Scissortail Sergeant, Abudefduf sexfasciatus (Lacépède 1801)

Other Names: Scissor-tail Sergeant, Six-banded Sergeant-major, Stripe-tailed Damsel-fish

A Scissortail Sergeant, Abudefduf sexfasciatus, at Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. Source: Graham Edgar / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution

A whitish damselfish with five relatively narrow dark bars on the head and body, and a broad dark streak along each caudal-fin lobe.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Abudefduf sexfasciatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2024,

Scissortail Sergeant, Abudefduf sexfasciatus (Lacépède 1801)

More Info


Rottnest Island, Western Australia northwards including Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, to Merimbula, New South Wales; also Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean, and Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific.
Inhabits coral-rich areas, aggregating in loose schools to feed on planktonic crustaceans and drifting algae.


Dorsal fin XIII, 12-16; Anal fin II, 12-14; Pectoral fin 16-20; Gill rakers 22-26; Lateral-line scales 19-23.
Body depth 1.6-2.0 in SL; soft dorsal and anal fins with pointed rear profiles.


Aggregations feed on on zooplankton and algae high in the water column.


Spawning occurs during summer months and males maintain a nest site in which multiple females may deposit their eggs.

Similar Species

Differs from the closely related A. bengalensis by having black streaks on the caudal fin lobes, and from A. vaigiensis in lacking yellow colour on the upper sides.

Species Citation

Labrus sexfasciatus Lacépède, 1801, Hist. Nat. Poiss. 3 : 430, 477, pl. 19(2). Type locality: Le grande golfe de l'Inde (Indian Ocean), and Malabaar, India.


Bray, D.J. 2018

Scissortail Sergeant, Abudefduf sexfasciatus (Lacépède 1801)


Allen, G. R. 1986. Family 219: Pomacentridae. pp. 670-682 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls.

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

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

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., Bauchot, M.-L. & Desoutter, M. 1978. The status of Abudefduf sexfasciatus (Lacépède), a pomacentrid fish from the Indo-West Pacific. Copeia 78(2): 328-330 figs 1-2

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp. 

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

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.

Cooper, W.J., L.L. Smith & M.W. Westneat (2009) Exploring the radiation of a diverse reef fish family: Phylogenetics of the damselfishes (Pomacentridae), with new classifications based on molecular analyses of all genera. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 52: 1-16.

Cuvier, G.L. in Cuvier, G.L. & Valenciennes, A. 1830. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : Levrault Vol. 5 499 pp. pls 100-140. (p. 464, Pl. 135, described as Glyphisodon coelestinus). 

Fisher, R. (2005) Swimming speeds of larval coral reef fishes: impacts on self-recruitment and dispersal. Marine Ecology Progress Series 285: 223-232.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Fulton, C.J. 2005. Wave energy and the role of swimming in reef fish ecology, Ph.D. thesis, James Cook University.

Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp. (p. 271, as Abudefduf coelestinus)

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S.J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Checklist and new records of Christmas Island fishes: the influence of isolation, biogeography and habitat availability on species abundance and community composition. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 184–202.

Hutchins, J.B. 2001. Biodiversity of shallow reef fish assemblages in Western Australia using a rapid censusing technique. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 247-270.

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.

Manica, A. (2003) The effect of brood size and age on partial filial cannibalism in the scissortail sergeant. Journal of Fish Biology 63: 37-47.

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 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:37372011

Depth:1-20 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:19 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map