Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Published: 2016-07-27

A new genus and species of cardinalfish (Percomorpha, Apogonidae, Sphaeramiini) from the coastal waters of Vietnam: luminescent or not?

Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 32611‒7800 USA, and Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236‒1096 USA.
Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, pr. Leninskii 33, Moscow, 119071 [address for correspondence] and Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, pr. Nakhimovsky 36 Moscow 117218, Russia.
Pisces Xeniamia atrithorax n.g. & n. sp. Ostorhinchus Siphamia luminous cardinalfishes South China Sea osteology luminescent morphology


Xeniamia atrithorax is a diminutive new genus and new species. The following combination of melanophore patterns is unique among known apogonids: a large cluster of melanophores in the skin anterior to the insertion of the pelvic-fin base, then extending forward along the sides of the isthmus; posterior portion of the oral chamber is black with melanophores extending below the gill apparatus forward along the base of the oral chamber thence along the basibranchials ending posterior to and below the level of the tongue; a line of large melanophores extends along the inner side of the ceratohyals; black to blackish stomach; and the anterior portion of the intestine is mostly pale with few black spots becoming more densely spotted with melanophores past the first bend and black from the second intestinal turn to the anus. The peritoneum is silvery with scattered melanophores that are more densely distributed along the lower portion of the abdominal cavity. There are two pale, large pyloric caeca at the connection between the stomach and intestine. The combination of eight first-dorsal spines, two supernumerary dorsal spines, one supraneural, lacking an ossified basisphenoid, two epurals and fused hypurals 1+2, preopercle with a smooth ridge and edges, fourth dorsal spine longer than third distinguish this cardinalfish from all other genera. This new genus may be related to Jaydia in the Sphaeramiini rather than with the Ostorhinchini or Siphamiini. Possible luminescent activity is inferred from anatomy and unique melanization patterns versus suppression of light from luminescent prey in the alimentary canal. A table lists suspected and known luminescent apogonids.



  1. Bannikov, A.F. (2008) Revision of some Eocene fishes from Bolca, Northern Italy, previously classified with the Apogonidae and Enoplosidae (Perciformes). Studi e ricerche sui giacimenti terziari di Bolca XI, Miscellanea paleontologica, 9, 65–75.

    Bleeker, P. (1854) Bijdrage tot de kennis der ichthyologische fauna van Batjan. Natuurkundig Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch Indië, 7, 359–378.

    Bleeker, P. (1855) Specierum piscium javanensium novarum vel minus cognitarum diagnoses adumbratae. Natuurkundig Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch Indië, 7, 415–448.

    Breder, C.M. Jr. (1936) Heterosomata to Pediculati from Panama to Lower California. Bulletin of the Bingham Oceanographic Collection Yale University, 2 (3), 1–56.

    Day, F. (1875) The fishes of India; being a natural history of the fishes known to inhabit the seas and Fresh waters of India, Burma, and Ceylon. London. 1, 1–168.

    Dunlap, P.V., Gould, A.L., Wittenrich, M.L. & Nakamura, K. (2012) Symbiosis initiation in the bacterially luminous sea urchin cardinalfish Siphamia versicolor. Journal of Fish Biology, 81, 1340–1356.

    Eschmeyer, W.N., Fricke, R. & van der Laan, R. (Eds.), (2016) Catalog of Fishes: Genera, Species, References. Available rom: (accessed 8 February 2016)

    Eschmeyer, W.N. & Fong, J.D. (2016) Species by family/subfamily. Available from: ( accessed 8 February 2016)

    Fishelson, L., Goren, M. & Gon, O. (1997) Black gut phenomenon in cardinal fishes (Apogonidae, Teleostei). Marine Ecological Progress Series, 161, 295–298.

    Fishelson, L., Gon, O. & Zaslow, R.B.D. (2005) The oral cavity and bioluminescent organs of the cardinal fish species Siphamia permutata and S. cephalotes (Perciformes, Apogonidae). Marine Biology, 147, 603–609.

    Fowler, H.W. & Bean, B.A. (1930) Contributions to the biology of the Philippine Archipelago and adjacent regions. The fishes of the families Amiidae ... and Serranidae, obtained by the United States Bureau of Fisheries steamer "Albatross" in 1907 to 1910 ... adjacent seas. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, 100, 10, i–ix + 1–334.

    Fraser, T.H. (1972) Comparative osteology of the shallow water cardinal fishes (Perciformes, Apogonidae) with references to the systematics and evolution of the family. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J. L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology 34, 1–105.

    Fraser, T.H. (1999) A new species of cardinalfish from the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 112, (1), 40–44.

