Goldbelly Damsel

Yellow Belly Damsel, Goldbelly Damsel

Family: Pomacentridae Gold Belly Damselfish, Pomacentrus auriventris, Yellow Belly DamselPomacentrus auriventrisPhoto © Animal-World courtesy David Brough
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We had a Yellowbelly Damselfish as part of our starter fish, and it did well up till about five days ago. We got a Undalated Triggerfish FREE from a friend that... (more)  Bill and Alyssa

The Goldbelly Damsel is small and beautifully marked with two classic colors, bright blue and yellow!

The Gold Belly Damselfish Pomacentrus auriventris is a gorgeous and hardy little fish that's easily maintained in the marine aquarium. It is a medium bright blue on the head and upper body with bright yellow on bottom. These two colors are sharply divided with an irregular L-shaped diagonal line. Some other descriptive common names it is known by include Yellow Belly Damsel, Goldbelly Damsel, and Bali Golden Yellow Belly Damselfish.

These fish are similar in color to several other pretty blue and yellow Pomacentrus species. Three of the most similar are the Neon or Blue and Gold Damselfish Damselfish P. coelestis, the Neon or Allen's Damselfish P. alleni, and the Caerulean Damsel P. caeruleus. However the differences between these fish are fairly easy to distinguish. The main distinction is that none of these others have nearly as much yellow on the lower part of the body.

Gold Belly Damselfish are easy to keep and perfect for beginners. They only grow to just over 2 3/4 inches (7.1 cm), which makes them great for a smaller aquarium or nano tank. These are one of the more mellow damselfish. They are relatively peaceful as juveniles, but as they age they do become a bit more aggressive. A single specimen can be kept in a minimum 20 gallon tank or as a pair in 40 gallons, but to keep a group of 4 to 6 will take a larger tank. You will need to add about 15 gallons of additional water per fish when keeping them in a small group.

These little fish are low on the food chain which makes them very skittish. They will stay near the substrate, very close to the rubble and places where they can hide in the decor. Provide some rock work or coral near the bottom and an area in the tank that is mixed with rubble and algae. They don't eat the algae, but will use it for cover when frightened and will feed off any small critters that live in it.

With their nervous nature and the more aggressive attitude of the adults, tank mates should be chosen wisely. Peaceful fish that swim near the top of the tank are fine, though peaceful gobies and other bottom dwellers may be picked on. Most semi-aggressive fish will be compatible, but other damsels that are more aggressive will harm the Goldbelly Damsel. Conversely they will harm damsels that are more peaceful than themselves, such as small members of the Chrysiptera genus. They should never be housed with predators or any other fish that will eat them. They are great in a reef setting as they will not bother corals, clams, ornamental invertebrates, or any other reef creatures.

For more Information on keeping saltwater fish see:
Marine Aquarium Basics: Guide to a Healthy Saltwater Aquarium

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Pomacentridae
  • Genus: Pomacentrus
  • Species: auriventris
Gold Belly Damsel Fishes for Sale by Pakistan Pets (Pomacentrus auriventris)

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Goldbelly Damsels in dealers tank.

Quick video of a tank full of Goldbelly Damsels. They only grow to 2.8" or 7 cm, and are great alone in a 20 gallon nano or in groups of 4 or 6 individuals in a tank that is 65 to 95 gallons.

Goldbelly Damsel - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Size of fish - inches: 2.8 inches (7.11 cm)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Temperature: 74.0 to 84.0° F (23.3 to 28.9° C)
  • Range ph: 8.1-8.4
  • Diet Type: Omnivore

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Gold Belly Damselfish Pomacentrus auriventris was described by Allen in 1991. They are found in the Western Central Pacific Ocean from Micronesia; Bali, Flores, Moluccas, Indonesia, and north to Boreo and Palau. There was a reported sighting in the Eastern Indian Ocean at Christmas Island. This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The few common names this fish is known by are all variations related to their coloring. Other names include Yellow Belly Damsel, Goldbelly Damsel, Goldbelly Damselfish, and Bali Golden Yellow Belly Damselfish.

About the Pomacentrus Genus:

This species is a member of the very large Pomacentridae family of Damselfish and Anemonefish and belongs to the subfamily Pomacentrinae in the Pomacentrus genus. This is the largest genus in the family and is quickly expanding as new species are discovered. There are currently 73 recognized species in this genus, with at least 13 having been described just since the year 2000. This large genus is sometimes referred to as the "Common Damsels." From a taxonomical view, these damselfish are noted for the margin of the front bone of the gill being conspicuously notched with small toothlike projections.

