Sergeant Major: A Beginner’s Guide

Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major, also known as Píntano, is a species of damselfish. Young ones live in tide pools, while adults live in shallow reefs.

They often gather in large groups to eat algae, small crustaceans, fish, and various larvae.

In the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, these fish also eat waste from spinner dolphins.

This behavior is a change from eating plankton to picking floating waste.

Young Sergeant Majors also clean green turtles by eating algae, molted skin, and parasites off their bodies.

They usually inspect the turtle’s head, limbs, tail, and shell before feeding on it with a focus on the flippers. People sometimes feed these fish while diving.

They are sold fresh in markets and are raised in captivity. Also, these fish are safe for coral reefs.

Sergeant Major Interesting Facts

  • Sergeant Major grows up to 5.9 inches (15.0 centimeters) long and lives in shallow reefs or tide pools.
  • In the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, these fish eat waste from spinner dolphins and help clean green turtles by eating algae, molted skin, and parasites off their bodies.
  • Adult males turn bluish when guarding eggs, which stick to underwater surfaces during the breeding season.
  • Sergeant Major is found exclusively in the Atlantic Ocean, with a closely related species called Abudefduf vaigiensis living in the Indo-Pacific region.

Sergeant Major Habitat

Sergeant Major is found in the Atlantic Ocean, from Canada to Rhode Island, USA, and down to Uruguay.

It’s also common in the Caribbean and near some islands in the mid-Atlantic.

Its range extends from Cape Verde along Africa’s tropical coast, reaching as far south as Angola.

In the Indo-Pacific region, it has a close relative called Abudefduf vaigiensis. This fish lives in marine environments and is associated with reefs.

It doesn’t migrate and usually stays within depths of 0 to 20 meters (often around 10 meters).

Sergeant Major prefers subtropical climates and is found between latitudes of 41°N to 37°S and longitudes of 89°W to 14°E.

Water Temperature:Unknown
Water pH:Unknown
Water Hardness:Unknown

Sergeant Major Physical Characteristics

Size: 5.9 inches (15.0 centimeters)

Sergeant Major matures around 5.9 inches (15.0 centimeters). It grows to a maximum length of about 9.0 inches (22.9 centimeters) and weighs up to 200 grams.

However, most of these fish reach up to 5.9 inches (15.0 centimeters) long.

Sergeant Major has 13 dorsal spines, 12 to 13 dorsal soft rays, 2 anal spines, and 10 to 12 anal soft rays. It has a greenish-yellow top, fading to white on the bottom.

It has five vertical black bars that get narrower toward its belly. There might be a faint sixth bar near the tail and a black spot at the upper base of its pectoral fin.

Adult males become dark blue, making the black bars less visible.

Sergeant Major Reproduction

Sergeant Majors lay eggs, and they form distinct pairs when breeding.

The eggs stick to surfaces underwater. Male fish protect and provide oxygen to the eggs.

Sergeant Major Scientific Classification

Scientific Name:Abudefduf saxatilis
Also Known As:Sergeant Major, Píntano
Conservation Status:Least Concern

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