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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes
Family Pomacentridae
updated Oct 2016
Where seen? Damselfishes such as the anemonefishes are sometimes seen on our shores. But most damselfishes live in deeper waters and are more frequently encountered by divers.

What are damselfishes? They belong to Family Pomacentridae. According to FishBase: the family has 28 genera and 321 species. They are mainly found in the Indo-Pacific oceans, some are found in brackish waters. Anemonefishes (made famous by the cartoon 'Nemo') are among the better known members of this family.

Features: Damselfishes vary widely in size, colour and shape. Some species can grow to 35cm, others are 1cm or smaller. Those that eat algae tend to be duller while plankton-feeders tend to be more colourful.

What do they eat? As a family, they eat a wide variety of things. Plankton-feeding damselfishes are believed to play an important role in reefs as they occur in such huge numbers that they effectively filter the currents. Damselfishes that feed on algae are often aggressively territorial, defending their feeding area from all intruders. These tiny damselfishes will vigorously harass larger fishes and even divers.

Damsel babies: In many species, a nest site is prepared by one or both partners. The eggs are attached by adhesive threads to the site and the male usually guards them until they hatch into free-swimming larvae.

Human uses: Many members of this family are harvested from the wild for the live aquarium trade. Harvesting tropical scorpionfishes for the live aquarium trade may involve the use of cyanide or blasting, which damage the habitat and kill many other creatures. Like other fish and creatures harvested for the live aquarium trade, most die before they can reach the retailers. Without professional care, most die soon after they are sold. Those that do survive are unlikely to breed successfully.

Status and threats: Some members of the Family Pomacentridae are listed among the threatened animals of Singapore. Like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. Poaching by hobbyists and overfishing can also have an impact on local populations.

Tiny anemonefish in its host anemone.
Sentosa, Jun 07

Juvenile damselfishes can look
very different from the adults.
Tanah Merah, Nov 10

Damselfishes can be abundant
on some of our shores!
Pulau Jong, Jul 06

Damselfishes on Singapore shores

6-7 narrow bars black (sometimes grey) across a yellowish body. Tail with rounded lobes, no horizontal black stripes. 4-5 broad black bars across a yellowish body. Tail fins with pointed tips resembling scissors with black horizontal stripes. 4 broad black bars across a white body. During courtship and nesting season, the upper part of the body may be yellow.Tail is plain or blackish, no horizontal black stripes.

6 dark or grey bars on white body. A prominent black spot at the top of the tail just before the tail fin.







Family Pomacentridae recorded for Singapore
from Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
*additions from from Ng, P. K. L. & Y. C. Wee, 1994. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore.
in red are those listed among the threatened animals of Singapore
from Davison, G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore.
**from WORMS
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Records, etc)

  Family Pomacentridae

Sergeant majors
  Abudefduf bengalensis (Bengal sergeant)
Abudefduf melas=**Neoglyphidodon melas
*Abudefduf notatus
Abudefduf plagiometopon=**Hemiglyphidodon plagiometopon
Abudefduf saxatillis

*Abudefduf sordidus (Black-spot sergeant)
Abudefduf sexfasciatus
(Scissortail sergeant)
Abudefduf vaigiensis (Indo-Pacific sergeant)

  Amphiprion spp. (Clown anemonefishes) with list of species recorded for Singapore


*Amblyglyphidodon curacao
*Amblyglyphidodon leucogaster

Chromis analis
Chromis atripectoralis
Chromis cinerascens
*Chromis xanthurus

+Dascyllus reticulatus
Dascyllus trimaculatus
(Threespot dascyllus)

Dischistodus chrysopoecilus
(Pale-spot damsel)
Dischistodus fasciatus
(Yellow-banded damsel)
*Dischistodus melanotus
*Dischistodus perpicillatus
Dischistodus prosopotaenia
(Honey-head damsel)

Eupomacentrus apicalis=**Stegastes apicalis

Hemiglyphidodon plagiometopon

+Neoglyphidodon nigroris
(Behn’s damselfish)

+Neopomacentrus anabatoides
(Silver demoiselle)
Neopomacentrus bankieri (Chinese demoiselle)
+Neopomacentrus cyanomos
(Regal demoiselle)
Neopomacentrus filamentosus
(Brown demoiselle)
Neopomacentrus nemurus
*Neopomacentrus violascens

Paraglyphidodon nigroris=**Neoglyphidodon nigroris

Pomacentrus albimaculus
Pomacentrus alexanderae
Pomacentrus amboinensis
*Pomacentrus breviceps
*Pomacentrus brachialis
Pomacentrus cuneatus
(Wedgespot damsel)
Pomacentrus chyrysopoecilus=**Dischistodus chrysopoecilus
Pomacentrus fasciatus=**Dischistodus fasciatus
Pomacentrus grammorhynchus
Pomacentrus littoralis
(Smoky damselfish)
Pomacentrus melanopterus=**Pomacentrus brachialis
+Pomacentrus moluccensis
(Lemon damsel)
Pomacentrus notophthalmus=**Dischistodus melanotus
Pomacentrus popei=**Pomacentrus moluccensis
Pomacentrus pristiger=**Stegastes limbatus
Pomacentrus prosoptaenia=**Dischistodus prosopotaenia
Pomacentrus rhodonotus=**Pomacentrus chrysurus
*Pomacentrus richardsoni=**Pomachromis richardsoni
Pomacentrus taeniurus=**Neopomacentrus taeniurus
Pomacentrus tripunctatus
(Threespot damsel)
Pomacentrus violascens=**Neopomacentrus violascens
Pomacentrus xanthus=**Stegastes variabilis

*Pritotis jerdoni=**Pristotis obtusirostris

*Stegastes apicalis
*Stegastes lividus
+Stegastes obreptus



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