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FAQs about the Damselfish Compatibility 2

Related Articles: Damselfishes, Clownfishes, Jumbo Damselfishes

Related FAQs: Damsel Compatibility 1, Clownfish Compatibility 1, Damsels 1Damsel Identification, Damsel Systems, Damsel Selection, Damsel Feeding, Damsel Disease, Damsel Reproduction

"Ill take all the damsels you want to stock." Aulostomus chinensis. This one in N. Sulawesi.

Damselfish Compatibility    3/3/16
Hi everyone. I've recently set up a 55 gallon FOWLR aquarium. It's just cycled, so I've added two damsels, a yellowtail and a Kupang (Azure?) damsel. Both small, similar in size. They've been in the tank 48 hours
now. Initially each had its own area amongst the rocks, in separate sides of the tank. The past 24 hours, however, the yellowtail has moved over into the Kupang's area and taken it over. Now the Kupang is in the very corner of the tank, behind the rocks and doesn't come out. If he does, the yellowtail shows up and intimidates him and Kupang retreats back to the corner. I fear I made a mistake adding two different species of damsels.
<Mmm; well; better to keep most small damsel species in odd numbers... so that one cannot dominate the other>
I'm concerned the Kupang is going to die now, as he is breathing constantly (versus the yellowtail, whom you can't even notice his breathing).
Additionally, I have not seen the Kupang eat since the hostile takeover.
So. what to do? Should I remove the yellowtail and hope the Kupang recovers?
<Remove the bully, float in a plastic colander for a few days... but likely adding another small damsel... of whatever species>
Or, remove the Kupang now - while he's still (appearing outwardly) healthy? Or. given the size of this tank and so much territory, with all the holes and crevices and places to hide and/or claim, should I simply see what happens and leave things be? Obviously, I don't want the Kupang to die. Nor, do I want any future issues with the yellowtail when more fish are added (a Clown, a Fire Fish, a Bicolor Blenny, etc). Logic seems to suggest removing the aggressor - for the immediate issue, and moving forward with stock. I just wanted to see what the experts had to say on this, even hoping someone might suggest leaving things as they are for now and the two damsels will work things out. I'm just scratching my head over how with such a large area, full of rock and spaces to hide and claim, both fish are in a 6-inch section of the tank. one, being in a 3-inch corner of that area. Sigh.
I welcome and appreciate any thoughts and advice. Thank you all so much for all you do to educate us!
- Jim (San Diego)
<Welcome; Bob Fenner, usually in East La Jolla; okay Mira Mesa; but currently out dive traveling in Roatan>

Reg Damsel Community tank/Damsel Fish/Compatibility 10/6/12
Hi Team,
<Hello Mudassir>
Hope everything is good on your side.
<Doing good.>
So without wasting further time, here is my question.
I am planning on setting up a damsel community tank. Tank size is 5ft Lx 3ft Hx 2ft W, (roughly 220 gallons).
The tank will have Live Rock as both decoration and its main purpose (biological filtration).
I have read a lot that damsels are aggressive and cannot be mixed, but I couldn't find anyone having a damsel community tank.
<That should have answered your question.>
Will this work?
<Can with careful selection in a large system like yours.>
All the fish will be added together at the same time.
Here is the species I am planning to keep along with the numbers.
6-8 domino damsel (or) 6-8 Dascyllus aruanus
<Cross these pool hall fighters off the list. Very aggressive and can grow quite large, especially the Domino Damsel.>
6-8 Chrysiptera caeruleolineata
<A good choice but not always available.>
6-8 Azure Damsel (or) (Pomacentrus alleni)
6-8 Green Chromis (Chromis viridis)
6-8 Half Black Chromis (Chromis bicolor).
<A relatively good choice with the exception of the Dominos and Aruanus.
Plenty of live rock with nooks and crannies should keep everyone happy with the exception of a few small occasional spats.
Best to try and add all within the same day once biological filtering has been established. Please read here and related articles found in the header for more information. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm>
Thanks for taking your time out and answering my query.
Thanks and Regards
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Damsel Compatibility... not    3/15/12
Howdy, I bought two yellow tail damsels (species recommended by Salty Dog as my first fish).  One is bullying the other making him stay up in a corner
<Very common behavior>

 (got them last Wednesday, so it's been a week).  I want to check on what the pet store said which was that what MIGHT happen is the bully will become the female and they will become a mated pair.
<Not likely. The one will cause the others demise>
  So one question I have is that if this does not happen, should I remove one of the fish?
<Yes I would>

 I have a 28 gallon bow front tank by the way.  My other question is, as I was reading through your articles and FAQs on damsels, I came across the Talbot Damsel and would like to add one to my tank.  I only have the yellow tails so far.  Thanks for the info!  Paul
<The Talbot may be sufficiently "different" to get along w/ the single Chromis. Bob Fenner>
Re: Damsel Compatibility, hlth.    3/15/12

Thanks for the response, that's too bad.  Well, if I'm going to move one out anyway, the one that gets bullied has some discoloration on his lips.
<I see this... very bad... Mouth damage in small fishes often leads to death>
I didn't notice it in the pet store, but I did right after putting him in the tank.  They seem more clear then white, but the pics show up white.
There is also slight white around both eyes that was not there before.  If you think it's a disease I'll take him out now, but the pet store thought it was an injury, so I've just been waiting for it to heal.  Thanks.
<Is very likely due to injury... BobF>

Re: Damsel Compatibility...     3/23/12
Hello again, I was hoping to give an update saying that all is well with my poor yellow tail damsel, but he stopped eating two days ago, and this morning I noticed a small red spot on his puffy lips (which seem to be a little puffier also) sort of like they are cracking open. 
<The end>
After reading your response that he may die from the injury anyway, I decided to just keep him around
<... needed to be separated>
 rather than give him to the pet store (kind of a way to let him die peacefully without even more stress of being recaptured and moved).
Also, I was going to move him to a 10gal refugium once I got that set up to stop the bulling, but now I'm wondering if this will turn to some sort of disease that will contaminate my tank, and should I just net him and flush the poor fellow?  Oh, and I also have some isopods, letting you know in case they might be making the blood spot.  Thanks, Paul.
<... B>
Re: Damsel Compatibility    3/23/12

Well, I'm saddened.  Is it worth trying to give him away or take him back to the pet store? 
My guess is no, but I'd rather him not die if there was hope for that.  I guess the lesson I learned this time is to listen to sound advice!  Thanks again.
<Doomed. B>

Re: Damsel Compatibility    4/5/12
You, of course, were right, and the injured and harassed yellow tail damsel died.  So a couple of weeks went by and I bought a Talbot damsel as you thought a Talbot might be un-harassed by the bully.  I even bought 2 more rocks and mixed everything up to disturb his territory, but alas, he seems to just like to harass other fish.  The Talbot is usually under that rock (shown in the picture) and even there the yellow tail finds the hiding fish a chases him out of there.  We got the Talbot on Monday ('tis now Thursday) and just wanted your thoughts.  My wife thinks I should give them more time to become friends, but I doubt that's possible now.  Thanks.
<I'd trade in the aggressor. BobF>

Dirty Damsel, beh., comp.   7/26/11
Good Day,
Recently my husband and I purchased two Damsel's. We purchased living substrate, live rock and a 25 ounce bottle of BioSpira that we added after letting the tank cycle. We introduced the two Damsel's together, unfortunately, after the fourth day it seems one has become the aggressor.
He allows the other to eat and have some freedom from his corner of the tank but only on a tight leash.
<Typical of most species of damsels, they can be very aggressive.>
The other is now very angry as indicated by his black color. He has turned the other from a beautiful purple.
<Stress markings.>
Should we allow this behavior or take the aggressive Damsel back to the store?
<They may need to be separated.>
Also, Mr. Aggressive turns all the way on each side and rubs himself repeatedly on the live rock. He only does this after he has worked on his nest. Subsequently, is there anyway to stop this nesting behavior?
<No, not really, damsels generally will dig if there is substrate.>
We are concerned that he will end up bringing a living rock down on him while we are not at home and trapping himself.
<Is a real possibility, you may need to shore up the rockwork with PVC tubing or plastic ties.>
Best Regards,
Christy Carter
<See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm .>
Re Dirty Damsel, 7/27/11

Thank you Chris.
What do you make of the "scratching" against the live rock. Could this be a sign of a parasite?
<Could be, but could be nothing too. I would just watch for the time being, see if any other symptoms appear.>
Again Best Regards,
Christy Carter

Marine Schools/Fish Cannot Read/Compatibility 10/20/10
Good Morning, hope you are all well.
<I'm still above ground, thank you!>
Can I pick your brains..
I was wondering, which species of small/medium (anywhere up to 3-5") marine fish naturally occur in groups during most of their lives. I'm aware of Chromis and Anthias obviously, as well as other damsels occurring in groups when young (although not when older of course!).. but there must be more to choose from?
<Let me stop you here, Chris. Species of fish that peacefully school/shoal in the wild does not necessarily mean they will coexist in captive systems.
When we try to do this with some species such as Yellow Tangs, the fish automatically go into a survival mode, that is they will defend an area that is a source of food and security, and in most cases only the Alpha fish will survive the battle. In the wild, there is no real lack of security and food sources to fight over. To have a chance at success, very large tanks must be used, and by very large tanks, I do not mean 240 gallon, but much larger than this volume.>
I have seen pictures of a whole big group of Orchid Dottybacks, but I presume the photo must've been of a brood being commercially reared... likewise I have seen tanks with myriads of Clownfish, but again I assume these were broods being raised.
<Very likely, and when young, safety in numbers is the rule. Your best bet, providing your tank is large enough, would be a school of Anthias or Chromis. You may want to read here.
Thanks in advance!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Marine Schools/Fish Cannot Read/Compatibility 10/20/10
Thanks James for that dose of reality and straight talk, always the best way :) I'll scrap all my silly plans.
<You're welcome, Chris. 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)>

Clownfish not behaving properly, aggression 7/26/10
Hi ,
I am having problem with my False Percula Clownfish . I have tank of 180 litres of water and all the other parameters of water are ok . I have 1 False Percula Clownfish , 1 Sebae Clownfish , 1 Humbug and 1 Yellow tail blue Damselfish.
<An aggressive tank.>
All were having food . But recently I found that the False Percula Clown which used to swim in front of the tank is now hiding near the filter and the Sebae Clown is going behind the percula.
The Percula Clownfish is also not taking food . Please help me with an answer whether this is happening because of the aggression of the Sebae Clownfish?
<Most likely is.>
Or the Percula Clownfish is sick ?
<May become so if the situation is not rectified.>
If so then how can I solve the problem.
<Remove one of the clowns to a different tank.>
Should I add another false percula clown?
<More clowns will not help the situation.>
Or add a carpet anemone.
<Will only complicate things.>
Please help me.
<Clowns are territorial and aggressive, which is what you are seeing here.
It is generally a bad idea to mix clown species in anything but the largest tanks.>
Re: clownfish not behaving properly   7/27/10

Hi ,
Thanks a ton for your help . Just wanted to know in 180 litre water tank I have 1 yellowtail blue damsel , 1 humbug and 1 Sebae clownfish . And all are aggressive in nature . Can I add any other fish in the same tank . If
yes then which would be the best option . Since I am a beginner please suggest a hardy fish which is easier to maintain .Even if I add any fish how to introduce the new fish in the tank .
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysstkgfaqs.htm
and the linked files above in this series for input, and here:
the last tray... re Damsel Compatibility... Bob Fenner> 

