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FAQs about the genus Dascyllus Damsels: Compatibility

Related Articles: Dascyllus

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

Bullying, biting, territorial... even w/ their own kind, which they actually live with!

domino damsels; Saltwater Piranha!      2/9/14
hi I'm
<... English?>
quite new to reefing i came across your site while trying to solve a riddle with my tank, after reading pages of problems on your site i have picked up loads of info and tips already,
i started out 2yrs ago with a 60 ltr marine set up with just the min amounts of live stock, progressed to a 94 ltr tank as i wanted to start keeping corals and more fish, now i have a 400 ltr
<Ah, much better>
tank with all the usual equipment live rock, skimmer,DSB, live stockwas  i very small clown
three  clarki’s three domino damsels, one yellow tailed damsel,i cleaner wrasse, i yellow tang,3green Chromis, 1 mandarin, 1pyjama cardinal ,snails, shrimps, mini anemone x12.
my question is, the Clarkii's and domino damsels are all approx 2.5-3inch and until this week a very harmonious tank my little clown had been in the tank for over 12months
but had never grown, also he kept to the top left of the tank only came  down at feeding time, yesterday i found he had somehow managed to jump onto  the glass cover
<All related to the Dascyllus and other clowns. I'd move this "odd fish out" somewhere else. It will never be happy, healthy here>
at the top of the tank which is just under the light canopy and had obviously died .after reading about the devil domino’s could they have chased him and caused him to jump out?
<Oh yes>
the domino’s have just recently started to turn greyish rather than the black that they were prior to   poor to little nemo’s death i have not noticed any bulling in the tank, could this be because they all went in at the same time? and the clarki’s are the same size as the damsels? am i likely to experience more problems with these little monsters?
<May well be, like so, and yes>
 or do you think that providing i only put same size fish in the tank things should be ok    thanks in anticipation of a reply   veronica
<Troubles ahead. I'd remove the Dominos. Bob Fenner>

Domino damsel in distress... Whamba jammeda along w/ an Aplysiid in a 29 cube    7/7/13
Hi. I purchased a domino damsel about three days ago from the pet store.
My tank is already cycled and its about four months new and its a 29g biocube.
<Yikes... this Dascyllus is mis-placed here... Gets too large, too mean to house w/ other fishes in small volumes>
I have a fire fish that's been living in it for about three weeks already and he's doing fine and also a scooter dragonette. I also have a small red leg hermit crab and emerald crab and two snails. I also purchased a sea hare
<Umm, what species? You should find out ASAPractical. See WWM re... Read here:
and the linked files above re coldwater, too large specimens mis-sold in the trade for tropical use>
 the same day as the damsel because I have a ton of algae.
<... see WWM re this as well>
This morning I noticed he had some white spots on him..ick I am sure..and I just wanted to know if he would be hardy enough to shake it without having to remove him to a quarantine tank because I am not medicating my tank with my live rock in there. What do you think I should do?
<Read for now... Add Cryptocaryon to your WWM list>
 I know they are pretty hardy and he's still eating like a pig but I am not sure if it will get worse or this is just a stress related thing from moving the rocks around..I also added two new pieces of live rock the same day I got the damsel.
<You've added too much, too soon here... and organisms that don't fit in such a tiny space>
All the
crabs and fire goby and scooter look fine ..its just the damsel. Thanks for any advice.
<Keep reading... Write back w/ specific questions after. Bob Fenner>
Re: Domino damsel in distress     7/7/13

I didn't realize I had overstocked it because they seem so small and the damsel is only but an inch big at the moment.
<... please... search, read re purchases ahead of time. This fish is almost always a "terror">
 I will keep the damsel because I  love it even though it will get big and ugly later
<... sigh. Not ugly ever>

 but I will also upgrade when the time comes for him also. After reading a bit about the sea hare it would seem he was not such a wise choice after all.  I think I will return all and just keep the damsel and the two crabs and algae snails.
Thank you for the help.

Domino Compatibility/No Such Thing    5/23/12
Hello from the high desert of Nevada, even though you've heard it before I want to thank you for all the information on this site.
<You're welcome Scott.>
 It never fails that when I start looking for answers I always get side-tracked onto different subjects and the next thing I know a couple hours have passed.
<Easy to do.>
  My current tank in question is 72"L x 30"W x 24"H with a 60 gallon sump/refugium. The tank has a 48"weir containing 3ea 2" Durso overflows and 3 ea 1" returns running about 2400gph flow, about 200lbs live rock, 3 clownfish, 2 A. Ocellaris, 1 black and white A. Ocellaris; 3 yellowtail damsels, C. Parasema; 1 black and white chromi, C. Margaritafer; and the dreaded domino damsel, D. Trimaculatus; various mushrooms and polyps, a trumpet coral, hammer coral, frogspawn (the 2 ocellaris have made it their home), a couple different Lobophyllia, 2 T. Maxima clams and a bunch of hermits and snails. In the sump are 2 Coralife skimmers rated at 125 and 220 gallons. Tank params are Temp 78-80, Ph 8.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, KH 10, Phos 0, Calcium at 480. The tank has been up and running for about 3 months and everything was transferred from my 55 gallon about 2 months ago. All the test results have stayed the same since before the fish were added. Whew!
Ok, boring parts over.
  As I've come to learn the domino damsel is a bully.
<An understatement.  Is as nasty as a motorcycle gang in a California mountain bar.>

