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FAQs about the Damselfish Compatibility 1

Related Articles: Damselfishes, Clownfishes, Jumbo Damselfishes

Related FAQs: Damsel Compatibility 2, Clownfish Compatibility 1, Damsels 1Damsel Identification, Damsel Systems, Damsel Selection, Damsel Feeding, Damsel Disease, Damsel Reproduction

Most damsel groups are feisty in terms of compatibility, some, like the genus Stegastes are very territorial

Triggers? As prey items...

Blue Devil Damsel and Goby Compatibility 03/20/2008 I have contacted you all before for help with coral and I must say that my corals are doing great. <<Superb, really glad to hear it>> I have a small 20 gallon aquarium with two different soft corals, one button polyp colony and another group of small mushroom. They are at opposite ends of the tank. I have replaced my old 15W 50/50 fluorescent lamp with a 65W 50/50 PC and the colors of both specimens are astounding compared to the dull brown color before. In my tank I have one fish: a blue devil damsel. The damsel obviously owns the tank as she has even dug out a nest for herself under some live rock. Is it in the realm of possibility that I may add a goby of any species to the tank and expect no kill fest to occur? I'm looking at a neon blue goby, and since it is a cleaner, I take that it won't be chasing the damsel, but will the damsel chase the goby? <<In my opinion, no, I would not. If you want another fish in there, I would stick to getting another damsel>> If it is a possibility I'm only getting one fish as I don't want a goby vs. goby fight either. Thank you. <<Thanks for the question. A Nixon>> <Mmm, RMF would NOT place another Pomacentrid in this small volume>

Damsel worry  5/30/07 I have a 20 gallon tank with 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and 10ppl nitrate. I have a pH of 8.1/8.2 and temp is 79/80. I have a Percula Clown who is very well and busy and eats everything, a skunk cleaner shrimp who is also very active and greedy. I have two hermit crabs, who after an initial struggle have found their own areas to live and so put up with each other. I have recently added a yellow tailed blue damsel (called spike). <... Clowns are Damsels... territorial...> He was very busy when I added him and was tolerant of my Clown (they just swam near each other and there was no aggression). The other night my electricity went off twice. I managed to keep the tank at the right temp and made sure all the lights were off so they wouldn't come back on suddenly. All the tank mates were fine and showed no stress through this. However, the damsel was very pale after the electricity failure. The following morning (and for the last two days) he has been hiding down the bottom of the tank and is breathing heavily. The electric blue colour has come back but he is still lethargic and not eating. All the other fish are happy. <There's more than these two Pomacentrids present?> I have checked the damsel and can see no other sign of disease. other than the lethargy and heavy breathing he looks in very good condition. What can this be and how can I save Spike? Cheers, Jay <Only time can/will tell here... May have just been frightened by the sudden loss of light, water movement... May well have "had something" on import... I take it this fish was not quarantined... See WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Sudden death of a Damsel   4/21/07 Hi crew, <Kwon> Thanks for all the helpful info you've posted on your site. Here's my situation: I have a 55 gal fish only with LR. I have one damsel and one trigger (small, 2-3 inch)...and yes, a bigger tank is in the works. Today, I fed them with frozen trigger formula like I always do. I went out for about 4 hours, when I return, I found my damsel dead. I remember it was eating like a pig, as always, before I left the house. So I dug him up and did not notice any physical damage. All I've notice was that the gill portion of his body looks a little bulged. What do you think might have killed him in such short amount of time? <Mmm, impossible to say... perhaps a rupture in its blood/vascular system... a "heart attack"... Fear of the trigger tankmate...?> I see him every day and there were no symptoms of any thing wrong. My trigger seems to be fine for now. He is sleeping in the rocks. Should I perform a water change? <I would test the water for what you have kits for...> Please advise. Thanks. Kwon. <Do know that such rapid deaths in Damsels are not uncommon... especially when small, good numbers of these fishes "do just die" w/o apparent reason at times. Bob Fenner>

Talbot damsel bully <Hi Nicole, Mich here.> We just purchased our two damsels to cycle our 20 gallon tank. We had our tank up and running for a couple weeks with live sand, had all the correct levels for the water quality, added live rock before the damsels, made lots of hiding places, then put the damsels in after letting them get used to the temperature. <It is not enough to just acclimate for temperature.  Please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm> My boyfriend and I tried to pick the healthiest, liveliest damsels from the store...and it would appear that the one I picked is perhaps a bit too lively. She's taken to completely bullying the other fish- to the point where she's taken over basically the entire tank. Which probably isn't that hard considering it's only 20 gallons. <Yes, too small for two fish of this species.  This species should    only be kept together if a much larger system.> The staff at the store told me to turn off the lights, rearrange the rocks and destroy the existing territories, and I did that and it seemed to help a bit, temporarily. Now there are more hiding spaces and the smaller damsel has a "home" of it's own...but the bigger damsel (even though she has her own little spot that she likes) still sometimes rushes out and just chases the other damsel for no reason! <Yes as previous noted your tank is too small.> I'm quite concerned- we were told to get two damsels of the same type and I'm starting to think that maybe wasn't the best idea. <No.> Should we take the bully back? I hate to give up on her but I really don't want the other fish to suffer. <Should get rid of one.> What could we get as an alternative? <Many options, but you don't have room in your system for many fish so you should do a good deal of research before making your final choices.> The little damsel seems quite good natured but could just be completely terrorized.  Also, my boyfriend is referring to the bully as "my fish" so naturally, this is my fault. I didn't realize how much this would make us into "parents"! <Ah! The joys!>   Thanks so much, <Welcome!  -Mich> Nicole

Blue devil damsels killing each other - no tank specs  11/18/06 Hi, < Hello > I had 2 blue devil damsels who were very compatible for over 2 months.  I purchased them together so they were used to being with others of their species. < So it may seem when they are crowded in a small tank at your LFS. In the wild these fish are aggressive and at home quite territorial in the confines of a fish tank. > Then the other day,  the larger of the 2 started picking on the smaller one and as the day went on got the bullying got violent and by the end of the day, the smaller one was dead, covered with bites and missing scales. < You don't mention tank size, amount of live rock, setup etc, but this sounds like normal behavior for these fish in small tanks. > My question is why would they live together so well for months  and then such a sudden change?  The only change I saw prior within the tank, is that the  aggressor started moving stones and around and making caves and hollow areas in crushed coral. < The aggressor was marking the tank as its territory by moving rocks etc. I would guess this is a case of too much damsel in too small a space, but please research WWM and the web for confirmation. The general rule for damsels is 1 per 20g, but this rule is better applied to larger tanks. > Thanks, < Most welcome. - Emerson > Mitzi

Damsel Barroom Brawl! 10/18/05 Hello!  <Hello Kelly> First of all, I'd like to commend you and your site--it's been a great resource for me. I just have one question about my damsels: I have one blue devil, one stripe, one blue velvet, and one yellow Chromis in a 55 gallon tank.  <You have the makings for a bar room brawl.>  Over the past few years, the yellow Chromis and blue velvet damsel have become huge and also very aggressive!  <Yes indeed>  They pick on the small blue damsel a LOT! Would adding another larger tankmate help?  <Probably not>  (Because of their aggressive nature, I've been afraid to.) Do you have any suggestions?  <Kelly, not a good idea to mix damsels of this type for the very reason of your query. They can be nasty. Better to keep all velvets or blues, etc.> Also--last but not least--today I noticed something white coming from my blue damsel's anus (or just before her anal fin.) it's small and she seems to be in good health, but I'm still worried. I hope it's not a sign of disease. Please let me know if you can offer any suggestions.  <Don't think its anything to worry about. Keep an eye on it. James (Salty Dog)> 

Damsel Aggression...Is It Real? - 09/07/05 I have a 39 Gal FO tank, with an Ocellaris Clown Fish, a Scarlet Cleaner shrimp, and some Blue Leg Hermit Crabs.  I am considering the addition of an Orangetail Blue Damsel, but am worried about aggression.  Is everything I hear about Damsels true or do people exaggerate?  Do you think it would get along with my Clown?  I really like that blue :). <<Damsels are considered by most to be aggressive by nature...and some species are more aggressive than others (e.g. - Domino and Humbug).  The Orange-tail Blue Damsel is a truly beautiful little fish, and as far as damsel aggression goes, rates toward the lower-middle end of the scale in my opinion.  That's not to say they are pushovers, but given some space they seem to be more tolerant than many other Damsels, saving their aggression for others of the same specie.  I have two of my own (males I think) that get along fine; though they are housed in ten-times your water volume.  My point being that "space" can go a long way toward tempering aggression.  Your tank "may" prove to be to small, but given the fact the Clown is already established (and Clowns are scrappy little Damsels in their own right) I would consider it worth the risk.  In fact, you may find the Damsel running from the Clown at first.>> If not what suggestion would you have on other blue fish, that would get along?  Can't seem to find that many.   <<Hmm...have experienced this issue/phenomenon myself.  Tangs are definitely out (tank is too small)...might try searching through the available Gobies in the trade...though you won't find anything as "blue" as the Damsels.>> Thanks <<Welcome, EricR>>

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

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

Mixing Damselfish In A Small System- Recipe For Trouble? I currently have an Azure Damsel in my 30g tank along with two false Percula Clownfish and a Watchman Goby...I was thinking of getting a Talbot's Damsel, and was wondering if the Talbot and Azure Damsel can get along in my system?...can they co exist in a 30g system with no fighting or is that two small of a tank to have two Damsels in? <Even though these particular species do not have the nasty reputations of some of the other Damsels, they can be intolerant of other species in "their" tank. In a larger system, it could work (in fact, I'd go with a few of each...), but in a small tank like this one, I would not risk it, myself. Hope this helps. Regards, Scott F.>