Help to catch damselfish, 3/12/10
I really need help.
<Me too in so many ways.>
I have tried every available trick to catch a very aggressive domino damsel (even aggressive towards me - if I put my hand in the aquarium she immediately comes after it. she will smack it with her tail and bite!!!!)
<You should try diving with them.>
In all of the research I have done I found out that it will just get a whole lot worse.
<Can dominate a tank.>
I have tried catching her in the morning, I have tried opening the lights in the middle of the night to shock them to the surface. A floating food to make it come to the top to scoop it out. Double nets. Food in one net and a second to catch her. I even tried leaving the net in the water for a few days so it would get accustomed to it. I have tried emptying water but nothing has worked. I have a diamond shaped 95 gallon tank with 80 lbs of live rock, many soft and hard corals and lots of creatures that live in the sand.
I also have a pesky tomato clownfish that has to be removed as well. The two of them fight constantly and terrorize and gang up on my other fish.
They are really starting to annoy me.
<Both these fish can very aggressive.>
Is there some kind of trap that I could put in the aquarium that they could go into to hide but once they are they can't get out. Sort of like a mouse or rat trap???? The humane ones of course :0)
<There are some commercially available, and lots of DIY plans on the internet. Otherwise a small barbless hook may be your best bet. Word of warning with the traps, the fish will quickly learn the trap is, well, a trap, so make sure you are comfortable in it's operation before you expose the fish to it.>
I would really appreciate your help since I am at wits end and I don't want to remove 80lbs of rock........
<Not fun.>
Re: Help to catch damselfish 3/15/10

Thank you for the quick reply. I shall try to find a good plan and set it to work before taking the last step of removing the live rock.....hopefully I won't have to.
<Sounds good>

Mixing Damsels With Niger Trigger/Triggerfish/Compatibility 2/5/10
I have a 125 gallon FOWLR with a Niger Trigger (about 4 inches) and a Fox Face (also about 4 inches). The tank has been setup for about 2 years. I would like to add 3 to 5 Yellowtail Damsels to add color and movement. Is
this reasonable, or would it create problems either for the existing or new inhabitants?
<You would be placing the damsels in an environment not to their liking, they will be at risk. James (Salty Dog)>

Aggression questions/Damsel Compatibility 11/11/09
Hey Guys,
Pretty simple question for you. I've got a 75 gal FOWLR tank. I added new fish two weeks ago yesterday. (5 Green Chromis new, 2, 3 stripe damsels, 2 Banggai Cardinals existing) I was getting a bit of aggression from the damsels when we first put the Chromis in, specifically the male (We have a mated pair) so we QT'd him for 3 days and rearranged the environment. When we added him back in, him and his mate made their new home in about the same place and were fine for a few days. But they've begun striking out at the other fish as they approach their rock (we never had this problem with the damsels attacking the Cardinalfish until we added the Chromis) For the most part, the only time they're only defensive like this is dinner time and when the other fish investigate their rock. I tried over feeding them to see if they were just hungry, but to no avail (Ocean Nutrition flakes and Mysis shrimp, both of which they are eating fine). So far the damsel hasn't been able to catch them yet, but he does chase them around when they come close.
(I took a quick video to show you)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F63NWZAWFII I'm a bit afraid that he's
going to stress out the other fish and kill them in the process. The LFS won't take them back because of the aggression and I haven't been able to find them a home, so it's down to either they make friends or the damsels are taking the plunge. Just wanted to see if there's something that I'm not doing.
<The damsels are displaying their normal aggressive behavior and it intensifies with age.
The addition/crowding of fish will generally intensify territorial disputes from damsels.
This likely not tone down, and if it continues, you will need to remove either the damsels or the cardinal fish, your choice to make. Mine would be the Three Striped Damsels (Dascyllus aruanus).>
<Cheers. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Aggression questions/Damsel Compatibility 11/11/09
Thanks for the second opinion James.
<You're welcome, Dustin.>
We had come to that conclusion ourselves, but the girlfriend wanted a second opinion before we got rid of the Dascyllus aruanus (she bought them, so she's become a little attached haha)
<These fish, when small, have very cute antics and are almost irresistible to buy, but they sure turn into devils as they age. Thirty+ years ago, the Three Spot Damsel (Dascyllus trimaculatus) were the first inhabitants of my first tank, and I quickly learned these guys were not going to play nice with the other fish. The Yellowtail Damsel (Chrysiptera parasema) is a much better choice, a rather peaceful fish compared to other damsels and does add some vivid color to the aquarium. Have two myself that behave quite nicely.>
Thank you again for your time!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Clownfish and Damsels in a 55 Gallon. Aggression\Compatibility 6/29/2009
<Hi Wendie.>
This is the first time I saw your website, and I have read some of the Q & A, but was not able to pinpoint the answer I'm looking for. Please help, as my kids are ready to kill one of the fish.
<We'll see what we can do; nothing is insurmountable.>
I have a big black and white Ocellaris clown fish maybe 3", it's been the survivor in our 55 gallon tank along with 2 blue damsels. We recently added 2 domino damsels (which died the next day I put in the tank); 2 stripe black/white damsel; 2 green Chromis damselfish; 2 small blue damsels.
<A lot of rather aggressive fish in a smaller volume of water.>
I have personally seen the clown fish chase the Chromis around. 2 of the blue damsel have died, and 1 of the Chromis have died.
<Not surprising. All of the fish you have listed are very territorial.
The Clown, being the 'oldest' fish in the tank, regards any newcomer as a threat.>
I only now have the clownfish, 2 -3stripe black white dames, 1 blue damsel, 1 green Chromis.
<Still too many damsels for a 55 gallon.>
Are any of these fish compatible?
<Not really.>
According to the fish store I purchased from, they said they are?
<In hundreds of gallons, yes, not in a 55.>
If they are compatible, why is the clownfish attacking the Chromis? I thought, they are peaceful fish.
<Clownfish are damsels as well, all damsels have the potential to be very aggressive. Full grown Domino damsels have been known to chase and attack divers in the wild.>
My 3 kids named their fishes that have died, and want me to get rid of the clownfish.
<This is an option, but then the next dominant fish will attack the others, so that is only prolonging the problem.>
I'm sure because of its size, it probably cost a lot more.
Can you please provide me some assistance. I feel bad for the Chromis, he is looking beat up.
<You have too many damsels. Personally, I would return the damsels and Chromis to the store and go with different fish.>
<Do read the following articles.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aggr_lossfaqs.htm >
<You're welcome>

Re: Clownfish and Damsels in a 55 Gallon. Aggression\Compatibility 6/30/2009
<Hi Wendie>
Thank you, had a giggle with you comment, about personally return the damsel and the Chromis.. I'll be sure to tell my kids. LOL, thanks again.
<My Pleasure.>
Thank you,

Damselfish compatibility -- 4/17/09
Hi, crew
<And you>
<... the personal pronoun "I" is capitalized>
currently have a 60 gal tank with 1 three-striped damsel (Dascyllus aruanus), one blue damsel (Chrysiptera cyanea),
<Are social animals...>
4 red-tipped hermit crabs, and 2 Trochus snails with 15lbs live rocks (getting more when i have the money). i was wondering what i can stock with my damsels since I've seen how they are pretty aggressive. i was interested in getting blue reef Chromis but I'm afraid that my two fish are too aggressive.
<You are correct>
Could you make any suggestions as to what i can do to maybe keep a more variety of a little more peaceful fish? Thank you in advance.
<Trade in what you have or one of the species... have three of one sort here maximum. Bob Fenner>

30 gal System (over) stocking\Dascyllus\Anemone hosting 3/25/2009
<Hi Melissa>
First of all I would like to say I love your web site!!
<On behalf of Bob, Thank You.>
A few months ago I got a 30 gallon saltwater tank.
<Welcome to the hobby.>
It contains 2 blue Damsels,2 yellow-tail blue Damsels, 2 black Domino Damsels, a Percula Clown fish, 2 Condylactis Anemones , and a Coral Banded Shrimp.
<Very overstocked with inappropriate species, you will have aggression and water quality issues down the road..>
I know every one says that you shouldn't put damsels together in a tank but so far I haven't had a problem they all seem to get along very well.
<For now, everyone is small, wait until they get bigger Damsels should have at least 10 gallons each..>
My question is one of my Domino Damsels has taken up residence in one of my anemones, is this normal?? Or should I be worried??
<Very normal, nothing to worry about.>
<Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dascfaqs.htm and here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damselcompfaqs.htm and finally here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/stocking1.htm >
<My Pleasure>

Compatibility - Damsel?   2/27/09 Hey all, planning the last additions to my 150 FOWLR and thought I'd run it by you and ask you a question about a fish... <Okay!> Right now I have a 150 gallon 72" long, about 150 lbs of live rock with a 40 gallon sump with Chaeto and a TF Shorty 5000 skimmer (rated to 400 gal). Current residents; coral beauty (2"), canary wrasse (2.5 "), Scopas tang (3"), 2 false percula clowns (1.5"), common cleaner wrasse (2"), and 2 neon gobies (who I might remove if the cleaner wrasse won't leave them alone). My last purchases would be two threadfin butterflies, a flame angel (would it get along with the coral in a system this size?), <I give you good odds> a powder blue tang and a Naso tang. Do you see any glaring issues with this group? <Do sequester/quarantine the Leucosternon a good long while... and do think further re the Naso... It will in time get too big even for a six foot long system> Also, I was looking at trying to add a bit of blue such as a yellow tailed blue damsel (issues with clowns?) <Not likely... but look into other "Blue" damsels... Like Allen's, Starck's...> or a group of three blue reef Chromis (cyanea)... any suggestions on these two? Any alternative? <Oh! I should read ahead> Also, would a Scopas have issues with a purple tang in this system? <Not too likely in this size system, with rock bommies> Thanks for everything!!! You guys are invaluable!! BTW... last week I tried to donate on the new main page and the "button" wouldn't work... had to go into the marine section first before I could get to the donate page. <Thank you for this... will look into. Bob Fenner>

