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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Ocean Voyager

Range / Habitat

  • Sergeant major is a marine fish that occurs on both sides of the Atlantic. In the Western Atlantic from Rhode Island to Uruguay, including the Gulf of Mexico, it is abundant on Caribbean reefs. To the east, it has been reported from the mid-Atlantic islands and the tropical coast of West Africa. 
  • Adults are found over shallow coral and rocky reefs and sea grass beds at depths to about 50 feet (15 m). They usually form loose aggregations. 
  • Juveniles are common in tide pools and in floating sargassum.

Physical Characteristics

  • Sergeant major has five black vertical body bars; its upper body is usually yellow.
  • Adults can reach lengths to about 9 inches (23 cm) and weigh as much as about one-half a pound (227 gm).

Diet / Feeding

  • Consumes algae, small crustaceans and fish, as well as invertebrate larvae.
  • Adults frequently form large feeding aggregates of several hundred individuals.
  • Juveniles may form feeding stations for green turtles, picking off algae, molting skin and parasites.

Conservation Status

  • “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Sergeant major is a nest-building species: adult males clear a space on a hard surface such as on rocks, shipwrecks, pilings or outcroppings. The males guard the eggs after spawning and may adopt a bluish ground color during this period.
  • The species is reported to spawn year-round in warmer locations.


Coral Reef Fishes. Lieske, E, and Myers, R.