Fish Files: Yellow Tail Damselfish

Thousands of divers and snorkellers don masks and fins every weekend to better observe life on our reefs and walls. While many delight in simply watching the general comings and goings, Weekender wants to know more about the lives and habits of different species. Assisted by the Department of Environment, we take a look this week at one of the most common fish on our reefs: the yellow tail damselfish.

Common throughout the Caribbean, this species is, not surprisingly, distinguished by its yellow tail.

In its juvenile stage this fish has an indigo coloured body with electric blue spots (and no yellow tail) and is most often seen sheltering in crevices between fire coral.

As they mature, their neon spots face, their bodies turn brown and their tails yellow.

Male Yellowtail damsel make excellent body guards! This species is a common territorial fish and usually lives on shallow reefs. Females lay their eggs on the seabed, sticking to the substrate. Males guard these eggs, sometimes rather ferociously, giving a warning nip to passers by who linger too long near the eggs.