Odd Damselfish? Beh.    12/15/08 Hello there! Ok, I have a question regarding some Blue Neon Damselfish, <Mmm, what species is this?> as my LCF called them, for they are acting strangely. I just recently bought 4 new damsels where they were placed in my 45 gallon tank, where two other damsels of the same species already lived for about 4 months. At first, the little guys did swimmingly, though there was a little hen-pecking, but nothing out of the ordinary. <Mmm, am not so sure> All the fish eventually cooled down and ate like pigs, though I never overfeed, and all seemed happy. About a day ago I noticed 1 of the 4 damsels swimming at the bottom of the tank, not wanting to leave the place in which it was swimming. It also didn't eat, nor did it swim around with the other fish. <Bad signs> I was concerned, so I checked the tank, nitrite and all, and it was perfect, so I was baffled. Then, this afternoon when I came home from Church, I noticed another damsel doing the same thing as the first one, and they both are less than two inches apart. They exhibit the same behavior, swimming in isolation at the bottom of the tank. But what is odd is that another Damsel seems to be watching the both of them, without relent, but he never touches the two. I'm honestly baffled, and I'm not sure what's going on. <Have seen this... can guess...> I've had the other two damsels for several months and they are perfectly fine, and so are the other 2 of the 4, but the other 2 concern me. Also, I nearly forgot, that the 2 that are acting odd, seem to go through moderate color changes, going from bright neon to cold blue. <Good observation> They both are very aware of the other fishes, and of me, but they are not interested in food or swimming around. I've also noticed that they stay within an area where there is a dip in the crushed coral, but they don't always stay in just one spot, but never far from. The tank is full of live rock, but it lacks any living corals and the like. I wonder what is wrong with my Damsels, are they crowded in my elongated 45? <Yes> To note, the other fish have eaten, and they seem very normal, and its been nearly a week since the initial placement of the fish(They were in a separate tank, for about week, by themselves for good measure.). Any comments would be great, Michael Flanigan <I do think that the social dynamic... the size, shape of this system is limiting here. I would move the two "out of sorts" specimens from this system, pronto. Bob Fenner>

Upside down clowns... Damsel beh., reading 05/19/08 Hello crew! I have a 16gal tank. I started it about two months ago with live sand. The water parameters all seem quite good. It is my first salt water tank. I have had aquariums since I was about 5, for 30 years. Even at that, I am not an expert, but I did feel ready to try a salt tank. A few weeks ago, I bought a true Percula clown, a blenny (I do not know what kind it is, but it is pink and grey), a yellow tailed damsel, and a red(fire?) shrimp. <... need more room than this...> The shrimp was happy enough in its new environment to molt the next day. <Do molt also under too-stressful conditions> A few days later, I added another clown, same kind, and a week after that I added another yellow tailed damsel. <Trouble...> Everyone seemed happy. The water parameters stayed normal. When I added the second clown, the clowns seemed happy together. They swam everywhere together, always side by side. The damsel was rarely seen, always hiding in a coral cave (not live coral). <Are social animals... live in largish shoals...> I thought that if I added another damsel that the first one would be happier- <Perhaps in a larger setting> I tend to keep things in pairs, although not always the right choice. <Mmm, "things" are not in pairs altogether...> In this case, the pairing worked as I expected. Another reason I added the damsel was that the clowns were acting weird, as I have discovered that many clowns do. <Ah, yes> They would hang at the top of the tank until I fed them, sometimes even hanging out upside down. When they got their food they would return to mid tank level, and swim normally. This behavior progressed to always being at the top, and usually upside down. I did not suspect swim bladder disease, because they could swim normally if they wanted to. I thought that by adding a new damsel, it would even out the dynamics, and the clowns would improve. The clowns are now always at the top, and always upside down. <I suspect you mean, "facing downward" rather than inverted "belly up"> They do right themselves to eat, although one is better at it than the other. The water parameters are still good. I use a side hanging Aqueon cartridge filter. All of the fish appear healthy otherwise. I feed them a variety of flakes and soft pellets, and all eat well. The clowns show no other signs of disease, except for being upside down. I have plenty of aeration, and I unplugged my powerhead in case it was causing too much current. The temperature is 78-80F. The damsels do seem aggressive now. Could they be causing this behavior? <Mmm, perhaps a contributing influence... all damsels (of which Clowns are a part) are aggressive to a degree> If it is a swim bladder problem, how do I fix it, and why do they both have it? Could one have it, and the other be copying his friend? Thank you for your insight into this perplexing problem.--Andrea <... Ahh, "woman of the sea" (a meaning of your praenomen/name)... I suggest you avail yourself of what is archived on our site re these fishes, their needs, behavior. All you seek is recorded there. Bob Fenner>
Re: upside down clowns 05/20/08
Hi Bob, Thank you for your response. Your site is am invaluable resource. I asked you about upside down, because I could not find any references on your site regarding literally upside down. They ARE belly up! <Yikes!> Would you like a photo? <Mmm, no. I trust your assessment> For the last two days, one of them now prefers right side up again, but still prefers the top of the tank. They act normal otherwise. The other clown that is still belly up does right itself, but seems to have trouble doing so. <May be something else going on here... internal damage, parasites...> I do not think that the shrimp was stressed, he seems quite happy. The tiny yellow tailed blue damsels seem increasingly aggressive, but happy together. I will probably bring them back to the store. <I would> My tank does not seem overloaded at all. <Ahh! Is; psychologically> Each fish is one inch long or less, with the exception of the blenny which is 1.5". The ammonia levels are at zero. The tank is a bow front, and seems quite large for what is in it. Am I incorrect? Thank you...."Woman of the Sea" <"Morgan" is the male equivalent of your nam/e/ing... I do wish we could all do the equivalent of "the Vulcan mind-meld"... You would understand from seeing these species in the wild... how their behavior translates into captive conditions. Bob Fenner>

Clownfish/Damselfish Aggression 4/23/08 Hi WWM, <Hello> Thanks for your work with the forum--it's been a big help to me. Recently, my two Ocellaris clowns (both tank-raised) have become quite aggressive with the 2 Dascyllus three-striped damsels (who used to fight among themselves, but not so much any more), and I noticed that the smaller of the damsels had one of his pectoral fins nipped this morning. <Not good.> My tank is a 46-gallon setup, with plenty of hiding spaces in the 30 lbs of live rock. Water quality seems to be excellent, and all four fish have been eating quite well. In fact, one of the clowns, who has turned a bit more aggressive recently, was looking a little fat a couple of days ago (stomach distended). I thought I'd reduce the food to the tank for a couple of days to thin them down to healthy levels. In addition to the clowns and damsels I have a lawnmower blenny that is completely detached from any issues (no nipping that I've seen with him) and a few little hermit crabs and snails. When I started the tank, the damsels attacked the clowns for a few days until they got used to each other. It's now been about a month that they've all been cohabitating just fine until the past couple of days. I noticed a little bit of chasing, as can be expected from territorial fish, but never for any prolonged period of time. It's like a different side of my clowns has come out all at once. <They are probably starting to pair up, claiming their territory.> My question is, are these species going to have prolonged compatibility issues? <Very possible, clownfish are damsels, and can be very aggressive, as can the Dascyllus, in fact the Dascyllus can be real trouble as they mature. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dascyllu.htm .> Is the reduction in rations causing some competitiveness issues? <Might be a little, but most is just due to the nature of these fish.> What can I do to reduce this territorial behavior? <Rearranging the rockwork may help for a while, but long term these fish are just not compatible in this sized tank.> Is it common for clownfish to become aggressive overnight in this manner? <Not that uncommon, at some point if the Dascyllus survive the initial clownfish aggression I am guessing they will return the favor in excess. Best move here would be to separate the fish.> Thanks for your help, Brandon <Welcome>

Chromis Behavior with the Chromis Shrink Adam J. (Bullying?) 3-23-08 Hi Crew, <<Hello Jason.>> I'm having some trouble with my blue-green Chromis school. <<Lets see what I can do to help out.>> I have 5 Chromis in my 90 gallon (+30 sump) reef, sharing space with a golden hogfish, 2 Ocellaris, lawnmower blenny, purple Pseudochromis, and a flame angel. <<Those are some potentially boisterous mates for the, most of the time, mild mannered Chromis.>> I am dithering on whether or not to remove the Chromis, but before I do, I want to seek advice on their behavior. <<We'll see what insights I can provide.>> I've had the group of 5 for almost a year. Until recently, all seemed pretty happy, but over the past few weeks, things have gone downhill. <<I am curious to know if any of the aforementioned tank mates were introduced during that time?>> They mostly hang out in the corner of the tank and don't swim around. <<A sign they are insecure with their surrounding 'perhaps some bullying going on, either externally (from tank mates) or within the shoal itself? Any observations on your part that can attest to this or refute it?>> Worse, two of them seem to have stopped eating over the past week. <<Assuming water parameters are acceptable and that they [Chromis] are in otherwise good care/health this bit of circumstantial evidence leads credence to my assertion that there may be some psychological issues occurring, specifically bullying.>> One of them has developed a bizarre nocturnal behavior -- rapidly swimming around the walls of the tank repeatedly. <<**Insert above comment here as well.**>> Not sure what's going on. <<See above, can you lend any observations that would help me to better 'diagnose the issue.'>> The tank is well established and stable -- pH 8.0-8.2, SG 1.025, 80F, 0 NH4, 0 NO2, 7 hour photoperiod, ozone, ORP 450mV. All other fish are acting normally; my clownfish even started spawning in early February! <<With spawning often comes aggressive 'patrolling' of said breeding areas.>> I feed all the fish Pro Reef flakes once or twice a day, sometimes supplement with frozen Spirulina or Nori. <<Try something that simulated/replaces the Chromis feeing on zooplankton. Mysis shrimp or finely chopped krill/clam meat.>> None of the other fish are bullying the Chromis, though they seem to bully each other occasionally. <<You could me missing, specifically during the night hours.>> Any advice? <<Rearrange the aquascape, attempt to isolate some of the "bulliers," or if all else fails remove the Chromis. You are pretty full for a 90 gallon, at the least there is some psychological crowding going on.>> Thanks as always! <<Anytime.>> Jason <<Adam_J.>>

Second Visit; Chromis Behavior with the Chromis Shrink Adam J. (Bullying?) 3-23-08 Hi Adam, <<Hello Again Jason.>> Thanks for the prompt reply. <<We do our best.>> My intuition is that bullying is going on. <<Mine as well from what I gathered in your last email.>> I did add one other fish after the Chromis -- the flame angel. They don't seem to notice each other. In fact, the Chromis never seem to be troubled by the other fish, as they stay near the top and the others tend to occupy the rockwork areas. <<It may not be their choice that they are not occupying the rockwork.>> When feeding, the Chromis usually get the food at the top of the tank, and the others let it float down some, or they all just crowd around. The Chromis are generally passive fish, but the most aggressive eaters in my tank. The Chromis don't encroach on the Clownfish's territory, and I've never witnessed the clowns going after them (clowns sometimes scuffle with the hogfish). There is intra-shoal bullying for sure. <<Normal, hopefully the 'aggression' is spread around and not focused on a single individual.>> Two of the Chromis seem to be the more dominant, two semi-aggressive, and one completely passive. The most passive (ironically, the biggest) has not eaten much if at all the past few days. <<Try putting some more variety into their diet with the suggestions I sent you in the prior email.>> The others all have eaten when I feed, at least usually. At night, they mostly retire in a corner behind the rocks, though one is now doing the rapid swimming and another sleeps in a top corner of the tank. The bullying takes the form of chasing. <<Yes 'an attempt to clear the aggressors territory.>> It usually does not happen when they are eating (they are too focused on eating!), but soon after the aggressives will chase the others around some. I have a 10g quarantine tank all set and empty. Should I temporarily remove the bullies or the ones that aren't doing well? <<It is certainly worth a try.>> I need to mess with my rocks soon, anyway, to catch a Zoanthid-eating crab! <<Good luck with as well.>> Thanks, <<Anytime.>> Jason <<Adam J.>>

