Lachneratus phasmaticus Fraser & Struhsaker, 1991
In 1983 a number of these translucent red cardinalfish were found by John Earle in a completely dark lava tube along the Kona coast of the Big Island. The depth was between 10-15 feet and the fish were hovering in midwater at the back of the cave. Specimens were collected and examined by Dr. John Randall at the Bishop Museum, who determined that they were the same species as a cardinalfish that had been dredged from about 300 ft. off Hale`iwa, O`ahu back in 1968 and that had not yet been named. Since then, specimens have been collected in Fiji, Palau, the Comoro Islands, and the Marquesas Islands, all at scuba depths in dark caves. In 1991, the fish finally received a scientific description and name.
In August 2009 I was excited to find a single Phantom Cardinalfish at Pupukea, O`ahu, far back in a completely dark cave. Pictured above, it represents only the 2nd recorded Hawaiian sighting of this extremely rare and quite pretty cardinalfish. To about 4 inches.
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Text and photos copyright by John P. Hoover