Damsel Tank Hello Crew!!!! Hope everyone is doing well today. One day closer to a 3 day weekend!!! WOO HOO!! My question is a simple question. I have a 56 gallon tank that I'm currently using for freshwater fish. I think the dimensions are 30" x 18" x 24". After the freshwater fish retire, I want to convert that to saltwater. I am also starting a 40 gallon saltwater tank. I would love to have damsels, but I've had my share of experiences with these mean fish and I don't want any in my 40 gallon community saltwater tank. How many damsels could I have in the 56 gallon?  <Depends on full growth size. Figure one cubic inch of fish per five gallons of water.> Could I keep one of each species that I am interested in? These are the species that I would love to have in this tank. Yellow Belly Blue Damsel, Starcki Damsel, Talbot Damsel and maybe a Scott's and/or Tasmanian Devil Damsel. All of these fish are pictured on http://www.petsolutions.com.  All of the fish, I'm assuming, would have to be added at the same time to avoid future conflicts.  <Good idea adding all at once. Keep in mind damsels are scrappers and there will be some conflicts. Provide plenty of hiding spots, caves, tunnels, etc.> I do love these fish. They are just beautiful. What is your opinion??  <As above. Do a Google search on WWM, keyword, damsels.>  Thanks for your help. <You're welcome, Jennifer. James (Salty Dog)> 

Damselfish Hey guys. <Ken> I currently have a saltwater setup consisting of a Percula clown and two yellow-tailed Damselfish. Yesterday I added a Striped Damselfish (might not have been the best of ideas). <In how large a system?> The two yellow-tailed Damselfish are "chasing" the striped Damsel but currently the striped damsel shows no physical damage due to this. I know Damsels are naturally aggressive, but if the striped Damsel makes it, will the yellow-tailed damsels warm up to the new guy, or will they just kill him sooner or later? <Either way... more likely the former if the system is fifty plus gallons> What would you guys suggest to me in order to help the situation? <Larger tank, more decor... move the fish> Should I be concerned for the new guy, or will everything work out in the end?  <Huh?> Also the striped Damsel doesn't eat the pellet food that the other fish eat. He spits it out. Why is that? <Doesn't like it... Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm  and the linked files (in blue) above. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help that you can give!  I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!  Ken Miller, Jr. 

Chromis a good next choice?         Hello everyone. Hope you all had a nice Christmas/ Holiday. <So far...> I was wondering what some of your thoughts might be to me adding 2 or 3 smallish green Chromis to my 55 Ga. I currently have one 2 inch blue tang, one 2" yellow tang, a small blue devil damsel who minds her own, a 2" coral beauty and two false Perculas. <Mmm, with growth your tank is pretty much full... and the blue devil may become more so with other damsels present... but if your system were about twice the size, these would be a good choice> I am definitely upgrading to a 120 in the next 6 months to a year. <Oh! Bingo! I'd wait till then to add them> I am running an Eheim 2215 and a CPR Bak Pak skimmer with 30 pounds of live rock which will soon be 50 to 60 lbs. Comments?? Too much bio-load an issue, I think I'm on the verge but is it possible? Ands also will the Chromis and my 1" damsel co-habitat? Much thanks as always.         -Heather <Bob Fenner> Upgrading to a bigger tank 12/1/04 Hi, I have been using your site as an extremely useful tool for information ever since I setup a saltwater aquarium 8 months ago. <Good to hear!  Glad you have benefited.> I currently have a small 10 g aquarium with 1 yellow tailed damsel fish and 2 percula clowns. The aquarium is cycled and all 3 fish get along well. The blue damsel sometimes attempts to pick on the percula clown, but she takes care of herself and the smaller clown fish.  We recently upgraded to a 55 gallon aquarium, and are planning on adding these 3 fish and some more fish to it. We plan on keeping a fish only tank. <55 gallons is much more appropriate for the fishes you listed.  Kudos on the upgrade!> - Could you suggest 2 fish we could use to cycle this new aquarium, keeping in mind we will be adding the yellow tailed damsel and 2 clown fish we have already eventually to that tank? <I don't recommend any fish for cycling.  When you add newly acquired live rock, the die off on the rock will produce more than enough ammonia to accomplish the cycle.  Please spare any fishes the stress of this process!> - We were thinking of getting the 3 stripe zebra damsel and one green Chromis. Will they get along with our existing fish? <Single green Chromis rarely thrive and will certainly be bullied by the other damsels you plan on keeping.  Most damsels (other than Chromis) are exceedingly aggressive and mixing more than a couple can be quite volatile.> - Keeping in mind there will be 6 fish eventually (our existing 3 fish, 2 new damsels which we plan on using for cycling and maybe 1 yellow tang), will the aquarium be adequately stocked? Thanks in advance, Seema <Certainly the question should be "will the tank NOT be overstocked.  I would say no, but a 55 is tight quarters for any tang.  If you are looking for an appropriate yellow fish, there are several gobies and blennies that fit the bill and will be much less cramped in your tank.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Chromis mixing hello! <Hi,> I was wondering in a 150 gallon tank or a 125 gal. tank if you could mix 3 green Chromis and 3 blue Chromis together peacefully?  <Yes, they should get along peacefully.>  If so would they school together or school according to their species?  <It depends on the other tank mates.  If the Chromis are threatened they will school together as a defense mechanism (survival in numbers).  If not then they won't school at all.> Oh, and 1 more question, what's your favorite fish for fresh <Motoro Stingray> and saltwater?
<Clown Trigger, or Blueline Trigger I can't decide.> thanks again!!
<No problem, MikeB> Chase

Mixing Damsels, and Crowding hi I was wondering in a 60 gallon tank can you mix 5 green Chromis with 5 blue Chromis? If my tank is too small how about a larger tank? chase <Is too small... I would choose just one species or the other... and no more than five individuals. Bob Fenner>

Maroon Clownfish and Yellowtail Damselfish Compatibility (11/23/04 Hello, I currently have an all glass 30 gallon tank.  It has about 55 pounds of Premium Fiji Live Rock, and a 1.5" sand bed.  It has been cycling for 1 month (it will be 1 month on Thanksgiving) and I have one Yellow Tailed Damsel that has been in there since the beginning (I know its not the best idea to cycle with a fish).  But my question is,  I really was thinking of getting a pair of Maroon Clown fish but I have heard that they will gang up on my Damsel and kill it eventually.  If they will do this, can you give me some information on what type of clown I should get that would be compatible with my current setup?  <Sure.... for starters your Yellowtail Damsel has a maximum adult size of 8.3 inches and a minimum tank size requirement of 55g. The adults are even more aggressive than the juveniles and should be kept with larger aggressive fish. <Think Leslie has this fish identified as one of the giant damsels... Microspathodon chrysurus... it is likely one of the small Indo-Pacific species though... likely to be beaten up by Maroons. RMF> This is not an appropriate tankmate for clownfish. In your current set up a pair of Amphiprion Ocellaris (False Percula Clownfish) or Amphiprion Percula (Percula Clownfish) would be appropriate. My personal favorites are the captive bred black and whites. In addition you could keep a small algae eating blenny like the bicolor. They are a great little utility fish and will help to algae under control.> Note, that my water parameters are perfect, < That's great, for future reference when referring to water parameters numerical values are much more informative than descriptive words.> I am planning on getting an AquaC Remora HOB skimming in a week or two.  <Excellent plan. > Thanks for all your help! <Your most welcome! > Have a great day. Chess Mizell <Thanks, I am. Best of luck with your new aquarium. Enjoy it! HTH, Leslie

Chromis and damsels Hi again, << Hi there. >> Sorry to be a pest, but I have been reading you site for about 6 hours now and have stumbled upon your damselfish and Chromis. Might be a stupid question but are they the same species? << Chromis are a type of damselfish. >> I have been told that mixing damsels with my Chromis was a bad idea, but I have been fascinated with the 4 stripe damsel.
<< I have no idea why anyone told you not to mix them.  I think they do great together.  Both are very easy to keep, and make great beginner fish. >>
Can they go with the fish I currently have in my tank or are they too aggressive? Thanks for your help on the first question.
<< Many damsels, like the 4 stripe, are quite aggressive.  Therefore many hobbyists stay away from them.  However, they are easy to keep and great beginner fish. >> Cierah <<  Blundell  >> Chromis viridis School Size I've had my new reef tank for about 4 weeks now.  72 gallons.  We added 3 Chromis after about a week.  2 were doing very well and the third seemed to be getting picked on a lot.  I read that a larger school might lead to less bullying, so we added 3 more last week.  They are acclimating fairly well, but that one timid guy is still hiding a lot.  He does come out to eat a little bit, but then goes back to hide.  Do you think he just needs a little more time or should we get a 7th fish to make for the odd-numbered school?  Instinct tells me that adding a single fish to this mix is not a good idea for the newcomer. Thanks in advance. <I concur with you concerns and would hold off on adding any more Chromis to this system. Bob Fenner>