Blue Azure Damsel 3/19/08 Is the Blue Azure Damsel peaceful? <Somewhat.> I thought all damsels were aggressive, but I am hearing the Blue Azure is peaceful. The yellow tail is fine, but the yellow belly is very aggressive. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks. Steve <These are generally less aggressive and for the most part peaceful. They are much more easygoing than say a Domino Damsel. The Blue Azure, Chrysiptera parasema, is a good choice. Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Blue Azure Damsel, Chrysiptera comp., sel.  3/22/08 Scott, <Hello again Steve.> Thanks for the response. <You're welcome.> Can I house 2-3 Blue Azure Damsels in a 75 gal.? <Yes.> Or is 1 the limit due to space and territory issues? <These particular Damsels do ok together given enough space and rock work to hide.> I have three Green Chromis and they get along fine. Not so sure with these damsels. <The Damsels themselves would be fine, I would be hesitant to mix them with the Green Chromis, the Blue Azures will be more aggressive.> Thanks. Steve <Welcome, Scott V.>

Mixing Fish, sm. SW, Pomacentrids...  03/04/2008 Dear Crew, <<Hello, Andrew today>> I have a 20 gallon marine aquarium with one blue devil damsel. The water parameter is 0 for ammonia and nitrite. Also, the pH is 8.1. There is a canister filter on the back set up to polish the water. There is also several pieces of 3-6" wide live rock in the bottom middle portion of the tank. What I want to know is, is it possible to add a clownfish to my setup? <<As clownfish and the damsel are part of the same family, in such small confines, I would be tempted to not add these two together. The damsel will of taken the tank as its territory and will not be best pleased with the addition of the clown>> I have a hunch that adding anymore fish with a blue devil is a bad idea (esp. in a 20 gallon),<<I agree>> but some people say I can. Thanks You. <<Thanks for the questions, A Nixon>>

Re: Mixing Fish 03/04/2008 EDIT: Forget clownfish. I read several previous emails describing how the two won't mix well. However I would like to add another fish if at all possible and will a bi-color Pseudochromis live peacefully. If no, will a male blue devil damsel work? <<I would be tempted to add another damsel to keep a little harmony there..>> Thank You. <<Regards, A Nixon>>

Clownfish and Damsel: Fight on?? 2-11-08 Hey Guys, <Una chica Yunachin at your service.> I just bought a pair of (true) Perculas for my 55g FOWLR tank today. All water chemistry is good, and the tank mates are a yellow-tailed blue damsel, a domino damsel, and two black mollies. <You are going to have problems soon.> The mollies were actually used to start cycling my tank when I set it up, but I haven't had the heart to remove them. They actually get along quite well with the damsels. So anyways, there are plenty of nice little hiding holes in the tank, but for some reason the clowns are just swimming like crazy along the glass in the tank. They look quite unhappy and I'm not sure what to do. They're not under any harassment from the other fish. <Yet, or that you can see.> The domino "used" to be the boss of the tank, but he's actually giving the new clowns quite a bit of space. Is this behavior just them trying to adapt to their new environment? What should I be on the lookout for in the next few days? <First, clownfish and damsels are in the same family and are both a very aggressive species. Your Domino damsel is probably the worst tempered of the entire damsel family. He is also going to grow to a possible length of 6 inches; your clowns are going to remain smaller. Your yellow tailed blue damsel reaches a length of 2 inches and is usually the more docile of the species, but still aggressive. As they age the damsels will become more of a terror and you are most likely going to have to remove someone, most likely the Domino, IMO. Right now your clowns are getting used to the tank and will settle down in a day or two, but you need to watch for unneeded aggression between them all, Mollies excluded because they will probably run and hide. Make sure there are plenty of rocks and cave area for someone to retreat to if need be. Good Luck! Thanks, <You are welcome! --Yunachin>

Re: Clownfish and Damsels and Live Rock Oh My!!: 2-12-08 Thanks for your advice. <You're welcome.> As an update, the clownfish are now eating and acting normally, which is a relief. <Good.> However, the domino is already being a pest. Oddly enough, not to the clowns (they're much bigger than he is) but to the yellow tail damsel. <Yes, damsel on damsel aggression is not uncommon and in your case this will most likely escalate.> The guy is relentless in chasing him around the tank, so I'm taking your advice and getting him out of there. <I think everyone will be happier and less stressed that way. Just keep an eye on the yellow-tail as he ages.> Another (unrelated) question: I have a 10g aquarium with a Hagen Aqua clear Mini filter sitting around. This was my first tank a number of years ago when I was doing freshwater, but now it's just sitting in a closet. I was hoping to get some use out of it. I was wondering if this would be an Ok thing to use to cure live rock. My concern is that the filter was not really intended for use in salt water. Will the salt water harm this filter? <Are you going to cure live rock in this 10gallon tank? Do you have a protein skimmer for the curing process? I don't think that the saltwater will harm the carbon filter but IMO; I would cure the live rock without it, just monitoring the ammonia levels, doing the proper water changes and etc. For more information about curing live rock check out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm; Also depending on how much rock you want t cure, you may want something bigger in the long run. You can always save the 10 gallon for a QT. Happy Curing my friend, --Yunachin> Chris

Damsel Fish Tank Mates 1-20-08 Hello WWM <Greetings. Yunachin here.> My tank was done cycling so I decided to put two cheap damsel fish into it, only 2.99 each. Just to see if everything was ok. They were doing great until the bigger one killed the smaller one and ate most of it. <Yes, damsels are very aggressive especially with other damsels.> The damselfish looks like a blue devil but with a yellow belly and yellow dorsal fin. I was wondering what could go well with this little devil and not be hurt by it. <If you want to keep him in his place I would recommend a larger fish like a tang or triggerfish in the tank.> Or I wouldn't mind a fish that would see him as food, such as a Sargassum fish or a small dwarf lion. The tank is a 29 gallon oceanic bio-cube. <If you don't want him see if the LFS will take him back. Perhaps you can get a store credit. I wouldn't just feed him to another fish. There is some great information on damsels here at this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm ; > Thanks for all your help. <You're welcome! Good Luck. --Yunachin>

Bye humbug! Marine Stocking, Cardinals 12/10/07 Hello! <Hi> Sorry, I have one of those boring stocking questions, ha ha. <LOL> Currently, I have 2 Ocellaris clowns, 1 black capped Basslet, 1 black-tail humbug, and 1 yellow tail damsel. Unfortunately, the clowns have begun to chase the humbug around the tank--the clownfish pair and humbug appear to like the same area (the rock level). The yellow tail favors the upper area and the black cap is either in her hole or out of everybody's way. <Make sure it is feeding.> I love my clowns so I decided the humbug should go especially before he outgrows the clowns and takes his revenge! <Definitely a possibility if it survived the clowns aggression.> I love the black and white stripes, so I did some research and thought that a Banggai cardinal would be appropriate and more peace loving. <Probably too passive here, will also get bullied.> I know they like to be in groups but was wondering if only one would thrive with the fish I listed (minus the humbug). <I don't think it is tough enough to survive with a group of damsels.> I don't want to be overstocked with two, unless you strongly think otherwise of course, I'd be more than happy to get two but prefer one if possible. <I would probably avoid this fish altogether.> My other concern is that I do have a bit of flow in the tank, 2 powerheads (1 with a rotator), a skimmer, and filter--probably around 1200 gph flowing collectively. I read that Banggai's are not the strongest swimmers...Again , I like the black and white stripes, and hardiness of these fish once established. <Can be tough to get to feed, try to get captive breed if you decide to get the Banggai.> If you have another recommendation, please feel free to share! I would like to stay away from any angels, butterflies, or overly sensitive fish (too big for my tank anyway), <Yes> moreover no wrasses, blennies, or Basslets, as I don't think my black cap would appreciate them much. <I think a 6-line wrasse may do ok here, otherwise it is a pretty rough bunch you have, need to stock accordingly.> The tank is 45 gallons, has about 40lbs of live rock, and about 5" deep layer of aragonite substrate. I have 192 watts of PC lighting and a remora skimmer.? Temp 78-80, ph 8.2, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, and nitrates 10ppm. <Sounds nice.> Inverts include: 1 yellow CBS (Stenopus scutellatus), 2 small blue hermit crabs, and a Hawaiian feather duster. Also, I have a bunch of stomatellids and Nerites hitchhikers. Thanks again for your help! Danny N. Tampa, FL <Sounds like a nice setup, although stocking will continue to be a problem the more the damsels establish themselves. Might want to think about just sticking with what you have currently, not really too much room left anyways.> <Chris>
Re: Bye humbug! Marine Stocking, Cardinals 12/10/07
Hi Chris! <Hello> Thank you for the response. <Welcome> I will try to find another fish or at least acquire a tank-raised Banggai. <Ultimately I think a different, more robust fish may be best here.> I caught the humbug today, after much unintended "aquascaping". Some of his fins were torn...poor guy. <Should be ok in the long run.> The black cap was very shy at first but often comes out now? Especially during feeding, although she doesn't like any flake offered, just Mysis. <Try a pellet food instead of flakes, often more acceptable and holds its nutritional value better when soaked.> The clowns don't pick on anybody else, I believe it's because nobody really swims in their level besides the humbug (off to the fish store with him). I love six-line wrasses but I had one that killed all my shrimp, so I am a bit weary of getting one! <Ahhh, yes can be a problem with some individuals.> Oh the challenges, gotta love saltwater... Thanks again! Danny Tampa, FL <Welcome> <Chris>