The Pomacentrus species primarily consist of two basic categories, each with a unique form, definite habitat, and diet preferences. But there are some that fall somewhere in between the strict distinctions of those two categories. The first category consists of more elongated fish that are often blue in color. They occur in groups and feed largely on zooplankton, often far above the substrate or coral growth. The second are more deep bodied fish, ranging in color from rather drab to very vibrant. They feed on algae mats, consuming not only the algae but any tiny crustaceans living within the mat. These fish are very territorial and aggressive in the wild, displaying and chasing off any other damsel that approaches their territory. Those that fall in between can be deep bodied, but feed in the water column on zooplankton, or are elongated but stay close to the coral or substrate.

In size, some of the Pomacentrus species can be as small as 2 inches in length while others can reach over 4 inches. Some are very group oriented and relatively peaceful while others are very belligerent and scrappy. Some of the best for a community aquarium are those that feed on zooplankton, as they tend to be more amiable with conspecifics and other damselfish, as well as other tankmates.

About the Gold Belly Damselfish:

The Gold Belly Damselfish prefer areas along inner reef slopes or coastal reefs over patch reefs, rubble flats and rubble slopes. They are found at depths between 7 to 49 feet (2 to 15 m) . They inhabit areas that have a mix of coral, algae and rubble.

This is one of the more peaceful of the Pomacentrus Genus, yet it is just as sturdy as its conspecifics. In their natural habitat juveniles are found in groups, while adults will be in either small groups or in pairs. They stay near the substrate to feed on any zooplankton that floats by and where they can quickly hide if the need arises.

  • Scientific Name: Pomacentrus auriventris
  • Social Grouping: Varies - Juveniles are found in groups while adults are seen in pairs or small groups.
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


The Gold Belly Damselfish is a small damsel with an elongated body. They reach up to about 2 3/4 inches (7.1 cm) in length. Similar to other damselfish their life span in the wild is likely 2 to 6 years, however they can probably live 7 to 30 years in captivity.

Their bodies are a striking blue and yellow coloring. The head and the top of the body is a bright medium blue with the bottom half of the fish being bright yellow. The line that defines the two colors resembles the letter L. It slants down from the back 1/4th of the dorsal fin and then runs across the middle of the body, stopping just behind the gill plates, leaving the entire chin and head area blue. Their bright color tends to fade when they are stressed. Some fish have a more irregular “L,” looking like a crooked diagonal line. The Goldbelly Damsel reaches a total of 2.8” (7 cm) and will probably live 7 to 30 years.

These damselfish are similar in color to several other pretty blue and yellow Pomacentrus species, however the differences are fairly easy to distinguish. Two of these others can be confusing in and of themselves, because they are both sometimes called the Neon Damselffish.

One of the Neon Damselfish Pomacentrus coelestis, more commonly known as the Blue and Gold Damselfish, has yellow anal, pelvic, and caudal fins but with much less yellow on the body. The other Neon Damselfish Pomacentrus alleni, also known as Allen's Damselfish or Blue Star Damselfish, has yellow along the bottom that runs through the anal fin. However it's tailfin is mostly clear with black on the lower portion and there is also black on the dorsal fin. A third similar species, the Caerulean Damsel Pomacentrus caeruleus, has a little yellow on the back edge of the dorsal fin, at the base and the entire tail fin. The pelvic fins and the belly are yellow, yet the belly has much less yellow than the Goldbelly Damsel.

  • Size of fish - inches: 2.8 inches (7.11 cm)
  • Lifespan: 15 years - Damselfish generally live up to 6 years in the wild and typically 7 to 30 years in captivity.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Goldbelly Damsel is among the easiest of all marine fish to keep. They are very easy to care for, making them great for the beginning saltwater hobbyist or any other marine aquarist. These little beauties are hardy and will take a variety of foods, making them easily kept in the aquarium without special care.

These fish are one of the more mellow members of the pomacentrids. They will be quite happy in a reef or a fish only community tank, but as they are often preyed upon in nature they are quite skittish. Provide them with places to hide in rock work or corals close to the substrate to feel safe. They also like areas of rubble and algae to hide in. They can be kept with less aggressive companions, but as they mature they do become a bit scrappy, especially with new additions to the tank. Keeping them well fed is a way to dispel aggression when kept in small groups.

They tolerate a wide range of non-fluctuating temperatures, but even though they are quite durable, they can still fall ill if exposed to poor water conditions for too long. Doing normal water changes, feeding them a variety of foods several times a day, and having proper tank mates will keep this damselfish happy and healthy.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner - They are suitable for the beginner, but tankmates should be selected with care.

