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Related Articles: Damselfish, Clownfishes, Abudefduf, Amblyglyphidodon, Chromis, Chrysiptera, Dascyllus. Dischistodus, Giant Damsels, Garibaldi, Microspathodon, Neoglyphidodon, Neopomacentrus, PlectroglyphidodonPomacentrus, Stegastes

Regional Accounts:  Clownfishes of Indonesia,

/Fishwatcher's Guide Series

Indonesian Damselfishes, Family Pomacentridae (Sans Clownfishes)



Bob Fenner  

Genus Abudefduf:

Abudefduf septemfasciatus (Cuvier 1830), the Banded Sergeant. Indo-Pacific in surge zones. To nine inches long in the wild. Only occasionally imported for our interests. This one in the Seychelles, Indian Ocean.

Abudefduf sexfasciatus (Lacepede 1801), the Scissor-Tail Sergeant. Found all over the Indo-Pacific, but not Hawai'i. Not as hardy in captivity as other Abudefduf species. To five inches long.  Fiji and N. Sulawesi pix.

Abudefduf sordidus (Forsskal 1775), The Black-Spot Sergeant or Dirty Damsel. Indo-Pacific, including Hawai'i. Lives in high surge areas. To almost seven inches in length. Only occasionally imported as a pet-fish. These images from the Maldives and Hawai'i.

Abudefduf vaigiensis (Quoy & Gaimard 1825), the Indo-Pacific Sergeant Major. Eastern coast of Africa and Red Sea, out to the Line and Tuamotu Islands. To six inches long. Fourth black body bar originates after hard dorsal fin. Here in the Red Sea and Northern Sulawesi.

Genus Acanthochromis:

Acanthochromis polyacanthus (Bleeker 1855), the Spiny Chromis (only member of the genus). Indo-Australian; inshore and off-shore reefs. Notably the only species of Pomacentrid that instead of having pelagic larval development, spawns, rears its young cichlid-fashion. Australian images of a parent and young. 

Genus Amblypomacentrus:

Amblypomacentrus breviceps (Schlegel & Muller 1839), the Black-Banded Demoseille. Indo-Australian Archipelago; Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia, Solomons. To 5.5 cm. Found on sand, silt bottoms in association with sponges, small patches of cnidarian life. N. Sulawesi pic. 

Genus Amblyglyphidodon

Amblyglyphidodon aureus (Cuvier 1830), the Golden Damselfish. This gorgeous yellow-gold damsel is found throughout the Indo-West Pacific, the Andaman Sea, eastern Indian Ocean to Fiji, throughout Micronesia. The Golden Damsel is mostly found in settings of vertical reef walls amongst corals and gorgonians. The species feeds almost exclusively on zooplankton. A juvenile and adult in Bunaken, Sulawesi, Indonesia, the latter a more mature, less golden specimen and one off of Pulau Redang, Malaysia.

Amblyglyphidodon batunai Allen, 1995.

No pic


Amblyglyphidodon curacao (Bloch 1787), the Staghorn Damselfish. From a distance the Staghorn Damsel looks like a gussied-up Sergeant Major (Abudefduf) species'¦ with more yellow surrounding its vertical body bars, greater reflectance and a taller/thinner, more stately overall shape and demeanor. This species distribution masks much of the Golden congeners'¦ widely spread in the Indo-West Pacific, Malaysia to Japan, south to Australia's GBR, and throughout Micronesia. The Staghorn Damsel is found in lagoons to outer reefs, often amongst soft and Acroporid (Staghorn) corals, feeding on zooplankton and filamentous algae. This one in Fiji, another in N. Sulawesi

Amblyglyphidodon leucogaster (Bleeker 1847), the White- or Yellowbelly Damselfish. Quite variable in appearance, as evidenced in its multiple common names, the Yellow/Whitebelly Damsel may well be two distinct species'¦ The Indo-West Pacific (Melanesia, Micronesia, Ryukyus to the GBR) form separate from the eastern Africa into Red Sea one. Both are beautiful and aquarium-desirable varieties, found on reef slopes, passages and lagoons. This species too is a generalized zooplanktivore, feeding on crustaceans (copepods, mysids, amphipods, other crustacean larvae), fish eggs, and some algae. Fiji specimen at right. Below, left to right: from the Red Sea, Bunaken/Sulawesi/Indonesia, and the Maldives.

