Abudefduf saxatilis

Super Group: 
Linnaeus 1758
Chaetodon saxatilis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Abudefduf marginatus (Bloch 1787)
Chaetodon marginatus (Bloch 1787)
Chaetodon mauritii (Bloch 1787)
Glyphisodon moucharra (Lacepede 1802)


Diagnosis_Genus: Abu-defduf Forsskål. Dentibus maxillaribus unius feriei, filiformibus, contiguis, fubmobilibus, obtufis: dentibus faucium nullis: annulo fubtus circa oculo. P. Br. rad. 5. Spinae P. A. 2.

Diagnosis_Species: Chaetodon saxatilis Linnaeus. C. spinis pinnae dorsalis I4, pinnis ventralibus acuminatis, cauda bifida, dentibus emarginatis. Mus. Ad. Fr. I.p.64. Chaetodon cauda bifurca, fasciis 5 albis. D. 1/2 4/6. P. I5. V. 1/6. A. 2/15. C.15. Amaen. acad. I. p.312. Sparus fasciis 5 transversis fuscis. D. 1/2 3/5. P.I8. V. 1/6. A. 2/14. C. I5. Gron. mus. I n.89. Idem. D. 1/2 3/6. P. I7. V. 1/6. A. 2/14. C. I8. Habitat in India. Habitu toto perca a congeneribus recedit.

Abudefduf saxatilis, also called sergeant major, has a compressed body, oval. Its size can reach 22 cm but is generally between 5 and 20 cm. It has a small, terminal mouth, with the slightly protruding upper lip. Her belly is white, gray to bluish with large scales. It is scratched, the full height of five black blue strips, starting from the cover to caudal peduncle. It also has a black spot at the base of the pectoral and back has a touch of yellow sometimes going green. Sergeant Major has a forked tail. The pectoral fins are rounded and thin pelvic. The back has 13 spines and 12-13 soft rays while the anal has only 2 spines and 10-12 soft rays. All the fins are transparent, gray or dark blue. Non-breeding male and female Abudefduf saxatilis were monomorphic, usually silvery gray below, bright yellow above with five dark vertical bars. During spawning/courting, both sexes exhibited color dimorphism. The breeding males and females exhibited a deep bluish color with the bars very difficult to discern. During courtship, males exhibited a conspicuous ‘white mask’ on the head region.

Body_adults_length: 10-22 cm
Body_juvenile_length: < 10.1-11.5 cm (Bessa et al., 2007)
Body_eggs_length: 1.0 mm (Prappas et al., 1991)
Body_eggs_wide: 0.6 mm (Prappas et al., 1991)
Weight: 200g (Fishbase)
Sequence_COI: AF285942 (Tsadok et al. 2015)
Sequence_16rRNA: GU225079, JQ842755-56, JQ841842, GU225080-81, JQ842351, JQ839691-93, GU225082-83, JQ842352, JQ842350, AY662765, JQ839921, JQ839920, JQ365200, JQ842354, JQ365199 (Tsadok et al. 2015)
Sequence_12sRNA: AF285920 (Tang 2001)
Sequence _16sRNA: AF285942 (Tang 2001)


Abudefduf: Arabic, abu = father, saxa as "living among rocks", and tilus as "tile-like in color". It is called father due to its bossy, aggressive behavior towards other inhabitants on the reef.

Type species

The type species of the genus Abudefduf is Chaetodon sordidus (Forsskäl 1775).


The sergeant major, Abudefduf saxatilis, is indigenous to the western Atlantic, but is present worldwide, possibly conspecific with Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean forms (Prappas et al. 1991). Inhabiting shallow water.
Abudefduf saxatilis is a non migratory species (Fishbase).
Habitat: coastal
Substrate: water
Sociability_adults: gregarious
Salinity: marine
Depth: 0-20 m (IRLSI)
Depth_larvae: pelagic
pH: 8-8.3 (Saltwater.aqua-fish.net)
Temperature: 23-26°C (Saltwater.aqua-fish.net)
Oxygen_level: oxic

Life cycle

Abudefduf saxatilis is a non migratory species (Fishbase).
Abudefduf saxatilis lives in Atlantic Ocean: Canada to Rhode Island, USA to Uruguay in the western Atlantic, abundant on Caribbean reefs; around islands of the mid-Atlantic, Cape Verde, and along the tropical coast of western Africa south to Angola. This species is strictly an Atlantic species (Fishbase).
Abudefduf saxatilis displays a sexual dimorphism during the period of reproduction. The males display a dark blue color during the reproduction period.
Egg laying occurs in pairs and the father stays by the territory, caring for the eggs during the embryonic development.
Reproduction_mode: sexual (oviparous)
Fertility_period: seasonal (during winter) (November to February) (Bessa et al., 2007)
Spawning_method: external fertilization in the water column

Feeding behaviour


Mode of locomotion

Motility: motile_swimming


Observation site(s)


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Association with... Region origin Name of site In reference...
Amyloodinium ocellatum Aquarium Zoological Society of London