Four-striped Damsel

Black-tailed Dascyllus

Family: Pomacentridae Picture of a Four-striped DamselDascyllus melanurusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild
Latest Reader Comment - See More
Do not buy this fish unless you wanna see action ... Like FISH GONE WILD kind of action! This fish has a Mike Tyson/Muhammad Ali complex and will kill anyone in... (more)  Kieffer

   The Black-tailed Dascyllus or Four-striped Damsel is a great starter fish for a beginning marine aquarist!

   Besides being handsome, the Black-tailed Dascyllus or Four-striped Damsel are hardy, they will readily eat just about anything, and they are not expensive.

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

Geographic Distribution
Dascyllus melanurus
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Pomacentridae
  • Genus: Dascyllus
  • Species: melanurus
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Habitat: Natural geographic location:    Black-tailed Dascyllus or Four-striped Damsel are found in the Indo-Australian Archipelago and western Caroline Islands including Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, and the northern Great Barrier reef of Australia. The are found at depths down to 33 feet (10 meters), and it is associated with isolated coral heads in sheltered inshore habitats.

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

Maintenance difficulty:    The Black-tailed Dascyllus or Four-striped Damsel 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.

Social Behaviors:    Like all damselfish, they can be territorial and aggressive, especially as they get older. Can be kept together and with other larger fish but watch them closely to be sure their aggression doesn't become destructive.

Sex: Sexual differences:    Not Known.

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.

Temperature:    No special requirements.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Black-tailed Dascyllus or Four-striped Damsel adults can grow to 7.5 cm ( 3.0 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:    A minimum 15 gallon aquarium is recommended if this is the only fish to be kept in it.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong    No special requirements. Picture of a Four-striped Damsel

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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4 Stripe Damsel Dascyllus Melanurus 4 Stripe Damsel Dascyllus Melanurus
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Price: $4.99
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Lastest Animal Stories on Four-striped Damsel

Kieffer - 2007-09-16
Do not buy this fish unless you wanna see action ... Like FISH GONE WILD kind of action! This fish has a Mike Tyson/Muhammad Ali complex and will kill anyone in his way. They become especially rabbid after a hearty meal, I guess they're mad at the other fish for eating too! They killed two of my fish, I learned the hard way, dont make the same mistake.

Julia - 2010-06-28
I have had one for 2 years and it is being completely bullied my smaller tomato clown fish. It is scared to even leave the corners to come out to eat during feeding time. He is always on guard, and watches for what the clownfish will let him get by with. He interacts with me a lot. I have certain things I say that he recognizes and he immediately if the clown fish is out of site comes toward the glass from wherever he was hiding and starts swimming happily back and forth. Even if their feeding when he is completely full and isn't motivated by the prospect of being fed. For a couple of months I housed a Blue Tang along with the other two. All three were close to the same size. While he was with them, he would stop them from fighting by swimming in between the two. He was very buddy buddy with both the other fish. They never same away or became aggressive when he came near them. Him and the Damsel were particularly close. The were constantly swimming side by side and imitating one another. Their dorsel fins never raised while interacting. My damsel fish has never made the first move between an aggressive encounter between he and my Clown Fish. He always gets chased and swims with incredible speed and when cornered he barely even defends himself. He is unusually gentle.

  • Fred Schuster - 2010-10-22
    I have kept a marine tank off and on for nearly 20 years now and this little fish (Dascyllus melanurus) the Striped Damsel has been one of the fish in every tank. While they are a bit on the aggressive side, the fish add life and character to the tank. Currently in my 180 gallon I have two and they keep there distance from the Clarki Clowns, Yellow Tangs and other fish. Personally I think they are a good addition to a tank, unless you have completely non-aggressive fish such as Cardinals, some Gogies, Comets and Anthias's. Most fish are midly aggressive after a few days in a tank and can hold their own aganist this little guy.

    Julia in her comments made some great observations, the fish isn't usually the one that makes the first move. However it will stand it's ground and will defend it's established territory.

    Fun to watch and brings life to the tank. I would say don't be afraid of this fish. Go out and buy one, it will bring some action and life to the dull routine of your tank.
neil - 2012-04-06
Oh dear, just bought a 4 stripe damsel. Pet shop said it would be ok with other fish. I have not seen any aggresion as yet, but will keep a close eye on it and see how things develop. All comments on this fish are conflicting.

Robert - 2011-01-02
I bought a Four striped damsel, Blue devil Damsel, and yellow tail blue damsel all together... The four Stripe and blue devil swim around the cage like best buddies while the yellow tail has hid in the corner under my live rock since I have had him, Last night was the first time I seen him come out into the open, and that was with the lights off. There has been no aggression at anytime from any of the 3 since I have had them.

dani - 2010-06-11
I have one that was given to me for free because it was too aggressive. I have it alone in my 20 gallons frag tank and it is so aggressive that if I put my hand in the tank it will charge my hand and fake an attack and at the last minute it will turn and make loud "pop" noise and shake its body.

It attacks anything that moves, like if I put my brush in the tank to gently clean a coral it will attach the brush. The tips of my feather duster plumes are all trimmed out. I have never seen the damsel pick at it but this only occurred after I put the damsel in so I am guessing it is picking at my feather duster from time to time.

This fish should be left in the ocean, period, full stop. Don't buy it unless you want just one fish in your tank and not other sensitive animal.


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