Amblyglyphidodon  ternatensis (Bleeker, 1853), the Ternate Damsel. Western Pacific. To four inches in length.

No pic

Genus Chromis:

Chromis alpha Randall 1988, the Yellow-Speckled Chromis. Western and central southern Pacific, plus eastern Indian Ocean. To about three inches in length. A touchier species that rarely makes its way into the hobby, mainly from Fiji. One in Bunaken/Sulawesi/Indonesia, another in Fiji.

Chromis amboinensis (Bleeker 1873), the Ambon Chromis. West-central Pacific; Cocos-Keeling Islands to Samoa and the Marshall Islands. To three inches in length. This one off of Queensland, Australia.

Chromis analis (Cuvier 1830), Yellow Chromis. To 17 cm. in length. Western Pacific; Japan, Australia, Fiji. One in Fiji, another in N. Sulawesi. 

Chromis atripectoralis Welander & Schultz 1951, the Black-Axil Chromis. Very similar to the oh-so-common Blue Chromis, C. viridis, but distinguished by a prominent black blotch at their insertion to the pectoral fins. Indo-Pacific but not Hawai'i. This specimen in Australian waters. To four and a half inches in length.

Chromis caudalis Randall 1988, the Dusky Chromis. Eastern Indian and western Pacific Oceans. To three inches in length. Mainly imported from the Marshalls and Indonesia. A hardy species if shipped properly and not nicked. This one in Bunaken/Sulawesi/Indonesia.

Chromis dimidiata (Klunzinger 1871), the Two-tone Chromis. Indian Ocean and Red Sea (origin of this image). To two inches overall length. A more common offering in European pet-fish markets. Red Sea image. 

Chromis fumea Tanaka 1917, the Smokey Chromis. Indo-West Pacific; Northeastern Australia to Eastern part of Indian Ocean. Here in N. Sulawesi. To four inches in length. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Chromis margaritifer Fowler 1926, the Bicolor Chromis. Indo-Pacific. To three and a half inches in length. This one odd of Pulau Redang, Malaysia.

Chromis retrofasciata Weber 1913, the Blackbar Chromis. Western Pacific; Indonesia to Fiji to the Ryukyus and New Caledonia. To two inches in length. N. Sulawesi pic.

Chromis ternatensis (Bleeker 1856), the Ternate Chromis. Indo-West Pacific; Red Sea, eastern Africa to Micronesia, southern Japan, the GBR. To four inches total length. Ones in Pulau Redang, Malaysia, N. Sulawesi and Egypt's Red Sea. 

Chromis viridis (Cuvier 1830), the Blue-Green Chromis. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific and in marine and reef aquarium usage. The darling damsel of reefkeepers. To three inches maximum length. Formerly (and often still) identified as Chromis cyanea. One of many in Australia, and a grouping in Nuka Hiva, Marquesas, Polynesia.

Chromis weberi Fowler & Bean 1928, Weber's Chromis. Indo-Pacific; Red Sea, East Africa to Micronesia. To 13.5 cm. in length. Found singly or in groups at tops of steep reef edges. Red Sea image. 

Genus Chrysiptera:

Chrysiptera biocellata (Quoy & Gaimard 1825), the Twinspot Damsel, Twospot Demoiselle... Indo-west Pacific, Africa's east coast out to Samoa. To three inches in length. Offered in the trade from time to time. Can be feisty toward other tankmates... should be kept with tough fishes only. Pictured is an adult (2") in the Maldives.

