Distinctive Characters: First dorsal fin with 6 spines, second dorsal fin with 1 spine and 9 rays. Anal fin with 2 spines and 9 rays. Pectoral fin with 13 rays. Body depth 3.7 in standard length. More elongated, less elevated than most of the other species occurring in the Maldives. Maxillary extended to below middle eye. Preopercle ridge and margin smooth. Pelvic fin about half head length.
Colour: Transparent with a fine red stippling dorsally on body; a short black stripe on side of snout and a faint one behind eye; a dusky sub-marginal band in each caudal fin lobe.
Habitat and Biology: Usually seen in large aggregations with other cardinal fishes in the sheltered reefs. Often forms schools in caves.
Remarks: Rhabdamia cypselura is a frequently used bait and favoured by Maldivian tuna fishermen. It is normally caught by placing the baitnet over their coral retreat, chasing them out, and lifting the net when they return. This sometimes causes considerable damage to the corals.