Clown and Damsel    <Hi Taylor MacL here with you tonight>  just got into Nano reefs  <Congratulations> and I'm only 14 years old and I spent 22 on this false clown fish and I just bought  it  2  days ago and when I first put him in he swam a round. then last night I went in and saw my blue damsel attacking him I freaked out and check on them every half hour. they seemed to be doing ok. But today he stays at the back of the tank till I turn the light out and the blue damsel hides then he swims about the tank. Also he will not eat that much and I have tried to feed him Omega <Damsels and clowns are in a similar family and often won't get along in a small tank together. What size is your Nano?> 1 marine flakes and brine shrimp but he will only eat a little bit and also they are very small pieces. does this have anything to do with the fact that he lived in a  tank with a lot of other clown fish or that he is a         <A?????? what???? Let me know. MacL>>     Demonic Damsels Strike Again Hi <Hi! Ryan Bowen with you today> I've had my reef for over 3 years, I had a half dozen or so tanks (fresh+salt) but now I've moved and consolidated to one 29g reef-tank. <Sounds good.> I've got a weird problem wish fish behavior. I have three anemones and they are all very polite. <Polite, yes, but if you aren't skimming furiously, there is invisible war being fought.> I have three fish and they are all quite rude. The fish wont leave the anemones alone, they are constantly pecking at the tentacles. Even when it is mostly closed and retracted they will carefully line up and position themselves (with a curious, intensely concentrated midwater hover technique I've rarely seen elsewhere) so as to get a peck or two at the parts that are exposed. I have a three-striped damsel, a blue velvet damsel and a 14 year old clown fish I got for free. I've had the fish from 6-12 months and the anemones for a couple years. I'm obviously more attached to the anemones, and I don't want any silly makeshift ideas like strawberry baskets interfering with their migration and movement. Can you suggest anything that would be causing the fish to do this, or any solutions? <Yes, remove the damsels!  They're trying to defend their territory...Encourage the anemone to choose a new home, but obviously the anemone cannot.  Permanent harassment will kill your inverts at some point.> BTW even after the fish have been fed they do this, its more of a social activity than a survival thing at this point. <Territory is survival in nature...sadly it seems, a luxury in aquaria.> Also, the clownfish does not reside in any anemone, the people who gave him to me did not keep any inverts and simply had a single fish in a tank for 13 years before they had to move. He has expressed no interest in any of the anemones, large tube worms or anything else aquarium clownfish are sometimes found basking. <Perhaps he's stressed- Remove the damsels and watch things settle in.  Cheers! Ryan>

Damsel Compatibility (8/19/04) Hi, I was wondering if clownfish and yellow-tailed damsels would get along. <Both can be aggressive, though the yellow-tail has a reputation as one of the mellower damsels. It depends on tank size (smaller is worse) and which sort of clown you are choosing. Some, e.g. Maroons, are more aggressive than others, e.g. ocellaris. I have this combination in my 80G reef with lots of LR, they seldom even interact in any way at all, ant there has been no aggression. That said, there are never any guarantees. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Nemo vs. Yellow-Tail Follow-up (8/23/04) Thanks for your help. <No problem.> I don't know the name of the clown fish but by the name of "Nemo". <Probably Amphiprion ocellaris.> I have a 30 gallon tank, and I had a healthy tank with 3 of the "Nemo" fish and everything died including my live rocks, <ouch!> I started over and this yellow-tailed damsel has been in the tank all by himself for 3 months and I wanted to add more, so I added some more yellow-tailed damsels and he attacked them often, well he finally stopped but I was worried about adding another Nemo. <Having been alone for 3 month in a smaller tank, this damsel will not likely accept any tankmates. Two options: (1)get rid of him entirely--most LFS will give a credit--or (2) rearrange the decor hen you add a new fish so that he may lose his bearings and feel new himself. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Nemo and Yellow-Tail OK Together (8/25/04) Thanks Steve, I did as you said and rearrange everything, then added the "Nemo" I watched the tank non-stop for an hour or so, and he didn't touch the fish.  Your idea worked thank you so much!!!! <Glad to hear. Hope it stays that way.>  If you don't mind could you give me some extra points on how to NOT kill everything again! HA! <The best I can give you on that is to carefully analyze the event for contributing/precipitating factors and try to learn from any errors. Good luck! Steve Allen.>

Intimidated Firefish 8/2/04 It has almost been two weeks since I introduced a Firefish with three damsels (yellow, yellowtail and 3 striped) into a 30 G tank. <Ughhh... this was a profoundly ill-advised mix. Firefishes are too passive in most any tank with damsels... and especially so in a small tank like this. please read more about this/them in our first issue of CA e-zine: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i1/wormfishesArt/wormfishes.htm> Everything seemed to be going fine until today I noticed that the Firefish has a bloated belly; actually I noticed his stomach area has turned a dark color and is swollen (about half of the swelling protrudes giving it an unsightly profile!) about the size of bee bee just behind his dorsal fins.   <try adding 1 TBN of Epsom salt per 5 gallons to the tank. If this does not improve the fish in 2-3 days, remove it to your waiting quarantine tank for treatment with antibiotics (Furan-2 or Kanamycin)> He never eats much since the damsels are far more aggressive about grabbing the food, <Firefish almost always starve to death slowly (months) in the presence of damsels. Yours will too sadly if left in with them> he usually seems content just nibbling at the small amount that floats to him - rather than going up to the top when its Spirulina or Mysis shrimp.  Other than this nasty appearance his behavior seems typical of what I have seen the last two weeks.  My water conditions are optimal (8.1 pH, 1.022 salinity, 0 ammonia and nitrites, 81?? F) except that nitrates are around 20.  Can you offer some advice? Thanks, Derek <please do read/research more about compatibility before buying any fishes... and do so from objective sources. Not merely from the LFS trying to sell you things <G>. Anthony> Coris Wrasse and Damsel <Hi Fishboy> I recently bought a red adult Coris that is in a 55 gallon tank with a blue devil and a pearly Jawfish. My damsel, although three times less in size than my Coris, has been a little nasty to my Coris and it spends most of the time in the crushed coral and in eating. <Damsels are mean lil fish sometimes, you have two choices  I think, either remove the damsel or the Coris.>  please help!

Too Many Damsels (6/23/04) I am somewhat new to the hobby, but my tank is doing well. <Good to hear.> I have about 20lbs of live rock in a 30 gal tank with 5 damsels. My three fish I started the tank with are doing great which include a larger yellow and black striped damsel, a white striped damsel, and a tan damsel with black markings. These fish seem to get along, but when I added a small black damsel with neon blue markings and a yellow tail blue damsel the fish got extremely aggressive. <Not the least bit surprising.> Almost to the point of killing the black and blue damsel. Did I do something wrong. I thought damsels got along for the most part. <Who told you that? Quite the opposite is true. They are among the meanest, most territorial fish in the trade. And they get worse with age.> Any help on keeping the new fish safe and alive would be much appreciated. Thanks, Joey the new hobbyist. <Well Joey, if I were you I'd get rid of all of the Damsels. They are not only aggressive toward each other, but also to pretty much any other fish, especially in such a small tank. Get the book "Reef Fishes" by Scott W. Michael and "The New Marine Aquarium" by Michael S. Paletta. These will help you choose better. Look to Firefish, Gobies, Dartfish and maybe smaller Flasher Wrasses as better choices. A single ocellaris clown ought to be OK, but they can get a bit aggressive too. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

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

Compatibility Questions (6/6/04) Hello, <Steve Allen tonight.>   was wondering if I can mix a Scott's Damselfish with 2 clowns, a 6 line wrasse, a dwarf angel, and a royal Gramma in a 45 gallon tank??? <I looked all over the Internet and in several books and cannot find a fish known as Scott's Damselfish. Are you referring to Scott's Fairy Wrasse? If so, they get too big for this size tank. In any case, I would not recommend Damselfish in this scenario. Most become holy terrors at some point. As for clowns, choose relatively mellow ones, such as ocellaris.> Thanks (Hope this helps.>

O What, O What has my Damsel Done? >Good Afternoon Crew, >>Hello. >I have a 30 gal. hex w/LR&LS. I had kept a Gold Striped Maroon Clown, Hermit crab, and sand star happy for about six months with no problems. After a water check, I added 2 Bicolored damsels first and 2 Domino damsels a week later.  >>No quarantine? We cannot countenance addition of any specimens sans quarantine. In other words, search quarantine and read the terrible tales of tragic turns of events when people mistakenly skip it. >A few days later I noticed my sand star had an injury (~1 cm torn off of 1 leg). Each day after the sand star's injuries worsened until it was finally dead four to five days later.  >>This description, along with the fact that you'd added so many fish all at once (and thank you for adding that information, it's important!) leads me to believe that your water quality likely suffered - a nitrogenous spike (ammonia, nitrite) thus causing the delicate creature to simply succumb. (I do so love alliteration.) Starfishes are indeed very delicate in terms of "bounce" - their ability to withstand changes in salinity, high concentrations of any/all nitrogenous wastes, and a vast myriad of compounds the hobbyist simply can't test for. >I have a young baby so I have not checked my water again however it was fine before the new fish addition and I am not overfeeding. >>Yes, but to a 30 gallon tank you added FOUR fish within a week. That is plainly far too much far too quickly, *especially* for a system of this size (FYI, most folks consider a 30 gallon a Nano tank). Now, if you'd added these fish to an 80-100 gallon tank, there may not have been such an issue, but you didn't, and I can assure you there was. Also, I should warn you that the domino damsels become HOLY TERRORS!!!!  >What could have caused my sand star's death, deadly damsels perhaps? >>Not their fault, I'm afraid, even though the trail leads to them. The blame ultimately has to lie with the person who unwittingly added this many fish to such a small tank. And shame on the LFS for not ensuring such mistakes wouldn't be made!  >Kim >>I suggest that you don't add any more fish, OR starfishes. Just have fun with your adorable baby, and let the tank set stable. If you have time, do make use of the vast amount of information on our site, I think it will be helpful since your local shop will sell you animals without including good information. For instance, once that maroon clown starts to hit full adult size, there will be few fish she will tolerate (once they get large, they've likely changed from male to female). It's actually likely that the fish won't tolerate YOU in the tank! Know that they can draw blood, so wear gloves. Marina

-Chewed up coral beauty!- I added a coral beauty angel to my 50 gallon tank just over a week ago. The tank has been established for nearly 2 years and has had just 2 green Chromis and 2 yellow tail blue damsels in it for about a year
<Smells like established, aggressive yellow tails to me..>
 - no fish have been added or lost in that time.  The coral beauty seemed fine right away, but I noticed after first night, one of his fins looked to have a piece missing.  I don't see any of the other r fish bothering him.  After day 2, a little more missing.   Then for 4 or 5 days, no change
<You can rule out fin rot here, it would be a steady decay>
- looked fine.  Today, the fin is almost completely gone.  Could a damsel being going after him during the night? <Likely> Or could it be something else? <doubtful> Do I need to add some more hiding places?   Fish looks healthy, good color, eating fine, and doesn't appear bothered by other fish.....
<I bet if you isolated either the angel or both the yellow tails, the fin damage would stop. My advice would be to remove the YT's, although they're not as aggressive as most damsels, they're pretty well established in your tank. Get 'um out! I hope this helps, -Kevin> Help - I love this fish and don't want him hurt or to lose him!