Foods and Feeding

The Gold Belly Damselfish are omnivores, In the wild they are planktonic feeders. They primarily eat zooplankton which consists of tiny animals, but may also ingest some tiny plants called phytoplankton. In the aquarium provide variety in their diet that includes plenty of proteins.

Offer meaty foods like mysis shrimp, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, finely minced shrimp, finely shredded frozen seafoods and other preparations for omnivores. These foods can be given as freeze dried, frozen, sinking pellets, flake or fresh. You can add flakes formulated for color enhancement as well, to help maintain their bright coloring.

It is best to feed small amounts of food several times a day. Feeding them more often helps to dissipate any possible aggression within a tank, since food is the biggest reason for protecting their little patch of the reef or tank. Sinking pellets work great because these fish tend to feed near the bottom of the tank. If feeding pellets, make sure they are wet before adding them to the tank so air will not enter into their digestive tract, which can cause issues.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore - Eats zooplankton.
  • Flake Food: Yes - Color enhancing flakes will help them retain their bright color.
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes - Make sure to soak pellets for a few seconds to dispel any air. Use sinking pellets since they stick close to the bottom.
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet - Offer as a treat or if conditioning the fish for spawning.
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet - They need very little as they are primarily zooplankton feeders.
  • Meaty Food: Most of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - Feed several times a day, this also helps to counter any possible aggression.

Aquarium Care

These damselfish are hardy and easy to keep in a well maintained tank. The minimum tank size is 20 gallons for one damsel and 40 gallons for a pair. Make sure water changes are frequent in such small tanks. Regular water changes done bi-weekly will help replace the trace elements that the fish and corals use up. Guidelines for water changes with different types and sizes of aquariums are:

  • Fish only tanks:
    • Nano/Small tanks up to 40 gallons, perform 5% water changes bi-weekly.
    • Medium sized tanks up to 90 gallons, perform 15% bi-weekly.
    • Large tanks 100 gallons and over, once water is aged and stable, can be changed 10% bi-weekly to 20% monthly, depending on bioload.
  • Reef tanks:
    • Nano/Small tanks up to 40 gallons, perform 15% water changes bi-weekly.
    • Medium sized tanks up to 90 gallons, perform 20% to 30% monthly depending on bioload.
    • Large tanks 100 gallons and over, once water is aged and stable, can be changed 20% to 30% every 6 weeks depending on bioload.

For more information on maintaining a saltwater aquarium see: Saltwater Aquarium Basics: Maintenance. A reef tank will require specialized filtration and lighting equipment. Learn more about reef keeping see: Mini Reef Aquarium Basics.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly - Do bi-weekly water changes of 15% in a reef setting or 20% monthly in a fish only tank.

Aquarium Setup

The Gold Belly Damselfish are small fish, only growing to about 2 3/4 inches. They are one of the more peaceful damsels and can be kept happy in a reef setting as well as in a fish only tank. The minimum suggested tank size is 20 gallons for one or 40 gallons for a male and female pair. These fish do fine together in small groups of 4 to 6, but you need to add an additional 15 gallons per fish for the groups minimum tank size. They do tend to get a bit more aggressive as they mature and a larger tank will help disperse aggression.

These damselfish swim in the lower areas of the tank. They are low on the food chain, so they need to feel comfortable with places to quickly retreat. Having many places to hide will reduce aggression between them and other fish in the tank as well. Any substrate will work, but they do best in a tank that has rubble at the bottom mixed with algae, along with corals and/or rock work close to the bottom. Algae growth is beneficial to them in that it gives them a place to hide. They don't feed on the algae itself, but will snack on the copepods that reside within the algae.

There are no special requirements for water movement or lighting, unless housed with corals, in which case the coral requirements will need to be considered. Water temperatures between 74°F to 84°F (23° - 29°C) with a pH from 8.1 to 8.4 will keep them happy and healthy. Damselfish are similar to clownfish when breeding, with optimal spawning production occurring between 79°F to 83°F (26°C to 28°C).

  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L) - A 20 gallon tank is suggested for one fish with 40 gallons for a male and female pair. A larger tank is needed for small groups of 4 to 6 fish, so add 15 gallons per fish for a tank of 65 to 95 gallons.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes - A minimum 20 gallon Nano tank is suggested for one fish.
  • Live Rock Requirement: Typical Plus Hiding Places - Provide places for them to hide within rockwork or coral close to the bottom.
  • Substrate Type: Any - They prefer an area of rubble mixed with algae and/or coral at the bottom of the tank.
  • Lighting Needs: Any - It has no special lighting requirements, though if kept with live coral the coral may need strong lighting.
  • Temperature: 74.0 to 84.0° F (23.3 to 28.9° C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 79.0° F - The optimal temperature for good quality eggs and larvae occurs with temperatures of 79° F to 82° F (26° - 28°C).
  • Specific gravity: 1.023-1.025 SG
  • Range ph: 8.1-8.4
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Any
  • Water Region: Bottom - They inhabit the lower areas of the tank.

