Scissortail Sergeant (species: Abudefduf sexfasciatus) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Abudefduf sexfasciatus
Scissortail Sergeant

©Andy Lewis: An adult Scissortail Sergeant

©Andy Lewis: A school of Scissortail Sergeant over Acropora coral. The fish in the upper right are Blackaxil Pullers.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Pomacentridae
Genus Abudefduf
Species Abudefduf sexfasciatus



Distinguishing features

A small fish with a pale, laterally compressed body, a series of vertical black stripes on the flanks, and black bars on the tail. Distinguish from the closely related A. bengalensis by the black on the tail, and from A. vaigiensis by the absence of any yellow on the upper flank.


  • Up to 17 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Areas of rich coral growth in with good current flow. Generally seen more commonly in shallow lagoonal and backreef habitats.

Found in most locations around the Island.


The Scissor-tail Sergeant is a common plankton feeding damselfish found near coral rich areas. They aggregate in loose schools to feed, taking planktonic crustaceans and drift algae. Reproduction occurs over the summer months, and males maintain a benthic nest site where multiple females may deposit eggs. Spawning fish often assume a different colour pattern, and engage in elaborate swimming displays in front of the nest site.

Web resources


  • Bakus, G.J. (1981). Chemical defense mechanisms on the Great Barrier Reef, Science, 211: 497-499. LIRS catalog number 41.
  • Burger, M.A.A. and R.D. Adlard (2010). Four new species of Kudoa Meglitsch, 1947 (Myxosporea: Multivalvulida) from Australia with recommendations for species descriptions in the Kudoidae, Parasitology, 137: 793-814. LIRS catalog number 1318.
  • Caley, M.J. (1995). Community dynamics of tropical reef fishes: local patterns between latitudes, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 129: 7-18. LIRS catalog number 447.
  • View all references