Unfortunately he's my wife's favorite, he literally follows her around the room. When she sits on the couch he stays right there where he can see and be seen. He only harasses the other fish enough to let them know he's the boss and at about 4" long he's also the biggest. My problem is that I want to add 1 or 2 more colorful and personable fish. My nearest LFS is about 4 hours away, most of these guys were purchased over the net or on that occasional visit to the store when all I thought I needed was a compatibility check. There was no warning about "demon" fish and since he's my wife's favorite I can't easily get rid of him.
  Thanks to your site I've ruled out a lot of the fish I wanted. So I'm hoping you can help me choose something that could fit in.
<I would not add any fish smaller than the damsel if you must keep it.  I'd likely try a Sailfin Tang at least five inches long, but then if it were me, the damsel would be going.  My dealer won't stock trimacs for that very reason....nasty.
 A reef tank rules out many fish that could cohabitate with the damsel.>
 I also have a Wartskin angler "Fred" A. maculatus, his pic is attached.
He's my favorite. I originally planned to put him in the big tank but after reading your site I decided not to. He is currently in a 14 gallon Bio-cube and been there for about 2 months. I plan to put him in the 55 after I use it as a QT for any last additions if you can recommend any.
  I would like a snowflake eel, and a yellow tang or a Harlequin Tusk but I read that the Tusk might go blind from too much light?
 I have 3 120w LED's that are very bright but I haven't been able to measure the PAR yet. If the tang is acceptable can there be more than one?
<Yes, if a different family, different shape/coloration.>
  Thanks again for any advise you can give. I wish I'd found your site a couple years ago, then I wouldn't have this problem.
<Is a problem.  James (Salty Dog)>

new damsel. 3 spot sel./stkg.     1/30/12
hi crew of wwm,
   I have just gotten my tank ready to put fish in it so I got 2 domino damsels.
<Yikes... very mean Dascyllus sp.>
One looks great and is fine but, the other in the light of the tank looks reddish inside and is swimming awkwardly is there anything I can do?  (all she does is lay under live rock)
<...? Can't be housed together unless this system is large. Read here:
I'd be returning these Pomacentrids; looking into more appropriate species.
Bob Fenner>

Damsels/Compatibility 10/20/10
<Hello Chris>
Quick, and maybe easy (?) question...
<All questions are easy, it's the answers that can be difficult :-).>
what would be the minimum tank size for a four-stripe damsel to coexist with other fish relatively peacefully (for example a yellow tail damsel and royal gramma)... I'm asking purely from the perspective of aggression, not filtration etc.
<For aggressive purposes, the bigger the tank the better. I would not put a Four Stripe Damsel (Humbug) in with the fish you list. This species of damsel could coexist with other aggressive fish, but not too well
with moderately peaceful fish such as you list. If you were going to do this combination, I would suggest at least a 55 gallon tank with plenty of rockwork/caves.>
<Ditto. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Damsels/Compatibility 10/20/10 - 10/21/10
Thanks, great information.
<You're welcome.>
Do I read right that if I went for a more aggressive combination I could get away with a smaller tank volume? Or is a 55 the minimum for mixing four-stripes with any fish?
<You misunderstood. I'm thinking the tank in question is a smaller tank, so why on earth would you want to stock/mix aggressive fish in a small volume.>
What small fish would you consider more aggressive?
<?? More aggressive than what?>
If I were to say change the Royal Gramma for a Dottyback and the Yellow Belly Damsel for a more feisty one, like a Fiji Devil Damsel would that influence things?
<I don't understand your reasoning here. Why do you want to include/mix aggressive fish with peaceful fish in a small volume?>
It's all quite a delicate balancing act really.. :)
<Bingo! Suggest you read here, learn from others.
James (Salty Dog)>
Re Damsels/Compatibility 10/20/10 - 10/21/10

<Hello Chris>
I do apologise James, I appear to have given you the wrong impression.
<No problem.>
I do not as yet have a tank and am considering what size tank I would need for a perspective mix. I do like the look of Four-Striped Damsel and was wondering what size tank I would need to mix one of them with a few other of the more standard aquarium fish.
<As I mentioned earlier, a minimum of 55 gallons. The fish itself doesn't require this much volume, but it does help tone down aggressiveness. If it were me, I'd rather have three Yellow Tail Damsels, much more peaceful and colorful for that matter. The Humbugs grow quite fast and can get up to 3" long, plus have the girth of a wrestler. The more they age, the more aggressive they become and you will soon wish you did not have this fish.>
I take it from your earlier answer that a 55g would be about minimum to mix a four-stripe with other fish, my follow-up question was really aimed at finding out what fish you think would be more likely to be able to hold their own against the "bolshy" Four-Stripe? You mentioned ones that were more aggressive than the Royal Gramma and Yellow-Tail Damsel I mentioned before, so if you could point me in the direction of a few likely candidates I can start my research :)
<I suggest you go to one of the fish etailer sites where they list aggressiveness along with requirements/needs of keeping a particular fish.
Foster and Smith would be a good starting point to do your research in that regard.
Our site goes into much more detail on families of fishes as well as some species of fish. An index to our offerings can be found here.
<Ditto. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Damsels/Compatibility 10/20/10 - 10/21/10 - 10/22/10
Hi James,
Thanks once more for that clarification.
<You're welcome.>
You suggest three yellow tails instead.. I like the sound of that idea a lot... Would three yellowtails work in a 55g? And if so, could I add any other tank mates along with them (suitable to the size of the tank of course). I would normally guess a 55gallon to take maybe 5-8 small/medium fish if appropriately chosen?
<Sure, but 8 medium size fish would be pushing it.>
Keep up the good work, you guys must've saved a million fishy lives by now :)
<Will do. James (Salty Dog)>

