Indian Ocean Humbug Damselfish – Facts and Photographs

Indian Ocean Humbug Damselfish, Dascyllus abudafur

The Indian Ocean Humbug Damselfish, Dascyllus abudafur is also known as the Zebra Humbug. Despite their small size and lack of bright coloration they have a lot of character. Previously they were classified as Dascyllus aruanus but have now been split off from the Pacific population.

 Dascyllus abudafur 3


The base color is white with three vertical black bars down the body and a less distinct band on the front of the caudal fin. The front bar slopes down the face leaving a white patch between the eyes and lips, the second bar also slopes forward down the body and the rear bar slopes slightly backwards onto the anal fin.

The dorsal fin is ringed in black with a faint blue edge, the pelvic and pectoral fins are also black with a thin blue edge. The caudal fin has an indistinct black bar on the front and the rear section is transparent. The edge of the pelvic, caudal and anal fins are tipped with a very thin blue line.


The Indian Ocean Humbug Damselfish is usually seen in shoals of varying size with a wide age grouping from adult to juvenile. They will invariably be around an acropora coral head and retreat into the branches of the coral when approached.  The whole shoal will simultaneously emerge when they believe the danger has passed.  They are more common in the shallower protected waters but are also sometimes found on slightly deeper protected reefs.

 Dascyllus abudafur 2


The Indian Ocean Humbug Damselfish is now confined to the western Indian Ocean including the Red Sea and Indian Ocean Islands.


The Indian Ocean Humbug Damselfish feed on zooplankton and algae.

 Dascyllus abudafur 1


Pairing before mating has been noted and the eggs are demersal and adhere to the substrate. The male cleans a patch of rock by rubbing it with his body. The eggs are then laid and fertilized and are guarded by the male.  During this time the males may become territorial and will chase other fish away from the eggs.


Humbug Damselfish are very popular for beginners because they are extremely hardy and easy to feed. Several specimens in a tank make an attractive addition to a tank because they will usually shoal together.  In a small crowded aquarium they may become aggressive towards other fish and this situation should be avoided.


Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Pomacentridae
Genus: Dascyllus
Species:D. abudafur