Fiveline Cardinalfish

An adult Fiveline Cardinalfish showing the yellow tail spot and thick black lines © Andy Lewis
(Larger version)
A group of Fiveline Cardinalfish resting amongst staghorn coral during the daytime © Andy Lewis
(Larger version)

Fiveline Cardinalfish with isopods Anilocra apogonae attached at Lizard Island (aquarium photo)

© Anne Hoggett
(Larger version)

Taxonomic details

kingdom: Animalia
rank: species
name: Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus

Common names

Fiveline Cardinalfish

View taxonomic classification

Distinguishing features

A small greyish white fish with five dark horizontal stripes, a yellow patch near the tail, and a black blotch near the tail that aligns with the middle stripe. Distinguish from the Wolf Cardinalfish by the thicker black stripes. Usually seen in loose groups near branching coral.


A nocturnal predator on crustacean zooplankton, these fish rest during the day close to the shelter of branching staghorn corals. They breed October - February, and the male fish hold the eggs in the mouth for 3-5days until the larvae hatch. Cardinalfishes have very short lifespans, becoming mature at 1 year old and living for only 3-5 years.

Distribution maps

Australian distribution: Fiveline Cardinalfish (Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus) © Atlas of Living Australia

Distribution/habitat preferences

Areas of live branching coral (usually staghorn Acropora).

Found in most sheltered reef habitats around the island.


applies to:
Standard length
Up to 12 cm.
all specimens

More information

External references

Other field guides that include Fiveline Cardinalfish