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FAQ on Banggai Cardinals

By Frank Marini

Q: I want a cardinalfish for my reef tank, which is better a Banggai or a Pyjama?

Your asking the most biased person out there. Banggai, Banggai, Banggai, Banggai, Banggai!!!!!

Q: I want to add a small group of Banggai cardinalfish to my aquarium, can I do that?

Well Iխ better off saying NO!!!!!!! My reason is that when the banggais are juvenile and not sexually mature they will school together. Actually they often find pair mates during this schooling, and its quite a beautiful site to see 10 banggais all hovering together. A dominant male will force his way to the top of the pecking order, and will put a little stress on the other fish, but not too bad. However when two of them reach sexual maturity (male and female) and pair off, youլl have a bundle on your hands. The paired fish will make short work of any unpaired banggai, and often drive them into hiding so bad that the unpaired fish will whither and die. I have tried repeatedly to suggest that people not sell trios of these fish, because unless you can guarantee all three males/females, there will be one fish unpaired and possibly killed off. I have seen trio coexist peacefully in huge reef tanks (greater than 200gal-with lots of rockwork), but even in a large tank a pair will certainly pick on the unpaired animal. I had problems in my holding tanks when a few pairs became sexual mature, almost overnight, they would drive 10 of their brothers and sisters into the corners of the tanks and behind the rocks. So again my recommendation is probably 2 max. unless you can guarantee all the same sex.

Q: I want to breed these fish, How do I sex them?

Good question. If they are around 1.0-1.5 inches SVL.....good luck. These are juvenile animals and Iխ a full 50/50 at this size (meaning Iխ either 100% right or Iխ totally wrong). These fish become sexually mature around 10-14 months of age, and in my experience its almost impossible to visually sex them until they reach sexual maturity. However when they do become sexual mature, the best indication is a "squaring off" of the jawline (a more bulldog appearance) in male fish compared to females. The best overall indicator is the second dorsal or "banner" fin, it quite long in males, as compared to females, however it gets chewed off by other fish.

Q: How do I keep my male from spitting out/swallowing the eggs?

An excellent question and one that I can answer partly, I have found with my animals that the males will try to breed within 5 days after the release a clutch of fry, and for me the male that has bred repeatedly will not carry to full term the next batch of babies. I assume that the male is concerned with his welfare at this point and will hold onto the eggs for as long as possible, but that he will give-up the eggs around day 10-15. I have found the eggs at the bottom of breeders nets. So for me, since I had isolated the males after delivery I "plump up" the males for the next 2-3 weeks, I feed heavily live brine and gut loaded ghost shrimp, and do not allow any female contact for 3 weeks. Now the part I canմ answer is what causes the males to spit out/swallow the eggs, particularly if its his first clutch. I had repeatedly tried to isolate freshly impregnated males and found that within a day or 2 after capture that they are no longer holding eggs, so I assume that the swallowing of the eggs is a stress response and/or a protective measure.

Q: My male banggai is carrying eggs when can I catch him?

I had in the past captured the males early in the gestation period, around day 5-10, with the hopes of allowing the male to settle down in the breeding station, but repeatedly the males would spit-out/swallow the eggs, so I did the opposite, when I start to see babies peering out of the males mouth, thats when I captured the male. Around day 18-22, sometime during this procedure the male will spit out a few babies, this is okay, I have raised "prematurely-released" babies as well, they respond to baby brine shrimp equally as their 25 day released counterparts.

Q: My male banggai is holding eggs what should I do?

Ideally nothing yet, if this is the first day of him refusing food you have about 15 days to prepare, if you can see the egg packet or baby fish peering out then it time to react. My first suggestion is to always get the breeding station ready, and by that I mean prepare your ten gallon tank and seed the sponge filter (or if you prefer my old method of in-tank breeder net). Also at this point make arrangements for baby brine shrimp production/Selacon purchase. Now a decision has to be made as to how easily it is to catch the male, in a full blown reef tank, you may never catch the male and if thats the case be prepared for baby banggais to become food for the other tank inhabitants, or if your lucky place a sponge filter over your overflow tube, with the hopes of retaining the baby banggai in the overflow box. However you still have plenty of time. If you do see babies heads peering out of the daddies mouth , then your around day 18-20, and its time to react quickly. If the male is easy to catch then do so after you see babies peering out around day 18-20.

Q: My banggai has spit out a bunch of what do I do?

Congratulations...your a daddy (or mommie), your best bet is to find my article on-line, and read it. I have described what to do with the babies and particularly feeding them which is a critical step. But the short story is you need to start a baby brine shrimp culture right away. As the baby banggai will eat right you donմ want to starve them. Please donմ feed them full grown adult brine shrimp many of the babies will choke and die from this.

Q: My babies "faint" after being scared (or they look like they are having a heart attack)

I have been asked about if the babies will have a heart attack if any stress is introduced into the tank, i.e. capturing the male after baby release, or even tank cleaning. Yes I have experienced this on many occasions, and from my experience about 90% of the time the babies recover in about 10-30 mins. I'm not sure, but I have read that this could be a defensive response (a bluff) or in fact a true heart attack. Another situation where this problem arises is in feeding, I have overfed the babies with baby brine nauipli and the babies greedily gulp it down and then just fall over dead (or worse, some one wrote me that they were feeding the babies adult live brine-and that the baby banggais would capture it and half of the brine shrimp was hanging out of its mouth-then drop dead on the bottom). In my experience, this is a serious problem, these fish are going to die if they are not dead already. I try to feed the correct amount of baby brine each time, its very empirical, I add a little baby brine and watch for it to disappear, then add more, and repeat until the baby banggais stop eating, sometimes leave them a little hungry. I have been unable to revive most of the babies which have over eaten and dropped and the babies which have been fed large food like the adult brine).

Q: My banggai cardinalfish is not eating

This is a typical email on feeding dilemmas-Q: my problem is the cardinal not accepting any food that I have offered, I have tried flakes, frozen brine shrimp, formula one, tetra bits, dried shrimp & frozen squid, he is not being picked on by other tankmates & I have tried different feeding times, any help would be appreciated. Feed him live foods, I always start off my banggais with live brine shrimp, and gut loaded ghost shrimp. Then slowly ween them onto "dead foods".

Q: My banggai cardinalfish has this thing hanging off its lower lips, it appears whitish, any ideas?

Yes this is the most common problem I encounter with Banggais, its a lip tear and subsequent fungal infection. The lip tear is usually caused by the fish dashing into rockwork or beefing with another tank mate. If the fish is acting fine and eating regularly, donմ worry about it, it will go away. However if the fish has stopped eating or it jaw is displaced or disfigured then its time to treat with an antifungal agent.

Created by liquid
Last modified 2006-11-24 18:53