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FAQs about the genus Dascyllus Damsels: Behavior

Related Articles: Dascyllus

FAQs on: Humbug Damsels 1, Dascyllus Damsels 2,
FAQs on: Dascyllus Identification, Dascyllus Compatibility, Dascyllus Stocking/Selection, Dascyllus Systems, Dascyllus Feeding, Dascyllus Health, Dascyllus Reproduction, Related FAQs: Damsel Identification, Damsel Selection, Damsel Compatibility, Damsel Feeding, Damsel DiseaseDamsel Reproduction


3 SW Qs   9/26/11
Dear crew, I hate to bother you again but you are such a wonderful resource. I have 3 questions for you today. I have 3 reef tanks ,100,80 and 60 gallon tanks. I recently purchased a small Domino damsel.
<Mean little beggars with growth/size>
It has made a home in the 2 large Frogspawns and Red Rose anemone. How is this possible?
<Mmm, naturally... is often a Cnidarian symbiote as juveniles... like its kin the Clownfishes>
Number 2 I have a large Leather coral about 16 inches across. The Blue tip Sebae Anemone has made a home right in the middle of it. Is this a normal symbiotic relationship?
<No; an accident. A good idea to urge its moving... else, there is bound to be too much terpenoid production from the Sarcophyton; toxic to your other livestock>
And number 3 I purchased 3 Duncan or Whisker corals.
The heads have split into 5 , 4 and 6 heads respectively. Are these separate animals or a community organism
<Separate... can be broken off/live independently, need to be fed individually>
Thanks again for all your
advice in the past.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Domino Damsel acting weird   2/26/11
Hello... I have returned after a few years of no problems... To start I have a 75g Sw tank, 70lb live rock, 30 lb live sand. I have the Magnum pro filter and the big Marineland one (cant remember numbers) and a SeaClone 100g Protein skimmer. ALL levels in the tank are fine as they get checked on a weekly basis (i.e.. nitrite, nitrate, ph, ammonia, temp, salt level).
The inhabitants are all about 4 years old, and all bought within a month or so of each other. They have all lived in the same tank since I have had them. Picasso Trigger 5in, Maroon Clown 5in (with fairly large LT
anemone) , Domino Damsel 4in (the meanest in tank) .
<Ah yes>
Ok now the problem I think.... My Damsel has been acting very strange. He swims with his body almost in a straight up position and has very odd body movements kind-of like erratic shaking and it seems as if he has to work harder to swim than others. This has been going on for a little over two weeks now. He acts pretty normal otherwise, He eats normal, bully's others a little, swims around all day like others, If startled he will shoot across the tank FAST like any other fish. Really I'm not sure if there even is a problem but he seems as if he is working very hard just to swim around. (I could send a video if needed) Well thank you ahead of time for any help that you may have....
<This Dascyllus is very likely "interacting" with its own reflection... I'd tape a piece of paper over one end of the aquarium (this will effectively block internal reflection). Bob Fenner>

Dascyllus reticulatus, beh.   11/21/10
I thought I'd tell you that Dascyllus reticulatus is a protogynous hermaphrodite (female to male sex change), like D. aruanus and a couple of the other Dascyllus. A colleague and I discovered protogyny in D.
reticulatus and here's the reference:
Schwarz, A.L. and C.L. Smith, 1990. Sex change in the damselfish Dascyllus reticulatus (Richardson) (Perciformes: Pomacentridae). Bull. Mar. Sci. 46 (3): 790-798.
D. reticulatus also makes "chirps" during aggressive behavior, specifically during lunges at other fish (or investigators!).
Abby Schwarz
<Thank you for this... you may be aware that the genus Dascyllus are in other ways similar to the Amphiprioni... notably D. trimaculatus living symbiotically with some large anemones when young. Bob Fenner>
Re: Dascyllus reticulatus   11/21/10

Thanks for your quick response! Well, it depends on which Dascyllus you mean. D. reticulatus doesn't live with anemones at any stage of its life that I've observed, but I think D. albisella juveniles do -- and I don't know about D. aruanus. Wonderful little fish to work with.
<Thanks again. I have not seen the Hawaiian damsel interact w/ Actinarians period... these last are very rare on the Big Island... where I've mostly dived. And have not observed striped humbugs in anemones in the wild nor captivity. Cheers! BobF>

