Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs about the Damselfish Reproduction

Related Articles: Damselfishes, Clownfishes, Jumbo Damselfishes

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

A pair of Dascyllus albisella in Hawai'i spawning.

Friendly fish, Damsels... beh. & repro.   12/27/07 Morning Crew, Hope you all had a great Christmas. <And you and yours Dan> I have an unusual question for you I have a Azure damsel and a Yellow tailed damsel that have become quite friendly. Oddly enough I have a 3 Striped damsel, and a 4 Striped damsel that have also become friendly with each other, both in the last few weeks. <Does happen... many Pomacentrids are quite social with their own, similar "kind"... and they can't see themselves generally...> ( A little history, not sure if significant or not, around the same time I switched to metal halides and by suggestion of my LFS I also removed all of my substrate, it had been in the tank for about the three years I had been running it, I had done some partial changes but never a wholesale one. I could not get my nitrates under control even with the addition of a fuge full of macro, it seems that the nitrates were just seeping out of the substrate and never really going away, after talking and reading this seemed to be the problem [since then they are under much better control] also I wanted to move from a fowler to a reef set up and I new it was absolutely necessary to address this issue.) Well, needless to say they are laying eggs. Which brings me to the real questions in all of this rambling. What kind of time frame from when they are laid 'til they hatch? <Mmm... 3-4 days, depending on temperature> I have noticed in both cases they are gone after about 3 days, despite the diligent watching of their parents, I would not be surprised if something was getting to them, but the time frame in both attempts has been the same, could it be only a 3 day gestation period? <Yes> And could the lighting and water quality change have made them start spawning, both pairs have been in my tank since nearly day one? (3 of the four were my seed fish) <Yes> Thanks from a never ceasingly amazed fan. Dan <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Pregnant devil damsel? 11/19/07 Hi Guys <Hey there! Scott F. in today!> I have one lone Blue Devil Damsel but do also have 8x Yellow Tailed Blue Damsels. The Devil/Damsel is either way over weight or it is pregnant. <Well, I wouldn't say "pregnant" per se- but could possibly be ripe with roe. As you postulate, the possibility exists that the fish may be bloated in some way, or simply well fed! FYI- females of this species have clear tails.> Is this possible as I did not think they cross breed? She (I assume) has a really bloated stomach, besides that everything appears normal. <Well, Ian- these fishes do come from the same genus (Chrysiptera), and I suppose it's possible that hybridization could occur. (Our resident genetics expert, Michelle, might have some thoughts on this...?) Of course, if your bloated Damsel is a male-do consider the possible causes- simply a very well-fed fish, or an individual afflicted with a possible bacterial issue. If the fish is otherwise healthy and active, I would not be too concerned.> Cheers Ian <Right back at ya! Regards, Scott F.>

Re: pregnant devil damsel? Damsel In Distress? Or Mommy In The Making? (Damselfish With Eggs?) - 11/20/07 Hi Scott <Hello again, Ian!> Thanks for the info and I see now that the tail is clear so a she it is. If ripe with roe as you suggest what happens next? <Well, nature will likely do the rest. You could perhaps speed things along with mood lighting and a Barry White CD! Seriously- I'd really do very little. If the fish is carrying eggs, there very well could be a spawning event that will be neat to watch. On the other hand, continue to observe the fish to verify that this is not a disease issue of some sort. I chatted about this one with Michelle ( I was curious about the genetic compatibility question-plus I just dig talking to her!), and she correctly suggested that you might want to feed some type of antiparasitic dry food, just to make sure that, if we are dealing with some sort of intestinal worm or other parasite, the fish gets an intestinal cleaning. There are several manufacturers who make this kind of food, often available at your LFS or on-line.> I also seem to remember that this happened before but she did not seem as bloated. Cheers Ian