Question concerning Damselfish and Filter, power, maint... Pomacentrid incomp.  12/4/07 Hello! First of all, I would like to hop on the bandwagon with everyone else and let you know how wonderful your website is. It is great getting feedback from knowledgeable aquarists. <Thanks!> Now my questions: This is my first saltwater tank and has, so far, been a pleasure to maintain. It is definitely a rewarding experience. I have a 20 gallon tank filled with close to 20 pounds of live rock arranged to allow lots of hiding space, holes to swim through, and good water flow. The filter I use is a Top Fin Power Filter 20, which uses floss/carbon filters to clean the water. My question concerns this filter. I understand that a lot of the beneficial bacteria for the tank's ecosystem likes to live on the floss in the filter, so when I change the filter, will this effectively throw my tank into another cycling stage? Or will there be enough bacteria growing on other things in the tank, (i.e. LR, Live sand, etc), to repopulate the filter and stabilize it relatively quickly? <It is certainly true in a traditional tank that most of the biological filtration takes place in the canister filter. However, in a marine tank with live rock, it is the live rock that does most of the filtration, and the filter is mostly there for mechanical filtration (i.e., removal of solid waste particles) and to generate water current. Opinion varies on what the optimum interval between filter cleans should be; some people like to leave their filters for as long as possible, while others maintain frequent cleaning is better. I know Bob recommends doing filter cleans every 4-6 weeks, and each time a good rule of thumb is to clean the media in buckets of aquarium water (to keep the bacteria alive) and to change no more than 50% of the media at any one time. Usually it's the filter wool and sometimes the sponges that need replacing; the ceramic "noodles" should last many years, especially good quality ones like Siporax.> Secondly, I made the mistake of purchasing two Blue Damselfish and one Four-Striped Damsel. One of the blue Damsels immediately established dominance in the tank and nipped the other blue Damsel to the point to where it could no longer swim. I moved the latter to a smaller isolation tank to try to force-feed it myself in order to keep it alive , to no avail. The four-striped Damsel, after doing a little research, is of the genus Dascyllus, which is apparently a social species. While the blue Damsel is particularly aggressive, the four-striped damsel is not. I am probably going to return the blue damsel to my LFS and purchase a couple more four-striped damsels. Is this advisable? <They can certainly work very well in groups, but this does depend on the tank and the size of the group. As a rule, Damselfish can work well either singly or in groups of 6+. It's when you keep twos and threes that problems with bullying occur. This is especially true if you add two newer (and smaller) fish to a tank that already has one specimen who has "staked his claim". Relatively few Damselfish are mindless schooling fish in the same way as, say, Danios; rather, they form aggregations with dominant males at the top, constantly bullying all the others in the group. In the wild, this doesn't do too much harm because no sub-dominant individual gets too beaten up, and predators will continually be removing members of the group periodically, re-shuffling the hierarchy. But in the closed confines of an aquarium this sort of arrangement doesn't work, and the end result is bullying.><<This volume is too small to accommodate Pomacentrids... RMF>> Also, in schooling these damsels, will it help keep aggression, (what little I've seen from the four-stripe), towards other fish at bay? <Possibly, but I wouldn't bank on it. As a rule, Damsels orient aggression towards not just their own species, but any other Damselfish in the tank.> I am planning on getting an Ocellaris clown in the future. <Ah, don't forget Clownfish are Damselfish in good standing, and much of their behaviour can, will overlap because they "speak" the same language and have the same demands. So again, avoiding overcrowding will be the key to getting them living together happily. Clowns are relatively mild fish in terms of aggression, whereas Dascyllus Humbug-type damsels are closer to the top-end of the aggression range. Unless you have a big tank, my gut feeling is that you won't have space for half a dozen Dascyllus plus a Clownfish. Indeed, you may not even have the space for a stable group of Dascyllus. Let's say you need ~90 litres per Dascyllus, so we're talking a tank around the 500-600 litre mark just for them. That's a pretty big tank.><<Yes... well-stated; and this is but a twenty gallon system. RMF>> Thanks for all of your help! Matt <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Damsel distress... 25 gal. with damsels, incl. Domino... and Tang/s?    8/8/07 Hi there, I just discovered your site, and I wish I had sooner as I have been having problems. Some history of the tank: I will admit when I first began cycling the tank I was impatient and ignorant, <Mmm, I still am> and started the process of this 25 gallon tank with 2 small three stripe damsels and a very small yellow tang <Yikes!> (which I later regretted), who lived together in the pet store. I started the process blindly, not really understanding what the cycling process entailed, and learning as time went on (again, not wise I know). All seemed well a month later and so I added a coral beauty, followed in a few weeks by an electric blue damsel and the current domino damsel. <... WWN!> I was finished adding fish for good. That very week I went out of town, leaving their care to my roommate who turned off the air conditioner (on the hottest week of the summer) and failed to notice the deaths of 3 of the fish (the electric blue damsel, one three stripe damsel, and the yellow tang). The tank temperature reached into the 90s in only a few days time. She continued to feed the fish (in excess) and left the dead fish to rot, and needless to say the tank was in horrible shape when I returned. This was a huge slap in the face and a great loss to me, as the yellow tang and the original crew were part of my family! The other fish survived and remained healthy, and I am not sure the exact reason for their deaths as I was not here. I did not ever notice any physical signs of illness. I have since done my research, been patient, and really vowed to avoid any more unnecessary deaths, as it is both sad and expensive. I left the tank to continue cycling and to regenerate, without adding anything but a skunk cleaner shrimp, for 4 weeks. Out of nowhere, the coral beauty contracted what looked like Popeye, I treated with Maracyn, and it died the next day. Since then, I added a far more efficient protein skimmer and bubble stone for decoration, and after several days the tank seemed ready; all of the fish were active, eating, and happy... this was a week ago... So feeling optimistic 2 days ago, I added 2 three-stripe damsels <Most Pomacentrids/damsels are too territorial to place in such small volumes...> to the now 10 week old 25 gallon aquarium with live sand. Now at this time in the tank lived a small chocolate chip starfish, one small skunk cleaner shrimp, and one three-spot (domino) damsel. <An exceedingly "mean" species... Please... read on WWM re the species you have, intend...> I have been noticing increased aggression from the domino damsel toward the new additions, which is inconsistent with it's previous behavior but mostly consists of chasing the other fish into hiding. I understand that this can be a territorial fish, as well as aggressive, but it never acted so previously. These new additions have been acting in a way that I have not seen before with other fish, yet in a way consistent with the behavior of the previous decease blue damsel. <The Domino needs to go... NOW> Before the weekend of the massacre in my tank, this blue damsel, I noticed, would try and burrow into the sand with it's back/caudal fin (correct term?)<Y> down in the sand, head up, until the clear bottom of the tank was visible. I do not know exactly when after the fish died, but these 2 new three-stripe damsels are acting similarly. I am wondering if this appears to be a behavioral response to the aggressive domino damsel or if this is a sign of illness? <The Dascyllus...> The fish swim around actively, they do not gasp for air, hover in corners, rub against rocks, or have any visual signs of illness. However, this is how the new blue damsel acted shortly before it died, and I had never observed this behavior with the other damsels. Perhaps there are too few hiding places, and the fish are simply seeking cover? My main concern is that I am now ready to add another tang or angelfish to the tank, and I am hesitant to lose another friend (within the year I plan to upgrade to a much larger tank as they grow, once I am more knowledgeable). The levels in the water are all normal, except for slightly elevated nitrate levels. I do not wish to add another fish to the tank if these damsels are potentially ill. I'm wondering your thoughts on the deaths of these previous fish and the future of this tank. I had the pet store order me a yellow tang or powder blue, and it arrives today. Will it be safe for me to add this week? Thank you for your time. <No my friend... your system is too small... again, you need to READ. Learn to/use the search tool, indices. Bob Fenner>

Clowns/Chromis/soft corals, comp.     5/21/07 Dear WWM Crew - hope you're all well. Wondered if you might be able to offer a bit of advice on additions to our tank? We've got a 250litre tank with Deltec hang-on skimmer and Fluval 404 external filter, with 4 x 48inch standard fluorescent lights (40W each, 2 actinic, 2 white). Things have been going fairly smoothly for the last 6 months or so, with current stock - 1 flame angel (thinks she owns the tank), <Does> 1 Midas blenny (keeps himself to himself, has been brown from the moment we brought him back from the shop over a year ago!), <Some are> 4 blue/green Chromis (largest of which used to bully the others, but seems to get bullied himself by the flame angel now), <Relegated to "second-bully" status> 3 cleaner shrimps and a few hermits/ snails. Parameters - pH 8.1, SG 1.025, Temp 27C, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 10, phosphate 0, KH 70mg/l, Calcium apparently 700mg/l on (almost out of date) Hagen test kit. <Uhh, I'd get another brand> We've only just tested KH and Ca for first time in a year, and are aware that we'll need to start using a buffer and get KH sorted out before adding any sessile inverts (as well as getting a new Ca test kit). We're keen to add some more stock (once we've got the KH sorted), and were thinking of a pair of clowns and an anemone - however, reading the WWM anemone pages, it's fairly clear that we haven't got enough light to think about an anemone. <Correct> Could you recommend any suitable "starter" soft corals that would a) do well in relatively low lighting levels and b) might be a suitable home for a pair of clowns? <Mmm... well... most all of this is posted... though perhaps will take some time to sort out... Re Soft Coral selection and Clownfish Compatibility/Host FAQs files...> Also, should we be particularly concerned about territoriality issues in adding clowns to our existing "dysfunctional family"? <Yes... of a certainty there may be troubles here... It would be better to best to have introduced the Clowns first, and then the other Damsels (Clownfishes ARE damsels as well) as smaller specimens, some time later... if at all...> Might it help to buy slightly bigger clowns, rather than the 1/2" "babies" usually on offer at our LFS? <Ah yes... or to trade in the present Damsels really...> As always, many thanks for your thoughts, Jim+Jo, Norfolk, UK <Please do see WWM re the above two Sel. and Comp. questions... Much ancillary information involved. The search tool, indices... Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Yellow Tailed Damsel Harassing Royal Gramma 4/23/07 Hi Bob, I love your website. <Hello, Chris here today.>  It has been extremely useful.  Thank you. <Welcome from all of us.> I am a long time reader with a first time question.  I have read the FAQ's regarding my problem but I still felt compelled to ask.  I have a 40 gallon breeder reef tank.  It has housed a tomato clown and yellow tailed damsel together for 1 year or so.  I added a Royal Gramma a few days ago and he was immediately harassed by the damsel.  The Gramma has been hiding behind a powerhead nursing a lightly torn up tail fin.  He eats the frozen Mysis shrimp when they pass within a few inches of his powerhead at feeding time, but I have not seen him venture out further than this.   Will he and the damsel ever get along? <Maybe, maybe not.> A gentleman asked the same question in the FAQ's, only he had a 75 gallon tank.  You told him that everything ought to settle down, and that he could "Leave all in" with a tank of that size.  So now I am wondering, what about a 40 gallon tank?  Otherwise is there anything I could do to ameliorate the situation?  Thank you so much, Tom <I would give it a couple weeks to a month and see if they can adjust to each other.  This is dependent on the Gramma continuing to eat of course.  If this stops he will have to be removed.  Otherwise you could remove the damsel for a couple of weeks and allow the Gramma to establish himself.  This helps sometimes in situations like this.  If none of these work then the two fish will just need to be permanently separated.> <Chris>

Damsel tank... comp. mostly   1/19/07 Hi all, I can't say enough about this site, and the help it's been for a newly converted African tank to salt. <Glad you have benefited> My problem is compatibility with damsels or the lack there of.  I love the size, shape, and spunk of this fish type, but will I be able to have an all damsel tank? <Mmm... some species are more social... some schooling... But most are rather territorial... Need to research their natural compatibility, or guess at mixing on a per-species basis... provide sufficient suitable habitat (size, type)... and introduce the more peaceful first...> Most stores in the Cleveland area just ask "Why would you want damsels in the first place?".  Is this possible and what types? <Is possible... I'd look to species found in/about the "Wallace Line"... countries like Indonesia, Malaysia... you can search by country, re-sort by family... on Fishbase.org... Though then you will have to seek the particular species (or close ones... see the volumes of Gerald Allen re Pomacentrids) that you can acquire> I have a 120 with 150 lbs of limestone and crushed coral (many hiding places). Thanks for the help, Brian. <An adventure awaits you... intellectually as well as human-endeavour. Bob Fenner>