Question About Domino Damsel, beh., comp.  - 03/12/08 WWM staff, <<Greetings Rosanna>> I have a 55 gal FOWLR with a Domino Damsel, a Percula Clown and three Four Striped Damsels. <<Wow, an aggressive bunch…I imagine everybody is kept "on their toes" in this tank…and adding any newcomers is probably not a good idea either>> I inherited the tank from a friend that was moving (my first salt water aquarium), and I have had the tank for about four years. I know that my friend had the tank for about a year or two with the same fish before I received it. <<Mmm, interesting indeed…I would have thought the Domino Damsel to have "cleaned house" by now. There's obviously some testament to "growing-up together" and "habituation" here. If you are not aware, Dascyllus trimaculatus are generally VERY aggressive…even downright "mean." So mean in fact, that I have heard Bob comment that if they grew to 12" he would not go in the ocean! [grin]>> I am getting ready to move everything to a fully established 95 gal tank with sump (I am very excited about this). <<You should be…very nice>> My question is regarding the Domino, who is now about four inches in size. <<Yowza…a bruiser (as Dominos go)…these fish only attain about 5" in the wild!>> I have been keeping an eye on him for aggression, but do not seem to have any problems yet. <<Amazing…>> Occasionally, he will chase the four-striped, but I have created a number of places in the tank where the larger Domino cannot get to the smaller fish, <<Excellent>> and he seems to be best friends with the clown. <<Lucky for the clown…>> They even sleep next to each other. Anyway, I know that this Domino is getting near full size. <<Yes…and has likely reached such in this captive environment>> I have been trying to find some information on when the Domino will change to its adult coloring. <<Sometimes they 9many captive fishes) just don't… With this fish being 5-6 years old, if anything was going to "change" I think it would have done so by now>> Is the change based on age, size, or some other parameter? Rosanna <<It is likely a combination of factors…age, diet, and environmental cues such as the presence (or lack of) conspecifics and available space/confines of the tank. The move to the larger tank "may" trigger some change (though I'm doubtful)…only time will tell. Regards, EricR>>

Strange Damsel, Actually Mean Damsel 2/14/07 I recently wrote about a crypt problem which I am glad to say I have got cleaned all up. <Good> Which brings me back to my Domino Damsel (2in) who keeps rubbing on my Foxface Lo (4in).  Its almost like they are playing the Foxface will turn on its side and the Damsel will just run into his fins and rub all over him. <Not playing, aggression.>  He started this right back up after I reintroduced him into my main tank.  <Reestablishing dominance.> I'm really not sure what to do, and if I should let it continue.  <Will negatively effect the Foxface over time most likely.>   I really have no where else for him to go. <Back to the shop?> So if you have came across this before I would like to know the response.  Thank You. <That is why damsels often prove to be problematic, can be very aggressive even to fish much larger than themselves.  Most likely will need to be separated in the near future.> <Chris>

General Questions?? 12/22/06 I have a tank that is 5 months old . My domino damsel is approx. 3 inches  and appears to be losing his color, there is a invasion of red algae. and there are Condylactis anemones popping up all over the place there are 8 of them so far. <Mmm, don't know if your telling me something or asking for info.  Anyway, Domino Damsels do fade with age/growth and can get rather large. The red algae is more than likely Cyanobacteria.  Do read here.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm.  As for the Condylactis Anemones, I'm quite sure you are seeing the dreaded Aiptasia Anemones which multiply like mice.  There are methods for controlling this species.  Do search our site for this info.  James (Salty Dog)>

Faded "Fats" Domino/Damsels  4/6/06 Hi all. <Hello Steve.> I have searched your site and don't find this scenario.  So here goes.   We have a 150 gallon FOWLR.   Inhabitants are a Powder Blue Tang, Foxface, Lemonpeel Angel, <One of my favorites.> Domino Damsel, Tomato Clown, Fiji Blue Damsel, 3 Pajama Cardinals, and various crabs & snails.  We have had the domino for about a year and a half.  In the last month he has faded from a velvety black to a very light gray.  Everybody gets along and all are eating well, including the domino.  Is there something I should check for or is it common for this fish to fade.  Thanks so much for your continuing information and support. <Will lose their powder coated black look with age.  Do include vitamins in fish diets though.  James (Salty Dog)> Steve