Damsel eggs - 9/20/07 Hi <Hi> What color are 3 stripe damsel fish eggs, <Sorry - not sure about that, but they're very small (<1mm)and darken as embryo develops. Hatching occurs in around 3-5 days.> and does the dad take care of the eggs, or will he eat them? <He will guard them/aggressively chase away any potential predators. Please see these links for more information re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dascyllu.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damselreprofaqs.htm http://www.breedersregistry.org/database/DASARU01.htm http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=5110 > Thank you <You're welcome -Lynn>

Sexing Pomacentrus coelestis I have searched high and low on the net. How can I differentiate male from female of this sp. ? Any and help is more than appreciated. Thank you for your time.                             Nicholas O'Connor <Most Pomacentrids can't be sexed externally... including this one. This genus lives in social groups of a few individuals... Bob Fenner>

Spawning Amblyglyphidodon leucogaster  11/13/05 Hello again Thank you for the previous reply on phoronids. This time my question involves spawning fish.  I have 3 yellow belly damsels (Amblyglyphidodon leucogaster) in my tank with several other types of fish. <Fishes if more than one species> The damsels starting spawning about 2 months after I got them. The first 2 times they laid eggs on a powerhead and the eggs got eaten within hours. Then 3 days later they laid eggs again, this time on a seaweed clip. It's been almost 3 days and the eggs have gotten bigger and darker. The first batch is darker than the 2nd batch that they laid a day after the 1st ones. <Exciting!> I assume it's the male damsel that keeps guarding and fanning the eggs, I might be wrong though. He sure keeps my Kole tang away from the eggs.  <Good... could be either sex> I'm not sure what to do. Should I move the clip into a different tank and hope they'd hatch or just leave them alone? <Mmm, depends... what do you want to do?> Here's a pic of the first set of eggs. Sorry about the bad quality. My digital camera isn't all that fancy. Thank you in advance again for your help. -Cole <...? You could try raising the young... need to culture food, keep isolated from predators... Bob Fenner> 

Frisky fishes  10/5/05 Hello, My question is about the 2 yellow tailed damsels I have. Apparently they turned into a mating pair after buying from the LFS. After about a month of being in the tank the female started laying eggs, about 4 or 5 broods now, and they keep getting fertilized and hatching, though I'm sure all the fry get eaten or sucked into filtration, and those who dodge that bullet probably starve, so my question is...are all these dying fry having any sort of effect on my tank parameters?  She lays new eggs about once a week, On advice from my LFS I tried lowering the water temp, but that didn't seem to discourage them from breeding, and I'm sure if I took out the fake plant she likes to lay them on, she would just lay them somewhere else, I would like to take a stab at breeding, but not with damsels, not worth most of the effort in the long run,  seeing as how they are only $3.99 at the LFS, and I have read that damsel fry are hard to raise because they are so small. but any words of wisdom to curb my "spunky" fishes desire would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Jessica <No need to worry.  You have a deli in your tank.  Most if not all will be eaten as snacks providing some extra nourishment for your fish. Shouldn't have any effect on your water parameters, no more so than uneaten food in your tank.  James (Salty Dog)> Damsel breeding I have a 55 gallon salt tank that has been set up and running for about 8 months now. The tank is well established and doing very well. Currently it has a yellow damsel, a blue damsel, a yellowtail blue damsel, a purple tang, a clown goby, and a couple of shrimp, crabs, hermits, and snails. My question is that over the past couple of days our yellow damsel has gotten huge and looks like she could be carrying eggs. She is guarding a cave in the tank and has kicked out the shrimp that usually hangs out there. She is chasing off both of the other damsels, but is not bothering the tang at all. The blue damsel is about half her size, and the yellowtail blue is even smaller than the blue. Is it possible that either could be the father? <Not as far as I'm aware. These species are not cross-breeders> From everything that I read on your site, it seems that they should be displaying courting behavior, and she is just chasing everyone else away. Could she just be carrying eggs, lay the eggs, and them never be fertilized? <Perhaps...> This part is all new to us and we just want to do what is best for the fish. Also, is there any way to tell male and female on these fish that we have? Thank you for your time-Deanna <Maybe a read through fishbase.org re the species... Bob Fenner>

