Some of the best fishes for those just starting out in the marine aquarium hobby belong to the Damselfish family. Many types are brightly colored, active and extremely hardy. They are found in coral reefs throughout the world, sometimes in large schools, where they feed on algae, plankton and small invertebrates.
Most damsels grow to only 2 inches or so, but a few species like the Garibaldi damsel can grow to over a foot long! Damselfish are quite tolerant of all types of water conditions and because of this they are commonly used to cycle an aquarium.
Their tank should be decorated with plenty of rocks and caves for them to hide in. Damsels eagerly devour all types of food and they should be offered a varied diet of both meaty fare and vegetable based products.
Although they will usually not bother other fishes, most Damsels are extremely pugnacious toward their own kind and should only be kept singly (unless you have a large aquarium where each fish can establish his own territory).
Damselfish have been successfully bred in captivity, but it is not easy. After spawning the male will usually care for and protect the eggs. After a week or so, the eggs hatch and the fry should be removed to their own tank. They require very clean water and a special diet of rotifers until they are large enough to be fed baby brine shrimp.
TankConditions: 72-78°F; sg 1.020-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4; dKH 8-12
Compatibility: Dragonets, filefish, foxface and rabbitfish, gobies, jawfish, hawkfish, parrotfish, pseudochromis, puffers, tangs and surgeons, live corals, invertebrates, live rock, sand.
Avoid these tankmates: Butterflyfish, Clownfish, Groupers, Lionfish.
Name: Sergeant Damsel
Species: Abudefduf saxatilis
Size: 6 in (15 cm)
Name: Princess Damsel
Species: Pomacentrus vaiuli
Size: 5 in (13 cm)
Name: Blue Neon Damsel
Species: Paraglyphidodon oxyodon
Size: 6 in (15 cm)