Chrysiptera bleekeri (Fowler & Bean 1928), Bleeker's Damsel. Western Central Pacific; Timor, Flores (and this report of Lombok), Indonesia and the  Philippines. To about three inches in length. Photos made off of Gili Air and N. Sulawesi, Indonesia. 

Chrysiptera cyanea (Quoy & Gaimard 1825), the Blue Devil/Damsel. Likely the most commonly used member of the Damsel family by the aquarium interest. Western Pacific over to the bare eastern edge of the Indian Ocean. To  two and a half inches in length. Variably blue with some orange yellow on fins. Aquarium specimens shown below.
Chrysiptera hemicyanea (Weber 1913), the Azure Demoiselle. 7 cm.. Indo-West Pacific; Eastern Indian Ocean, Indonesia. Aquarium image. 

Chrysiptera parasema (Fowler 1918), the Yellow-Tail Blue Damsel. Contending for first place as "most used member of the family of Damselfishes". From the western Pacific. To two and a half inches.  Hardy and relatively easygoing. One in an aquarium, another in N. Sulawesi by RMF and another aquarium shot by Hiroyuki Tanaka.
Chrysiptera rollandi (Whitley 1961), Rolland's Demoiselle. Indo-Australia Archipelago. To a mere one and three quarters inch in length. In Pulau Redang, Malaysia, and N. Sulawesi. 

Chrysiptera talboti (Allen 1975), Talbot's Damsel. Indo-West Pacific. To about two inches maximum length. A great little Damsel for reef aquariums. Regularly collected for the ornamental trade in Fiji. Australian, Fiji  and N. Sulawesi images. 
Chrysiptera unimaculata (Cuvier 1830), the One spot Demoiselle. Indo-west Pacific, Red Sea. Highly variable in markings, color, from east coast of Africa to Fiji. This juvenile and sub-adult in the Maldives. To three inches overall in length. Imported as juveniles that turn overall brownish with age.

Chromis viridis (Cuvier 1830), the Blue-Green Chromis. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific and in marine and reef aquarium usage. The darling damsel of reefkeepers. To three inches maximum length. Formerly (and often still) identified as Chromis cyanea. One of many in Australia, and a grouping in Nuka Hiva, Marquesas, Polynesia. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Genus Dascyllus:

Dascyllus aruanus (Linnaeus 1758), the Whitetail Dascyllus to science, more commonly called the Three-Striped Damsel to aquarists. Indo-west Pacific: Red Sea, Africa's eastern coast to the Tuamotus in the Pacific. To four inches. Aquarium and Red Sea photos.

Dascyllus carneus Fischer 1885, the Cloudy Damsel. Widespread in the Indian Ocean. Occasionally offered in the aquarium trade. To two and a half inches in length. Lives around branching corals. Adult and juv.s in N. Sulawesi (Lembeh Strait). 

Dascyllus melanurus Bleeker 1854, the Four-Stripe Damsel or Blacktail Humbug. Indo-Australian Archipelago. To three inches overall length. Typically found about isolated coral heads.

Dascyllus reticulatus (Richardson 1846), the Reticulate Dascyllus. East Indian Ocean, west Pacific. To three and a half inches in length. A specimen in Australia, and in S. Sulawesi.

Dascyllus trimaculatus  (Ruppell 1829), the Three-Spot Damsel or Domino. Indo-west Pacific. To five and a half inches in length. Lives on coral and rocky reefs.... and so feisty, it bites the hands of the aquarists who feed it! Three color varieties shown below and a group of juveniles in association with an anemone in Mabul, Malaysia and Ras Mohamed, Egypt's Red Sea at right. 

Genus Dischistodus:

Dischistodus melanotus (Bleeker 1858), the Black-Vent Damsel. Western Pacific distribution (this one in Indonesia). To five inches overall length.

Dischistodus perspicillatus (Cuvier 1830), the White Damsel. Indo-West Pacific. To six inches in length. This one off of Pulau Redang, Malaysia. 