Damsel breeding The damsels have bred! the female laid the eggs in a cave in the live rock and the male fertilized them. I know damsel young are hard to take care of, but I cant find anything on google. how do I take care of the young? the reason I want to is because here in Canada, damsels are 8 dollars CAN. I also want a few to keep. Thank You! >>>Congrats! Here are some links. http://www.breeders-registry.gen.ca.us/ http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damselreprofaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm http://www.reefsuk.com/CaptiveBreeding/Articles/BreedingYellowTailedDamsels.html Good luck! Jim<<< Damsel Lovin Hello WWM crew. I would like to know if it is possible to breed yellowtail damsels. I had one, and she laid eggs. I knew they weren't fertilized so I added a male (hopefully). the next morning, the eggs were gone. the pair swim together and hang out near the heater. the female first did this a week before she laid eggs. I am wondering, is it possible that they may breed? How do you take care of the young?  They aren't fighting, just swimming together. Thanks! >>>Having a spawning event occur in your tank is very possible! Raising the young is quite a bit more complicated though, and not really practical with damsels IMO. There is research out there on the subject, just do a search. Cheers Jim<<<

Damsel Breeding? (7/10/04) Hello, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> I was wondering if yellow tailed damsels are easy to breed. <Not from what I've read.> I would also like to know how to tell the difference between male and female yellow tail damsels. Would yellow tail damsels and blue damsels get along ok? <Damsels tend not to get along very well with others of their genus in aquariums.> Thanks for any info <I am unaware of much success in breeding and raising damsels other than Clownfishes. However, there may be a few who have had some success. Here are some starters for info: http://www.breeders-registry.gen.ca.us/ http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damselreprofaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm http://www.reefsuk.com/CaptiveBreeding/Articles/BreedingYellowTailedDamsels.html Hope this helps!>

Damsel love Hi Guys! I have a question I hope you can answer.  I have a 55-gallon tank with 2 clarkii clowns - a large female and what started out as a smaller male. There is also a yellow damsel fish in the tank with them.  Over night we have eggs and it seems that the yellow damsel is the "father" is this possible?    <Not in the sense of him spawning with the clowns> He is fanning the eggs and is protective of them the other "male" had lost his white coloration in is tale after a move which was VERY difficult for him (he was terrorized and we had to isolate him from the larger female and damsel).  Should we be excited that this could be a possibility of "mating/spawning"?  I realize that they are all damsels.  Could this be like lions and tigers mating kind of thing?   <As far as I'm aware these fishes can not interbreed> Please let me know.  Thanks for your help. If you want tank parameters I can provide. Thanks!! <I think this may be a behavioral anomaly... the eggs will expire and all will return to normal. Bob Fenner>

Yellow tail damsel eggs Hi! I have a 90 gallon salt tank that has been set up for a little over 2 years. It holds a pair of ocellaris clowns, a lawnmower blenny, a watchman goby, 2 yellow-tail blue damsels, a royal Gramma, and a mandarin "goby". Last night I noticed a group of eggs in the front corner on the glass. I figured it was either snails or the clowns ( the clowns are 14 and 11 years old and I've been hoping!!! ). <Wow! These are "old-timers". If the clowns were the source they would be guarding the eggs> However, it's the damsel who is psychotically guarding the  clutch. They are bad enough when it's just territory, but add eggs and God help us all. I have no clue about captive breeding of this species. Larvae or fry? How long is incubation? Are they cannibalistic or protective? HELP!!!! Charlene <A bunch re these fish's reproduction can be had here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/damsels.htm on to the genus Pomacentrus, the FAQs there... and fishbase.org Bob Fenner>