Social Behaviors

The Pomacentrus damsels have a wide array of temperaments, ranging from some of the more peaceful to some of the most aggressive pomacentrids. The Gold Belly Damselfish are some of the least aggressive and can be kept singly, in a pair, or in a small group as long as the tank is large enough.

Goldbelly Damsels naturally spawn with several of the opposite sex which can make keeping a male/female pair a little more difficult. With a spawning pair the male will viciously guard his eggs, at which point, a separate tank may be needed if he starts attacking tank mates. Thus you may want to keep adults alone or in groups of 4 to 6. A group of several individuals of this species can be kept together but only if there are many hiding places. These fish can cause problems if they are overcrowded, so to keep them in small groups make sure there is at least 15 gallons per damsel. Interestingly, adding a group of younger Goldbelly Damsels can also help reduce the adult's aggression.

They can do well in a fish only community tank, but like all damsels they can become a bit more aggressive as they get older and may pick on newly introduced fish. Other peaceful tank mates that are much larger or inhabit the upper levels of the tank can work well in larger tanks of 55 gallons or more. Avoid peaceful tank mates that are bottom dwellers, since the Goldbelly Damsel is territorial of its little rubble pile. These include firefish, gobies, dartfish, small wrasses, dragonets, and wormfish.

These damsels are semi-aggressive and most other semi-aggressive fish are safe. However clownfish and other damsels may squabble with each other and require a larger tank than the minimum. The Goldbelly will pick on other types of smaller damsels like the less aggressive damsels in the Chrysiptera genus. Conversely, they will be picked on by other types of more aggressive damsels. Housing them with damsels that are of a different genus but with a similar temperament and size should be done at a rate of 20 gallons per fish. Also larger semi-aggressive fish like the Moon Wrasse Thalassoma lunare, large dottybacks, and small groupers should be avoided as they will eat the Goldbelly Damsel.

They are the perfect reef fish and may use substrate level corals to hide in. They will not bother corals, clams, ornamental invertebrates, or any other reef creatures. Invertebrates are also safe, and although a copepod or two may be eaten, they are not heavily fed upon.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive - Although they are considered semi-aggressive, they are one of the less combative of their genus.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - They can be kept singly or housed as a male/female pair, and can be kept in small groups or 4 - 6 in larger tanks.
    • Peaceful fish (gobies, dartfish, assessors, fairy wrasses): Monitor - Bottom dwellers will be picked on.
    • Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Monitor - May be okay in tanks over 55 gallons, and the tank should be over 100 gallons if attempting to keep them with peaceful clownfish.

    • Semi-Aggressive (anthias, clownfish, dwarf angels): Monitor - May be okay in tanks over 55 gallons, and the tank should be over 100 gallons if attempting to keep them with peaceful clownfish.

    • Aggressive (dottybacks, 6-line & 8-line wrasse, damselfish): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (tangs, large angels, large wrasses): Monitor - Some large wrasses like the Moon Wrasse (Thalassoma lunare) will eat the Goldbelly Damsel. Tangs and Angelfish are safe.
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (lionfish, groupers, soapfish): Threat - Even a smaller predatory fish that cannot swallow them whole would make these damselfish too afraid to come out and feed.
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (seahorses, pipefish, mandarins): Threat - Goldbelly Damsels are too aggressive to be housed with these fish.
    • Anemones: Safe
    • Mushroom Anemones - Corallimorphs: Safe
    • LPS corals: Safe
    • SPS corals: Safe
    • Gorgonians, Sea Fans: Safe
    • Leather Corals: Safe
    • Soft Corals (xenias, tree corals): Safe
    • Star Polyps, Organ Pipe Coral: Safe
    • Zoanthids - Button Polyps, Sea Mats: Safe
    • Sponges, Tunicates: Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe
    • Starfish: Safe
    • Feather Dusters, Bristle Worms, Flatworms: Safe
    • Clams, Scallops, Oysters: Safe
    • Copepods, Amphipods, Mini Brittle Stars: Safe - May eat some copepods but should not decimate populations.

Sex: Sexual differences

Sexual differences are unknown, though males may be larger.

