Size12 to 14 inches (31–36 cm)
DietInvertebrates including worms, anemones, sea stars, shrimp, sponge and small shellfish
RangeEastern Pacific Ocean, from Monterey Bay in California to Southern Baja California and Guadalupe in Mexico
HabitatClear water, often near crevices, small caves, and occasionally in kelp
- Garibaldi is about 12 to 14 inches (31–36 cm) in length. It is the largest of the damselfish.
- The most distinguishing feature is the bright orange color of the adult. A juvenile is red-orange with bright iridescent blue spots on the body and blue edges on the fins.
- This species has a small, narrow mouth and an oval shaped body.
Garibaldi damselfish can make an audible thumping sound when disturbed.
- Feeds on a wide range of invertebrates including worms, anemones, sea stars, shrimp, sponge and small shellfish.
- Garibaldi damselfish occurs in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, from Monterey Bay in California to Southern Baja California and Guadalupe in Mexico.
- A reef-associated fish, found in clear water, often near crevices, small caves, and occasionally in kelp at depths to 98 feet (30 m).
- A fiercely territorial fish, and will attack larger animals that threaten its eggs.
- The male will select a home territory that includes a feeding area, a protective hole, and a nesting site. It will protect its territory year round.
- The female also will establish a home range but does not defend it with the same vigor as the male.
- One of the most interesting things about the garibaldi is its courtship and mating behavior:
- In the early spring, the male will prepare a nest by removing small animals and cleaning out the debris from a small area of a red algae bed.
- When the nest is ready, he will work hard to attract females with swimming displays.
- If the female is enticed to stay, she will release a trail of eggs, which stick to the algae nest. The male then fertilizes the eggs and chases away the female so that she won’t eat the eggs.
- He will continue to clean and guard the eggs until they hatch with no assistance from the female. A female can lay between 50 to 1000 eggs, which incubate for 2 to 7 days until they emerge into transparent, 1/6-inch hatchlings. Several females may spawn in the same nest and each female may lay eggs in several nests.
- “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.
- In 1995, the California Legislature placed a moratorium on garibaldi collecting for either sport or commercial purposes.
- Garibaldi is the official marine fish of the state of California.
- Garibaldi is solitary in nature and does not school. It is most active during the day and generally retreats to a protected spot at night.
- When disturbed, a Garibaldi can emit an audible thumping sound.
- Life span may be up to 17 years, but closer to 12 years is more common.
- Passport to the Pacific. Aquarium of the Pacific, pgs. 10 – 11.