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FAQs about the Damselfishes 1

Related Articles: Damselfishes, Clownfishes

Related FAQs: Damsels 2Damsel Identification, Damsel Selection, Damsel Compatibility, Damsel Behavior, Damsel Systems, Damsel Feeding, Damsel DiseaseDamsel Reproduction

One of the Jewel/ed Damsels, this one of the genus Neoglyphidodon

Clownfish, Damsel feeding, learning to/using WWM  11/23/05 Hi there, my name is Daegan. I was wondering if you could give me some helpful advice? I have a saltwater aquarium with 3 damsels, 4 turbo snails and 1 Percula clown. I am having a hard time feeding the damsels and clown fish. They don't like eating the flake food, so, I have to give them frozen brine shrimp daily.  That they do like--very much. The Flake food that I am using is Nutramax Marine food, which they do not care for. Do you have any idea what else that I could be feeding them. <Yes... is posted on WWM... Use the search tool, indices to find> I was also wondering if the turbo snails would like algae chips when algae becomes scarce. Thanks for you help. Daegan <Please, help yourself. Bob Fenner>

Another version of Pomacentrid feeding question...   11/24/05 Hi there. I was wondering if you could give me some helpful advice? I have a saltwater aquarium with 3 damsels, 4 turbo snails and 1 Percula clown. I am having a hard time feeding the damsels and clown fish. <Unusual> They don't like eating flake food, so, I have to give them frozen brine shrimp daily.  This is all that they like to eat. The Flake food that I am using is Nutrafin Marine food, which they will not eat. Do you have any idea what else that I could be feeding them. I was also wondering if the turbo snails would like algae chips when algae becomes scarce. Thanks for you help. <Yes to the food for the snails. Feeding of Damsels, Clowns is covered in FAQs here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/part2.htm toward the bottom. Bob Fenner> Re: how to catch 6 pesky damsels Hi, Bob love your site and I got your book too. I have a 90 gallon reef tank with 60 lbs live rock.  It is very difficult to catch 6 Green Chromis fish that I want to remove I have been told I have to many fish. any suggestions besides taking out all the live rock. Robert Illy <Hi Robert, Gage here this afternoon.  There are a couple of things that you could try.  You could try to catch them early in the morning while they are still groggy, or you could get a few large containers, turn off your lights, drain most of the water out of the tank into the containers, grab the fish in the shallow water, then pump the water back in.  Hope this helps. -Gage>

Happy Ending For A Damsel In Distress! <Scott F. Following Up This Morning> Thanks. I was chasing this guy around for about a minute when I realized I didn't have a shot in the world of getting him (I have read the stories!). I tend not to tell people things that are too unbelievable for me to believe if they where telling me, but here goes. In hopes of netting it, I had one of those plastic breeder things suctioned to the glass inside so I can stick him in there while I made sure of my QT tank parameters. After giving up hope of capture, he wedged himself between the glass and the breeder. So, I figured, here is my shot to get him. As I am maneuvering the net around the breeder, him swims out from his spot and right into the breeder! I was lucky enough to have the cover nearby before he realized where he was (see photo)! <Lucky for both of you! And less stressful for him than being chased around with a net!> So, is it okay to leave him in there, or should I still go to QT? If you say QT, should I treat him normally (regular lighting, feeding), or like I just brought him in from LFS (no light, sparse food)? <I agree wholeheartedly with Craig. Put him into your Qt, where you can give him some individual attention, feeding, and treatment should the need arise. This is another reason why every hobbyist should have a quarantine tank like you do: As a "haven" for fish that are under attack.> Ps: the other Blue Devil still wants to get at him, tapping against the plastic. <I would not return him to that tank when he heals up! Time for another aquarium!>

Brown-striped Damsels Hey guys,  <<Hey, JasonC here - again it seems.>>  Just started a 120 after about 5 years out of the hobby, and I'm having a lot more success than last time, thanks mostly to you guys I think. btw, thanks Jason for the help on the "unrinseable" sand...dropped in the live rock that was shipped the next day...cleared up in 12 hours...crystal now.  <<Excellent, glad to hear it.>> Next problem....cycling is done, parameters are sweet. I've got several damsels, two tomato clowns, and a yellow tang. Everyone seems happy and healthy except the three black and white striped damsels. They like to hang out right by the powerheads and power filter intakes, and just sit there, not looking good at all. The front white stripe turns brown, other two stripes stay white. All three are doing this. When I feed everyone, they all come out and do their typical gentle bullying and get plenty of food, and the brown stripe goes away within 5 minutes...acting and looking great again. But then an hour or two later they are back to their post by the powerhead, looking like they want to die and having that front white stripe go brown again. I have read everything I can find about nutrition and disease and nothing sounds like this. Any ideas what this could be?  <<Probably just mood - do you have enough cover/live rock in the tank for everyone to hide - it may just take some time.>>  Thanks, Matt <<Cheers, J -- >>

