasionally in mid-water or over sand flats at night. 

Behavior and Ecology
In shallow to moderate depths, barspot cardinalfish are strictly nocturnal.  They will congregate in caves and under ledges during the day.  At night they emerge to feed on plankton in mid-water and have also been observed picking crustaceans from the surface of sand flats.  In deeper depths, they may be active during the day as well.  Like all cardinalfishes, barspots are mouth-brooders with the male carrying the eggs.    


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Updated August 28, 2009

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