Apogon phenax

Common Name

Mimic Cardinalfish

Year Described

Böhlke & Randall, 1968


Dorsal Fin: VI, I-9
Anal Fin: II, 8
Pelvic Fin: I, 5
Pectoral Fin: 12
Gill Rakers: 13-14 on lower limb; 18-19 total
Vertebrae: 10 precaudal, 14-15 caudal

A small fish with a fairly robust, stout, and moderately compressed body. Eye is large and the snout pointed. Mouth is fairly large and oblique, with the lower jaw slightly protruding. Both jaws, palatine, and vomer with narrow bands of villiform teeth (no canines). Preopercular edge with a serrate margin. Preopercular flap does not extend past the preopercular rear margin. There are two dorsal fins. The caudal fin is bluntly emarginate. Body scales ctenoid.


Body bright to pale orange-red to red with an opalescent red sheen on the dorsum. A dark brown bar is present on the caudal peduncle and another wedge-shaped bar is present under the rear dorsal fin. No pale markings between or bordering bars. Eye with a yellowish sheen. Fins are body colored, becoming brighter red on the first dorsal fin and the lobes of the other fins. Faint red stripes on bases of dorsal and anal fins.


Maximum size to 81mm TL.


Coral and rocky reefs from 12-50m. Inhabits dark crevices.


Florida Keys to Venezuela, including the Caribbean islands.


Gon, O. 2002. Apogonidae (pp 1386-1391). In: Carpenter. 2002. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Vol. 3: Bony fishes part 2 (Opistognathidae to Molidae), sea turtles and sea mammals. FAO Species Identification Guides for Fisheries Purposes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 5.