Damsel fish respiration/breathing rate  1/11/06 Hi, <Hello Chris> I have 2 humbug damsel with what I think looks like high respiration.  I know lion fish normal respiration is 30 breaths per minute, could you please tell me what the normal respiration for a damsel fish is per minute, thank you <The humbug is rather active and what you are seeing isn't abnormal.  I really don't know what the respiration rate is, never checked.  Please do not ask what the blood pressure might be:):) <James (Salty Dog)> Chris

3 stripe damsel... behavior, systems 8/14/05 I have a 29 gallon tank that has one clown fish, two 3-stripe damsels  and 6 red leg hermit crabs --- and a young child.  I noticed last  night that one of the damsels was acting weird:  not swimming very much and  the white stripes appeared light gray. <Might be just night-time coloration... but this size, shaped system is too small for these three damsels (yes, the clown is one also)> I took him out and put him in a  quarantine tank.  I also discovered that the heater had been turned up to  83 degrees so I think this is what caused his problem (I have fixed the temp  problem and moved the control out of the child's reach).  The damsel perked  up almost immediately when I put him in the quarantine tank with water at 77  degrees.  When looking at him closely, I see that his fins are a little  ragged around the edges and there is a tiny bit of red right on the edge of his  tail fin. <Good observations... indications of stress, fighting perhaps>   He is to be swimming and eating okay.  My guess is that is  stress related from the temperature, but is it okay to put him back in the  tank? Lisa <You will see... but, as stated, this system is too small psychologically... You can read re on WWM... Bob Fenner>

Domino Damsel Hello, I have a black Domino Damsel, Maroon Clownfish, Blue Devil, Goby, Cleaner Shrimp. I recently bought a Yellow Tang and within one day my Domino Damsel hides, turn a pinkish-whitish color...What do you think is going on, I have read several different conflicting stories and I am still lost.  <I'm lost also, Troy. Trimacs are definitely not skittish. Could be something else wrong with him. James (Salty Dog)><<Likely "just scared". RMF>>

Domino Damsels We have a 50 gallon tank with 2 domino damsels, 1 tomato clownfish and blue tang.  One of the domino damsels turned gray overnight.  What is the problem? <Mmm, likely nothing... this species of Dascyllus does "just turn gray" with age, size, sometimes mood... particularly when engaging in reproductive behavior. Likely you've heard how "mean" this fish can be... watch out re placing other livestock with it/them... in fact they may bite the hand that feeds them (yours!). Bob Fenner>

Bonding (1/21/04)   Hi all, <Steve Allen here>   I bought a Condy for my tank two days ago, and my Domino Damsel has "paired" with it....is this normal???? <for him. Nothing to worry about> I thought the Condy was a "stand-alone" anemone? <Not sure what you mean by that. All anemones are "stand alone" if nothing pairs with them. None actually need a clownfish to survive.> My Clarkii Clown didn't go anywhere near it... <C'est la vie. Could be a fight later over this anemone though.>

Damsels and anemone question Hello. I just purchased a long tentacle anemone and have an odd question. I have two false Perculas and a few other fish in my aquarium and the behavior I am seeing seems to be reversed. The clowns want to host with the anemone but I have a 3 spot domino damsel that will not let them near the anemone and he is actually swimming through it and staying right by it. Is this normal behavior for a damsel? <Mmm, yes for all the Damsels which are the Clownfishes (they're a subfamily, Amphiprionae, within the Damsel family Pomacentridae) and the Three Spot/Domino, Dascyllus trimaculatus. Please see the pic and coverage here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dascyllu.htm> I wasn't aware that damsels had any interest in anemone's or for that matter even hosted with them. Is there anything I can do to deter this behavior or will he keep attacking the two Percs? <Likely so, too likely, to continue harassing them. I would remove one or the other. Bob Fenner> Thanks you,                   Angel

Domino Damsel turning grey Hello WWM,   A 2 year old Domino Damsel has turned to a light grey color over the last 2 weeks. (The tank was dismantled and moved to a new home in December, we are the new keepers since then)  He eats and acts like nothing is wrong. What could have caused this? <Mmm, likely "just aging"... they do this> Is he damaged for life? We are doing 15 gallon water changes on the 90 gallon tank every weekend and the param.s are okay.  When we switched to weekly water changes about 3 weeks ago all the other fish, anemones, and coral seemed to love it except this one fish.  All the other fish are not exhibiting this oddity. Is there something I'm missing? Did we freak the little dude out? <Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dascyllu.htm> How many hours a day should the halides be on? We currently have them set at 9 hours with a 30 minute sun up and sun down. Is this too much light? <Not too much> Thanks...I saw another question similar to mine that referred to an illumination FAQ but I couldn't find the appropriate FAQ. <You can use the Google search tool on the home page: www.WetWebMedia.com or on the indices. Bob Fenner> Maureen