Damsel and Goby behavior: Damsel Aggression 8/30/3009
<Hi Angela>
We started a 90 gallon saltwater aquarium about two months ago.
<Welcome to the hobby.>
We first bought a domino damsel and a blue damsel fish.
<I really wish fish stores would educate people about Dominoes before selling them.>
They get along great.
<For now, that will change.>
About two weeks ago I bought a yellow tail damsel, fire goby, a blenny, and snails. They all get along fine. These past few days the domino, blue, and fire goby have been acting strange. The domino will rub his body on top of the goby in a front and back motion. The blue damsel also will go to the front of the goby and flick his tail back and forth.
<The first signs of the impending aggression that is to come.>
This behavior only goes on for a few seconds but it seems to be occurring more frequently. I was just wondering if you knew why they were doing this behavior.
<Have a read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dascyllu.htm as well as the linked files on the top of the page. I would recommend finding the Domino a new home.>
<My pleasure.>

Damsel vs. Angel
Dascyllus trimaculatus/Compatibility 3/22/09

Hello there Crew!
<Hi Amanda>
I have an established 125 gal. FOWLR tank, containing 1 Panther Grouper, 1 Snowflake Eel, 1 Cubicus Boxfish, 1 Lawnmower Blenny and 2 Damsels. One 3 stripe very small and 1 Domino which is rather large and aggressive.
<Yes they are, black devils I call them.>
I just bought a juvenile Koran Angel for the tank and the Domino Damsel would not leave the Angel alone. He became so worked up he actually bit my boyfriend. I know the most aggressive should be introduced last and I even moved the rocks around to break up territories, but ended up having to take the Damsel out to a ten gal. tank for now. I guess my question is, after a couple of weeks in "solitary confinement" and time for the Koran to settle in, is it worth another shot at putting the Damsel back in and maybe he won't feel like the whole tank is his and he might leave the Koran alone for the most part? Or am I better off just trying to find a new home for the Damsel?
<These guys get meaner with age, and if it were me, he would be moving.
Then again, if it were me, I would not have one to begin with.>
The Koran is about 2-3 in. the Damsel about 3-4 in.
It kind of seems like the Koran is more docile than most I've seen. Your knowledgeable advice would help me very much since I know more than my friends on the subject, I need a better opinion.
<Time to go, would not waste my time with it. I'd value the presence of the Koran in my tank much more than the three spot.
Thank you very much.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

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>>

BTA Hosting Domino Damsel 3/10/08 Hello, how are you today? <Just fine Jessica> I have a question(s) that I have not been able to find the answer to online, other then a few user posts on a forum that was not real helpful. Yesterday my RBTA split 2 ways and it appears that it is splitting again. I have a Domino Damsel that has started hosting the original BTA, just yesterday after the split. Is this normal for a Damsel to do this? Since this fish does not regularly host anemones will the Rose eat the fish? And since the anemone is probably somewhat stressed out over the split, is the Damsel going to further agitate the BTA? (The Rose is still a very large size and much larger then the Domino)....I want them all to live and thrive, I just wonder if the Domino will ruin that for everyone. any words would be wonderful, and have a great day. <Jessica, it is not at all uncommon for Domino Damsels to do this. Quite common to see this on the reefs.> Thanks a lot. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Jessica

