Marine life identification guide > Damselfish & sergeant major

Damselfish & sergeants species identification guide

Damselfish and sergeants are all part of the Pomacentridae family, which comprises 30 genera. Of these, members of two genera, Amphiprion and Premnas, commonly called clownfish or anemonefish, have a dedicated page in this guide.

Tiny and colorful fish, easy to spot on the reef

Widespread throughout warm and temperate seas in the World, damselfish are small and generally colorful fish. They are very easy to observe: they often are the first fish you spot after diving. There are about 250 damselfish species, from which only 14 live in the Caribbean. These swift creatures especially appreciate coral reefs and rocky shores. Some species (notably adult threespot dascyllus) can even be territorial and come “pinch” snorkelers getting too close to their den.

Where are the different damselfish species found?

Sergeant majors are amongst the most commonly seen damselfish when snorkeling. Those friendly fish go by in groups of various sizes, sometimes just under the water surface. The Indo-Pacific sergeant can be seen from Red Sea and East Africa to French Polynesia. The Pacific sergeant-major can be spotted in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, while the Caribbean sergeant-major lives in the Western Atlantic Ocean. The green chromis is unmissable in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It gathers in huge schools of hundreds of fish, often dwelling around acropora corals. In the Mediterranean Sea, the Mediterranean chromis can be seen in many places. Other notorious damselfish are the whitetail dascyllus (found in most of the Indo-Pacific area), the beaugregory (endemic to the Caribbean) and the Garibaldi damselfish (commonplace along the Californian coast).

Caribbean & Western Atlantic damselfish and sergeants

Indian & Pacific Oceans damselfish and sergeants

Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic Ocean damselfish

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Have a look at the best identification fish guides to learn more about marine life!

Want to learn more about the species you observed or photographed under water? The identification guides are true treasures for those curious to know about the undersea world! These books show, in the form of images or drawings, the species of certain environments (such as coral reefs) or certain regions of the world (such as the Mediterranean, the Caribbean or the Red Sea). If some guides are limited to fish, others describe all the local underwater fauna and flora. True scientific works, the identification guides are also a beautiful way to prepare for our future snorkeling explorations!