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Damsels

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seabass
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Damsels

Pomacentridae_-_Chrysiptera_starcki.JPG

While very hardy, most Damselfish have a reputation for becoming territorial and aggressive as they get older (especially the larger varieties).  In the past, they were used to cycle new marine aquariums.  However, after they are introduced, they can be difficult to remove.  Plus today, there are more humane ways to cycle tanks (and rocks).

 

Since a territorial Damsel can become a problem when space is limited, you might consider keeping certain species of Damsels without any other fish tank mates in your nano reef.  But in larger aquariums, some Damselfish can even be kept in groups of the same species.

 

Damsels are closely related to Clownfish, and some will even hang out in host anemones like Clownfish do.  Also, like Clownfish, Damselfish change gender as they mature.  Most are considered to be reef-safe,

 

Damsels are omnivores.  They accept most prepared dry and frozen marine foods.  Offer a varied diet of meaty items (including flakes, pellets, and frozen preparations).  Being omnivores, herbivore preparations should also be occasionally offered.

 

Blue Sapphire Damselfish (Chrysiptera springeri)

Max Size: 2"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indonesia

Species Notes: The Blue Sapphire Damsel can quickly turn completely black when stressed, allowing them to evade predators.

Chrysiptera_springeri.jpg

 

Tracey's Damselfish (Chrysiptera traceyi)

Max Size: 2"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Fiji

 

Neon Damselfish (Pomacentrus alleni)

Max Size: 2.5"

Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indonesia, Sri Lanka

PomacentAlleniGRA.jpg

 

Talbot's Damselfish (Chrysiptera talboti)

Max Size: 2.5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Coral Sea, Indonesia, Philippines

Chrysiptera_talboti_-_Demoiselle_de_Talbot_-_Aqua_Porte_Dor%C3%A9e_02.JPG

 

Rolland's Damselfish (Chrysiptera rollandi) a.k.a. Black Cap Damselfish

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Fiji, Indonesia

Species Notes: A small group of juvenile Black Cap Damsels can be kept in a suitably sized aquarium with other semi-aggressive fish, as they can become territorial as they mature.

Rolland's_demoiselle_(Chrysiptera_rollandi).jpg

 

Lemon Damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Western Pacific

Pomacentrus_moluccensis2.jpg

 

Sapphire Damselfish (Pomacentrus pavo)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indo-Pacific

Species Notes: The Sapphire Damselfish is considered less aggressive than some Damsels.

 

Ternate Damselfish (Amblyglyphidodon ternatensis)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indonesia

Ternate_damsel_(Amblyglyphidodon_ternatensis)_(46091586574).jpg

 

Azure Damselfish (Chrysiptera hemicyanea)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indo-Pacific

Crysiptera_hemicyanea.jpg

 

Yellowtail Damselfish (Chrysiptera parasema)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indo-Pacific

Species Notes: The Yellowtail Damsel can be kept in small groups of odd numbered fish in suitably sized systems.  It's considered one of the least aggressive members of this genus.

Chrysiptera_parasema.JPG

 

Similar Damselfish (Pomacentrus similis)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indonesia

Species Notes: Might be less aggressive than some other Damsels.

 

Fiji Blue Devil Damselfish (Chrysiptera taupou)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Fiji, Tonga

Chrysiptera_taupou.jpg

 

Pink Smith Damselfish (Pomacentrus smithii)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Moderate

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indo-Pacific, Solomon

Species Notes: A small group can reside in an appropriately sized aquarium.

 

Orangetail Blue Damselfish (Chrysiptera cyanea)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Australia, Indonesia, Melanesia

 

Pink Demoiselle (Chrysiptera rex) a.k.a. King Damselfish

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indo-Pacific

Chrysiptera_rex_-_Zoo_Frankfurt.jpg

 

Blue and Gold Damselfish (Pomacentrus coelestis)

Max Size: 3.5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indo-Pacific

Sorasuzume.jpg

 

Ambon Damselfish (Pomacentrus amboinensis)

Max Size: 3.5"

Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Fiji, Tonga, Marshall Islands

Pomacentrus_amboinensis.jpg

 

Two Stripe Damselfish (Dascyllus reticulatus)

Max Size: 3.5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indonesia, Tonga

Dascyllus_reticulatus_(Reticulated_dascyllus).jpg

 

Starcki Damsel (Chrysiptera starcki)

Max Size: 3.5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Australia, Java, Melanesia, Tonga

Species Notes: Generally considered less aggressive than most other Damsels.

Pomacentridae_-_Chrysiptera_starcki.JPG

 

Blue Damselfish (Chrysiptera cyanea)

Max Size: 3.5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indonesia, Solomon Islands

Chrysipteracyanea2.JPG

 

Four Stripe Damselfish (Dascyllus melanurus)

Max Size: 3.5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indonesia

Dascyllus_melanurus_1.jpg

 

Three Stripe Damselfish (Dascyllus aruanus)

Max Size: 4"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Fiji, Indonesia

Reef0951_-_Flickr_-_NOAA_Photo_Library.jpg

 

Regal Demoiselle (Neopomacentrus cyanomos)

Max Size: 4"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Maldives

Species Notes: It's possilbe to keep amall shoals of Regal Demoiselle appropriately sized aquariums.