    Fraser, T.H. (2013) A new genus of cardinalfish (Apogonidae, Percomorpha), redescription of Archamia and resemblances and relationships with Kurtus (Kurtidae, Percomorpha). Zootaxa, 3714 (1), 1–63.

    Fraser. T.H. & Allen, G.R. (2010) Cardinalfish of the genus Apogonichthyoides Smith, 1949 (Apogonidae) with a description of a new species from the West-Pacific region. Zootaxa, 2348, 40–56.

    Fraser, T.H. & Lachner, E.A. (1984) An unusual Indo-west Pacific cardinalfish of the genus Apogon (Teleostei: Apogonidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 97 (3) 632–636.

    Fraser, T.H., Randall, J.E. & Allen, G.R. (2002) Clarification of the cardinalfishes (Apogonidae) previously confused with Apogon moluccensis Valenciennes, with a description of a related new species. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 50, (1), 175–184.

    Fricke, R. & Eschmeyer, W.N. (2016) Guide to fish collections. Available from: (accessed 8 February 2016)

    Gill, T.N. (1863) Catalogue of the fishes of Lower California, in the Smithsonian Institution, collected by Mr. J. Xantus. Part IV. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 15, 80–88.

    Gon, O. (1997) Revision of the cardinalfish subgenus Jaydia (Perciformes, Apogonidae, Apogon). In: Skelton & Lutjeharms (Ed.), The J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology – 50 years. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 51 (1996), 147–194.

    Gon, O. & Allen, G.R. (1998) A new luminous cardinalfish of the genus Apogon (Perciformes, Apogonidae) from the western Pacific Ocean. The J.L.B Smith Institute of Ichthyology Special Publication, 62, 1–9.

    Gon, O. & Allen, G.R. (2012) Revision of the Indo-Pacific cardinalfish genus Siphamia (Perciformes: Apogonidae). Zootaxa, 3294, 1–84.

    Gon, O., Liao, Y.-C. & Shao, K-T, (2015) A new species of the cardinalfish genus Jaydia (Teleostei: Apogonidae) from the Philippines. Zootaxa, 3980 (2), 286–292.

    Haneda, Y. (1965) Observations on a luminous apogonid fish, Siphamia versicolor and on others of the same genus. Science Report of the Yokosuka City Museum, 11, 1–12.

    Haneda, Y. & Johnson, F.H. (1962) The photogenic organs of Parapriacanthus beryciformes Franz and other fish with the indirect type of luminescent system. Journal of Morphology, 110, (2), 187–198.

    Haneda, Y., Tsuji, F.I. & Sugiyama, N. (1969) Luminescent systems in apogonid fishes from the Philippines. Science, 165 (3889),188–190.

    Haneda, Y., Tsuji, F.I. & Lynch, R.V. (1970) Newly observed luminescence in an apogonid fish, Apogon poecilopterus. Alpha Helix Research Program, 70, 17–18.

    Herre, A.W.C.T. (1935) New fishes obtained by the Crane Pacific expedition. Field Museum of Natural History, Publications, Zoological Series, 18, (12), 383–438.

    Iwai, T. (1958) A study of the luminous organ of the apogonid fish Siphamia versicolor. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, 48 (8), 267–270.

    Iwai, T. (1959) Notes of the luminous organ of the apogonid fish Siphamia majimai. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 13, 2, (21), 545–550.

    Iwai, T. (1971) Structure of luminous organ of apogonid fish, Siphamia versicolor. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology, 18, (3), 125–127.

    Iwai, T. & Asano, H. (1958) On the luminous cardinal fish, Apogon ellioti Day. Science Report of the Yokosuka City Museum, 3, 5–13.

    Jordan, D.S. (1917) Notes on Glossamia and related genera of cardinal fishes. Copeia, 44, 46–47.

    Jordan, D.S. & Snyder, J.O. (1901) A review of the cardinal fishes of Japan. Proceedings of the United States National Museum, 23, (1240), 891–913.

    Kato, K. (1947) A new type of luminous organ of fishes. Zoological Magazine, Tokyo, 57, (12), 195–198.[ In Japanese, not seen]

    Karplus, I. (2014) Symbiosis in Fishes, The Biology of Interspecific Partnerships. Chapter 1, The Associations between Fishes and Luminescent Bacteria, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 6–57.

    Kotthaus, A. (1970) Fische des Indischen Ozeans. Ergebnisse der ichthyologischen Untersuchungen während der Expedition des Forschungsschiffes 'Meteor' in den Indischen Ozean, Oktober 1964 bis Mai 1965. A. Systematischer Teil VIII Percomorphi (2). Meteor Forschungsergebnisse. Reihe D, Biologie, 6, 56–75.

