The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Acanthochromis polyacanthus
Acanthochromis polyacanthus
(spiny chromis damselfish)
Marine Fishes

Copyright Info
Acanthochromis polyacanthus (Bleeker, 1855)

Common name: spiny chromis damselfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Dascyllus polyacanthus Bleeker, 1855 original combination; Heptadecanthus longicaudis Alleyne and Macleay, 1877; Heptadecanthus brevipinnis De Vis, 1885; Heptadecanthus maculosus De Vis, 1885; Abudefduf jordani Seale, 1906;  Chromis desmostigma Fowler and Bean, 1928.

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: This is the only species of Acanthochromis.  Color varies depending on locality from blueish gray, brown, to white in both monochromatic and bicolored forms.  17 dorsal spines, the most in the family (Randall et al. 1990).

Size: to 14 cm (Randall et al. 1990)

Native Range: Pacific Ocean from Indonesia and Philippines to northeastern Australia and Melanesia (Randall et al. 1990).

Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Two specimens were removed from Miami Beach Marina in Florida, in July 2017.

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Acanthochromis polyacanthus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL201720171Florida Southeast Coast

Table last updated 7/17/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Acanthochromis is a small plankton-feeding reef fish with high site fidelity (Thresher 1985). It is the only species of damselfish that lacks a pelagic larval stage with the young remaining under parental care (Doherty et al. 1994, Randall et al. 1990).  This species lays small clutches of large eggs (4.5 mm) defended by both parents.  The fry remain near the nest for several weeks to months until they disperse into the surrounding habitat at a relatively large size (30-40 mm SL; Kavanagh 2000, Thresher 1985).  During brooding juveniles ingest mucus as a food source from the sides of the parents (Kavanagh 2000).  Acanthochromis is found at a depth of 1-65 m (Randall et al. 1990).

Means of Introduction: Probable aquarium release.

Status: Reported from Florida.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

References: (click for full references)

Doherty, P.J., P. Mather, and S. Planes. 1994. Acanthochromis polyacanthus, a fish lacking larval dispersal, has genetically differentiated populations at local and regional scales on the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Biology 121:11-21.

Kavanagh, K.D.  2000.  Larval brooding the marine damselfish Acanthochromis polyacanthus (Pomacentridae) is correlated with highly divergent morphology, ontogeny and life-history traits. Bulletin of Marine Science 66(2):321-337.

Randall, J.E., G.R. Allen, and R.C. Steene. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Thresher, R.E. 1985. Distribution, abundance, and reproductive success in the coral reef fish Acanthochromis polyacanthus. Ecology 66(4):1139-1150.

Other Resources:

Author: Schofield, P.J., and M.E. Brown

Revision Date: 3/26/2021

Peer Review Date: 9/6/2017

Citation Information:
Schofield, P.J., and M.E. Brown, 2024, Acanthochromis polyacanthus (Bleeker, 1855): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=3168, Revision Date: 3/26/2021, Peer Review Date: 9/6/2017, Access Date: 7/17/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [7/17/2024].

Contact us if you are using data from this site for a publication to make sure the data are being used appropriately and for potential co-authorship if warranted.

For general information and questions about the database, contact Wesley Daniel. For problems and technical issues, contact Matthew Neilson.