NeopomacentCyanoRLS.jpg

 

Golden Domino Damselfish (Dascyllus auripinnis)

Max Size: 4.5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indo-Pacific, Fiji

Three-spot_damselfish.jpg

 

Black and Gold Damselfish (Neoglyphidodon nigroris) a.k.a. Black and Gold Chromis, Behn's Damsel

Max Size: 5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Western Pacific, Indian Ocean

Neoglyphidodon_nigroris.jpg

 

Three Spot Domino Damselfish (Dascyllus trimaculatus)

Max Size: 5.5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Fiji, Indonesia, New Caledonia, Philippines

Dascyllus_trimaculatus_R%C3%A9union.jpg

 

Blue Velvet Damselfish (Paraglyphidodon oxyodon)

Max Size: 6"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Indonesia

Neoglyphidodon_oxyodon.001_-_Aquarium_Finisterrae.jpg

 

Bluefin Damselfish (Neoglyphidodon melas)

Max Size: 7"

Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Aggressive

Reef Compatible: With Caution
Origin: Indo-Pacific

Species Notes: May be a threat to shrimp, and may nip at soft corals.

Neoglyphidodon_melas.jpg

 

Jewel Damselfish (Microspathodon chrysurus)

Max Size: 8"

Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons

Care level: Easy

Temperament: Aggressive

Reef Compatible: Yes
Origin: Western Atlantic

Microspathodon_chrysurus.jpg

 

Photos by image.png.764b7df6a2818ad7ca0b4ddd2d888742.png

 

Saltwater Fish Index

 

Edited by seabass
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A.m.P

Might be worth adding chrysiptera rex in too since they occasionally pop up.

Another honorable mention would the the black striped chromis, they do not mate, behave, school, or look like chromis; instead they have the same cave-dwelling, territorial displays and tendencies as chrysiptera. 

Additional side-note; there's some dispute at to whether or not chrisiptera springeri does, or does not consume flatworms. There's quite a bit of evidence that they will not eat larger LPS flatworms, and a fair amount of evidence that they may graze on aocel and acropora pests (not just flatworms and likely not to a degree necessary to manage a pest population), planaria are, again, debatable. 

Regarding flatworms, other animals in the chryiptera genus appear to also have a mild to moderate grazing tendency toward smaller flatworms, I have personal experience with rollands doing so; additionally rollands may try to keep a section of the tank covered in low, closely-manicured algae -possibly to farm pods or for the algae itself, perhaps to mark territory- but it doesn't always seem to happen in our systems and I can only guess as to what the behavior might be.

Extra side note; smaller chrysiptera may shoal and inhabit suitably-large colonies of SPS; stags, poci, and stylo are favorites (but you need a larger system).

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blasterman

I have two yellow tails and a blue saphire in my 20L and they all get along. Also inexpensive.

 

Aggression is relative. 3 stripes are pretty nasty along with larger velvets, but they can't stand their ground when faced with a purple psudeochromis. 

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seabass
4 hours ago, A.m.P said:

Might be worth adding chrysiptera rex in too since they occasionally pop up.  Another honorable mention would the the black striped chromis

Added:

  • Pink Demoiselle (Chrysiptera rex)
  • Black and Gold Damselfish (Neoglyphidodon nigroris)
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blasterman

Local reef shop had a velvet damsel about 5" long which is massive for a captive damsel. 

 

Gorgeous fish but incompatible with anything, including larger angels. So, they kept him in the 220 live rock tank where he was happy by himself.

 

Cool thread and great research. Damsels are under rated and often abused in the hobby. I would rather have any of the species above than watch a pair of clown fish dumbly hump a corner all day 

 

 

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A.m.P

I didn't realize you'd asked for pictures.
Rollandi

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(True, not black-dominant) Springeri

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WP_20190626_17_15_24_Raw.thumb.jpg.be17055c526f516628e32ff22c46f176.jpg

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A.m.P

Wanted to hop back in here and give an update, I ran a little experiment where I removed the Rollandi from my system for around three weeks to see if algae re-grew, and it did within a week's time. After adding the damselfish back into the system all the various types of long hair algae, stringy and odd tube-like algae, and even some of the chrysopytes vanished within three days.

I hadn't thought to take pictures because I hadn't planned on sharing, I was just curious and somewhat thoughtless about the whole thing honestly, that aside it appears some Rollands damselfish actually do graze on and eat algae. Literature already mentions or implies this, but it was odd enough that I decided to see if I could find out for myself.

I might add a juvi to my 40 breeder and see if it tackles the hair and turf algae in that system, but Rollandi appear to be very, very aggressive towards algae they don't find palatable; every time I've added macro to the rolland's system it promptly shreds it. Given my 40 breeder is somewhat macro-focused, well I'm pretty hesitant about running that experiment to say the least lol.

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