Banded Humbug, Dascyllus aruanus (Linnaeus 1758)

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

Banded Humbug, Dascyllus aruanus, at Yankee Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Source: Richard Ling / Flickr. 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. 2023, Dascyllus aruanus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 03 Dec 2023,

Banded Humbug, Dascyllus aruanus (Linnaeus 1758)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from the Houtman Abrolhos to North West Cape, and offshore reefs of north Western Australia, Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, and the far 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 Province in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific: Indo-Pacific from the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to southern Mozambique, Madagascar to the Maldives and Sri Lanka, the Andaman Islands, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Ryukyu Islands of Japan and Taiwan, the Philippines south to northern Australia and east to French Polynesia.
Small to large aggregations inhabit shallow reef lagoons and subtidal coral reef flats. Lives in a close association with branching corals of the genera Acropora, Pocillopora and Stylophora.


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.


Species of the genus Dascyllus are obligate coral dwellers. They are protogynous hermaphrodites, with females having the ability to change sex during their life cycle. One or two dominant males defend a single branching coral head with a harem of juveniles and females. In return for the shelter provided by the coral, the fish remove unwanted algal growth from the coral. Females spawn demersal adhesive eggs that are guarded by the male parent until the larvae hatch.


A popular aquarium fish.


Hybridizes with the Headband Humbug, Dascyllus reticulatus,on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland (He et al. 2019)

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. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Australian Faunal Directory

Catalog of Fishes

Banded Humbug, Dascyllus aruanus (Linnaeus 1758)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37372073


Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-20 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:10 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map