Re: Damsel Eggs (add Goldie pix) Howdy Guys <Yo Tam> I thought I would update you on my egg situation.   I contacted you a couple of weeks ago about a yellow damsel housed with two clarkii clowns.  I had reported that the damsel was acting like he was taking care of the eggs.     Out of the last batch of eggs some turned pink and others turned reddish on about the third day.  By the sixth day almost all of the eggs were gone.    Well it turns out that He is actually a She.   My husband saw her laying eggs this morning attached is a photo of her in the process.  I guess damsels and other fish lay eggs like chickens (fertilized or not)? <Yes, like the more common cichlids, which the damsels are closely related with> I don't think I will get my hopes up but I thought you might find the photo interesting.   It took almost 3 - 4 hours to lay a patch of 1" by about 2.5 to 3" long.  She is again tending to them, fanning and protecting them.  Thought you might like to know.    Tammie
<Thank you for this. Bob Fenner>

Damsel (breeding) Question Hi, I just e-mailed a few minutes ago to ask about my damsels breeding ... I think they have, but not sure and can't find anything on your site about it - and have never heard of it happening in a tank...   <Does happen, and yes, nice pic of the act> Anyway, I thought a Pic of what I'm talking about may help.  I've had freshwater angels breed more times than I can count on all my fingers & toes - and this looks like fish eggs.  The damsels have been doing a "flashing" thing near the shell in the photo - I thought it was territorial, but then these showed up along the front edge of the shell.  The damsels otherwise don't seem to be aggressive toward each other.   <Nope, just other potential egg eaters> Anyway, thanks for your input. 90 gal w/live rock banner fish, flame angel, yellow coris wrasse, a few damsels, a few common clowns, cleaner shrimp, snails, crab. all ammonia/nitrite/nitrate right where they should be.  SG 1.023  Temp a little warm but consistent at 82 Diana <Do take a look on the Internet using the search terms "Damsel breeding". Bob Fenner>

Re: Damsel (breeding) Question Hi, thanks for the quick reply!  I did look on the net for breeding, but only found the basics. <Other than the scientific literature, there is the Net... do look through the Breeder's Registry... perhaps Florida Aquafarms.> Anyway,  since it's too late this time for me to set up a separate tank for the fry, maybe next time? <Perhaps... more importantly you need to have live foods cultured and ready to go>   What do you think the chances are of raising them - I know that only a few would probably make it to any size at all.  Could you tell me a good book on the subject so I can be prepared next time around?  (I'd need to know what and how to feed the little buggers)   <Need to know more about your background. Are you familiar with Ronald Thresher's works on the reproduction of coral reef fishes? This would be a good starting point> I'll also check with the only 2 marine stores I would trust to see if they would be interested in taking them  - no sense in trying to raise them without a home to go to.  Thanks for you time and help. Diana <Much more to study, understand. Bob Fenner>

Damsel reproduction Hi! <Hello> I have 150 gallon aquarium, which is home to the 2 domino's, 2 clown's, 1 coral beauty, a few damsels, 2 starfish and a purple lobster.   My domino's have just laid eggs, and I have no idea what to do. Help.......! <Not much "to do", other than be concerned that the Domino's don't beat up on the other fishes, invert.s. Most likely the parents will abandon this and future batches of eggs and they will either be consumed or "fungus". Raising most marines requires preparation, planning in terms of food-organism culture, grow-out facilities. If interested, please take a read through "the Breeder's Registry" on the Net for Dascyllus et. al. Pomacentrids. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your help. Victoria

Breeding blue devil damsels Do you have any information regarding the breeding of blue devil damselfish (Pomacentrus caeruleus)? I have a pair that have spawned, but haven't been able to find much information about how long the eggs take to hatch, how long the larval period is, etc. Are they similar to clownfish in their breeding habits? any info would be greatly appreciated. <<Very similar in breeding habits as Clownfishes (which are damsels... in a separate subfamily Amphiprionae).... About four days to hatch out at upper seventies... larval period about the same... to a week... needing fine foods, like small copepods.... More references to the whole group at the end of articles stored at www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner>>