Attention Bob Fenner; Trapping a Damsel and A Query (NRA V.s 2,3>  8/21/07 Hi Bob <Kerry> Please let me begin by apologizing for sending this through the FAQs. It seems that the link to email you directly doesn't work. <Yes> Thanks again for your assistance with my Lawnmower Blenny/Feather Duster issue. All is well and they are in our display tank now (with no interaction to date; we are keeping an eye on things). A story to share if I may (nothing new to you I'm sure, but interesting to us) and a query after that; Two years ago, my-then-boyfriend-now-hubby and I got into the hobby, setting up a 20 gallon marine tank. Being rookies, we made the typical mistakes and lost corals for making them, but we have been successful (to date) with our fishes and Corallimorphs and we have learned as we've gone along. We chose 2 small Perculas, a Regal Tang (who was so small he could hide behind a quarter if there had been one in the tank) and a small Three Stripe Damsel. Nine months after starting out we moved and "moved up" to a 90 gallon tank (the 20 is now one of our quarantine tanks). For two years the fishes have gotten along wonderfully. The Damsel and Tang have shared sleeping quarters almost from day one. We thought we had the Damsel who was the exception to the rule regarding Damsel attitudes. We should have been so lucky!! <Things... e.g. Damsel beh., changes> Recently, we decided to add some new "critters". Being (somewhat) wiser, this time we did our research. We attempted to choose our new pets wisely, trying to ensure that they would not occupy the same areas as our current fishes and that their "personalities" would be compatible. We quarantined them. We rearranged the rocks. We acclimated them with water from the display tank; the lights were dimmed while we did so. We added them to the display tank with the lights dimmed. We had approximately 20 minutes of peace and then our exceptionally calm Damsel became possessed and gets worse daily. From the time that the lights come on until they go off, he chases the new fishes (a Firefish and a Canary Wrasse; the Blenny has been left alone as he didn't react the first time he was charged). Neither of them has been driven into hiding but the Tang appears to be stressed by it all. He has been spending the day frantically swimming back and forth behind the rocks. He is a "fraidy fish" with a nervous disposition but this is atypical behavior for him. Hubby had to make a tough decision (the Damsel was one of his choices when we started out), opting to get him out of the tank. We looked for suggestions of how to accomplish it; almost all saying that we would have to take the rock out in order to net him. For a while it seemed we would have to. We ended up using a twist on an acrylic barrier. We had a relatively large piece of "eggcrate" left over from making a shelf to use when cycling live rock. I (half) jokingly suggested making an "eggcrate" barrier to trap him; hubby cut it so that it just fits inside of the tank (front to back) and cut notches for the frame at the top of the tank so that it goes from in the substrate to protrude above the water level by a few inches. He moved most of the rock to one half of the tank (an awful pile, but it stayed submerged) but was unable to get the Damsel to go to the other end of the tank. He was becoming frantic and getting "creative" with ideas of how to trap the Damsel (I could see my life degenerating into an aquatic "Caddyshack"; the ideas scared the beejeebers out of me...if only the Damsel knew!!). Yesterday, I moved two rocks which made up the "roof" of the hidey hole the Damsel and Tang were in (more through good luck than good management) and much to my surprise they bolted to where we wanted them. I put the "eggcrate" barrier into place, got out the net and the Damsel and I went to battle. (The Tang went to hide behind a pump; a wise choice considering that "net work" is not my forte). The Damsel immediately recognized that he wasn't going to be able to get through the middle of the barrier so he swam up and down the edge where it met the front glass. After about 5 minutes, I managed to net him. I spread the rocks out again, gave the Tang about half an hour to come out from behind the pump and peace is reining supreme. For a fish the size of the Damsel, the "eggcrate" worked wonderfully. It was easy to cut to the exact shape, light enough to be able to manage with one hand and the Damsel was too large to fit through the grid (but saw it so he didn't smash into it thereby injuring himself). I had recognized some time ago how bright the Damsel is, but this experienced has certainly confirmed it. His behavior changed with ours and he certainly knew where to look for a potential escape from behind the "eggcrate" barrier. It saddens us that he isn't in that tank any longer but again, we've learned (his nature won out over his nurture and we've moved one more tiny step up that darned steep learning curve!!). Now for the query... We are (finally) adding a sump and small refugium to the display tank. Out came our "invert" bible, Reef Invertebrates, Natural Marine Aquarium Series, and we both read the refugium and "plant" sections. Doing so reminded me to search online for Volume 2, 3, etc. (I bet you're shaking your head by now). I managed to Google my way back to WWM and found a letter/reply posted some time ago about this very thing. Is Volume 2 still "stalled"? If so, please add my voice to those clamoring for it!! <Is still stalled... I am wont to produce the last volumes by myself... JasonC has stated at times that he is working on the layout of the fishes (V.2)... it is timely IMO... for the market... and I've penned the ancillary pieces on Selection, Quarantine... and Antoine and I did about half the articles... some years back...> In all seriousness, thank you so very much for all you do for the hobby. Collectively, "The Crew" provides much insight and has a wealth of knowledge that benefits hobbyists and their pets all over the world. Again, with many thanks and appreciation!! Kerry <Welcome my friend. Re the Dascyllus... I might try adding two more of this species (will spread aggression, attention...) or ultimately give this one fish away... there are other settings where it will co-exist more peacefully. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Compatibility 9/27/06 Dominos, Maroon Clown...   9/27/06 Thanks for the time, <You're welcome> I tried to send you a question on your website but the connection didn't work - so I'll try from my own email... I have recently set-up my 36 gallon tank for tropical freshwater fish.  I have a temp of 79 and a salt level of 1.022-1.023. <???  Tropical freshwater fish...salt level of 1.022-1.023.> I bought two Domino Damsels and one Maroon Clownfish.  The damsels seem to be very comfortable in the tank but the clownfish is hanging out at the top.  he is hiding behind my internal filter (I also have an external Fluval).  He is always facing one direction. <Can be normal behavior in a new tank.> He ate well today but then returned to his same position.  This has been going on for the first two days.  I don't mean to rush him - but I was wondering if he is ever going move out and hang about the rocks and other plant life (plastic). Do you have any suggestions for me to help him lower his stress? <Yes, I'd return the beastie boys.  The Domino Damsels are/will be very aggressive, much more so than the clownfish, and, your tank will be too small for them, as they quickly grow to 4 inches in length with plenty of beef.> Thanks a lot for your time. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Re:  Domino, Maroon (in)Compatibility 9/28/06
Thanks for the quick response and advice, <You're welcome.> We were advised the dominos would work fine together. <Not too bad when small, but look out as they grow...they can be monsters.> Would you suggest getting another clown fish to help out the other one? <Only after the damsels go.  Believe me, in time you will hate them.> I read on the internet that the Maroons can also be slightly aggressive and probably shouldn't be paired up - although this was not what I was told at the pet store. <I did mention that in the original query.  If you can get another the same size as what you have, there is a good chance they will pair up, and no aggression should take place.  If they are not compatible, you will have some fighting.> If I do manage to return the Dominos - what are some complimentary fish for the clown(s) that you would suggest? <Dottybacks, gobies, or a pygmy angel, but not limited to these suggestions.  Do read about fish you may be interested in on our web site.> Sorry for the confusion about my tank - it is a tropical saltwater tank. <No problem, I assumed that.> Do you suggest we just go with what we have for now and see if they work well together?  Since the Dominos seem to be doing well - maybe we should just go with them and return the clown? <Tis up to you, but the dominoes will soon outgrow your tank.  Thing about these guys is that their antics/behavior are cute when small, along with the black velvet color and vivid white spots, but this all changes with age.  The black slowly turns into a chocolate brown type color with the whites not as vivid along with an increase in aggressiveness.> What are some other fish that might work well with the Dominos? <Other dominoes in your size tank.  If your bent on keeping them, a larger tank will be necessary down the road.> By the way - the dominos are less then 1 inch each and the Clown is about 2 1/2 inches. <Yes, the cute stage, before Dr. Jekyll takes the place of Mr. Hyde.> All the fish ate today - except the dominos were more excited and ate more. <Yes, very aggressive eaters.> He <Maroon Clown> stayed up near the pump tube and didn't venture too far. Thanks a lot for all the time - we really appreciate it, <Keep on reading my friend, will save you money and headaches.  James (Salty Dog)> Scott
Re: New Maroon Clownfish Re:  Compatibility   10/2/06
More questions.... Thanks again for the help, <You're welcome.> I have left the Dominos in the tank for now - although they are still seeming to control things. <Not surprising.> The maroon clown is always at the top of the tank hiding between the filter in and outtake. I am wondering if there is anything I can do to create a more friendly environment for the clown? <As mentioned a few times, the gang busters need to go.> I don't think I should add another clown yet since my tank is still cycling as fish have only been in it for about 2 weeks. <Two weeks!  You probably have an ammonia problem here aiding to the clown's stress.> The clown still looks in good shape is during feeding he is coming out more and more each day - but then still returns to his usual hang out. Would a second clown help him feel better? <Think you need to re-read this entire query.  Feel like I'm answering the same questions I once replied to.> I discussed with the pet store your idea of trading the dominos in - they are fine with it but suggested I stick with them and let the tank get settled.  I don't feel like trading them in since they are doing very well and I hope everyone will start to settle. <Being the dominoes are near bullet proof, they are a good fish to seed the tank with, but are definitely not a good community fish, especially in a 36 gallon tank.  I also wouldn't be adding any more fish to your tank.> I have fair bit of rock in the tank - with several hiding spots which I thought the clown would use.  When I am at the fish store I see the clowns always hiding in the little holes.  My tank is 36  gallons and I would think I have about 3 gallons of rocks.  Do you suggest a lot more rock? <Is this live rock?  What form of biological filtration are you using?> I know that the more rock I put in the tank the harder it is to clean and vacuum - what do you suggest?  I also don't think that I have to clean the tank as often since I only have 3 small fish and two filters (Fluval 330) and a submerged filter <?? Do you mean undergravel filter?  If so, suggest you read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/ug5proscons.htm> I was advised to get when I made the tank saltwater. <Tank maintenance is part of this hobby.  Suggest reading here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm> Would more rocks help the clown (clowns if I get another)? <More rock may have a calming effect on the clown.  Biggest problem I see is environmental, incompatible fish, and tank not cycled.> Thanks a lot, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> I really appreciate the help, Scott