My crazy damsels <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> Salutation to you all the crew (Bob, Jason, Anthony, Steven, who is missing??) I have a few crazy damsels, not my wife and daughters (ok, some times) but my damsel fish. I have two damsels: one yellow tail (Chrysiptera parasema) and one blue devil (Chrysiptera cyanea). Both have different behavior. Something strange to me is that the yellow tail use to make a kind of nest in one corner of my tank. At first sight, I thought it was produced by the water flow, but a few nights ago I could catch the yellow tail moving its tail and fins rapidly in that corner creating the hole. She or he or it (hehe) seem to be comfortable resting in that kind of depression. The other damsel like to dig up the LR. maybe creating caves to hide or play? <<Or just establishing territory.>>  That kind of behavior is characteristic of the damsel fish?  <<Yes.>>  The blue devil is really a devil, she runs after the little yellow tail (When I bought them, they were similar in size but the blue devil grows as double as yellow tail in just 3 months) but MR. Yellow tang always put peace in that chases, is funny see how often the tang runs between the two damsel saying something like: hey you behave as damsels! Regards, Carlos D?z <<Sounds good. Cheers, J -- >>

Moving Fish Around Hi guys, <Hello, Steven in this morning.> I've been running two saltwater tanks for around 6 months now, a 25g and a 125g. Both are very under stocked...the 25g has a 1" false Percula clown. The 125g has: 4" domino 2" false Percula 2.5" three-stripe damsel 1.5" three stripe damsel 2" yellow damsel (2) 1.5" yellowtail damsels A little damsel heavy...but will be remedied as funds allow. In the big tank, the only snipping that has taken place is for pecking order, and that's been pretty minimal. I know the domino can be a terror, but he's been in there since mid-March and been fairly peaceful, except a voracious feeder. All of that as background to my question...My wife and I would like to shut down the smaller tank and transition the clown into the 125g. The little clown just lost his tankmate, a royal Gramma. Rather than buy him another friend, we'd rather move him into the main tank. What do you think? Will he make it and be okay? <Difficult to predict. You would hope that the two clowns would pair off and help protect each other. Perhaps move the larger clown into the 25 and see how those two do. If they get along, then you can move both into the 125 after a month or so. If they do not, it will be much easier to remove one from the 25.> This is my wife's favorite fish. We got him when he was very young and have been watching him grow. I'm expecting to hear "wait & see", but if you can give me any more than that, I'd appreciate it. :-) Thanks in advance, John PS--I am thankful for the education I have received from your site as I've devoured its pages over the last three months. <You are welcome. Have a nice weekend. -Steven Pro>

Horny Damsels!!! First thank you for the reply to my first e-mail, re; live rock and ick, your web site is awesome! Now that things in my 75 gal have stabilized regarding ick, I think my blue devil is trying to mate with a yellow tail blue damsel. <Unusual, but I have seen "mated pairs" developed in aquariums between Ocellaris and true Percula Clownfish and many times between different freshwater fish.> First the signs; in the morning hours the blue devil emerges from his dug out hole under a rock looking strange, the upper part of his body has neon blue blotches all over it, as opposed to his normal dark blue color all over, including it's fins. <Normal night-time coloration. Many fish get dull and blotchy at night.> As the morning wares on the blotches fade away, but do at times come back instantly when he approaches the yellow tail. <Potentially a stress pattern, too.> In the past these two fish would act like damsels. Typically the blue devil chasing and nipping at the yellow tail and the other damsel until it is out of his territory. Now the blue devil actually is coming out and nicely nudging the yellow tail to entice it into it's hole. The yellow tail follows the blue devil into the hole and the two just kind of hang out in there for several seconds until the yellow tail leaves only to have the devil entice it back again. Is this some sort of mating in progress? Between different kinds of fish? <Yes, it does sound like courting.> Others in this tank are 2" Huma trigger, 5" lion fish, yellow damsel, and 7lbs live rock. Also a few blue legged hermit crabs, maybe 3? Actually I'm worried this damsel behavior is related to some disease, but would like to believe they are just having fun, even if cross species. <I would not worry about it. -Steven Pro>