Chrysiptera taupou behavior   1/3/07 Hello Crew, <'Allo, Bruce! Graham with you.> I'm new to the marine hobby and have started to stock a 29G that was an established FOWLR tank owned by another person. I have 40 lbs. +- of LR and plenty of hiding spots. <Not a very big system. Keep in mind that water is displaced by the hiding spots. Your 29g can quickly become a 18gal with 40lbs or LR and substrate.> The first fish was a maroon clown about 1.5" long, followed by a six-line wrasse about 2" long, and last was what I have identified as a Chrysiptera Taupou; Village Belle, Fiji Blue Devil, etc. <Again, this is a small system, probably too small for the damsel & clown.> I believe the LFS called it a red tailed wrasse, <Hmm...> but it perfectly resembles the subject fish in my Atlas. All fish were added within a 5-day period. The damsel initially showed some aggression to the wrasse and clown, but after two days things appeared to settle down, although the damsel was always first at the buffet line. <I assume that the damsel was not the last?> Two more days go by and the damsel has apparently terrified the clown as it spends most of the time in the left top corner near the sump return. <It sounds very characteristic of damsels of the Chrysiptera designation. "Devil" should have been a marker for you, but with the LFS's moniker of Red-tailed Wrasse, you can be forgiven.> Today I came home from work and the wrasse is dead, and the damsel is doing what appears to be fanning sand on top of the wrasse with it's tail. Could the damsel have killed the wrasse? <Oh, no. Yes, the damsel may have killed the wrasse, but without knowing how long this system has been up and running, nor what your water conditions are, I might add that the Six-line (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia) would be the first to go with poor water conditions.> Does the damsel need to go back to the LFS? <In all likelihood, yes. You don't have much room, and even less room for stress triggered by aggression.> It is very pretty, and everything I read says the clown should be a good match for it. <We as hobbyists strive to balance "pretty" fishes with proper selection of these same specimens with regard to their tankmates and life-support. I think you will find in short order that, although the Maroon clown (Premnas biaculeatus) is a tough customer when it has been established in it's environment and feels secure, it is obviously stressed and the devil is seemingly taking advantage. (Maroons *are* usually pretty mean to other clowns, though)> The next addition was going to be a yellow tang, followed by corals and clams (I've read that the six-line wrasse is necessary for the clams) and a move into a 50G within another year or so. I thought I had a good mix of fish. What do you think? <I think you need to slow down a bit and do some extensive reading. Nothing bad can come of your waiting, but many bad things can and likely will result from hasty decisions. least welcome would be your discouragement from the hobby after failure.> Thanks, Bruce <You're very welcome Bruce. -Graham T.>

My Damsel in Distress... And needing to know more re Pteroines   12/31/06 Thank you all for your website.  It has helped me set up my 55 Gallon FOWLR.  I bought two green/blue damsels and two yellow-tail damsels to cycle my tank. <Not often the best method...>   These will eventually become bait for a lionfish if my girlfriend doesn't get her saltwater aquarium set up soon since the intention has always been to care for a lionfish.  I'm trying to decide what to put in the tank with the lionfish, <Depending on the species... there won't be enough room for even the Lion> but that isn't why I'm writing.  I wish I found your site before getting the damsels because you prescribe getting them in odd numbers. <Yes... many species> I now have a yellow tail that is getting harassed constantly by the other yellow tail.  To the point where he hides behind my heater close to the surface all day long.  I have plenty of caves in the 20+ lbs of live rock but I believe he prefers this location to get a good view of his attacker, who coincidently has claimed the best cave in the tank and guards it well. <Typical behavior> This poor abused fish starts to vibrate his severally bitten fins frantically in fear when the other approaches.  I doubt he will survive the weekend because he never comes over for feeding anymore.  I've had them for four days and the last two have been brutal. Thank you, Gino <...? So? I'd move at least the bully out... if not all these Damsels... Oh, and read here re Lionfishes: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/index.htm Scroll down... Bob Fenner>

Twitching clowns... Lots of cute names... for incompatible, over-stocked, soon-to-be-dead marines. Ho-buoy! Almost past-time to read    10/3/06 Hello Bob I'm a new comer with a query.  I have a small tank of 38 litres, 2.5 kilos of live rock, 1 anemone about 3inches circumference (called Fats), 1 bubble anemone  1 1/2 inches circumference (called Mr. Willys) <Anemones are largely incompatible cross-species... no matter what they're named> 1 star fish (called Miss Movie Star) 1 Ocellaris clown (Snoopy 2.5cms long) for this time. but only 2 months ago added  Fats because he never went in to the Mr. Willys). Once I got Fats he seemed happy and complete so after a couple of weeks I added one tiny domino damsel (Spots 1cm long), <Let's call him Mr. Biggee, the Terminator> which he constantly chased around the tank. Snoopy was getting more and more aggressive so I purchased another Ocellaris yesterday (Tony - 2.5cm long). <Too much...> Now Tony is the boss of the tank chasing snoopy away from Fats, they locked jaws fighting for the first few hours on off yesterday.  Today doesn't seem as bad but Tony chases Snoopy constantly and they both do this twitching movement on there side (Snoopy does it more)  Tony is forcing Snoopy behind the rock and then returns to Fats only for a few seconds then hangs around Snoopy and back and forth it goes.  Snoopy is a bit ragged today and doesn't look happy. Snoopy tries to return to Fats but Tony is on to him and doesn't let him stay for long and then with the twitching again.  Is Tony going to get him or what's going on. Thanks Terri-Anne <You have too much and incompatible life here... Please read re Anemone Compatibility: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/anemcompfaqs.htm Clownfish Compatibility, Dascyllus Comp.... look these up for yourself. You need to either have a much larger system (tens of times what you have), more systems... or to return some of this livestock. BobF>

Damsels Will Be Damsels...!   9/30/06 Hi! <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I just set up a new 29 gallon BioCube tank (my first tank) and when the tank was ready for fish, I bought a Hi Fin Goby and a wild-caught Percula Clownfish.  After two days the clownfish jumped into the filter system along the back of the tank and died (the goby jumped the back of the tank too, but he came through OK). <Yikes...sorry to hear about the Clown.> I put up a plastic barrier to prevent this from happening again and ordered a tank raised clownfish from the LFS. <Good moves.> In the mean time, I bought a Yellow/Golden Damsel to help "feed" the live sand and rock.  He's very fun to watch (my cats love him) and both the Goby and Damsel are eating well.  They've been together for a few days and at first it didn't look like the Damsel was chasing the Goby or exhibiting aggressive behavior, but yesterday I noticed that the Goby's "hi fin" had been chewed down. Will the Goby's fin grow back on its own or is there something else I need to do to make sure he's OK (i.e., add vitamins or antibiotics). <In all likelihood, the damaged fin will grow back. However, you do want to keep very stable, clean water conditions to prevent the possibility of infection. Also, I'll be that the Damsel had something to do with this fin damage...And it may be repeated as long as the Damsel is in the system!> What should I do about the damsel? I would ultimately like to get a Royal Gramma and/or Spotted Mandarin to go with the Clown and Goby, along with some coral and inverts.  Will the damsel be too much of a problem in this mix? <Quite probably. Damsels of many species have a well-deserved reputation for aggressiveness. I'm not sure which species you have (a number of different species go by the common moniker, "Yellow Damsel", so pics or a scientific name would help, but it's almost always a safe bet to assume the worst (in regards to aggressiveness) when keeping these fish!> Any help would be greatly appreciated! - Linda <Well, Linda- I'd consider either not adding the more peaceful fish that you are considering, or perhaps setting up a new tank for the Damsel to rule! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

How many blue devil damsels in a 55G tank?    8/13/06 And don't say zero. :) <Heeee heeeeee!> I know people dislike them, and I know why, but they're the reason I got into SW in the first place. For the last ten months I've had three in my 55G tank, along with a chocolate chip starfish (eight months), and a few small hermit crabs and shrimp. All is peaceful; the damsels do snipe at each other occasionally but it's not serious. I would like to get a few more. I do not plan to have any other kinds of fish in the tank - am I able to add more, and if so how many could my tank comfortably support? <Mmm, would have to define terms here... but three of the "standard species": http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chrysiptera.htm\ and the files linked above.> I will, of course, be quarantining them prior to their introduction to the main tank, and I intend to rearrange all rocks when they go in. Thanks! Heather <Could crowd a bunch more in... but they would eventually reduce their number to about this. Bob Fenner> Marine Stocking Query 8/12/06 This question concerns stocking options on my new Marine tank. <Ok, let's give it a shot.> In summary the display tank has 250 liters of water in after displacement, 10 cm of 1-2 mm crushed marble sand bed, a 100 liter sump (3000 liter hour overflow), 3 liters sintered glass beads, Merlin Fluidized Bed Filter, cured concrete rock sculptures (complex design with lots of hiding places), and RATZ sulfur granules canister connected to a IKS dosing pump at a slow flow rate and Tunze Turbelle circulation pump 6000 liters and hour, Deltec MCE 600 protein skimmer, and Geissmann 250 watt MQI light, 14,000K. Currently there is one 3 cm yellow belly blue damsel, one 3 cm percula clown, and one Fire Shrimp, which have been resident in the tank for one month with no problems. Ammonia 0 ppm, nitrite 0 ppm, nitrate 5 ppm, pH 8.3 calcium 400 ppm (more important for the shrimp). <Sounds good.> I had planned continuing the damsel trend with the addition of one white tailed damsel, one domino damsel and one honey striped damsel. This would probably work initially with every one being about 3 cm, but as they grow this tank may become somewhat argumentative or dangerously aggressive. The clown may have a tough time. <Whatever the weakest fish is will have the toughest time, may not necessarily be the clown.> Is this still workable (worth the risk), or would a safer long term option be another percula clown and three blue or green Chromis. <Definitely safer, but as to its worth that is up to you.  If you do attempt the damsels tank be ready to remove fish as needed, and this may happen suddenly.  I'm not familiar with the common names of white tailed or honey striped damsels, but the domino is pretty nasty as it get older, may want to reconsider this choice.> All the Best Mike L. <Good luck with your new endeavor.> <Chris>

Chromis viridis and Amphiprion Ocellaris questions. New Marine Tank'¦. Compatibility and Stocking   7/6/06 Hello crew, <Hi Matt.>      Thanks again for this awesome resource. <And Thank you for the recognition, you are welcome.>   I've looked through the FAQ's <Sweet.> and still have a few questions. <That's why I'm here!> I have a 55 gallon tank with about 50 pounds of LR, skimmer, Emperor 400, and 2 MaxiJet 1200's.   <Well I would rather see a hang on refugium in place of the Emperor but it sounds good for the most part.> Currently the tank houses 1 coral banded shrimp, 3 peppermints, and a crew of a couple  dozen hermits and snails and varying species.  No fish yet. <Okay.> Ammonia and nitrite are 0, and nitrate <10. <All acceptable.>   I have two tank raised Ocellaris clowns in  a 10 gallon and would like to move them into the bigger tank. <QT tank 'awesome.> They are still juveniles, but seem to have paired up (although the female to be is pretty mean at feeding time). <Expected.> I would also like to add a school of five Chromis viridis to the bigger tank as well.  The clown tank will eventually serve as a quarantine, but the LFS will have to hold the Chromis for now.   Will these species mix without too many problems?   <It should though both species in question while relatively mild-mannered (well barring large female Ocellaris which are anything but mild-mannered) are damsels 'and still at times show aggression 'but it should be okay.> Is this an acceptable bioload? <Yes.> Which species should I add first?   <I would like to see the Chromis go in first.> The clowns are currently doing fine in the smaller tank. <Cool.>   Sorry for the ridiculous amount of questions; <No worries.> I just want to make the transition as smooth for these fish as possible.  This setup will probably become a reef tank eventually and it seems that these fish would all be fairly reef safe. <Yes'¦> Thanks, <Anytime.> Matt <Adam J.> Damsels, Cycling, and Algae - 05/20/2006 I'm in the process of starting up a saltwater aquarium for the first time.  After reading through some of your posts I see that I probably should not have followed the advice of my aquarium store. <Uh-oh....> I have two damsel fish and live rock in a 29 gallon tank in the cycling phase. I've lost 2 damsels.... and the tank isn't nearly cycled yet.   <Return those fish.  The live rock alone is sufficient for cycling the tank.  Get the fish back to the store before the conditions in your cycling tank kill them.> I have 2 issues.... 1 is brown algae which has appeared on everything.... sand, rack and tank.   <To be expected with a newly established system.  You'll go through some phases of different algal "blooms".> The other issue regards the fish themselves.  Every so often they tend to swim almost parallel with each other, leaning to one side and occasionally nipping each other.... <Damsels are HIGHLY territorial, and HIGHLY aggressive.  In such a small system, I do not recommend trying to keep damsels at all.  And again, since the tank is cycling, I would get them back to the fish store *pronto*.> One damsel is a deep blue with a purple tail.... the other is a brownish with a large brown vertical stripe ¼ from the eye.  Any suggestions on either issue?   <Just as above.  Also, you might want to take a read through a couple of good books that will help you along your way - "The New Marine Aquarium" by Michael Paletta and "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner.  The former will help you start out, the latter will be an excellent reference that will be very worthwhile.  And, of course, keep using WetWebMedia.  There's a lot of great things to learn, here!> Thanks,  -Steve. <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

