Mini reef aquarium guide. Reef aquarium setup for large reef tanks, Nano reef tanks, Pico reef or MIcro reef aquariums with reef tank lighting, filtration, choosing coral reef animals, and problem solving!
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.
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.