Sergeant Major Damsel

the fish profile

Sergeant Major Damsel

This species is known as Sergeant Major Damsel, Striped Sergeant, Damsel Fish, Five Finger and the correct latin name is Abudefduf saxatilis. The family that this fish belongs to is called the Damsel family. (e) Origin of this fish is Indo-Pacific. (e)

Character and suggestions regarding care

They are aggressive and should be kept with other species in very big aquariums only.

Sergeant Major Damsel can grow up to 16 cm what is approximately 6 inches. In general, 1 specimen requires at least 1920cm2 of water surface which is approximately 297 square inch. We recommend you to keep it in fish tanks which are medium. (e) Medium aquariums have at least 113 Litres (30 US Gallons). Large aquariums have at least 265 Litres (70 US Gallons). Capacity of very large aquariums is at least 700 Litres (185 US Gallons).

It is easy to keep the Sergeant Major Damsel fish. (e) The specific gravity (SG) should be between 1,020 and 1,025, the temperature between 23°C (73.4°F) and 26°C (78.8°F). The pH level should be stable, varying between 8.0 and 8.3 which is usual for marine fish.

The Sergeant Major Damselfish has proven to be quite popular with newcomers to the saltwater hobby, this is probably not due to their colouration and markings as they are not the prettiest of damsel fish available but they are relatively easy to care for compared to more delicate species of fish available. The following article will offer guidelines on how to care for this fish including water parameters and feeding regimes to advise you if you wish to keep these fish in your own aquarium.

The Sergeant Major can be found under a variety of common names such as the Striped Sergeant and Five-finger Damselfish so it is often better to research these fish under their Latin name of Abudefduf saxatilis to ensure that you are looking at the correct species, especially so if ordering these fish from a supplier. Adult specimens can reach a length of 9 inches so be aware of this as they are often sold as juveniles so make sure that you have enough tank room as the develop and grow.

These fish are classed as semi-aggressive but this is just a comparison to other aggressive species, they will harass smaller tankmates especially the males during spawning periods. It should also be noted that the Sergeant Major Damselfish are classed as ideal for beginners to the hobby but they will still require the water quality and care to thrive for their natural lifespan, poorly kept aquariums will take its toll on any species of marine fish.

The Sergeant Major Damselfish can easily be spotted by the five dark vertical bars on their bodies and the forked anal fins, males will display a bluer colouration during spawning periods as they display to the females , a great indicator that exciting times are ahead!

They originate from the Indo-pacific where they inhabit the coral reefs and definitely prefer reef areas covered with stony corals, these provide great hiding places from would be predators and also provide breeding sites for these fish.

Caring for the Sergeant Major Damselfish


As mentioned above, the Sergeant Major Damselfish love to occupy areas of stony corals so they are completely reef safe and do prefer this type of set up as opposed to salt water aquariums comprising of only rocks for d?cor. The recommended minimum tank size is 40 gallons but the more room they have the better and the temperature should range between 25°C (76°F) up to 28°C (82°F). The salinity of the water should be maintained at 1.023-1.026.

When first added the the aquarium the Sergeant Major Damselfish may hide away for periods but after a few days they will soon settle down feel at ease. The longer they are in the aquarium the more territorial that they can become so it may be wise to add these fish towards the end of the stocking list.

Regular water changes should be performed so that the water quality is kept at the highest level possible, they have become to be known as beginners fish accepting a wide range of parameters but this is not the case, like all marine fish they still need care and high quality water.

Always ensure that they do not bully the other tank mates and also make sure that they are not being bullied as well, to get the correct stocking can require a delicate balance of fish at times but if all of the tank mates are of a similar size and disposition then there should be no problems.

Feeding the Sergeant Major is definitely not a problem as the have voracious appetites and will accept nearly all foods offered. Keep the diet varied by offering a high quality marine flake food or marine algae and for meaty foods they will accept mysis, brineshrimp or plankton feeds.

Breeding the Sergeant Major Damselfish


More recently there has been a lot of success breeding these fish in the aquarium , they are egg depositors with the male preparing the nest, the eggs will be laid on rocks etc., pieces of slates added to the aquarium at an angle can also provide potential spawning sites. The male will take on a more bluish colouration during spawning times and will chase the females around the aquarium prior to the spawning taking place. Sexing these fish is virtually impossible so it is best to purchase a small group of juveniles if breeding is your future aim.

When spawning does take place there will be thousands laid with each batch, in the wild there are many predators so large batches of eggs ensures that a larger number of eggs will hatch successfully. The eggs will be a light red colouration initially but they will take on a green tint when fertilised and the yolk will remain a red colouration.

The male guards the eggs until they hatch, this usually takes up to 6-7 days to happen but the fry are quite well developed unlike other species that produce larva so they will have the ability to eat small foods a few hours after.

This Damsel is an aggressive fish, but when they are young, they like to swim in shoals. Only when they are older they could get territorial and aggressive. If you are raising more of them, you should keep them in large aquarium, so when they get older, they will have enough space. Instead of this fact they are a good fish for beginners.

This fish is an omnivore. It will eat all kind of food, like algae and other plants, live food, frozen food, flakes.

Sergeant Major Damsel, picture no. 1

Sergeant Major Damsel, picture no. 2

Thanks to Kenneth Leonard for the pictures. Copyright Ken Leonard.

Sergeant Major Damsel, Striped Sergeant, Damsel Fish, Five Finger, picture no. 3

Sergeant Major Damsel, Striped Sergeant, Damsel Fish, Five Finger, picture no. 4

Sergeant Major Damsel, Striped Sergeant, Damsel Fish, Five Finger, picture no. 5

Sergeant Major Damsel, Striped Sergeant, Damsel Fish, Five Finger, picture no. 6
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Document modified on Sun Dec 15 11:18:10 UTC 2013
Document created on Wed Nov 28 9:19:59 UTC 2007
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