Odd Damsel Behavior Hi there, <Cheers, Anthony Calfo in your service> I love your website & reference it all the time! I'll probably be too wordy & give too much info, but here's my question...I've got a 125g FOWLR that's very under stocked right now. Up to yesterday I had 4 small (1.25"-1.75") damsels in it. Yesterday late afternoon, I added three fish (3" false percula clown, 2.5" three-stripe damsel, 4" domino). I'm rather expecting the domino to be the terror,  <you can set a watch to it!> but up to this morning, things are very peaceful. The fish added came out of a friends tank and had lived in there for some time. Because they had lived captive for over a year, I didn't dip or quarantine them. Hopefully this doesn't come back to bite me. <please do yourself a favor and never make an excuse for skirting QT. The point is not captive vs. wild. It is also a matter of stress and getting used to your water quality and husbandry. No roulette games with live animals in the future <wink>> Anyway...to my question, the 2.5" three-stripe damsel has begun to act oddly. He raises up his tail so that he's about 30 degrees inclined, flashes his spiny top fin, and then darts down & up in a horseshoe pattern over the course of about 5 inches of space. He does this repeatedly (5-6+ times) and then goes back to acting normally. He is eating fine & interacting with other fish & environment well. Yet his behavior gives me some cause for concern. <Posturing... they do this as a territorial demonstration> I know it's only been a day & more time is probably warranted, but give me some counsel...how concerned should I be? Any idea why he's doing this? I read through the FAQs & didn't see anything like this described. My water is relatively fine (1.021 salinity, 77 temp, 0 on everything but nitrates which are right around 30). Thanks in advance for your counsel, John <best regards, my friend> PS--I'd love to see the "Nitrates & Marine Systems" (nitratesmar.htm) & "Denitrification, Gear for Same" (denitrication.htm) sections of the site come online. Any way of getting those operational soon? :-) <sure... we're waiting patiently for your completion of the series...hehe. Actually... a very good suggestion. Thanks kindly, Anthony>

29 Gallon Thank you so much for responding. I had a coral banded and it was to territorial but I will consider a cleaner shrimp. I do know what kind of Damsels I have, one blue and gold and one 3 stripe. <I was just concerned that you had a domino damsel. The two that you mentioned are appropriate for your tank. If and when you add new fish, move some of the liverock around. This will create new territories and will give the new fish a better chance of finding a home.> Thank you again. -Ryan B <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Green Chromis and Iwaki pumps Dear Bob, Another couple of questions today if you don't mind. One of my green Chromis damsels has what I would call "the shakes". He is quivering constantly. His identical partner is calm so I assume this behavior is not natural. <Mmm, no. Actually Damsels do "shake" behaviorally quite often in the wild... both in reproductive and other intra-species communication> I have him in a quarantine tank, feeding him vitamin enriched live brine shrimp which he eats hungrily. Anything else I might do? I hesitate to put him back in the reef tank until I hear from you. <I'd put him/her back> I have been unsuccessful with both the Iwaki company and the vendor in getting any information regarding my 700 gph (pressure) Iwaki pumps. I would like to learn what maintenance or parts replacement should be done after 14 months of continuous duty. I would appreciate knowing of any experience you have had with this type of pump. Do they really "run forever" as the vendor says. <About... until failure... No parts to replace, much maintenance. Good to keep pump, area about vacuumed... a good bit of air circulation about for cooling> With the bad experience I have had with RIO pumps I would rather be safe than sorry. I have emergency battery air pumps on a relay but the community does depend on the Iwakis for circulation, filtration, and life. Hoping you and yours have a pleasant holiday. <And yours. Bob Fenner> Howard

Is this normal? (damsel cleaning behavior with a B/F) Hello, Ok I have a pearlscale butterfly that I purchased recently and introduced into my tank. The butterfly has adapted very well into the community but alas has now contracted the dreaded ich or similar parasite. The tell tale white spots have started to appear after initial discovery (which did not surprise me ) my girlfriend and I watched one of our three stripe damsels ( who never get along with anyone in the tank) start to pick the white spots off the butterfly. It looked like the butterfly was asking the damsel to do it . <Likely so. Good observation> The butterfly would follow the damsel exposing its fins as wide as it could and the damsel would pick at it. I have searched everywhere for info on this and no one has ever heard of a three stripe damsel doing this. any info on this you could offer would help. Thank you, Jeffery Blevins <Please read through/for the cleaning symbiosis (will have to check, possibly re-key myself!) survey article on WWM, and the various FAQs files on Damsels... not an unusual behavior. Bob Fenner>