Domino Damsel Hi Bob, I have a question for you. I have a 120 gallon tank with excellent filtration. I have 5 damsels in there. They been in there for 6 weeks. They have all been quite active and look healthy and eat well. The color of the dominos are reddish black it is more red around gill and face area. They are not jet black. <This species does have "races" (geographical varieties) that look quite different than what folks consider/see as "typical". Please see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dascyllu.htm for some pix of variations in Dascyllus trimaculatus> They been like this for as long as I known and they act very normal. They were doing great up to November 6, 2001. Then on November 7 I only noticed four damsels swimming around. I got nervous so I moved some of the decorations around to see if I could find him, and I did. But when he came out his skin was whitish black and he was swimming around very strange which I'm positive was not normal. Then he just laid on the bottom lifeless, so I decided to remove him because I knew he was not going to live. What's wrong with this fish? Is sick? <Maybe just changed color from stress... perhaps just from getting stuck in the rock work. Maybe "changing" color with age/size...> When I bought the fish they were quarantined for 2 weeks before being put in the tank.  <Ah, good> I didn't notice any unusual marks on him., I only noticed a spec on his eye but that look rather okay. My ph is very stable and doesn't change at all. I also have a 16 watt UV as part of my filtration. Please respond soon. Thank you. <Likely no need to worry, "do" anything here. Bob Fenner>

Fish??? (Info. on Dascyllus) Hi there, I was just wondering if you may have a few answers for me, I wanted to know if the domino damsels keep their colors from juv state to adult?  <The veritable "saltwater Piranha species, Dascyllus trimaculatus (only semi-joking)?... Does change color with age/growth/mood/health... and does vary considerably over its wide range... some have no Trimacs... no dots of white... some are more yellow in background color than black... all turning to greyish white with age... and much the same while reproducing... Please see the coverage on our site with pix: http://wetwebmedia.com/dascyllu.htm and contact me again if you'd like to see more image work.> And how long that process is for them to grow and how large they actually get.  Live for a few to several years in captivity... grow to near half a foot in length in the wild, though four inch ones in captivity are large> how bout the 3 striped damsel? (same questions).  <Not as variable in color... see the WWM site here. Bob Fenner> any help is greatly appreciated, I just can't find any information on the net. ~~~***~~~JEANNIE J~~~***~~~

Dang Domino Hi Bob, Missed you. Joyce in Ohio here. Finally, since I started this tank in January I am ready to begin seriously adding fish to my 92 gallon corner tank. I will wait until you have settled more to ask about my wish list.  <Thanks for this respite. Missed the "work" (I definitely don't call this that), though Zo did the fab job I knew he would> I did add two false percula clowns. I blue freshwater dipped them and quarantined them for 2 weeks. (That was hard I wanted them in my main tank so bad!) <I understand... aquarium keeping is a good impetus to self-discipline at times> Last night I added them after feeding the main tank. My current residents are 2 blue tail damsels, one scooter blenny and the dang domino <Ah, Dascyllus dangyoui, am familiar with this pesky species> that rules the roost. Last night he/she was darting at the clowns and trying to scare the living daylights out of them (and me!). They were so cool. They just ignored him/her and kept checking the place out. This morning after feeding time he/she was being really obnoxious to them. Do I have any choice but to take my live rock out (about 80 pounds) and catch him to return him/her to the LFS? I kept 2 nets in the tank for a week after getting the clowns thinking that she would probably bully them, but NOOOOOOO, much smarter and quicker than me!!!  <Me too... you might have some fortune leaving a net in the tank for a few to several days, feeding Mr. Bad Boy over this area... lifting him out once it becomes oblivious to the net...> Welcome back. Hope you had a great trip. Zo was great, just not often enough!! Thanks as always, Newbie, Joyce P.S. I won't make you nervous saying I'm your groupie anymore, but I still am! <Ahh, Poor Zo... hopefully he is recovered/ing... and willing to pick up the gauntlet/keyboard sometime hence... This forum is a joy, but at times overwhelming load wise. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

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