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Fun Animal Encounters

From a hairy tarantula to a talking African gray parrot, you never know what you’ll bump into in Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari at the Tennessee Aquarium!


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Sergeant Major

Abudefduf  saxatilis 

ON EXHIBIT:  Gulf of Mexico and Secret Reef in Ocean Journey

Sergeant Major


Sergeant majors are a type of damselfish and are very territorial.  Males fiercely guard their nests of purplish eggs from large fish and divers.  In the wild, sergeant majors can also act as cleaners to other fish and turtles, feeding on annoying parasites.

Many of the aquarium divers fear the sergeant major above all other fishes, even the sharks.  Why?  Because the males attack the divers while they are doing their routine maintenance when they approach a nest.  Divers are required to wear hoods and gloves to protect themselves from small bites from these aggressive fish.

Taking care of our streams and rivers is important for protecting our oceans.  Make sure to recycle your oil and leave stream and river banks planted to reduce erosion.  

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About This Animal

SIZE: 9 inches

RANGE: Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean

HABITAT:  Juveniles inhabit tide pools, adults congregate around reefs

DIET: Algae, crustaceans, fish and invertebrate larvae