Wild Damsel Capture Are most damsels caught by use of drugs when there being caught out of the ocean? <Mmm, no. Most Pomacentrids are caught by fence and hand net techniques... beating the coral they hide in to drive them on... Bob Fenner>

Help (removing mean Damsels) Dear Mr. Fenner, I hope that you might be able to help me. I have been reading through you web site to gather information (and putting it to use) about how to catch 2 damselfish out of my tank. I have a 75 gallon reef with 90lbs of LR. I have done the following: 1) tried to net them myself, then with the help of friends. 2) let the net stay in the tank for over a week so they would not be afraid of it. Ha! 3) When I feed them I would wait for a good moment and try to scoop them up. That was a big no go. 4) I've tried to bait them, then tried traps. Nothing. <Not easily done.... I suspect you know what you'll have to do...> These two fish are killers. A domino and a three striped. They have killed three fish larger then they are. I've seen it happened and was able to get the last on out in ( a fairly big hippo tang) time but it died later in my QT. I need to get these fish gone. I don't want to take apart my reef and I'm thinking starving them would be cruel. Do you have any suggestions as to what to do? I wish my LFS had told me that if I had LR in my tank that these fish would be so hard to get out after cycling. Any ideas are greatly needed. I hope that I will hear from you soon. <Really (no cringing!), I would set up your fish boxes, plastic lined trash cans, cleaned up coolers... and take out the rock... to once and for all get these grand offendees. This is the simplest, really easiest method. Bob Fenner, who has indeed "been here"> Carely

The deed is done (Moving pesky damsels) Mr. Fenner, I hope you remember me. I wrote to you a few days ago asking about how to net my two nasty damselfish. I just wanted to let you know that the deed has been done. I took out my 90lbs of LR and placed my coral in a safe area and netted them. My only loss was a hermit crab that I crushed when I dropped a chunk of LR. Not too bad and in all. <Agreed... let me tell you about a Dascyllus trimaculatus... I drained a four by four by four foot tank to get out... in retrospect it was well worth the effort... after this specimen had been biting me for about a year...> I did find two new creatures living in my tank. :) When I put the rock back into the tank (had the rocks in buckets) at the bottom of the buckets I found a mystery shrimp and a mystery crab. I think the shrimp is a peppermint but what the crab is I don't know. It looks like an emerald crab as far as body shape and is about an 1" in size. It's body is a shiny black. I love all of the hidden aspects of having LR in an aquarium. <Many possibilities...> I just wanted to write and tell you thank you for giving me the courage to do all of the work to get those two out of there. Now I can truly start stocking my reef with fish! Yes!! <Yay! Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner> Take care and best wishes.

Fish young? Bob, I have perused your wetwebmedia site and it is great! I have a question that I could not find an answer/opinion on...here goes. My FOWLR 46 gallon tank has an unidentified crab (w/ LR), <There are lots of these!> false percula, blue damsel, mixed hermits, snails, cleaner and dancing shrimp, serpent star, and long spined urchin as its' residents. Tonight I moved out a few little domino damsels and 3 stripe damsels because of their vicious territorial nature (took out LR to catch then put it back) <Good idea> and have now found small spawn or offspring of some sort, possibly even parasites, in the water. Thousands of them that are very, very small (1/8 inch) and almost translucent but with a definite food sack attached to the body and a twitching movement to move about. How could I go about IDing what this is and when they inevitably get sucked into my canister filter will the die off cause an ammonia spike crashing the tank? <Identifying might be done (at least to some level... likely amphipods, copepod crustaceans of some sort) with a microscope, the Internet, searching... Let me cut to the proverbial chase and say that these organisms are very unlikely parasitic or harmful period... and that they will very like "pass, cycle out" with time, the further stocking of your system. I would leave them be and not worry> (I assume it is the urchin spawn and yes I will get rid of the urchin once it gets slightly bigger knowing they should be kept in bigger systems if at all.) Also, do damsel fry resemble their adult counterparts upon hatching from the egg?  <Mmm, your damsels would have to be much larger in size than they likely are to reproduce... look like fish fry (dark eye, elongate, transparent, wiggling...) of a general sort.> Thanks for your help, Julianne Stewart <Do look at the "Creature i.d." link on many of the WWM bibliog.'s for marine invert.s Bob Fenner>