Damsels laying eggs I have had many fresh water fish breed and lay eggs in their tanks.... This  is usually after I have read and maintain the water and diet they need for  some time, and I am ready for what ever fry they may have. I did not think I  would be so lucky with saltwater fish breeding..... And I didn't even  know I had a mated pair of yellow tailed/blue Damsel fish. But I did, and  they did. This morning they were laying eggs on the underneath side of a  dead stone corral branch. One would swim upside down and then the other  would go over the same spot right away. Getting down on the floor and  looking up at the tank, I can see a large mass of eggs. My question is: What chance do I have of the fry hatching and growing? I  know nothing of the care needed to give them. When and if they do hatch will  they eat newly hatched brine? Or will they need something else?  None of my saltwater books talk about breeding, And about the only breeding  of Saltwater fish that I've heard of is with the Seahorse's. Do you have any  information that might help me? Or know were I can find the information I  need? (such as time to hatching, feeding, tank mates, et..) I thank you for your information, you also helped my wife the other day save  the fish in this very tank after our Nudibranch) died and poisoned the  tank. We lost a yellow tang, one feather duster and some of our snails, but  everyone else has made a wonderful recovery, even a little corral that was on  one of my live rocks made it. Thanks again, Dane Gerdes <<Ah, good news, and congratulations... Yes, most damsels spawn somewhat like neotropical cichlids... and yours should continue as long as conditions are conducive. The young will hatch out to free-living stage in a handful of days... and require foods smaller than baby brine shrimp... you may have some luck by using finely divided "fry foods" made for egg-laying freshwater fishes... but do look into (for upcoming batches) the possibilities of culturing algae, and rotifers.... References to these practices can be found in articles archived at www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner>>

Damsel fish breeding Hi Bob Fenner, I have a 55 gal. aquarium set up with Berlin type filtration (actually I am the person who sent you the color picture I drew of my set up - if you remember, cool, if not, its irrelevant). As of yet, all I have in my tank is 60 lbs. of live rock and 2 yellowtailed damsels (Chrysiptera parasema). The tank has been set up since April and everything is going good. <A clear thinker/writer, skilled computer illustrator, and an aquarist with patience!? Three non-strikes, you're in!> The whole project has been going slow since I did it all myself. Now that everything is set up and running good, <well> and I am ready to start adding soft corals and fish, I find out that my company (who makes chemicals for the computer industry - I am an assistant chemist) is having hard times right now, of course. <yikes> So it looks like the damsels will have the 55 gallon tank to themselves for a while longer since I might not be able to afford much in the way of other fish - well, I CAN, but I should NOT be spending my $$ on fish in a time such as this.  <Good prioritization> So I was thinking that it would be really a good time for these two damsels to have some babies. If only two fish exist in a system, will they necessarily become a mated pair?  <Hmm, no... some species this is much more of a likely event however... like the damsels we call Clownfishes...> One of these fish is smaller than the other, and they get along great. They are always hanging out together. And also what type of environmental conditions should I give them in order to possibly make this happen? (low light, soft music, champagne,... just kidding.) <Hmm, do make a trip to the college library for a search here on the species reproduction, or other Chrysiptera, damsels/Pomacentrids in general: http://wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm> I am not sure if I can force them to like each other "in that way" or not. I have read a few things on damselfish, but nothing really relates to this situation. Please send advice, or lead me to a good book, and I'll keep searching. Thanks, Bob Fenner! Jana p.s. I also have some tiny blue and white starfish all over my live rock who keep splitting apart and making two starfish. They have done this several times, and I am wondering at what point will they stop?  <Resource limitation, (biochemical feedback...> It is fun to watch all of this splitting and regeneration of legs and all, but I am afraid they might start taking over the place. I have searched and found quite a bit of info on starfish on the net, but nothing relating to these guys. Any idea who they are? <Not exactly. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

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>


Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: