This cardinal is a small fish, characterized by four dark horizontal stripes on each side and a dark stripe along its dorsal surface. It has proportionately large eyes and mouth.
Although solitary, striped cardinalfish temporarily form pairs during courtship. They are mouth-brooders – once fertilized, the male cardinal will carry the eggs in his mouth until they hatch.
Striped cardinalfish are nocturnal, hiding in potholes on portions of reefs that are exposed to surge during the day. At night they scavenge and hunt small invertebrates.
They inhabit coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, particularly the Red Sea and Sodwana Bay, with smaller populations on the Japanese and Australian coasts.