Banded Humbug, Dascyllus aruanus (Linnaeus 1758)

Other Names: Humbug, Humbug Dascyllus, White-tailed Footballer

A Banded Humbug, Dascyllus aruanus, at Koror, Palau. Source: Mark Rosenstein / iNaturalist. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


A small damselfish with three black bars on the head and body, a large white spot between the eyes, black pelvic fins and a white tail.

Banded humbugs are common inhabitants of shallow coral reefs. They form aggregations around coral bommies, often above Acropora corals, sheltering amongst the branches for protection.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Dascyllus aruanus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 12 Jul 2020,

Banded Humbug, Dascyllus aruanus (Linnaeus 1758)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from the Houtman Abrolhos to North West Cape, and Scott Reef, Western Australia, also Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, and the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, and reefs in the Coral Sea, to Sydney, New South Wales; also at Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, and the Lord Howe Island Province in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific.
Lives in a symbiotic mutualistic relationship with corals, preferring the coral host Pocillopora damicornis.


Dorsal fin XII, 11-13; Anal fin II, 11-13; Pectoral fin 17-19; Gill rakers 21-26; Lateral line scales 15-19.


10 cm TL, 8.5 cm SL


A black and white damselfish with three black bars, a large white spot between the eyes, black pectoral and pelvic fins and a white tail.


Feeds on zooplankton in the water column.


Females spawn demersal adhesive eggs that are guarded by the male parent until the larvae hatch.


A popular aquarium fish.

Similar Species

Most similar to Dascyllus melanurus which has the outer part of the tail black, a white outer margin on the middle part of the dorsal fin, and white lips.

Species Citation

Chaetodon aruanus Linnaeus, 1758. Systema Naturae 1: 275. Type locality: "Habitat in Indiis" [Aru Islands, Molucca Islands, Indonesia]


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Catalog of Fishes


Banded Humbug, Dascyllus aruanus (Linnaeus 1758)


Allen, G.R. 1975. Damselfishes of the South Seas. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey. 240 pp.

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

Allen, G.R. 1993. Fishes of Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 44: 67-91 

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

Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2  

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 21 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.

Castelnau, F.L. de 1875. Researches on the fishes of Australia. Intercolonial Exhibition Essays. 2. pp. 1–52 in, Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 : Official Record. Melbourne. (described as Dascyllus blochii) See ref online

Chase, T.J., Pratchett, M.S., Walker, S.P.W. & Hoogenboom, M.O. 2014. Small-scale environmental variation influences whether coral-dwelling fish promote or impede coral growth. Oecologia 174(4): 1009-1022  DOI 10.1007/s00442-014-3065-9

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.

Coker, D.J., Pratchett, M.S. & Munday, P.L. 2012. Influence of coral bleaching, coral mortality and conspecific aggression on movement and distribution of coral-dwelling fish, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 414–415: 62-68,

Cuvier, G. 1829. Le Regne Animal distribué d'après son organisation pour servir de base à l'histoire naturelle des animaux et d'introduction à l'anatomie comparée. Paris : Deterville (1817–1829) 2 vols.

Danilowicz, B.S. & Brown, C.L. 1992. Rearing methods for two damselfish species: Dascyllus albisella (Gill) and D. aruanus (L.). Aquaculture 106: 141-149.

Fishelson, L. 1998. Behaviour, socio‐ecology and sexuality in damselfishes (Pomacentridae). Italian Journal of Zoology 65(S1): 387-398 DOI: 10.1080/11250009809386853 Open access

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 

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.

Grant, E.M. 1975. Guide to Fishes. Brisbane : Queensland Government, Co-ordinator General’s Department 640 pp.

Heyward, A. et al. 2011. Monitoring Study S6B Corals Reefs, Montara: 2011 Shallow Reef Surveys at Ashmore, Cartier and Seringapatam Reefs. Final Report for PTTEP Australasia (Ashmore Cartier) Pty. Ltd. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville. 163 pp. 

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. Fishes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands: new records, community composition and biogeographic significance. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 203–219 

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. A survey of the nearshore reef fish fauna of Western Australia's west and south coasts — The Leeuwin Province. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 46: 1-66 figs 1-6 

Hutchins, J.B. 1997. Checklist of fishes of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. pp. 239-253 in Wells, F. (ed.) The Marine Fauna and Flora of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum. 

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. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls.

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.

Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundem classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentis, synonymis, locis. Editio decima, reformata. Holmiae : Laurentii Salvii Tomus I 824 pp. See ref at BHL

Oxley, W.G., Ayling, A.M., Cheal, A.J. & Osborne, K. 2004. Marine surveys undertaken in the Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve, December 2003. Townsville : Australian Institute of Marine Sciences 64 pp.

Phillips, G.A.C., How, M.J., Lange, J.E., Marshall, N.J. & Cheney, K.I. 2017. Disruptive colouration in reef fish: does matching the background reduce predation risk? Journal of Experimental Biology 220(11): 1962-1974, open access

Randall, J.E., 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 720 pp.

Randall, H.A. & Allen, G.R. 1977. A revision of the damselfish genus Dascyllus (Pomacentridae) with description of a new species. Records of the Australian Museum 31(9): 349-385 DOI: 10.3853/j.0067-1975.31.1977.217open access

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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37372073


Depth:0-20 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:10 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map