Headband Humbug, Dascyllus reticulatus (Richardson 1846)

Other Names: Head-band Humbug, Reticulated Dascyllus, Reticulated Humbug

A Headband Humbug, Dascyllus reticulatus, at Flynn Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Queesland. Source: Andrew J. Green / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution


A whitish to brownish humbug with dark scale margins, the snout and top of the head greenish, a dark bar running through the pectoral-fin base and a second bar on the rear of the body. Headband Humbugs have blackish pelvic fins, spinous dorsal and anal fins, a black spot at the pectoral-fin base, a white tail base, and often bluish soft dorsal, anal and caudal fins.

Headband Humbugs schooling around an Acropora coral head at Madang, Papua New Guinea.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Dascyllus reticulatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 16 Jun 2021,

Headband Humbug, Dascyllus reticulatus (Richardson 1846)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from the Houtman Abrolhos to Rob Roy Reef , Western Australia, also offshore reefs of north Western Australia, Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, and from the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, and reefs in the Coral Sea, to the Jervis Bay region, New South Wales; also Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean, and the Lord Howe Province in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical east-Indo-west Pacific: Eastern Indian Ocean, western Pacific: Cocos-Keeling Islands, Christmas Island, and Indonesia, east to the Marshall Islands and Samoa, north to southern Japan and Ogasawara Islands, south to northern Australia and New Caledonia.
Inhabits outer lagoon and seaward reefs, with schools sheltering within branching coral heads, especially Pocillopora eydouxi.


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.


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

Similar Species

The similar Cloudy Dascyllus, Dascyllus carneus, which also occurs in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, differs in having blue spots on the head and nape, attaining a smaller maximum size of about 50 mm, with males attain sexual maturity between 30-35 mm (vs. males maturing between 45-55 mm, with a size of  about 65 mm in D. reticulatus), and in having a naked area on the chin anterior to the forward extension of the isthmus (vs. area largely covered with scales in D. reticulatus)


The specific name is from the Latin reticulatus (= having a net-like pattern) in reference to the reticulated or net-like scale pattern of this species. 

Species Citation

Heliases reticulatus Richardson, 1846,  Trans. Rept 12th Meeting Brit. Assoc. Advance. Sci. 1845: 245.  Type locality: China and Japan.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Headband Humbug, Dascyllus reticulatus (Richardson 1846)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37372074


Depth:1-50 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:9 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map