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Family Pomacentridae - Damselfishes

Pomacentrus moluccensis- Lemon Damsel

An adult Lemon Damsel (natural light).


An adult male Lemon Damsel (flash).


A school of Lemon Damsels around a head of branching Acropora coral.


Newly settled Lemon Damsel recruits above a head of branching Acropora coral.


Distinguishing features

A small planktivorous damselfish with a bright yellow body. Similar to P. amboinensis but the latter species has an ocellus on the rear of the dorsal fin at all sizes, and is seen near sandy areas on reef edges. Maximum size about 10cm.


Found commonly in all bays with coral reefs.

Habitat Preferences

Reef flats, crests and slopes, always near live branching corals.

Biology & Ecology

The Lemon Damsel is quite common on Magnetic Island, where it is easily seen due to its very bright colouration and habit of living close to branching corals. It is very abundant on the mid-shelf reefs of the GBR, where it is found in nearly all reef habitats. This species is an excellent generalist, able to feed on both plankton or turf algae as the opportunity arises. This species usually recruits in December and January, and the newly settled fishes are also found close to Acroporid corals.

Papers and articles

Daniela M. Ceccarelli, Geoffrey P. Jones, Laurence J. McCook 2005. Effects of territorial damselfish on an algal-dominated coastal coral reef. Oecologia (2005) 24:606 .

Marcus C. Ohman, Philip L. Munday, Geoffrey P. Jones, M. Julian Caley 1998. Settlement strategies and distribution patterns of coral-reef fishes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 225 (1998) 219–238 .

Joanne S. Beukers Geoffrey P. Jones 1997. Habitat complexity modifies the impact of piscivores on a coral reef fish population. Oecologia 114:50±59 .

David J. Booth, Giglia A. Beretta 2004. Influence of recruit condition on food competition and predation risk in a coral reef fish. Oecologia 140: 289–294 .

Benjamin J. Brunton . David J. Booth 2003. Density- and size-dependent mortality of a settling coral-reef
damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis Bleeker). Oecologia 137: 377–384 .

David J. Booth, Giglia A. Beretta 2002. Changes in a fish assemblage after a coral bleaching event. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. 245: 205–212 .