Dischistodus prosopotaenia (Bleeker 1852), the Honey-Head Damsel. Indo-West Pacific. To six inches in length. A juvenile in Heron Island waters, GBR, Australia, an intermediate size one and five inch adult (that bit me!) in N. Sulawesi (so I took its picture).

Genus Neoglyphidodon:

Neoglyphidodon crossi Allen 1991, Cross' Damsel. Indo-Malayan Archipelago: known only from Sulawesi and the Molucca Islands. To four inches. Aquarium image 

Neoglyphidodon melas (Cuvier 1830), the Black Damsel. Indo-west Pacific, Red Sea, eastern Africa to Vanuatu. To five inches total length. An all black beauty as an adult, resembling the Black Dwarf Angel, Centropyge nox in profile. Juvenile in Australia's GBR  and adult in Malaysia  pictured. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Neoglyphidodon nigroris (Cuvier 1830), Behn's Damsel. Western Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean. To three and a half inches in length. The bright yellow and two horizontal black band juveniles are used quite often in the trade. Here's a juvenile off Heron Island, Australia. and subadult in Bunaken/Sulawesi/Indonesia. 
Neoglyphidodon oxyodon (Bleeker 1858), the most commonly named "Jewel Damsel" in the aquarium interest is called the Javanese Damsel to science. Indo-Australian Archipelago. To six inches total length, and a tough customer nearing larger size. 

Genus Neopomacentrus:

Neopomacentrus violascens (Bleeker 1848), the Violet Demoiselle. To 7.5 cm. Western Pacific. This one in S. Sulawesi. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Genus Plectroglyphidodon:

Plectroglyphidodon dickii (Lienard 1839), the Blackbar Devil. To four or so inches in length. Indo-Pacific; East Africa to the Tuamotus. This one in Fiji. Associated with Acropora, Pocillopora spp. corals. Feeds on filamentous algae, benthic crustaceans, small fishes. 

Plectroglyphidodon johnstonianus (Fowler & Ball 1924), the Johnston Island Damsel. Despite its common name this species is found in the Indo-Pacific, eastern Africa to Hawai'i (where this image is from). To two and a half inches long.

Plectroglyphidodon lacrymatus (Quoy & Gaimard 1825), the Jewel Damsel, Whitespotted Devil. Indo-west Pacific, eastern Africa and Red Sea to the Society Islands. One in Fiji, another in N. Sulawesi.

Genus Pomacentrus:

Pomacentrus alexanderae Evermann & Seale 1907, Whitefin Damselfish. Indo-West Pacific; Malay Archipelago to Moluccas, north to Ryukyus. To 9 cm. N. Sulawesi pic. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Pomacentrus alleni Burgess 1981, Allen's or Andaman Damselfish. Andaman Sea, the Similans off of Thailand. A hardy beauty that grows to a maximum of two inches and does well living solitarily. This one in a reef aquarium by itself.

Pomacentrus auriventris Allen 1991, the Yellow-belly or Goldbelly Damsel. Indo-Malay Peninsula, Caroline Islands. To 5.5 cm. Found near bottom, principally about rubble slopes. N. Sulawesi pix. 

Pomacentrus bankanensis Bleeker 1853, the Speckled Damsel. Western Pacific; Christmas Island to Fiji, North to S. Japan, S. to Noumea. To 9 cm. Lives amongst bottom rubble, feeds on algae, copepods, isopods, pelagic tunicates. N. Sulawesi pic. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=5717&genusname=Pomacentrus&speciesname=bankanensis

Pomacentrus brachialis Cuvier 1830, Charcoal Damsel. To 8 cm. Western Pacific; this one in S. Sulawesi. http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Pomacentrus caeruleus Quoy & Gaimard 1825, the Caerulean Damsel. Western Indian Ocean, eastern Africa to the Maldives. To four inches maximum. A Damselfish beauty that deserves to be imported much more frequently. This one in the Maldives.