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.>>

Damsels...still evil  - 04/27/06 Dear WWM team <Hi Dinah.> Firstly you have a great website which has been extremely helpful to my husband and I who have only owned a marine tank for 5 months now. <Outstanding.> We recently made our first purchases for the tank (all previous items in the tank is how we bought it from previous owner).  We think we may have made a BIG mistake though. <You wouldn't be the first.> We already had a blue damsel in the tank <Can be quite nasty...> along with various other fish (2 x honey clown, 1 lunar wrasse, 1 blue tang, 1 hogfish, 1 cardinal, 1 banded coral shrimp). <Mmm...what size is this tank, the wrasse and the surgeon both grow to considerable sizes...not to mention the wrasse (when larger) can prey on some of the smaller stock, especially the shrimp.> When we added the Starck's damsel to the tank (despite asking if it would co-exist with our other fish at the pet shop) the blue damsel got VERY cranky and has remained quite 'puffed up' about the situation. <Expected.> It hasn't been 24 hours yet so maybe we're overreacting, but any advice on whether the blue damsel will calm down and will be able to co-exist and allow the Starck's damsel to come out from under the rocks one day?   <It may and it may not (these are individuals) only time will tell...expect the worst, hope for the best. And if things do go sour be prepared to remove one or preferably both.> Or should we remove the new one and take back to the pet shop? <That choice is up to you.> Many thanks Dinah <Adam J.>
Re: Damsels Still Evil  - 5/5/2006
Adam, many thanks for the response, we really appreciate the advice. <Anytime, and sorry this one was delayed.> The blue damsel seems a little better but is still agitated, we're going to give it a few more days. <Okay.> The Starck's Damsel came out last night for a half hour or so, feeding is the big issue at the moment as it did not feed with the rest (understandably!). <Yes he is quite stressed I imagine.> I guess my husband and I will learn by our mistakes!!! <As have I....> The tank is around 200 litres (not sure what the gallon equivalent is, we're Aussies!). <Roughly 50 U.S. Gallons.> After reading your site yesterday and a conversation with one pet shop (about the lunar wrasse) I discovered we may have issues with the wrasse down the track wanting to eat other fish! <Yes! Not to mention he will outgrow the tank some-day.>   They are only around 7-8cm long at the moment (the surgeon is about 5-6cm), but if you had any advice on when we should think about replacing them with others, I'd be appreciative. <I'd day remove the surgeon within a year or so.> Other than that thanks for your very speedy response, your website is outstanding - problem for me is I could sit here and ask questions all day... don't worry I shall refrain to emergency questions only! <General queries are acceptable as long as you don't abuse it...always attempt to find the answer on your won first....> Thanks again <Anytime.> Dinah <Adam J.>

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>

Damsel and Royal Gramma Fighting   2/26/06 Hi, <And you> I'd like to compliment you on a great website: Long time reader, first question. Today I added a Royal Gramma to my 75 gal FO tank (after a 5 week quarantine).  I rearranged the decor, thinking the Gramma would be picked on, as I read they are a peaceful fish (boy was I wrong, the Gramma is one feisty little fish!) <Ah, yes>   After scrapping a little with most of my other fish, all fighting has subsided; except with my Yellow Tail Blue Damsel (Chrysiptera parasema).  Whenever they come into close proximity of each other they start fighting.  They are pretty evenly matched, and both are showing a little "wear" and stress from the fighting.  I was wondering if maybe they look a little to similar to each other, with yellow tails, and the fighting is going to continue. <Mmm, likely not...> Should I let it go for another day and see what happens, or should I remove one of them immediately. <In this sized system, all should settle down/in> When I searched, I found plenty of information on fighting, but not between these two types of fish, and couldn't ascertain the chances of these two settling down and cohabitating relatively peacefully.   <Odds are pretty good... more than 90%> I, of course, would really like to keep them both.  The Damsel was my first fish, and has never fought with any of my other fish when they were added, so this kind of surprised me. Thanks, Greg <I'd leave all in. Bob Fenner>

Damsel Debate (adding Damsel To Established Tank)   2/23/06 Hi Crew, >Hi there! Scot F. here today!> Would I be completely crazy to try to put a Pomacentrus alleni into a 30 gallon (with lots of live rock) that now has a Yellow Clown Goby (Gobiodon okinawae), a Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica), and a Fire shrimp? Thanks, Tom <Well, Tom- you're not totally crazy, but, as you imagine- there is a very real possibility that the Damsel could create some chaos in the tank. I think that the one positive is that the Damsel is the last fish being added to an already populated tank, which may minimize his antagonistic behavior. Any new fishes added after the Damsel are likely to face a pretty heavy "welcome"! There are no guarantees either way- the Damsel may work out just fine, or it could be a complete terror. Fish, like people, are individuals and don't always conform to our expectations of their behavior. In the end, you'll just have to go with your gut feelings. Perhaps going with a juvenile alleni could maximize your chances for a peaceful integration with the rest of the community. Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Compatibility/Marine/Blue Devil & Tang, Flame Angel compatibility   2/23/06 Hi Bob and Crew, <Hello Mandy.> You have a fantastic site and I'm really impressed with your generosity in giving your time, so firstly thank you! <You're welcome.> I have a 55G tank Current inhabitants: 1 yellow tang 1 flame angel 1 Sixline wrasse 2 blue-green Chromis 1) I really love the Blue Devil Damsels (Chrysiptera Cyanea) and am wondering if they will be compatible with my yellow tang and flame angel? I would like to add 1, 3 or 5. <The tang and angel could hold their own but I think the Chromis' would be picked on.> 2) Will I need to remove the Chromises and Sixline - are they compatible with the Blue Devils? 3) Would the Yellow-Tail Blue Damsel (Chrysiptera parasema) be a better option? <Yes, much less aggressive than the Blue Devil and do not grow quite as large.> Previous research: I posted a thread on the forum and unfortunately didn't get a definitive answer: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=2&thread=34311&tstart=0&trange=15 I also researched WWM: Damsel compatibility    http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damselcompfaqs.htm Chromis compatibility    http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chromcompfaqs.htm Damsels    http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm Chrysiptera Damsels    http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chrysiptera.htm I am a long-time reader, first-time emailer, and would very much appreciate your professional input. Thank you so much for your time. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Mandy Australia

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>

My Damsels Don't Play Nice! - 01/04/06 Hey crew, <<Howdy>> I am having some problems with my fish getting along. <<Ruh roh!>> In my 49G bow front saltwater aquarium, I have one three-stripe damsel, <<Ack!  Here's a problem already.  This is one of the more territorial/aggressive damsels available in the trade...second only to the domino damsel maybe.>> a false percula clown (aqua cultured), a Clarkii clown (aqua cultured), a tomato clown (wild), a blue damsel, and a purple Pseudochromis, <<Yowza!  A smallish) tank full of little nasties (clownfish are 'damsels' too).  No wonder you're having problems.>> a coral banded shrimp, a green pincushion urchin, a purple urchin, about 15 Blueleg hermit crabs, various snails, one emerald crab, 50 lbs. of live rock,  and a 4-inch crushed coral sand bed.  Surprisingly, the damsels get along well, <<Tis surprising>> but the Clarkii clown harasses all the other fish except the Pseudochromis. <<Not a good idea to mix clownfish species in a tank this size.>> It doesn't seem to bother the three-stripe damsel often either. <<No surprise here...as the three-stripe matures it will probably come to rule all.>> do you have any suggestions on how to stop this. <<Not one you will like...  For this tank, were it me, and basing off the fish selections you have made, I would pick a pair of clownfish of the same specie and a trio of damsels of the same (and a bit more gentle) specie...perhaps Chromis viridis, Chromis atripectoralis, or Chromis xanthurus >> I seem to be having an algae problem too.  Green hair algae is growing everywhere. <<Could be many things...overfeeding, insufficient filtration/nutrient export, source water/salt mix, etc....do have look among our FAQs re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm >> I have about 40 watts of lighting that stays on for 8 hours.  I have an Excalibur skimmer, <<Maybe time for an upgrade.>> an emperor power filter, 2 power heads, and I do a 10% water change every other week.  I use Phos-guard, my pH, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are all good.  I don't think I overfeed.  What I give them is always gone under 2 minutes, and hardly any of it sinks all the way to the bottom.  I usually feed them TETRA flakes w/brine shrimp, but occasionally they get blood worms or krill.  What do you think the problem is, and what can I do to stop it? <<Do some research at the link provided earlier and the indices in blue.  Also try a keyword search on our site for 'nuisance algae''¦  Much more good info to be found than can be relayed here.>> I am interested in purchasing a few more inhabitants, I would like something to stir up the sand bed.  I would also like a good showcase fish.  I would love a suggestion that would fit in with the rest of the inhabitants (an angel possibly). <<Possibly...one of the dwarf species...my suggestion would be Centropyge loricula, the Flame Angel.  Though do consider my recommendations on changing your current stocking before adding this fish.>> I am on a budget though and I would like something relatively easy to care for. <<C. loricula can fill this bill nicely, and is a beautiful fish to boot.  Be sure to get a healthy/feeding specimen and house with appropriate tankmates/provide a proper diet.  Have a look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/angels/centropyge/loricula.htm >> I would also like a few invertebrates that are fun to watch, and would make a good addition to the tank. <<I think you already have those...>> I thought maybe a lettuce Nudibranch. <<Dreadful choice, most will starve within weeks.>> I am open to any suggestions you have about anything. <<Do consider what I have said...as well as your own research re.>> Thanks a lot, Aaron <<You're welcome.  Regards, EricR>>

Mixing Damsels, or WWIII  - 01/03/2006 Hello, <Hi.> I had one quick question. <Okay.> I was wondering if mixing 1 green Chromis, 1 blue Chromis, and 1, 3 or four striped convict damsel (depending on availability at the store) would be a good idea in a 29 gallon tank? <No as they age aggression will ensue, the other 2 will easily bully the Chromis. I would choose 1 species and go with a pair or trio rather than mix species.> Thanks for the help, your website is great! <Thank you, Adam J.>

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 compatibility  12/26/05 Hello, <Hello Ryan> I have a 29 gallon tank with at least 1/3 the volume of live rock, so there are plenty of hiding places. All of my water levels are correct and this tank has been established for at least two years. Currently I am only housing a chocolate chip starfish because I sold the other fish. Hey I was in need of serious money at the time. But anyways, I am thinking about purchasing 3 damsel fish because they are relatively cheap. I was wondering what three to get. Also after those three have been added, probably a month later or so, I would like to introduce one more fish to the tank that's not a damsel. Are there any suggestions on what kind of fish will be able to hold their own in a tank full of damsels? Thanks for the help and by the way I really like the website! I recommend it to everyone it to a lot of people. <In your 29 I'd go with three yellow tail damsels, relatively peaceful for a member of that family.  Later on adding a Dottyback would be a good choice or even a lawnmower blenny.  James (Salty Dog)> R.C.

