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Abudefduf saxatilis  (Linnaeus, 1758)

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Abudefduf saxatilis
Picture by Patzner, R.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes (Perch-likes) > Pomacentridae (Damselfishes) > Pomacentrinae
Etymology: Abudefduf: Arabic, abu = father; this fish is the leader of the reef against other species (Ref. 45335).

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Marine; reef-associated; non-migratory; depth range 0 - 20 m (Ref. 58047), usually ? - 10 m (Ref. 86997).   Subtropical; 41°N - 37°S, 89°W - 14°E

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 15.0, range 10 - ? cm
Max length : 22.9 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 26340); common length : 15.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 3139); max. published weight: 200.00 g (Ref. 5288)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 13; Dorsal soft rays (total): 12-13; Anal spines: 2; Anal soft rays: 10 - 12. Greenish yellow above, shading to white below, with 5 prominent vertical black bars that narrow toward belly (Ref. 26938). A faint sixth bar may be present posteriorly on caudal peduncle; a black spot at upper base of pectoral fin. The adult male becomes dark bluish, the black bars thus less conspicuous on the body (Ref. 13442).

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Atlantic Ocean: Canada (Ref. 5951) 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. It is replaced in the Indo-Pacific region by the closely related Abudefduf vaigiensis (G. Allen, pers. comm.).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Juveniles are common in tide pools while adults found over shallow reef tops. Adults frequently form large feeding aggregations of up to several hundred individuals. Food items include algae, small crustaceans and fish, and various invertebrate larvae (Ref. 3139). At Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, this species feeds on spinner dolphins’ feces and vomits. The offal feeding may be regarded as a simple behavioral shift from plankton feeding to drifting offal picking. Also, juveniles may hold cleaning stations together with the doctorfish (Acanthurus chirurgus) and the blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus) and graze algae as well as pick molted skin and parasites from green turtles (Chelonia mydas ). This behavior is preceded by a characteristic inspection usually followed by feeding nips on the turtles’ skin (head, limbs, and tail), as well as on the carapace. The most inspected and cleaned body parts are the flippers (Ref. 48727, 51385). Adult males adopt a bluish ground color when guarding eggs. Oviparous, distinct pairing during breeding (Ref. 205). Eggs are demersal and adhere to the substrate (Ref. 205). Attracted to divers who feed fish. Marketed fresh (Ref. 3139). Has been reared in captivity (Ref. 35420).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Oviparous, distinct pairing during breeding (Ref. 205). Eggs are demersal and adhere to the substrate (Ref. 205). Males guard and aerate the eggs (Ref. 205).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator : Allen, Gerald R. | Collaborators

Allen, G.R., 1991. Damselfishes of the world. Mergus Publishers, Melle, Germany. 271 p. (Ref. 7247)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans


Human uses

Fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: commercial
FAO(Publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

More information

Larval dynamics
Aquaculture profile
Allele frequencies
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins
Swim. type
Gill area


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Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01905 (0.01160 - 0.03130), b=3.00 (2.86 - 3.14), based on LWR estimates for this species & Genus-body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  3.8   ±0.2 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (Preliminary K or Fecundity.).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Low to moderate vulnerability (32 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.