Scalyfin, Parma victoriae (Günther 1863)

Other Names: Common Scalyfin, Rock Perch, Scaly Fin, Victorian Rock Perch, Victorian Scalyfin, Victorian Scaly-fin

An adult Scalyfin, Parma victoriae. Source: Julian Finn / Museum Victoria. License: CC by Attribution


Small territorial fishes that live on rocky reefs in bays, harbours and along the coast in southern Australia.

Although Scalyfins change colour as they grow, they never have a distinct white patch on the gill cover - unlike the White-ear (Parma microlepis). Small juveniles are bright orange with neon-blue lines, spots and a black ocellus ringed with neon-blue on the dorsal fin.

Large adults are dark greyish to black, or rusty-coloured, often becoming paler below, with a dusky head, and pale spots along lateral line.

Divers are very familiar with these small damselfishes, especially during the breeding season when they aggresively guard their territories.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Parma victoriae in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jun 2024,

Scalyfin, Parma victoriae (Günther 1863)

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia, and widely distributed from about Wilsons Promontory (and possibly further east to Cape Howe), Victoria, to Jurien Bay, Western Australia, and northern Tasmania.

Scalyfins inhabit sheltered and moderately exposed rocky reefs and rocky estuaries, in depths of 1-35 m. The species is common and locally abundant in some areas, and juveniles often occur in tide pools.


Dorsal fin XIII, 16-17; Anal fin II, 14-15; Caudal fin 15; Pectoral fin 19-21; Pelvic fin I, 5; Lateral line 21-22; Gill rakers 20-23.
Body deep, robust, somewhat oval, with a rounded head, a small terminal mouth, and a single long-based dorsal fin. Body scales large, bases of dorsal and anal fins with scaly sheath of smaller scales.


To 25 cm


Colour highly variable, large adults dark greyish to black, or rusty-coloured with a dusky head, pale spots along lateral line and sometimes pale below. Juveniles bright orange with neon-blue lines, spots and a black ocellus ringed with neon-blue on dorsal fin.


Herbivores - graze on a crop of algae in their home territory.


During the breeding season between November and February, individuals form breeding pairs. Males prepare 'nests' on rocky substrates by removing algae, detritus and encrusting organisms.

Females lay their adherent eggs onto this 'nest' site and males aerate and aggressively protect the eggs from all-comers, including divers who stray to close. The larvae are pelagic.


  • IUCN Red List : Least Concern
  • Remarks

    Adults of both sexes are very territorial, and aggressively defend their home territory. The size of adult territories varies from 3-26 square metres and depends the density of other Scalyfins in the same area.
    The damselfish, Parma victoriae, is a herbivorous species that inhabits sheltered and moderately exposed temperate rocky reefs at a depth range of 3 – 35 m. Adults of both sexes are territorial and will aggressively defend their home cave area, which also includes a crop of algae which the fish graze continually (Edgar 2000).  Breeding occurs between the months of November and February (Norman and Jones 1984).

    Similar Species

    Differs from the similar Parma microlepis in lacking the white patch on the gill cover at all stages in the life cycle.

    Species Citation

    Glyphidodon victoriae Günther 1863, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 3 11(17): 115. Type locality: Victoria


    Bray, D.J. 2018


    Australian Faunal Directory

    Scalyfin, Parma victoriae (Günther 1863)


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

    Allen, G.R. 2010. Parma victoriae. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. . Downloaded on 04 November 2012.

    Allen, G.R. & Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Pomacentridae. pp. 634-638 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

    Allen, G.R. & Hoese, D.F. 1975. A review of the pomacentrid fish genus Parma, with descriptions of two new species. Records of the Western Australian Museum 3(4): 261-294 figs 1-18.

    Edgar, G.J. 2000. Australian marine life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed New Holland, Sydney, Australia.

    Edgar, G.J., Last, P.R. & Wells, M.W. 1982. Coastal Fishes of Tasmania and Bass Strait. Hobart : Cat & Fiddle Press 175 pp.

    Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp.

    Günther, A. 1863. On new species of fishes from Victoria, South Australia. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3 11(17): 114-117.

    Hart, S.P., Edmunds, J.E., Elias, J. & Ingwersen. C. 2005. Victorian subtidal reef monitoring program: the reef biota on the western Victorian coast, volume 2. Parks Victoria technical series. Parks Victoria, Melbourne.

    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 

    Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

    Klunzinger, C.B. 1872. Zur Fische-fauna von Süd Australien. Archiv für Naturgeschichte 38(1): 17-47 pl. 2 (described as Heliastes lividus)

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

    Kuiter, R.H. 1994. Family Pomacentridae. pp. 668-675, figs 586-591 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs

    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.

    Last, P.R., Scott, E.O.G. & Talbot, F.H. 1983. Fishes of Tasmania. Hobart : Tasmanian Fisheries Development Authority 563 pp. figs

    Norman, M.D. & Jones, G.P. 1984. Determinants of territory size in the pomacentrid reef fish, Parma victoriae. Oecologia 61: 60-69.

    Saunders, B.J., Harvey, E.S. & Kendrick, G.A. 2014. Factors influencing and habitat associations in an endemic group of temperate Western Australian reef fishes over a latitudinal gradient. Marine Ecology Progress Series 517: 193-208.

    Whitley, G.P. 1929. Some fishes of the order Amphiprioniformes. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 9(3): 207-246 figs 1-4 pls 27-28 (as Actinochromis victoriae & Parma viola)

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37372006

    Conservation:IUCN: Least Concern

    Depth:1-35 m

    Habitat:Reef associated

    Max Size:25 cm TL


    Species Maps

    CAAB distribution map