Pomacentrus chrysurus Cuvier 1830, the Whitetail Damsel. Indo-west Pacific. To about three inches in length. A better looking individual, with a broad yellow dorsal band and ocellus, the adults (pictured) are overall slate colored with a white tail. Maldives image.

Pomacentrus coelestis Jordan & Starks 1901, one of the Neon Damsels. To three and a half inches in length. Widespread in the Indo-Pacific, and a common import. This is a feisty damselfish species, best kept as the only Damsel type in a tank, and allowing a good fifteen gallons plus per specimen. An alpha male in the Cooks, one in Fiji.

Pomacentrus lepidogenys Fowler & Bean 1928, the Scaly Damsel. Indo-Western Pacific; Malay Archipelago to Melanesia, Tonga to S. Japan. To 9 cm. N. Sulawesi pic.  http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/

Pomacentrus moluccensis (Bleeker 1853), the Lemon Damsel. Eastern Indian and western Pacific Oceans. To two inches in length. This little beauty is occasionally imported from Fiji (where the first picture was taken), Tonga and Vanuatu. Second image, Heron Island, Australia. Third, N. Sulawesi. 

Pomacentrus nigromanus Weber 1913, the Goldback Damsel. Western Central Pacific. To 9 cm. This one in S. Sulawesi.

Pomacentrus pavo (Bloch 1787), the Sapphire or Peacock Damsel. Indo-Pacific. To three inches in length. A hardy beauty for peaceful all-fish as well as reef tanks. Can be kept singly. This one photographed in the Maldives.

Pomacentrus philippinus (Evermann & Seale 1907), the Philippine Damsel. Western Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans. Variable in amount of yellow coloring by vicinity. To three inches in length. One in the Maldives where only their tails are yellow, and another in Mabul, Malaysia.

Pomacentrus reidi Fowler & Bean 1928, Reid's Damsel. Indo-Australian; Philippines, Celebes, Australia, Solomon's. To 9 cm. Found on steep, outer reef slopes, typically solitarily. N. Sulawesi pix.

Pomacentrus vaiuli Jordan & Seale 1906, the Ocellated Damselfish. Western Pacific to Eastern Indian Ocean. To four inches in length, and as territorial as the genus comes... hangs out on its patch of Acroporid coral in the wild, and best kept this way with plenty of room (at least twenty gallons to each) in captivity. Juveniles in the Cooks and N. Sulawesi shown (bottom one a half inch long), and one mid-age in Fiji. Color variable, some with a yellowish dorsal region grading to blue.

Genus Stegastes:

Stegastes fasciolatus (Ogilby 1889), the Pacific Gregory. Indo-west Pacific. Not a great beauty and at up to six inches in length, a handful. But an interesting, intelligent addition to a rougher aquarium setting. These images  younger to older individuals in Hawai'i.

Bibliography/Further Reading:

Allen, Gerald R. 1975. Damselfishes of the South Seas. TFH Publications, Neptune City, N.J.

Allen, Gerald R. 1976. How many sergeant majors? Marine Aquarist 7(6):76.

Allen, Gerald R. 1991. Damselfishes of the World. Aquarium Systems, Mentor, Ohio.

American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 1978. The Biology of the Damselfishes a symposium held during the 56th annual meeting of the ASIH. Rosentiel School of Mar. & Atm. Sci. U. of Miami, 1980, 145-328.

Burgess, Warren E. 1981. Pomacentrus alleni and Pomacentrus thiellei, two new species of Pomacentrids (Pisces: Pomacentridae) from the Indo-Pacific. TFH 11/81.

Emmens, C.W. 1984. Damselfishes. TFH 9/84.

Fenner, Robert. 1998. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist. Microcosm, VT. 432pp.

Fenner, Robert. 1999. The indomitable damsels- Family Pomacentridae. TFH 1/99.

Gronell, A.M., 1984. Look-alike damsels. TFH 32(8) 48-53.

Howe, Jeffrey C. 1995. Original descriptions: Colombo damsel Pomacentrus proteus Allen, 1991. FAMA 8/95.

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