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Family Taxonomy

The Damselfish family Pomacentridae is the third largest fish family in Australia after the Gobiidae and Labridae.

Family Distribution

The family is represented in all tropical and warm temperate seas.

Most species live on tropical coral reefs, although the monotypic Mecaenichthys and most members of the genus Parma are found on rocky reefs in southern Australia. At least one species enters freshwater.

Most damselfishes seek refuge among coral branches when threatened and at night.

Family Description

Small, laterally compressed fishes with an ovate to fusiform body shape.

Family Size

Damselfishes grow to a maximum length of about 15 cm, and most are usually less than 8 cm.

Family Feeding

Damselfishes have a variety of feeding modes. Most species feed on either small invertebrates or benthic algae, or frequently a combination of these items.

Others have very specialised feeding habits, for example Cheiloprion and Plectroglyphidodon, which consume coral polyps and most Chromis species feed on zooplankton.

Family Commercial

Because of their small size the group is of little commercial importance, although some of the colourful species such as the anemone fishes  (Amphiprion) are sold in the aquarium trade.


Bray, D.J. 2021


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