Sergeant major are a marine fish that occurs on both sides of the Atlantic. Adults of this species frequently form large groups of several hundred individuals to feed on algae, small crustaceans and fish and invertebrate larvae. Juveniles have a different feeding style, often forming cleaning stations for green turtles.
  • Size

    9 inches (23 cm)
  • Diet

    Algae, small crustaceans and fish, as well as invertebrate larvae
  • Range

    Both sides of the Atlantic
  • Habitat

    Shallow coral and rocky reefs and sea grass beds

Physical Characteristics

Size

  • Adults can reach lengths to about 9 inches (23 cm) and weigh as much as about one-half a pound (227 gm).

Color

  • Sergeant major has five black vertical body bars; its upper body is usually yellow.

 

Animal Fact

The sergeant major is a nest-building species and males will guard the eggs after spawning.

Diet / Feeding

Diet

  • Consumes algae, small crustaceans and fish, as well as invertebrate larvae.

Feeding

  • 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.

Range / Habitat

Range

  • 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.

Habitat

  • 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.

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.

Sources

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