- Dwarf lion and domino damsel? 6/25/06 - Dear Crew, Many thanks for the great help you provide to eager novice hobbyists like myself. Over the past year a friend and I have set up a 26 gal. mini-reef, which is now humming along beautifully thanks in large part to the info. on your website. Just a few weeks ago I set up a new 35 gallon aquarium. Aside from water, the only things in the aquarium at the moment are a few rocks, a 2-3" bed of fine-grade aragonite, and a Threespot Dascyllus. Eventually I'd like to keep a dwarf lionfish. My question is, will the damsel have to go when the lionfish comes in? <Probably, but it's also possible the damsel will avoid the lionfish.> I've looked through the FAQs trying to find an answer to this question, but there seem to be several (e.g. yes, the lion will eat it; no, as long as the damsel is too big to fit in the lion's mouth; yes, the damsel will harass the lion). <Doubt the lion would eat it, damsel will likely be too wiley.> I wonder if I could try to pin you down on this one? <Not any more than to give you a 50/50 chance with things slightly in favor of the damsel.> Cheers and thanks again, Kevin <Cheers, J -- >

Damsel Aggression - 5/3/2006 Wet Web Media Crew, <<Hey Dustin.>> I bought a 2" regal tang yesterday and brought him home to acclimate to my 240 gallon tank. <<No quarantine?>> I currently have a small domino damsel (1.5"), and a pair of maroon clown fish, both around 2".  He seems to be doing well, swimming around but the domino damsel will not leave him alone.  The damsel keeps backing up into the regal tang and the tang is doing the same to the damsel.  It is like they are trying to put their butts on each other or something.  They just follow each other around as if they are each others shadow.  Is this normal behavior.  Possibly a territorial behavior? <<Most certainly aggression.  Bob refers to Domino Damsels as "saltwater piranha!"  You may have luck re-arranging rock work, re-introducing at the same time with lights dimmed.>> Thank you so much, Dustin LeCave <<Glad to help. Good luck! Lisa.>>

Forget the Kitty... it's Hello damsel... or Hellish Damsel... Dasc. comp.   3/4/06      Hi my name is Anthony, I am not new to aquaria, but am about 5 months new to marine aquaria. I had bought a tank and have it set up and running. I bought the cheapest fish at the store and purchased a Domino,  yellow tailed, and a three stripe. Well I found out quick that damsels are JERKS. <Heee!> Anyways the Domino killed the other two through harassment. I want to put other fish in for my pleasure, I am also reluctant to give up the domino, because after all he is my fish. I write to you because you seem to understand my predicament and know about damsels well. What would you recommend I place in my aquarium. Other damsels or other fish? <Up to you...> Should they be Larger, aggressive, or... I was thinking keeping it aggressive and adding Marginated Damsel fish (leaning towards marginated), Blue & Gold Damsel fish, Fiji Blue Devil Damsel fish, Blue Velvet Damsel fish, and Jewel Damsel fish. Also after reading some of your pages I saw you said ---"Young to moderate size D. trimaculatus and the Hawaiian sibling species D. albisella are frequently found in the same sort of mutualistic symbiotic relationship as Clown fishes; cavorting in and amongst sea anemone tentacles. Sometimes right along with Amphiprion species!"--- So does this mean I should get a D. albisella? And why are they in a mutualistic relationship? <Mmm, let's skip ahead... the current Dascyllus, unless this tank is very large (more than a hundred gallons...) will likely "harass" any/all new fishes... I would either trade it in... or look to other families of fishes... and still recluse the Domino for a few weeks (perhaps in a floating colander if you don't have another tank) to give the new fishes a chance to become familiar, established... Really, if it were me, and this tank was smaller... I'd trade this fish in and start again> If you would give me some suggestions they don't have to be limited to damsels or even fish thank you!!!!! Anthony <Bob Fenner>

Four stripe damsel compatibility help  - 2/11/2006 Hi, hope you are having a wonderful day. <So far, yes. Thanks> I am new to salt water aquariums and learning lots every day. I did several months research before I started the aquarium, but seem to have let my eyes and heart make a mistake. My tank size is 120 gallons with 100 lbs of Haitian live rock. I am adding mushroom and xenia corals and they are doing great. Hope to add some Ricordea corals soon. Here's the problem :( My first fish was and is a four stripe damsel - he is so cute. Love the colors - black, white and a neon blue trimmed tail. He's been in the tank for about 2 months. <... the "tyrant"> I have added 4 Green Chromis and they seem to get alone ok. They have been in the tank about 5 weeks. Added a pink spotted Goby and still all well. He's been in the tank about 3 weeks. Earlier this week added 2 skunk cleaner shrimp, still all is well. I really want to add some other fish like a Clownfish pair. First, will this be ok with the four stripe damsel? <Only time can/will tell. Your system is large enough to allow for some aggression> Second, If so, do I need to get a bubble tip anemone? <Possibly... see WWM re Selection... best to go with a captive produced specimen> Any advice on fish that I can keep with my four stripe I would greatly appreciate. <Posted...> Read through quite a few other emails on this site over the past week and tried to catch the damsel, so I wouldn't have to ask this question, but after an all day struggle, I don't think he's coming out. He must sense that I really like him and don't want to hurt him with the net. Thanks and I hope you have a great afternoon, Susanne <Keep an open mind, heart, and keep reading... investigating before purchasing... you'll do fine. Bob Fenner>

Killer Damsel? Oh yes Hi; <Greetings> I have had a 55 gallon tank with the following - Domino Damsel - 4 Striped Damsel - False Percula Clownfish - Clown Goby - Mandarin Goby - Firefish Over the past 24 hours I have found the Mandarin, Clown Goby, and Clownfish dead.  They were all eating (I have a refugium for copepods for the   Mandarin), the water is fine, and I see no signs of disease on the other fish.  Is it possible the Domino is killing off the tankmates? Other suggestions? Thanks, John <Very likely the "dark dude with the white spots" "did it"... Yes. Trade that bad boy in. Bob Fenner>