Breeding / Reproduction

All damsel species are similar to clownfish and follow the same general breeding pattern. Successful breeding requires perfect water parameters and a large, non-predatory aquarium system. Similar to clownfish, they will have optimal spawns at temperatures between 79°F to 83°F (26°C to 28°C). If breeding in captivity note that brittle stars, serpent stars, wrasses and crabs will eat the eggs of damselfish. The eggs and larvae are much smaller than those of clownfish, and the fry are difficult to rear.

Gold Belly Damselfish have spawned in captivity, laying their eggs in a crevice or a shell. Like other Pomacentrus, these damsels will spawn with more than one mate. In typical damsel fashion, the male chooses a spawning site which can be a rock, dead coral branch, coral rubble, or flat rock at the bottom of the tank.

Once the female sees that the male is ready to spawn, which is usually demonstrated by a little dance, she will join him. They will then swim side by side, with the male behind the female or will swim at each other from opposite directions. Once they meet side by side over the nest site, they both deposit their gametes on the prepared surface.

This spawning behavior is repeated every few minutes until the female has finished depositing her eggs. One nest can have over 1,000 eggs, which may be from various females. The male will oxygenate the eggs, and remove any undeveloped ones. He will viciously guard his nest from potential predators until the eggs hatch. The eggs will hatch in 2 to 2.5 days. The larval stage for Pomacentrus species can last up to 29 days, depending on water temperature. See general breeding techniques under Clownfish on the Marine Fish Breeding page.

  • Ease of Breeding: Difficult - The eggs and larvae of damselfish are quite small and the fry are difficult to rear.

Fish Diseases

The Pomacentrus species are very durable damsels, even when juveniles. However there does seem to be an unexplained “sudden death” that damselfish can occasionally fall victim to. There are no signs, the fish is just dead one day. They can contract any normal disease that other saltwater fish are susceptible to. But it is pretty rare unless they are captured with an illness already in motion, so a quarantine period is a good idea.

Damselfish are susceptible to Marine Ich Cryptocaryon irritans, also called White Spot Disease or Crypt, Marine Velvet or Velvet Disease Oodinium ocellatum (Syns: Amyloodinium ocellatum, Branchiophilus maris), and Uronema disease Uronema marinum. All of these are parasites.

The most easily cured of these is Crypt (salt water Ich), but they are all treatable if caught in a timely manner. Marine Velvet is a parasitic skin flagellate and one of the most common maladies experienced in the marine aquarium. It is fast moving and primarily infects the gills. Uronema disease, which is typically a secondary infection, is very deadly and will attack your damselfish quickly and lethally.The first symptom is lack of appetite. It is most often contracted when the aquarist lowers the salinity to treat another type of illness, but doesn't lower it far enough. This parasite thrives in mid-level brackish water salinity, which is a specific gravity of around 1.013 to 1.020.

Treat your new damselfish as gingerly as you would any other saltwater fish, and they will respond well. Anything you add to your tank that has not been properly cleaned or quarantined, including live rock, corals and fish can introduce disease. The best prevention is to properly clean or quarantine anything you want to add to the tank. For information about saltwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.


The Gold Belly Damselfish is also called the Yellow Belly Damsel. They are occasionally available online and in stores, and they are moderately expensive for a damsel. Sometimes, however, they may be found with “assorted damsels” at the local fish store.


Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Carrie McBirney, David Brough CFS
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Lastest Animal Stories on Goldbelly Damsel

Bill and Alyssa - 2006-03-31
We had a Yellowbelly Damselfish as part of our starter fish, and it did well up till about five days ago. We got a Undalated Triggerfish FREE from a friend that works at Petco, and for a week and a half all was good. All of our Damselfish had let the Triggerfish know it was there tank, but the Yellowbelly took things to the extreme, so now it's at the Petco looking for a new home. It really tore up the Blue Damselfish, and the Triggerfish. We don't suggest keeping one unless you have it in a species only nano tank all on it's own. So much for so far so good as we had writen in our Undalated Triggerfish comment. Now we have an 80 gallon medic tank caused by one PHSYCO little Damselfish w/ a bad additude, and everyone thinks the Undalated Triggerfish is mean. It was like Pee-Wee Herman beatin' up Mike Tyson in our tank.

Danny - 2006-01-18
I just bought 3 of these last week. Found that they work well with other damsels but not with their own kind so well. I had to seperate all 3 because they locked mouths fighting but ignored other breeds so far. Too soon to tell. Not as hardy as most damsels. But definitely very pretty. I would recomend just one per 25 gallons.