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

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

- Dealing with Damsel Aggression, Follow-up - I thought I'd share an update... I trapped the damsel and one of the clowns in a section of the main tank, and left them there for a little over a week, until it seemed the damsel was mostly ignoring the wrasse.  I removed the divider, and the fish have gotten along well ever since.  The wrasse is no spending the full day out of the sand, is eating well etc, and the damsel is back to normal (asserting dominance, but not hurting any fish).  I just hope he stays this controlled as he grows... <I wouldn't bet on it, but glad to hear things have evened out for the moment.> I think it helped that there was another friendly fish trapped with the damsel - it took some of his attention away from the wrasse on the other side of the divider. <Perhaps.> Thomas <Cheers, J -- >

Guidance Counselor  - Stocking >Hi guys, >>Hello. >I  have a question regarding my 54 gallon corner tank.  It has been running for about 5 months now (FOWLR), and it currently houses 1 blue damsel, 1 Percula clownfish, and 1 overly aggressive three striped damsel.   >>Oh yes, the lovely Dascyllus.  I hear they're quite tasty. >The three-striped damsel seems to be very protective of certain spots and his aggression seems to be getting worse.   >>I don't think it seems worse, I think it IS worse, and shall continue to do so. >My wife and I are trying to plan our next course of action and I was hoping to add either a yellow tang or a coral beauty.  My wish is that by having a larger fish in the tank it will lessen the aggression of the three-striped damsel.   >>Don't count on it, this fish now rules the roost! >Could this possibly work?   >>Highly doubtful with a Coral Beauty, you're going to be hard pressed to find one big enough and pugnacious enough.  Even with a tang, a yellow isn't exactly the toughest customer, and it would have to be SIGNIFICANTLY larger.  Try a barbless fishing hook or a trap and get that damn damsel out! >If so, in what order should I add the coral beauty and the yellow tang?  If it won't work would you recommend returning my three-striped damsel?  Thanks for you help.  Your site has been very helpful to me in many occasions.  Sincerely, Dan >>Yes, I recommend just that.  Then, because the angel and the tang would likely have no compatibility issues, it wouldn't really matter who you add first, just as long as BOTH go through 30 days quarantine.  Marina

Damsel and clown aggression 1/6/03 Hey <Hey back!  Adam here this morning.> I have a 30 gallon salt water tank and housed a clown and three blue damsels. Every morning there seems to be a death. There is currently only one Damsel and one Percula clown left. The water levels are normal and so is the ph... what's causing theses deaths? <Sorry to say that I have way more questions than answers.  Please always list values for pH, Alk, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, salinity, temperature and anything else you test for.  How long has the tank been set up?  How long did you have the fish before they died? What type of filtration is present (live rock, skimmer, carbon, power filters, etc.)? could the Damsel have picked on the others? <A definite possibility, but not likely to a sudden death, and probably not at night when all of the fish are probably resting.  I am much more suspicious of a water quality issue or shipping stress on the fish.  Please do write back, filling in some of the above blanks.  Thanks, and best regards.  Adam>

- Livestock Selection in the Broad Sense - What type of fish could go with Blue Damsels? <Just about any one except those large enough to swallow them - please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com Cheers, J -- >

- Goby and Damsel Compatibility - Hello Mr. Fenner and Crew, The other day I was at my LFS and spotted a really neat looking fish.   The guy helping me out told me it was a Greenbanded goby. <Gobiosoma multifasciatum, a lovely fish.> I asked if it would be safe in a tank with a Percula Clown and a Yellow-Tailed Blue Damsel.  He said it shouldn't be a problem at all. After getting him home and having him in the tank for a the first few days, he mostly stayed hidden under or behind some of the live rock.  Today it started getting a little more comfortable, and swimming around.  Tonight as I was looking in, I noticed that the yellow tailed damsel was constantly on the look out for the goby.  Always swimming over to where the goby is at, and chasing him if he was out in the open.  I've looked online quite a bit and can't find any info on compatibility for the goby, other then that they are quite calm themselves. <Neon gobies are compatible with just about anything that won't eat them... the damsel is what you have to worry about here.> I do know the damsel can be a bit territorial. <'A bit' is an understatement. Damsels are well known to attack scuba divers - things considerably larger than them to defend their territory. They are fearless and persistent in this regard.> And they both have picked the same rock to hang around in.  He almost seems to be taunting the damsel.  Constantly swimming right under it.  Should I be concerned for the goby? <I would be - if there aren't other places for this fish to hide, the damsel can and will kill it in time.> Or does this sound like more of a territorial kind of thing that might work itself out? <Will only 'work itself out' if the goby finds another home that the damsel does not consider its space - the damsel was there first.> Thanks for your reply and all the other info I've found on your site. Regards, Jeremy <Cheers, J -- >

Chrysiptera damsel and a clown - Will it work?? - 11/24/03 Hi WWM crew me again,                                         I was wondering, can my first fish be a yellowtail damsel <the Chrysiptera species??> and a percula or clarkii clown together starting in my tank first. <How big of a tank are we talking here??> I am thinking of getting a yellowtail <Chrysiptera hemicyanea or Chrysiptera parasema> with a clownfish and my LFS is selling those 2 clowns. <depending on the size of the tank, I would introduce one clown and then the damsel. Again not so sure I would try these three fish all in one tank unless it is a very large tank. And I would try only one fish if under 20 gallons either the damsel or one of clowns> Will it be a good match with this damsel and 1 of these clowns being put into my tank first.<If we are talking Chrysiptera then maybe one with a clown fish will likely not be an issue but really depends on the size of the tank. In my experience if you have some sort of surrogate territory for the clown fish then this will help mitigate the aggression that can sometimes occur. Maybe a coral (Sarcophyton and even sometimes Sinularia are good coral surrogates. Need adequate lighting though. Anemones need even more lighting but if you have the means then go for it. Tank size is the key though!! ~Paul>   Thanks this will be a great help.

- One More Fish? - I have a 28 gallon hexagon tank that has been cycling now for 5 weeks. Everything seems to be going fine. I have one domino damsel and one Singapore angel fish together and both seem to be getting along. Before adding the angel fish I had a yellow tailed damsel and had to remove it due to the stress the domino was causing it. <I'd remove the Domino too - they are very cute when small, but as you've seen, they can be real jerks, and this only gets worse as they get older. I'd remove this fish before it starts to work on the Singapore Angel too.> I would like to add one more fish in a few weeks, maybe and was wondering if you have any recommendations as to any other type of fish that would suit the two already together? <Whatever you pick, it needs to be small and stay small - I'd suggest a neon goby, really neat fish - if you drop the domino damsel, you could stock a pair of neon gobies. With a tank of this size I'd only stock this limited number of fish  - will mean you can enjoy the tank for much longer with fewer problems.> Thanks, Lisa <Cheers, J -- >

Damsel Natural territory size Hi crew....It's been a long time since I have asked a question but I have one now.  I have been trying to find some data about the natural territory size for damselfish.  I understand that there are a lot of different damsels, but I'm looking for a general number.  I thought I'd read somewhere that they usually defended an area of about 9 square feet.  Does this ring a bell? <Mmm, no... there are some VERY territorial damsels (ones that bite divers, otherwise try to drive us off) that look like they "guard" at least a few square meters of bottom... and others (e.g. many of the Chromis spp.) that are not apparently territorial at all. Take a look through the many articles and books on the Pomacentrids by Gerald Allen here.> Also, just an update.  I had previously sent an email and photo of a Sebae anemone that I'd had for a couple of years.  Well, now it is over 4 years and still going strong.  I used to keep it under PCs, but now it is under 2x250 MHs and 4x55pc lighting in a 100g.  Attached is a pic of it more recently.  Take care! Jason <Outstanding! Keep on keeping on. Bob Fenner>

Stocking Questions (9-9-03) I have a 56 gallon Perfecto tank... roughly 20" high, 25" across, 15" deep.  My current inhabitants are as follows ( 1) 2" Maroon Clownfish (1) 3" Yellow Eyed Kole Tang (1) 11/2" Purple Pseudochromis (1) 2" Bicolor Pygmy Angel (3) Turbo Snails (2) Peppermint Shrimp Would it be ok to include 3-4 Blue Chromis in this tank?<The maroon clown and the tang will both need a bigger tank in the near future.  I would not add the Chromis until you get a bigger tank. Cody> Thanks for your advice!

