Three-Stripe Damsel

Humbug Dascyllus ~ White-tailed Damselfish

Family: Pomacentridae Picture of a Three-stripe Damsel, Dascyllus aruanusDascyllus aruanusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild
Latest Reader Comment - See More
I have two of these fish. One is a bit bigger than the other. The big one is very aggressive. If I could catch it I would probably get rid of it. I can not put any... (more)  Wendy

   Here is another damselfish with many common names! The Three-Stripe Damsel, Humbug Dascyllus, and the White-tailed Damselfish are just the ones we could find!

   These make great beginner fish for an aquarium, but be sure that as they grow each one has it's own rock cave or a coral. This is because young species of Dascyllus in the ocean will often live in a comensal relationship with anemones. As they mature, however, they will abandon the anemone and move to corals.

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

Geographic Distribution
Dascyllus aruanus
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Pomacentridae
  • Genus: Dascyllus
  • Species: aruanus
Three Striped Damsel, Dascyllus aruanus
Report Broken Video
Various shots of aggressiveness and spawning

The video of the Three Striped Damsel shows the aggressiveness they can have, even trying to get at the aquarists hand through the glass! at 1:01, a male and female are spawning and laying eggs on the glass of the tank. At 5:09, you can see that the eggs have hatched and there is larvae present in the water! Being very aggressive, they are best housed in an aggressive reef community with other fish that can hold their own. The bright white and black stripes are an eye catching combo that draws aquarists! Three Striped Damsels are great for beginner aquarists or those who have a nano tank.

Three Striped Damsel love dance, Dascyllus aruanus
Report Broken Video
It is what it is!

This video just cracked me up! The music and the spawning couple is a short but funny demonstration of the "dance" they do when they spawn.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:    Three-Stripe Damsel, Humbug Dascyllus, or White-tailed Damselfish are found all over the Indo-West Pacific from eastern Africa and the Red Sea to the central and western Pacific as far north as southern Japan and south to Tuamotu islands. Can be found at depths up to 12 meters. Associated with branching corals on inshore and lagoon reefs.

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

Maintenance difficulty:    The Three-Stripe Damsel, Humbug Dascyllus, or White-tailed Damselfish are generally among the easiest 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).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.

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 in the breeding Clownfish page.

Temperature:    No special requirements.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Three-Stripe Damsel, Humbug Dascyllus, or White-tailed Damselfish adults can grow to 6.5 cm.

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. Picture of a Three-stripe Damsel, Dascyllus aruanus

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

Availability:    This fish is readily available.

Author: David Brough. CFS.
Lastest Animal Stories on Three Stiped Damsel

Wendy - 2012-02-18
I have two of these fish. One is a bit bigger than the other. The big one is very aggressive. If I could catch it I would probably get rid of it. I can not put any new fish in the tank without it chasing them and making them hide all the time. My clown fish seems to hold its own against the bully fish. My dragon-net guy that hangs out on the bottom doesn't seem to get picked on either.

wade burkman - 2013-04-02
Ihave one three stripe humbug damsel and one false perculla clown, and two neon yellow gobys, a starfish, hermit crab, and pensil urchin in a 15 gallon hex aquarium and my three stripe does not bother anyone in the tank he seems to like the clown fish and totally ignores thr neon gobys have had all 4 fish for about four years and love them all

roxy - 2012-05-10
yea we need help what kind of food do these fish eat were in 8th grade doing a project lol!!!!

  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-05-10
    In the tank setting these fish will eat flake but will take a variety of things. If you click on the fish and go under feeding, it is all there.
Indunil - 2010-05-25
I have one three striped Damsel along with 1 Devil Blue, 1 Domino and 3 Clown fishes. Before I bring my clown fish damsels were aggressive to each other but when I put 3 clown fishes they not seems to be aggressive to each other. Sometime I can see Domino is chasing other 2 but in front of clown fishes they behave as gentlemen