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Abudefduf vaigiensis, Indo-Pacific Sergeant. Scott W. Michael

Family: Pomacentridae

Species in Genus Abudefduf:

  • Sergeant Major

Reference: A PocketExpert Guide to Reef Aquarium Fishes
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM


This bulletproof genus is represented on reefs around the world. Although they are some of the most durable of the aquarium fishes, none of the sergeants are particularly popular with aquarists. In fact, most wholesalers sell these fishes under the moniker “assorted damsels.”

Adults sport dark bars on a silver, white, or light blue background, while a few species have yellow highlights. They tend to occur singly or in loose aggregations when feeding near the reef, but when they enter the water column, at least some of the species form foraging schools.

The diet of most members of the genus consists of zooplankton, small benthic crustaceans, and algae.

Most of these fishes get quite large (over 8 inches [20 cm] in length) and very belligerent. While juveniles are interesting—even cute, in some respects, the larger adolescents and adults can be true hellions. They should never be housed with less passive tankmates, and are best kept with larger angelfishes, surgeonfishes, and triggerfishes. They can be kept in reef tanks, although one Atlantic species has been reported to eat zoanthids.