Any advice on... damsel extraction Removing foundation damsels from a fish only tank without introducing a giant predator not that these guys are terrible, but... Thanks - to Robert or "Zo" - as the case may be. Cheers. J -- <If they can't be trained to become unaware (ala classic conditioning) of a net and simply lifted out... then cut to the chase and remove the rock, decor (when convenient... lots of containers, time on your hands... a need/desire to do some other substantial change to the system...) and catch them out then. Bob Fenner>

Yellowtail damsels I haven't found this issue addressed anywhere on wetwebmedia or ffexpress. I got 2 yellowtail damsels a week ago. Yesterday, the smaller of the two was so harassed and picked at that the tail was almost gone and the pectoral fins were 20% gone. I found the little one swimming vertically in a corner and almost panting. We isolated the big damsel and the smaller one has since calmed down, but neither seem to be eating right now. Until yesterday, the extent of abuse to the little damsel by the big one was just chasing around the tank. I'm not sure what to do. Is this behavior normal. Will the little fish live through further abuse?  <No.> I assumed that since they were in the same tank with several other fish of the same type that they did not orient their sexes yet. Is that a poor assumption? I have read about a larger damsel harassing a smaller one until dominance was established, but I'm not sure the little one can live through it. I'd be grateful for any advice you could give me. Worst case, I return the larger damsel. If I do, can I later try to find a mate for the remaining damsel, and if so what can do to be successful. I currently have 3 aquarium books and none of them address this issue either. I have also looked on the net with no luck. <Debra, I wouldn't put two damsels of the same species together, alone, in a tank any less than 60 gallons. They're just that nasty to each other. If you have 4 or more, or several other fish to keep everyone distracted, this is not usually a problem, and is usually how us 'wanna-be-breeders' establish pairs/harems. regards, Lorenzo, for Bob-in-Asia> Thanks for this forum. I have seen many helpful posts to other aquarists. <You're welcome, we hope to help all we can... -Lorenzo> Debra Sherrill

Re: New Mini Reef Set up.... Thanks Bob! I appreciate the quick reply, Well I'm gonna get some more live rock this weekend, just a little more in case I do have to permanently remove my little blue devil, and I'm gonna place him in the breeder box for a day or 2 until my new fish gets acclimated to the tank, not to mention the complete rearrangement of my rock in the tank to through him off! Anyway thanks for you help! David, <Sounds good!> ps... do you think it might be advisable to get 2 fish this time, so its not a 1 on 1 situation??? and if so, aside from a royal Gramma, what else do you think would be a good reef safe fish? <Wow, there's a bunch of choices here... and I agree with you, a good chance to alleviate overt aggression by adding two at once... Maybe another species of damsel like a two or three stripe... But do take a long read through the reef livestock selection piece I've archived on the wetwebmedia.com site for coverage of several families of possibilities, oh, and the Fishwatcher's guide section on the tropical West Atlantic... Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: New Mini Reef Set up.... Thanks for getting back to me.... Well before I got your email, it had become quite evident that things weren't going to change... the nasty blue devil was keeping the Pseudochromis from leaving its hole it the rock, and kept patrolling the area waiting for it to come out. I finally left the net in the tank, (which the devil is very afraid of...) and that helped the Pseudochromis come out to eat a little bit, but still the blue devil would go after it when it wasn't in view of the net. Thus, fortunately I was able to scoop the devil out of the tank and back into the breeder box without taking apart the tank. The little guy will be on his way back to the store on weds. What they have in the store will determine what he gets replaced with! Anyway thanks for the help! DAVE <Glad to hear of your removal success and moving plan... and not too surprised re the recalcitrant demoiselle... Know you know why some have the common name "Devil"...  Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Dead fish... I have a fish that I am sure is dead. Well I can't find him anywhere. I don't have much decoration and I have searched through it all. I am afraid that now my ammonia levels will go to high. Did he get eaten ( I only have a clown and a Chromis)? Where is he? Thanks <<Either jumped out, maybe dried up or eaten by a domestic pet... or died, dissolved quickly (this happens)... gone to the land of those missing unpaired socks... No ammonia? No problem. Bob Fenner>>