Damselfish attacking Yellow Tang, dump the dominos  9/5/05 Hello everyone! LOVE the website, loads of valuable information. <Ah, good> I have a 90 gallon tank with about 40-45lbs of live rock. It has been established for about a year. The inhabitants are 2 domino damsel, <"Saltwater piranha!"> 2 three-striped damsels, a coral beauty angel, a porcupine pufferfish, <Gets too big...> a maroon clownfish and a percula clownfish (it was a "surprise" by one of my roommates, occasionally the maroon will chase after the percula but generally both clownfish stay on opposite ends of tank). Now here's the problem. I recently purchased a small yellow tang; <The "straw" that broke this tank volume and social dynamic's back> it's about 2 inches in diameter. I have had it in a quarantine tank for about 2 weeks. I slightly rearranged the rocks and literally within seconds of putting the tang in the main tank the dominos started attacking him. He ended up running to the other side of the tank but then one of the 3-striped damsels started attacking him. He was chased down by the damsel to other end again and then the dominos started to chase him again. He ended up hiding in a crevice on the side of the tank. I decided to leave him in there and hopefully everyone would just adjust. <Uh, no> But every time the tang would come out he would get attacked. Within a period of about 10 minutes his top fin and tail fin were all tattered. I ended up removing him and now he's living in the QT tank until I figure out what to do with him. He does not seem to be traumatized. He is swimming in the open and is eating. I didn't read that there was a compatibility issue before I bought him and I also assumed that if there was a problem he could deter anyone with his tail. <Too small, in too hostile, crowded a world> I am thinking that the damsels aren't intimidated by him because of his size. I am a little scared to see what happens if I try and put him there again. <Will happen with most anything placed...> I have heard that the aggression would subside after the pecking order was established. Are there any tricks I could do? I was thinking that maybe I could introduce him in the middle of the night or just completely rearranging the rocks. <In this case, set of circumstances, no... really best to remove the Dominos...> I have also accepted that my QT tank may be his new home until be grows a decent size. <"If" the Dominos were removed, a good-sized Zebrasoma (four or more inches in overall length) introduced, and the dominos re-introduced a few weeks later, this might work... but doubtful... Dascyllus trimaculatus almost always become tremendous "bullies" over time> Also I have been watching the tang while I have been writing this and I have been seeing him rub up against the rocks a couple of time. Do you think that this is just from the fighting? <Maybe> I was just wondering if you guys have any suggestions.  Thanks in advance for any help that you guys can provide Richard <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dascfaqs.htm I'd trade them out. Bob Fenner>

Clown Moved (Run) Out Of Anemone - 06/11/05 Hi guys, <<Howdy>> First, let me say what a great website, I read through it religiously! <<Outstanding!>> Now, to business.  I have a 220l tank which currently plays home to a humbug damsel, a Valentini puffer, a percula clown, 2 hermits, 3 snails and 1 anemone.  The last addition to the tank was the anemone that I bought over two months ago as a haven for the clown. <<Um, ok.>> The clown had been living with the others peacefully for some time, until all of a sudden the humbug decided to bully the clown, knocking it around and so forth. <<I'm surprised the clown is the only one suffering the Humbug's wrath.  IMO, the Humbug is the 2nd nastiest damsel commonly available.  The number-one spot I give to the Domino damsel.>> So I bought a quadricolour anemone for the clown, and all was well again.  He loved his anemone, followed it everywhere when it moved, rolled around in it and chased away anything that came near :-)  When I cam home last night, the clown was out of his anemone for the first time in months.  He still hasn't returned and is hiding in the back top corner of the tank where the protein skimmer dumps it's water.  Seeing as how the humbug has now decided that its time to badger the clown again, is there anyway I can get the clown to move back to his home? And why would he leave the anemone in the first place anyway? <<Likely the clown has been driven away by the damsel.  I think your only option here is to remove the damsel from the tank.  Perhaps trade it to your LFS for store credit?>> Cheers, Mat <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Going Fishing For Dominoes - 06/03/05 Well I have a 500 hundred gallon acrylic aquarium and I have 2 domino damsel in there from day one.  They are huge 5" in dia..  And there laying eggs all over.  But my problem is they are nipping my other fish and are very aggressive and disturbing the gravel substrate and making the tank always look cloudy.  My question to you is how can I catch them I tried several times but they are to fast for me to catch and the top of my aquarium only has hatches, all I wind up doing is upsetting the rest of the fish.  Any help I would appreciate. And of coarse I would find them a good home.   <<Had this very same problem myself years ago before I learned better.  Domino damsels are the cutest little buggers when they're about the size of your thumbnail...but it doesn't take long for them to grow up mean and nasty!  I solved my domino problem by using a small barbless fish hook, some very fine monofilament fishing line, and a bit of raw table shrimp.  This tactic is surprisingly effective due the fishes natural aggressiveness.  Give it a try!  It's actually less stressful/harmful to the fish than chasing it around with a net.  And provides a great little ultra-light tackle workout as well <G>.>> That's jimmy... Ps I love you web sight thanks <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Domino Damsel in a 40 community? Hi guys, I have a 20 Gallon tank with a domino damsel (2 inches long) which I've had for ~2 years. I looking to get rid of the 20 Gallon tank and transferring the Damsel to my 40 Gallon reef tank which houses 2 tomato clowns, a host anemone, 2 shrimps, soft corals, etc. This damsel has displayed aggressive behaviour towards other fish in the past. Would you recommend this transfer or not? I'm concerned about not being able to catch him in the 40 Gallon tank (given the rockwork) if things go bad... Thanks, Marc >>>Hey Marc, This is one of my absolute favorite fish, unfortunately they grow large, their spots grow dull, and they get vicious! They don't mix well with other fish as they mature. Also, given the potential size of this fish, along with the potential size and aggressive nature of a female tomato clown - my vote is get rid of the damsel. You're just asking for trouble if you add it. Cheers Jim<<< 