    Koumans, F.P. (1933) On a new genus and species of Apogonidae. Zoologische Mededelingen, 16, (1–2), 78.

    Lacepède, B.G.E. (1801) Histoire naturelle des poissons. Paris, 3, i–lxvi + 1–558.

    Lacepède, B.G.E. (1802) Histoire naturelle des poissons. 4, i–xliv+1–728.

    Leis, J.M. & Bullock, S. (1986) The luminous cardinalfish Siphamia (Pisces, Apogonidae), development of larvae and the luminous organ. In: Uyeno, T., Arai, R., Taniuchi, T. & Matsuura, K. (Eds.), Indo-Pacific Fish Biology, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Indo-Pacific Fish Tokyo, Japan Ichthyological Society, pp. 703–714.

    Mabuchi, K., Fraser, T.H., Song, H., Azuma, Y. & Nishida, M. (2014) Revision of the systematics of the cardinalfishes (Percomorpha, Apogonidae) based on molecular analyses and comparative reevaluation of morphological characters. Zootaxa, 3846 (2), 151–203.

    Mees, G.F. (1966) A new fish of the family Apogonidae from tropical Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, 49, 3, 83–84.

    Nielsen, J.G. & Prokofiev, A.M. (2010) A new, dwarf species of Grammonus (Teleostei: Bythitidae) found off Vietnam. Ichthyological Research, 57, (2), 189–192.

    Nolf, D. (2003) Fish otoliths from the Santonian of the Pyrenean faunal province and an overview of all otolith-documented North Atlantic Late Cretaceous teleosts. Bulletin Institut royal des Sciences naturelles de Belgique, 73, 155–173.

    Nolf, D. & Stringer, G.L. (1996) Cretaceous fish otoliths – a synthesis of the North American record. In: Arratia, G. & Viohl, G. Mesozoic fishes – Systematics and Paleoecology München, Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, pp. 433–459.

    Ruby, E.G. & Morin, J.G. (1979) Luminous enteric bacteria of marine fishes, a study of their distribution, densities and dispersion. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 38, (3), 406–411.

    Samant, B. & Bajpai, S. (2001) Fish otoliths from the subsurface Cambay Shale (Lower Eocene), Surat lignite field, Gujarat (India). Current Science, 81, (7), 758–759.

    Schwarzhans, W.( 2010) Otolithen aus den Gerhartsreiter Schichten (Oberkreide: Maastricht) des Gerhartsreiter Grabens (Oberbayern). Palaeoichthyologica, 4, 1–100.

    Smith, J.L.B. (1961) Fishes of the family Apogonidae of the western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Ichthyological Bulletin, Department of Ichthyology, Rhodes University, 22, 373–418.

    Springer, V.G. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. (2008) Supraneurals and pterygiophore patterns in carangid fishes, with description of a new Eocene carangid tribe †Paratrachinotini, and a survey of anterior anal-fin pterygiophore insertion patterns in Acanthomorpha. Bulletin of the Biological Society of Washington, 16, 1–73.[1:SAPIPI]2.0.CO;2

    Starks, E.C. (1930) The primary shoulder girdle of bony fishes. Stanford University Publications, University Series, Biological Sciences, 6, (2), 149–239.

    Thacker, C.E. & Roje, D.M. (2009) Phylogeny of cardinalfishes (Teleostei, Gobiiformes, Apogonidae) and the evolution of visceral bioluminescence. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 52, (2009), 735–745.

    Tominaga, Y. (1964) Notes on the fishes of the genus Siphamia (Apogonidae), with a record of S. versicolor from the Ryukuya Islands. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology, 12 (½), 10–17.

    Valenciennes, A. (1832) Descriptions de p1usieurse spéces nouvelles de poisson du genre Apogon. Nouvelles Annales Muséum Histoire Naturelle, Paris, 1, 51–60.

    Vagelli, A.A. (2014) Ephemeral sexual dichromatism in Quinca mirifica (Teleostei, Apogonidae), a black apogonid with solitary behavior. aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, 20 (1), 1–10.

    Weber, M. (1909) Diagnosen neuer Fische der Siboga-Expedition. Notes from the Leyden Museum, 31, (4), 143–169.

    Weber, M. (1913) Die fische der Siboga-Expedition. E.J. Brill, Leiden, pp. i–ix+710

    Weber, M. & deBeaufort, F.L. (1929) The fishes of the Indo-Australian Archipelago. V. Anacanthini, Allotriognathi, Heterostomata, Berycomorphi, Percomorphi, families Kuhliidae, Apogonidae, Plesiopidae, Priacanthidae, Centropomidae. Brill, E.J. Ltd., Leiden, 5, pp. i‒xiv + 458.