Chrysiptera cyanea for a 100 gal frag tank I just moved, and put half the corals from my 120 gallon display tank into a 100 gallon frag tank (shallow, open top).  The coral in the display tank has done even better than before the move (probably from the extra room),<yes> but the coral in the frag tank is doing poorly.  The biggest difference is the display tank has fish, so I wanted to try adding some fish to the frag tank to see if it helps. Anyhow, I wanted to try fish that: * Are cheap * I can't put in my display tank * Are hardy and low maintenance * Don't eat or bother coral * Looks good from a "top down" view Chrysiptera cyanea fits, and is a fish I always wanted, but is too aggressive for my display.  Do you think I could put a small group of these in the frag tank, or would they kill each other? <you could try, there are no guarantee that they won't fight> Do you think adding fish might help the coral?<I doubt it will help the coral, it will just be for display purposes. adding a little blue and yellow to the frag aquarium, Good luck, IanB>

Stocking Question: Aggressive Damsel Ian, thanks much!  I'll get out the net and try to do some "fishin'" for the damsel,<good> and look for a mystery wrasse or peppermint hogfish.<both are great specimens>  I'm sure you have something on your website regarding those guys.<we have some info. regarding them, IanB>

Little Angry Damsel or "This is No Damsel in Distress" - 8/14/03 Hello,  <Hiya> I'm writing in regards to an aggressive jewel damsel that I have recently purchased.  <Not surprising>  I currently have a 30g tank with the damsel, a Diadema, and a clownfish. <I assume you are talking about a Pseudochromis.  That is a lot of anger for such a small tank. I would suggest only one of those fish for a 30 gallon, personally. Maybe you could keep two. The Pseudochromis and.......>  I also have plenty of live rock for hiding and such plus some mushrooms and a couple of polyps. My question is that the damsel is picking on the other two fish and stressing them out.  <Again this is not surprising at all. Damsels have attacked and stressed me out on many a dive in the South Pacific. The moral of the story is choose one fish.....the damsel.....and find a suitable home for it>  I purchased all three at the same time and I do not have a quarantine tank to separate the fish.  <Do you have a quarantine tank at all? Good policy for aquarists (especially with fish)> What do I do to calm this little bugger down?  Thank you,  Marty <Not much. Some say quarantine while the other fish establish themselves and then re-introduction into general population. Being that I am not a fish behavioralist I believe this would only work some of the time and in much bigger tanks. Then again this may not have been a problem at all in a 150 gallon or something like that. In any event, this little dude needs to get out of the general population and to add insult to injury, you, my friend need to research your future inhabitants. ;-) Good luck, - Paul>

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

Canary Damsels <Hello! Ryan here> Could you keep a small school of Canary damsels?  <Yes, with sufficient room.>  I couldn't really find any specific information on this particular fish except that Bob said he liked it.   I think this is a pretty fish and I wondered it I could have 3 of them together.   I have a 55 gallon tank right now but will be upgrading to 120. <You may want to wait until you do- Damsels are very aggressive.>   Also I have 1 green Chromis would the canary get along with him? <Likely they would torment him.  Blue Green Reef Chromis is a timid fish that truly needs a school to feel secure.  For a more mellow tank, do a school of Chromis and a single Canary Damsel.  Best of luck! Ryan> Thank you for your help, Kylee Peterson

Aggressive Chromis Hi Gang, <Hi Glen & Ang, PF here> I yesterday introduced 3 x Blue Chromis into an already established 90 Gallon tank whose current inhabitants are: 2 x Ocellaris Clowns 2 x Fire Gobies 2 x Rainford's Gobies 1 x Blue Starfish Just now I closely inspected the inhabitants and found: 1 of the Chromis has a cut on the side of its body about half its width (rather deep) The starfish has a piece eaten out of one of its legs about one third the length of its leg The Firefish' tales are rather tattered. <Hmmm... this all seems strangely familiar...> I straight away put this down to the Chromis' defining who's boss in the tank. <Well, actually, Chromis are pretty mild mannered. My clowns don't put up with them getting near their hammer coral, or me getting near the hammer for that matter.> Should I be looking at removing these fish (my first reaction was to euthanize them, they are very very lucky my beloved clownfish are whole and healthy)? <I'd keep a close watch on the tank and see who the real culprit is.>  Is the starfish likely to live with such a wound (the wound is deep enough that I can see the holes of tentacles from the top of the starfish) and what precautionary measures should I take to ensure its survival. <Make sure it gets it food, and keep the tank conditions pristine. Things should be ok, they have amazing regenerative abilities.>  Have I made a blunder purchasing something remotely like a Damsel which I was advised from internet sources to steer clear of. <Chromis are, as has been said before, pretty mild mannered. Blue/devil/yellow/whatever damsels, OTOH, are nasty buggers.>  Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated, up until now marine fish keeping has been a very enjoyable experience. <They're just trying to make sure you get some excitement, ; ) > Regards Glen & Ang Melbourne, Australia <HTH, PF>

Damselfish species that look similar Bob, I'm starting a 10 gal reef aquarium. My LFS (2) (the second local fish store, in Rogers AR, the other (1) in Fayetteville, AR, about 15 min drive between the locations) said the yellowtail damsels (Yellowtail Damselfish, Chrysiptera parasema) is relatively peaceful. He didn't carry the yellow bellied one because "their aggressive as hell" but didn't refer to a particular species, I know their are multiple damsel species with combos of blue and yellow. The LFS (1) in Fayetteville has the aforementioned and another one that looks very similar the Azure Damselfish, Chrysiptera hemicyanea. They look a lot alike, but is the second like a lot more aggressive??? LiveAquaria.com lists both the yellow-tail and the Azure Damselfish as semi-aggressive. Your advice would be appreciated. John <There are many "look-alike" blue and yellow damsels (see Allen's survey works on the Pomacentrids or fishbase.org)... and depending on what else you intend to keep in this ten gallon system all can be too aggressive to keep with other fishes. C. parasema is amongst the most easygoing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Damselfish species that look similar Bob,      Thanks for your response. I apologize for this lengthy letter, but didn't know if you wanted more info on my aquarium to form a better opinion.      I'm new to reef keeping, and a 10 gal is all I have room for, though the people at the LFS said it would be a bit more difficult, I told them what all I had done and they said it was all right thus far. I searched for more information after the story I told you occurred. I used Dogpile and searched for damsels, but it didn't pull up anything, I happened to come upon a site that had some general info but nothing regarding their temperaments with your e-mail address on it. I am unsure how I got there. I went to fishbase.org but it didn't say much about characteristics or behavior, just a photo and where they are found in the world, and such I guess I didn't know how to use it. As for what I would like to put with the Azure damselfish, let me tell you what I've done thus far:      The aquarium is a 10 gal eclipse system w/ a hang on filter, & bio-wheel, heater, apprx between 9-1lbs. of live rock and two corals with 4 turbo snails and three red-legged hermit crabs, black and white mix store bought live sand, one of the 2 fluorescent lights is what came with it, I took the second bulb out and stuck in a blue marine one. It has been setup for 4 months with no water cloudiness or murkiness whatsoever at all, an initial algae bloom happened early on, but then the stuff that covered my sand like a carpet disappeared. Little white critters are coming out of the live rock and tunnels are appearing in my sand in the last 2 weeks. I have a hydrometer and have used it a lot, I just purchased the second coral and 100 tests each for ph, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. <All sounds good thus far>      As for fish, the LFS that said the Azure damsel (not the yellow tail) would probably be ok said I could put: 1 Azure Blue Damselfish 1 Royal Gramma 1 Dk. Blue Assessor 1 Yellow Clown Goby 1 blenny, whitish colored with red speckles <... actually, I suggest you choose one of the first three to go with the last two>      The other LFS said all that was OK except I should use a yellow tail damsel because the other one would kill all it's tank mates. I'm tempted to put the Azure in anyway and if it kills all the fish, I'll put the Yellow-tail in instead and buy all new fish again, they don't act any more aggressive than the other ones, their just above each other in tanks at the store. <If you decide to go with more than the damsel, or Gramma, or assessor, do so during a day when you can be present to observe, remove the new fish... likely trouble placing more than one. Bob Fenner>

Stocking An Angry Little World! Hello all at WWM <Hi there! Scott F with you today!> I have to say you site is quite bad.  Well its only bad because I spend hours reading it when I should be doing work.  Honestly, I think you guys are the best.  Your knowledge is absolutely outstanding.  I would just like to say you guys are the "bomb." <Glad to hear that! I think that our readers are "da bomb"! We enjoy sharing ideas and experiences with our fellow hobbyists- that's why we're here! How can I help?> For starters a little about my tank. Fish Only 55 gallon 350 GPH canister filter (I figure a little more than what my tank needs will be a benefit in the future.) 2 power heads lots of rock work providing plenty of caves and hiding places. Amm. and nitrite= 0  Spg =1.023  temp= 77 F  pH= 8.3 Current fish... 1 tank raised Clarkii clown 1.7" 1 tank raised percula clown 1.1" 1 green Chromis .9" 1 domino damsel .6" 1 yellow tail damsel 1.2" 1 blue fin damsel 1.1" I've had all the fish for about 2 months Okay I know I am looking for serious problems with aggression and territory.  However, so far the fish do not fight.  They are not overly aggressive either (the clarkii every once in awhile harasses the others but even that's calming down.)  Also they do not show signs of having territories.  Luckily, they still rush around all over the place like normal damsels. <Actually, I'm not surprised that they are all getting along okay! They are all similar in size, and were added at about the same time-so no one really got the "upper hand", as far as establishing territories is concerned. I set up a similar "damsel tank" before, and it worked out quite well- analogous to an African Cichlid community tank> I want to add 4-6 more damsels of different types. Do you think this will overstock my tank? <I think that it would be pushing it- I'd limit additions to two more fishes...It could get overstocked- and overcrowded in a short time> Also do you think the domino may remain calm because he so far has showed no signs of aggression and actually schools with the clowns? <Hard to say- these guys can "turn" in a short time, to become real nasty little fish!> One last question.  The yellow tail damsels body turns almost completely white at night and takes about an hour or so to turn the dark blue/purple color.  Is this normal? <Very normal- this is a nocturnal color pattern....> Thanks a lot, Once again you guys are great. Alex Miller <Always a pleasure, Alex! You have the makings of a lively and fun community- enjoy the ride! Regards, Scott F>