Those Aggressive Damsels (6/6/04) I have 2 3 spot domino damselfish in my 20 gallon marine tank, and nothing else.  If I get a peppermint shrimp will they attack it.  I had a yellow watchman goby and they never left it alone.
<Domino Damsels are among the most aggressive damselfish toward other fish, but should leave inverts alone. If you want other fish, you'll need to lose the Damsels. Steve Allen.>

- Dealing with Damsel Aggression - Hi crew- I have a 40-gallon tank (1.25 years old) with ~50 lbs. live rock, 5-inch deep sand bed, 192 watts of light on for 12 hours a day, and a Red Sea protein skimmer located in a 30-gallon tank (that has ~25 gallons of water) that currently serves only as a water reservoir/buffer, but eventually will turn into a refugium/isolation tank when I find the time.  In all, about 65 gallons of water circulate (~350 gallons per hour), but the fish are confined to 40. pH=8.3, temp = 78, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate = 0 Inhabitants: Dominant fish= Dascyllus melanurus (2.5 inches) Rest:     Centropyge bispinosus(3 inches, very peaceful)     Ecsenius bicolor     2 Amphiprion ocellaris Inverts     Lysmata amboinensis     4 Lysmata wurdemanni (3 < 1 inch, 1 full size)     Condylactis sp. pink-tip anemone All of the above fish and inverts (except the small peppermints) have been in the tank for at least 8 months and all get along well.  The damsel occasionally shows some aggression towards the coral beauty but she handles it well.  When I first got the angel fish, I had to divide the tank for about three weeks to stop the fighting, but they've been ok since.  I've read The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and the FAQs on territoriality.  My problem is that I just purchased a beautiful Macropharyngodon ornatus as the final addition to the tank, and the damsel just won't leave it alone.  A typical day for the wrasse has been to wake up around 10 AM and be buried again by 10:15 because it can't tolerate any more aggression.  It has proved difficult to "force" them to coexist as I did with the angel because the wrasse buries itself.  Here is what I've tried so far: (1) isolating the wrasse in part of the tank to ensure it feeds and develops a normal circadian rhythm, (2) isolating the damsel, so the wrasse can have more of the tank, and can befriend the rest of the inhabitants.   Option (1) works well enough, but the damsel just hangs out on the other side of the divider (for as long as a week), and upon reintroduction of the wrasse, the damsel resumes it's aggression.  Option (2) worked better I thought, but then the damsel escaped over the divider, so I am currently back at option (1) (a buried wrasse is much easier to isolate than a smart damsel with rock to hide behind). I wonder what your advice would be to successfully acclimate these two fish (the rest of the inhabitants show no aggression towards the wrasse). <Honestly, there is no way to tame the damsel. These fish are notorious for their aggression and it only gets worse in time/age. These fish will attack scuba divers without hesitation, despite the great disparity in size. Damsels really can't be reasoned with.>  My options seem to be: (1) continue isolating the wrasse, for as long as it takes for the damsel to lose interest and leave the divider; (2) attempt to better isolate the damsel, still in the main tank, for a longer period of time; (3) put the damsel in the 30-gallon sump for a period of time until he "forgets" about his dominance, and reintroduce him to the tank, hoping he won't decide to pick on the wrasse again; (4) trade the damsel into the LFS. I would rather use option (4) as a last resort, since he was my first fish and has shown that he can eventually get along... I just don't want the wrasse perish in the meantime. <In my opinion, option #4 is your only option. All others will end with the same result.> Would rearranging to rock-work have any significant impact? <No... not for long enough.> It doesn't seem like territoriality, more like plain old aggression.  He seems to seek the wrasse out and pick on it, leaving all other fish alone.  If option 2 or 3, how long would you expect it to take for the damsel to "forget" his dominance? <Somewhere close to death... these fish are just this way.> If option 1, is there anything I can do to help the damsel lose interest sooner? <Not that I'm aware of... perhaps putting in another damsel of the same type, but at the end of that experiment you'll still only have one damsel.> Sorry for the length, and thank you for the service and great site.  And thanks for adding the Amazon Honor System payment option - it gives us all a way to let you know the value we place on your expertise.  Tom <Cheers, J -- >

Dascyllus trimaculatus and Premnas biaculeatus Hi, is it possible to keep a pair of Dascyllus trimaculatus and a pair of Premnas biaculeatus with Entacmaea quadricolor in a 50 gallon tank? Is the tank to small? Or are they to aggressive for one tank? <It may work for a while but one pair will probably eventually overthrow the other. Also make sure you have very good lighting for that anemone. Cody> thanks,

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