top of page
Fish Banners-22.jpg


Group 4: Small ovals


Group 4 - Small ovals : While divers tend to first notice the larger, more obvious fish on a dive, after a short while the challenge to find new species leads them to change their search image to look for smaller, previously unnoticed fish. Generally, the first new species a diver will encounter will belong to the small oval shaped group. This group is broken into the damselfish and their close cousins the chromis. Damsels are like the surgeonfish in that they eat algae. They do not roam around grazing, but rather tend to small algae gardens like a farmer. These areas are guarded fiercely as the algae farm is the damsels food source. For that reason you can think of the damselfish as not just territorial, but Dam- selfish with its territory.

Many damselfish have distinctly different colors as juveniles, often being much brighter and more colorful when they are young and becoming drab with age. (much like us humans!) For this reason, the juveniles have been heavily collected for the aquarium trade and are under heavy fishing pressure. As part of the REEF Fish Survey Project, divers are asked to monitor the juveniles and adults separately in two of the damselfish species – the Cortez damselfish and the giant damselfish.

Choose another fish Category

5 Fun Facts - Damsel Fish

Fun Facts Damsel

Tiny Fish, Big Personalities! The damsel fish belong to the family Pomacentridae, which includes over 320 different species! They come in various shapes, sizes, and vibrant colors. Most damselfish are found in marine, or saltwater, habitats in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific oceans. There are a few others found in brackish or freshwater habitats, like the (again, aptly named) freshwater damselfish.

Environmental Indicators: The health of damsel fish populations can serve as a barometer for the overall well-being of coral reefs. Monitoring their numbers and behavior can provide valuable insights into the state of these fragile ecosystems.

Reef Guardians: Damsels are like the security guards of the coral reefs. Some species are known to fiercely defend their territories, even taking on fish much larger than themselves to protect their homes.

Quick Color-Change Artists: Damsel fish are known for their ability to change colors rapidly. They use this skill not just for communication but also for camouflage and courtship displays. It's like having a built-in mood ring!

Cleaner Crews: A few species of damsels, such as the cleaner wrasse, have a unique job on the reef. They act as "cleaner fish," picking parasites and dead skin off larger fish. It's a mutualistic relationship where they get a meal, and their clients get a spa treatment!

Movie Stars: Damsels have made their way into popular culture. Remember the colorful fish in the animated film "Finding Nemo"? That was a blue damselfish named Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres.

bottom of page