Tank questions I am fairly new at taking care of a saltwater tank. I have a 55 gallon tank, 2 dominoes, a spotted hawkfish and about 15 lbs of live rock. I currently have a bio-wheel. I have seen the CPR Bak-Pak that is a skimmer and bio filter all in one. The price is economical and sounds great-but is a setup like that really good? Behind my tank is a huge tangled mess of wires-it would be great to eliminate one of them! I want a reef and fish tank...but it seems like live rock requires so much more knowledge about iodine, calcium etc. Any good, easy to understand books on this? We don't even have a skimmer-YET! What about anemones-are they difficult to care for? My dream tank looks like this--A true percula, a sebae anemone, a raccoon butterflyfish, a Foxface and maybe a mandarin goby (dragonet?) along with my hawkfish. Is this possible with the setup I mentioned? (Lighting-one full spectrum and one actinic) Thank you!! P.S. I am convinced that dominoes damsels are possessed-they try to bite me if I put my hand in the tank to position something, or do water changes! Mean little buggers! <<Let's see... Yes to the CPR product... well thought out, constructed... and it works! Books on reef keeping that are relatively complete, AND easy to read? I would check out (first) John Tullock's Natural Reef Aquariums. The set up you mention should work fine for your dream livestock make-up... wait a good six months for that Mandarin... and just one (for the four square feet of bottom your fifty five provides). And do agree about those Dominos (Dascyllus trimaculatus)... I frequently say if those Three Spotted Devils were a foot long I wouldn't go in the water... some of their relatives (D. albisella) bit me this last week in Maui! Bob Fenner>>

Shy Chromises Mr. Fenner, About 5 weeks ago I added the first fish to my 45 gal hex, although the tank had been cycling for about four weeks prior to adding fish (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate, ph or 8.3, sg of 1.023) I started out with 3 med to large green Chromises. I acclimated them as I have many saltwater fish and they seemed to be OK. The only problem was that they hid in the rocks and almost never came out. After a week or two one died, but the other two have done well. Eventually, they began to come out more and while one is still rather skittish, the other swims in the open water more often than not. Knowing that these fish generally do better in odd numbered groups, I decided to add 3 more for a total of 5. I added the new Chromises two days ago and just as before, none from the new group have ventured from the safety of the live rock. There are no predators. The Chromises are the only fish in the tank. It's a 45 hex with about 45lbs of live rock, a small colony of button polyps, a couple of mushrooms, a few hermit crabs and snails. I guess I wanted to know if I was doing something wrong. The only theories I had were that maybe their shy behavior had something to do with the shape of the tank or perhaps the really poor lighting currently, I only have one 15 watt fluorescent.) Any help you could provide would be appreciated. Mike Kelley << Nothing wrong... that you've done... The genus and probably the species (C. viridis?) is just skittish at first... and does do better in larger, and odd-numbered assemblages... If you can, two things: Increase the amount of circulation via a powerhead... move the water in a vortex... and, I know I'm going to take some heat for this: provide your Chromis group with a "staghorn" type coral skeleton or facsimile... this is what they live over and amongst in the wild... and they will be much more at home with it in your 45 hex. Bob Fenner, who will append an image if you'd like.>>

Sick damsel? I am cycling a new 46 gallon marine aquarium. It's coming onto the end of 6 weeks and my water quality has just been approved by my local fish store. I hesitate to get other fish yet, because the fish I used to cycle the tank appear to be coming down with something.  I have four-stripe damsels that appear to be slowly turning black throughout the head region. They are eating voraciously (flake food and frozen brine shrimp), but the darkening color doesn't fit any of the symptoms for sickness that I have found. The dark color appears to be underneath the scales and I can only detect it in the white portions between the stripes, because of course, the stripes are already black! Can you give me some ideas of what to treat them for? Thanks, Laura  <<Hmmm, a few ideas come to mind... as to the cause of the "head darkening", none have to do with infectious or parasitic disease, or require treatment. It may well be that your damsels are "stressed" by something other than what the store considers "good water quality". The simple solution here is a sizeable water change, maybe 25%. You should see some change within a day. Do check your water temperature and specific gravity as well, as they might reveal a stressor as well. Another possibility is that the darkening damsels are "just happy". When Four Stripes (Dascyllus) are going into "breeding condition" they get darker in the fore-body... Maybe they're just happy. Aggression sometimes is revealed through these color differences. Damsels are feisty as you know... so removing some of them, or adding other types of livestock will reduce agonistic behavior and change their coloring as well. And, I could (don't let me) go on with other speculations, but it's unnecessary to your action. Do the water change and don't worry. What's your stocking plan? Are you trading some or all the Damsels in? Time to start the next part of your marine aquarium adventure. Bob Fenner>>

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