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Damsels - Anemonefish

Picture of a Domino Damsel or Three-spot DamselGoldbelly DamselsPhoto © Animal-World courtesy David Brough

   Damsels are very colorful, but are also very hardy and adapt easily to captivity.

  Because they are so hardy and they are inexpensive, damselfish are often used to "break-in" new aquariums to establish the nitrification cycle. It takes about one fish for every 10 gallons of water to do this.

   Damsels belong to the same family as clownfish but usually the two are separated into anemonefish (clownfish), and damselfish. Some damsels live in a comensal relationship with anemones as do the clownfish. This means they live together, with both the damsel and the anemone benefiting from each others' company. Damsels can be kept in an aquarium with or without an anemone but if you try to keep an anemone you should make sure and meet its special needs.

   Most of the fish in the family Pomacentridae can become territorial (aggressive) when they get older. Among the exceptions to this are the Green Chromis, the Blue reef chromis, and the skunk clown. Damselfish are known to live about 10 years in captivity and 20 years in their natural habitats.

For more Information on keeping marine fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

Genus: Abudefduf
Click for more info on Sergeant Major
Abudefduf saxatilis

Genus: Chromis
Click for more info on Black-bar Chromis
Chromis retrofasciata
Click for more info on Blue-green Chromis
Chromis viridis
Click for more info on Yellowtail Blue Damsel
Chrysiptera parasema

Genus: Chrysiptera
Click for more info on Azure Demoiselle
Chrysiptera hemicyanea
Click for more info on Blue Devil Damsel
Chrysiptera cyanea
Click for more info on Canary Damsel
Chrysiptera galba
Click for more info on Fiji Blue Devil Damselfish
Chrysiptera taupou
Click for more info on Rolland's Demoiselle
Chrysiptera rollandi
Click for more info on Starck's Demoiselle
Chrysiptera starcki
Click for more info on Talbot's Damsel
Chrysiptera talboti

Genus: Dascyllus
Click for more info on Domino Damsel
Dascyllus trimaculatus
Click for more info on Four-striped Damsel
Dascyllus melanurus
Click for more info on Striped Damsel
Dascyllus carneus
Click for more info on Three Striped Damsel
Dascyllus aruanus

Genus: Hypsypops
Hypsypops genus contains a single species, the Garibaldi Hypsypops rubicundus.

The Garibaldi or Garibaldi Damselfish Hypsypops rubicundus is the only member of this genus.

Click for more info on Garibaldi
Hypsypops rubicundus

Genus: Neoglyphidodon
Click for more info on Black-and-gold Chromis
Neoglyphidodon nigroris
Click for more info on Neon Velvet Damsel
Neoglyphidodon oxyodon

Genus: Pomacentris
Click for more info on Goldbelly Damsel
Pomacentrus auriventris


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Garibaldi - A Cheeky Fish!

The Garibaldi Damselfish is found in coastal waters of the Eastern Central Pacific Ocean where the water is cooler than tropical locations. We have see this fish in the kelp forests off the California coast in conjunction with the cooler water Catalina Goby, named for an island off the California coast. They are known to divers as 'cheeky fish' since they are curious and unafraid of divers. The Garibaldi is one of the largest fish in the damselfish family, it is a striking orange color, and as a juvenile, is marked with many blue spots. The fins of the juvenile are also outlined in blue adding to its beauty. The Garibaldi Damselfish is a very long-lived fish, it can live up to 25 years. This damselfish should be housed in an aquarium of at least 100 gallons with plenty of live rock to accomodate their territorial nature. They are extremely aggressive towards their own kind, and only one Garibaldi should be kept in a single aquarium. The diet should include various meaty foods, herbivore preparations, and flaked foods. The Garibaldi is sexually dimorphic; the male is larger than the female and also has a lobe on the front of the head. These fish have not been successfully bred in captivity.

Care and feeding: In captivity these fish will eat almost everything that is offered and should be fed everything like live foods (brine shrimp), algae, frozen foods, and flakes. Some damsels are herbivores so vegetarian foods should be included in the mix.

Anemones:   Anemones need lots of light (2 to 5 watts per gallon) preferably with some blue spectrum provided by actinic light bulbs or higher temperature metal halide lighting. In nature many clownfish will live with the same anemone. Only one clown will be a dominant female and the rest will be male. Usually in the aquarium though, there will be only one pair per anemone.

For information on which anemones can be kept successfully,
please read the section on Anemones

References Fautin, D. G. and Allen, Dr. G.R. , Anemone Fishes and Their Host Sea Anemones, Voyageur Press, 1994

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