Australian Damsel, Pomacentrus australis Allen & Robertson 1974

An Australian Damsel, Pomacentrus australis, at Nambucca Heads, New South Wales, September 2012. Source: Ian Shaw / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A bluish damselfish with two colour phases: a dark blue form often with an iridescent blue marking on each scale, a dark earspot, dark tail margin and a black patch on the pectoral-fin base; or a blue head and body with bright blue vertically elongate scale centres, becoming abruptly whitish below, and a pale pectoral-fin base. Juveniles are a vivid blue.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Pomacentrus australis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 03 Dec 2022,

Australian Damsel, Pomacentrus australis Allen & Robertson 1974

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Recorded from northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, and reefs in the Coral Sea, to Merimbula, southern New South Wales; also Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs, and Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea.
Inhabits lagoon and outer reefs, either solitary or in small groups in open sandy or rubble areas with occasional coral outcrops.


Dorsal fin XIV, 13-14; Anal fin II, 14-15; Pectoral fin 17-19; Caudal fin 13 (branched rays); Gill rakers on first arch 19-21; Tubed lateral line scales 17-19; Vertical scale rows from upper edge of gill opening to base of caudal fin 27-28; horizontal scale rows from base of dorsal fin to middle of lateral line (exclusive of dorsal base sheath scales) 1.5; from lateral line to anal fin origin 9; predorsal scales 17-20, extending to about level of nostrils; teeth of jaws biserial (at least anteriorly), those of outer row somewhat spatulate with rounded tips, about 32 in lower jaw and 42 in upper jaw; teeth of inner row slender, about half width of outer row teeth. 

Greatest body depth 2.2 to 2.6 in SL; preorbital and suborbital naked with serrate edges, teeth of jaws biserial, those of outer row somewhat spatulate with rounded tips.


Two basic colour morphs: either mostly dark blue (except for pale pectoral, pelvic, and caudal fins) or sky-blue above and whitish on the lower half of the body, with the demarcation between the light and dark areas angling upwards posteriorly. The blue of the dark form is somewhat iridescent and the scales of the body have dusky margins which results in a cross-hatch pattern. Both forms have a dark grey forehead and a pattern of pale blue submarginal stripes on the anal fin. 


Forms distinct pairs during the breeding season. Females lay demersal adherent eggs that are guarded and aerated by the male parent.

Species Citation

Pomacentrus australis Allen & Robertson, 1974, Rec. Aust. Mus. 29(4): 158, Pl. 3. Type locality: One Tree Island, Capricorn Group, Queensland, 23°30'S, 152°05'E, 16 m.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Australian Damsel, Pomacentrus australis Allen & Robertson 1974


Allen, G.R. 1991. Damselfishes of the World. Melle, Germany : Mergus Verlag 271 pp.

Allen, G.R. 2001. Family Pomacentridae. pp. in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Allen, G.R. & Robertson, D.R. 1974. Descriptions of four new damselfishes (Pomacentridae) from Papua New Guinea and eastern Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 29(4): 153-167 pls 1-5 PDF

Brothers, E.B., Williams, D.McB. & Sale, P.F. 1983. Length of larval life in twelve families of fishes at One Tree Lagoon, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Biology 76: 319-324.

Choat, J.H., van Herwerden, L., Robbins, W.D., Hobbs, J.P. & Ayling, A.M. 2006. A report on the ecological surveys undertaken at Middleton and Elizabeth Reefs, February 2006. Report by James Cook University to the Department of the Environment and Heritage. 65 pp. PDF

Gill, A.C. & Reader, S.E. 1992. Fishes. pp. 90-93, 193-228 in Hutchings, P. (ed.) Reef Biology. A Survey of Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, South Pacific. Canberra : Australian National Parks Vol. 3, Kowari 230 pp.

Johnson, J.W. 1999. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 43(2): 709-762.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp. 

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37372107

Depth:5-64 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:8 cm TL

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