Damselfish & Chromis

Damselfish & Chromis



The damselfish, sergeantfish, the anemonefish and the puller, aka as chromis, are related and all of them are happy members of the family of the Pomacentridae. This family is well-represented in the subtropical waters of the Red Sea and boasts ten species that are endemic to the Red Sea.

The damselfish are small and colourful creatures. You will find them venturing in the environments of rocky and coral reefs. Their appetite for food ranges from plants and algae solely, to the less selective taste from the omnivorous Pomacentridae branch and the hardcore planktivores.


They may differ in food taste, but what the family members do have in common is their small size, not exceeding 20 cm. Their bodies are compressed, marked by a terminal mouth with pointed or conical dentition. A member of the Pomacentridae clan is active during the day, meaning it’s diurnal. From a socializing point of view they flock together, showing territorial preference and are passionately aggressive.

Family Members

Bluegreen Chromis/Puller

Size up to 7 cm  (0,23ft). Depth up to 12m (39,3ft)

The oval body is metallic blue to almost fluorescent green. Its habitat are reefs, rich in corals, where it operates in large presence, feeding on planktonic invertebrates and algae.

Half-and-half Chromis

Size up to 9 cm  (0,295ft). Depth up to 36m (118ft)

This chromis has a fascinating appearance, its black front morphing into white halfway the very tiny body length.  It resides in shallow reefs, lagoons and seaward reefs, rich in stony and fire corals. Its menu shows starters and main courses of the zooplankton variety. As sociable as they are by nature, they become pretty territorial during the period of reproduction.

Sulphur Damselfish

Size up to 11 cm  (0,36ft). Depth up to 10m (32,8ft)

The diurnal sulphur variation of the damselfish is predominantly deep yellow, adorned with a prominent black spot at the base of the pectoral fin. It has an elongate and oval body with a pointed head. It explores zones that are rich in coral, comfortably feasting upon algae and zooplankton. Solitary as it is, it manoeuvres among madrepore branches and has a predilection for acropora.

Three-spotted Dascyllus/Domino

Size up to 14 cm  (0,46ft). Depth up to 55m (180 ft)

The compressed and oval physique of the domino has white spots on either side and one frontal spot, hence the label of three-spotted. Its inclined head looks as if it has been used as a punchbag by a pugilist. Your best shot of locating this family member are areas in abundance of corals.

The domino has a healthy appetite for crustaceans and algae. Their social fabric dictates living in harems, managed by just one male.  The domino maintains an amicable relation with the clownfish.

 Whitebelly Damselfish

Size up to  13 cm (0,42ft). Depth up to 45m (147ft)

The small and inclined head of the whitebelly damselfish is slightly out of proportion with its oval, compressed body. The body itself is tainted bluish-green, fading into a milky white belly. This damsel’s social behavior indicates a solitary existence or participating in smaller groups, roaming the Red Sea for  zooplankton and algae during the day in coral-ridden zones.

Banded Dascyllus

Size up to 8 cm  (0,26ft). Depth up to 20 m (65,6ft)

The beautifully ‘painted’ banded dascyllus or humbug dascyllus has a white, scaled body, marked with three broad black bars, reminiscing a zebra crossing. It’s to be found in protected lagoons, over reef flats and patch reefs, travelling in schools. It likes to stay near acropora corals. The diurnal humbug is fond of zooplankton, invertebrates and algae.

Sergeant Major/Indo-Pacific Sergeant

Size up to 18 cm  (0,59ft). Depth up to 15m (49,2ft)

The sergeant major is almost identical in appearance to the scissor tail. Its body tones are pale olive, fading into yellow, intercepted by five black bars. Found in abundance near seaward reefs, piers and jetties. Its appetite for algae, invertebrates and small fish is legendary. The young ones live in dense schools.

 Scissortail Sergeant

Size up to 16 cm  (0,52ft). Depth up to 15m (49,2ft)

The name of this sergeant fish, very common in the Red Sea, alludes to the scissor shape of its tail. Its scaled and oval body is silvery, garnished with five verticals black bars or bands. It groups in large schools in shallow surroundings, feeding upon algae and zooplankton.


Other Family Members

Blackspot Sergeant

Black Damselfish

Jewel Damselfish

Yellowtail Sergeant

Yellow-Edge Chromis