Small Marine Aquaria Stocking  12/16/05 Hi, <Hello!> I currently have a small (1 inch) yellow tail damsel alone with a small liverock in my 5-gallon Eclipse corner tank. <That's quite small even for this species.> He's been in there for about a month and the ammonia, nitrate, etc.. levels are all very low. I plan on getting some hermit crabs to clean stuff up, <Only one, and be sure it's a small (dwarf) species.> and I am wondering if there are any other small fish that I could put in the tank that would be cool with my damsel- <No.> I was thinking maybe a neon goby? <Damsel is likely to destroy/attack anything added after it, not to mention the size of the tank 'much to small a water volume for one fish long-term let alone two.> I would really like to have 2 fish in this tank. Any suggestions? <Nothing but the above.> Thanks in advance! <Welcome, Adam J.>

The Spawns of Satan, also known as Damsels  12/8/05 I have a 50G tank. <Okay.> I had three damsels in it alone, <I see where this is going.> ranging in size small (3/4 inch) med (1inch), large (about 2 inches). I then added a compressed Toby, which I think some call a blue spotted puffer. The Toby is totally chill <'Totally Chill' -- that's one of my phrases. A SoCal phrase I call them.> <<Up here the word is "hella", or "heck OF" - emphasis on the "of".   I'm more chill, myself, being from SoCal <waves>.  Marina>> and keeps to himself. Two of the damsels, the two larger ones, kept harassing "him". <Expected.> They would back into his face or side and flick their tales, etc. I haven't seen any actual nipping and The Toby seemed to just not be bothered.  <Maybe not now but this harassment will end in the death of the puffer if allowed to continue.> Yesterday I added a dwarf lion. <Large and messy, will be heavy on the bio-load of this tank. While these animals are 'dwarfed' compared to their cousins like the Volitans, they still get quite large at 7.'> Now, the damsels leave Toby alone and are now doing the same to the dwarf lion. <Again, this is very expected.> So far the lion hasn't done anything about the bothersome pesty guys.  What will become of this...the lion can prick the damsels or eat the damsels anytime he feels like it, can't he. <Depends on his size in relation to theirs, and their speed. Contrary to popular belief Lions do not fair well in aggressive tanks, they are large ambush predators but are usually much more likely to harmed then harm. Other fish are quite prone to nip on their fins, especially large aggressive shoals of damsels, triggers and puffers.> Will they eventually stop or will one or more of them eventually get killed. <The latter.> It's now the largest and smallest of the damsels getting all bold and bothering the lion. I would feel sorry for the Damsels, but they are being the bothersome ones. <Honestly, the damsels need to be removed, Adam J.> 

Elegance Nipping Damsel  11/15/05 G'Day Crew First of all let me congratulate you on your excellent website. The most useful and educational site (regarding marine information) on the net, well done! If you can answer my question it would be very much appreciated. <Will try> I have 6ft x 2ft x 28inchs high reef set up, this includes 3 250w 1400k MH, sump trickle filtration (continual battle with nitrates) + all the accessories large protein skimmer, chiller (for Queensland climate), ozone, U.V. etc etc. My inhabitants consist of mushrooms on the bottom right, a couple of leathers in the middle, one very large elegance on the left and a few Favias on the bottom center.  All my corals are very distant from each other with generous current. My fish, one orange tail blue damsel, two blue damsels, two yellow damsels, one domino, one three stripe damsel, two Chromis, one maroon clown, one lime green wrasse, one cleaner wrasse. All fish in my tank have been getting along with each other for quite some time, all my corals have done very well especially the leathers and mushrooms (I still have my original leathers and mushrooms from three years ago when I first started).  My question is on my elegance (wall type) that I bought six months ago; one of the yellow damsels (the bigger of the two) took up residence underneath the elegance. For a period of time there were no problems, until the other yellow damsel decided to take residency in the same spot. After a few disagreements with each other the two damsels now live happily together under the elegance.  But just recently the smaller of the damsels has started to nip on the end of the tentacles just above where they live. Always nipping in the same spot until the tentacles are withdrawn. Once withdrawn, he will leave it alone until the tentacles are extended again. So what is this behavior? <Not so atypical feisty Damsel activity...> Should I remove the guilty fish?  <Either that or the Elegance... it, the Catalaphyllia would be "happier" in a bit different setting... as you've likely read> What will be the end result with the elegance? <Likely continuing disimprovement, denuding of the flesh/skeleton... loss of vitality, death> Thank you very much for your time. Regards Mick <Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

Clowns, Damsels, Generators, and Aggression - 11/05/2005 Hello Again! <Hi, Jon; Sabrina with you today.> Well after an awful hurricane down here in South Florida, I regret to report I lost both my clowns, Chocolate Chip Starfish, And Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp. <Ohh, serious bummer, dude. I'm sorry.> Yea Sucks. Even with battery aerator, temperature dropping to 64 degrees was bad. <Indeed.> Next year =Generator.  <Yes.... Our rainy season in the Santa Cruz mountains has shown me how great a generator can be.> Anyhow. I used this time period to recreate the tank a bit since I lost most of the inhabitants except the Pink Damsel and Orange Ridged Starfish. So now I have two new VERY energetic Percula Clowns in the tank. Very active and insane eaters. I am very happy about that. One is a bit larger than the other so hopefully they will pair up.  <Excellent.> Here's my question for you which has been answered to some degree many times before on WWM. Being that the Pink Damsel was the only inhabitant in the tank for a few weeks, He grew a bit territorial I guess. <Certainly.> I added lots of live rock to the tank and built up a reef formation and rid it of the fake decor and dry rock. As any new inhabitant would be treated, the pink Damsel is chasing around the clowns. Now he has lived with clowns before, so I'm guessing that this will subside. Right? <Mm, not necessarily....> I can't have anymore clown deaths because its heartbreaking to watch. Another thing is, I was/am someone who is an overprotective parent and had my hand in the tank WAY to much. So I'm trying to stay out of the tank as much as possible and let things work out naturally on there own as much as possible, so I don't want to take out anyone. <Might be walking into disaster, here.... Damsels can be absolute hellions.... Do please consider removing the offender if this doesn't fix itself in a week or two, or if the clowns sustain much damage....> I will be adding a Royal Gramma and eventually a Goby. Do you think that this will diffuse the aggression, being that the Damsel will have to accept this isn't just his tank and he can't fight with everyone (lol)? <Eh.... Tough to say. I wouldn't bet real money on it, though, especially not knowing the size of the tank....> Any other advice?  <Not as yet.> Thank so much for everything!! -Jon <Wishing you well, -Sabrina> 

Damsel vs. Gramma Death match  11/7/05 Thanks Sabrina! <Sure thing, Jon.> Well here is my update. <Alrighty!> I have removed the Pink Damsel because along with the addition of the Gramma, we had major fighting and tail fin tearing. Now whenever I have to do this with a fish it upsets me, but I have the damsel in a specimen container with aeration. Is there anyway that this fish could calm down, and be returned to the display tank?  <Uhh, I wouldn't hedge any bets on it. You can try with a significant change in decor, but I really doubt this fish will reform.> It had lived with other fish before but when many of my fishes died because of the hurricane, I guess the fish took it all to himself. I hate to give him up, it is a nice fish, but I can't handle the aggression. <It is, of course, your call. Be very, very cautious if you choose to try adding him back.> Thanks for your help! -Jon <You bet. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Damsel Pestering Pygmy Angel 11/01/05 Hey Bob or Steve whoever gets this. <Ali here...> I have a 75 reef and for a while there was only a damsel in the tank (my parents took care of the tank this summer for me and that's all that was left) I just recently added a Flameback to the tank and the damsel is going crazy. He is attacking it and showing a lot of aggression. <Typical behavior for a damsel who has had a tank all to himself for a year.> I have the lights turned off now and there is over 100 pounds of rock in the tank. I don't know what else to do if this doesn't stop I think the pygmy will die. I can't trap out the damsel there is too much rock. Would adding another fish calm the damsel down so its just not the two of them? thanks any help will be great. Matt <Matt, you are in a dilemma here. More than likely, the damsel will not stop showing constant aggression towards the angel. Both fish more than likely have very similar body shape/size and diet. A damsel that has 'owned' and dominated the aquarium all by himself can be especially terrorizing towards other small fish.  Generally speaking, the Flameback pygmy angels are an assertive fish that can hold their own with many other species of fish. However a newly added, un-QT'd fish placed within the grasps of a well-established, dominant damsel isn't really the best practice. Please consider removing some rockwork and gently trying to trap or catch either fish. I would not add anymore fish in the aquarium as the next fish you add will most likely suffer the same unnecessary fate as the angel. Good luck. - Ali>

Damsel Caught! 11/04/05 (Wha.. huh? It's only the 3rd!) 11/3/05 Thanks for the quick reply Ali I did forget to mention the Flameback was held in a QT tank for 2 weeks before I put him in the display tank. I took almost all of the rock and coral out of the tank and captured the damsel and put him in the back sump of the tank (Sea Clear System II). <You are the man Matt! Great to see you taking action and taking your angel out of harms way. Kudos my friend.> I feel quite bad the fish is being held back there, in your opinion how soon can I release the damsel back into the display tank? It is a Princess damsel (Pomacentrus vaiuli) which I have personally never seen for sale here on the east coast. It was a gift from a friend I met at Marine Ornamental's 04 in Honolulu so I really want to keep this fish but I trust your opinion if you feel he will just cause problems if he is put back into the display. <He'll be okay in the back of the System II sump for several days, but do make it a point to find him a good home as soon as possible. These particular damsels do not need a huge amount of room therefore, one option you can consider is setting up a 15 gallon aquarium/refugium plumbed into your existing system to house the damsel along with some live sand, plants, and clusters of live rock. This way you can enjoy your fish while simultaneously reaping the benefits of a refugium. If this is not an option, setting up a small 10 or 15 gallon kitchen tank, with some live rock, sand and hang-on power filter will work just fine for this little guy. Otherwise, start placing ads at your local marine club or internet fish forums stating you are seeking a good home for the fish.> By the way pictures of my 1500 reef are on the way. Thanks again you guys take care. <Looking forward to them Matt. Good luck! - Ali>

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