Blue Devil Damsel


Family: Pomacentridae Picture of a Blue Devil Damsel or Devilfish, Chrysiptera cyaneaChrysiptera cyaneaPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Hiroyuki Tanaka
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I can't believe that there are still people who use these fish to cycle their tanks! There is no need to torture fish just to speed things along for youself. Any... (more)  Dave Lowry

   Many folks like the purity and beauty of the Blue Devil Damsel and this is perhaps one of the most popular of the damselfishes.

   The Blue Devil available in a pet store may often be a juvenile that has not yet come into its adult coloration. As they mature the males develop yellow-orange tail colors as you can see in the picture above. Females will gain a black spot at the base of the hindmost dorsal ray.

   As they mature many damselfish are noted for becoming rather aggressive and are best not kept with smaller or overly passive tank mates. This species is no exception, it is rather territorial and somewhat aggressive. Specimens of this species can be risky if kept together for they may seriously fight causing severe damaged or death.

   Providing a rock/ coral decor that has many nooks and crannies for hiding and retreat will help avert aggression. These can possibly be kept in groups if you are careful to have a good male to female ratio and keep a close eye out for trouble. In the wild, there will be several females to one male.

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

Geographic Distribution
Chrysiptera cyanea
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Pomacentridae
  • Genus: Chrysiptera
  • Species: cyanea
Blue Damselfish, Blue Devil Damsel (Chrysiptera cyanea)
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A female Blue Devil Damsel in captivity.

The female Blue Devil Damsel lacks the back orange to yellow found the back of the male's tail fin. The juvenile also lacks the male's coloring, making it hard to identify sexes when they are very small. Although they will do fine in groups as juveniles, there IS A REASON the word "Devil" is found in their name! House in a tank that is at least 30 gallons, however if other fish are to be added, the tank should be closer to 55 gallons. When frightened the Blue Devil Damsel can turn almost black and then back to their bright coloring when the perceived danger is gone!

Blue Damselfish, Blue Devil Damsel (Chrysiptera cyanea)
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Video of juvenile and young male Blue Devil Damsels

This video shows quite a few juveniles and sub-adults in a small tank. Males have the yellow to orange at the back of the tail fin. This tank is temporarily acceptable as they are still juveniles and sub-adults, however the clownfish and subordinates will be in danger as they age since Blue Devils are mean adults. We are sure this aquarist will be putting all of these fish in a much larger tank, over 150 gallons in the near future, if all of these damsels are being kept. It may be possible the aquarist is waiting for a pair to form, then re-homing the rest. The tang can be housed in a smaller tang as a juvenile, however the tang in this video will no doubt be moved very soon to a tank that is a minimum of 75 gallons, as this may just be a quarantine tank.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:    The Blue Devil is found throughout the Indo-Pacific region; on the northern portion of the Great Barrier Reef, Indonesia to Solomon and Mariana Islands, north to Ryukyu. They are seen at depths between 1 - 33 feet (.03 - 10 meters).

Status:    These fish are not listed on the IUCN Red List.

Maintenance difficulty:    The Blue Devil is among the easiest of all marine fish to keep.

Maintenance:    This fish will readily eat all kinds of live, frozen, and flake foods and algae. Finely chopped meaty foods (like brine shrimp) can be fed regularly. It is best to feed small amounts several times a day. In a reef situation they don't really need to be fed very often at all.

Foods:    All kinds. See "maintenance" above.

Picture of a female Blue Devil Damsel or DevilfishFemale Photo © Animal-World

Social Behaviors:    Like all damselfish, they can be territorial and aggressive, especially as they get older. These can be kept in groups if you are careful about the sex ratio, one male to several females. Can be kept with other larger fish but watch them closely to be sure their aggression doesn't become destructive.

Sex: Sexual differences:    Blue Damselfish are sexually dimorphic. The females are entirely blue without any yellow or orange coloration, some females depending on localities have a black ocellus on the lower posterior part of the dorsal fin. Also they have nearly translucent fins (see photo at the top of this page), versus totally blue fins in males. There is more information here: The Devils We Should Love .

Light: Recommended light levels:    No special requirements.

Breeding/Reproduction:    Some of the damselfish have been bred in captivity. See general breeding techniques under Clownfish on the marine breeding page.

The Devils We Should Love!
Article By: Hiroyuki Tanaka, Japan
Click to learn more about the Blue Damselfish!   This is the story of the Blue Devil ...
that is also popularly known as the Blue Damselfish...

   "Damselfishes are well-known even to laymen world-wide and the species list still is growing, 320 species were
Click to learn more about the Blue Damselfish!

Temperature:    No special requirements.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Blue Devil adults can grow to 6.0 cm ( 2.4 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 10 gallon aquarium is recommended if this is the only fish to be kept in it.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong    No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom    Swims at all levels of the aquarium.

Availability:    This fish is readily available.

Author: David Brough. CFS.
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Lastest Animal Stories on Blue Devil Damsel

Dave Lowry - 2009-02-08
I can't believe that there are still people who use these fish to cycle their tanks! There is no need to torture fish just to speed things along for youself. Any real lover of reefs and marine aquaria would never be so cruel as to use a fish for cycling purposes.....amateur hour for noobs. THINK before you act. Live rock can cure by itself, it may take an extra week, but better then abusing animals.

joshua - 2003-09-10
I noticed something very weird aout my blue damsels. They change colors at will, normally from a purplish black back to their normal blue.

glmory - 2008-11-27
I have kept several of these over the years, and am not sure I ever will again. They are fine with invertebrates or larger fish such as tangs that do not prey on damsels; however they will however make it almost impossible to add any more small fish to your aquarium. If you really are set on putting this fish with anything less than twice their size I would add the damsel last. This will make it more likely he will accept the other fish. Also seriously consider getting a yellowtail damsel instead, these are more peaceful fish.

Also, do not put them in aquariums with lionfish, or grouper. This is almost certain death for a damselfish. The real problem with damsels is not how mean they are, it is that they are too small to place in an aggressive tank, and too mean to put in a more calm tank.

  • Bill Vasalofsky - 2012-07-24
    Generally you will be safe if you put fish of different shapes and colors. Blue devils might be curious and check a new fish out, but generally don't bother them if they are different shapes or colors. With that said I think a couple of blue devils killed a new French Angel that was alot bigger than they were. As far as aggressive, my Maroon Clown beats all of the other fish in my tank (Niger Trigger, Toby, File)
luckyfish - 2010-08-24
I've had a female blue devil for about six months now and she killed nearly every other fish in the tank except for a few shrimp and a bleny so I bought a snowflake moray but its not interested in the devil so today I got a male, he's awesome. They are very active, colorful and aggressive fish and I love em.