Sick green Chromis? Dear WWM crew, <You got Cody today.> I have a 29 gal. reef tank with (in order of their acquisition) 3 green Chromis, 1 orchid Dottyback, 1 bar goby and 1 coral beauty angel. Since adding the Coral Beauty, one of my green Chromis hangs out in the top corner of the tank, has lost coloration and does not seem "happy". His fellow Chromis come over to him and seem to try to nudge him into swimming with them, which he does occasionally, but mostly he just hangs out in the top corner of the tank. The fish are all healthy and my water has been tested by the pet store. The fish does not appear to have any signs of illness, but is obviously not feeling well. Can anyone help with what I should do? Should I take him out of the tank or get something to shield him from the rest of the fish? He seems to be ok physically... he eats a bit, looks a little thin to me... his fins are intact, although one is slightly ragged. I wonder if he is stressed from the new (Coral Beauty) fish, who is much more aggressive than any of my other fish, chasing the others about, but I do not know what to do for the poor little guy. Thanks, Diane <  This tank is too small for the coral beauty and he will need to be removed.  After the coral beauty is removed the Chromis should recover with good feeding and water conditions.  This tank is already pretty well stocked as it is.  Cody>

Godzilla I mean... Green Chromis vs. Bi-Color Blenny  2/27/03 Hello everyone, and thanks again for the great site.<Thanks, it's our pleasure!> Please accept my apology in advance for the long question: I have some questions about the green Chromis that have been in my (90gal reef)  system for about 7 months now.   Upon their initial arrival, even post-QT, most of the tank took sick (I attributed it to stress, as those little buggers are a handful), and I lost many of my fish - 1 percula clown, 1 yellow goby, two green gobies, all three engineer gobies got sick and thankfully recovered, and my favorite, my bi-color blenny, got sick and very skinny.<Sorry to hear of the losses.>  I rescued him and took him to my 55gal sump, with a few rocks, where he was nursed back to health.  Fat (he loved to eat my Caulerpa!) and happy, he returned to the main tank after about 4 months, when I renovated the sump and increased the size of the refugium.  Since then, about one month, he has NOT done well.  He has been eating, as much as he can get (which is not a bad amount).  Hiding a lot, though.  Within a week, he got a big *clear* bump (blister like) behind his eye, that eventually went away, as well as one (not clear) back on his side at his tail.  This one took longer, but has mostly gone away now.  The problem is that so have his tail fins!  His lovely yellow/orange tail is almost fin-less now, and it just looks awful.  He is also getting skinnier!!<he may have fin-rot.  What are you feeding him??> Is it possible that the 8 green Chromis (which seem more and more like Damsels every day, my nickname for them is "the Piranhas") are harassing him?<Maybe, doubtful...>  This seems unlikely to me, as they occupy different niches in the reef system, but... who else could be bothering my favorite fish?<What are you feeding.. he can't survive on just flake/pellet foods.>  I have one percula clown, two fire gobies, three engineers (as above), and the 8 "Piranhas".  Lots of snails/crabs, although none that might snack on a fish - like the 1" emperor crab I just acquired (and read at great length about on your site - thanks!) that is still in QT.  Also there is one large shrimp - either "camel" or "candy", as I have seen him named, larger and striped differently than a "peppermint".  Everything else is doing well, all water quality tests are fine. I have come to dislike the Chromis, partly due to their general aggressive behavior, but mostly due to the suspicion that they are beating up my blenny.  I would like to catch them and get rid of them - any ideas how?  I have been acclimating them to the Net, by feeding them with it.  But they are smart/suspicious of every move I make, and quicker than lightning.   Have you ever heard of Chromis looking/acting like damsels?<Sadly, this is the all too normal Chromis problem.  They cute as little guys, but they are terror as adults.>  Did I get a bunch that had been incorrectly identified, or is this behavior typical??  The larger look more like damsels (slightly darker taller body shape, taller dorsal fin when raised) than the smaller which are more ovoid and lighter green. Any advice (on who the bully is and how to catch them) would be greatly appreciated.   Thanks in advance, Wendy <Wendy I believe your problem is not the Chromis... but the Blenny's food.  Try feeding him: Spirulina, and start a small microalgae section in your tank.  Most Bi-Color's die because of not enough of the right foods.  Try this and get back with me...  I'm willing to bet (ok not really :) ) that this is your problem.  Hope this helps and keep me posted!  Phil>

Yellow Tang and Damsels hello I have a yellow tang 4 inches and two yellow tail damsels will the yellow tail damsels bother my yellow tang I figures he would be bothered by them? Also I have lots of Featherduster worms (hard tubes/white) about 1mm in size do you know of a reef safe creature that will get ride of them there at least 100 on my glass thanks JM <You don't mention tank size and that will be a factor. Damsels can be/are very aggressive, but I would expect the tang to 'rule' the tank over time. I would simply scrape the tube worms from the glass, nothing to worry about, Don>

Stocking a 75 hello <Hi, Don with you tonight> I have a question about damsels, I have a 75g FOWLR for about a year and 2 months I kept an imperator angel with a Copperband and a Pearlscale butterfly, and a yellow tang I tried to add a raccoon butterfly but did not work. the fishes got to big and gave them to my brother to add to his 125g tank and I am going to start over. I wanted to know if 5 blue damsels and 4 black & gold Chromis be OK in my tank or will I start the III world war and also I wanted to add a juvenile Blueface with a small Copperband will this set up be ok and which should I add first . Thank you. <I have not had good luck with the blue damsel. They become very territorial and aggressive. Add the Chromis, butterfly and then the angel. Do look at a dwarf angel as they are much more appropriate size for a 75, Don>

Stocking A Small World! I have a 28 gal aquarium with 30 pounds of live rock that has been running for two months now. I think it is time to add some fishes. <Now the fun begins!> I want to have a pair of ocellaris or clarkii clown fish. As the third tank tenant I want either a bicolor blenny, royal/Brazilian Gramma or a royal Dottyback. <I really like the Royal Gramma. It's a great fish, is interesting to watch, and does very well. Also, it is a nice color contrast to the clowns!> Other options are a clown, neon or shrimp goby or a Chrysiptera damsel fish. What combinations of fish do you think would work out fine when It comes to minimize aggression and harassment in such a small tank? Which would not work out? Which fish should I add first? <I'd avoid the damsel, as they can become very aggressive, particularly in close quarters. I'd go for the ocellaris clowns, due to their small size and adaptable nature. The shrimp goby is also a nice choice. If I were adding these fishes, I'd add the shrimp goby first, then the clowns. The Gramma would be the last fish I'd add to this tank. No more fish at that point, okay? You'd be at the MAXIMUM here. Add the fishes slowly, quarantine them; and allow the aquarium time to adjust to your new fish additions as you go. Enjoy the tank! Regards, Scott F> Thank you Anders

- Feeling Groovy - Hey there groovy guys & groovy gals: <Hey, JasonC here...> Currently, I have a 55gal FOWLR with: 1- Green/Emerald Crab - (Mithrax sculptus) (molted twice in a month); 6- Astraea Snails (w/numerous baby snails - where from?); 1- Black-tailed Humbug - Dascyllus melanurus; 1- Yellow-belly Damsel - Pomacentrus auriventris; 1- Electric Blue Damsel - Chrysiptera cyanea (Had 2 but returned one - incompatible); 1- 3-Spot Domino Damsel - Dascyllus trimaculatus; In Quarantine tank: 1- False Percula Clown - Amphiprion ocellaris I am slowly switching over from crushed coral to DSB, BABY!  Sorry, but I am excited because my first section (1/4 of tank-1 month) already has nice life (worms, bugs, etc.)! AAANYWAY, as you can probably guess, Mr. 3-Spot is the boss. <You know it.> Since I want a more docile tank, I will give him back to LFS (all fish are part of the original cycling process, before I k new anything, found your site, or read Bob's book)  Mr. Blue is the next meanest in line, so he will go also. <Good plan.> Contrary to what I have read, my Humbug is the most docile of all, along with yellow-belly. <That's won't last... most all damsels are predictable.> My main question (finally) is this: will the others "step-up" their aggressiveness when the boss is gone? <For certain.> Does there have to be a new boss? <It's the natural order of things.> As far as future stocking goes, can you tell me if any/all of these are okay (I have read that they are - individually): *-Pseudochromis fridmani (Orchid Dottyback) or P. aldabraensis (Orange Dotty) or P. porphyreus (Magenta Dotty). <Many of the Dottybacks can be as or more aggressive than the damsels - I would read up on these more here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pseudoch.htm > *-Gobiosoma oceanops (Neon Goby) <I give these an A+ - I'm a huge fan of neon gobies.> *-Archaster typicus (Sand Sifting Star) <Bah... will eat too much beneficial stuff from the sand bed. Try Nassarius snails instead.> *- Centropyge loricula (Flame Angel) as the crown jewel <Sounds good.> If you twisted my arm, I would have to say that the Flame Angel is a must-have.  I am hoping you don't say "then forget everything else", but I will heed your advice.  Thanks for all you do so well, Rich. <Cheers, J -- >

Re: 2/5/03 - Damsels and the Chain of Command / Future Stocking Creating A Happy Community Hey there groovy guys & groovy gals: <Hey Party person! Scott F Groovin' with you tonight!> Currently, I have a 55gal FOWLR with: 1- Green/Emerald Crab - (Mithrax sculptus) (molted twice in a month); 6- Astraea Snails (w/numerous baby snails - where from?); 1- Black-tailed Humbug - Dascyllus melanurus; 1- Yellow-belly Damsel - Pomacentrus auriventris; 1- Electric Blue Damsel - Chrysiptera cyanea (Had 2 but returned one -incompatible); 1- 3-Spot Domino Damsel - Dascyllus trimaculatus; In Quarantine tank: 1- False Percula Clown - Amphiprion ocellaris I am slowly switching over from crushed coral to DSB, BABY!   <You're gonna LOVE the results of that, dude! Do it right and you'll reap the benefits for a long time!> Sorry, but I am excited because my first section (1/4 of tank-1 month) already has nice life (worms, bugs, etc.)! <Sweeeet!> AAANYWAY, as you can probably guess, Mr. 3-Spot is the boss. Since I want a more docile tank, I will give him back to LFS (all fish are part of the original cycling process, before I knew anything, found your site, or read Bob's book)  Mr. Blue is the next meanest in line, so he will go also. <A bummer...I hate hearing about people having to return these fishes...but it's a bummer dealing with a tank full of bullies...> Contrary to what I have read, my Humbug is the most docile of all, along with yellow-belly.  My main question (finally) is this: will the others "step-up" their aggressiveness when the boss is gone?   <Excellent thought...In fact- I was gonna warn you about that possibility...These types of hierarchies can result in damselfish communities...> Does there have to be a new boss? <Probably- that's part of the social dynamic of these fishes.... As far as future stocking goes, can you tell me if any/all of these are okay (I have read that they are - individually): *-Pseudochromis fridmani (Orchid Dottyback) or P. aldabraensis (Orange Dotty) or P. porphyreus (Magenta Dotty). <The fridmani is a reasonably peaceful choice. The P. aldabraensis can be a real tough customer...perhaps the perfect foil for your damsels...> *-Gobiosoma oceanops (Neon Goby) *-Archaster typicus (Sand Sifting Star) <I'd pass- their "sifting" activities can disrupt the fauna and processes that you're trying to foster> *- Centropyge loricula (Flame Angel) as the crown jewel If you twisted my arm, I would have to say that the Flame Angel is a must-have.  I am hoping you don't say "then forget everything else", but I will heed your advice.  Thanks for all you do so well, Rich. <Well, Rich- here's my thinking...If you really, really want the Flame Angel, I'd think about re-locating all of the damsels to another tank...They will not take kindly to any newcomers in this tank, especially an angelfish like this. I'd plan the population of my tank around the "must haves", and work from there. I'd go with the Flame Angel, a fridmani , the neon goby, and the false Perc...and that would do it for the fish, IMO. Keep studying the fishes that you are interested in, and make the decision based on their needs. You'll definitely be successful! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Re: Clowns & Damsels I have had a pair of ocellaris clowns in my tank for about a month and just introduced a pair of Allen damselfishes.  I am having a problem with the two pairs.  Ever since my damsels have been introduced my clowns have done nothing but attack aggressively.  My damsels can't even come out of hiding.  Can these two species co-exist? <Maybe not in your size system>   What can I do about this unusually aggressive behavior?  Thanks. <You might try removing the Clowns for a week or two and replacing them... but they are likely not compatible in your size tank. Bob Fenner>

When 3+2=2, soon to be 1. Too many damsels in a 20 Hi, I have a 20 gallon tank (too small, I know) with one striped damsel and one very sick clown.  The tank *had* three damsels, then we introduced 2 clowns.  Too much for a 20gal? <Yes... actually Clowns are damselfishes... a twenty really can accommodate only one individual long term>   Well, one of the clowns on introduction day, died within 12 hours.  The other appeared fine and dandy, ate like a horse.  The following week, 2 of the three damsels died.  So, now we're left with the one damsel and the clown that survived.  The clown is the current problem.  Its not eating very well, it wants to, but doesn't seem to have any energy.  It spends most of the time lying on the bottom of the tank kind of curled up.  Its exterior looks fine, no fungus or spots, but its fins are starting to fray.  The damsel has never looked better.  I'm horribly confused.  What could be causing this?  I'm sure I haven't given enough information, but any help would be appreciated.  Thanks!  Mark <Too likely the damsel is harassing, beating the Clown. You should decide which one you want to keep and return the other, place it in another system. Please take a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clncompfaqs.htm and the other linked pages (in blue, above) re these fishes. Bob Fenner>

Damsel in distress question? Hi There,  I just started up a 12G saltwater tank with 10 lbs. of live rock and two yellow-tail blue damsels <! this species needs a good ten, fifteen gallons per... in a larger system> (the tank was cycling without them for a month prior).  My question concerns one of the damsels as it stays in the bottom corner of the tank and every time it tries to venture out, the other damsel chases it back to the corner.  Yesterday it was hiding in the top corner of the tank and looked as though a goner, but I guess it was just sleeping.  Is he sick and the other damsel is just picking on him, and should I rearrange the rocks so they can redefine their territory?  Thanks a lot, Jon <There's not enough room for such redefinition. I would remove one of them pronto. Bob Fenner>

- Those Ding-Dang Damsels - Hi. <Hello, JasonC here...> Today I added an Auriga Butterflyfish to my 55 gallon fish only tank.  The tank already contains 2 Black Damsels and a Mono (argenteus).  I moved around rocks and coral skeletons as recommended to help break up damsel territories.  However, the three fish already in the tank still harass the butterfly, to the point of the damsels not allowing the newbie to brose the coral skeleton.  So I think I may add another coral skeleton.  Anything I'm missing here? <Well, this type of behavior is normal for new arrivals, even more so for damsels who have no problem chasing a diver/photographer over 100 times their size out of their territory.> Also, the mono seems to be very distraught by this new fish... could the similar facial markings be an issue? <Perhaps, or even because space is limited compared to their natural surrounding, it might be afraid it would be challenged for space/food; who knows...> I ask due to what I have read about moons not always accepting new additions of their species once they themselves are established. <And many other fish are wary of similarly shaped or colored, is normal for species that compete against each other for resources. You have a very, very small chunk of ocean there... much smaller than what these fish are used [genetically programmed] to.> What seems strange to me is that the mono formerly spent his time in the upper and middle levels of tank, swimming endlessly back and forth, while now he swims low to the rocks, following the butterfly around. <Maybe it's never seen one before... curious. Some fish, like goatfish for example follow other fish around waiting for scraps.> He doesn't seem to be making any threatening behaviors, just following the new fish around. Thanks, Patrick <Cheers, J -- >

Dither fish Hi Bob & crew, it's me again.   On Bob's advice a few months ago I moved my two b/w clowns from my main tank to a 30 gallon tank.  After they moved in to their own abode they stopped swimming around and just "hung out".  Bob suggested dither fish so I got 2 yellow-tailed blue damsels.  They have started to drive the clowns crazy and I don't want them getting sick from stress. <Yikes... a thirty gallon system is too small for two (more) damsels... something like a small goby or blenny would be better by far> The tank has a CPR skimmer, no live rock, and a 404 Fluval pump.  I need to remove one of the damsels, the more aggressive one.  Could I replace these two aggressive fish with 3 Chromis in this size tank? <Not a good idea> There is almost no skimmate (sp) now and the water (mostly from main tank) is excellent.  I don't want to crowd fish, but need less aggressive dithers. <Yes> Thanks in advance for your help.  And Steve, my angel still loses his color occasionally at night when I feed them, but remains healthy. <Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Connie Cavan

Unhappy new addition?? Hi there again, guys! I have a zillion more questions for you, but I'll limit this session to just two. I have a 20 gallon saltwater, UGF, etc. I purchased a tank raised Percula clown yesterday, acclimated him, and he seemed okay. My yellow-tail blue damsel started attacking him and wouldn't leave him alone. He even tried to bite! He was smacking him in his face with it's tail and had him cornered and wouldn't let up. <This is not unusual behavior for damsels. They are inherently territorial and aggressive.> Needless to say that the damsel is now gone, but the clown (Waddles) is still hiding and won't eat. I had to really move around some rock to get that little @#*&@ out. Is he still unbelievable stressed or should he have a companion (there were 4 in his tank at the LFS)? <I would bet on stress, damage, even just plain old fear.> My Domino damsel doesn't bother him. <No yet!> Any suggestions? <I always try to plan out every fish I put in a tank before I put any in. Come up with a game plan and you will have fewer problems like this in the future.> Now on to question number 2. My tank has been up and running for over 6 weeks and my nitrates are still hovering around 25 ppm (according to how the test reads). The guy at the LFS suggested that I do a 20% water change since in his opinion it seems my tank is "stuck" (ammonia zero, salinity is normal). The nitrates have been at this level for about 2-1/2 weeks, maybe a little longer. Any suggestions on that as well? <I am a bit confused. You will always have nitrates with an undergravel filter. You do not have a Deep Sand Bed to perform denitrification. Perhaps you should invest in Mike Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium." It is an excellent first book. Very easy to read and pretty short, too.> Thanks again, Maureen <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Green Chromis I have 2 saltwater tanks, one with 3 large (2-2 1/2") green Chromis and the other has 5 small (1") Chromis. In your experience, will there be any problems with combining them in 1 tank? Will they school or stay separate? <I have concern that the larger ones will actually bully the smaller ones to death. I would not recommend the mix> Thanks, Rich <best regards, Anthony>

Damsel In Distress? Hello fellow fish lovers: <Scott F. here tonight> I have been reading tons of information, as recommended.  The consensus forming is that Mr. 3-Spot is pretty much a terror, no matter what the size or stage you put him in. <Well said!> I currently have a 7-week old, 55gal marine setup. Before, after only reading a few pounds of info, I went the way of 5 Damsels for cycling.  Now, as I am ready to make my first move beyond them (and they all lived through it), I am leaning towards a peaceful tank, rather than aggressor vs. aggressor.  I just want to confirm that since my Domino is the alpha-fish now, will he bully any peaceful fish I put in the tank? <99.9% of the time, this is absolutely correct!> Is he just bitter about not having an anemone? <Nah. Probably more bitter about being used to cycle the tank! Seriously, he is simply the "top dog" in your tank's social order, and will assert himself as often as he needs to keep that position.> Do I ultimately have to get rid of him to have peace?  Do LFS's normally take back healthy fish?  I don't expect payment, but is there a generalization here about what you can do about fish that no longer belong or "fit in"? <Well, you will either have to move him into a different tank (where he can either be the king again, or where he is subordinate to some other, more aggressive fish like Dottybacks, puffers, etc.), or you can change the "theme" if you will, of your tank to "fast aggressive". It's really hard to say what a specific local fish store will do. You'll just have to ask. As you now know, it's not such a good idea to use damsels to cycle your tank. Not only is it unfair to the animals, but there are better ways to go about it. That being said, you may actually want to set up a tank for just your damsel and some of his buddies. These are actually fascinating fish when kept in a dedicated display. I have done this Their behaviors are truly amazing to watch, and they are constantly "busy". Just something to think about. Thanks again and keep up the excellent work, Rich <And good luck to you, Rich! Maybe you'll enjoy a damsel tank?>

Damsel Behaviour Problem-Imagine That! Hello to all at WWM.... <Scott F. here tonight> And thanks to all of you for taking the time and patience to share your knowledge and experience to assist the new novice.  I looked through the site for references to my problem but am afraid my new friend will expire before I find the right answers. <Let's hope not!> OK .... I have returned to the aquarium hobby after a 10 year absence.  My previous experience was with a Cichlid species tank which I kept quite successfully for about 5 years. My wife and I have set up a 29 gallon marine tank.  I have make aerated make up water in the basement. The heater is 200 watts.  The filter is a Penguin 170 with a bio-wheel. The light is that standard fluorescent type that comes with a hood.  The substrate is 50/50 small gravel and crushed coral.  The substrate probably sounds odd - but the gravel was in the tank and then prior to populating the tank we decided to go for the marine setup. <Should be fine if kept clean and free of detritus build up> We currently have two three-stripe damsels which have been in the tank for about 10 weeks.  It took about six weeks for the tank to cycle and the following brown algae bloom lasted a couple of days. After seeing that the tank was stable for a little over three weeks we decided to add some more live stock - a false percula clown (tank raised) and a cleaner shrimp.  We introduced the new inhabitants yesterday and I completely refurnished the tank at the same time in hopes that it would reduce any territorial issues. <Usually a good move!> >Boy oh boy..... I forgot what it was like to have a bully in the tank.  The poor percula is about 75% the size of "Bully Damsel".  "Bully Damsel" has decided that the percula can occupy any part of the tank as long as its not the left end.... or the right end....  or the middle..... or the bottom.... anyway you get the picture.  "Bully Damsel" or "A-hole" as he is more commonly referred to has given the percula a sound beating several times. <Yikes- sounds all-to-familiar. One of the main reasons we discourage people from using damsels to cycle a tank. Can create nasty situations like this!> The percula has now taken up residence in the top of the tank.  Rear and center within the wall of air bubbles.  He appears to be swimming and breathing quite well.  He shows interest in food but spits everything out.... flake food and frozen brine shrimp. <Probably because the poor guy is so nervous about being harassed constantly> Does his choice of territory seem odd? <Unfortunately, this is the end result of the harassment...He hangs out where he feels safest...> There is cover in both ends of the tank with open space in the middle. Has the trauma of coming home, getting a freshwater dip, being placed in a new home, and getting a serious butt-kicking been too much? What other foods might entice him to eat? Thank you in advance for any help you might be able to provide. Regards, Rex <Well, Rex- I don't think it's a matter of trying a certain food to entice him to eat as much as I think it's a matter of trying to let him eat in peace. In a tank of this size, there is only so much room for him to run away...You may simply have to chose who stays and who goes in this tank...Once a damsel has established his territory, particularly in a small tank, it's difficult to change the "balance of power". Perhaps removing the damsel on a temporary basis, then restoring him to the tank in a week or two, might do the trick. Hard to say- really depends upon the fish's individual personality. Good luck!  Scott F.>

Damsel in Distress Hi, Maybe you can help enlighten me. I have 55gal FOWLR; 6weeks old, cycled w/5 Damsels. That's all I have for now. The three spot has always chased everyone else, but I have never seen the 2 blue devils behave this way. I am attaching a small video clip for you to see. Is he being harassed? He doesn't try to hide, but he does not look happy about this (whatever that's supposed to look like). As I look closer, I see some nipped fins on him. All of these fish have been together from the beginning. I am writing this email around 2 hours after this video clip. Now it seems as though Mr. Domino is also picking on him. I just turned out the lights to maybe calm them down. It has helped a little. The harassed one has gone under a rock, but it looks like the other one is looking for him. Any info is appreciated. Rich <I would remove the picked on fish to a QT ASAP before they kill him. Likely he is sick or stressed and can't ward them off anymore. This is a big problem with Damsels, they don't get along and it doesn't get better. Don't wait.... Craig>

Yellow Tail Damsels Dear Bob, I used 3 of these to mature my tank with - its 35 gals, 40kg cured rock, Fluval304, Turboskimmer. Unfortunately, over the period of the last 6 months, as I have introduced my new fish - 4 Chromis, 1 percula, I bicolour Blenny and a fire goby and a small yellow tang, I have had to get rid of my yellow tails. They remained very aggressive, territorial, no matter how much I changed the tank around, and hassled all their new tankmates. <They were all that fit temperamentally in such a small volume tank> It was with some relief that I just disposed of the last one of them yesterday!!! Damned hard to catch once they're in your tank - you have to dismantle the whole thing. Because of their awful temperament I didn't feel I could pass them on to some unsuspecting newbie. Nor would they, either singly or as a group go blue. They remained at all times dark, unless I fed them, when they would suddenly flush into electric blue. Firstly I tried 3 in the tank - disposed of 2, tried 1, still no luck - no color and awful behavior. <They were too crowded to be happy my friend> After my experience I could never recommend them. If you want blue, try a regal tang!! What went wrong?? Any comments? <A Regal Tang (Acanthurus lineatus) would become even worse in this size tank> One more question - I live by the Tasman Sea - see Australia/New Zealand on your map. <I have been to Tasmania> The water temp in the ocean here is lower than 24 - what I keep my tank at. Will local red macro algae survive this temp change if I put it in my tank? Same question re; local little sea Anemones? <Perhaps the algae if the temperature is raised slowly. The anemones not likely at all. There are however, many good choices for biotopic presentations for the area... calling for a chiller... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Miria

Damsels First? Bob- After years of keeping freshwater fish and having loads of fun and good success I've decided to try my hand at a marine system. Understanding that there are significant differences I've been doing plenty of reading (including your great book), investigating and planning before I even mix my first saltwater. I'm planning a 75 gallon tank with a wet/dry, a protein skimmer and plenty of live rock with some non-aggressive fish and maybe a few inverts. I had been considering making damsels my first purchase but one of the things I've read recently suggests that they might be too territorial to place in the tank first. Is that a concern? If I get a couple shrimp, would they be in danger from a butterfly fish? Thanks, Tom. << Thank you for your well thought out and worded mail... and justified concern. Yes to many/most of the Damselfishes being feisty... and "overly" (for aquarium use) territorial. However, the good news, this is a HUGE group (currently about 340 species) with many, much more mellow than others members. Do consider the genus Chromis (C. viridis is quite common, variously sold as the Blue or Green Chromis)... many species of which are relatively passive... best kept in small, odd-numbered groups... or the genus Amblyglyphidodon... have been so surprised that three principal species of this genus aren't used much at all in the hobby (they're numerous, easy to catch in the wild, beautiful... don't touch corals...) that I finally wrote an article about them and sent it along with a bunch of images... just yesterday. But do look about. There are mellower species of Damsels, and yes, they're good to start with... and even keep in their own regard. Survey pieces (got to get the images on the site... help any of you Frontpage masters out there!) at www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner>>

Damsels with Triggers Hi Bob- Quick question on Damsels kept w/Triggers. If I had about 5-10 blue damsels with plenty of coral crevices for  hiding and sleeping how likely  would it be that the triggers would eat them? Or would they be able to  defend a territory? Thanks << Kind of depends on the types of damsels and triggers.... There are tougher/easier-going ones in both families... Most of the types sold in the trade would get munched sooner or later though. But nah, to territorial behavior helping them... Sort of like you and I and friends holding off a Semi Truck. Bob Fenner>>

Stocking, adding damsels Hi guys I have a question about stocking a 180 reef tank. There is about 160 lbs. of rock, a 4" sand bed and about 45 pieces of coral. The fish are as follows:1 5" Foxface, 1 4" yellow tang, 1 4" purple tang, 1 3" bi-color angel, 1 3" red&white stripe squirrel, 1 2" coral hawk, 1 yellow tailed damsel, and 1 blue damsel. Could I add a mess[6-8] more damsels to give the tank that darting reef look?  <Yes... do look into more "easygoing" species like the popular Chromis... some coverage on WetWebMedia.com> Also let Anthony know I owe him a sandwich at Primanti Bros. for answering all my questions, I didn't know he was from Pittsburgh. <Yes, as is Steve (Pro)... and hey, even I visit occasionally! Bob Fenner> Thanks a bunch, Joe G., Pgh Pa.

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